They are heavy.
Chapter 8: Looted
Jimmy and Pix spent the next day pretending they were safe. It started off easy enough – there was just the occasional supersonic screech of tacjets going overhead, leaving behind faintly visible contrails – white spreading lines against the darkness of the Armory ceiling, lit up like greenish veins by the omnipresent green glow. But then the battle intensified: Distant booms became chattering became something only heard in historical and faux-parks.
Jimmy ignored it.
When the time came to rest, Pix pointed at a small semi-circle of piled up...well, Jimmy wanted to say guns. They looked like guns. But they were also clearly made by the Architects: Their material, their greenish crystalline studs, their alien and yet familiar look. Until he was told otherwise, Jimmy was going to call them guns, and they were piled up in a semi-circle. Pix glanced from the circle to him, raising an eyebrow curiously. Jimmy nodded, and together they walked inside the protective circling. Sitting down, Jimmy put his flashlight handle first on the ground, then pushed the edge of the frame down, revealing the glowrod within, turning it from a flashlight to a lamp. Pix leaned back on her palms. "We are so lucky it's not too cold in here."
"Yeah. Lucky. Really, have we been lucky since Friday?"
"No, not really, no." Pix leaned her head forward. "It's, uh, Sunday night. It feels like we've been walking and running for more than a year."
"The time it takes to read the original translation of Lord of the Rings." Pix snorted.
Jimmy scooted over and leaned his head against her shoulder. She smiled and they leaned on one another, looking up at the sky. There were striations to the darkness, ranging from purple to pure deep deep black – those were broken up only by the unnatural streaks of rockets and tacjets flying overhead. But it seemed that the Slor and the Yettel were thinking along the same lines as they were – the battle's sounds slowed down, growing quieter and quieter as they looked at the sky.
Pix sighed. "I never knew a big splotch of blackness could look so pretty. Let alone with all the killing things flying around in it."
Jimmy smiled. "I never knew a girl could look so pretty. Till I was fourteen. Which is four years ago. So, really, this is a terrible way to compliment you. Just the worst."
“Yeah, it was pretty bad,” Pix said, nodding solemnly.
“How will I make it up to you?” Jimmy asked.
“Gold,” Pix said. “Gold doubloons. Huge ones. Like, easily this big.” She spread her hands wide.
“W...What would you do with them?”
“Throw them at you for not complimenting me properly. Duh.”
Later, they slept, spooning up against one another for warmth – the Armory not being cold didn't make it “warm.” With his eyes closed and the sounds of the battle fading into silence, all that Jimmy could do was focus on Pix. He smelled her. He felt her. His hand was over her hand, resting on her belly. He tried to think of anything but sex. It was surprisingly easy, as tired as he was. Was this growing up? Was he growing up?
He sure as heck hoped not.
Sex was fun.
"Okay, Edna says we're about a half a days walk away!" Pix grinned at Jimmy as he fished around in his jacket pockets for more food. He bit his lip. Anna's jacket. Not his.
He found a nutribar and scowled. "I think this is the last one..."
Pix grinned. "You take it."
"Yeah. I can last longer without food."
"Well, I'm not hungry."
"Neither am I!"
"Just shut up and e-"
They walked around a corner and into five or so Yetel who had their guns aimed right at em.
"Eat." Jimmy finished, even as Pix thrust her hands into the air.
In old and new war movies, the one thing everyone seemed to forgot to film was the part where the soldiers robbed you blind. First, they took Jimmy's jacket. Anna's jacket. Whatever. Then one of them started to pat Pix down, fishing things out of her pockets and the various hidden nooks and crannies that Pix had all over her person – Jimmy wasn't sure if it was part of her clothes, or if she had cybernetic compartments. In the end, they got a pile of things that had once belonged to Jimmy and Pix set up, and the soldiers started to sort through it.
While they did so, the one Yetel with a translator- Jimmy didn't know Yetel insignia but he was guessing it was something around Sergeant- started to question them.
"Who are you! Where are you from? Why are you here? Are you partisans? Mercenaries? Criminals? Answer me!"
Jimmy had not been planning on not answering his questions, but the presence of the three or so guns aimed at his face made it easier to come up with answers off the top of his head.
"I'm Jimmy and that's Pix."
Pix waved, keeping her hands above her heads.
"We're from the PS-1...uh, City-18." Jimmy gestured in the vague area of the sewage systems. How far away was he from home? How were dad and mom coping? Did they think he was dead? He felt that, no matter how many guns he aimed at the universe, he'd never get an answer to those questions until this adventure was over.
The Yetel jerked with his gun. That motion needed no translation. Jimmy continued: "And, uh, we're here cause we...well, it's kinda a long story."
One of the Yetel said something that wasn't translated. The Sergeant tapped his translator then spoke back. They exchanged a few words while the other Yetel finished stuffing their pockets with everything they wanted. It left the pile o' stuff much smaller than before.
"Can you at least leave the gun?" Jimmy asked. The Sergeant glared at him. In the end, the Yetel left behind a can of Yetel rations, a can opener, and then they trooped off, heading towards where the big booms were coming from – the battle had started up again.
"Well, at least we're still alive. And not in a prison camp! Win win!" Pix held up Jimmy's jacket as Jimmy shoved the stuff they had left into the pockets. When he slipped the jacket back on, it was way lighter and way more comfortable. But, if he had the choice between lighter and more alive, he'd choose the alive part.
He shook himself. "There is that."
Pix stepped back and stroked her chin, still holding the can of rations. "You do cut a dashing figure in that."
Jimmy sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I still feel like a thief and a graverobber."
"I'd rather feel guilty than be dead." Pix sighed.
"How many horrible things have happened to the human race because of people who said things like that?" They started to walk, Pix making the 'wiggle fingers' gesture that meant she was updating Edna on their situation.
"Uh." Pix cocked her head. "Edna says to keeping going straight. She says we have a thirty percent of surviving."
"And to answer your question...lots."
"Oh. Wow." Pix put down the binoculars and looked at Jimmy. "This is what we've walked through a warzone for? This epic, amazing city of hidden crime, where the scum and villainy of the entire ship meets for their nefarious planning and so on."
"Yup." Jimmy took the binoculars and started to scope it out.
"It's a shack."
"With an old Urtish sitting in front of it, smoking a medicinal."
"A SHACK!" Pix reached over and started to shake him.
Jimmy put down the binoculars as he rocked back and forth, closing his eyes. "Actually, it's more of a box. A big blue box."
"Yeah, a-" She stopped shaking him so she could grab the binoculars back and looked through them. “Well, really, it's more of a rectangle if you ask me.”
Jimmy shrugged. "Ask Edna if we need to know anything or if we can just head right there."
Pix nodded. Her antennas sparked.
A bullet slammed into the ground and bounced up. The binoculars exploded into a cloud of fragments – most of them flying straight up into the air, rather than backwards. Pix yelped, clapping her hands to her face. Jimmy reached for the gun that wasn't there, then grabbed Pix and yanked her behind what little cover they had ontop of the thingy they were laying on. Another bullet bounced off their cover with a flash of sparks.
"Are you okay?!" Jimmy shouted.
"Do I look okay!?" Pix held her hand to her forehead, blood streaming down her forehead and into her eyes. "The binoculars exploded! Jimmy, can we go anywhere without something exploding!? "
Jimmy gently pried her hand away from her forehead and winced. "That's gonna hurt."
Pix described exactly what Jimmy could do with his diagnostic skills and where he could put them. The sniper, the Xorquin doubtlessly, was holding back on his shooting. Jimmy peeked around the corner just long enough to try and get a bead on the Urtish sitting before the entrance to Tortuga. He looked completely unconcerned, as much as a tiny figure in the distance could look unconcerned. There had been no really loud crack of a gunshot, so maybe the gun was silenced or something. A bullet whined past his head and Jimmy ducked back down. He had no idea where the shot had come from
Pix, who was still hissing and holding her forehead, glanced at him. "Great, great. Relative safety and all we have to do to get to it is sprint across, what, a billion miles of open ground, right into a bullet?"
"Looks like." Jimmy sighed. "And the Yetel took all the smoke grenades. The Yetel took all the grenades, period!"
Pix closed her eyes. Jimmy rummaged around, but the Yetel had taken the bandages too. Shit! Oh, wait, a tissue. He put the tissue over Pix's wound and she sighed.
"Hey!" she suddenly shouted. "Urtish?"
Jimmy gaped at her.
Then the Urtish shouted back. He wasn't translated.
"You have a translator?" Pix shouted.
"Yup. Why you yellin over there?" The Urtish's translator, fortunately, was able to enhance its volume to match the Urtish's shout.
"Cause we're getting shot at!"
"I didn't see no bullets."
Pix rolled her eyes, pressing the tissue against her bleeding forehead even harder. She shifted so that she could shout over the edge of their cover: "It's a silenced sniper rifle. Listen, we sorta kinda need help."
In the pause before a response, Jimmy peeked around the corner and saw movement near the 'horizon' of piled guns that spread along the ground across from their cover – a greenish, blurry speck. The Xorquin. And he was moving. Towards them. "Pix!" he hissed. "Xorquin, coming this way."
"How much is my help worth to you?" The Urtish asked.
"LOTS! Lots and lots! Also, the big bad who's shooting at us is heading your way."
Jimmy peeked again. Now the Urtish looked like he was holding a big old gun. Either that or he was holding his chair over his head.
Jimmy ducked back and the bullets started flying every which way. The Urtish's machine gun wasn't the loudest gun Jimmy had ever heard, but it sure took the cake in terms of bullet to air ratio. The shooting and banging and exploding went on for what seemed like forever, but Pix swore up and down it was less than five minutes.
Then: "Hey! Hey! He ran away."
The Urtish sounded absurdly offended by this.
Jimmy peeked out. The Urtish waved at him. Jimmy gulped. "Okay, Pix," he said. "If I get shot in the face, this was a real bad idea."
He stood up, eyes closed. He waited for the big bang and the white flash that lead down to death boulevard.
Nothing. He opened one eye. The Urtish ambled over towards them. He was a bit lanky for one of his kind, and...yes, his chair doubled as a machine gun. How cool was that?
"So, that'll be three hundred credits." The Urtish smiled up at him. Jimmy blinked.
"Um, if I were broke..how would that affect this situation?"
The Urtish laughed and aimed the machine gun at him. "It makes this a bit more interesting."
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