jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)
Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-28 09:49 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 28

Woo, less than 1000 words to go!

Kid grinned. "Oh right, I forget that you don't need a pad." He stood up. "Well, are you coming?"

"No, I think I'll stay out here a little longer," Qaf said.

"Suit yourself," Kid replied, and ambled back in the direction of Rebekah's house.

Inside was a table full of food: light purple meat, which Kid assumed came from the kaloos, blue vegetation, and, surprisingly, what appeared to be hummus.

"Wow, thanks!" Tatiana was saying to Rebekah. "I'm surprised you could get so much together so quickly, seeing as how we just came to the planet. I always thought cooking took a really long time."

Rebekah was smiling. "Well, it did take me a few hours, but it wasn't too hard. It helped that I already had most of the ingredients I needed here at the house. I did have to replicate a few spices, but that was all." She turned, and saw Kid. "Come in, come in! You can make your own plate."

Sure enough, there were plates set at one end of the table; Kid noticed now that Benjamin had taken a plate, and had it half filled already. Jolee, however, didn't seem to be present.

"Jolee's on a special diet," Benjamin said at Kid's wondering look. "She can't break it, even for something like this. She's probably over eating in the other room already."

Patel wasn't there either, but as Kid was making his plate, she came in. She was still in the form of the tall man.

"May I?" she asked Rebekah.

"Why certainly!" Rebekah replied. "And oh, I don't think I caught your name."

Patel smiled debonairly. "It's Patel, madam. Simply Patel."

"I see," Rebekah replied. She turned to Kid. "And yours?"

Kid cleared his throat. He always felt awkward when introducing himself. "You can call me Kid," he said.

"I see," Rebekah replied. "Well, when you're finished making your plate, you can sit down in the other room. We're doing a post-mortem on Jolee's performance at the regional preliminaries."

It sounded about as fun as spitting rocks. Kid exchanged a glance with Tatiana; she agreed with him, clearly, but wanted him to go along with it for the sake of the contract. He nodded, acquiescing.

"We'll be along shortly," Tatiana said. "You can go ahead in if you'd like to, we can take care of ourselves here."

"All right, then," Rebekah said. Benjamin had already disappeared into what she'd been calling "the other room"; she followed him swiftly.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Tatiana said, before Kid could say anything. "But it's a thin line between saying enough to make her feel better, and saying too much and losing the contract. Leave the talking to me, I'll deal with it."

"But you don't know any more about helping people out of abusive situations than I do," Kid replied. "What if you screw it up."

"I'm not going to screw it up! And anyway, do you really think you could do any better?"

"Guys, guys," Patel interjected. "Come on, now, why do you even care about this girl?"

Tatiana and Kid both turned to her with identical looks of disbelief.

"Have you seen how he treats her?"

"And her aunt is no better."

"She deserves better than this."

"Does she even like laser dome? If she ever did, I'll bet she doesn't like it now."

"I wouldn't leave a dog with these people."

"I've had some really nice conversations with her when her uncle wasn't breathing down her neck."

Patel looked from Tatiana to Kid and back. "But why do you feel so responsible for her? Let her leave herself, if she wants to."

"It's not that she's our responsibility, but I can't just watch all that happen without trying to help."

"And we're not going to force her to leave. We just want to help her, if she wants to. She probably doesn't even know what else she can do."

Patel rolled her eyes. "You know what, whatever. You two, with your savior complexes, can do whatever you want. Just try not to lose the contract."

And with that, and a final scoop of hummus, Patel flounced off into the other room.

Tatiana and Kid looked at each other, and burst into giggles.

"I don't even know why I'm laughing," Tatiana said finally, wiping tears from her eyes. "It's not really very funny at all, is it?"

"Not really. But I never thought Patel would be so angry over this that she'd start losing her accent."

"And after all that talk about her training. Anyway, got your plate full? Then let's go ahead into the lion's den." Tatiana left for the other room, and Kid followed her.

The other room, as it turned out, was a large, open room that seemed to be in the center of the house. There were tiny 3D projector cameras scattered around, which beamed the images into a 3D matrix in the middle of the room. Tatiana whistled. "I didn't even know you could get one of these in your house."

There were couches and chairs scattered all around the room, in places that wouldn't interfere with the projection. Tatiana and Kid made their way to an unoccupied couch with a low table in front of it where they could set their plates, and watched the projection.

The center of the room showed a recording of Jolee, at about a quarter of her actual height, fighting in the dome. She was carrying a laser gun, of course, and her posture was entirely different than her usual head-down, shuffling gait. This Jolee moved alertly and economically. No movement was wasted, and every movement was stealthy. In the recording, she was walking behind a wall, trying to make it to a gap further ahead. When she reached the gap, she stuck her gun through it, waited for a beat of five, and then fired several times. On the recording, there were shouts, and suddenly Jolee was running, trying to get away from the person she had just shot.

She came to the end of the wall, hesitated for a moment, and then ran out into open space. Did she think she'd be able to make it to a safe hiding place quickly enough? Perhaps. But it had been a miscalculation; within seconds, almost every part of her body was flashing, showing that she'd been hit many times.

"See, that behavior right there," Benjamin was saying to Jolee, who was sitting next to him. She nodded wearily at everything he said. "I know out here in the bush leagues you've gotten used to getting away with stuff like that. But you can't be that reckless in the regionals! It's like you're fighting all the best people you've ever fought against, and all at once. You have to be more cautious, girlie!"

The Jolee in the recording had finally found a safe place. She waited there, not moving and breathing heavily.

"And here!" Benjamin complained. "How much time are you wasting here? You could have been out there shooting people, trying to get your score back up! Remember, girlie, make every moment count."

Together, everyone watched as Jolee recovered. When she'd caught her breath, she turned and went into a crouching position. As it turned out, she had been hiding behind a low barrier that she could shoot over.

She made a few shots (here Tatiana realized that the cheerful little note that sometimes played was for a successful hit), but then her head started to flash. Someone had noticed her hiding place. Jolee turned, still in her crouch, preparing to go somewhere else--but there was someone behind her, with a laser gun pointed at her heart. Jolee started to raise her own laser gun, but the stranger shot her and fled before she could put up any resistance.

"Look, girlie, reflexes, that's what I've been trying to pound into your dumb head all this time!" Benjamin told her. "I talked to the surgeon myself, you should've been more than able to react in that amount of time. Hell, you couldn't even tell he was sneaking up on you? What kind of idiot are you, girlie, what did I install all those sensors on you for? And why did you stay there so long, anyway? Didn't we go over how the optimum time to stay in any one place is five seconds? And you were there for how long, now? Get a clue, girlie!"

"You're awfully negative," Tatiana said.

"Yeah, well she's awfully bad at this," Benjamin said, with a glare. Jolee had stayed unmoving during his entire diatribe, face turned down and shoulders hunched. She looked absolutely miserable. "When she's good enough for a compliment, then I'll give her a compliment."

Tatiana tried again. "Well, I don't know much about laser dome, but--"

"But nothing," Benjamin retorted. "If you don't have anything useful to say, then shut up. I'm paying you to ferry me around, not for your uninformed opinions."

"Benjamin!" Rebekah said. "Don't be so harsh! You know the poor girl is only trying to help."

"I don't need anybody's help," Benjamin muttered. But his sister's words seemed to calm him; he went back to his negative commentary, but he didn't rail against Tatiana any more.

It was a torturous dinner, but finally the recording ended. Patel fled as soon as it was polite to do so. Benjamin and Rebekah rose to go into one of the other rooms; Jolee made as if to follow after the, but Tatiana rushed up and grabbed her arm.

"I thought you were really good," she told Jolee. "I mean, not perfect or anything, of course, but I've never even seen anyone move like that! And the kinds of shots you were making, they were just awesome."

Jolee tugged her arm away from Tatiana. Her face was still downturned, but Tatiana could see that she was scowling. "Don't try to make me feel better," she said. "I did horribly out there. Everything Uncle said was right."

Tatiana sighed. "Look, even if all of that is true, it doesn't mean he can just keep talking about the negative stuff. You did a lot of really good things, too. Maybe if he paid more attention to those, you'd be more relaxed and you wouldn't keep panicking out there every time something goes wrong."

Jolee looked up at Tatiana, startled. "Panic? You thought I was panicking?"

Tatiana frowned. "Well, yes, weren't you? You did well whenever you had a little time to think, or when you managed to react quickly enough, but if something went wrong, it messed you all up, until you could manage to do something right again. A lot of people get like that, when they're used to being scolded for every little thing."

"You're right," Jolee said, looking at her wonderingly. "You're completely right. I don't know how I could have missed it myself."

"Well, uh, glad to help," Tatiana said.

"Yeah, it was really good help! Now I know what I need to do!" For the first time, Tatiana saw Jolee smile. It was wavery and a little weak, but it transformed her entire face. "Thank you so much!"

Without another word, she rushed out of the room after her uncle and aunt.

"Good job," Kid said. "She must really like laser dome, if she responded so well to constructive criticism, and not mindless praise."

"You think so?" Tatiana said.

"Yeah," Kid replied. "I used to spend a lot of time around the racers when I was a kid, y'know, and most of the really good ones were like that. Usually they liked praise too, but what made them really happy was if you could tell them how to improve something."

"That's good to know," Tatiana said. "But I don't think I know enough about laser dome to give her stunning new insights with every match."

"I don't think you have to," Kid said. "What you said just now was probably enough, especially if it really does help her improve."

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