Read The Jack's Story (BRIGAND Book 2) Online

Authors: Natalie French,Scot Bayless

The Jack's Story (BRIGAND Book 2)

BOOK: The Jack's Story (BRIGAND Book 2)
5.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Book Two

The Jack's Story





Natalie K. French


Scot Bayless






Copyright © 2015 by Natalie K. French and Scot Bayless


All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.


Printed in the USA

First Printing, 2015


ISBN 978-1517056124


Scry Media LLC


Cover illustration by Scry Media LLC. Other illustrations used by permission and are the exclusive property of their originators or copyright holders.



Blood spurted from my face. A mucus-tinged blob plopped at my feet as a soft crunch sounded between my eyes. I had a second to guess my nose was broken before another punch followed.

The beating felt kinda good. Like purpose.

The kid using my head as a punching bag was a grit from the Depot, the bottom ward of Entebbe Lift. His technique sucked, but he made it up in anger. His dirty fist swung at the center of my face again. I watched it approach, in slow motion, and knew I should dodge the blow. I didn’t.

He hit me square on the bridge of my nose. Another crunch and, this time, a spark of light lit up in front of my eyes. A sharp pinch formed high inside my head, like I’d sneezed a razor blade. I blew hard through my nostrils and a bright jet of blood shot to the pavement spattering the dirty gray stevedores, two sizes too big, that I’d stolen out of some loadwalker’s kit a couple of days ago.

I huffed out a wordless grunt. My abs automatically clenched with the effort, fueling me, making me feel hard and focused.  I shook my head and cursed him in Ebo Gutter, the dialect of his quad.

His eyes widened. His buddies hung back, fidgeting from side to side and glancing at each other as if trying to gauge whether they should jump in and help kill me – or flee. The surprise glistened in his eyes, mixed with fury at the insult. His pale yellow face flushed a kind of pink-orange that went nicely with the blood on my shoes. My blood.

The joke was on them though, because I wasn’t even entirely sure what I said – just something I overheard in the bar a while back. One of our regulars said it about a scut he’d stuffed into a reclamation pit. I don’t speak Ebo, but it was pretty obvious it wasn't good. Judging by this grit's reaction, more like epic bad.

I smiled and they all stopped. Surprised. Maybe a little scared. Considering whether they were dealing with a zee – someone insane enough to be dangerous. He dropped his fists, muttered something in Ebo and spat, not quite missing my bloodied shoe. Then he spun and stalked off. His friends trailed behind.

I used my sleeve to wipe my nose as I traced my tongue along the inside of my mouth, applying pressure along my front teeth until the third one on the right popped out. I spit it into the sludge of nose-vomited blood, then picked it up for inspection.  Nice. I pocketed the tiny pearl, my first tooth lost in a real fight. I wasn’t too concerned about the hole in my smile. My adult teeth would grow in eventually. After all, I was only eight.

With my prize safely tucked away, I ran off to the corner supply store. The clerk, Chaz, called out to me as I entered, "I got my eyes on you, boy!"

I made a gesture at him, something else I'd picked up in the bar, and he shut up, glaring at me through the slits of his eyes.

I grabbed all my usuals: three packs of vapes, 5 rolls of condoms, their cheapest bottle of Drule, and the finest rock candy the wards of Entebbe Lift had to offer. The candy was my payment.

I clomped home at a good pace, my big shoes and throbbing nose failing to slow me. The sign above the door was oxidized and hanging askew. No one ever bothered to fix it and you could no longer read the symbols etched in the steel. We didn’t need to advertise for what we sold.

When I bolted through the entrance I ran directly into Rosie. I liked to think she waited for me, but then she ran out of vapes a lot. Rosie wore waxy red lipstick and a purple negligee – the right shoulder strap hung down to her biceps invitingly. She never bothered to get dressed for my arrival. But she waited for me, and that was enough.

"Hiya, boy," she drawled in her lazy way. I didn’t know exactly where Rosie was from. Not sure if anyone did.

I handed over a pack of vapes and she grabbed them without thanking me. As I relinquished the rest of my load she grabbed my chin with her pointy magenta nails and turned my head to the left and then right, tilting up to peer in my nose. "Got in a fight, dident ya?" A slow smile spread across those crimson lips.

"Yeah, no big." I mumbled. But it was too late. As the words left my mouth she hollered toward the back.

"Everyone! Cum here. Baby boy got hisself in his first fight."

A scurry and shuffling of slippered and heeled feet came bounding into the room – my moms.

Nanette’s orange fizzing hair led the way. "What happened?" She screeched as she wrapped me into a smothering hug. My face pressed against the pale softness of her chest.  I wasn’t sure if you could be suffocated by tits, but if you could then Nanette would be the one to do it.

"What did they do to you?" She murmured as she rocked me back and forth against her pillowy bosom.

Rosie sucked hard on a vape and poked her chin up in my direction. "Whatta you did to dem make dem punch you up?"

"Nothin!" I wailed to no one, and all of them.

They were a parade of threadbare show girls. Deidra shuffled out with her black wig in a beehive and her corset pushed up to her armpits. Then Sophie, with her thigh high black boots and her green mesh mini skirt, strode over to survey the destruction.

"What happened, Sugarplum?"

I liked Sophie and Nanette the best – Sophie because she didn’t just call me "Boy" all the time, and Nanette because, well, she was Nanette. Between Sophie’s endless lexicon of endearments and Nanette’s hugs, I figured I had about all the mothering I could stand. They told customers I was the "Git boy" which for as long as I could remember was shortened just to "Boy". I wasn’t sure if I had a name. Never bothered to ask.

Curiously, I wanted to tell them about the fight, mostly to see if the words uttered to me would affect them the same way.

"Some grit called me

Sophie sucked in a little breath. Rosie spat on the floor at her feet. Nanette’s cheeks turned as pale as her bosom.

"Little boy’s a man now. Words like dat..." Deidra said and the bitch actually smiled.

I knew the word was bad. Even the lowest scum that got turned away from the likes of this place were spared that word. In her gentlest voice Nanette explained. It was an Old Earth word that meant, "a waste of semen". There’s always that one – so puny and useless they’re not even worth the squirt of fluid it took to make them, she explained. Not worth the air they breathe.

In most of the System, especially in the Belt, where oxygen was worth more than platinum and half the brats were born mutant, ‘shakupita’ were the ones you killed – because they were a misappropriation of air and water.

Even with the good fortune to not be burdened by an overabundance of brains, I still understood my ranking in the cesspool of genetics.

My gangly limbs, feet that were always too big for my legs, gave me a clumsy appearance. The rest of me was... brown – skin, hair, eyes – a whole lotta brown. I used to wonder what my father looked like. Hell, if I even had a father. Mostly I wondered why the girls bothered to keep me alive all these years.

It occurred to me then, as Rosie patted my head, that perhaps they just wanted a pet. They stroked my head, gave me food and a roof and a cot. The arrangement would never have been allowed in any normal whorehouse, but this was an employee-owned establishment. Profit sharing and everything. Years ago Nanette had enough of the pockmarked Jovian Squat that ran the joint. Too many liberties with the girls, some of them downright vicious. So they saved up and hired themselves a Morg – a really big one – to make him go away. He’s been the bouncer ever since. Probably doesn’t hurt that he’s a eunuch.

The place was ideal for me.

Deidra took a long draw on her vape, letting a faint mist pool around her orange lips. She smiled. My stomach lurched, but I smiled back. "Whatcha gonna do, little boy blue?" Then she laughed and stumbled back to the bedrooms in the rear.

Nanette was on me again, silencing the sound of Deidra's cackle with her boobs. She pushed me into her cleavage, "Now don’t you listen to her, okay?" She grabbed my chin and lifted my face up to hers so I could finally breathe normally. "Okay?" I had really no clue what she was asking me, but I nodded so she would release me.

"Now get, sweetie. We got work soon."

I scampered off to my corner in the common area, where my cot stuck to the floor over a layer of booze and bodily fluids. I sat down, unwrapped my rock candy and popped it in my mouth. The sweetness exploded along my tongue mixing with the coppery taste of blood.

Perfect end to the day.

I was turning in, but the girls were just getting started. Most nights, I’d pretend to sleep for a while and just listen  – it had been my only school since I could remember. I learned a few choice insults, bits of patois from the wards, the locations of weapon caches and dead bodies.

And I learned about the places I would go when I left the wards. I would see the world one day. I’d see all the worlds. I listened. I remembered. I hoarded and processed every scrap. It would all be important – one day.


The moms decided I needed an education. Even the wards have schools and, despite my protests, Nanette marched me two blocks through the no-man’s land of the Simba Kabila’s turf to a low concrete building with tall, narrow windows like slits in a bunker. Small as I was, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to squeeze through them. There were coils of razor wire framing the perimeter of the roof – whether to keep someone out or in wasn’t clear.

Nanette mashed me into her bosom and then thrust me toward the scowling rodent of a woman at the front desk. "Now you be good, Boy. Study hard. You know the way back right? Just come on home when you’re done."

And I liked it. I had a real knack for other languages. My teacher said I had an "auditory psychomotor advancement" that may have had something to do with sticky gene-mods, but I was too poor for anything like that, so I must have gotten them the old fashioned way, by inheriting them. I had no idea where I came from. There was no way to check. I just was what I was.

BOOK: The Jack's Story (BRIGAND Book 2)
5.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Wild Horse Spring by Lisa Williams Kline
Duty to Love by Morgan King
Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks
Surrender in Silk by Susan Mallery
Sharks by AnnChristine
Living with Temptation by Hale, Melinda
Dangerous Curves by Karen Anders