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Some follow up to [livejournal.com profile] nagasvoice's A Lesson in Improv, and [livejournal.com profile] greenjudy's Keys, which followed my Dust & Ichor, all of which are a part of the developing The Principle of Moments storyline(s). These will (hopefully soon) all be hosted on the Principle of Moments site.

Will possibly be out of contact for day or two, depending on my ability to find wifi in Leavenworth. Wish me luck.




The dip in the ditch is unpleasant, but it does take some of the stench off of them – or cover it up, at least. After they haul themselves back up out of the muck, Jian goes over to the bug’s truck and climbs up into the still-open cab. It’s a big Toyota, probably started out as a robust red, but has long since faded to a kind of rusty pink color.

The inside is filled with trash, the kind you get when a vehicle is the only mode of transportation for a somewhat-sloppy individual. Crushed beer cans litter the floor panel on the passenger’s side, and the mat under the gas and brake pedals is worn through in several places – he can see metal underneath it. Jian rifles around in the console, comes up with a worn brown leather wallet and flips it open.

The picture on the driver’s license inside does not match the human face of the bug they just killed. He opens the glove box – more trash, years of expired vehicle registrations, no proof of insurance at all, expired or otherwise. A crushed cigarette pack. A couple lighters, mostly empty.

“They’re leaving now. We shouldn’t let them get too far ahead.” Wren is standing next to the cab, looking at the wallet in Jian’s hand.

Jian nods, hops down out of the truck. He looks over at their car – no longer covered in bug guts, but certainly far from clean. Wren walks around to the back of the truck. He hears a rustle, and then she says, quietly, “Jian, you need to see this.”

He follows her. There is a blue plastic sheet in the back of the truck, and Wren has pulled it aside. The body underneath it – the face is that of the man whose wallet he holds in his hand – looks like it has been partially eaten. The left arm is mostly gone, one of the feet. He appears to have been killed by means of something puncturing his chest in several places. Jian isn’t a betting man, but he knows wounds, and if he was offered odds he’d wager that whatever did it was the size and shape of the bug’s chitinous legs, and that there are matching holes on the man’s back where it went all the way through.

Wren takes his MP5 and goes over to the Chevy, gets inside, begins going over the guns, checking them for damage and ichor. Jian searches the body. There isn’t anything of note in the pockets, and he returns to the car and starts the engine, follows after the Jeep.

“I think we can trust them,” Wren says, the Beretta disassembled across her thighs. “They obviously don’t like the bugs, and they’ve also obviously dealt with them before.”

“Seems the best way to get more information on what’s going on,” Jian agrees. “Did you see the expression on the one they called Drin’s face, when I asked about Lacey?”

“Yeah. That name means something to them, something important. No last name. No last name needed. Whoever she is, though, she’s not aligned with the people making the bugs. You could tell from the way they acted.”

They’re silent for a moment, the only sounds those of the engine, the car going over bumps in the dirt road that’s quickly becoming muddy as the rain increases bit by bit, and the clacking noises of Wren reassembling the Beretta. Jian asks, suddenly, “Rupali, do you still have us?”

“Loud and clear so far, big guy.” Rupali’s London accent is easy to understand, the earpiece crackling only slightly. “Don’t know for how much longer, though – that storm coming in is going to interfere with satellite transmissions. We may lose each other for a while.”

“Understood. I have information for you – a name, license plate number on a truck.”

“That would be the one that had the…ah…bug in it that you guys just got in a fight with?”

“Yes,” Wren answers for him. The tone of her voice makes him glance over – her skin is pale, her eyes a little glassy, and the pulse in her throat is too visible, too fast. He gives the car a little more gas.

“Give it to me.”

“David Lee Stewart, male. Red Toyota pickup, Florida plates Echo-Novenine-Soxisix-Nadazero-Yankee-Victor.”

“Got it. Significance?”

“He’s dead, and he’s in the back of the truck. The bug got him.”

“…shit. You leave a big mess of bug all over?”

“Some,” Wren says. “But from what our new friends said, I don’t think that the remains will still be viable by the time the storm passes. Apparently Laith was right – they don’t stand up well to local bacteria and fungi.”

“Received. I’ll pass that on. Anything else?’

“Nothing.”

The earpieces go silent as Rupali flicks off the transmission on her end. She’ll keep listening, but she won’t say anything that might surprise them at a critical moment unless it’s absolutely necessary. They’ve been working with her for nearly twenty years now – she knows how they operate.

Jian glances at Wren again. She’s slumped over a bit, leaning into the support of her seatbelt’s shoulder strap. The pulse in her neck is still fluttering wildly. He’s about to say something when they slide around a curve in the road and the Jeep comes into view, pulled off into one of the little side-tracks.

Jian parks the car, and as he opens his door, Wren mutters, “Keep an eye on the short guy, the one with dark skin. Dance. Something’s going on with him.”

“Something’s going on with several of them, I think.”

Wren nods. “Yeah, but whatever’s happening there has him on edge, and I get the feeling that…may not be a good thing.”

Jian thinks about that for a moment. “Right.” He grabs the MP5 and gets out of the car, heads toward the Jeep. He can hear Wren following him.

Date: 2008-08-30 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nagasvoice.livejournal.com
Ooohhh nice.
I feel sorry for the dead guy. Not a nice way to die.
That description of Wren's pulse is alarming, between adrenaline/fighting shock and the venom.
I really want Dance to get to work on her!

Date: 2008-08-30 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiyakotari.livejournal.com
Did you read the eMail I sent you, regarding the adrenaline/venom issue?

Not a nice way to die at all, for poor David Lee.

Date: 2008-08-30 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nagasvoice.livejournal.com
Just gots, thanks--had 51 emails in there, I'd been busy a few days!

Date: 2008-08-30 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nagasvoice.livejournal.com
Would Jian and Wren have passed along descriptions of all four people in the Jeep to Rupali?

Date: 2008-08-30 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiyakotari.livejournal.com
No, they would not have - though it's a good question. They tend to be pretty close-mouthed about things on ops like this, even with their comms officer. The reason they gave her the truck description and David Lee Stewart's name was to allow her to arrange for some jurisdictional dancing with the local authorities, in case the body/truck/bug remains do survive the storm, and also to allow her to run traces on the guy's financial information and such to see if any of it is still active (which would possibly point them at another bug).

Date: 2008-08-30 08:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nagasvoice.livejournal.com
Good point there, that maybe this bug took out a local contact for one of the others, just because it poor guy was handy.

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