Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Burbs Updated

Bertie Wells - WIP - Science Fiction/Drama
updated 9/21/16

When Loraine brought the drinks, I asked her about the table of white robes.  She smiled a habitual smile and glanced their way.  After letting out a small sigh, she looked back at me.  Her green eyes sharpened with worry.
“Those would be the Naked,” she started quietly.  “They have conferences here from time to time.  This is the second time this week, though.  There must be something going on with the politics of the land somewhere nearby.”  She slowed for a moment, her gaze scanning the crowd around us.  “Don’t pay them any mind.  They don’t notice anyone other than themselves.  I bet if you went and danced on their table, they’d never give you a hint of their attention.”  She giggled and wagged her head.  “The guards, on the other hand, would pull you outside quicker than you could blink.  Then I guess I would down a customer.”  She smirked and stood up.  “Now enjoy your drinks, young man.  I hope your guest arrives soon.”
I had heard of such persons before, but I had never seen one with my own eyes.  How strange.  The group was known for their power.  It wasn’t a spiritual power, nor political, nor economical.  It was a power they developed on their own.  The masses looked to them for reasons and explanations.  Whatever the Naked said was deemed truth.  Their opinions were taken as facts.  The Naked were never wrong.  The Naked were never questioned.  Yes, the regions and nations and tribes were all run by an individual person of authority or by type of government, and these heads would come and go as the drying leaves in autumn.  But the Naked were always there.  Their presence was always accepted.  It seemed wanted, even needed.  An up and coming politician would do well to have the backing of a Naked or two.  Even to associate with them would give a person the reputation of a demigod.
Why were they so unnerving?
My attention shifted from the table of the Naked to a movement in the crowd across the room.  Two Governors stopped at a table of dining guests.  There were a few words exchanged, I would guess your usual pleasantries and greetings.  They were not with the group.  The Governors were there on their own.  They were there on business.  The people around the table began presenting their papers and documentations one by one.  The Governors were checking citizenships, vouchers, even party cards. 
That was what I needed; a couple of Governors nosing around in my business.  I took a deep breath and reminded myself to be passive of the situation.  My papers would arrive in time.  I did what was asked of me.  The remaining balance was in my pocket.  As soon as servant of the rotund man would come and close the deal, I would be clear of the Governors’ radar.  Present some sort of legal documentation that gave you a right to be in their city and they’d move along.  If said papers failed to be produced, an individual had a good chance of meeting up with a troop of slavers.  They paid Governors well for each illegal handed over.  It was common knowledge.  Have papers or get shipped off.  That was the deal.  That’s how it worked.
I had time.  They were still a ways away.  Dozens of tables separated us.  I could wait for the servant a bit longer.  There was nothing to worry about.
Someone’s stare shattered my concentration.  I followed the feeling and meet a set of piercing silver eyes.  The ominous woman stood about midway between myself and the table of Nakeds.  I blinked, trying to see her more clearly.  She wasn’t as tall as I thought at first.  She seemed to be towering over the crowd, but she was maybe a little taller than Nina.  She was slender, but not a malnourished slender.  Her body and posture told of her lean build.  Her sharp eyes were made brighter by her silver hair that darkened to black as it reached down the length of her back.  The tone of her skin was nearly porcelain, except for the peach coloring in her cheeks and lips.  She wore a long coat that was dirty and tattered as if she had just emerged from a monstrous forest.  She didn’t belong.  She was unlike anyone I’d ever seen, much less like any person in the bustling room.
The young woman released me from her stare.  She turned her head toward the group of Naked.  It wasn’t long before a woman on the far side of the table looked up.  She raised her eyes slowly as if it took too much energy to spy the young woman.  The two held the others’ gaze for some time.  Neither moved.  The room and business around them went on as if they were never even there to begin with.  Finally, the silver eyed woman turned her eyes away.  I couldn’t tell what might have caught her attention.  The Naked that was watching her leaned against the tall back of her chair.  A hooded figure in blue came to her side.  The Naked shifted ever so slightly toward them, her mouth forming quick words with tight lips.  The person in blue gave their attention to the crowd.  Their gaze found the silver eyed woman and they gave a nod to the Naked speaking.  With a tiny wave of her fingers, she dismissed the person in blue.  They stepped back with their head lowered until they came to the guardians standing nearby.  One of the guardians, a tall, burly man with two jagged swords strapped across his back, looked up and scanned the crowded restaurant.  His search appeared to be in vain.  With his eyes narrowed, he peered closer.  The hooded figure moved nearer and raised their hand to point at the silver eyed woman.  The guardian shook his head.  The hooded person pointed again, their out stretched arm shaking with frustration.  The silver eyed woman turned her back to them and walked away, moving though the crowd with no effort until stepping outside and disappearing into the bazaar.
“My apologies for keeping you waiting,” said a wiry man as he took the seat across from me.  He grabbed the salted mug of bitter wood with two hands, both thumbs missing, and hefted it up for a long drink.  Once he set the mug back on the table, it was nearly empty.  He shuffled closer and tapped his eight fingers on the table.  “I am supposed to bring you some papers and stubs, but I don’t work well with Governors around.  That means you’re gonna hafta wait another day.”  He was on his feet before he finished talking.
I shook my head, “Wait?  Another day?”  He moved as if he was leaving and I grabbed his arm.  “You can’t make me wait.  You’re here now.  Just finish the deal!”  I was trying to keep my voice down, but panic seemed to be winning out.
The man glared back at me and flexed his fingers.  The stub where a thumb was once attached tightened against his palm.  His tone came softly, but with a hint of anger.  “I said I don’t work well with Governors around.  And I’m not going to repeat myself again, boy.”
I loosed my hold and he pulled his arm away.  He calmed and reclaimed the mug, finishing the drink with one swallow.  “I appreciate your kindness, but I should be going.  I’ll let you make it up to me tomorrow.  Same place.  Same time.”  The wiry man placed the mug on the table top, his eyes daring me to counter him.  I could only blink in confusion.
The man took a step back and tilted his head, sunlight glistened on his sweaty, unshaven face.  A scar reached from the outer corner of his left eye to his ear where it hid in his hairline.  He gave a small bow, then went on his way.

Pilot - WIP - Science Fiction
updated 9/21/16

*All ships are merely ships.  If you can pilot one, you can pilot them all.  Interstellar ships are no different.  Tell me the coordinates, she and I will sail you there.*

With his fist still locked in armor, he rammed it high into my gut, forcing the air from my lungs.  Pinned between the wall and his punch, I gasped in vain for breath.  As if to prove his victory, he hiked me up to eye level and stared, awaiting my answer. I could only hold tight to his arm and ride out the air-starved tremors wracking my body.
“A question, huh?”  He tilted his head, his voice soft and his eyes kind.  “There might have been a place and time I would permit someone like you to speak with me, but, as you can see, I’m a busy person.”
Personnel continued to make their way down the hall behind him.  This must have been a normal occurrence around here.  Not one spared a glance in our direction.
“Perhaps if I didn’t have to single-handedly recover a lost ship and hunt down its scab of a pilot.  Yes.  There probably would have been a chance to hear out your useless questioning.”