They Think it's All Over: Part Five
Johnny Twobit had an ‘office’ of sorts in the heart of the Docklands. In reality, it was a disused meat packing warehouse that was rarely visited by locals for fear of what they may find within. Illegal cheat games were regularly held for Johnny’s friends in a small room towards the back, but it was the secure room that Mr. Jennings and Mr. Black were visiting – where Johnny held unapproved thieves until Jennings decided their fates.
“I would have contacted you sooner, sir,” Johnny explained as he unlocked the door with a thick iron key. “But with all the excitement yesterday I thought you might be busy with more important business.”
“You thought correctly, Mr. Twobit,” Jennings answered as the heavy door swung open.
The cold greeted the trio from within the room, giving a reminder of its previous purpose as a walk in freezer.
“We found him attacking someone on the Old Shambles,” Johnny said, gesturing to the mutant Buzz that was roughly chained to the far wall.
Despite being heavily restrained, the Buzz was still twitching violently, attempting to escape.
“The bonds are necessary?” Jennings asked.
“Took three of us just to knock him out,” Johnny replied.
“And him?” Jennings asked, gesturing to the other occupant of the room.
The rainbow Ogrin was sat glumly at a table in the corner. He was chained to a pipe running along the wall, though far loosely than the Buzz.
“He was being attacked by the Buzz,” Johnny explained. “We thought he might be an accomplice.”
“Really?” Jennings remarked, stepping forwards to address the Ogrin. “Your name?”
“Wayne,” the Ogrin muttered. “Wayne Hardtack. Look, I’m not working with this guy, I explained it all already. I was just going to the port for some fish!”
Jennings held up his hand to stop the Ogrin. “Would you kindly walk towards me?”
The Ogrin stared in bemusement at Jennings for a moment before getting up and walking towards him. He eyed the Buzz as he passed him, before stopping dead as his chains tightened around the pipe.
“As I thought,” Jennings nodded. “Mr. Twobit, please release the boy.”
“Sir?” Johnny asked.
“You have left him in a room for a day, completely alone and with enough slack on his chains to reach and untie the thief,” Jennings said. “If they were working together, both would be free by now, Mr. Twobit.”
“Of course, sir,” Johnny said, rushing forwards to untie the Ogrin.
“In future, don’t play games in the street,” Johnny muttered. “Running about on the Old Shambles kicking tin cans, I don’t care how good your aim is, that’s asking for trouble.”
“Good aim, did you say?” Jennings asked. “Mr. Hardtack, wasn’t it? If you’re not doing anything tomorrow, why not stop by my tower? We’re having a little bit of a sporting get together that you might enjoy.”
As the Ogrin left, Jennings turned his attention to the Buzz.
“Do you have a name?” he asked.
The Buzz merely growled and twitched his head.
“He hasn’t said a word since we brought him in, sir,” Johnny explained. “We were starting to wonder if he could even speak.”
“No papers with him?” Jennings asked. “Nothing to identify him?”
“Nothing, sir,” Johnny answered. “He’s got a scar on his right arm, looks like a brand if you ask me, but that’s it.”
Jennings stepped closer and examined the Buzz’s arm. There was indeed a brand there, a number – 32.
“Some sort of escaped experiment from the Space Station, perhaps?” Jennings considered. “He took three of you to stop, you say? That’s interesting... very interesting.”
Jennings moved in front of the Buzz and fixed him squarely in the eye.
“You may not be able to speak, but I would wager you can still understand me,” Jennings said.
He took a Neopoint from his pocket and held it where the Buzz could see it. The red eyes focused on it and the creature began to writhe, attempting to reach the coin.
“You like shiny things, yes?” Jennings asked. “You help me, and you can have this – and many more shiny things just like it. Do you understand?”
The mutant Buzz reduced its twitching. Jennings took this as a sign of agreement.
“Good.” Jennings smiled. “You do what I say, and you will have more shiny things than you can imagine.”
Jennings turned to Johnny. “Mr. Twobit, have... have Mr. 32 delivered to my tower, but keep him under strict supervision. As soon as Mr. Beastbanks arrives, make sure the two meet.”
He turned back to the Buzz. “I think we just found ourselves a defender.”
“Hoshi!” the Scorchio called. “Hoshi!”
The white Xweetok poked her head out from behind the bead curtain. “Yes, Father?”
“I’ve had a message from a customer, Hoshi,” the Scorchio announced. “I need you to deliver these trousers; he can’t come and pick them up at the moment. You remember the Eyrie that placed the order?”
“Yes, Father.” Hoshi nodded obediently. “Where’s the delivery to?”
“The tower in the Docklands; apparently he’s trying out for this Yooyuball team that the General is putting together,” the Scorchio answered, handing the white trousers to his daughter and missing the small look of anger that flashed across her face.
“Why do you call him that, without a hint of disapproval?” Hoshi asked. “He is a traitor to the Empire, father.”
“He is as much a traitor as we are, Hoshi,” the Scorchio replied dismissively. “He has given us a better life.”
“You call this a better life?” Hoshi snorted. “Little Shenkuu is a slum, father! We live at the bottom of this city!”
“Hoshi!” her father shouted, sudden force in his voice. “You will never speak that way again! You were young when we left Shenkuu, you can’t remember what we left behind. You may consider this place to be a slum, but where we lived in the Empire was far worse. The General brought us to the new world and gave us a better life than we could have ever hoped for in Shenkuu. He gave you a chance at a future, Hoshi.”
“He is a criminal,” Hoshi said bluntly.
“That may be,” the Scorchio agreed. “But he is still the reason we are here, and we must be thankful for that.”
“I’m sorry, Father,” Hoshi apologised, though it was clear from her voice that her heart wasn’t in it.
The Scorchio placed a reassuring hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “You will see, in time. I do not wish to fight with you. The name for the delivery is Biggsby Claremont. Be as quick as possible, Hoshi. I need you back here for more work.”
Hoshi nodded and bowed, before making her way out of the small shop and off towards the Docklands.
Beastbanks stood back from the large shadow Bruce and smiled.
“Well, what do you think?” the zombie Kacheek asked.
Mr. Jennings remained silent for a moment before remarking, “Mr. Beastbanks, I thought I asked you to sort yourself out?”
“Yes, I did,” Beastbanks replied, standing up straight without a single hiccup or sway.
“Normally I would believe you, of course,” Jennings replied diplomatically. “But you are suggesting that Mr. Harry Bags, a man known for neither speed nor accuracy, become a forward on our new team.”
The Bruce remained silent, standing to attention.
“He works with Johnny Twobit,” Beastbanks explained. “That makes him perfect.”
“I fail to see how,” Jennings replied.
“You’re not thinking about it right!” Beastbanks smirked. “I thought you wanted to cheat? Well, here we are, breaking the rules – ones that aren’t even real rules.”
Jennings said nothing.
“Harry’s not on the team to score goals,” Beastbanks added.
“Then, I repeat, having him play as a forward may not be wise,” Jennings said carefully.
“No, no, you’re nothing thinking right!” Beastbanks insisted. “Harry here’s a lumbering fool; it’d have to be a strong defender on the opposing team to tackle him. Harry’s on the team to clear the way. He’s going to plough into the opposing ranks, knock them down, and clear a path for the other forward, the actual forward, who’ll be following behind.”
Jennings thought through Beastbanks’s explanation. A sly smile spread across his face.
“Excellent work, Mr. Beastbanks,” he said eventually. “Mr. Bags, welcome to the team.”
The large shadow Bruce smiled dimly.
“Thank you, sir!” he replied.
“Consider yourself on leave from Mr. Twobit’s outfit,” Jennings added. “You answer to Mr. Beastbanks for the time being.”
Jennings turned to Beastbanks as the Bruce lumbered out of the construction yard they were planning to hold the tryouts in. It lay in the shadow of Jennings’s tower, and there was already a steady line of hopefuls queuing outside.
“Have you had any thoughts about the Buzz I sent you last night?” Jennings asked.
Beastbanks gave a grim laugh. “He’s certainly a piece of work, isn’t he? I gave him a dummy to tackle; the thing was ripped to shreds within seconds – I don’t envy the opposing forward who comes across him.”
“You intend to use him then?” Jennings asked.
“Of course!” Beastbanks answered. “You don’t see rage like that every day. He’s going to be our star defender. You’ve just got to hope that whoever he escaped from doesn’t come looking before the match.”
“So we are now looking for a single defender, forward, and goalkeeper,” Jennings confirmed.
Beastbanks sat down behind a makeshift desk in the yard, and was followed by Jennings.
The Krawk nodded at the Grarrl, who was waiting near the site’s entrance. “Send the first one in please, Mr. Black.”
To be continued...