Dead dwarves dirty deeds, p.1
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       Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds, p.1

           Derek J. Canyon
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Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds

  Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds


  Derek J. Canyon

  Copyright 2010 by Derek J. Canyon

  These stories are works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Derek J. Canyon.

  Cover art by Les Peterson

  Editing by Joel David Palmer

  [email protected]

  Table of Contents


  Gift Horse

  Money is Everything

  Sample of Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance


  This guy's huge. He looms well over two meters tall and has to weigh at least 200 kilograms. And that's 200 kilograms of genetically engineered, rock-hard muscle augmented with cybernetic and vat-grown implants. His legs are as thick as my waist, his arms corded and dangerous. His bald black head, poking out of a bright orange shirt, is the only small thing about him. It's tiny on his huge frame, like a doll’s head glued to the neck of a mannequin. His eyes are beady and black, squinting against the harsh glare of the fiery noon sun. His ears are lobeless but prominent, his mouth large and filled with dirty chipped teeth. He looks like some comical kid’s cartoon villain.

  Nobody laughs at Victor Thring.

  I've heard a lot about him over the vine, but this is the first time I've seen him. He attacked a guard the afternoon he was brought in, and this is his first day out of the hole. His victim is still in the hospital where a couple dozen machines do their utmost to keep him alive.

  Six prison guards escort Victor out of the hole, each holding a stun baton in shaking hands, fervently reassessing their career choice. Word is Thring killed seven security guards barehanded. The prosecutor only nailed him for five. He's in for life.

  Like me.

  I sit against a wall, looking out across the yard as the other cons mill around in the sweltering heat like eggs trying to find the coolest spot on the frying pan. A few of the more industrious try to get a basketball game going, but most are too smart to do anything but stand around and sweat. The heat-distorted figures of the sentries along the far walls, pacing back and forth in their internally cooled uniforms, look like wavering ghosts.

  The giant walks stiffly out into the yard; his escorts leave like antelope bolting from a lion’s den. Seeing him pass the other cons, everyone getting out of his way, I laugh. All these tough razors in for murder and mayhem back down from someone like Thring. Someone with the skill and fury to kill armed guards like so many gnats.

  Someone like me.

  Thring heads straight for me, like I'm some kind of magnet. He doesn't look aside, at the dozens of other cons glancing fearfully at him. He keeps his eyes on me. I keep my eyes on him.

  I don't know why he comes at me, out of all the cons, but he obviously has a purpose. Maybe it's because I'm conspicuously alone, surrounded by empty space that nearly screams: "Mind your own business, you'll live longer." The other cons always keep a clear distance from me, abiding by that axiom. After all, I'm a borderline psycho, a corporate hit man who finally succumbed to all that chrome. Was it my fault those nine troopers got in the way? Was it my fault my idiot lawyer couldn't prevent my conviction? I was only responding to the situation in both cases, just as I was trained to do by the great and mighty Nendocorp. Lucky for me and Thring the United Globe justice system banned the death penalty worldwide.

  Thring stops, his shadow envelops me. I look up at his silhouette, a tower of neohuman death: imposing, threatening, and blocking my sun.

  I laugh.

  "What you laughin' at?" His voice is so low it sounds like some seismic rumble burrowing up from the depths of the earth. It's an incredibly deep, gravelly voice, something that commands respect and obedience from a listener. It matches the body, but not the diminutive head.

  I ignore him and watch the dust devils against the prison wall thrown up by the struggling breeze. The other cons watch, wait, hoping that Thring kills me and I kill Thring. After all, they want to feel safe here in Worldwide Detention Services Penal Arcology #108.

  Thring bends down and snarls at me. I see his rotten teeth, sticking out like tombstones in his mouth. Apparently, the genetic engineers who designed him cut some corners on dental. He licks his lips.

  "I'm talkin' to you, pissbag."

  It's time to put this guy in his place. I'm the resident psycho and ice-cold killer in this bin, and I don't want anyone else getting their noses into my routine.

  "You're blocking my sun, boy," I say softly.

  Despite his technological ancestry, the racial slight has the desired effect. His face contorts in anger as he grabs my shirt and lifts me with ease to a standing position, the muscles on his arms rippling in barely controlled tension.

  "I'm gonna kill you!" This guy's real original. His breath is stale and musty, like a puff of air escaping from a just-opened coffin.

  I look around. The other cons watch closely, waiting to see what will happen. Well, I won't keep them in suspense. As the psycho, there is only one thing for me to do.

  I jab my left thumb into his right eye and when he drops me, I knee him in the groin. It doesn't have as much effect as I'd hoped, and he swings at me immediately. I duck low, give him a glancing blow to the jaw, then a solid kick to the knee. He goes down to one leg. I jump behind him and deal out two swift rabbit punches.

  Unfortunately, he still isn't out of the game. He kicks with his good leg and nearly catches me, but my cyberwires are better than his. I grab his left hand and pull it behind him. Breaking two of his fingers, I bring his arm hard up and around and drive my knee into his back.

  "Listen up, Thring," I say evenly and clearly, to make sure the others hear. "My name's Ross Drake. I don't like being talked to. I don't like being looked at. I don't like being disturbed by maggots like you. When I let go of you I want you to ask around and find out what happened to the last corpse that blocked my sun."

  I release him and walk off to the brown grass beneath the west wall. Everyone stares, slack-jawed. I sit again as before, legs crossed and arms in my lap, staring across the yard. The cons near my new location move away. The guards, having watched the whole exchange, choose not to intervene and go back to pacing. Thring is where I left him, standing and rubbing his arm. Strong as an ape and just as stupid; he could come in handy if I ever need any muscle.

  But it looks like Marco Vance, the resident con kingpin, is making his move first. Two of his recruiters, gangly thugs lacking everything but a particularly cloying loathsomeness, break away from the other cons and saunter out to Thring, not stupid enough to get too close. They no doubt have Vance's permission to grant Thring's every desire. The gargantuan razor would make Vance's contraband and extortion operations within the prison about as secure as Archon Microware’s main CPU.

  Vance did his best to get me into his little cadre of criminals when I first hit this burg, but I don't play thug for a second-rate con. I think my answer ruffled his scales a bit too much, since he's tried twice to have me killed since then. How was I supposed to know he had a special place in his heart for his messenger? Anyway, after losing three envoys to the infirmary he decided to leave me alone.

  My audio pick-ups catch every word as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum try to entice Thring, extolling Vance's generosity to employees, and the unerring (with one exception) vengeanc
e visited upon his enemies. Unfortunately, Dee makes a social blunder, blissfully ignorant of Thring's waxing anger, and steps within the goon’s exceptional reach.

  In a mere fraction of a second Tweedle Dee is lying in the dust, now blissfully ignorant of consciousness. Tweedle Dum moves back slowly several meters before turning and scurrying off to the protection of Vance.

  Thring glares at the other cons watching him and they shuffle away. He finally seems to come to a decision and walks toward me once again. This time his stride is less belligerent; with a little work it could soon be submissive. When he nears, he does not block my sun. It seems that I have acquired a henchman.

  "I got a message.”

  That gets my attention. Somebody outside sending me a message by way of a gigantic goon. Whatever he has to say I want to hear it. No doubt a promise of retribution from my old bosses at Nendo, but at least it will alleviate the monotony. I've been expecting some kind of action on their part since my first day, but they haven't made a move. Odd. Usually, they like to get rid of embarrassments such as myself as quickly as possible and in a very permanent manner.

  "Sit." I pat the ground beside me and he lowers his massive frame against the wall. I notice the scars on the backs of his hands, matching my own, marking the removal of his blades.

  Worry appears on the faces of the other cons. The clash of the titans has not transpired as they expected and hoped. It appears that the titans are joining forces. They move away, grumbling and fearful, correctly realizing it is only they who will suffer from such an alliance.

  I turn to Thring. He smiles at me. It's a genuine, if ugly, smile and reminds me of a dog greeting his master. But Thring could easily be the kamikaze come to dispose of Nendo’s dishonor. A lethal and blunt instrument lacking intelligence, but overloaded with muscle and obedience. Just the sort of operative to sacrifice on such a mission. Time to find out for sure.

  "The message?" I prompt.

  "We're breaking you out."

  "Why?" And I thought I couldn't be surprised any more.

  "My boss knows about you. About your job."

  Well, well. Not a Nendo goon after all. There's a third player in town that knows about my last job. Even though my violent desertion from Nendo never splattered the news like my encounter with the Regional Atlanta Metroplex Police, it wouldn't take a genius to learn that the twelve million in illegal, corp-laundered, certified cash cards that disappeared with me was never recovered.

  But most players aren't renowned for their benevolence. "How much?"


  "What percentage does he want?"

  Thring grins in realization. "Oh, that. All of it. Everything."

  Whoever is pulling Thring's strings is a confident one. Of course, I can promise anything I want and just kill them all later. I don't want to look easy, though.

  "That's crazier than I am. I'll give him twenty percent."


  "I don't like prison, Thring, but I doubt your help is worth twelve megs. I almost made it out on my last try. I could make it next time. He'll have to take four mill, no more."


  "Hold on, Vic." I don't want this to go on forever, especially with someone as dull-witted as Thring. "What's the lowest your boss said to go? Because I'm not going any higher than fifty percent."

  "You owe him. He wants all of it."

  "What do you mean? Who is this guy? Why do I owe him?"

  "He hired your lawyer."

  So that was it. I always wondered how I managed to pocket the best defense attorney around, especially since Nendo was doing its utmost to discourage anyone from taking my case. He said it was just because he wanted the publicity of my case, which was easy enough to believe from a lawyer. So he was paid, not well enough to get me off, but still paid. That eases my conscience a bit.

  "That means squat. That idiot couldn't keep me out of here."

  "He kept the docs from cutting up your brain," Thring says with a surprising amount of wit, "and you repaid him by sending him to the hospital."

  I want to answer but I'm astounded at Thring's use of a cohesive multi-syllabic sentence. In any case, this offer is ludicrous and I could just refuse and keep trying on my own. Three times I've tried to escape and each time some piddling little detail or happenstance screwed it for me. These walls are beginning to stifle me, getting worse than working for the corp, going where they tell you, doing what they tell you, killing who they tell you. I tried to escape one prison only to land in another. I'm not going to let that happen again.

  But then again, I do owe Thring's boss something for the lawyer. I might as well go along with Thring and my unknown benefactor, at least until I have a gun in my hands.

  "All right, Thring, it's a deal. I don't know how much longer I can take being locked up in this dump, and outside help makes it so much easier. So, when do I get to meet this angel that’s gonna break me out?"

  "He’s no angel. He's Bill Ziebel."

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