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Jan 2020 Ficlet Challenge
purplecleric
‘See if you can sober up Vila.’ - Tarrant, Stardrive.

Perhaps Vila should participate in Dry January?

The word prompt this month is … TEMPERANCE

Not just abstinence from alcohol but any form of voluntary self-restraint.

----

For the second challenge, incorporate the line:

‘They’ve found out about us, they’re coming!’

Happy New Year!
 
JustBrad
Kneeling, Vila flailed his arms. “I’m telling you, I can’t do it.”

Tarrant growled, “I’m beginning to believe you. Losing your touch? You opened the safe quickly enough.”

Vila protested, “Engaging the fail safe on a nuclear warhead isn’t the same as opening a lock, you know.”

Tarrant barked, “No, I wouldn’t know. All I know is that you keep telling us you’re the best in the business. Bank vaults, detonators, it’s all just a combination of numbers, so why can’t you do it?”

“Because I can’t. Let’s just get out of here.”

Tarrant knelt next to Vila. “Pay attention, Vila, Liberator is off station. If you can’t disarm that device, not only do we lose what’s in the safe, we’ll all be vaporized.

Vila groused, “Pay attention, you say. Why didn’t you pay attention when Orac said there could be a booby trap?”

“Because Avon assured me you could handle it. Where is he by the way?”

On cue, Avon strode around the corner.

Tarrant stood. “Where the hell have you been, you should be helping Vila.”

“I am.” Avon barely spared Tarrant a glance as he handed Vila a large bottle.

“Soma?” Vila unscrewed the cap and took a whiff. “Whisky? Where did you get this?”

“The coordinator’s office.”

Tarrant balked. “You were supposed to be looking for the fail safe codes.”

“There aren’t any damned codes, not in his desk, not in his computer. He must have committed them to memory, and since the base is shut down for maintenance, he isn’t available for me to ask, nicely or otherwise.”

Tarrant turned his attention to the thief,” Vila, put that bottle down.”

Avon calmly countered, “Drink up, Vila.”

Tarrant heaved a sigh. “We agreed he should go dry for the month.”

Avon shook his head. “No, you agreed.”

“He’ll get drunk.”

“Yes. The quicker the better, drink it all down, Vila.”

Vila complied, Tarrant paced, Avon waited. After a while, Avon said, “Try it now, Vila.”

The thief swayed back and forth as he resumed work.

Tarrant ceased his pacing. “He’s drunk, you’ll have to do it, Avon.”

Avon watched Vila. “No, I won’t, because when it comes to locks, and a fail safe is just a sort of lock, Vila is better drunk than I am sober.”

There came a satisfying click. Avon smiled. “Vila is even better drunk than Vila is sober. Grab the goods and let’s get to the roof to wait for Liberator.”

Tarrant shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

Vila struggled to stand. “It’s like I always said. There’s nothing wrong with sobriety, as long as you’re only sober in moderation.”
i.imgur.com/AD5ikh4.png
MODthra
 
GanMiniMe
Gan groaned and opened his eyes. Where was he? He didn’t know; he tried to lift his head to look around but the attempt at movement, combined with the oppressively bright light, made his thrashing headache worse. He rested back, his head spinning. He felt sick. He tried to recall his last memory but it wouldn’t come. From somewhere else he could hear a voice: by the sound of it, a youngish Alpha-grade man.

“... the usual vermin. Killers, prostitutes, drug addicts... easiest to test it on people who are being deported, rather than risking releasing them back into society. That way if there are any hiccups the only people to get hurt are other equally worthless...”

Gan risked opening his eyes again. Wincing at the bright light situated right above his bed, he managed to take in his surroundings with somewhat blurred vision; he was in a spotless hospital room with garishly white walls. He closed his eyes again and returned to listening to the voice.

“...An interesting subject for a paper, this one,” the voice continued idly. “petty theft, Delta Grade of course. About to have his fourth round of corrective therapy.”
“His fourth?” came another voice.
“Yes. Normally the correction works very well for thieves, but not this one.He undergoes total regression within four days. It’s not unheard of. There have been a couple of rare instances among Alpha grade criminals, but I’ve never heard of it in a Delta.
“Oh, and this one...”- the voice was now right outside- “Say hello to my Prize Thug. Killed a guard with his bare hands. Said he didn’t mean to, as if that makes a difference. He’s been done just this morning; hopefully we’ll be able to stop him ‘accidentally’ killing anybody else. This one’s a thief too, but we’ve been a bit more successful with her...” The voice faded away. Gan kept his eyes shut.

“Olag?” Whispered a voice right next to his face. All at once he jumped, opened his eyes and sharply turned his head- then immediately wished he hadn’t. When the pain subsided he saw a middle-aged nurse with short, wavy brown hair and a few freckles.
“Olag, don’t eat when they offer you something. Say you feel too sick.” She hissed.
“What?”
“Don’t eat! Continue to fast. You’re going back into theatre. We need to alter your limiter.”
“What? What limiter? Why?” Gan wished he didn’t feel so addled. None of this was making sense.
“You’ve had a limiter put into your brain. It’ll stop you from attacking anybody.”
“But why? I thought they were sending me to a penal colony. Have they decided not to deport me?”
“No, they’re still going to deport you” the nurse said in a hurried whisper. “Limiters are still experimental, so they still deport people after they’re fitted just in case they go wrong.”
“Go wrong? What do you mean? How do they go wrong?”
“They can cause some horrible side-effects and they often malfunction. If you’re not a delinquent before it’s put in, you will be if it breaks. And if it does work properly, you’ll be defenceless on a planet full of violent criminals. Dr. Andalus hates them, he tried to protest against their use but nobody would listen. So keep fasting, because he’s on duty tonight. Once the regular doctors go home we’ll get you back in and we’ll adjust it. It’ll still be there, but we’ll disengage one component to stop it from actually affecting your brain. Just try not to kill anybody else, or somebody might ask questions.”

Gan nodded. He opened his mouth to say something to her, but was interrupted by another nurse running in.

“They’ve found out about us, they’re coming!” She panted. “We have to go!” The nurse wheeled round.
“What? How?”
“Does it matter? There are guards at the front desk! We have to go!”

The first nurse hesitated, her eyes on Gan. “Olag, can you walk?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, he’s hardly awake! Come on, we have to go now!”
“He’s had a limiter put in! We can’t-“
“Go! Get out of here before they find you!” Said Gan.
“But-“
“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Go!”
“I’m so sorry... i’m sorry!” Said the nurse, hovering awkwardly between the bed and the door. Her colleague pulled her to the doorway. There was a shout from further down the corridor. Both nurses turned their heads at the sound.

“Go!” shouted Gan. He was going to say he wasn’t worth getting arrested for, but it was too late. Two guards appeared in the doorway, grabbed them and hauled them away.

He never saw either of them again.
Edited by GanMiniMe on 03 January 2020 09:32:10
 
Travisina
Wow, what a start to the new year!
Terrific stories, Brad & GanMiniMe - and so quickly written! KudosSmile
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
A statement of fact cannot be insolent
 
stormypetrel
Great stories, Brad and GanMiniMe. Smile
 
stormypetrel
“And you’re sure about this?” Avon looked appraisingly at Tarrant. “Valspar Minor?”

“That’s what the message said.”

“Assuming we trust the message.”

“If Purnell says he’s there, he’s there. I’d trust him to want the chance of selling us what we need, at least.”

“Selling?”

Tarrant sighed. “All right; swapping.” The rest of the Liberator’s crew eyed him suspiciously.

“What are you thinking of swapping this time?” inquired Vila. “Or should I say, who?”

“Not you,” retorted Tarrant. “Valspar Minor wouldn’t suit you, anyway.”

“Oh?”

“Valspar Minor, Vila, is a dry planet,” explained Avon.

“Dry... you mean...”

“The punishment for the consumption of alcohol is flogging.”

Vila blinked. “I think I’ll stay here.” He thought for a moment, then queried, “I wonder what they do drink, then?”

“Water?” suggested Tarrant.

“Clear liquid, doesn’t taste of much...” Dayna elaborated kindly. Vila frowned; Tarrant grinned.

“You must have had it at some point. Or were you weaned from mother’s milk straight onto adrenaline and soma?”

“Mother’s milk? I didn’t have your sheltered upbringing. You mean Federation Dried, out of tins, the same as everyone else,” retorted Vila. “And the cod liver oil... I could have done with a drop of soma to take away the taste of that stuff...” He pulled a reminiscent face. “But you didn’t drink the water, if you could help it. They put things in it, you know.”

Tarrant laughed at this solemn claim. “That old wives’ tale?”

“It isn’t!” Vila looked indignant. “Maybe it’s all right for you lot, with your fancy filter jugs and things, but not where I come from. You try making a cup of tea with Dome water.”

“That process is hardly confined to the service grades,” Avon informed him.

“Well, then. All that scummy stuff that appears on top? That’s the suppressants, floating to the surface...”

“Rubbish,” said Tarrant.

“And think how many people it’s been through, before it even got to you. I used to know someone who worked at the sewage treatment plant. If you want to risk it... at least alcohol kills bugs.” Vila glanced across at Cally for assistance. “That’s right, isn’t it?”

“In certain circumstances, yes, but...”

“I’m not saying you can’t clean water,” he admitted. “But it tastes awful if you do it properly. We got some from the fellow next door sometimes; he had this set-up with flasks and copper pipes...”

“A still,” said Avon.

“Are you sure that was water?” inquired Tarrant.

“Yes! That was. He did make other stuff...”

“Which I suppose you sampled more often?” Dayna suggested.

“I didn’t. What use is a blind thief?”

“Probably as much use as one who isn’t blind.”

"Where are we to meet Purnell, then?" Avon broke in, disregarding the potential argument.

Tarrant looked amused. "He said at Fitz's bar."

"Bar?" Vila was distracted from trying to think of a suitable retort to Dayna's insult. "But you said..."

"Fitz's temperance bar. Get yourself ready. It'll be a new experience for you!"
 
Travisina
Great story, StormyP - and great minds think alike - I was mulling a similar idea! Hopefully, I'll find another way of doing it...
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
A statement of fact cannot be insolent
 
Anniew
Collateral Damage

They’ve found out about us, they’re coming!

Are you sure?

There’s something on the monitor. Something big. I don’t know what else it could be.

You’re panicking. Get a grip. How is it possible?

I think we’ve been set up.

Hell. That is big. You could be right. Here take this. Get under cover.

Where? If I am right, they’ll find us, sooner of later.

You want it sooner? Here. Climb in here.

Ouch. That’s dusty. And disgusting.

It’s a service shaft. What do you expect? Now keep quiet.

Why have we brought it with us? They can have it as far as I’m concerned.

Your loyalty is inspiring.

Loyalty to what? I’ve just been following orders. They don’t care if we live or die. Why should I care what happens to it?

It’s something to bargain with.

I suppose. But if we left it out, they might just take it and go.

I’ve spent a year working on it. Besides, can you imagine what the Commandant would do to us when he found out?

Quiet. I can hear something.

***

Have you set them?

I have. Two minute delay. Come on Avon. It’s time we left.

Damn. No sign of it.

Perhaps your contact was misinformed.

Or he was setting a trap. Vila, get us out of here.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
stormypetrel
Travisina wrote:

Great story, StormyP - and great minds think alike - I was mulling a similar idea! Hopefully, I'll find another way of doing it...

Thanks! You’ll have to do yours, now. Compare and contrast, as they used to say at school...

Annie, nice to see things from the other side- they aren’t so very different after all!
 
stormypetrel
Meanwhile, at the temperance bar...

Fitz’s bar was surprisingly loud and crowded, which at least meant that four newcomers walking in didn’t draw much attention. Their contact, however, got to his feet instantly.

“Drink?” he offered casually.

“Why not?” agreed Tarrant. They crowded up to the bar; Avon and Tarrant intent on Purnell, Dayna and Vila more interested in their surroundings.

“The relay connector?” inquired Avon impatiently. Purnell nodded.

“I can get you in,” he agreed. “Although we weren’t expecting so many of you...”

“We?” Avon glanced at the three men Purnell indicated, and frowned.

“You can trust them...”

“As much as we can trust you, no doubt. They will stay here.”

“But there’s four of you!”

“You want to even the odds? Tarrant and Vila can stay and keep an eye on your... friends. Dayna and I will come with you.”

Dayna laughed. “The perfect job for you, Vila. Propping up a bar.” She grinned as she followed Avon and Purnell out; Vila turned resignedly to Tarrant, lifting his glass.

“Cheers.”

* * *


Propping up the bar, it turned out, seemed to be all that was required. Purnell’s companions showed no sign of doing anything other than staying put. Three drinks in, Tarrant was looking distinctly bored; Vila, sipping reluctantly at his latest attempt to find something palatable, was becoming uncomfortably aware that even non-alcoholic drinks were better not mixed. He leant over and nudged Tarrant.

“Are we going to be here much longer? Only I’ve got a nasty feeling...”

“It’s called sobriety.”

“Oh, yes, very funny. Where have the others got to?”

“I don’t suppose it’s a five minute job.”

“But why do we need to stay here? We could have waited on the Liberator...”

“Because Avon wants us to watch Purnell’s men.”

“I wouldn’t mind if there was something decent to drink. This stuff’s disgusting.” Vila shifted unhappily. “I don’t think it likes me much, either.”

“Who can blame it?” remarked Tarrant. Vila grimaced, tried his drink again rather than answer, then pushed it away with finality. “Afraid it’ll poison you? I suppose it is all herbal; if you mix things up the way you’ve been doing...”

Vila paled. “Shut up, Tarrant,” he said with a gulp.

“If you’re feeling that bad, go outside. It’s not as if you’re any help in here. I can watch them myself.”

Vila swallowed again, glanced round the crowded bar, and slid off his stool with a faint nod. He edged over to the back door and into the yard, leaning against the outside wall in relief. There was a small group of men already outside, but they paid him no attention; he sidled out of view anyway, not feeling up to casual conversation. Hidden in a corner, he contemplated calling for teleport; Cally could always come and take his place. He could manage the teleport controls instead; better still, Orac could manage the teleport controls, while he went for a lie down... His thoughts were rudely interrupted by the conversation of the men in the yard, suddenly audible as they came closer.

“...Servalan should be here soon. She’s going to be very pleased with us. Purnell should really be more careful who he talks to. He’s keeping Avon and the girl busy, no doubt; they should be being collected about now. The other two are in there...”

For a second Vila was stunned into immobility; then he fumbled for his bracelet.

“Avon!” He stumbled over the words, approaching panic. “They’ve found out about us, they’re coming!”
 
littlesue
Stormy..are you reading my mind as well??.........
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!


sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
 
stormypetrel
littlesue wrote:

Stormy..are you reading my mind as well??.........

I give up! Here’s me trying to come up with ideas, and all I manage is intellectual property theft! Maybe I should put my pen away, and just go and have a drink... well, the kettle’s just boiled, anyway...
 
Travisina
stormypetrel wrote:

littlesue wrote:

Stormy..are you reading my mind as well??.........

I give up! Here’s me trying to come up with ideas, and all I manage is intellectual property theft! Maybe I should put my pen away, and just go and have a drink... well, the kettle’s just boiled, anyway...

No, don't give up! Your - our - ideas are excellent, and you write them so well Grin
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
A statement of fact cannot be insolent
 
littlesue
Travisina wrote:

stormypetrel wrote:

littlesue wrote:

Stormy..are you reading my mind as well??.........

I give up! Here’s me trying to come up with ideas, and all I manage is intellectual property theft! Maybe I should put my pen away, and just go and have a drink... well, the kettle’s just boiled, anyway...

No, don't give up! Your - our - ideas are excellent, and you write them so well Grin


Methinks it's a case of Great minds thinking alike...which is no bad thing. Just like you I have combined both prompts into a two part story. Just tidying it up at the mo.
And please carry on writing. I don't know about you but I am enjoying all this writing far more than I did when I was at school (and under pressure in my 'O' and 'A' levels).
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!


sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
 
stormypetrel
littlesue wrote:

Travisina wrote:

stormypetrel wrote:

littlesue wrote:

Stormy..are you reading my mind as well??.........

I give up! Here’s me trying to come up with ideas, and all I manage is intellectual property theft! Maybe I should put my pen away, and just go and have a drink... well, the kettle’s just boiled, anyway...

No, don't give up! Your - our - ideas are excellent, and you write them so well Grin


Methinks it's a case of Great minds thinking alike...which is no bad thing. Just like you I have combined both prompts into a two part story. Just tidying it up at the mo.
And please carry on writing. I don't know about you but I am enjoying all this writing far more than I did when I was at school (and under pressure in my 'O' and 'A' levels).

Oh, all right, if you insist. Grin I doubt I could give up if I wanted to, anyway; it’s compulsive, I’m afraid... even at school, it was. But they still never learned to keep the stationery cupboard locked when I was about... all that nice, lined paper...
 
Joe Dredd
I'm glad you aren't giving up, stormypetrel. I want to find out what happens next!
 
stormypetrel
Joe Dredd wrote:

I'm glad you aren't giving up, stormypetrel. I want to find out what happens next!

Well, now, that rather depends on what next month’s prompts are... Smile
 
GanMiniMe
stormypetrel wrote:

Joe Dredd wrote:

I'm glad you aren't giving up, stormypetrel. I want to find out what happens next!

Well, now, that rather depends on what next month’s prompts are... Smile


We have to wait until next month?? Damn it!! That’s so far away!!! I want to know what happens next!!!
 
Anniew
Fine stories. Really enjoyed them.

Avon hadn’t drunk alcohol until his return from Residence One. He downed the glass Vila handed him without a second thought. All those months of unnecessary abstinence. The subterfuge involved in hiding his decision. The guilt.

He’d never been an alcoholic. Dependant on the stuff, oh yes, particularly when he needed Dutch courage. Too much imagination, he supposed. He could always visualise exactly what they’d do to him if they caught him.

So, immediately after saying goodbye to Anna, he’d stopped off at his favourite drinking parlour and downed two, three, maybe four stiff ones before making his way to his contact to pick up their visas. Enough anyway to dull his reactions sufficiently to sustain a life-threatening wound when the man tried to raise his price and pulled a gun in him.

During the months that followed his escape from Earth, the agony of learning that she had been picked up, interrogated and killed, his eventual capture and trial, he had sworn off the booze. He owed it to her memory. If he’d had more control, he might have saved them both.

The stuff Vila gave him tasted vile, but he relished the burning sensation as it slipped down his throat. The warmth it brought to his cold belly.

Stuff temperance.
Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I won't.
 
GanMiniMe
Aaah, Anniew, that was quite sad. His guilt and pain, when you did see them, were quite hard to watch. And you don’t see him drinking very often, do you?
 
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