Monday, February 12, 2007

Just 'cause - Chapter 5

The next morning, John Done and Mark stalked the gun fair, with Mark bleeding money at an unhealthy rate. Admittedly, most of that was his own doing; whenever Done chose a gun, Mark bought five; while Done carted his choices around in what amounted to a better shopping cart, Mark passed out business cards. In the process, Done saw what spending privileges really meant. They'd worked their way up to the SAWs when Done felt like having a conversation with Mark; with a sly flick of the wrist, he pointed to an IMI Negev, and Mark walked towards it to check it out.

"Well, it's from Israel," Mark said, admiring the machine gun, and Done nodded sagely. "But I'm all stocked up," Mark concluded.
"So, does she like you?" Done asked.
"We had a bit of a screaming match at the beginning. It's been uphill from there. Why do you ask?"
"I noticed she walks like you now."
"Really?" Mark asked, paying more attention to the weapon than to Done. "Missed that."
" got any advice know?"
"...raising kids."
"Opening a daycare?"
"Dammit, Simmons, do I have to..."

Mark held up his hand, a sly grin forming on his mouth.

"So, is this an...urgent question?"
"No! I mean, no, I'd never...I'm just...curious, you know?"
"Well, you've known her longer."
"But she's more like you."
"See, Done, sometime's it's not the quality of the mold or the time. Sometimes it's the pressure."
"Makes sense. I guess."
"You guess? You asked for my opinion, that's it. Now, when do you pop the question?"
"Uh, I, well...I haven't really thought about that."

Mark rolled his eyes. What was it about hardened killers and indecision in romantic matters?

"Seriously, Done, you should..." Mark began, but John Done yanked him away from the stand and pulled him into the crowd, hustling him around the next corner. For a big guy like Mark, it was a vaguely traumatic experience to be dragged around like this, so he did his best to squirm out of Done's hug. "What'd I do now?" he asked.
"Not you, Simmons."

Done finally let go of Mark after they'd put some distance between themselves and the main crowd; back in the (unused) stage area, there were plenty of shadows to stick to.

"Mind filling me in?"
"Over there," Done said and pointed his finger. "See that?"
"I see a woman. And?"
"Look again."

The woman, Mark noticed, was clad in a stark business suit, her eyes hidden behind shades. Vaguely European look, with a couple of bodyguards behind her - well, she looked pretty much just like Mark imagined a female armsdealer would look like, slick and superior at all times. Then he saw the man she was with.


Motherfucking Dennis Gray.

It was a good thing that Done was there to wrestle Mark to the ground, because he had already freed one USP from its holster. With one hand on Mark's wrist and the other cupped over the Enforcer's mouth, Done used his weight to literally sit this one out. Mark squirmed, now genuinely trying to get free, but he simply hadn't seen that coming; Done was bigger and heavier. After Mark stopped struggling, Done slowly let go of him; the killer picked himself from the floor and crouched next to John Done, but he didn't holster the USP. Mark gnashed his teeth audibly, desperately trying to keep the tension in his body from creeping into his trigger finger.

"Just a clone," Mark whispered. Done nodded silently. He drew a few sharp breaths, then clicked the safety back on and unclenched his teeth. "Just a clone."

Mark holstered his gun and picked himself off the ground. Still sticking to the shadows, the two managed to slip out through the back door. Once in the open, Mark bowed down, put his hands on his knees and tried to steady himself. He hadn't felt the shakes like that for years.

"I'm okay," he lied to Done, trying to get his thoughts back under control. Both a Gray clone and that woman - ah shit, Miss Abbot!, Mark realized.
"You look like crap."
"I'm fucking okay, right?" A few more deep breaths, and Mark snapped back up.
"Whatever," Done said. "I'm going to the hotel. You coming?"
"...right behind you."

Mark's rampant dislike of the Shop was no great secret to anyone in the new Conspiracy who had bothered to read his file. Dennis Gray seemed to have a special talent for getting into Mark's head in the way Mark usually did to his enemies; then again, they did have access to his genetic material and had made at least one clone, so maybe they had a Bizarro Mark doing their planning. Either way, Mark thought, he'd have to stop them sooner or later, but the way things were going, later seemed the most likely outcome. And how Gray kept using Mark's aggressiveness against him didn't sit well with the Enforcer, either; he'd have to play it smart, but that didn't come naturally to him. Right then, what he needed the most was to get rid of some adrenaline.

Back at said hotel, Rowena was enjoying the amenities of the Health & Wellness Center - that is, the cross trainer - when Mark barged in five minutes later, intent on putting the hurt on something.

"Tough day at the office?" Rowena offered; Mark ignored her, slipped into a pair of boxing gloves and began to work the sand bag. After a few punches, he stopped, took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Rowena briefly stopped her walk; it seemed like she was catching her teacher on one of his few 'off' days, and while the curiosity value of that experience was hard to underestimate, it also worried her - it had to be serious if Mark Simmons was bothered.

"The Shop is here," he said.
"Did you call my Dad?"
"Here's the thing, kid. I'm pretty sure he knows already."

A few more punches, and a final kick; Rowena had another two miles to go on her training session and started on them.

"What's our strategy?" she asked.
"Violence is out. Missiles are too big to steal."
"Can we sabotage the plane?"
"No chance. We can blow it up, but Krueger's guys are on high alert after they found the tracers. We can't slip anything past them. They'll know it was us."

Rowena thought about that, then smiled. The solution was obvious...

"You know, Mark, it is an auction."
"Yes. And?"
"My birthday's coming up," she said, grinning from ear to ear. "And I always wanted some weapons of mass destruction."

1 comment:

Valentina said...

I get that reaction.
Children of Eve, HoG agents, other Avatars -pretty much full on Will to Combat.
...well, maybe not that intensely. =]