Cecil County Public Schools UCSCA UCSCA
UCSCA UCSCA Lit of the Nation
UCSCA Lit of the Nation
Whiskey in the Jar, Chapter One
Clio Domagala

"What'cha thinkin' 'bout?"

The bounty hunter looked up from his nap, blowing petulantly at a few strands of cerulean hair that still insisted upon clinging to his face. He grunted slightly, shifting his weight and not giving much more of an answer.


"Doesn't look like 'nothin'' to me."

He opened an eye again, uncrossing his arms and sitting taller on his stool. The barkeep smirked at him and he regarded her blearily, not appreciative of her interruption.

"If ya HAVE t'know, Ah was thinkin' 'bout th' company ya keep."

"Oh? An' what's so bad 'bout mah company, Kir?"

Kir sneered at her, chuckling dustily, grabbing his hat from the counter, beside the skunked beer someone'd abandoned a week or so ago, and plopping it on his head.

"Ya have a buncha riff-raff slinkin' 'round here lately."

"Yer th' only riff-raff here, y'know. You gettin' ready t'leave?"

"Yeah. Anyone worth visitin'?"

"Jus' same ol', same ol'."

By the time she finished, the bounty hunter was gone, having not waited for a reply.

He wasn't interested in an answer anyway.

The mid-afternoon sun was slipping further west, casting indigo shadows across the side as he moved knowingly across them. It was something he was used to and something he didn't think about, the shifting under his flat-soled boots. He was born in the desert, lived there all his life, it just wasn't something he concerned himself with to any horribly deep extent. But he was moving for the City to-day, in to start trouble like he always did. He was young and stupid. He was Kiria Sandstorm.

It was what they often called the 'changing of the guard,' a little homage to the working class kids who set down their backpacks and donned their uniforms for the various forms of fastfood they would end up working in for the evening and, for some, into the early morning hours. It was at this time the gangs started joining up in the G-quarter and the A-quarter became still and festering with the silence that proceeded twilight. Here they waited for the sun to set and for the real fun to begin.

"No one, no one, no one..."

Silence again. Alien, though his own voice, and somewhat misplaced and scary. It was hazy outside in the summer, choking, discouraging him to speak, though the quiet was beginning to scratch at his stomach.

It was odd. He had become so accustomed to their voices, incessant bickerings, coos of 'let's play' and calls for change of scenery, now it was as if someone died. Ironic, how that came to mind in such a manner.

It wasn't anything to what he'd done afterwards, but it was testimony to his namesake, something that almost made him worth his weight, as little of it as there was. He was sick and tired of being a nothing, just a little chewtoy for the bigger fish, and the smaller thereafter. And so he took fate into his hands and lay now in the solitude that came without their blather.

"...is there anybody out there..."

Good. Stay missing.

Crimson melted into ultramarine, the sun set and moon ascended the velvet drapery in pallid splendor. The sand dissipated into street, where it merely fell off into a fuzzy threshold between where it all should end and where it actually did. The H-quarter embraced its traveler, eyes watching him from just across the streets where anyone could be hiding, daring him silently to just have a look. But his agenda was elsewhere and after a bit more, the quarter gave muted cry, holding to his shadow and trying to keep him back. With a stumble, he wandered into assassin territory, hands straying to his belt, squeezing around his guns and releasing, just reassuring himself they were still with him. There were prices tonight to get him some booze money, if he could raise enough to get Tera to let him have some. She mothered him and refused, damn her for it, but he would find the right price. He just needed to not use the bullets so unwisely. Expensive bastards. But assassins had prices and she had the bounties and, what's more, the cash attached to them. He just needed to pick off one and drag evidence home of his demise. Raid the wallet, the pockets, loot the apartment he belonged to, it didn't matter. Bring back his card, face and all, maybe dip the corner to prove he was dead and hope the flies didn't get to it before he returned victorious. Just an easy run.

Shadows were beginning to shift in the alleys, the assassins daring outside their homes and thankful the sun had finally been chased from the horizon. His ears twitched and perked at every sound though his face remained listless and forward. Whispers, can kicked into the street at him, silence to respect the retaliation. Saving bullets. Saving bullets. Whispers of contempt and mockery. Kir ignored them. Wanderlust may have brought him to the City and necessity may have directed him, but now he was going for something bigger than a few punks with a can. They'd shoot him if they had the ability or ammunition, but they hadn't, and he was unconcerned with them. He wanted someone with a little more meat.

The hunter wasn't the only one looking for trouble tonight, though. After the lamps flickered into the night and marked the streets, Liken, too, had slipped from his usual haunt and was moving down the stairs. He had his brother's sword with him, swinging heavily from his belt, just calling for use, pleading, caressing his hip with every step. The attempted seduction was useless, for now. He was going to the bar and looking for any jobs he mayh have gotten. His name was getting around these days, since Mercer told of Tallon's demise and since O'nix and Ciyon failed to return for their listed jobs. Everyone knew that he was feeling used and inferior, so the eventual snapping was not unexpected. The sureness, however, was their surprise, and thereafter, they had started jotting things down for him, paltry sums that gained him an apartment and experience to show off next time.

It was on the 13th floor that he noticed someone walking down the middle of the street. It caught his eye, as he had never seen someone in the A-quarter as stupid as to waltz around in such a ridiculous get-up, much less in perfect sight, with no cover to duck into whatsoever and a haughty stride promoting his arrogance. He paused to watch him a few moments, coming toward the building and set to soon pass, before taking off at a better clip. He wasn't going to let this clown get by without saying something. Call him cocky.

By the time he reached the desolate lobby, the urban cowboy had just passed, chaps dragging, boots scuffing against the pavement, slinking like he had rights to be there. Liken needed to tell him he didn't.

Kir twitched, turning and looking behind him. He kept walking a few steps, backwards, before stopping all together. There was some scrawny little kid standing in the darkened doorway of one of the high-rises and he had said something.

The hunter frowned, his lips twitching slightly.

"D'ya say somethin' t'me, kid?"

Plucky move, Liken congratulated silently, raising an eyebrow. He shifted his weight, crossing his arms.

"Who do you think you are, holding that little parade in the middle of my territory?" Bingo. Stupid assassin twit at 2 o'clock.

"Since when's this yers, eh? Last Ah checked, worthless runts were butchered off first. Or d'ya have a pimp t'save ya when y'pick fights with people?"

"That didn't make any sense. Speak in a language I can understand."

"Ah called ya a moron, stupid."

Liken's smirk slowly dropped, his posture stiffening all around. That was another audacious move, hunter-boy.

"Is that so."


Kir was beginning to saunter toward him, energy pumping through him and giving him a sharp heartbeat at his temples. He was ready to draw at any second and this punk wasn't even history. Nobody's never got a page devoted to them, after all.

"Around here, I could kill you for less than that."

"Where Ah'm from, bein' that much of a pansy can get'cha killed."

The assassin bristled.


"What're ya deaf, too? Pansy."

Liken's hands went for the scabbard, one holding it as the other jerked the blade from its bed. He held it angled threateningly, letting the unfamiliar grip dig into his palms. It wasn't as nice as their father's, but though he would prefer the latter, the former was the only one left. Plus, it had already been christened with its first blood. It would do, eventually.

"Oooh!" Kir cooed, leaning forward, hands on his hips. "Pansy's got himself a toothpick! Ah didn't know baby-mush could get stuck in yer teeth!"

Boiling. The assassin flexed his fingers, taking a step forward. He didn't know how to go about pulling this idiot apart, decisions were beyond his making at this point. His recently gained pride was in danger and already taking hits. Action was the best course, regardless what kind.

Thus, the fight launched.