DIVA: Jetbird and the Kid #1
deucexm at gmail.com
Sat Jan 10 10:54:16 PST 2015
Scribbling furiously at work (tapping the touchscreen actually) gained me this.
I wouldn't say I'm completely satisfied with it just yet, but it'll do!
Jetbird Leone and the Black Mamba Kid: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Colin Stokes
Chapter 1: Jump Right In
"Sometimes I wonder why you bother," the Black Mamba Kid murmured softly,
watching the crowd disperse. Jetbird had delivered his snake oil pitch the same
way he always did; namely, with the kind of manic cheerfulness only possible coming
from someone who truly believed in the product. (Or a fanatic, the Kid thought,
which was probably what people were thinking when they saw and heard him on his
little makeshift stage.)
"Why I bother with what?" Jetbird Leone inquired, with that charming air of
innocence he always carried - all the more effective because it wasn't feigned like
that of so many others. There was something not quite right about Jetbird,
something that the Pillar had taken from him in exchange for the incredible gifts
it had given to him. Maybe it was just the lack of cynicism...
The Kid let out a quiet sigh from between coal-black lips. Between those, the
black eyelids, the pale and almost grayish skin, and the short and raggedly cut
fine black hair, the Kid didn't look like the kind of person you'd invite in for a
cup of coffee, or invite anywhere at all for that matter. "The pitch, Cor. No one
ever seems to buy the stuff, least not until we do something special like always."
"Ah, well," Jetbird returned cheerfully, "you know what they say: 'the play's
the thing'. Right?"
"I don't think anyone but you says that, Cor."
The desert frontier had strange weather in addition to its complement of strange
fauna, and so the frigid morning air had probably chilled any enthusiasm the crowd
might have otherwise had, the Kid reflected after a moment. Jetbird certainly
wasn't to blame for the lack of a response - nothing ever seemed to dampen his
spirits, not even the occasional downpour. Even now, the blue-eyed man with his
long black hair - in far better shape than the Kid's, not that the Kid minded - was
smiling as he watched people walk away, waiting for the last one to leave before
he'd start to tear down and pack up.
Except that the last one didn't leave after all.
Quick as a snake, a hand darted out of the warmth and safety of the Kid's thick
brown leather coat to snag a windblown wide-brimmed hat out of the air, returning
it to its owner, who still stood in front of the stage. "Fine weather today,
ma'am," came the Kid's dry, almost gravelly drawl. "Best hold onto your things."
"Thank you, Mr. Kid," returned the lone lady in a soft yet vaguely steely voice,
replacing the white sun hat atop her mess of equally windblown light brown curls.
"And thank you for your presentation, Mr. ... Leone." The pause before Jetbird's
last name was slight, but perceptible nevertheless.
"Why, you're welcome, ma'am!" Jetbird returned with a cheerful smile. "But
please, just call me Cortland. My family don't have much truck with me these days,
The Kid marveled once again at Jetbird's utter nonchalance about things like
being threatened with death, disowned, and completely cut off from polite society
by his own blood kin. But the Kid marveled silently and without expression as
Jetbird continued. "I can't help but notice you're the only one standing here,
ma'am. Is there something the Kid and I can do for you, perhaps? The oil is
/quite/ potent, I can assure you; there's no reason to doubt-"
"Thank you, Mr. Cortland," the lady interrupted as sweetly as possible, shifting
her weight from foot to foot, "but I'm more interested in your... expertise in
mechanical matters. Word is that you've a sharp eye for machines, and-" She
paused briefly to look around. "... well, perhaps you'd best come take a look at
my problem directly, instead. There's no telling who might be listening."
The Kid's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Wonderful. This already sounded like
trouble, which of course meant that Jetbird would-
-naturally embroil himself in it at the first possible opportunity, without
taking a moment to consider the consequences. The Kid just sighed quietly, barely
a breath passing those black lips. "I'll get started packing up, then."
Jetbird just smiled his ever-friendly smile, sky-blue eyes sparkling with
delight. "It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am, though I haven't got your name yet."
The brunette smiled in return, or at least her mouth did; her eyes didn't quite
join in. "Miriam Lawson."
The Kid paused in the middle of the packing, which for anyone else was as good
as a quiet gasp. The Lawson family owned most of this town they were in - heck,
most of the surrounding towns in this part of the frontier, even. If a /Lawson/
was worried about something, that was even worse than the usual brand of trouble.
"Well then, Ms. Lawson," Jetbird returned with a laugh, "we're at your service!"
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