Blazing Blunderbuss by Nix Whittaker

Blazing Blunderbuss by Nix WhittakerHara was shoved out of the tavern. She swore at the men and ducked when they threw her glider at her. It clattered on the cobblestones of the alleyway and she went to see if they had damaged it. The door to the tavern shut and she was left alone in an empty alleyway. She was glad she had convinced them that no matter their desire for her, she would be more trouble than pleasure.

Hara ran her hands over the wooden sides of the glider case. The box was scratched but was still in good shape. A door opened further down the alleyway and two men shoved another man out. He had his hands tied in front of him, so he stumbled and regained his balance.

He turned to the two men and said, “Hey, I’m delicate here. There’s no need to be so shovey and pushy. Remember, I’m just a professor. I don’t have a weapon. I’m not going to hurt you, so you don’t have to be so…so violent. And with all this movement I really don’t want to see my dinner again. No matter how lovely it was.”

He tried to smooth his hair away from his face, but with his hands tied together it was an awkward action. The man looked like a fop and he certainly didn’t fit in with the Roshian commoners who were holding him captive. The Roshians were also armed to the teeth—though being armed was not surprising in a smugglers’ port.

Hara hesitated. She hated fops. They were less than useless. She really shouldn’t get into this. She needed to find a way out of the town and eventually find a permanent berth. She didn’t need to get into fights with random Roshians. She sighed, because she knew it really didn’t matter. She had a thing for trouble, to the point that she wondered some days whether it was hereditary.

Hara called out, “Hey, I don’t think the toff wants to go with you guys!”

All of them turned to her. The prisoner motioned with his tied hands to shoo her away and said, “That is awfully sweet of you to say that, but these guys aren’t about to play nice. Wouldn’t want you to get hurt or anything. As long as they remember I’m delicate, I’ll be fine. Especially if they remember to use silk next time.” He grinned as if it was merely a game of sorts and he wasn’t being kept as a prisoner.

At least he was a decent guy. That made it almost a good idea to help him. Almost. She came closer and dropped her glider on the ground. It would be easier to move without it.

One of the Roshian men said, “Get lost, malenkaya devotshka. This is not your problem.”

Hara replied in Rosh. “I’m afraid I have the bad habit of making things my problem.”

One of the Roshian men held the prisoner so he wouldn’t escape and the other pulled out a large Barker Iron. There were more sophisticated weapons on the market, but it was big enough to put a pretty large hole in her. The Barkers were a favorite of Roshian revolutionaries, to the point that the revolutionaries were called Rosh Barkers after their weapon of choice.

Hara stepped closer. “If you let him go, no one has to be hurt.”

The two Roshian men looked at each other in confusion. The one with the gun turned to her and said, “You do realize there are two of us and only one of you.”

Hara grinned with her hands spread out to appear harmless. “I know. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Maybe if I tie one of my hands behind my back it might even the odds.”

She took another step forward and the men still hadn’t tried anything. Maybe going around as a girl without a disguise was a good idea. If she had been dressed as a boy she would have been attacked already.

Hara waved her hands as she spoke. “I mean, you can’t even call for help. This alleyway is completely deserted. I doubt the people in the tavern will even rouse if they hear a small scuffle out here.”

There, she was close enough. She used the waving of her hands to disguise her movement and took the final step she needed to get close enough to the gun-waving Roshian.

Hara moved fast. Setting her feet apart for stability, she knocked his gun aside and stepped into his guard. She pulled her arm back and slammed the ball of her palm into the man’s throat. He doubled over and she helped him over a little further into her knee. He grunted and slumped to the ground, unconscious.

The other Roshian fumbled for his gun, but his prisoner saw the opportunity for escape and started to struggle. Hara grabbed the Roshian’s gun. She slammed the metal handle on the man’s face and knocked him out.

Now that she had dealt with the Roshians she turned back down the alley and picked up her glider.

The fop followed her and said, “Thank you for that. The rescue I mean.” He waved with his tied hands to indicate the alleyway and the downed men.

Hara shrugged. “You don’t happen to have a spare airship available?”

He shook his head. “I’m looking for one though. We can look for one together.”

Hara picked up her pace as she said, “That’s nice for you. But I think we might be better off on our own.”

She certainly would be better off without a fop following her around. She headed out of the alley and down the street. The fop followed. He worked the knots out of his restraints with his teeth as he skipped to keep up with her.

 

 

 

 

 

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