vixenmage: St. Francis wiv a bird on 'is haid! (Default)
[personal profile] vixenmage
I got bit by a plot bunny, and it is nomming on my brain. (Fairly heavy AU, of course.) I am continually surprised at how it's actually kind of hard to grasp the characters and write in their voices, and I'm sure I slipped here and there. Sam I'm giving myself a pass on-- he's not supposed to be a copy-paste by any stretch. But Taylor's a hard sell; his lines have been the hardest to write, so far, and that's nothing compared to his bloody body language. He's no Vetinari, that's for sure. (I should write more Discworld stuff. Vetinari would be fun-- but just about as challenging, I'm sure.)

(In other news, Retail Christmas and Drama have conspired to eat my brainz. Please pardon my lack of everything.)

He’d come through the seventh pilgrimage, entirely by accident-- head of security on the portal, found himself grappling with a desperate fugitive on the brink, and got thrown across that fateful threshold. He gathered, from people who had come through moments after, that his squad had taken the fugitive down, and saved the hostage child. That was good; a stroke of fortune, in a life that had been almost entirely misfortune.

There was no bar here, which was another misfortune. He’d have to make due with stumbling through orientation sober - with that thought, he regretted the lack of a bar even more. He hadn’t asked for this, dammit! And, bereft of his own world, his old life, such as it was, and anything but the dusty, battered body armor he wore like a third skin over his uniform, Sam Ramkin found himself looking into a too-earnest, too-friendly, too-young face, and being Asked To See The Commander. He could practically hear the capital letters.

The kid was the opposite of intimidating, but Sam was no fool, and had been looking around. The kid wasn’t supposed to be intimidating. The Commander, gruff and friendly-with-an-edge, and his Lieutenant, not-even-pretending-friendly, were the very intimidating reasons why the kid was friendly; he was the young, eager, puppy-dog face, guiding the rookies around harmlessly, with the full knowledge that behind him was the full strength of the Angry Dire Bear that was the Terra Nova brass.

And so Sam nodded, and allowed himself to be steered towards the Command Center by one arm.

Taylor steepled his fingers and looked over at the re-- no, not recruit. Accident, which was a word he thoroughly detested. Terra Nova had enough problems on routine without delving into accidents. Accidents with carnotaurs, slashers, and allosaurs had shredded his troops for years now-- it was better, now they had the sonic mines and a decent perimeter, but still. Accidents with security had claimed a tithe and more of his civilians; it had only gotten worse, of late. Medical accidents, despite Malcolm’s rigor, had taken still more. Taylor was getting tired of accidents.

“Lieutenant Washington is working on retrieving your files before we lose touch with 2149,” he told the man-- Samuel Ramkin, apparently. “So if you were thinking of lying, don’t bother.”

Sam shrugged. “I thought so. Either way, I’d be on borrowed time.” He glanced down briefly at the skull that held up Taylor’s desk, then changed tacks. “Why call me in at all, then? You’re picking up my files, you shouldn’t need any info from me.”

Taylor leaned forward, scrutinizing him through those unsettling ice-blue eyes. “Call it curiosity,” he drawled. “I find it... educational, to hear someone’s story from them first. You walk like someone who’s used to it, and you size things up like an officer. You a copper, Ramkin?”

Sam tried not to sneer, or spit. Last time he’d been asked that question, he’d done both, and wound up in a barfight. He wasn’t, as a general rule, afraid to get on someone’s bad side, but -- unusually for someone with the title Commander -- this guy looked like he’d leave scars (or nothing, which was worse). “I was,” he said instead. “Until the whole damn law got bought out by your own bosses, up there, the Domes. Who needs law when you’ve got money, right?” He didn’t bother to hold back the bitter sarcasm. That was a losing battle.

There was a moment of silence; the commander leaned forward, his eyes intently narrowed. “They’re not my bosses, Ramkin. I left that all behind - weren’t you listening?”

Sam grinned, or tried to. It came out as something of a grimace. “I know a morale speech when I hear one, Commander. A new start, a new life, a chance for humanity... it all sounds great, shouted from the balcony like that. But I imagine you’ll forgive an old cynic for finding it a bit hard to swallow. Maybe you left 2149 behind, but you might want to keep it in the back of your head that for most of us, that world was... yesterday.”

“Huh.” Taylor shook his head. “Every pilgrimage, that world sounds like it’s been getting worse . The whole system’s done in, now?”

He shrugged again, leaning back a bit. “Up until last year, there were a few cops left who cared about the law, who tried putting the guilty away and protecting the innocent. They slowly trickled off-- convenient accidents, cover-ups, friendly fire in a few cases. Only one case I knew was legit. One of the last honest-- mostly honest-- guys I knew on the force had an extra kid. He could’ve bought her off, or bought the squad, or just kept his head down. But he pissed this one sergeant off-- took down one of the dealers that’d been paying him off for quiet. It took the guy about two days to get a raid organized, they found the third kid, and he got carted off to jail-- not two months ago, now I think of it. Seems like longer.

“He got off lucky; at least his wife and kids don’t have a memorial to visit once a year, or a dealer to pay off, like happens to most of the guys who chafe at the idea of being hired mall-cops for the dome-dwellers. So yeah; that’s about right. The whole system’s a rusty chain-link fence to make sure none of the peasants get blood on the new paint job.”

The piercing look didn’t quite leave Taylor’s face, but he relaxed just a bit - leaned back again, anyway. “You know, for someone who landed here in the midst of a damn-near stage-perfect heroic accident, you’re not very good at playing the knight in shining armor.”

“No,” he replied bluntly. “I’m not.”

“You know,” Taylor said again, his posture still, “For someone who landed here in the middle of a suspicious accident and got yanked straight to the desk of the head of operations in general, you’re not very good at playing the cooperative citizen.”

Samuel Ramkin looked directly at the man in front of him. Commander Nathaniel Taylor, the First Pilgrim, bold badass bravado incarnate - the propaganda back home would have you believing the man fought off dinosaurs with his own two hands on a daily basis, and still had time left over for harvesting the crops. But Sam had spent his entire life watching the toxic scum of the world float to the top of society. He supposed, in theory, it was possible that the occasional authority figure had earned his way there honestly and, who knows, might even be competent at more than the pretty bits of leadership.

In theory, there was a sky above the smog on the Earth in 2149. In theory, people were innocent until proven guilty, no matter their rank and yearly income. In theory, the domes were built for the all around survival and betterment of mankind. Taylor might full well be the man he seemed, and not just a pawn of the rich, like every other superior he’d ever had. But he’d be damned if he was just going to roll over and bat his eyes because the man talked the part.

He could pretend. Back in the future, he’d continuously shot himself in the foot by pointing out the elephant (or dead body, or glaring trail of coinage, or glowing trail of cocaine) in the room. This time could be different. He could take Taylor’s heavily implied advice, make a fresh start, maybe actually get somewhere in his life, for once. Sam inwardly sighed.

“No,” he said quietly. “I’m not.”

* * *

“The problem is, Commander, that our guys are all soldiers. Aside from the odd MP, which we don’t have, soldiers generally are not trained for law enforcement.” Wash looked out the window, to where Ramkin, the unwilling arrival, was working on the new perimeter fence, grudgingly. Her voice was quiet; he heard every syllable. “Do you really want to run Terra Nova under permanent martial law?”

Taylor stared out towards the horizon, where the gate was under *repair again.

“Something’s not right, Wash,” he said, finally. “I can’t put my finger on it. There’s something off, in the air.”

She leaned up against the wall, next to the window, and surveyed him for a long moment. “I know, Commander. But you can’t watch the whole camp alone; you need someone who sees things you won’t. You need someone with an eye for the loose screw.”



*As it turned out, Malcolm’s calculations had under-estimated the per-pound force of a charging adult carnotaur-- not enough to kill anyone, but enough to waste two or three teams for two weeks on repair and get him bawled out for a good few hours. Taylor was aware that it was unfair to assume Malcolm could magically fix every problem that arose; sometimes, he didn’t care; the important thing was to have someone to shout at. The great thing about Malcolm was that he fully understood this.

(Of course it's not done.)

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vixenmage: St. Francis wiv a bird on 'is haid! (Default)
vixenmage

May 2013

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