Grey in the Black, part 1
Saturday, December 17, 2005

Grey finds himself at odds with the local color.


“Gunny Chen. I didn’t expect I ever would come back. But it seems that I’ve found a reason to draw my gun again. However, the gun could probably use a once over, all those years of just sitting about. I need some ammo, too.”

“Jed, now you know the cleaning I’ll do, but I can’t just gi-” the Asian woman stopped mid sentence at the sound of clinking metal. A small, but significantly laden, black pouch found itself on the table in Grey’s right hand. He smiled, letting go of the bag and his gun, taking a step back from the counter. Gunny reached out tentatively with her right hand as it settled on the wooden grips of Grey’s gun. “Pearl? Is this actual pearl?” Grey nodded.

“Antique. Salvaged from an alliance general’s pistol. Came into the wrong end of my own weapon. He was fast, though. Managed to twist just so. Missed him completely, but the velocity of the round shattered the barrel of his gun.” Grey sighed. “Anyway. The panels matched up pretty closely with the rubber grips that came on that beast originally. So I just had a jeweler line the edges in silver to make up the rest of the shape.” Gunny had already broken down the massive revolver into its basic parts. He chuckled. “Shall I leave you two to some privacy?” Gunny shook her head.

“Sorry. You know me and guns, especially rare ones. I have some of the scramjet shells that will work in here, but they’re meant for rifles. They won’t carry the punch of what should be used, and they’ll be a lot tougher on the gun itself.” She eyed the bag carefully. “Platinum?” Grey nodded. “I can give you a case. The gun I’ll tool and tune up for free. And there should be enough left over for a meal and as much as you care to drink. Head on upstairs and tell my mom I’m covering you tonight.” Grey smiled and made his way to the stairs on the left wall.

“Join me later?” He motioned up the stairs. She laughed.

“Sure thing, old man.”

“Old man? I’ll give you old man. Youngin.” She stuck her tongue out at him and he returned the gesture before breaking out into a laugh as he headed up the stairs. He found himself in a cozy little tea house. An older lady came waddling up to him in something that resembled traditional Chinese wear.

“Ah! Grey! How good of you to visit after so long. I take it Kaibei is taking care of you tonight?” She led him to a table off to the side near a large aquarium.

“Wei. And you are looking well as always, Ms. Chen.” She started to hand him a menu, but he waved his hand. “Egg drop soup, some seasame chicken over fried rice with broccoli, an egg-roll, and some rice wine, please.” Ms. Chen bowed and smiled, hurrying off to get his drinks and to send his order to the kitchen. He was just pouring his second cup of wine as the food came out. “Qi miao! Duo xie! I’m sure it will be wonderful, as always.” He smiled as she bowed and turned to attend a group of people just entering the restaurant from its main entrance, leaving to eat his meal in peace. He sighed about halfway through his meal. It had been quite some time since he last enjoyed a well-cooked meal. Not that he couldn’t cook. But a life on the run in a fighter craft doesn’t lend itself to leisurely kitchen exploits. He finished his meal, and his first bottle of rice wine, and sat in the dim light of the teahouse, letting his mind wander in the odd melodies of ancient traditional Chinese music playing softly in the background. He wondered how long he would be able to stick around. A rough hand slapped down on his shoulder. “Not very long it seems.”

“What was that, Hun-dan?” Grey looked up from his empty cup. Around him was a group of 7 Chinese men, all in yellow biker jackets, the characters for “Pure Men” or Chun Nan Ren in blue on the right breast and across the back. The seeming leader sat down beside him, straddling the chair as he turned it backwards. “Well, Po-ren? What did you say?”

“Ji. Nice to see you again. Second fiddle in a small-time street gang? Your mother must be so proud.” Ji spewed forth a long string of expletives in at least three languages. There was the sound of a loud smack. Grey pulled his left hand back to his section of the table. An angry Ji leapt back off the chair and flipped out a butterfly knife, a bright red hand-sized slap mark on his right cheek. “Ji. I don’t think your boss would appreciate you doing that. You all came here so he could see me, didn’t you? Well? Am I wrong?” Silence fell across the restaurant. A small Chinese man in a simple yellow kung fu outfit with blue accenting stepped forward. His hair was short and neat, his face clean.

“Grey.” He bowed. Grey stood up slowly from the table and bowed, very slightly.

“Priest, I think they call you. Will you sit? You seem capable of civilization, at least. Even if your men do not. Perhaps we can discuss whatever is so important over a pot of green tea or, perhaps, a bottle of the house’s finer rice wines?” The man called Priest sat down wordlessly. He glanced to his right and his left. The other men wandered off and out of the store. Priest cleared his throat.

“Your presence here upsets a very delicate balance. My ears are low to the ground, Mr. Grey. I know you are wanted. And I know you could be followed very easily. Even here. Especially here. The last thing we want is federal troops looking for you here. I am here to tell you that if you stay in Redcloud any longer than a day, well, I cannot say what might happen to you. Many people here are a little…paranoid of Alliance involvement. Paranoid people tend to behave irrationally.” Grey said nothing as he slowly drained the last cup of his second bottle.

“I have heard your warning.” He got up and walked towards the main exit. He bowed low to Ms. Chen, apologizing profusely for the trouble caused on his account. He slipped outside into the cool night air. The obvious sounds of an altercation could be heard coming from the street outside from the interior of the restaurant. Priest stood up and made his way to the door. As soon as the door snapped shut behind him, he found his field of vision blocked by a length of rusty grey pipe. He took a step to the side and found his men in various stages of beat up around Grey, who held a pipe extended in his left hand. He looked into the same street Priest did. Without turning to him he spoke. “I have heard your warning and issue my own. I am called Bastard and I am called Soul Man. Where the Light and Dark meet, there is naught but tempest. Do not call the thunder. Do not tempt the lightning.” He let the pipe clatter to the sidewalk as he made his way back around the building to the small gunshop.

notes: hun dan - bastard/scoundrel po-ren - soul man qi miao - wonderful duo xie - many thanks ji - grumble, also chicken/fowl Kaibei - iron flower



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Grey in the Black, part 1
Grey finds himself at odds with the local color.

Grey in the Black, Introduction
A certain ex-alliance officer's adventures continue.

Grey and Brown, Epilogue
Grey says good-bye.

Grey and Brown, part 4
The guest is not who he seems.

Grey and Brown, part 3
The crew gets a guest.

Grey and Brown, part 2
First Lieutenant Grey tries to keep things together and meets a certain sergeant of note.

Grey and Brown, part 1
A young Alliance Lieutenant is left in command of the remnants of the Allied Military Forces in Serenity Valley.