Friday, April 22, 2011

Crown and Shield (Fiction)

This was a collaboration between myself (outermost_toe), will_dearborn, YellowRanger, spookymoon, ersatzy, Indeedlyish, and CallItArtAnyway on reddit, specifically /r/roundrobin.


"OW!" she yelled, after stubbing her toe on the antique grandfather clock. The clock chimed midnight, muffling the onslaught of curses. Grissom was no doubt waiting at the dock by now. She would have to make haste to meet him, but the emblem had to be retrieved from the underground chambers first. Mira slipped past the guard in the front entrance and quickly made her way down to the chambers underneath the great hall. Mira encountered Yon, the disfigured curator of the treasures of the Chambers. He shuddered as the light flooded his otherwise dark chamber. 'M-Mira, w-what do you n-need?' "I need a car," She shouted, "I should have been at the dock hours ago!" Yon shuddered again, realizing that there was nothing he could do. "And Yon - bring up that replica of the family shield." She allowed a touch of the chill nature that had let her to rise so far as an assassin creep into her voice. "Don't tell anyone. No matter how horrible you are now it can always be worse." She cast her eyes around the darkened Chambers, then back to Old Yon. "Please hurry," she added sweetly.

"Grissom surely wonders after me now, and it wouldn't do to keep him waiting." Casting a coy smile at the hunched figure, she added "It could always be better, too."


When she arrived at the docks, she saw nothing. Switching her eye augs to thermal, and extending her senses around her, she quickly scanned the area again, but still found nothing. She was turning to go, when she felt something she hadn't noticed before. Looking up, she saw Grissom, obviously struggling against the ropes. "I knew you'd get yourself into trouble if I wasn't on time," she admonished. Extending her subdermal flexblade, she cut him loose. He feel to the ground heavily, but practically bounced to his feet, as his kind were wont to do.

"Well," she asked, "what happened?"

He held up one of his green-gray hands. When the nanites had done their work he replied: "I'm not entirely sure. Someone attacked me, obviously, but I didn't see who it was. I told them what I was here for. I had hoped they were just a local gang, and dropping your name would help, but it just seemed to make them angry. They didn't want me talking to anyone else, either. Do you know how much it hurts to have your tongue cut down the middle?"

She grimaced at him. "You mentioned me? Now I'll have to keep an eye out all the time..." She looked him up and down. Despite the normal maroon flush returning to his skin, his tongue was still knitting at the end. He spoke awkwardly, and with pauses to spit out blood. It looked like it had hurt like a cast-iron bitch. She took a measure of pity on him and grinned.

"Not like I don't anyway. Did they take your wallet?"

"Sort of. Checked for an ident stick then dumped everything in the harbor. You have the seal?" He frowned. "By the way, you have anything in your place someone might want? Maybe they knew you were coming and were after it." She activated it by way of demonstration. The twisted pattern crawled over itself in the foggy dockside night, a faintly luminescent print in the air before her. She snapped it back off.

"You shouldn't have had an ident stick anyway, and any cash-chits are your own loss. Ready to go?"

"Sure. You got a phone? I need to let Shuffler know that we've got it." He flicked a small switch on his belt to start the stim tank, and continued. "I'm not an idiot Mira. I said they checked for an ident stick, not that they found one."

"Not yet. Lets get out on the boat first, then come back in once we confirm. Got the keys?"

"My half of it. You did remember to bring yours?"

"Don't be an ass," she growled.

"Of course I have my half. I meant the boat keys." Mira gestured towards the dark water. "Y'know, the boat?"

At the look on his face, she growled again, lower this time, and wordless.

"Sorry. When you can breathe underwater you tend to forget about things like boats." Mira's growl became a groan. "Did you swim here, Grissom?" She turned towards the choppy water, scanning the darkness for anything to tell her that the lanky, scaled, and utterly unreadable humanoid was joking. She didn't see a boat. She didn't even see anywhere obvious enough to hide a boat.

"You do understand that I'm not going swimming tonight, especially not," she waved her hand across her body, indicating the layers of delicate tech she wore, "in all this. And this has to be done tonight! We really shouldn't make long-range contact inside the Territories themselves, but this has to be done tonight, and..." An element of worry began to creep into her voice.

"Yep. I swam. There is a boat though. Sunk. And dismantled. And buried. But a boat. In any case Vori came here an hour ago to pick me up, but I 'wasn't here', as you saw. She probably assumed I'd already met up with you and went back to your house to study the seal."

"Shit. Vori's already gone? No matter, we can deal with her when it comes to that." Now the worry was more than creeping. "...About this boat. How 'dismantled and buried' is it? Any chance you can get it on top of the water in a hurry?"

"Maybe. You got some little key-thread that lets you start it? 'Cause it's a trinket-heist other wise."

She looked relieved, then switched to mock hurt. "Leave home without my keys? Who do you think I am?"

Dipping into a pocket, she extracted a set of spools, and offered them to Grissom. He selected one, and she vanished the others again. Getting down to business, he turned and dove into the black water without a splash. She moved a few steps off into a deeper shade, and waited. He soon surfaced with a small boat. He hopped up onto it and inserted one end of the thread. The craft roared to life making both of them wince. He called out to Mira over the noise of the engine "Ready to go? Sorry it's not exactly a stealth skimmer but you said you wanted a boat. 'Sides, it's faster than I am, so it's probably better for this anyway."


It's still open to contributions, either at the reddit thread or in the comments here.

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