un_fallen: (color - got my eye on you)
[personal profile] un_fallen
[From here.]

Raguel is very good, but he is not River Tam; in a physical fight his movements are strong, quick, but he lacks her unerring instinct, the unthinking grace.

At first it had been only four Reavers, then five, then all too soon it was ten... and twenty. Too many. A firestorm to destroy them all would also have destroyed any evidence remaining here, and would potentially have broken the Shé Xuán apart.

He'd searched it. He'd been ready to abandon it. But Destroying The Evidence is a repulsive idea that has been long entrenched in the very core of him. It was becoming clear, however, that he wasn't going to have a choice if he wanted to be around to find his target.

But then the flood had - suddenly - lessened. The nearest dock had been damaged when Raguel's skimmer had been rammed away from it, so that the moment he'd pulled the airlock's lever down to admit a torrent of madness and violence, the ship's air had begun venting out through a fracture. The Reaver ships had begun a sluggish process of undocking and abandoning their fellows; the lack of air had finally reached a critical point and one by one those on board fell, gasping, to the floor.

There'd been one more major change in the look of his surroundings. The door to that bizarrely well-organized room must have locked when it had swung closed, because he'd found a hundred new marks on it; dents and scuffs and    smears    were all over the door and extending for several feet around it. He'd gone to check the room again (stepping over a few new corpses) and found everything inside as he left it, with one exception. The strange stick with the button on it, abandoned on top of the folders, had retracted its prongs.

"Uh huh," he'd mumbled, and pocketed it.



There had been two inhabitable moons in an escape pod's range of the ship when it had been attacked, he'd remembered. One of them was a sparsely populated mining colony. The other was a moderately populous border moon with a budding economy and a promising climate.

He'd headed for the mining colony in the battered flagship. If you were going to crash-land a vessel (just as he was) on a moon, the last thing you wanted was pictures of it beamed around the 'verse by some technologically shrewd wunderkind. The colony might not even have had electricity, let alone have recognized the Shé Xuán from broadcasted pictures. If he'd been planning this sort of thing, he couldn't have wished for a better place. And it was beginning to look as though ELIZABETH RYDELL had planned this down to the second.

--


She does not stay long on either of the moons, but there are traces of the escape pod to be found there if you know what you're looking for. It's been disassembled, then certain parts melted down and 'found' in one of the mines with the rest of the ore. From there she leads him on a long trail winding from one planet to another, using a string of different names that he discovers when he bothers to check. But there are very few places that are not covered by surveillance of some kind; certainly not the places that ELIZABETH RYDELL frequents, and not all of them have been erased. They aren't centers of commerce, but there are crowds or centralized food and shopping, there are electronic eyes and there are people. Someone's always seen her, and Raguel doesn't have to rely on electronic records alone to know where she's been.

He knows what she looks like: young, fair complexion, blue eyes, hair falling in reddish-blonde waves past her chin. As the weeks pass, it falls down to her shoulders. She never cuts or colors her hair, which he finds odd. She's smart, that much is clear, but she's not a professional. Careful, but still makes mistakes. Moves around, but doesn't disappear. She relies on the kindness of strangers that she never trusts with more than a heavy bag, never for more than a moment. And she's finally found a place to settle down when Raguel arrives to highlight where she went wrong.
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August 2009

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