The only thing on my mind right now: How to spell Taskerone? It used to be Tasker One. They changed it in the early noughties to reflect the pronunciation. I’m not sure what difference it made. Didn’t make any difference to me as I waited to be conferred with the title. But the thought kept me sane.
To say I was nervous, would be some gross understatement. Youngest T-One to ever be conferred. The media were all over that. Gut-wrenching to say the least. Flashing lights and voices everywhere trying to gain my attention. All I wanted to do was bolt and meet my best mate for a beer. Though Elliott would be elsewhere, checking his armoury.
My assistant, Melissa, was giving me the eye, indicating that I was not paying enough attention.
Blinking, I fought to find the owner of the voice. Horn rimmed glasses shoving a furry microphone in my face. That galvanised me. Stay outta my canoe. People don’t get in my personal space. It’s kind of a thing that is quick to set me off.
“Yes?” Less annoyed, Tav… “I apologise, can you ask that again?”
“Prisoner seventy-seven, Commander. What are your plans for him?”
The question was inoffensive. I knew that. Everyone knew that. Lachlan Douglas was a threat to the order. The General himself decreed it so. I agreed. I don’t agree…Lachlan is a childhood friend…
Forcing a smile, I said, “I will need to review his case before making a final decision.” I caught Melissa’s eye again, and this time her gaze was somewhat approving. One point for the new Commander.
There was some general questions about the new structure of Council and bringing in a new curfew. It was all quite tedious and I made my escape when it was polite to do so.
Melissa joined me out in the corridor, walking with me.
“That went better than I thought it would, Commander.”
I reminded myself that she was the General’s daughter, counted to ten then looked sideways at her. “It’s Daniel.”
She remained tight-lipped as she said, “The General will speak with you about Prisoner seventy-seven’s sentencing this afternoon, Commander.”
“You know you look pretty when you smile, Melissa.” I know. Not the smartest thing to say. She just glared at me.
“Your friend also wanted to see you once the conferring ceremony was over.”
I sighed, thanking her with a nod and left, making my way to find Elliott.
He was where he always was. My room. Bottles of beer littering the bed. Along with his assorted firearms. He was in the middle of cleaning his prized possession. A sawn-off shot gun. Ancient piece of junk. But it still worked. I’d seen him fire it on the range.
He looked up. His eyes were blood-shot. That was some cause for concern.
Elliott set the gun down, squinting at me. “Are you?”
Lifting my eyebrows I think was enough of an answer to last him a while. Though I was far from all right. Who knew what the General would say about Lachlan. And who the Hell knew why I even gave a flying rats…
I took one of the unopened beers before parking my ass opposite him. He continued to stare at me through his slitted eyelids before letting out a groan, which kind of sounded like somebody’s name. But I wasn’t too sure.
“Come again, mate?”
“Pips. Gotta pick him up.”
His brother; Pips Preston. Or Phillip as I called him, just to annoy him. No one else called him that. I’m guessing his parents used to. But, they’re not in the picture anymore.
That’s another thing. I’m crazy about names. Proper names. Weird names. Hobby of mine. Collecting names. Should probably put that to better use, though. Like remembering the names of all my subordinates at The Creed. Melissa is the only one that comes to mind…
“Didn’t know he was due for release?”
Pips was a career criminal. Surprising they were letting him go, considering he attempted to blow up Council Hall. Insane, right? He said it was to make a point. Not sure I understood what his point was. He was passionate about it, whatever it was.
Elliott looked at me, eyebrows lifting. “No? Would’ve thought they’d tell you that.”
I shook my head, though I might’ve been told…probably not paying attention.
He shrugged at me before returning to his shotgun running an oiled cloth over the barrel. I sat, watching him in silence, and sipping from my beer.
We spent a lot of time like this. It was comfortable. Talking wasn’t something I was known for. And, Elliott always took his cues from me. It didn’t serve any purpose, we just felt content in each other’s’ company. Been that way since high school. Yeah, we’ve known each other that long.
It was odd. No one approved of Elliott Preston. Especially not now. He was a bounty hunter. Law unto his own. My best friend. Beer buddy. Not to make light of our relationship, we’re there for each other. And, I guess this was another of those times.
“Want me to come with?” I said, causing Elliott to shoot a surprised look my way.
I lifted my shoulders, tilting my beer and watching as the golden liquid swirled in the bottom. “Need to go down there anyway.”
He set the gun down and leaned forward, bracing his hands on his thighs. He said nothing though, just furrowed his brow at me. I let my lips twist into a smile. He huffed, his fringe flipping up a little.
“Knock yourself out, buddy.”
Finishing off my beer, I murmured that I’d do exactly that, before leaning my head back against the wall and closing my eyes.