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Saxophony Blues

A CAPOW original story

From: Dare Cheung

     Beads of sweat dripped down Kimiko's forehead. Why'd it have to be so hot in here? she wondered.
     'Here' was a large warehouse where Chobetsu surveillance had picked up another cult gathering. True enough, about seven or eight heavily armed members had stashed a cache of weapons and money. It was Kimiko's job, as always, to get in and deal with the situation. Back up was on its way, she was assured. But if she could start the fireworks a little early, they suggested vaguely. She knew what that meant.
     The group of them were sitting in front of a small television set, watching some god-awful game show. Kimiko had no idea what they were waiting for, or if anything. They could just be meeting here every week to check on the stuff, she thought to herself.
     A drop of sweat trickled down her left temple, onto her cheek and off her chin. It was definitely too hot in here. The heat generator must have overloaded or malfunctioned. Getting impatient, from the heat, she decided to make her move.
     Stepping out from behind one of the back crates, she walked calmly toward the group of men busily staring at the set.
     Then one of the men noticed her.
     "Hey you!" he called out. The others turned to her.
     Kimiko was dressed in her red jacket and tight jeans. "Don't you boys find it hot in here?" she asked coyly and removed her jacket with a smile. The men noticed her low cut tank top underneath which was slightly soaked with sweat and clinging to her bodice. They were somewhat impressed. That was when they noticed the shoulder holster under her arm.
     She gestured to it innocently. "Oh? How did this get here?" She pulled out her gun and waved it casually, as if she didn't know what it was. "I wonder what happens if I do this," she suggested with a release of the safety.
     The men immediately dived for their weapons. Handguns, semi-automic machine guns were littered on the table behind them.
     "This is a government bust!" Kimiko declared in a change of tone, confident and strong. "You're all under arrest!"
     They responded with a hail of gun fire.
     Leaping to the side where some more crates stood, she fired a few rounds blankly. Manouvering around the crates unseen, she popped up a few meters away and caught two men offguard. She hit them dead on.
     The concentration of gunfire switched over to her new location. Kimiko ducked and decided to move again. The layout of the crates didn't provide her with nearly enough coverage to get closer.
     But the forklift in the corner did.
     Timing herself between rounds, she raced to the forklift. Bullets glanced off the ground where her foot had been split seconds earlier. Hopping into the lift, she immediately raised the forks so the crate they were lifting provided some protection. She drove the lift right at the six men who were using the table as a shield and smashed right through it.
     Three men immediately flew back from the impact and landed in a pile against the back wall. The other three scrambled out of the way. Kimiko launched herself from the lift, letting is collide with the television set. She landed on one of the men. As she got off him, she whacked him hard on the back of the head, knocking him out cold.
     The remaining two had lost their weapons in the scramble and were desperately looking for some firepower.
     "Freeze!" ordered Kimiko. One of the men pulled out a knife and prepared to throw it at her face. She squeezed the trigger.
     Out of bullets already?! she cursed and tossed the gun aside. She spun herself on her left foot, face narrowly missing the flying knife. The two men rushed her.
     An overhand swipe by the first was met by a duck and a low jab to the stomach. While he was doubled over, Kimiko did a sweeping kick on the second. The first man had recovered by then and tried punching at her. She blocked with her forearms and when there was an opening, delivered a few solid punches to his face. Luckily she was wearing her new leather gloves, fingerless and they provided better padding for her fists.
     The man lurched back and Kimiko had the chance to send him flying with a roundhouse kick to the head. The second man grabbed at her legs and hauled her down. She kicked at his face with her boot heel and drove him off her. Arching her back, she flipped herself back onto her feet and kicked the second man as he was trying to get up. She grabbed him by the scruff of his jacket and threw him into a wall of crates. They landed soundly on top of him.
     Kimiko's face was drenched with sweat. Her entire upper body was soaked as well and it looked pretty bad, wearing only a tank top. She stepped over the unconscious men, retrieved her gun and put her jacket back on. She looked at her watch. "Damn, still ten minutes remaining," she muttered aloud. Ten minutes before back up would arrive. Back up, she scoffed. Who need them anyway?
     The crackle of electricty from the destroyed television set and the shattered table drew her attention. Then she noticed something shiny lying on the floor. It looked oddly familiar. Upon closer examination, could it be? Kimiko picked up the badly damaged object.
     "What the hell is this doing here?"
     "Can you fix it?" Kimiko handed the saxaphone to Katt.
     The short, elf-mechanic looked at it briefly, eyes bewildered. "Uh, is it mechanical?"
     Kimiko shook her head. "It's a musical instrument."
     "I can't fix that! I'm not skilled in repairing those sort of things. Sorry." Katt handed the saxaphone back.
     "Aww.." whined Kimiko. "I was hoping you could."
     "Why is it so important to you?" Katt asked curiously.
     "Well, I picked it up during a bust," explained Kimiko. "Actually it's my fault because I rammed it with a forklift." Seeing Katt's eyes widen slightly, she added, "Don't ask."
     "Anyway," continued Kimiko, "I really wanted to get it back in working order. You see, I used to play a sax when I was a student. My friends in college formed an all-female band and I was the saxaphone leader. Sure brings back memories." Her face turned wistful.
     "Besides," Kimiko added dryly with a perky smile. "I thought you could fix anything."
     That was a challenge if Katt ever heard one. She thought for a moment. Then, she snatched the dented brass instrument from Kimiko's hands and walked off.
     "Hey!" shouted Kimiko.
     "I've got something that might work!" answered Katt as she went to a corner of the warehouse.
     Kimiko followed her to a strangely complex machine. It was roughly three meters tall, four meters wide by two meters. The front panel had a computer screen with a keyboard and various buttons. On one end was what looked to be an optical scanner; at the other end was a gaping hole where it looked like things came out on a conveyor belt.
     "What the hell is this thing?" exclaimed Kimiko.
     Katt was about ready to explain the inner workings of the complex device, but gave a brief look at Kimiko and delivered the short description. "It's a reclamator. A mecha parts reclamator. Some of the parts I get from old mechas are strangely complex and foreign even for me. So I built this machine that can scan the component and repair it. With a few adjustments I can get some of the inner damage fixed on those parts. I'm thinking.." She paused. "I'm thinking we could try it on your saxaphone. I'll ask the computer to straighten out all the dents it encounters. I'm sure it'll have a saxaphone on file to match it up against."
     She placed the saxaphone on the receiving pad. Entering various input into the computer, she called up a file on saxaphones. The computer couldn't actually repair anything without a real model to take in and scan. The file just provided a visual image of how a proper saxaphone looked like. The computer could then extrapolate, with internal scans, and repair any damages. It was surprisingly accurate for such a complex and seemingly impossible task. The technology was, what the humans would consider Katt thought, alien.
     The lights on the computer began to blink, indicating the process was about to begin. Optical laser scanners emerged from the device's housing and began scanning the broken instrument. When that process was completed, a conveyor rolled the object into the machine's inner chambers where it began the dirty work.
     Katt tapped the keyboard impatiently. "So where's Ahlen?" she asked trying to make some smalltalk. Realizing exactly the question she asked, she swallowed hard and hoped Kimiko wouldn't think she was intentionally asking about her brother.
     Fortunately Kimiko was too amazed by the process happening to pick up on that. "Oh he's busy today," she answered offhandedly.
     Katt wondered what Ahlen was so busy with that he wouldn't be out with his sister. She decided not to pursue the issue anymore.
     "One thing about the machine," lectured Katt, "is that it has to work on the original obviously. So if it doesn't work, well the object in question gets pretty badly damaged. It's a one shot deal. But I get the best components put back into the machines I work on outta this baby." She patted the duplicator proudly.
     The machine began a long series of beeps. "Is that a--?" asked Kimiko.
     Katt smiled. "Yeah I installed a microwave timer in there." She giggled. "Kind of funny isn't it?" A dinging noise was heard and the conveyor belt at the other end began rolling. "Looks like dinner's ready!"
     The outer conveyor resembled the luggage belt at any airport. Kimiko waited as her "luggage" came slowly through the wall of ribbons. To her absolutely surprise and amazement, a brand new saxaphone was sitting before her.
     "Oh my god!" she exclaimed. She looked to Katt who gestured her to pick up the instrument. She placed her fingers on the keys and pressed them one by one carefully. Seeing that they were moving well, she pressed them more quickly and began doing runs with her fingers. Her face was beaming.
     She put the saxaphone down and reached into her coat. She produced a wooden reed and a black mouthpiece. Katt watched in wonder for she had never really seen a saxaphone before.
     Wetting the reed in her mouth, Kimiko placed it onto her mouthpiece and tightened the ligature which kept the reed firmly against the mouthpiece. Then she placed it snugly onto the top of the 'neck' of the instrument. "I had it since college," she explained about the mouthpiece.
     Taking a deep breath, she blew into the saxphone. A crisp G note came out.
     "This is great!" squealed Kimiko in glee. She took the reed in her mouth once more and began to ascend a scale. G, A, B, C, D, E, F-sharp, G, noted Katt. She recognized the notes from her own guitar playing.
     Kimiko played the scale again a few more times, faster than the previous times. Then she went up an extra octave. The mouthpiece squeaked horribly on the high-note. Katt's sensitive elf-ears didn't enjoy that too much, and she winced in slight pain. "Sorry about that," apologized Kimiko. "Out of practice."
     "I've got an idea," started Katt. She raised a finger to indicate to wait a moment. She ran off to her office and when she emerged, she was carrying her guitar. Kimiko raised an eyebrow.
     "Oh no I don't know if I'm ready for--" she started.
     "Nothing to it!" interrupted the elf. She strummed the guitar, playing a few chords. "I'll lead and you play whatever you feel like. Okay?"
     Kimiko nodded slowly, afraid she would embarass herself.
     Katt strummed a few chord sequences, getting a simple melody out. She alternated the harmony slightly to produce a fairly steady, repetitive but nice sounding sequence. Kimiko followed with an underlying harmony to that, playing the odd notes that were in synch and the rest was slightly her own rendition of the melody.
     Katt was impressed by how good an ear Kimiko displayed. She changed the chords in mid-sequence, switching to a faster tempo. Kimiko followed perfectly, again blowing out her own version of the melody Katt was playing.
     The impromptu jam session lead into the night.

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