Seems like you never have enough time to sleep, right? I figure you're often up late, tending to the needs of your clients, the hoard. Even when you have something to do. Your fresh decant, Umbra Hannsen, has bonded with you like a baby duckling and has asked you to show her a particular feature of the ship. Where has she asked to meet you? Why do you know so much about that place?
You're running a bit late this morning, there's always something in the stacks that needs minute adjustments, and then one more thing needs to be acquired, and tube 181-g is acting up again... Is there anything in particular you're keeping your eye out for today?
Here's Miss Umbra Hannsen from a few days back.
How's she fitting in with Nbeke's crew? Who's jealous of her?
Someone once said, 'I'll sleep when I'm dead,' but that's just lazy. You can't let a little thing like that stop you.
This job keeps me going, day and night. Things break, people break down, i fix the things and deal with the people. Every tube in the maze has a story, a lineage if you will. I'm proud to be their caretaker, their friend. Virtually everyone on the ship has family here. So do I. My little sister, River and good old Stripes from whom I earned this position. I have to say... I do a much better fucking job.
There's supposedly an emergency medical store way down in the bowels of the ship. Maybe some fresh meds left in there if the splitters haven't stripped the place, but it should be fairly secure. Umbra knows the codes, it was her duty station after all... well, it would have been had the journey not gone all wrong. But there's no way she's negotiating the wild depths of the ship without me. Thing is there's no known way down that isn't sealed up tight. So we're going to walk the hold and see if there's a loose panel, access tunnel... something. Probably pay a visit to a few friends along the way. I know a few places to check.
Why does she need the meds so bad? Nbeke fed me that load about a combat medic for the guard... bullshit. She won't tell me the details but apparently someone high up has a pretty bad case of something itchy and red around the cock.... must be someone fucking important to wake a pretty young nurse up just to spread creme on your junk and send a young and valuable member of the crew (myself of course) into harm's way. I'm not saying it's Nbeke... but I gotta wonder.
As long as we're down there though I'm watching out for some ammo for my 'mag. Nbeke keeps my ammo, if he hasn't managed to misplace it or trade it for some fucking fish. So I go walking around with an empty fucking gun... would feel nice to have some bite to go with my bark.
Umbra is a pretty one, but full of pre-fuck-up thoughts. I haven't been in her pants yet but it's nice having company around the maze. In time. I'm growing quite fond of her and her stories of before. Too bad I have to keep shooing Ringside away with a stick. Guy can't keep his crazy fucking eyes off her and hell if I'm going to let him have her.
Nbeke's girls aren't so thrilled with the new pretty face around either. Little worried about Jingle and her little vengeful streak.
So I'm suited up good for the trip downstairs and waiting outside Nbeke's.
And you're leaving the stasis maze, those quiet tubes fading into memory as you make your way through the stinky press of humanity in the corridors and through the market. A few people nod by way of greeting, and maybe two or three stop you on the way to ask you about some irons in the fire- shit that's broken, a troublesome lover who needs to be put on ice, a missing set of microengine components that you swear were in the maze. Who made you the happiest when you saw their face, exchanged a few words?
But now you're meeting the rather fetching Miss Umbra Hannsen. Her eyes light up when she sees you waiting, and she makes a half-motion with her hands- almost as if to hug you. I wonder why. "Mr. Flush, I presume?" she says, with a hint of a joke that probably goes over your head. "Good morning. I've picked up some provisions for our journey. How long do you think it will take?" There's an odd cadence to her words, but nothing you can put a finger on.
Umbra Hannsen's got a weapon, too. What surprises you about it?
Coffee? Do you know how much coffee costs? Few months back I got some used grounds from one of the guards and made 'em last for three weeks until they started molding. But I don't do that shit regular. This is how I roll natural, I'm what you would call a coiled spring. Energy always there, just barely controlled. When I want to be.
Who do I go to to grease the wheels? Who do you think? Our man Nbeke holds all the power, right? Right? Just got to get him on your good side and the whole world is yours.
People come to me for all kinds of unbelievable shit. Shit I don't have a thing to do with even, but if I have the slightest clue what the fuck they're talking about (sometimes I don't) then get it done. Doesn't cost me to be nice, right? And I can always use a favor or two hanging over such-and-such's head. That's the most valuable currency around here, that is unless they fuck you over. Which happens. You gotta learn to let it go... I don't get mad. (Yeah, right. The section of the maze reserved for assholes who fuck me looks remarkably like an outer-hull airlock. Just pull the lever there... yeah, the big yellow one with the lights...)
I pause a moment whenever I see Gateway walking the halls looking for mice. She's smart as shit and always has another tongue twister for me. I always try to do them, and always fuck it up and it's hard to be serious around her, which sometimes... based on my occupation, I have to be. Doesn't hurt that she looks amazing, too.
Not sure why she wants the mice... and no, I don't know how they got on board, but they've been breeding down in the tunnels somewhere. I hear they make good pets. We don't have any cats frozen in the maze.
I'm happy to see Umbra waiting, she is a breath of fresh, slightly confusing air from the past. "It's not far, but you can't get there from here," I answer. And I would be happy to pretend to get her joke except that I'm too busy noticing the sidearm she's carrying belongs to Roarke. It's got that silver tape wrapped around the grips and everything. Now that's concerning... not pleased.
"Since when do you carry?" I ask... remembering, again... that my gun is empty.
But Umbra Hannsen, fresh air that she is.
She holds up the pistol, an ugly thing in her delicate surgeon's fingers and works the mechanism. Looks like a full clip, and she's got at least a few spares in her satchel. The bullets might even fit yours! "Nbeke made Roarke give me a weapon, he said some shit about dangerous bitches." She quirks her mouth ruefully, and makes a motion like she wants to get the hell out of there. "Do you think I'll need it?
Yes something is holding me back, Gateway's one of Jackal's little family right? And you know they've been trying to get me to come out to one of their little parties. Well... I would be happy to participate except that would leave Jackal some proper favors over my head and I don't want that shit... looking at Gateway though. Maybe it's worth it... she's got me fucking tempted... can't say I haven't imagined taking her down to the maze.
But yes... Umbra. She's taken my mind off of Gateway for the time being.
"He made Roarke give it to you?" That is concerning. Nbeke wants her, doesn't he. Just fucking great. "There's something about carrying a gun around here. If you have one you're almost sure to need it." She sees my eyes narrow a bit in thought, I hold out a hand.
"Why not let me take that. I don't want you to be in that position."
But she doesn't want to give you Roark's gun, her only weapon. You can see it in the way she pulls it back just a hair and a slight tightening at the corners of her eyes when you ask. You know that "MINE!" look. "Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it," she says.
If you want it, let's see some leverage and roll me a manipulate.
I don't show my disappointment on my face, just my fingers twitch a bit and I hold the pose a second before withdrawing my hand. I'll let her believe she's right.
"Ok, Umbra. You hold onto that tight," she's launch crew. She no doubt has had firearms training back on station. I doubt she's ever fired her weapon in anger. Hope she can handle it.
"Let's go," I pass close to her, close enough to get a little delicious smell of her. And walk towards Nbeke's doors.
I try not to grumble out loud about the obvious conspiracy to keep a loaded weapon out of my hands... but it's occupying a good percentage of my fucking mind.
"Hey," she says, some concern on her eyebrows, "Why don't you have any ammo?"
Contrariwise, Flush, why was your hoard so silent on acquiring that gun?
Gun? The hoard (not that I'd refer to it as that) doesn't care about things like guns. Weapons are not a thing down there in the maze. There's almost never anyone around but me and the quiet ones. So... hey are you saying I got the gun from the hoard? Oh no no... it's mine good and proper.
I glance curiously at the odd puddle, making a mental note to put in a ticket on that... no, fuck that. I make note to come check it out myself. When I'm less busy. That happens.... sure.
I try not to look startled at her question, and wonder how she knows. "I'm much too dangerous to go around armed..." I answer straight, though I do have a little corner of a smirk on my face.
We arrive outside Nbeke's. Truth is, I like bothering the man. Kind of like dancing with the devil.
If you react, or don't, she'll offer before you knock, "Look, I got plenty of ammo. Trade you a clip for future favors?" Her eyes are open to you- there's nothing overly sexy there. But her faded scrubs fit her nicely, you can't help but notice. Maybe just a tad too snug in the right places.
You think i didn't notice? I've been very deliberately noticing Umbra's right places since before the day I defrosted her. Quite happy to finally get the excuse, and I haven't been disappointed with the result.
Fucking sexy, my friend. Even if her jokes make zero sense.
"So heres the thing Umbra, we need down into deck seven, and I need Nbeke to open it up... And that means playing nice with his rules... so you hang onto that until we're down below. Don't give the man any excuses."
Give me an hour or two and I can find a way just about anywhere, but that often means shimmying along on your back through questionably non-toxic sludge, crawling over busted bulkhead couplings, and occasionally slipping past motion sensing triggers... Not taking our new hatchling through that.
Uncle Nbeke, can we have the keys?
She shrugs, a little confused that you don't want the ammo, but she accepts your explanation.
The two of you wend your way to Deck 7. We'll pick up there, just along these stairs. http://ngp.calypti.ca/discussion/600/gen-deck-the-halls-flush-1-2-nbeke-1-2