13 February, 2013


By the way, this has nothing to do with flowers. It's just the working title.

The first time I try to kill someone – or rather, people, and my gun dies on me. It doesn’t work. Serves me right for trusting one of Zack’s new untested inventions. I wish he’d hurry up and make those stun guns, or that the boss would let me use a tranq gun instead. She knows I’m not one to kill, although I am very good at being the bait or distracting rivals. I’m a good shot, I just can’t sum up the guts to shoot someone dead. I had always hoped that if it came down to it, something would happen would stop me before the life is taken. And it has. I guess Providence has got His eye on me. The problem is, once the bad guys realised my gun wasn’t working, they were quick to jump me and now I’m trussed up at the bottom of a giant plastic bin, in the middle of a leaky gas refinery. I reckon if Boss and Co don’t come save me soon, I’ll be a suffocated, trussed Tia at the bottom of a giant plastic bin. It’s already getting hard to breathe and I don’t like the sound of my cough.

“Tia! Tia, where are you?” I hear Boss calling.

“Here, Boss!” I struggle and kick as best as I can, knowing that she likely won’t be able to hear me. I’m told I have a rather soft voice and my shout is the equivalent of Jack’s normal voice. Since it’s worse at the moment due to my voice starting to fade, I thump my feet on the plastic wall of my prison with all my failing vigour. The entire bin begins to tip.


“There you are, Tia,” says Boss, dragging me out and cutting the cable ties. “Good job. We got it.”

“I had a bead on both of them,” I say, glaring at my gun, “but it malfunctioned on me.” I point at another plastic bin some distance away and shoot.


Oh, now it decides to work.

I thump it into Zack’s hand, glaring at the big melty hole in the distant bin.

“Fix it, Zack.”

“Come on, Tia,” Boss puts her arm around my shoulder and waves to April who is standing on the other side of the field of plastic bins to say all’s well. “Maybe a tranq gun would be a better idea for you.”

“I’ve been telling you,” I say and start coughing. I guess you could rather call it hacking and wheezing. It’s not much like a normal cough.

“The air’s not so good around here,” says Boss. “We’d better get you in the truck and seen to.”

“You think?” I cough. “I’ll bet those pipes leak more gas than they carry.”

“If they did,” says Boss, “you would have blown us all up just now.”

“Good point,” I say, my voice getting hoarser and hoarser, “but there was a strong breeze. Cold too. Boss, I’m losing my voice…”

“You’d better stop talking,” Boss says, gesturing to Zack to help support me on the other side. “I think you’re having a reaction to the gas.”

I think of how carbon monoxide can kill silently by taking up all your red blood cells so that there are none left for oxygen to take a ride in. I wonder what the gas in the plant is. My stomach turns and I feel like throwing up, but can’t, because my lungs appear to have stopped working and I’m choking.

“How you feeling?” April leans over me in the truck.

I blink at my blurry vision and the oxygen face mask obscuring half my vision. I give her a half-hearted thumbs up, glad to be able to feel the cool oxygen filling my lungs. I have yet to go on a mission where I haven’t almost died. One day. Maybe one day, there’ll be a mission where I’ll be the Boss’s dependable one, like the others and I won’t almost die.

“She’s feeling better, Boss,” April calls to where Boss is driving. “We’re relocating the critter to a more suitable environment,” April says more softly. “We reckon the Emerson Foothills should do the trick.”

I nod.

Plenty of caves and rubble there for the monster they caught to play hide and seek in. Plenty enough rabbits and other creatures for it to prey on who aren’t human and plenty far away enough into the wilderness that humans aren’t likely to disturb it for several decades. We hope.

“Who were we up against?” I ask.

“What?” April asks.

“Who were we up against? Competition?” I try to enunciate through the mask, but aren’t sure how good a job I’m doing.

“Sickels Society,” April makes a face. “Bounty hunters.”

“Why didn’t they kill me then?” I ask, looking at the giant carnivorous insect sleeping in the cage. “Why take the time to tie me up and stuff me in a bin?” I take the mask off so that they can hear me more clearly. “If they were bounty hunters, they would have killed me to get me out of the way. Boss, something ain’t right.”

“Search her,” Boss says to April, flicking her eyes at me in the mirror.

“Zack, turn around and shut your eyes,” April snaps, slapping Zack’s face around, “and Jack, if you so much as dare to peep through the mirror, I’ll ask Boss to put your eyes out.”

April and I search my clothes, hair and shoes. We find the tracker bug tucked into the tongue of my runners.

“Boss, we’ve got it,” April says. “They must be following us.”

“They must’ve known who we were beforehand,” Jack boomed. “April, can I open my eyes yet?”


“Tia, you feeling better?” Boss asks, looking at me through the mirror.

I take the oxygen mask off, knowing what she’s asking of me and suppress a cough.

“Yeah, Boss,” I say. “Shall I take a bike?”

“Yes,” she says, lifting an eyebrow at me. “You sure you’re ok to do this?”

“Sure, Boss,” I grin. “It’s my job, ain’t it?”

“All right,” Boss shrugs her shoulders. “We’re coming up to a petrol station. We’ll split up when the tanks are full.”

“Sure thing, Boss,” I try to supress a cough and Boss’s eyes narrow at me through the rear view mirror.

“Jack, you go with her,” Boss says. “Find a good position and sniper.”

“Shotgun the dirt bike,” Jack hollers, making me clap my hands to my ears.

“They’re both dirt bikes,” I mutter, suiting and gearing up. I tuck the tracker bug back into my shoe where we’d found it. Jack can be such a - a... I don't think there's any word for it. For now, I'll stick to 'ass'.

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