“The only mercy you’ll get is a bullet from my gun,” Thomas said, looming over his target, and aimed his magnum square at the knee cap. “So what’s it gonna be?”
Beaten and bruised, the terrified man tried to scuffle back away from Thomas in the dusty, hard packed dirt. He was swiftly stopped by a well placed boot on his shoulder and a crossbow pointed at his face. Sweat dripped down his scruffy face as his wild eyes looked for a way to escape in vain.
Thomas holstered his magnum as he said, “I’ll ask again, where is Lynnette’s package?”
“I already told you,” the man said, “I don’t have it.”
Thomas combed his snow white hair with his gloved fingers as he eyed his partner. She laid back her cat like ears as she squinted in the hot sun. Her tail twitched three times and he nodded before adjusting his sunglasses.
“Do it Rhae,” he said as she tossed him her crossbow.
Rhae lifted the man up to his feet by the front of shirt and said, “Look, we don’t care much for liars.” She drew her combat knife out to tap his collar bone with it as his still held his shirt with her other fist. “But you fuckers are all the same. We have the money. Twice in fact than what was agreed upon.”
Thomas pulled out the pouch from his trench coat pocket in response to Rhae’s waving the knife in his direction. The man’s eyes widened. It was Thomas’ guess that this guy had never heard of how they do business.
“That’s how generous Lynnette is,” Rhae said, bringing the knife to the man’s jawline. “Half is yours just for keeping your end of the deal. But no, you have to be a fuck twat about this and lie to us for no damn reason. Thomas knows you have it because he can feel Lynnette’s seal on the package.”
“What?” the man said. He grabbed Rhae’s wrist and tried to pull his shirt free.
“No one told you about the magic seal did they?” Rhae said, pulling him closer to her. The sun dried the sweat in her red hair making it look like matted blood. “Only those of Lynnette’s direct kin can detect and track that seal. Doesn’t matter where you go or where you hide, Thomas can find it.”
The man gave Thomas a sideways glance to see him flash a broad grin. “So you’re just going to kill me now?”
“I can gut you like a damn fish right now,” Rhae said. “Or you can give us the fucking package, take the fucking money, and walk the fuck away.”
Still grinning, Thomas shook the pouch and said, “It’s your choice, buddy.”
“I’ll give you the package,” the man said, “and you’ll let me live?”
“What did I just fucking say?” Rhae said.
“Yes, you get the money and you walk away,” Thomas said. “But toss me the package first.”
With a trembling hand, the man reached inside his tattered coat and pulled out a small package wrapped in wax butcher paper. A large, pressed red seal held paper in place. He tossed it to the ground at Thomas’ feet. Thomas picked it up to check the seal. It bore the intertwined triple rings and phoenix symbol that belonged to his aunt. It still resonated with her power. He carefully tucked it into the dimensional pocket inside his trench coat. No one would be stealing this package from him before he got it back home. Some reason someone didn’t want Lynnette to have whatever this was. Thomas tossed the pouch of coins to the man’s feet and nodded to Rhae. She released the man and backed away towards Thomas with the knife still out.
Retrieving her crossbow from Thomas, Rhae said, “Now you’re going to let us leave in peace. Don’t think we won’t kill you if you try to mess with us.”
The man shook his head as he clutched the pouch before he took off running.
“Well that was easy,” Thomas said.
“That was bullshit,” said Rhae. “This shit is getting old.”
“Yeah I know. Let’s go.”
They start walking down the dirt road opposite the direction the man had run. The sun would be setting in a few hours. Hopefully by then they’ll be in town.
“No seriously Thomas, this is complete bullshit,” Rhae said, sheathing the combat knife and hooking the crossbow to her back. “This guy wasn’t even in town like he was supposed to be. We had to track him down. He was all the way out here in the middle of no where in this wasteland of a desert. And then he has the balls to say he doesn’t have the package like he’s supposed to?”
“I know, Rhae,” Thomas said, “It sucks.”
“Are you even listening to me?” Rhae said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Thomas stopping walking to face her. “What do you want me to say Rhae?” He kicked a rock across the hard packed dirt. “I hate this. Aunt Lynnie always sends us out on these stupid jobs. Fetch this. Fetch that. Fix this. Fix that. Why are you so useless? That’s all I ever hear from her. But she sure likes to use my gadgets. And who has to fix everything? But I’m useless. I can’t be trusted with the important jobs. Just once I’d like to be sent out with a real job. But no we’re stuck with bouncing between worlds playing mailman and handyman. It got old years ago Rhae and you’re only noticing now?”
“I’m sorry, Thomas,” Rhae said, rubbing arm. “I guess I’m just tired as shit.”
“Well you’re not the only one,” Thomas said. He slid his shades down to wink at her, revealing his one blue eye and one brown eye.
Rhae fought back a grin as she admired his white brows and eyelashes on that youthful face of his. Like his aunt, he too was born partially albino and had a full head of white hair before the age of thirty.
She pushed his shades back up as she said, “We won’t be back in town before dark if we don’t hurry.”
Thomas nodded and resumed his steady pace down the arid road. Her longer stride comfortably matched his as they walked in silence. The sunset greeted them with rich rubies and golds across the evening sky as they reached the hushed town.
“Doesn’t look like the people here have much of a night life,” Rhae said.
“They have a bar,” Thomas said.
“Same thing,” Thomas said with a shrug.
Rhae glared at him with her amber eyes. Thomas just grinned as he stepped onto the porch of the saloon to enter.
“Let’s get some rest before going home, okay?” he said, looking over his shoulder.
Rhae nodded and followed him inside.
“Why can’t every world just have running water already?” Rhae said.
Thomas looked up from cleaning his magnum. “Wouldn’t that mean every world be like Earth? Kind of boring don’t you think?”
“Not asking that every fucking world be like Earth,” Rhae said through the privacy screen, “Just asking that everyone has hot fucking running water for a damn change.”
“What me to ring for another bucket of boiling water?”
“Don’t bother it will be cold by the time it gets here.”
“Don’t need to be catty,” Thomas said, resuming his polishing task.
“I should gut your cock weasel ass.”
“Really?” Thomas said. He looked up to face the screen, “So I’m a cock weasel now? Last week I was a twat waffle.”
“Don’t forget fucktard,” Rhae said, walking out from behind the screen.
Her bronze face gleamed in light of the oil lamps, darkened only by her scowl. She was already dressed back in her leather pants and cotton shirt. Both were black of course. Thomas couldn’t remember a time she didn’t wear black. He turned his attention back to his gun before she yelled at him for staring.
Rhae had human features for a face but fangs for teeth in addition to the cat like ears and tail. No one ever told him what race she was or where she came from. They grew up together on Terran before Lynnette move them both to Earth. She’s always been his best friend and he pitched a fit when Lynnette announced their move. He wasn’t going to leave without her. His aunt was angry, called him useless for it and has ever since. Five years later him and Rhae were still inseparable. His life would be nothing without her.
She sat on the floor next to his feet and started sharpening her combat knife. “Did you get hurt?”
“A few scrapes and bruises. You?”
Thomas holstered his gun, checked his bullets and knife, and repacked everything.
“What’s wrong?” Rhae said, not even looking up from her knife.
“I don’t know. Something doesn’t feel right,” Thomas said. “It’s like Aunt Lynnie didn’t tell everything this time.”
Rhae put her knife down. “What do you mean?”
“Usually they ask for more money,” Thomas said. He paced quietly across the room. Sleep won’t be coming for him tonight. His mind was buzzing with too many thoughts. “But this guy was different. He kept saying he didn’t have the package. Didn’t ask for a bigger cut.”
“Well how is that different from any of the other guys?”
Thomas stopping pacing and looked at Rhae. “We kicked the shit out of him, Rhae. You threatened to gut him and even then he considered to stick to his story about not having the package until you told him about the seal.”
Rhae picked at her knife in thought. “Which means there was a bigger prize out there for him.”
“Exactly,” Thomas said, “but why? What’s in the package?”
Thomas walked over to Rhae and sat down next to her. She rested her head on his shoulder as he drew his knees up to wrap his arms around them. They sat there in silence as the questions lingered, unasked. An uneasy sleep drifted between them before the town’s bell tower rang through the night.
“We’re fucked aren’t we?” Rhae said.
“I hope not.”