The Brawl at Uncle Chen's

From the Story Arc: A Lust for Vengence

Previous Story in the Arc: Shallow Tears by Jaguar 7 (Thursday, September 30, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: Alert by Kostyak (Tuesday, October 05, 2004)

(posted Friday, October 01, 2004)

Kostyak sat on a stool with his head lowered. He looked back and forth over his menu, tapping the counter with his fingers. It had been a while since he ordered Chinese food, and some oriental cuisine could do him some good. Running his finger down a small list he stopped and showed his choice to the chef, who nodded in return. He looked out the window of “Uncle Chen’s” and watched the passersby retreat from the downpour of rain. Not more then a few hours ago, he was fighting a legion of tree monsters in an abandoned cave off the south end of the Talos shoreline. He shuddered and looked at his scarred and bandaged hands again.
***

Cyriss checked his locator again and dove down onto the street, almost knocking a businessman over. He ignored his recklessness and touched down on a street corner. Looking around he caught the neon sign of a Chinese eatery, and darted across the street. Cyriss stopped and looked through the window, sure enough; Kostyak was still at the counter tapping his fingers on the counter.

He walked in, armored boots echoing as they hit the wooden floor. A few customers took notice and leaned away from his general vicinity. Cyriss took a seat next to Kos and took off his helmet, gently laying it down on the counter. “Good to see you again Kostyak. Bet you’ll never guess who I just talked to.”

Without lifting his head, he answered “Isis?” He turned to see Cyriss’ face tighten with anger and disbelief. Before he could ask how, Kostyak interrupted, “Kid, I’m a mystic remember? Of course I already knew who you talked to.” In reality, Isis told Kostyak she was going to look for Cyriss. Kostyak watched Cyriss order a beer and looked at his watch again. Cyriss, wanting to savor the moment, took the beer and chugged it very slowly in front of Kostyak. “You got 30 minutes kid; 10 because you’re so damn slow at getting here, and 5 because you want to be cute now. Subtract that from 45, and you got your half-hour of remaining time,” Kostyak said as he sat up and faced him. Cyriss put down his drink and spat, “Interrogation? INTERROGATION!? What the hell you were you thinking, man… Jesus…”

Kostyak sighed and rubbed his forehead, “Look kid, it wasn’t my idea, that was Pack. She’s the one who wanted to have a word with Isis, you know how I am with those kinda things, keep out of their business unless…”

“…They make it your business,” Jaguar finished for him, “So, you’re telling me that Bestla is that one that ripped her heart out?” Cyriss picked up the beer and took another swig.

Kostyak laughed to himself, “What? You mean that sob story? Don’tcha think it’s a bit overdone? A bit dramatic?” He let the emphasis hang on the last word and waited for Cyriss to answer. Cyriss mumbled something quietly and turned to Kos, “So she’s a sensitive girl, so what! She’s always been that way, you jackass!”

“Right… Cause you two used to be soul-mates or somethin’ back in the day. Well, it’s too bad she’s got that amnesia, that’s gotta be a conversation killer. Now look, I can sit here all day and listen to you whine, but like I said I need to meet someone. Pack wasn’t hard on her so I don’t know why Isis is taking it so bad.” Kostyak finished the last sentence looking off into the distance.

Cyriss slammed his hand on the counter and shouted to him, “I don’t know what your damn problem is but you need to look after YOUR team better! She’s obviously stressed out and needs some explanation of what’s going on!”

Kostyak raised an eyebrow at him and fired back, “Stick to following orders kid, YOU don’t know a damn thing about what it takes to look after a team. Isis isn’t the only one in trouble here, she may need help, but if she turns on us, who the hell is going to help us?”

“SHE’S NOT GOING TO TURN ON ANYONE!”

“You got proof o’ that, kid? Got some magical crystal ball that tells you who the enemy is, and who isn’t? Whether you like it or not, her reputation is at stake, and I need to make sure, that no one gets hurt in the end!”

“Oh ok, so that’s what it’s about. You have to make sure that your team doesn’t get hurt, so I guess Isis isn’t really on the team, IS SHE!?”

“DAMNIT KID, get a hold o’ yourself! When I said no one gets hurt in the end that includes Isis…I’m on your side kid…”

Jag stood up and grabbed him by the collar, “No your not, your just still trying to make sure your sorry ass, and the people that you think are better, don’t get hurt. You know Kostyak…Commissar is kinda like the title of a leader right? And leader has to make sacrifices for the good of the whole. Well you told me you hate being Commissar…well for a guy that despises his job, you sure know who to sacrifice, “for the greater good.” If you ask me, I think you enjoy deciding who gets fried and who gets to live another day.”

Kostyak stood up and knocked Cyriss’ grip loose. He walked toward the exit, glancing at the other diners frightened beyond words. Kostyak sighed and waved Cyriss to follow. Cyriss frowned and stepped outside, just in time to take a fist to the face.

Cyriss staggered back toward the street, while Kostyak stood near the window. “Kid, I know your upset, and you didn’t mean any of that, so I’ll forgive you. What happened to all your damn training under the General? All that focus and concentration? Damnit kid, you were doing so well!”

Cyriss leaned forward and laughed, “My training huh? You want to know where my training went? I show you, you son-of-a-BITCH!” Cyriss charged and they both went crashing through the dining window, landing hard on a table. The legs cracked and buckled hitting the floor with a crash. Kostyak rolled one way, and Cyriss rolled the other. “Kid don’t make me do…” Kostyak put up his guard and blocked a swing. He ducked back and dodged another one with ease, “What is with you, kid? You’re fighting like a drunkard now.” Kostyak took a kick to the arm, followed by another one against his chest. Cyriss laughed as Kostyak fell backward catching himself against a wall. He rubbed his chest and walked toward Cyriss, who had just made another attempted swing.

Kostyak blocked the punch, then a kick and struck Cyriss in the face. He fell backward slowly trying to hold onto the counter but missing. Kostyak walked over to Cyriss and picked him up, “let’s finish this outside.” Cyriss was thrown out onto the street through the already shattered window. He climbed out and Cyriss grabbed him throwing him down onto the sidewalk. With a few quick kicks, Kostyak knocked his aggressor off momentarily. As he got up, Cyriss charged him again, and rammed him into the wall. Kostyak let out a groan and kneed him in the stomach. Kostyak then took his forehead and hammered Cyriss between the eyebrows. Cyriss stammered backward and twisted his body to kick Kostyak in the face. Kostyak wiped the blood from his mouth and watched as Cyriss continued to dance around disoriented. Finally Cyriss made a swing and slipped on a patch of water, falling to the ground. Panting, Cyriss pulled himself toward the wall and leaned up against it, still sitting. Kostyak sat down beside Cyriss and spit onto the ground. “If I’m missing any teeth, I’m taking yours,” Kostyak muttered to Cyriss. Still panting, Cyriss glanced up and laughed.

He rubbed his forehead and checked for damages, “Jesus Kos, that damn head of yours is like a block of iron…” They both laughed as the rain continued to soak the two of them.

A woman walked to the front of the store in a heavy raincoat. Shifting her head to survey the damage, she then walked two the ragged fighters sitting on the sidewalk.

“Ni hao, comrades…what has happened to my favorite restaurant?” the young women asked. Cyriss laughed hysterically to himself, “It’s like falling into a hole with a shovel. No where to go but down. Good to see you General, this is my fault, again, HAHAHA!”

Kostyak jabbed him in the side and Cyriss choked. Ignoring him, Kostyak informed, “It’s alright ,General no serious damage done.” People’s Blade lifted her arms again, “No serious damage! Look at this place! How dare you disgrace it with your petty bickering!” People’s blade let out another sigh, and helped both men up to their feet, “Now Kostyak, you wanted to have a word with me?” Jag leaned against the wall, and tried to walk away. “Ok Kostyak, we’ll finish this later, I’ll leave you two alone to your, secret conversation.” Kostyak grabbed Cyriss by the shoulder and told him to wait. “Tell ya what kid, this concerns you too, stick around.”

***

The three of them sat in the restaurant, trying to ignore the damage that had been caused. Since the owner was a good friend of the General, he scoffed at the damage and considered it merely minor.

“Anyway there’s two things to discuss,” Kostyak began. “One is Isis Stone, and her wavering loyalty. The other is a breech of security.”

Both Cyriss and the General had picked their heads up in interest. “Shi de, I have talked with Isis myself and personally interviewed her. She seems more confused then malicious. I am doubting her as a spy, but one can never be certain. She may be trying to appear before us a harmless snake, only to bite us with deadly poison…”

“Couldn’t have put it better myself General,” Kostyak remarked. Cyriss continued to sit in silence, trying to ignore their comments.” Kostyak frowned at Cyriss and added, “But regardless, she is a member of the Red Brigade, and we would do well to help her out.”
The General nodded in agreement, and asked what the second problem was.

Kostyak pulled a memo out of his pocket, and let it drip to the ground. Frowning again at Cyriss, whom merely shrugged, he tried to recall what it had said. “There was a breach of security a few days ago, while we were out on patrol…well most of us anyway. It seems someone hacked into our Secret Files Archive and stole a few documents. We traced a few downloads but have yet to figure out what exactly was stolen. This can pose as a serious threat as you know.”

“Shi de, I do know, such things are not meant for the public,” People’s Blade bowed in agreement, “tell me, who is the culprit.”

Kostyak rubbed his head again, “Now this is where it gets tricky. It was an inside job. We traced the computer used to our own headquarters. We managed to pull up a time and narrowed the list of people at the headquarters at the time.” Kostyak turned to Cyriss and glared at him. “You’re one of the few people on that list, Kid…” Cyriss let out a cry of shocking terror, and Kostyak quickly became serious again. “Another one was Isis.” Cyriss tightened his fist again but kept quiet.

Kostyak leaned into Cyriss and politely asked, “Kid, I know your Jaguar team had eight members, each specializing in something different. You know where I’m going with this don’t you…”

Cyriss groaned and muttered, “It wasn’t her.”

“Kid, your specialty was weapons, Alex’s was melee combat…”

“It wasn’t her…It couldn’t have been…”

“What specialty, Kid?”

“Come on Kos…It wasn’t her!”

“KID! Answer the damn question!” Kostyak yelled but the General waved her hand, “Cyriss…what does Kostyak speak of? Now you must tell us, I’m very curios at where he is going with this.” Cyriss screwed his mouth shut and closed his eyes, muttering, “Computers…”

Kostyak leaned again, “What exactly did she do with them?” Cyriss couldn’t bear it anymore and blurted, “DAMNIT SHE WAS A HACKER! There, ya happy? She was trained to use all types of electronic equipment and to know how to operate all forms of equipments and consoles, especially the Rikti ones…”

Kostyak leaned back in his chair, “Shit…”