Currently on hiatus. Will resume in July, or sooner.

Current story updates:

Current story interludes/Side stories:
Every other Saturday

Other pieces:
Every other Saturday (Saturdays I don't run the Interludes/Side Stories)

During certain periods updates may come more often; at other times updates may come less often. This schedule is my hoped-for goal.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Part 16

As we get closer to the end of November NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close. Only nine days left. And that leaves me with a few unanswered questions about this story. Where am I going with it? Should I try to wrap it up for the end of November and start a new story in December? Do enough people like this to want me to either extend this until the natural ending or to maybe even write a sequel/prequel/some other story to do with these characters or this world? I'd love to hear all your thoughts and responses. feel free to leave them as comments, or you can tell me if you know me in real life.

But for now here is the next update. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 16

The artist ran along the pipe. She had put some distance between herself and the breach but she wanted to go further, to make doubly sure that there was no being caught. She pushed herself running along as fast as she could.
Finally she reached a place where the pipe descended down into the mass. Below her was an entrance to the sewers.
She sat for a moment. She could try and force her way through the cables, but then she would be in danger of a horrible death only to find that there was no way through. Or she could open the pipe, but then she would point straight to her and she’d have to fight the current.
So it was down to finding Lian’s way into the sewers. She had said that she would take the artist down there. She could only assume that that meant that there was some way in that did not require the codes. Hopefully that access would be somewhere here. If not, well, she could just shoot anyone in her way.
She looked up, tensed her legs, and jumped for the catwalk. She dug her fingers in and scrambled up to the top. She looked both ways to make sure that nobody had seen her before running to the nearest crossing. She turned down it and walked, checking in all directions for a hint of the entrance that Lian had spoken of. Of course she could be looking in the wrong place. It was likely that they would not put a secret entrance to the sewers right next to the regular entrance. Or maybe there was no secret entrance. Maybe Lian had intended to let themselves in with one of the codes that she had sliced. That would be very like her.
But the artist had settled on finding the secret entrance, and so it would be there. It had to be there.
Two hours and much backtracking later she was on the verge of giving up. She had checked all the nearby paths and it was getting late. She had not even found an actual entrance. She needed to rest to let her leg heal. She needed to find a place to rest, to sleep.
She saw a cross path and decided to head for it. It would likely take her to someplace to rest. She turned onto it and saw a sealed door with a keypad beside it. It had the symbol for running water on the door.
She ran up to it and examined it. It was definitely an entrance to the sewers. Maybe she could find out why Lian had wanted to bring her here.
Her examination done she concluded that there was no easy way in. She was stuck trying to guess the code. But, it being a dozen digits long there was very little chance of her getting in that way.
So she punched the keypad with all her strength. She could feel her implants hardening all the way along her arm, trying to diffuse the stress of punching solid metal with the strength of an industrial jackhammer. They partially succeeded, but she felt something in her arm give. With a snap it fell to her side, limp.
It could heal along with her leg once she got inside. For now her punch had done what finesse could not. The door was responding to deadman switches, overrides and safety procedures. With a pneumatic hiss it slid open and she darted inside. It was cool and dark asides from the glowing emergency lights and the flashing alarms. An automated voice warned personnel of a damaged keypad and potential disaster, advising them to leave the area.
She walked further in, looking for a place.
After a few minutes the sound of the alarm and voice began to be overwhelmed by a loud rushing and drumming. Moments later she emerged into a large vault. Water rushed by below. A whole river, swirling by. Enough to drown a city, or enough to provide water for washing, drinking, and anything else, including swimming, to an entire half of the Arc.
She continued on until she found a small service tunnel going off to the side. She crept down it until she found a tiny little catwalk that crossed the torrent of water. Halfway across it stopped at a small box that hung from the ceiling, likely to give workers a break from the dizzying crossing, or to store tools in.
She crossed to it, balancing easily, and opened the door. A woman turned to greet her, and then her eyes widened. She had evidently recognized the artist from the news. The artist shot her in the face.
It was not an artistic death, but one of necessity. She holstered her gun, and with some difficulty on account of her one arm being frozen undressed the corpse. She then undressed herself and re-dressed the corpse in those clothes. She pushed the corpse off the catwalk and watched it tumble into the foaming waters below. Maybe somebody would find the body and think it was her.
She very much doubted that that would occur if the Arcernment were the ones who found it, but if it was found by those in the Outer Ring they might think it was her dispose of the body before the Arcernment could make sure. Rumours would circulate and she would be afforded some breathing time.
Of course that was an idle hope the artist mused as she leaned against the rail, enjoying the feeling of the cool mist landing on her bare body. Without her implants and scars nobody would mistake the dead woman for her. She would need to keep running, keep fighting, until either she was dead, or the sniper was. And maybe keep fighting until the entire Arcernment was dead.
But that was for tomorrow. For now she needed to let her injuries heal. She needed to rest.
She closed the door behind her, pushed a chair under the handle, and lay down on a pile of unsharp supplies. Rest would allow her to kill even better.

Lian sat in the chair, listening to the agent’s, to Jor’s breathing.
Who was this man? This man who answered to the brute Callion but seemed to dislike him, who argued with him and lied to him. He was clearly not loyal to Callion. And he had lied to protect her.
Even more interesting it seemed that he had some kind of lost love in his past. He was so very complicated, with what she could tell was some kind of honour, if buried and lost beneath this hardened killing shell.
But she would not gain any new insights into him by sitting awake, and she had a feeling that she would be needing plenty of sleep in the days to come. She closed her eyes and let her mind drift free.

The sniper lay on his bed, but did not sleep. He knew that sleep would be long in coming tonight.
He rolled over and looked at the form of the woman, of Lian. Who was she? She could hack the Arcernment systems and was clearly his enemy, yet she had lied to help protect him from Callion’s wrath. And she had not tried to escape when he was in the washroom despite that having been the opportune time to do so.
So what did this woman really want? Did she want to investigate him, explore his mind like she had with the artist? She seemed so interested in understanding criminals and psychopaths like himself, like the artist. Seemed intent on redeeming them, using their names, ignoring their monikers.
So who was she?
But now he needed sleep.

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