EDG (edg) wrote in oneaweek,

So I've been bad.

Lots of bad. Not posting in two months bad.


This is a response to archangelbeth's prompt: In Nomine crossed with most twisted fandom/meme/whatever you can think of. The target isn't exactly twisted ("Red Barchetta", by Rush), and it could probably work just as well if the In Nomine were taken out, but hey.

1,386 words, 45 minutes. All text is © 2004 Chris Anthony; all rights reserved, no reproduction without permission.

"Think we're going to see any action today?" The young Seraph looked at me through dark, round glasses. I imagined I could see the digital output on the far side of one lens, even though I knew it was a directed laser output. "This must be one of the most boring posts in all the Commonwealth."

I shrugged. "Could be worse," I said. "We could be guarding cattle up north. Nobody even tries to rustle yaks anymore, so I hear the guys up there spend months at a time doing nothing but playing cards and collecting a paycheck for it."

He nodded and looked out over the mountains. "I just don't think I've ever seen a violator. It's probably worse for you - you have to stay here all the time."

"Don't press your luck, Regulus." His full name was almost unpronounceable even in his native tongue; in American it would have been far worse. I could hardly blame him for that - he was a Seraph, and besides that it was hardly his fault what his creator chose to name him - but all the same, we all called him by the first three syllables and he'd learned to live with that. "I know you only have a temp assignment out here, but that doesn't mean you get to treat it any differently than if you had a regular post."

"Oh, I know," he replied. "I'm just bored. You got cards?"

I narrowed my eyes. "We're not cattle guards, Regulus."

"Sorry, sorry," he said, averting his gaze. "I was just wondering-"

We both looked up sharply as the Turbine Freight's whistle pierced the calm Sunday air. "Right on schedule," I told Regulus, as the Turbo hammered across the border to the next state, slowing only briefly to let the sensors at the line pick up its registration. "The Turbine Freight comes through here every day at 6:14 sharp. If you look quickly, you can see it down there threading the valley - the sunset reflects off the cars. A month ago you wouldn't have been able to see it for the trees, and a month from now you'll miss it unless the moon's out. You came out here at the right time. This state looks its best this time of year."

"We're not really out here to admire the flora, are we?" he asked. I didn't have to look over to hear the frown in his voice.

"No," I said. "We're not here to admire the flora. But we do spend a lot of time looking around for violators, and while we're doing that we might as well take in the scenery too."

He shrugged. "It's not for me, really. Harder to see violators through leaves, more shadows to hide in during the winter. Give me a city job any day. At least then I could stop for a bite to eat."

"I told you to bring a lunch," I said, "and anyway, you don't need to eat."

"I like the tastes," he said, and looked down.

I rolled my eyes. "Take mine, I don't need it." He almost smiled at me and reached back into the rear compartment to grab my bag. I scanned the horizon while he was doing that, and abruptly noticed a puff of smoke rising from the trees. "What the hell...?"

Regulus turned back around, my turkey sandwich in his hand. "What?"

"There's something going on down in the valley. Look, smoke a few miles off, almost dead ahead."

"That's not smoke," he said, leaning forward, "that's dust. Something's kicking up a lot of dust on that old access road."

I snarled. "I bet I know what. There's an older guy down there who keeps a motor car in his barn. Every now and again it comes out. We never catch him at it, so we can't arrest him." I bared my teeth. "Today, though..." The smoke was headed toward us, and I smacked the ignition with the palm of my hand and took the controls with the other.

Regulus laughed happily and pulled his seatbelt on. "Guess this isn't so boring after all."

"Especially not if we make the catch. Hold on to something." I kicked the air-car into gear and punched the throttle forward, letting gravity help us make speed down the mountainside. The smoke was still coming our way, so the violator hadn't caught sight of us yet, but he would any minute.

Then I swerved to miss a tree, and something went in the controls - too many months of too little repair, plus the cooling temperatures, had caused a critical component to short out. The car kept going, but I wasn't steering anymore. "Regulus! Open up the emergency controls and take over!"

The Seraph blinked and then pressed his override button. Immediately my throttle and control board went dark and his controls rose out of the dash in front of him. "How do I fly this thing?"

I growled and grabbed the radio handset. "It's just like flying a plane." I shifted my attention to the radio. "Kay to Gawain, Kay to Gawain, we have a bogey at twelve o'clock and heading our way, over."

Regulus spared a glance for me. "Kay? Gawain?"

I shrugged. "We get bored."

The radio crackled. "Gawain to Kay, I read you and see him. I'm joining pursuit, over."

"Acknowledged, over." I looked over at Regulus. "You got the hang of this?"

"I don't know how you humans do it, but yes, I have it."

"Training," I said. "Lots of training." I looked down the road; I could see the bright red sports car now, barreling away from us at high speed. "Push the throttle all the way forward. He's seen us."

"Truth," muttered the Seraph, and threw the lever forward as far as it would go. The engines behind us began to rumble, but I trusted it to hold together until we'd caught the violator. "And I see, ah, Gawain on the radar - he's headed our way on a side road."

"Great. You're doing great." The car ahead of us veered onto a two-lane dirt path not much wider than our air-car, and I cursed in three different languages. "Catch him, Regulus, he's headed for the covered bridge."

"Covered bridge?"

"You should have been paying attention to the scenery. There's a one-lane bridge at the end of the road. If he makes it there, he's gone. We're too wide to follow."

Regulus shook his head. "He won't make it there." There was a small green button on the dashboard in front of the throttle, labeled "overdrive", and Regulus hit that button. Suddenly the baritone rumble of our engines transformed into a snarl, and we rocketed forward, gaining inches every second on the red motorcar in front of us. I looked down at the radar and saw that Gawain had fallen in behind us.

"Bridge in thirty seconds, Regulus," I muttered. "You gonna get us there in time?"

"Easily," said Regulus, taking a calm bite of my sandwich. He was right, too - there were mere feet between us and the motorcar, and if we could just bump him with our nose he'd go sailing into the trees and we'd be free to collect him at our leisure.

Unfortunately, Gawain wasn't paying enough attention, and just before we reached the motorcar's rear bumper, he did the same thing to us that we would have done to the car ahead. I felt the shock as solidly as if Gawain had struck me instead of my air-car, and we slewed, rolling once before plowing full-force and sideways into the bridge. I could hear the driver of the sports car gunning his engine even as ours fell silent.

I looked at Regulus, hanging upside-down, the half-eaten sandwich on the roof of the car below his head. He looked back at me. "Well," he said, removing his glasses and cleaning the mustard off on the fabric of his seat, "someone's getting a write-up for this."
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