Come The Revolution – Snippet 13
The brawny fisherman who’d pulled me in on the line looked up and then grinned and waved at me.
“Eduardo Socorro, call him Dado. He pulled you out, yeah?”
I nodded and waved back with my left hand.
“Other fellow’s Joäo Pacifico.”
The other one, shorter and wiry-looking, glanced up and waved once, as if to say leave him alone, and went back to his viewer.
“Other guy at the helm?” I asked and Ferraz nodded.
“Constancio, my partner. So you’re Sasha Naradnyo, yeah? What kinda name is Sasha? Sounds like a girl’s name.”
“Ukrainian, short for Aleksandr.”
“Short for Alexandre? We’d say Xandinho.”
“Can you get us back up-river to the Red Forest marina?” I asked. “We got a boat there I can use to lay low until I get a handle on this.”
“A boat? That’s nice. But no, we’re not gonna do that. River Watch already thick in there, diverting traffic. Be asking too many questions, yeah? We gonna get you to shore up here, at the commercial docks is what.” He turned back to the other two. “Joäozinho! Me jogar seu chapéu.” The short one took off his baggy black wool cap and threw it to Ferraz, who put it on my head and then pulled the bill down over my eyes.
“You’re Xandinho the fisherman at the dock, yeah? Mouth shut. One of us asks you a question, just nod. That way nobody wonders about some dangerous mastermind. This one we pulled out of the water alone,” he said, hooking a thumb toward The’On. “I commed for an ambulance, meet us up there. No drama, yeah?”
I wondered what a bunch of Portuguese fishermen were doing trolling the Wanu River, pulling out longjaws and blacksnaps they couldn’t even eat. I didn’t ask, though. It would have sounded ungrateful. These guys were getting me and The’On out of this, and with “no drama,” or at least as little as possible.
“Obrigado,” I said.
He frowned. “You know Português?”
“Couple words is all. Had a Brazilian girlfriend.”
“Brasileira? They crazy, yeah?”
“She did try to kill me once,” I admitted.
He nodded and looked back down the river at the towering form of Prahaa-Riz. “She got some company now.”
The’On was still unconscious when we got to the docks and I was getting nervous about that. We loaded him into the waiting ambulance, and I rode along to the trauma/med center in Katammu-Arc. Prahaa-Riz was closer, but the Varoki medic riding in back and working on The’On told me both med centers in Prahaa-Riz were closed to admissions except from inside the arc. They were swamped with injuries. He also said it looked like The’On might have a cranial fracture.
I commed Marr and brought her up to date on The’On, not bothering to sub-vocalize. Tweezaa got on the circuit as well.
Boti-Sash! Is Boti-On going to be alright?
“I don’t know, Hon’. The medic says he’s stable, and his color’s good, but I wish he’d wake up.”
I saw the video feed of you in the water, the feed from your eyes. I do not . . .
She trailed off. For a while the three of us just sat, commlinked but silent, overwhelmed by what had happened.
“Is there any word yet on Gaisaana-la, ah-Quan, or Borro?” I asked finally.
No, Marr answered. No news at all and Prahaa-Riz below the executive layer is still blacked out.
That didn’t sound good.
I have to go, she said. I’ll have someone waiting for you at the med center. I love you.
“I love you both,” I answered and we broke the link.
I considered my options as the ambulance made maddeningly slow progress through the ground traffic, which seemed thicker and more frenzied that usual. A flyer would have had us to the med center by then, but a call from some Human fisherman didn’t rate one. If they’d realized the unconscious Varoki was one of the highest ranking diplomatic envoys from the Cottohazz Executive Council, things would have been different.
All I could see of the traffic was through a small rear window, but the faces on powerscoots and pedcycles looked nervous, frightened. The news from Prahaa-Riz had folks spooked, and for all they knew this could get worse before it got better.
So what was I going to do? Hiding out was pointless by now; the Munies would have locks on The’On‘s and my commlinks if they were that interested in us, and it sounded like they might be. I could power down, go black and make a run for it, but how far would I get with a bum shoulder? Besides, I didn’t have any cash so I couldn’t use any transportation, buy food, do much of anything without using my e-nexus credit line, and then I’d pop right back onto the data grid. So I’d have to face the Munies and see what that led to, but unless they were into manufactured evidence I didn’t see they had much on me.
The bigger question was where was all this going and what was I going to do to keep Marr and Tweezaa alive? They were the targets, not me. Folks might not like me much, but I wasn’t likely to knock the Cottohazz off its foundations. Neither were they, when you got right down to it, but the opposition couldn’t count on that, so they were the high-threat targets.
The opposition. . . who was that now that Gaant, e-Bomaan, and the others were all dead? Was there an opposition anymore? Well, Tweezaa’s relatives were all still alive, still hungry for her chunk of the fortune, and a lot of Varoki were scared as hell that a Human had saved Tweezaa’s life and that would warp her or something. So there’d still be an opposition, but they were going to have to find a couple new evil geniuses, and that might slow them down for a while.
That was their problem, not mine. Mine came down to keeping Marr and Tweezaa — and now The’On as well — alive. When you looked at it that simply, the answer was pretty obvious.
By the time we got to emergency trauma receiving at Katammu-Arc the Munies were waiting but so was one of Marr’s Varoki counselors-on-retainer. If I’d been an uBakai citizen it would have gone tougher on me, but since I still held my Peezgtaan citizenship there were diplomatic niceties to observe. Without a counselor there the cops might have overlooked that.
Varoki trauma/med centers are different from Human ones: a lot less clean than the hospitals on Earth, or even the clinic I used to fund back on Peezgtaan, and sort of cluttered, with lots of equipment just lying around. To me they look more like vehicle repair shops than hospitals. The Munies waited outside the treatment room while a Varoki doc worked on my shoulder: scanned it and then studied some reference imagery — probably to brush up on how a Human shoulder was supposed to look when it wasn’t all screwed up.
“Oh, I understand!” he said after a couple minutes. “Your shoulder was dislocated but has been relocated. However, there is still considerable inflammation there, and your collar thing — collar bone I mean — is separated from your, um, what is it? That sort of flat wingy bone?” He consulted the diagram again. “Spacula. No, sca-pu-la. Collar bone and sca-pu-la. What an odd word.”
He ended up injecting a pain killer and some NAMS — nano-machines — programmed to repair the tissue damage and tamp down the inflammation. Other than that he fitted me with a sling and told me to try to keep the shoulder immobilized. Meanwhile Marr’s Varoki counselor was giving me The Word.
“Answer every question they pose unless I tell you it is an inappropriate inquiry. Answer as completely and as cooperatively as you can. After all, we have nothing to hide.”
He said this staring earnestly into my eyes, letting me know he thought we had everything to hide and I should lie my head off, but since we were being monitored he was speaking for the record. Nice to have people in your corner who believe in you.
“How’s e-Lotonaa? Is he conscious yet?” I asked the doc. It was strange calling The’On by name.
“I can only share patient information with his family.”
“I’m family,” I said.
The Varoki doctor looked at me for a long moment, ears spread in surprise. “Not remotely,” he said, which I thought was pretty narrow-minded of him.
Once the doc was done the Munies grilled me for almost an hour, asking the same questions over and over but phrased differently. They were trying to catch me in a lie, or maybe they just weren’t sure what else to ask but had to put in the time to show due diligence. I’d have felt some sympathy for them if I hadn’t been the object of the exercise. After all, they were in a tight spot, no doubt about it. Near as I could tell, everyone in the room before the mob entered was dead except for five people. I was relieved to hear from them that Gaisaana-la and ah-Quan were two of the other three, although ah-Quan was in pretty bad shape. I had to admit, all four of us surviving looked mighty suspicious, especially since only one guy out of probably twenty-five or thirty on the other side had.
The fact that the death toll included three uBakai wattaaks and four of the richest guys in the whole Cottohazz meant the heat was on the Munies to put somebody’s head up on a pike, and I was the obvious candidate. The only thing in my favor so far was that every second of recorded vid of the riot showed me as uninvolved except as a victim. But like Ferraz said back on the boat, that wasn’t stopping every feed-head on the float from claiming I had to be behind it all. What would most folks believe: their own eyes or their own prejudices?
I knew where I’d put my money.