A New Line of Work: Part Seven
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 5:42PM, Virtupets Space Station Corridor 143++
Moriarti and Kuvah ran down one of the various corridors leading off of the Recreation Deck on board the station. They both knew that Norton was somewhere behind them and coming for them, and Kuvah tried to spur on the injured Moriarti.
"C'mon, Mori. Norton's right behind us, and I'd rather not get shot at any more today," she coaxed desperately, not willing to leave the injured Draik behind. Moriarti was doing his best to keep up, but the long day and his injuries were really starting to get to him.
Kuvah was disappointed when he stopped and rested with his hand up against a wall. "We can't stop here! Norton's-"
"Right here." Kuvah looked to see who the speaker was, and sure enough, there was Norton. Gone was the cheery attitude, replaced only with malice and loathing for the two of them.
Kuvah began to back away from Moriarti as Norton aimed the blaster at her. There was no smile, no laugh, no gloating like there had been all the times before. She could feel what little composure she had left quickly slipping like the small tears running down her face as she stared down the end of the blaster.
Was this really how it was going to end? she asked herself, trying to hold herself together and hoping Moriarti or someone would do something. But it looked hopeless; Moriarti was at the end of his rope and she couldn't fight back when she was at the end of a blaster.
"Well, Kuvah. You were a fine employee, and unfortunately I don't give out paychecks to my ex-employees. However, I do hope a blaster bolt will suffice; just think of it as a gift from me to you, straight to your heart," Norton said. His words were cold and unfeeling, practically dripping with his hatred for the both of them.
At just that moment, Moriarti tackled Norton into the far wall, 'causing him to fire a shot off. It whizzed past Kuvah's head by mere inches and shot off down the hall, where it struck harmlessly into a wall. However, in his weakened state, Moriarti found it difficult to keep Norton pinned, and the Eyrie managed to wrest him off and onto his back. Deciding he was the bigger threat, he aimed the blaster down Moriarti's snout.
"You want to die first, Mori? I was going to save the honor of being last for a dear friend and great worker," Norton demanded.
Moriarti wiped a small trickle of blood from a cut on his lip before he replied: "If this is how you treat your friends, I'd rather have stayed demoted."
Norton's face contorted in rage upon hearing this. He slowly pushed the blaster closer, touching it to Moriarti's nose.
"Well, in that case-" he began, but he was cut off by the sound of metallic footsteps coming down the hall. His face relaxed for a moment as he looked down towards their source.
"Norton," came a metallic-tinged voice. Kuvah was still stunned to really understand what was going on, and Moriarti seemed to be just as confused. There, down the hall, stood Thirteen Thirty Seven, with his hood down, lights all over his casing flashing blue instead of red, staring intently as his employer.
"Thirteen? What're you doing here? I thought you were still working on the game?" Norton asked, as equally confused as his estranged employees. Thirteen said nothing for a moment, then pointed an accusatory finger at him.
"I-I-I will not raef ni ereh yats-" he seemed to suffer some sort of malfunction, but continued a moment later, "sorry, stay here in fear of your retribution- your retribution any longer. You will not be getting any more work out of me. Consider yourself-Consider- Consider this two weeks' notice," he said. Finally, Kuvah and Moriarti understood: their plan had worked.
Norton pointed the blaster at his former accomplice. "Well, then, consider this your severance package," he said, and he shot. Thirteen took the brunt of the shot to his abdomen, but stood fast against his employer. The shot did little but warp and burn the casing where it hit, and the force was not enough to stop the robot as he took a few steps forward. He was slow in his advance at first, but then slowly picked up speed and tackled the Eyrie. The heavy robot sent Norton sprawling, the blaster sliding from his grasp towards Kuvah.
The Desert Wocky picked it up and pointed it down at the pinned elderly Eyrie, who was fruitlessly trying to get out from under Thirteen. He stopped struggling for a moment and looked up at Kuvah as she took aim. Thirteen noticed what she was doing as well, and brought a hand up to signal her to stop.
When he did so, Norton was able to shift in such a way that the Ogrin lost his balance and toppled off to the side, leaving him free to get up and run; he was vastly outnumbered and decided being able to fight another day would work to his advantage. Kuvah tried to track him with the blaster, but after a moment of hesitation, Moriarti stepped up and carefully took the weapon from her hands.
"Let him go, Kuvah. He'll get picked up by station police," Moriarti said, tossing the blaster aside. Kuvah was still in a state of shock, adrenaline pumping. After a minute, she let out a deep breath and relaxed. It was probably safe to assume they wouldn't be seeing Norton for a while.
Thirteen picked himself up off to one side. "I must thank you for the software update, Mori-Mori-Mori-Moriarti," he said. He became confused when Moriarti shook his head.
"It was all Kuvah," he said with a slight smile, giving her a pat on the back. This seemed to pick her spirits up some.
"Ah, it was nothing," she downplayed. "I think what we really ought to be doing is trying to figure out what to do from here. Mori, you need a doctor. Like, now. And I don't know what Thirteen here is going to do."
Thirteen tilted his head slightly. "I have an acquaintance I can stay with," he informed Kuvah. "He is a Shoyru whom I acquainted when I was just setting up the game- the game- the game. It is very possible I may be able to board with him. I think, h-h-h-however, a more pressing matter to attend to is how we're going to get off the station. While I have alerted station security- security of our mutual friend loose on the Recreation Deck, I believe they may want to- talk- discuss- talk- interrogate both of you; given the nature of your jobs, logic dictates that this situation would be better left avoided."
Kuvah was speechless for a moment at the grace Thirteen had displayed. She didn't remember him ever talking quite like this before. Moriarti was also partially taken aback, but he suspected their software patch had done a little bit more than just help Thirteen see the errors of his ways.
Of course, their sudden astonishment was instantly shattered when, in a slightly accented voice, he pointed off down one way of the corridor towards a door and said, "Let's go this way really, really fast. If anything gets in our way, shoot it!"
Before they could question Thirteen's intentions, they heard a shout in the opposite direction; their friends from station security looked like they wanted to talk, and Moriarti didn't feel like explaining the blaster wounds or broken window on the lower levels. The group did their best to outrun the pursuing security Chia, actually keeping a good deal ahead of him.
Abruptly, however, Thirteen stopped and made an immediate left towards a door labeled "Escape Pod." Kuvah and Moriarti followed him in while the Ogrin took seat at the controls.
"Are we seriously going to steal an escape pod?" Kuvah asked rhetorically as the door closed behind her. Her question was answered quickly when the pod shuddered, sending her into a heap with Moriarti, the Draik cushioning her fall. She did her best to quickly get off her injured colleague with numerous apologies while the Draik merely winced at every movement she made.
Finally, they both got themselves strapped into the lightly padded seats. Kuvah noticed Thirteen had pulled a pilot's cap out of somewhere and was now wearing it, piloting the escape pod somewhat erratically towards Neopia, and was somehow playing a song through his audio output. The song started out slow, but soon trumpets and violins began to swell as they got closer and closer to Neopia.
Soon, there were numerous little flashing alerts popping up across the windshield's heads up display: "Alert: Pull Up!" "Alert: Hull Temperature Rising!" "Alert: Pull Up!" "Alert: Off Course for Neopia Central!" However, through it all, Thirteen seemed to just keep doing what he was doing, either because he knew something they didn't, or he truly was an insane robot.
Kuvah looked at Moriarti, who despite his usually cool demeanor was definitely worried at the quickly approaching ground. They looked into each other's eyes as the warnings from the pilot guidance systems became more frantic.
And in the final moments of their flight, they hugged.
++19th Day of Relaxing, Year 13, 6:24PM, Neopia,
Seven Miles South of Neopia Central++
"I think after that, I need a vacation," Kuvah said, sipping some instant coffee she scrounged up from the crashed escape pod.
The three of them had survived the landing ("Barely," as Kuvah would put it), and Moriarti and his assistant were sitting for a moment's rest atop a grassy knoll as the sun slipped over the horizon. The twinkles of light from Neopia Central were becoming clearly visible in the rapidly approaching dusk.
Thirteen had quickly made his way off towards the city after gutting the smoldering craft that had provided their quick escape of a few pieces of electronic equipment, saying he thought they might coax his acquaintance into letting him stay.
Moriarti was taking the moment of respite to clear his head while Kuvah enjoyed her coffee. After a few sips, however, she poured it out into the grass. "You know, this instant stuff never tastes very good," she remarked, looking at her associate. "How're you holding up?" she asked.
Moriarti shifted. He was lying on his back and looked to be napping. "Never better. Got a hole in one wing and my shoulder hurts a lot, but overall I'm doing just fine," he mused. Kuvah seemed disappointed.
"Well, how about we head back to Neopia Central? You said you had a doctor there," the Desert Wocky suggested.
Moriarti gave a slight chuckle. "I never said I had a doctor in Neopia Central," he teased, undoing his tie to make himself more comfortable.
Kuvah seemed confused. "Well, where else could you have a doctor?" She inquired. She was surprised to hear the answer.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading my little story all the way through! It's been a work in progress for some time now, and I'm happy to say this will most likely not be the last you see of Mori, Kuvah, or Thirteen. I'd just like to thank Punkinunk and Gypsygirl20 for helping me with proofreading, along with all the rest of you I threw it at and practically demanded you read and give me feedback. You were all very helpful, and this probably wouldn't have made it in without all your assistance.