Rick Hillard
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Book III; Chapter 12: "Kormia" part 2

Book III; Chapter 12: "Kormia" part 2

Feb 19, 2023

  Book III; Chapter 12, "Kormia"  

Her eyes narrowed at that thought. Wasn't she now guilty of the same hubris she'd come to despise in Sard Dem's organization?

     Her chuckle was entirely internal and ruefully self-directed. Working with the KBIM for so long had, apparently, resulted in gaining a few bad habits of her own. She was just fortunate that her lapse had been caught, and it hadn't cost her anything. In the spirit of combating that hubris, Kormia began another, more observant sweep of her surroundings. Just before her eyes flickered back to the Road Runner Kormia felt the hackles on the back of her neck flare up. Her hand dropped to her weapon even as she realized that the Aviary was, as if by magic, standing beside her, smiling a sort of crazed smile that could me     Apparently, the House was fine with its citizens choosing to chase assorted highs and rogue entertainments. What was so surprising was just how few of the locals chose to indulge, at least in utilizing drugs. Not to say that they were not out and about, just that they were in a distinct minority. No, they were still readily found. Like that Aviary who was wandering aimlessly along the ledge she'd parked on.

     A Road Runner fem and probably hopped up on something if all her muttering and self-talk was any indication. She'd pause, shake her head or flutter her wings and grumble about some jilting lover; or maybe she was having a bad trip. It happened all the time. The sneak following her picked up most of a one-sided conversation, little of which made any sense. Which wasn't all that surprising. For all she knew the fem was holding a conversation. Full – immersion SIMS were available that translated the real world into other images, although the sneak's limited software was prioritizing targets, trying to gauge between dangerous or merely distracting, all they could do was flag her for a judgment call. 

     Dismissing the fem – or hen, or whatever she was properly called, Kormia glanced around again. There were plenty of others out and about now, each engaged in equally interesting behavior. Of course, the most interesting was the human trying hard not to be noticed. Fantrel was looking just the slightest bit shifty at the moment. She hesitated to try an approach, though, without have the KBIM in view. First, exposing herself could frighten her quarry. Second, without an awareness of what was where the others were at, she risked letting them sneak up on her. Kormia was far too savvy to let that happen.
an anything.


     A mental command to her medi implant slowed the release of adrenaline and began working to counter the flood that had already begun at the surprise. Carefully schooling her expression to show only the alarm an average floob in her position might have experienced, the ronin shook her head jerkily as if to shake herself out of an unexpected thought.

     You startled me, miss. Um, is there something I can do to help you?”

      “Help me?” The Road Runner cackled and shook her wings. Her sharp, piercing eyes seemed glued to Kormia's. “What sort of help? Do I look like I need help? Are you some sort of helper thingy? Maybe I need help finding help, hmmm?”

     It seemed apparent that this Aviary was one that had managed to somehow slip through the purportedly excellent health care offered by the House, and while Kormia was well able to offer advice on 'where' to find help, she knew better than to suggest it. Instead, she smiled in a conciliatory fashion and shook her head.

     “I didn't mean anything by it. It's just a saying, you know?”

     The fem's smile never changed but her voice did rise a few octaves, almost accusingly. “Nooo, I think you did mean something by that. Obviously, I must need help, otherwise why would you think of such things?

     “Really,” the ronin said with a nervous laugh that was only partially simulated, “it didn't mean anything. Listen, why don't I take off, you can go do whatever it was you were doing before, okay?” Never mind that the Roadrunner had approached 'her'.

     “No, you can't go, not yet. We're just beginning to have a stimulating conversation. Don't you agree? Or are you one of those flatheads who don't enjoy being stimulated?” The fem's head cocked, and she stared at Kormia intently.

     Flathead? Well, Kormia supposed, from the perspective of an featherback a human face had to appear undeveloped and without the often elaborate plumage the true shape of the skull wasn't obscured so badly. But the apparent insult failed to bother her, who had no body-image issues.

"I think that maybe you're finding the conversation more entertaining than I am. I'm done with this talk and with you. I didn't ask you over, so goodbye.” She began to reach for the yoke to guide the vehicle away from the crazed looking floob.

    “But I think you did.” The fem's tongue flickered out and across the side of her beak. “And I think that I want to talk to you. Maybe, just maybe, if you’re not cooperative I can take you to the persuader chamber so we can find out what you really meant.”
     Before Kormia's hand came to grip the yoke the Roadrunner grabbed her wrist with a burst of lighting reflexes. The wild-eyed fem's beak stopped just short of Kormia's nose as she half mounted the side of the van.

     “No, really, sweet 'ums,” the fem crooned, “you can't go. Not until my wittle friends have a talk or two with you. Ohhh, they'll be ever so thorough, I promise. You'll share every dark and delicious thought in that pretty, flat head of yours.”

     It was then, as she wrestled with the enhanced grip of the Roadrunner that Kormia saw another figure seem to materialize out of nowhere. A dark feathered Aviary with splashes of red edging her wings and a burning fire in her piercing, angry eyes.

     “If we were the White Talon's, I'd have a pretty speech about your rights and obligations,” the Red-Winged Blackbird said coolly. “Only we're not, and I find such speeches teadious and mostly full of hot air. And” – the fem raised a warning hand – “before you make a terrible mistake, surrender and come quietly.”

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