jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)
Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-21 10:55 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 21

Looks like this arc is almost over! I suspect I'll hit 50,000 in the middle of the next one.

"We're telling you the truth!" Tatiana said. "We have it with us right now!"

"Fine, then, show them to me," Fatima said, holding out a hand. "Right now."

"We can't--look, just take us to your boss, okay?" Tatiana said. "He'll have a higher security clearance, maybe he can figure it out."

"This is a total waste of time," Fatima grumbled. "Still, it's what I get paid for, so come on, you three."

Tatiana turned to Kid. "Hey, Kid, give Qaf the kiddypad. She can work on it while we walk to the office. If we're really lucky, maybe she'll be able to find the codes on there. You can walk and tap at the same time, right Qaf?"

"Sure!" Qaf said. She took the pad from Kid, and started working on it.

It took about ten minutes to get from the cab stand to Tayra's office. Qaf was working the whole time; Tatiana could hear the click of her chrome fingertips against the pad's surface. But ominously, she hadn't said a word.

Finally, they reached Tayra's office. Fatima's facepaint was still red, and her expression was quite sulky. She gestured at the open doorway.

"Go in, already," she said.

Tatiana stepped inside--and onto a small rowboat, barely big enough for three people, let alone four. It rocked beneath her feet; she sat down, nervously.

All around her, there was nothing but sky and ocean. Far off toward the horizon, she could see small black birds wheeling around. Their mournful cries traveled across the water, and filled the atmosphere with a sense of utter melancholy.

"Whoa, what's this?" Qaf said. She had appeared on the rowboat, seemingly out of thin air. She was still tapping at the pad, but apparently she'd allocated a few resources to reacting to this new environment. "This guy's processing power must be incredible. I didn't even know you could affect the balance receptors like this!"

She settled down on the other side of the boat. Kid was the next one to step in. "Aah!" He flailed, overbalanced, and fell backward, disappearing. Tatiana giggled.

"What kind of pilot are you if you can't even control your own body?" she called out.

"Whatever." Kid appeared again, this time apparently determined to play it cool. He managed to take a seat without much trouble.

"Are you coming in, Fatima?" Tatiana asked.

There was a sigh. "I suppose I have no choice," she said. She appeared as well, almost on top of Tatiana. "Come on, boss, I told you the boat was too small," she said, looking up at the sun in irritation. "At least make it a sailboat or something."

One of the black birds started moving toward them. It swooped over their heads and landed on one of the rowboat's oars. Its beady eye fixed Fatima. "I tried the sailboat, but I think the rowboat gives a better effect, don't you? The vast incomprehensibility of the ocean,"

"You've never seen an ocean," Fatima said.

"The miniscule nature of all life, be it carbon or silicon-based. Truly a site to inspire all sentient beings. So, what is this all about, Fatima? You said it was something stupid?"

"It is not!" Tatiana cried.

"Yes, it is stupid. Listen, Tayra, these three came to me claiming that there's a secret locked shipment of illegal arms somewhere on-station, and they have the unlock codes to this shipment on that kiddypad, and they want to sell them to us in exchange for forgiving their debt. Of course they couldn't prove a word of any of this, so I told them--"

"Wait a minute," Tayra said. He cocked his head in the other direction. "Illegal arms shipment? How do you know about that?"

"One of the people trying to steal the pad back from us let it slip," Tatiana said. "Look, even if that part isn't true, we know that this thing is connected to those three murders yesterday. Whatever it is, it has to be important."

"I think I'm almost there," Qaf murmured.

"And in exchange for handing this over to us, you want what, exactly?"

"We want you to forgive all of our debt, and allow us to leave the station. That's all."

"Hmm," Tayra said. He flapped his wings a little; suddenly, the boat and the ocean disappeared. Tatiana, Qaf, Fatima, and Kid were sitting on the floor of Tayra's office, right in front of the door.

Tayra was behind his desk, as before. "But what if you're wrong, and this is just a regular pad?" he asked. "This could easily be fraudulent. We'll let you go, but not until we break this thing."

"We don't have enough time," Tatiana said. "I barely got off Deck 114, and I'm sure they're looking for me right now. We need to unload this thing fast."

Tayra stroked his chin. "You know," he said, "a wise android once told me, there's no deal so good that you can't spend the night thinking it over."

"If you spend the night thinking it over, we'll be dead by tomorrow morning," Tatiana said, bluntly. "I'm not handing this thing over to you unless you guarantee that we can go."

Fatima rolled her eyes. "I knew this was a waste of time," she muttered.

"Okay!" Qaf said, jumping up. "I cracked it! The codes are here, and the location of the shipment--it's down on Deck 15, Level 5--and who it came from and everything!"

"Let me see that," Tayra said.

Qaf looked to Tatiana. "Show it to him, but don't let him touch it," Tatiana said.

Tayra's face plate was blank, so Tatiana couldn't see any eyes scanning the document. Nevertheless, after a second or two, he nodded. "It looked extremely suspicious, so I don't apologize for doubting you," he said. "However, this does appear to be valid. In exchange for this pad, your debt is forgiven. Fatima has witnessed this contract."

"I witnessed it," Fatima echoed faintly. Her facepaint had gone white with shock.

"Okay! Thank you! Now, Kid, Qaf, let's go, right now!" She grabbed both of them, and together they raced down the corridors, back to the cab stand.

At the cab stand, there was a single passenger waiting. He started to rise as the three approached; Tatiana pulled her stunner and downed him without a word.

"I recognized him from the Consortium," she said, in response to Kid and Qaf's shocked looks. "This is bad. If they had someone here, they'll definitely have them waiting for us at Deck 21."

"I have an idea," Kid said suddenly. Tatiana and Qaf looked at him.

"What is it?"

"Well, we don't really need to go to Deck 21 at all, right? What we need is to get onto Hold Steady. Qaf, you can dock with spaceships, right?"

"Well, I've never done it before, but I have the capability, yes," Qaf said, looking a little queasy.

"So we order our dock open from the outside--Tatiana can do that with her pad. Hold Steady will drift out; we dock with her, somebody goes in and opens the cargo bay, and then we can bring Qaf inside. We'll need to be fast, but they won't be expecting it, and it'll take time for them to prepare a ship that can shoot us down. After that, we'll be home free; there's no way they can figure out where we're going."

They had entered Qaf. Inside, Patel had started stirring; Tatiana stunned her again.

"Wait," Kid said. "The only place we can go is Garvey. We don't have the coordinates to any other systems."

"Um, so why don't you just get them from the net?" Qaf asked. "I can... okay, I downloaded them just now. There are about twenty planets and fifteen stations within close reach. I think we should go to Davis next, I've always wanted to go there."

"Thanks, Qaf!" Tatiana said. They were flying through the inner section of the station now, down toward the end of the tube into outer space.

"No problem!" Qaf replied. "Now, let's go!"

It took too long. It took way, way too long. But finally they were approaching the station's rim. There wasn't as much traffic around the edges; Qaf was able to speed up considerably after they got below Deck 10.

There were three suspicious cabs that had been following them for a while. One had landed at Deck 8; it might have been legitimate business, though Tatiana still wasn't sure. The other two followed them right up to the edge, where Qaf burst out and started skimming across the edge to get to the outside of the station.

"I've never been on the outside before," she said. "It's kind of big."

"Careful," Kid warned. One of the other cabs was still following them.

"No cabs have weapons, right?" Tatiana said. "They can't shoot at us or anything."

"No, but if they disrupt us docking with Hold Steady, we could be in trouble," Kid said. They reached the outside of the station; Qaf shot out into space, and had to make a long loop back toward the station.

"How close are we now?" Tatiana asked. "Deck 5"

"Six, I think," Kid said. "Tell it to open up our dock."

Tatiana had had the command queued for a while. She pressed the confirmation button to execute. And then she had a sudden thought.

"Kid, what happens if the ship catches on something? What if a part gets pulled off, or it gets stuck somewhere, or... it's completely unmanned, you know?"

Kid shrugged. "Then we're screwed, I guess."

"Don't worry," Qaf said. "I've got it ahead on my sensors. I can't tell whether it's broken or not, but it's definitely floating out of its dock."

Tatiana took one deep breath, then another. "We're going to make this work," she whispered to herself.

The other cab was still following them. Tatiana couldn't tell whether it was hanging back on purpose, or whether it simply couldn't catch up to them. She powered off her stunner and put it in Afua's bag, then took out the pistol and loaded it. She knew it couldn't provide any real protection--there was no way she could fire a bullet without exposing herself to vacuum--but at least this way she had a chance to take them down with her.

"We're almost there," Qaf announced. "Hold Steady is completely free of the station, and the door is accessible. You should get in position now, Tatiana."