Notes: Moving on! I wanted a Cody chapter here, so there isn’t as much development of heavy plot as there could be, but it’s still fun. Things are percolating…
Part Seven: New Friends, Old Acquaintances
Breakfast was a big meal here on Paradise. Back home, Cody might eat with his dad or with Garrett, but not usually with both, ‘cause they had to get to work at different times. Here though, everyone showed up. Maybe they only did because it was a “special occasion,” like Claudia said, but everyone was there, even Miles and Robbie. They probably made sure to come because the food was so amazing. Cody got to have pancakes with chocolate, caramel and whip cream in them, all coated with bright purple syrup. Dad’s pancakes were plain and Garrett just had coffee, which was weird because he usually ate some cereal or something, but he looked really tired, and kept staring down into his mug. Cody patted him on the knee.
“I think you need a nap.”
Garrett raised one eyebrow. Watching it drove Cody crazy, he had been trying to learn how to do that for months, but he still hadn’t figured it out. “Really?”
“Yes. You look sleepy.”
“You sound sleepy too.”
“Out of the mouths of babes,” Wyl intoned as he made another espresso. Cody frowned.
“I’m not a baby,” he told Wyl. “I’m seven.”
“It’s meant to be taken as kind of a metaphor…” Wyl began, then sighed. “Never mind. Why are you so tired anyway, Gare?”
“I had an early morning meeting.”
Dad looked over at him. “So that’s where you got off to last night. Who were you meeting?”
“He was with me.” Robbie didn’t speak loudly, but everyone always stopped what they were doing and looked at him when he spoke out. “I wanted to pass on some information I thought the two of you might find interesting. The timing of the rendezvous, by the way, was completely Garrett’s idea. I was all for sleeping through the night.”
“Oh, traitor.” Garrett threw his unused napkin, which he’d folded in the shape of a space ship, at Robbie’s chest. “See if I ever lie for you again, Benedict Arnold.”
Cody was completely confused by now. “Who’s Benedict Arnold?”
The table was quiet for a moment. “He was a general on Old Earth,” Miles said at last. “He tried to betray the army he was working for to the enemy. His plot was foiled, but after that people started using his name to refer to traitors.”
“Note the personal contiguity that I’ve tailored to you with the military nature of the reference,” Garrett added, his fingertips tapping out a rhythm on the tabletop. He didn’t seem to notice he was doing it. “I could have gone with Judas, or Brutus, but one was too religious and the other too political.”
“I’d prefer to be compared to Guy Fawkes, if I had to choose,” Robbie said.
“Well too bad, because traitors can’t be choosers.”
“Mind telling me what the information is?” Dad finally interjected.
Robbie stared at Garrett. Garrett stared back, his fingers tapping faster and faster against the table. Dad finally reached over and took his hand, stopping the rapid beat. “Darlin’?”
“Yes. Right. There’s a Drifter ship in orbit right above Rapture.” Garrett said it fast, like he was spitting out words that didn’t taste good. “They’ve been here for a while.”
“What’s the name?”
“Is it Grandma’s?”
Cody and his dad spoke at the same time. Cody thought it would be fun if it was his Grandma’s ship, he hadn’t seen her for…oh…he couldn’t even really remember the last time he’d seen her. Everything that had happened in his life up to Pandora was kind of blended into one big Before. The things he did remember were short, tight hallways that went up and up and over and under like ropes tied in a big knot, with rooms in strange places and bluish lights that flickered on and off. There had been lots of other kids to play with, but lots of sharp edges, too.
This one time when he’d been playing hide and seek, Cody had wedged himself into a crawlspace that went all the way back to the bulkhead. It had been really cold back there, and he’d cut his shoulder scootching all the way in and hadn’t even realized it, because the metal was so frosty it made him numb. None of the other kids found him, and Cody didn’t realize that they’d given up and the game was over until he heard his daddy shouting for him. By then he was too cold and stiff to crawl back out. They’d had to move parts of the ship to reach him, and Daddy hadn’t been happy when he’d found Cody injured.
“It’s called the Gondola,” Robbie said. “The family name is Dechiara.”
“Kilroy,” his dad said thoughtfully. “I know him. He usually does business out of the Triad cluster, though. Strange for him to be here.”
“Strange how?” Robbie asked immediately.
“Strange in a way that’s none of our business, because we don’t care,” Garrett interjected. He and Robbie stared at each other again. Cody felt his shoulders tense up and didn’t know why.
“O-kay!” Wyl’s voice was a little too loud, but at least he got everyone’s attention. “I think I’ve had enough to eat. Cody, are you full?”
“Well…” Really, he could eat another pancake probably, but…Wyl probably wanted to do something fun. “Yeah. Why?”
“I thought now might be a good time to go for that hoverbike ride. It’s not too awfully hot out there yet.”
“Yes!” Cody slammed down his fork and kicked the chair back, ready to go.
“Ah, but—” Garrett held up a hand that stopped him. “You’re supposed to start your lessons today. If we get back to Pandora and you’re behind the class, your teacher will hang me up by my toes.”
“Miss Lowenstein just says that,” Cody reassured Garrett. “But she never actually does it. I mean, I’ve never seen her do it.”
“If anyone could drive her to it, it would be me,” Garrett said, but he was smiling now. “Okay. Or, it’s okay with me as long as you’re back by lunchtime, but you should ask your dad.”
“Fine with me, bucko.” His dad ruffled his hair fondly. Cody rolled his eyes and tried to smooth his curls back down. “Have fun with Wyl. Be good.”
“I’m always good!” Cody paused just long enough to kiss his dad’s cheek, then Garrett’s, before hopping onto the floor and heading out of the kitchen at Wyl’s heels. “Where’s the bike?”
“It’s in the lot, in my personal parking space,” Wyl said, buzzing them through the connecting door between the mansion and the military base. “It’s my favorite way to get around here. Robbie likes tanks, but I think they lack subtlety.”
“I’d like to ride in a tank!”
“I’d like to ride in a tank!”
“I bet you would,” Wyl chuckled.
“I would be very careful if you let me drive it, too,” Cody continued, trying his Wide, Innocent Eyes Look on Wyl. It got him what he wanted all the time with his dad and Garrett, but Wyl just smirked.
“Nice try, Cody, but no. Now.” They stopped in an equipment room, where a bored-looking sat reading a magazine at a desk. Behind him was a cage of some kind, with a glowing, filmy outline. “Sergeant Powell.”
“I’d like to requisition a helmet for my friend here. I had one ordered special a few months back.”
“I think we have something like that.” The sergeant stood up and swiped his palm over a reader, then hummed low in his throat. The glow vanished and he opened the door. “Just a second.” He went inside and Cody bounced anxiously on the balls of his feet. When the man came back out with a shiny, nearly-transparent helmet that had the black Space Ranger emblazoned on top of it, Cody’s mouth fell open.
“Your dad said you’d like this one,” Wyl grinned. “Try it on.”
Cody shoved the helmet down over his head and pressed the loose strap to the other side. The strap bonded to the helmet with an audible snap. “You have to use a special tool to release it,” Wyl explained. “It’s the safest version on the market right now.”
“Cool, can we go now?” Cody didn’t want to hear about how safe it was, he just wanted to go fast.
“I think your friend’s got an agenda,” the sergeant noted.
“I guess so. C’mon, let’s head out.”
Cody didn’t pay attention to anything other than the weight of his sweet new helmet and how awesome it must look until they were in the lot, and Wyl’s bike was right there in front of them. It was so much better than Cody had imagined. “You didn’t say it had lightning bolts!”
“How could it be perfect without lightning bolts?” Wyl replied. He took his own helmet off the handlebars and put it on, then started up the bike, which rose to hover a few feet from the ground. He lifted Cody onto the back of the bike, then swung his own leg over. He revved the engine, which growled dramatically. Cody shivered with excitement and wrapped his arms tight around Wyl’s waist.
“You ready?” Wyl shouted over the noise.
They roared out of the lot and into the sun, and if Cody’s initial yell of joy was a little tempered by a momentary fear, well, Wyl would never tell anyone.