Hook, line and sinker

- by deckerM & Flex

Chapter 1 - The Pieces Are Gathered

Stiffness. Party Animal walked around his dark apartment, and winced hard as he rubbed his right shoulder, trying to rotate the joint by pumping his arm back and forth as he paced across his living room floor. He sighed softly; it was only two weeks since his extremely narrow escape from the Azzie Pyramid, and his arm was still out of whack. He hoped that it wasn't going to be permanent, or that he needed surgery.

"Ugh," he muttered to himself out loud. This perked the ears of his pet coyote, Lone Eagle; the canid lifted its head from where it was lying next to PA's couch. Lone Eagle whuffed a bit at PA, then laid its head back on its outstreched forepaws as PA continued to pace back and forth.

After about fifteen minutes, PA grunted and gritted his teeth as a loud and painful pop eminated from the beleagured shoulder. With another rub, PA muttered to himself, "All right, that's it." He flicked on a single light, and stomped towards his kitchen, footfalls padded by soft leather moccasins, and reached inside a cabinet, snagging a tumbler and a half-used bottle of Jack Daniels. Pouring a healthy dose of the amber stuff into the tumbler, he brought both glass and bottle to his couch and flopped on it.

Taking a bottle of asprin from the pocket of his duster that was hung on the corner of the couch, PA downed a couple pills, washing it down with Jack Daniels. After letting out a thoughtful "hrrmmm...", he patted Lone Eagle on the head, and brought his feet up on the couch, relaxing himself to a rather bland view of his ceiling. He'd downed only the first glassfull before falling asleep on the couch, snoring loud enough to make Lone Eagle evacuate to Party Animal's bed to sleep for the night.

His sleep was disturbed five minutes later by the incessant bleeping of his telecom. Growling out several curses in Modoc, he threw the heavy glass tumbler at the screen. The telecom beeped and suddenly an image of an Italian man in a cheap polyester suit and slicked back hair appeared, and immediatley asked in a slight Brooklyn accent, "Hey, are you dere, PA?" PA groaned and opened a bloodshot chocolate brown eye and grunted at the telcom, holding up a finger to the camera as a signal to the man on the other end to give him some a minute to wake up.

A while ago, one of PA's decker chums thought it a real joke to hardwire the telcom with a mercury switch so whenever something was thrown at the screen, it would connect. PA made a mental note to have the decker's car impounded permanently as he rubbed his still aching shoulder, and at least look presentable.

"What the frag do you want, Vinnie?" he grunted, still half asleep. "I tol' everyone that I'm taking the rest of the fragging year off."

Vinnie chuckled and shrugged, chewing on a toothpick. "Well, ya know Ace, it's like October. It's close enough." Vinnie took the toothpick out of his mouth, pointing it at the screen. "Besides, you owes me for the drek you pulled on a certain briefcase ya fraggin' mutt. Took me a damn month to get back good after that stunt."

PA smirked a bit, raising an eyebrow. This is what you get for being a friend of La Familia Vinnie, he thought. He raised a hand for peace, and took a break for a quick swig off of the Jack Daniels bottle. "Look," he genially replied, "Was it my fault that they opened it?" He gave his best Coyote-trademark smirk and shrugged. "Look, fine, what do you want so I can at least have a reason to tell you to frag off."

Vinnie looked mockly wounded. "PA," he replied in a diplomatic tone. It was still weasely as ever, but it was diplomatic. "When have I ever steered you wrong?"

"August 29th. That's why I don't use you anymore. I'm tired of cleaning Yak blood off of my duster."

Vinnie hid a smirk there, and clasped his hands together in his best Reverend Roberts impersonation, right down to the saintly look covering up the devious nature. "I promise, on my mother's grave-"

"You're mother's alive.. In Queens. I was there when you called her."

Vinnie frowned. "It's a fraggin expression."

"Just making sure you haven't done anything I should worry about."

"You're fragging full of drek, you know this?"

PA grinned. "I try."

Vinnie rolled his eyes, and flicked his toothpick away. "Look. It's simple. I've got this new contact, that has 100% zero connections to the Family. He looks wet behind the ears and I thought that you, out of the kindness of yer black Injun heart, could show him the ropes so he dosen't get himself turned into next week's hot dogs at Safeco Field and it makes me look bad for takin a chance on the guy."

PA chuckled. "Somehow I figured it wasn't because you suddenly grew a soul. All right. Frag knows I need the break from my usual hectic schedule of getting drunk and getting drunk."

Vinnie nodded. "Great. Look, I'll even throw in half of my cut from the next two runs I set up for him."

"Just as long as they ain't suicide missions." PA narrowed his eyes darkly. "I know what half of that cut is."

"On my honor as a D'Amato."

PA scoffed and laughed heartily.

Ni chuckled to himself as Meri fussed over him. It never ceased to amuse him how someone easily half his size could be so protective of him.

"I'll be okay," he assured her for the third time. "We aren't even going shopping, just talking to the man."

'Going shopping,' that was the team's code for a run. 'Talking to the man, meant visiting with an old fixer buddy of Wulf's: 'The Mouth.'

"I just don't like it," Meri grumbled. "Daff should be watching over him."

"Daff's with Gris, visiting family."

"What about Jade?"

Ni shook his head. "Jade'll be there, but well..." Meri smiled. "She's not very imposing?"

Ni nodded. "Exactly. People take one look at her and they figure she's a push over..." That comment had the desired effect.

When Meri finally stopped laughing she nodded. "Okay big guy, you've made your point. Just don't go shopping without me." "Never," he promised.

It was a usual night in Seattle, rainy and cold. Or at least it was normal according to the locals that Kai Molokali'i frequented with. He sighed as he looked out the window of the McHughes at the traffic buzzing through the rainy night. Kai was used to a much better climate. He sighed again, picking at his soyburger. He wondered sometimes what made him leave Honolulu for Seattle, shaking his head and steeling his will by reminding himself that he came here to study under Sensei Nagatomi.

He sighed again. Unfortuneatley, Sensei couldn't take in any boarders, so that meant he had to find a job. With prospects being what they were, he was glad he'd had experience in Honolulu's shadows; maybe they'd carry over to this new land.

"Hey, Freak-o," a gruff voice suddenly rang out behind him, accompanied by a strong tap on his shoulder. "You're sittin' in my seat."

Kai frowned and sighed, standing up slowly. "I'm sorry, hoa," he said softly, "I didn't know they leased ownership of the booths here in Seattle." He raised his hands and turned to smile reassuringly to whoever was standing over him.

Whoever it was didn't seem to be pleased to see Kai. He was an ork, about a head taller than Kai, but a lot wider and a hell of a lot uglier. The yellow tusks that jutted out of the ork's face reminded Kai of some of the wild pigs still running around the jungles of the islands.

The ork growled at Kai and picked him up by the collar, even lifting him up a few inches. "I ain't no ho," the ork grumbled out, "I should break yer breeder face for that."

Kai's eyes widened, as he remembered that "hoa" didn't translate well to those not familiar with the Polynesian tounge. He waved his arms defensively. "Woah there, bruddah.." he replied, kicking his feet in the air a bit. "I didn't mean nothing.. You look like a very respectable wikanikanaka..."

Once again the language barrier seemed to beat Kai over the head as the ork's eyes narrowed and he snorted out of his broad nose. The ork threw Kai to the ground roughly and stood over him again. "Fragging Injun!" he yelled out. "I don't need you throwing your shit talk at me.. Insult me ag'in and I'll make stew outta yer fraggin head!"

Kai blinked and looked around, hoping for one of the guards that McHughes prided itself on, but he assumed that 10:45 PM must be the universal break time for guards around the world, as lo and behold there were none to be found. He then shot a look back up to the ork, and steeled himself. He didn't want to have to resort to violence, but if things went the way they were going, he wouldn't have a choice!

The ork growled at Kai, reaching down for the wiry Hawai'ian, but Kai slipped between the ork's legs, and got to his feet in time for the ork to turn around and let out a noise of surprise. Kai got into a kung fu defensive stance, one that he was quite comfortable with. "Look, bruddah," he calmly started, holding his hands out to show that he was ready to defend himself if it came to it. "I don't want to get into anything, ok? I'm not looking for a fight. And besides.. I'm not AmerInd, I'm Hawai'ian."

The ork looked at Kai and laughed. "Holy freakin drek!" he howled. "Who the frag d'ya think you are, Injun? Jackie Chan Jr?"

Kai narrowed his almond eyes. He didn't like this ork; he kept thinking he was an AmerInd and now came the joke against his lifestyle. Natural instincts also kicked in; twenty years of being teased back home by the more pure-blooded kama'aina for his being half-Japanese steeled him against any jokes of his heritage. "Look here, ule," he said through gritted teeth as his hands turned up to a more agressive stance, "Why don't we just call this a draw and walk out before someone here gets a mouthful of broken teeth."

The ork growled, "Yous think you're better than me? Nobody beats the Rippah!" With that, he lunged at Kai with a huge fist.

The world slowed down. Everything began to look in a shade of color that Kai referred to as the "Purple Kanike." With an easily executed dodge, Kai took Ripper's arm and used his opponent's momentum to land a brutal kick with one of his sandaled feet to the ork's solar plexus.

To the rest of the world outside the duo, it looked like Kai went in super speed. To those with the eye, it was quite obvious what Kai was. To Ripper however, it was like a brick wall crunched into his breast bone. He slammed back into the middle of the lobby, knocking over a couple chairs and scattering the garbage on it.

Kai just landed pertly on the ground, taking a defensive stance as his knuckles cracked. He smirked softly to himself; he didn't even need to add any extra strength into this one. Nodding to the ork, he stood up softly. Smoothing his Hawai'ian shirt, he paused for a second to retie the black belt around his gi trousers.

In this second the ork growled even faster and lunged at Kai. In another blinding speed, the adept took hold of Ripper's shoulders, and planted both feet in Ripper's solar plexus again, using the ork's momentum to propel him over the contested table and through the window. Landing in a crouch, Kai seemed to glow for a second, before it faded. He stood up silently and wiped his hands, turning around to inspect his work.

To his shock and surprise, there was a stranger standing over Ripper's unconcious body, clapping softly. The stranger, an elf about another head taller than Ripper was, looked strange to Kai; he had almost the same shade of tan that the Hawai'ian had, but his features and long black hair showed him to be in fact the same AmerInd that Ripper was accusing Kai of being. However, it was the AmerInd's style of clothing that made him stand out. He was wearing a long black duster with buttons and some strange hangings over what looked like buckskin clothing, with boot moccasins and a t-shirt on the top, with a black and red flannel shirt tied around his waist. He was holding a bostaff crooked in his arm as he was clapping, and gave a smirk that set Kai at ease, yet on guard at the same time.

The elf stopped clapping and smiled to Kai. "Hey, chummer," he said in a smooth tone. "I got called by Vinnie to show ya the ropes around Seattle for a while." He looked down at Ripper, and chuckled. "But damn, looks like you don't really need help in the defensive department." He then stepped over the unconcious ork and extended a hand. "We better get the lead out before the Star shows up for littering. By the by, my name's Party Animal." He flashed another grin.

Jade smiled as she closed the door behind her. Trust Wulf to be in the kitchen cooking up some culinary delight. She could definitely get used to his style of meditation– or at least to the results of his meditations.

'Chocolate,' she thought to herself as she deposited her gear on the couch. 'Must be something serious.'

She sat down and waited. If it had been anything else– she would have gone in and helped. It was how they tended to plan things out, but when Wulf was making something involving chocolate– she knew to leave him alone.

She sat there for almost a half an hour before Wulf exited the kitchen and joined her in the living room.

"Why didn't you tell me you were here?" He asked.

Jade stared at him for a minute before speaking.

He gave her a confused look as she smiled knowingly and simply said, "chocolate." After a moment's pause he simply gave up and got down to business.

"The Mouth called, says he has some people he wants us to meet."

"And this leads to you cooking?"

Wulf once again gave her a confused look. "I was hungry..."

Jade just nodded. "Right Wulf."

Wulf looked back towards the kitchen and then at Jade. "Do you want some?"

Jade gave him a sly smile, "of course."

Wulf breathed a sigh of relief as the door chimed. Sometimes he didn't understand Lady Jade.

'Saved by the bell. Some day Wulf...' Jade thought, as Wulf opened the door for Ni.

"Evenin' boss," Ni greeted Wulf., then smiled when he saw Jade was already there. "We all ready?"

Wulf looked over at Jade for confirmation and then smiled. "Looks like."

Ni nodded. "I got the van parked outside."

"What about Meri?"

Ni looked over at Jade and gave her a wistful smile. "She's not happy about the arrangement," he admitted. "She understands but she's not happy."

"No point putting all our people in one place," Wulf commented.

"She knows," Ni told him. "She agrees– but she's not happy about it."

Wulf studied him for a moment. "I need Jade, she can tell if there's anything... peculiar.." Ni nodded. "I know. Jade covers the magical. I'm the muscle... geez Wulf, she isn't here... she's waiting at our place... She just..."

"Forget it Ni, he's being denser than usual."

Ni looked at Jade and smiled. "What are you talking about?"

Jade just shook her head. "Don't worry about it Wulf– your mind is elsewhere." "I just..." Ni let out a long heavy sigh.

"Wulf– we're talking about Meri here. She's not about to ignore your orders as long as she's involved in the actual mission."

Wulf paused for a moment and then finally gave up. "Right... sorry. Let's go."

Copyright 2002 - Flexidisk and M.T. Decker

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