The Washborne Plantation was beautiful, one of the nicest Rajah had ever stepped foot on, either as a free woman or before. The trees were tall and lovely, unscorched by fire. The pathways well maintained and laid straight.
But it was all a mask, a thin veneer of silver over shit.
The body of the overseer dangled above her, a gaping hole where his face had been beat in. She watched it’s mesmerizing swing, wondered how good it must have felt to the Iron Slave who had pulverized those bones, how often she had wanted to do the same. She wondered if the slave considered it worth the thirty brass bounty now on his head…
Night fell, sticky cool on her skin. There was a red glow to her right on the path and she broke off her conversation to watch the muscled Irons walking by. The group stumbled to a halt in front of one of the former barracks and she strode into the middle of them, catching snatches of conversation.
“Little Big here got us out. We’re free now, but not sure what to do with ourselves. We just went to the Saloon and got hootch.” Adrenaline coursed through her veins. She looked hard at the Iron’s bloody knuckles and adopted a coy smile.
“Little Big? How’d he get that name?” she quipped, “Hootch is just the first of many pleasures enjoyed by freemen… Let me help you.” she tugged the big one away, off to her curtained business.
Thirty brass was a lot of money. Not the most she’d ever held, but it would greatly help her recover her losses due to the blockade, she mused as she pocketed the Iron’s two brass and pulled her vest off her shoulders. The man beside her sighed, the candlelight and his glowing skin showing the tension draining from his face and shoulders. She pushed him down with one hand, fingers twitching towards the handle of her dagger.
This was the coin flip. How many times had she been on either side now? This life was full of the struggles between the users and the used. It was never a question of justice, only of who was to be crushed beneath the necessity of survival.
Her strain sang in her blood, predatory, sensing a bared throat in which to sink her fangs of greed and power.
“I’ll be right back.” she stepped to the doorway, called for House. “Go to the saloon, bring me the wanted poster hanging there for ‘Little Big’.” she whispered, he disappeared and she returned to her customer with an apologetic smile.
When it was over, the two Vegasians stood together on the steps of the Saloon as she straightened her skirts. “Don’t tell anyone what I did. It’ll ruin my reputation.” Rajah threatened.
“I won’t tell anyone.” House promised solemnly and she grinned at him.
“Did you know there is a bounty on your head?” she murmured to the Iron, watching the wariness return to his face. “For killing the Overseer.”
“No, I didn’t know.” Little Big replied warily, looking down at his fists.
Rajah nodded. “I suggest getting out of Bravo as soon as you can. It won’t be safe so long as they’re looking for you.”
“Thank you for telling me.” The Iron said earnestly. She grasped his glowing hand in her pale one, eyes meeting in the candlelight. “I’ve been where you are now. It gets better.” she reassured, helping him get dressed and sending him on his way.
The predator in her blood snarled and snapped, watching the glow of its prey disappear into the night. Its hunger still sang through her veins, but it was getting easier to ignore it.