Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heist, Part Twelve

A bit long, perhaps, but it's the final "official" part. After this, I'll post the story outline, so you can see where I would have gone with all this.

Amanda tried to ignore him as his rants descended into the sub-vocal level. “So someone sold you out, too. That makes at least three of us that got informed on.” She looked over at the Dyna. “What about you?” she asked, trying to make her tone as gentle and reassuring as she could. “What’s your name, and were you caught in the same way as the rest of us?”

The Dyna looked at her, and for a long moment, he fought the impulse to speak. Finally, he nodded. “I am Vorimar, and I believe so, yes. I had concealed myself well enough, I thought, but a few close friends knew my secret. I did not believe they would reveal it. I see now I was wrong.” He sighed. “It will not be so bad. Nirvana has many of my people. At least I will be among my own kind again, even if I must share it with—“ He broke off suddenly, and Amanda assumed he must have realized that the phrase ‘criminal scum like you’ wasn’t a bright one to use, even in a maximum-security cell.

“So that’s four,” the Doctor said chattily. “And you, Miss Delacourt, did you also encounter difficulties in your professional capacity?” His straitjacket twitched slightly, as though he wanted to be doing something disarming with his hands, but they were bound in front of him securely. Amanda almost didn’t answer. How could he just ask her what had happened to her, when she still wanted to know what had happened to him?

Finally, though, the pressure to speak overwhelmed her. “I…yes, I must have been gotten at. I didn’t go after the Styrax Medallion on my own. One of my contacts in the aristos told me that Baroness Alexandra Winter would pay dearly for it. She was even there at the party, but I didn’t want to give away any connection between us. The snitch must have been either Winter, my fence, or some link between the two.”

The iron mask clanked slightly as the Doctor nodded. She wondered why she thought he was smiling under the mask. “I’d heard of the Baroness, of course. Something tells me she wouldn’t be one to have you locked up so quickly—not if you and she were in the habit of collaborating.” Something in the tone of his last word sent shivers down Amanda’s spine. She suddenly felt certain he wasn’t smiling anymore, and something in her wanted to speak up further, to try to justify her actions to him. But that was absurd, right? The Doctor was well-known for sticking it to the aristocracy; surely he’d understand stealing their precious baubles from them?

She found herself speaking to cover her uncertainty, which worried her; that was something guilty, stupid people did. That was how they let things slip and got caught—oh, right. Moot point now. “So who could have done this? Who knew this much about the five of us to be able to betray us all?” She realized even as she spoke that she’d subconsciously included the Doctor in the group that had been betrayed, without even hearing his story, but she also realized that she didn’t want to know.

Joachim spoke up again. “Six, not five. It’s the same story with me. Someone broke into my apartment and rewired all my systems. Nothing showed up on the diagnostics, but it slowed down the link between my neural network and my computer systems by a fraction of a second. I didn’t even notice until they’d planted the first tracer virus on me, and by then it was too late. I jacked out, but they scrambled a transmat team to go after me.” He shuddered. “When they busted down my front door and shot up my computer, I thought I’d die of a heart attack, you know, save them the trouble? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I wasn’t supposed to get caught.” His shoulders sagged. “I dunno, man. I ever do get out of here, I’m never touching a computer again unless it’s to play video games.”

“I sincerely hope not, Trau Velasquez,” the Doctor said, his voice echoing out of the iron mask with a sudden power and command that belied both his helpless appearance and his earlier inoffensive attitude. Everyone in the room spun to look at him in that instant. “After all, I went to a lot of trouble to get the five of you here, and I’d sincerely hate to find out that it’s all gone to waste because you’ve gotten cold feet.”

For a moment, it seemed like everything in the room stopped. Each of the other five criminals heard the words, and each of them took a long, silent moment to consider what had just been said.

Then the yelling started.

Corvus leapt to his feet and hammered at the transparisteel wall separating him and the Doctor, only to have a stun projector blast him to the floor. He remained conscious—barely—but no longer had the energy to do more than mutter vague and slurred threats of revenge.

O’Donnell started to her feet, but saw what had happened to Corvus and quickly contented herself with swearing loudly, profusely and in no less than thirteen different languages at the little man in the next cell. Amanda thought the woman would burst into flames at any moment; or, at the very least, melt the transparisteel between her and the Doctor.

Vorimar held his head in his hands and wept. No doubt on some level, he cursed his fate and the day that he had stumbled into the clutches of this insidious mastermind and his cunning schemes…even if, Amanda realized, he didn’t necessarily put it in quite such a dramatic fashion. He probably thought something much more boring.

Joachim rocked back and forth even faster. It looked like he really wanted nothing more than to hide underneath his bunk and pretend the Doctor wasn’t even there, let alone telling him that he’d been the one that had broken into his house, rewired his computer, and departed without leaving even a single trace of his presence. The fact that the Doctor now seemed to imply that he had further plans beyond that probably left him just about one step short of wetting himself.

The Doctor just lay there—not that there was anything more he could do, but he didn’t interrupt any of their actions, or attempt to justify himself, or to do any of the other things guilty people did. If anything, he radiated smugness almost as powerfully as that guard had, and in an even more impressive fashion since he had neither voice nor body language to do it with. It didn’t seem possible for a man straitjacketed, tied to a wall, and locked in a prison cell to act smug, but the Doctor was doing it at that very moment.

And Amanda? She smiled. More than that, she stared at the Doctor with the eager adoration of a child. It was all part of his plan. He knew what he was doing. This was only the beginning. He still was the One That Got Away, even if he hadn’t gotten away just yet.

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