Numenera Short Story: The Rival

The following short story takes place after Numenera Ep 58

“They already left!” Thorne yelled at the Celestial Wanderer, quickly standing up from his chair and slamming his hands on the wooden table. His pale, almost pure white, face turning blood red as his rage pushed him towards violence. His eyes looking at the dark skinned woman across the table with a accusatory stare. The nearby patrons of the oubliette, used to more sedate conversations, took a second to gaze disappointingly at the mouthy young man before returning to their drinks.

The Celestial Wanderer, Celeste to her friends, raised up an eyebrow. The look she gave the young assassin sending a clear message that he should watch his next words carefully.

Thorne paused. A new player in the assassin game, he had no urge to test the Celestial Wanderer, even if they were in the supposedly neutral ground of the oubliette. Safe harbor can only go so far. Besides, Thorne thought to himself, her time would come soon enough.

Slowly sitting down and taking a second to breath a few calming breaths, he let his anger cool. Returning his skin to its initial pale tone.

“Why didn’t you stop them?” he asked. His voice much calmer and controlled.

“Because I had no reason to. It wasn’t my contract,” she stated matter of factly, as if the answer were obvious.

“Like Tann Vida cares about that!”  Thorne yelled again. His skin returning to its blood red color. His posture, however, was much less confrontational. “You know how pissed he is at the Smiling Jackal. Word around the community is the Jackal has gotten soft and is protecting the sales. Tann might forgive a little poaching if it means saving his reputation as a go between.”

Celeste shook her head, the audacity of the newbie surprising her. “Taking other people’s contracts is considered extremely rude, Thorne. Being polite is a policy you should follow if you’re going to survive long in this business.”

Thorne laughed. Leaning back in his chair and placing a hand on the table. The blood red on his skin turning into a much more vibrant purple.

“I have nothing to fear in that regard Wanderer,” he replied. A faint smile on his lips. “Anyone I come across will gladly let me take their contracts. Otherwise, they’ll have to face me.”

“Oh?” Celeste inquired, her interest piqued despite the annoyance at Thorne’s arrogance. “Hard to back up such a fearsome reputation if you miss the sales you were trying to make, no?”

“Not if I know exactly where they’re going,” Throne gloated. “Peerless Dominus is waiting for them in Fasten. If I leave now, I can catch them before it does. I’ll be able to rush in there and snag them all nice and quick. Peerless too if he gets in my way.”

Thorne’s faint smirk soon turned into a full blown grin, his mouth showing a row of uneven, jagged teeth.

“Smiling Jackal I’ll take out quickly.” He continued. “He’s old but probably has a lot of tricks. Best not to take any chances. After that, it’s the just the sales and their buddies. Them, I’ll take my time. I’ll make such a mess anyone will think twice before messing with me.”

With a haughty wink at Celeste, the cocky young assassin stood up and walked out of the bar, his thoughts reveling in future kills to come.

Celeste sat unmoving for a full minute. Her mind in turmoil as her emotions and her professionalism clashed in a rather heated mental debate. Eventually, Celeste sighed, standing up and walking towards the exit.

If she hurried, she could catch Thorne before he headed out of town. Maybe convince him to go for another contract. Most likely though, she will have to permanently make sure Thorne didn’t become a problem. An idea which she wasn’t really happy about. Thorne’s attitude wasn’t just the arrogance of youth. There was something else about him that worried her. Her years of experience culminating in a uneasy feeling that gripped her body and wouldn’t let go.

Shaking her head and wondering why she ever thought it was ever a good idea to befriend another assassin, Celeste muttered under her breath, “You owe me one Jack”.

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About the Author
Jesus “Arvandus” Rodriguez is the founder and website tweaker of the Fandible podcast. When he isn't out creating imaginary worlds for his players, he also runs a youtube channel where he writes short fiction in various fictional worlds.

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