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Chapter 3

Banjo left the sanctuary of the main dome and walked down the main causeway passing several size domes as he walked. He was aware of eyes burning into him as he walked and he knew the reputation as a troublemaker stalked him constantly. He paused in the mud and looked back in the direction of the central dome and shook his desolately, 'that could have gone better' he thought to himself as he reflected on how the conversation with Lady Norton had deteriorated so quickly and how quickly he had allowed the situation to get out of control. He turned his attention to the slender female form heading in his direction. She wore a simple blue overall with knee length black boots protecting her from the dire conditions in the street. Her auburn hair trailed loosely from her head and fell across her shoulders, with strands crossing playfully over her features. She smiled warmly at him as she approached and Banjo felt a happy glow wash over him from her smile as he realised the figure approaching was Cass. He almost hadn't recognised her, now she was clean from her work detail. She stopped before him and Banjo stared into her large brown eyes, allowing himself to get lost in the depth of her stare.

"Cass...I..." he stuttered attempting an apology.

"Banjo...don't" she whispered, smiling and glancing toward her muddy feet to avoid his gaze. She couldn't look at him, no she didn't want to look at him. She didn't want to because she was angry, and she knew if she looked into his big childlike eyes she would instantly forgive his actions.

"Cass" he continued unperturbed. "I'm sorry". The words were quiet and full of shame. He reached his hand to her cheek, her soft warm cheek but she flinched away before his hand could meet her skin. He shuffled uncomfortably as his hand hovered near her face and lowered, placing it firmly on her hip. "Cass...please"

She made no attempt to remove his hand, but turned her head away from him staring into the muddy floor. "I heard what you did" she said simply.

"Please Cass..."

"No Banjo, you have to realise everything you say and do impacts others. You can't keep going around causing trouble" she turned her head and stared into his face. He smiled at her and despite herself she could feel her heart melt under the weight of his smile.

"Cass...you have to understand, things needed to be said"

"No they didn't!" snapped Cass, pulling away from his touch. "Don't you see; you go in there shooting your mouth off and... well it doesn't do any good does it? You say some things, but nothing changes...nothing except people's feelings toward you"

"I'm sorry Cass, but..."

"Oh shut up Banjo! you say things need to change, but look around you. Go on look!" Banjo turned his attention to the causeway and the domes scattered off it. He could see people walking between domes, talking and working and living there lives. "You see that Banjo, people...people like you and me. People struggling to survive, struggling to make a living. What they don't need...what I don't need is you walking around spreading dissention through the colony. Shit Banjo, life's hard enough here without you causing trouble" Cass smiled and placed a hand on his cheek and felt the pressure of his head as he lent into her open palm. He closed his eyes and smiled under her touch and allowed his own hand to cusp hers. "Please Banjo" she said, "I care for you, Christ knows I shouldn't, but I do. So please...for me, stay out of trouble"

Banjo opened his eyes and stared deeply into her, drinking deeply in her stare. He smiled, "promise" he said quietly. He moved to kiss her, but she shifted under his body and pulled away from him flushing slightly with embarrassment. She turned and walked away from him and all he could do was watch as she walked away, the tight contours of her uniform clinging closely to her body. "I love you..." he whispered at her retreating form.

"Ahh...poor Banjo" sneered a voice from behind him. "if only she knew" his laughter grated through Banjo and he turned to face the disembodied voice.

"Piss off Cole" retorted Banjo as he stood before his persecutor. The man in front of him; Cole was in his late forties and wore a tight fitting grey overall. The material strained against his bloated stomach and Banjo could see the blue material of his under garments as the buttons struggled a losing battle against his rounded stomach. He was short, and the legs of the overalls gathered around the knees and in clumps around his boots. He sneered at Banjo through pursed lips surrounded by rough greying stubble. His face like his stomach was slightly bloated and he breathed heavily from obvious exertion. His hair thinned into a revealing bald patch at the top of his cranium which reflected silver strands running through the remaining hair follicles. He clapped his stubby hands together at Banjo's discomfort.

"Ooh, what a big man" Cole sneered.

"What do you want Cole?" asked Banjo, "I haven't got time to stand around talking to the likes of you". Banjo narrowed his eyes in the direction of Cole and stood his ground. He knew the reputation of this weasel little man before him and knew he couldn't trust him as far as he could throw him.

"Mr. Creed wants to see you" Cole replied flatly. Yeah, Creed...Dillonger Creed the unofficial leader of the colony. A man who betrayed an aura of fear and hatred through the colony, a man that held the entire site with a grip of iron. If it was valuable, Creed owned it, if it was worth anything then Creed had his hands in the pot...and through little men like Cole he influenced his position.

"Tell him to come and find me himself" said Banjo defiantly.

"Mr. Creed wants to see you..." sneered Cole again taking a step toward Banjo. From his pocket he pulled a small metal tube a flicked at it with his wrist. From the end of the nozzle, a small blade sprang from the end of the tube and he held it out before him threateningly, "...and what Mr. Creed wants, Mr. Creed gets" Banjo took a step back, and listened to his own foot splash in the thick mud of the causeway.

"Now, now come on..." he held out in hands in front of his chest.

"Not so tough are you now" Cole lunged forward and grasped Banjo around his neck and thrust the blade against his throat. Banjo kicked himself silently and chided himself against his own inability in reading the situation. "Personally Banjo, I'd rather see how much you bleed"

Banjo recoiled under his grasp and felt the point of the blade dig hard against his skin. "Christ, Cole" he complained, "What have you been eating?" his frivolity masked his fear as the blade scratched at the surface of his neck.

"Funny boy, but that ain't going to help you" Banjo could feel Cole's grip tighten around his neck and he considered struggling against the small man, but the deterrent of the blade made him wary. "Let me tell you a secret..." Cole licked his lips as he tasted the air around him and he lent his head closer to Banjo's ear. "I never liked you" he whispered and allowed a wheezing laugh to erupt from his lips as he spoke.

"Drop dead" spat Banjo.

"That can be arranged" The blade ran across his skin, breaking the surface and producing a tiny sliver of blood from the cut.

"Put the knife down Cole!" came a loud booming voice from behind the men. Cole turned his head slightly to view to new arrival, whilst still clutching Banjo in his grip.

"This ain't nothing to do with you Lawman" he said.

"Don't listen to him Sheriff, I'm pleased to see you"

"Shut up Banjo" commanded the Sheriff, "I won't warn you again Cole, place the weapon on the floor"

Cole whispered into Banjo's ear and sneered through gritted teeth, "you’re lucky this time...but next time" he released his grip on Banjo and turned to face the Sheriff allowing the blade to drop to the floor. Tiny droplets of mud leapt from the ground under the weight of the knife, then slowly enveloped the weapon. He held his arms over his head, "there...happy, happy?" he said smiling toward the Sheriff, then he spoke over his shoulder, "but Mr. Creed still wants to see you Jax"

Both the Sheriff and Banjo watched as Cole slowly trudged through the mud as he walked down the causeway. He turned and sneered in the direction of Banjo before disappearing down a side street. "You need to be warier about the company you keep son" remarked the Sheriff as he bent and retrieved the weapon from the mud. Banjo watched the lawman as he struggled to reach the item, without getting his uniform dirty and smiled to himself as he listened to the expulsion of breath as he attempted to retain his balance against his girth. The sheriff's blue uniform as neat and tidy as it clung tightly to his body and Banjo reflected that the uniform was a little too tight as it struggled to contain the bulky frame of the officer. The sheriff straightened, pausing briefly to rest his hands on his knees and he breathed in heavily, drinking large lung full of air before standing to his full height. The uniform was a single piece blue lycra suit, offset by a black belt separating his legs from his torso around his waist. The belt was simple and functional with several pouches hanging limply from the belt and housing items including cuffs, gun and gas canisters.

A sash ran draped from his shoulder and an embroiled golden star signified his position within the community and fell across his gorged stomach hanging toward his hips. Black lapels matched his black gloves and boots and the entire outfit was offset by a large rimmed brown Stetson which shielded much of his ageing face in shadow. The sheriff's face was etched with the lines of experience and masked his age through years of service to both the colony and the transporter which had originally brought them to the planet in the first place. Shoots of greying hair poked tentatively from the underside of the Stetson and ran down the side of his face creating a set of dignified sideburns. His blue eyes pierced Banjo as he stood facing the lawman, and although Banjo could see the tiredness in those eyes he could also see a level of respect and intelligence which still bore remnants of a level of servitude toward the people of the colony.

"I try..." started Banjo.

"Look son, Creed is a dangerous man. Don't get on his wrong side" warned the officer. "Remember, he has eyes everywhere and what he doesn't know...he can soon find out with certain means" he trailed off and looked around him as he spoke. In a site like this, every person was a possible informant, every person was a possible traitor. "Mr. Creed..." he continued, "has his fingers in most pies within the colony Banjo, just be careful...that's all I'm saying"

Banjo nodded his understanding and watched as the sheriff walked away, "You know where I am boy..." he called over his shoulder as his figure retreated down the street. Banjo hovered in the causeway unsure over the course of his actions, the threat from Cole had been thinly disguised and with the summons from a person like Creed he would be stupid to ignore. Although the sheriff upheld the law and the Norton's were the main leadership figurehead, Dillonger Creed was the real powerhouse behind the colony. Everything ran through him either directly or through his minions like Cole. He looked at his hands and pined desperately for a shower. Mud stains still caked his skin from his shift in the mining area and the grime of the day bore heavily of his body. He sighed and knew his cleansing would have to wait and turning away from the shower house stared down the causeway in the direction of a large plain metal dome on the edge of the town. He thrust his dirty hands deep into his pockets and stalked his way down the causeway.

The inside of the dome was dark and a tiny sliver of light spilled through a viewing port high above the floor and illuminated a small area. The light danced across a simple wooden table in the center of the floor and two chairs sat on either side of the table. Hidden in the shadows stood three large heavily set men, each wore identical pin-striped single piece blue uniforms with black seems running across the material of the outfit. The buttons at the neckline were undone revealing a cotton white shirt beneath and a plain black necktie. Their hair was prim and neat and they stood with their hands by their sides close to the small nozzle weapon draped from a utility belt buckled around their waists. Light broke the darkness as the main door to the dome was swung open and Cole tentatively entered the building and glanced around the floor space. He forced his body in through the gap and seeing only the guards walked confidently into the room. He walked closely to the first of the guards and demanded, "You! Oaf. Where’s Creed"

"That's Mr. Creed to you Cole" replied a sweetly sickly purr from high above his head. Cole's eye line was drawn upward to the figure standing on a metal gantry above their heads. The figure grasped the edge of the railing and stared down onto the scene below. "Be careful who you're talking to Mr. Cole" warned the figure hidden by the shadow. The voice drifted down through the dome and the words struck Cole like a ton weight.

Cole rubbed his hands together and shuffled uncomfortably on the spot, "I'm sorry Mr. Creed...I... I didn't see you there"

"Obviously..." came the response. The words were silky in tone and carefully measured as he spoke, "please Mr. Cole come up"

Cole gulped heavily and walked to the metal stairwell which ran up the wall, hugging the side of the dome and leading toward the upper level of the dome. He glanced up toward the figure, still shrouded in darkness and placed a foot on the first step of the stair. He closed his eyes as the sound of his footsteps echoed through the dome and dread swept across him as he placed one step in front of the other as he slowly climbed the metallic steps toward his employer. His hand grasped at the metal rail which ran by his side and he could feel the tremble of the stair beneath each footstep. He opened his eyes and gazed up toward the top of the stair and he peered through the gloom as the top of the staircase came into view. His foot touched the final step and he hauled himself up onto the landing and allowed himself a small luxury of gazing down at the floor below. The area above the floor was suspended by a metal grill spreading over the majority of the floor, with much of the area protected by a thick metal hand rail spread around the perimeter and allowing constant supervision from the elevated position on the gantry. A single table sat offset toward the rear of the floor space, with two chairs positioned on either side of the table.

Through the darkened light, Cole could make out the form of his employer still leaning heavily against the metallic rail. His spindly thin form masked a cruel and powerful streak which had belied his position within the colony. "Please sit down Mr. Cole" said Creed softly and he waved toward the plain wooden chair at one side of the table. Cole looked at the chair and walked slowly toward it, pulling it over the metal floor. He sat heavily in the chair and realised it felt as uncomfortable as it had looked. He watched as Creed left his position by the railing and walked slowly to the table where he took his position in the luxurious chair which sat opposite. The chair was a complete contrast to the one that Cole was sitting in, lavish leather bound the arms, back and base offering the highest possible comfort to the occupant. Creed sighed heavily and audibly as he sat and sank deep into the lush material of the chair. A crack of light spilled from the doorway behind him and illuminated a small part of the gantry. Creed clicked his fingers in the air and the door opened further and as light fought its way through the darkness a single figure stepped onto the metal floor.

Cole watched as the figure moved from the room and stared intently at the woman. She walked softly and seductively toward the table allowing her hips to sway as she walked. She knew Cole's eyes bore down on her as she walked and the thrill swept through her body as she smiled toward him. Her blonde curls bounced over her face as she walked, partially covering her pretty open face. Her blue eyes shone, even in this dimly lit area as she placed her slender hand on the shoulder of Dillonger Creed. Cole allowed his eyes to discreetly dance over her perfectly formed body, caressing her curves and running through her scantily clad form from her rounded pert breasts, down her flat stomach and over her long slender legs. Her body was clothed by only the slightest clothing as she wore a lace white Basque with simple white cord ties dangling from the breast and falling over her stomach. Lace suspenders crossed a fabricated lace pattern thong and stretched down her legs where they attached her underwear to a pair of white stockings which were adorned by a patterned embroidered top running around her thigh. Creed smiled at her and patted his knee, encouraging her to take her place.

The woman smiled at him and slowly walked around the chair, keeping her arm draped around his chest as she moved into position. Cole shuffled in his chair as he watched her near naked form and felt himself staring at the cheeks of her buttocks as she turned to face Creed before lowering herself into his groin. As the pressure of her body pressed down into the lap of Creed, he closed his eyes and groaned slightly; a smile crossing his face and he turned his head to Cole and sneered, "My latest..." he bragged as she draped herself across him. Creed tenderly stroked her face before he allowed his hand to fall over her soft neck and onto her shoulder. "Belle" he breathed and leant close to her face as he spoke her name. Cole could see from his position their breath combine as one and stared mesmerized as Creed gently rubbed her shoulder. "You like...?" he mocked in the direction of Cole. Cole knew despite the question aimed toward him, it was a question that was not expected to be answered. His eyes never left his employer as he toyed with the woman's hair as she shuffled in his lap. Creed allowed his hand to stray further down her body and carefully stroked the skin, tracing his hand down her throat until it rested on the laced white material of her Basque.

He paused with his hand hovering over the woman's breast for a moment and whispered in her ear, "You are so beautiful..." he cooed before grasping at her left breast holding it hard in his hand. Creed's fingers softly caressed her breast through the material and he closed his eyes and smiled "my dear". He opened his eyes and met the gaze of Cole with an icy glare before turning his attention back to the woman on his lap. He moved his hand and lowered the material of the Basque slightly allowing her breast to fall loosely in his hand. He fingered the soft skin and making circular motions with his hand, he closed his eyes and groaned as flesh met flesh. Creed lowered his head and gently kissed her breast, then keeping his head in its soft pillow he opened his eyes and once again stared at Cole. He smiled, knowing the uncomfortable position his employee was in and sat straight in his chair, his fingers still playing with her breast. "You like?" he asked again as he held her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and smiled sickly in his direction. He kissed Belle hard and Cole could see slivers of saliva fall from their mouths as they made contact and looked away over the railing and into the darkness beyond. The sound of Creed groaning broke his concentration and he was forced to look back as his employer broke the embrace and smiled at the woman. "Go" he ordered, "I won't be long..." he stared directly at Cole as the woman stood.

Cole felt more uncomfortable with the woman's dismissal and gulped worriedly as she moved slowly away from the table. Cole felt an effort to tear his gaze from her hips as they waved in his direction as she walked. She paused at the door and turned back to the two men. Cole could see that her breast was still free from its mooring and draped over the cup of her Basque. She smiled toward Cole before pouting sullenly at Creed, "Don't be too long" she teased seductively.

Creed stood from his seat and straightened his clothing before moving over to the railing and staring into the open space beyond. "Come here..." he spoke softly to Cole and indicated to his employee to join him at the railing. Reluctantly, Cole stood and crossed to the railing where standing close to Creed he grasped at the metal railing. He could feel his sweat slipping down his back as he stood with the cold metal running through his hands. He glanced nervously at Creed as they stood briefly in silence. Creed lowered his gaze down over the edge of the railing and into the area below where his security guards stood in quiet contemplation. "Where is Mr. Jax?" he asked simply.

"He'll be here soon Mr. Creed..." started Cole.

"That is not good enough, Mr. Cole"

"I... I passed on the message Mr. Creed" stammered Cole, "he said he would be along..." The sentence was cut short by a roar from Creed. Despite his wiry physique Creed moved quickly and nimbly and grasped Cole's throat, forcing the man over the edge of the railing. Cole desperately grasped at Creed's arm as he held his grasp fast over his employee, pearls of sweat forming across his forehead. "Please Mr. Creed" he gasped. He could feel his legs swing in the air and the grasp tighten around his throat, with the very hand which only moments ago had held the breast of Belle so tenderly.

"Look around you Mr. Cole" whispered Creed, "everything you can see, everything you can touch belongs to me. I built this empire from nothing Mr. Cole...nothing, you understand. When I came here, I had nothing and now look at me...I have everything. Everything I have built, I have built through the pain and sorrow of others. I rule this colony Mr. Cole through fear...and when I want to see someone, I expect to see them immediately not when they are ready. Do you understand me now Mr. Cole?" Cole gasped and struggled under the pressure of Creed's grasp and nodded furiously. Creed pulled Cole back over the railing and released his grip and watched as Cole lay gasping for breath on the grilled flooring. "Do not fail me Mr. Cole, just remember everyone can be replaced" He knelt close to his employee as he spoke, "You disappoint me again Mr. Cole and I wouldn't like to say what may happen against you" Creed stood and turned from the other man, "be warned Mr. Cole, I hope for your sake that Mr. Jax does arrive"

Cole watched as Creed walked carefully toward the small room at the rear of the gantry. He paused and looked back over his shoulder as his hands worked at the buttons on his trousers, "next time, I won't be so lenient" Through the open door Cole could see the writhing naked body of the woman on the bed as Creed swung the door firmly closed behind him. He lay on the floor of the gantry and gulped massive lungs full of air as he struggled for breath, whilst attempting to block the sounds drifting from inside the room.

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