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28 October 2013 @ 06:44 am
FIC: Wheels, 1/1  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Wheels
Part: 1/1
Rating: R
Configuration: /
Warnings: /
Word Count: 3500
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Bobby Dover, M'tini, B'cardi
Summary: Buying a new set of wheels is never simple, but in Bobby's case might just lead to the beginning of an extraordinary friendship...
Feedback: Yes, please!

Sunlight was beaming down relentlessly onto the outskirts of Disari. Away from the beach and the gentle breeze, the air was stale and dusty, and here at the rear end of town it smelled of rotting garbage and fuel. But there was no way around it. Bobby needed a set of wheels, anything that he could afford, and there was only one junkjard slash used vehicle sale he could reach.

At least, Disari had a public transport network that was both affordable and working, not like the corporate-owned busses in Bellingham. And given the lovely weather, Bobby wouldn't have minded walking here. But he had two jobs, and getting out here cost him time he didn't really have.

But that was the whole point of his little expedition: The flat Vian had found him here in Disari was cheap and really nice, but it was also not really close by the café he worked in the afternoon and even further away from the music club he worked the night shift. Vian had gotten him a first-rate reduction on the rent, but Bobby still had to eat and everything, so money was scarce. Especially considering the prices here on P2.

However he turned it, Bobby couldn't waste four hours per day walking to his job, nor two hours and the fee for the busses. Bikes were nice at night, but ridiculously useless in the heat of the day - arriving at the cafe all sweaty and worked up was the last thing he could use. After all, most of his tips came from being pretty. So he needed something motorized and cheap to help him get over the first few months until he had a little better idea of where this whole thing was heading.

The Disari junkyard looked like so many other junkyards - vast, messy and pretty confusing. Everything was dusted with a fine layer of sand that stronger winds had blown here from the beach, and every here and there, tiny blue flowers grew between the carcasses of gliders and groundcars that seemed to be rotting here since decades. Nice enough for a junkyard, but Bobby was really more interested in the used vehicles this place was supposed to sell.

There was indeed an assortment of not-quite-rotting groundcars lined up at the road. But that wasn't what Bobby had in mind. He had thought of something with two wheels, something that used cheap fuel and was light enough so he could carry it up the stairs into his apartment on the fourth floor until someone fixed the lift. Yeah, right.

Taking a deep breath, Bobby stopped dawdling and walked into the corrugated steel container that, according to a hand-painted sign on top, contained the office. Of course, it was empty. It looked tidy enough, and pretty much as if someone had been working here until a few moments ago, but right now, it was completely deserted.

There was a bell on the desk, but after ringing a few times and waiting another five minutes, Bobby came to the conclusion that it was mostly ornamental.

He had almost decided to leave again when he heard the wail of some machine further back in one of the workshops. Knowing that he really, really needed some set of wheels, Bobby decided to be courageous for once and left the office in search for another living person. Outside, the noise was hard to overhear - some sort of more or less rhythmic wail that clearly came from the nearest workshop.

The path through the piles of junk was barred with a low-hanging chain, the enamel sign reading 'For authorized personnel only' scraping on the dusty ground. With a sigh, Bobby stepped over the symbolic fence when he noticed something odd.

Looking down, he found a small bundle of twigs tied to the back of the sign. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be a tiny broom, from a dollhouse or something, its handle painted bloody red.

With a smile, Bobby stayed clear of the little charm and continued walking towards the source of the noise he kept hearing. This junkyard was supposedly run by two Youh'Kai, brother and sister. At least that was what his colleague in the night shift had told Bobby, but the little charm seemed to agree with his story.

Even Bobby had heard the tale of Ynagra often enough to know what a red-handled broom meant to the Youh'Kai. It was a charm against anyone with evil intentions, and crazy beetle-eaters they were, basically every home had something like it. Well, Bobby admitted silently to himself - even he had one, now. Once he had moved into his own place in Disari, Vian's father Colin had shown up a mere twenty-four hours later.

Sir Colin had been very polite, a little embarrassed even. He had explained that being with Vian brought Bobby rather close to a family that dealt with all sorts of villains on a daily basis, and he had insisted on leaving a little charm just in case. So he had pulled out a little bundle of actual twigs and had nailed it to the lintel of the entrance door to Bobby's apartment. It looked innocuous enough, admittedly, and smelled rather nice. But it was a broom, even if maybe a symbolic one only. It sure did no harm other than looking funny, and since it was hanging there, no one with evil intention had crossed the threshold. Considering that Bobby couldn't even properly lock the door, that was quite an accomplishment already.

Besides the small broom, Bobby didn’t find any more trinkets on his way to the workshop, though. It was just an ordinary junkyard, as far as he was concerned, and hopefully a place where he could buy a set of wheels.

Once at the workshop, it didn’t take him long to find the source of the noise he had been following – the wide doors were standing open, and a young Youh’Kai woman was busy grinding some sort of curved sword on one of the stones, sparks flying in a wide arc.

“Hello?” Bobby tried to gain her attention, but to little avail. On top of the noise, she was wearing earplugs, and pretty obviously hearing some music. At least, the way she moved looked pretty much as if she were dancing to some tune.

“Hey, there, SORRY!” Bobby tried again, this time with more volume. “CAN YOU HELP ME?”

Apparently, with the last word he had stepped into her field of vision, because suddenly she spun around, sword in hand. Faster than Bobby could follow, she hurled the weapon away and instead pulled out a small gun that she had tugged into her belt, and aimed it quite expertly at Bobby.

“WHAT THE FUCK?” she yelled at him. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

Instinctively, Bobby raised his hands. Maybe her reaction was just a little over the top, but one didn’t argue with startled Youh’Kai, and besides, she really looked like she knew how to handle that gun.

Judging by her looks, she seemed a lot more comfortable with the gun in her hand than with anything else one would usually expect to find on a junkyard. She was only wearing rather tight tan cargo pants and a mostly clean white sports bra, leaving a lot of room to show of lean, hard muscle under her deep green skin. Her bone ridges were not carved, but painted in places, and her skin was tattooed with cheap, very pop-culture looking motives in garish tones of yellow and orange. Her hair was cut short and dyed a wild mix of orange and pink, although dark roots were showing. All together, she was probably the least Youh’Kai looking Youh’Kai Bobby had ever seen.

“I wanted to buy a motorbike.” Bobby tried to answer her, his hands still raised, but his words were drowned out by the sound of the still running machine.

The woman frowned, then took out her headphones. Politely, Bobby pointed at the machine without lowering his hands. She frowned again, but then switched it off, never taking her eyes of Bobby or lowering her gun.

“What the fuck do you want?” she asked, this time without yelling. “Who sent you?”

“I wanted to buy a motorbike.” Bobby stated again, though his interest was waning by the second. Being held at gunpoint wasn’t necessarily a good way to establish customer trust. “You sell them, I need one.”

“Nobody comes here to buy anything,” she spat.

None the less, her aggression seemed to diminish at least a little. Not enough for her to lower her gun, but at least she didn’t clench her jaws any longer. She was surprisingly pretty, Bobby realized, even though it was in a rather harsh, unromantic way, and only a few years older than himself. Just in case, he didn’t lower his hands just yet.

“I was told I could come here for a good deal,” Bobby started again. “But if it’s the wrong time, I could try to find something somewhere else…”

She was just about to answer as one of the back doors of the workshop was pushed open and one of the biggest Youh’Kai Bobby had ever seen came in, carrying a huge tire in each of his arms.

He froze as soon as he spotted Bobby being held at gunpoint by the Youh’Kai woman, his face a cautious, mildly annoyed frown.

“What’s going on?” he asked, his voice a rumbling basso.

“He just appeared out of nowhere!” she snapped, wriggling her gun at Bobby.

“I was trying to buy a motorbike.” Bobby stated once more, not quite managing to keep his own irritation out of his voice.

But apparently, the huge Youh’kai didn’t care one bit about the ruffled feathers on either of them.

“Goodness, sis, get a grip.” He picked up the tires again and hauled them onto a pile in one corner. “We need customers.”

“He could have seen ANYTHING!” she insisted, pretty much ignoring Bobby by now.

“So what,” her brother replied with a shrug. “The illegal stuff’s all in the rear.”

His sister reacted with an angry hiss, her dark skin turning a shade darker still. But at least, she stopped pointing her gun at Bobby, and instead put it back into the rear of her pants, which Bobby took as a clue he was allowed to take down his hands, finally.

“Also, if I wanted to cause any trouble,” Bobby attempted to show off his knowledge of Youh’Kai culture, “I wouldn’t have been able to pass the Ynagra charm on the way here.”

“The what?!” the sister asked, her face showing that she was thinking about expressions a lot less polite.

“Ynagra, sis,” her brother jumped in. Seeing nothing but vaguely insulted confusion on her face, he added: “The charm mum forced us to put up? The one that’s supposed to keep evil away?”

“You believe in that shit?” she asked Bobby, now genuinely surprised.

“Huh, I?” This was definitely not going the way Bobby had thought it would. “Don’t know. Most Youh’Kai I’ve met did believe it, though.”

“What fucking feral freaks have you met?”

"Those who live on Espen?"

"There's feral Youh'Kai on Espen?" She genuinely seemed appalled by the thought. "Damn, one more reason never to go there."

Apparently not considering Bobby a threat any longer, she picked up the sword from the floor and cleaned the blade on the leg of her pants. With a professional expression, she examined the edge, frowned, and walked over to another machine. The thing broke into a hellish howl as soon as she switched it on, making it quite obvious that she considered her part in the conversation over.

Luckily, her brother had a little more sense for business than her. With a conspiring smile, he gestured Bobby to follow him out of the workshop. As soon as they were outside, he closed the heavy, barn-style doors, locking in most of the noise.

"Please excuse my sister," he said with a wide smile. "She doesn't get along too well with people."

"No harm done," Bobby replied as politely as he could. "Though it was a close call for sure."

The Youh'Kai had one of the most unusual skin colors Bobby had ever seen, a pale green that was best described as 'creamed leeks'. Especially now in the sunlight, it had a matte, make-up look that was so odd that Bobby had a hard time not staring. The bulging muscles he was sporting under his cheap undershirt didn't make it any easier.

"So, you said you wanted a motorbike?" his companion asked. "Are you looking for anything special?"

"Cheap." With a shrug and a wry smile, Bobby added: "I'm quite short on cash, but I need something to get to work, so...

"Okay, and apart from cheap? What kind of engine?"

"No idea. Cheap?" That one brought him a wide smile from his companion.

"I think I get your point. M'tini will probably kill me for this, but I think with a little bit of luck we can cobble something together that shouldn't be too expensive."

"Sorry, who?" Bobby asked, rather sure he must have had misheard the name.

"M'tini, my sister." With a gruff sound, he extended his hand to Bobby. "And I'm B'cardi, by the way."

Bobby still wasn't too sure he had heard that right.

"Those are... really unusual names," he said, shaking the offered hand mostly in reflex.

"Goodness, yes, tell me about it." Apparently, B'cardi had heard that remark quite a few times before already. "Our parents thought we ought to have human names, so we wouldn't stick out so much."

"They really named you after drinks?"

"What can I say, they had a funny phase at that time of their lives. It still beat the other options by a mile, if you ask me. Hypie and Alex, can you believe it?"

"No, actually, not really." Damn, those kids had really been lucky if those had been the other options. "But I agree, it could have been much worse."

B'cardi laughed, a deep, rumbling sound that was imminently charming. "We've had those names all our lives, so don't worry. Do you have a name, too?"

"I'm Bobby, Bobby Dover. Sorry, but your names really made me lose a beat there."

Again, B'cardi grinned. Quietly, he beckoned Bobby to follow him into a ramshackle shed that ran along most of the far side of the junk yard. Inside, it was dark, hot and dusty, and the smell of motor oil and fuel was thick in the air.

"Here we keep the stuff we might still take apart for spares," B'cardi explained. "I've got a moped here that should work fine for you."

"A moped..." Bobby replied slightly unenthusiastic. That sounded a lot less sexy than he had hoped, but then again, if it really was such a bargain... "How much?"

"Don't know. Thirty credits?" the Youh'Kai suggested. "I tried fixing the headlights, but I eventually gave up. No idea why the fucking thing isn't working. I could take it apart, but it'll be years until we'd need a single spare of that kind, so..."

With a pleased grunt, B'cardi shoved a pile of dusty tarpaulins aside and produced a slightly tired-looking moped from underneath. The formerly blue paint was faded to the color of moldy rice and dotted with a fine misting of rusty specks much like freckles.

"It's a good model," B'cardi added further, "it'll probably still run in a century or so, if it hasn't rusted to bits by then. Runs on electricity from the standard grid, so fuel shouldn't be a problem."

A moped without headlights was pretty much the last thing Bobby would have wanted to buy, but on the other hand, thirty credits was a great deal less than he had feared. At least, at this price he could give it a try and see if he could figure out a way of not getting killed on the road at night with this thing.

"Sounds fine with me," Bobby said finally. "Can you show me how to ride it?"


B'cardi lifted the moped off the ground and hauled it from its corner, barely showing more effort than it would have taken for an empty shopping cart. Wordlessly, he pushed it out into the yard, and Bobby followed him on his heel. A bit reluctant, he asked the question that had been bothering him since he initially decided to buy a set of wheels. "Will I need a license for this kind of vehicle?"

"Huh?" B'cardi looked up, genuinely confused. "What kind of license?"

"Some sort of driver's license, you know, officially documenting I'm not a threat to the public on that thing."

Again, B'cardi laughed, this time with a decidedly dark edge. "You really haven't been here very long, have you?"

Bobby shook his head, not really understanding how he had exposed himself as an off-world bumpkin once again.

"I mean, this ain't Imperial City, thank God," the Youh'Kai explained. "But it's still P2, and everyone here's a threat to public health. You think all these nobles on their ridiculously expensive hoverbikes will allow anyone to tell them how to drive? No, dear, as long as you don't want to join the taxi drivers' guild or something like that, nobody is going to ask you for anything like that. Just remember that cutting off a noble will give him a reason for cutting off your head, and you'll be fine."

"This... really sounds like I am very far from home."

"Considering the few things I know about Espen, I'm inclined to agree."

Indeed, he was very far from home here, Bobby agreed. And the thought that most people driving some sort of vehicle here had only the barest training made him eye the whole traffic with even more distrust than he had before. As much as he had cursed on Espen and at its countless rules and regulations, there was a certain feeling of safety that was distinctively missing here on P2.

"Nice ink," B'cardi remarked suddenly.


Instead of an answer, the Youh'Kai pointed at Bobby's side where his skinny T-shirt had slipped up and revealed the sinuous, green curves of Mother G'dina's tattoo that ran along his sides.

"I've never seen anything like this," he added, cocking his head as if that allowed him to see the parts of the tattoo still hidden by Bobby's shirt. "Is it a ba'ata? It almost looks as if one could read it."

"Not as far as I know," Bobby replied, a little flattered by the attention. "But it has been done by a priestess of Khastai, so maybe the style's similar to a ba'ata."

"Seriously?" B'cardi's expression was an impressive mix between awe and apprehension. "Damn, you're more Youh'Kai than me, then. I mean, I've never met one of her priests, but fucking hell I would never let any of them do my ink. Those few I have hurt enough."

Bobby shrugged, once again silently astonished by the bragging rights his tattoos brought him among the Youh'Kai. "I don't know. My Youh'Kai friends on Espen told me I was crazy, too. But they also considered it a great honor, and she was quite convincing. Also, I got it for free, so - how could I say no?"

"Fucking beetle eaters," B'cardi chuckled, eyeing Bobby from head to toe. "You like Youh'Kai hard rock?"

"I do. Quite a lot, actually." Bobby had to grin, remembering his first outing with T'sule and his gang that one Bonfire Night. "Why are you asking?"

"My sister and I are in a band. Just trying to get our first proper contract, and we have a gig tonight." Smiling widely, his pointy teeth oddly non-treatening, he pulled a folded-up flyer from his back pocket and handed it to Bobby. "Here. I think it would be cool if you came."

"Thank you." Their show tonight was in some shady club at the fringe of Disari's night-club district, and actually not far away from where he was working. He could make it after work, if he wanted to. "You really think this is a good idea? I mean, your sister nearly shot me only a few minutes ago."

"Nah, she likes you. If she didn't she wouldn't have wasted her time talking, you know?"

Seeing that B'cardi meant that exactly the way he had said it, Bobby's smile grew a little shaky. But then again, the thought of finding new friends here on P2 besides Vian was rather comforting, even more so when those friends were Youh'Kai who knew how to handle their guns.

"Sure, I'll see if I can come once my shift is over," Bobby accepted the invitation. "I am sure it'll be great."

"Cool." Turning his attention back to the moped, B'cardi started: "It's really not much more complicated than riding a bike, you know? Look, here's the starter button, and here's...."

Milady OMlady_om on October 29th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
Ok, complete and utter shame on me... Martini is my favorite drink and I did not catch M'tini until you spelled it out :(

“What fucking feral freaks have you met?”
"Those who live on Espen?"
Haha! Home sweet home, I guess :)
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on October 29th, 2013 02:07 pm (UTC)
Hehe. M'tini and B'cardi have been inspired by a discussion here on this site, actually, somewhere in the comments to one of the Thombert stories. So, here you go, tho recurring characters named after a thread on LJ. :D

Living on P2 takes quite some adjustment for Bobby, but not all of it is bad, I can assure you.

Thanks for commenting!
BerthaBlueberthablue on February 10th, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
Yay! The cocktail themed characters!

I love Bobby's Youh'Kai honorary membership :) He fits in so well!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 5th, 2014 07:59 am (UTC)
As promised when we realized that T'mar's mother sounded like a beverage. ^^

And Bobby fitting in with the Youh'Kai - that's the plan. :)