penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Nobody can continually keep running. The “flight or fight” response is only a temporary jolt. Eventually, the adrenalin will wane, the muscles will tire and ache, the oxygen will be more difficult to process and the heart rate will level and reduce.

There is also the matter of needing sustenance. Eating nothing but fish for days and weeks at a time, with only some of it properly cooked, might be enough to survive, but there was also the possibility that even a little was tainted, poisoned by radiation still in certain areas. Consuming only as much as needed and continuing to keep moving through was the best way of handling the circumstances. It had been a very long time out on the road.

The good thing was the solitude. With no one else to share the journey with, there was no one else to need to deal with, to protect or to have to debate when the next choice of how to proceed came up. Full authority about when to go and where to go made for quick functioning.

The bad thing was the solitude. With no one else to share the journey with, there was no distraction, no diversion, no way to prevent all of the thoughts that came from all of the experiences that were part of the need to escape. With nothing but the imagination, the memories to share the journey, there was no avoiding the history of what created this circumstance.

The problem was being a recognizable person. Traveling during the day was more dangerous but it also helped to change the skin tone and, to a degree, the hair color with some sunlight.

As the area just negotiated was mostly flooded, it didn’t seem to matter. There were no search parties here, certainly none coming from any similar direction. But, the circumstances were finally changing, as the waters finally receded at the entrance to the Arid Zone.

A community was up ahead. It was time to make some decisions. Sneak by, be stealth, stay low profile. Or walk in, be bold, act like you belong. The tendency was always the former. But somehow, seeing a rather wide open and rollicking town, the latter was a little more appealing.

Jailee smelled it, in the air, the smell of food! She noted the sign in big black letters on large yellow squares: WALE HOSE. Though she had been dieting on fish this whole while, at least this place was cooking something that didn’t “smell” like whale.

She entered the brown building and was greeted by applause from the people working there.

“Welcome to Day fifty-two thousand five hundred and ninety-six!” smiled a waitress.

“Sorry? What?”

“We have been open twenty-four hours a day, every day, for, how many days is it again?” called the cook working over a hot grill.

“Fifty-two thousand five hundred and ninety-six!” yelled the rest of the staff.

“And you’re our first customer of the new day!” The waitress smiled, as she sat Jailee down in a booth by the windows. “Let me get you a menu and a cup of coffee.”

Another worker brought over a placemat and the menu, with a small glass of cactus juice. “Hi, Ma’am,” he said.

“Hello,” Jailee nodded wearily.

“I’ve never seen anyone that looks like you before.”

Jailee just scanned the menu. There were pictures of things she had never seen before that you could supposedly eat. The waitress returned with a pot of coffee and a cup, pouring, and placing.

“Do you know what you’d like, darlin’?”

“I don’t really,” Jailee said. “What do you recommend for someone who is hungry to have something other than fish?

The waitress finally looked at her customer, emaciated, gaunt, no matter how you described her, she was definitely not looking healthy.

“Gimme The State Breakfast, Charlie!” The waitress called, then went over to greet the three gentlemen who walked in.

Jailee glanced over at the group being seated. One of the men looked strangely familiar. She immediately went into defense mode. How would she exit the building if she had to right now? Busting through the window was the obvious choice, but was there a less noticeable way? Could she run through the kitchen and exit out back? She took another glance at the other table and noticed that at least one of the group was staring over at her. She quickly turned her face toward the windows. She got out her little Nerve Blaster and pretended not to pay any attention. Just then, a hand touched her shoulder.

“Aah!” Jailee yelled just before pressing the trigger, then realized it was the waitress with her meal.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, Darlin’!” she said, “but this plate is hot and I didn’t want you to get burned. Now you’ve got some pure goat sausage and bacon and two eggs, scrambled because that’s the safest way, and some hashbrowns!”

“What’s this round thing?” Jailee asked, looking at the separate dish.

“That’s our house specialty,” the waitress said. “Pour some of this syrup on it and enjoy! Oh, and let me refill your coffee.”

Jailee knew that if she ate too much too quickly, in her present physical condition, she wouldn’t be able to keep the food down. So she sipped a bit of the Cactus Juice, and nibbled at the egg and sausage before attempting the larger round item with the accompanying liquid, what did she call it? Sauce? She poured a little bit on and got a small bite. It was sweet!

She was ready to swallow it whole, when she noticed someone from the other table standing and walking towards her booth.

Immediately she got up and moved towards the women’s privacy hatch and closed the door, quickly inspecting the room. There was an air vent that looked like it led to the roof and might be big enough…

Just then the door flew open! The person walked in and shut and locked it. The bravado.

Jailee’s eyes widened as she realized the other person was a woman, too. “Who are you?”

“You don’t need to know that,” she stated and held up a medic reader. “We only have about forty-five seconds before this appears suspicious to the other people I am with. Why did you come here?”

“I had to get away from…”

“You really didn’t, you know. You were safe where you were.”

“That isn’t true. An agent followed me to where I hid and…”

“I meant you were safe where you were with my fa…” and the woman shook her head. “Take this.” She handed Jailee what looked like a keyring with three keys and two padlocks on it.

“What do I do with this?” Jailee asked, looking at the ring.

“This is a Sector ring.” She said. “the green padlock and the green key will transport you to a region you select, where no Sector officers are located – designed to get Sector officers to a location where they’re needed, quickly. The Red is a small storage of weapons, knives for close combat and a handgun.”

A knock on the door. “Is everything alright, Agent Bingham?”

“Yeah, but I shouldn’t have had that last taco,” she called.

Footsteps running from the door.

“Why is there an orange key with no lock?” Jailee asked. Bingham held up the lock.

“Because we’re about to use it right now. Get the green key ready and grab me as you turn it. Bingham opened the orange lock as Jailee turned the green key. Bingham jumped into her arms. The light of an explosion was just starting to flash in Jailee’s eyes when –

Suddenly they were on top of a tree lined mountain. Several kilometers away and below, they could see the explosion and fire. Jailee was devastated.

“Oh, no, did all those people…”

“No. I tipped off my fellow agents, I’m sure everyone got out of the building before the blast.”

“I didn’t get to finish my breakfast.” Jailee said. “And now, there’s one less place to eat around here.”

“That’s really okay,” Agent Bingham said. “They’ll be open again before sunset. They always are.” The agent pointed towards the building and that a hook and ladder and engine had already arrived and extinguished the blaze, and a construction crew had already begun measuring the area for materials.

“Very efficient.” Jailee said, sadly.

“But we still need to feed you,” Agent Bingham said. “And I can’t take you home because I’m presumed dead.” She took a long look at Jailee. “I guess we’re both outlaws, now.”

“I don’t think I can climb all the way down this mountain,” Jailee stated, looking at the height from where they were back down.

“We can use the transport lock again,” Agent Bingham said. “But the more urgent issue is what our story is supposed to be.”

“OUR story?” asked Jailee.

“I can’t be seen in my agent togs anymore. And you can’t be seen. After all, you killed a Sector Agent before making your escape.”

“When you put it that way, you made my situation even worse. Now they won’t stop hunting me until I’m found, and the punishment will be…”

“Not a problem, because I’m not actually dead,” Agent Bingham reminded her. “I think I have an idea. You really believed I was a man, so why don’t we play it like that? Boyfriend Girlfriend?”

Jailee raised an eyebrow.

“It makes sense. I know all the protocols. I can get you some skin cover to make you look more normal, um, I mean…”

“I know what you mean.” Jailee said quietly.

So, let’s get us dressed up and to the other Wale Hose before they reopen the first one,” Agent Bingham grinned. “I haven’t had my breakfast, either!”


This story was written for LJ Idol using the prompt The Waffle House Index.

Here is an Index of all previous LJ Idol appearances of Jailee
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Jailee was still assessing the whole Berg affair and taking inventory about her feelings. She was somewhat responsible for the death of another person. Well, yes and no. If he hadn't taken the bait, hadn't tried to break out of the cell he was in, he would still be alive. But wouldn't anyone have tried to escape, Jailee found herself asking her reflection as she got ready to go out at sunset? It's a choice that really was no choice at all.

Jailee couldn't help but feel guilty about it. Yes, Wilfred did contact him when he was asking a lot of probing questions around the markets, and brought him to Oorsfeld specifically to keep an eye on what he intended to do. When it was discovered he was some agent from The State, the options were few. See if he would have been understanding about who Jailee was and what the community here was. And every benefit was extended, every opportunity given for him to renounce his assignment and understand what was happening was something more. Even though he still chose the work of The State over what he could see, even though at times his actions and reactions ran counterpoint to themselves, he left little choice. He needed to go.

So creating a ruse, making him believe he was working with a spy that had infiltrated the group and getting him to list his reports to Wilfred as if he were a superior was just protection, a way of understanding what he intended to share when he got the opportunity to report his findings.

But now, now that Berg was dead, that can only mean that if more agents weren't on the way, there would still be some kind of pressure to find her and attempt to question her about what happened to Berg and possibly threaten her friends at Oorsfeld.

Jailee knew exactly what that meant.

So, tonight was going to be as special and as splashy as she could make it. It was going to be her first Poetry Tsunami!

Something that was popular in history was what was known as a "Poetry Slam," where people would recite how they saw the world through the use of beat and rhyme. Jailee thought to revive this by making it a Poetry Tsunami, something that would have more meaning and maybe even more power. It would be a new wave of creativity, a subversive voice calling out against the establishment.

Jailee wondered if giving her friends a week to write their entries and perform them would be enough. It seemed odd that she even was worried about the fairness of this considering the other circumstances. Still, she was trying to retain a sense of normalcy in a world that seemed more and more threatening. But she couldn't wait longer than this.

Inventory. Jailee went through her room and scoped out anything that could be associated with her or finding keepsakes she wanted to retain. It was time to pack what she wanted to keep and recycle all of the rest.

In a moment of impatience or just understanding the need to travel light, she took everything that wasn't a fixture, instant recycled it all and made her way to work, with only her single case of clothing and a small bag of accessories.

Jailee was eager to set up the stage for the Tsunami. There would be ten readers, a really good number, and there would be prizes for everyone. This wasn't really a competition, it was just a way of sharing thoughts about the world, the community, each other. Jailee had high hopes for a good night.

Focusing lights so that the reader would be illuminated without blinding so they could read their poems took a bit longer, and people began to arrive before Jailee was done. She immediately stopped what she was doing to greet guests one by one. At twenty-one hundred, it was time to begin.

Jailee played the host and introduced each reader in turn.

The shortest piece was a couplet presented by Wilfred himself:

"For this, I must tell the truth,
I'm simply too long in the tooth."

And based on the reaction and the feeling she suddenly had, Jailee got on stage, looked out at the gathered group and stated:

Hi. I'm Jailee.

Ring the bell
Break the spell
all is well
can't you tell

In a place
with a space
you can't face

I can't be
you can't see
trouble free
is not for me

There's a stranger
there is danger
But no ranger
to be a changer.

We all must know
how this must go
the common foe
just has to go.

So don't be mad
And don't be sad
this isn't bad
It's all I had

So have some fun
Before it's done
Remember one
Is more than none.

Jailee's bright eyes lit up in the beam, as the crowd reacted with applause, slaps or grunts. She dashed off and programmed a message into the bar system, designed to play at exactly zero hour.

The Poetry Tsunami was, as Jailee hoped, a great success. The fun of writing rhymes to make statements was an immediate hit and people started trying to have conversations with rhymes. Jailee took a look around the room at how the interactions were going and how much fun everyone was having. She told Wilfred that she was going to the back room for a bit, but that wasn't the direction she was headed.

At the zero hour, the recorded message Jailee made automatically played for the patrons.

Each screen lit up with Jailee's face.

Hi, It's Jailee again. I have one more poem to share.

The crowd got silent, anticipating more inspiration for their budding rhyming efforts.

Some of you know I have the ability to dream.
Some of you know just what that can mean.

Last night I had a dream that I can't save
I dreamt a possum swam over my grave.

When I have a dream that I can't understand
It means I need to get out of this land.

The State has tried to rid itself of trouble
And so it's time for me to leave this bubble.

You have all been so good and sweet and kind
That's why I must now leave you all behind.

I wish there was some other. better way...
I hope to come back here, again, someday.

Each screen faded to black.


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Possum ran over my grave.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3]
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1
Week [Holiday Break] Part 2 and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 3
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Peter stared at the padded ceiling of his padded room.

At least the floor was comfortable. But, of course, when he could have used a blackout and a time jump ahead, to get to a new situation, there were none to be had. He was sitting in this room for, he guessed at least twenty-four hours and counting. Even his brief naps refused to send him into a new place and time.

Berg thought about his current circumstances. He figured that the answer he provided must have been right, or close enough to right that it concerned his captors. Telling the Blue Girl and the Walrus he was under the Great Marston Sea was simply a guess to his location. He had no idea where he was. But he knew that the fall he took was a long one to get to this cell, and it was nearly a lock that he had to be underwater in a circumstance like that.

Where, specifically, under the Marston was the question, and that was something he did not know. He also was out of communication with Sector. That meant it was assured that they didn't know where he was, either, for at least the time period that preceded his most recent memory lapse episode.

What were these blackouts? What caused them? Why was he having them and were others also experiencing time shifts where they don't remember swaths of their lives at a go? What was most disturbing to Berg was that he was, to the outside world, living a life, probably conversing with people, doing things, going places, and he remembered none of it. Even the people at Sector, who were trained to notice anomalies, had no clue that he was experiencing this.

Peter sat up straight and looked as nonchalant as possible as he watched Jailee approach the door of his cell. As long as they believe there are others that know what I know, I should be safe, he thought to himself.

The surprise was that instead of the expected inquisition, asking him about what he knew, who he was working for and what his intentions were all about, Jailee opened a small frame under the door and slid a covered tray through it. The door closed and she walked away, wordlessly.

Peter stood up and watched her leave, walking through a rounded hallway, disappearing beyond the curve of the path.

Then, he realized he was smelling something very familiar. He lifted the steel curtain off of the tray.

Sure enough it was a rare delicacy, that Peter loved: Brothless Burgers! Many foods, especially meat based foods, had some form of gravy, water or sauce. But these did not. They were solid meat on freshly baked bread. Each little burger was a bite sized treasure, and there were so many of them! For a few moments, Berg forgot where he was and just indulged in the wonderful treat.

Later, after his belly was full, he turned back to his mind, to try to make more sense of the circumstances and to review what he had learned, or what he remembered, about Jailee.

He thought that Jailee was a kind of kindred spirit, a different version of himself, Peter remembered. So, perhaps if he put himself in her place, he would know what she was planning.

Peter made sure not to speak aloud. He figured the very first thing they would do was have nanocams positioned around to see, hear and record any word or sound he made.

Now. She knew that he was an adversary. How would he handle that? Well, she did set a trap, the fake "emergency exit" and captured him. But he would be working her over, trying to find out every piece of information available. So far, since the first discussion, there hasn't been a word. Why is that?

Do they already know what they need to know? Are they going to try to score a ransom?

Peter didn't know much about Jailee's monetary circumstances, or whether she was trying to become wealthier to buy her way out of investigations or private situations. Was she just working in that place or was she the owner of it? If she were the owner, how did The State not have some record? Then again, where was this location under the sea?

What about those talking aquatic animals? How did they exist? Did The State know about them? Probably not because they likely would have been destroyed or at least herded for research.

Peter sat in silence playing out the various scenarios in his mind, until a robotic arm came and took the serving tray back through the slot in the door, paused and provided a new tray.

Berg once again lifted the lid, this time to find Bradshaw Stew, a mix of tender cube-cut meats and rice in deep brown gravy with still warm biscuits on the side. The serving looked like it was meant for at least four people but there was no one to share it with, Peter thought as he breathed deep the aroma of the dish before savoring the flavor.

As he was dining, a stray thought came to Peter. What if...

He blinked and suddenly, he was large. he could barely fit into his pants. his shirt was ripped in the front. There were stains of various sorts on all of his clothing. Another time jump. He had been doing nothing but eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom in the sani-corner which auto-rinsed itself clean, for how long, he didn't know. There was no way to measure it. He had no memory of the enjoyment of the meals he ate, aside from the two first ones. But he saw the results. He had put on maybe a hundred kilos?

Berg was disappointed in himself. He never did things like this. Or he never remembered doing things like this. And with no way of exercising, he would not be able to lose this weight easily or with any speed.

Jailee appeared at the window again. The robotic arm retrieved the used food tray and replaced it with a new one as she walked away.

Peter considered not eating it but it smelled so appetizing. It was a pizza covered in bacon and extra cheese.

An hour later, after the pizza was consumed, Berg looked and noticed the tray had slightly propped open the door that the robotic arm used to remove used trays.

The arm itself was slightly extended into the room and its pincers were solid and tight. He managed to use a thumbnail to unscrew them from the arm and work them towards the hinges of the door itself. Working patiently and diligently, Berg made progress, getting first one hinge, then the second hinge detached from the door frame.

Peter had no idea how much time he had, if Jailee would return soon, or if any alarms would be triggered, so he realized he had only one chance. He was able to open the door wide enough for his old self to fit through. That wasn’t good enough. He heaved and pulled and threw the full weight he could behind it and was able to get the opening wide enough for him to squeeze through.

At long last, Peter stood in the hallway where he saw Jailee eyeballing him all this while! Rather than going to the right, as Jailee always did, he would go left.

Peter took no more than five steps before he fell into a hole in the floor and again started sliding downward. He built up some momentum and then splash! He hit water. His muscles atrophied from no exercise and the extra weight he was now carrying caused him to flail around.

The last thing Peter Berg saw was the mouth of a Great White Shark.


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Kummerspeck.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3]
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1 and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 2
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Even though Peter detested being the center of attention in his workplace, he implicitly knew that he was always the most capable, the most aware, the most intelligent person in the room. It wasn't like he had any control over that. Those were just the facts. But, in a very big way it gave that nickname he hated: Peter "'Ice' Berg" a second and more important meaning. He was always cool in the clutch. He never overreacted.

Except this time. falling off of his chair in a strange barroom setting and meeting the woman he was trying to find wasn't typical of him. But it couldn't be helped. Another episode. Another time jump forward with no warning. Another location change with no understanding of what preceded it. It appeared that Peter lost roughly one hundred and five hours in this one.

Bending his right elbow to bring a second shot to his lips was painful. That's how he landed on the floor. He downed the shot and looked back at one seven six zero two three four. He was in a room filled with sentient sea creatures. This was going to take all of the sang-froid in his arsenal to make this work.

"So tell me, Jailee," Peter began, "How did you wind up here?"

"I might ask you the same question, except I know that you're chums with Wilfred," Jailee said glancing at the walrus on the far side of the room.

"I'd say we were acquainted," Peter squinted.

"Are you feeling alright?" Jailee seemed concerned.

"I'm fine. My question is how are you?"

"I'm not the one who fell." Jailee stated.

"But you're blue..." Peter tried.

Jailee's smile instantly vanished and she walked away, disgusted.

Berg sat there, stewing. What did he say? Surely she knew she was blue already.

Peter had to wonder what he said during the period he didn't remember, the time frame when he befriended a walrus and traveled to this location, wherever it was. He looked for his GPS but it was missing.

One seven six zero two three four busied herself with other customers and other work, not giving Peter a second glance.

Berg was a detective, certainly, but he usually had more clues to work with than this. He sat, thinking, trying to imagine what took place during those gaps.

He must have traveled to that bakery and fish market where he noted Jailee had been. He had to have asked questions. Was this walrus, Wilfred there? Wilfred the Walrus. Surely that was an alias. As he glanced back at his ivory tusked chum, he was in a bit of a struggle with two other creatures that seemed to be looking to move him towards the door.

"The next round is on me!" Peter shouted, and a small cheer came from the room as patrons moved towards the bar.

Jailee immediately started grabbing bottles and pouring drinks. The distraction apparently worked, at least for the moment, as the walrus was abandoned by his assaulters for a free glass. Berg tried to count heads to get a rough idea about what this was going to cost The State, but math was difficult for him.

He looked back and Jailee was gone. A different server was pouring. He spun around, searching the room to find out where she went. He jostled his way past the place where she was and looked for a way out from there. Nothing.

There must be an emergency exit, Peter thought.

That's exactly what the button was labeled when he got to the other side of the bar. he squeezed in past the server, saw a red "X" on the floor that color matched the button, stood right on the "X" and hit the button.

Immediately the floor opened up and he went falling down into the darkness. Though Peter couldn't see it, the walls began to narrow, and as they did, they began to bend the chamber to a horizontal position, slowing the fall and sliding him to a stop in a small, padded room.

when he stood up, the panel that Peter slid through immediately closed. Peter walked to the door. It was locked. Through the reinforced glass window, he could see Jailee.

"Hello, Ice Berg." she said.

"Let us entertain you," said Wilfred who also nodded from the other side of the window.

"Maybe it's time for us to share a little information," Berg said, confidently.

"Maybe it's time for us to shed a little blood." Wilfred grinned.

"Killing me won't do you any good. My operatives know everything I know."

"Good," said Jailee. "Tell me this. Where are you?"

Peter's brain raced as he tried to come up with some kind of answer. They would know he was bluffing if he wasn't able to answer.

Berg stared at his captors and calmly stated "Under the Great Marston Sea."


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Sang-froid.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3] and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Peter Berg had a headache. Even in ideal conditions, riding in a submarine was an extremely claustrophobic experience, featured stifling, unventilated air and a pressurized atmosphere that made it difficult to concentrate at best, and impossible to do anything but recline and attempt to breathe as gently as possible to stave off nausea in this particular case.

Whatever required a sub ride, this was important, and if no one was available to accomplish this task in the whole hemisphere he was moving towards, then clearly, he was the man to come over and do it.

Some of his colleagues nicknamed Peter “’Ice’ Berg,” a moniker Berg immediately squelched when used in his presence. Nothing made him angrier than being made into the focus of his work, when, really, the point was to not notice who he was at all. Which also explained why the nickname was so appropriate. “’Ice’ Berg” would quietly sit in the center of it all, allowing you to see just a bit of his process, while underneath he was this massive working machine that could take you out with a single swipe.

But, Peter couldn’t think on a journey where his cranium felt like it could crack wide open from the inside. If he could sit up and approach the bridge, perhaps he could get the Captain to surface the sub so he could get out of the airlock and breathe naturally for a bit. But that would slow the excursion down at least a couple of hours, possibly more, if craft traffic in the area was heavy. Best to just try and focus on breathing and the fact that this would be over soon.

Berg jolted awake in his chair, looking at the screen in front of him.

“Did you get all that?” said the undersecretary for Sector West Continent.

Berg scowled at her. “Of course, I did!” and waved her away.

He checked the screen for the date and time and silently shuddered. Then, he looked again. Another episode. This time, Peter apparently lost thirty-two hours of his life. The recurring questions: What happened during that time? How did he get here? Why did people think he was sentient when he was unconscious or sleeping this whole while? What had he said or done? He thought back, straining his brain and the very last thing he could remember before speaking to that undersecretary was closing his eyes in his quarters on the sub.

The screen said Case #1760234. At least the head wasn’t throbbing any more, Peter thought as he scanned the screen and took the useful information into his dossier.

The subject was a woman named Jailee. She had several questionable situations with The State in her previous history, and at least one of her associates had also had a negative court listing.

Why would they need me for something like this? Peter was about to ask himself when he saw a photo. This woman was blue. Surely, a blue woman wouldn’t be difficult to track down.

As Berg read on, he understood. She tended to only go out at night and she also tended to stay close enough to water to vanish, blend in or speed off silently.

The State had placed her under surveillance before, a case that was dismissed over fifty-thousand hours previous. No movement since then.

Staring at her photo, pulling the image in close on her facial features, Berg recognized a look in her eye. He felt as if somehow, he already knew this woman.

Berg depressed the COM button.

“Get me the names of every person on record to have been in contact with one seven six zero two three four in the past one, no, make it two hundred hours."

“Everyone follows a pattern. Everyone has habits,” Berg nodded at the screen as he explained the strategy.

“You don’t,” came the unexpected reply from not turning the COM back off.

“I do,” Berg snapped back. “You just aren’t looking deeply enough.”


This was the exterior plot, the way that Berg got Sector to allow him free reign to do what he wanted to make the arrest. On the interior, he was trying to examine something he considered much more important. This was focused on understanding what the subject wanted and what methods she might use to get it.

Berg surmised that if he could figure out what she wanted to achieve, what her motivation was, it could lead to something bigger and more important than just her arrest.

Working quickly, the agent looked through the listing of contacted people. It was, unsurprisingly, short. A baker at 400 hours and a fishmonger during that same half hour. She went back to the baker in the ensuing half hour and those were her only contacts in two hundred hours? Only KNOWN contacts, Peter reminded himself.

Berg spun her picture around, three hundred and sixty degrees. If not for the fact that she was blue, she might have been a State Promoter, a person seen on vid screens and posters helping encourage good behavior, sharing, making things great for your fellow citizens.

Berg pinched his nostrils shut as he murmured to himself, who are you, blue girl?

“I’m Jailee.”


Peter slipped off his chair and hit the floor hard.

“You haven’t even had any yet and you’re falling over.” Jailee smiled, reaching for a glass and bottle. She poured a shot and placed it in front of him before moving down the bar to another customer.

Berg looked down the bar at this woman. His quarry. How did he get here? Where was here? At least before, he knew he was in a Sector office. This was what? A darkened bar with people in a lot of fur coats.

Suddenly a tap on the shoulder. Peter turned and a walrus gave him a slow nod and a wink before waddling away.

Peter couldn’t down the drink fast enough.


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Jantelagen.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2] and
Week [3]
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
When Conroy and I surfaced, we were in some sort of enormous cove. I had never seen anything like it and yet it felt so very familiar. There were sparkling rocks all over the walls and smooth surfaces for us to walk across, almost like it was constructed, but it couldn’t have been.

“Where are we,” I asked.

“Oh, this little place,” Conroy shrugged. “It’s Oorsfeld. It’s a kind of an underwater sanctuary.”

“Won’t The State come dismantle it or at least use it for some specified purpose?” I asked.

“Jailee, if The State could have dismantled this, it would have happened long before I found it.”

We walked a little further around the area and I looked at the towering cliffs that reached up.

“Surely, The State can get to this area send some nanocams or other robotic devices to observe or destroy it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” Conroy stated as we walked through a spacious hallway. “The State is only interested in what you humans are doing. There’s no interest in an area where only we go.”

“We?” I asked, with surprise, “what other creatures are aro - aaaaaaaah!”

Before I even realized it, I fell into a hole in the floor and began quickly sliding down a steep tunnel! Water was starting to fill the further down I slid! I took a last gasp and held it as long as I could but the tunnel was deep and the water rushed into my eyes and nose. I pinched my nostrils and tried to stay relaxed so I wouldn’t use any extra energy. I tried to think of something happy. It wasn’t working.

Just as I thought I was going to die, I flipped, then landed, belly first. It was like the shallows so I jumped up gasping and got sloshed again when Conroy made a splash all over me when he came down.

“Aah! What did you just do to me?!”

“Oh, sorry,” Conroy shrugged. “I meant to tell you to watch your step.”

“You know, humans can’t breathe underwater!”

“I can’t either! This was fun!”

“Yeah? Well, you were prepared for what just happened.” I yelled.

Conroy chuckled as he shook off the excess water, spraying me again, as I quickly turned my back and looked around. We were standing in a room, nearly as expansive as the pavilion area at Belleview and Kipling but much less arranged and not at all maintained. Starting to regain my equilibrium, I noted there was something lovely about the lack of order.

“I always imagined that the world looked like this” I said, staring at the light shimmering through water, the growth of vines along the walls of the area, the warmness of the wet sand on my feet and even some plots of green that weren’t seaweed. Stepping on the soft green patches made me feel something. I felt like I was home.

Conroy jaunted off toward some long, flat surfaced hut and disappeared inside. Of course, I had to follow him.

The passage led to another tunnel, no water this time, that took us to an interior area where a small group of creatures were gathered. Three of them quickly disappeared into another area as we approached. Then, there was a couple who seemed to be engaged in throwing things towards each other on a table. I can’t even! One of them resembled a large round rat with a flattened and expanded tail. The other was also like a rat only thinner and without any tail.

“Constantinople!” shouted the thinner rat. “We wondered where you dashed away to this morning.”

“Who is that?” said the other rat.

I tried to act like talking animals was normal.

“My name is Jailee,” I told them.

“You look almost human. Are you a human?” the thinner one asked.

“He can’t be human. Humans can’t get here. Tell me, how would he have gotten here?” the other one responded, as though I wasn't standing right beside him.

“First of all, I’m a she, and second, I am a human.”

“Constantinople spending time with women,” the larger rat laughed, “I guess anything is possible.”

“Leave Jailee alone!” Conroy called back at them. “She’s a friend of mine, and I brought her,” and he walked behind the counter by the far wall.

“What are you drinking?” he yelled at me.

“I just had a faceful of seawater. I think that’s enough!”

“Jailee, have you never had alcohol?” Conroy brought his front flippers up and rested his head between them.

I knew what alcohol was. And I knew what it was supposed to do. I also knew that The State strictly regulated any substances that changed your perception or could impair your ability to work.

“You must try this,” Conroy said before grabbing the neck of the bottle in his mouth and tipping it towards a glass. He slid it over to me.

“This water looks brown.”

“Oh, it’s not water,” he said. “You have to drink it down as fast as you can, like this.” He mouthed the rim of his glass, balanced the bottom on the edge of his flipper and turned it up.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. It reminded me of when the light watercraft department had a fire and a lot of rubber rafts got burned. But the bigger shock was swallowing it. That’s when it felt like a fire at the back of my throat, running down to my stomach. I thought I was going to regurgitate it but then it would have hurt coming back up.

“Are you sure YOU aren’t trying to poison me?” I sputtered through a gasp for air.

“If I wanted you dead, I would have just left you with your friends. And what did you do to deserve death?”

“I don’t know if you noticed but I don’t look like a lot of people.” I replied, stroking the blue skin on my arm.

“Yes. I understand all too well,” Conroy said, finishing a second glass. “That’s why it’s great to have a place to escape from all of that.”

There was silence for a moment. Even those rats were quiet just then.

“Anyone or anything that is different, is...” I started to say, then just grabbed the bottle and poured a full glass, and drank it right down practically in one gulp. Then I looked upward and stared hard at Conroy.

“I think I just decided something.”

Conroy just looked at me, mouth open as though *he* was the one watching a talking animal for the first time.

“It’s time to challenge the system. It’s time to take on the world.”

“You know, Jailee...”

“This is it. I am not a second-class citizen. And neither are you! And neither are your rat friends!”

The two rats stopped what they were doing and glanced at me.

“She’s had a couple,” said Conroy.

“It’s time to take on authority. But first, I’m taking on the rest of this bottle.”

Conroy slapped my hand with a flipper and waddled away with the drink.

It didn’t matter. I suddenly knew what I had to do, and I was ready to start.


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Brushback Pitch.

Also, note: This is Jailee's eighth LJ Idol appearance. Her previous appearances include five during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

and two others during Season X:

Week [1] and
Week [2]
penpusher: (Pen)
Today was the weirdest day of my life. I wanted to say it was the worst but the main point is something seriously devastating happened.

It was supposed to be a day at Summit Trade with Hangnori. We were going there to apply for a special opportunity to get a whole new school wardrobe, everything and some extras, so we went to Belleview and Kipling to meet with the sponsors of the float to try to be the lucky recipients. We had planned this at least two thousand hours before and even arranged a performance for the judges. This was going to be solid and festive and Atlantis.

There were many other girls and even some boys in line when we arrived, and we were there at six hundred hours. We both thought that would be early enough to insure we would get in since that’s like two hours before standard class start. We saw that school of people and thought there was no way we would make it. So we got into line and decided to try anyway. But this is the strange part. A creature came in right after we did. He was the same height as me, but on all fours.

I tried to ignore him, even with the grumbly sound of the breathing and the snorts near my ankles. It was difficult until Killeen joined us a few minutes later. She didn’t realize she was supposed to bring a friend along to apply. Hangnori said we should let her be in our group. And I thought it would disqualify us. All the other groups were two. And our choreography was for two, not three!

I went to the bathroom while Hangnori and Killeen talked about it some more. Then when I returned, they took a break.

That’s when the weirdness happened. The creature behind got really close to my foot and licked my heel. I nearly jumped into space. I turned around and as I was about to crash down on him, he said:

“You know, your friend doesn’t like you.”

“You can talk?” I asked him.

“Yes. And I can listen. And I overheard your friend, the one with the dorsal fin hairstyle, say she hated you to the other one that just showed up.”

“That’s how we joke with each other, so you just didn’t understand and you shouldn’t be listening in on other people.”

“Oh yeah? Tell that to The State," He said, the last two words almost as a whisper. He looked past my leg towards the rest areas. "Well, she said she was going to poison you. She said they would go to a sushi restaurant after this, order you tuna and she would cover it in Mercury.”

“There’s just no way. You’re making this up.”

“Starfish, Do I look like someone who makes up stuff to discuss with random human women?”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“My name is Constantinople Roy” He bowed his head and saluted with a flipper.

“Why did you come here?”

“Up up...” he said.

Hangnori and Killeen returned to the line.

“Look at that thing behind you,” Hangnori said. “What is it doing here? Must have gotten lost on the way to some show aquarium!” she laughed.

“You know he can underst...” boom. A butt to my butt by the butt of his tail interrupted my sentence.

“Wow,” said Killeen. “That was either a nasty reflex or he was trying to stop you from talking.”

The three of us eyed at the creature for a moment and he honked and swung around.

“Maybe we should figure out what to do with the rest of the day,” Hangnori smiled. “Where should we go for lunch, Killeen?”

Killeen stared blankly for a moment, then looked away.

“What was that place you mentioned to me earlier?” Hangnori asked, “Namiko’s?”

Killeen nodded wordlessly.

“That’s a... that’s a sushi restaurant, isn’t it?”

“The Thunnini is to die for!”

“I have to go to the rest room.”

“You just got back before us!” Nangnori said. "You know you're only allowed three restroom breaks per cycle."

“I’m just not feeling quite right.” I said.

I walked as slowly as I could back to the rest area, trying to think what I could do and where I could go. I entered into the privacy hatch. I had no idea what to do, where to go or who to trust. Then the thought drifted in: "Why would someone like Hangnori make friends with a blue girl like me?"

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Was that all I was, just a means to an end, a chance for a more popular girl in school to get her much deserved wardrobe and I guess mine too?

As I exited the door, there was Hangnori.

“I’ve got a little something for you,” she said then the next thing I knew, I was tied to something slick and slippery, almost flying through the air before plunging into the water. I couldn’t move but I was inside of an air bubble so I could breathe. What was happening?!

Whoosh! The next thing I knew, we were out of the waters of the Great Marston Sea. I was released from the bond and slid down to the ground. It was the creature. He had somehow roped me to his back and carried me away from the area.

“I hope you’re okay. I know this was a shock but I don’t like seeing people get hurt.”

“I’m okay, Constan...?”

“Constantinople Roy,” he nodded.

“Um, would you mind very much if we shortened that to Conroy?”

He blinked and pondered for a second “Yeah, that’s great. But what should I call you?”

“I’m Jailee.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you Jailee,” Conroy said. “I’ve got a lot of questions for you like why do you have friends that want to kill you?”

“I have a lot of questions for you like, how are you talking?”

“I think this means we need to get to know each other a little better,” he winked as he motioned for me to get on his back and we plunged into the Marston again.

And that’s when I went somewhere I never knew existed.


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: That One Friend

Also, note: This is Jailee's seventh LJ Idol appearance. Her previous appearances include five during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23] and
Week [26]

and one other during Season X:

Week [1]
penpusher: (Pen)
Threats are motivators, Lou Bingham thought to himself as he breathed a sigh. The State was a threat, always watching, always suspicious, always expecting the worst. A government was supposed to work for the people, or so he believed. But he was from Arid Zone, an area that was one of the last bastions of both independent thought and dry land in the southwest region.

The girl was a threat too, and a much more direct one. She was smart, as smart as anyone he had ever met in his nearly sixty years. Beautiful, of course, but also very aware. Most people wander through their lives, occasionally having a moment of enjoyment, dejection or possibly even anger! Not this one. She of the blue skin, the bald head, the lithe body, she was full on passion. She nearly killed him for filming her while she slept!

Lou placed his hand to his throat, as if he could heal himself by touch, the place where she nearly choked him with her bare hands. Of course he understood. If she was ever found to be a dreamer, and not just that but a Lucid Dreamer, The State would envelope her as they apparently did with a whole generation of young people with that ability. That is a threat that could motivate homicide.

There was an issue of trust. Neither he nor his female companion completely trusted each other, but they were all that they had. Well, that and The State, who they both knew could never be trusted. Still, the unease between them was something Lou was trying to resolve somehow. He hoped that by restoring her friend, that would prove he was both safe and loyal, even as he didn't understand her intentions and desires.

Threats are motivators, Lou reminded himself. They take you out of your comfort zone. They push you into action, doing something to stop it, or at the very least, avoid it. He wondered if The State knew what he was doing, despite all of his fail-safes. Could they already be aware of everything he knew and were just waiting for the right moment to...

"Conroy?" The girl stood at the incubation door, trying to peek through the opaque glass.

"Just place your hand on the pyramid" Lou called to her.

Jailee closed her eyes, took a breath and put the center of her palm on the tip of the sideways inverted red illuminated pyramid attached to the wall by the door. Her fingers gripped around it. The pyramid turned green and the door began to rise with a shush of cool air and a bit of water vapor.

Once the door had raised, the chamber became illuminated. There, inside a tank, was a baby seal. Jailee leaned in to have a better look.

The seal began flapping its flippers excitedly and seemed to smile at her. She turned away.

"What is this?"

"That's your friend. Or my closest approximation," Lou replied, walking towards the chamber.

"This is a baby."

"Well, for the moment he is. But we can age progress him."

Jailee turned back to the tank and watched Conroy doing aquatic somersaults and for the first time since she last saw him, she started to laugh.

"No," Jailee said, "He's perfect as is."

"Well, he seems to know you!" Lou nodded as he approached the tank. "How else can I help?"

"The person who... put that counter... on him." Jailee trembled.

"The counter that blew him into a million pieces?"

Jailee bit her lip. "We have to find him. All I know is that his name is Sam and he works in Local Sector. Can Conroy help?"

"I'm sort of new at all of this, but I would say it's fifty-fifty that he would remember anything related to any previously experienced trauma."

They both looked at the baby seal splashing at the top of the tank. He poked his head up, placing his front flippers on the shelf of the glass, opened and closed his mouth once, then again, looked directly at her, blinked and said "Hailee!"

She paused, then rushed over to hug him, so neither Lou nor Conroy could see her face.


This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt - "I need the struggle to feel alive."

Also, note: This is Jailee's sixth LJ Idol appearance. Her five previous appearances occurred during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23] and
Week [26]
penpusher: (Pen)
Jailee stood with Conroy by her side, in a room with no apparent exit. The room was shaped like a sphere, solid white and was illuminated by a bright floating bulb that resembled a bubble, about four feet above her 188 centimeter frame. When Jailee looked at the sphere, it dimmed to a luminescence that permitted her eye to view it without the retina being harmed. If she stared at it, she could make the room go almost pitch dark.

She couldn’t see him, but she knew that Lou, the odd, cowboy oceanographer/explorer she met as she was rushing to save Conroy from a booby trap was running this experiment and the elements involved. Jailee looked down and smiled at Conroy, placing her hand on the top of his smooth head. He tilted his face upward and brushed his bristles across her palm. Still, she felt it was odd that Conroy hadn’t said a word. Not like him.

Suddenly a shock of icy cold salt water raced... )
penpusher: (Pen)
Lou Bingham took a close look through the smudge covered glass with an eager eye. He reached into his vest, pulled out a tool, placed it on the pane and carved a perfect circle out. He then placed the segment of dirty pane inside a fitted specimen dish, lidded it and slipped it back into the vest, where the analysis was being calculated.

He turned back to his companion... )
penpusher: (Pen)
Jailee glanced around the area. She was supposed to meet Conroy quite some time ago. The Mannahatta Café was located on the top floor of a massive structure that was once reserved for people to buy and sell things. No Conroy. She scanned for any broadcast signals and looked for nanocams before she took a seat, placed her backpack in front of her, removed her shoes and rested her feet on her bag, ready to plot her next move.

If any cameras were there... )
penpusher: (Pen)
“Some say money is the root of all evil.” Frank Martin began, not waiting for the TED talk audience to end its opening applause. He posted a slide with stacks of Dollars, Euros and other international currency. Martin roamed the stage in his bespoke suit, and shoes that cost more than his first used car.

“Some say LACK of money is the root of all evil.” Martin changed the slide to a picture of himself being held on a sidewalk by two members of the NYPD. “Yes, that’s teenage me, ‘detained’ for suspicion of being a shoplifter in 1981. It got me my first appearance in the New York Post.” The audience laughed.

Seems like another planet. )
penpusher: (Pen)
Jailee took a moment to scan her surroundings, eyes darting back and forth. Then, when she was certain all was secure, she relaxed and took a breath. No video cams were permitted in anyone’s dorm rooms, thanks to the “throwback” rule that reinstituted the law, disallowing security from physically viewing the interior of someone’s private space.

Jailee caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror on the far wall and nearly jumped. The reddish hair with manufactured tresses of white, grafted on in layers with a laser (for super cheap!), flowing like a waterfall down her shoulders, the dark brown undereye makeup offsetting the green of her irises, the black lower and white upper lip and just a tinge of orange blush on the cheeks of her pale blue skin made her think she was looking at a different person, much older than twenty. She liked her new look!

But the crimson blazer, the white fitted butterfly collar shirt and pleated navy skirt, inched up a bit too high, was her standard fashion statement. She slipped off her silver-studded black combat boots and stood in her knee-stockings.

At the start of first semester... )


penpusher: (Default)

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