* * * * *
Bran led Kendra and me to a car, the door of which opened at his touch. He gestured for Kendra to get inside.
“That’s not your car, is it?” she asked.
“Of course not,” he replied, as if she’d just asked him the most insane question in the world.
“You can’t just take it,” she told him.
Again, he looked at her as if she were stark, raving mad.
“Why not?” he asked.
“It’s not yours,” she replied. “That’s stealing.”
He grimaced and nodded his head. “I keep forgetting that you were, until this morning, a chronic. Or, more delicately, a mundane. Their rules of property don’t apply to us. To Reckoners.”
“Why not?” she asked, clearly incredulous.
“For the same reason that your laws don’t apply to animals, at least in most cases,” he replied. “There may be specific rules about animals, but a sheep can’t own property and a dog can’t sue a person. Or be a senator. Or be charged with a crime. Now. Do you want to get to your job on time or not?”
She was clearly conflicted, and bit her lower lip as she thought about the situation.
“All right,” Bran gave in. “If it will help you in your transition, I’ll bring the car back here after I drop you off. OK?”
Kendra made a face. She wasn’t totally satisfied, but she finally nodded and got in the passenger side. I ducked under the door frame and flapped into the back seat. Bran got in the driver’s side and started the car with the touch of a finger to the ignition lock.
“How did you do that?” Kendra asked, both impressed and slightly shocked at the same time.
Turning the wheel to pull out into traffic, Bran shrugged, “It’s a very minor thing for one who walks our Way,” he explained. “Electronic locks seem much more complicated and impressive to chronics, but they’re much easier for us to negotiate.”
Kendra nodded, frowning. “Could you teach me?” she asked.
Driving comfortably through light midtown traffic, Bran turned and answered, “Sure. It’s funny, but jumping an electronic starter is so basic that the Way isn’t even aligned to our Station. If you ever came across an old manual ignition, though, it wouldn’t work. And the Way to unlock it is slightly more complicated and requires someone fixed in the Station of Release.”
Sighing, Kendra complained, “You keep forgetting that I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
* * * * *
Check out the main page for "The Side Ways," and request the password for all parts after "Chapter 1.1: Stray Girl," if you’ve got a mind to.
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