Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Heist, Part Ten

Next time, some actual Doctor-ness, I promise...

Amanda turned to the holo-projection just in time to see the jury punch in their decisions. “Remarkably quick, too,” her guard said behind her. “The prosecutor’s going to get an Judicial Efficiency Commendation for that…and the verdict’s guilty, no surprises there. Congratulations, Krau Delacourt. You’ve just earned a life sentence on the prison asteroid of Nirvana. Please prepare for automatic neural destabilization as preparation for prisoner transfer.”

Amanda’s last conscious thought before she fell to the floor was, ‘How exactly does one prepare to be shot by seven stun projectors?’

* * * * *

She sat up, rubbing a sore patch on her forehead, and muttered blearily, “Sitting down would have been a good option.” One of the other prisoners, a mousy-looking woman with dull brown hair, looked at her, but said nothing.

All six of the cells were occupied. It wasn’t hard to pick out which one of them wasn’t the Class A prisoner; he was in the cell next to hers, the farthest right on the half-circle, huddled on his bench on the side of his cell furthest away from all the other prisoners. She couldn’t see his name plaque from this angle, but he had an expression on his face that neatly mixed fear and disgust, and once she got a good look at his eyes, she understood why. Dynae were supposed to be pacifists; being in this close proximity to so many dangerous criminals probably terrified him. Of course, she’d never met one before, or at least not one that admitted it. Most of the ones that hadn’t been rounded up in the initial purges concealed their identities, got special contact lenses to disguise their reflective irises, and tried to keep it a secret that they were a member of the most feared species in the Tinarian Empire. Those that didn’t wound up on prison ships like this one. He had to be the odd man out, though. Despite their power, the Dynae never tried to escape from prison once caught. They accepted their fate with stoic resignation.

The cell on her left, the other one whose name plaque she couldn’t read, contained the mousy woman. She didn’t look that dangerous. In fact, she looked like the sort of woman destined for celibacy, a career in the secretarial industry, and an eventual future as a grey old woman whose greatest excitement was in taking Pootles to the vet because he had the sniffles. Then again, by process of elimination, she was probably a master criminal headed to the most secure prison in the galaxy, so it didn’t pay to judge by appearances.

She could read the name plaques on the other three cells, and now that she knew who she was in the company of, she understood exactly why that nameless, faceless guard had been filled with industrial smugness. These were criminals that she’d only heard of, and that in awed whispers; these were the kind of people that were to their respective fields of larceny what Amanda was to the field of burglary. The cell opposite the Dyna contained Joachim Velasquez. The name meant nothing to her, but the plaque also handily included his alias, which meant considerably more. He didn’t look like much in person; in fact, he looked scared witless, probably because he did most of his work through a computer terminal. She’d be willing to bet, though, that if she met his avatar in a VR sim, he’d be a lot more impressive. It was rumored that he’d made his wealth on a single caper, slicing the systems of every single banking computer in the galaxy and transferring a millionth of a diam from each account to his own. Everyone knew his net-name, Quetzal, but if anyone had ever heard his real name, they’d never mentioned it to her. She knew that nobody had ever met him personally. Judging by the expression on his face and the way he rocked back and forth on his bench, that was the way he liked it.

Next to him, a dark-haired man with a stormy expression sat, arms folded, silently seething. His name plaque read Peter Corvus, again not a name she had ever heard, but she recognized his face. She hadn’t had many dealings with him, but it would have been difficult for her to avoid him, given the intersection of their respective fields of influence. He was one of the best fences in the Empire, capable of turning even the hottest goods into money—and of turning money into hot goods. He had fingers in every criminal enterprise, and rumor had it that he made a lot of his money from blackmailing the wealthy and powerful. Amanda quickly reasoned that he’d probably been classified with the rest of them for that very reason; Class A criminals weren’t allowed to speak to either the courts or the media, something that the upper classes would be desperate to avoid in his case. From the looks of him, it was certainly something he was kicking himself for not having expected. Beyond him was…

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