Ten

Oct. 31st, 2012 06:49 pm
keaalu: (Default)
[personal profile] keaalu posting in [community profile] good_as_gold
(Original post date: Nov. 17th, 2008 at 1:48 AM)

...okay, so my effort at writing a spy thriller has kinda gone *pfut* and turned into the usual load of weirdness. :P O WELL. At least I'm catching up on my word count.

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     The island that the particle trail led them to was one of a chain of several similar islands, set in a smooth, perfectly blue ocean. It was relatively small, but extremely verdant, and apparently once volcanic, if the cinder cone that rose above the exotic trees was anything to go by. Brennan carefully set his small craft down on the narrow strip of beach at the side of a lagoon, where Sei had seen what looked like the remains of buildings.

     “Well, if they are still here,” Brennan observed, shouldering a rifle, “they probably know we are as well.”

     Sei followed him down the ramp and onto the sand; it was fine, and silvery, but quite sharp against his unprotected soles. “Indeed,” he confirmed, extracting a chemical sniffer from the case hanging over his shoulder. “So we shall move carefully, agreed? If Yannis is here, we can probable expect o be greeted by gunfire.” The dark cob shielded his eyes with the flat of his hand, and inspected the treeline, carefully. “I see no-one as yet.”

     “Good, good…” Brennan nevertheless allowed Sei to take the lead into the trees.

     “To be honest,” Sei added, as they moved deeper into the undergrowth, striding ahead and making a trail for Brennan to follow, “I am beginning to think they left here with no intention of coming back.”

     “What gave you that idea, friend?”

     Sei looked back over his shoulder, and watched as Brennan floundered his way through a patch of vines and caught up. “You cannot smell that? Something here has been burned, and recently.”

     Brennan sniffed, then narrowed his eyes and sniffed again, harder. “I cannot smell anything, friend,” he apologised. “Your nose is apparently far superior to mine.”

     They emerged from the jungle after only a quarter of an hour’s walk, onto a small dip in the land that formed a clearing. There were a clustering of buildings on the far side, backed by the roots of the extinct volcano; their flat roofs had been covered in broad-leafed vines to hide them from people looking down on them from above, and yet the windows below were blackened, sooty.

     “Agh,” Brennan cursed, quietly, advancing with his rifle up and ready to fire, but with less overt concern in his manner. “You were right. Do you think it is safe to enter?”

     Sei followed him up a broad flight of stairs to the large main doors. Once upon a time the doors had probably been quite impressive, almost entirely made of tempered glass, but the fire had blackened and cracked them, and half of the leftmost one had broken and shattered over the top step. “I think this fire probably burned itself out quite shortly after they left,” he confirmed, stepping carefully over the broken glass and into the foyer. The blackened remains of a chair or two and a desk jutted like broken teeth from the melted plastic that had spread out over the floor. “The building itself looks to mostly be formed of a fire-retardant stonework, and I doubt there would have been many home comforts to burn.”

     “ ‘Island Telecomms’,” Brennan read, using a handkerchief to wipe soot from a metal plate bolted to the wall. “ ‘Founded CE 2309.67. Providing communication to the island nations.’ The original owner of the building, do you suppose?”

     Sei nodded, pushing open a supply cupboard and wincing at the sight of a pair of blackened native skeletons, joined together by the wire wrapped loosely around their wrists, ankles and chests. “I think we can safely assume it was a hostile takeover,” he quipped, grimly.

     “You have a very morbid sense of humour,” Brennan scolded, peering around his friend and making noises of disgust.

     Sei moved away to allow Brennan a closer look. “We ought to briefly survey the buildings, just in case anyone else is alive, here,” he said, softly, surveying the remains of a map etched beside what had once been the front desk. “But I do not think we will find much information.”

0o0o0o0o0

     Asenka, a small, dark-coloured Nyenni hind with dramatic stripes dyed into her fur, was trying very hard to quash her irritation. She’d done as Yannis had instructed, and taken the big male down to the ship’s big washroom, and although she’d got ready and bustled about with soaps and towels and clean clothing and everything, and even shed most of her clothing in anticipation, the damned budgie had made no move to even start to co-operate. She felt like beating him with the shower hose – or jamming it down his throat and seeing how much he could swallow before he burst.

     The brief, amusing image that flickered through her mind of a big jade-hued water-balloon jiggling on the bathroom floor did improve her mood, fractionally. “Right, budgie. Let’s see about getting you clean, shall we?” she instructed.

     He stared away over her head, not moving, not even shifting that damn smile.

     “Oi! Budgie! I’m talking to you.” She gave him a jab with the blunt end of the hose, leaving a big dark wet patch on his clothing.

     At last, he looked down, but his smile never wavered. “I regret that you are mistaken as to my identity, madam. My name is Iios.”

     “Yeah yeah, Yose, Budgie, whatever,” she mispronounced, waving a dismissive hand. “Get your kit off so I can, ah… hose you down… then go get in the tub.” She gestured with the hose, spraying a curtain of warm water across the deck.

     His gaze flickered, at last, and his lips became a flat, confused line. “Which kit do you require that I remove?”

     “Your clothes, dummy,” she growled, already directing the jet at his head and watching as clots and curds of vile yellow green stuff rinsed away across the floor. “I can’t bathe you fully dressed.”

     “I am quite capable of cleaning myself,” he informed her, nevertheless shedding his (wet) shirt. “It is really quite a basic activity, hardwritten into my basal protocols.”

     “Yeah, but it’s more fun if I, ah… help out.” Mother, that goo really had got everywhere, hadn’t it? She directed the jet very briefly across his torso, down over his stomach, and between his legs, once he’d got his trousers off. “Speaking of basal protocols – turn around – how much else is automatic?”

     He lifted his arms above his head, so she could give his underarms a rinse, then quirked his head very slightly to one side as she trailed a very ephemeral spritz of water across his back, then moved a little closer to his short tail. “What system do you require information on?”

     She directed the jet across his tail, and licked her lips, wondering how much he’d let her get away with. “Oh, anything really,” she replied, offhand, using her prehensile tail to twist the power down a fraction. “I’m studying synthetic neurology myself. Still only in the first year of schooling, you know? The more information I can get from a real specimen, the better. Tail up!”

     Remarkably, he flicked his tail so the short tuft of feathers pointed towards the ceiling; her jet of water took on a very distinct wobble as she directed it to the long, smooth crease between the two soft globes of his buttocks. “I can attempt to help you with your coursework, if that is what you desire,” he agreed, not even so much as batting an eyelash as she lingered far too long on his rump.

     “…ahh, well…” she panted, softly. “You see… training of the advanced kind won’t, ah… won’t start for a little while, yet. I guess we could go over the basic anatomy, though? If that’s not too much of a bother.”

     “Nothing is too much of a bother. I exist to serve.”

     “Ahh, good. Um, well… if you’d be so kind…” She tweaked the flow a little, lowered it another fraction. “Are you… equipped?”

     “I am not sure I understand. Please define the parameters a little more closely.”

     She advanced the last step to his side, and pressed her fingers against his smooth, jade flanks. His skin didn’t even tremble; although she knew he was nothing more than polymers and sheet metal and hydraulic pumps, he felt like he had the most exquisitely toned muscles, just below her hand. She sighed, and pressed her cheek against him, stroked his sides. Delicious, so delicious. And all mine. “Your… um, undercarriage, as it were?” She passed a bold hand over his groin, lingered over his genital slit. “Is there anything in there?”

     “If you are referring to reproductive anatomy, the answer is yes, although they are non-functional.”

     Her disappointment was almost palpable. “What’s the point in giving you them if they don’t work?” she wondered.

     “My belief is that they were installed in order that I could provide pleasure.”

     “You said they were non-functional,” she challenged, glaring up at him.

     He gazed down at her with another of those bland smiles. “Ah, you mistake my meaning. They are non-functional in that I cannot father a child. In terms of the act of coitus, I am fully equipped, and fully capable. That function exists at a basal level; I do not require external direction in order to indulge in the act of intercourse.”

     She grinned and smooched his hips, disappointment melting back off her. Mine all mine all mine. She waved her trickling hosepipe. “Then bend over, big boy, and let’s get this party started!”

     Ever obedient, he bent over-

0o0o0o0o0

     Yannis arrived back at his quarters to find Mirii had been settled in quite nicely by the good doctor. She sat up in bed, the opulent bedclothes tucked tenderly around her chest, but had not managed to completely relax; she remained stiffly alert, and wet-faced, even though she was no longer sobbing quite so hard. She had picked out a nightgown from the selection provided – all were fine, lacy, silken things, and barely enough for covering one’s modesty (which was also entirely intentional), but judging from the bits that were visible, she’d hunted around until she’d managed to find one that covered her to her satisfaction.

     “How are you feeling, dear?” Yannis asked, tenderly, perching alongside her on the bed. “I know that was a terrible shock, and I hope you can come to forgive me, but I think you will get through it. You are a very strong woman.”

     She dropped her gaze to her pale golden fingers, where they lay laced in her lap. “I am not strong,” she argued, softly. “Nor particularly clever. If I was, I would have sought to discover the truth of this… this heartlessness… before now. But I hid from it, and from all the facts which should have been so obvious to me.”

     “Darling, please, do not demean yourself,” he soothed, taking her hand. “It was all a very clever act. There were so many hundreds of people against you, how could you have been expected to see through it?”

     She seemed vaguely comforted by his words, though; lowered her nose, and nodded. “I will endeavour to do as you say,” she agreed. “I just… have a lot to think about.”

     “Of course you do!” he agreed. “I cannot possibly imagine what it must be like to have gone through what you have, but… I will help you, if I can.” He smiled. “If you will let me.”

     She looked up, at last, and met his gaze. “Thank you,” she replied. “Help of any sort will be most appreciated…”

     “First, I think you ought to get some rest,” he suggested. “Soothe those poor ragged emotions by thinking of nicer things. We will be arriving at Hah’zeept early tomorrow; I can call you before we land, if you wish, because it is a truly breathtaking sight from orbit. Would you like that?”

     She took a while to respond, but finally nodded. “I think I would enjoy that,” she husked, at last, in a little voice, and managed the smallest of smiles for him. “Thank you.”

     Yannis tucked the bedclothes around her a little better, and kissed her brow. “You are most welcome.”

0o0o0o0o0

     “Problem, Stinger?” a soft voice wondered, disturbing Kolek from his worried thoughts.

     The hart had been frowning at the security footage from the Island Telecomms buildings they had appropriated as their base of operations for the previous month, and now glanced up to find Yannis framed in the control cabin doorway. “I’m not sure,” he admitted, thin lips pursed. “Could be, could be nothing. Security video from our old base was activated.”

     Yannis folded his lower arms, and gestured with the topmost pair. “Show me,” he instructed. “I thought I asked you to torch the place. If this is yet another slip up-”

     “Don’t be stupid.” Kolek waved the accusatory hand off. “We burned the place out, sure, just like you said. I nipped in and installed a couple of cameras once the place cooled down again, before we left.”

     “I do not believe I asked you to do that,” Yannis growled, dangerously.

     “Nope,” Kolek agreed. “It seemed prudent, anyway, just to see how long it’d take for someone to find the place. We might have had to make a departure early if they found it too quick and tracked us down, right?”

     “Right.” Yannis narrowed his eyes, dubiously. “And?”

     “Take a peek.” Kolek flicked a button, and the small square enlarged to fill the screen.

     Two shadowy figures appeared in the glass entry doors, and advanced slowly into the room. One was tall, and slim, with a pointed face and large ears, walking on long legs with an apparent extra joint between knee and ankle. The other was a little shorter, and squarer of build, but with two pairs of arms on his longish torso. Kiravai – or rather, Kirasiinu – and Eumin. Only one guess as to who they were.

     “And how did they find us so easily?” Yannis growled, frustratedly. While he was partly pleased that Sei was already on his trail, he was also frustrated, because it meant he’d have less time to work on the female. He’d have to step his method up a gear.

     Kolek had originally rocked back on his chair so the Eumin could see, but by now he had relaxed into the position, feet up on the desk. “I’m figuring it was that explosive compound you told us to use, Boss,” he replied, offhand, and was that… smugness in his voice?

     Yannis had to resist the urge to slug him one. “Explain,” he snapped.

     “Well, tricobalt residues are pretty volatile, right? And they get everywhere, no matter how good you are at cleanup. I figure they worked out we’d used the resin as an explosive from traces left on the wreckage, and extrapolated.” Kolek shrugged, and flicked his prehensile tail out to one side to snag his packet of ‘flashsticks’ – electric cigarettes – off the table. “It’s not something you, ah… see on normal shipping routes.”

     Yannis recognised an euphemism when he heard one – the hart meant ‘illegal’.

     “…and especially not on such dull, peacetime worlds as Tas-umskel,” Kolek went on, pinching the midsection of the flashstick, triggering the heating coil to vaporise the internal cartridge. “I figure they must be using particulate traces to track us.”

     “Fantastic,” Yannis growled, darkly, watching the hart use his tail to transfer the flashstick packet back to his top pocket. “What can we do about it?”

     “Do we need to do anything about it? You want to catch the bugger, how about just let him chase it?” Kolek suggested, drawing on the smokeless vapour of his stick. “Save us having to go on another chase of the wild yol across this interstellar desert, right? Let him come to us.”

     Yannis sighed. “I suppose that could work,” he accepted, darkly. That contemptible hart had left him with absolutely no excuse to clobber him a good one around the ears – not only had he given him some fairly sound advice, he couldn’t even complain about the smell from his ‘cigarette’. Although-…

     “Ow!” Kolek exclaimed, and promptly fell backwards off his chair at the ringing blow that landed between his ears. “Ow, Damnit! What the frig was that for?!” he yelped, untangling himself from the chair and immediately glad he’d not twirled his tail out through the bars of the backrest.

     “Next time, tell me immediately when you find something like this,” Yannis snapped. “Your captain should not be the last to know! Now go see if your wretched whore of a partner has finished with the prisoner.” He gestured towards the rear doors. “I want to debrief the crew, and I can’t while the second mate isn’t here.”

     Kolek grumbled, darkly, gave his boss a very sloppy, ill-mannered salute, and went.

0o0o0o0o0

     Third-in-command Askenka was still in the hot tub, when Kolek finally arrived; she had the most blissful smile on her face that he’d seen in a long time, and was still snuggled against the machine’s chest, straddling his lap.

     “Zen, what are you up to?” Kolek scolded, folding his arms.

     The little hind poked out her tongue at him. “My dear, delicious friend here has given me the ride of my life,” she cooed, rubbing her cheek against him and waving her feelers. “For such a dumb machine he really has got some interesting programs!”

     Kolek wrinkled his nose; if not for the stupid, bland smile the machine wore as it stared back at him, he would have sworn the thing looked conceited, even predatory with its powerful arms wrapped loosely at the small of his mate’s back.

     “Well, you’ve gotta be clean now, so get your damn clothes back on, both of you,” the hart scolded. “Boss wants to debrief us, so we can get started on the prep we need to do for arriving at Hah’zeept. Which means no pissing about with the junior staff when you should be working!”

     “Aw, don’t be sour,” Asenka cooed, climbing back out of the tub and walking (bandily) over to the towel rail. “Just cause you’re not getting any doesn’t mean you have to take it out on everyone else, you know. Boss gave me permission, anyway. Come on, Yose, out of the tub!” She turned to Iios, and held out a towel. “Once you’re dry we can get you some new togs.”

     “Togs, madam?” Iios echoed, nevertheless rising to his feet to get out of the water. “I am not sure I understand.”

     “She means clothes,” Kolek groused, planting a hand irritably down on the tub controls and stopping the fizzing bubbles, and immediately wished he’d just left as soon as he’d given Yannis’s message as he got an excellent eyeful of what had sprouted between the synthoid’s legs. “Argh, Damnit. Just… just get your clothes on and let’s get a move on, shall we?”
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