Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an Amortization? or his Tongue with a Bribe which thou lettest down?
rating: +37+x

Dr. Crow listened intently to the commotion about him. Strained heaves and half-uttered curses found their way to his ears, the chorus of some dozen rail workers loading no-doubt overfilled crates into the boxcar against which he leaned.

Though he couldn't see it, the sun hung high overhead, pouring down a furnace's fire onto the dry, dusty train platform. Crow held his neat black bowler hat in hand, using the billycock as a makeshift fan. Pathos laid down on the rough timber floor planks, panting faster than any locomotive.

Sweat ran in great rivulets down the annoyed doctor's face and neck, salt stinging his eyes, closed though they were. He pictured himself in the train's luxurious statecar, wafting the cool breeze of a bucketful of ice towards his face with his silk kerchief.

"Hnngg… What?" The surprised, relieved yell from one of the workers snapped Crow from his ruminations. "Boss, I don't think this one got anything put into it. Feels like it's empty."

"Lazy asses. Send it back to 'em and don't take it back 'till it's full of coal, dammit." The foreman's gruff voice called back. The worker knelt down to grip the crate, though his annoyed grunt was cut off as he turned to face the black-spectacled, dapper fop whose shadow suddenly blocked out the harsh sun.

"Eh, whaddyer want?" The gruff worker snapped, taking the moment to dry his soaked brow with the coarse hair of his forearm.

"Good afternoon, sir. I am Dr. Crow, with the United States government." Out from his breast pocket flashed a bi-folded leather wallet, flipping open to reveal a gold badge and identifying paperwork. "Could you do me the favor of checking if this emblem, here," He pointed to the raised union seal adorning his badge, "Is present stamped on yonder crate?"

The gruff man rose, squinting as the sun glare hit his eyes again. He inspected the badge, the paperwork, and the slightly uncomfortable man presenting them. Finally, he shot another inquisitive look at the foreman, who stood on, watching with as much confusion as his employee, though not without the presence of mind to nod his assent.

"Yeah, it's stamped here, really small at the bottom." The worker discovered after many long moments of searching.

"Splendid. Well, then, it needs to be loaded onto the train."

"…This empty crate?"

"…Yes. That empty crate."

Staring down a blind man was a losing battle from the outset, but it took nearly a minute for the rail worker's pride to finally break. "Harassin' honest workin' folk to haul empty boxes," He grumbled as he bent to lift the crate, "My tax dollars hard at work."

Two brothers sat beneath the train station's wood awning, twin plumes of smoke rising from their cigarettes. They paid little mind to the dwindling line of patrons boarding the passenger car nearby, their attention still drawn towards the workers loading the last of their freight. Towards Dr. Crow finally boarding a private car towards the back of the line.

"You 'spect that lean chap is with the state, Beryl?"

"Aye, t'wouldn't surprise me none if he were, Chris."

Several long moments passed as the two casually burned down their slender cigarettes, observing the foreman close and lock the freight car's heavy sliding door. The conductor stood at the entrance to the passenger car, taking tickets from the final boarding dregs.

"He's certain 'ta have plenty deep pockets, dontcha 'fink?"

"C'mon, now, Chris, you said we was just gonna nip out to a bank real quick like…"

"It's still near 'ta twenty miles 'ta the closest bank. We can jus' take it from 'im, and head right on back."

"ALL ABOARD!" the conductor cried, sounding the locomotive's shrill, thunderous whistle. Within moments, the wheels of the great iron monstrosity began churning, slowly at first, but soon building to great speed. The noisome grind of metal on metal built as the lumbrous iron beast belched a mighty gout of smoke.

"Alright, fine, whatever gets us outta this heat the quickest." Beryl pulled a final drag on his smoke, letting the butt fall to the ground, treading on it as he stood. He watched his brother flick his away, and straighten his tie.

In an instant, the rough wooden planks of the railway platform were sent flying explosively back, splintering apart from the immense force of the brothers setting off at a run to catch the rapidly departing train.

The gentle rocking of the stately train-car set Crow's mind at ease. After months in frontier towns at the country's edge, he had nearly forgotten the luxuries of modern automation.

Though Crow had to admit, when he'd envisioned himself fanning icy cool vapors onto his face, it had not included a golden retriever frantically burying its face and paws into the ice bucket. But he would take what he could get.

He tried to take his mind off of the crate, now safely stowed in the boxcar, and let out sigh after sigh, hoping one of them would be relaxed. With a sudden, rough jerk of the train sending his balance and ice bucket crashing to the ground, Crow suspected he wouldn't be successful anytime soon.

"Sorry 'bout that little shake-up, folks." an unfamiliar, tinny voice cut through the brass voice-cone affixed in the cabin. "The captain just, erm… flew through the wall. For no readily apparent reason."

"Is a half hour of peace and quiet really such an unreasonable request?" Crow inquired of Pathos, as the two found their feet. The dog's cold nose against his hat was the only response forthcoming. "Well, whoever that was, we can only assume they're after our little parcel." Pathos barked his agreement.

The doctor found a metal footlocker tucked away in the corner of the private car, and grinned as the lock clicked open to a key that had come with his job. He steadied his breathing and his mind went quickly to work formulating a plan.

The brothers made their way back through the traincar doors, and into the passenger cabin, to a sea of a hundred faces watching them with fear and awe. They brushed aside inane questions about the hijacking, and pushed on to the next car in line.

One particularly brave passenger, who decided he was going to get some answers out of these two limey Brits, wound up getting himself tossed through a window by Chris. No one said much to them after that.

At last they opened the door to a private car, abandoned save for the excited golden retriever that jumped up at their entrance, sending several heavy objects to the ground and darting for the open door. Beryl snatched a scrap of paper which had been stuffed, alongside some metal pins, into the dog's collar as it passed, pulling it open to reveal the brief message hastily scrawled onto it.

"Sorry I can't stay and chat. Hope you have a blast."

"'Ey, Beryl, those round things look like gren—"


The exploding grenades rocked the railcars, blowing open the rear door of the private car, and shredding and soiling the suits of the hijackers. Chris gingerly touched his face, feeling for his mustache, letting out a sigh of relief to find it intact.

"'Ya know, Chris, I get the feeling he might not want to talk to us."

"Whatever'd give 'ya that impression, Beryl?"

Shrugging to his brother's question, Beryl pushed forward, walking towards the now-open rear door. "Let's just get our money and get outta here so I can get a new suit on, yea?

Stepping briefly out into the exposed air between cars, he quickly flung open the next car's door, revealing a boxcar filled with crates, and the incredulous Dr. Crow.

"What on Earth are you two?" the doctor asked, his derringer pointed at the doorway.

"We're just simple men, tryin' to get some reimbursement from Uncle Sam for a debt 'e owes." Chris replied, striding forward.

"Well, I'm quite afraid that if it's the plagued blood sample in my crate you're after, I can't let you have it." The two-shot derringer fired both barrels, sending a spray of lead which Chris casually swatted aside.

"Oi, it ain't some blood we're after." Chris stalked forward, taking the gun from Crow's hand, towering over him.

"Well… then. What do you gentlemen want?" Crow smiled meekly, long out of options.

The two brothers exchanged gazes, Beryl shrugging and nodding.

Chris pondered a moment, turning back to Crow. "We need about $3.50."

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