The Temptress And the Hunter - Part 2: The Marks
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In which Agent Dorm Harkaway makes contact with Blake’s Blades, hot on the tail of Saffron. I’ve cut these down into smaller pieces so I can bring them out more quickly. Hope you enjoy it. I wrote something without sex or violence-what a novelty for me.


The bar was dank and smoky, lowlifes in every corner spiritlessly playing cards or drinking away their troubles. Special Agent Dorm Harkaway, formerly Captain Dorm Harkaway of the Alliance Army sat hunched over a cup of something that smelled like lamp-fuel and tasted even worse.

He wasn’t Dorm Harkaway today he was Dorm Rendell, a hard-nosed street tough from New Peking on the other side of the continent. If all went well he would be Dorm Rendell for quite a while. He knew New Peking well enough to pull of the persona he’d spent his first three years as a Federal Agent there before he got promoted to undercover work. He’d investigated organised crime, drug triads, rape gangs and a myriad of other scum until he knew the seedy underbelly of New Peking as well as any man. Indeed he believed he knew it as well as Blake Taylor, the leader of the gang he had come to infiltrate. Blake had gone to college in New Peking, graduating top of his engineering class, did some guerrilla work for the independence in the last days of the war, wrote for an underground resistance newspaper before that. Then for some reason Blake had fled out here, away from the city where he became a man, across the other side of the planet to where he was born. There was nothing in the man’s file as to why he had left New Peking. Dorm supposed it didn’t matter. He knew more than enough to hold his cover and any moment now the bait he had been dangling for two days would be taken.

He was in the village of San Mark, where Blake’s Blades came for supplies, selling loot and entertainment. Two sundowns past he had ridden into town, hired himself a room on the floor above the bar and settled down to wait. He’d dropped a few hints about the shady past of Dorm Rendell, mentions of jobs pulled, of crime bosses worked for. It was never more than a few words, here or there, no boasting, only hints without elaboration. Enough to put the word out there that he was a useful man to have around in any sort of enterprise. He’d played various incarnations of Rendell enough times to know how it worked. It would not be long and someone from a local group would be looking to recruit him. Once into a group he could move into the Blades though mutual connections. Of course that was how it worked in the city. Dorm suspected than somehow San Mark wasn’t exactly a crime hub. If he was going to go into any gang it was going to Blake’s Blades or Brett Dattre had given him seriously flawed information.

The door swung open, letting a plume of thick grey dust and two ragged looking men into the bar. As the light from a gas lamp caught the men’s faces Dorm recognized them from their mugshots. Both had thuggish thick hewed faces, the faces of men who had led a life of violence and knew little else. Their cloths were dusty and ill-kept and both had long hair that looked as though it had not been washed in some time. And both men were members of Blake’s Blades. Dorm smiled inwardly with satisfaction as he downed the last of horrific drink. His marks were here.

The two men approached the bar, taking stools next to Dorm as they ordered their drinks. One of them clapped Dorm on the back in a companionable manner. “Hey there stranger,” said the bandit, slurring his words. The man was already drunk. This was going to be easier than Dorm had thought. The hardest part about getting in was being introduced to the boss and to do that you had to impress some of his men. Intoxicated men where always easier to impress.

“I ain’t seen you ‘round town afore. Are you new in San Mark?” The man’s friend was following the conversation with an idle interest.

Dorm grinned and held out a hand, “You’re right there. This is my first time in San Mark. Can’t say how long I’ll be staying however. I don’t stay in any place for to long. That kinda thing can be trouble for a man.”

The bandit took his hand and shook it vigorously, “Welcome to our sle-sleepy little town of San Mark.” He hiccupped, spraying foul smelling spittle onto Dorm’s jacket. “I’m called Nate and this here is Samul.” The other man raised his cup and nodded in acknowledgement. “Whadid you say your name was again?”

If the Academy hadn’t taught him to control his emotions, Dorm would have recoiled in disgust. Instead he smiled wider, “Didn’t. It’s Rendell, Dorm Rendell. Most folks call me Rendell.”

“Your health, Rendell.” Nate raised his cup and drained it in a single swallow. Behind him Silent Samul drank more cautiously.

“Since I’m the guest in this fine town of yours let me get the next round.” Dorm slapped down a note on the bar and the bartender refilled their cups.

“You’re a generous man, Rendell,” slurred Nate grinning blearily, “You looking for work ‘round here?”

If he wasn’t undercover Dorm would have choked. Ordinarily he would have had to work for an hours over the course of several days before he was offered any sort of entry into a gang and this chance encounter in a bar was getting him what he wanted. Somedays you had to work for it and others, well on others it walks right up to you. Still he had to play this right. Shouldn’t seem to eager, but far from disinterested. Sometimes you only got one shot at infiltration. It was all too easy to make a stupid mistake and lose the chance forever.

He sipped the terrible drink as though he was thinking it over. “I might be” he said carefully “What kind of work are we talking about here?”

Nate leaned towards Dorm, speaking quietly, as though they were co-conspirators in some grand scheme. “I’m in a gang. We’re called Blake’s Blades. Might have an opening for a fine man such as yourself.’

Samul grabbed Nate by the shoulder and started whispering angrily into his ear. Dorm sat up in interest. “Blake’s Blades? I’ve heard of them. I was in Neren-on-Jade near-on a week back and talk was all about town over how they had torched some rich farmers ranch cos’ he wouldn’t pay protection money.” It was true, the whole story was in the file that Dattre had given him. Even the rumor was true. Dorm had had Dattre spread it himself. It was so much easier to lie when you had the truth to back you up.

Samul had taken Nate’s place next to Dorm. The quiet man was considerably bigger than his counterpart, and older and more scarred. Smarter too, by the alert look in his eyes.

“You better keep this one under your hat, stranger. Nate here had no call to be tellin’ that sort of thing to a complete stranger like you.” Samul’s voice was soft and dangerous and his hand kept twitching towards his belt, where Dorm was sure a gun lay, hidden by a coat.

“I’m more interested in this sort of work that you might have for me. I pulled a few capers of my own back in New Peking. Worked protection for Alder for a while.” Dorm spoke slowly and quietly trying to gage Samul’s reactions. The man was a good deal more intelligent, sober and if Dorm didn’t miss his guess of a higher rank than Nate.

“New Peking, hey. Maybe I should take you to see Blake. If nothing else he’d be happy to hear some news of his old stomping grounds."

And like that Dorm was halfway to Saffron.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006 1:44 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER times. Can't wait to see Dorm's first impressions of Saffron when he finally meets here;)



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