Sep. 24th, 2011

The drug wore off. He knew, even before he opened his eyes, before he remembered his own name, that he had been drugged. Something powerful had knocked him out cold, but he was coming to now. He blinked; his vision swam. Wherever he was had natural lighting and was cool and dry. His fingers clenched the surface he was lying on; it was grass.

He sat up. He was in a kind of sheltered hollow, protected by rock formations and screened by vegetation. But the rock looked too clean, too unmarked. He rapped his knuckles against it. It was hollow.

Daylight filtered down through the branches of the trees, but he couldn't directly see sky. He squinted up at the vegetation above him. He thought he could see some kind of mesh netting overhead, just above the highest tier of leaves. Suddenly the hollow felt confining. He got up and slowly staggered through the gap in the 'rocks' that led out.

He was in a somewhat larger enclosure, all grassy and dotted with trees. There was a kind of platform-fort in the branches of one of them, and a tire swing hung from another. A deep moat surrounded the enclosure on three sides; a steep rock cliff boxed in the fourth. Beyond all that was mesh netting.

There were other people in the enclosure. A beautiful girl wearing a feathered headdress sat cross-legged on a flat-rock, her eyes closed in meditation. Other forms lurked in the shade of a tree. And beyond them, the jagged bars of a wrought-iron fence penned off a corner of the enclosure, and there was movement inside that too.

He walked into the open. The girl on the rock opened her eyes and looked at him with interest. He stretched, feeling the power in his muscles, the hidden mysteries that lurked below his skin. He remembered, then, who he was.

The girl hopped lightly down from the rock. She was long and lithe, with very serious eyes, and a ponytail all the way down her back. She approached him boldly and curiously, completely unafraid.

"I am Nuanatu, the Raven," he informed her, his speech still a little slurred. "I'm a God."

She nodded. "I know," she said. "We all are."

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The Shank

Sep. 24th, 2011 11:58 pm
The speaker in Mav's cell squealed and the harsh automated voice spoke. "BLOCK NINE DECONTAM," it said. "HANDS ON HEAD AND FACE DOOR." Mav slipped his book into the sling by his head and unclipped himself from his bed-webbing. He kicked off the side of the bed alcove with the practiced ease of a lifer and spun through a crouch, neatly slipping his feet into the rungs in front of the cell door. He put his hands on his shaved head and waited.

There was a grating buzz and the door slid open. A dozen other doors on block nine slid open as well, all having assumed the security pose. The cameras in the Block Nine Commons Module watched the cons silently. Then a green light began to strobe on and off.

"BLOCK NINE DECONTAM," the same mechanical voice said. "PROCEED TO HYGIENIC CHAMBER." The prisoners climbed through their doorways, using the hand- and foot-rungs to walk their way to the transit tube. There was no free-jumping allowed; despite the fact that Block Nine was kept at only .04G, prisoners had to keep hands and feet on the rungs at all times or risk discipline. The only reason any gravity was maintained at all was to ensure that urine was contained inside the cells. Prisoners were terrible with urine.

Mav reached the tube just ahead of Zippo. Zippo wasn't smiling. In the middle of climbing down the tube, Zippo nudged Mav with his foot.

"Yo, Mav," he whispered. "Watch out for Julio today, man."

"Julio don't scare me," Mav said. Actually Julio did scare him, but nobody admitted fear in prison.

"The gang is mad at you, man," insisted Zippo. "Serious mad. They know about the Opal you dealing. Julio's coming after you, I'm serious."

Mav was unhappy. The only way they could know he was undercutting them with Opal was if Zippo told them. "How you know this, man?" he asked.

"I just heard it, dude," Zippo said. "You watch yourself on work crew. I heard Julio's got a shank."

A shank. That was always bad. But Mav and Julio were scheduled on work crew today. A sharpened improvised knife was bad enough in person and in the flesh, but it was a million times worse when you were floating outside the prison, with only a vacuum suit between you and hard space.

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