作者 主题: 【World of Shadows】假期  (阅读 507 次)

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【World of Shadows】假期
« 于: 2018-08-18, 周六 16:22:49 »
Holiday
假期


By Russell Zimmerman

劇透 -   :
Now.
“I,” the elf said with profound deliberation, “am going on holiday.”
“You’re doing no such thing,” his supervisor, also an elf, replied, barely looking up from her desk.
“Sorry, I forgot where we are,” he waved to nowhere in particular. “I meant I’m taking a vacation.”
“You are not.”
“Am too.”
Instead of falling into that ancient trap, she gave him The Look. He faltered beneath it for just a heartbeat, decades of bluster and confidence peeled away by the expert sharpness of her faint disapproval.
“We are entirely too busy for that,” she said, eyes back onto the virtua-touch surface of her desk, scanning a dozen headlines and stock tickers at once, fingertips dancing through augmented reality, composing emails, buying, selling, and maybe ordering lunch.
“Nonsense, it’s been weeks since you had me shoot anyone. And besides, I read over my benefits package, and it clearly states my allotted annual vacation days. I’m overdue.”
He had long ago convinced himself she found it charming, so he let some of his natural Irish accent slip out, though both of them knew full well he could mask it effortlessly.
“You’ve been employed here for three years, and you’re just now reading your new hire paperwork?”
It did not entirely seem to be working.
“I’m owed vacation time! Overdue, especially with the holidays coming and the end of the calendar year and all that,” he said, reaching into a pocket. “And I’m not busy, anyhow.”
“You know the nature of the business.” She shot him a disapproving glance as he plucked a packet of cigarettes out, narrowing her eyes. “And since you just acquainted yourself with your contract and job description, you’ll no doubt recall that you’re here for reactive, not only proactive, assignments. Corporate security waits for no man.”
“So, bring someone else to this office to cover for me.” He tossed an unlit cigarette into the corner of his mouth, then gestured airily with a lighter. “WWT can come up.”
“Mr. Terminus is on his honeymoon.”
“Jace, then.”
“Still on assignment.”
“He ain’t blown it yet?”
She didn’t answer.
“Fine, then get Blue up here.”
“She’s working the border, outside Austin. Death squads. Too delicate to reassign her recklessly.”
“Blue?” he snorted. “Delicate?”
Another glare, making it clear that she knew full well that he knew full well what she’d meant. “Are you just naming every killer you know, now?”
“Sure and we’d be here all day, if so! Don’t be silly. Transfer over Italy, then.”
“Long term contract with Connor.”
“Fine, call up Connor, too.”
“You know full well where Connor is, and that he can’t leave that post,” she sighed as he started to work his thumb on the lighter. “And, much like you can’t go on vacation whenever you feel like it, you can’t smoke in here.”
He inhaled deeply, held it in as he held her eyes, then blew smoke — not at her, no, nothing quite so crass and challenging as that, but in the right general direction.
“And yet,” he said, waving his lit cigarette, “Here we are.”
现在
“我,”精灵以极其深思熟虑的口吻说道,“要去度假。”
“你不会,”他的上司,同样也是一位精灵,回答,甚至没有将视线离开她的书桌。
“抱歉,我忘记说到哪了,”他随便朝哪个方向挥挥手。“我的意思是我要休假。”
“你不会。”
“我要去。”
她没有落入这种古老的陷阱,而是给了他“那种表情”。他的呼吸因此不稳了只有一次心跳,几十年的吹嘘和自信被她些微不满中透出的专家级锐气剥得一干二净。
“我们忙得没时间谈这个,”她说,目光回到书桌上的虚拟触屏,同时检视十几条头条和股价,指尖在增强现实中跳跃,书写邮件、买入、卖出,可能还订了午餐。
“胡说,你有几个星期没让我射谁了。还有,我完整读过了我的综合福利,它清楚地显示我有可分配年假天数。我延期了。”
他很久之前就让自己相信她会觉得这挺有魅力,因此让自己天生的爱尔兰口音流露出来,虽然两人都非常清楚他能毫不费力地掩饰。
看起来并没有完全起效。
“我应得的假期!还延期了,尤其是节日就要来了,今年也要过去了,还有之类的事,”他说,手伸进一边口袋。“而且我也不忙。”
“你知道这生意的本质。”他掏出一盒烟时她射出不满的视线,眼睛眯了起来。“鉴于你已经熟悉了你的合同和工作描述,毫无疑问你会记得你在这里不仅负责先发制人,还负责随机应变。公司安保不等人。”
“那就叫个别人来办公室替我。”他将一根未点燃的香烟抛到嘴角,随意地用打火机做了个手势。“WWT可以过来。”
“终点先生在度蜜月。”
“那就杰斯.”
“还在执行任务。”
“他还没把任务炸了?”
她没回答。
“好吧,那把蓝叫过来。”
“她在边境工作,在奥斯汀外面。死亡小队。任务太精细,不能随意把她调开。”
“蓝?”他哼了一声。“精细?”
又一瞪,清楚地表示她完全清楚他完全清楚她是什么意思。“你就是在念出你知道的每个杀手的名字吗?”
“当然,如果那样我们能讨论一整天!别傻了。那么,换到意大利。”
“和康纳有长期合同。”
“很好,也叫上康纳。”
“你很清楚康纳在哪,还有他无法离开,”他开始用拇指打火,而她叹了口气。“以及,正如你希望能随时度假但不能,你也不能在这里抽烟。”
他深吸一口,屏住呼吸的同时注视着她的双眼,然后吐出烟——当然不是对着她,不,不是那么愚蠢那么挑衅的行为,只是朝适当的方向。
“然而,”他说,挥着点燃的香烟,“我在抽。”

劇透 -   :
Then.
“Merry fraggin’ Christmas,” the burly man said with a glower as he handed the elf a suitcase.
He’d been prepared for that, just a bit. The glower, more than the suitcase, that is. He knew who they were, knew why they were here, knew how they’d feel about his pointed ears and sharp features. The Knights of the Red Branch didn’t much care for elves.
Truth was, the elf didn’t much care for elves, either.
“Wren Day,” he said, forcing a smile and ignoring their rudeness, just as surely as they’d ignored his proffered handshake and thrust baggage into it instead. “Christmas was yesterday. Sure’n jet lags a pain, aye?”
“Whatever, faerie,” the redhead said, older than the other two. Burly, Redhead, and Dark, that was the trio. Accompanied by the elf, they made their way through the crowds at Dublin International, fresh off their Aer Lingus flight, nonstop from New York. Where would it stop, really, along the way?
“It’s great to see you lads here,” the elf pressed on, smile sharp as ever, a flick of his head tossing his hair out of his eyes as he grunted along ahead of them, wheeling one suitcase, another tucked under his arm, carrying a third by the handle.
None of them replied—same as when he’d introduced himself, truth be told—so he just hummed a holiday tune and continued leading the way.
“We’re just up here,” he said with a sunny grin over his shoulder. “Lucked out, you did, and caught us in between rain drops. Been miserable all week with it, y’know. Wet and cold, worst sort of muck.”
He chattered on as they clambered into the Land Rover, as he loaded their luggage, as Burly and Redhead and their thick Boston accents grated on his nerves, as they parried his every friendly word with an anti-elven slur, as they drove and drove and drove. Round-about a hundred and fifty kilometers, all told, with him nattering away all friendly-like, Redhead and Burly talking about him like he wasn’t there, Dark just sitting quietly, glaring at the whole green island like he hated it.
“We’re gonna do big things, ye’ll see,” the young elf said. “We get you Boston lads on board, we start trading guns and money back and forth, the INLA will show those bastards what’s what. We’ll take back Éire in no time!”
He said it like they were planning a football game. Like the Knights of the Red Branch weren’t a violent UCAS policlub that was just as likely to cut his ears off as talk to him, like the Irish National Liberation Army wasn’t a band of freedom fighters turned gangsters. He said it like they had a snowball’s chance in Hell of ever listening to him or respecting him, like he wasn’t Rory Caolain, the bloody right hand of the INLA, who knew better than most just what sort of devilry they got up to, and just how overwhelming their opposition was.
He said it like it made the slightest bit of sense. Like they could really, somehow, ever, overthrow the powers that ran Tír na nÓg, the little emerald island that no one but him called Éire or Ireland any more with a straight face. He said it like if he just kept killing, it would someday all be worth it.
Redhead ignored him. Burly grunted. Dark brooded.
So Rory just kept driving, and told himself over and over again not to murder them, every one.
过去
“圣诞他妈快乐,”块头男人一边说一边怒视接过手提箱的精灵。
他做过心理准备了,有一点准备。对付怒视,不是说手提箱。他知道他们是谁,知道他们为何在这里,知道他们对他的尖耳朵和尖锐的五官抱何感想。红枝骑士不太关心精灵。
事实上,这位精灵也不太关心精灵。
“鹪鹩日,”他说,挤出一个笑容并无视他们的无礼,正如他们无视了他握手的打算只将行李塞给他。“圣诞节是昨天。倒时差很难受,对吧?”
“随便了,妖怪,”红头发说,他比另外两个要年长。大块头、红头发,黑皮,就是这三人组。在精灵的带领下,他们穿过都柏林国际机场的人群。他们刚从爱尔兰航空公司航班上下来,一路没停从纽约过来的。说真的,中间有哪能停?
“在这里见到伙计们真是太好了,”精灵继续说,笑容依然锐利。他轻轻摇头,将眼前的头发甩开,一边低声嘟哝着一边在三人前方带路,拖着一个行李箱,手臂下夹着第二个,手里提着第三个。
没人回应——事实上,和他自我介绍时一样,于是他轻哼着一首节日歌曲继续带路。
“我们正好到了,”他带着灿烂的笑容扭头说。“你们真走运,正好在两场雨之间。整星期都被雨弄得惨透了,你们知道的。又湿又冷,最糟糕的烂天气。”
他们爬进路王,他继续闲扯,包括他安放行李时、大个子和红头的还有他们的波士顿口音刺痛他的神经时、他们用反精灵的侮辱驳回他所有友好的话语时、车子开呀开呀一路开时。总共开了差不多一百五十公里,他友好地闲扯了一路——就比如,红头发和大个子仿佛他不存在似地谈论他,黑皮安静地坐着,盯着绿色的岛屿如同他痛恨这里。
“我们要干大事,尼们会看到的,”年轻的精灵说。“我们有了你们波士顿伙计的加入,我们开始来回交易枪和钱,INLA会让那些混蛋知道啥是啥。我们很快就会收回爱尔(Éire)。”
他说得仿佛在策划一场足球赛。仿佛红枝骑士不是个只想在他说话时把他的耳朵切下来的UCAS暴力团伙。仿佛他不是罗伊·考莱,该死的INLA副手,比大部分人都清楚他们能胡作非为到什么程度,而他们的对手又有多么强大。
他说得仿佛有那么一点可能。仿佛他们真的能够,以某种方式,推翻统治提尔纳诺势力,那个绿色的小岛,除了他再没有别人会平静地称之为爱尔或爱尔兰的小岛。他说得仿佛只要他继续杀戮,某一天一切都会值得。
红头发无视他。大个子咕哝一声。黑皮继续沉思。
于是罗伊继续开车,并且一次一次告诫自己不要将他们挨个杀掉。

劇透 -   :
Now.
Belfast Harbour’s always been a terrible way to get a person on or off the island. Great for general cargo. Wonderful for the underpaid lads handling that cargo. Reasonable for weapons and other illicit gear, because it’s got to land bloody somewhere, right? But passengers? Never fantastic.
So there he was, giving every appearance of being one of those underpaid lads. At his age. Wrong side of sixty but looking less than half of it, peacoat, turtleneck, and watch cap like all the rest, aching and should-be-exhausted from working his way across choppy waters. Altogether too old for such nonsense, at an age and level of corporate respectability he should be able to fly wherever he’d like, and struggling under layers of wet wool and a fake SIN, he should have been tired as could be.
Instead, as he stepped off that gangplank, bounced in line at customs, nattered away with the other lads while collecting his pittance of pay…it was all he could do not to dance.
Home again, home again. It had been entirely too long since he’d set foot here. Sure, it was just the docks; all moody lighting and whirring autolifts, terrible chill in the air and a perpetual drizzle, a dozen different accents in a half-dozen languages, nary a one the lilt he’d grown up around, but it was Éire. Home. He, more than most, felt something magical about the place.
So there was a spring in his step long after the crowds of workers had frittered away, despite the dodgy lights flickering overhead and the heavy knapsack he had slung over one shoulder—at least it was his luggage, not someone else’s, right?—and the weight of decades atop decades of murder for hire. He was home again, and to Hell with that old saying. You could go back. Or, at least, close enough. He didn’t have much of a plan, but didn’t want one. He was just after a few weeks off to soak up the place, some long walks and tall drinks, proper pub food, a few huge, greasy breakfasts. Being home was what mattered.
The long-term parking lot was empty and cold, covered in soft rain and a sharp wind, just a few abandoned vehicles parked here and there. There was a not-abandoned one closer, with a couple long shadows near it.
Three of them were waiting for him. It shouldn’t have been a tremendous surprise, really, and he didn’t treat it as such. Someone was going to bloody well notice him showing up, no matter how he juggled fake names and faces, how he used his adept powers to tweak his features and posture here and there, no matter how he dampened down his aura and tried to look like who he wasn’t, be who he wasn’t. Someone would know. He’d been in the game long enough to be great at it, but he’d been in the game long enough to rack up enemies who were, too.
“Merry Christmas,” he said with a smile, setting his rucksack on the ground next to him. “And God bless us, every one.”
“Wren Day,” a lean elf said, sharp little beard making his face pointed and faintly devilish, his accent far from home. He was from the other Tir, unless Rory missed his guess, and with that sort of thing Rory didn’t. A kilt rustled around the lad’s knees, all the fashion around Portland for the last few years.
“Christmas was yesterday,” the dwarf next to him nodded, burly even for his metaspecies, almost as wide as he was tall. He hardly glanced up at Rory, busy as he was with a bit of hardware strapped to his wrist—a cyberdeck, Rory knew, but not much else at a glance—and the lights nearby dimmed, a security camera’s steady red light blinked off.

The third one, the fomori, didn’t talk. She loomed over the other two, and Rory himself if he was going to be honest, all out of scale with the rest of the world. A special breed of troll, and a sort you saw far more often near here than half a world away, they looked less monstrous than their cousins, but were every bit as strong, every bit as tough. She wasn’t hard to look at, he gave her that much, but her scowl at the moment was all professional, and, given her size, a bit more threatening than the business faces on the other two.
“My mistake,” Rory said, a half-smile tugging at his lips. Only three. Either they were very good, or everyone here thought he was getting old. “I don’t suppose I could persuade you three to take this inside somewhere, can I? Give us all a few minutes out of the cold, maybe share a pint and a bit of grub, get acquainted?”
“Cateran,” the younger elf said with a nod, like Rory should recognize the name. Beneath his suit coat, collar flipped up against the rain just like Rory’s, he had some sort of double-gun rig.
“Kern,” said the dwarf, satisfied with his hacking because all of a sudden he’d tugged a collapsible baton from a cargo pants pocket.
“Gallowglass,” said the fomori in a husky, but not altogether unpleasant voice. “And you’re Rory Caolain, before you try to sell us otherwise.”
Of the three, only the dwarf had a proper local accent. One was from the wrong elf country, the other closer to home, but Rory recognized the troll’s Glasgow patter when he heard it.
“So an elf wandered halfway ’round the world from Tir Tairngire, a Belfast dwarf, and a Glaswegian lass walk into a bar, and the barkeep says—”
“Stow it,” the dwarf rumbled, all business. “Ye’ve a bounty, we’ve a job. Let’s not make it rude t’boot.”
“Ah.” No wonder they’d thought maybe their name would get his attention. Bounty hunters. In territory like this, times being what they are, that covered a lot of ground. Army folks down on their luck, shadowrunners moonlighting, mercs trying to stay halfway legit and a pinch less bloody?
“Well,” Rory said matter-of-factly as the three started to fan out. The other elf was quick, and moving smooth as silk. The fomori’d had some work done, she wasn’t nearly lumbering like a girl her size should. The dwarf didn’t sport any obvious combat augmentation, but Rory didn’t like the look of those shoulders and how comfortably he twirled that baton.
“Ye can’t say I didn’t try to be nice first.” He sighed, then tossed his rucksack at the fomori, just to buy himself a split second and lunge the other way.
现在
贝尔法斯特港从来都是个上岛或离岛的坏方法。对普通货物很合适。对薪水不足的货物运输员棒极了。对武器和其它非法装备还算合理,毕竟它们总得落到某个该死的地方,对吧?但是乘客?绝不美好。
于是他到了这里,各方面都像个薪水不足的家伙。以他的年龄。六十的右边但看起来不到一半,双排扣大衣,高领套头衫,水手帽,全都和其他人一样,因在起伏的海面上工作而全身酸痛、(理应)精疲力尽。总之,他太老了,不该再干这些无聊的事,凭他的年龄和在公司受到的尊敬,他本该能够想飞哪飞哪,却在潮湿的布料和假SIN下挣扎,他应该累得趴下了。
相反,当他踏下步桥、跳进通关队伍、和其他等工钱的伙计闲聊打发时间时……他只能做到不欢欣起舞。
回家了,回家了。他上次踏上这里真是太久之前了。当然,这里只是码头;朦胧的灯光、蜂鸣的自动升降台、可怕的寒气、连绵的细雨,十几种口音汇成六七种语言,没有一种是他从小听惯的。但这是爱尔。家。他,比大多数人,感到这个地方有某种魔法。
因此他的脚步中有种劳工人群很久之前就被消磨的跃动感,哪怕头顶故障的灯光闪烁、一边肩上背着沉重的背包——至少这是他的行李,不是别人的,对吧?——还有几十年又几十年作为雇佣杀手的沉重经历。他再次回家了。那句老话下地狱吧。你能回去。或者说,至少能靠近。他没什么计划,但他也不需要计划。他只要花几周融入这里,几次散步、几大杯酒,合适的酒吧食物,几份量大油腻的早餐。回到家才是最重要的。
长期停车场又空又冷,绵雨和寒风笼罩,只有若干废弃载具随意停靠。附近有一辆没被废弃的,几条长影子在旁边。
那三人等着他。不该是大惊喜,真的,他也没当成惊喜。该死的有人就是会注意到他出现,无论他如何篡改假名和外貌,无论他如何使用修士异能修改他的特征和姿态,无论他如何压制自己的灵光,无论他如何努力看起来像不是他的某人、成为不是他的某人。总有人会认出。他玩这场游戏的时间长得足以让他玩得好,但也长得足以让他积累起同样玩得好的敌人。
“圣诞快乐,”他微笑着说,一边将背包放在一旁。“上帝保佑我们,各位。”
“鹪鹩日,”精干的精灵说,细小的胡子让他的脸更尖,有一点像恶魔。他的口音离这里很远。他来自另一个提尔,除非罗伊猜错了,可这种事他不会猜错。一条苏格兰短裙在那伙计膝盖的长度层叠,波特兰过去几年的流行。
“圣诞节是昨天,”他旁边的矮人点点头,比他所属的泛人类种族还要壮实,宽度近乎等于身高。他几乎没抬眼看罗伊,忙着鼓捣系在手腕上的一块硬件——赛博碟板,罗伊清楚,但一眼看不出别的——周围的灯光暗下来,安保摄像头持续亮着的红灯熄灭。
第三个,是个弗尔摩,没说话。她居高临下站在另外两位旁边,如果要罗伊老实说,她和整个世界都格格不入。一种特殊的巨魔种族,你在这里比在半个地球之外能更常见到。看起来没他们的表亲那么像怪兽,但同样强壮,同样难啃。她不难看,他得承认,但当前的怒容全然只有专业,并且由于她的体格,比带着公事化表情的另外两位更有威胁感。
“我的错,”罗伊说,似笑非笑的表情挂在嘴角。只有三个。要么他们非常厉害,要么所有人都觉得他老了。“我猜我不能说服各位到室内解决,是吧?让我们有几分钟远离寒冷,或许一起喝几杯,熟悉一下?”
“绿林,”年轻的精灵点头说,仿佛罗伊应当认得这个名字。在套装外套——领子和罗伊的一样立起来抵挡雨滴——下面,他带了某种平式猎枪(double gun).
“轻步兵,”矮人说,显然对自己的骇入十分满意,因为他突然从工装裤口袋里抽出一根折叠短棍。
“居尔特战士,”弗尔摩以一种沙哑、但总的来说并不难听的声音说道。“你是罗伊·考莱,别想给我们扯别的。”
三人之中,只有矮人有过得去的本地口音。一位来自错误的精灵国,一个离家近,但罗伊听出了格拉斯高式短音。
“那么一位从提尔坦盖穿过半个地球的精灵,一位贝尔法斯特矮人,还有一位格拉斯高姑娘走进一家酒吧,酒保说——”
“好了,”矮人发出低沉、公事公办的声音。“尼头上有赏金,我们有工作。让我们别把开始变得粗鲁。”
“啊。”难怪他们以为他们的名字或许能引起他注意。赏金猎人。在这样的领域,这样的时代,赏金猎人包含很多范畴。运气用光的军事人员,兼职的狂奔者,希望半合法地和血腥保持一丝距离的雇佣兵?
“好吧,”罗伊无趣地说,三人开始散开。另一位精灵很快,移动和丝绸一般顺滑。弗尔摩有事要办,她完全不像她这个体积的姑娘那么笨拙。矮人没有展示任何明显的战斗殖装,但罗伊不喜欢那些肩膀的样子还有他挥舞短棍的流畅感。
“尼们不能说我一开始没试着友善点。”他叹气,然后将背包甩向弗尔摩,正好给自己争取了一秒钟冲向另一个方向。

劇透 -   :
Then.
“No kiddin’? The faerie’s the one killed McManus?” Redhead’s bushy eyebrows shot up, talking to Rory’s boss—Jeremy O’Neil, a stone cold sonovabitch—like Rory wasn’t sitting right there. Still.
“I talked with Stevie-boy,” Redhead kept going, his harsh Boston accent grating at Rory, scratching at his ears, getting louder the more the man drank. “You know that, right? McManus was the one first reached out to us.”
“Aye, well, Rory did what we told Rory to do. They’d pinched Stephen, the TRC bastards, and we didn’t have a way to get him out. It was the right thing to do,” O’Neil’s voice was calm, almost placating, but Rory was pretty sure he hated him, too.
He was tired of listening to it. The same voice that had ordered him to kill one of his friends was explaining why and how he’d ordered it to these bastards?
They were in the basement of Shivers’ Place, a corner pub that everyone knew was INLA turf and everyone pretended wasn’t. Topside was comfortable, sociable, so long as you were human, and local, and said the right things to the right people. Still cold, mind, Shivers had earned the nickname for being a penny-pinching bastard who never turned the heat on. Down here, where they kept Rory because his elven ears would embarrass the lot of ’em upstairs? Down here was crowded, with Redhead and Burly and Dark. Crowded and claustrophobic and echoing with their stupid accents and ugly sentiments, a half dozen other INLA boys hanging around, treating these Yanks like bloody royalty. They’d muttered half the night away, shooting him ugly looks, talking like any minute Rory’d find a gun to the back of his head.
“Well,” Redhead glared at Rory across the room like he’d just killed Stephen McManus, like Redhead had grown up with him and Rory hadn’t, like Rory’d done it because he’d wanted to, like Rory owed Redhead a blood debt for it, in the old way. He downed another shot, glaring the whole time, right at Rory. “I guess he ain’t the first elf to kill a good man, huh?”
Rory’s hand tightened around his own glass, expression carefully, perfectly neutral. He’d gotten good at that, lately. Neutrality.
“Fraggin’ A,” Burly said, raising his glass.
Dark didn’t say anything, just kept looking around the place—‘the place’ being Ireland—like he’d bitten into something sour, or like he wanted to burn the whole world down, or maybe a bit of both. There was something about him that Rory might’ve almost said he was afraid of, if ever he’d admitted to feeling much by way of fear. Something dangerous and…and…what’s the word? Malevolent.
“Sláinte!”

Rory’s friends, Rory’s mates, the lads Rory’d trained with and fought with, all called out a toast and lifted their glasses, toasting poor Stevie McManus and throwing his blood right in Rory’s face. Every lad there had bought him a drink and patted him on the back, those months ago, told him how he was a hard man, and had done the hard thing, the right thing. And now here they were, with these three Red Branch twats, looking at him like he was just another murderous elf.
He was. He knew that. But damn it all, he was their murderous elf.

O’Neil raised his glass, too, and threw back a warm slug of Bushmill’s. His eyes weren’t hateful on Rory like the rest, but Rory hated them. Watery blue things, bloodshot ’round the edges, whites turning yellow from whatever new junk O’Neil had found to push into himself. Plus, of course, O’Neil was the one that had killed little Stevie, really. It had been his plan that had fucked up and gotten Stevie caught, and then his plan for Rory to silence him.
“Hey,” Redhead tossed his head Rory’s way, following O’Neil’s lead and reaching for a shot now that he’d drained his beer. “Hey. Fill us up over here, faerie. Make yourself useful while y’can.”
A half-hearted flick of his wrist sent the dry Bushmill’s bottle sailing Rory’s way, and he didn’t bother to flinch or duck, just let it fly wide and bust against a wall. They laughed. Burly, first, and Redhead behind his sneer, then the handful of Rory’s friends — his mates, his lads—all standing around, and then O’Neil, too. Dark didn’t laugh, but Dark didn’t seem to know how.
Shit on this.
Rory heaved out a sigh, arms moving slowly, heavily, like he was tired. Methodically, unhurriedly, he reached for a fresh bottle, came out from behind the bar, twisted the cap off. Redhead’s lip was curled in disdain, O’Neil’s weak eyes looked full of pity, Dark and Burly glowered and smirked, Rory’s mates all snickered. He’d turned into a house elf. Him. Him. Their best, worst, killer. Their only adept. Their best hope. They all hated elves enough to hate him, too, and then bluster and brag and show him off to their new friends, these “Knights” from Boston who just looked like more thugs and junkies to him.
He filled their glasses, then lifted his own.
“Sláinte,” he said, almost like a prayer, almost like a goodbye, and gulped it down, hot and rough on his throat, all in one go.
His adept powers kicked in, and as everyone in the room—everyone in the world—slowed down but him, he raised the heel of his left hand and smashed Redhead’s shot glass into his face, his mouth, his teeth. Shards of glass and a spray of blood shot out, and he fell back, coughing and sputtering. The half-full bottle swung, in slow motion, almost lazily, at O’Neil’s head, and clipped him on the temple just so with the corner. He dropped like he’d been poleaxed.
Everyone else, almost about that time, stopped drinking and noticed something was wrong.
Rory sprang over the bar, where he’d long since stashed a good Browning pistol.
过去
“没开玩笑?是那个妖怪杀了麦克玛纳斯?”红头发浓密的眉毛扬起,他在和罗伊的老板——杰里米·奥尼尔,一个铁石心肠的婊子养的——说话,好像罗伊没就坐在旁别。还是这样。
“我和那个叫斯蒂文的男孩聊过,”红头发继续说,他沙哑的波士顿口音折磨着罗伊,抓挠着他的耳朵。红头发喝得越多声音越吵。“知道不?是麦克玛纳斯首先联络我们的。”
“哎,这样,罗伊也是照我们说的做。他们揪住了斯蒂芬,那些TRC的混蛋,我们没法把他弄出来。这是正确的事。”奥尼尔的声音很平静,甚至有些安抚的意思,但罗伊相当确信他也恨他。
他听腻了。同一个命令他去杀掉自己朋友的声音现在向这些混蛋解释为什么和怎么做?
他们在颤栗酒吧的地下室,所有人都知道这家角落吧是INLA的势力范围,也都假装它不是。
上层舒适,友好,只要你是人类,本地人,还得向正确的人说出正确的话。注意,这里还是冷冰冰,颤栗这个一便士都不肯花的混蛋因为从来不打开暖气得到了这个外号。他们把罗伊留在下面,是因为他的精灵耳朵会让楼上的家伙难堪?这下面很拥挤,有红头发和大块头和黑皮。拥挤、幽闭,回荡着他们愚蠢的口音和丑陋的同情,几个INLA的小伙在旁边晃悠,把这些扬基佬当成该死的王室成员。他们扯了半个晚上,朝他射出丑恶的目光,谈话间仿佛罗伊会随时掏出枪指着他的后脑勺。
“哟,”红头发从房间另一边盯着罗伊,好像他刚才杀了斯蒂文·麦克玛纳斯,好像是红头发和他一起长大而不是罗伊,好像罗伊这么做是因为他想,好像罗伊因此欠了红头发一笔血债,老式的。他又灌下一杯酒,期间一直盯着、盯着罗伊。“我猜他不是第一个杀掉好人的精灵,唔?”
罗伊的手攥紧了自己的杯子,表情小心地保持完美平静。最近,他很擅长这个。平静。
“操,”大块头说着举起杯子。
黑皮什么也没说,只是一直看着这里周围——“这里”指的是爱尔兰——好像他咬了一口酸东西,或者像他想要烧毁整个世界,又或者两者皆有。他身上有某种东西,罗伊几乎要说这让他有些害怕,要是他愿意承认这种恐惧。某种危险并且……并且……那个词叫什么?恶毒的东西。
祝健康!
罗伊的朋友,罗伊的同伴,罗伊一同训练和战斗的伙计,全都高喊着举起杯子,向可怜的斯蒂文·麦克玛纳斯致敬,将他的血直接甩到罗伊脸上。几个月前这些人每个都给他买了酒,拍着他的背说他是个坚强的人,他做了艰难但正确的事。而现在他们,还有那三个红枝混蛋,盯着他仿佛他只是另一个杀戮成性的精灵。
他的确是。他清楚这点。可该死的,他是他们的杀手精灵。
奥尼尔也举起了酒杯,吞下了一杯温热的布什麦尔威士忌。他的眼睛不同其他人一样对罗伊充满仇恨,但罗伊恨它们。水蓝色,边缘布满血丝,眼白被奥尼尔不知从何找到、打进身体的新垃圾染成黄色。当然,还要加上,其实是奥尼尔杀了小斯蒂文。是他的计划搞砸了、让斯蒂文被抓了,之后也是他计划让罗伊将他灭口。
“嘿,”红头发头朝罗伊的方向说,接着奥尼尔的动作灌下一杯后,他的啤酒已经空了。“嘿。过来给我们倒酒,妖怪。让尼有点用。”
手腕漫不经心地一甩将喝空的布什麦尔酒杯朝罗伊抛来,他没费心后退或躲闪,让酒杯划过空气砸在墙上。他们大笑。先是大块头,红头发冷笑,然后是一帮罗伊的朋友——他的同伴,他的伙计,都站在一边,然后还有奥尼尔。黑皮没笑,但似乎黑皮不会笑。
操。
罗伊长叹一口气,手臂缓慢地、沉重地移动,似乎是累了。他有条不紊、不慌不忙地拿出一瓶新酒,从吧台后面走出,拧开瓶塞。
红头发的嘴唇扭曲成鄙视的形状。奥尼尔无神的眼中充满怜悯。黑皮和大块头瞪着眼睛冷笑。罗伊的同伴全都在窃笑。他成了个家养精灵。他。他。他们最强的、最坏的,杀手。他们唯一一名修士。他们最大的希望。他们都憎恨精灵,连带憎恨他。他们自吹自擂,把他炫耀给新朋友,这些来自波士顿的“骑士”——在他看来不过是些恶棍、废物。
他给他们倒满酒,然后举起自己的杯子。
祝健康,”他说,近乎祈祷,近乎告别,然后一口灌下,又热又燥的液体沿着喉咙流下,一次性。
他的修士异能启动,房间里所有人——世界上所有人——都变慢了,除了他。他抬起左手,掌根砸烂红头发的酒杯砸进他的脸、他的嘴、他的牙。玻璃碎片夹杂着血液喷出,他向后摔倒,在地上又咳又喘。半满的酒瓶划了个弧线,以几乎慵懒的慢动作拍到了奥尼尔的脑袋,瓶角削掉了太阳穴,他像被战斧砍了一样倒地。
其他所有人,几乎就是在那时,停止喝酒,意识到出事了。
罗伊跃过吧台,他很久以前在那里藏了把不错的勃朗宁手枪。
 
 
劇透 -   :
Now.
The younger elf was the quickest, which was hardly a surprise. The lad moved faster than boosted reflexes, smoother than wired. Move-by-wire, then. A little herker-jerkier than he should be, though, which made Rory think there might be combat drugs involved, too. He was quick, though. Almost as quick as Rory.
There was the slightest twitch of movement, and he had a big Savalette Guardian in each hand—presto!—leveled square at Rory, mental commands as much as trigger squeezes starting them firing, silencers big and dark and always less welcome when you’re on the wrong end.
Rory twisted just a hair, leaned a smidge, reached out flicker-quick himself, and brushed at one wrist to knock a shot just barely off-line. Rounds plucked at the edges of his peacoat, one tugged at a dangling string from one cuff, Rory felt one whisper to him as it flew just barely past his ear. They were close. Closer than most. But Rory was very, very, good at this.
He swatted at the younger elf’s—Cateran’s—arm again, threw more power into it than the first parry, and this time the whole limb flew wide. Cateran backpedaled, creating distance almost as fast as Rory could keep closing it, kept firing, muted gun spitting round after round, but never quite connecting. The older elf spun and ducked, twisted, always, but always just barely, getting his torso out of the way, leaning so that he was not quite where the barrel was pointed at that split-second.
It was impossible.
It was magic.
Rory had a lot of it.
He snapped up a front kick that knocked Cateran back two steps until his heel caught on something, and he almost-gracefully had to pinwheel his arms to stay standing. A rib or two might’ve cracked from it, too. Before Rory could follow up, though, the dwarf slammed into him pretty much like a forklift.
No shift of his shoulders could get out of the way of that, no dancing footwork, no twist of his hips. He went down like a rugby player, twisting and wriggling, catlike, stronger than he looked and mad at being tackled in the first place. Kern still ended up on top, the little bastard just had weight on him, mass and muscle and a born wrestler’s physique, and Rory was half-pinned and spitting nails about it.
The baton lifted and fell, blasted a chip out of the pavement as the elf twisted just barely enough to one side so that it missed his face and threw up a few bits of parking lot in his ear, instead of getting his head caved right in. Kern’s strong right arm lifted again, and this time Rory couldn’t quite dodge, caught the butt of the baton on his face, but then lunged up against the smothering, pinning, weight of the dwarf, and looped an arm just so, other hand snaking up, and—like magic—the dwarf’s wrist was broken and the baton clattered to the pavement. Kern’s other arm came down, an elbow hammering into Rory’s head, Rory’s head hammering into Belfast.
Fucker.

Rory groped and grabbed for the dwarf’s cyberdeck next.
Kern lurched up and scrambled away like a startled cat, ridiculously quick for his bulk, protectively cradling that arm; not for the shattered wrist, mind, but for the hardware strapped there, and for the ability and investment it represented. Rory snickered as he started to clamber to his feet. Deckers. They all had the same soft spo—
A fomori-sized boot slammed into him and sent him flying like she was a world-class forward and he was a football, right past Cateran, who’d just gotten lined up to shoot at him again. Rory didn’t let the blasted ribs slow him down, though, just twisted with the kick, righted himself in mid-air, came down on his feet, rolled once, and then back to his feet. She was stronger than she looked, which was too bad for him ‘cause she already looked pretty damned strong.

He surged right at her, the last place in the world they’d expect him to go, but he had to get in close so the other elf didn’t start unloading again. Ducking Gallowglass’ big overhand swing, he planted one foot on her oversized thigh and launched himself airborne, leading with his rising knee. It clipped her jaw just so, snapped her head up, made her stagger back a step in a spray of blood. He knew she’d be seeing stars for a tick, and couldn’t waste the time to finish her off by doing something terrible to her neck. No, he had to move.

Rory hurled himself away from her and straight at Cateran’s leveled Guardians, a fresh pair of rounds whipping past him and into the Belfast dark, then flowed in close and the pair of them started dancing again. All knees and elbows, chops and sharp little punches. The younger elf’s nose got smeared about halfway across his face and Rory grinned around a split lip and broke an arm for it. He kicked Cateran’s knee sideways and made him flow with it to keep the thing from shattering, then got a solid punch in. The elf crumpled, and Rory had made it a two-on-one fight.

Kern was all over him again with that fucking baton, next thing he knew, and even in the dwarf’s off-hand it was a real pain. Spinning and twirling, coming in harder, faster, while Rory wondered how many days or weeks of his sixty-one years he’d spent fighting people for no good reason. He fended the dwarf off with a few good kicks, using his legs for reach, trying to make up for the extra half-meter the baton gave Kern, when suddenly the dwarf’s eyes widened and he dove sideways.
Deep down inside, Rory knew he should’ve done the same…but he couldn’t help spinning around, just to see what it was.
Gallowglass hit him with a long-abandoned scooter, swung sidearm, light as a hurley stick or a cricket bat.
He rolled with it, of course. A lifetime of violence had given him that instinct, and his magical prowess—honed sharper than sharp—lent him impossible speed, impossible dexterity. He had other powers, too, an unwavering durability, magically enhanced, a toughness that rivaled any sort of dermal plating on the market, mystical reinforcements that made his bones tougher to break than most.
So, yeah.
He managed not to die, but that was about it.
现在
年轻的精灵最快,但算不上令人惊讶。这伙计比提升反射更迅速,比跳线更流畅。那么,跳线机动。但有点太摇摇晃晃,让罗伊觉得可能还有战斗摄入物。可他很快。几乎和罗伊一样快。
些微的动作,他双手各拿出了一把萨瓦雷特卫士——呯!——举平对准罗伊,如同精神控制的扳机扣下开火,消音器又大又黑——站错方向你绝不会感到友好。
罗伊只扭转了一根发丝的距离,身体稍稍倾斜,快如闪光地出手,擦过对方手腕让射击正好稍稍偏移。子弹打在双排扣风衣的边缘,一颗将袖口拖出了线头,一颗勉强擦耳而过,罗伊能感觉到它的低语。很近。比大多数都近。但罗伊非常、非常,擅长这个。
他再次猛击年轻精灵——绿林——的手臂,注入比第一次格挡更强的力量,这次整个手臂都挥了出去。绿林踏步后退,迅速拉开距离,几乎和罗伊跟上的速度一样快,同时继续开火,消音的枪口喷出一轮又一轮子弹,但都没有打中。年长的精灵旋转躲闪扭转,总是,但是总是刚好让他的身体躲开子弹,将身体倾斜出电光火石间弹鼓指向的方向。
这不可能。
这是魔法。
罗伊有很多。
他朝前一脚飞踢将绿林踢得倒退了两步,他的脚跟踩住某个东西停了下来,双手打转才保持了站姿——动作几乎称得上优雅。可能还有一两根肋骨断了。可惜,在罗伊能有进一步动作前,那位矮人像台叉车一样撞了过来。
转肩膀没法躲过这种攻击,跳跃步法或扭转臀部也不能。他像橄榄球队员一样被击倒。扭动挣扎,像只猫,比看上去强壮,还因为被抓气得发疯。轻步兵依然在上,这个小混蛋仅凭体重压着他,重量和肌肉以及天生摔跤手的体格,罗伊就被这样半钉在了地面只能愤愤不平。
短棍提起又落下,击碎了地板,精灵将身体扭向一边,棍击刚好没打中他的脸,仅将停车场的碎片扎进了他的耳朵而没将他的脸凿进去。轻骑兵强壮的右臂再次抬起,这次罗伊不太能躲开,他的脸被棍前端击中,但他随后撑起矮人让人窒息、让人无法行动的重量,一只手弯向后方支撑,另一只手游走向上,然后——如同魔法——矮人的手腕断了短棍啪地掉在地面。可轻步兵的另一只手朝下,手肘锤进罗伊的脑袋,罗伊的脑袋锤进贝尔法斯特。
操他娘的。
接下来罗伊摸索着抓住矮人的碟板。
轻步兵歪斜着起身像只受惊的猫一般爬走,以他的体型快得有些滑稽,一边还保护似的抱住手臂;当然,不是因为手腕断了,而是为了绑在上面的硬件,以及它代表的能力和投入。罗伊轻笑着爬起身。碟客啊。都有同一个弱——
一只弗尔摩尺寸的靴子朝他猛击,将他踹飞,仿佛她是世界级前锋而他是足球。他飞过绿林,对方正好重整装备再次向他开火。
但罗伊没让碎裂的肋骨减慢自己的速度,只是顺着飞踢的力道扭转,在半空中摆正身体,双脚落地,顺势滚了一圈,再次重新站稳。她比看起来强壮,这对他来说可太糟糕了——她看起来已经壮得要命。
他扑向她的右侧,他们最意想不到的位置,但他得靠近以免另一位精灵再次开始清空子弹。闪开居尔特战士从上往下的巨大拳头,他将一只脚踩上她过大的大腿蹬至半空,提起膝盖。正好敲中她的下巴,她的头被甩向后,她踉跄后退了几步喷出鲜血。他知道她会眼冒金星一阵,不能浪费时间对她的脖子干点可怕的事情结果掉她。不,他要动起来。
罗伊从她身边扑开直奔向绿林平举的卫士,一轮新鲜的子弹与他擦身而过打进贝尔法斯特的黑暗之中,他近身,两人再次起舞。膝盖和肘击,挥砍和锋利的小拳头。年轻精灵的鼻子糊了半张脸,罗伊咧嘴笑了,他的嘴唇撕裂,一只手臂也因此折断。他从侧面踢向绿林的膝盖,让他顺势躲开以免某些东西碎掉,然后给他一记重击。精灵倒下,罗伊把战斗变成了二对一。
轻步兵又用那该死的短棍扑了上来,他接下来了解到,即使在矮人的非惯用手上,短棍也真的讨人嫌。旋转打转,更重、更快,而罗伊思索着他六十一岁这年有多少天或多少个星期不是花在毫无理由的打斗上。他用几下精准的踢击防住矮人,使用腿的触及弥补短棍给轻步兵的半米优势。突然,矮人睁大眼睛躲向一边。
内心深处,罗伊知道他也该照做……可他没法控制自己不去转身,只为了看看到底是什么。
居尔特战士举起一架长年弃置的轻骑敲向他,从侧面挥击,轻松得好似板棍球棍或板球棒。
当然,他顺着打击的方向缓冲力道。一生的暴力经验给了他这种直觉反应,他的魔法才能——打磨得无比锐利——给了他不可能的速度、不可能的灵巧。他还有别的能力,坚如磐石的韧性,经过魔法增强,能够比得上市场上任何种类的皮肤植入,秘术增强让他的骨头比大多数人的更难被击碎。
所以,是啊。
他没死,但也仅此而已。
 
 
劇透 -   :
Then.
They’d all missed. Rory’d danced through the hail of bullets somehow, like he was cursed to always do, it seemed. Bottles had exploded behind him in waves of spirits and glass, the wood paneling of Shivers’ basement bar had splintered, walls were pockmarked, lights were busted out. But Rory was still in one piece. Eight, maybe ten guys blasting at him with cheap pistols and Shivers’ own side-by-side scattergun, and not a scratch on him except for falling glass and the like.
The devil’s own luck, he had. Able to kill the only friends he had left in the world, and not take a bullet in the doing of it.
Redhead had crawled across the floor and died slow, still crying, still dribbling blood and spitting teeth and glass until he’d caught a round in the neck. Burly was dead—Rory’d clubbed him in the face with his big Browning semi-auto, then wedged the barrel right into his eye and pulled the trigger. O’Neil was plenty dead, three shots in his belly from Rory, and then torn wide open by a wayward blast from Shivers and that shotgun of his as Rory’d ducked just in time. Shivers, too, mind. Rory’s Browning had been empty by the time those last couple from upstairs had come running down, so he’d had to wrestle the gun from Shivers, whack him with it, reload it, then give him a taste, point-blank.
No bullets had hit him, maybe, but Rory was something of a blood-covered mess, all the same.
The basement bar was mostly full of corpses, now. Redhead and Burly were soundly dead, Jeremy O’Neil and Shivers with ’em, and a half-dozen—and more—hard INLA boys. Rory’s best mates, Rory’s best lads.
Rory’s only friends.
They’d used him and used him and used him up, lying and smiling and laughing at him for years, sent him off to kill and learn more killing, then snickered at him and insulted him square to his face. They’d used him to kill cops, then little Stephen McManus, then bank tellers, then rival drug dealers and pimps.
Irish National Liberation Army, Hell. They were just thugs. They’d started out thugs with a cause, maybe, but how long had it been since they’d pointed Rory at the occupying Tir na nOg military? How long since it had been soldier’s blood on his hands, besides their own?

Dark was all that was left. The only other one in the basement, maybe the bar, maybe Belfast for all Rory knew, for all Rory felt. Dark was left, and he was some sort of wizard. Rory hated wizards. He’d seen Dark start casting, so he’d vaulted away, chop-chop.
The elf was behind the bar again, knowing — better than most — that Dark’s sort needed line of sight to murder you. He popped open Shivers’ shotgun and had just the one shot left in it, his own Browning who-knows-where and empty to boot. Between the madness of slaughtering his own, Rory’d lost his knack for keeping track of who had how many bullets left in what gun. Who, how many, what, all gone. Damn it. He lifted a broken piece of mirror, peeked over the bar as if his life depended on it. In fairness, it did.
Dark was gone. An earth elemental rumbled to life, pouring itself upward, impossibly fluid, impossibly real, making itself out of the concrete of Shivers’ basement floor.
“Oh well,” Rory flipped the mirror away with a careless flick of his wrist, picked up a startlingly-whole half-bottle. He gave it a twirl and a peek, didn’t see any glass glittering in the whiskey, and tossed it down. One last toast, maybe? Or a bit of liquid courage to go back out there?
“Y’only die once.”
He vaulted up and over the bar, blasting pellets at the spirit, which seemed hardly put out. Then he wrapped up both his fists in all his young anger—at them for taking her, at her for recruiting him in the first place, at the INLA, at the elves, at the Fucking Knights of the Fucking Red Branch, at Jeremy O’Neil and the other bastards who used this sickness to make themselves rich, at Stephen McManus who’d gotten caught, and at himself, who’d killed the boy for it. There was a lot of anger there. Enough for an adept to turn his own hands into something dangerous, as it turned out. Something downright lethal.

The spirit lumbered and swung, implacable but clumsy, unstoppable but slow. It missed. Rory didn’t. With all his hatred, his hopelessness, fear and guilt wrapped tight around his murderous hands and knees and elbows, he hit it. Kicked and stomped, clawed and punched, bit and headbutted, shouted and lashed out like a child in a tantrum.
It was impossible.
It was magic.
The spirit crumbled under the onslaught, chipped away, broken, then lying there as shattered as the leadership of the INLA and the Knights in one fell swoop.
Rory snorted and spat, gasped, panting, and just fell onto his butt like an exhausted puppy for he-didn’t-know-how-long.
After catching his breath, he got up, and grabbed a few credsticks and a half-loaded gun, and left. At the time, he hadn’t known he wouldn’t be back for two and a half decades.
To be honest, he’d fully expected not to last that long.
过去
全都没中。罗伊在纷飞的子弹中起舞,似乎他被诅咒了,一直如此。酒瓶在他身后炸裂,迸出烈酒和玻璃碎。寒颤酒吧地下室的木制镶嵌板被打碎,墙面满是弹孔,灯泡全数碎裂。但罗伊依然完好无损。八个,也可能有十个家伙拿着廉价的手枪还有寒颤自己的双排霰弹枪朝他开火,但没伤他分毫,除了玻璃碎和类似的溅射物。
他有着魔鬼本人的好运气。能杀掉他在世界上仅有的朋友,却不因此挨一颗子弹。
红头发爬过地板,正在慢慢死去,一边哭泣,一边滴血,一边吐出牙齿和玻璃,直到一颗子弹射进他的脖子。大块头死了——罗伊用他的勃朗宁半自动砸烂了他的脸,然后将枪管戳进他的眼睛,扣下扳机。奥尼尔差不多死了,罗伊朝他的肚子来了三发,再被寒颤和他的霰弹枪失控的子弹开了膛——罗伊刚好躲过。对了,还躲过了寒颤。楼上最后几个人跑下来时罗伊的勃朗宁空了,于是他从寒颤手里抢下霰弹枪,用枪砸他,重新上弹,再给他一下近距离水平射击。
没有一发子弹打中他,或许吧,但罗伊也全身是血,都一样。
现在,地下室酒吧几乎堆满了尸体。红头发和大块头死透了,杰里米·奥尼尔和寒颤和他们一起,外加上半打——还有多——的老INLA男孩。罗伊最好的同伴。罗伊最好的伙计。
罗伊仅有的朋友。
他们利用他利用他不停利用他,几年来一直对他欺骗对他笑嘲笑他,派他去杀人去学习杀人,然后当着他的面笑他侮辱他。他们用他杀警察,杀小斯蒂芬·麦克玛纳斯,杀银行出纳员,杀对手毒贩和皮条客。
爱尔兰国家解放军,去死吧。他们只是恶棍。或许开始时他们是有目的的恶棍,但将罗伊指向占据了提尔纳诺的军队是多久之前?他手上沾着士兵的鲜血,而不是他们自己人的血又是多久之前?
最后只剩下了黑皮。地下室里仅剩的另一人,可能是酒吧里,凭罗伊的猜测,凭罗伊的感觉,可能是整个贝尔法斯特里仅剩的另一人。还剩黑皮,他是某种法师。罗伊讨厌法师。他见到了黑皮施法,所以他跳开,快,快。
精灵回到了吧台后面,他知道——比大部分人都清楚——黑皮这种类型需要用视线谋杀你。他打开寒颤的霰弹枪,里面只剩一发子弹,他的勃朗宁在天知道什么地方并且也空了。在疯狂地屠杀自己人的途中,罗伊丢掉了跟踪哪把枪里有多少子弹的习惯。谁、多少、什么,全丢了。该死的。他举起一片碎镜子,从吧台上偷偷窥视,仿佛他的生命维系于此。老实说,的确如此。
黑皮走了。一个土元素在轰隆声中现身,将自己喷出,难以置信的流畅,难以置信的真实,它将自己从寒颤酒吧地下室的水泥地面中创造出来。
“哦好吧,”罗伊的手腕随意一甩抛下镜子,捡起竟然还完整的半瓶酒。他将瓶子转了转,瞄了瞄,没看见威士忌里有任何玻璃渣,于是一口灌下。或许是最后的干杯?还是这液体给他勇气回到那边?
“尼只会死一次。”
他跃过吧台,铅弹朝精魂打去,可它似乎完全没受影响。随后他将所有年轻的怒火攥入拳中——对带走她的她们、对一开始招募他的她、对INLA、对精灵、对操他妈的红枝的操他妈的骑士、对利用这种病态赚钱的杰里米·奥尼尔和其他混蛋、对被抓的斯蒂芬·麦克玛纳斯、对杀了男孩的他自己。有许多愤怒。多得足以让一个修士的双手变成危险的武器。变成纯粹致命的武器。
精魂迟缓地移动、摇摆,毫不留情但举止笨拙,不可阻挡却行动缓慢。它没打中。而罗伊打中了。凭着他的仇恨、他的绝望,恐惧和愧疚紧紧缠绕在他残虐的双手、膝盖和手肘,他打中了它。腿踢脚踹,爪挠掌击,口撕头槌,像发脾气的孩童一样吼叫着厮打着。
这不可能。
这是魔法。
精魂在猛击之下崩塌,被切碎、打烂,在致命一击下倒地,和INLA的领导者与骑士一起变成碎片。
罗伊喘着粗气,口吐白沫,气喘吁吁,就这么像累坏的小狗一样一屁股坐在地上,坐了不知有多久。
呼吸平稳后,他站起来,抓了几根信用棒和一把有一半子弹的枪,然后离开。那时,他还不知道今后二十又五年内他都不会回来。
老实说,他完全没指望自己撑那么久。
 
 
劇透 -   :
Now.
“I can’t help but feel like we got off on the wrong foot,” the elf with the tied hands and the bag over his head said, trussed up in the back of a car with broken ribs and most likely a concussion.
“Nonsense,” said the other elf, younger but sour-faced, one hand holding a bloody handkerchief to his bloody nose, one arm wrapped in a plastic-and-gel cast. “We all introduced ourselves.”
The dwarf snickered, driving one-handed. The fomori shook her head and smiled, not talking much because she’d recently chomped off the tip of her tongue.
Rory had been in worse spots, in fairness. Many of them had, matter of fact, also included black bags over heads. This was the worst one with a scooter, though.
“Fine, fine. Proper introductions were made, I’ll grant you that.” He grunted and tried to right himself, felt one of the fomori’s big hands just give him a little downward shove, like a building reaching out to hold you down. “But what I’m saying is we’ve hardly been civil.”
“Cat was just shooting stick-and-shocks,” Kern piped up, wincing a bit as they trundled over a bump that must’ve jarred his wrist uncomfortably.
“I gueth maybe I thouldn’t have hit you tho hard,” Gal admitted, almost sheepish.
“Not that you did us any favors back,” Cateran said, sounding a little hurt. In fairness, he was.
“Not true,” Rory sang out, “I could’ve killed you and didn’t!”
“Sure you could’ve,” Cat shot back, scowling.
“Actually…” Kern started. Or tried to.
“Oh, thove it. I’m tho over that ‘local leghend’ thtory.” The fomori reached up to thump the back of the driver’s seat.
“We kept him from any pistols,” Cateran said, glowering sidelong at the Belfast-raised dwarf. “That’s what you said he was hot shit with.”


“Oh, aye. Wouldn’t’ve wanted two of us shooting up the parking lot, would ye?”
“Huth.” The command came with another big hand giving him a nudge.
It worked and kept him quiet for a few more turns, a little more driving, a couple more bumps. Rory wasn’t sure where they were taking him, but it wasn’t close and that wasn’t good.
“Which of you got into my pants?” he asked a little while later, just to break the silence.
Cat sputtered, Gal snorted, Kern shot a look into the rearview mirror.
“And took my commlink, I mean,” Rory said, black bag hiding a grin. “Those Fairlight Calibans aren’t cheap, are they, Kern?”
He’d guessed it right in one. The dwarven decker blinked, then scowled. “Shush.”
“What, you holding onto my ’link so I can’t call Nadja Daviar?”
In the front cupholder, there was a little rattle as the Caliban commlink buzzed to life, responded to the verbal command, made an outward call, blinked and buzzed obediently. The elf in the passenger seat grabbed for it with his one good hand, but everyone else started chattering at once.
“You didn’t thut it oth?!”
“Fuck me, I forgot!”
“Kern, dammit!”
“Relax, there’s no way it’s gonna be Nadja Davi—are you fraggin’ kidding me?!”

Cateran dropped the commlink like it was red hot, or a snake, or maybe a red hot snake. It clattered back into the cup holder, jostled around a bit, screen crystal sharp, her disapproving glare clear even from halfway around the world. Those Fairlights had great sensors, and she seemed to take in the picture pretty quickly. One slender arm reached just off screen, adjusted something on her end, maybe rewinding the last few seconds and playing them back, slow-motion. Maybe bringing up world-class facial recognition subroutines. Maybe calling someone else. Maybe a bit of all three.
“The Draco Foundation,” she said very methodically, very calmly, after the slightest pause, “Does not negotiate with terrorists.”
And the call ended.
“Terrorists?” Kern sniffed.
“That’th hardly fair,” Gal muttered.
“We’re freelancers,” Cateran said, sounding aggrieved. “Not terrorists.”
“She’s all bluster any way, don’t you worry. The Dee Eff negotiates with terrorists all the time.” Rory piped up helpfully, “It’s honestly about half of my job, I’d say.”
Kern didn’t seem very comforted by that. Gal leaned a little to try and peer skyward, like she was expecting a Thor shot. Cateran puffed on an inhaler, giving himself a reassuring hit of Novacoke. Rory gave them a few seconds to gather their thoughts—and gave Nadja the same, not that she needed it—before clearing his throat.


“Redial,” he said, feeling very pleased with himself under his hood.
“Is this your employer?” She wasn’t big on manners, Ms. Daviar, when she didn’t have to be. None of the three could help but look at the screen, curious, though. A dark face, human male, lean, with a bit of a wolfish look, glared at them.
They exchanged glances, and Kern pulled the Land Rover to the curb, idling. Half a world away, Nadja Daviar sighed at the waste of her time.
“Street name Kern,” she said simply, nodding a bit. “Osye Dempsey. Gutter hacker and shadowrunner, rap sheet as long as you are tall.”
The dwarf wasn’t surprised at the details, but wasn’t crazy about his friends knowing his real name, truth be told.
“Street name Gallowglass. Cadha McMillian. Do your little friends know about your brother, I wonder?” The fomori’s furrowed brow told them that they didn’t. Or rather, hadn’t.
“And that leaves Cateran,” she said, eyes a little more narrow this time. “Portland brat. Convict. Strangely enough, despite my clearance levels, I can’t find your real name anywhere at all in this Ares undercover operative file…”
And she drifted off just enough to draw startled glares from the other two.
“But enough about you,” she said, ruder than normal. “Is. This. Your. Employer?”
She sounded more impatient than normal. In fairness, she was. The scandal! One of the world’s most powerful people, and having to ask a question twice.
“I’m fine, thanks,” Rory sang out from his hood. “No worries here, totally fine.”
“Hush,” three people said at once, along with Gal’s fourth, a “Huth.”
There was a pregnant pause, then a few curt nods.
“Aye,” Cateran said, still warily eyeing his friends, not at all sure how they’d take his corporate status. “That was him.”
Daviar didn’t miss a beat.
“And how much is he paying you for Agent Thorn?”
“Thirty-thixth,” Gallowglass mumbled.

“Total?” Nadja confirmed. “Thirty six thousand, for him?”
“Yeah,” Kern said, like twelve thousand nuyen had sounded like a pretty good price at the time.
“Fine. Three-hundred sixty thousand.” Flipping on a contract was a big shadow no-no, mind you, but the Rule of Ten was pretty inviolate. Betraying an employer for double was a movie cliché, but doing so for tenfold the starting pay was almost respectable; someone making that sort of offer made it clear who held the power in any rivalry, and there was no shame in jumping ship in the face of that sort of disparity.
“Bring Agent Thorn to the planned drop-off point, arm him, release him, and help him kill Melehan.”
“Melewho?” The black bag barely muffled him any more.
“A mid-ranked Black Lodge operative, Thorn. A combat magus of no small power, and we believe he owns several…trinkets…we’ve been after for quite some time.”
She frowned.
“Sit him up, please, and take that ridiculous bag off.”
Gallowglass hauled him upright effortlessly, almost carefully. Rory blinked, then peered down at the screen. It was Dark. Dark, from that that day, Dark, from decades ago. A few gray hairs at the temples, a natty little beard shot through with a touch of silver, hints of crow’s eyes…but him. The wizard. Still hating him and fearing him, still running the INLA, still in Belfast after all this time. Small world.
“Oh. Him. Yeah, I hate that guy.”
“Excellent. So take one of Mr. Cateran’s guns and kill him, would you?”
“We’re a wee light on mojo for that sort of thing.” It wasn’t quite a no.
“But heavy on surprise.” It wasn’t quite an order.
“I’m on vacation,” It wasn’t quite a whine.
“Are you really?” It wasn’t quite a smirk.
Rory glowered at his commlink. Vacation. Harrumph. No wonder she’d said yes.
Kern, Cateran, and Gallowglass fidgeted a bit, like they were listening to their parents argue, but were also still maybe expecting a Thor shot, but were also each thinking about ten times the payment they’d expected. In fairness, it was a lot to fidget about.
“You’re a terrible, canny hag, Ms. Daviar,” Rory Caolain said, shaking his head and sighing, but fighting a smile. “And you should feel bad.”

“Bring your new friends back to the office when you’re done playing. I’ll contact you shortly with extraction details, but things will be…unpleasant…near there, for some time.”
And then the screen went dark, and the inside of the Land Rover with it. Kern wasn’t sure what else to do, so he reached out and flicked on the overhead light.
The other commlinks in the car buzzed, chirped, and beeped about incoming payments.
“Merry Christmas, everyone!” Rory smiled at them, holding out the handcuffs and zip-ties they’d secured his wrists with, as though they were things he’d borrowed and was politely returning.
“Wren’s Day,” Cateran said as he gawked at his account balance. “But who’s counting?”
现在
“我不禁感到我们没给对方留下好印象,”双手被绑头上套着袋子的精灵说,他被捆着扔在后座,肋骨断了,极可能还有脑震荡。
“胡说,”另一位精灵说,年轻但拉长了脸,一只手举着沾着血的手帕捂着他流血的鼻子,另一只手包在塑料凝胶夹板里。“我们都自我介绍过了。”
一只手开车的矮人轻笑。弗尔摩摇了摇头也微笑了,但没说话,因为她的舌头尖最近被咬掉了。
老实说,罗伊曾经历过更糟糕的情况。事实上,更多情况也包括了头上罩着黑胶袋。但这次是最糟的轻骑事件。
“好吧,好吧。我们正式介绍过了。我同意你。”他闷哼着试图直起身体,但感觉到弗尔摩一只硕大的手轻轻地将他按下去,就像一栋楼把你压住。“但我要说的是我们远谈不上友好。”
“绿猫只用了冲击弹,”轻步兵加大油门,畏缩了一下,刚才的路面颠簸一定震得他的手腕难受。
“我采我不改打得纳么重,”居尔承认道,看起来几乎有些不好意思。
“你也没让我们好过,”绿林说,听起来有些受伤。实际上,他的确受伤了。
“假话,”罗伊大喊,“我本可以杀了你但我没有!”
“当然你可以,”绿猫皱着眉反击。
“说真的……”轻步兵开口说。或者试图说。
“哦,得了吧。我听泥了那些‘本地传奇’泥论了。”弗尔摩伸手锤了一下司机座的后背。
“别让他碰到手枪,”绿林说,瞪着旁边的贝尔法斯特矮人。“是你说他的手枪强得要命。”
“哦,好。不想让我们两个把停车场打飞,对吧?”
“嘶。”命令来自另一只推他的大手。
很有效,让他保持了几个转弯、几刻行驶、几处颠簸的安静。罗伊不确定他们把他带到哪,但不近,不妙。
“你们谁伸进我的裤子了?”过了一会他提问,只是为了打破安静。
绿猫突然呆住,居尔哼了一声,轻步兵从后视镜瞪他一眼。
“拿走了我的通讯链,我是说。”罗伊说,黑胶袋藏住了他的坏笑。“衡光·石中链可不便宜,是吧,轻步兵?”
他大概猜对了。矮人碟客眨眨眼,然后皱眉。“嘘。”
“啥,你收走我的通讯链好让我没法和娜吉亚·戴威尔联系?”
前面的放杯处里有些骚动,石中链哔地一声启动,响应语音指示往外打了个电话,顺从地闪烁、低鸣。副驾驶座的精灵用没断的那只手抓住它,但所有人都同时开始说话。
“你木关掉?”
“操,我忘记了!”
“轻步兵,该死!”
“放松,不可能是是娜吉亚·戴威——你他妈在耍我?!”
绿林把通讯链扔掉,仿佛它是块烙铁,或者是毒蛇,也可能是烙铁毒蛇。它掉回了放杯处,撞了几圈,屏幕如水晶般清澈,她不赞同的眼神即使在半个地球外也十分清晰。衡光有很棒的传感器,她似乎非常迅速地就了解了现场。一只纤细的手臂伸到屏幕外,调整那头的什么设备,可能是退回前几秒再慢速播放。可能是启动世界一流的面孔识别程序。可能是通知其他人。可能三者都有。
“巨龙基金会,”短暂的停顿后,她非常有条理、非常冷静地说,“不与恐怖分子交涉。”
然后挂断电话。
“恐怖分子?”轻步兵抽着鼻子。
“这不公平,”居尔小声说。
“我们是自由职业者,”绿林说,听起来有些愤愤不平。“不是恐怖分子。”
“她只是在吓唬你们,别担心。DF一直都和恐怖分子交涉。”罗伊主动帮忙。“要老实说,基本是我一半的工作。”
轻步兵看起来没好受多少。居尔稍微直起身体试图向天空张望,好像指望有一发托尔。
轻步兵掏出一只吸入器,给自己一剂安心的新星可乐。罗伊给他们几秒钟整理思绪——也给娜吉亚同样的时间,但不是说她需要——然清了清嗓子。
重拨,”他说,很高兴自己现在带着头罩。
“这是你们的雇主吗?”她不是个讲礼节的人,戴威尔女士,尤其当她不需要时。三人只能盯着屏幕,但有些好奇。有着深色面孔的人类男性,瘦削,有点像狼,正盯着他们。
他们交换视线,轻步兵将车停在路边,引擎空转。半个世界之外,娜吉亚·戴威尔因浪费时间而叹气。
“街头名轻步兵,”她简单地说,稍微点了点头。“奥塞·登普西。不错的骇客和狂奔者,前科清单和你的身高一样。”
矮人不惊讶这些细节,但老实说,也没因为被朋友知道他真名而大怒。
“街头名居尔特战士。卡阿· 麦克米利安。我好奇,你的小朋友知道你的弟弟吗?”弗尔摩紧皱的眉头显示他们不知道。或者说,之前不知道。
“剩下绿林。”她说,这次眼睛眯细了一些。“波特兰小鬼。被定罪。奇怪的是,凭我的保密等级,我竟然没能在这份阿瑞斯密探工作文件里找到你的真名……”
她的思绪飘走了一段时间,正好够另外两人露出震惊的视线。
“关于你们的够了,”她说,和平常一样粗鲁。“这.是.你们的.雇主.吗?”
她听起来比平常更加不耐烦。老实说,的确是。真是丑闻!世界上最有权力的人之一,同一个问题竟然要问两次。
“我很好,多谢了。”罗伊从头罩下面大喊。“别担心,非常好。”
“嘘,”三人同时说,加上居尔的第四个声音,一声“嘶”。
一阵沉重的停顿,然后是几个僵硬的点头。
“哎,”绿林说,眼睛依然迟疑地看着朋友,不确定他们会怎么看待他的公司身份。“就是他。”
戴威尔毫不迟疑。
“他为荆棘探员付给你们多少?”
“三十陆,”居尔特战士咕哝道。
“总共?”娜吉亚向他们确认。“三十六K,给他?”
“对啊,”轻步兵说,似乎那时12k新円听起来是个好价钱。
“很好。三十六万。”注意,违反合同在暗影是个相当大的禁忌,但“十的法则”也很难打破。为了双倍价钱背叛雇主是电影桥段,但为十倍初始价格则几乎算是值得尊敬的;提供此等条件的某人显然在任何竞争中都有更高权力,面对这样的差异跳船并不值得羞愧。
“将荆棘探员带到指定地点,给他武装,放了他,帮他杀掉梅莱安。”
“谁梅莱?”黑胶袋闷不住他的声音了。
“一个黑结社中层人员,荆棘。战斗法师,能力不可小觑,我们相信他还持有一些……小玩意……我们找了有一些时候了。”
她凝眉。
“请让他坐起来,把那个可笑的袋子取下。”
居尔特战士毫不费力地、几乎小心翼翼地把他立起。罗伊眨了眨眼,低头去看屏幕。是黑皮。黑皮,那一天的黑皮,几十年前的黑皮。太阳穴旁有几缕灰发,一小截夹杂银色的胡子,乌鸦般的眼睛……但那是他。那个法师。还在恨他,还在怕他,还在运作INLA,还在贝尔法斯特,过了这么久。世界真小。
“哦,他呀。我恨这家伙。”
“好极了。那么就用绿林先生的枪把他杀掉,行吧?”
“我们在魔法方面有点不足。”不算拒绝。
“但有突袭的优势。”不算命令。
“我在休假。”不算哀嚎。
“你准备好了吗?”不算得意。
罗伊瞪着他的通讯链。假期。嗯哼。怪不得她说好。
轻步兵、绿林、居尔特战士坐立不安,好像听到了父母在吵架,但也可能是在等托尔,还可能在想十倍的酬劳。老实说,有很多值得不安的。
“你是个恐怖的、狡诈的,老巫婆,戴威尔女士,”罗伊·考莱说,摇头叹气,压下一个微笑。“你应该感到良心不安。”
“你玩够了后把你的新朋友带回办公室。我待会和你联系撤出细节,但那边的事情……有一阵子……会……不那么愉快。”
随后屏幕熄灭,路王内部也失去光线。轻步兵不知道该做什么,于是打开了头顶的灯。
车里剩下几台通讯链发出嗡嗡、唧唧、哔哔的声音,报酬到账。
“圣诞快乐,各位!”罗伊朝他们微笑,一边递出用来绑住他的手腕的手铐和拘束带,仿佛他是借了这些东西现在有礼貌地归还。
“鹪鹩日,”绿林一边说一边瞪着他的账户余额。“但有谁算呢?”
« 上次编辑: 2018-09-16, 周日 18:34:13 由 NewAlbionDrone »
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably an Andrik