Coffee Break Read – Screen Addict

Faust made up half of a team of two brothers. The younger and the more annoying half and a temporary resident in Voltz as he formed part of a team set up to work on an ongoing project. As far as Avilon was concerned if the team included Faust, he did not want to be a part of it.
As soon as he entered the bar, a slight frisson passed through certain segments of its patrons. One or two offered a terse nod, most avoided his eye and a couple even got up and headed out. His reputation in Voltz grew all the time.
He found Faust crouched on one of the well-padded side benches, a remote visor concealing his eyes from view, making strange noises as if imitating some kind of fast firing weapon. Now and then he would twitch his hands, manipulating things only he could see. Avilon grabbed his arm and pulled the visor up. Faust’s eyes looked pale and watery, those of a subterranean creature. Removing the visor was like lifting a stone and finding something squirming and hideous underneath. Faust hissed like a snake and tried to snatch the visor back. Avilon ripped it away, dropped it on the floor and crushed it with his foot.
“Play time is over. Shame Cullen wants to talk to you.”
Faust pushed up fast from the bench with the strength of his legs, throwing his entire body forward, and tried to sink his teeth into Avilon’s face.
It was like handling a wild animal. Worse. He could not use lethal force. Worse. It was in full view of the entire bar on a crowded session. If he let it go on for more than a moment or two he could expect to get a few half-humorous jeers, longer and he would be being mocked by half the bar. He could not afford that.
In the end, he opted for a simple but effective arm-break lock, manoeuvred the feral screen addict through the iris valve door and spun him around, ramming him up against the wall, as it closed behind them. Then he said in a very calm voice: “If you make me go through that one more time, Faust, I will break all the fingers on both your hands – one after the other.”
An idle threat. Shame Cullen needed Faust operational, but Avilon was willing to bet Faust himself could not be sure of it. The younger man looked up at him with limpid eyes and smiled.
“I think you might enjoy that a bit too much,” he said.
“Oh, I would. So don’t give me the opportunity.” But Avilon had no way to be sure whether or not the message penetrated Faust’s skull.

From Trust A Few, which is the first volume in Haruspex Trilogy of Fortune’s Fools by E.M. Swift-Hook. You can listen to this on YouTube.

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