- Small Worlds
- Chapter Ten
Vaniah had little time to reflect on his predicament as Noonjack's thugs took him into custody. He glanced at Visstor, luckily the shedim didn't bother resisting as his arms were bound behind his back. They could have tried to shoot their way out, obviously, but he was certain the other denizens of this back alley little bar wouldn't take kindly to bullets filling the air. He was about to give a word of caution to his companion, but before he could speak a bag had been forced over his head, his wrists bound behind his back, and his gun belt taken from around his waist. The thugs forced them along, hustled them closely like a pair of cattle or disobedient dogs. Vaniah felt the barrel of his own revolver pressed into the small of his back.
He didn't mind admitting it in the privacy of his own skull, he was a little worried. Doubt started to fill him, maybe he should have taken his chance with the bullets back in the bar. For all he knew these thugs were going to take the pair of them out to some distant spot, and blow their brains out across the windy plains of this quiet little backwater. It wasn't the ending he had envisioned, though truth be told he had never given death much thought before.
"He thinks we're going to kill 'em boss," a deep, gravelly voice muttered.
"What's that?" Noonjack replied, his high voice shriller then usual with amusement, "Kill him? He's gon' wish for that when the magistrates are through with him,"
So one of these thugs was a Psyker huh? He would have never guessed. And the guy was keeping tabs on his thoughts. That was good actually. Gave him something to work with. Or at least, a way to work out his frustrations. He started whistling low under his breath an old song of Earth, one his mother had taught him as a boy, playing the lyrics through in his head on repeat. It was a haunting ballad, about a family, made of three boys and three girls different as night and day, their parents and their aged housekeeper. He sang it over and over, until the thug started to sing it out loud.
"Who was busy with three boys of his own. They were four men, living all together, but they were all alone," the thug muttered.
"What the Hell are you muttering Bushjack?" Noonjack asked. Variah almost wished the bastard could see his smirk. That was the problem with Psykers, when they were looking in, they often left themselves open, susceptible to outside influences. It was easy enough to start screwing with their heads.
"Very clever, Gunslinger!" that strange voice said, "But I hope you can do a bit more than that. These men aren't the sort to play games, and you'll need to do more than just sing songs to pull your bacon out of this fire," That voice again, dispensing advice. Very useful that. "Sarcasm is unbecoming, don't you think?"
You a Psyker like the big guy then? he asked in the back of his mind. It of course didn't answer. In fact its presence had fled entirely, his head feeling strangely emptier now then it had before.
They continued on, Noonjack occasionally giving Variah a kick to hurry him along, accompanied by Bushjack's gravelly, off-key singing. The hood was slipped from off his head, leaving him to blink in the sharp mid-day light. They had been taken to a building some place in the heart of town, high grey walls rising all around them. All the buildings were uniform in their drabness, built off concrete and steel, without sings to tell them apart. A large man stood before the only visible door. Dressed in a black flak jacket with black fatigues, the initials SDF were written across the chest in bold white. At one hip was a long shock lance, the sort used to break up rioters without killing anyone,one the other was a hefty revolver, much like Variah's own.
"Found 'em Boss," Noonjack said, lowering his gun.
"Vaniah," the hulking bruiser in the Solar Defence Force uniform said.
"Zeke," he replied, giving the graying old soldier a friendly nod, "These clowns work for you then?"
Zeke's expression didn't change, but his eyes held nothing but scorn. "They're my assistants yes, I suppose you could say they're my 'deputies'," he took a step forward. Now Variah wasn't a short man, quite tall in fact, but Zeke was something else. He stood head and shoulders over everyone present, blocking out a fraction of the sun, casting them all in shadow. "I've come to collect you, take you to see the magistrate. You've evaded judgement for long enough traitor," his focus shifted to Visstor. "Kill the shedim, we only need Vaniah,"
"Wait, no!" Vaniah cried but it was too late. Noonjack turned Vaniah's own gun on his companion. Visstor and he exchanged one last, terror filled glance before Noonjack opened fire. The crack of the gun filled Variah's ears as he watched the verim fall back, a neat little hole appearing in the centre of his forehead, a shower of crimson splattering the dull grey wall behind him. "You son of a bitch! You stinking son of a bitch!" Vaniah snarled, crashing into the thug from behind. Hands bound there was little Vaniah could do but thrash and snarl as he was pulled off the gunman. Noonjack scrambled backward, levelling his gun at the enranged man.
"I'm going to end you, that's a stinking promise Noonjack! I'm going to end you!" the thug had the good grace to look terrified, gun wavering before him in tremulous hands.
"Enough of that," Zeke said, drawing his shock lance. It came down with a crack. Vaniah's vision swam, then went to black.