Darkship Revenge – Snippet 09

It was all I needed.  They’d taken the burner I’d carried, of course, but thank heavens for small favors, scientists are not usually trained in searching women for weapons.  Or, be fair, searching women.  If that were part of scientific training, research would attract an entirely different kind of man. While I asked the question I’d reached the most accessible of my hidden weapons, and no, I’m not going to tell you where I’d hidden it.  I might need it again in the future.  I pointed it at them.

They looked surprised.  One of them opened his mouth.

“Shhh,” I said.  “Not a sound.  Do not under any circumstances call for help.  Who else knows I’m here?  Who called Earth?”

“I — We — d- d- d-”

It was the blond man I’d first held hostage.  “Easy now.  Who else in Circum knows?  Where are we?  How do we get out of here?  How can I get an atmosphere capable vehicle?”

“We didn’t think you really meant to kill anyone!” one of the other scientists managed to get out.

“I don’t,” I said seriously.  “Unless I have to.  Who else knows I’m here.  What kind of guard would I have to defeat on the way to finding a vehicle?”

Two of them looked at each other.  “We didn’t tell anyone else, one said.  You looked harmless, just a little confused.  I mean, you have a baby.  We just thought if we got you help and if you calmed down, everything would be okay.”

“Ah,” I said.  I’m many things but I’m NOT guileless and trusting, and they were speaking a little too fast, a little too glibly.  I smiled maniacally at them.  “You see those wires there?” In the corner of the compartment, with the bed and the covers, there were a bunch of circuits and wiring.  I’d bet money this was one of their rooms and that they used it as a place to tinker with computer equipment.  I pointed the burner at the scientist I’d first captured.  “Easy now, I want you to tie all your friends’ wrists and ankles with those, and no funny business because my burner is going to be pointed at you.  And I’m going to be verifying the tying job.”

I once escaped twenty people, surrounding me, holding burners.  Not something I’d want to do while holding a baby. But I had advantages over the scientists.  The first was the ability to speed up to a speed that most normal people couldn’t even see clearly, much less respond too.  It wasn’t as fast as the speed of movement engineered into Eden’s Cats, but it was fast enough, for long enough.  The other was that I’d gotten into so much trouble growing up that it had become a training of sorts.  I knew exactly how far I could push a situation, how I could deceive my opponents into giving me the advantage, and how to escape a bind.

Because this scientist might have the same sort of propensities, I watched carefully, while staying out of range of a sudden turn-and punch, or even a sudden stretch-and-reach.

Weirdly, neither the guy I had the burner pointed at or his friends tried to fight it.  This was good, because if they had, I would have had to shoot them.  Once upon a time it wouldn’t have bothered me at all.  To be honest, it still didn’t much.  A little, I suppose.  I’d come to realize other people, even those who opposed my objectives, were people.  Someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother.  Sure.  I sort of got that.  In the sense that I knew it, and I’d figured out that shooting people I didn’t have to kill was bad. But I still did not get it at the level other humans did.  It came from not having been raised like a real person, from never having had to think of other people as being like me. From my earliest remembered thoughts, I’d been different, separate, set apart.  As the daughter of the Good Man, and then, in Eden, as Earth-born.

My upbringing had been isolated, apart, and frankly unpleasant enough that I’d never bonded with anyone outside my broomer’s lair.  For them, or now Kit or Eris, I would die or kill. Anyone else didn’t much matter.

But Kit cared.  He’d be very upset if he found out I’d killed random people who weren’t even, properly speaking, friends or foes.  And having Kit think well of me had become one of my primary objectives in life.

So I was very glad the scientists didn’t fight back, and even let my hostage gag them.  Of course I tied him and gagged him in the end.  Just before I did I asked him again where to find the ships that could take me down through the atmosphere.

His nervous stammer came back, “That — ththathatha –” He pointed to the right.

From which I assumed that meant I should go to the left.

Which is what I did, after looking out of the door and making sure no one was watching the hallway.

It was the same hallway I’d been walking down, when I’d been hit on the head.  I started trotting to the left, around a bend — And almost into the arms of an armed guard, who shouted “Hey.”

Either the scientist was very, very cunning, or, more likely, so simple that he had outwitted me by telling me the truth.

The man didn’t draw his weapon immediately.  I think this was because I had a baby.  In most circumstances, most men aren’t ready to fire on a woman.  I’d taken advantage of that any number of times.  But a woman with a baby seemed to be a force multiplier.  I needed to remember this.

He didn’t even threaten to fire on me.  As I turned and started legging it the other way as fast as I could go, he shouted to my back, “Hey, hey,” and then started running after me, but the expected “stop or I’ll shoot,” never came.  Of course, perhaps he was a mechanic and figured his pay didn’t include grappling with crazy women.

I ran as fast as I could, until I caught sight, out of the corner of my eye, of a bay with a shiny ship parked on it.  It wasn’t as big as my father’s space cruiser had been, and it looked much like the air-to-space my friend Good Man Simon St. Cyr of Liberte Seacity had once used to bring me to Circum.

A ship like that was much like a flyer, meaning it was probably only one room and there was slim to no chance anyone could hide in it.  A larger ship would be hard for one person to control, but this —

I continued running till I clambered aboard.  There were two young men in what appeared to be sky blue uniforms there.  Sky blue was Olympus, but they’d told me Luce was no longer the Good Man of the City, so there would be no point in trying to appeal to his authority. Instead, I motioned to them with my burner and said, “out, now.”

They looked at me, looked at the baby and backed past me, without reaching for the weapons at their belts.  I really must remember this baby as a magical shield thing. It almost compensated for the disadvantages of having a helpless and noisy human strapped to my front.

I closed the door of the air-to-space, just as I heard my pursuer arrive running.  There were shouts from outside the ship as I dropped into the pilot seat and checked the fuel gages.  Miracle, it was fine.

Eris started crying as we took off.  I’d have to feed her as soon as we were out of range of Circum weapons.