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Dynamic Duo

Alden headed down the dingy alley in front of him with no small sense of trepidation.  This was the only means to reaching the underground dive where Seth had asked to meet him.  The sign for the bar resulted in an involuntary face-palm.  It was the image of a hen being garroted.  Why, oh why had he agreed to let Seth set the meeting place???

Not for the first time since he’d gotten the cryptic communiqué a few hours earlier, Alden had second thoughts about this late night reconnection with an old friend.  This was not how he’d planned to be spending this evening, and he couldn’t imagine what this was about, but he hoped it would be quick.  There was a toasty bed with a warm-bodied woman waiting in it for him back at home.

He ducked into the crudely named establishment, and was not the least bit surprised by the scene that greeted him.  Cheap, mid-century décor busied itself trying hard to be something it was not.  The booths were red pleather, with round faux-wood tables, most of which look like they’d been through a tractor pull.  These were arranged along the back and left side wall.  The right was taken up by the liquor counter, with bolted down stools lining along the warped wooden plank that passed for a bar, which quite possibly may have been a bowling lane in another life.  In the center were several more of the cheap round tables with cheap looking red plastic chairs scattered at or nearly about them.   At the front of the room was a long stage, currently unlit.

The clientele were by and large clad in leather and denim, with spikes and chains.  There was no music playing, and the low hum of hushed conversation at the sparsely populated tables and booths, each with a healthy berth of emptiness around it, created just enough atmospheric fuzz to prevent eavesdropping.  A few people eyed Alden casually, but looked away without taking any real notice.  Alden nodded silently to himself.  Unwittingly, he’d managed to dress the part... his long leather trench coat, wild red hair, tattered black jeans and plain black T-shirt letting him blend in without so much as a second glance.

He spotted Seth in a booth against the right wall and made his way there.  He and Seth had been friends since childhood, and had since become family, when Alden wound up marrying Seth’s sister, Enora, who was a year younger than both of them.  Seth had always been a troublemaker, and while Alden went into law enforcement, Seth had chosen a less-than-straight-and-narrow path for himself.

          “Hey, Seth,” Alden mumbled grumpily, slumping down across from a fair-skinned man with a long black ponytail.  Seth had a smirk on his face, and a twinkle in his deep blue eyes.

                    “Here, I took the liberty of ordering you your favorite drink,” Seth offered, passing over a honey-colored mug to his companion, and raising his own.  “It’s mead,” he added uselessly, the twinkle brightening.  “Let’s toast to Enora’s health, shall we?”

Alden swiped the outstretched tankard and reluctantly tapped at the beverage opposite him, the sound creating more of a clatter than a clink.

           “Cut the crap, Seth,” Alden scowled, his brow furrowed.  “You didn’t ask me here for drinks and reminiscing, we both know that.  What kind of trouble are you in?”

                    “It pains me to know you believe I would only call you if I had a problem,” Seth pouted into his mead.  “Truth be told, Al, WE have a problem.  Or rather, your nephew has a problem, which is a problem for both of us,” he griped, holding Alden’s gaze with a stern look.

           “What are you going on about, Seth?” Alden blustered with growing agitation.  In truth, he wasn’t sure which nephew Seth was referring to... mentally flipping though his roll call of siblings’ kids and in-laws, it could have been any of them.  “Has your son gotten mixed up in something?”  Alden was certain Seth must have meant his own son.

                    “Blimey, no, ya daft git!  I got Angus firmly under me thumb right now,” Seth snarfed back, letting his thick second-generation Irish brogue slip through, as it always did whenever he got his back up. “I mean Ezra, your brother’s lad.  He’s gone and dug into something he shouldn’t have.”

Alden was thrown for a loop, and shook his head in consternation.

           “How would you know anything about what Ezra is doing?” he challenged.  “He shouldn’t even be on your radar at all.”

Alden’s voice had been rising with the turn of the conversation, and he checked himself as the alarm showed on Seth’s face.  A quick peek around, though, told him he’d not yet drawn the attention of any other patrons.  Seth glowered in response, his tone brought down to a sternly lower level, just above a harsh whisper.

                    “What I am or am not involved in should be the least of your worries right now, Al.  Let’s just say I’ve come across information regarding your nephew from people who most definitely should not know anything about him or what he’s doing.”

At this news, the disposition of Alden’s countenance switched abruptly from the tension of indignation to the dismay of concern.  Up until that point, Seth had been glaring, his face practically spitting defiance. Hostilities can rise quickly among the Irish — especially between brothers — but they’re often just as easily dismissed — especially between brothers.  When he saw the distress he’d clearly caused, Seth softened, and continued, more gently this time.

                    “He was hacking into some Yakuza servers and they caught him at it,” he explained, pausing to let the weight of his revelation sink in before pressing further.

Alden had leaned forward to the edge of his seat, elbows on the table, hands clasped together, listening intently, his brow knotted.  Seth caught himself wishing for a moment this was all just a practical joke, where he could then yell, “Psych!,” and they’d both have a good laugh about it, probably after one or both of them had been punched a couple times.  Instead, though, he sighed heavily, and gulped down the last drop from his flagon before delivering the final blow.

                    “Al, they’ve prepared a hit squad to go after him.”

Already naturally pale, Alden went white as a ghost.

                    “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, man.  I really am.  But I figured you should know.”

           “Ugh,” Alden grunted, studying the flickering flame of the tealight in the cheap plastic red candle holder at the middle of their table as if it was a million miles away.

The two sat together in silence for a moment.  There was clearly more to discuss, but Seth was familiar with Al’s meticulous nature, and, understanding his friend’s need to measure the heft of this burden, he respected his space.  Alden was the first to break the stillness.

           “Seth, you’ve got to come with me back to my place,” Alden rushed, restraining a great sense of urgency.  “We can go over everything there.  Enora would love to see you.”

Alden did not want to delve too deeply into this situation in public.  There were things about Ezra that needed to be kept under wraps, but, it seemed fate had determined it was time to let this side of the family in on them.  Seth nodded, and stood up, grabbing his shillelagh and tucking it into his own leather trench coat, which he donned as the two headed for the door.

They both exited into the alley, headed towards Alden’s car, with Alden unlocking the vehicle from his key fob, the lights and alarm signal blinking and chirping back at him in response.  As they approached, though, Alden noticed a rather large Asian man moving towards them from across the street at a swifter than casual pace.  He reached for his retractable baton, which doubled as a magic rod.  Seth caught the motion, and readied his cudgel for action.  The large Asian man stepped in front of the pair, impeding their forward movement.

           “I guess mentioning that I’m a Guardian isn’t going to matter much to you, is it?” Alden asked the giant, whom he now recognized from up close as a cyborg.

Instead of speaking, the Asian threw out his right hand with lightening speed, grasping Alden up by the throat, while his left just as quickly struck Seth with a sucker punch to the gut, knocking the wind out of him.  With only a matter of seconds before the oxygen squeezed from his brain would black the world out, Alden fumbled and dropped his baton in favor of grabbing for his Colt .44 Peacemaker, which he managed to draw with the superhuman reflexes of a trained Guardian, and shot the Asian in the face.  It was over almost as fast as it had begun.  The cyborg’s head exploded in a brilliant eruption of blood and flashing circuitry.  The hand around Alden’s neck loosened its grip, and he crumpled down on the concrete next to Seth.

Seth was heaving beside him, his back turned toward him.  Still gasping for breath, Alden struggled to his knees and crawled to his brother-in-law, anxiously rolling him over, only to find Seth... laughing hysterically?  Seth’s face was contorted, his eyes squeezed tight, tears streaming down his cheeks as his mouth was flung open wide, lips quivering, teeth bared, head thrown back, the air snorting through his nostrils, wheezing from his lungs, his body doubled over in convulsions.  Alden groaned and rolled his eyes, picking up his baton, now extended to full staff length, and used it help himself up.

           “Get a hold of yourself, man!” Alden scolded Seth.

Seth pulled himself to a sitting position, wiping his eyes.

                    “I’m sorry, bro,” he snickered.  “It’s just...” he searched for the words... “I have missed this, man!” he exclaimed gleefully, jumping to his feet.

Alden shot him a look that could not be mistaken for anything but reproach.

                    “But, seriously, dude...” Seth declared matter-of-factly, dusting off his leather.  “I think this could be trouble.”

           “As usual, your powers of observation defy logic,” Alden carped, shaking his head as he booted the large Asian torso from the path of his car door.  “Which reminds me,” he began, spinning around to face Seth.  “Don’t think I didn’t notice the portal in the alley on my way to that gawdawful dump you chose for a hangout.”

Seth shrugged sheepishly, still grinning as he walked around to the passenger side.

                    “Ya caught me!” he confessed, opening the car door.  “Guilty as charged.  You gonna arrest me?”

Alden narrowed his eyes in an ornery squint.

           “No,” he groused, dropping into the driver’s seat.  “This is not the time or place for that, and, you’re still family, but ...” here he shook his finger at Seth as he slipped into the car next to him and closed the door behind him.  “...when we get back to my place, you’re going to explain to me exactly how you got information from the Yakuza.”

                    “Aye, aye, Captain!” Seth declared with a wink and a salute, as he buckled his seatbelt.  “Lead the way, brother — trouble had better look out for us!”

Alden realized in that moment just how long of a night it was really going to be after all, as he tried to think of what he was going to tell his wife, and started the car.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
I loved the way you managed to work a cyborg into the prompt! This started out as old friends/relatives in a bar, and then Bang! it became a future/sci-fi story. Well done! Anything with Yakuza, cyborgs and Guardians is going to be fun. I hope there is more.
Dec. 6th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
Thank you, there will be more, I am trying to rotate between just a small group of characters for this season.
Dec. 6th, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC)
Such a knack for edge-of-the-seat story-telling! So nice to see you back! I loved how this went from a hard luck bar meet up to futuristic and YAKUZA! Wowee! The dialogue is snappy!
Dec. 7th, 2016 02:25 am (UTC)
Thank you, I appreciate that you love my dialogue it is something I really work hard at.
Dec. 7th, 2016 07:58 am (UTC)
I loved how you casually breezed in a Cyborg. A great read! Enjoyed the dialogues, they kept me interested. Looking forward to the next instalment. Cheers! Well done.
Dec. 7th, 2016 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I enjoy writing in this universe and I am glad that you like it.
Dec. 7th, 2016 08:08 am (UTC)
I wasn't expecting the futuristic bent to this (probably thrown by the mead, which I've tasted and...I do not expect to survive the test of time). I like the relationship between these two-- friends-ish, but they live in different worlds and whatever is fun for one of them is trouble for the other. Still, a common purpose trumps everything. :)
Dec. 7th, 2016 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I like throwing in a surprise every once in awhile.
Dec. 7th, 2016 09:33 pm (UTC)
The dialogue is the prize in this piece! :) Are the brothers going to be recurring characters? Hugs and peace~~~D
Dec. 8th, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
Alden will be a re occurring character, Seth may pop up from time to time. So glad you love the dialogue thank you for reading.
Dec. 8th, 2016 04:56 am (UTC)
Family drama with cyborg! (Grins)
Dec. 8th, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your kind words.
Dec. 8th, 2016 03:38 pm (UTC)
Ha, I do totally know this friend :) Good description here!
Dec. 8th, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
I wanted to do something with a trouble making friend I am glad that got across. Thank you for reading.
Dec. 8th, 2016 07:59 pm (UTC)
Very cool, elements of Cyberpunk and Shadowrun.....I like how the reader has to adjust their idea of the setting mid story.
Dec. 8th, 2016 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading. I love cyberpunk, and Omnis Terra is definitely cyberpunk. I could see how it could be considered somewhat similar to Shadowrun, however there are no elves, dwarves, orcs, or trolls. There are, however, therianthropes and vampires. So kind of a mashup with World of Darkness, in a way. I’ve been building this universe in my mind since I was 16. Season 9 gave me a chance to go back to writing it again, and I enjoyed it so much I decided to try and stick solely to Omnis Terra this season. We’ll see how that works out.

Edited at 2016-12-08 09:07 pm (UTC)
Dec. 8th, 2016 09:01 pm (UTC)
That one friend that points you to the Japanese Mafia. This could be a treacherous and delightful story!
Dec. 8th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading, I hope it keeps you intrigued.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )