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Something Must Be Done (Dark Aether)

Late in the night the crisp Autumn quiet of Port was interrupted by the familiar sounds of yelling and scuffling. The air was heavy with the scent of alcohol mixed with sweat. Fight night at ‘Cuffs. Wasn’t it always fight night at ‘Cuffs at this hour?

People from every status of society not only rubbed elbows, but also shoved each other as they cheered on the main fight in the street. The two men circling in the middle of the crowd were bloodied and beaten, yet there was a strange sense of serenity about them. It was not only a fight, it was a performance, even a dance if you will.

Scottie and Sky stood on opposite sides of the crowd to oversee the fight. As the cheering grew louder and one fighter began to sway on his feet the two proprietors grinned broadly at each other. It was moments like these that they were reminded why they established a fighting bar in the first place. They enjoyed the company of people as well as the energy that accompanied fighting. Sky gave Scottie a wink and then rubbed her fingertips together, indicating that she believed she had won yet another bet and expected payment soon. Before Scottie could respond, even before the loser of the fight fell to his knees, things took an unexpected turn…

A hand darted. A gun was drawn. Fighting broke out amongst the crowd. Scottie and Sky yelled at the top of their lungs in an attempt to be heard above the din. They were ignored. Scottie and Sky exchanged quick glances of surprise. Fighting at Cuffs had been getting rougher lately, but this had never happened before. Each had their suspicions, but quietly went to work to contain the situation.

Scottie launched himself at the gunman, who was the soon-to-be victor of the main brawl. His foot smashed into the man’s hand just as the trigger was pulled, knocking the barrel of the pistol away from the beaten man’s shoulder. The bullet changed course and hit a bystander in the leg, causing her to cry out in pain and fall to the ground.

More fights broke out, weapons were openly brandished. The surrounding crowd gave over to utter chaos. Sky pushed people out of the way to attend to the fallen woman, ripping her own scarf off and quickly bandaging the bleeding leg. Swiftly picking up the gunman, Scottie kneed him in the stomach to halt his struggling before carrying him over to the edge of the dock and throwing him in the water.

Rushing back to the unruly crowd, Scottie drew his sword as Sky leapt to her feet and did the same. After yelling so loudly their voices quickly gave out and gaining scratches while knocking down more than a few drunk customers, the pair finally established order and sent everyone home. Their eyes locked again and they both knew one thing was certain: Something was very wrong.

In a hoarse whisper Scottie eventually said, “The machine…” Sky completed his thought in a hushed tone, “…it must be removed. We can’t stand this any longer.” As they walked back into ‘Cuffs to ‘clean up’ the mess that had been created Scottie picked up the daily newspaper and examined it for a moment. His eyes widened and then he folded the paper and set it on the counter in front of Sky. She quickly read it and then cleared her throat, whispering with a smile, “I think we need to get a hold of the Brothers…”

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