Chapter 13 (Standoff in a library)
Kkaj tossed the book across the room, startling Roffor, Saffer and the young woman. “Moonshine! No matter how many of these damn things we go through, we aren’t any closer to finding the Lucidity distillery!”
The young woman’s black eyes lit up, and her scuffed cheeks became crimson.
“Language!” Roffer said.
Saffer glared at the young woman. Was she jealous?
Kkaj sighed. “Sorry. This is just so frustrating. The only thing I know about the waste that I didn’t know before coming in here is that crocobears can get really really big. And their armor-like scales are resistant to magic.”
Roffor smiled. “Well, unlike you, I’ve actually been researching in the right area.”
“You know where the Lucidity distillery is?”
“Then you haven’t.”
She puffed out her cheeks. “I’ll have you know that I have been researching JemKej’s architectural trends.”
Kkaj arched an eyebrow. “So?”
“I know where the —”
The door to the seventh floor flung open, and Jekor stormed into the room. “What do you think you’re doing? Yelling and —” Her gaze passed over the piles of books and stopped on the book lying against the far wall. The one Kkaj had thrown. Her no-breasted chest heaved. “What have you done?” Her monotone voice was just above a whisper, but it carried across the room.
“Getting frustrated at this stupid library’s lack of information.” Kkaj stood up and knocked the stack of books in front of him to the floor. “What good are all these stupid books if —”
Jekor reached into her robes and pulled out a long-barreled pistol. She scrambled across the room and placed the gun against his forehead. “How dare you!” She cocked the hammer.
Kkaj gulped. “Now listen —”
“No! You listen!”
Click-click. Roffor and Saffer cocked drew pistols then trained them on Jekor. “Lower your weapon,” they said as one. “How dare you threaten Kkaj Orienkk like this?”
The thought of guns firing this close to Kkaj sent icy octospider legs crawling down his spine. His chest heaved. The imaginary sound drew him into his memories. A warm liquid rolled down his leg while he watched the fight between him and his cousin as if he were a spectator. He wobbled to the left.
A fourth click pulled him back to the present. The young woman had a snub-nosed pistol pointed in his direction and another pointed at Saffer. “Kkaj? As in the vice-chairman of the Empty Bottle Cult?”
“As in the unbreakable Penta,” Saffer said. “This is none of your business, woman. Just lower your weapons and walk away.”
“Don’t listen to them, Iiffar.” The gun trembled in Jekor’s grasp. “Just because these fools are rich, doesn’t mean they can push us around. It doesn’t mean they have the right to defile precious books.”
Kkaj took a deep breath. “Saffer. Roffor. Lower your weapons.”
As one, they said, “But —”
“Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Fine.” Roffor uncocked her pistol and tucked it into her Drunkzard vest.
“I can’t let them humiliate you like this.” Saffer’s finger pressed against the trigger.
“Saffer! drop it!” Kkaj spun away from Jekor and glared at Saffer. “Now!”
A squeal leaped from Jekor’s mouth while Saffer swallowed.
“Understand?” He stepped forward, boots squishing with every step. It’s not like I can be any more embarrassed than pissing on myself. He held his hand out.
Saffer handed Kkaj her pistol. “Sorry.”
“Don’t you ignore me!” Jekor’s voice cracked then took on a squeaky quality. “You’ve damaged library property. And worse, you’ve disturbed my cataloguing research for a second time today.”
Kkaj sighed and turned to point the butt of Saffer’s pistol at Jekor. “Listen here, girl. We both know you wouldn’t risk getting executed over a damaged book. Especially since a gunshot in here would do more damage that throwing the worthless piece of shit did.”
Jekor growled. Her jaw quivered. “I. I. I hate rich bastards like you.” Her finger caressed the trigger before her arm dropped to her side.
Kkaj grinned. “Good girl.” He turned to face Iiffar, the young woman with a foreign name but a local name. “I don’t know what tour stake in —”
“My stake?” Iiffar ground her teeth, and her muscles tensed. “I should kill you where you stand.”
“You … y-y-you —”
“Me what?” Kkaj shrugged then stepped forward. “Did I slight you in some way?”
“Slight?” Iiffar’s voice echoed through countless bookshelves. “Slight! You call what you did a slight!”
“Well, I haven’t been in RulFer in over four years. So, what else could it be?”
“You are a murderer!” The pistol shook in her white-knuckled grasp.
Kkaj froze in place. Does my uncle have black eyes? His gut wrenched, and he closed his eyes. “I see.” I guess it’s time I get what I deserve. “Get on with it then.”
Iiffar screamed. Clatter! Her gun hit the tile floor a moment before she did. “What’s wrong with you?” She asked between sobs. “I thought I had an answer only to receive more questions.”
After crossing the room, Kkaj patted her on the head. “You’ll figure it out one day. Until you do, I’m going to get my hands on some Lucidity and save as many lives as I can until you enact your vengeance, second cousin.” He made his way to the stairs and waved. “Let’s go. I need a beer or two to calm down.” He strode down the stairs without looking back.
Next: Chapter 14