Chapter 7:

A Spectator Through Glass

The Artificial Lights of R'veno

They were all put in little cells made of bulletproof glass, scrapes covering the surfaces from previous inhabitants. Aries was a few columns down from them, but Rei was right on top of Calix, so they could talk.Bookmark here

“How’s your leg feeling?” Rei asked.Bookmark here

“It’s fine,” Calix replied, rubbing his ankle. “I can still fight.”Bookmark here

Rei let out a small sigh. “What are we going to do about the lights?”Bookmark here

“Hmm… Well, it seems that the lights seem to be going out area by area, which makes sense, since they probably don’t have only one power source for the whole city,” Calix replied. “Like how Atlas’s neighborhood went completely dark. So we still have a little time. But once all the lights go out…we’re sunk.”Bookmark here

“How much time do you think we have?”Bookmark here

“Depends how fast the people move.” Calix sounded solemn, but with an air of trying to pass grave information off casually, as not to cause a panic. Like announcing your own death to your children. “If day hits, well, there won’t be too much immediate danger, but give them till the end of the next night, and we’re probably going to be in trouble. But, y’know. I suppose it’s better that we get paid and keep our lives, eh?”Bookmark here

“I guess if you put it that way, it does sound like our problem.” Rei let out a small sigh, flexing her metal arm. “I do think we’ve encountered more trouble than for what it’s worth, though.”Bookmark here

“Don’t you think it’s strange, though?” Calix looked up at her. “Why does everyone seem to care so much about stopping us?”Bookmark here

“They’re probably the ones doing it, I dunno.” Rei shrugged. Bookmark here

“Yes, but why? Why would anyone in their right minds try to shut off all the lights? What reason could you possibly have that would convince you to do this?”Bookmark here

“Maybe they’re being paid a lot of money? Who knows what Boston’s thinking.”Bookmark here

“But is having money any use if nothing in the city works?”Bookmark here

Rei glanced at Aries, and rapped on the glass to try and get his attention. “Yo, Aries! Who sent you to get the map?”Bookmark here

Aries briefly glanced up at her, but mouthed “I can’t hear you” and turned back to his sulking.Bookmark here

“So…” Calix folded his hands together. “Do you have any reason to take this job? After all, you seem to be the same as Boston. You’ll do whatever for money. But if this costs too much…”Bookmark here

Rei watched as some of the guards went to Aries cell and opened the door, pulling him out, and leading him to the ring.Bookmark here

“And we’ve got a new challenger!” The announcer’s voice resounded throughout the room. “Coming in at 181 centimeters and 66 kilos from stage left…Aries! And facing him, coming in at 198 centimeters and 70 kilos…Dionysus! Let’s give them a round of applause!”Bookmark here

“Shoot…” Calix muttered. “I do not want to go against that guy. Looks like a wrestler.”Bookmark here

“Why would they announce everyone’s weights?” Rei raised her eyebrow. “And when did they take them?”Bookmark here

“Beats me. Probably in the elevator. Who’re you rooting for?”Bookmark here

“Well, I still want to ask Aries about the map, so probably him…”Bookmark here

Dionysus rolled up his sleeves, flexing his large biceps, while Aries stood on the other side, calmly removing his cloak and casting it to the side.Bookmark here

“Anyways, your reason?”Bookmark here

“I mean…” Rei felt her metal fingers twitch on their own, and her lungs seemed to burn at the memory of losing her original ones. “I don’t really have a reason to finish this job at all. I don’t think I would have continued, until you explained your reasoning for why it’s important. But I suppose I could just leave you to it, all on your own…”Bookmark here

“Three…two…one…begin!” A bell sounded, and the audience went wild. Bets skyrocketed for both fighters on the holographic screen above them, although Dionysus seemed to be taking the lead, both in credits and in cheers.Bookmark here

The two of them slowly circled around each other, Aries quietly rolling up his sleeves, Dionysus’s eyes focusing on him. Then Dionysus lunged forward, trying to grab Aries around the waist, but Aries quickly jumped up, stepping on his head, and sprung to the other side of the ring, dusting off his shoulders dismissively.Bookmark here

The crowd roared, and Dionysus seemed confused, and turned around to see where Aries had gone.Bookmark here

“Long ago, back when I first ventured into this profession…well, I was tasked with protecting someone. Real easy, I know. But…”Bookmark here

Aries still faced the wall, seeming to be examining the seams on his clothes. Dionysus went for him again, but Aries ran up the wall of the ring, flipping in the air, and landed on Dionysus’s back, grabbing his neck in a choke hold.Bookmark here

“And it looks like our newcomer has some solid moves!” If the crowd had been wild before, well, now they were hysterical. Calix let out a small whistle, and even Rei was impressed.Bookmark here

“But anyways, I lost the guy, I failed to protect him, so… I don’t know. If this job means that I have to protect the whole city, well…”Bookmark here

Dionysus tried to shake Aries off, slamming him against the glass of the ring, but Aries held on tight, even though some of those hits seemed quite painful. Rei winced, but Aries tightened his grip, until Dionysus’s face turned purple and he was forced to his knees.Bookmark here

“And, folks, looks like we have a clear winner!” The announcer stood up, and the DJ cranked up the music. Several guards ran in and forced Aries off of Dionysus, and he dusted his arms off, picking up his cloak.Bookmark here

“Our first newcomer of the night…Aries!”Bookmark here

The crowd completely lost it, and Rei winced at the noise, watching people losing credits and others gaining them. Aries strode out of the ring, and seemed to want to make it for the exit, but was escorted back to his cell. On the way he flashed Rei a gang sign as well as a half grin. Rei raised her hand in a small listless wave, then turned it into a thumbs up. The most unenthusiastic one she could muster.Bookmark here

“Well, if fixing the lights means protecting the whole city, I guess I’ll do whatever it takes to do so. Because I can’t lose anyone else on a job again.”Bookmark here

Cian Yonda
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