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Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-24 11:42 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 24

I'm only about 100 words from making my word count today, but I don't think it's gonna happen :/



The next morning (shipboard time), Tatiana and Kid were in the hydroponics bay making protein slurries when a plump woman walked in. Her black hair was plaited into a long, shiny braid.

"Can I have some too?" she asked.

"Who are you?" Kid yelped. He almost dropped his bowl.

"Easy, easy, calm down," Tatiana said. "This is Patel, still. She's a shapeshifter, remember?"

"Sure am," Patel said. "Don't go spreading it around, though. There aren't too many of us."

"I've never heard of anything like a human shapeshifter," Kid said. "Seems like something out of a novel."

"Yeah, I guess you could say we're secret or something. As you've seen, though, I'm quite real. It takes a lot of energy to shift, though, which is why I'd really, really like some of that."

Patel was eyeing Kid's bowl with all the desperation of a famine victim. It was just about full; Kid sighed, and handed it over ot her.

"Thanks so much!" she said. She grabbed a spoon, sat at the table, and dug in as if it were the best meal she'd eaten in weeks.

Kid started filling up another bowl. "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you," he said to Tatiana. "I think Patel took away my access to Hold Steady yesterday; she's not responding to me at all. Could you restore it?"

"Sure," Tatiana said. "Hold Steady, restore piloting rights to Kid here."

"Acknowledged," Hold Steady said.

"Oh, and what do you know about Davis?"

"Most humans on the planet live in warm, wet areas. It is best known for its... I do not remember what it is best known for. Its air is breathable for short periods of time. There is something else important, but I cannot remember what it is..."

"Don't strain yourself," Tatiana said. "That's enough, thanks for telling us."

"Acknowledged," Hold Steady said.

"I guess we'll have to ask Qaf about it then," Kid said.

"Geez, what am I, chopped liver?" Patel was in the middle of a bite; food sprayed everywhere with each word.

"What do you know about it?" Tatiana asked.

"Only that it's where the regional laser dome Cup is held! What, do you two live under a rock or something?"

Tatiana shrugged. "I watch it, of course, but I never paid much attention to where it was held. I think our region's Cup was someplace else, anyway."

"Yeah, well you two should learn to keep your eyes open! Now listen! Thanks to the Cup being there, the Consortium has a presence, and the Syndicate too. Probably some of the smaller groups are there too, but I don't pay them much attention. Anyway, point is, we'll have to be kind of careful. The Cup is in like a week, so they should be too focused on that to really notice us, but if they do, it's gonna be a problem."

"Wait," Kid said. "What is with all this 'we' and 'us' stuff? Everyone in this room knows you'll just sell us out to the Consortium as soon as we land."

Patel rolled her eyes. "Look, I got no love for the Consortium. The only person there I liked was my boss, the guy you stole from. He's dead now, and Hurston Station will smack down the people who killed him, so frankly I don't care any more. I'm sick of them, anyway."

Tatiana leaned forward. "Patel, we really can't trust you," she said. "Are you really okay with that?"

"Like I said before, don't nobody trust me. At least you're up-front about it."

"But we need to protect ourselves," Tatiana said. "Is there anything that you can do, a meaningful way to show that we don't have to worry about you backstabbing us?"

Patel thought about it for several long moments. "No," she said finally. "If I were in your shoes, I definitely wouldn't trust me."

Everyone was quiet after that.

Qaf broke the tense silence by sticking her head into the door. "Oh, here you all are!" she said. "I forgot that humans have to eat."

"Qaf, why did you send us to a world full of Consortium people?" Tatiana asked.

"Oh, are they there too? I just wanted to go see the Cup in-person," Qaf said. "Anyway, it's no big deal, right? There'll be like two billion people there, no way they'll be able to find the four of us. It's the best place to disappear."

Tatiana shook her head. "It's too risky," she said. "We'll land and try to arrange for work to take us off-planet as quickly as possible. You've been putting in the other coordinates, right Qaf?"

"Yeah, but it's been slow going," Qaf said. "I mean, I understand the purpose of isolated systems like this, but it would be so much easier if I could just hook into her instead of typing it all in."

Tatiana shook her head. "Well, it's the best we can do right now." She took a bit of slurry. "So, I guess we'll just hang out for the next few days?"

By the time Hold Steady landed on Davis, Qaf had finished typing in location coordinates, and had moved on to trying to supplement Hold Steady's leaky memory banks. Tatiana had gotten all the information she could about Davis out of Hold Steady and Qaf, and spent a lot of time in her room trying to make some kind of plan around it. Kid spent most of his time repairing Qaf's cab body. And Patel mostly ate and slept.

This time, they asked ahead of time about any charges. There was a small fee for their landing space (Patel paid this, saying she was trying to build up trust), and though admission to the Cup was nearly impossible at this point, anyone on-planet could watch the broadcasts for free.

"There's a preliminary game taking place just a few klicks away," the dock manager told them when they landed. "You should go enjoy the town; it'll be stuffed full of people tonight, with plenty to see and do."

Inquiries from the local net revealed that this part of the planet was Syndicate-controlled, which suggested it would be relatively safe for them. In hopes of fun, business, or just something to do, the four decided to go out on the town for the night.

On Davis, the air was breathable for stretches of up to two hours at a time. Hold Steady had told them that many of the cities were entirely domed, but this one was not: there were bubbles around single buildings, or clusters of buildings, but going from place to place involved a lot of scurrying around outside in the thick orange haze that was Davis' natural atmosphere.

The preliminary game had ended a few hours previously, and now the most raucous places in the town were the bars, where people used various substances to celebrate their victory or mourn their defeat. Qaf seemed to enjoy it, but Kid found it rather overwhelming, and Tatiana was too focused on finding business to pay much attention to the crowds. She took them from one place to another, growling every time she couldn't find a willing business partner.

"Why don't we come back tomorrow," Kid asked her, after she'd dragged them out of the third place. "Nobody wants to do business right now. They'll still be here in the morning."

Tatiana gritted her teeth. "I want to find something tonight, something that'll take us far away from this part of the galaxy, and give us a better living. I am sick of protein slurry and having no money."

Patel followed behind them the entire way, like a shadow.

At the fifth place, they finally found a bite. An older man with a distinguished beard was halfway into his cups when they walked in, but the one thing he was emphatic about was getting off-planet.

"'Was the worst thing I ever saw," he told them mournfullly. "Alla' this money, and alla' this time, and she takes one step in the arena, and bam! Totally useless, like she was the worst kind of noob. We're gonna have to start from the bottom up, gotta leave and retrain. 'S pathetic, I tellya, pathetic!"