The buggyman snorted himself awake and was startled.
“Arrgh?! Where?! I can’t feel! Where are my legs?! Oh, wait. Never mind there they are.”
He picked them up from the floor where Ruadha had dropped them with his one good arm.
They were mangled but not beyond repair. He clicked his tongue behind his teeth and jammed them in uncomfortably in their sockets. Bad or no they would have to do until he got back to the shop with them. He guessed rightly that he was lucky they weren’t left in the ruined buggy. His dirty lank hair hung down to his shoulders and a scraggle of a beard clung to his chin. He looked older but he probably was barely into his twenties. He sported a few scars on his cheeks and a missing tooth and if anyone didn’t know better, they’d say he was party to the coastguard members around him. The truth of the matter was, every single person in the Hall of Blasta was waiting for the fighting to begin anew between the four sitting at the table. The buggyman, however, was unaware as to the role of the people he sat with in his rescue. Aithne and Eoin sat silently, with the former covering her mouth to stifle the simmering laughter she was harbouring inside. Breandan was breathing through his nose heavily, implying some animosity with the man who caused him to bust his leg today. Meanwhile beside him Ruadha was lapping it all up.
“Ah look, our poor cratur’ is up at last. We found you out in that ruined buggy, we were so worried that you’d been hurt. We all helped you get back. We’re so so so sorry about your Prosthesis they were broken when we arrived, it must’ve been quite the fight looking as how the place got wrecked so badly. Aww, ohh, ohh tut tut tut tut…” And so on. Ruadha fawned over the buggyman while giving him generous sips of her whiskey. The pressure was building so much and Aithne genuinely prayed Breandan could keep his lid on until Ruadha pounced. On a few occasions he made to speak his mind but Eoin caught his eye and kept him quiet. Moments like these kept everyone going at times and Ruadha soon showed herself to be a master in the art of rising someone.
“So,” Buggyman finally addressed the rest of the group. What are all youz’ into? Drivers like myself? Maybe sailors, going by that gear you have there? He was pointing to Eoin and Aithne’s hook reels; made for working on boats, but also for boarding them uninvited too. Despite the risks of maybe talking to pirates he had his guard well and truly down at this point. “Ye don’t look like those Friary arseholes, swear like they couldn’t fix a wheel never mind me stuff here,” he rapped on his crumpled legs. “Naw wouldn’t trust them boys. Me I go to the Junkers, they know a good part when they see it.” The Junkers, famous for their gun runs on Fethem territories, were also infamous for their dealings with pirates and smugglers, of which the two coastguards knew only too intimately.
On top of that they had a penchant for robbing travelling merchants of their stock should they find them on the road.
“Ah not at all t’all. No Friars here. Tell us though, which Junkers would you like to shop with.” Ruadha poured more whiskey into Buggyman’s cup, she wanted him nice and softened up for what was to come “Ah, the Gaurs! Me and Pa Gaur are just like…” He clenched his fist, probably attempting to illustrate the concept ‘tight,’ ”best of buds, I often bring in the goods from the Chimney district… famed for *burp* famed for bringing in…in.” He slumped against the table and Ruadha groaned in annoyance. Everyone who had been watching sighed and carried on their business now that the fight had been nipped in the bud.
“Well that didn’t last long. The feck were you feeding him Ruadha? Thought you had him and all ready to go,” Aithne complained. Ruadha sniffed her flask and was puzzled. “Regular stuff, nothing added: He just couldn’t handle it. Maybe the anaesthetic we gave him kicked in?” She got up to refill it from her pouch.
“Gah, I wanted that swing so bad! Why’d you shush me Eoin!?”
The scavenger shrugged; “Ah, was hoping we could…oh wait! Ruadha sit down again, he’s coming back.”
Ruadha dashed back to the table and assumed her position once more. Buggyman had begun to resume his spiel and emphasised his notoriety in the Gaur gang as their best gun runner. Aithne, deflated along with the tension, lost interest and watched halfheartedly while sipping her drink…
“And that spa Ricky Gaur, he looks at me and he says…says “ Ruadha readied herself in her chair. “If your working for the Aicil bastard out in the country you’d better…HURCK!”
Aithne spat her drink out as the punch landed. As it turned out, Buggyman’s jaw was a prosthetic too, probably owing to a previous encounter such as this. Ruadha’s fist gave a good fight before it broke, stoving in his chin and sending his mandibles spinning out the side of his face. Whoever installed the jaw and the fake skin did a half baked job of it and in his stupor he hardly noticed… had he not been shot out of his chair and embedded into the wall. He attempted to voice his disapproval but the lack of a mouth made that difficult. For all his blithe ignorance and his dim wit, the man had been butchered throughout his life with augmentation. If anyone had to guess they would say 50/50 when it came to human and machine. The fakery was oddly convincing but fragile. It was possible he had gotten the cosmetic work done but had to resort to gunrunning to fund it. Both exploits were in past tense now as he uselessly tried to throw drunken slurs at Ruadha. While this went on Breandan was having a good laugh at Aithne.
“BAHAHAHAHAhahahah. Ah I knew it you liar! You’re the real deal!” He was doing a good job of fouling Aithne’s mood as she buried her head in her hands out of embarrassment.
“Yeah yeah, say it so they can all hear you big idiot. Go on!”
He lowered his voice to talking level. “Ah I’m only teasing, I knew you were one of them mad yokes. Said nothing though that’s how good I am.
“Piss off Breandan you didn’tthink for a moment I was an actual Aicil.”
“That kind of talk your family were used to!? Ah I’m just joking Aithne. You know what, watch,”
He stood up on the longest table up on a stage at the end of the room, whistled hard and shouted out.
“EVERYONE, HEY!! THIS IS THE LOST HEIR OF THE O’AICILS. SHE’S THE REASON WE’RE ALL IN THIS HOLE! LET’S DRIVE HER OUT OF TOW-!”
Another patron stood up immediately and threw a bottle at Breandan, smashing it hard over his head and knocking him off the table.
“SHUT UP BREANDAN AND ENOUGH WITH YOUR SHITE TALK!”
The patron was met with cheers and someone bought her a replacment drink for silencing the dissenter. Aithne walked over to where Breandan was slumped on the floor. His temples were bleeding but he had a great grin on his face.
“There you go, your cover’s safe with us again. C’mon, I’m stone broke and my body aches, you’re sober and driving me home.”
You’re a pain in the hole Breandan; c’mon I’m driving but you’re walking yourself in. We’ve work in the morning so I’m not breaking my back carrying you. Ruadha! Eoin!” She saluted the two as they went out. Ruadha was nursing her hand while Eoin had taken over the interrogations. Ruadha’s soft touch had made communication one sided with buggyman, so Eoin was making plenty of notes on a map of his. They saluted back and continued with their work. Breandan slid onto Aithne’s bike, and slid right off again when she took off with a jump. He laughed to himself on the icey concrete while he waited for her to reverse. When Aithne came back after a minute he was hiccupping, chuckling and sobbing all at once.
“What’s up with you Breandan? C’mon up with you.”
He obliged and remained silent for the rest of the trip, Aithne got him back to his communal flat, clasped his hand in a hardy shake and bid him goodbye. She looked around as she turned a corner for her own way home, but did not see him waving goodbye.