Saturday, August 13, 2005

"You Noticed" EXCERPT

Time + 25 minutes

“I want a gun.” Petria whispered suddenly from her position under the transport. There was no response, probably due to the earplugs the men with guns were sporting. She poked Danen in the elbow, physical contact allowing her to overcome the Implant Jamming, and repeated her demand. ~I want a gun.~

“What- why?” Danen risked a glance in her direction. He and Haggerty were near the outside of the transport with the Trainees jammed between them, where it was presumably safer. Danen focused his attention back at the immediate danger, and took out an arm someone obviously regarded as a spare, they had it hanging out all over the place. ~There’s no need, really. And you’ve got a lot of drugs in your system, you could hurt yourself.~ That ended it, according to his mental tone.

Petria, however, was generally regarded as a stubborn girl, when she wanted to be. And that was before she’d been held against her will and tortured. ~I. Want. A. Gun.~ Her jaw was set. ~I don’t want to go back there, if it comes to that. And wouldn’t an extra marksman help?~

~A marksman, yes.~ Haggerty cut in. Appel’s shoulder was jammed into his back painfully (for Appel,) and Petria was holding Appel’s hand. The Corporal was apparently able to overcome the small technicality of the fact that he and Appel were not really touching, and so the four were able to “converse” via mind-to-mind link. Or argue, as the case might be. ~Not some hopped-up exiling Intellectual who wants to exiling participate.~

Petria’s lips thinned. ~I know how to shoot.~ Again, they didn’t dignify this was a response. The one girl in the group decided to take advantage of the fact that she was mad enough she didn’t care if this was painful, and flipped over. It was painful, but she didn’t care. At least she was doing something. Petria took a careful breath to steady herself. ~Please? Just a handgun? I don’t want to fight them unarmed again.~ She forced a grin that no one could see, though it made it slightly through her voice. ~Just cause they want to take me alive doesn’t mean they won’t hurt me, and I’d rather be able to do some actual damage, with more than my feet.~ There was another pause, during which Petria’s shoulders slumped in defeat. More people in power who didn’t listen to her.

~It’s a good idea to listen to her.~ Appel’s mental voice was as calm as if he was discussing breakfast choices. Calmer than he was about breakfast, actually, though Petria was the only one around who knew for sure that he was unnaturally serene, not just unaware of the situation. It would be pretty hard to be unaware of the situation while crammed underneath a Prisoner Transport to avoid being shot at, but Haggerty and Danen had a great deal of faith in the unobservation skills of Intellectuals. ~For one thing she’s telling the truth. And for another, she’ll keep distracting you till either she gets her way or you’re dead. Which is when she’ll take the guns off your body and use them how she wants.~

~Oh Appell, you noticed that little quirk?~ Petria made her voice sickly sweet enough to cause diabetic comas for anyone within a half mile.

~The one about you wanting to get your own way?~ Appel’s calm was pointedly impervious to even that much sweetness at close range. ~I made a note the day I met you.~

Petria switched tactics, purring her response. ~Was that before or after I kicked your sorry ass at history revision, and helped you find your way to the medical lab because you didn’t know up from down?~

~De SHASTelane!~ Haggerty tossed a handgun back over his shoulder at Petria and another at Appel in an effort to stop the conversation he was being forced to witness. ~Do you two ever stop talking like that? It’s exiling demonic!~

~At times.~ Appel unhooked his hands from the undercarriage of the transport and turned over so he was looking out where the guards were pinning them down.

~Yeah, sometimes we don’t talk.~ Petria just loaded that statement with meaning and let it sit there, ticking dangerously and daring people to prod it. She checked to see if the gun was loaded, which it was.

Her fellow Controller Trainee decided to to avoid that particular conversation bomb. ~You meant what you said about knowing how to shoot?~

~I thought you said I was telling the truth.~

~Oh, you were. There’s just levels and levels of truth, you know?~ Appel finished checking his gun and steadied his breathing as he watched for movement. He continued after the perfect pause. ~And you do know.~

~I meant it.~ Petria said shortly, steadying her breathing as well. It was gonna be harder to ignore her sore body, but she’d manage somehow.

~Do you know how illegal that is? Just asking out of vague curiosity,~

Petria grinned disconcertingly and squeezed off a few shots at a shadow she didn’t like the look of. ~Yes, yes I do. And so I got someone to teach me when I was twelve.~ The shadow cursed and fell over, clutching its arm. ~How ‘bout you, pretty boy? You just realizing what bad company you’ve been taking up?~

Appell’s grin was similarly disconcerting. ~Hardly. I took up that particular illegal activity when I was eight.~ He fired a single shot, and was rewarded with the whump of a quiet body hitting the ground.
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