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A Guest of the Empire

 

Star decided that she would have gladdly given her good leg just to see one familiar face, friendly or otherwise. Actually, on second thought, she would give her good leg just to have asked Spires a few more questions so she wouldn’t have arrived in his world so hopelessly ignorant of everything. 

When she had first awoken, disoriented and, admittedly, a little scared, she had suspected she might be able to pass herself off as an amnesiac. She was very clearly being mistaken for the other Star. The nurses and doctors had been so polite. They’d even deactivated her eye (which had had gone all blurry thanks to the fall) in anticipation of having a mechanic in to repair it. But then they had put her arm into a curious machine and she had been arrested. 

How many days ago that had been she wasn’t sure. Where she had been taken had no clocks and no windows. The lights were never turned off and the only way she had to mark the time at all was the appearance of meals, which seemed to be semi-regular at least. The interrogations seemed to happen at random times, the guards came and carried her out when she was sleeping or eating or, once, when she had been half way through counting pock-marks on the ceiling. Since she had irked the first interrogator they had to literally carry her to her next appointment. That one had decided that her peg leg could be used as a weapon and must be confiscated. She rather regretted that she hadn’t thought to pound him over the head with it before they removed it. He had been displeased with her inability to answer any of his questions, none of which had made even the least bit sense to her so she had been forced to answer “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” until she started to worry that was the only phrase she actually knew how to speak. 

After they took her leg she had decided that she wasn’t going to talk at all any more. They hauled her in, she slumped in the chair and stared blankly at the wall and did her best to not respond to them in the least. 

Now THAT got some amusing reactions out of them. Sometimes, after she’d been returned to her cell, she’d have to stuff the hard little pillow against her mouth to keep from howling with laughter. Something about her silence unhinged them, and it was well worth the occasional slap to watch them scream themselves incoherent. 

She had lost track of how many of them she’d seen, but all of them promised her she was going to be executed for treason. 

If she had ben pressed Star would have gussed that she’d been a guest of the Empire at least four days, perhaps five, depending on how long she had been unconscious after Samwise had thrown her. 

Samwise… She was certain he would have gone straight back to where he felt safe, which would mean straight back to the city. If someone had been strolling the walls surely they would have spotted him. She hoped he’d been returned to the stables and unsaddled, poor beast. If her horse was found, perhaps someone would have realized she was missing and then…

And then what, exactly, Star? She chided herself silently, They search the woods and don’t find you. It’s not like you’ve been kidnapped to Steelhead. You’re on another bloody world. No one would even imagine looking for you here. Not even Spires, after that charming conversation you had with him… 

Star had never been the sort to believe in being rescued, but just this once, she thought perhaps she wouldn’t turn her nose up at a little assistance. 

She did notice that this whole business had not only killed even the vaguest desire for Laudanum but also that, for once, her head was blessedly silent. Which made it easier to plan, although the plan was fairly simple:

Step one, get out of this cell.

Step two, contact the underground (she was positive there must be one of some sort, as one of the questions she was continually asked was ‘who is your leader?’). 

Step three, get out of the Empire (She recalled Spires saying there were a few places that the Empire didn’t rule, she needed to get to one of them. She did not think that the threat of execution was as idyll a one here as it would have been in New Babbage.). 

Step Four, secure an airship and get back to New Babbage. Get back home and get the hell out of the Empire. Spires could keep it, so far as she was concerned, she was not impressed with the Emperor’s hospitality. 

 

But first she just had to get out of the cell. 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon October 24, 2011

    [Avariel is working the calculations to make a portal to this happy place. Sadly she does not know you need help, or where to find you if she did. I’m guessing this place is not safe for unicorns? ^_^]

  2. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires October 24, 2011

    Spires woke up finally, checking the wristwatch computer he’d put on “silent” for the night.

    It has messages.

    It never had messages.

    He pressed the projector button and a series of simple morse code messages scrolled up in front of him. Inside the simple dots and dashes had been more subtle code, encrypted and available only to communicators like his own.

    Imperial Scout Ship. 3rd Fleet. Altitude, and lattitude, longitude based on certain assumptions (“Which were all too correct,” Spires noticed.)

    Notice to any Imperial operatives in the area to contact the airship before it left. The Fleet wasn’t sure what they’d found, but they were not oblivious to the possibility that others of their own had come before them. They didn’t mention him by name though, and his wrist unit had been deactivated from responding like a beacon. There was that.

    He dressed quickly and fired up the steam quadricycle while he assembled whatever supplies he could for the journey north to where the airship was waiting. He should be elated but there was a sense of forboding.

    The quadracycle began racing as best as it could past the north wall gates. In time he found Macbain’s horse, with no Stargirl on it.

    “Creation, no.” he said to himself. The terrain was getting nearly out of the quad’s ability by now, so he took the weary horse and did his best to continue to the airship location.

    By the time he’d arrived, the w area was abandoned. Pegleg had left her mark here and there, but he had a very nasty feeling she’d left with the airship. He doubted that it had been willingly.

  3. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold October 24, 2011

    As Macbain and Arnold kept very different hours and kept managing to miss one another usually, and the fact she had another place to stay when she wanted, he didn’t notice her absence for the first few days at Emerson’s.

    On Monday, however, he was quite certain that something must have been wrong, because none of the food was being eaten and he hadn’t heard her peg leg coming back from the bar late at night on Saturday.  Perhaps she had seen the ghost as well and had just stopped coming.

    He had too many other things to worry about though, so he’d have to voice his concern to her friend and landlord, Tesla, and then to the militia and let them handle it.

  4. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin October 24, 2011

    The urchins… in any city there will be urchins, and like the pavingstones underfoot, they will be unnoticed and everywhere. I hope the Lady Macbain remembers them, if Underground there be, they will be a safe way in!

    (I don’t know if there will be a Tepic in this other world. maybe there is only one who appears at random all over the place, but if there is, you can bet he isn’t a loyal subject of a vast Empire! heheh)

    • Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon October 24, 2011

      [There just has to be a Tepic in the other world, where else would they get their vole related products? ^_^]

  5. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain October 24, 2011

    Tepic, you brilliant boy! *makes a note* 

    Ms. Falcon, you’ve got quite enough to worry about without adding a wayward half-cat to the list! I think the Empire might find you fascinating, though they might love you to pieces! Although if I get in a fix I shall certainly know who to call.  

    Arnold, spoken like a true cat. 

    Spires…I…uh………

     

  6. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold October 25, 2011

    “Hello?”  Arnold asked as he entered Ahab’s Revenge and saw a man smoking a rather large pipe, he’d never met the man but he’d at least heard a description.  “Are you…Mr. Cadmus by any chance?  Stargirl’s employer?”

    “I am Captain Cadmus, how may I help you?”

    “I’m wondering if you’ve seen Stargirl in the past few days?”  Arnold asked.  “No one else I’ve spoken to seems to have noticed if she was around either.  But I figured since she worked here, you’d know.”

    “I have not seen her. The last she spoke to me she was going to be travelling for a few days.”

    “Well that’s reassuring then.”

    “I had hoped she would be back by now,”  The captain added, though.

    “Well that would depend, she didn’t get off the train in Bump did she?”

    “I thin she was going to use her pony.”

    “Hmmm…perhaps she went to Dairy then…if Emerson’s letter was to be believed that’s between us and Bump.”

    Cadmus  raises an eye brow, “What letter is to be believed?”

    “Emerson Lighthouse wrote back about his progress, before he reached Bump he found a settlement of farmers.” Arnold explained.  “Well, thanks for your assistance Mr. Cadmus. I was growing concerned since she hasn’t been to Emersons to eat all his food in a few days.”

    “If she has not returned soon, there may be a concern if she does not send a message.”

    Arnold nods. “Well, thanks for letting me know she went out traveling. I’ll let her other friends know that too.”  That way they knew to look towards the north if they were still concerned enough to look.

    “You are welcome.”  The captain said.

    “Good night Mr. Cadmus.”

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