Shoulda' Stayed in Dubai
rating: -50+x

Messrs. Skeffington and Branks of Marshal, Carter, and Dark's 'acquisitions firm' were very much not men to be trifled with, yet as he heated a slim knife blade with his pocket lighter and reached for a pair of pliers from the toolbox in his associate's hands, Branks began to glower with the realisation that they had been trifled with very much indeed. The grin on the face of the young man restrained on the table of the small Palestinian safe house (which Branks had 'acquired' by the simple means of shooting the former occupant) began to fade as the knife gained an angry red glow. The young man spoke, his voice still a thinly controlled calm.

"Now really, gentlemen, is this necessary?" The man gave them what must be said was quite a convincing smile from someone in his position, obviously still hoping (unreasonably) to talk his way out of his precarious situation. Branks responded by pressing the flat of the heated blade firmly against the pale skin of the man's chest, wrinkling his broken nose at the unpleasant smell of burning flesh.

After his initial howl of pain had died down to a panting whimper, the young man said nothing, looking pleadingly at his captors, his eyes begging for release. None was forthcoming. Branks and his partner spent the night and well into the next day twisting and burning and ripping, questioning and confirming until they were certain they had extracted the truth from their captive. And what an unfortunate truth for him it was…

Jack Dawkins was having a very interesting morning. Making his way across the middle east on a whim, still riding the rush and the payoff of an enormously successful few days in Dubai, he'd woken up after a night's celebration in a small city on the Gaza Strip with no memory of how he'd gotten there. Swearing to never drink again (He always did), he checked to make sure his backpack was with him, rifled through to check its contents, then walked to the lobby of his hotel and asked the concierge in fluent Arabic to check him out. Paying the bill with a forged French travelers cheque, he signed it 'Jaques Aliasse' and presented it to the smaller man with a grin and a handful of 50 sheqalim notes by way of a tip. As the man spluttered Arabic gratitudes for such generosity, Jack asked for directions to the nearest bank, then headed cheerfully on his way.

As he walked, Jack hummed himself, a cheerful spring in his step. The day had started out so nicely. He'd only made it a few hundred yards when he heard a loud cracking sound. The historic paving stones of Yatta's ancient street gave way beneath him, and he fell into darkness amid a cloud of dust and masonry. When he sat up, blinking in the half light, he saw a man with his arm around a mannequin, pointing a pistol at him.

"Ow," said Jack.

The man said nothing, keeping the gun leveled at Jack's head.

"Iz zis how everyone in Israel greets one anuzzer?" Jack asked in French accented English, raising his eyebrows as the mannequin stared blankly ahead with huge doe eyes. "If I am interrupting something, monsieur, you need only direct me toward zee exit and I will happily leave you to it." He nodded, holding up empty hands in a gesture of unconcerned goodwill. As soon as the man begun to lower his gun, Jack hit him in a flying tackle, sending the gun and the mannequin clattering into the shadows, then scrambled to his feet and ran. "Fucking Israel…"

After a short time, Jack emerged back onto the streets of Yatta. Glancing around to see that no one was watching, he pulled out the wallet he'd snatched mid-tackle from the gunman in the catacombs and began flipping through it. It contained only a small amount of cash, a hotel key, and a driver's license, along with a black plastic credit card, unlabeled but for a silver logo bearing the initials MC&D. Jack pocketed cash and cards, tossing the empty wallet into the shadows. "That should teach you not to go around pulling guns on people." With a shrug, Jack turned the corner and walked to the bank he'd been headed for initially, stepping carefully on the crumbling streets.

Arriving at the bank, Jack waited patiently for an open teller. When a spot at the counter became available, Jack gave his most friendly smile and spoke in Arabic with a carefully cultivated American accent. "Hi… My name is Chisa Eel and I'm afraid I've lost my credit card information… I'm an American citizen here on business, and I really must make a withdrawal." He slid the card and ID across the counter to the teller, who spent a few moments humming and typing noisily on an outdated computer.

"I'm sorry sir, but the system seems to be unable to process your request. If you'd follow me, I'll take you to the manager's office and see if we can get this sorted out." The teller led Jack down a short hallway to a small, tastefully decorated office. Inside, a swarthy Arabic man in an exquisitely tailored suit sat at the desk, engrossed in a phone call.

"Yes. Yes. I see. Of course we will. This bank has the sensitivity of our clients investments at the forefront of our minds. They'll be arriving shortly? Good, good. And a good day to you as well." He hung up the phone and stood, giving Jack a warm smile and a firm handshake. "Mister Eel, it's good to meet you. I'm terribly sorry for the hassle, and I'm sure we'll be able to get your difficulties cleared up in no time. First, however, I'm afraid I need to visit the restroom, so if you'll wait here?" The banker gestured to an overstuffed leather chair in front of the desk. "I'll be only a moment."

Nodding, Jack took a seat, glancing around the office as the man walked out, closing the door behind him with a soft click. His curiosity lasted only a few moments, however, before his brain registered the importance of that click. Rising, panic building in his chest, Jack tried the door. Locked. "Fuuuuuuuuuuck…"

A couple of hours later, the soft scrape of a key in a lock alerted Jack that the door was being unlocked. grabbing a heavy paperweight from the desk, Jack strode quickly to the door and pressed himself against the wall, so that when it opened he'd be hidden behind it. Soon enough, the door swung open, and a person entered the office. Jack brought the paperweight down in an arc into the back of the person's head, and they slumped to the floor unconscious. It was the banker from before. Dropping the weight, Jack sprang over the prone banker and dove out the door…

…Directly into the arms of a large man in a greasy suit who'd plainly been waiting for him to do just that. "Heyo Branksy, looks like we've got our thief," the man said offhandedly in a cockney accent as he brought a small cosh down on Jack's skull. Clearly, these were not men to be trifled with.

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