|IOC - The Fennec
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|Author:||Welsh Halfwit [ Wed May 11, 2016 4:06 pm ]|
|Post subject:||IOC - The Fennec|
This story is set in the same universe ads the Loper storylines but on a different world. Celica, home to the major scale race called 'Celicans'. They're Foxes and part of an interstellar alliance called the United Security Council. The Federal investigation agency of that Council - seperate to the Celicans own - is the IOC.
This story was a lot more fun to write than the last one in THE LOPER folder. Too many major characters. This one has three. Harden Golta, a Celican IOC agent, a new Character - the Fennec of the title - and Balbury. You'll meet HIM late on. Anyhow. Here we go.
The fence ahead of her sparked its power as she ran toward it, stopping her in her tracks. Behind her the sirens flicked on, drawing a whoop of sound from the ancient speakers and she listened to it continue for a few seconds whilst she stripped off her shorts and tore the tight black fabric into loops that she tied around her hands and feet. She tensed, readying her muscles for incoming pain, and ran towards the fence, jumping onto it near the top. Even as she felt the shock, her brain registered her thanks for the cutbacks. The prison service had cut its’ facilities back to the bone so prison garb needed to last longer. So they were insulated now. Thicker. It gave her a few seconds and she was going to use them. Her muscles glowed in the half light of the hunters’ moon as she pushed them to the limit on the upwards push. She felt the heat burning as she went, stitching black into her pads, possibly forever, before she got to the top of the fence and she twisted over with the grace of a ballerina, letting go as her arc passed the halfway point. She sailed over the fence and landed backwards, falling away from the fence onto her tail. She winced, cursed her foolishness and picked herself off the floor as she heard the trackers incoming.
She wished she’d eaten these last few days. Well, more than a scant few Rats and Zorinscritters but they’d been preparing for her final ‘accident’ in the yard so she’d known it was time to get out. She wasn’t going to get any help inside with what she’d heard, what she knew and who she’d met. She’d been told why she was being picked up but she wasn’t sure it had been made public. She sure hadn’t seen any sign of a Licenced Protector whilst she’d been held. Nor had she actually been charged with anything. Had she?
Her muscles pulled to the strain as she headed into the undergrowth, crashing through the knee high long grass as pinprick lights shone behind her, identifying her escape point. She reasoned they’d used a heatcam system and they’d still be using it now. The shuttles would be overhead soon. She needed to find cover. She needed to drop her body temperature. Was there any water nearby? She listened to the silence that didn’t exist. There was always something to hear under the really audible noise and she listened for it. The skittering of a creature in the grass that made her stomach roll, the sounds of birds on the wing. The wind wafting in from the south and the faintest sound of trickling water in the distance. Could she get there before the chasers were on her? She took half a breath against the hot night air and sprang towards the sound, running too fast over uneven ground that she’d never run on before.
It reminded her of the hunting grounds where her people practiced their killing skills and she kind of wished she’d paid more attention during the instruction periods and tests there. She was a solid C grade student, putting herself in the bottom fifteen percent. Not in the state or in the country but on the planet. And now, here she was, the hunted hunter. Her a hunter? That fact registered as laughworthy but her stripped bare lungs couldn’t find the energy to respond as she strained for breath. To others, all her people were considered hunters, even those who were just accountants and Independent Computer Security specialists like her. She did all her primary hunting from behind a glowing screen. She ate store meat – at least until she was incarcerated – and drank wine (on occasion) with others from other worlds that her own people had once tried to genocide by gastronomy. She was as far from being a hunter as it was possible to be without actually being prey. Her bleeding feet spoke to that. Cuts and scratches from innumerate rocks under her feet that threatened to trip her and end her flight but he had to keep going; to go on and… She dropped to the ground behind a bush as a figure moved by to her left. She hunkered down as much as she could and held her breath. A light splayed her way from fifty paces away and she did what she could to push herself further into the ground, letting dirt and stones into her fingers as she pushed them forward. She put her mouth to the ground and tasted the dry ground as the wind carried the scents of her pursuers towards her. Then she licked it slightly. There were people she knew who could probably identify where on the planet she was by the taste but she wasn’t one of them. She just wanted something in her stomach and, if it had to be dirt, so be it.
The light swung low over her back and kept on going. She stayed there for a moment or so, awaiting the gun to her head or the teeth at her throat at any moment, her life torn away in an instant. Her feet began to feel again and it wasn’t a happy thing. There was glass in one of her pads, cutting through the protection she’d put on it and deep into the fatty tissue. She could feel it now, just like she could hear the water of her dreams nearby. But she couldn’t run with the glass so she gritted her teeth against the pain and pulled the shard from her pad. After initial resistance it squished out, letting a squirt of blood escape behind it. She took a piece of fabric from her shirt and tied it tight around her foot. A small rodent, seemingly blind and inquisitive beyond sense, sniffed at the blood on the glass and, despite her earlier protestations, her strike was fast and efficient, slamming the side of her hand down on the back of the little things’ neck to break it. She lifted it eagerly into her mouth and crunched twice before swallowing with the merest hint of guilt. It still tasted good, despite everything, and she wanted more. But there weren’t any more. Not here. She had to go anyhow. That hunter had been a perimeter hunter but she could hear the main group coming now, behind her.
She picked herself up and ran, crying to herself with the pain on her feet as she ran through the scrub towards the water that loomed louder and louder, the grass cutting like thistles around her ankles and feet as she raced…
…over a small cliff. She cried out involuntarily as her standing feet found nothing underfoot and she thought how stupid that was. It’d bring them closer to her. They’d find her now. It was that fact she thought was ridiculous as she plunged to her inevitable death in the river below. At least it’d be cold, she thought.
She passed right under the search parties and drifted down until she snagged in the reeds to the side of the river and it was there she discovered that she wasn’t dead. It came as rather a welcome surprise to her, as she retched up fetid river water, that the current had permitted her muzzle to remain above water for the few minutes she’d been snorkelling. At least it was warm, she thought as she rose, sodden, from the river. She pulled green things from her shoulders and slopped them onto the bank. She felt a wetness that wasn’t from the river as she looked at her foot and the mangled mess of the pad. Deities only knew what shots she needed or what poisons were already in her system. Her ears were full so she did her best to slosh them out. Something caught her eye in the distance. A light, like a beacon on the ground, called to her and she pulled her half-naked form towards it. Them, she realised. It was a string of… A road! It was a road! Most of them were out on their own but one group seemed to be together and… A café? Full of trucks and cars? No, she noticed, there was only the one car there. She wasn’t far enough away but she couldn’t… she choked back a sob… she couldn’t go any further. She almost broke down as the lights switched off and the car pulled away but she had a separate idea that had her flagging hopes moving in the breeze. She approached the door, holding a stone, and tried to break the glass. Safety glass. It webbed but didn’t break and she finally broke down, crying loudly into the night as she slumped to the floor. She wailed out her frustrations against the world in a fully inarticulate fashion and sniffed into the dazzling light as a car caught her in its’ lights.
“Forgot my comms,” the owner said after a moment. “Came back. Lucky for you, eh?”
“Don’t… don’t come near me,” she said, barely able to lift the rock.
“Or you’ll collapse on me?” The Celican stepped forward, leaned down and, despite her attempts to hurt him with the stone, picked her up in his arms and carried her inside after unlocking the door. He put her in a chair. “I’ll call the local cops,” he said.
“No,” she protested, trying to think of anything that might stop the person from calling the cops. She looked hopefully at him as his mind whirred over her reluctance to deal with police. She swallowed. She had a way out. Possibly. “Call…” She coughed. “Call IOC. Please.”
He looked at her for a moment, then brought a commpad over so she could see the IOC listing he dialled.
The door held firm against the knocking in the middle of the night until Garron appeared from his office and crossed the half-lit café floor to put the key in the lock and turn it. A yellow and blue light strobed light flashed behind the newcomer as he strode into the building, his long tail lightly dusting the dusty floor. “Haven’t you normally gone home by now, Garrett,” he asked of the owner whilst not bothering to look at him.
“Yes, well,” Garrett replied, the snarl on his face giving light to the lie in his vocal tone, “I have things to finish up in the office. Suppliers want the payments to go through. You know what that’s like, Korta”
“No I don’t,” Korta said, sitting on a stool by the counter and turning it around, letting his badge on his chest glint slightly in the florescent light. “It looks like some damage to your door there,” he added, nodding to the damaged glass.
“Boots sometimes go where they will,” Garrett said, brushing the dust from the floor. “steel toed ones even more. Before youask, I did have to sort out a small fight. A couple of flesh wounds.”
Korta smirked. “So that explains the tang of blood in the air. Aren’t you going to offer me a coffee?”
Garrett sighed and stepped silently around to the other side of the counter. He reached under the counter and pulled a couple of instant heat coffee cans from under the counter. “I’m not wasting money turning the boiler back on.” He cracked the base to activate the heating crystals and passed the can over to the officer.
“Hm. Thanks anyhow. It’s a late night.”
“There’s some sort of flap on at the prison,” the officer admitted. “They’re not telling much but we can guess they’ve lost someone.”
Garrett sipped his coffee – foul stuff – and tried to look impressed or surprised. “I thought that place was supposed to be escape proof?” He took a seat near to the officer but refrained from sitting directly opposite. He had a rather fractious relationship with the law due to the clientele. He was regarded as a through point for illicit chemicals and contraband by the police but, as he put it, if he told on his customers he’d be bankrupt in a week.
“That might be why no-one’s telling us anything, Garrett,” Korta said, slugging back his coffee in one go. “A broken door and you here late.” He looked askew at Garrett. “Not like there’s anything suspicious about that, is there, Garrett?”
“Told you,” Garrett sniffed as Korta ran a handpaw over the tip of the brush handle, “it was only a minor disturbance.”
Korta turned and jabbed a hand towards the owner of the establishment. “One you should have told us about, Garrett. We’re supposed to uphold the law.” He opened the door and half stepped outside before looking down at the planking again. “Fight spilled outside, did it? You’ve cleaned up here.”
“Nothing puts customers off more than blood on the outside, you know that.” Garrett was getting frustrated now and he realised he had to rein it in. “A gashed hand bleeds plenty, my friend.”
Korta huffed. “One thing you’re not,” he announced heavily, his eyes boring hunters’ holes into Garrett, “is a friend. You’re also not above the law.” His eyes flicked to the darkened room behind his host. “You know, I’ve never seen your office? He gave a short laugh that sounded a little like a Vulture’s cry. “Never been in, despite all the times I’ve been here. Mind if I look in there now?”
Garrett looked back into the room and grimaced slightly. If he declined, Korta would know something was happening but, if he got lucky… “I suppose not,” he agreed with a small sigh and he moved into the back room where his small desk sat on the opposite side of the room, under the window. The floor was taken up by a long furred rug that lay splayed with the Pomoncerria head, with its’ toothtusks resting on the floor, pointing towards the desk. “It’s a memento of my first big kill,” Garrett said proudly. “I took the beast down one week shy of my twenty-first…” He looked toward the ceiling and let out a sigh. “Those were the days,” he said, “I could hunt one of these things for days on end and still rip its throat out.” He chuckled. “Can’t do that anymore. It’d nail me no trouble if I didn’t have a gun.”
Korta stepped over to the main desk and moved the mouse to reactivate the screen. Apparently the response was what he wanted to see as a spreadsheet appeared on the screen, detailing the café’s incomings and outgoings in detail. It almost hurt Korta’s eyes as he went from the half-light of the café into the bright white of the laptop screen. “Got much more to do,” he asked casually.
“Maybe an hour or so more,” Garrett told the officer. “Might spend the night in the chair.”
“No hammock?” Korta asked, looking up.
“Don’t do it often enough.”
Korta was about to speak again but his comm cut in indistinctly. He stepped out of the room but Garrett could still make out that the deputy was being scolded for not being where he was supposed to be. His protestations held no weight and he was compelled to move out. Garrett watched him go, strobing lights headed into the distance. Then he waited, returning to his spreadsheets for ten minutes or so before he walked to the restrooms and knocked on the Vixen door. “He’s gone,” he said to the girl behind the door, “want some blood soup?”
“Yes, please,” the voice said, still sounding weak. He headed to where the cans were stored, poured one into a bowl and put it in the heater. It was cheaper than replicated soup and not as rich. He doubted she could take rich right now and he didn’t think her vomiting would help anything.
Night died into the early morning as a beaten up old roadhugger 4x4 in pastille blue pulled up outside and a muscled Celican in trousers and a green shirt stepped out and up to the door. He entered amongst the earliest breakfast runners and stepped up to the counter. “I hear good things about the breakfasts here,” he told the counter controller.
“Try the pie.”
“I was supposed to meet someone here,” the newcomer said, letting the server catch a glimpse of his IOC badge as he paid for the breakfast. “Is there anyone waiting for Halda Golta?” And he flashed a smile that made the female truckers in the room melt slightly. Hell, even Garrett wanted him for a second.
“I’ll check the messages,” he said, before going to get the girl.
|Author:||Welsh Halfwit [ Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:04 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: IOC - The Fennec|
She watched him. She shivered despite the radiator in the small room and watched him on the TV as she sipped her hot milk. Was she ever going to feel warm again? There was no shower here and Garrett hadn’t wanted her contaminating the sink with the green gloop she’d picked up in the river but she’d managed to get enough off her face with the tiniest of sinks in this room and Garrett had supplied a child’s outfit from the days back when he’d tried making this place into a money maker. She hated the Canary yellow top with the slogan ‘I’ve eaten at Garrett’s – I bet you haven’t’ sweeping at a thirty degree upwards angle from the right armpit to the left shoulder. She wanted to change that as soon as she possibly could – for something that didn’t tell where she’d been for one thing – but it was dry and, with the shorts that she could just about move in, it covered enough.
A short, sharp, pain reminded her that they didn’t cover her feet and she looked down at the limb that had just bitten through the painkillers. She was going to have to get that treated, she supposed, beyond the antiseptic treatment she’d screamed through a few hours ago. Healing medicine shouldn’t hurt so much, dang it! Garrett had said he’d once had light footwear bought for the place but he’d sent the one and only box back unopened. Everyone who’d come here had their own shoes. The room she was in was from more modern times. A safety room where people could hide from those chasing them for a while. Garrett normally charged for the use, he said, but he said he’d let her have use for free. He gave her a slight smile as he admitted it was because she seemed to have stuck a thorn in the governmental paw. And now she sat forward, watching the screen.
He had the look of a movie action star, she decided. A sculpted look with tight eyes that looked straight up into the camera now. He’d spotted it. She hadn’t spotted it, even when Garrett had told her where it was but he was looking right into it and winking. She hugged her tail to her chest as she tried to work out why she wasn’t feeling threatened. His muscle lines were showing through the shirt he had on and his claws looked impressive and…
She yelped slightly as the door opened at the end and Garrett allowed himself into the small enclave. “Sorry,” she said, putting down the cup she’d been about to throw.
“Yeah,” Garrett said, “wanna meet this guy?”
She thought for a moment before nodding slightly. Her left ear drooped as a wad of forgotten green river grass pulled at it and she tugged at it. The tiny barbs of the grass gripped to her dull yellow fur and it took a second for her to get it off. She had a recurring thought that Velcro was invented from Celican River grass and that flicked through her mind again as she dropped it in the bin. “Is… is it safe out here,” she asked, looking curiously at the two Celicans working the kitchen.
“You’ll have to come out of there sometime,” Garrett said, trying to put a note of firmness in his voice.
“And I fear there is not enough room in there for the three of us,” said a honey-smoked voice from behind Garrett.
“Sir,” Garrett snapped, blocking her view of the newcomer. “You’re supposed to wait in the café!”
“I thought it better if I met the lady back here,” Agent Golta said gently as she appeared behind Garrett’s leg. He smiled and held out a hand to her. “We could always talk three ways if you like?”
“I can’t,” Garrett said, pulling out a small metal table and folding chairs. “I have customers. Harm her, I harm you.”
“Wasn’t going to,” Golta said, taking one of the chairs for himself. He watched the Fennekin put her coffee on the top and seat herself. “The information you told us how to get was checked into by one of our tech types,” Golta said. “Lieutenant Commander Goganna was arrested this morning and the compatriots are being rounded up, so thanks for that.”
“’S no problem,” she shrugged, putting u her hands around her mug.
He leaned just a tiny bit closer. “So you’re Rena Dezè,” he said quietly.
She looked around for an escape as he uttered the name she was known by on the boards. She couldn’t outrun him but perhaps. She jumped slightly as she realised one of his hands was atop hers but making no attempt to stop her. It was being… reassuring? Comforting? Something that wasn’t impelling her to fly anyhow. “Don’t worry, the tech had to tell me. He spotted a few clues, yeah? And an old friend told us to use obscure Human languages for the translation. The ‘Slender monk’?”
She let out a small chuckle. She’d heard of him. Virtually every hacker had heard of him and the current ones had learned from his tricks. The fact that Rena Dezé was a translation of ‘Desert fox’ had suited her. It described her but without giving anything away.
“I’m Halda Golta,” the walking hunk said gently. “Can I ask your real name?”
She was about to tell him. She was. Then Garrett came back in. “You two need to shift out,” he warned, making Golta look out, over the counter, to where several people were moving towards the door. “This is a truck café populated by dubious types,” Garrett said, showing them towards the door, “One just radioed a lot of cars are coming in.”
Golta led her to a battered blue lowrider and opened the passenger door for her. “Not exactly standard,” he admitted as she got in and put her strap on, pulling the shoulder catch as low as she could so it didn’t cut across her throat. “But they’re less likely to be expecting IOC in this sort of car.”
“I d…don’t doubt that,” she replied as he got in, sinking the car slightly lower to the ground. “It’s a rust trap.”
“Hey,” Golta protested, “I borrowed this from a friend.” And, as trucks made way, Golta chose one going their way and slung in behind it.
For a moment she let him concentrate on driving as he pulled in behind a fuel truck heading… was it West? She couldn’t be sure but she seemed to remember Garrett had said the city of Hagbr was the closest major place when he’d pointed out where they were on a map. So that had to be where they were headed, right? Or, at least, where they could transfer to a vehicle that wasn’t smaller than the truck in front’s wheels. Of course it meant she could actually see it, looking up over the dashboard as she was currently being forced to do. She glanced over at her ‘protector’, the Golta guy, and hoped she’d not just got into a car with a professional liar or, worse, a local cop. She heard vehicles passing.
“within the automobile,” Golta growled as he glanced at the passing vehicles. “Special 14’s”
She looked up at him. “S…Special 14’s?” She tried looking around but the seat was in the way so she looked forward again. “I… I heard about them,” she continued. “Are…aren’t they a bit old?”
“Fast enough to eat up the head start we have as soon as they check the surveillance outside the bar.” He looked down at her, back up to the road and down to her again. “Do you want a booster seat?”
She closed her eyes and looked up to the underside of the cartop. “I want to go home,” she moaned, “I want to be safe, I want to not know the things I know… I want to not be chased by people with guns, not to have been locked up for so long, not to have every bone and muscle aching and, oh boy, do I want a booster seat!” She risked a smile. “Or a Frenkin auto services car.”
“It’d need to be a convertible,” Golta reminded her. “With no front seat.”
“You mainlines are too muffins and cookies big,” she told him. “And Garrett wouldn’t have CCTV of his parking lot, surely?”
“Locals probably have a motion capture camera hidden in one of the streetlamps,” Golta told her. “It won’t take them long to see us.” He indicated that he wanted to pass the lorry and a black furred arm waved him past. The Car pushed up to sixty miles an hour and out into the oncoming lane.
The machine purred past the back wheels and she looked up and out of her window. “We could fit under there,” she said abstractly.
He looked over and she could see him making mental calculations before he turned his muzzle back to the road. “Possibly,” he admitted, “but even with my past I wouldn’t like to try it.”
He smiled at her and her fears melted again. “I used to do undercover work,” he confided. “I was a stunt performer for almost a decade.”
She felt like she believed him. It seemed correct. It seemed… him. She gave passing wonder to what heroes he might have stunted for and made invincible. He had to be the sort of performer who could beat ten agents at once in a fair fight. Or at least two in an unfair fight. “I thought you’d be in films,” she said quietly as they passed under the faded, flapping, print for ‘Kova Chemical Waste Services’. “I knew there was a chemical dump near Hagbr,” she added. She slapped a small fist into her left palm and winced, wringing out the hands.’
“You alright,” Golta asked, frowning at her and wrinkling that handsome face.. “Rhetorical. Of course you’re not. Why did you do that?”
She spread her hands in exasperation. “If I’d have known I could have asked the driver questions! Got more information!”
He half smiled. Her fear was hidden now, barely there under her desire to investigate and know. Curiosity, it seemed, was more than a danger to Felines. “One deadly threat at a time please,” he said before looking in the mirror. “Uh, oh.”
“What,” she asked, trying again to turn around.
“There’s a special 14 coming up fast,” he said, turning back to the front view as the road tucked itself in tight to the side of a cliff with a steep incline on the other side. The Picardy gorge, according to the sign that they paid no heed to as they motored past the cab.
From where she was, she could see the driver indicating and she rolled the window down to hear. She said ‘right’ but doubted he heard her in the wind as her voice was swallowed up by it and she gulped dizzily, groggily pulling her head back in and rolling the window up. “he says he’ll hold them up as much as he can.”
Golta smirked. “And you wanted him arrested!”
She shifted uncomfortably as the car passed eighty miles an hour and pulled back in front of the truck as it shifted to try and take up both lanes. “One enemy at a time, I suppose,” she conceded as they headed towards the Forest of Picardy, a swathe of Red Berraquat trees that cut the horizon in two. With the exception of the road, everything here was trust land, only hand hunting allowed. No weapons. No Comms and a bare minimum of Ranger stations equipped with emergency fuel for those who had run out and could afford the price.
And then, as they tried to catch a second big rig, the forest was upon them and everything went blood red under the foliage.
The car jolted and she found herself awake, sniffing the air and looking, panicked, for the guards who must be coming to take her out to the yard. Yards didn’t have cars, her brain told her as her foot recalled there was something deeply hurt about it. “Who?” She said. “Wh…where? Wh…when?”
“Where and who,” said a calm voice next to her as the car kept rattling and shaking. She watched his hand shift the gearstick as he lamented not bringing a cross country vehicle. “We had to get off that road,” he told her, “so we’re using the forest trails on the map I took from a Ranger hut.”
Her memory was beginning to put things back in their correct place now and, to be quite honest, she was kind of wishing it wasn’t. From the moment armed officers arrested her to now was only a succession of unpleasantness and depravity, starvation and poor food in random order, questions and quandaries. They wanted information from her but she didn’t actually know on what and they couldn’t tell her because it would prove whatever she had on whoever she had it. As it was she had some nasty thoughts but, on hearing his voice, she only had one. “We stopped? And you didn’t wake me?”
Golta huffed slightly as he juddered over another squad of pot holes. “You were out of it,” he explained, pushing the car to the left, “and I just wanted the maps.”
“Look on the back seat.”
She twisted and gasped as she saw – or, rather, didn’t see – the back seat buried under a mound of maps. “You took the lot?”
“Station was unmanned,” Golta said. “Those maps have all the trails through them marked out and we needed to change route.” The car slammed through a mud puddle, sending plumes of water into the thickets of grass on either side of the track. “It’ll slow them tracking us.”
“S…” she jumped without trying, feeling her bottom leaving the seat and spreading her hands and feet out wildly before she fell into the seat again. “Ow,” she complained, rubbing her tail. “Speaking of… slowing down.”
“We’ve only been on the track for twenty minutes,” he warned. “I’m trained in cross…” He pulled the car right sharply to avoid a tree. “Maybe slower is a bit better, yes.” She watched him slow to thirty miles per hour.
She tapped the hand that was on the gear stick. “I was thinking more of stopping for a minute? This bumping and c…crashing has, um, has loosened a lot of water.”
“Huh,” Golta asked, glancing to her with a mixture of puzzlement and confusion. He looked strange under the dark red leaf shield provided by the trees. Then his face cleared. “Oh! Well I can only stop for a moment.”
As he heard her close by, Golta did his best to look over the car. Lots of bumps and dinks in the metalwork and the right front tyre looked like it wouldn’t last the day. Golta gave up on the check over and scanned the woods as best he v. He kept his primary weapon low, out of sight but ready for use in his hand. They had a lead, yes, and cover from aerial searches but the people chasing them had so many other advantages available to them that the odds were more or less equal. For instance they had pheromone scanners which could pick up a targeted persons’ scent from miles away as the wind blew and, right now, she was pumping the stuff into the ground. This forest was also a hunting ground. It meant some of the most vicious non sentient life on the planet roamed here without much restriction. And so did the hunters looking to prove themselves.
She hunkered down when finished and noted she couldn’t hear him. Was he still there? Why had she moved two trees in before finding ‘the perfect spot’? And what was that anyhow, when in a forest? A fair amount of moss? Ground that didn’t already have someone’s mark on it? She cursed her stupidity and the hunting teacher she’d had all those years ago. Should she try calling his name? What if that put him in danger? She stepped past a green thistle and tried to ignore the disaster message her ears were sending her as she snapped a twig underfoot. Stupid, stupid. She kept low and looked around. She could see the front and rear parts of the car but nothing in the middle of it. There was a tree in the way. She crept forward and thought she could hear something behind her. Something rustling through the grass behind her. She gave a little whimper and crouched down to see what was probably going to kill her. Why hadn’t she asked the agent for a weapon? Why..?
She skittered backwards as a Rashabeast shrieked at her, it’s pig-like muzzle sniffing her all over from five feet away. She felt the hot, rancorous, breath across her head and into her ears as she recalled this was a B+ level kill at the lowest end. Mostly it was because of the whip tail and crushing teeth and she jerked left to dodge the incoming tail. It sheared into the tree, showering her with bark, as she scrambled away, avoiding the snapping teeth. She recalled the one lesson she’d had on these monsters and what they’d told her about how to last against these things. She kept eye contact with it and just dodged another slash with the tail before she ran towards it and jumped on its’ back. She put her arms around its’ neck and kept herself low as it tried to find her with its’ tail. The side of it was able to bash against hers but she held on, thinking to put her teeth into the back of its’ neck. It squealed as she tasted its’ life under her teeth. She kept biting even as it tried to crush her with a roll. She felt her foot open up again.
With a thud, Golta re-entered the scene in a physical sense, pushing an armed Celican onto a tree branch, impaling the hunter through the chest. He took in the scene before him, swore and acted, putting one hand behind the neck of the creature to pull it up off her and then he brought the other fist straight into its’ throat, crushing the bone with used force. The creature joined the hunter in trying to desperately suck air in until .Golta ended its’ pain with his teeth. He tossed it aside and helped her up.
“Ow,” she said, holding her hip as she hopped. “My foot’s bleeding again.”
Golta indicated his target. “Hunter,” he said simply, “and not of the local animals. I’ll see what he’s got. You should eat. We only have a few minutes.”
She wanted to disagree with him. Really, she did. But she’d helped in the hunt – sort of – so she had a right to the meat. It wasn’t as though the beast needed it now, was it?
The hunter spat blood at him. Golta hadn’t really expected much else from him. He’d been a better fighter than a local Ranger would have been and it had taken too many minutes to kill him. He’d been able to draw him in by working around and letting him close on the car and her scent. He’d been there for them. Golta took the long range weapon from the dying creature and slung it over his shoulder before retrieving a pistol and a pocket knife. He considered the combat dagger for the girl but, really, it’d be a sword to her. He took it anyway. Never leave a weapon behind. He found the medical pouch and took a small tube of anti-septic, a tube of glue and some gauze over to treat her. She growled at him without looking up from the biggest meal she’d had in weeks so he coughed until she looked up, her muzzle now coloured red. “Let’s see that foot,” he said.
Five minutes passed and, after taking a sip of water from the dead hunter’s canteen, she washed some of the red off her face and hobbled into the car.
“They’ll have a way of tracking him,” Golta said, indicating the now shrouded figure that stood, head bowed, by the tree. “I wish we had time to find his car.” He started off again, looking for the village of Yavva, some twenty miles distant.
|Author:||Welsh Halfwit [ Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:27 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: IOC - The Fennec|
Dirt and debris cracked and crunched under the failing, balded, tyres as the blue lowrider struggled to put miles on the clock towards the village. The air was still filled with the subdued lights of the Hunters’ forest around them but, every now and again, she could see the unfiltered light of the sun and she sneezed.
“Charming,” Golta said, trying to wipe spittle off his receiving arm. “Can you look at that map and see where we are?”
“Sorry,” she said apologetically before reaching for the map. She opened it up, looked at it for a moment, turned it around, looked at it again and folded it back up. “We’re somewhere in a forest,” she said helpfully.
“Yeah,” Golta said, owning a grin that faded as his teeth ground together when they hit a pothole. “Just hope the car holds the line until we reach…”
Out of nowhere the forest cleared somewhat, showing a group of houses and buildings built around the single road through the community. “I think we’ve arrived.”
“Where,” she asked, still only able to see up into the trees from where she sat.
“Unless we’re really off course,” Golta said as they drew closer, “this is Yavva.”
“Where,” she repeated.
He looked towards the leafy ceiling. “I hope they have a shop with a booster seat,” he said, slowing down as the engine rattled and something made a sound in the rear of the car. “And a garage,” he added, putting the handbrake on and opening the driver side door.
The smell of civilisation was a memory for her but it had an echo in this place. As he opened the door for her she could sense the community here. Mothers, children and fathers scented together under the oil, the bagels and the tea leaves from the café, the noise of the grunting Celican coming down to the car with the oily rag slapping against his thin gloves cut across the sounds of the children chasing and playing in the schoolyard and Golta moving to intercept swept the dust of the dry floor around the stone well that stood a few feet from them. She reasoned that was why this village was here as the electric pump station drank up the life giving waters and supplied it to all who needed it.
“We need it looked at,” Golta told the old, thick set, hunting engineer as they closed on each other. “Fast repair or replace.”
The Engineer looked at the state of the car. “Speed Replication’ll cost you more,” he tutted as he knelt slowly and looked underneath. “Don’t even know if’n I can get all the stuff – Computer landlines are a bit old – but I can try.”
“Thanks,” Golta said, looking intently into the older Celican’s eyes. “Even more for complete discretion, I take it.”
The old Celican rubbed oil on his chin. “Gotta look after my overheads,” he admitted. “Three hundred for a total denial of existence?
“Payable on our exit alive.”
The engineer nodded and snapped his glove off to shake Goltas’ hand.
“Also… Can you fit a booster seat?”
Forgetting what she’d said earlier, she threw a small stone at him.
Nothing ever happened here in Yavva, they said. Well, nothing beyond the odd hunter going missing and needing rescuing so the store was tiny and yet open and empty as they stepped in. “Can help you,” said a slightly dumpy old Vixen as they came into her kingdom.
“Do you have any outfits that might fit me,” the Fennec asked before Golta could say anything.
“Spend my money, why don’t you,” he muttered as the shop owner put a hand to her muzzle and thought.
“Well…” She stopped. “That’s not a question I get asked very often.”
“I found her in the woods,” Golta said. “She’d had a bad time out there. Is there a Doctor in the village?” The shopkeeper pulled a medical bag onto her counter. “You’re the Doctor?”
“No,” the jovial female said, “fully qualified nurse. Back room. She pressed a button and Golta tensed as a younger Celican entered from a side door. “Look after the shop, Yarra.” She gestured them towards the back room.
“Go through, Rena,” Golta said as she looked nervously at him, “I’ll be there in a moment.” After the door closed, Golta turned towards the newcomer and the badge on his waist strap. “You’re the deputy?”
“Ain’t many around here wanting the post,” he said.
"You're not fully grown yet..." Golta sighed and showed his badge. “I need you to do something for me.”
The Deputy had snapped to attention on seeing the badge stating Golta represented the interplanetary council. “Whoa” he breathed. “W…what?”
“There may be people coming here searching for us two,” he confessed. “They may claim to be from the government but they’re lying. Either way?” He looked faintly sad. “I’ll defend her. So keep us safe?”
The deputy nodded mutely, then spoke. “You’ll leave quick?”
“After the foot is dealt with, clothes and provisions are bought and the car’s sorted.”
The deputy immediately put a clothes pack of blue shirt and shorts on the counter. Golta noted the Green tree motif with a small red slash across the base and guessed it was a school uniform. “Looks about right,” Golta said, collecting a basket and putting the outfit in it “Oh, I need to make a call.”
Via the landlines, Golta placed a distance call and, after a twenty second wait, advised the local chief officer of the situation in brief, confirming she seemed to have important information but stressing that he couldn’t go into it over the phone system. After he hung up, the Deputy took the phone back and put it out of sight. Golta moved around the shelves, picking up food and drink items at a price that outstripped the cities but he made sure he could keep an eye on the deputy at all times.
He was in the refrigerated meat section when he heard the door open and someone approach the counter.
“Can I help you,” the Deputy said, watching the unusually suited Celican. “Uh, Officer,”
Leaving the basket in one hand, Golta drew his pistol and hoped the door to the back room didn’t open as the Officer asked if any strangers had passed through the village in the last hour or so. Golta held his breath.
Golta controlled his breathing as the Deputy seemed to take an age to work his way through what the agent had asked him. Silently he implored the youngster to speak or at least react.
“N..no, sir,” the Deputy stammered, slipping slightly into slang. “Seen none new ‘round here. Um… Is that a real badge?”
“It’s not chocolate, boy.” The agent looked around but Golta had pulled back, out of sight. Golta heard him pull something and turn again to the deputy. “Any other places anyone coming through the forest from the west might have gone?”
The Deputy thought on it. “If the people you’re after took the northern path they could get to the reserve station at Adagon.” Golta heard the sound of a map being spread. “T…take the track from here and it’s about four…forty minutes. To here.” Golta heard claw-tip striking paper.”
“Right.” Golta heard the agent fold the map up and head for the door without paying. Then he heard the footsteps stop. “Aren’t you going to ask me,” he said without a tone of curiosity. “About the people I’m after?”
The Deputy froze in his tracks and Golta wondered if now was the time. Did the agent have back up in the car? Was he about to make this greenhorn youngster an accomplice in the murder of a Government agent? Was he about to destroy the lives of this entire community?
“Figure you’d tell me if I needed to know, sir,” the Deputy said hopefully.
The world paused for a few seconds that lasted an hour before the Agent snorted a laugh and headed out. Golta took a breath as the Deputy half slumped on the counter. “That was close,” the boy said. “What am I involved in?”
Helping me and keeping the peace,” Golta said, standing up, picking a packet of peanut butter mega cookies from the shelf and putting it in his basket. Having finished selecting provisions he crossed back to the counter. “Your aunt’s been in there a long time,” he said, indicating the door.
“The deputy frowned. “She has, hasn’t she?” He headed to the door as Golta looked out of the window. He looked out onto the street as the Deputy opened the door. Had he been tricked? Had someone come around the back as the other Agent kept them locked down? Was she lost to him?
“Do you really think I don’t know danger when it steps into the shop,” asked a strong voice from behind Golta. The agent relaxed, his muscles loosened and a small smile crept onto his lips as he turned to see the girl sucking a lime lollipop with the town nurse behind her. “I put her in a cupboard whilst the other one sniffed around outside,” she explained. “Got on with some paperwork. Townies are idiots.”
“I’m a townie,” the girl protested.
“You’re my type of townie,” the nurse replied. “School uniform, Yarra?” She sighed. “I suppose it’s the best we can do unless Varra’s mother comes in… What DID you do, girl?”
She spread her arms, swinging the saliva that still glistened on her treat towards Golta.. “I dunno,” she protested. “So many lies and secrets I’ve uncovered and one of them’s biting my tail off now. If I knew which one…” She slapped her arms down onto her legs and looked downcast.
“We’ll find out which,” Golta said simply, allowing her the comfort of his hand on her small shoulder. “Now go and get ready for school.”
She choked a laugh.
“I ate at Garrett’s once,” the Nurse said, referring to the girl’s shirt as the Fennec headed into the back room to change. “Nice guy,” she admitted. “He can’t make a meal to save his life and he was far too forward but he seemed a good judge of character.”
“Does no-one around here like the government?” Golta asked.
“No,” the Nurse said, “most don’t give a muffins and cookies one way or the other. What we have noted is government only tends to come here when it wants something or when it wants to end something. Sowe don’t encourage them and, when they come, we don’t welcome them.”
“Fair enough.” Golta looked around as the girl reappeared in a tight fitting outfit that showed she wasn’t a ten year old cub. “You look better.”
“This is so humiliating,” she protested, fixing the cap around her powerful ears..
“You look fine,” Golta repeated.
“That’s fifty-seven credits in total,” the Nurse said; having totted up his basket. “Including the shoes” Golta started. When had she taken his basket and run it through? He paid without asking and let him off the one credit for the bag.
They left and headed toward the garage. “What IS your name anyhow?” he asked as they headed towards the garage.
“Sana,” she said. “Sana…” Her surname was lost as Golta cut across her.
“We’ll go around the back,” he said, nodding towards the car he could just see beyond the building. He put his hand behind his back and pulled a small clip blaster out. “You know how to use one of these?”
“Red button takes of the safety then point and pull the trigger?” She took the gun. “There is, logically, only one place you could have hidden this. If the shot doesn’t kill them, I’ll make them swallow it and the bacteria will.”
Golta chuckled in that Honey way of his. “Eventualities only,” he warned as he approached the rear door. He could smell the blood. So could she. She looked around. Even the children were milling close to the school fence, unsure of what to do now. She looked at Golta. From the look on his face more blood was going to come.
She was nervous as they approached the barn, even whilst holding the gun. That fact surprised her more than anything else. She’d always assumed that guns could give courage, as seen in a thousand vidshows and films where the desperate little mouse – or Celican – found a gun and found courage to stand against the cruelty but she was just as scared now as she had been two moments ago and that scared her even more as she came to the barn behind Golta.
He gestured for her to stay back a little as he came to a slightly ajar door. “Come in to my parlour said the spider to the fly,” he said quietly before pushing the door inwards. He waited for incoming fire but, when none occurred, slipped into the dark interior. Somewhere close he could hear voices talking to each other, one asking if he’d had to kill the old boy and the other protesting his case in that the other Celican had come across him as he’d been fixing the car and… The first had silenced him and Golta froze. He wondered if the agent was sniffing the air and he wished he had the girls’ ears. She, he guessed, would know. It’d be much easier for her to hide as well. It sounded like they were close to the metal shelves full of tools that he was heading down…
The lights clacked on noisily and Golta fired as he saw the agent from the shop bring his gun to bear. The shot sizzled noisily through the air, slashing into the target’s shoulder and throwing his shot out. The incoming shot instead spun towards the ceiling and through it even as Golta dove for the nearest column. The first agents’ gun left his hand as the second agent fired, punching a hole along the width of his arm and spitting his blood free from his frame. A third bolt of light flew from the door towards the armed agent and missed him entirely. With the first agent’s gun still in the air, Golta concentrated on the second, ignoring the hurt as his new target reacted, open-mouthed, to the fact HE had a new attacker. He instinctively turned and fired at where a Fennec had just been and exposed his flank to Golta. Golta’s shot scorched across the agents’ back, drawing a screech of pain from the target. His fingers tensed into talons and the gun fell from his grip to the floor. Golta charged from his hiding spot as the first agent got to his feet, drawing a blade with his good hand to replace the wounded and wasted arm. Golta jumped the corner of the car and barely avoided the slashing blade. He knew then that the Celican was mainly right handed. The fun had been in that hand but, with a two hander, the blade would have been just as lethal in the left hand but the attack was wilder. Slightly more out of control. He came in again, trying to catch the knife arm as his claws punched upwards to the gut. He felt the pain as he caught the knife rather too close to the blade for comfort and struggled to put his free hand behind the agent’s head. Once he got a grip, he twisted around and threw the agent, face first, onto the car bonnet. The bonnet bonged loudly as the muzzle impacted the metal, fracturing and breaking the front teeth. Golta drew him back and threw him forward again, further damaging the muzzle before gripping him tightly, taking him to the left a few meters, and putting him, head first, through the passenger side window. The glass breached and fell apart, leaving a jagged line below the impact that Golta now forced the agent’s neck onto, ignoring the struggles and the attempted knifing, until the struggles ceased. He took a breath, then remembered the other one. He turned quickly to see a schoolgirl threatening a fully grown agent with a gun. Golta took some rope and pulled the agent up. “Relax,” he said, “it’s over.”
“You have no idea,” the agent snarled. “We’ll hardy be the last.”
Golta tied him to a column as the door opened and Yarra entered. “Sheriff’s office,” he called, his gun drawn.
“It’s all over now, Yarra,” Golta said sadly, wincing as he flexed his hand. The blade had gone through the palm but nothing seemed permanently damaged. “This guy,” he added, tapping the muzzle of the hog-tied agent, “just killed the mechanic.”
“Old Karra? muffins and cookies…”
“Karra, Yarra, Varra, and the village of Yavva,” Sana muttered to herself. “I wonder what it is about his village, the water?” She spoke up. “How do we get out of this now?”
“You’ll make a statement later,” Yarra said uncertainly as the nurse stitched Golta’s wounds in she shop as locals looked on.. He’d decided against any local anaesthetic because of the need to get on the road as soon as possible.
Golta nodded and seethed as she put the needle in again.
“Big baby,” the nurse chastised. “Sana didn’t make a sound when I stitched her foot.”
Sana looked up from the small shop computer when she heard her name. “Oh, I was just after a lollipop,” she said.
“You’re not…ow… connecting to any old friends on there, are you?”
“News sites,” she replied.
“Good. Any old friends might have dobbed you in and they might do it again.”
She shut the computer off.
“No, wait,” the nurse said, before realising she was too late. “I hadn’t saved what I’d written for my novel today. The adventures of a pioneering Vixen nurse fighting, against the odds, in the woods of Celica.”
Golta chuckled. “Based on anyone?”
“Not her,” Yarra said. “So long as the real story comes out. Uh, the real story here, I, uh, mean.” He was nursing the small drink he’d been poured from an off-the-shelf bottle of Rye.
"For now,” Golta said as the Nurse finished the stitching, “the old guy killed the one and, after he was killed, you arrested this guy.” He looked at the bound agent on the floor, “Unless he wants to admit to being taken out by a schoolgirl?” The gagged agent glared defiance. “Yeah, thought not.” After checking the hand, Golta headed outside with Sana and walked quickly back to the garage. “Time to go,” he said, opening the old car and pulling the installed booster seat free. After finding the agent’s car, Golta opened it and fitted the seat.
“Wait.” The Fennec got on her back and pulled herself under the car. “I checked the schematics,” she said, “online. These… uff! Don’t belong! Uff! Um… can you pull me out?”
Golta hauled her out carefully and looked at the three boxes she had on her. “That,” he said, pointing to one, “is the satnav. “ He looked at her discomfort. “The other two? “ He gave her a grin. “A Locator and the comms suite. You got ‘em both.”
“Yay!” happily she got into the car and climbed up on the booster seat as Golta got in.
“Did you find the train times,” he asked after shutting the door.
“There’s one in about an hour,” she replied after strapping in. Golta powered up the car. Then he headed away from the shocked village and headed for the station on the map.
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