Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
“What do you mean he refused?”
Soria glanced up from behind her stall. She had that look on her face, Reece noticed, the one she does when she’s trying to repress emotions.
“I just told you, didn’t I. Wilton absolutely refuses to talk.” she snapped, her frustration evident despite her poker face. “After I first mentioned Quint he dismissed me. I couldn’t manage to get anything related to him in. I did however, get a few good titbits about what he was doing there in the first place, and the Vicar was not there by chance.”
“Oh?” Reece stopped pacing in front of her stall to listen. His fingers at his sides, tapping to an unknown rhythm and his footsteps on the stone floor of the loading bay, silenced. “What did he say?”
“The Vicar has been quite busy, travelling between the rural citadels trying to gain supporters for the Reliant’s.” She said. “According to him he has been marginally successful. But he is also on a tight schedule, and plans to return to the cluster after himself and his fellows recover.”
“I wonder if Quint knows any more about that. We should ask him.” Reece thought aloud.
“By the way, how is our “cleaner” faring with his maintenance tasks?”
“Well, he’s not as incapable as he makes himself out to be. He already has a good understanding of circuitry. He can recognize a problem but he still refuses to have a go at fixing those problems. If only Bert and Fletcher learned as swiftly as this guy, my workload would be so much lighter.” Reece said with a sigh.
“Can’t teach an old dog new tricks I’m afraid.” Soria nodded.
“Well I beg to differ...” He glanced over at her, Reece had casually started talking to her without so much as looking at her. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, it was too be expected. Soria was always at her stall. However there had been times where he had ended up venting to a vacant block of wood.
She immediately noticed his gaze, quick as ever to pick up on small details, or perhaps she knew when someone was watching. “What is it that you want?” she then sighed and held out her arms, to try and block his vision. “I thought you were past your teenage years Reece. It seems I was wrong. Now just hurry up and finish your ogling.”
Reece flushed and then shook his head fervently. “No I… I just…” He stuttered. Whatever he was planning to say, had slipped his mind.
“I’m not that attractive, Mucks sake.” She chuckled. “Although, I don’t mind the appreciation.” Reece frowned, his mind aflutter. Despite her self-depreciation, Soria was rather easy to look at. Especially in her well fitted, olive green, jumpsuit. The strange jumpsuit was supposedly commonly worn by foreign merchants, and very common in the Cluster. Or so she explained.
“Maybe we should get back on topic.” Reece said, looking away ashamedly after realising he had sized Soria up once more
“Yes, yes. About time too. We can’t be dealing with your urges and impulses all day long now can we?” Soria said her voice rolling, a trait common to those from the Sunken Collective. It made Reece wince. “Right. Wilton, he doesn’t appear to be too talkative about Quint. However your little display just now reminded me of something. The Vicar also winced when I mentioned Quint for the first time. It was subtle, I wouldn’t of noticed it if I wasn’t looking for something like that.”
“So what do you think that means?” Reece interjected.
She gave him a, don’t-interrupt-me look and continued. “If you remember about what I told you about reading slight reactions. Winces and wincing can relate to a lot of different things. Shame, embarrassment, fear… a lot actually, but rarely because of good things.”
“So he’s hiding something?”
“That’s what I’m going with. Quint seems to think so, quite vocally. He visited me at my bunk again yelling helter skelter about a planned overflow and mass murder. He was doing the same for other people, poor bastards, just trying to sleep.”
Reece grimaced. “Uh, sorry. I’ll speak to him about it.”
She chuckled. “Its fine, I’ve dealt with madmen before. It’s devastatingly common in the cluster.”
“What is? Madness?” Reece had heard hundreds of story’s about Soria’s life in the Cluster. but he had never heard this. “You speak of it like it’s a disease.”
“It is and isn’t. I’m not sure, I’m a foreigner I only spent like a year and a half there.” She shrugged the question off. Much to the annoyance of Reece, whose thirst for information of the outside world exceeded him. One day he would get off this stinking, sweaty rock. One day he would go to the cluster, and perhaps onwards, away from the Great Black Mire.
But for now he would have to be satisfied with being stuck on an obtrusive stone skyscraper, or at least that’s what the Scrabblers called it. Reece glanced at the clock positioned just above the opening to the tracks and swore. The thing was broken again and it would be a pain to fix. Pipes and wires surrounded it, they all travelled throughout the citadel and they were all extremely vital. Reece and every maintenance worker before him loathed the “time surgery”.
Clock or not Reece was aware of what his daily tasks were and when they were by instinct. But today was different. “I have to take Quint out with me to check on a few of the electrical boxes out on the railway. Want to come? We could figure out what all his mad ramblings mean, and maybe a reason for the Vicar’s reaction, but I can’t do it alone.”
Soria looked around the loading bay, it was desolate. The other few merchant stalls, or rather distribution stations. They stocked clothing and foraged goods. The stations were unmanned. And to save power, most of the lights - that hung far below the ceiling - had been dimmed or switched off completely. Reece glanced around too, there was no one in sight but that was to be expected for any workday, especially this one. The train was due for another delivery tomorrow and the entire Citadel had to have the processed oil quota complete before then. It was hectic. Not even the priests were present. They most likely realised that today was not a good day to distract people with their teachings, lest they want loose public favour.
Soria sighed and slammed her ledgers book shut. “Why not.” She said.
Reece smiled. “Great.”