Leeta rescues the Priesthood Candidate from a steamy shock
(Leeta) (Test of the Astromancer)
A hallway in Tarsus Tower, Level Two
A section of the tower devoted to bunking the guards and slaves, plus a place that houses the kitchen facilities. There are open windows on this level allowing fresh air to ventilate in… It's a refreshing change from the stuffiness of the upper levels. It's not as neat as the storage rooms above, but it has a more 'comfortable' feel to it… People live here; it's not as sterile. The air rings with the sound of workers' chatter, the clinking of tools, and a constant buzzing drone that seems to come from nowhere in particular…

The Savanite, Fire-Mane, is on her way to the kitchen to try and find Naoko. Her master, the Inquisitor Candidate Tahir, managed to smuggle some bread from his latest meal and give it to her.

She hurries along with a knot in her belly and the bread tightly wrapped and hidden inside her robes. Her ears flicker at the constant droning buzz, and at the conversations, but she is mostly listening to hear if anyone is close by.

A pair of Jupani workers from the airship sit and chat just a bit ahead, but they pay Leeta no mind… She's only a slave after all.

Leeta passes by them, keeping her head bowed and only giving the wolves a quick sideways glance with her eyes as she moves by. She heads purposely for the kitchen. {As long as I look like I'm supposed to be coming here, they'll probably leave me alone.}

Luckily, the wolves seem to be too engrossed in their conversation to pay Leeta too much notice. She manages to make it, unhindered, into the kitchen.

Once inside, the fire-haired Savanite looks around for Naoko, or anyone else that might be present. She chews on her plastic stick, and swallows for the umpteenth time.

The kitchen seems to be a room similar to the storage rooms above, just someone apparently spent a great deal of time installing a wood burning stove and plumbing into this room. Perhaps the tower wasn't originally designed to house people in the manner it now does. Off in the corner, scrubbing some dishes, is Naoko. She looks tired but not suffering. The old slave peers up at Leeta and smiles, although her wisened eyes betray a look of hopelessness.

"It's okay," the younger slave signs, crossing to the corner. "We nearly have the food machine fixed, and Tahir gave me something. How is everyone else?"

"Scared, Leeta. Very very scared." Naoko signs, her hands still drippong with soap. "I do not want to become someone's dinner… "

"We won't… they can't… " Fire-Mane's hands waver, as she holds her fingertips pressed together, her signs not as hopeful as she'd like them to be. "It'll be okay. I've got some food for you and the cubs, if you're hungry. I've got a few ideas where we might look for some too."

Naoko's ears perk up a bit as she tries her hardest to look hopeful… her expression is forced, though. "I have been able to sneak food from here. Anything that gets burnt or spoiled I have made sure it goes to good use. It has made me feel a little sick, but it keeps my strength up. You should give it to the cubs instead, or have it yourself. I have already eaten a little."

Leeta nods, pulling her robe a little tighter together. "Okay… if you're sure. Where are they? I think the older one is with Rhys… and… what are their names? They won't sign them to me." She glances around, with her ears flicking, trying to detect any unexpected arrivals.

The older slaves wipes her hands off on her dress. "The girl is with Master Rhys, I have not seen the boy cub all day." Her tail flicks a bit. "They do not sign to anybody; I do not know why. Perhaps they were raised by speakers and never learned sign… or are just too scared to."

"Oh… " The younger slave frowns at the news, her whiskers falling. "Do you have any idea where he might have gone, anything he's been really curious about?"

Naoko's tail flicks a bit more as she ponders. "He took a spoon from here yesterday and has not given it back. I think Blue-Eye said he was digging holes."

Leeta's ears flick, and she looks out one of the windows. "Holes, outside? He wouldn't go near the edge, would he?" Her jaw works nervously on her plastic stick.

Naoko stacks some dishes that were drying near the sink. She pauses in her work to sign to Leeta, "There are enough people outside to keep watch. Many of the others' slaves have grown attached to the cubs as well; I think they are well guarded. I think the boy just saw Blue-Eye digging for bugs and decided to copy him."

"I think I'll still check around… " The younger Savanite's ears flick again, and another possibility occurs to her. "Do you know what makes the buzzing around here? He might have thought it was a bees' nest and gone looking for it."

Naoko shakes her head after putting the dishes away in the cupboard. "I do not. The Technopriests say it is the sound of the tower… but I do not know what they mean by that."

Leeta's confused expression answers for her, "I don't know what that means either. I'm going to go looking for him. Naoko, talk to everyone and keep them calm. We're really close. It would be bad if someone started causing problems, and my Master won't let us be eaten. We'll get through this."

The aged cheetah nods. "I will. May the Star protect us." She rubs her chin for a moment, "Perhaps you should see if he has gone to play with his sister? Master Rhys is on the fifth floor."

"I will," the younger Savanite signs, then gives the elder one a quick hug around the shoulders before she leaves the kitchen. She walks purposely down the hall, heading for the elevator. She listens to the buzzing noise, and looks about for other slaves.

A teenaged Savanite, probably as old as Reseth was, rushes past Leeta, a box of Technopriest implements jangling in his arms. There are a few more here and there, cleaning, carrying water around, some of them even have the obligatory armload of papers.

Leeta waves her arms for attention, trying to get as many to notice her as she can, and then signs, "Has anyone seen the little-boy cub?"

The slaves look at one another, "I think I saw him in the kitchen… " "I saw him yesterday digging holes." "I think he's with Master Rhys." "I can't tell the two apart, myself… " "Maybe someone ate him?" "I think he was playing on the elevator this morning."

"Thanks!" Leeta signs, and heads for the elevator. She pushes the button and waits. {Well, the fifth floor is as good a place to start as any.}

The elevator ride is slow… but the buzzing noise in Leeta's sensitive ears lessens a bit as she rises upwards. After a bit of jolting the room comes to a stop and the doors open with a bit of squealing protest.

The Savanite pads around looking for the candidate, and pretends that the feelings in her stomach are only hunger. This level is mostly libraries and storage; it has Rhys' interest for some reason, and a lot of places he could be.

A sound barely tickles Leeta's ear. Anyone else probably would not have been able to pick it up, but Leeta's sensitive ears manage to tune in on it – a faint clicking noise, a bit like light footsteps. It's coming from a passageway off to Leeta's right.

She turns and heads down the passage, moving as quietly as she can and listening for carefully so she can follow and catch up with the sounds.

Up ahead, Leeta's keen eyes can pick up the shape of the Priesthood Candidate, Rhys. He's fallen asleep on a crate with a book lying open in his lap. A few yards away the smaller cub sits, doodling on bits of paper lying arond her. Neither of the two seem to notice Leeta's approach. The two also don't seem to notice a sound coming from a spot at the top of the wall opposite to the sleeping candidate. A soft grinding noise, followed by a sinister sounding hisssssssssss.

Fire-Mane stares at the wall, her ears focusing on the noise as she looks for what could possibly be making it. She doesn't stop walking, in fact she runs, and isn't concerned about being quiet anymore.

The object making the noise seems to be a tube of sorts emerging from the wall – the nozzle of something. The hissing grows disconcertingly louder, and Leeta's lack of stealth adds to the noise. Rhys starts to slowly wake up… although if his sleeping habits are anything like Tahir's he's going to be groggy for a bit. The little female cub turns around and stares at Leeta, blinking in suprise.

Leeta barks! She waves at the cub, pointing behind her, "Run!" Taking a deep breath, she holds it as she rushes over to Rhys. The Savanite doesn't give him the time he needs to wake up properly; instead, she grabs his shoulders, and tries to pull him back away from the nozzle.

Luckily, the human is just light enough to get dragged in such a manner. Leeta carries him a couple of feet, then the pair of them stumble to the ground a few yards away. The cub backpedals away as Rhys screams at the top of his lungs, "Yaaaaaaaaugh!".

Less than a heartbeat later a jet of scalding hot water shoots from the nozzle, Leeta can feel the heat several yards away and it bathes the area in steam. The water probably wouldn't have killed the Candidate… but it would have burned him horribly.

Fire-Mane pants, pulling him further away from the water and looking to see that the cub is safe as well.

She doesn't have to try very hard, the human scuttles backwards right alongside Leeta, staring wide-eyed at the spot he was napping in a few moments before. He makes a quiet gasping sound. As for the cub, even though the steam seems to be obscuring most of her vision, she is able to hear a nervous sounding 'mew' from behind somewhere.

Leeta feels for the cub, her tail sweeping back and forth as she searches with one arm, and helps Rhys along with the other. Her main thought is to get them both back from the steam and scalding water.

"WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD AND ALL THAT'S HOLY WAS THAT?!?!?!" Rhys roars, making Leeta's ears ring. The human's breathing is quick and ragged as his hand flies to his chest, clutching something underneath the fabric of his shirt. "That could have… it could have… " His words fall into whispers as he numbly lets Leeta continue to pull him away. The steam seems to thin out as the slave works her way backwards, and her tail not only finds the little cub, but also gets grabbed tightly by her and pulled. Perhaps she's trying to help Leeta back away.

The cheetah doesn't stop dragging the human until the steam has thinned out enough that she can see. She feels a flush of relief at the tiny paws tugging her tail; both of them are safe. Panting, as much from fear as for air, she realizes she's also making nervous cries. Willing herself to silence, she concentrates on getting out of the area.

An empty room can be seen off to the right – as for the present danger, Leeta seems to have pulled herself and the human far enough away that the water won't touch them. The hissing noise has subsided… hopefully signifying that the stream has stopped.

Leeta heads for the room; for some reason it seems safer than being in the hall. She looks around, ears straining, trying to detect any other threat or signs of the attacker leaving. She pauses before reaching the doorway, checking on the cub, and Rhys; the human's resemblance to Tahir still unsettles her.

The cub seems eager to duck into the room, while Rhys seems to be in shock. No sound can be heard in the hallway, save for the sloshing of water… and the steam still makes it hard to see anything.

Fire-Mane takes them both inside the room, and closes the door. She looks for something to sit Rhys down on, and squeezes the back of his neck, trying to calm him down.

Rhys jumps up from his seat and slaps Leeta's hand. "Did you do something stupid and set that off? What happened?" One hand is clutched into a fist at his side while the other still clings tenatiously to something at his chest under the fabric of his robe.

Leeta shakes her head and steps back. She points at the wall and makes a twisting motion with one hand, and pushes a finger between the flat palm of her other. Next she signs, "Something drilled through the wall." The slave doesn't expect the candidate to understand either set of gestures, and lets her hands and head drop afterwards.

"Bah." Rhys growls and gives one of the crates in the room a good hard kick. A metallic ring echoes through the room.

The little cub mews.

Leeta waits, waving for the cub to come close. She watches Rhys with her head bowed, but doesn't do anything else for the moment.

Nodding her head, the Savanite kitten crawls over to Leeta and clings to the hem of her dress. Rhys fumes a bit more, but seems to slowly be calming down.

Curling her tail around the cub, and rubbing at her ears, Leeta comforts the little Savanite. She waits for Rhys to calm down a little more, then points at the little cheetah, and holds her hand at approximately the height of the brother. Her whiskers fan forward in a questionning expression.

"Uhm… " The human frowns. "The other one? The little boy cub? Oh I see… You were looking for him, right?"

Leeta bobs her head.

"I saw him this morning right after breakfast," Rhys says, moving to sit on a crate facing Leeta. The cub makes a little whimpering sound at the mention of the meal.

Leeta sits down on the floor so Rhys doesn't have to look up at her. She hugs the cub tightly, also swallowing at the mention of food. Glancing around the room, she pretends to be looking at something, then signs, "Where?" as she looks back at the candidate.

Rhys shrugs. "Second floor, on his way down. Why, are these two your children?"

Leeta shakes her head as she rubs her hand through the cub's hair. She smiles and doesn't try explaining. After a moment she looks back at Rhys, then at the door, and bows her head.

The Priesthood candidate folds his arms. "I'm not going out there to get blasted again. Go and get a technopriest or some guards and tell them where I am."

Fire-Mane nods, and stands. She points at her eye, and then at the wall. Next she touches her ear, and waves it around above her head with a suspicious looking glance at her back. Making sure the cub stays close, she carefully opens the door, and looks into the hall.

The human nods. "I'll keep watch."

Outside, the steam has dissipated, leaving only a large puddle of cooling water on the ground. The nozzle has vanished from the wall, and the hizzing noise is gone. Silence.

Leeta doesn't waste any time. She closes the door behind her, and heads immediately for the elevator. Pushing the button, she waits; there were guards on the same floor as the kitchen, so that's where she's going to go.

Nothing stops the Savanite, and the elevator soon has Leeta back on the second floor. Things are pretty much the way they were before, the two airshiphands are still conversing (AKA goofing off) nearby and the other slaves meander around running their errands.

Fire-Mane interrupts the nearest slave and signs, "Get a Technopriest, a candidate was attacked. Fifth floor." She looks around for guards, and seeing none runs over to the shiphands.

Leeta barks!

The slaves dash off in different directions and a pair of armored Elite Guards soon make an apperance. The two board the elevator along with a technopriest. "Go to your master's room and wait there," one of the guards says, his voice echoing from inside his helmet as the buzzing noise again drones in Leeta's ears.

The Savanite nods, holding the cub protectively against her. The order is hardly necessary, as that is exactly where she was planning on going. Once the guards and Technopriest exit, she rides the elevator up to her floor, then bolts for her room. She wants to find that Tahir is safe as quickly as possible.


GMed by Zoltan

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