The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 54

“Are you kidding me?” Roddy asked the secretary.

They were meeting in a small Machinist owned pub in the Cobble district, a place he didn’t have much love for, beside the bathhouses.

“I took care of that temple thing. Caused quite a ruckus I expect.”

“And Chairman Parton thanks you for that. He is very impressed with your ability to get things done.”

“But he won’t meet me himself? He used to have no problem doing that.”

She waved him off. “If you take care of this last little thing, I have permission to pay you triple the original amount.”

He sighed. “Triple? You sure?”

She nodded. “Yes. Triple. Shake on it?”

“You’re learning, I see,” he told her. Indeed, she had been much less fancy in her language towards him this time. He reached out and shook her hand. “It’s a deal, but it better be the last one. I have plans for all that money.” Bathhouse plans.

She smiled. He guessed she was cute. But way out of his league. “Good. Now the details on this one are pretty simple.”

“OK,” he said, staring at her blankly. He hoped a long diatribe wasn’t about to birth itself from her mouth.

“There’s a prisoner in the Machine district. The Sigil is holding him. Chairman Parton wants him to disappear.”

“You mean dead?”

“Err...yes.”

“Ok, that’s simple enough.”

She sighed.

“But I’m going to want quadruple.”

“I don’t have permission for that amount,” she said.

“Tough. Going up against an old lady and a church ain’t difficult. But you’re asking me to kill someone under the Sigil’s nose. Won’t be easy and will take some time. I’ll need more money for that.”

“I’m not sure...”

“Then get sure, honey. I ain’t got a problem with soft targets in the open but you’re talking about a protected person here. And if he’s the one I’m thinking, he probably ain’t going down so easy, shackled or not.”

Her eyes darted left and right, as if she were looking for help with this altered situation.

“You go tell Parton what I want and get your permission. If he really wants this thread tied up, he’s gonna have to pony up.”

The secretary sighed, her shoulders falling. “And if I can’t secure the money, you walk away?”

“Faster than a feline beelines for milk,” he said, grinning.

The joke appeared lost on her. “How long can you wait?”

“I got all my life. It’s Parton wanting this done quick.”

She sighed and corrected him. “Chairman Parton.”

“Right,” he said. “Sorry. Ain’t much on titles neither.”

Titles, ranks, positions, all things to separate everyone from everyone else. Roddy didn’t like complicated things and labels were just that. Why the Machinists insisted on labels he would never know. They had their own labels for months, years, days, etc. Cycles, Moons, Rotations, etc. So stupid, he thought. That’s why Parton was always trying to “tie up loose ends.” He left them hanging all over the place.

Well, Roddy thought, it’s a good thing he leaves ’em. Where would he be getting all this work from otherwise? Being a Foreman was great and all but he much preferred wet work. His own men used to laugh at him. He fired them all, took a bunch of greenhorns from Millewhist when Parton had gutted the workforce and caused that big incident.

A whole bunch of people were pissed on that too, like the Sigil and the Union. Their leader had planned protests after protests. Some guards had even been attacked. Little Mille wasn’t as safe as it had been. And now here he was being asked to go into Little Mille and take out a prisoner in the middle of all of that mess.

Roddy shook his head. “Hell of a mess you have on your hands in Little Mille.”

She nodded. “The incidents are growing in the Machine district. We have had to grow our guard force, have enlisted some Foremans to take guard shifts before of after their own.”

He nodded. “And there’s beatings and random slug throwing and all sorts of nasty things happening. And Chairman Parton wants me to go in all of this muck and come up with yet another loose end cut off. Well, I’m sorry. That’s gonna cost more than he may want.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” she said, shaking her head. “Nothing can ever be easy.”

“Nope, and that’s why they call it life, honey. Life ain’t fair and life don’t care.”

Her frown told him all he needed to know about her thoughts on his little quip.

“Learn to take a joke, lady,” he said before leaving her.

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