Characters: Ryath Oaks, Peter Carlacci
The Flyer swooped down, landing silently about ten miles from the city. It notified Ryath that there were no beings within a few miles. She knew that they had managed to land without detection. If they had been seen, there would have been a welcoming committee waiting.
“Ready to go?” she asked shaking Olyn from her thoughts and standing.
He nodded, standing himself and shifting his shoulders inside the coat. “Where are we, exactly?”
She smiled. “Closer than you would wish for.”
As they moved to the airlock the doors opened and the ramp descended. They could see the outline of the city against the darkening sky.
“There!” She pointed to a bright light as it sparked to life. “That’s where we have to go.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Come closer to me,” she directed. As he did she conjured a platform beneath them. “You might want to hold on.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist, and nodded. “Go.”
She cast a motion spell and felt the Tech’s joy as it responded instantly; eager to stretch itself, it made them go faster and faster, just above the ground. Ryath conjured a shield around them to limit the effect of the air rushing by. She focused on the light; the Tech responded by changing direction slightly.
“We’ll stop a little away from the gate,” she said over her shoulder.
“Sounds good. Wouldn’t do for someone to see us like this,” he replied, wondering if she could pick up his wicked grin.
She slowed at about 100 yards, and lowered them so that as she dissolved the platform neither of them fell.
“Right. That’s what we’re headed for.” She nodded towards the gate. Now two guards could clearly be seen ushering in some of the city’s inhabitants. “Come on, or we’ll miss our opportunity.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him through the brush and rocks, towards the gate.
Peter let himself be hauled along. Until she let him go on his own, it was her operation, and had to be played by her rules. Certainly, there wasn’t any time to argue.
They got to the gate as the last stragglers went through. “Come on!” one of the guards shouted at them. “If you want to sleep well tonight you’d better hurry.”
Ryath glanced at Peter, hoping he would take the initiative and run ahead of her. She slowed slightly allowing him to move ahead.
“Look what we have here!” the second guard chuckled to his partner. “I’m surprised the Emperor allows such lowlife in his city!”
“You know the Emperor has room in his heart for all his subjects, Tola. Even the rats in the sewers.” Both guards laughed and made a big display of bowing to Ryath and Peter as they approached.
“Thank you, thank you,” Peter said, bowing repeatedly and speaking in a tone both obsequious and nervous. “The Emperor is generous and merciful. Hail the Emperor!” He looked back at Ryath, even as he was moving through the gate. “Come along, dear, come along.”
Ryath bobbed her head to the guards, then smiled sweetly as she passed.
“Great Maker! Did you see that one, Merrin? Poor creature really lucked out with that for a wife!” said Tola, pulling a face of disgust.
Ryath turned to strike out at them. Seeing this, Peter took a step back, tripped over his own feet, and collided with Ryath, sending her sprawling into the dust. “Oh … oh my goodness dear, I’m so sorry! So clumsy of me … here, let me help you up.”
As he scrambled to his knees, he murmured into her ear, “Don’t be an idiot. Come on!”
She whispered back to him, “No one would miss scum like these!”
“They wouldn’t miss the fireworks,” he murmured as they passed through the gate, leaving the guards behind, still chuckling at the clumsy fool and his wife.
They made their way indirectly to the Ministry of Information. They passed many of the city guards, but none stopped them or asked questions. Ryath was right — no one gave them a second glance. In fact most people that did notice them made sure they got out of the way.
Ryath pulled Peter close to her, making it look like she was being amorous. “Anyone would think we had the plague the way these Centauri treat us. Just as well they won’t mix with those beneath their station.” she whispered into his ear.
“That’s the Centauri for you,” Peter answered, keeping his voice low. “Just remember who you are supposed to be.” He looked around, and sure that there was no one near enough to hear, added softly in Adronado, the Minbari religious caste dialect, “You are the disguise, else you are not disguised at all.”
“I couldn’t agree more!” she whispered back at him, then poked her tongue in his ear.
He startled, then blushed to the roots of his putty-slicked hair. Turning to look at her, he said quietly in English, “You are feeling reckless, aren’t you?”
Smiling at the effect on him, she replied in perfect Centauri, “Simply staying in character.”
They rounded the corner and there before them was their target –one of the back entrances to the Ministry of Information building. Ryath dropped the playfulness and became very serious. “Time to get to work.”
The doorway was guarded by two quite large Centauri. No one walked near them. This could prove to be more difficult than I thought, she thought.
“Act drunk, Peter,” she muttered to him. “It’s the only way to get close enough to the door!”
“As you wish, my darling!” he roared in Centauri, “Anything to win your most coveted favors!” He took a few steps closer to the guards, stumbled and barely recovered himself, laughing uproariously all the while.
She lunged after him, grabbing and holding him up. Together they stumbled towards the guards. Tripping and laughing; she stumbling and apologizing to the few Centauri that were about. In the limited light of the Centauri night, Ryath slipped two tranq-tabs from a hidden pocket within the folds of her skirt.
They both fell against the door of the Ministry, laughing and apologizing. One of the guards grabbed Peter, the other pulled Ryath off the door. “Get out of here, you drunk!” they growled.
“I’m sorry for my husband. He lost his job today and went drinking. He has had far too much,” She explained in a sheepish voice.
The guard picked her up. “I don’t care!” he said, swinging her out towards the road. She flung her arms about his neck, and slipped her hand down his back, placing a tab gently there. “Hey!” he complained, pulling her off him. “None of that!”
“But my husband won’t be worth much this evening; and I so desire company.”
The guard shook his head and pushed her further away from him.
“Oh well. Maybe your friend is game?” Ryath moved over to the guard pinning Peter to the door. “Are you?” she asked, running her hands up and down his arm, slipping one hand down the sleeve of his coat and depositing a tab. She turned to Peter. “I hope you don’t mind?” and she winked.
“Heavens, no, darling,” he replied, “let’s make a party of it and invite the whole world!” But she also caught the minute nod he gave her. He’d seen her work with the tabs.
The guard coughed, and released Peter. “Er…No, I don’t think so, but thank you for offering. Another time maybe?”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” she replied and turned just in time to see the first guard slump against the wall. She went over to him and gently propped him up against the door and wall so he wouldn’t fall.
“Heeyyy..” the second guard moved to intervene, and if Peter hadn’t been holding him, he would have fallen to the ground.
Ryath looked about them. The few people around weren’t paying them any attention, and the darkness would cover what they had done for a few hours — assuming the relief guards didn’t get enthusiastic about going on duty and get there early.
“Good job,” Peter said softly, as he removed several badges from around the guard’s neck, before shifting the sleeping body into a vestibule, just out of view of the street. He turned to look at Ryath. “Time for you to create a few more distractions … or whatever it was that you were going to do?”
Ryath smiled at him. “You played along nicely Peter. Remember, don’t get distracted. You might see things, hear things that could be useful for the Rangers to know. But we’re not here for that. Concentrate on finding her, nothing else.”
She turned to go, then turned back round. “You still have the pocket watch?”
He patted the pocket of his coat, then nodded.
“Good.” she smiled, gave a slight nod, turned and walked away, blending into the shadows.
Copyright (c) 2003 Niki Hipwood and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.