Alien Jones to the rescue.
I ran out onto the roof top. Casinos. Hotels. Strip clubs. They all lit up the night sky with illuminated billboards, each more tacky than the next. The only lights I wanted to see were attached to my ride.
They were nowhere to be seen.
“You’re fired,” I said.
“Oh good,” Jones said into my ear. “Now I can sue you for all that backpay you owe me.”
“I ask you to do one thing!”
“Relax,” Jones said.
A dozen shai warriors poured out of the door. Serious players, decked out in battle suits, packing some serious heat.
“So boys,” I said as I threw up my hands, “Don’t suppose there’s anyway we could talk about this?”
“Yes, Mr. Voss,” a voice called up from the stairwell. “Let us talk about this.”
A cane topped with a diamond the size of a grapefruit popped out of the door. It was followed by a man wearing a pair of sunglasses that were way too big for his face. He sported a ridiculous black pompadour, so big that it almost looked like a creature of some kind was taking a nap on his head. Three golden chains dangled from his neck.
His suit was blood red and a leopard skin cape was draped over his shoulders. His left hand was robotic. He used it to straighten his yellow tie. I spotted some nasty looking burn scars on the left side of his face. The hand, the marks, it was a safe assumption he’d been set on fire at some point in his life, though whether it had happened by accident or on purpose I had no idea at the time.
“Good day,” the man said. He switched his cane to his robotic hand and extended his right. I shook it.
“And you are?”
“Oh pardon me,” the man said. “Fitzwalla. Chazz Fitzwalla. It’s a delight to meet you, Mr. Voss. I’ve been cleaning up so many of the messes you’ve left behind for so many years now why, it feels like we’re old friends already.”
“You’re the Cabal’s consigliere,” I said. “The brains behind the Grondi Rebus.”
Fitzwalla tapped a finger on the side of his nose.
Fitzwalla really put an emphasis on that “if.”
“IF, the organization known as, ‘the Cabal’ were real AND if it indeed it were headed by an individual known as, ‘the Klapnar di Grondi Rebus,’ and said being did in fact have an advisor referred to as a ‘Consigliere’ then yes, Mr. Voss, I suppose if all those ifs were to come together, I suppose that Consigliere would be me.”
He smiled, flashing me a glimpse of his big pearly whites, with the exception of one gold tooth.
“But,” he continued. “That would be a lot of ifs.”
“Maybe I should just go if myself,” I said.
Fitzwalla snickered. “It appears you already have.”
He stretched out his arms and took a deep breathe of the crisp air.
“Ahhh, Malostet,” he said. “Don’t you just love it?”
“Like I love an exotic venereal disease,” I replied. “Can you just kill me and get it over with already, or are you trying to bore me until I throw myself off the roof?”
“You’re funny,” Fitzwalla said as he pointed a finger at me. His ring finger was covered with a glistening emerald. “Kill you? Oh no, Mr. Voss, you are mistaken.”
I wasn’t buying it. I knew he was winding up to lead me on somewhere.
“In fact, there’s been a number of mistakes on your part, Mr. Voss…”
“Oh please,” I said, sarcastically. “Do enlighten me.”
“I will,” Fitzwalla said. “The Cabal. An organization so vast, so mysterious, so intriguing, so wildly powerful that it allegedly permeates every aspect of life in the Undesiredverse. Politicians. Businessmen. The media. All dangling from the so-called Klapnar’s hands like so many puppets on strings. Why, the very notion is clearly preposterous.”
“Clearly,” I said.
“You’ve been suckered in by fairy tales if you think we actually exist, Mr. Voss,” Fitzwalla. “That was your first mistake. Your second mistake was that if you’re not able to shake yourself from the bad idea of believing in us, that you’re not able to at least go about your day in peace and pretend as if we don’t exist, as the vast majority of Undesireverseans prefer to do, filing us away in that deep dark corner of their brain where they store the boogeyman and other things that go bump in the night.”
“Did you rehearse this or does bullshit come natural to you?” I asked.
He ignored the question. “Mr. Voss, you believe this fantasy organization is responsible for murdering your family and while I do sympathize with your loss, I must say your third mistake was taking that unfortunate incident much too personally. Business, as they say, is business. Most beings either understand that or begrudgingly accept that but you? You have been a thorn in the Klapnar’s backside for quite some time.”
“If he exists,” I said.
Fitzwalla smiled. “Now you’re catching on.” He looked to the shai warriors and asked, “Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?!”
He paced about for a moment. “You couldn’t let it go, could you? You weren’t able to move on with your life. No. You just had to hold a grudge. You bombed our operations. Killed a number of our top operatives. It seems to me that your third mistake was incurring the wrath of this massive conglomerate. Tell me, Mr. Voss, do you remember a counting house on Salazon Deo?”
My heart sunk. Now I knew where he was going.
“It rings a bell.”
“You blocked all the doors and set it on fire,” Fitzwalla said. “But you made another mistake that day, Mr. Voss. We’ll call it your fourth.”
The Consigliere leaned in close and pushed his sunglasses up on his forehead to reveal that his left eye had been replaced by a glowing red robotic optic implant.
“You didn’t kill everyone that day,” Fitzwalla said.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m…sorry?”
“I’m not,” Fitzwalla said. “Not at all. Whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. You know, Mr. Voss…hmm. Enough of this ‘Mr. Voss.’”
He put his arm around my shoulder.
“Can I call you Roman?” Fitzwalla asked. “I really feel like we have such a history, Roman, that we should be on a first name basis. Do you mind?”
“Go for it, Chazz.”
“Clever,” Chazz replied. “And that brings us to your fifth mistake, the one you just made moments ago, when you assumed that after all you have done that I’d merely just kill you.”
“You’re going to let me go?” I asked.
“Not at all,” Chazz answered. “It has been quite some time since I have gotten my hands dirty, what with me holding an upper management position and all, but as soon as I get the Klapnar on the line, I’m going to volunteer for a special duty. I’m going to personally torture you. Slowly. For days. I’m going to engage the help of medical professionals to keep you alive longer just so I can torture you some more. And just when you reach the point where you’ve had enough, where you can’t take it any longer, where you beg me for mercy…I am going to keep on going.”
“Well Jesus, Chazz,” I said. “Now who’s holding a grudge?”
“First thing’s first,” Chazz said. “Take all the hardware you’re packing in that infamous coat of yours and fork it all over.”
I didn’t move.
“Roman,” came Jones’ voice in my ear. I was the only one who could hear it. “You should do as he says.”
Off in the distance, behind everyone’s backs, came a blinking light. It drew closer and closer.
I reached into my coat. All the warriors looked like they had itchy trigger fingers.
“Don’t try anything funny, Roman,” Chazz said. “You can see all the firepower I have at my disposal.”
“Start with the biggest one first,” Jones said.
My double-barreled shot blaster. It was strapped to my back. I reached under my coat, unhooked it, and held it high over my head.
It wasn’t much to look at but it was in full view. A Benson and Brandt 2900 Star Streaker. Turd brown and basically a giant floating bread box with wings, it was the ride of choice for soccer moms around the turn of the thirtieth century.
And it wasn’t even mine. It was a damn rental.
But I’d never been so happy to see it. Good old Jonesy. I saw his little green face in the cockpit. He’d cut the engines and coasted in and since everyone was facing me, they didn’t notice my rescuer, or the big hook attached to a tow cable dangling from the bottom of the ship.
“Come on, come on,” Chazz said as he grabbed my lapel and opened my beloved garment up. “What else have you got in there?”
“You just made a mistake yourself there, Chazzy,” I said.
“Oh, and what’s that?”
I cold cocked the Consigliere in the face with the butt of my shotblaster, knocked his gold tooth out, then raised my weapon again, holding each end up high in both hands just in time to be hooked and dragged up into the air.
“You touched my duster!” I shouted.
As I dangled in the breeze like a freshly caught trout, the warriors took their shots, but Jones kicked the engines in. They let loose with a roar and my pilot gunned it, tearing ass across the sky and forcing me to puke out everything I’d eaten that day.
My apologies to the tourists it landed on.
“God damn it, Jonesy!” I shouted. “I knew you were good for something!”
“Yeah yeah,” came the reply in my ear. “You owe me a smoodchix sandwich.”