“Just listen to me,” I told Tam. “We’re not inside a building. This room is only attached to a bunch of tubes. And aside from that, we’re already sealed in. All we have to do is detach the tubes and we’re ready to go.”
“And we’re ready to sink,” Tam rebutted. “What do you think is holding us up?”
“Yes, we need a source of locomotion,” I admitted, “but how hard can that be?”
“How hard can that be?” Tam repeated incredulously. “To give locomotion to a large metal box? You do realize we’re in the bottom of the ocean, don’t you? It’s not like there’s an Engines R’ Us right next door? It’s not like there’s anywhere I can go buy a giant propeller.”
“Yes, I realize that,” I told them, as I treaded water, noting that both of us stayed above the surface despite both of us currently being able to breath underwater. “But I also realize you’re not just some joe schmoe off the street. And neither am I. We can do this. We can take this room, take the devices and electronics of the room and we can transform them into something that can help us. I know we can.”
“I’m not so sure. This is a room. Not a car. A holding cell, not an electronics shop.”
“What other options do we have?”
“You think we don’t have other options?”
“I’m open to whatever suggestion you have.”
“No, you’re not.”
“You’re right,” I said. “I’m not open to abandoning these people. I’m not open to letting this animal die.”
“See? You’re not open to any of my suggestions.”
“Are you going to be serious?”
“I am serious. We should leave these strangers and go and save our comrades.”
“Outside of Kink, you and your comrades are as much strangers to me as these people are.”
“That may be true, but we are aligned against a common foe.”
“And the Sheriff and his deputies helped me without having a common enemy, they helped me simply because I needed it. So now you want me to abandon them, just because things are getting tough? I should leave them just because their selfish needs are not necessarily the same as mine?“
“You know,” Tam replied. “Your insistence on playing the hero is going to get us killed.”
“If it keeps everyone else safe,” I said, “then so be it.”
“Do I count amongst the ‘everyone else’ who’s going to be safe?”
I smiled. “I sure hope so.”
Tam let out a long sigh. “Ok. Fine. How are we going to turn this half-filled deathtrap of a room into a magic school bus?”
“Hard work and clean living,” I replied.
“So, you have no idea?”
“Well, I haven’t gotten a chance to inspect the room yet, have I? I’ve been arguing with you this whole time!”
Tam said no more and the two of us got to work. Within no time at all, we were able to make the room seaworthy, even drained out most of the water so we could get in more oxygen, but in the end actual locomotion was going to need someone to go outside to make it happen.
“And let me guess,” Tam said. “It’s going to be me whose going to have to go out there.”
“It can be both of us,” I told them. “We’re in this together. And we can do it quicker that way.”
Tam rolled their eyes, but the two of us went outside together, quickly so as not to take on too much water. We immediately began to disconnect the tubes from the room. After we removed all the unimportant bits, we regrouped. “All right,” Tam said. “Now what?”
“Now we start working on making it go,” I told them.
“Yeah? You have a way to do that? Maybe some way to do it fast, too?” They gestured over to show that the city was far from deserted. There were patrols of squid people everywhere, presumably looking for us. And worst of all it seemed are time spent disconnecting the room hadn’t gone unnoticed. One of the patrols had spotted us and were coming our way.
“Stay here,” Tam said. “I’ll take care of them.”
“No,” I said. “You stay here. I’ll go.”
“This is no time to play hero, Frank.”
“I’m not. You can work on the room faster than I can. You have a better chance of getting Gnomenasher out of here safely than I do.”
“And that’s what we need to worry about?” Tam scoffed. “That gerbil?”
We didn’t have the time to float here and argue. So I didn’t. “Get him out of here!” I yelled before swimming off at the oncoming squidpeople.
Four squidpeople with guns immediately saw me and began to swim right at me. What could I do to stop them? I had no weapons. I had no abilities. I was alone with no one to help me. Not that I could really complain. I made this bed and I’m going to lie in it whether it gets me killed or not.
So I didn’t turn tail and run. Instead, I swam right back at them, that seemed to surprise the squid people enough to make them stop swimming. Once I saw them pause, I began to dive down as quickly as I could. When I started to tire, I glanced back up and saw they were all hot on my heels. Any advantage from surprising them I’d had was disappearing. But my goal had been to distract, to draw their attention, to keep them away from Tam, and it looked like I was doing it. Now, I just had to keep doing it. So I did the only thing I could to keep them focused squarely on me: I spun around and I surrendered.
to be continued…