A Moribund Hero
Leon eased through the crowds, absorbing the images of faces and ID's behind those faces. Most of which were registration numbers of some kind; a license or medical records. Data that constituted a legal registered ID.
They were stopped by guards in all black leather armor with humming halberd tasers on their back. A blue-green circular [E] symbol shone on their right breasts. They wore opaque glass helmets that were being blurspotted to avoid any form of recognition.
"Registration." A guard approached Leon and received a view of Lucy's utility wristwatch.
"He's with me," she declared.
The guard silently stared at Leon. After a pause, nodded and scanned her wristwatch with a handheld scanner. He moved on to the people behind them.
Leon didn't look back. He kept walking at the same quick pace as Wolf and Lucy. He noticed a few other blurspotted heads turn their way, but lost interest when they went further inward toward the thick of the crowd.
Lucy pointed at a building she wanted them to enter. The building had a large overhead sign bearing the words, 'Drinking Hole'. Many people were coming and going from it.
They picked their way inside, passing through wooden swinging doors.
The inside was wooden floors, wooden circle tables with chairs, red paper lantern ceiling lamps trimmed in gold and one large polished wood bar at the far end. Glass shelves behind it were laden with bottles of colorful liquid. Some of them were smoking like they were going to explode.
"Let's go here," she said, and they occupied a table in a less conspicuous corner.
Wolf went to order drinks at the bar.
Leon sat attentive as he scanned in his surroundings.
"Deez another easy wins for Squad43." A man boasted with overconfidence as he swaggered through the swing doors.
Leon scanned his image to determine his threat to public safety, but the man's aura levels were calm. So, he was content to let him be.
"Weez be top ranking by next shift." The man continued to show off to a couple of other men next to him.
Leon noticed they wore the same uniform as Wolf and Lucy. The overconfident man had his neck covered with a fine blue scarf on the fancy side. His image was pristine, with a feeling of extreme wealth.
"Pfft. Stop trying to be a big shot, Marcus. You look like a fool." Lucy chuckled.
"Aah. Lucy my angel. If I be a fool, deez because I'm a fool in love for you."
Leon analyzed the man's features; tall with stylish short brown hair and a side swept fringe. Symmetrically balanced and appealing features. Almost too appealing. Like a ken doll, Lucy had described.
He frowned when the smooth man swaggered up to her to take her hand and peck it. She looked obviously disgusted by the gesture. This reaction made him switch off his VR mode to see the truth of his surroundings.
The bar was exactly as imaged in the VR simulation, albeit less flashy.
The man's face was a shock. A complete contrast to his virtual reality profile. His hair was slightly long in a scruffy ponytail. And it was red. His nose was big and wide, almost the main feature of his face. Especially, when his eyes were narrow and closed in so much it looked like he was squinting. It didn't balance his over inflated lips and cheekbones. Numerous freckles. It was the most he had ever seen on a person.
Leon decided it was better to see the man through the VR system, so switched it back on.
"Eew! Don't give me your cooties, Marcus." Lucy abruptly rose on instinct and whacked the man in the gut to send him reeling backwards. She was rubbing her hand vigorous on her vest.
A sensible man would get the hint, turn around and walk away.
"Aah. Strong women are deez best flavor to savor." Marcus straightened up to give his show of love another go.
Leon continued to frown. The man was being too forceful. Under the GCE Civilian Code of Conduct of Domestic Affairs and Harassment, forceful sexual advances were an offense. If a person said no once and was pressed again more forcefully, as a Golden Warrior, he had the right to act under the law.
He rose and stepped before Marcus before he could accost Lucy again. Without saying a word, grabbed him by the collar and forcefully escorted him out of the bar whilst skillfully navigating the crowd to avoid obstructions.
"The lady expressed her disinterest. Stay here and reflect on your actions," Leon said when he tossed Marcus forcefully to the ground like he was a sack of potatoes.
Naturally, people skirted around the scene to avoid them. Leon returned to the bar and his seat before Lucy, who was groaning bitterly and rubbing her aching temples.
"Dude. People are looking at you." Lucy continued to groan.
By this time, Wolf had returned with drinks.
"Need to leave?" He asked as he placed down mugs of ale on the table.
Lucy nodded when she saw a pair of blurspotted-head of guards enter.
Wolf gestured for Leon to get up and get going.
As Leon was rising, he felt a gust of wind to his collar and a strange feeling around his neck. He felt his neck and realized his amulet was gone.
"What's wrong?" Lucy frowned when she saw Leon being agitated and patting his body down like he had lost something. It was the first time she saw an expression from him.
"My amulet!" He began to panic.
Lucy's eyes widened with horror. The freak better have not lost it.
"Calm down. Where'd you last see it?" She hushed to calm him down, so they wouldn't draw attention to themselves too soon.
Leon knew it was nowhere in the bar. He had scanned a few times to be sure.
Sir. Warrior. Find me. Find the amulet. A sweet and mellow voice sailed into his ears and mind.
It was almost soothing and peaceful. He felt his head go light and wanting to slip into a dreamscape.
"No!" He slapped his head. "Charm spell."
Lucy gasped. "Time to go."
She dragged him through the bar and out the side door, where the streets were less populated.
Leon shook her free when he glimpsed a person wearing a white hooded cloak with bunny ears running ahead. They had his amulet dangling from their white gloved hand. He chased after their trail.
"Damn it! You stupid ken doll!" Lucy cursed when Leon weaved his way through the crowds at a great sprint.
Of course, he had recently topped up his blood supply, making him run like a cheetah. He was too fast for her to use her restraining band. She chased after his trail, hoping to catch up and be able to stop him.
Leon's vision of the scenery was constantly changing as he ran.
One moment he was sprinting down a dirt track cutting through tall green wild grass of a meadow with a clear azure sky above him.
The next moment, he was weaving his way through a leafy hedge maze, where the ground was black and red checker patterns. At some corners were statues of marble figures depicting foxes, goats, rats and all small creatures he had devoured blood. Some of the statues were fountains where their mouths spewed red waters into a bowl. As he looked up, he saw a blood-red and orange sunset sky.
He shook his head, which was becoming dizzy and hot. A mad ringing was aggravating his eardrums, making it difficult for him to focus.
Find me Leon. The soothing voice giggled in his head.
When he gained a moment of clarity, he saw the white cloaked figure dashing through a gold gilded door.
He followed their path and through the door to find himself in familiar stark-white halls of a Big Farma House. They were void of life or windows to give clues of where he was.
Always ahead of him was the white cloak person dangling his amulet to tease him. So, he continued to give chase, but whenever he felt he was catching up, they would fade from his view.
Regardless, he raced down corridors, passing through doors the person had run through to eventually step into a dark and dingy alleyway.
It was chilly. A foul, off-meat, stench permeated the air. The feeling was different from the places he had run through. It felt real.
A redwood desk with a glowing purple aura appeared before him from the alleyway's dead-end.
He slowed his pace to carefully approach the desk. And stopped when a woman appeared, seated behind the desk. She had picture cards laid out in a pattern on the desk's surface.
"You can remove your glasses, Leon Winter. The charm spell has worn off." She spoke with reassurance.
"How do you know my name?" he cautiously asked.
The woman raised her head, so he could see her face. Although, it was blurspotted like the guards. "Remove your glasses. You can see. We can talk."
The white cloak person appeared next to the woman. Their outstretched hand held his amulet.
Leon sighed deeply and switched off the VR simulator. He slowly removed his glasses and took a moment to recover his senses.
"Good. Now, we can talk," the woman said as she gathered the cards and began shuffling them. "Take a seat."
He glanced at his amulet in the white cloak person's hand, who he could see was a young girl about his age.
"Please. Your amulet, I return." The girl's voice held no trickery this time. It was cordial and sincere.
Leon gathered the purpose of the rouse. So, he sat down in the chair before the desk and card-shuffling woman, accepting his amulet with great relief.
"Good. Before the others arrive. A message just for you," the woman said.
Leon watched her place three cards in a row on the table and turn them over one by one. As she did this, he was able to see more of her appearance.
She was slightly aged with fine wrinkles to her forehead and crease lines to the corners of her gray eyes, which were heavily painted with pink and kohl shadow, so her iris shone bright. Her painted red lips were pursed has she peered at the cards before her. A silver veil covered her head and ran down the length of her body, overlaying a deep purple gown. Fine gold and silver jewelry with colorful gems laden her wrists, ears and slender fingers.
"Have you heard of Tarot?" she asked him, and was expecting his no.
"No." He shook his head.
"Our Mother, Gaia, blesses a few of us with the gift of foresight." She soberly dropped the tidbit.
Leon's eyes lit up with interest. A generous grin stretched the woman's lips.
The woman drew his attention to each card.
The first card was The Fool. Second card, The Tower.
"Interesting." She chuckled when she pointed out that the last card was The Lovers.
Leon asked his question with his eyes.
"I will explain now," she said.