Chapter 6:


Pyro's Grand Demise

I crouch behind the counter as rapid gunfire shoots through the wall. Dust falls from the ceiling and the dishes in my cupboard rattle. It’s a powerful gun to say the least.

After I count nineteen shots, everything goes quiet. I increase my auditory awareness and make out the tell-tale sound of ragged breathing. Whoever just shot at me is nervous. An amateur, or possibly someone who knows what I’m capable of. Someone who’s afraid of me.

A cyborg sent from the Wharf? Or whatever’s left of it. Knowing the business, they’re already rebuilding. Not at the same location because it’s not inconspicuous anymore with all the media attention it got. It’s not every day an illegal cyborg agency catches fire. No, they’re probably working out of another abandoned building somewhere near the original location.

Easy enough for the original crew to return, but not right on top of the old canning warehouse.

The location of the breathing doesn’t move and I can only guess they’re waiting to see if I’m still alive. I could just make a run for it, either down the hallway or even out the window. Three floors is hardly a fall for a blue-type. But then I would be leaving behind this person who’s aware of my survival.

I can only hope killing this person will give me time. If they were sent by someone, their contractor is going to realize what happened when their lackey doesn’t return to collect their volts. My only choice is to wring out some information.

I keep myself crouched close to the floor and walk as silently as possible. This is difficult because there is plaster on the ground I have to weave around. I should feel flattered whoever shot me used a gun powerful enough to fell an elephant. Now that they’re extinct, people have to use them on something I guess. Cyborgs fit the description of a large threat well enough.

This would be so much easier if I knew what type of cyborg I was up against. Anyone ranked yellow or lower doesn’t have superb hearing. Still, I need to open this door. Sweat trickles down the back of my neck as I ever-so-carefully grab the handle and slowly begin turning it.

I don’t sense any movement from the neighboring apartment, so I let the door swing open. I’ve always kept mine well-oiled so it moves on silent hinges. The hallway is quiet.

Whoever heard that gunfire is likely holed up in their apartments. The police will be here in what I guesstimate to be four minutes, so I need to act quickly.

I remove the handheld from my waist and hold it in front of me. It’s a powerful yet discreet gun, and I’ve used it on countless jobs. There’s no silencer on it, but that hardly matters anymore. I creep up the hallway to my neighbor’s door and reach for the handle.

Footsteps come rushing from the opposite end of the hallway. I turn just in time for a green-type to barrel into me. We fall to the floor in a painful pile, and I have little time to recover before we’re grappling.

It’s a woman and she’s at least a head taller than me. Green-types are what came before blue-types. They’re large and not very acrobatic, but their speed and strength are not something to be taken lightly. The woman manages to get a good punch at my nose and I shove her away from me before spitting blood in her face.

It hits her jaw and I see the anger light anew in her eyes. So she has a vendetta against me. It explains why she didn’t just shoot at me and instead insists on getting into a physical altercation. I get it, but still. Green-types are so stupid. One of their many flaws if you ask me.

She launches herself at me and I roll away just in time so she punches the wall instead. It leaves a fist-shaped hole and she has to wrench her arm free. I use this time to point my gun at her, but she kicks my hand just as I shoot. The bullet goes through the ceiling.

“No guns, Blue,” she says with a snarl.

“So the cavewoman speaks,” I snipe.

A guttural, enraged sound escapes her and she pounces on me once more, but this time I’m prepared. As she runs into me, I press my foot into her stomach and kick upward, using her velocity against her and sending her flying. She falls on her back and not a moment later I’m straddling her, punching her in the face. Left, right, left, right.

She grabs at my hair and yanks until I see stars. I jab my thumb into her eye until she lets go.

“Fucking bitch,” she seethes, pressing a hand to her eye. Her face is cut up from my rings. I want to check and make sure none of the gemstones fell off, but I don’t dare take my eyes off her.

“You became the bitch when you started pulling hair,” I say while standing up. I point the gun at her and her eyes widen because of course she didn’t see me grab it. “It’s a matching set,” I explain smugly.

Fed up, I pull the trigger. I don’t look at her twice before I kick down the neighbor’s door. I’m riding on adrenaline and have all my senses on max level. Whoever’s in here was hiding during that entire fight, and I think I know why.

The apartment is spotless, which kind of annoys me because it’s not what I pictured. My neighbors are loud and obnoxious, so I kind of imagined them living in a pigsty just because I don’t like them. Childish of me, I know.

There’s an armchair in the corner with just enough space for a small person to hide behind. I cock my head and listen for the erratic heartbeat pummeling out of the corner. Without hesitating, I yank back the chair.

Someone shrieks and several more gunshots go off, all into the ceiling. I wait a moment before leaping beyond the chair and wrestling the gun out of the child’s hands. “Give it to me before you shoot someone,” I grunt while wrenching it away.

He stares at me with wide amber eyes just a shade too bright. So he’s a yellow-type. Why the hell would Greenie have given the child a gun and tell him to shoot through the wall? I suppose it’s the safer job, but he hadn’t even known where he was shooting due to his senses almost being on the level of humans.

“Listen here,” I say while squatting in front of him. I make it obvious I’m putting away the gun which makes him relax a little. “I’m not here to hurt you, but I do need to know why the hell you just shot at me. That’s not too much to ask, right?”

The boy looks to be a preteen. Not yet hitting puberty, but not small enough to be carried away by a strong breeze. He silently shakes his head.

“Not talking, huh?” I ask. “Well, who was Greenie out in the hallway just now? Tall, had a major attitude problem…?”

He shakes his head once again and mumbles something.

“Didn’t quite catch that,” I say. “Speak up a little.”

“The cyborgs are mad,” he repeats slightly louder. “Most think you’re dead, but some of them still believe you’re alive. Miss Angie believed. She blamed you for killing her top client.”

Miss Angie must be Greenie, and the kid is already referring to her in the past tense so he must know exactly what went down in the hallway. The top client has me stumped, though. The casualty number from the explosion had been very small, unless…

“Boa lady,” I say and snap my fingers. “That rich bitch whose boa caught on fire. She’s the client Greenie lost?”

The boy nods glumly.

“Then how are you related to all of this?” I ask and spin my finger around. My stomach drops a little and I stick my thumb over my shoulder. “That wasn’t your sister, right?”

He shakes his head a bit violently. “No, Miss Angie promised me volts if I helped her. She said she needed an able body.

I scoff. “Sounds to me like she was a sucky partner.” I hesitate. “How much money did she promise you?”

“A thousand volts.”

Not too bad. I could spare that much if the shrimp promised to keep his lips sealed. It’d be much safer and cheaper to just shoot the kid, but then I’d be having the entire Wharf hot on my heels in a rage. Cyborg children were often ridiculed or forgotten by the world, so most adult cyborgs had a soft spot for them. I’m indifferent, but I don’t exactly want to be labeled a child murderer either. The better option is obvious, even if it will deplete my savings a bit.

I look the boy in his molten eyes. “Can you keep a secret?”

Steward McOy
Haru Yumera