DIVA: Jetbird and the Kid #5
deucexm at gmail.com
Sat Apr 16 20:59:55 PDT 2016
Don't worry, we're basically done with the plumbing. Not its importance, mind,
just the description of and focus on it. Plumbing is /always/ important. Don't
believe me? Try going without it for a while...
Anyway, here's the latest installment, in which I break from my normal method of
going for a precise length, since my pre-reader suggested it. And because I
need to /produce/ more to be satisfied.
Jetbird Leone and the Black Mamba Kid: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Colin Stokes
Chapter 5: On Top
"Tell you what, ma'am," Jetbird began after a moment, another easy smile on his
face, "if you don't mind putting us up for the night, we can have this fixed before
the sun goes down tomorrow, no problem at all."
Miriam blinked, slightly taken aback, as the Kid continued setting up machinery
and barrels from the chest to redirect the flow of powder and liquid. "A night and
a day? Truly?" Her eyes narrowed. "And what guarantee do I have that your setup
will /continue/ to work once you have left the premises with my /generous/ payment
in your coffers?"
Jetbird's smile never wavered. "Well, first off, me and the Kid ain't that sort
of people. There's enough of those out there, and I don't reckon there's any need
to add to their ranks. But second, we don't like taking payment from people with
reservations. So you can pay us what y'think our work is worth."
"We'll be taking the deadly poison powder, though," the Kid added in a rather
final-sounding tone. "Stuff ain't safe for the likes of... well, anyone who ain't
me, more or less. Wouldn't breathe too heavily near it, either, was I you."
The Lawson lady turned to look at the setup grimly. "And just what are you
going to be /doing/ with all of this dangerous material, Mr. Kid?"
The Kid stared at her for a moment with those black, black eyes. "Ma'am, I
don't ask you to tell me /your/ secrets. I reckon you'd be better off if you
didn't know just what this stuff's capable of. Leastways for now," he amended in a
tone slightly less grave than before.
Miriam shook her head and sighed. "Alright, then. You two may stay for the
night, and... after that, we'll see what comes next."
Jetbird just laughed. "The dawn, ma'am, unless we're /terribly/ unlucky."
"Cor, I don't like this," the Kid murmured quietly.
It was starting to edge into the late evening hours, judging by Miriam's brief
return with 'dinner' - a neatly prepared box lunch and drinks, complete with
napkins, which had disappeared (and gotten quite dirty, respectively) a few minutes
after she left to head back upstairs. Everything was humming along just fine, and
the two of them were simply watching over it at this point.
Jetbird shrugged a little. "A job's a job, Kid," he returned in that flippant
tone, though the Kid recognized the hint of seriousness that lay underneath it.
"It'll be alright; we'll come out on top, like we always do. Don't worry."
The Kid snorted quietly. "On top of the /chest/, more like. But it's not /us/
I'm worried about, and you know it."
The Leone son's eyes twinkled. "Why, does Ms. Miriam strike your fancy, Kid?"
After a brief pause, the Kid shrugged, and started filling a set of reinforced
canisters with powder. There was quite a bit now that they'd emptied the three
overflow tanks of their rich sludge. "She's a Lawson," he finally returned, "but
she ain't as foul as the rest of 'em. All the big families are full of monsters,
especially the Leones." He smiled one of his rare, nearly humorless smiles.
"Present company excepted, of course. You ain't like your kin."
"You're not wrong, saying that," Jetbird admitted with a soft laugh. "And yet
there's so many people in this crazy world, Kid; they can't /all/ be bad apples.
Sure, the families tend to produce folks as don't make life easy for everyone else
- but that don't mean they're /all/ beyond saving. It just might take a little
searching to find the good in some folks, that's all."
The Kid's expression darkened slightly. "/Some/ folks never allowed me enough
time to /do/ the searching," he returned.
Jetbird scratched the back of his head awkwardly, and said nothing. It wasn't
the first time the subject had come up, either. He knew the Black Mamba Kid had
taken more than a handful of lives, and he also knew that circumstances had just
about necessitated it (from all accounts; he hadn't been there at the time).
He accepted that it had happened, but it didn't mean he had to like it.
"At least we have the powder," the Kid eventually remarked, feeling the tension
and changing the subject. "That should help you out with your designs."
"Would you believe it totally slipped my mind?" Jetbird inquired with a laugh.
"That /is/ good news - and without us needing to cross the frontier line, either.
Why, we might just be able to skip Phase One entirely and-"
The Kid shook his head. "We'll still need a base camp. I don't particularly
relish the idea, but the Crossroads will serve us as well as anything else, if we
can convince... her... to let us stay for a while."
Jetbird arched an eyebrow, and was about to ask what sort of misgivings there
could possibly be between the Kid and a relatively innocuous bartender, when the
basement door slammed open and a deep voice rumbled, "I reckon the only place you
two boys'll be stayin' is six feet under. Now how 'bout you back away from them
machines 'fore I get /upset/?"
The Kid's eyes narrowed sharply as he turned to look at the unwelcome arrival -
a mountain of a man, barely fitting through the doorframe, scarred and lumpy and
clearly used to getting upset and what came afterwards. He was dressed all in
black from the neck down, something snug that would leave nothing for an opponent
to grab - a wise choice, that - and wore a matched set of metal knuckles that were
buzzing quietly. Some form of chained lightning, no doubt.
"Ain't no call for that, Kid," Jetbird murmured, hearing the angry, wet hiss
building in his partner's throat. "No need to make a mess. Now, let's not be
hasty here," he continued, addressing the muscled hitman. "Whatever you've come
here to do, I'm sure you can do it without violence."
"Shut yer trap," the hitman snapped back, "an' I might make yer death a lil'
quicker. I'm here to finish the job o' makin' this lil' town disappear, an' any
witnesses along with it. Besides," he added with a leer, "I happen to /like/ a
Jetbird sighed quietly. "I'm sorry to hear that. /Truly/, I am."
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