Yeah. It was a big fucking city. Of course it was also
one of the only two left on Earth,
and that was beginning to be a problem, but it was still a big fucking
city, and one to be
proud of. Ariko chewed his pinkey nail and looked back down at
the little man in the suit
at his feet.
Ariko sighed. customers were always so pushy. He shook
his head vaguely, which did
not mean no, and looked back at the impressive scape before him.
Dusty clouds of smoke
wafted between the pointed tops of the tall upper class building, billowing
and roiling as
soon as it left the atmospheric control bubble that was all around
the great city. He raised
his little finger to his lips again and his little employer drew in
his breath past his teeth in
irritation, tapping one foot and cocking his head to one side.
Ariko was from the slums. he had no family,
no home, nothing, except the money he
could make stealing and hiring himself out as a professional killer.
which was what he
happened to be doing now. He was dressed in mostly black and
silver, black slightly
baggy pants with a silver chain around his waist. His pale chest
was completely bare,
something that his rich employer couldn't seem to deal with quite right,
but Ariko didn't
care much. His shock of black hair wasn't cared for at
all. he really didn't mind it. every
once and a while he hacked it off with his knife, but only when it
in the way, otherwise he
couldn't be bothered. So it just sat in a splash on his head,
his clear blue eyes sparkling
intelligently under one strand that always fell across his face.
no matter how short he
hacked it. His eyes flickered slightly now, as rapid gunshot
rattled below the huge Tor
they stood on. If the little businessman heard it, he didn't
show it, and instead turned at
Ariko and drew his breath in again, as if to speak, but the assassin
beat him to it.
"yeah. I guess I'll do it."
shorty smiled contentedly and started to say something else, frowning
as Ariko interrupted
him yet again.
His already red face turned slightly redder. Ariko watched it
do so with interested
"half!!! but what if you just walk off?????"
"and what if you walk off without paying me?"
slightly redder, almost a bright shade of
the little politician looked flustered, glanced at Ariko, and looked
"oh all right."
The thief smiled and turned away, glad that it was agreed, glad that
his employer knew
who was really in charge. He looked down at the slums at the
Tor's feet again, thinking
distractedly about his father and ignoring the little man beside him.
There wasn't much to
think about his father. The man had been an assassin and had
consequently slept with
some black-haired whore. The result: the tiny little black-haired
Ariko. His mother had died in child birth and he had found his
father through one of her
friends, a beggar who had known him since birth. Ariko hadn't
met his father until he was
a corpse in the sands, caught by one of the many diseases that swept
across his home
regularly. Not that he minded. He was glad he didn't have
to deal with the complications
of family connections.
His employer cleared his throat, reminding Ariko
of his unimportant existence and
bringing him back to the green-gray hill that he was standing on.
"I'll need a name."
Ariko was slightly startled.
"why? I don't have yours."
"What if something happens?"
"then I won't be blamed for anything"
The business man could have snarled. Gunfire smashed again below
and Ariko turned his
head to look back into the brightness of reflected sun of tin roofs,
trying to decipher where
they were coming from.
The businessman beside him steamed impatience, twisting
his heel into the soft turf of
half-dead grass and polluted dirt.
"anything else you wanted to know?"
"I'll be going than"
He turned and Ariko noted a faint bulge in his long
black coat. weapon carrier. He had
expected as much. Probably a Wiere, or some other gun of the
same make. A colt
perhaps. Ariko would have made a snide comment about men who
try to be clever, but
there was no body to listen to his complaints so he didn't bother.
He turned his back to
the blinding rebounding sunlight and looked back down the trail he
had climbed to get
there. He couldn't even see the short little man he would follow,
although it was doubtless
he was still on the hill. It was steep. damn steep.
and barren. You could see the top of
this hill for miles, and it wasn't really the safest place to be although
when you could see it,
it was impossible to tell exactly who was on top of it. Government
had planned on
removing it for centuries, but nothing had been done. But these
days, that was more or
less what was expected of the government of The Last City Of America.
Ariko turned his
head to the sky, a shimmering hazy blue of fakery above, then sighed
downwards along the steep trail that would lead him back to the slums.
"so you got another job?"
The large Russian leaned back on his bar stool,
hand around a beer mug. Ariko could
have rolled his eyes, but he didn't, for his own personal safety.
The place was smoky,
grungy and all around gross. It had a strange smell of cigarette
smoke and some other
exotic drug, or drugs all mixed up. The air was almost a sort
As if reading his thoughts, Faregi, the Russian,
leaned back on his little stool and
breathed in deeply.
"ahhhhh. TroKile. Wish I had me
Ariko had done drugs in his lifetime, but what he had wasn't even close
to a quarter of
what Faregi did. Sure, he had heard of Heroin and Opium or even
some of the more
exotic cocaine mixes, but there was a huge gap in his knowledge that
the Russian happily
filled and overflowed.
Ariko looked at Faregi quizzically.
This time he did roll his eyes, but only slightly
so that his half-drunk companion
wouldn't notice. then went back to watching his wine half heartedly.
Music started suddenly, drowning out the roar of
voices, some heavy sort of rock with
undecernable words and lots of bass. There was a little drunken
cheering and the volume
was cranked still higher. The floor vibrated. Ariko wanted
to bang his head on the bar
counter, but refrained. The Russian grinned at him sideways and
pulled a face.
"don't look like that. It's only Rock.
You like rock."
"It's not rock, it's crap, and I do like rock. Not this."
Ariko winced as drums got a little louder,
and his friend laughed at him openly.
"come on. Lets go somewhere quieter and discuss this little job
The assassin nodded in silent assent and slid
off his stool, about to make a break for the
door. Faregi followed, draining his beer glass and stepping down.
He then proceeded to
part the crowd with his fists, Ariko behind him. The reached
the door, and Ariko gasped
"I hate that Fucking place"
He announced to his friend. The Russian smirked.
"you just need to lighten up."