NaN’s nerves wore off after a few circuits. The atmosphere was still tense, and stifling, but they were pretty much ignored, their novelty had already worn off. Everything seemed a little clearer this time. Directly across from the Docking Bay were the eateries and ethyl-alch lounges, ‘For those times when you need inebriation as quickly as possible.’ His imaginary commercial voice perfectly irritating. A hodgepodge combination of these businesses formed the outer orbit, two intersecting, diametrical corridors ran into the center of the station. Down into the real Pit.
Every store front corridor had an odd synthesis of natural and synthetic structure. Overall it was an easy layout to understand, it took them the better part of the first half of the one revolution allotted them by walking the circumference. After reaching the first leg of the intersecting passageways, NaN whipped out his datacard to trace a map with his relative position in space. Plans for future visits were already being made.
“…more apes. Can you believe how quickly they reproduce? They should keep themselves to their own cesspool in the Eleventh District. Us good being want have to not put up with their fragile little lives, paying with my good orn to pump this filthy oxygen…” The voice of the passerby clicked as he trailed off into the pockets of crown surrounding them.
“You hear that?” NaN clapped JOS enthusiastically.
“What,? The screaming from the back of that eatery?” JOS pointed at the restaurant bearing a sign: Quality Meats – Fresh?
“No…” NaN lost his focus for a moment, distracted by the many shades of neon making up the sign, he remembered, “No. There was this thing that was talking about a place here, just for our type.”
“New?” JOS was so clueless.
“Not new to the Pit, it’s a place filled with the same species as us,” NaN could see he’d gotten his friend’s attention.
“Where is it?”
“Some place it called the Eleventh District,” NaN answered.
“What is, or where is the Eleventh District?” JOS beginning to sound frustrated having to repeat himself.
“Probably down in the lower levels, our datacards shouldn’t have any problem mapping any route we take, sound like fun?” NaN watched JOS think about it.
“I’ll set mine as well, the moment we go out of range we turn back. We cannot get lost here,” despite the serious voice JOS’s eyes betrayed his excitement. JOS detached his datacard from his magbelt to set the map tracker.
NaN kept his eyes on the descending spiral about 800 Units away. “Let’s go,” JOS commanded. Together they continued through the light crowds towards the center of the Pit. More aware of the surrounding environment without protection, there were several directories posted around the entrance to the Pit’s main artery. A group of beings were gathered around it, they looked familiar, it was hard to place anyone after seeing so many shapes, sizes, and types of bodies.
He tried to pick out recognizable details, but they all stood cloaked by the back lighting of the directories. Only five in the group. ‘It’s them!’ the thought sounded off like a klaxon. Seven Hound’s Bounty, from down in Notan’s Lair. His hand shot out to stop JOS.
“What?” JOS surprised, “Wasn’t this your idea to begin with?”
“No,”NaN shook his head, “no, I see something better. See those guys by the central spiral?”
“How could we possibly know anybody here NaN?”
“You’re not thinking about it clearly enough. Look closer.”
NaN watched his friend scrutinize the beings hoping to see him come the same conclusion as him. Now JOS was irritated,”I don’t recognize anyone.”
“Maybe almost dying made you forget, think back like twenty circuits before that,” NaN reminded JOS.
JOS’s eyes went about as wide as his mouth did, “Those are the guys we’re supposed to hunt with right? What do you think they’re doing?”
“That’s exactly why I stopped you,” NaN’s voice was conspiring. “Let’s find out.”
“Are you trying to get us dead?” JOS asked incredulous.
“Not killed, I think we’ve got an obligation to know more about these guys, and what it is we’re getting into. “
JOS thought on it, before he could respond NaN had to include, “Or are you too terrified?”
NaN was always surprised at how JOS could remain stoic, even with his constant checking for cracks in JOS’s ego.
“Alright, I’ll concede. More importantly we can get a guided tour from some serious killers,” JOS tried not to sound nervous. “I’m sure they’ll go to all the best section of the Pit. Set the timer on your datacard now.” JOS fiddled with his own as he continued, “We have about half a revolution, fifty-three circuits exactly. Once our timers hit thirty circuits we return, no matter where we are.”
“Yes, Valegbosh,” he mocked JOS sarcastically.
JOS gave him that stern look of disapproval he often received, “Are you ready to do this?”
“After you Fligar,” NaN meant it. Having any name was better than some anthropomorphic serial number. He caught the smile JOS tried to hide by taking the lead. Not that NaN wanted it anyway. This was JOS’s specialty, stalking clientele, moving noiselessly through hallways teeming with auditory sensors to alert customer’s at the Servitude Colony that they could be heard by the servants. As property of the Juxl Corporation, they were encouraged to learn the secrets of their customers, which the Corporation would gladly keep safe, for a fee.
‘A precautionary measure to ensure the safety, comfort, and privacy of our staff, patrons, and wonderful guests,’ the faceless monotonous feminine voice from the Colony still clear.
Another large group was within fifty units of the Seven Hound’s Bounty, still having a great time bogarding the directory. The two did their best to blend in by having a silent conversation, actually watching their prey, which only stood around making more noise than anyone in the vicinity. They seemed to stand there for revolutions.
Without warning the five Hounds shifted as a group into the central spiral, NaN and JOS stayed relaxed. JOS followed first, just before the last one slipped out of sight. Standing at the entrance was like his first leap across the void. NaN breathed out, taking the lead now, he was feeling powerful, and wanted to test his own abilities. The group wasn’t moving very quickly, making them easy to keep up with, but hard to watch. It’d be too simple to give themselves away if they rushed their stalk.
Halfway down, the entrance into the Pit proper revealed itself again. Imagining it in his mind distracted him from controlling the weight of his boots. It clacked a little too hard against the metallic flooring. NaN pushed his body into the bulkhead they were walking along. Everything was too quiet, NaN’s heart pounded in his throat.
“I smell dessert…” the slimy voice could be heard through the sound of adrenaline try to burst his heart through his sternum. One more check in with his data card, ‘Plenty of time,’ he thought. Twenty-four more circuits until that alarm would go off.
“Fligar,” NaN flashed a smile, nodding at JOS.
“Ragilf,” JOS nodded back in confirmation.
In one motion both of them lifted themselves from the wall, slinking into the vast crowd that made up the permanent residents of Notan’s Pit. Eyes and ears were on full alert, searching for their “guides”, and the Eleventh District.
Help the fluxDominion break the internet, add us on all your social media sites and tell all your friends.