Google+ The Bluestocking Firefly: September 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Idris vault

Links to all parts of this story may be found here.

Amy watched her father as he walked ahead of her, occasionally stopping to converse with this politician or that stateman’s wife, and wondered how long he was planning on being cooperative. To be perfectly honest, she really didn’t understand what he was up to; with two decades of distrusting every word her father said shaping her behaviour towards him, she was struggling to believe he might have any real interest in helping her. If she was being honest with herself she would have much preferred nicking the vaccine and antiviral without involving her father, but seeing as that was apparently impossible, she was resigned to waiting for whatever tricks he had up his sleeve.

The Idris vault was located three levels below the ground floor of the military compound attached to the Parliament building, along with a variety of military projects, some of which even the Secretary of Internal Affairs didn’t know about. High security clearance was required to access the sub-levels, although Amy was surprised to discover that her presence wasn’t an issue; accompanied as she was by the Secretary, it was simply a matter of checking her ident and then waving her through.

“Your security is lacking,” Amy remarked as they walked down a long corridor decorated with murals. She considered one of the paintings as they passed and asked, “Who did these?”

“There was a petition signed by the individuals who spend most of their time in the sub-levels requesting a more pleasant workspace,” Brenner replied. “Several of our scientists turned out to be aspiring artists and volunteered to beautify the halls. And I’ll be sure to mention it at my next meeting with Naisbitt.”

They rounded a corner and found themselves face-to-face with half a dozen armed guards, four of whom were playing at tokens and none of whom were expecting their arrival.

“Secretary,” said one — Colonel Raskin, assuming her rank insignia and name badge were accurate. “I’m sorry, sir, we weren’t informed you would be inspecting today.”

“That would undermine a surprise inspection, Colonel, if you were informed about it beforehand,” Brenner said. “Lucky for you, that’s not why I’m here. I need access to the Idris vault. The Chancellor should have already sent down his authentication.”

Raskin exchanged glances with the lieutenant colonel to her left. “I apologise, sir,” she said after a moment. “I assumed you were here on an inspection rather than on the Chancellor’s business given your assistant.”

“My daughter,” Brenner said. “She’s merely interested in seeing what it is I do on a daily basis.”

Amy rolled her eyes and sighed audibly. “Dad…”

Raskin commendably remained composed, but whispers flew behind her.

“His daughter?”

“Annieka Brenner?”

“Surely not.”

“That’s what he said…”

“Silence,” Raskin ordered finally, clearly annoyed with the behaviour of her men. “I apologise, sir, they’re usually better behaved than this.”

“See that it doesn’t happen again,” Brenner said. “Now, the vault.” He took the jotter Raskin handed him and input a code, his fingerprint, and underwent an eyescan before the vault clicked and hissed. As he stepped forward, he said, “Annieka will remain here with you while I fetch the vials.” Seeing Amy open her mouth to argue, he said, “You will do as you’re told, Annieka, for once in your life. The Idris vault is not to be trifled with. Sit. Down.”

Annoyed, Amy retreated and perched on the edge of the folding table holding the remains of the token game, her fingers tapping impatiently against her leg. She watched as Brenner disappeared into the vault.

“Game of tokens?” the lieutenant colonel asked.

“The Secretary’s daughter has no interest in playing tokens,” Raskin said sharply. “Let her be.”

“How long will he be in there?” Amy asked. “My dad.”

“Anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour,” Raskin replied. “It depends on how hard it is to find what he’s looking for and how many traps he runs into on the way. The vault protects its own.”

Amy slid off the table and turned a chair around. Straddling it, she leaned forward and collected the tokens on the table until they were in a neat pile. “Well, I’ve no interest in doing nothing for that long,” she said, beginning to shuffle the tokens. “Wasn’t my idea to come down to some stuffy vault with Dad.” She rolled her eyes. “So who’s up for a game?”

By the time Brenner stepped back out of the vault, Amy had cleaned out two of the three men playing against her and was locked in a battle with the third for the final token that would determine the winner.

“Time to go, Annieka,” Brenner said, dusting off his robes.

“Almost done,” Amy said, checking her tokens again.

“Now, Annieka.”

“I’ve almost won, Dad!” she complained petulantly.

“Does it look like I care?” he inquired. “We’re leaving. Now.”

Amy tossed her tokens across the table and stood, looking annoyed. “Sorry,” she said to the man. “Dad can be such a spoilsport.”

“We make an excellent team,” Brenner observed as they rounded the corner. “How fortunate for the Commission that we do not work together more often.

Amy made a non-committal noise and plucked the vials from her father’s grasp. As they headed back out of the sub-levels she examined them. “They match the images in the
Waratah’s database,” she said, turning the antiviral around in her fingers.

“What’s your next move?” Brenner asked. “Since I assume that you’re planning on getting off-planet here at some point. Do you have an exit point?”

Amy chewed on the inside of her lip as she handed her ident to the exit officer. “Not as such,” she admitted once they were out of earshot. “I doubt my ride can be here by tomorrow.”

Brenner stopped and turned to face her. “Does this mean you intend to steal another ship? Because that worked out so well last time.”

“As I’ve said before, Dad, the only reason I got caught was because I
wanted to get caught,” Amy said irritably. “If I steal another ship you can bet your ass your soldiers won’t be able to lay a finger on her until after I’ve ditched her and picked up another ride.”

“Out of curiosity,” he said, “do you intend to take me with you or shall our time together be coming to an end with your departure from C-Prime?”

Previous: Retrieval
Next: The Birdhouse