VELVET GLOVE, IRON FIST -- Act Two - Diedre Macoure


            "I know many things, emme, and I want to make a deal."

            This mystery man was about as confusing as he was misplaced. What the hell was he doing on some grassy knoll within the security zones? What was Deirdre doing here for that matter? "What _deal_?"

            "First things first. I should thank you for saving my life. I've grown rather attached to it."

            "I didn't like the odds you were keeping. I decided to even them a little." Deirdre looked over through the darkness. "So... who's your friend with the machinegun?"

            "Oh, that's Charlie. He's been helping me out."

            "Could you tell him not to shoot me as well? Blood takes forever to get out of vinyl."

            The man finally looked at her and noticed who she was. His stare got a little long for her taste, so Macoure shouted, "Hey! You mind telling me your name? Saying 'hey, you' is going to get old after a while."

            "Oh, sorry." He thought for a second and said, "Jason. Jason Monk."

            "Well, Jason, let's get out of here. The local PO's probably heard that gun blast for three miles around. Let's torch the body and get out of here." Ever since that stare, she decided to use presence to make him notice her more. If he was going to cut her a deal, Macoure was going to get the best she could.

            "Yeah... I should of thought about it." Jason was noticeably disturbed. Apparently her magic worked again; it was always good to know that she could still have the boys chase her, not the other way around.

            "Hey! Jason!" She pretended to be annoyed. "This isn't your game is it? Bushwacking your fellow vamps doesn't really suit you."

            "No, it doesn't. I'm a businessman."

            "Funny, so am I. Now let's do some business."

            "All right." He went to leave but Deirdre stayed put, noticing the glaringly obvious, bloody body before her. "What?" he asked.

            She pointed down. "The body?"

            "Oh... right." Jason took out his lighter, flicked it open, and tossed it on the still warm body. The clothes ignited with ferocity. As Monk and Macoure walked off the hill, the fire became an inferno; quickly growing immense, then crumbling back, returning the night to darkness.


            "So you never did tell me why you followed me."

            "You never asked." Deirdre said, sipping her drink quietly, while glaring deep into his eyes. She had taken him to some college bar, about two or three blocks away from the park, where the music was loud and the place was packed. It would hard to follow anybody's trail through that mess of rampaging hormones and pulsating bodies. Macoure led him to one of the side booths, the ones with industrial sonic disrupters, meant to block out the noise on factory floors, allowed for quiet for romantic couples. Of course, she had to pay extra for them, flipping the bartender a ten-cred coin on their way in, but it was worth the expense. Actual cash was hard to come by, but it was still necessary, especially in their line of work.

            "I'm asking now."

            "First things first, Jason." Deirdre tried reading his mind... a lot easier when the subject was prompted. "How did you know my name?"

            He blocked the mental tap. "I've seen you before. You work for the brothers."

            "That still doesn't explain..."

            "I work for them too. Well, I used to before they shut down their drug business. Now I'm out a couple million creds per year."  

            "Couple million? What do you do?"

            "I run a company. We smuggle in vast quantities of exotic and hard to come by drugs and then selling them at cheaper prices than our competitors. We had a good thing going with the Cialt, now it's gone... but you managed to survive."

            "They found something else for me to do?"

            "Such as?"

            "You first."

            "I answered your question, Deidre. Now answer mine."

            "Shoot." She smiled. "Well, not literally anyway."

            "What the hell were you doing following me?"

            "Weren't you following me?"

            "That's not the point."

            "I thought I'd cut to the chase."

            "Bullshit. You were just as surprised as I was." Thud. Now it was Jason's turn to smile; he had her, and the verbal fencing is over. "Well?"

            "All right, I was hungry. I stopped on this miserable little planet back from the frontier because it was good place for a snack. You looked like a likely meal... no offense."

            "None taken. So what are you into? Guns?"

            Her eyebrows raised. Macoure tried to hide her surprise, but Monk seemed to know that trick all too well. "Drugs, M. Monk. That's what I smuggle so I assume that's why you tracked me down. Many times chased, never caught... well, not by the Earth Fleet. I'm the best, I make no bones about it."

            "I searched for you because you were running guns, specificially from the Tech Infantry to the Frontier Worlds Territory."

            Deirdre felt as if someone else was pulling the strings; it wasn't the kind of feeling she enjoyed. "Who the _hell_ are you, anyway?!"

            "As I said, a businessman. So you don't deny it?"

            "All but the Tech Infantry. I don't know _who_ supplies the guns."

            "I had a data pirate run through the Cialt database. It's the TI; I'm sure of it."

            "Why would the Tech Infantry want to supply guns to the Colonial Marines?"

            "I don't know, but I'm going to find out. However, that's a very profitable racket, and it wouldn't hurt to get in on it."

            "What's in it for me?"

            "More money than you're making now and... freedom from the Cialt Brotherhood."

            Deirdre cocked her head to the side, dropping her long reddish-brown hair in a glistening wave. "Tell me more."

            "For now, you can run some routine shipments in for me on your way to Avalon. Once you drop off your guns on the frontier, pick up on the same planet, go to Avalon, then drop off at Proxima Centauri before going on your next run. It makes you some extra money and it gives me a line to you."

            "Which will...?"

            "...give us a monopoly on the gun trade on the frontier. Of course, it'll take some risk, but you look like the sort of girl who can take risks."

            Macoure thought about it and then smiled again. "All right. How are we going to work this out?"

            "When you get your next run at Avalon, give my associates a call at this address." Jason took an automatic net card out of his pocket and handed to her. "It will hook you immediatly through our etheral encryption system. Call it a back door for first time associates."

            "And then?"

            "My associate will give you the address for the pick-up and drop. Later on, I'll come up with a plan for us to run this galaxy. Clear?"    

            "Sure." Macoure took the card. "Of course, I'm wondering if I shouldn't kill you now before I get betrayed."

            Monk was unaffected. "I'm a businessman. I wouldn't make the deal if I didn't think we _both_ could take advantage of it."

            "We'll see." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks for the drink." Then Deirdre vanished into the throbbing dancing mob.




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Text Copyright © 2000 by Marcus Johnston.  All Rights Reserved.