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This Woman's Work

Hyle Troy's picture
Submission type:


The question is. What would she do next?”


Ok. So it had been a hard day, Hyle was feeling the pressure mounting. She sat back on her office chair absent-mindedly tapping the blotter with the end of her pencil.

Things at the hostel were at breaking point because of a combination of the influx of ex Diamnod Lil’s girls alongside a higher than usual arrival of refugees.


Most of the refugees were in a bad way because of increased bandit activity around the bottleneck known as Pass Chris. Most of the men had been killed and the women? Hyle knew only too well how the raiders treated women.


The hostel was coping, only just. But alone in her office, Hyle just felt helpless. What could she do? The stark answer was nothing, except deal with the consequences. She knew her town was a beacon of hope for the desperate which attracted those who wanted nothing more than a safe place to live and raise their kids.

However, the fact remained. Hyle’s greater concern was the number of traumatised women and girls included among the arrivees. She herself had first hand experience of the brutal treatment bandits could exact. The hostel, her staff and she herself were there to rehabilitate the survivors.


Which brought Hyle back to the question she had asked herself:

What would Lucille Slater do next?”

So, Diamond Lil’s had been closed down and ‘Aunt Lucy’ had last been seen disappearing in a cloud of dust. But Hyle knew Slater. She understood her adversary, she knew Slater would at some point need to exact some form of revenge.


The simple remedy would be to send Reavy after her. But Slater was a clone, and to a clone, death is but a minor setback.


No. Hyle reasoned that in order to keep the threat of Slater to a minimum she would have to hit her where it really hurt. In her wallet.


The best way to reduce the danger would be to ruin Slater again. And again as necessary until she had no resources left at all. And, if she did have any Trav backers they would see her as nothing more than a huge liability and cut her off.


But all this would be remote, far away from Hope Springs, far away from Hyle’s influence or scope.


But she did have some resource, close to hand. Very close. She had Shadow, she had Reavy. Both well trusted by her. The idea started to germinate. Would these two find Slater, find out what she was up to?


Joe Spivey's picture

((can't wait to find out :)

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Lance Striker's picture

Shadow reluctantly pried himself away from his love, leaving her to sleep; it was the least he could do, work

was taking its toll on her and the worry was beginning to show. Hyle's vision resonated with him deeply, a slice

of European sensibility in this second-coming of the cradle of civilisation. From the outside, he seemed anathema

to that goal – a soldier. Perhaps, he thought, that she saw the deeper meaning behind that role; she had a

perspective on the world he came from unlike anyone he'd ever met before. Their relationship had developed so

quickly, and now she was trusting him with the legacy of her own dream.

He caught himself just watching her, seized by her beauty. She had been everything he never knew he needed and

now he'd been given a chance to make good on his promise to be whatever she needed him to be. He grabbed his

clothes, headed downstairs, got dressed and quietly slipped out the back door.

It was bitterly cold outside and the sun had yet to make its appearance. He made for his camp behind the bar, skirting

around the outside of town to avoid people, especially any girls from the hostel. Fluss' silhouette trotted towards

him, throwing her head about excitedly. Shadow smiled in greeting, nuzzling his faithful companion. She followed

him to his camp and laid down by the fire as he lit it.

Shadow thought for a moment, holding an old radio transmitter in his hands. He dialled in a series of frequencies and

waited, hoping. A minute or two of silence was greeted by a yawn and a sigh.

   “Yeah?” Came a tired voice through the receiver.

   “Echo...It's Striker.”

There was another brief moment of silence.

   “Shit, man, it's like six in the morning, Strikes. I haven't even had my coffee.”

   “It's important. I need you track someone down for me.”

   “I thought you got out of the game a while ago?”

   “I did...this isn't a bounty. It's...government work.”

   “Government? Soto got you doing her dirty work again?”

Echo became audibly excited. He was smarter than Shadow, but he knew how to play him.

   “No, I'm back at Hope Springs.”

   “You still believe in that place?”

   “More than ever.”

   “Right...So who's pissed you off this time?”

   “A woman named Lucille Slater, also known as Aunt Lucy. Until recently she was operating a brothel in New Flagstaff

   called Diamond Lil's. Unfortunately she got away after a raid on the property. One girl died and the rest are being sheltered

   in town. She's connected to The Families, we think she'll try and start over.”

   “This chick sounds like a real bad cookie. So you gonna blow a hole in her and be done with it?”

   “Much as I'd love to, she's a clone.”

   “Oh, your favourite.”

   “Tell me about it. In this case, I just need to find her and keep shutting her down. I doubt she'd run to the Plateau, so

   I figured she'll be somewhere in Kaibab.”

   “Right on, man. If she's in amongst the weeds, I'll dig her up. I'll let you know when I have something.”

   “I owe you one. Go get that coffee.”

Shadow sighed, the wheels were in motion. He could only hope that Reavy wouldn't do anything reckless before he had a chance to strike.

Lonely are the brave...

Lucille Slater's picture

Opening night needed something special, something that would draw a crowd and at the same time help fill the sadly depleted coffers. Fortunately, she had two such somethings nice and safe in the root cellar. All she needed to do now, she smiled, was to get the raffle tickets printed and distributed via her Traveller connections.

If'n yew were a few years younger I'd put you over mah knee and paint yer back porch red!

Lucille Slater's picture

The boyfriend of the older daughter came looking for her. Lucy was feeling her age by the time she had dragged his unconscious body all the way down to the root cellar and chained him to the ceiling beam. Still, she thought as she wiped heer hands down her apron while admiring her latest aquisition. Gotta cater fer all tastes in this day and age.

If'n yew were a few years younger I'd put you over mah knee and paint yer back porch red!

Lucille Slater's picture

Lucille walked up and down the line. Her new security team.

Five of 'em. All spikes, tattoos and body odour. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers I suppose. Still, it looked like her contacts had gone straight to the bottom of the barrel for this lot. These were going to be her permanant staff. Five more were coming for the opening night. Now she just had to wait on the busload of new working girls to turn up and they would be good to go.

She went to check on her raffle prizes.

If'n yew were a few years younger I'd put you over mah knee and paint yer back porch red!

Reavy's picture

Bound, grisly looking man clad in biker leathers was nudged forward to the motel room door by a shotgun barrel pressed against his spine. The place served as office for one of the many travelers bosses in Credit Bend.

Few loud knocks on the door brought guard to open them as captive man started squirming in the handcuffs. Quick smack with butt of a shotgun across his back calmed him down a little. 

The guard in black traveler coat spoke calmly as he gave Reavy a suspicious look "You are expected. I shall meanwhile accomodate our guest" 


Reavy just nodded and moved inside, waiting patiently. She looked at one of the flyers sitting neatly on the table.

"Free beer, good food, fresh meat... hm... gotta check that out. After all Hyle did say i should relax more." Reavy thought to herself oblivious to the true meaning of those words as she picked up one of the flyers.


In that moment rather elegant looking Man around 40-50 years of age walked in from adjacent room and dropped small pouch of chips on the table.

"Almost thought you're not doing business anymore, Wolf. Done with your goodwill crusades?" He smirked as he looked at Reavy.

"Gotta keep myself in shape somehow between work. Besides, waiting for contracts is rather dull". She replied in just as calm manner.


The man turned his attention to the flyer in her hand, not showing any sign of iritation at the fact that woman with reputation of unpredictable reactions might've caught the hint of one of the operations out there.

"I did not know this is your kind of entertainment"   He added in a tone implying he did not care at all, though noone could be ever certain if it is not just another ruse.

"Gotta live on MRE's and recycled water for some time to really appreciate magic of fresh meat and beer combination. Speaking of which, wouldn't mind getting my hands on some of those tickets in case they're being sold... not as good as raffle for a chopper or a car, but i'd hate to miss one."  Reavy replied in her usualy emotionless tone, not showing whether she realized the meaning of the flyer or not.


Seeing the opportunity, The Man nodded slowly. "I just might know of some free tickets. I will call you when your services are required once more... which will be rather soon"

Reavy nodded in response, taking her payment as she left the building heading to her car, watched closely by a pair of traveler guards from the balcony. 

"Just one wrong move and i'll have all the reasons to put her down" Rather green looking traveler with no collar on his neck announced to his colleague.

"Easy there mayfly, she ain't one of those clones who think whether you have extra lives or not. Besides, if she was about to cause trouble, she wouldn't walk through the front door. That much i know."  Replied the other guard, wearing full suit of traveler armor.

"And you know that how?" Young man replied inquisitively.

"That is how things are done. There are times at which you need to approach your oponent peaceful like... to set differences aside for the sake of business. Then you walk through front door and don't cause trouble. That is how old rivals and enemies become almost friends out of respect for each other after years killing. At least that's how some people used to conduct, not that common nowadays. Besides, if she fucks up here the business will dry up for her. And nobody pays as good as travelers do." 

Younger gunman watched rather disappointed as the armored car calmly rumbled away, unhappy he'd have to wait to use his pair of shiny revolvers. Taking down that mercenary would finally earn him respect of others, he thought. Then he looked at the raffle ticket in his hand and smiled. Maybe he'll get lucky. 

"It's fake anyways"  The other guard added with a smirk, even though he had no idea if he's right. It apparently irritated his young friend, which provided at least some amusement that dull afternoon...



Lance Striker's picture

Shadow made his daily visit to the post office, eagerly awaiting a letter from Allie. He sighed as

he entered the doorway, noticing the small queue; a Rider must have just dropped off a new

batch of mail. Behind him, two men seemed to be having a discussion that caught his attention.


   “How many times do I have to tell you?”




   “That's a deposit box, you don't get your mail from it you dumbass.”


   “What do you mean? Surely you get your mail from the mailbox.”


   “No, no, no...look. You get it from the desk, hence the queue. Which is now longer thanks to you.”


   “Me? I was at the box first, get in line, buddy.”


Shadow felt an aneurysm coming on when Hitomi's voice saved him.


   “Mr. Shadow? No letters from Gaia today, but there's a letter from Trader's Flat for you.”


Hitomi handed him the letter with a smile and immediately went to deal with the moron at the deposit

box. It was quite thick, not unusual for one of Allie's letters and subsequent drawings, but the location

and the sarcastic labelling of “Shadow” on the envelope was telling. He thanked Hitomi on his way

out of the door and headed back to Hyle's house.


   “Hej, hun,” came a voice from upstairs, “got what you went for?”


   “Not quite, but something just as good I reckon.”


He turned to close the door behind him and nearly had a heart attack when he turned back round.

Suddenly, Hyle appeared out of nowhere and planted a kiss on him as she whisked by, pottering on with things.


   “Jesus...where'd you come from?”


Rather than lower herself to his idiocy, she just smirked at him and disappeared into another room

somewhere. A mystery for later, he decided, the contents of the letter were more important for now.

He sat at the kitchen table, opened the envelope and pored over the various documents inside

with an increasingly grim expression, wholly absorbed in concentration.


   “Hey, beautiful!” He shouted, summoning her.


   “Mm?” She replied instantly, already standing over him with a cup of coffee.


Shadow clutched his chest and took a deep breath, frowning at her. He couldn't read her expression

from behind the cup as she took another sip, but those beautiful ice-blue eyes had him feeling

simultaneously small and enthralled at the same time.


   “For fu-”


   “Get on with it then.”


He elected not to be a bastard, not today anyway, and did as he was told, waving the pages at her.


   “My guy came through for us. Opening night just got cancelled...”




Lonely are the brave...

Joe Spivey's picture

But... a man pushes my letters through the slot in the front door...

Looking forward to the next bit.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

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