With this he could defend himself, if he managed to keep it, it would be paramount in establishing his name as Ragilf. NaN basked in his self-aggrandizement for a moment. First, he had to figure out a way to keep it better hidden, since it had already atomized his sleeve. He checked his data card for the time. More than a revolution and a half before the rest were back onboard. “If some aren’t back already,” he whispered in embarrassment to himself.
Now or never. He climbed out of the hatch, back into the engineering compartment where he looked for a couple of heat masks. JOS was probably in the fitness arena already done with his tasking, attempting to train. The thought made NaN smile. Then he imagined JOS’s reaction to the nanobrains.
Likely he’d defecate on the spot. NaN chuckled to himself rounding the corner towards the fitness arena, the imagery of his hardline friend, eyes bulging with shock, mouth moving speechlessly. As if gasping for air. Too amazing.
He’d almost forgotten the need to be paranoid when he heard the whisper of a door from the fitness arena opening further down. “You’ll never guess what happened!” NaN called out.
His heart sank.
“What exactly happened?” Voiyn’s deep voice made the feeling worse. NaN swore he saw Voiyn look at his arm before he could shift it out of view.
Quick to reach for something, “Vahl’s compartment is absolute filth. It was so foul I had to hold my breath the entire time,” he mimed, placing his right hand over his nose and mouth. In an attempt to draw the attention away from hand holding the masks, covered in nanobrains, poorly hidden behind his back.
“And the masks?”
‘Think, think…’, “They’re to help with JOS’s training, I figure he’s probably not going hard enough in there,” he served the lie on silver.
“You’ll be surprised. He’s training harder than I’ve ever seen. Maybe being so close to death from that Boi-zht gave him some fire,” Voiyn said with great knowing. “You both should go through the Pit. Show the other Packs that Voiyn’s Horde is unafraid. This time show your faces proudly. You have a revolution and a half to explore. Don’t get yourselves killed. This next hunt will be big. Worth close to half your debts. Don’t waste the opportunity being reckless.” NaN couldn’t help but stare into the poisonous yellow eyes that reflected the light in the semi-shadow he stood in.
Voiyn carried on nonchalantly towards his private compartment. NaN was drop-jawed, ‘He knew. That crafty lizard knew,’ he looked at the matte black coating his hand. His footing returned to him as he began reading into what Voiyn had said. His mind flicked through an infinity of scenarios. “Yartūss*…” he shrugged to himself continuing on. That had been the only permission he could have wanted. Hopefully JOS wasn’t too dead to make this soujorn into the wild.
“Incredible,” NaN gave JOS a clap after watching his friend leap knee height, drenched in sweat.
JOS shot him a fierce look, he wasn’t the first interloper, JOS wasn’t in the mood. “Are you going to to stand there and stare, or join?”
NaN flashed a toothy grin, “You’ll never believe what happened.”
JOS’s face switched from anger, to exasperation.
“Remember how you told me about nanobrains?”
JOS sunk his body in annoyance.
“Wait!” NaN stopped him from turning around by raising his blackened arm.
JOS stared for a moment, “If this is some trick you’re playing, I’ll kick you so hard you’ll vomit,” he snarled. Marching towards NaN, his footsteps echoing off the walls, sounding harder with every step towards him.
Before JOS covered even half of the distance between them, NaN opened his hand like before. The unit long spikes stopped JOS in his tracks.
There it was. That face, it was even better, JOS looked like he’d just had a bucket of water thrown on him. NaN wasn’t sure if his smile could get any wider.
“Is that real?” JOS was still processing everything.
“Quite,” NaN responded haughtily, wanting to sound impressive.
“How?” was all he could say. ‘Got ‘im,’ NaN thought.
“That’s not even the best part,” he relaxed his fingers causing the spikes to recede, ‘I’ll have to remember that.’ “We have just receive notice of our allowance off this box, to go explore this Pit.”
“This is getting ludicrous. You’re telling me you have a nanobrain weapon,” JOS pointed at the matte black hand, “and somehow you secure us leave off the ship.”
“Something like that,” he waved towards the sanitation compartment, the nanobrains for med into talons. “Awesome,” NaN examined his hand. “Let’s go get back in our omni-suits, Valegbosh’s request.”
Donning their omni-suits, NaN exlained Voiyn’s offer, then he told JOS what he’d learnt going through each compartment. NaN finished up his magtags, deciding on a pair of black machining gloves instead of the matching pair. One puncture anywhere on his omni-suit would be a disaster to repair. ‘It’s better not to risk it,’ NaN reasoned with himself.
“How have you planned to tell Essec about the microscopic artificial intelligence attached to your arm?” JOS asked with those eyes that made him feel like a target. NaN hadn’t actually given it as much though as he probably should.
“By giving it back… if I can,” NaN hoped the joke would misdirect.
Nonplussed JOS responded,”That’s clever, I bet you have a voidsealed plan for getting off the ship without any permission. And at the same time, though unintentional, you stole someone elses belongings.”
NaN took the criticism for what it was, JOS knew he needed to hear it. As much as being wild was fun, the level of trouble for a single mistake beyond the protection of Voiyn’s Horde was too great.
“You can get what you want without asking sometimes too. Opportunities are everywhere it’s important to take advantage of them when you can. Which means you have to take risks.” NaN was all snark. He held his hand in the thumb and finger chevron sign of sarcasm.
“Since we’ve got our permission, let’s go out. Better learn something about this place if it’ll be our docking home for the foreseeable future,” JOS deadpanned.
“One of these rotation’s you’ll stop doing everything so stressfully,” Nan sighed. “You’re right though, let’s go learn about this filthy mess.”
Both exchanged a look of excitement.
“Ragilf.” JOS said.
“Fligar.” NaN responded, together turned in sync proceeding towards the hangar exit.
NaN remember, turning to JOS said, “Oh yeah, Voiyn said, don’t get us killed”
JOS punched him in the shoulder, sending him into the bulkhead.
There was a tense, silent moment between them. Then, JOS laughed. NaN joined, they laughed together until they couldn’t stand.
Finally able to catch their breath, they stood up, brushed themselves off, and went off into the plums of yellow, questionably nontoxic, gas.
* Yartūss – slang. Used when performing an undesirable task, (ex. “Oh well…”, “Git ‘r done…”, “Yartūss…”)
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