A Banished Tale
The Viscounts Folly
The Dawn found Nina wake and ready to go, she had been awake for several hours before sunrise, she just couldn't get used to a bed that didn't roll around even a little bit. She had made good use of her time tweaking the prefabbed resume to be just a little more realistic. What had been provided was too perfect; someone with little work history studying engineering would be more a numbers rather than a words kind of person.
Nina secured her contraband and checked to make sure nothing was out of place, before giving herself a once over in the mirror. She had trendy blouse under a short waist hugging jacket and a pair of pants that squeezed just a bit in the rear. A little bit of sex appeal has never hurt a girl’s chances. Satisfied with everything she headed out.
Nina figured the best way to get a look would be to walk up and ask for a job. “Then if they catch me looking around a little later I can just play it off as still interested.” Nina told herself in her mind.
The dry dock was a 20 minute walk at a brisk pace, 30 minutes if she slowed it down a bit. The first thing she noticed was that no ship was visible; it was housed completely in the building. Nina knew from this it at least wouldn’t be a leviathan the size of a freighter. The next thing was the barred gates and guards. Their uniforms were neither local police nor shock troopers but they carried themselves like shock troopers. Nina saw no springer guns visible but Nina knew that troopers didn't need guns to be effective.
It was a little after six and shift change was over but some graveyard crews were still milling about as Nina approached the gate.
"Remember, talk, don't kill Nina." She told herself.
The guards saw her approaching and took up that practiced stance of nonthreatening but ready.
"Wow, they told me this was a big project but gates and guards. Seems a bit much don't it?" Nina asked.
"Can we help you young lady?" A shaggy blue furred dog with floppy ears asked.
Nina looked at his arm and name; "Yes. Sgt. Carol is that right? Those are sergeant stripes, right?"
“Not too many people get the rank right on the first try. What can I do for you and who are you?" Sgt. Carol said his shoulders loosening just a bit.
"Well I did do a report on the modern civil service for history class a year back. As for help my engineering professor told me there might be an internship or other positions available for a tech minded person here and I'm Alma by the way." Nina replied
"Who’s your professor?" Carol asked
"Prof. Fukuda." Nina replied.
"Well I don't know if any are still open, but l’ll get the supervisor and you can talk to him okay?"
"I would appreciate that sergeant." Nina replied as she pulled open her satchel and rustled some papers as she retrieved her resume.
Sgt. Carol walked over to a small data scroll in a box. A few seconds later he walked back to Nina." He'll be right out. Hang tight." He said.
"Okay" Nina nodded. 30 seconds later it finally dressed feathered mail with a long curved neck can be compared.
"This is Mr. Ronald Regal," Sgt. Carol began; "and this is Alma, sorry I didn't get your last name."
"Nietche, Alma Nietche." Nina said offering her hand and shaking Mr. Regal's; "Nice to meet you Mr. Regal."
"And you. I see you have your resume out already. Why don't you take this visitor's pass and follow me inside." Mr. Regal responded.
Nina took the pass and followed Mr. Regal. Once inside she started scanning for any clue as to what was going on. The offices were blocked from the construction itself, but Nina could hear the sounds of construction through the walls. Speaking of walls these were bare of any decoration. No pictures of the project and the progress being made, no shelves displaying little finely crafted products and tools, not even a motivational poster. Nina continued following Mr. Regal into a nicely furnished if not lavish office where Mr. Regal offered her a seat. Nina sat and Mr. Regal soon followed behind his desk.
"May I have that please?" Mr. Regal asked holding out his hand. Nina gave him her resume and sat back as Mr. Regal read. "Well not the best resume I have received but it has all the particulars that would make you an excellent candidate. Unfortunately all the internships have been filled." Mr. Regal said as he put down the resume.
"That's a bit of a disappointment sir. However I'll take any job for the experience. You'll note that I did mention I am on my school’s sailing team, so I know my way around a boat." Nina said
"Who said this project was a boat?" Mr. Regal asked looking into Nina's eyes.
"Well no one said it outright, but Prof. Fukuda knows that in addition to architectural engineering I have an interest in marine design. It is also painfully obvious you're not building a building and the dry dock gates are a dead giveaway." Nina replied maintaining eye contact and hoping her response was quick enough to avoid suspicion.
Mr. Regal nodded before responding; "Very keen, I like that. However, the fact remains we don't have a position available, but I would like to keep your resume in my short list should something become available."
Nina let some disappointment seep into her voice and posture as she thanked him for his time and was escorted out by a secretary. Sgt. Carol asked if she had any luck and Nina replied; "No job but I'm on the short list." She waved and smiled as she walked away and in her mind started going through ideas to get in the hard way.
At her apartment she noticed a gray fox with the cage holding an air ryuu neko. He saw her at the same time and stood up and held out his arms. "Sis! Long time no see." He called.
"Hey Frankie!" Nina replied feigning joy.
As they embraced Frankie whispered in Nina's ear; "The super and a few tenants bugged me a bit about waiting in the hall for you, so let's keep this up till we’re inside."
Nina nodded and said; "Let’s get inside and get you something to drink."
Once inside Nina opened the cage and the air ryuu neko flew onto Nina shoulders. "I missed you too Buttons." She cooed as she stroked under his chin. "What can I get you?" Nina asked Frankie as she went to the fridge.
"A fermentae, any flavor I ain't picky." Replied Frankie
"I suppose I have you to thank for stocking the place?"
"Aye." Said Frankie.
"So why didn't you just let yourself then?" Asked Nina.
"I gave Ann all the keys. Besides it would be kind of rude to just let myself in after you got settled."
"Did Buttons give you any trouble?" Nina inquired.
"Not once I figured out why you named Buttons." Said Frankie, before taking a sip of his fermentae. "I have a little keyboard lying around and let him play some music on that so he wouldn’t jump on my data scroll. So I'm guessing by your pacing about that you didn't get the job."
Nina stopped and turned to face Frankie before leaning back on the counter. "I'm used to more room to roam, but no I didn't get the job." Nina said.
"Got a plan B?" Asked Frankie.
"Get out that file from wherever you hid it and I'll show you some points to get a good view of the area. Maybe if you go back tonight you might spot away in." Frankie said.
"Did you see anything that looked like a way in?" Nina inquired as she retrieved the file.
"No. But I didn’t have the time to loiter and I must admit I don't really have the experience." Responded Frankie.
Nina spread out the map and stacked up the notes to one side. "So what do you do?" Nina asked as Frankie drew up a chair to the small table.
"Play piano. Got a regular gig at the Big Bang Room. If you get bored come check it out on the weekends, it’s pretty happening. During the weekdays, well nights, I bounce around a bit. It's a living and I run into a lot of people, so when someone like you needs info on a routine for someone, nine times out of ten I'm the guy that has the answers."
Nina nodded as she said; "That's good to know, might come in handy later."
They spent the next hour and a half going over back alleys and side streets to get to and from the target location. Which rooftops that would have the best view and a low risk method of scaling took up the bulk of their time. In the end only three roofs had access like a fire escape or were a public building and could be reached without attracting attention. It was well past noon when Frankie suggested they both get some rest. Frankie left promising to come pick up Nina at seven for some dinner before he went to work. That would also give her the perfect opportunity to divert to the dock on her way home and scope the place out.
Nina stretched out on the bed and buttons curled up on her stomach. "I'll take you to a park tomorrow and let you stretch those wings of yours." Nina said as she brushed her hand down the ryuu nekos back. "Between you and me Buttons I'm just not a city girl anymore." Nina said as she closed her eyes while Buttons sung a soft song.
Several hours later Nina was invisible lying on the roof of a small public library with a full stomach. Frankie had delivered with an excellent and affordable restaurant and even though Nina had entered intending to control her calorie intake, she had lost that battle the moment she smelled the food.
"Should've brought a chair." She mumbled to herself only half joking.
She was at her first lookout point looking south at the shipyard. Her plan was to start here then hit all three observation points moving southwest till she was overlooking the employee entrance. Nina hoped that she could spot a way in or get a feel for the workers coming out and see if any would be an exploitable asset.
Nina had spent time every day since she discovered her powers practicing and perfecting her control. At this moment it was paying the biggest dividends ever. As long as she remained focused she could remain invisible. This after much practice extended not just to the clothes she wore but also the things she held in her hands and sometimes to small objects that touched her. Which made her wonder again why she didn't pack something to sit on. However she continued to concentrate on the task at hand looking through the small telescope and jotting notes in a notepad held down by her elbow. An observer might see nothing but Nina could see everything just fine, except for a slight haze that befell everything under her influence.
Nina was paying close attention to the roof trying to piece to together its appearance and what it meant. It came to her that her father had used something similar for a Fallgaurd stadium. Eureka, thought Nina that roof has got to open up. Makes sense as flo-wood seeds would need sunlight to start growing and unless that ship is smaller than expected, the masts would poke holes in the ceiling. She began making a note when a clanking noise from the building made her look up. As if on cue the roof started opening in a segmented pattern each hemispherical section sliding neatly into its mate before that piece moved into the next. When it stopped the final peace was blocking her view into the interior of the building. The only thing Nina could see was the northeast corner and that did reveal a cat walk with an armed shock trooper patrolling back and forth scanning about both the interior and exterior.
"Damn." Nina thought making another note "they're just as worried about the inside is what could be outside. If I get in I won't be able to relax for a second."
Nina spent a few more minutes than slowly scooted back from the edge. She waited till she was inside before becoming visible and made her way outside. The library's door faced north so she made her way left before turning left again into a back alley.
By this time most people were at home or heading there and the shops were closing. Her second target was an apartment with a fire escape so she would have to be more cautious and quiet. On the plus side it was a taller building.
Nina looked about before activating her power, the halo coming alight briefly in a brilliant halogen white before she became invisible once again. As she moved the final hundred feet to the fire escape she pulled a grappling hook and rope from her satchel. Nina didn't want to risk the noise of the ladder coming down so she aimed for the handrail. Over four years as a pirate using grappling hooks and her aim was spot on. Nina climbed the twenty feet to the landing put the hook and rope back in her bag and started making her way up the stairs. She got hung up for a few minutes waiting for some kid to finish a stolen cigarette. Several minutes and a few more squeaky steps later she cleared the edge onto the roof and low stalked her way to a good vantage point.
"Jackpot." Nina whispered to herself. From here she could see into the construction site and the stern portion of the ship. It wasn't much of the stern but judging from the types standing there it was just what she needed. As Nina watched a course furred boar with four tusks and the color of stale urine berated a worker. Nina could just hear the faint echoes of his yelling. The worker a big eyed, gray colored bug with short clear wings stood there and took the verbal abuse before being dismissed. Nina looked at the bugs face as he walked away and noted it was the same expression Nina and the other girls had worn in response to the old Capt. Keets version of leadership. Nina jotted down a few more things in her notepad and kept watching
An hour later and a crane started lifting something that at first glance looked like a mast into the forward bow section of the ship. Nina eyed it carefully noting it was hollow. She could think of only one reason for this, the contraption was a flo-wood form. When the sun came up the flo-wood would be exposed to sunlight and start growing to fit the form. This was a big problem for Nina and the others. Flo-wood was tough as hell and would regrow any damage taken once fully set in its mold, that was if you could throw enough at them to damage it in the first place. This new ship would never need to carry spare masts.
Nina could no longer see the boar but once again the faint echo of his yelling could be heard. Nina started getting the first itch of an idea and checked her watch. It was time to move into the final over watch position.
Nina watched the night shift employees file out. A wicked smirk stuck on her face. She made a note then gathered her things. She made her way off the roof and relaxed becoming visible before stepping into the street.
Back at her apartment she fired off an update to Pierre before pulling her personnel data scroll out and brought up the Message Pad. Nina composed two messages the first to Frankie, it read; “Hey Frankie, it's your sis. I want you to meet my friend Ann. Come by my place at noon.”
The second was to Ann, it read; “Ann, it's Alma, I want you to meet my brother Frankie. Can you meet us at the park around one o'clock for picnic?”
Nina sent them both before leaning back to let Buttons have his way punching the screen. "I got a plan boy. We'll get this done yet." Nina spoke to the ryuu neko patting his head.