I am very happy to have had the opportunity to add the final 200 to this piece. Thanks to:
Part 1 – Fatma Alici
Part 2 – Athena
Part 3 – Ely
Part 4 – Paul Baughman
I’m proposing the title: Forgotten Fued
Another shot glass slammed down as Toops flashed her big, black eyes at me. “Are you going to black out.” Her tone as dry as the desert planet we had left.
“I never black out. “ I grinned motioning for another shot. “I’m only resting my eyes.”
Toops rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Yeah, I believe you, Lancer. I really do.” Her scarred fingers pushed her still full glass back and forth across the metal bar top. “Didn’t you say we have a man coming in to offer us a job?
“You handle all the contracts. I’m your simple minded muscle.” I winked at her. “Me big man. Me hit things hard.” The burning fire scalded my throat as I took another shot.
Her hand snapped out faster than my eye could follow. Those strong fingers crushed mine into my palm. “Do not call for another shot. I swear I will break your fingers right now.”
A hearty chuckle rumbled up my throat. “Alright, alright boss lady.”
My fingers were released. “We are partners.”
“You say that now, but once the client gets here you’ll change your tune.” She couldn’t deny it. It was true.
The mark joined us not too long after that. I know they’re supposed to be clients, but I can’t help thinking of them as marks. Lancer likes to think of us as noble ruffians, taking on jobs to help the weak and disenfranchised. Truth is, we take on the jobs that pay the most. Sometimes that means we take the client for a bit of a ride.
Lancer was right about one thing: when the client arrives, I play boss. Pretty much have to; no one would buy me as the hired muscle – at least no one with all their bits in tact. Marks are always weary of a girl without a purpose. They’ll buy me as the brains, but not the brawn.
Lancer brought this one in. I let him do that once in a while because it makes him feel like we’re equal partners. More importantly, it makes the marks think that I’m hot stuff. They’re so lucky to get me, I send one of my peons first to see if they’re worthwhile instead of going myself. Doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a much bigger payday.
The man they called Helix walked into the bar, the sunlight rushing past his entourage, harshly drowning out the dank ambiance so welcoming to the regular patrons. I had met him through an old corps buddy whom I usually only call upon in the most dire of business droughts.
As predicted Toops straightened out immediately, her strength radiating from her core, demanding an elevated level of respect. She had a knack for nonverbal communication, in more ways than one.
“Not exactly discreet is he,” She said in a disapproving whisper.
“It’s a paying job. Rodge made it sound like it would be of particular interest to us.” I finished under my breath as the group neared, my lips spreading into an awkward greeting. I am just the muscle…or I’ve had one too many…or both.
“Ms. Toops I presume,” Helix smiled, suave and somewhat greasily as he took her hand. He was dressed in a slick suit, all grey, matching tie, extravagantly out of place in this corner of the ‘verse. His three companions were obviously hired security.
“All presumptions aside, where they belong, I’ve heard you have work suitable for our expertise.”
Helix’s slimy smile grew, looking to me with positive regards to my choice of partners.
As soon as I saw Helix’s smile I mentally doubled the price we’d ask. I’ve seen smiles like that before. They never bode well. I also made a mental note to have a chat with Lancer. This buddy of his needs a talking to.
“Let’s move to a table where we can talk in private,” I said. I didn’t wait for an answer, I just turned away and headed for a corner table I had reserved earlier.
When I slid into one of the back chairs, I could tell Helix didn’t appreciate me turning my back on him. Lancer eased himself into the other back chair leaving the mark to have his back to the door.
“Well,” the slimeball said heartily, “what are we drinking?”
“We’re here for business,” I said, “what’s the job?”
“Nothing wrong with a little social interaction, is there?”
The way he said it, I knew exactly what kind of interaction he thought he was getting here. I tripled the price.
I tapped my ring on the table until it drew his eyes. It was just to derail his thoughts. Not many knew what it represented, so I was surprised when his eyes widened.
Suddenly, Helix drew a blade from his coat. He brought the blade back and swung it down hard toward the spot that Toops had been tapping.
As quickly as he’d drawn the blade, Toops had sprung to her feet and snatched his wrist as it made a wide arc. Before the blade reached the table, Toops had changed its course by twisting his wrist inward. The blade plunged into his upper abdomen. His eyes widened again, for the last time.
She pulled his sleeve up to the elbow. He had tribal ink around his forearm that I’d never seen before, but Toops had.
“Figures,” she said, “a trillion greasers in the ‘verse and I have to run into a Hatfield.”
“What’s a Hatfield?” I asked.
“Lancer, haven’t you ever heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys?” She sounded annoyed.
“It’s been centuries and no one even knows what we’re fighting over anymore, but whenever we bump into each other, shit like this goes down.”
“But, how did he know?” I was intrigued.
“They have ink, we have rings.” She said matter-of-factly.
She showed me the ring. It was a thick platinum band with a dull red gem encrusted in it. On each side of the stone, faded engraving could just barely be seen. It read ‘Toops McCoy’.