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An offer you can neither refuse or accept

Hally had no way to judge the passage of time, but she was hungry, tired, and her muscles had both cramped and charliehorsed from hours spent in the box.  It was a relief to hear a female voice concede to let her out.  It was muffled in the box but she was sure she heard the name Omig. She frowned as she recognized the name of the man who she had protested to release.  He was involved with the people responsible for kidnapping Moreau?

Crowbars were used to remove the lid, which took a full minute to remove and when it finally did and she could breath the fresh cold air the sudden brightness temporarily blinded her.  She blinked several times and stayed where she was until the woman giving orders said, “Alright Hally, stand up please.”

Hally rose, her muscles protesting as life came back to them, as she gripped the sides of the crate and lifted herself out as she blinked and tried to get her bearings.  It took her some time to be able to see that she was on a deck of a ship and Babbage was a long way off into the distance.  The cold was even worse outside of the box, which told her that attempting to make a quick swim for it was suicide, even if her limbs did want to work at the moment.

A large canine moreau with a crowbar was standing next to her, Omig, his shadow providing some cover for her eyes even though the skies were mostly clouded.  Behind her, in a deck chair and dressed in some kind of business coat, was a vaguely familiar rabbit with a pistol in her lap.

“Do have a seat.”  The rabbit-woman waved at another chair near her, and it was obvious she expected obedience. Given her situation, Hally did as she had been instructed eventually, after she had stretched out her muscles enough to very gingerly walk over.  The only thing that hurt worse than her legs right now was her head, it throbbed as she walked and took her seat.  “I’m sure you know who I am?”

“The Lady who had me kidnapped?” She asked rhetorically, even as she gripped her head and tried to place the familiar face.

The woman barked a disingenuous laugh, “Quite funny.”

It took Hally a few moments but she finally knew how she recognized the other woman, “….you were my other neighbor….the one who owns the shipping yard.  Ms. Solano.”  She nodded, but did not seem satisfied with that answer alone.  Hally shrugged as she added, “And I guess you’re Olivia’s aunt?”

“Yes, and the person taking the brunt of the accusation from the Militia captain for the riots.”

Hally recalled her own unpleasant conversation with a captain not that long ago, “You mean that witch, Hienrichs?”

Ms. Solano nodded, “Your little fires have inconvenienced me and my family.  It was my first choice to leave you in the crate wrapped in the chains behind it and dumped overboard.”

Hally looked back at the brute with the crowbar and thought better of shouting in her own defense.  She noted that there was an airship behind him, something she’d been too blinded to see before, but could never hope to reach.  She answered quietly, “That wouldn’t have ended the fires.”

“No sadly, it wouldn’t, but I would have been mildly amused for a time.”  The relish with which she said that implied that the thought still gave her a certain amount of joy.  “But I have other work for you.”

“Work?”  Hally shouted with surprise, but Ms. Solano maintained her composure which meant she was serious.  Hally still couldn’t believe it.  This is the worst job interview I’ve ever had.

“Yes just a simple matter.  I want more riots-sans my nieces presence, of course.”  She continued, ignoring her guests surprise.  “If the riots continue without her Hienrichs will stop blaming her and by extension me.”

Ms. Solano must not have been aware of the talk she’d already had with the Captain.  Hally had been told that if there were anymore protests, peaceful or not, she was going to be arrested.  She was also aware that if she refused she was going back into the box, and probably never coming out alive again.  “I’m sure I can get ‘something’ done that Olivia would never get behind.  Something I can believe in.”

“Well at the moment she’s staying on board my yacht so will not be able to involve herself.”  Ms. Solano replied with a tone that betrayed Olivia’s discomfort.

“When do you need me to start?”

“At your convenience just don’t take too long.”  

“Will I get my weapons back?”  She was going to need them very soon it seemed, but she didn’t expect to get them back.  She was wrong, they did return her guns but they had been filled with honey to render them useless for the moment.

“Now as a reward for your good work, breathe in deeply.”  The cabbit stopped breathing, despite the air this far out to sea still being a little hazy and something she could see. Ms. Solano waited to be obeyed though so Hally complied, expecting Omig to come up behind her with chloroform.  When nothing happened she felt confused until her captors spoke again, “Your continued ability to do that is your reward, but if you do well you may find anonymous packets of money on your bed from time to time.  I hope this deal meets with your agreement.”

“I think you’ve just made me an offer I can’t refuse, yes.” Hally replied guardedly, “So I might as well try to enjoy it.”

“Precisely,” She seemed overall pleased with how the talk had gone and gestured for Hally to rise.  “Time for you to be heading back good evening, Hally.”

Omig ordered her to follow him and she did, slowly, looking back twice as she followed the canine to the airship farther down the deck.  As she climbed aboard she heard the crack of a pistol shot and a bullet whizzed between her ears.

Even though she’d partially expected something it still made her pause and grip the side of the airship.  Omig laughed at her, “The boss is a fine shot!  Keep that in mind.”

Hally frowned and looked at him as she got inside.  She couldn’t help but let him know she had recognized him too, “Sorry about nearly setting the building you were held in on fire.”  She was a lot less sorry seeing he was guilty.

“Thinking about me much ain’t worth loosing yer face.  Boss said I can’t kill ya, didnt say nothing about maiming.”

Hally waited the rest of the time in silence to be brought home but as they arrived Omig got up and forced her to her feet.  He was physically stronger than her already and in her state all she managed was a few kicks before he threw her from the airship to the ground twenty feet below.  She crashed into a thick snow bank with a squish and a loud umph from herself.

She got up very slowly, feeling miserable, hurt, but most of all she was angry.  There was fear, but she relished the feeling of fear.  She went on safari to exotic places where she had acquired her dangerous pets that she loved partly because she enjoyed the rush, her life endangered gave her a thrill like no other.  Ms. Solano was mistaken if she thought she was the first person to kidnap her or to threaten her life, just the first to offer her a job.

If she had come to her offering the job Hally might have taken it before Captain Hienrichs had approached her.  Now Ms. Solano would order her to be killed if she didn’t start a riot, and the Captain would arrest her the instant she did.  She was trapped in a situation that she was damned if she did and damned if she did not.

She stayed in the snow bank thinking for a long time, feeling parts of her start to go numb before she got up and made her decision about what she would do.


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