Friday, May 18, 2012

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): Route d'abbaye Track Fifteen - Carry That Weight

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)

Route d'abbaye

Track Fifteen

Carry That Weight


Al Bruno III

Several lifetimes ago Jason Magwier had learned that the secret to looking like a master manipulator was to keep a bemused, know-it-all-expression on his face no matter what was going wrong. It was a strategy that had served him well and saved the lives of his companions on many occasions.

But tonight there was no keeping a nervous tick from tugging at the corner of his smirking mouth, “We’re all here now. How wonderful.”

The parlor of the Sallow Sultan looked like a battlefield in a dollhouse; the red and pink walls were spattered with gore and pockmarked with bullet holes. Two corpses, one a guard, one a working girl, lay on the floor; the blood running from their bodies combined and pooled in front of the fireplace.

Jason had expected that....

The front door had been broken down. Zeth and Dr. Flesh were tussling with only a silver war hammer keeping the old soldier from becoming the deadly assassin's latest victim.

Just like Jason had planned it.

Jack Diamond was woozy, confused and on the defensive.

And that was the way Jason preferred him.

First things first. Jason Magwier launched himself off the club chair and tackled Dr. Flesh. The assassin screeched like an animal but before he could wriggle free Jason pinched him on the nose with a hearty “Beep beep!”

Dr. Flesh’s screeching became choking as he went into a full-fledged seizure.

All four red phials were in place, the Constable and Sentries were neutralized, and the china teaset was destroyed. It had all been going so perfectly, exactly as Jason remembered it might happen.

Then he had seen Lorelei lying on the floor with Mustard half-standing on her back with one foot and crushing her hand with his other. She had been dressed up as one of the Sallow Sultan’s working girls and looked like she had been on the losing end a fight.

“And now that that’s taken care of,” the dark-eyed man made a show of getting back to his feet and brushing himself off, “we can all calm down a little.”

“Fuck you.” Jack Diamond said, “Fuck you in your ear.”

Zeth tried to get up but blood was running from a wound in his scalp and his pupils were dilated. He stumbled and only kept himself from falling by using the silver hammer as a crutch.

At this moment Lorelei was supposed to have been standing behind Jack Diamond, that was the way Jason had seen it in his mind's eye a dozen times over. She was supposed to sneak and skulk! But instead she had gotten dressed up as one of the working girls. Now everything was up for grabs...

“Excuse me,” Jason turned on his heel and glared at the old pimp, “but you're standing on my girlfriend.”

“Jason. Don’t let me die dressed like this-” Lorelei began but Mustard ground his heel into her back to silence her.

“Listen you- I don’t know what your game is and I don’t want to be involved!” the old pimp held up a red phial, “you can take this right back!”

Jack Diamond’s jaw dropped. “What the? How did you...” he patted his torn out pocket then caught sight of his red phial lying on the carpet in the center of the room. It was glowing slightly.

Both phials were glowing slightly. Jason started to speak.

...the gun thundered again, the bullet leaving a crater of gristle where Lorelei’s chest had been. Her heart was visible and it shivered momentarily like a dying animal...

The vision was as brief as it was sudden. It was Jason Magwier’s blessing and curse that he could remember all the things that might happen but this vision was different.

This was something that should have happened.

A droning sound began to filter in from the street, a thick syrupy buzz that grew louder and closer.

“Played...” Dr. Flesh stood, he fished the red phial from his jacket. The red glow deepened, “ played us all again.”

“I’m sure it looks that way...” Jason produced his own phial and held it up, “...but maybe it’s all just a coincidence.”

“There’s...” Jack Diamond said, “...more than one?”

“Listen to me!” Jason raised his voice, with every word his delivery became more and more theatrical, “Mustard- you were going to be shut down any day. They knew about your ties with the bootleg idol business.”

“Well I never!” Mustard huffed.

The distant reverberations grew louder, it sounded like a fleet of helicopters approaching but there was an organic quality to the sound.

“And you Dr. Flesh,” Jason continued, “do you honestly think that if you killed Jack Diamond the Kuen-Yuin would let you leave this city alive?”

“Don’t you worry about me. I’ll...” Dr. Flesh paused trying to choke off what he was going to say next, what he had to say next, “...carry that weight."

“No!” Jason’s voice was equal parts desperation and exasperation. “There are too many agendas at work here. Do you honestly think the powers that be don’t know what’s going on? The Monarchs? Remember them? The true rulers of this city? Think people! Use your minds... And your ears.”

“Four of them...” Jack Diamond said, “...why are there four of them?”

“We could always set one free and ask it?”

“Very funny,” Dr. Flesh said, “nothing mortal can break these.”

“True,” Jason raised an eyebrow, “if only I had something more than mortal... Something forged by the gods themselves.”

Zeth knew his queue when he heard it. He charged into the center of the room, holding Maxwell’s Silver Hammer over his head.

The buzzing had become a roar somewhere between a mechanical cry and organic thunder. The walls of the Sallow Sultan began to shake.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer whistled downwards shattering the phial. Each of the other three phials exploded at the exact same moment.

Everything went red.

Reality came apart.

Just like Jason Magwier had planned...

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