Jul 18, 2018 10:35 AM
every breath you take
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an imrainai summons demon cam
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Elysium is running out of air. They ought to be able to find the leak - if nothing else you'd think there'd be a draft - but it must be somewhere in the parts of the habitat where people don't normally go, where normally only Terry goes to fiddle with valves and wires, and Terry died in her sleep last night so isn't that a bummer. They really ought to have had a spare Terry, but this colony is just a few dozen weirdos who decided they wanted to live on Pluto and nobody else has the engineering knowhow. Someone's on a quest to find the key to the service compartments. They had to lock them after the six-year-old kept going in and unplugging things.

Somebody's gone into the emergency kit for an angel. The angel is very kindly making lots of trips through the airlock to haul rocks inside and turn them into air. He's not keeping pace with the air loss, though, and nobody's sure if he should try hauling bigger rocks (they'll take longer to extract, they'll take longer to haul) or if it would be more efficient to just turn the air directly into more air. Five people are having an oxygen-wasting argument about it.

Somebody went into the emergency kit for a fairy circle, too. The fairy said she could keep the air in if she knew where it was getting out, but she's not any better than the humans at figuring that out and she can't move things she can't see or even locate. She could take the entire colony back to Earth, but that would take hours, Pluto's too far away. Mars isn't close enough either. The readout doesn't think they have three hours.

There's more circles in the emergency kit, but the second fairy someone tried said she didn't work for free, and nobody had anything to give her that she wanted because they were all weirdos who wanted to live on Pluto. There's lots of circles. There isn't a lot of time.

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There's one entity they can summon that'll definitely be able to supply them with air, but she knows what sorts of payments demons demand - sex if you're lucky, your soul if you're not. Normally she'd say that that makes them just plain not an option, but this isn't normally, this is weighing herself against her sister and her nephew and several dozen other people who are very shortly going to suffocate to death. And it'll have to be the first demon she summons, she doesn't have time to hold out for a trade that doesn't make her want to scream. More than that, she won't have time to negotiate until she happens to hit on what the demon wants; she'll have to let it talk if she expects to get anywhere in time to save the colony.

It's not an easy choice, in the sense of not having to agonize over it, but it doesn't take her very long to make it. She takes one of the circles back to her living quarters. Her hands shake as she scratches out large parts of the binding, including the gag (not the whole binding, she's stupid but she's not that stupid). 

It'll be fine. She'll scream in her head through the whole thing, and then when it's over she'll scream out loud into her pillows, assuming there's anything left of her to care, for as long as it takes her to stop feeling the need to scream. And her nephew and her sister and four dozen other people will go right on living their lives, and that's worth way more than anything there is of her.

She digs her fingernails into her palms in a desperate attempt to keep herself from crying. She does her best to imagine being someone competent and capable and decisive.

She summons a demon.

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A demon appears! He is wearing dark-colored jeans and not wearing a shirt. He has a barbed tail that reaches a little past the knees, till he swishes it, and wings, all three in navy blue. "- ooh, you're letting me talk! Hello there!"

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"Hi," she squeaks, because this is a less terrifying greeting than she was expecting, and also he's not wearing a shirt, and both of these things momentarily throw her off. "Uh, uh - this colony is running out of oxygen and we need more of it now. Can - can you make enough oxygen to support fifty people until they find and seal the leak. Please."

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"Uh, I could do that but depending on how much of this binding is left -" He peers at the binding but the preprints have too much text to read at a glance. "- you probably want to say 'air' or maybe 'breathable air', and not 'oxygen', because pure oxygen is a heck of a fire hazard."

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She looks at the floor. She is stupid stupid stupid, she should not be doing this, except for the thing where everyone is going to die.

"Can you make enough breathable air to support fifty people until they find the leak," she says, in a voice that is almost but not quite actually steady.

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"I will also need permission to make coffee in case that takes a while, I think that's the only other thing you're missing if you don't want, like, a new arcology."

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Her brain decides that it's just going to chant stupid stupid stupid in the background really fast, but it's repetitive enough that she can mostly ignore it. "Uh. You can make coffee. That's fine. Sorry." Aaa, can he somehow hurt someone with coffee? Probably, but she can't think right now about how to be specific enough to prevent that, and it seems really rude to deny someone coffee and oh frick she should not be talking to demons this is why you're supposed to gag them - "New arcology would be nice, but I don't have designs ready to go. I could maybe get them, but we - we have less than three hours of air left and it seemed best to take action, uh, before that."

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"Yeah, I understand, we can negotiate a revision to the task later since you're in a hurry. Okay, air until leak is found - actually let's say found and fixed or obviated, I don't want you to discover it'll take a week to repair and freak out at me? I will make you breathable air until the leak is found and fixed, or obviated, and coffee beverages as necessary to support staying awake to perform this task, in exchange for -"

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He's honestly being way more helpful than she expected. If it'd been someone else they could very easily have turned the colony into a bomb for shits and giggles, or just failed to actually solve the problem, but he's being decent on that end and so on the other end she'll just - she'll suck it up. Because it's important, and because she can do that. Because however terrible it is, she wants to be the sort of person who can handle terrible things when they are important.

It'll be fine, it'll be fine, stupid stupid stupid stupid but it'll be fine -

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"- a book recommendation. Deal?"

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"A - wait, what?"

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"If you're not a reader I can take music or theater or, like, that loose thread on your sleeve, I'm not picky, people gotta breathe."

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"Uh. I can - a book rec is fine, I just - uh, deal."

Well now her brain is like, doing something beyond internally screaming? She didn't actually know that there was anything beyond internally screaming. Maybe this is the part where she breaks down crying. She feels about five seconds away from crying, actually. She's gonna try her level best not to, though, that would look super dumb.

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There is a pleasant breeze emanating from the demon's direction. It's even a nice temperature.

"- are you okay? It's gonna be all right, you have plenty of air now, you can call Earth and get a pickup if you don't want me to make you a shuttle or something."

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"I'm OK," she says, very unconvincingly, and then she's crying silently and wiping her face and otherwise pretending that this is not happening. "I'm really fine. Really. Uh. Thank you. I'm just gonna, uh, sit on the floor for a minute. If that's OK."

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"...yeah. I mean, of course," he says. He plops down on the floor in his circle, tail swishing just barely over the edge. Leans back with his hands braced against the floor.

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"M'sorry," she says quietly, after a minute or so of trying to pull herself together. "I thought that was going to go worse."

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"Could've. I don't know how much worse, I haven't read this whole thing." He gestures at the binding with its strikethroughs. "It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you."

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She nods solemnly. "I didn't think I'd be able to - to finish negotiating fast enough. With the gag and stuff. Might not've guessed anything you wanted in time." She laughs, quietly and a little hysterically. "I would not have guessed a book rec."

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"They're fairly mainstream currency with demons, media recommendations, but I'm getting the impression you didn't recently graduate with an associate's degree in summoning."

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"I did not. I uh. I shouldn't be doing this sort of thing at all, really, but. There were lives and stuff."

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"Yes, I understand. It's a good thing you had an emergency kit, I'm glad that didn't get skipped along with whatever would've prevented the leak."

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She nods. "It's not a very good colony. I didn't know it'd be quite as precarious as it is. But my sister and her son live here, so - um, sorry, let me know if I should, like, shut up at any point - "

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"It's fine. Making air isn't very interesting and I don't think this lets me make a book or my computer or anything."

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"Oh, sorry, uh - we might have some novels somewhere, I can see if I can find one for you? I think a lot of things got turned into air, there was an angel running around helping with that earlier. I should maybe tell people that there's more air now, if they haven't already noticed - I should probably tell them before they come looking for the explanation, actually - "

She doesn't really relish the thought of explaining the bindings situation. Or of people seeing a shirtless demon in her quarters. These seem like dumb things to think about at the moment, but she's pretty sure that she's a pretty dumb person, which is probably why she's thinking about them anyway.

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