The Reflexive Engine V

[Chapter List]

Once Cracksman's Gang

She wafted into the room and threw herself into the high backed chair opposite the corpulent Cracksman. As she kicked her feet casually onto his desk, the two men in the room stared at her pale ankles. The rhythmic cranking of the mill machinery reverberated up through the floor.

“The job's done?” Cracksman asked, trying to keep his gaze level with her eyes.

She smiled. “Of course.”

He grinned in return. “You're the best, Jez.”

She absently drew her dagger and picked at a nail with the point. “I know.”

Cracksman nodded to the other man, a fellow with the tell-tale lop-sided hunch of a badly done graft. A bulging sack of gold coins was dumped onto the desk before her.

Her smile widened. “By the way,” she said. “I've found an opportunity. A distant opportunity.”

Cracksman frowned. “I see. I must say I'll be sorry to see you leave. It can be hard getting things done around here without you.”

“I think it may be a big job,” she added. “I'd need a gang.”

“Well, if you need any advice,” Cracksman said, “you've only to ask.”

“What I need,” she repeated, “is a gang.”

Cracksman glanced at the lop-sided man.

You have a gang,” she said, slowly.

“We work the town,” he said. “I can't spare anyone for an expedition.”

She slipped her dagger back beneath her overcoat. “What a shame. Especially with your hands on top of the desk, instead of near the carbine you keep strapped beneath it.”

The lop-sided man plunged his hand into his jacket, but she was quicker, a pistol suddenly in each hand.


The workers stared at her as she left Cracksman's office. The two gunshots would have been audible even over the rumbling of the mill's water-driven machinery. Those workers larger and less obviously occupied than the others - Cracksman's footpads and thugs - regarded her with special attention.

“Cracksman is dead,” she announced. “I'm in charge now. Does anyone have a problem with that?”

With a bellow of inarticulate rage, a solid slab of a man charged her, fists clenched. And with four quick stabs of her dagger, she pierced each ventricle of his heart.

“Does anyone else have a problem? No? Then we shall be going on a little expedition.”


georgek said...

I'm unfathomably worried this won't end well for her.

mark said...

well done, Pacian...professional