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Bad Company

Distress Call: The Cierros Transgression, Bonus Chapter

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Distress Call: The Cierros Transgression, Bonus Chapter

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Mason
Title: The Cierros Transgression -- "Pentimento"
Summary: Sometimes a one-way street is the only way out.
Characters: Two OCs
Rating: R for language and themes (gen fic).
Warnings: This is a very alternate universe. Adult themes and adult language.
Spoilers: No.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: This is a bonus chapter for The Cierros Transgression.



Pentimento


After the broadcast cuts out, after the spectacle in Clocktower Square has blown up in everyone's faces and the live feed on the vidscreen constricted into a tiny black dot, Jehosa Mason continues to watch. And when the picture comes back, and it's nothing but fast-talking newscasters on every channel, and the bizarre disappearance repeating over and over, Mason feels oddly ... good. He'd been at the Last Light for a while earlier, where drunken patrons were casting bets on how many minutes, down to the second, it would take the poor fuck tied to the execution stake to bleed out. Jehosa had left; nobody had stopped him, no one had even seen him go.

Back at his own place, his little vidscreen had turned itself on the moment it had sensed him open the door, and he'd glanced at it as he'd gone about his business of making himself a sandwich.

When the tall man with the cane had appeared on the execution deck, Jehosa had been sitting at his kitchen table. The sudden clamor from the vid, the excited voices rising from the other room, had made him turn around, and he'd watched the final act in wondering disbelief, his sandwich forgotten and growing stale.

He'd slept that night, long and hard, really slept for the first time in weeks.




The next call comes in just after sunrise: he's got the morning off. There's so much chaos, so many fucking newsvids and press announcements and police bulletins, so many impromptu citizens' search parties, that there won't be much business today at Stocker Supply.

He ought to stay home, and tend his neglected little garden plot in the dry courtyard of the building where he lives these days. Instead, he puts on his better clothes, grabs his ferry pass and walks out in the morning chill, over to the Square and the orbit station ferries.

The little bonus he got for being Allen Westerberg's go-to medic? He's about to use part of it to buy breakfast for himself and that Trader.




Mason double-checks to make sure he's in the right place. Yes, he is. There's the lumen-tattoo parlor just across the market corridor, the Laughing Squid tavern on the corner. Everything's just where it should be, except ...

The Trader's shop is barren, dark, a "For Lease" sign on the door. There's no trace of his friend, if indeed that's what the Trader was, after the few hours they spent together. Jehosa feels as empty as the shop, and goes back toward the ferry platforms. He'll cook breakfast for himself at home.




Three days have passed since the failed execution.

About the time the homemade search squadrons are trickling away, their booted feet dragging them back to their regular jobs, Jehosa Mason drags himself home from the morning shift and discovers a small packet in his postbox. It is marked only with his name and address, and no hint as to the sender.

Mason slips it into his pocket and checks over his shoulder, then continues down the hallway to his own, brown-painted door. He locks that door behind him, picks a knife off the kitchen counter, and finds a safe spot on the package where he can slice it open along one edge.

Two tickets fall out onto the counter -- one to Port Retief, and one from Port Retief to Nal Obereh.

"Holy fuck." Jehosa's breath is catching in his throat. A familiar voice echoes in his mind -- the planetside trade court, the voice says. The fabrics. The food.

The tickets shake when he picks them up.

ONE WAY -- NO RETURN

He fumbles with the packet, upends it and shakes it. A passport and a blank journeybook fall out, followed by a credkey, which lights up as active when he presses his thumb into the depression on its side.

"Fuck." It's not really Jehosa's favorite word, but it's all he can think of. He swallows hard and opens up the booklets. They have his photo inside, and the Exit Visa stamps are already on them, and they are both issued to one Alex Humboldt. Alex Humboldt, who by any other name would be Jehosa Mason.

Jehosa stares at the documents for a long time. He understands that Allen Westerberg would find out easily if he tried to leave (to go anywhere) from his home here in Landing or from the orbit station. Port Retief makes sense. It's on the coast; it doesn't have as large a Warden presence and if you've got official documents, nobody's going to question them. Especially not now, when the only people they're looking for are a half-dead feeder and a tall fugitive with blue eyes and a cane.

"You'd like it at Nal Obereh, if you're not too afraid. It's warmer than Cierros."

Jehosa Mason pours himself a drink.

He doesn't know how or why the Trader did this. If anyone in the State other than Allen gave a damn about him, he might even think it was some kind of trap or trick, but he's not big enough game and he knows it. There'd be no reason for anyone to bother.

Jehosa sets down his ale, looks around, and goes to pull his two old travelcases out of the closet. If he were really going to do this, he'd take just a few things -- his medical bag, some clothes, what will fit into one duffel bag he can sling over his shoulder. He tries it out, choosing what he'd want. His grandfather's hunting knife. The woodguild ring that belonged to his dad. Enough socks and underwear to last a few days. His best shirts. He's been living with very little for a long time now, and would it really make much difference to leave most of that behind?

His spirits lift as he works, and one might say that by the time he shuts the door behind him ... he's a new man.




Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away ...

A breath of steam rises from the cup of tea, and the man who used to be Frankie Magellan blows gently, sending the little steam-cloud wisping away. His ship is quiet, the loudest sound that of the Ars antiqua rondeaux he's left playing in his quarters. He takes a tiny sip of tea, testing the heat. Perfect. He drinks slowly, savors the sweet spiciness, leans back in his chair and stretches his legs. His eyes close.

"Well done, Sid," a soft voice murmurs.

Sid doesn't look around. "Hello, John," he says, and senses the ghost's answering smile.

"It looks as if you're back in the rescue business."

"Eh." Sid shrugs. He picks up a spoon to give his tea a stir, although the sweet honey's already melted. "One or two transactions is hardly a business." He gazes into the cup. If he turned around, he knows what he'd see -- a tall man, his hair cut short, perpetually sad eyes set in a deep-shadowed face. Or maybe he'd see nothing. It's hard to tell with ghosts.

"And what of your wandering physicians?"

"What of them?"

"Do you think you'll meet them again?"

Sid puts one elbow on the table, rests his head on his hand as he stirs at the tea again.

"Hard to say," he says. "The universe is a big place. Dangerous place." The music in the other room stops, then starts on its loop again.

"I think you will," the ghost says. "Because I know you."

Sid smiles. "That you do, John."

There's no answer, and after a while Sid finishes his tea and goes to bed.

He sleeps well, but then he usually does these days.



  • Nice way to end this. Sometimes the good guys get a pass, too.... Still looking forward to the end of May, and not just because of the show.
  • That's what I needed in a sleepless night. I'm so happy for Jehosa, and I now have the answer to another question (I had been wondering, you know).

    • *smiles*

      Life is going to get a lot easier for us now that we can refer to our Trader as we've known him for, oh, almost four years now. Sid.

      Jehosa Mason never did belong on Cierros, for all that he was born there. We think Sid's right. He really will like Nal Obereh.
      • Now I have more questions. Who's the author of Joshua's portrait? What language is Pentimento supposed to be in, and why did you choose that language?

        And I do love the idea that you guys already knew Sid's name four years ago. You're amazing.
  • Thank you for saving a few more souls in this dead end world.
    Waiting anxiously to find out what happens next!
    • Thanks for reading!

      It makes us happy when readers get invested at all in the characters we create. They may not be the main attraction, but we do love them.

  • *smiles*
  • Great! We'll meet Sid again.
    And have you really known him for FOUR years!? Hurray for you guys. I honor your hard work, dedication, and discipline.
    • Er ... it'll be four years come fall? We'd have to look up the date for when the Cierros story was originally born, but we were still writing Aftershocks IIRC. It was one of the earliest things we had, and then we had to figure out how they got there.

      Mason, on the other hand, has only been with us a few months. :-)
      • The first rough outline of the Cierros story was written on July 19th, 2007. The first draft of Chapter One was written the next day, July 20th. The complete draft was just two long chapters, and was pretty much a done deal by July 30th.

        I had written Bad Company in March; we started posting Aftershocks in August.

        :-D
  • (Anonymous)
    So very glad to see more of this wonderful story and anxiously awaiting the end of May.
  • This was great! I love the way you brought Sid and Masters together. You tied it all together with a nice bow. I'm happy about Masters because I really want to learn more about him and, of course, I'm still curious about what happened to John.

    I definitely have to go back and do a quick read through yet again. LOL

    Funny, how you mentioned when this fic first started because my computer crashed for the last time and I've been backing up and going through old e-mails and came across an e-mail I sent to a friend that read "you have to read this vampire fic...it's awesome." It was dated Nov 2007. I actually thought it was a mistake at first. I didn't realize this fic went back that far.

    Great job! Looking forward to the end of May. :)
  • This was great! I love the way you brought Sid and Masters together. You tied it all together with a nice bow. I'm happy about Masters because I really want to learn more about him and, of course, I'm still curious about what happened to John. I do hope they all run into each other again.

    I definitely have to go back and do a quick read through yet again. LOL

    Funny, how someone mentioned when this fic first started because my computer crashed for the last time and I've been backing up and going through old e-mails and came across an e-mail I sent to a friend that read "you have to read this vampire fic...it's awesome." It was dated Nov 2007. I actually thought it was a mistake at first. I didn't realize this fic went back that far.

    You guys did a great job as usual! Looking forward to the end of May. :)
    • Masters? Where? We didn't even think she existed in this -- oh! You meant Mason.

      ;-)

      Yeah, this story's been brewing a loooooong time. We began it back when we were still writing Aftershocks. We probably will not meet Mason again (though we never say never), but Sid is a different story.
  • (Anonymous)
    you promised that you would update the story after the season finale, and we are patiently waiting. I have even partially resolved some PTSD issues partly with medication over the season finale. So if I can get over some hefty psychological issues you can write, darnit.....

    Pleasssee
    • We know, and we are trying.

      The one of us who's been the driving force behind this ficverse has run upon very stressful RL stuff that has demanded all her time, creativity, and energy. We miss the story too. It's good to know you're there, btw, so thank you.
      • (no subject) - quokkadream
        • &hearts

          Everything is okay, and in fact we have been working on the upcoming segment; we edited some new bits into place this morning. Mostly, work and other RL issues have slowed us way down, but we are very invested in this story and are working on it.

          Thank you so much for your kind words. It's very encouraging and we appreciate it more than you might imagine.
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