Carpathia III: Episode 27 - Standoff Part 2
Unknown City, Marketplace
Adell and Artemis stood where they were with their hands in the air, both wondering if they would have been better off remaining on the island. Less than a day ago, they cautiously entered this strange new city, had some fun in the river, and now they were being held hostage by a shopkeeper with wings and what appeared to be a very old-fashioned rifle. Uncertainty gnawed at Adell more than ever. Sra didn't appear enthusiastic about what he was doing either. Artemis, however, to Adell's surprise, didn't seem concerned at all. He simply stared at Sra with a small grin on his face. Adell whispered to him.
Adell: Now what?
Artemis: Wait for it.
Adell wasn't sure what to think or how he should react. Sra, however, did not appear to be feeling confident. He kept the gun pointed at them, but started mumbling indecisively to himself.
Sra: Now what... I don't remember anything like this happening before. Do I call the police? Do I take them there myself?
Adell whispered to Artemis again.
Adell: He's kinda distracted. We can duck behind the crates.
Artemis: Just wait.
Sra continued to mumble to himself.
Sra: Dammit, why did this have to happen here? I shouldn't have asked questions. I should have just let well enough alone and... ACK!!!
In the blink of an eye, Sra disappeared under the counter. Neither Adell nor Artemis could see anything, but they could hear quite a bit. They heard the sound of the gun hitting the floor, a chair sliding across the hardwood, and Sra's protests during the entire ruckus.
Sra: What the... Ack! Get off me! What are these... mmph mmph...
Adell and Artemis barely had time to run to the counter to see what was going on when Sra suddenly reappeared, the chair he was strapped to tipping upright from the floor and landing on its legs with a thunk. Sra was now gagged. He struggled against the ropes, but they were tied very tightly and he could barely move. Phobos and Deimos leaped onto the counter.
Phobos: Mission accomplished, Dad!
A moment later, they heard a girl's voice coming from the back room, coming towards the doorway behind the counter.
Girl: Sra, what's going on out...
Before the girl could get another word out, Deimos hurtled towards her with frightening speed. Just as quickly as they subdued Sra, they also tied the little girl to a chair and gagged her. Adell, confident that the androids could handle the situation, ran over to the curtain by the window, reached around it, and flipped the "open" sign to "closed." He then went to the door and locked it.
Artemis stood in front of their new captives with a look of smug satisfaction on his face.
Artemis: Mwa ha ha ha! Their programming gives them the tactical abilities of the Carpathian Elite Corps! How do ya like that? Is there anyone else in here?
Deimos: I am reading no other life signs.
Adell: Artemis! Don't gloat, dammit! We're in deep enough as it is!
Artemis: Okay, okay. So what should we do? I guess we should try to figure out what's edible in here.
Artemis began looking through the crates and barrels filled with items in the middle of the store, trying to identify their contents. He skipped over the barrel with the strange octopus things and looked at others which had more recognizable items in them. Most, he discovered, were filled with raw ingredients such as flour.
Adell, however, stood where he was and didn't look around the store for a awhile, cradling his chin in his hand. Finally, he went over to the shelves and started examining the clocks again. He picked up one of the smaller ones and held it in his fingers, gazing at it thoughtfully, impressed by its delicate construction and beauty.
Artemis: Come on! We have to get out of here fast!
Adell turned to Artemis with a somber look on his face.
Adell: There's no going back, you know.
Artemis stopped looking through the barrels suddenly.
Adell: We'll be criminals if we start stealing stuff. There's no telling how long we're going to be here. Possibly forever. Do you really want to be on the run forever?
Artemis: Well, no, but what choice do we have?
Adell looked at the small clock and then to Sra, who glared back at him with a sharp intensity. He walked over to the counter and sat down on top of it.
Adell: I'm going to take the gag off. You promise to be quiet? If not, I'll have Phobos put it right back on.
Sra's eyes widened in curiosity, and then he looked down, as though considering his options. Finally, he nodded.
Artemis: What are you up to?
Adell: Just wait. Phobos, can you take the gag off, please?
Phobos: Yes sir!
Phobos shimmied up Sra's torso and untied the gag.
Adell: I notice you're not wearing a watch and that you don't sell any in your shop either.
Sra: No. What's a watch?
Adell: That's what I thought. Did you get this from a supplier?
Sra: No, I made that myself. It's the store's signature item.
Adell gently pried the small timepiece out of its delicately carved stone pedestal and eyed it closely. It really was impressively well-made. He especially noticed that the second hand did not tick, but rather moved smoothly around the face. Sra watched him nervously.
Adell: Phobos, Deimos, could you do me a favor?
Both Phobos and Deimos stood up straight and saluted crisply, which looked especially comical given their size.
Phobos and Deimos: Yes sir!
Adell turned to Artemis.
Adell: Are they okay?
Artemis: They've switched into their military personalities. Now whatever you're doing, get on with it!
Adell: Right. Can you turn this into a wristwatch using what you can find in the store?
Deimos: Yes sir, that's easy! It'll only take a few minutes.
Adell was taken aback by the timeframe Deimos just delivered.
Adell: Really? I figured you'd be able to do it fast but not that... Well, anyway, here, take this and get to it.
Adell handed the small clock to Deimos. Phobos had already jumped down from the desk and was sprinting towards a crate with sheets of black leather in it. Deimos gently placed the timepiece on the counter and went into the back room.
Adell: Well, it looks like we have a little time. Tell me, what is this place called?
Sra: You really are fresh out of the portal...
Adell: I think we established that already.
Sra: Honestly, I only half believed it. Anyway, this is Zhail City on the moon Yseri.
Adell: And why were you pointing the gun at us?
Sra: If you're not a resident of Zhail City, you're not allowed within the city limits without a permit. Visitors always wear their passes around their necks, so since you clearly weren't from the city and you didn't have a pass, I knew you didn't belong here. The only other way to get in is to get a work permit. Everyone knows what neighborhood is what around here, even people from the industrial zones.
Adell: A work permit, huh? That might be an option...
Sra looked nervously at Phobos and Deimos, wondering what they were doing to his hard work and craftsmanship. He winced as sparks flew from the soldering laser that Deimos was now using embedded in her finger.
Artemis: Adell, I hope you're going somewhere with this!
Adell: So do I.
Sra: Look, just take some food and leave. I won't tell anyone that you were here. It would only be a big hassle for me anyway with the Zhail Police crawling all over my store.
Adell: If this works, then we can help each other out. Just wait and see what Phobos and Deimos come up with and then we can discuss terms.
Sra glanced again at Phobos and Deimos.
Sra: What are they?
Adell: The one in blue is Phobos and the one in green is Deimos. He built them.
Adell pointed to Artemis as Sra's eyes widened in surprise.
Sra: That's amazing!
Adell and Sra looked down at Phobos and Deimos. Phobos was holding up the completed watch. For as little time as it took to make it, it was surprisingly nice. The leather was nicely stitched and textured, the new buckle was simple and elegant, and the attachments where the belt connected to the watch itself betrayed no hint of tool marks. Overall, it was simple, yet reasonably attractive. Adell reached down and took the watch.
Adell laid the watch on his wrist and wrapped the leather around it and through the buckle, strapping it on loosely. He pointed the watch at Sra and gave him a chance to look it over.
Adell: You said people can get work permits here, right? Here's the deal. If you can get us work permits, then you can give us jobs and a place to stay. I can do deliveries or whatever. Artemis can do product development. Phobos and Deimos can be labor, like making watches. Oh, and don't worry, Phobos and Deimos don't have to be paid or be given food or water. In return, we can help your store become the most famous in the city and make it far more efficient. What do you think?
Sra studied the watch around Adell's wrist intently for several moments.
Artemis: Are you sure about this?
Adell: It's this or a life of thievery. Which do you prefer?
Artemis: Well, I just hope you're right.
Sra finished studying the watch and then looked up at Adell in an a stonefaced, business-like manner.
Sra: It would need to be better quality than this.
Adell: Of course. This is just a mock-up.
Sra: And the only extra space I have is the storage room. You'll have to clean it out yourselves and find your own furniture.
Adell: A roof over our heads will be more than sufficient for now.
Sra: And I expect you to work hard.
Adell: Whatever it takes to get the job done.
Sra: We have a deal then. Now could you please untie us?
Adell looked at Phobos and Deimos and nodded at the two of them. Both immediately jumped down from the counter and untied Sra and the girl from their chairs.
Girl: Sra, are you serious? These two just tied us up!
Sra: And they untied us, even though they could have easily taken what they wanted and left. And this could make us a lot of money.
Adell extended his hand, not thinking until after he did so that the people here might not shake hands. Sra reached out and grabbed Adell's arm, nearly all the way to his elbow. Adell, got the idea quickly and clasped his hand around Sra's arm as well.
Sra: Like I said, I'm Sra, and this is my niece, Haria.
Adell: Pleasure to meet you. I'm Adell and this is Artemis.
All city pictures from SimCity 4