Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Radioactive Irn Bru: Vol. 1 No. 1 Part 3

[Scene: Somewhere in Scotland…]

“It’s a good thing you had the coordinates of Dr. Chrome’s secret laboratory pre-programmed into your cell phone slash handheld GPS system,” March said to Max as the six of them approached the base of a large grassy mountain.

“The Strat K provided the coordinates,” Max said. His cell phone/GPS system started to beep uncontrollably. “We’re here.”

“Humpf,” Leonard straightened his cap, “the bloody K”.

“So where’s the entrance?” 14 asked.

“The GPS says that it’s right underneath us,” Max said.

Cane and Sharp reached into their trench coats and pulled out a gun in each hand.

“Let’s do this,” Cane said.

“I’m afraid you can’t bring guns in with you,” Max said. He got down on his hands and knees and felt through the long grass for some sort of hidden door.

All five hunters stared at the little man as he crawled about the grass.

“What do you mean we can’t bring our guns in with us?” March protested.

14 put a gentle hand to his hip, unwilling to part with Colt.

Without looking up from his search for the entrance, Max explained: “A spark from a single shot of gunfire could offset the balance of the cooling medium that Dr. Chrome is using to maintain conditions in his laboratory, which could lead to a rapid heating of the lab, causing the chemical to reach its oxidation state-”

“And a volcanic eruption of radioactive gas and the end of civilization as we know it,” Sharp finished his sentence. “Yeah, we get that – but how are we supposed to kill the evil doctor if we can’t shoot him?”

“We’ll do it the old fashioned way,” Leonard said.

“A hanging?” 14 asked.

“No,” Leonard reached into his right shoe and pulled out a long sharp knife, “a slaughter.”
14 turned to Sharp, “You know, that’s how he first got his reputation in this business, as ‘Leonard the Slaughterer’,” 14 said, “but it was much too hard to say so Leo switched over to guns-”

Sharp lifted her eyebrows and nodded along to feign interest, but cut off 14 mid-sentence and implored of Leonard, “but none of us brought knives, all we have with us are guns.”

“Such a shame,” Cane shook her head. “I just got a brand new set of Boker Magnum throwing knives for my birthday,” she pouted. March put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “They had extra padding on the handles… and real leather sheaths that attached to the belt of my gun holster.” Cane looked liked she was about to cry.  

“Looks like I’ll be the one to rub Chrome,” Leo said. “You all just worry about getting the sample.” All the bounty hunters reluctantly placed their guns in a pile on the grass.

“Aha!” Max yelled. He lifted a patch of heather to reveal a wooden door in the ground. Max lifted the door and one-by-one the hunters dropped down underground. They followed a long hallway deep into the heart of the volcano until it finally opened up on the main room of Dr. Chrome’s laboratory. It was a series of metal grated platforms stacked above each other, connected by steal ladders. A pit of lava bubbled below.

Cane and Sharp’s heels made soft clicking noises against the metal grates as they slowly approached the large vat of Irn Bru. When suddenly an intercom projected some feedback and then a distinctly German voice announced: “Hunter, party of six, your table is now available. That’s a Mr. and Mrs. Bountry Hunter, party of six, your table is now available… in hell!” The announcement was followed by amplified evil laughter, which echoed in the caverns of the volcano.

On the platform above them, a black chair swiveled around to reveal Dr. Chrome laughing evilly and hysterically at his own terrible joke. He had on a red lab coat and black rubber gloves.

“Wow, he looks a lot like Zac Efron,” Cane said, “only German.”

“Ridiculous!” Chrome yelled. “I am not German, I am Austrian,” he clarified.

Dr. Chrome’s arms were poised on either armrest and in each palm he held a small furry brown critter.

“Are those hamsters?” March asked.

Chrome ceased his laughing. “Evil hamsters!” he yelled like a German Nazi might, if a German Nazi ever had the opportunity to yell out ‘evil hamsters’.

“This one is named Oom,” Chrome said lifting his left hand and rubbing the hamster’s little head with his rubber-gloved thumb.

“Why Oom?” Leonard asked.

“Because that’s the sound a backwards cow would make!” Chrome Nazi-yelled again.

“I wonder what a backwards cow looks like?” 14 asked.

“Ridiculous!” Chrome said. “A backwards cow looks precisely the same as a forwards cow – just turned around.”

There was a long pause.

“And this one is named Laut,” Chrome said lifting his right hand.

“I don’t even want to know what kind of backwards animal makes that sound,” 14 said.

“Ridiculous!” Chrome yelled. “Laut is my mother’s maiden name.”

“Wait,” said March. “Oom and Laut? Umlaut? As in the punctuation that appears over vowels in Germanic languages?”

“Ridiculous!” Chrome yelled again. “I am Austrian, not German.”

“But they speak a Germanic language in Austria-” March insisted.

“Enough! I know what language I speak! I speak English with a very cheesy thick Austrian accent that is always confused with German,” Chrome stood up from his swivel chair and placed Oom and Laut in plastic run-about balls. “You have arrived just in time to watch me release the radioactive gas.”

“What are you talking about,” Sharp said, “I thought you were brewing the radioactive liquid to sell to the Russian terrorists.”

“Ridiculous!” Chrome threw up his hands. “Screw the Russians, I will rule the world!” As his hands flew up, they released each roll-about ball and the two hamsters scurried down a ramp toward a giant U-shaped tube. The 5 and ½ Hunters watched the hamsters roll in confusion as Dr. Chrome slipped a gas mask over his face.

Suddenly, Max exclaimed: “That tube controls the cooling medium! The hamsters’ plastic roll-about balls will seal off the tube and stop the circulation of the coolant!”

Sharp and Cane reacted instantly, swinging from ladder to ladder until they reached the ramp. They each leaped into the air and did an impressive 360-degree turn-karate kick in order to launch the hamsters into the boiling lava below. Their jumps appeared as if in slow motion. But both hunters returned to the ground and waited. Ten seconds later the hamsters finally rolled right up to their feet so they simply bent down and picked up the little fur balls.  

“Ridiculous!” came Chrome’s muffled yell from within his gas mask.

“We thought so,” Cane said. “It would have been ridiculous to kick the poor little creatures into the lava when all we had to do was pick them up.”

Leonard launched himself up the ladder to the platform where Chrome stood. He passed his knife back and forth between his hands, ready to take a swipe at the evil Austrian doctor that looked so much like a German Zac Efron.

Dr. Chrome slowly backed away as Leonard approached with the knife. Max was in the process of taking a sample of the Irn Bru into his thermos with the help of Cane and March. Sharp and 14 joined Leonard on the platform with Chrome.

“Any last words?” Leonard asked the doctor.

“Ich will meine Mami,” Chrome whimpered.

“Hey – that’s German!” Sharp said.

“Austrian my ass,” 14 said nudging Leonard. It was a much more powerful nudge than 14 had intended and it knocked a surprised Leonard off-balance backward into Sharp. In his stumbles he dropped the knife and it fell between the metal grates into the lava below.

“The knife,” Leonard yelled. But it was too late, Dr. Chrome had already fled the scene.

Sharp tried to catch her own balance by taking a firm step to her right. Her boot stomped down hard on 14’s foot and the gun in her heel fired. 14 let out a piercing cry as he grabbed his left foot and hopped around on his right foot in pain.

“You shot me!” 14 yelled.

“Well, actually you pushed Leonard into me, so really you shot yourself,” Sharp said with not even the tiniest hint of remorse. Just then the ground started to tremble.

“The gunshot,” Max yelled, “it offset the equilibrium!”

“Way to go,” Sharp said to a still-crying 14.

“They really are the worst hunters ever,” Cane said under her breath to March. March silently agreed and then pulled out her phone.

“Who you gonna call?” Cane asked.

“The Ghostbusters won’t be of much help in this scenario,” Max said with a chuckle. “Plus, they’re located in Manhattan,” he said rather seriously. “There’s no way they’d be able to get here in time.”

“I’m calling Daddy,” March said as large rocks began to fall form the volcano walls splashing hot lava high into the air.

Suddenly, twenty men dressed all in black propelled down the side of the volcano on long ropes. Half of them set to work on the large vat of radioactive Irn Bru, pouring large amounts of a third liquid into the mix. The other half shot large metal posts into the walls at opposite ends of the volcano. 

The trembling stopped.

“What just happened?” Sharp asked.

“One of the men dressed all in black responded with, “The metal posts inserted exactly seven feet into the north and south walls of the volcano absorb the vibrations to prevent an eruption. And the liquid we added to the sample is a variant that causes the Irn Bru and Mendellium to separate because of their different densities so that we can safely remove the radioactive element from this dangerous environment.”

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of that,” Max said scratching his head. “Or the snazzy entrance with the drop-down rope thingies for that matter… we’ll just save that little maneuver for next time,” he said with a wink at Cane, who could only laugh in response.  

March walked up to the man in black who was speaking and gave him a hug. “Thanks Daddy,” she said.

“Daddy?” Leonard asked. “The bloody Strat K,” he said shoving his hands into his pockets.

“You shot me!” 14 yelled again at Sharp.

“Oh come on,” she protested, “it’s not even all that bad.” She turned to Cane. “We should get the sample back to headquarters.” And with that the Trench Twins disappeared with Max and the thermos. March propelled back up the volcano wall with her father and the other 19 black-clad members of the Strat K. Leonard and 14 were left all alone in the empty laboratory.  

The two hunters sat in silence.

“SHE SHOT ME!” 14 finally yelled.

Leonard rolled his eyes at his partner. “Isn’t anyone going to help us out of here,” he yelled up the volcano.

A blue dress floated down through the air and “Tell her About It” started to play over the intercom.

“Bloody Strat K,” Leonard said reaching for the dress.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Radioactive Irn Bru: Vol. 1 No. 1 Part 2

With Colt brightly polished and snug against his hip, 14 dragged Max Tuller by his lab coat collar into Kings Cross Station. Leonard led the way to the checkpoint, with March following close behind.

“Hah, 2310,” Leonard said with a cocky air.

“Just open it,” March insisted.

“Give me the key,” he hit 14 on the shoulder.

“What key?” 14 looked confused.

“Oh great,” March sighed.

“Relax, it doesn’t take a key,” Leonard laughed. “I was just playing ya. It’s a combo lock.” He reached down and fidgeted with the numbers. “14, what’s the combo?”

“What combo?” 14 asked.

“Very funny,” March said. “Just open it already.”

“Not joking,” 14 said. “I don’t know the combo.”

March looked from 14 to Leonard. “Please tell me you know the combo,” she demanded of Leonard.

“Wow you said please,” Leonard was shocked. “What happened to ‘wave guns now and say please… well- never’?”

March reached for her own gun this time, but Max stepped forward.

“Perhaps I can be of assistance,” Max interjected. “Mr. Stiggs gave me explicit instructions. He said that when you two started to fight about the locker that I should step in and offer up the combo before she blows your head off.”

“Well why didn’t you say so sooner,” Leonard said, giving Max a big slap on the back. Max stumbled forward on impact and coughed and sputtered until his breath came back to him.

Max Tuller was short: 4’10”.  According to the LPA (Little People of America), Max is considered to be within the height threshold of a dwarf. He never really felt like a Dwarf until this exact moment, when the big beast of a man, Leonard, merely tapped him on the back and sent him flying. Max straightened the wrinkles in his white lab coat, lengthened his spine in an attempt to reach 4’11”, and unlocked the Checkpoint.

“Hold on a second,” 14 said. “How did Boss know she was gonna be here?” he asked pointing to March.

“Is she not supposed to be here?” Max asked, removing the lock.

“Define ‘supposed to’,” Leonard said. He reached in the locker and pulled out a pile of papers.

“Well done, kid,” 14 said to Max. “You’re on your way to becoming a Hunter.” Max beamed – he couldn’t read 14’s sarcastic tone.

“Ummm guys,” Leonard said flipping through the papers, “there are 6 train tickets here.”

“Maybe Boss made a mistake,” 14 said.  "Or maybe there was a group discount?"

“No mistake,” came another voice. The three (and-a-half) Hunters looked up to see two women standing before them.

“Those two tickets are for us,” the taller woman said. She had short strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, and was wearing a black trench coat and black high heeled boots. You should never trust a woman in a trench coat and heels.

“And who are you?” Leonard asked.

“I’m Christina Sharp, and this is my partner, Sara Cane.” Sara had long jet black hair and piercing green eyes. She was wearing a tan trench coat and black high heels. The only thing you shouldn’t trust more than a woman in a trench coat and heels, is two women in matching trench coats and heels.

“Are they supposed to be here?” Max asked looking at the two tall, trenched women.

“There’s that phrase ‘supposed to’ again,” Leonard said eyeing the two newcomers.

“Stiggs hired us as back-up,” Sharp said, tying the black belt of her coat, tight around her waist.

“Hey – we work alone,” 14 said, hitting Leonard on the chest with the back of his hand, “just we do it… together,” he looked from Leonard to March to Max, “…in a sizeable group of 4.”

“I think what 14 here is trying to say,” Leonard started, “is that we don’t need you. So pack up your lipstick grenades and .50 caliber high heels go on back to London.”

“Hey! You have no idea how much of a bitch it is to walk around in fully-automatics all day long,” Cane said.

“Who ever heard of 5 ½ Bounty Hunters working together?” 14 shook his head. “What is the world coming to? Used to be it only took 1 of us.”

“Are you calling me half a Bounty Hunter?” Tuller smiled.

“Don’t let it get to your head kid,” 14 said.

“It would only take one of us,” Cane said eyeing Sharp.

14 drew his gun and pointed it at Cane. Cane quickly lifted her gun and placed it barrel-to-barrel with 14’s. Without hesitation, Leonard lifted his gun and held it against Cane’s head. Sharp instantly pulled off both her shoes and pointed one heel at 14 and the other at Leonard. March drew her gun and held it to Sharp’s head. Tuller whipped out an empty test tube and pointed it at Sharp. Then he nervously pointed it at Cane. Back to Sharp. Then he slowly placed the test tube back in his lab coat pocket and cautiously backed away to hide behind a row of lockers. The dwarf-of-a-man didn’t even need to crouch down to stay concealed.

“And yet they sent two of you,” Leonard said with a smirk.

“Yeah, one of us to pull the job, and the other to clean up after you two,” Sharp said. At that statement, Leonard and 14 both changed their aims to Sharp’s strawberryblonde bob cut. “Who is this girl anyway?” Sharp asked in a relatively calm manner, considering she had three guns pointed at her head.

“Name’s March,” she answered, nodding her head and tipping her gun in hello. Sharp and Cane nodded their heads and tipped their guns in response. It was common courtesy.

“I’m Max,” Max’s muffled voice sounded from somewhere behind the lockers. He raised his white lab-coated-arm in a simultaneous ‘hello’ and ‘I surrender’.

“Nice to meet you Max,” Cane yelled over to him in a surprisingly friendly manner. “And you must be 14,” she said playfully jabbing the barrel of his gun with her own, “your hat gives you away, which would make you,” she eyed Leonard, “Leonard. Stiggs said you were a big guy,” she said, prodding his belly with her gun.

Leonard changed his aim back to Cane. His arms were now tangled around 14’s, who was still aiming at Sharp. Leonard tried to play it off with a super cool line: “Now that we’re all acquainted,” Leonard said, “I’ll know what names to write on your tombstones.” He cocked his gun for emphasis.

Sharp scoffed and lowered her weapons. She grabbed her ticket out of Leonard’s left hand and placed it in her black trench coat pocket. Cane put her gun away in her tan trench coat and grabbed her ticket from Leonard too. “Thanks Leo,” she smiled and gave him two thumbs up. The two trench coats walked toward Track 17. Sharp struggled to put her gun-heels back on as she walked. March lowered her gun. 14 and Leonard remained in kill shot stance with their arms knotted about each others.

“You can’t just walk away!” Leonard yelled after them. “This isn’t over!”

“Yeah, and you better save me a window seat!” 14 yelled.

March grabbed two tickets from Leonard’s left hand, picked up Max from behind the lockers, and followed the Trench Twins to Track 17. She left Leonard and 14 still standing in their interlocked position with guns extended and ready to fire.

“You two coming?” March asked. They carefully untwisted themselves and joined the rest of their group on the train.

“Hey, Cane,” 14 said sitting down beside her arm. “Have you done the math yet? 3 men… 3 women… an all-night train ride…” he raised his eyebrows and smiled revealing yellow crooked teeth.

Cane winced and turned to Max. “Max, was it?”

“Yes. Dr. Max Tuller,” the little man replied.

“So how exactly are we going to get a sample of this radioactive material safely back to London?” Cane asked.

Max reached into his bag and pulled out what looked like a thermos. He unscrewed the lid of the silver canister and showed the inside to the Hunters. There was a network of coils wrapped around within the thermos.

“We pour a small amount of the affected Irn Bru into these coils,” Max said. “The coils contain a cooling medium that will preserve the radioactive liquid. There is a fluidic pump in the lid just here,” Max said pointing to a motor in the top of the canister. “The pump will keep the liquid constantly circulating, which will keep it cool.”

“What happens if the pump stops circulating the cooling medium?” Sharp asked.

“Then the decay heat will cause the liquid to boil,” Max replied.

“That doesn’t sound good,” 14 said.

“I’ve fitted this thermos with a reflux condenser to prevent the loss of cooling medium in the event of a pump malfunction. So once the liquid is sealed in this thermos, we are safe no matter what.”

“Why couldn’t Stiggs have just thrown that high-tech thermos in our checkpoint locker,” Leonard said. “Why do we need to bring you along for this?”

Max frowned and dropped his little head in defeat. “The radioactive element that Dr. Chrome is using is very dangerous,” Max said. “Mendeleuium appears in a gaseous state at room temperature and must stay cooled to remain in liquid form.”

“Yes, which is why we have this nifty radioactive fridge,” 14 said grabbing the thermos out of Max’s hands.

“Be careful with that,” March said snatching the thermos away from 14.

“I’m not worried about transporting the formula back to London,” Max said. He looked around at the Hunters. “I was told that Dr. Chrome’s laboratory is hidden within a dormant volcano?”

“Yeah.  So?” Sharp said.

“Well, if the cooling mechanisms within his laboratory were to fail, and the Mendeleuium were to change from a liquid to a gaseous state and mix with the burning vapors of the volcano…” Max started.

“Kablooie?” 14 asked.

“It could start a chain reaction, which may result in not just a volcanic eruption, but the release of this radioactive gas into the surrounding areas,” Max said taking the thermos back from March, screwing on the lid and placing it back into his bag. “Like I said, it’s not the liquid that I’m worried about. It’s the potential of the Mendeleuium reaching its Oxidation State, resulting in a volcanic eruption, our deaths, and the mass radioactive contamination of Great Britain.”

"Hmmf," Leonard said.

The car was silent, as the train pulled out of King’s Cross Station and chugged north toward the Scottish border.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The Radioactive Irn Bru: Vol. 1 No. 1 Part 1

Leonard walked down a rainy London street avoiding dark puddles and rogue cobblestones.  He entered Mulligan’s Pub and sat down next to his partner at the small table in the back room. It was his regular table in his regular pub, and he ordered his regular drink: a cranberry and whisky cocktail with a pineapple wedge. He was even wearing his regular shoes, which smelled a bit from their regular use. However, Leonard was not a regular man. He was a killer, and an awfully bad one at that. That’s why he had a partner (not that his partner was any better). Somehow they managed. His partner’s name was 14. That wasn’t his real name of course. But it’s all he ever answered to.

Leonard’s pocket vibrated. He reached in and pulled out his cellular transmitter. “It’s the wire from Stiggs at The Corps Headquarters,” Leonard said, gracefully sipping his cocktail and patting a cloud of dust out of the shoulder of his brown leather jacket. His green, panther eyes darted a sharp look across the table at 14, demanding him to come see the message.

“How come Boss never calls me,” 14 complained as he slid his chair to the left and looked over Leonard’s shoulder. Mr. Stiggs appeared on the screen of the handheld transmitter. Stiggs stared at the two Bounty Hunters with his black unblinking eyes, that matched his dark complexion. Even his suit was all black. The only thing pleasant about Stiggs was the white sparkle of light that reflected off of his perspiring forehead.

“Gentlemen, I’ve got a new mark for you,” Stiggs said. His voice was deep and serious.

“All clear,” Leonard responded, scratching his dirty-blonde buzz cut, “Go ahead with the assignment.”

“His name is Dr. Lawrence Chrome,” Mr. Stiggs started to explain.

“Shouldn’t we close the door-” 14 started, looking at the open entryway between their back room and the main room of the pub.

“Shhhh,” Leonard cut him off. “Didn’t you ever learn not to speak when someone else is speaking,” he whispered pointing at Stiggs on the transmitter screen.

“But you’re talking-”


“He’s a chemist,” Stiggs said, “that specializes in radioactive de-animation.” A picture of Dr. Chrome flashed up on the transmitter.

“He looks kinda like Zac Efron,” 14 commented, stroking the stubble along his jaw. He had a permanent 5 o’clock shadow. It’s actually permanent. 14 was completely bald. He always wore a gray tweed sports cap to cover his hairless head. He couldn’t grow facial hair either, so he got implants. He treated himself to it after the payoff from the very first job he ever pulled with Leonard.

“I assure you there’s no relation,” Stiggs sighed. He tugged at the cuffs of his blazer in an irritated and a why-do-I-put-up-with-you manner and then continued: “The last The Corps heard, Dr. Chrome has set up a makeshift laboratory inside a dormant volcano. He’s experimenting with a new hybrid of WMD. Chrome is melting down the metallic radioactive element Mendeleuium and mixing it into bottles of Irn Bru.”

“Yummy,” Leonard said. “Bet that would go great with a side of cyanide-soaked chips.”

“When it is finalized, Chrome is planning to sell it to General Mihailov, the leader of an underground Russian terrorist group, who wants to distribute the poisonous drink throughout Europe,” Stiggs said. “The top secret Russian intelligence group, Strat K, is looking to us for help. They’re on a time crunch here and would like us to take care of this quietly.”

“The SK,” Leonard scoffed. “Dirty Russian pansies,” he mumbled under his breath. Leonard had had run-ins with the K before, and somehow they all ended with Leonard in a dress singing Billy Joel. Now Leonard is a broadly-built man, with wide shoulders and a big chest, and he learned after the first few times that wrap dresses were more flattering because they adjust to fit all shapes. Leonard regrets ever having had to learn this fashion fact and therefore despises the Strat K.

“Where abouts can we find this volcano, Boss?” 14 asked.

“Scotland,” Stiggs said. “At the regular check point you will find two train tickets to Edinburgh, along with the necessary papers.”

“Guns?” Leonard asked.

“You’ll have to pay a visit to Kelley,” Stiggs said. “He just got a new shipment in.” Stiggs paused. “Are you two game?”

“How much?” Leonard asked.

“£300,000 for the rub,” Stiggs said. “But I’ll double it if you bring back a sample and the details of Chrome’s formula.”

“How the hell are we going to carry a radioactive soft drink back to London?” 14 asked.

“You’ll be making an extra stop on your way,” Stiggs responded. “Pick up Max Tuller at Headquarters. He’s an expert physicist and will help you bring the sample home safely.”

“I’m no babysitter,” 14 protested.

“£600,000 is a lot of money,” Stiggs countered, “For that price, you’ll adopt an entire orphanage if I ask you to.”

“Alright, we’ll get the kid,” Leonard said.

“You have 48 hours to rub Chrome and return to the checkpoint with the sample for the drop off. Your cash will be there waiting for you. This message will self-destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2…”

Leonard dropped his transmitter to the table like a hot potato. The plastic phone wobbled uneasily for a moment and then settled.  Nothing happened. Stiggs' deep voice erupted in eerie laughter. Leonard cautiously lifted the transmitter and to the unsettling sight of Stiggs' stark white teeth. “Every time,” Stiggs laughed. Then he abruptly whipped the smile from his face. “Don’t screw up.” And the transmitter screen went black.

“That’s encouraging,” Leonard said. He took a bite of his pineapple wedge.

“I hope Kelley’s done fixing my gun,” 14 said. “I never like to go into volcanoes without my baby Colt.”

Leonard and 14 felt a sudden presence and both looked up to see their waitress standing in front of them. She was wearing blue jeans, a black tee, and a tiny blue apron around her waist. “£600,000 is a lot of money,” she said, placing 14’s pint of Guinness on the table and sliding the plastic serving tray under her left arm.

“See, I told you we should have closed the door,” 14 nudged Leonard.

“Now sweetheart, I don’t know what you think you heard-” Leonard started.

“I want in,” she interrupted, brushing her long brown hair out of her face.

“You want in what?” 14 asked.

“I want in for 50 quid says the Chargers are gonna win the superbowl.”

“Superbowl? Oh right Leo – the superbowl,” 14 laughed. He leaned in close to Leonard, “What’s the superbowl?” he whispered.

“American football,” Leonard said. “But it’s held in the spring. And the Chargers are complete rubbish.”

“How do you know so much about American football?” 14 looked puzzled.


“I want in on the job you pisspots,” the waitress said.

“We don’t have a job,” Leonard said reaching for the gun in his jacket pocket, ready to point it in the girl’s face for dramatic effect. Of course he would never shoot her (unless she insulted his drink of choice – but even then it would only be to wound her – not a kill shot). But his jacket pocket was empty.

The waitress cocked Leonard’s own pistol and placed the barrel on his nose. Her eyes flashed a hungry blue glare in 14’s direction.

“Who are you,” 14 asked the waitress in astonishment.

“A little help here,” Leonard lifted his hands in a surrender stance and eyed 14 without turning his head.

“I just said Colt was in the shop – you never listen to me.” 14 shook his head and took a big gulp of his Guinness.

“You don’t own any other guns?!”

“None that suit me, now what is your name sweetheart? Lulu?” he read off of her name tag.

“last name’s March,” she said.

“Lulu,” Leonard started.

“Call me March,” she said pressing the gun harder against his nose.

Leonard raised his hands higher in retreat. “March,” he said. “What do you know about hunting people?”

“She knows how to secretly steal your gun when you’re not looking and fit your entire nose inside the barrel,” 14 said.

“Fair point,” Leonard spoke – all nasally. It sounded like he had a severe cold and inhaled a shitload of helium.

“If I say you’re in, will you kindly return my gun,” Leonard squeaked.

“Depends,” she said. “Do you mean it?”

“I guess,” Leonard said. March lowered the weapon.

“Are we pulling a job, or throwing a party?” 14 asked. “We’ve already got to pick up this Tuller scientist guy – now she’s coming too?”

“Maybe if you carried more guns with you, the invite list would be one less,” Leonard glared at 14.

“What’s Boss gonna think about this?” 14 asked.

“You can trust me,” March said.

“That’s a little hard to believe considering you just had my own gun pointed at my… own… face,” Leonard trailed off at the end, pondering over his redundancy.

“You can trust me, because my father works for Strat K. Stiggs and my dad are old friends. He’s the one who called in the favor to you guys.”

14 narrowed his eyes and tilted his head skeptically, “You don’t sound Russian,” he said.

“And you don’t sound intelligent,” March said, “yet you were just speaking with a division of the CIA.”

“Yeah, the killing division – how smart do you need to be for that?” 14 said.

“Exactly why my father sent me,” March sighed. She scratched at the freckled skin above her right elbow.

“Alright, we’ll rendezvous at the checkpoint in 1 hour,” Leonard said. “Go get whatever you need sweetheart-”

“March,” she corrected him, a little annoyed.

“-and meet us here,” Leonard pulled out a slip of paper and wrote down the address.

“Kings Cross Station?” March asked.

“Shhh! Why do you think I’m writing it down? Could it be because it’s a secret checkpoint?” He handed her the paper: locker 2310, Kings Cross Station.

March reached into her pocket and pulled out a blank slip of paper. She grabbed his pen and scribbled down a few lines and handed the paper to Leonard.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“You’re bill,” March smiled, slipping the pen into her apron. “Don’t forget to tip.”

Leonard crumpled the piece of paper and dropped it into 14’s half-empty pint of Guinness. He turned back to March, “Now, we have a man to see about a gun, and another man to see about… science,” Leonard said. “So if you’ll excuse us.”

“You know I’m going to follow you,” March said. “Just in case you accidentally wrote down the wrong checkpoint.”

“You’re the one who is throwing the word trust around,” 14 said.

“Yeah, I’m trustworthy,” March said. “You guys are idiots.”

“What does that have to do with trust?” Leonard asked.

“Nothing – you guys are just idiots. I’m banking on the fact that you really did forget the checkpoint and wrote down the wrong locker number.” She untied her apron and tossed it onto the table and placed her hands on her hips.

Leonard and 14 looked at each other for a brief moment, like they were collectively trying to remember the locker number of the checkpoint. Unsuccessful in their joint effort, they stormed out of the pub. March followed closely behind the two Hunters. 

“Hey, Lulu where are you going,” the manager yelled after her. “You’re shift doesn’t end until 6!”

“It’s March,” she yelled back, “and I’m going on break.”

“It’s October,” the manager yelled, “and you don’t get breaks!”

“Then I quit,” March said.

“You can’t just quit-” the manager started. March reached into Leonard’s jacket pocket and pulled his gun out on the manager. “OK, have a nice spring break,” he said trembling. The manager ran back inside Mulligan’s.

“Wow, she’s a little spitfire,” 14 said.

“Will you stop stealing my gun,” Leonard said grabbing the weapon and putting it back in his pocket. “You’re going to get someone killed.”

“Isn’t that the whole point of Bounty Hunting?” she asked.

“Yes – well, no,” Leonard got all flustered. “We’ve got our mark. Let’s just go rub Chrome. But first let’s get you your own gun.”

“And don’t forget the science guy,” March said.

“Does he need a gun too?” 14 asked. “I thought he was all equations and such…” 

March rolled her eyes and waved down a taxi.