Chapter 1:

Gun and Shock and Lightning

BANG!! Goes the World

Now Entering: Urban District

The underground city of Los Riveracci's urban district, one of the 4 districts that encompass the city, is your typical suburban collection of mostly apartment buildings and hotels, densely populated by both tourists and homebodies. Building a large population of houses was found to be too costly, so the output was limited to just under 200. Thus, this collection was considered the elite few. The homes of the big, the bourgeois, and the boujee. The sons of fathers who'd cashed in the small loans of a million dollars given to them by said fathers into their houses.

A collection of shops scatter across the district as well. None of them are recognizable brand names your average blue collar worker would recognize. They're local, family owned restaurants. Clothing, jewelry, and furniture stores are either handcrafted or imported from countries that aren’t North American. Children, god forbid they enter the city, frequent the imported sweet shops most of all. The city, being underground, is always pitch black, the lights of cars, lamp-posts, and the lights of the public keeping alit everyone's view of the streets and making sure no one is hurt.

One of these many upper class residents was driving into the somewhat-prestigious gated neighborhood of Creaking Valley, finishing a long, hefty day of work. Tarma Bourne, a model American working class man, and one of the lucky few who could afford a house, combed his brown, cow-licked hair and approached his home in his brown Corvette. It was a gift from his father, and he knew not to be reckless with it. Unfortunately, he’d scraped the paint on occasion, which made his wife Erica very displeased every time. And wouldn't you know it, he'd done it again driving home from an average workday at his computer developmental office for the robotics company Mobi (developmental office was another word for a coffee shop that he used since he opted to work outside a corporate office). He’d come to the underground a few years ago to sniff out tech black markets, a contracted job by Mobi, but he hadn't heard back from them since. He’d never known the company resided in the underground the entire time. During his tumultuous stay, he’d met Erica on a train ride to his next “ target “ tech company whose CEO was accused of copyright infringement. Erica at the time was an employee of that exact company. She’d told him she’d just filed her two weeks notice, knowing of the scandal, citing her work schedule and how the backbreaking schedule affected her vertigo. The two bonded through their suffering and began dating after Tarma filed his reports to the company. Tarma asked her to marry her and their wedding day was the same day Erica’s company filed for bankruptcy.

Tarma’s two children, Marco and Fiona, were awaiting his return as he pulled into the driveway. He slowly looked to his right after hearing a slight, sharp screech. That was when the paint had scratched again; a few of the brown flakes had flown off of the side door of the vehicle thanks to his mail-post, which leaned to the side of the house ever so slightly thanks to a recent windstorm, perfectly aligning the two objects.

Many cracks scattered across the " sky " of the underground, so sun, rain, wind, occasionally snow, and on incredibly rare occasion, lightning, would break through the cracks. Some phenomena like hail and hurricanes would leave larger cracks in the surface of the sky, but they'd be repaired quickly by " weathermen ", who patched it with an assorted concrete mix. Sometimes they wore full-head helmets to prevent the mix from dripping into their eyes. They were quite the busy workers as a result.

Tarma planted his hands firmly into his face before grabbing his bags and heading inside. He knocked on the door as a familiar, deep bark rang in the distance. His Boston Terrier, Mars, was excited to see him, as were his children as he heard their tiny feet pitter-patter down the stairs. The door opened as the blond haired Erica stood before him, sporting her resting bitch face which Tarma loved to joke about. This often rewarded him with a slap.

" Hey, " Erica quickly greeted him.

" Hey, honey, " Tarma replied, seeming tired. " Another overtime shift today. 4 years of tech institute for this."

“ Hey, I’ve broken my back for labor just as much as you have. It couldn't be that bad, " his wife replied. " I cooked you and the kids a meatloaf. Sit down and tell me everything and we’ll forget about it by tomorrow morning. " He nodded as the two traded kisses on the cheek. They sat at the large brown table to the right of them. A 5 year old boy with short blond hair and an 8 year old girl with long brown hair and glasses joined them a few seconds later. Marco and Fiona. All together, the family were peas in a pod. On that note, the meatloaf was already prepared for the whole family with peas and steamy mashed potatoes on the side. The kids immediately dug in for a half-second before they dropped their utensils from how hot the food was.

Tarma and Erica said the graces their kids were always too hasty to say themselves before beginning to eat. Amen. Erica spoke first. " So. What's bothering you now? "

Tarma was never one to lie. " ....I scratched the paint again. "

" …oh my god, Tarma!! " his wife shouted. " I’m the one who's paying everything to do with that car and you've nearly wrecked it again. What is your father going to think if he ever found out about all this?

Tarma sighed, tired of hearing Erica's constant ranting. " Beats me. Old bastard's going to hell anyways. "

" Tarma, please! I can’t just go off of your blind statements! You have to go into detail on these things! "

" Honey, I really do not care to tell you- "

" You never care to tell me anything. We’ve both sucked up to corporations before, if it’s about work, TELL me. You can't carry all this on your own. You wouldn't close up like this around your grandfather, what makes me any different? Do you need a divorce, honey? Just say it! "

" What the **** are you talking about? "

Marco and Fiona paused from their discussion of dinosaur bones over their meatloaf stunned. Meanwhile, Erica exploded once more.

" Oh my GOD, the children, Tarma!!! Forget it, you can eat in the mancave, I don't care anymore... "

Erica peered down at her food and continued to eat, paying no mind to the children, but looking back up at Tarma. " GO. "

Tarma, stubborn as he usually was, continued to stay put. He wasn't going to abandon his family over a petty conflict like this. Erica was not having it. She slammed her hands on the table and went to the bedroom with her plate, swiftly closing the door behind her. That was the cue for Tarma to do the same, picking up his plate and leaving for the garage, where his mancave of baseball memorabilia awaited him. The kids shrugged and continued their " intellectual " conversations now that they were alone and no cranky grown ups were there to clog up their imagination. Tarma and Erica did not speak to each other for the rest of the night. Every now and then, a night would end like this.

Dinner started at 8 PM. At 11 PM, the sitcom wife and husband finally went to bed safe and sound. The kids were alone in their bunk-bed watching cartoons. Silent night, o holy night. It indeed felt like Christmas.

Sure enough, someone was there to come down the chimney as well. And it was exactly who you think it wasn't.

David Brunswick was a man on the run. The Sonnet Killer was his codename. The police and gangs in the area were on the hunt for the 6 foot 1 thin white duke of a man. He was a poet, frequenting underground coffeehouses on slam poetry nights. It was a practice he enjoyed since he was in college in New York. No one knew why he killed, but that was all he knew. Poetry and murder. It was a true crime author's wet dream.

Because of Brunswick's murders, even the quietest coffee houses needed security, whether from local gangs or sparse officers who patrolled the city at " night ". Many individuals came and went through local coffee houses, but none of them reported any sight of this elusive man. His personality had no set pattern. He could be quiet and reserved one second and energetic another. Police investigated and came up with three key points: He had very long hair to which he could stylize and sculpt it however he pleased. He had an incredibly flexible voice that he used a side job for radio or television. Third, and most importantly, one of the poems to be read on slam night, usually every Friday, would correspond with a grisly murder.

Some notable cases of his killings included a backwards Haiku, in which a man went to an Asian food restaurant late at night as his car was hijacked to permanently go in reverse at top speed as soon as he pushed the gas pedal. He drove off a bridge and fell to his death. Another was a reading of William Blake's " The Lamb ", in which he somehow convinced a mentally unsound felon of a father on parole to murder his grandson with a silenced pistol in the boy's sleep. Then there was a reading of " The Bonny Swans ", the most despicable of all. Him and his then-girlfriend were walking along the beach at night when he suddenly strangled her with a chloroform rag and left her out to drown in the deep sea. Most of his crimes, typical of a serial killer, took place at night.

Tonight's slam night was at the Born Again Café. Two officers guarded the coffeehouse as a small collection of reserved gothic beatniks and biker gangs with rainbows of spiky haired young men entered, taking a seat as some ordered a drink. The café itself was larger on the inside than on the outside, a small entrance similar to a saloon hiding one side of multiple wooden chairs and tables while the kitchen behind the bar hid a TV chef's worst nightmare. Dozens of plates and scoops cluttered a large contraption consisting of multiple silver tubes with holes which interconnected seemingly infinitely, and a grinder at the end to churn out ground coffee beans. The beans were poured in through a funnel on the far left of the machine, where they were then filtered via fans that blew air into the pipes throughout the machine and then grinded accordingly. The coffee at this cafe charged cups starting at 10 dollars, so there was a reason there weren't crowds every night. It was also why there was always a dull moment at the establishment. Better that than a fight breaking out every 10 seconds like in the bars, sports arenas, and dentist offices. People really did not want to floss.

Young rebels chattered about boys, girls, and literature before the first performer stepped in. He was a man who just barely leaned into his feminine side, donning an orange sweater and coating his face with eyeliner and bright pink lipstick. It complemented his jeans and white sneakers quite nicely. He pulled his phone from his pocket and read his poem of choice. Behind him were a jazz drummer and bassist, both wearing a suit and tie and looking to be in their 80s.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake's The Tiger. He started very hushed as the band behind him played using quieter notes, the bassist gently plucking the strings and the drummer using light cymbals and gently touching the rim of his drum.

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

His voice rose dramatically. He gripped the microphone and stumbled slightly, amplifying his dramatic tension little by little. He let the band play for a few more seconds before repeating another verse and suddenly increasing the tension tenfold.

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors CLASP!!

When the stars threw down their spears

And water'd heaven with their tears:

He began to shout. The jazz band sped up on cue like a machine. The drummer rapidly pounded at one drum before sliding into a simpler rhythm. Meanwhile, the bassist did a small solo before following a repeat rhythm at a faster time signature. It was as if they were playing for the greatest rock band in the world. They refused to play any faster than they needed to. The reader, meanwhile, reeled down on the microphone like a screaming soul singer, passionately blaring every word on the, screen, rather.

Did he smile his work to see?!


The reader screamed those lines as the drummers sped up, and the bassist played the same note over and over again, accompanying the intensity of the vocals. The scream stopped as did the musicians at the exact same time. The drummer then kicked it back into gear with the same beat he used when the poem began.

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

One final bass note concluded the poem. Polite claps and whistles emerged from the audience as the poet readjusted the microphone to its original posture. He sat down at the bar to order something as poets began to come through in the night. They recited both original poems and readings of classic contemporary poems, keeping the band and cafe-goers busy. The topics were typical, ranging from an iceberg they saw on the front porch in the middle of summer to their deadbeat divorced parents. Typical slam night things.

The poet reading Blake decided he'd leave for the night and left to enter his red truck, somewhat unfitting for his attire but supposedly was hipster in some way. He started the ignition as his skull keychain dangled from the radio that he refused to turn up. It's safe to assume this truck was probably used.

What this man didn't know was he was being followed. A white minivan with a streak of red stylishly slashed across the doors churned behind it, making all sorts of curious pops and purrs as the tires slowly screeched along the road. The right blinker permanently flashed on and off, a sign of its own wear and tear. The window was faded, providing some unintentional espionage. If anyone else were to be followed by this van, they'd call the police immediately. This poet was being followed for different reasons, however.

The truck chugged down the street, passing by Jackson High School, which, for an underground high school, had a very consistent enrollment rate. It drove past Ricardo Culo's, a popular taco place for the lower class apartments. Surrounding that were forums of frat boy sports bars and Hispanic hair salons.

The truck finally approached its destination. It was 11:14 PM when he got home.

This home was not his.

Creaking Valley. A higher class neighborhood of the underground. This writer was too poor to afford any house here; he wasn't made for Shakespeare nor Hollywood. What business did he have with the....

Everything settles in.

The man entered a pass-code to open the gate and got out of the truck, approaching one of the houses looking for an entrance. He found that this house, luckily enough for him, had a small, but deep square chimney he could use to make his way in. He found a spare ladder near a wooden gate, throwing on the black hoodie he pulled from his truck as he began to climb the ladder to the rooftop, but not before slipping off his sneakers to silence his steps. He stared down the gaping chasm as he made his way to the roof. This was the easy part. The challenge was making it down. He squeezed himself in and stared down, noticing a large pile of firewood near the bottom of the stack. This was going to be a difficult situation, he thought. He crawled down limb by limb to the living room from the chimney, praying he-

The poor sap fell down just 3 steps in.

His arm hit the pile of wood and tore open a small cut, bleeding onto the piece of bark. He tried not to groan in discomfort and let out hushed coughs into his other arm. He turned around, feeling lucky no one was in his vicinity. He crawled out, caked in soot, and entered the quiet, pale, living room. He began to realize what little time he had left. He panicked, running in jagged circles before going upstairs, leaving gray shavings all over the living room. He pulled a matchbox from his pocket, trying to ignite a stick, but to no avail. By the time he opened the door, his arm was snatched and he was pinned to the ground. A deeper voice than his own spoke up.

" David Brunswick, 10 accounts of serial murder, 3 accounts of abduction. "

Brunswick was stunned in every way possible. He decided to use the most logical response to the man holding him down and the man in the glasses and a leather jacket standing in the large bedroom pointing a pistol at him.

" H-how the hell did you get in this neighborhood... "

The man in the glasses spoke up. " Our client was thankful enough to lend us the code. He knew where you were gonna strike next. Said you had some beef with the upper class. I’m not going to name names, for the record. You're boned regardless. "

" S-son of a....I swear, you cop-hating punks can't just- "


One bullet to the brain was enough to silence him. He was wanted dead or alive. That's all that mattered to these gentlemen.

" Add one account for shitty middle school poetry. "

Or, this gentleman, rather. He threw off his leather jacket and adjusted the blue tie on his blue and white bartender suit. The blond, spiky haired man standing across from him was quite displeased.

" Renji. Dude. You can’t just shoot everyone we nab. You can kill them, you can cut them, you can kick their head to the curb, you just can’t SHOOT them and wake everyone up, man! “

A hushed argument ensued between Renji and his friend. " Kamina, you saw his body count, dude. Why should I let go of a man who killed all those people? You into that stupid karma bullshit now? "

Kamina rolled his head back. “ Oh for fu-you know what? You shouldn’t have killed the guy. He could’ve had something on some gang he was in, the police can't get that info out of him now. He's got no trace. "

" I don't agree with that. "

" Well, get his corpse out first, then we won't have blood all over the god damn carpet. "

" On it...jackass. "

Renji and Kamina both lifted Brunswick's body in unison, his blood having indeed created a horrid stain on the carpet. They carried him out the door with his head faced upwards to limit the mess Renji just made. Kamina grabbed a bucket of rags and a mop from the back of their van (this job evidently got messy after all). As they hauled his body into the car and prepared to clean, something slipped out of Brunswick's pocket. A small business card on its front. Kamina picked it up and analyzed it.

It was plain white with a logo on the front: A brown bear roaring in supremacy as four streaks of color surrounded it. Red. Green. Blue. Yellow. All basic colors. The streaks of color were developed in the form of claw marks. Behind the bear head was a big black claw mark, or three of them, rather. Needlessly complicated, but it checks out.

" Hmm. Yo, Renji, come look at this. "

Renji sighed and rolled his eyes before he went back into the house to observe the business card. He stared at it for 2 seconds. His eyes went wide. They rapidly scanned the card back and forth. No common man could've gotten their hands on a symbol like that. That logo should've been wiped from everyone's memory. The name persisted, but their appearance was kept in shadow. Until now.

Kamina looked confused and waved his hand in front of Renji's face somewhat childishly. " Renji. Oi. What’s up. You're making me nervous. "

Kamina's memory of this logo especially had been wiped from his subconscious after the microchip on his neck shattered, the one that fed him all the info on the nefarious organization. This made Renji the sole remnant of that calamity years ago. Renji suddenly dropped the card and drove himself back into the house with the cleaning supplies. Kamina stood alone confused. Renji was the only one who knew what that logo meant.

Kuma had returned.

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