Come The Revolution – Snippet 24
I got in the express elevator going up and requested Level 237. I shared the compartment with a Varoki couple who moved to one side to give me some space, maybe because I was Human, maybe because of my dark expression.
I loved Marr in a way I’d never loved anyone in my life, in a way that had caught me by surprise because I’d thought it was beyond my capacity. And Tweezaa . . . sometimes it was hard to believe she wasn’t my child, my own flesh. And soon there would be a son, one more person to cherish, one more to enrich my life beyond anything I had ever imagined.
One more to let down.
I closed my eyes and just stood there for a while as the floors raced past, faster and faster, and I wondered if these things every had brake failures, if they every just kept accelerating until they blew right through the roof and tossed their passengers a thousand meters into the sky, to reach the top of their trajectory, pause there for a moment, and then start that long fall back.
I opened my eyes when the elevator began to decelerate. No brake failure today. It stopped at 200 and the Varoki couple left, silent and avoiding eye contact with me. As the doors closed I blinked up a search for travel services in the city. Marr always booked our travel through the office but I it occurred to me someone might be watching for that. I picked the first service that came up and put in a booking for a shuttle departure to Kootrin from the Prahaa-Rizz rooftop terminal, as soon as available.
We Are Sorry But Due To A Defense Ministry Night Aerial Travel Quarantine Over Sakkatto City All Shuttle Departures Have Been Delayed Until Hour Seven, Twelve of Eight-Month Waning. Would You Like To Make A Morning Booking?
“Yes,” I answered, confirmed the booking through my travel cover, and closed the connection.
Night? It was only coming up on Hour Fifteen, and this time of year it stayed light at least until Seventeen. Somebody was nervous, not that I could blame them, but it was getting in the way of my efforts to be a responsible adult.
I left the elevator and made my way to the apartment, went in, and paused in the anteroom to check the security monitors inside. Bela and Pablo were still strapped into their chairs, so I opened the inner doors and joined them.
“Change of plans, boys,” I said as soon as I got inside. “My shuttle doesn’t leave until tomorrow morning, so I’ll have to keep you under wraps until then.”
“I need go bathroom,” Bela said.
“Yeah, not surprising. What I’m going to do is cut you loose and lock you both up in the guest suite until I’m ready to leave. There’s a bathroom in there, and smart walls if you get bored. There’s also a comm sensor, so if you pull those jammers off your necks and try to call for help, I’m going to have to do something drastic. Understand?”
They both nodded and I traded the folding neuro wand for a neuro pistol from the gun safe. I moved it into my right hand, cradled in the sling, and took my old Kizlyar desantnyk knife from its scabbard in the safe, holding it in my left hand.
“I’m going to cut your feet free with the knife. Then I want you to get up, carrying the chairs strapped to your backs, and walk to the guest suite, down that hallway. Sit down in there with your backs to the doorway and I’ll cut your hands free. Do not stand up until I am out the door or I will stun you.
“This blade is very sharp, so try not to move while I’m cutting the tape. I’m more of a gun guy than a knife guy, so if you try something really stupid, like jumping me, and I have to cut you, I can’t guarantee it won’t kill you.”
“Understood,” Bela said. “We do as ask, not cause more trouble. Most people would kill us. I would kill us. Is very good of you not to. I am sorry we try hurt you, Mister Naradnyo.”
“Well, I’ll make a deal with you, Bela. If you don’t tell anyone I went soft and let you live, I won’t tell them about getting the drop on you.”
“Is deal. Thank you, Mister Naradnyo,” he said.
All very nice, but I still made them go through every step of the transfer procedure.
Once they were securely locked in I made my way to the living room, poured myself a real scotch, and walked out onto the balcony to think things through. I considered taking along one of the cigars Marr got me as a birthday present but I wasn’t in a good enough mood. Cigars should always be celebratory, even if only in some small way, like smoking one with a friend.
I thought for a moment and then went back in and got one, came out, and settled into a lounger. I snipped the end, got it going, and commed Marr.
Sasha? Are you all right?
“I’m fine, Babe. I’m out on a balcony, enjoying a birthday cigar and thinking about you.”
Can you get to us?
“Yeah. They shut down transportation for the night, but I have a ride lined up for tomorrow. No details, understand?”
Yes. As long as you’re safe you can tell me later. I miss you.
I watched a military shuttle bank and flare for a landing at one of Katammu-Arc’s upper bays and I swallowed to relieve the tightness in my throat.
“God, I miss you, too.”
I finished my cigar and then showered and packed so I wouldn’t have to bother with it in the morning. I warmed up some frozen leftovers, and even made Bela and Pablo dinner, used the intercom to make them move into their bathroom while I opened the door and put the plates on the table, and then gave then the all-clear after I was out and the door locked again. All that took an hour or so and by then the light was fading. It was a beautiful autumn night, though, and I took another scotch out onto the balcony. Maybe things were settling down. I set the internal alarm on my commlink, stretched out on the lounge, sipped my scotch, and eventually drifted off to sleep.
I woke up about Two Hour on the Twelfth and at first I wasn’t sure why. I still had almost four hours before I had to leave for the shuttle. Something had changed in the background pattern of noise.
I stood up and stretched, then went to the railing and looked down. The city didn’t look much different than it had before except now it was dark, lit by street and building lights, scattered fires, and little patches of twinkling light here and there. It took me a minute to realize the faint sound of automatic weapons fire had woken me, and that’s what those little twinkling lights were. The sounds were muted and got to me after the light, so they didn’t really seem associated with each other.
The firing wasn’t continuous: a smattering here, then it would stop and there would be a cluster somewhere else, going on all over the slums of Sakkatto City. I had a set of long-range vision enhancement goggles somewhere in the apartment and I went in to find them. As soon as I did I heard Bela talking on the intercom.
“Mister Naradnyo! Are you there? Mister Naradnyo, better look this stuff on feed. Mister Naradnyo, where you are?”
“I’m on it,” I said into the intercom and opened a vid feed on a smart wall. I didn’t have to search for more than five seconds before the images started coming up.
I was looking at a Munie checkpoint which had stopped a military vehicle, a wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC), in uBakai Army urban camo pattern. A dismounted Army officer argued with a Munie in full riot gear.
“This was live just five minutes ago from a municipal streetcam at the intersection of Deliverance Way and the eastern maintenance trunk line,” a female Human voice said in English. She sounded short of breath, as if from fear or excitement. I recognized her face in the corner of the picture, the same woman I’d noticed earlier, the one named Aurora.
The Munie in the feed became more heated, shouting at the officer, gesturing wildly. Just watching you could tell the Munies — worn down, jumped back up on stimulants, and scared — were taut as wires stretched right to the breaking point. And then the wire broke.
It was over almost instantly. The Munie pushed the officer back and went for his sidearm, probably a neuro stunner, but before he even got it out of the holster the remote autogun on top of the ground forces APC punched him with a four-round burst, slammed him back against the police van parked to block the street. He crumpled to the pavement, clearly dead. The other four Munies opened fire with their assault rifles, hit the dismounted officer, and then the APC’s autogun went to continuous fire mode and just shredded them, opening up the side of the police van and setting it on fire in the process.