CM2.08 - Taking Inventory

"So. Where can I find your erudite Headmaster, boy?"

Aubrey swallows. "I don't--we don't know, sir."

Kleiner Knott lets out a long, pretentious sigh. "I suspected as much." He picks up the briefcase and sets it on a large splintered oak desk. "And if you did know, you wouldn't tell me, isn't that right?"

Jayne flashes an angry tone at him. "Punter ran out on us, the jerk. I don't know about these guys, but I'm not feeling much like a loyal ally." You can tell she's afraid.

As Knott opens his briefcase, Aubrey can see that the case is full of tools, silver, black, but nothing that he recognizes. Knott adjusts his black spectacles and roots amongst the arcana in the case. He pulls out a smaller case and sets it down on the desk, flipping the lid open. Knott says, "Ah, well. That makes things so much easier. I can just take your word for it, and I don't have to wrest the information from you with sex, drugs, and violence. How nice for us all, eh, Vilmar?"

The goon doesn't answer. Kleiner obviously didn't expect him to.

Aubrey shudders involuntarily. Rusty is still very busy lying still. Vilmar, the goon Knott has brought with him, hasn't moved at all, and his foot is still pushing Rusty's neck toward the floor. It suddenly occurs to Aubrey that the awkward position of Rusty's neck isn't merely uncomfortable--it's probably doing some damage. He feels himself start to panic.

He stammers, "Listen. We'll tell you whatever you want to know. Anything. We'll show you where all of Teach's stuff is--"

Kleiner cuts him off with a sharp bark of a laugh. "Thank you, thank you. You don't know how it gratifies me to hear such willingness to please. I don't get out in the field much these days, but Uncle Vito wanted this one handled personally. Since I am Uncle Vito's personal assistant, the duty falls to me." He pulls a vial out of the case and holds it up to the dingy light and examines it before setting it down next to the small silver case on the desk. Aubrey can see that it has a clear liquid inside it. Might be water.

"You do not understand the situation. Habeas Punter had an agreement with Uncle Vito. Mr. Punter has broken that agreement. He is now required to make good. We have already been through the building and inventoried everything else that might help him to do so. We know where 'Teach's stuff' is."

Knott counts out three smaller vials, lining them all up neatly. He stops and speaks quizzically. "Except for one area. The armored office is one that we could blow open with materials we have at hand. Unfortunately, the rest of the structure would be demolished. We will have to return with more sophisticated equipment. In the meantime, we shall know if Mr. Punter pops up here again."

Knott taps on a keyboard in the case. Now he has a syringe-like object in his hand. He inserts one of the small empty vials into its thick, silver handle.

"Now," he says, "it's time to finish up our inventory."

He comes around the desk and leans over Rusty, picks up his arm and turns it over. Aubrey can see Rusty stiffen when Kleiner Knott jabs him quickly in the wrist. Knott goes back to his case, removes the small vial, and sets it somewhere inside. He taps in his case.

Aubrey says, "Rusty. Hey, Rusty. You okay?"

"Yeah. He just poked me. Shut up. Ow."

Vilmar had exerted a bit of force with his foot.

Knott seems puzzled. "That's odd. Nothing at all. Let's try another."

The second vial goes into the silver handle. Knott approaches and crouches next to Aubrey, who's still lying on the floor. "Since you're so cooperative, boy, kindly accommodate me by holding out your hand, palm up." When Aubrey does so, Knott deftly pokes him with the needle-sharp end of his gadget. It stings, but that's all.

He does the same analysis with Aubrey's vial. He seems to like the results better and studies them longer before he looks up. "Very good. Aubrey, is it? Do your parents know where you are? They don't seem the type to encourage this sort of thing." He smiles that cold, cold smile.

There's a choking sound. Aubrey looks back at Jayne, who's still against the wall. She's standing now, and her eyes are wide and twitchy. She screams and her scream scares Aubrey more than anything that has happened in the last few minutes. He's never heard anyone scream like that, and he wouldn't have thought you could make out words in a scream like that. She screams "No." She bolts for the door.

Vilmar clotheslines her with his arm and folds her up across his chest. She fights him, screaming and kicking and trying to scratch him, trying to bite him. He ignores her and turns her around so that he can get a gun trained on Aubrey. Then he shoots Aubrey.

Oh, don't fret. Mustn't over-exert now that we've got blood pressure stabilized. Besides, it's just a leg wound.

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