Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Coming in From the Cold?

The three whiskeys were set down on the small table between the two men, and Kwei Lingling, the proprietor of the Cimmaro Cafe, pocketed the five Peace River dollar bill that was waiting for him. He nodded with a tight smile to the two customers, and then headed back to the bar for the next order.

The mood in the Cimmaro was a mixture of relief, sadness and frustration. Though the curfew was still in effect, patrons of the Cafe flocked to it the moment it was safe to go out into the streets of Peace River again. The morning crowd was usually a little more genteel than the evening crowd, but Lingling already had to break open a sixth bottle of whiskey. The patrons wanted to forget.

"I can't believe she's missing. You know who I'm talking about. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't believe in violence, but there's no way she's alive. Not after what happened."

"My entire home was ransacked, my business was set on fire, and I still have to pay protection. Nothing changes."

"I may as well have another. I won't be back on the assembly line for another week."

"There's no question that PaxSec used the BRF's uprising to liquidate the Prospects. I won't be surprised if we hear about cellars filled with 'terrorists' in the next few weeks. Those thugs."

Kwei looked around. The Cafe was getting back to normal, though he did wish for a bit of a break from the politics. It made him uneasy. Well, at least I didn't lose my bar, and the customers are as thirsty as ever. And in all this excitement my wife seems to have forgotten about the dress Madame Hiro was wearing. Say what you will, I do miss the styles down in the Eastern S-

The two older whiskey-drinking men had stood suddenly.

"You think you can just lie to me? You broke into my home, you robbed me, and now you're telling me it was looters? Do you think I'm stupid? Do you think I didn't see you? Hell, you're wearing my shirt!" the bigger man bellowed. Kwei had never seen him or the other middle-aged man before, but he did look strangely familiar. The other man had raised his hands in protest, but the bigger man didn't let him get a word in. He pulled a P9 automatic out of a shoulder holster.

There was a scream and then three shots. The smaller man's body shook with the force of the bullets' impact. Blood sprayed everywhere as the man staggered backwards, wide-eyed, before clutching his wounds and falling back against the bar. The bigger man approached.

"You asked for it, Jan!"

"No, I..." Jan wheezed.

Three more shots rang out, and the smaller man toppled over sideways with six bullets in his chest.

The big man grabbed the nearest bottle of whiskey off the bar, eyed the crowd and snarled, "anyone ELSE take what's mine?" He took a swig, stormed out of the Cimmaro Cafe, and quickly disappeared into the labyrinth of Peace River's Badlands Quarter.


Kwei had cleared his patrons out of the bar. The dead man had looked surprisingly at peace, having just been shot six times in the torso. The paramedics manhandled him a little roughly onto a stretcher--Kwei figured that they had been rather busy the last two days to care otherwise--and drove off in the ambulance. Most of the Cimmaro's patrons entered the bar to watch Kwei mopping up the blood.

Life in Peace River will get back to normal, Kwei, don't you worry...


Jan Augusta sat up in the ambulance, and looked across at Kain. The two Saracen paramedics clambered into the front cabin to ride with Strauss.

"Thanks, Delacroix." Jan winced, noticing that one of those six bullets had cracked a rib.

"Don't mention it, Augusta. Are you sure you don't want our help in disappearing?"

"Kain, the last thing I need is to owe you, or anyone else, any favours. And besides, since when have I needed any help in disappearing?" Jan was already changing clothes, transforming himself from a Worker caste nobody into a Management caste jet-setter.

"Well, I'll still put a word in for you with my people. They're discreet, and you might find the work rewarding." Kain said, apologeticaly.

"Alright. But I'm getting out of the game, Kain. I need to start my life." Jan looked over at the big former soldier, "maybe you should do the same." He stepped out of the ambulance and into an alleyway.

"Here Jan," Kain tossed Augusta the P9, "the weapon that killed you."

Augusta let out a curt laugh, nodding. "Bonne Chance, Delacroix!" He turned, and disappeared into the alleyway.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.