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BOTH The Order Of The Throne (~Both, ~Nonbinary ~Pulp/Noir/Thriller, ~SciFi, ~XXWG, ~Stuffing, ~Squashing, ~Stuckage)

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like a thief in the night
Apr 11, 2008
(~Both, ~Nonbinary ~Pulp/Noir/Thriller, ~SciFi, ~XXWG, ~Stuffing, ~Squashing, ~Stuckage) --- Are You sitting comfortably?

The Order Of The Throne
by Jimbob

First Phase: Invitation

In which You go through some guy's pockets

You always thought you'd see it coming.

But let's start where it began: the day some knuckle-dragging stoneage holdover Mook came crashing into your office.

He'd been pretty insistent that he wanted to see you. Or rather, he wanted to see "Big Shot Investigator", your name not having crossed his vocabulary.

"You are Big Shot?" he'd slurred, peering at you from underneath the shadows of his Karloff brow. The sway on his feet seemed to betray that he'd been a boxer once upon a time - or maybe he'd just lost too many matches to a whisky bottle. His clothes had hung on him like dust sheets on the lost masterpiece of a disgusted former prodigy, unable to look anymore at the work they'd abandoned. Seams were ripped, buttons hung on strings. You suspected if you did a 360 around him, you'd see a pair of heart-print boxer shorts exposed by the long-abandoned seat of his pants.

"Sure, I'm Jackie," you'd said, tapping the name-plate on your desk with one hand and opening the drawer in your desk with the other.

"They send me find Big Shot," he continued, as though you'd said nothing. As he swayed, his belly wobbled underneath his desperate shirt, a dangerous movement, lke the gut was getting ready to knock your lights out and the shirt was his poor sober buddy holding him back.

After a moment, you stood up, slipping a trusty blackjack into your trouser pocket as you approached.

"Listen Mister, I don't know who sent you, but they must not have told you I ain't a mentalist on the side," you said, quietly joking to keep him distracted, keeping your tone low to prevent him getting spooked. "What exactly did you want from me? And who's they? You got a mouse in your pocket?"

The Mook blinked a couple times, looked at You curious, as though for the first time.

"Mae-Linn? Baby, zat you?"

"Negative, soldier. It's your pal Jackie Cardinal. Why don't ya sit down and let's chat about old times, huh?"

He'd taken a lumbering step back, and then another forward, and all of a sudden his legs turned in their pink slips. The mook wasn't unlike that ol' gag about the 400-pound Gorilla. Which direction does he fall? Any direction he cares to.

"Big shoooo--" he'd groaned, and good little Samaritan you are, you couldn't help but reach out those arms of yours for support, ain't that so? A move you instantly regretted. Pianos falling down staircases have put less strain on a body twice as strong as yours.

"They send me, find you. Take care." He was still slurring, glassy-eyed, a seasoned traveller in the Land of Nod. You sensed it would do you well to try and make sense of him before he checked into the Slumbertown B&B.

"Who sent you, champ? Who've I got to bill for the dent in my carpet?" (And in your joints, you rued to yourself.)

"Is...are...the Throne. Offer me everything. They try to...I did not want to...and now I am this. To be. To be is to know," he'd whispered, over his more implicit threats to break every bone in your spine if someone didn't help prop him up.

"To know what?" you'd said, but it was too late.

The mook's eyes had rolled back, the first line of a battalion of Zs escaped those flat nostrils of his, and he slid mercifully out of your hands, bumping off your desk and onto the carpet and taking care to upset every single paper you'd had piled there for many months.

So there you'd been, lighting a ciggy to soothe your suddenly aching body and surveying a much larger body in front of you. From a secondary investigation, the fading shiner on his left eye and the red marks across his torso (that shirt had given up the ghost somehow during your exchange, inviting his tummy to let 'em have it) seem to indicate he might have been a top-class muscleman. In another life, maybe; he wasn't so much "running to fat" as he was sprinting right through obesity, and he'd gotten there a little quicker than the average bear.

Turning out his pockets, all you found in the left was a faded tram ticket stub and one half of a business card stained with coffee and ketchup, too soggy to ever be legible. And in the right...something else.

A regular mystery man, huh? And looks like fate had earmarked you to be the lucky so-and-so who gets to solve that mystery.

Sometimes you wish you could climb up Mount Olympus and knock on Lady Fate's exquisite marble door yourself, just to thumb your nose and tell her "Nuts To You". Freshly single, no good leads in a month and the Landlord hefting his baseball bat at you whenever your eyes met, you were in no mood for mysteries.

You're not even a detective, for cry's sakes. Your editor, Joey, never gets tired of reminding you. That's in fact what he did a minute later, when the print guys had stopped staring and fetched him to your desk.

"Aw Jackie," he'd sighed as he came across the scene. "You know you can't keep doing this."

"Oh, I'm supposed to tell the pachyderms they can go into hibernation in the lobby?"

"They'd do it in the lobby if you just took the assignments I give ya."

"The stories come when they come, Joey. I'm not covering the new boutique store opening at the Mall if there's gunshots happenin' in the slums."

"How many times have I gotta tell ya, this ain't that kind of paper!" The chief waves his cigar at you as though to imply that the larger nicotine quantity per unit signifies his eminent authority. "The Tribune is a local rag, not the god damn Enn Why Tee. The day I need you to bring down City Hall is---"

"Yeah, yeah", you'd replied, waving your own smoke in his face as you turned away. You've heard Joey's protestations about your 'methods' some five thousand times, and he's gotten used to you ignoring them five thousand and one times, since your stories just so happen to move units. You like to think he's encouraging the interns to follow your example. Or not to.

Doesn't matter, anyway. What matters is the other little thing that the Mook had in his pocket.

An envelope. Stuffed. So thick with cash it was practically glowing green, and sealed with an ornate little wax seal depicting a gorgeous-looking medieval chair, the kind typically adorned with cushions to keep the derriere of a despoiler of nations from getting too many little brusies. Wax isn't usually a medium for detail, but you could swear you see oak-leaf patterns and heraldic bears. Not to mention dragons.

The chair's upside-down. Not like everything else - the bears and dragons and all that have their feet on the ground, but the feet of the chair are waving in the air. The labelling is right-side up too.

Above the seat, orbiting it in ornate wax letters, are the words:

Sedd Peryglus

Below it:

Come And See.

And that's why you take the job.

-- (End of First Phase) --
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