The Computer Geek And The Crimelord


Max.jpg Yaron.jpg Nikro.jpg

Date: 2011.04.11
Location: Cave outside of Landing
Synopsis: With a fight night coming up in two days time, Max heads down to Landing to check up on the progress of his fighters and hears some disturbing news that sets him further ill at ease.
Rating: PG13 - Some language
Logger: Max

Nikro’s last class for the day had ended early when the journeyman teaching them was called away to attend to a problem within the AIVAS complex. A thrill of elation ran through the gangly teen and in no time at all he’d wheedled a ride down to the small cave complex just outside of Landing with Yaron. Perhaps today if he finished his chores about the makeshift gym in time, they’d let him watch the last sparring matches. He idolised the older fighters and wanted to be just like them one day, hoping that maybe then Serena would take him seriously and the other lads in his class would stop picking on him.

Either way, he was in high spirits as he sprang down from behind Yaron and darted away to start setting everything up. So much so that he didn’t see Max standing just inside the mouth of the cave and ploughed straight into the back of him, drawing a low expletive of annoyance from the man who snapped out an arm and yanked him back by the collar.

“Aw leave him be, boss,” Yaron said as he walked his runnerbeast into the cave to settle it with the others already tethered along a post, “the boy don’t mean no harm.”

Max narrowed his eyes on the lad and let him go only to find Nikro grinning back at him and hopping from foot to foot as if his energy knew no bounds. Slowly a brow went up and the beast manager set him with a sardonic look, “You need ta piss?”

Nikro’s eyes flew wide, his cheeks flaming as he shook his head rapidly from side to side, “N-no, sir. But I do got information for you.” And then the computer geek’s expression turned sly as he hopped a step backwards, “Gonna cost you though.”

For a moment or two Max did little but stand there and stare at the young teen and then he threw his head back and let out a guffaw of laughter, “So the little man’s learnin’ the way of things, eh? Go on then, spit it out.”

Nikro gave a toothy grin and then folded his arms across his narrow chest, a resolute expression falling into place, “Only if I get to train with the others today.”

It was all that Max could do to bite back on the humour that formed making a point of not looking Yaron’s way, for he too was trying hard to disguise his mirth at the boy’s cockiness. With amusement lurking in his eyes a brow lifted, “Training, eh? Not a mark bit?” He then appeared to give that some thought and then gave a nod of head, “Alright, so long’s your information’s good and it ain’t some cockamamie story you cooked up.”

Sensing victory, Nikro straightened and gave a firm nod of head, “It’s good, sir.” And then taking a breath he leaned slightly forward, “These two men came by Landing the other day while I was trying to get Serena, she’s a girl in one of my classes, to have lunch with me. They totally messed that up you know. Made her all mad and everything…” going off on a tangent.

“Nikro!” Max barked trying to pull the lad back from wherever his trundlebug of a brain was wandering off to, “What did these two men want?”

“Oh them, uh…they was asking about Jhorn and that fellow Catskin or something that hangs around with him. He’s real nice you know? Not Cancan, well he’s nice too, but Jhorn, he’s really nice, we’re best buds you know…” Oh my, easily distracted much?

“Kaskan?” Max gave a low growl and took a threatening step toward the teenager who in counter took a step backward and swallowed hard, sensing the man was starting to lose patience with him.

Clearing his throat he quickly got back on track, “Yeah him. They said they were old friends of his but I don’t think they were. Well, they were old,” because everyone’s old when you’re just fourteen turns old, “but they were sort of rough looking…and…mean.” A frown tipped blonde brows toward each other as he nibbled at his lip remembering the menacing looking Stud and Crud.

The beast manager went still and shot a troubled look Yaron’s way before reaching to pull the boy closer, his voice dropping low, “How long ago was this?”

“R-r-round four days back?” Nikro stammered looking from Max to Yaron as the trainer moved in closer. “I woulda told you sooner but I had to study and attend extra classes for exams. Journeyman Staros says that if we don’t pass he’ll make the whole class wear dunce hats for a whole seven and then you know what those seniors are going to…”

“For Faranth’s sake!” Max gave in an exasperated growl of sound as yet again the lad went off on a tangent, “Fucking focus will you!? Jays! If you fail your exams it won’t be because you didn’t study but because that trundlebug you have for a brain will have run off for cosier surroundings given how it rattles around in that empty head of yours!”

Yaron bit back a snicker and Nikro scowled.

“’Mnot stupid,” he mumbled.

Max sighed and passed a hand across his eyes. As it dropped away again he set the lad with a wry look, “No, you ain’t stupid,” he conceded feeling bad for having snapped at the boy and drawing on the last of his patience. Schooling his tone to neutrality he tried again, “These men, did they give names or say what they wanted with Kaskan and Jhorn?” Where before he might have put the strangers down to being old cohorts of Kaskan’s, with Nenienne having just that day come to him about a similar encounter, a deep sense of unease was starting to gnaw at his gut.

Nikro shook his head mutely and then piped up to add, “The big one gave me a thirty second of a mark bit,” pausing to mutter, ‘cheapskate’ before continuing, “He said he’d pay me more if I told him next time I saw Jhorn and Kas…gram.” Will he ever get the name right?

Once again, Max and Yaron exchanged looks and then the young crimelord gave a curt nod of head, “You done good, Nik.” An odd note of fondness briefly softening his features as the lad fairly lit up for the praise given. “You see ‘em again, you make sure they don’t see you and you go find Yaron here, aye?”

“Yessir!” Nikro beamed, the restless moving from foot to foot starting up once again. “Do I get to start training with the others today then?” his brown eyes alive with hope.

Chuckling Max nodded and reached out a hand to ruffle the lad’s blonde hair, “Aye, just as soon as you’ve gotten your chores done.”

Nikro tried to duck that incoming hand for he was not a baby! But he was unsuccessful and so after hovering for a moment longer he dashed off before Max could change his mind.

Dark troubled eyes watched the young teen go and then Max turned to Yaron, tight lipped. “I got a bad feeling ‘bout this. This ain’t the first I’m hearing of someone asking around ‘bout Kas.”

Yaron tipped an enquiring look the young crimelord’s way, “Oh?”

Max gave a curt nod of head, “Aye. Nenienne. That jewellerysmith that works out of Landing? She dropped by the beast caverns today. Said something similar ‘bout two rough looking fellas on the ask ‘bout him.”

“Shit,” the expletive fell flat from Yaron’s lips. “That boy he’s watching over is Blooded. You know what this could mean, aye?”

“Aye,” Max gave low and then after a short brooding silence added, “Reckon me and Kas need to have us a talk. Find out if he knows these two lookin’ for him before we go off swords half-drawn, aye?” The young crimelord deciding that discretion was the better part of valour.

Yaron nodded, “I’ll ask around Landing for ‘em, see what else we can learn.”

“Do that,” Max gave agreement, “And maybe touch base with Nenienne too, aye? The woman sounded rattled by ‘em.”

Just then laughter and banter heralded the first fighters arriving to begin their evening’s training. Max inhaled and arranged a suitably bland expression on his face as he lifted his voice enough to carry to the ears of those arriving, “Time to whip the skirts off these girls and turn ‘em into men, eh?”

That of course drew all manner of bawdy comebacks and snickers from the fighters. And as to Nikro? Well, he got his wish and that night saw the beginning of the young computer apprentice’s training at the hand of none other than Southern’s young crimelord himself.

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