The dimly lit alleyway was as quiet as a church mouse, and knowing this place, as dead as one too. District 94’s toxic gases were too much for any and all wildlife to handle.Malaika walked through the alley, grime and muck hitchhiked her shoulders and caked her dark skin as she brushed up against the narrow walls. Posters graced those walls, one outlier being a brand-new shining white paper advertising the utopian District 1 in all of its majesty. Towering, imposing, brilliant, completely and utterly vile. Way too artificial. Clinically clean.‘Come to District 1 for the closest thing to heaven under the sun!’Then there are those annoying slogans that make her feel sick to her stomach. Apparently, they don’t even need air filtration masks to breath there. Lucky bastards.
She clicked her tongue looked away, if she hadn’t, she might’ve thrown up, probably on that nice little poster. At least then it’d match the surroundings better. Then again, she thought, it might be a pain in the ass to throw up with a filter mask on.She continued down the alley, behind one of the four bodyguards that accompanied her.
“Hey, Mal, do you believe in angels?”Mal’s eyes shifted to her sister who walked behind. She held a piece of paper that was barely legible between her thin fingers‘Angel sighted, visit this glimnet address for proof.’
“That secret military group? Course not.” Mal replied.
“They’re an urban legend. Nobody’s even seen one of ‘em even though they supposedly go around saving people and being superheroes or something. No pics on the net, nothing. If there is a picture, then it’s doctored more than an ambrosia addict is. It’s just like every other government conspiracy out there. Seeing is believing and I ain’t seen shit.”
“But Milo said he saw one.”
“Milo said he saw Santa suplex Bigfoot while he was high off yellow. First there was a monster under your bed and now you’re talking about angels. C’mon, you’re sixteen, Ciel.”
“Screw you, there was something under there!” Ciel snapped.One of the guards turned and told Mal of a group of men that were up ahead. Ciel was still going on about the ‘monster’ beneath her bed and was being quite vocal about it too.“I swear there was a snake or something under there I heard-”
“Shut it, I see someone up ahead.” Mal interrupted.
The alley opened up to a small square with three men stood in the centre. The man in the middle stood beside a crate that was waist high. Mal put her hand by the pistol tightly held in a holster by her hip.
“Sup, are you my guy?” Mal asked. The man slowly nodded, and Mal continued, “Alright then, what’d I kill for right about now?”
“A salad from this hellhole that won’t make you grow an extra pair of thumbs.” He replied.
“Good.” At least he got the passcode right. Some of these goons couldn’t even do that properly. “I’m guessing that you’ve got the yellow?”
“Yes ma’am, one crate of golden ambrosia worth a million credits.”
“Alright then, let’s see it. Take them hands out your pockets while you’re at it.”As the crate opened Mal heard an audible click, and the square erupted in a flood of purple. Neon lights arranged in hexagons ran up the walls in every direction with a dragon inscribed within each hexagon. This insignia meant only one thing. Kazuma’s involved.
A hologram shot up from the crate forming the image of a man in a striped tuxedo. His slicked back hair looked as oil soaked as always, even in the hologram.“Good day Malaika. I hope you’re well. Ah, little Ciel is there too, wonderful.”Kaz stiffly enunciated each word, as though each one was a dagger meant to stab Mal’s very being.
“Yeah, Ciel’s just learning how to run a few gigs. Every birdie has to leave the nest and whatnot. So, what do you want Kaz? You here for the yellow too? Come down here and let’s have a binge party. Me and you.”
Kaz chucked, his mouth in a gentle smile his eyes told another story. If looks could kill then those would be the eyes of a mass murderer, which they most definitely are.“You know why I’m here.” He replied. “I haven’t been able to sleep well these last couple of weeks. Sometimes I’d dream, and in my dreams, I’d play with my dear little girl. Take her to school. Laugh at her jokes and she’d laugh at mine. We’d draw together, Mal. She always wanted to be an artist. Then I’d wake up and…she’s gone. How could I sleep after that?”
“Look Kaz, I told you not to do business in my territory time after time. Your boys kept harassing our runners and then I heard you messed with one of my arms dealers. I tried to tell you, but you just didn’t listen, so I needed to make an example. That’s just how we do things here.”
Kaz clenched his fists, trembling. He let out one last laugh which then turned to sobs.“She was six, Malaika.”
“And now she’s six feet under thanks to your bad decisions.”
His eyes shoot up and glared with primal fury as his clenched fists began to spill blood.“Enough of this. Rot in hell bitch!”The hologram cut out and as the bodyguard lowered the crate to the ground, the others raised their guns, directing them to their former employer. Ciel gasped and hid behind her sister.
“How much did he pay you to do this?” Mal asked. "Whatever it is, I'll pay you double."
Silence returned to the streets. These lads didn't seem much for talking.
Mal surveyed the situation. Two men stood behind them, blocking the exit. The remaining five were up front. She readied herself and zipped past the first guard with blinding speed, her bionic legs allowing her to move at speeds no normal human should've be able to.She whipped her pistol out from its holster and shot the first guard in his head. She snapped her pistol back and shot the second guard twice before she felt a searing pain in her back.
Adrenaline allowed her to ignore it briefly as she grabbed her sister and bolted back into the alleyway. Gunshots echoes and chips of brick flew off the walls next to the siblings as they ran. Mal shielded her sister as she screamed. Pain erupted from Mal’s right shoulder and then her abdomen. She groaned but she had to keep running. For Ciel.
They arrived at a fork in the alley. One of the paths leading to a wall that blocked the way. However, any resident of 94 could scale walls and climb buildings from the moment they were birthed.
Mal grabbed her sister and shoved her towards the wall.“Go, climb up there and make your way home. It ain’t that far from here. Tell Milo what happened and lay low.”
“What about you?!”
“I’m alright Ciel! I’ll take care of these guys and I’ll head back too.”
“T-there’s no fucking way you’re alright! I’m not leaving you, screw that!” Tears began to well up in Ciel’s eyes.
Mal took a deep breath, grabbed Ciel’s shoulder with her good arm and said, “Hey, sis…do you believe in angels?”
“The secret military group?”
“No, the other type.”
“Then you…know me and mom will always be looking out for you. Now go, get back home. Just keep running.”
Ciel turned to look at her sister one last time before crying, "You better come back!"
Malaika stumbled backwards and shot into the darkness of the alleyway towards the traitors.
Strange, she remembered it being dark but not this dark.
She felt relieved, but at the same time fear began to set in.
This really was it. The end of the road.
Energy was beginning to leave her as she kept moving.
Maybe she should get an ambulance to come over. As long as they were bribed enough, they’d patch up the devil himself.
Would she even make it? Those cronies were still chasing after her.She forced her wounded arm to move, taking her phone out of her pocket. Every movement made her want to cry out. As she fiddled with her phone, she heard the robotic monotone voice that represented the emergency hotline service.
“Dial 1 to contact the Police Department. Dial 2 to contact the Fire Brigade. Dial 3 to call an Ambulance.”Malaika’s thumb drifted over to the number 3.She thought back to the last words she said to her sister, and she let out a hoarse, bloody laugh. Her? An angel?If her guts weren’t already spilling out already, she would have laughed even harder.
Moving just one finger felt like agony. She could barely think straight.Should she even bother pressing the button? Wouldn’t someone like her be better off dead? As thoughts were racing through her head, she heard one more option.
"Dial 9 for salvation."
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