June 1st, 802 AT. 5:47 AM.
Kasby's foot tapped rapidly on the floor of the elevator, and his arms were crossed tightly in irritation. He gritted his teeth as he watched the floor numbers slowly go up.
After far too long, the elevator hissed to a stop, and the doors slid open onto the antechamber in front of Ammon's office. The two guards stood sleepily near the entrance. The door to the office closed quietly as a man walked out of it. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with thick glasses and long red hair tied back in a pony tail. He was smiling to himself, and had his hands buried deep in the pockets of his white lab coat.
Kasby stepped out of the elevator, walking hurriedly towards Ammon's door. His shoulder, significantly lower down than the taller man's, collided briefly with the other man's, but Kasby was too focused and too frustrated to apologize.
The man snorted, and kept walking to the elevator.
"I'm going in again," Kasby said, almost dismissively, to the guards without paying either of them much mind.
They nodded, not really paying much attention. Clearly they had been on duty for a very long time.
With great force, Kasby threw the metal doors wide open. The door smashed into the wall behind the frame, echoing throughout the floor.
((45 - Never No Lament))
"Ammon, I want my goddamn ship unlocked... sir."
Ammon, bleary-eyed, looked up from his desk. His hands didn't stop moving as they whizzed furiously across forms. "Oh. It's you."
Kasby's brow furrowed. He spoke again, this time slower, though obviously restraining a louder tone. "Coordinator, why did you landlock the Quinn?"
"First of all, the Quinn's long-range engines, I'm told, were dispatched along with Captain Quinn. They belong to us, and they're our only set. Still, we have enough to worry about that I would have let you fly away, buuut... As my colleague, Consiliate Emerson pointed out, we're literally dropping an entire station of refugees into Sector One, unanounced, with nothing to offer them in return." Ammon leveled his gaze at Kasby across the desk. "Nothing but information... and the frankly curious group that brought it."
Kasby raised an eyebrow. "What are you suggesting, Coordinator?"
"I'm saying, for better or worse, I'm turning you over to the authorities at Sector One."
Kasby's tensed up, the effect visible in his stance. "What? Why me?"
"Not just you. Your whole... crew, I suppose you'd call them?"
"Yes. Let me repeat: why us?"
"Captain Bellwood. Where are you from?"
Kasby clenched his jaw. "Sector Seven, sir."
"And your friends?"
"... the same."
"Tell me, Captain," the Coordinator said slowly. "Can everyone in Sector Seven fly?"
Kasby narrowed his eyes. "Everyone in Sector Seven is dead. Sir."
Ammon raised his eyebrows and found a particular report to jot something down on. "So there is no way to confirm that that is where you are from. How inconvenient."
Kasby gritted his teeth, trying to choke down the fire he felt burning up his throat. "Think about this carefully, Ammon. Are you really accusing me of killing a scientist, stealing a ship and then bringing you valuable information?"
"Not at all. I'm only pointing out that we have no way of confirming your story. Which would be less of a problem if your friends seemed capable of keeping their feet on the ground."
"...Valid point." Kasby sighed, and made a mental note to reprimand Spider soon. "I honestly don't understand what she can do any more than you do. If there was more TIME we'd run tests..."
"And then there was the young man who vaulted the twenty feet from my door to my desk."
((46 - Caravan))
Kasby pinched the bridge of his nose. "Ammon, I would love to humor you with a long and in-depth explanation. And maybe I will, someday. But right now, I don't have time to waste proving my own identity! I need to get to the Center, Ammon."
Putting down his pen and adopting a signature politician smile, Ammon looked up at Kasby, making eye contact for the first time. "I don't want you to think I'm unsympathetic to your personal situation. And I'm sure you believe that, if you reach the Center, you can stop whatever storm is coming. But I don't think one ship is going to make the great a difference, even assuming you make it."
The Coordinator paused. "Tell me, Captain. Do you know what this is?" He gestured to the brown box that sat on his desk. Atop it spun a black disk, and the strange music was continuing to emanate from the brass horn.
Kasby shook his head. "I don't see the--"
"It's a phonograph," Ammon interrupted. "A technology dating back to 19th century Old Earth. These 'records' have been passed down in my family since long before the Templar."
The Captain glared impatiently at the Coordinator. "Is this going somewhere?"
Ammon ignored him and continued. "When my son was young, he got curious as to what was on them. He went digging in the archives and somehow found the schematics for this machine. He built it for me as a birthday present." The Coordinator put his pen down, resting his hands on the desk. "My son was killed two weeks later by demons."
Kasby swallowed, eyes not softening. "I'm sorry."
"Do not mistake me, Kasby. I hate the demons every bit as much as you do. As such, I have a responsibility to the eight hundred souls living in my sector, who have entrusted me with their lives. And that means bringing you and your crew with us to Sector One, whether I like imposing on your freedoms or not. So that's how it is. Are we going to have a problem?"
"I think we are, Ammon," Kasby said, deadpan and fixing his gaze on the other man's stare. "Jazrill Quinn didn't die so that I could be thrown in a jail cell without a chance."
"No, she did not. First of all, Captain Jazrill Quinn died responding to a distress signal, in service to humanity as a whole. Secondly, I think you misunderstand. I don't think Sector One is going to throw you into a prison cell. On the contrary, I think... I hope that they will want to hear what you have to say."
"Then free my ship now, and let me speak with them-- now. There is no time to sit around waiting for a full evacuation, and with those long-range engines we can reach them faster."
((47 - Mood Indigo))
Ammon paused. "I hadn't thought of that." He dug through paperwork. "There'll be opposition from the Consilium, but you should let me worry about that..." His mind was clearly ticking over rapidly. It was fast becoming apparent that he hadn't been fully in favor of the argument he'd been espousing up until this point.
"I planned on it."
The Coordinator found whatever form he was looking for, and clicked his pen. "Would you submit to an escort? A small group of our people, as insurance?"
"Sounds like a liability," Kasby intoned.
"You're not making this easy for me, you know, and I have a thousand other things to do. This evacuation needs coordinating, and I am, after all, the Coordinator."
"Fine, fine. An escort works, if you really need it."
"It'll cram a sock in a few mouths, at least. I don't mean to offend you, but some of the residents here believe your crew is a group of human-seeming demons."
Kasby shrugged. "I don't blame them for thinking as much."
"Well, I blame them for you. I don't care what you are. You probably saved every man, woman and child in this sector. Assuming we pull this evacuation off."
"Just doing my mission." Kasby sighed, letting out some of the tension he'd been holding. "Who's this escort going to be, anyway?"
"I'll discuss it with the Consilium. We need to figure out who we can spare with short-staffing the evacuation process. In any case, I suggest you start getting ready. I'll send the lucky soldiers down with your release orders." Ammon stood from his chair and leaned over his desk to shake hands.
"...Yes, sir." Kasby somewhat awkwardly offered his hand to the man, clasping it tightly. It was the first human contact he had had in months--since they left Sector Seven.
"Now, shut the door more quietly on your way out, will you? I've got a headache that'd split this room in half." The Coordinator smiled bitterly. "I haven't slept more than six hours in the last three days."
"Yes, sir. I'll see you at Sector One."
"I sure as hell hope so, Captain."
Kasby shut the steel door behind him... quite a bit more gently, this time.