[USS Vanguard] No Sleep For The Wicked

  • From: Kieran Darkwater <kierandarkwater@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 22:11:18 +0000 (GMT)

Kieran rolled slowly out from under the car as the rough grumble of the 
motorbike disappeared down the street. Orange macabre lighting glinted off the 
rain-slicked pavements and he shifted quickly into the shadows and relative 
shelter of the slab-sided tenement.
  Another night in the big city. He shook the worst of the water out of his 
hair, pulled his hood in a little tighter around his wind-weathered cheeks, and 
jammed his hands down into his pockets, assuming the familiar slouch of the 
street-people, blending in as soon as he turned the corner into the alley.
  Nevertheless, when the bike appeared at the far end of the alley, he realised 
someone had picked him out. Four hours he'd been running, this time, and it was 
quickly becoming obvious he had neither the time nor the energy to get away 
from this one.
  "I should leave, if I were you." he called, quietly. The hunched, anonymous 
crowd hadn't needed even that warning, most of them packing their meagre 
belongings back into rucksacks and pockets with calm, practiced efficiency - 
when you carried all you owned it paid to be particular when packing it back up 
  The engine revved, gently, and the bike began a slow crawl down the alley, 
obviously ready for an ambush, but Kieran just waited.
  "Who are you?" he called, when the ignition was cut, the bike stopping a 
dozen feet away. "What do you want?"
  "You don't sound like you're from around here, boy." came the mocking drawl.
  "Neither do you."
  "Oh, I think you come from further away than I do."
  "It's probably a close run thing. It's a couple of thousand miles to Britain 
from here. Arkansas must be about that, no? Or is that a Kansas accent? I never 
can tell."
  "New Mexico, my friend. I'm with Immigration services... you say you're from 
  "No. I said I was from Britain."
  "Same difference to me. See, I don't think you're from England."
  "I'm not, I'm from Britain, do try to pay attention. I don't think you're 
with the NIS."
  "I'm not. I'm with a different sort of immigration... see, we've got you on 
file, Mr Darkwater. And we've got some questions to ask you."
  Kieran tensed, remembering the first round of questions he'd been asked, five 
years back. It hadn't been a friendly visit, bundled out of his office by 
government officials and hauled off to a facility somewhere. Long lists of 
questions about copper atoms in his blood and unfamiliar organelles in the 
lower brain stem. He was a historian - had been a historian - it had all been a 
complete mystery to him, but he knew he was in danger. He could feel the 
hatred, the unreasoning fear because someone's test had labelled him 
  He still didn't know why the sedative hadn't worked properly, but he hadn't 
stayed around to ask questions. He'd been running ever since, half-way across 
this hate-riddled continent and back again.
  "I remember the way your people ask questions." he finally managed, steeling 
himself, as one black-booted leg swung over the petrol tank of the bike. "I 
seem to recall opting out of my follow-up. What is it they call it, discharging 
yourself against medical advice."
  "See, I'm only going to ask once." A hand disappeared, eight feet away, into 
the depths of the trenchcoat, and Kieran moved. Forward and left, away from the 
arc of the right hand draw, his right palm slammed into the butt of the shotgun 
as it started to come around, pushing it back into the holder at the man's hip. 
The same pivot drove his left elbow into the man's temple, coiling his body up 
for the rapid unwind that slammed the inside edge of his right forearm into the 
now exposed nerve ganglion on the outside of his targets neck, pushed into 
place by the muscles reacting to the first impact.
  He dropped, shotgun, black-boots and all, crumpling like wet-paper, and 
Kieran looked around. It wouldn't take long, there was always a pack - they 
hunted alone, but there was always a pack nearby. Crossing the street into the 
darkness afforded by a broken street-lamp he ducked low, nimble fingers 
searching in the crack of the barely open ground-level half-sized window, and 
slipped quietly into the waiting darkness.
  Pulling his hood down, he froze, staring into the wrong end of a police-issue 
  "Just what the hell do you think you're doing?" a female voice demanded as 
the lights came on, and he blinked at the sharpness.
  "Running away... sorry, I thought this was an abandoned building." It looked 
rotten enough from the alleyway.
  "It's not abandoned, this is a psychiatric hospital."
  Not the place to admit you're running away from Government Agents who think 
you're an alien, he silently decided.
  "Sorry... I'm Kieran, Kieran Darkwater."
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