Pandora 0.13

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If you've never woken to a spearhead mere centimeters from the tip of your nose, then take it from me: Stick to alarm clocks. It was no way to wake up.

"Hey, knock it if off!" Diver's voice. "I said we'd wake her up!"

I stared at the blurred, doubled image of a Psittacan looming above me. Fortunately the spear-wielder stepped back, and I blinked until my vision righted itself. Without my gaze being split in two by a spearhead, I could make out that there was one Psittacan near me and—after a quick glance around—another four in our hab, all of them brandishing spears. It wasn't Many Kills and his band; I didn't recognize these Psittacans.

"Um..." I glanced at the sharp point of the spearhead. "What's going on?"

"You must come with us," said the Psittacan who had woken me, her spear edging alarmingly close again. "Completes The Whole orders your presence."

I held up my hands. "We can do that. We have no problem doing that. There's no need for..." Threats. "...those."

I waved my hand vaguely at the spear, and the female's crest came up until it started arching forward over her face. I dropped my hands and swallowed hard. A glance around the hab showed the rest of the team cowering obediently; only Diver looked furious. He'd better squash that. The last thing we need right now is violence. Slowly, so as not to anger the female further, I sat up and set my feet on the ground.

The bunks in the small hab were surprisingly comfortable, and most nights I slept all right. I'd lived many years in some of the worst parts of the city; the odd shrieks, howls, and calls hadn't bothered me as much as they had some of the others. It was the darkness that got me. I wasn't used to it being so...black. But that first night, after I'd lain awake for a while, I'd noticed a glow. Turning over, I'd found Diver awake, reading from his holo-slate. It was, he told me later, the only thing he could do without risking waking up the others. So most nights, unless I was completely bushed, I let that soft glow lull me to sleep.

And in the mornings, as I swayed like a zombie over my coffee, I wondered how he had so much energy despite getting less sleep than everyone else. Something tells me there won't be coffee this morning.

"We'll come with you," I said quietly. Man, was I glad I'd been sleeping fully dressed. "We won't give you trouble; you have my word."

"And theirs?" She gestured sharply at the others.

"The word of our leader is binding for us as well," Christa said quickly, with remarkable insight. The others murmured agreement.

"Fine." The Psittacan gestured to her group. "Outside. Make sure none of them try to run for it."

Run where, precisely? I wondered, but I knew better than to say it out loud. Still moving slowly, I rose from the bunk. My companions were doing the same. Noticing the tension in Diver, as if he were a wildcat preparing to defend his territory at any cost, I tried inching my way towards him. The Psittacan in charge turned back to me with a snap of her beak that signaled anything but amusement.

"Out," she said, indicating the door with her spear. "Now. When the leader summons you, you don't dawdle."

Pretty sure dawdling would at least involve coffee. "We're going," I said, heading for the exit. "Like I said, we have no problem coming along. What's going on? Does Completes The Whole need our help?"

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