Character: Watari Yutaka (Yami no Matsuei)
Theme Set: Alpha
Themes: 20 themes, 5 artist's choice
Number of icons in post: 25
Number of icons completed total: 25/100 ( Read more...Collapse )
If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don't speak often, please post a comment with a memory of you and me. It can be anything you want--good or bad. When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people remember about you.
"Go to sleep," the Master mutters, when the Doctor rolls over for the third time to stare at the one wall he hasn't already memorized.
"It'd be easier if you'd stop talking about it," the Doctor mutters back.
"It would be easier if you'd relax."
"I am relaxed. Very relaxed. You weren't complaining about my state of relaxation earlier."
"That was before you worked yourself up again. Do I have to do something about that?"
The Doctor shivers. "No, I don't think that will be necessary."
"Then shut up and go to sleep."
"I wasn't even talking until you -"
The Master places a hand, gently but firmly, over the Doctor's mouth. "Your mind, my dear Doctor, is going faster than this TARDIS."
The Doctor rolls his eyes, and nods. The hand moves back. "I'm asleep. Look." He closes his eyes. "Completely unconscious. Dead to the world, you might say."
"Don't tempt me."
The Doctor says nothing. The Master waits for a moment, until the Doctor's breathing is deep, and his heartbeats slow and regular. Then, slowly, almost hesitantly, he wraps his arm around the other's body, pulling him in close. He lets his head fall on the pillow, face half-buried in the Doctor's curls, and closes his eyes.
Unseen, the Doctor smiles.
"I'm sorry, you woke me up for /what/?"
Rodney McKay was not amused. He'd been dragged from his bed, he hadn't eaten in six hours and would surely go into hypoglycaemic shock soon, and Sheppard was mocking him.
"I just told you, Rodney, this box showed up a few minutes ago and we want to know what the heck it is."
"It's three in the morning and we're not going to die in the next
fifteen seconds and I'm awake. I'm just pointing out that I could have been preparing for our next unmitigated disaster."
"Look, whatever it was landed in engineering. Just make sure it’s not going to explode and then you can yell at some lab assistants and go back to bed, okay?"
The door wooshed open as they approached, revealing a handful of jumpy Marines who stood aside for them. More importantly, there was Zelenka, slightly ruffled, yelling at a large, blue, apparently wooden box.
Zelenka turned to the pair of them and immediately shoved a laptop in Rodney's face. "Look at this!"
“This says it’s made of wood!”
“I am aware of that!”
Rodney looked at the screen, then at the box. "That's impossible."
"It is sitting right in front of us, Rodney."
"Well - open the door!"
“We have tried that. It will not open."
“We can't have a city full of Marines and no way to open a wooden door."
John looked at said Marines. “Guys?”
Cadman was the first to respond. “Doc said he didn’t want us blowing it up, Sir. No other way to open it we can find.”
“The lock looks standard but it is not possible to even get a key in it,” Zelenka explained. “I did not want to try explosives until we had exhausted all other options.”
Rodney was about argue further, but then the door opened.
The occupant of the box had a head full of blond curls and a superior expression, but Rodney didn't spend a long time looking at his face. No, it was the coat that drew his attention: something like a cross between a bowl of fruit loops and a chameleon's wet dream. He blinked a few times, but the image didn’t go away. Damn it.
"Oh, /Marines/. Never ask them to do anything. Probably try to blow it up," the man in the alarming coat said. The Marines, true to form, had guns drawn on him the second he walked out. He took a look at the barrels and beyond that didn't seem to care much.
“Peri!” he called back into the box. “It's okay, they're military, they'll never be able to hit you!”
“Oh, Doctor, I told you this was a bad idea," said a woman's voice. The woman attached to said voice was dressed almost, but not quite, as eye-searingly as her companion, and was a lot more surprised by the guns. Rodney approved of that. It meant she had sense. On the other hand -
“Who are you and what the heck is that thing?” he blurted out.
The man gave him a look that said that although the questioner was obviously too stupid to understand the answer, the questionee would make an attempt to bring his astronomical intelligence down to the questioner’s level. Rodney had used it himself.
“I’m the Doctor, and this is Peri, and this is my TARDIS. The more apt question would be, I believe, what you are doing on Atlantis.” He straightened his lapels. “I’m sure this place isn’t supposed to still be inhabited by humans.”
“They’re human, Doctor?” Peri asked.
“Of course we’re human! What do we look like, Klingons?” Rodney snapped. The brunette looked at him and opened her mouth, but Sheppard cut that one off at the pass.
“Not helping, Rodney,” he said. He looked at their visitor and raised an eyebrow. “We’re human, and we’re here on a research mission.”
The man looked down his nose at him. “Really.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
“What year is this?”
“Don’t even try to tell me you’re a time traveler,” Rodney sputtered. “That’s only possible with the Stargate, which you did not come through, and there is no way that your little box – ”
“If it’s too hard a question for you, don’t answer it,” the Doctor said, turning to Sheppard.
“It’s two thousand eight, last I heard,” Sheppard said.
“That late? No wonder.” The Doctor straightened his hideously mismatched lapels, turning to his companion. “Peri, this will be a chance for you to observe my genius in action. You may want to take note of it.”
|Boo I am failing it! I give, it's not going to happen. But here is the rest of what I have. Some of it is mildly tweaked repost. Starts right after the line of asterisks at the bottom of this one. Oh and Sivier is now a girl. Called Silvie. Or Blondie, if you're 'Tatsu and can't remember names to save your life.
I was more than a little annoyed to be put on prisoner detail, especially since not more than a week after the man had been trying to kill all of us, Boss wanted him working on important machinery. The conversation, however, went something like this:
'Sin', ya want this guy to work for us, he's good.'
'He's Spacer. A bomber pilot.'
'Yeah, 'cause you never fucked anything up.'
'I never killed hundreds of unarmed civilians.'
'Ain't his fault how he was raised. Besides, you need the break. Ya work too hard.'
'I don't have time to take a break.'
'D'ya really trust someone like that to anyone else'?
All right, he'd won.
I took the Spacer out the next morning. It's only three and a half blocks from HQ to the apartment building. It'd been eight days since the last run, which had been far more of a disaster for them than for us; it was late morning; it was cloudy; we were safe. I kept glancing upwards and around anyway.
'You're gonna get really bored doing that, the next one's not for another month,' the prisoner told me, two blocks down the road. Smirking. I knew better than to respond verbally, but I did flash a glare at him.
'Yeah, right, you're scary. I know that, man. My humerus knows that. Chill.' He grinned like he expected me to be in on the joke. I wasn't.
He kept talking. Very good at that. I kept ignoring him until we reached the fire exit that serves as a front door to this bank of buildings, and then all I said was 'Shut up and climb.' He followed orders more insubordinately than I would have thought possible.
The apartment was in bad shape, but it had a bed, running water and most of the glass in the windows. The Spacer's only comment was 'Hell, it's bigger than my barracks,' so I didn't feel a need to beat appreciation into him.
He collapsed on the bed and sighed. 'So, you gonna hang around looking ominous all day? I mean I appreciate eye candy as much as the next pansexual teenager, but I'm not into the shooty thing,' he said, making a gesture that, presumably, indicated a gun.
I may have been leaning on a wall, and I don't think I'd let up on my glare all morning, so perhaps he had a point. Not about the eye candy, though. 'Not all day; I'm supposed to be checking on you every so often. Though I have more important things to do.'
He gave me an incredulous look. 'So go do 'em. I'm not gonna run off, you know? Boss trusts me.'
I shook my head. 'No, Boss trusts /me/. Not to let you run off.'
No matter how pointless it was; I was going to end up having to shoot the man, no matter what Boss said about second chances. I would probably enjoy it.
'Well /yeah/ that too, but that doesn't mean you have to be right bloody here. You can always go do your stalky thing someplace else.' Despite his claims, he didn't look at all scared. In fact he'd turned around to look at me upside-down on the bed, completely relaxed.
It would've been easier if he were scared. Or at least made more sense.
'If you were actually trustworthy, you wouldn't be trying to get rid of me.'
'Ha! You are a paranoid bastard, aren't you'?
'And you're Spacer trash; I know which I'd rather be,' I snapped back; he visibly flinched at that, which I'd hardly expected. Very interesting. I revised my estimation of him up a point or two.
'I'm not Spacer, man. I mean I was about a week ago, but y'all aren't the only ones who got burned by them.'
'Oh, so they're a 'them' now. I suppose you think that means you're Earthsider.' If he'd made the slightest move towards an affirmative answer, I think I would've added another few broken bones to his tally; but he didn't. Instead, he looked at the ceiling and scowled.
'Nah. Not yet, anyway.'
'Wise of you.'
We were silent for a few minutes; apparently he'd run out of things to ramble on about. I was about to leave and let him get on with things - I didn't really expect him to be able to get anywhere, between the bugs and the noisy fire escape - when he came up with another topic.
'Y'know I don't think I ever properly intro'd myself - I'm Futatsu. Walker. Call me 'Tatsu, no one can pronounce it right,' he said. He held out a hand, upside down. I stared at him. He thought better of it.
I'm nowhere near fluent in Japanese, but I know the basics. 'Futatsu. I sincerely hope your parents weren't Japanese.' It's not at all difficult to pronounce, either.
He laughed. 'Nice catch. Yeah, no, it was my Grandma. She was kinda off in the head,' he mused. 'So yeah. Some people get all the luck with the cool-sounding foreign names.' He gave me a considering look.
'It's not /foreign/. My mother was Chinese.' /Why/ was I having this conversation?
'That explains the pretty, then. Does it explain the accent? 'Cause I /like/ the accent.' That was about the point at which my common sense overrode whatever schaudenfreud-loving part of me had kept me talking. I refused to be flirted with by a Spacer. Particularly one I couldn't shoot.
'This conversation is over. I'll check in in a few hours.'
'All right, all right, see you later then. I promise not to blow anything up that you don't want me to,' he said. He may very well have continued, but I couldn't hear it once I hit the ladder. Just as well.
Almost as soon as I got to my room, my comm buzzed. Wonderful. 'SingKueh.'
''Kueh, man. How'd it go?' It's Silvie. Of course, Boss would've asked her to check on things.
'He's installed. I take it the mics are working?'
'Sure are. He's talking to himself. Sounds kinda annoyed about the whole thing.' She laughs. 'Ya should hear the nicknames he's come up with.'
'I'm better off without, I'm sure.'
'So I don't think we're gonna need ya for a while. Get some sleep. Keep the comm on though, Boss says he's thinkin' we could have trouble.'
'Understood. SingKueh out.'
I don't like it when Boss thinks we could have trouble. He has a very good track record of being right about it.
(And here goes the bit in that entry that starts "Morning number one starts at...')
Day Three stabs me in the face - it's getting to be a tradition - and I once again forget the ground isn't where I frikkin' told it to be and drop out of bed. 'Fuck.' There isn't any glass there any more, though. See? Silver lining, knew I could find one.
I get up. I say 'good morning' to the mic under my bed and the one in the top-right corner of the kitchen area, and give it a running narration. 'Going to counter, opening cabinet, pulling out a -' I check the label on the package '- tinfoil pack of probably-cornflakes, making plans to overthrow your despotic regime - oh, whoops, did I say that out loud?' It's the little things. I wonder if they're actually listening. If they are, I bet Boss is getting a laugh out of it.
'So yeah, cornflakes.' I got my casts off yesterday thank /God/, and with the accelerated healing thing my leg's almost at full capacity, and my shoulder's, well, I'm just not gonna think about my shoulder right now, but it moves at least. So I can pace in circles if I'm bored instead of just thinking in 'em, which let me tell you is a hell of an improvement, giving me as it does almost fifteen more minutes of interest before I go totally stir-crazed.
You know what I need? A monkey. No, seriously, hear me out here, it'd be like one of those hero-type sidekicks, and it'd sneak out and bring me like a soldering iron or something so I could finish this steam-powered water thinger. And it'd be dead cute so's to attract chicks.
Who am I kidding, any monkey of mine would probably just throw shit at the walls. Nah, maybe a parrot. That'd give me something to talk to anyway. More interactive than the bugs, and less likely to cast suspicion my way.
I finish the cornflakes just as someone comes through the window. I expect it to be SDaC, so when the footsteps are way lighter than they should be I just about refrain from throwing myself under the table in instinctive 'ohshit' response. I bet that full-body twitch looked pretty interesting.
"Chill, it's me," a female voice says. I turn around and it's Blondie. You know, Boss's girlfriend. "Twitchy much?"
"Hey, if I am you made me that way," I say. "What the hell's up with you?"
She strides in and starts running her hands around under the table. "Checking the bugs," she says. "Ya found 'em, we gotta make sure you ain't got some kinda loop on 'em. That one's clean..." she pulls it out, checks it over, and sticks it back in. Woman's got really pretty hands. Hm.
She jumps up on the counter to check the one on the ceiling, and when she's sure I haven't, like, put a tiny nuclear bomb on it or whatever, jumps down and starts looking over my diagrams, I guess so she can figure out if those are explosive or something. Don't know why they /would/ be, given I'd be the first one to go, but given my shitty track record down here they've got no reason to think I'm /not/ suicidal.
"See, totally fine. Paranoid, aren't ya?" I ask her. There I go with the syntax again.
Not that, you know, I have a leg to stand on where that goes. I mean, I /have/ drawn up plans to mount one of those little mics on eight legs so it can follow me around. It actually only needs three, but an eight-legged camera is just awesome. Don't question the spider-cam.
"What the hell is this?" Blondie - what's her real name, Silvie - is questioning the spider-cam.
I grin. "Walking bug, of course," I tell her.
"Y'know, I didn't half believe 'em when they said how good ya are." She looks at my wallpaper-and-ink plans - floralprints? - in disbelief.
"You better now."
Blondie's probably got a reason for being here. Now I can't blame her for being distracted by my engineering prowess, but I'd kinda like to know. And she's gotta know I want to know. She's almost as good as Boss at casual psychological torture.
"Yeah, gotta face facts I guess. Y'think ya can get your brain 'round somethin' more practical?" she asks, smirking at me. She puts the prints down.
"Depends what kind of practical you're talking about."
"Think Boss said we wanted ya workin' on the G-819," she says. She's probably expecting me to jump in the air with glee, or something. I don't, but only 'cause it'd hurt coming down.
I can feel the uncontrollable grin coming up, though. "Seriously? I mean, seriously seriously? You got a G-819 I can work on?" I mean they said it before, but. Holy shit. This may be the most awesome thing that's happened since back in university when I - well, that's a long story, remind me later - and this time doesn't even involve a universal solvent.
"Yeah, seriously seriously. Ya start tomorrow if you can deal with, ya think that arm'll work for ya?" she says. Sweet of her not to mention my manic expression. Or the minor flailing that I may or may not be doing.
"It'll do what I need it to for a gee-nine," I say. "Christ. I barely even got to fly one of those."
"They're good," Blondie tells me. "'Til they get shot, 'course - that's the problem here, fuel tank's fucked, and the radio's still sending homing signals when it's on."
"Oh /man/." I think I'm in shock. Just a bit. Blondie is way too amused by all this. Can't begrudge her that though, I get pretty ridiculous when I'm on a tangent. She pulls out a pack of actual graph paper, a ruler and pencils from her backpack and slaps it on the table.
"I'mma work with ya on this one, so I got materials," she says.
"I could kiss you."
She slides down into the nearest chair, and says, "Don't."
Instead, I pull up a chair, and we get started.
Yay I am doing it! This part: 2,209 words. So far: 2,209/50,000.
I am so behind.
Ever been on a bombing run? No picnic, let me tell you. For one thing it’s always at like oh-two-hundred hours, and for another there’s freaking terrorists with antiaircraft fire underneath you. Let me paint you a picture: it’s dark, it’s cold, you’re ten centimeters away from being impaled on a surprise skyscraper, you’re going way faster than any human being should, your flight suit is bunched up around your ass ‘cause you forgot and wore the jeans that aren’t tight enough, your face is sweating ‘cause your flight goggles don’t breathe, you can’t see shit out your window ‘cept the other guys’ bombs exploding and you don’t have targets ‘cause no one’s dumb enough to light candles while this’s going down. Oh, and sometimes your radar doesn’t grab the missiles coming your way until they’re in the same plane as you and you realize you’re only alive right now out of sheer dumb luck.
Best adrenaline rush in the galaxy. I try to keep my headset off ‘cause otherwise the guys say I scare ‘em. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with a crazy laugh though.
I have fucking amazing dumb luck. I was in between two skyscrapers when someone’s little antiaircraft missile nearly took my tail off, which of course means it didn’t, which means, again, I’m the master of lucky breaks. And when you fire, you give off your position, so that was my next target settled. I dropped the bomb and pulled out of my dive, getting some air again before I went back –
The world shook and I went down. Shit. Not my idea. Checked the window, checked the controls, going down waaaay too fast to even think about pulling out, hit the eject without even thinking about it and sprang up into the night sky. Sitting duck up here, not even Kevlar on me, not that it would’ve helped a whole lot against the kind of thing they were firing. I had no freaking idea where the ground was so I pulled the ripcord as soon as I started falling again, making me an even bigger target. Colder out here with the wind and, you know, the pants-shitting terror. On a parachute at night you may as well be target practice.
Bullets started ripping by me as soon as the ‘chute filled and I kept getting shot, dropping faster, stabilizing, and doing it again. Including one really heart-stopping time that someone got in two shots in a row and I dropped twice as far as I should’ve. With some kind of supernatural willpower I let every muscle in my body go limp and played dead. Surprisingly enough they didn’t hear my heartbeat and I got to drop without getting shot at. Straight down through a pair of buildings.
I stopped faster than I really would’ve liked with a jerk, a crunch, and a shout. Jerk because my ‘chute caught on something, crunch because human ribcages weren’t meant to do that shit, and shout because having your ribs broken hurts like hell. Then I shut the fuck up. There was bound to be someone here to check if I was actually dead.
Problem with playing dead when you’re dangling from a building is that nothing wants to hold as still as you do. I kept waving in the breeze, or the ‘chute would slip, or the pressure on my ribs would just get to be too much, and I’d tense – which’d make everything worse not to mention being a real obvious clue that I had a little more life in me than I should’ve – or I’d try to keep still and come up against a couple of million years of evolution telling me to get the fuck out.
I waited. I tried to will blood to go through my fingers and waited some more. I tried to calculate the compressive strength of human lung tissue impacted by bone in my head and continued waiting. I got a really awful, really catchy song stuck in my head for timing purposes, and waited out sixteen verses of it. Then it got real quiet.
And no one was coming, no footsteps, and the sky was starting to turn grey, so it was time for me to give in to evolution.
Looking around gave my location as ‘former main street’, full of the usual junk, all the windows gone but most of the walls still there, and looking up showed me that I’d got stuck on a bit of exposed I-beam. If I remembered right I’d been in this bit of the city a couple of weeks ago. For all I knew this could be one of the buildings I’d hit. Is that irony? At just above shoulder height there was a piece of intact floor. So that was my target sorted then.
I could be really badass and roll up the ‘chute lines like this guy I saw in a movie once, but my ribs told me that badassery was not in the cards for me. I probably already had enough cred, anyway. Doing the more logical thing, I flipped so my foot was up above my head and hooked an ankle on the edge. That should’ve hurt anyway, but I hardly felt it. Thank God for adrenaline, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
My arms weren’t working as well as they should’ve either so it was taking a lot of concentration to pull myself up – I couldn’t jerk anything or the ‘chute lines would slip in a threatening manner. I’m as in favor of gravity as the next guy but seriously, can’t it give a guy a break once in a while? So anyway, it was my frozen fingers against the entirety of Earth’s mass, and that’s why I didn’t notice the rocks until they hit me in the leg.
Actually I didn’t even notice the rocks then, what I noticed was my leg going ‘CRACK’ and pain going ‘FUCK YOU’ right up to my knee. I dropped to the end of the ‘chute lines, jerked around cursing, and when I got my breath back, I looked down to see three little kids all lined up with freaking slingshots. I mean, seriously, what the fuck.
I didn’t want to shoot kids, but I didn’t want to fall onto them more, and anyway, two seconds after I saw them my gun was in my hand. Instinctive response to human threats.
“Get back or get shot!” They didn’t move. In fact, at least one of them giggled. Fucking ace.
Had to make good on my threat, so I fired in front of them, hitting the ground – I’m not a great shot but I can miss if I want to. They jumped back, but not far enough, and one of them had another chunk of concrete. I lined up again.
“Drop the gun.”
That was new. And a voice like that sure didn’t come from someone under thirteen. I looked behind me, up a little, and right into the barrel of a .33. A very steady barrel.
Behind it was the single most gorgeous man I’d ever seen in my life, with a glare in the running for the top five scariest. There are worse things to die of than a beautiful sniper, but let’s be honest, I don’t want to die. I especially didn’t want to die dangling from a parachute being menaced by preteens with rocks.
I managed to keep the gun steady on the kids. “Sorry, beautiful, I’m kind of using it.” I don’t think I kept the stress out of my voice, but it at least didn’t crack. Small favors.
He didn’t look at all impressed by my witty repartee. “Three seconds and I’m shooting. Put the safety on and drop it.”
“Get that thing out of my face or /I/ shoot,” I told him, or tried to, because before I finished half the sentence I had a bullet in my shoulder.
That shit hurts. I screamed some kind of curse, dropped the gun – of course – and the kids scattered off behind the buildings. The sniper barely even twitched at the recoil and had /his/ gun lined up again before I’d even got my vision sorted out.
“That was a warning. Don’t struggle, or you die.” Very calm sort of guy. I believed him. I might’ve tried to struggle anyway, but it was at that point that my brain decided it’d had more than enough of this bullshit, and punched out.
The pilot was bleeding enough that it didn’t come as any kind of surprise when he passed out. I holstered my gun and climbed up above him.
“Ross, Marc, Melissa, get up here!” I called out. The three of them, slingshots hastily stuffed in pockets, came out of hiding and ran up to me. They’d had fun. I should probably have discouraged that, but who could blame them? It wasn’t every day you got to use Spacer trash as target practice.
The four of us pulled him up and cut him out of his parachute, and I slung him over my shoulder. Boss wanted any Spacer we could catch alive, so this one was safe. For now. Hopefully, if it became necessary, Boss would let me shoot him. I don’t appreciate having the children threatened.
“Make sure you pick up the parachute,” I told them. Melissa immediately grabbed as much of it as she could hold and smiled at me. Ross picked up the train.
Marc, being Marc, immediately challenged the pair of them to a race back to HQ and ran down the stairs. I waited until I was sure they weren’t going to get tangled up and hang themselves, then followed with my load of bloody Spacer pilot.
On the walk back, I passed a lot of triumphant grins. As far as I’d heard, there hadn’t been any fatalities last night, and this idiot’s ship wasn’t the only bomber we’d shot down. He was, however, the only one left alive. That meant, for last night at least, Spacers 0, Earthsiders 4. A small enough gain for our side, but still a victory.
HQ, despite the name, isn’t particularly impressive. It’s a small former gym in a good location with strong walls, surrounded by better targets. This being the reason we picked it, of course.
Boss was at the front desk looking harassed, like he is every morning at or before sunrise. So was Silvie, his girlfriend, and Dirk, the doctor, though rather than looking busy the old man lounged on a bit of equipment we hadn’t taken out yet.
“Heya, SingKueh. Don’t tell me ya got more good news, my heart might not take it,” Boss greeted me. Back at her computer desk, Silvie took her hand off her pistol and waved.
I nodded politely to the other two and told Boss, “You might want to sit down, then.”
“So he is a pilot!” Boss exclaimed. “Awesome. Drop him in the cells. Dirk, keep ‘im from dyin’ on us.”
The doctor followed me down the little hallway to the ‘cells’, actually jury-rigged barred doors on the locker rooms. I gave the keys to Dirk, since my hands were full of pilot, and let him unlock it.
“Five-thirty in the morning you drag me from my bed and all the use I get is on a filthy Spacer,” Dirk complained. I ignored him. I generally do, unless he’s telling me something to do with my personal survival. It’s either that or go insane listening to him rant.
“Put him on the ground, it’s good enough,” Dirk told me, so I dropped him less than gently and got him lined up.
“His leg’s broken, I put a bullet through his shoulder and he was hanging from a parachute, so check his ribs,” I said. Dirk just shook his head at me.
“Kids telling me how to do my job. Go on, get out.” He waved me off and opened his medkit. I left before he got too far into things. I’m not delicate, but I don’t much like the sight of blood. Though at that point I needn’t have bothered, since it was already all over my hands. I wiped them off on my trousers.
I wasn’t two steps into the main room before Boss verbally collared me. “’Kueh! Get yourself out to Nueva and take an engineer, there’s a ship down. Apt to be dangerous.”
Silvie, who’d actually looked up from her desk, added, “But clean up first. You look like an axe murderer.”
“On it,” I told them both.
The water in the bathrooms was running today, for a change, and I spent some time trying to get the blood off of me. There was a lot of the stuff. If he bled out, it would be my fault. Boss wouldn’t care a great deal, and it wasn’t as if I would be demoted or anything, but – I’m not a fan of killing. Not if I don’t have to. I don’t particularly care for failing Boss, either.
But I had other things to worry about, so as soon as I’d got all the red off my hands and face I went out to inspect a downed airplane.
If you have seen me IRL you've read it. Hopefully to develop a plot at some point.
The blue police box vworpped into Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Earth, Two Thousand, just after sundown, surprising absolutely no one. When the tall, wiry man with the hair like a bird’s nest in a hurricane stepped out and took a deep breath, no one noticed.
A graveyard. The Doctor was almost positive he had not chosen to be here. Sometimes the TARDIS had its own ideas about where/when was best for him, but he’d had enough death for this week – year century lifetime – and it knew that. Clearly he’d got himself somewhere by accident, and more often than not when he did that he ended up saving the world, the human race, or the entire universe.
He’d had enough of that for this week as well.
He bounced on his heels and sniffed the air again, then screwed up his face. “That’s not good, no, not at all,” he muttered. “I’m sure I didn’t set it for Earth, and this is just…”
He left the thought unfinished as he ran back into the TARDIS, which whined at him, mentally. It didn’t like being here. Something – “Oh come on, what have I got into now?” he asked the machinery, darting around to the main monitor.
Tap-tap-tap and two levers and some telepathic nudges later, he had his answer. “Oh no no no this can’t be right!” He ran around to the opposite side as his ship sparked its indignation at him.
Outside, something loud and bright cracked into a tree, and the Doctor was one hundred percent certain that it had not been lightning. Not here.
“Don’t tell me that, I’ve just saved the one, don’t say there’s another one demanding it please.” His words matched the pace of his fingers on the keyboards, and his heartbeats were getting in on the race. “And not even oh, there goes that 23rd century monitor, I liked that one.” Things were falling apart at an alarming rate, and he’d made some backups after the last time this happened so the TARDIS would be all right in itself, but a lot of the peripherals weren’t meant to stand up to –
Another crack and the TARDIS whirred and died. The Doctor took only a moment to sigh over it; he’d better get the backups working before he went to investigate.
Plug the recharger into the disconnected energy source, switch it on, and watch it glow. Much more convenient than using up his lifespan, even if it was considerably less dramatic. “Hang on, all right? I’ll go do something about this,” he told the egg of blue light. He had the sonic screwdriver in his pocket and was out the door before the next flash of light crashed into the side of the TARDIS.
He winced, but the shields didn’t waver, and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d held. Something large and remniscient of a Korlzitelk, all big curled horns and goat legs, barrelled past him bellowing its displeasure. The Doctor was sure that Korlzitelks didn’t smoke, ordinarily, and stepped out of the way to let it continue its rampage.
Something that was probably human ran after it, shouting in very bad Latin, and sending another blast of the light – blue, now that he had time to notice – at the Korlzitelk, which shriveled and disappeared. They had been known to do that on occasion, so the Doctor decided to let it go.
The human – yes, certainly a human, no doubt of that now that he had time to look, really see the man – stopped, and stared at him. He had a big stick and a black trenchcoat, and his timelines and potentialities twisted in a way that gave the Doctor a headache.
Looking at Jack was wrong, because what Jack was was wrong. Looking at this man was wrong, but it wasn’t due to any inherent flaws on his part. No, in this case, the fault lay entirely with the Doctor.
“Oi, you, you nearly blew a hole in my ship,” he greeted the man, putting on his best disarming grin along with his spectacles. “Not that it did any harm, but that is a fascinating stick you have there. …Mind if I have a look?” he asked.
The man did not look impressed, and looked less impressed when he looked back to see the TARDIS where the Doctor had pointed to it. “That’s not a ship,” he said. “That’s a wooden box.” Though he did look a little concerned about the whole matter.
The Doctor sighed. Every time. “Well of course it is. Bigger on the inside though, I’ll give you that – though not if that thing you’ve got there had gotten through the shields.” He bit his lip thoughtfully. “Some kind of sonic blaster, isn’t it? Are you sure I can’t have a look?”
“Who the hell are you?” the man challenged. Well, all right, he’d walked into that one. He should have known he was dealing with the suspicious type.
“I’m the Doctor,” he said, and stuck out his hand. The man didn’t respond, his left hand clenched in a fist and his right still around the stick, which was glowing, and not just with the fascinating patterns it was making in causality.
The Doctor gave up on a friendly handshake and returned to the matter at hand. “You just discorporated a Korlzitelk. You lot aren’t supposed to have those until what, 3380?”
The man gave him that stare he knew so well – the one that said that here was a mind with untold depths of inanity. But the man wasn’t meeting his eyes. He was doing a good job of looking him in the face, but there’d been not a flash of eye contact since they’d begun speaking, or the Doctor had.
“But I think you’ve got in touch a little bit early, haven’t you? Yeah, yeah, different world different rules – I’m guessing eye contact does something kind of…” he waved his hand in an expressive manner: alarming, terrific, dangerous. “…You know, and you were speaking Latin back there. Very bad Latin, mind. So you chose words.” He was becoming unable to contain his grin. All right, he was stuck here, but a whole new universe, with whole new rules.
“But I bet if I tell you Carrionite…” he said, pointing. The man failed to shriek and disappear, but he did take a step back. The Doctor nodded and smiled. “Oh that’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.”
“I don’t know what you are, but take your damn wooden box and get out of my city,” the man said, raising the stick. Or, rather, the sonic… sonic staff? Why not.
“Oh very good, very good! ‘What’, not ‘who’. Yes, very good. Except I can’t.” The Doctor went serious very suddenly, thinking of that little blue light in the darkness. “Because it’s going to take a little while for my TARDIS to put itself back together.”
“Is that what you call that thing?” the man asked.
“Yep. It’s partially alive, but a lot of it is electronic,” he explained. “And your technology doesn’t play well with my technology.” And he was stuck in a world where technology was in the head and on the tongue.
“Magic. It’s not technology, it’s magic,” the man said. “Dresden,” he said finally, shifting the staff into the crook of his left arm and putting out his hand. “Harry Dresden.”
“Nice to meet you, Harry Dresden,” the Doctor said. They shook. Harry was wearing a bracelet of silver that glistened and rippled in eye-bending ways.
“And you’re the Doctor. Just the Doctor? I gave you my name,” Harry said.
“Yeah, and thank you for that,” the Doctor said, moving on quickly to the next question. “So, magic! The staff is, the bracelet is, the ring is, you are,” he added. “Do you count the Korlzitelk as magic too?”
“You mean the satyr,” Harry corrected him. “It was a satyr. And it was trying to kill me,” he added, almost defensively.
“It probably had a good reason for it, but no harm done,” the Doctor said. “It’ll be back eventually.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Yeah, trying to kill me again. Are you going to try that? Only it’s been a hell of a week and I’d rather not.”
“What? No, I’m not,” the Doctor told him with genuine shock. “I’m just stuck here, not bent on invasion. You lot have had enough of that.”
Harry gave him a long, suspicious look. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh, sorry, it’s 2000, isn’t it.” Canary Wharf, the Christmas invasion, even the Master were all still half a decade off. If they happened happened. If Torchwood here would leave well enough alone – would there be a Torchwood here?
Only if there was another him here. The thought gave the Doctor pause, but he didn’t let the uncertainty show on his face for very long. Last thing he needed was for Harry to take control of the conversation.
Manic expression again. “That aside, if you’re done shooting up the place, I’m here for at least another forty-eight hours. The TARDIS’ll be fine by itself. You wouldn’t know where I could get a good meal, would you?” he asked.
“You haven’t told me anything,” Harry pointed out. “That box shouldn’t still be standing. You’ve got no name and half of what you’ve said is nonsense.” He shifted the staff back into his right hand, setting himself up. As if the Doctor were a threat.
“I told you enough, haven’t I? I’m the Doctor and I’m stuck here. And I’m absolutely starving. Come on, let’s go find a pub. Are we in Chicago?” That was what the TARDIS had said, but the skyline was different. A few extra buildings here, a clear space there, nothing too dramatic – and on the other hand, it certainly smelled like Chicago. He set off.
Taking the lead usually worked, and people were happy to follow him, or at least too confused to do otherwise. Harry Dresden was different. The Doctor was nearly out of the graveyard when he heard, “You don’t want to go that way. There’ll be more of them.”
“What, more Korlzitelks? I’m not the one who’s shooting at them,” the Doctor reminded him, leaving the boundries of the graveyard. Then he stopped, looked around, and ducked, quite suddenly. Bullets whizzed over his head.
“Always with the shooting!” They’d come from over to his left, from the parked cars, and then there was Harry, already running in the opposite direction, and shouting at him to do the same. It seemed sensible. He ran. Behind them, bullets bounced off a force field in midair.
Harry launched himself into a small and beat-up multicoloured Bug, and the Doctor, slightly faster, whipped around into the passenger’s side.
“Well that’s a good old-fashioned Earth welcome for you,” he commented. Harry ignored him, intent on speeding away as fast as possible. Just as well too; three cars had pulled away from the curb and were in hot pursuit.
“What are you doing in my car?” Harry growled, and made a turn that had to be illegal, by the laws of nature if not the laws of man.
“You said to run!” The Doctor glanced behind them. “Good idea, by the way.” Someone was leaning out the window of the car behind them. The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver, rolled the window down, set the device to ‘resonate lead’ and pressed.
The gunshot went off but was not followed by a bullet, and Harry turned into a busy street while their pursuers slowed in confusion. “There! No harm done.” Assuming they weren’t followed any further. The Doctor looked back; the cars went past the intersection and then faded from sight. That was new.
“You’re not a wizard. What the hell did you just do?” Harry asked, with a suspicious glance at the sonic screwdriver.
“Wizard? No, not so much. Well, I am brilliant enough for it. But this…” he tossed the screwdriver from hand to hand “…is just a fascinatingly good piece of technology.”
Harry gave it a look like he expected it to explode at any second. Given the TARDIS’s reaction to his sonic blaster, maybe it would. Better to avoid it: the Doctor slipped the thing back into a pocket.
“So, have days like this often?” he asked Harry brightly.
“More often than you’d expect,” Harry told him. “Though the suicidal British guy is a new one on me. Why are you following me again?” The light was green, and the car traveled slowly down the street. Almost as if they hadn’t been nearly killed moments before.
The Doctor shrugged. “Seemed the best thing under the circumstances?”
“It isn’t. I’ve got something weird after me. And I’m leaving you out of it.” Harry’s jaw set, and the lines on his brow deepened. Outside, the heavy traffic gave way to a side street which offered the tantalizing possibility of parking space.
“Oh, weird, I like weird. How weird?” the Doctor asked. “How much weirder does it get than a wizard?” He gave Harry his it’s-just-an-innocent-question look, but Harry was having none of it.
“Someone with no name who stepped out of a police box that wasn’t there five minutes ago?”
“Yeah, well. At least I’m consistent.”
Like I said: 'Kueh POV. A couple weeks after the last one.
There are very few things to do at six-forty-five in the morning and contemplating your own mortality is most of them. I was trying very hard not to do this, because it’s never best to contemplate death when you’re on the roof of a twelve-storey building. I concentrated on the fact of my freezing fingers, instead.
They were colder than the rest of me because I was holding some obscure metal piece in place for our new mechanic. I was trying, also, to ignore this, because if I were to give him any sort of encouragement he’d be trying to talk to me again. Not that words weren’t coming out of his mouth right now, but at least he wasn’t expecting a response.
“So I just slam this thing in here and get the coils locked in place, and it won’t take toooooo much longer if you just – ah fuck, I was counting on that wire – yeah so hold this and don’t move and give me another ten minutes…” He handed me something and ducked back under the fuselage. I took the wire, though my fingers didn’t want to move. In ten minutes the sun would be fully up, so perhaps they’d be able to thaw me. Perhaps.
Boss had insisted I take the job of watching him, because ‘you need the break’ and ‘he’s gonna be dangerous’. So I was again left with the job of supervising the new Spacer idiot. Granted, Une had turned out all right, but still, it was a bit much.
I think this one had taken all the words Une wasn’t using; he talked more than enough for two. Just as well, really, since I was in no mood to be conversational. He’d been down here for long enough that I was no longer ready to kill him on sight, but I still didn’t feel the need to be friendly.
For some reason he kept going out of his way to be friendly with me. I didn’t know why; I do have that effect on people sometimes, but usually people who haven’t met Boss. Until you talk with him, you don’t really understand that sucking up to his people doesn’t work.
The sun wasn’t quite all the way over the horizon when the Spacer took the wires out of my hands and wove them through everything else in some complicated way. He slid out from under the body and stood up straight, grinning at me. “Totally air-worthy! Told you I was good.”
I nodded a bit and ignored him, trying to get the feeling back into my fingers. He shrugged – most likely thought I didn’t notice – and turned back to his handiwork.
“Come on, admit it. I’m fucking awesome.” He leaned back on the guard-rail with a self-satisfied smirk.
I did have to admit it was a well-done piece of work. Very few people could reconstruct a fighter plane from the framework and scrap pieces of metal. Fewer could fit it with jury-rigged versions of the flight controls. And all with Earthsider materials, which at this point were little more advanced than hand torches and rivets.
When I said this, he responded, “Well yeah, it’s well done, ‘cause I’m a fucking genius. Look at this! This wing” – he stepped back over to the plane and knocked on said wing – “Is half the wrong side of a twelve-year-old ship. And do you have any idea how hard it is to get that damn ceramic to act like it’s supposed to? Pain in the ass, I tell you…” and he was off.
I’ve never been interested in engineering, so this was lost on me, and he could probably tell that, but he was too enamored of the sound of his own voice to care. When he looked ready to start another lecture on the cockpit, I put a stop to it.
“We should tell Boss. He’ll need to be informed before we test it.” And quite honestly I wanted to get down from there; still cold, and I’m not good with heights, not really.
A moment of surprise and then he shrugged and stuck his still-greasy hands in his pockets. “All right, cool, let’s get to it then. Though.” That grin again, with a spark in his eyes that I was not at all sure I liked. “I got one way to show him that it works.”
He jumped up on the wing, which of course was my cue to point a gun at him again. I have a very quick draw – it comes from my sword work. “Get down.”
He put his hands up but didn’t move, just looked resigned. “I should’ve known. You going to shoot me again?”
“I’m prepared to.” Because there was no way a new, untried Spacer was going to use a new, untested ship – that he’d built, mostly alone – without another pilot around. Not if I had a say in the matter, and I did. I had bullets.
“It kind of hurt the first time, y’know,” he told me. He was probably going to try to jump for it. Not the best idea; he might think I wouldn’t shoot the ship, but I certainly would. Its hull integrity was not as important as keeping him grounded.
“That is the point. Get down.” I don’t like talking to people when I have a gun on them. You can never tell when they’ll have more patience than you.
“You don’t think flying this thing over the encampment would be a good way to show off?” he asked. Could he be serious? As serious as he’d so far shown himself to be.
“If you want to cause a panic, then yes, it’s a lovely idea. Get. Off. The plane.”
When he made a sudden movement I nearly fired – I was a little hair-trigger that day, for what I think are perfectly understandable reasons – but he was only jumping off the wing again.
“No fun, no fun at all,” he said, shaking his head. “I can see I’m going to have to be the one to put some excitement back into this place.”
“We have excitement,” I said. “Mostly supplied by your colleagues.” I put my gun back in my side holster, but kept it easy to draw. I wasn’t ready to be anything like relaxed right then.
“Getting shot at is a thrilling and valuable pasttime, but in the realms of ‘fun’ it’s right up there with root canals, tetanus shots and getting your face torn off by wild badgers,” he said, as if the words coming out of his mouth were perfectly reasonable. I didn’t laugh, because I don’t. Neither did I smile. Much.
The logical disconnect there is just inherently humorous. Moving on. “We don’t have time to be distracted,” I told him. “You were military; you should understand that.” Une had, but then the difference between this man and Une was so great as to make it hard to believe they were members of the same species, let alone the same command structure.
He waved his hands around vaguely. “Yeah, yeah, there’s that, but military’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. You know, so many guys in rotation, there’s not a lot to do most days, except when there’s a run…” he glanced at me, and flinched. “Sorry.”
I didn’t respond. Let him stew in his guilt for a while. He deserved it.
“Let’s get moving,” I said, already walking towards the staircase. “Sivier will fly this thing on its test run. Please remember that if anything unexpected happens, you’ll die.” And with luck, he wasn’t suicidal.
He looked annoyed but not actually in fear for his life, which said good things about Sivier’s prospects. “Because I’m going to let that happen. If I wanted to get out of here I could – your security sucks ass.”
I was in charge of security. “It’s as good as it can be.” My tone was laced with all the irritation and defensiveness I had; I had next to nothing to work with when it came to keeping the city safe. Boss, Une, Sivier, a few former solders, a few other members of the original Earthside Rebel – only the solders had real training, and Boss and I didn’t trust them enough to let them take charge of much.
He snorted. “Oh whatever. I used to wire up my bedroom better than those fucking infrareds you’ve got. Couple of tripwires, some mines, and get those snipers to better places, you’re set.”
I would have agreed with him, actually, except that there were a few notable facts he was missing. “Each time we put the snipers higher, someone snipes them. They have to be hidden from air as well as ground. And we simply don’t have the resources for better sensors.”
We were halfway down the stairs by now. He still had his combat boots; they echoed. Harder to hear properly, and I was starting to get nervous, because I’d let an unknown quantity walk down the stairs behind me. Not the brightest idea I’ve ever had.
“I didn’t say higher, I said better. And there’s still the mines, I know where you can get a fuckton of explosives if you want ‘em,” he tossed off. I stilled.
“You know where to find explosives?” Yes, I did want them. And soon.
He kept walking and just about crashed into me, dodging at the last moment to thud down the stairs. “Ye-ah, I think there’s a resupply base what, a couplea-fifty miles off the point? I mean it’s not gonna be easy, but it’s sure as hell better’n what you’ve got now.”
I followed, slightly more at ease now that he’d fixed my mistake. “’Off the point’. A sea base?” I frowned. We had no real way to get to anyplace in the ocean.
“Yep. You got what, five, six jets? Send two. Do it at twilight, paint ‘em up like Spacer’s sea patrols, I’ll fly one and give ‘em my callsign – it oughta work once, anyway, maybe twice – we land, we steal, we cripple, we move out. You can fit a couplea passengers in those things too, so we can have backup and a way to get anyone who looks like they might be worth convincing.”
We hit ground and he stopped in the caseway, waiting for me to think it through before we went back outside. It wasn’t a good plan. It was a workable plan, with high payoff – but high risk. Were we willing to take it for the possibility of weapons?
Probably. We were desperate, at that point. But… “I’ll consider it. You won’t be flying and you won’t be armed,” I say. “And don’t think that this will get you in my good books. Not yet.”
He shrugged. “I wouldn’t trust me either, man. Give it time.”
Picks up right where the last one left off. After this we'll switch to 'Kueh's point of view for a while, 'cause 'Tatsu is tiring.
No, you haven't seen Sivier before. He exists. Looks like Quatre only taller and nastier.
I’m not gonna take this lying down – figuratively, anyway – though, so. “I’m gonna be after his fucking blood! I might never get this fucking arm back, and you can’t fly with one fucking arm!” I snarl. Oh. Is that what I’m so damn upset about? Yeah, that’ll do it. Worse than trechery, worse than conspiracy, I am grounded now. I’m a groundie. Gods above and below, that’s disgusting.
But since Marine is looking at me again – fuck him. I have bigger problems – no, I don’t, not at the moment, and not looming over me with fists clenched – okay, I back off. In a manly, reasoned fashion. I absolutely do not jerk back from him and slam into the wall. I knew that wall was there, I just don’t want to upset it by telling it so, so I yelp. At this rate I’m never going to heal.
Boss laughs at me. Oh shut the fuck up. “Down, boy. We already got what we need, we can stop freakin’ him out. Go get some sleep,” he says. “I’ll get him set up, soon enough.” He drops on a cinderblock, hand on his hip holster, and lounges. I gotta give him this, it’s kinda impressive to see a guy lounge on an improv chair made of all right angles.
Marine goes off somewhere, which leaves me alone with the guy who has not yet actually hit me, which is at least somewhat reassuring.
He looks at me. I look at him. He has this shit-eating grin on his face. I doubt I look so fucking pleased with myself.
“Get the canary?” I ask, dry as Death Valley.
He nods. “Ya know, we gotta work on your attitude problem.”
“I will show you a fucking attitude problem the next time I can fucking stand up –“ I growl at him.
“Not great reason for me to let you, is it?” No, it’s not. “Look, here’s where we are – I got a ship needs fixed, you got a powerful need to get off the ground. We’re going’ at the same angles, see?” he says. I chart trajectories before I realize it’s a metaphor. Thought I had a monopoly on those. Yes I know that’s stupid, I told you I was concussed.
“So you let me hang onto you for another coupla days, you can get the feel of the place, we can make sure you ain’t got a bunch o’ friends on backup, we’ll be in business.” He leans back even more on the rough brick. That so can’t be comfortable, though I guess I don’t have much of a leg to stand on – metaphorically, I still have most of my leg intact – since I’m sitting on a piece of metal that’s making a really serious bid for interpersonal relations. I’m too tired to actually move.
“All my friends are brainwashed or dead,” I say. “I still blame that last part on you dicks. Just so you don’t get any ideas.” Would I take another way to get back at the colony leaders? Don’t know. Like ‘em or not these guys did save my life, in a sick and twisted and sadistically torturous way, and only after kicking the shit out of me to begin with. But there’s still shit left to be kicked, so that counts for something.
“I know there ain’t no love lost between us, and I do hate what we gotta do some days. But look me in the eye and tell me you ain’t killed.” I can’t do it and he’s gotta know that.
“Seventy-three. That I’m sure of,” I say. I don’t look up at him. Yeah. I’m not proud of that, either. I don’t know all their names, I’m not some psycho-angsting anime hero, and I don’t know half their faces. But I know I killed ‘em.
“Headed right on down with the rest of us,” he says. Okay, so I killed the laughter too. Not for long though, ‘cause he can’t seem to stay on a hard topic too long, not that I’m in any place to throw stones.
“Think I’ll put you in with ‘Kueh first off. He shouldn’t’a shot ya,” Boss says, conspiratorially.
“Damn right he shouldn’t’a!” Oh shit, I’m picking up his accent. Give me another week and I’ll have his freaking syntax, too.
He continues like he didn’t notice, which, you know, I’m usually the only one who does. “So I think it’ll do him some good, if you’re on his watch for a while.”
“And where the hell does my good come into all this?” I snap. I do not want to room with that bastard. I only have so much control over my animal instincts. And I can’t figure out whether jumping him or hitting him would screw up our further relationship more.
Boss gives me a lazy, mocking smile. “I ain’t never said nothin’ about your good,” he says.
Are infuriating bastards born, or made? Either way, like I said: this one’s had lots of practice. “And if either of us kills the other?”
“I’m not liking your odds in that matchup,” he says.
More footsteps, lighter this time, interrupt my detailed revenge fantasy. It’s a tall skinny blond guy with a big-ass rifle. “Trey,” he greets Bossguy, than sees me and nods. “This is the one?”
“I’m the one? Does this mean I can dodge bullets now?” I wonder aloud.
Boss chooses to ignore me – I knew he learned fast – nods to blondie, and says, “Yeah. Futatsu Walker.”
“’Tatsu, okay? You guys suck at Japanese ‘f’.”
“’Tatsu,” says blondie, blank-faced. “I’m Sivier. You won’t be seeing much of me.”
“Ow, burned,” I say. Sivier gives me what might be the tiniest of smiles. Dear god – does that mean he actually got a joke? There’s someone in this place whose sense of humor isn’t totally fubared? Well shit, I might get along all right.
“Well he might,” Boss says. “He’s Air Force.” Sivier looks at me again with new interest.
“What kind of ship?” he asks. I shrug.
“Little bit of everything – my Stella was custom, got the body of a G-813, little extra in the computers and wings – dammit, it took me like eight months to get those wings attached right…” I say.
“Your Stella?” he echoes. “You called a spaceship Stella.”
“Yeah, I did, and it got me laid for six straight months, so don’t knock it,” I say with a grin. He shakes his head to hide the smirk, then goes back to the poker face.
“Y’all pilots can perv over your boats later, hear? He’s with ‘Kueh for a couple weeks, get that G-8whatever off the ground, and if he’s still in the clear maybe I’ll let you play,” Boss says.
Sivier’s eyes widen. “He’s gonna fix the G-819?”
My eyes’d be bugging out of their sockets if they weren’t halfway to swollen shut. “You have a G-819?”
Boss throws up his hands. “I bloody hope so and not if you don’t get it workin’. I tell you. Pilots.”
“Because you’ve never spent an hour fondling your semiautomatic,” Sivier snarks at him, then puts a kind of intimate hand on his shoulder. Well I guess he’s off-limits then, you really don’t wanna flirt with the boss’s boytoy. Remind me to tell you that story sometime. Or maybe not.
“I ain’t made a career out of it, is all. Sivier, wanna get someone to stick down here for me? I got shit to do and this guarding thing is hella stressful.” Boss is so relaxed he may as well be asleep, but whatever. As long as newguy – do they have chicks in this place? Haven’t seen one yet – isn’t triggerhappy, I’m cool. Since I’m not gonna be getting out of here anytime soon.
“Nice to know I’m a high priority,” I snipe.
Sivier ignores me. I’m truly and deeply wounded. “Yeah, sure. Who you want?”
“Seiji or someone.”
“Got it, Boss.” They touch hands before he leaves. Cute.
So the next three, four days, maybe, it’s not like I can tell time anymore what with the distinct lack of window, I sit around and get better, for a given value of ‘better’. I don’t see SDaC – good – but I do see a hell of a lot more of Marine than I want to. And kind of a lot of Boytoy, which I can deal with. As long as I don’t refer to him by that nickname to his face.
And there’s this guy Dirk, who’s the doctor, about seventy years old, a total drunken lout, and fucking awesome. And did something to my leg and ribs that made them heal in about a week. Which, seriously, even if not for the other great aspects to his personality, that’d have me putting up little candlelit shrines to the man. Assuming I had candles.
After three-or-four days, while I’ve still got the fucking cast on, they pull me out of the little cinderblock not-cell and install me in a third-floor apartment with external access only. Charming. Even more charming is the fact that it’s got SDaC living a floor below it. And he’s got orders to check up on me like once every six hours.
Boss’s rationalization for this is that I’m an important guy, got engineering knowledge they can’t match, so I get the most important guard. He grinned way too hard when he said that. Dick.
Morning Number One dawns at, to no one’s great surprise, dawn, when I get stabbed in the face with a sunbeam. Fucking lack of curtains. I roll out of bed, stop myself when I remember bed’s actually off the ground now, manage not to injure myself getting to the little food closet, and accomplish breakfast, the only casualties being some not-very-important-anyway taste buds. This shit they call cereal is almost as bad as MREs.
“Okay, that’s done, is there any way to take a fucking shower in this place? Water pressure’s shot,” I say out loud. “Nevermind, I’ll just stink, not like anyone else cares.” Not like I get to see anyone else, ‘cepting my sort-of jailer.
He’ll be by at some point. Do I care if he sees the place a mess? Nah. Besides maybe he’ll take the messed-up bed as an invitation – good god I need to get laid.
You know what? I bet I can get these water pipes to take steam power.
Two and a half hours, some serious stick-on-wallpaper diagrams, and a rough wooden model later, SDaC shows up looking like someone kicked his cat. “What the hell are you doing?”
I’m halfway buried under the useless kitchen sink with a pair of shitty wirecutters. “Engineering. ‘S why you’re keeping me around, right?” I say, without moving. It took some serious doing to get into this position without killing any ribs and I am not giving it up without a fight.
“What sort of engineering requires tearing down the walls?” he asks.
“This sort,” I say. What the hell is that accent? I thought UK, but it isn’t. Wrong vowels. Weird. I shouldn’t be thinking about this while my fingers are where they are.
I swear to god he actually taps his fingers on the countertop, waiting for me to be more enlightening. I’m torn between being annoying and gushing about my new project. Ah, what the hell.
“I wanna get some piping so I can work out a steam system for the water in this building. Model’s on the table. Might not be the best mockup but it’s scaled, and this ain’t rocket science,” I say, and finally get the damn wirecutters to pierce the last bit of metal. Awesome. The pipe falls on my shoulder, which isn’t so awesome, but whatever. It’s not the healing one.
I wriggle out of the cabinet and make a show out of it, ‘cause I am just that talented, and also ‘cause otherwise it’ll look like I’m pathetically unable to bend more than three degrees. Which may be true. Which is his fault. But I don’t get the feeling he goes in for guilt.
With pipe held above my head – in the single working arm I have currently, not that I’m bitter or anything – I declare, “This is my boomstick!”
He raises an eyebrow. Some people have no appreciation for the classics.
“And what exactly are you going to do with that?”
Ow fuck I think I just bit through my tongue trying not to give the first eight replies that inspired. Seems a damn shame to throw away such a perfect straight line. Such is my suffering.
I plunk the boom-pipe down on the table. “Gonna be my stress-test. Now have you got something to actually do?” I ask him.
“I was supposed to be sleeping, but found that impossible,” he says. Come to it he does look kind of tired. Though his hair’s not messed up. Gotta get him to tell me how he does that.
“Sorry man, it’s time to get out of bed. Bright and shining new day.” I grab my best presketch and look it over. “Hey, you got a big metal tub and some solder?” I ask. Look, I have some seriously serious attention when I’m on a project. Pretty as he is, SDaC can’t compete with steam power.
“Some of us didn’t get in until five this morning,” he says, refusing to be distracted. Hey, okay, I get it, man needs his sleep.
“Been out partying?” I ask. Am I trying to piss him off? Signs point to probably.
He gives me this cutting look and hell, for all I know he could be actually trying to laser a beam through my skull. He’s got his work cut out for him then; I got one hell of a dense head.
“Now that is a hangover look if I ever saw one,” I declare.
I swear he’d be growling if he knew how. I should teach him. “I do not party. I was out until five in the morning waiting for your rescue party.”
Ouch. Man knows how to hurt a guy. “Wait, I have a rescue party?”
The glare’s too far gone to make any worse without doing some serious facial rearrangement, but dammit, he tries. “We got intel that you did. Fortunately, you weren’t that important.”
And again. I’m gonna have to start scoring some points or he’s – wait, he shot me. I still have the moral high ground, at least until he starts bringing up strafing.
So whatever, I let it slide off me and go about my business. Point made, he leaves. I don’t look up from my blueprints - wallpaperprints, whatever - until half past noon.