Nov 27, 2020 12:47 AM
tiny maitimo and tiny ves try to solve some problems that are objectively above their pay grade
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On one particular Wednesday Karen Tiu has a coworker out (sick? dead?) and is responsible for scheduling ten meetings and printing and delivering a stack of legal briefs and rebooking an afternoon of meetings in two conference rooms because they've been claimed by the science team (ideally located for summonings, apparently) and then clearing out the closets of those conference rooms because the science team complains they are unusable - full of junk that's interfering with the calibration on their summonings.

 

It is quite apparent that the summonings have been badly calibrated, because now this conference room has half of a demon (the left half) and the horns of a demon from an entirely different species and a swiss-cheese corpse that might have been human.

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Well that seems really pretty bad. She'll just, uh, call someone else to clean up the bodies and then make sure the closets get cleaned out herself?

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There is singing coming from one of the closets. It's in a foreign language. It's very pretty.

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Oh dear.

She - should probably call someone else to deal with this, actually, it could be dangerous, but she doesn't really want anyone to think that she can't be trusted to meet basic productivity goals on her own, so -

She hesitates outside the closet and then knocks. "Anyone in there?"

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The singing stops. 

 

The door opens.

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The child pushing it open is very small. He looks at the room behind her, then scowls and shuts his eyes.

 

Hello, something says in her head. I'm Maitimo. I don't think I know you. Can we go somewhere else perhaps? I am not sure I am supposed to be here.

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Oh man.

He has to have come through with the others, which means the science team wants him for something. Probably something not awesome, given the level of caution being exercised here. She is so totally the bad guys here. Of course, the kid could be evil too, not everything that looks like a small child actually is one. And even if she wanted to do something about it, the building has state-of-the-art security systems and is crawling with mindreaders and empaths; there's no way she'd be able to keep him hidden for very long.

 

He can't be much older than Zana. Assuming he really is a kid. 

 

She kneels. "Hey. Do you, um, understand English?"

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He blinks.

"Hey, do you um, understand English?" he repeats carefully. 

Is that your name?

"Mai - ti - mo." 

That is my name.

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- OK, she can do this, thoughtspeak, it's just like Animorphs.

My name's Karen. "Karen."  Hi Maitimo. This is - really not a good place for kids.

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I'm sure it'll look nice when it's finished.

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That's - not really the issue. 

OK. Think. She can't get out of the building until the end of the day anyway without attracting suspicion. She can't leave him here in this closet for the rest of it, the scientists could open it at some point and discover him, even if he isn't being loud. She can't convincingly pass him off as a relative. She can maybe pass him off as - she doesn't know, someone else's kid, a friend's kid she had to bring to work because they were hospitalized, the child of some client who wandered off, whatever. The scientists are going to come back at some point, though, so if she wants to stand a chance of making it down the hallway and down the elevator and back to her office, she needs to start moving now. 

As long as she doesn't get confronted by an actual mindreader she can always at least in theory play dumb and pretend she didn't realize he was from the summoning? She can probably do that.

Listen, we need to get out of here. We need to walk down a hallway and go down an elevator and then stay in a different room for a few hours. It is very, very, very important that you hold my hand and look calm and do not sing or do the - thoughtspeak thing, to anyone else, as long as we are in this building. Can you do that?

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I don't know what an elevator is but I can do the other things.

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OK. Good. Just - hold my hand.

Tryyy not to think about how absolutely entirely completely beyond dead she will be if she is caught making off with probably-company-property.

She takes his hand and walks very calmly down the hall and presses the button for the elevator.

(Someone else stops to wait for the elevator and waves at Maitimo. She ignores them.)

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Karen is the saddest person he has ever met and it is very concerning. He tries to squeeze her hand reassuringly. The other person is not sad and he kind of wants to get a hug from them but that will make Karen really sad and he is not even sure what happens if you get more sad than this. Karen seems to think it involves her head exploding. This seems pretty unlikely but he is not an expert.

 

Thankfully aside from the room that is clearly in the middle of a project this place actually looks all right. It's not exactly pretty but they're clearly trying for something to do with precision and uniformity and he has thought of some nice things to say of it by the time the door goes "ding!" and opens.

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She squeezes the tiny probably-demon-child's hand back and walks them into the elevator. The other guy follows, and the doors shut behind them.

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He wants to say something but he's not very good at directed osanwe yet so probably if it's very very important he not say it to anyone but her he shouldn't say it at all. He hides all his thoughts in his house instead of sending them out to play.

 

Elevators are just rooms that make your tummy feel funny, apparently.

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The doors open a few seconds later. She leads him out through another hallway and past more people and through another door and up to the reception desk for a couple of offices, trying very hard to look like she's supposed to be here and nothing remotely weird is happening.

She sits down at her desk and emails some people for favors that she'll probably regret having to pay back.

You can sit, if you want. You still can't talk, but - I can get you some paper to draw on or something?

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How to look excited about this without letting any of his thoughts out of the little house in his head? That is an interesting question actually. Maybe he should think more about how to communicate excitedness without his thoughts.

 

He attempts that.

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She'll just... get him some pens and paper. What do you even do for tiny trafficked demon children. Probably you immediately get them away from their summoners and figure out how to send them home, but she can't do either of these things, and if they leave the building now they will so definitely both be caught and killed-or-worse-than-killed. 

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He squeezes her hand again and then draws an astoundingly detailed picture. It's of a fountain and surrounding plaza. 

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Well.

She can... say his parents are really into art and they've been basing his education around bringing out his inner capacity for artistic genius. This is honestly exactly the kind of rich person nonsense that ends up being true of half of the humans who walk through these doors. Hopefully it doesn't come up because this is the sort of cover story that would really conflict with not telling any lies other than pretending to be dumber than she is. (People are not going to have much trouble believing that she's really super dumb.)

Hopefully he doesn't have to pee any time soon. Hopefully he is capable of communicating 'I need to pee' without alerting everyone in a mile radius.

She gets him a packaged cinnamon roll and some chips from the vending machine and makes sure he has lots of paper.

If you need anything else, need to go to the bathroom or anything, just - tug on my sleeve or something and I can try to guess. We're gonna have to stay here for a few more hours, but I have lots of paper.

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She is so sad. He is annoyed that no one told him there were people who were this sad, what was the plan, for them to just stay this sad until he was big enough people thought he ought to know?

 

He draws more pictures.

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She does her work like a good little soldier. One of the lawyers comments on the kid and she makes an offhand comment about watching him before getting back to taking a call. Someone else makes a comment on his clothes and she tells them that he's about to be in a play. Nobody calls her on her unforgivable blatant rebellion.

If they make it to six thirty without anything interesting happening (poor kid! that's so many hours to sit still without talking!), she'll be able to take his hand again and do her best to get them out of this God-forsaken building.

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It is a very long time. He sits still for longer in his grandpa's court sometimes but when he does, everyone talks about how impressed with him they are, and it turns out that it is easier to sit still when people are impressed about it.

He tries reading everyone's minds but all of them are sad and it is very upsetting.

He is pretty excited when they can leave.

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That was so much sitting still! You're being so brave. Just a little further and then you can talk again.

Unless they both die. She hopes she's not thinking 'unless they both die' at him, she's not very clear on how this whole thoughtspeak thing works.

She tells security that Maitimo didn't get scanned in in the morning because Bob was on duty, you know Bob, he's like in his seventies and has cute little grandkids and forgets things sometimes? She'd have reminded him, but she forgets things, too.

They let her pass. She leads Maitimo outside and rounds a corner and decides she is probably maybe not going to die today.

OK! Good. That's good. You can talk now. Sorry about all that sitting.

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I think maybe other people can still hear me. I'm not good at sending my thoughts out to play just with one person where no one else can see them.

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