Sep 24, 2019 4:45 AM
Foresight and Cherish in the Honor Harrington universe
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The police chief leaves for a time, and when she returns - after Margaret has finished eating - she commands Margaret to follow her.

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She follows. They aren't treating her like they've realized the full implications of her powers for self-defense, which is good, because she wants to keep those possibilities theoretical as long as possible.

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The possibilities do, indeed, remain theoretical for quite a while - though their leader despite apparent curiosity does avoid directly meeting with her. There's intense curiosity about the limits of her powers, when they activate, how dangerous is 'danger', if they have a person involved administering a test that the administrator is convinced is dangerous but isn't actually will it trigger for instance...

And they put her to work. Mostly, they find, she's really good at keeping ships doing high-risk maneuvers from blowing up. Which means they can push the envelope on experimental hyperspace travel, and move 'workers' around faster - they're having trouble with raiders, is the rumor, though the supervisors are fairly good at keeping 'workers' from talking to each other.

But Margaret, if she's patient and watchful and diligent, will get a sliver of an opportunity, during one of the larger and more complicated movements of 'workers' (they're barely even pretending to not be slavers with this particular spaceship) to seize control. She's on the bridge near-constantly after all, and the captain's worked with her enough that he's forgotten he can't trust her...

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Margaret plays along, outwardly, but all her attention is focused getting ready to run. She sees how they treat the people they find less interesting or less useful, and resolves to make some trouble on the way out if she gets half a chance. Maybe she can give someone else an opening too.

She lets the experimenters see how good she is at detecting physical danger, but conceals most of her ability to detect hostile intent. No matter what the experimenters believe while running the tests, she's always detecting the presence or absence of a real threat.

Guiding ships through hyperspace would be an amazing job if not for who she was working for. Between the danger sense and the advance perception, she always knows just which way to jink to reduce the stresses of the higher hyper bands. She gets prophecies too, more days than not; some of them are advice for ship captains (recommending slower and safer routes, and perhaps ignored); others are for her ears only. She manages to filch a couple things that might be useful: an extra ration bar here, a roll of duct tape there. It's easy to hide things in pockets that can seal themselves shut. She looks like a harmless, cooperative little navigator. And she waits.

Until the day when the bridge is just her and the captain and the first officer, and they make the mistake of standing too close too each other where she can come up behind them. Suddenly her hands hold the ends of rubber straps, wrapping around their eyes and noses and filling their mouths so they can neither give alarm nor draw a breath. 

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They go down quite easily, being entirely unenhanced humans with no real training in hand-to-hand.

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Margaret has no training either, just a lot of pent-up anger and the power of accessories. 

She also doesn't have training in flying the ship by herself. Once she's made sure her opponents are unconscious and tied them up with the duct tape, she heads to the internal control board. If she can seal off the engine room from the rest of the ship, then a majority of the local ability to do things will belong to people with a reason to support this hijacking. (In the back of her mind, she remembers The Martian and wonders if this technically makes her a space pirate.)

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Sealing the engine room off works, though it'll take her a few minutes and perhaps a check of the manual.

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The ship isn't in danger and the officers went down without giving the alarm; she can spare the time to check the manual and be sure she's doing this right. 

Once the engine room is sealed, though, it's only a matter of time (and not much time) before someone there notices it. She needs to secure control of the rest of the ship by then.

Margaret flips on the main intercom, the one used to warn all aboard to brace for takeoff of hyper transition. "Prisoners!" she declares. "This ship has been hijacked by one of your own! Rise up, take down your guards, and we can all be free within the hour! They can't stop all of us! Guards, surrender if you value your lives above your masters' profit!" Then she leaps to stand to one side of the door, shield on one arm and the other ready to take out anyone bursting in.

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There's a pause - and Margaret won't be able to hear any mundane sounds of a struggle through all the metal - 

And then three people burst in, all wielding assorted guns.

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Margaret feels their hostility while they're still outside, sees them enter a few seconds ahead. If they think they have the element of surprise, that mistake might just save her despite her own lack of a gun. Cables materialize in her hand, trying to entangle her opponents and especially their weapons.

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They're not expecting that; one gets entangled, one loses their gun, and one gets off a shot that goes wide in the chaos. 

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The dropped gun gets kicked into a corner while she keeps getting in the way of their eyes and hands. It's three against one, but she knows every move they're about to make. Changing what's in her hands requires a moment in starscape, so she leaves the entangled guy as is and focuses on the one who managed to fire.

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He's not used to this kind of combat, especially not against a precog, so she'll be able to anticipate his shots -

The one she disarmed pulls a smaller gun off his waist. They're not bullets, at least, more like really fancy tasers, but getting hit by one will hurt.

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Electricity doesn't damage her as much as it would a baseline, thanks to her highly conductive outer layer, but if anything that actually makes it more painful. The injuries aren't visible enough to heal quickly, either. She shrieks, repairs the burns on her clothes and makes a knife to slash at the hand holding the new weapon, fights on unbalanced by the burns between her scales and her flesh.

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They press the attack more, sensing her weakness - 

And one goes down with a crack as a tall, burly woman bursts through the door and brings a wrench down on his head.

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Oh thank goodness the inspiring speech worked

Margaret is both less surprised and more encouraged by wrench woman than her opponents are; she finds the strength and speed to rip the taser away from its wielder and send it spinning across the floor.

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Wrench woman isn't her only backup. A slighter boy - who looks grown into his features, though is still quite a bit more short and slender than most teenagers - slips in behind her, apparently having appropriated some jumper cables or similar as a weapon.

Between the three of them and surprise, the guards are going to go down quickly.

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Then when they are no longer all actively engaged in combat, Margaret will heal herself more thoroughly and say, "H-hello. Thank you both; you have excellent timing."

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"Thank you," says the woman. Her voice is deep and accented. "We thought you might need more help than others, and we were close, though the guards were not easy to get past. But they do not think much about how strong high-grav mods make you."

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Oh crap there's the adrenaline crash. Now Margaret is sagging against the doorframe. Come on, she tells herself, not time to fall over yet. "Who else needs help? Also I can't fly the ship."

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"Probably someone can. And there's problems all over. Can you heal others?" the woman asks.

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"Just myself, sorry. Should we stash these guards somewhere and go looking for trouble, then?"

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The woman grins, a bit terrifyingly. "Let's."

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Apparently when you decide violence is the answer you have to keep doing violence until there's no more question. That thought didn't make a ton of sense. Whatever. She will follow the scary competent person into More Trouble.

"I can tell when hostile people are nearby," she says, as they presumably head out the door.

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"That'll be helpful. Someone's taken the security center, so they don't have cameras anymore," the woman says. "What else can you do?"

They pass a very still guard sprawled at the side of the hallway with their helmet pointing the wrong way.

Total: 110
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