Quintessential 2. Run

Quinn let the Tarvien lead them away from the table, looking back to ensure the Enforcers hadn’t seen them.  The model these two were using was the sleek sort they tended to pilot when moving among other sentient beings, rather than the heftier mech frames they tended to use while in combat.  That…was probably a good sign.

Still, there wasn’t enough known about Enforcer technology to safely assume that these two were here for peaceful reasons.

The Tarvien led Quinn out through a side door, and whereas he seemed to want to turn left, Quinn decided that they should go right.  He let out a sound of surprise as he was pulled along, his hold on Quinn’s hand firm enough that they hadn’t managed to slip away.  

“Stronger than you look, aren’t ye?” He asked the question with a good-natured grin that hid the nervousness from earlier quite well.  Quinn glanced over at him, then rolled their eyes.  “You must not have traveled much if you haven’t learned not to judge a ship by their hull.”

“Nah,” the Tarvien shrugged, falling into easy step beside Quinn.  “Learned that lesson plenty well my first time away from home, but what can I say? I like being surprised by people.”

That made Quinn grin, despite themself, and they shook their head.  “I’m half surprised you haven’t gotten yourself shot with that sort of cocky attitude.”

“Who’s to say I haven’t?”

“Fair, fair.  Got a name?” Quinn was still taking the lead and took them down side streets and through a few alleyways.  At the very least, if the Enforcers had noticed them and were trying to follow, they’d have to work for it.

“Drask, and I was wondering when you’d ask.  I don’t know about you, but I usually try and know who I’m fleeing potential torment with.”

“I have to correct myself.  If your attitude hasn’t gotten you shot before, then your mouth certainly has.”

“You wouldn’t be wrong.  You haven’t told me your name yet, either.”

“It’s Quinn.” Though they were sorely tempted to respond with a ‘you haven’t asked,’ Quinn bit back the comment.  It seemed that they both were in a similar sort of mess down here. It wouldn’t be wise to push a potential ally away.

“Pleasure to meet you, Quinn, though I definitely would rather be sharing a drink than avoiding Enforcer attention,” Drask mentioned.  He’d fallen into easy step beside Quinn and had actually pulled them back to walk a bit slower.  A wise decision, they’d draw far less attention, but Quinn’s instincts wanted them to hurry a bit more.  “So, where are we going?”

“Back to my room; there are things there I want to get.” The last part was added very deliberately to forestall any other smart comments from the Tarvien.  “You mentioned something about not wanting to be here either, yeah? I suppose you got news of what’s happening in orbit?”

“Enforcer presence,” Drask nodded, his voice losing some of its charming note in favor of something a bit more serious.  “They’ve been here for a while now.”

“About three months.” Quinn offered offhandedly, though they did look to the Tarvien to judge their reaction.

“Three months and six days,” Drask grinned, tilting his head a bit.  “Something tells me we’re going to have to have a long talk soon….”

“Once I’ve got my stuff, and we find a safe place,” Quinn pointed out.  “I don’t think they saw us leave, nor do I think they recognized us, but you can never be too sure.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got a safe place figured out already…that is, if you trust me?”

Quinn did pause at that.  They were right outside of the hotel they’d been staying at, a mid-tier establishment that, while it didn’t have all of the amenities of a place twice the cost, did have a good sense of security.

Locks on the doors, for example.

“Trust may be a somewhat strong word here,” Quinn admitted, gesturing for Drask to follow as they entered the lobby, the doors hissing open and then sliding shut behind them.  Habit had Quinn scanning the occupants of the open space briefly, and they grinned just a bit at noticing Drask doing the same.  Good, their new companion had the right instincts, though they had to wonder where he’d gotten those instincts from.  “Still, I’ll take your word that you do have a safe place set up and that you don’t mean me harm.”

“And I shall take that as a compliment.” Drask grinned, hands shoved down in his pockets as he followed after.  Quinn tapped their finger against the designated panel by the elevator, gaining them both access, and once the door was shut, they were left alone with the somewhat upbeat elevator music.  Which was immediately interrupted with an ad for Barkel’s Chill-O (“Guaranteed to make you forget the heat.”).

Quinn had gotten one of the smaller rooms, just large enough to fit a bed, dresser, and small bathroom.  And apparently, exactly one Enforcer. It took Quinn a moment to register the blaster pointed directly at their face, but Tarvien minds must work faster than human ones did.  Drask shoved a hand against their shoulder, pushing them down and out of the way, his other hand producing a small blaster from seemingly nowhere and immediately firing on the metallic form of the Enforcer.  The hit to its wrist wasn’t enough to damage it, but it knocked its aim off just enough that the retaliating shot found the metal of the hallway wall rather than flesh or scales.

Cursing, Quinn pushed up off of their knees but remained low, darting into the small room.  “What the hell are you doing?!” Drask shouted, and though Quinn couldn’t see what he was doing, they heard more blaster fire pinging against the shell of the Enforcer’s frame.  

“Getting my gun!” Quinn snapped back and ducked down further as they heard the heavier shot from the Enforcer’s weapon.  From the lack of searing pain, they assumed that the shot had been aimed at Drask rather than themself.

The next shot was aimed their way, though, and they dropped and rolled into the very narrow space under the bed, scraping their shoulder on the metal slats underneath.  The ground where they’d been previously glowed with the orange of metal that had been heated to very high temperatures very quickly.  They weren’t messing around.  

Quinn could feel the adrenaline that was so unique to humans racing through their system. They could feel their heart starting to race, felt their breathing both quicken and deepen.  They watched as, almost in slow motion, the mechanical legs of the Enforcer shifted as the construct began to kneel.  Metal shin, the mechanics of the knee.  Soon enough, it would be the torso, then the face, and that gun pointed right at them again. 

Looking up at the underside of the bed, Quinn smiled.  One might consider a poorly constructed bed a downside of a cheap hotel.  In this case, it was lifesaving.  The only thing between the single mattress and the floor was a series of widely spaced metal slats.  Not something that provided most comfort, but between two of the slats, Quinn spotted their weapon in its holster, just where they’d left it.

Reaching up, they jerked on the leather straps with one hand, the other going up to maneuver the holster to get the thing down without it wedging itself uselessly between the slats.  It took a moment, during which Quinn’s heart rate skyrocketed, and their fingers began to tremble.  Jerking the blaster free, they slammed the safety off with the heel of their hand and twisted, looking out from under the bed again.

Quick-draws had never been their forte. Quinn had always been much better with aiming when they had time to line up the shot, calculate angles, and account for external forces. However, when the Enforcer’s emotionless faceplate was only inches away, one didn’t need to aim very well at all.

Quinn fired.

The kickback from the blaster was not easy to handle in the confined space, and Quinn grunted as the recoil jammed the gun back against their cheek.  The Enforcer faired far worse, though.  Its head snapped back, the metal along one side blasted apart, and the impact was enough to throw its balance off.  Quinn scrambled out from under the bed and narrowly avoided being grabbed by the recovering Enforcer.  They heard another sharp ping against metal as Drask fired again, the Tarvien stepping into the room and reaching down to grab Quinn’s hand, helping them up.  As soon as they were on their feet, Quinn fired another shot back at the Enforcer, missing anything vital but managing to damage its knee.  Hopefully, that would slow pursuit.  

However, Enforcers rarely traveled alone.

Quinn jerked their hand free from Drask’s but then reached to grab his wrist, yanking him along down the hallway.  Right now, there was only one thing they could do.


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