True Blue Lou
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
"You see, Phoebe?" Lou asked with an encouraging tone in his voice. "Gloria won't hurt you. I won't hurt you. Will you come down now?"
"No, still not safe, still not safe," Phoebe replied, returning to her chandelier rocking.
"Do you want more people here? I can call as many as you want, Phoebe," Lou told her.
"No, no, no! Phoebe doesn't want many people; Phoebe doesn't like many people, no. People plot against Phoebe, yes, they think Phoebe doesn't see it but Phoebe does, yes!"
It took an hour of painful negotiation for Lou to work his way to an agreement to get Phoebe down off the chandelier. She insisted on one other citizen only, and then demanded Gloria retreat to the dining area to make her a double espresso.
Lou tapped at his PAD. He sighed; Phoebe's erratic timing guaranteed most citizens he knew were busy at their positions. Besides, after what he'd seen today most citizens would not rush down here to help him. There was only one he knew he could count on. One that had promised him a favor.
Gloria had finished making the double espresso and was attempting to coax Phoebe down with a cup when Yuri's heavy bulk popped into Traffic Control.
"Wow, this is great!" Yuri said from the top of the stairs.
Gloria continued to try to coax Phoebe down from the chandelier as Lou crossed the large room.
"No, no, no! It might be poison, yes, people want to poison Phoebe!"
"Hello, Yuri," Lou said from the bottom of the stairs.
"Hey, Lou! This is fantastic! Do you see how well the runner is installed here?" Yuri asked, indicating the faint liquid drip of the hidden electromagnetic runner.
"How does Phoebe know there isn't poison, hmm?" Phoebe shrieked from the ceiling.
Yuri's bulk was deposited on the floor next to Lou. "Hey, is that coffee I smell?" Yuri asked, craning his neck towards Gloria.
"Poison!" Phoebe spat down from the chandelier.
"She asked for it and now she doesn't want it," Gloria said helplessly.
"Phoebe wants it, yes, Phoebe does! Phoebe's been dying, dying, dying for a cup of espresso! No espresso there, no, none! Just dried dead beans boiled, boiled..."
"Sounds terrible!" Yuri stated, grabbing the unwanted cup of espresso from Gloria. "Mmmmm, now this! This is delicious!" He took a huge slurp and gulped down the liquid. "Aaah, that's the stuff."
Phoebe began wailing from the chandelier. "You want to taunt Phoebe, want to torment Phoebe! Everyone against Phoebe! Everyone plotting and scheming ... planning against Phoebe; making sure Phoebe doesn't get any espresso, no."
"Phoebe," Lou said tiredly, "no one is against you. There are no plots or schemes - espresso related or otherwise - going on."
"You know," Gloria interrupted, "the machine is right over there. Phoebe could just go and make her own cup and then she'd know exactly what went in it and that there was no poison involved."
Lou, Yuri, and Gloria all looked up at Phoebe who craned her neck to view the dining area. She whimpered. "Far away, far away," she said.
"Well, we could come with you! We could all come and have a cup - another cup - of espresso," Yuri told her.
Lou turned to Yuri. "We could not all come and have a cup of espresso! Do you have any idea what espresso costs?"
Yuri waved Lou away dismissively. "No one will ever notice. Look around you," he said, indicating the fallen glasses, uneaten tidbits, and abandoned instruments. "Do you think any of the citizens here are worried about whether they settled their accounts before leaving? No," he answered himself quickly, "they are not. No one will know what was ordered before they left. The espresso will just be some of the many orders that did not get paid for. Traffic Control will take the loss and we can enjoy ourselves for a bit."
"Yuri!" Lou warned in a dangerous voice. "You're not even supposed to be here. It's only a special order - my request, by the way - that got you through that entrance. If you make a mess of this -"
"Ah! You worry too much!" Yuri scoffed. "You are so trusted that Traffic Control vacated this room for you. Vacated this room, Lou. Think about it. Have you ever heard of any other First Liaison being left so completely in control of the entire RSM?"
True Blue Lou by K. Kylyra Ameringer