(11/30 of the drabble challenge. This one is probably really confusing because it features my half-baked worldbuilding in action. Read at your own risk.)
“No.” Rory set his mug down with a firm clunk on the table.
“We could do it,” Iris said.
“Fuck no,” Rory repeated, unmoved. “Contrary to popular opinion, I do not actually have a death wish.”
“How else are we going to get across the strait?” Iris demanded, throwing up her hands. “By boat? Unless you’re planning on hijacking a lobster trawler, how do you plan on getting him,” she jerked a thumb at the Tin Man, “past port authority? He’s not exactly easy to hide.” The automaton was currently rattling around the tiny kitchen, apparently not listening to their conversation as he prepared dinner and hummed cheerfully.
Rory stared thoughtfully into his mug. “I like lobster,” he said.
Iris slapped the nearest bit of him she could reach, which was his elbow. “Seriously. The security on the railroad is a lot more lax.”
“I am not riding Delirium East,” Rory said firmly. “Riding the rails is dangerous enough without doing it thousands of feet in the air.”
“It’s perfectly safe,” Iris said.
“Yeah, maybe if you’re a paying customer and you have a seat with a harness that’s been triple-checked by the conductor,” Rory replied. “I don’t fancy rattling around in a train car until we reach land again.”
“I don’t intend to send us into a death trap,” Iris said. She rubbed the pendant around her neck, which flared bright blue. “We have got a little bit of clout on our side, you know.”
Rory stared skeptically at the pendant as it cooled to its usual dark hue. “Six hours to cross the strait. You think you can protect us for six hours?”
Iris pondered the wood grain in the table. “Yes. I can.” She did not tell him how she planned to do it. She had an inkling, and she wasn’t sure whether it would work, but she knew that Rory would be even less thrilled if he knew she was considering avenues outside of vessel magic.
“The pancakes are done!” The Tin Man whirled around, two plates in his hands.
“Don’t you know how to make anything else?” Rory asked owlishly, but he started eating without waiting for a response.
“Haven’t managed to retrieve any other recipes from my database,” the Tin Man said, shrugging.
“We’re going to have to prepare,” Iris said, slicing up her own pancakes. “We’ll need to figure out the train schedule so we can hop one that’s going across the strait before it gets to the city. I don’t really feel like jumping one as it’s taking off into the stratosphere.”
“Make sure to avoid the stop at Latavath Peak,” the Tin Man said. “There’s a government outpost there and they watch the trains for high-profile criminals. They have snipers stationed out in the woods.” He sounded completely casual, as if this were common knowledge.
Rory and Iris stared at him. “How the hell do you know that?” Rory asked through a mouthful of pancake.
The Tin Man paused, looking a bit puzzled. The red light flashed across his chest monitor, and Iris knew he was scanning for the information’s source. “Don’t know,” he said finally.
Rory was unnerved. “I don’t know how you do that, but it’s creepy as hell,” he said.
The Tin Man shrunk down in his tiny wooden chair, still managing to take up twice the space of an average person. “Sorry,” he said, and if he weren’t made of cogs and wheels, Iris would have said he looked embarrassed. She stared at him, and not for the first time, felt that something was terribly off.
She turned back to her plate, and forked up several pieces of pancake. “So we’ll jump at Dead Drift instead of Latavath,” she said, deciding the matter wasn’t worth pursuing now. “It’s safer there, anyway. The tracks are better maintained because it’s closer to the city.”
“Huh.” Rory raised his eyebrows. “Safety. What a novel concept.”