Spacer Aside 220b
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At a rundown building in a dingy part of town, a young man in a leather jacket with a snarling cat on the back knocked at the door, which creaked open.
    "Hey, you're not due to check in yet."
    "I gotta talk to Tybalt," the knocker said breathlessly.
    "Man, you gotta talk to Tybalt? You just joined the gang four days ago, you're lucky you can say his name right now without me slittin' your throat," the door guard sneered.
    "I gotta talk to Tybalt," he repeated.
    "'Cause I was on lookout."
    "You were on lookout? For what?"
    "Three of our guys just got nabbed!"
    "And if you were on lookout, why didn't you do anything about that?"
    "'Cause there wasn't anyone there! I'm watching the sky, I'm watching the ground, I'm doing what I'm supposed to, no costumes. All the sudden this guy in street clothes, boom, off the top of a Jeep, knocks everybody's guns out of the way, and these three other guys, dressed in dumb-looking clothing mind you, come in and pound on 'em."
    "You're telling me somebody made a citizen's arrest on the Alley Cats?"
    "No—I gotta talk to Tybalt."
    A rolled eye. "Stay here." He went away, came back. "All right, come on."
    "I haven't actually seen him since the induction ceremony, and I was a goodly distance away...." the kid said nervously.
    "What number are you anyway?"
    "113, huh? Cool. He's right over there." The guard smiled nastily as he showed him into the audience chamber and took up a position by the door. The place had a certain collegiate atmosphere, in that it had been furnished with items other people had left on the curb at some point. Lounging there with a nubile young lady on each side was Tybalt himself. He wore a leather vest with no shirt, a huge cat tattoo covering much of his otherwise coppery skin.
    "Yeah?" he said in a bored tone. "I understand you screwed up as lookout."
    "I didn't screw up!"
    "I just heard that three of our boys are in jail... on a perfectly routine action... 'cause someone wasn't lookin' out. How is that not screwin' up?"
    113 stuttered for a moment. "It was Phoenix Talon!"
    "I see. You missed the bright orange costume?"
    "He was out of costume!"
    "Ah, I see. So you know what he looks like out of costume now?"
    Pause, realization. "Yeah, I do."
    "See? Sometimes it pays to have eyes." Tybalt smiled. "Now, if you'd used them, our boys wouldn't be in jail right now."
    "I told you, he bounced off the Jeep and knocked the guns away and blinded one of them—"
    A languidly raised hand. "All right. So, Phoenix Talon broke up one of the things, fine, we can deal with that."
    "But it wasn't just him! He had the Blood Boards with him!"
    Pause. "He had what?"
    "He was leadin' the Blood Boards."
    "You saw the boards?"
    "No, they weren't ridin' 'em."
    "They always ride them."
    "He told them not to ride them. He introduced them to the cops!"
    "Phoenix Talon's got the Blood Boards working for the cops?" He paused for a moment, came to a decision. "You know, you done good 113, bringing it out here to my attention. Very important. Plus you said you now know what he looks like when he's out of costume."
    "Yeah." Excitement warred with nervousness in his voice.
    "You think you could explain it to Maria here? I mean, she can draw."
    "Good. That's good." Tybalt relaxed. "You see? You still need your eyes, you still need your mouth. I notice you ran here awfully fast?"
    "Well yeah, after the cops left I split as soon as I could." Nervousness was winning.
    "I guess that means you don't need your legs so much, huh?" Tybalt matter-of-factly pulled a gun and blew out both of 113's knees with perfect accuracy. "So, you talk to Maria when you get that bandaged up. Stop screaming. You only need one lung to talk to her."
    The screams died into whimpering.
    "All right. So it looks like Phoenix Talon's gonna make himself more of a problem," he mused.
    "You been saying that you're gonna take care of him," the door guard ventured.
    "I'm gonna take care of him, just waitin' 'til the time's right. You'll notice that it's been a couple of months he's been out on patrol, you guys haven't run into him once. Why do you think that is? I'm tellin' ya, I got eyes. I know where he is and what he's doin'. So first thing we have to do is send the Blood Boards a little message not to be so active. And after that we'll deal with Mr. Phoenix Talon."

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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson