Posted: June 30, 2008 in Brawl, Dark, Fiction, Sci-Fi

Chapter 27

“You look like shit,” Diana quips conversationally. “Did you get any sleep last night?” Her drink is half-empty, the ice cubes melting slowly, adding to the moisture accumulating on the glass.
“No,” I remark sourly. Last night’s activities hadn’t ended until about four in the morning.
We’re sitting at a smoky bar in the Grove, an entertainment district of Da Vinci. Adam sits silently next to Diana, contemplating a shotglass of bourbon whiskey. Diana holds her vodka casually as she chats with me. I have water.
I don’t drink alcohol.
After my late bedtime, Zariah had whisked me out of her house to apply for a job at about eight in the morning. She sent me to Diana and Adam, who were now explaining how the professions in Da Vinci were divided amongst three groups.
“The Dreamers are led by Cat. They are comprised of teachers, engineers- like Zariah- and artists. Teachers aid Cat and educate students, engineers construct weapons and other useful materials, and artists create works of art for museum display or private sale.” Diana pauses to take a sip of vodka. “I’m an artist, by the way. Dreamers also oversee all material shipping and sell it to the merchants and other allied cities in bulk for sale to others.”
Adam’s not speaking; I guess he’s the strong, silent type.
“The Hawks are mainly concerned with entertainment, construction, and commerce. Squire heads the group and plays guitar as his profession.” Diana’s hair hangs down in front of her face, the blue strands looking almost black in the dim light of the bar. “If he wasn’t already recovering in the hospital from the skirmish with the Officers then he would be playing onstage at the bar.
“Every Hawk is also a trained diplomat, excelling in negotiations with those hostile to the Saints.”
“Huh.” With all this information flooding into my head, I can feel my eyes begin to glaze over.
“The last group is the Freerunners, and Sasha leads them. The Freerunners are couriers, cooks, and healers. The couriers get around on foot through parkour-”
“Through what?”
“Parkour. The couriers are trained so that they don’t need to rely on machines to get themselves through the city. Until new arrivals are trained in parkour, they use motorcycles.”
“Okay…oh!” I had just realized something. “Is that why all those random pipes and handholds are all over the buildings?”
“Exactly. Now, the cooks grow and sell food and the healers take care of medical issues throughout the city. The whole Freerunner group also serve as spies for the Saints.”
“Finally-” I looked up in surprise. Adam was speaking. “-there is a citywide police force that takes care of crime, if it ever happens, within the city walls and throughout the tent area where the Brawlers live. That’s where I work.”
I still couldn’t decide what I wanted to do.
Adam said something quietly to Diana, something just out of earshot. I ignored them; whatever it was, it wasn’t my business.
Diana glances up quickly, back towards the door. The entire bar seems to tense up for a moment; the thrumming mass on the dance floor seems to pause, the band ceases to play.
The doors of the bar burst open, and a tall, wiry man steps in from the twilight. A wide-brimmed hat rests on his head, and a small bolt pistol is strapped to his waist. His eyes are steely, restless. He looks like a well-wired package of dynamite; calm and collected on the surface, organized.
Explosive with a tiny spark.
The band starts up again, slowly regaining their previous tone as their beats trip over each other with nervousness.
“Who’s the cowboy?” I don’t bother to whisper. Diana’s head snaps around to meet my question with a fiery expression that clearly says “Shut up.”
The cowboy is deaf to my query, and strolls to the section of bar to our immediate left. Adam tosses down his shot, takes a pen from his pocket and scribbles something down on a napkin; Diana’s gripping her glass so hard that I fear it’ll shatter in a moment.
I can’t help myself; I’m grinning from ear to ear.
This looks like a motherfucker that I want to fight.
Adam slips the napkin over to me. I pick it up and read the ragged handwriting that tears into the soft white material.
Entwhistle Rend is his name. Bounty hunter. Leader of the Demons.
I underline Demons and add a question mark, passing it back to him. The cowboy has ordered a water, just like me.
I hate drunk fighters.
The frayed napkin flutters back to me.
Profiteers. They do work for the government tracking criminals outside of Da Vinci. They live in Low Residential.
I lean back in my chair. Zariah had explained the living situation during our hurried flock through the city. Being a meritocracy, Da Vinci has two residential areas that house citizens based on their skill levels and amount of contribution to the city. New arrivals (Fallers) are told to find an occupation, and after a trial period of six months they are permanently housed in either High or Low Residential based on their performances.
Entwhistle is sipping his water slowly, gazing straight ahead. By now the dancing crowd has resumed their gyrations, though not without a few nervous glances towards the silent mercenary.
Then he turns, his head rotating to stare at Diana.
She doesn’t move.
He smiles for the first time, baring his teeth like a predatory animal.
He opens his mouth to speak.
The door is open again, yet now Devlin stands there. The Brawler leader’s mohawk is flat, uncared for. He looks tired. The bounty hunter turns to him, eyes glinting almost dangerously.
“Let’s go.” Devlin sounds weary, as if speech is difficult. He jerks his thumb back to the light filtering in from the door. Ent glowers at him for a moment, then turns back to his water, downing it quickly. He slams the glass onto the bar, tosses a few coins by it, and stalks to where Devlin stands.
The two exit the bar hurriedly, and the tense atmosphere begins to recede. I can almost feel Diana relax as the door shuts.
“Okay.” I take a sip of water. “So that was awkward.”
“He’s an asshole.”
“He’s a murdering, backstabbing son of a bitch who ought to be behind bars.” She takes a savage swallow of vodka, draining the glass.
I look at Adam. “ I take it she knows him.”
He nods.
Diana drops her glass, and produces money that quickly finds its way to the bartender’s hands.
“Is Rachelle off soon?”
The bartender pauses to deposit the money in a cash register before answering “‘Er shift’s up in twenny minutes. Y’want me ter have ‘er give you a ring?” His thick Cockney accent is hard to understand.
“Yeah. Tell her I’ll pick her up.”
“All roight, Deeanna.”
I finish my water. “Who’s Rachelle?” I ask.
“The girl playing bass guitar in the band.”
I squint at the players onstage. There are five people, all female. One’s drumming, and four hold guitars. “Um…”
Diana sighs. “The skinny one with the tan skin. Dark red hair with blonde streaks in front?”
“Ah.” She’s pretty, but her eyes look like she’s not getting enough sleep. She also looks like she’s not wearing a bra.
The bartender gives me grin. “Y’like the music, lad? Don’t spose you play anytin’ at all…?”
“No, I-”
“Let’s go.” Diana’s tone is abrupt, and she and Adam are already heading towards the door.
I smile at the bartender and follow them out into the dying sunlight.

  1. kayla says:

    I like the way you’ve set up your universe and it’s genuinely creative, but kind of plopping the description into the middle of the narrative felt awkward. if there’s a way to stretch that out and kind of sprinkle it throughout, I think that might work better. it’s especially noticeable in the little ‘Zariah explains the residential areas’ paragraph.

    ““Jesus,” I had commented. “That’s damn complicated.”” ok, that’s kind of awkward lampshade hanging, if it’s intentional. I know it seems like it might be relieving the denseness of the explanation, but it turns into more of a cringeworthy, ‘WE DON’T NEED A FOURTH WALL’ type moment.

    when entwhistle comes in and lucas asks ‘who’s the cowboy?’ all loud and says he wants to fight him, I’m not sure the tough hardass characterization has really been with him all along. I know you’re taking a line [or lots of lines?] from the palanihuk guy and I know he’s all about sweaty dudes fighting in bars and shit, but I think lucas formerly seemed more…sort of shellshocked and indifferent, not easily pissed off.

    your description of entwhistle and the way the bar’s atmosphere changes when he enters is extremely good, though. like palpable, it’s so vivid.

    what exactly is your bartender’s accent supposed to be? idk idk but ‘mewsic’ made me LOL. like actually out loud. and this might just be me being a bitch, but um. are there any ugly people in this world? cause I also kinda LOLed at the intro of yet another pretty chick. this one without a bra, no less. ~NIPPLES~

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but according to microsoft word this is only 1215 words, right? and your average book chapter is 3000-5000, and probably at least 20 [or more] chapters. so if you want to publish it you’ll probably have to reformat it, or have a loooooot [like 50+] chapters. haha I know I’m paranoid. and I write retardedly long shit, which I’m making you read! but yeah. sorry for nitpicking :[

    anyway, I feel like the more you write the more you’re getting comfortable with your words. if that makes sense. it’s not that you’re necessarily learning more ways to say what you want to convey, just that you’re loosening up in the framework and everything feels more natural and smooth. kinda clicks along evenly and stuff.

    so YES despite that this may seem mean and negative, I do really like the story! I just had a lot of advice I’d like, accumulated over all these chapters, I just hadn’t given it to you yet. so yeah. update with the next chapter nao!


  2. kayla says:

    oh yay, fixt!

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