[LNH] Host of Net.Libertines #2

Wil Alambre wilalambre at gmail.com
Wed Aug 24 10:52:45 PDT 2011

The streets of chinatown were crowded and busy and loud. People were
rushing to and fro, pushing through the many pedestrians and bicyclists,
yelling in a mishmash of english and chinese. It was a breezy bright
afternoon, and despite the shoulder-to-shoulder shoving, everyone seemed
to be in good cheer. Everyone, that is, except the cowboy and the
astronaut waiting impatiently outside a small convenience store.

"Will he be requiring to do this every single time?" the Ultimate Cowboy
asked, pulling his hat down lower over his eyes.  "Seems like a lick and
a promise to me."

The Fictionaut did not respond. In fact, with the helmet on, it was hard
to tell if he had even heard.

The cowboy glanced at the still figure, only seeing himself in the
reflection of the black visor. "Ain't the flannel-mouthed sort, are
you?" he said gruffly.

A light tickling of a bell and Billy exited from the store, eating a
fudgesicle and dabbing his mouth with a paper napkin. "Sorry. Sorry. I
got distracted by the magazine rack. They had the new issue of..."

The cowboy scoffed and began shoving his way down the street. The
Fictionaut followed, with Billy hopping along behind, trying to
strategically eat his melting ice cream.

They pushed their way down a block or two, eventually arriving at a
construction site. There was a skeleton of red girders, a naked
ten-story building being built by hurried looking asian workers, all in
hardhats and shirts sporting the same union badge. It was a sandy dust
lot, with wide green pipes stacked neatly to one side, a blue drum to
one side with a small fire unattended, and barrels of rivets being
hustled up the sturdy looking elevator to the workers waiting high

No one seemed to pay the trio any attention. They all seemed to be
purposely ignoring them, giving them a wide berth without looking any of
them in the eye. The cowboy moseyed between them, watching them pass by
like a bear eyeing a fast-moving river until, with a lightning quick
arm, grabbed one of them by the collar. The worker yelped in surprise,
dropping the pile of mallets he was carting.

"I would be having words with the man in charge here," the cowboy
demanded, looming over the worker.

Despite the larger stature off his assailant and the murderous look in
those old eyes, the asian worker was holding in his fear well. He set
his jaw and spat out, "Boss not here. Long lunch with architects. Try
again tomorrow."

"I did ask for your foreman," the cowboy growled, "I was referring to
your khan."

All the workers suddenly stopped in their tracks and looked at the
commotion. They had the attention of the entire construction yard, and
none of the workers looked friendly. Billy's stomach was suddenly filled
with butterflies, and he tried to stand between his two companions.

The walkie-talkies in the manhandled worker's tool belt crackled to life
and a heavy slow mandarin barked out sharp orders. The cowboy looked up
the girders, seeing a shadow at the top of the structure looking down.
Though it had the sun behind it, obscuring its features, it was clearly
waving for them to come up. The cowboy looked back down at the worker he
held, and after a moment's consideration, let go.

The worker took a step back, puffing up his chest a bit and saying
something that they couldn't understand but didn't sound friendly.
However, he grabbed his walkie-talkie and had a short exchange before
nodding. He then looked at the three of them and said, "Follow me up. No
monkey business."

"No monkey business," the cowboy agreed and they boarded the wide
construction elevator. All but the Fictionaut, who remained on the
ground. The cowboy gave a flick on his head and said, "Off you go. Be
back directly."

The Fictionaut turned and walked into the thick of the paragraph,
disappearing between the gaps of the narrative. The workers around
didn't seem to notice his absence as they punched chunky buttons to get
the elevator moving.

"Where did Grant go?" Billy asked the cowboy, tugging on his duster.

"Insurance," was the curt reply. "Now hush up."

The elevator lurched to a stop at the top, where they were greeted by a
large number of green-shirted workers. They had laid out planks of wood
between the girders, providing a rickety floor for the visitor to walk
along. At the far corner, waiting for them beside a stack of brown
barrels and blue ladders, was a wide man with the head of a mule.

"This is Donkey Kahn, direct descendant of Emperor Fatian Qiyun Shegwu,
leader of the secret horde of the modern mongul empire, and head of
Net.tropolis Construction & Specialized Workers Union," introduced one
of the workers, who immediately bowed. With military precision, the rest
of the workers did the same.

The khan stomped toward them. He was huge, apparently made entirely of
muscle. His biceps alone were larger than Billy. He looked like a giant
of a man with a sparse thin grey fur covering everywhere, oversized
hooves instead of feet, and a mule's head. His eyes were thin and beady,
his ears were tall and straight, and he had a long thin mustache falling
from upper lip of his snout.

"You are a jack!" said the cowboy matter-of-factly.

"Temujin was very promiscuous man," answered Donkey Khan in a slow heavy
english that was clearly not his preferred language. "Had many children.
Many bastards. With those odds, should not be surprised one of offspring
would be interested in... cruder experimentation."

Billy looked at his popsicle stick, the words printed on the side, then
back at the mule-headed man. "I thought he would be a gorilla."

"Bosh," the cowboy told the boy, "Where's the sense in that? He would
have to have the name Gorilla Khan, then, wouldn't he?"

"Oh," said Billy, disappointed. "I just though that, you know, it would
make more sense."

"But hardly original, boy. How would team you gin's randy grandkids even
find a gorilla to make a mash on in old china-land? Out of the way for
that big an ape."

"Enough," brayed the kahn in a burst of anger, give a heavy kick to the
stack of barrels beside him. With a smash and a clatter they toppled
over, rolling down the planks and off the edge of the building. 

The cowboy and Billy barely had time to dodge to the sides to avoid
getting bowled over. The cowboy landed on a cross girder nimbly but
Billy missed, slamming into one and barely grasping it with his arms.
"Help!" Billy squeaked out, trying to hang on.

"How dare you! Donkey Khan has blood of mongol kings. Donkey Khan has
blood of thunderous horses. Yet you come here and mock? Laugh and joke?
This is a game to you?"

The construction workers all reached into their tool belts and drew out
long, wicked looking swords. Their teeth were showing, a ferocity seemed
to fill their wide stares.

"Game over," said the khan.



Dammit this series, I was having so much fun with it that I was not able
to focus on writing more than two sentences of Super Wizard this week.
Every time I tried to put down a word of Brody and Andy's face-off, I
ended up with a paragraph of the both instead. I guess this is both a
good thing and a bad thing. I may have to rethink this two-series-a-week
thing if I keep getting hijacked like this. :)

Wil Alambre, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wilalambre

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