Chapter 11:

A New Opportunity

Welcome to Hell

April 25, 2036

What a great way to start my "birthday". Could there be anything better than waking up in a white bed in a white room? As if there wasn't enough white, I had a white jacket on me instead of my T-shirt. The air felt pretty stale and dry too.

Right next to the bed was a weird boxy machine with a powered-on LCD display on the front, with a few buttons and knobs below it. The text displayed was in a language I couldn't understand, let alone recognize. A bunch of cables came out of the machine's side, which all ran towards and over my body. They ended in something that looked like suction cups attached in various places; including the usual spots like the arms and legs, but also weird, uncomfortable places like my knees, the bottom of my feet, and even under my breasts. Most of these cables had to fit through my collar or sleeves. Someone was into bondage, ugh.

I had no idea what that machine did, or why I was here to begin with. But deep down, I knew why. I was struck by a soul ray when escaping with the gold. That was all I could remember. It was quick and painless. Honestly, it felt like the beam merely forced my own soul to leave its cage of flesh, and consequently "die" on the spot.

The door to my room opened. A blue, naked creature that looked like a lizard standing on two legs — or shall I say, a lizardman — entered the room while holding an iron tray with something that looked like mashed potatoes, salad and water. Its eyes were pitch black and the mouth was almost half the head, running from cheek to cheek. It had a red cross tacked on what I assumed was its chest area. Below that cross was an identity card, "Ms. Gromiya".

She mumbled something in an alien language, though her mannerisms indicated she was upset. At least until she saw me.

"Oh, you're awake." She spoke in English with a hint of surprise, her previous demeanor completely disappearing, as she left the tray on the nightstand.

"Where am I?" This question was pointless, I thought, but it was worth asking just in case there were any surprises in store.

"Ah yeah, this is your first death in Hell after all." She smirked in a very uncanny way. "You're in Gremory's 2nd Revival Hospital. Honestly lady, you should get death insurance next time. You're lucky the first time is fully funded by the taxpayer."

So that was what the death insurance billboard I saw earlier was all about.

"I... I see." I hadn't much to comment, but I had questions to ask. "What's this machine and why's it hooked to me?"

She pressed a few buttons on it. "Relax. That's a SRAM, or a Soul Re-Alignment Machine. Your soul got separated from your body, and this machine just reunites them. Its job is already done."

After turning off the machine — or at least the LCD display — she approached me and started removing the exposed cables. When she put her hands on my jacket, I pushed it away with my hand. "Excuse me, I'll do the rest." I unzipped the jacket just enough to slip my hand under my breasts and take off the cables. It was a different story for the other cables though. Seriously, why the side of my hips?

"Well, as you like." She took the cables from me and put them back on the machine.

I almost forgot to ask the most important question. "When will I be discharged?"

She chuckled. "Medically, you can go home at any time, but good luck with the bureaucracy. You're a little too popular, Ms. April."

"Huh?" I wasn't sure what she meant. I had a bad feeling about it. "What do you mean?"

"You've got an important visit in an hour, and you're barred from getting a leave permit." She nonchalantly fussed with some of the machines in the room. "I'm sorry, I've got other things to do now," she went to the door. Although she was quieter, I was able to pick her up saying, "I hate this fucking job." I had no further context to deduce why she even said that in English.


An hour crept by. The most exciting event was eating my lunch, which was a little bland, but hey, it was edible.

Suddenly, I heard two knocks on the door, but didn't answer. A few seconds later, I heard those same two knocks again. I wasn't sure what the fucking hell to do, until I simply said "Come in."

Someone opened the door and entered. He was a tall human in an extremely fancy black suit, with a white undershirt, and a red necktie. His blue eyes were hidden behind eyeglasses, and below them was a goatee beard. His hair was long, and dark and smooth as a raven's feathers. "Hello, April," he casually said.

"Uhhh, hi?" He gave me some very bad vibes.

"I am the Devil Ronald, a representative of Lord Gremory." He sat down on a white chair which blended too much with the wall that it might as well be invisible. He immediately crossed his legs, holding a cup of wine in his hands; I had absolutely no idea how he got it.

Lifting up my body, I squinted at the guy. "Lord... Gremory?" Hearing his name stirred a lot of bad feelings in my heart. Prime of which is the idea I fucked up. The thought was so unbearable, my body started shuddering.

I had only expected my gig to result in getting hospitalized and walking out with a slap on the wrist. Ronald's confidence and posture just got the idea across that I would be destroyed, but in all honesty, I was already totally annihilated. I was just prolonging my relief.

"Yes. Don't worry, I won't waste your time." He sipped from the wine gracefully — that was when I noticed he wore white gloves, as if he needed to be any more well dressed. "Do you want to hear the bad news first, or the good news?"

I was always the kind of woman who preferred to have her hopes and dreams shattered sooner than later. I breathed in a lot of air to steel myself. "What about the bad news?"

He placed the wine cup on a table and clasped both of his hands. "Wise choice. I prefer getting these out of the way too." His smile weirded me out. "You're to leave Gremory District in two days, and never return for an indefinite period of time."

Both of my arms dropped to my side, and my eyes were as wide as humanly possible. I couldn't get a single word out of my mouth for the next few seconds. "Leave... Gremory...?"

He took another sip from his cup. "Why, yes. Leave Gremory District, once and for all. You can't ever come back here unless you can somehow convince Lord Gremory himself that staying here won't hurt his image."

"But..." I could feel the tears slowly form on the sides of my eyes, then sliding off my cheeks. I looked down just to see a few dark spots on my white cover. "I don't want to leave. I don't... don't know if I'll even find a... another home..."

"Oh, dear child, if only you would listen to the good news." I didn't like him calling me a child, but I just let him keep going. "You'll receive 5 billion luci and a home in any district of your liking."

"What?" I had to have misheard. Barely lifting my face up, I saw that he put the cup back on the table and was leaning forward with a smile that felt encouraging, and not simply hiding something sinister. "Can you... say that again?"

Ronald just laughed the same way a parent would laugh at their kid's or pet's antics. "You will receive 5 billion luci. And a home in any district of your liking. Personally, I'd recommend Asmodeus District."

5 billion luci? And a new home? This has got to be a bluff, right?

I pulled a few tissues from my nightstand and attempted to clumsily wipe those tears away. Even though my mind was all scrambled up, I still managed to extract a coherent question to help me understand the situation unfolding before me. It was a simple one, too. "Why?"

Ronald rubbed his chin, and something about the way his white gloves touched his black goatee felt a little off, like he was pondering if he should even answer. "That's a fair question to ask." He clasped his hands again. "You singlehandedly weakened the security guard union's position."

I shook my head. The more he went on, the more absurd he sounded. "Me? I weakened them? What the fuck?"

He chuckled with that same parental energy from earlier. "They knew their days were coming to an end. Under the direction of Lord Gremory and with the help of the best minds of our wondrous district, we have built security droids to succeed them." He rubbed his hands with a grin. "I will not reveal much, but I'll say you and your fellow delinquents would have been vaporized before you could even leave the Noah."

I stared at him for a few seconds, still trying to process what he said. "So, they were resisting the push towards automation?" I summarized.

"Exactly." He gulped the rest of the wine in one fell swoop. "To make matters worse, they were successful with their legal displays. The union argued that since the majority of robbery attempts have failed thanks to their diligence, then they were doing their job. Or as you humans like to say, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"

"Uh... huh." I looked with disbelief at Ronald. I was getting an easy punishment because of that? Also, what the hell did he mean by "as you humans like to say", wasn't he, like, a human?

He stood up, slowly inching closer towards me. "The rules in Gremory are different from, say, Beelzebub. This district is prosperous because our administration knows when to stick a finger in and help or interfere with day to day life, and when to pull it out." He stood right beside my bed now. "We could have disbanded the entire union years ago on Lord Gremory's whims, and we still can, but we chose not to. Why would we do that? It was much easier politically to wait until they actually failed us." He looked me in the eyes. "We didn't even have to lift a finger, all thanks to you. But don't get the wrong idea, you still embarrassed Lord Gremory personally. You lose some, and you win some."

He walked away from me, turning his back on me. All thanks to me? That sounded a bit wrong. "What about my—"

"Oh, your friends?" He turned around. "Your partner escaped Noah security successfully, but was caught and liquidated by our secret operatives. Your other two pals also got wiped out. We'll return the gold to the bank once the media flocks to some other sensation."

Fuck. My plan was a complete and utter failure.

"I don't want you to fret, April. 5 billion luci is 10% of the gold you wanted to steal. That's more than enough to pay your party's shares, pay off your debts, and then resettle in Asmodeus with a stable job. Is that not the normal life you always wanted, even before your death?"

I tilted my head, with mixed feelings stirring in my heart. "How did you know all of that about me?"

He grinned. "Come back in ten years when we declassify our investigation results." He turned towards the door. "I'll take my leave now. We never talked, okay?"

"Okay, we only talked about whether cats or dogs were better." I put on an awkward smile.

He laughed really hard. "Don't forget that animals don't go to Hell." Just before he walked towards the door, he turned around and looked again at me. "April, your plan was not the success you wanted it to be, but it isn't the failure you think it is. You have more money now than when you started, and what's the point of being sentenced to Hell, if not to climb up the ranks at any cost?" He finally opened the door. "Now, I want you to research which district you want to move to before we issue your temporary permit. I don't want to see you here again without a Crimson Visa from Lord Gremory." He finally left, shutting the room behind him.


April 28, 2036

Although I was technically healthy and could be released, Ronald only issued and handed me my temporary stay permit a few days later. I was still bewildered why the Gremory administration treated me the way it has, but their new directives were clear; leave the district in two days after the issuing of my permit, and they'll guarantee an easy life somewhere else.

Just like the rest of Gremory, the hospital was part of a gigantic building going from ocean to ceiling, and in front of it was a bridge with enough width to play football. A few people were going in and out of the hospital. Conveniently, on the other side of the bridge was an aerial tram station, and according to the map in front of it, one of the tram's stops was Semaimachi. Sadly nothing led to the Deck Market, and I still had no personal vehicle to get me there, so taking a seat in the tram was the sensible option. The tram was slow, equipped with an air conditioner, and had windows, so it wasn't hard to get absorbed by the intense traffic — despite the Demon Lottery — and the capitalistic as fuck billboards filling the district.

The day before, I confirmed with Devil Ronald that I would soon disappear to Asmodeus, just like he suggested. It had a governance policy similar to Gremory's, albeit with slightly less robust social programs, and if I had to describe the pictures I had seen, it looked more like Florida if its coast was made of lava. It had fewer skyscrapers, yet the buildings were still high enough to warrant floating cars in addition to the boring land vehicles, with plenty of horizontal area compared to Gremory.

The hardest part was convincing Ronald that I would never do sex work there just because there was a severe shortage of prostitutes and lots of open positions the government wanted to fill. It wasn't my problem that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim groups lobbied the Asmodeus administration in a rare display of unity to offer less protections and cut payments to sex workers — something I'd never expected the district of the Demon of Lust would sign up for. I was more than happy being an office lackey, I just wasn't comfortable with selling my body.

I double tapped my arm just to make sure I still had my money.

MON 5:36PM 4/28/2036 - 5,000,121,700 LUCI

After an hour of switching trams and dealing with the overcomplicated tram system, I finally made it to Semaimachi. Well, to another area within Semaimachi that was a distance away from the main road. It was easy to move around the not-so-busy station area, and ask a few store owners exactly where to go. The biggest road near the station was perpendicular to the main one I was used to, so I followed it all the way to familiar territory.

Rather than heading home, I stopped by Cybermodz for a visit. Mozgorn was messing with his control panel — he was working on some creature that looked like a buff blue ogre with red hair. The ogre's arm was cut open, although I didn't see much flesh at all due to the electronics that were halfway installed into it.

"April!" Mozgorn crawled back to the ground and once again awkwardly waved with all his robotic arms.

"Hey there." I smiled.

"I haven't seen you in a couple days. What happened?" He had a curious look.

"Well," I had no idea if I should tell him or not. But I was supposed to know nothing, so it was an easy call. "I took a couple days off, don't worry."

"Ah, I see." He winked, and this time I couldn't tell if he knew what I was trying to get at or not. "Still, how are your mods?"

"Apart from the regenerative panel making me feel like I was covered in some kind of icky ooze," a feeling which I still had, in fact, "you've done a lot for me. Thanks, Mozgorn."

"Heh, don't mention it. Do you need my help by any chance?" He smiled.

I looked up at the ceiling for a second. I had to do it sooner than later. "Well... I'm leaving Gremory."

Mozgorn briefly shook his head, squinting in disbelief. "Really? I was just looking forward to working on you more. Did something happen?"

"Yeah, and I have to go to Asmodeus for some business matters."

He smiled again in that unique squishy caterpillar way of his. "I hear Asmodeus is a great district. I know you'll do well there, April." He slithered up the walls. "I'll miss you here, but I know you can lead a good life there."

"Thanks. I'm sorry I can't stay here, but I know we'll meet again someday." Actually I wasn't completely sure how likely I'd get the so-called "Crimson Visa from Lord Gremory" as Devil Ronald called it, but hey. Everyone lives forever here. With enough determination I might just get it?

"I know you will, April. You're a strong woman." He made his way back to the control panel. "Anything you want done before you leave?"

I held my chin for a moment. I had buttloads of cash now, and even after I split them, I would still have a lot. This was the best time to get a new mod.

"Sure, I've got a lot of luci to spare so I'll—"

Mozgorn walked closer to me. This time I wasn't grossed out by his appearance. "April, never tell our sleeping fellow here, I'll give you an omniarm for last month's price. How is that?"

I didn't believe what I was hearing. This was a really good deal. "Thank you. Will it hurt too much? I'm still not sure my body can handle it."

He lifted five legs, moving them in a wave motion, like a pulse through a line or a millipede crawling across a log. "Don't worry! Even if you're one of the very few people sensitive to the omniarm, I can revert it."

I laughed at the gesture. "All right, I'll take that offer. Are you free tomorrow?"

"Free all week long, my dear." He grinned in happiness.

Having struck the deal with Mozgorn, I went back home and crashed into bed, making sure to turn on the TV to the news. They were talking about the first successful robbery of Bank Noah in history, with the bank robbers getting away with 50 billion luci worth of gold bars.

I knew for a fact the gold was successfully restored, and this was all a ploy to satisfy Lord Gremory's... shall I say, fetish for automation and probably obsession with grandeur.


April 29, 2036

My final day in Gremory District. I stayed at home for the early parts of the day, packing my stuff in travel bags I had bought from Semaimachi's market. Given how long I spent in this place, I wasn't super attached to it, but it still hurt me. I had a perfectly fine lodge for someone of my terrible status and I was already getting kicked out. At least I had a new place waiting for me in some other region of Hell. On Earth, my new place would be under some bridge in Los Angeles.

During "noon", someone rang the doorbell. The camera showed three buffoons— nay, three guys. My three partners in crime. Unlike the previous times when they picked me up for work, Andy, Eugene and Henry didn't look as enthusiastic. From their subdued demeanor, it was obvious they had given up on me ever opening the door. What better way to reinvigorate them than to slide it open?

They were all wide-eyed. "April!" The three of them shouted in a unison of joy. "We thought we lost you!"

With a smile, I leaned on my shoulder against the frame of the door. "Don't say that."

"I wish it was a mission success for all of us, though. We spent a few days in the hospital, but it wasn't too bad." Eugene lamented.

"Ah yeah, you guys couldn't capture the gold?"

Andy chuckled. "TV says we got away with it, but reality is we lost it to district agents. Damn bloodsuckers."

"Ye did well, April. This all that matters." Henry faintly smiled.

I figured I should start the process of tying up all my loose ends. "Ah yeah, can I talk with you guys and Malstororo? It's important."

"Sure, we'll take you to him." And just like that, we followed Andy back to the gang's bikes, and they took the usual trip to the Marlboro Ring headquarters.

Marlstororo was at his office as usual. He appeared to be out of it before his eyes widened to my sight. "Oh, April!" He left his seat, greeting me with a warm smile. "Thought I'd never see you again!"

"Hey, I'm a human, but I'm not that squishy." I playfully retorted.

Marlstororo laughed while he walked toward me. "I'm sorry for the mission's failure, but all things considered, you all did pretty well." He gently put his right hand on my shoulder. "You've come a long way with us, in such a short time."

I giggled. They really had no idea of the surprise I brought. "Can I trust you guys with a secret?"

"Why wouldn't you?" Andy smiled.

"April, come on, you can count on us." Eugene gave me a thumbs up.

"Ye're not the April I knew," Henry smirked, "so feel free."

"Your secrets are ours. You have my word." Malstororo went back to his chair, and sat down again. "Do tell."

"All right. I was visited by a government official a few days ago." Their eyes were all wide. "The good news is I've got five billion luci."

"H-h-how!?" Eugene couldn't believe me. The others were now enveloped with genuine surprise. They didn't say a single word for a few seconds.

"Five billion luci?" Malstororo stroked his chin. "That's a big deal! It's only a fraction of the lost gold's value, but it is something!"

I laughed. "Ain't I lucky? Say, how will you distribute that cash?"

He leaned back, unable to contain his excitement. "Why'd you get that money, April?"

I shrugged. This was the bad news. "Well, I can't really talk about that. The bad news is I cannot stay in Gremory District after today."

Malstororo quietly facepalmed, while the others gasped.

"Damn, really? You've got to leave?" I showed Andy my temporary permit. Malstororo also saw it from where he was.

"I wish I could stay here, but I must head for Asmodeus District tomorrow."

"April," Malstororo's voice had a small hint of sorrow, "you've done well for the Marlboro Ring, and that's all that matters. You've earned my trust." He smiled. "Besides, Asmodeus is a great stop for you. You've always wanted to lead a normal life, right?"

This was one of the rare moments when I felt happy. I hadn't realized it, but Mozgorn's support yesterday was great, and having Malstororo's endorsement made me feel even better. "Absolutely. I never got the chance in life."

"I want you to know that you've done us a great favor, April. It may appear like just another hit or job to you, but I value these little things a lot. You're one of us now. If you're ever in need of a favor, just call any of us. We'll help you even if you're in Asmodeus."

"Hey," Henry started, "ye didn't run away from us. Better than 10 million luci, eh?"

"Thanks." It was hard to believe that I was begrudgingly working for them half a month ago, but here they were. Things might just go my way for once!

Soon after, Malstororo thought about how the process of splitting the money would go. "Now, I usually take a 30% cut for the whole job, but this time I'll only take 20% for the occasion." He broke down further how the money would be split, but in essence, 1 billion goes to him, 2 billion to my three partners and the other guys who helped us with setting the heist up, and finally, 2 billion to me. Normally he'd take 1.5b, with the remainder of the 3.5b luci evenly split in such a way that everyone would get 700 million, myself included.

I really couldn't believe it. The scene unfolding before me was like something from a dream. "Are you really giving me 2 billion luci? I mean, I'm thankful you hold me that highly, but my mission was a failure."

Malstororo straight up laughed happily. Almost too happily. "It was your idea, April. You took a massive leap of faith, and fought to the bitter end. You deserve the lion's share of the money." He leaned forwards. "Besides, you're moving districts."


"Don't mention it." And so, I transferred all 3 billion luci due to the Marlboro Ring to Malstororo, to distribute as he pleased.

"Andy," I got closer to him.


"10 million luci, right? After that, you'll let me go, right?" I smiled slyly.

He chuckled. "You don't have to do that anymore, April."

"You bet I fucking will. Come on, let's do it." Andy reluctantly, but finally, let me pay off my debts. This was my final balance, after all was said and done.

TUE 2:52PM 4/29/2036 - 1,990,121,700 LUCI

Malstororo stood up. "April. If ever you need help, just call us."

"I will," I couldn't believe what I was about to say, but it was already out of my lips. "We are family after all."

"Now that's the spirit!" Andy cheered.

"Okay, I don't want to hold you here any longer." Malstororo gave me his hand. This was the first time I'd shaken hands with him. If it wasn't a sign that I was on a new level with my partners in crime, I don't know what is. "Good luck wherever you go, April!"

"Thank you." I smiled.

He let go of my hand, and ordered my partners to escort me back home. They led me all the way to my place, and there, I didn't see animosity in their eyes like I once did — especially Henry — but something a lot warmer.

"See you soon, April." Eugene had dried up tears on his cheeks. He didn't even try to hide the tissue in his hand. It was funny and heartwarming.

"Best of luck to ye." Henry just smiled. If my memory was wiped a day or two ago, I couldn't tell he was ever hostile to me.

"Goodbye, April." Andy's voice had a strange emotion to it, but he still did a pretty great job doing what he did best — playing it cool.

"Jeesh, and to think I heard insults from all of you." We all laughed. "See you all soon! I'll be in touch!"

I watched them slowly leave the side street. Just before turning around the corner leading to the main street, they looked back, and waved at me one final time. I did the same, and the moment they took the corner was the last I ever saw of them.


Just before going to Mozgorn to mod me, the doorbell rang. I didn't expect anyone, but the camera put me at ease. It wasn't a bunch of agents who would forcibly take me to Asmodeus before I wrapped up everything here.

It was, quite unexpectedly, Mr. Charles, in the same attire he had before. I really thought he forgot about me.

Sliding the door open, he saw me, and that made him instantly start fidgeting something with his fingers — his car key. I thought he had an iris scanner?

"You all right?" He asked me with an out of place smile.

That question weirded me out. I was in tip-top condition. I glanced down at myself, wondering if I looked off. "Yeah, I'm fine."

He briefly chuckled. "I'm not asking about your health, I'm greeting you."

I rolled my eyes with a cringe. Brits and their alien form of English. "Yeah, hello. Say, umm, what happened to your guiding thing?"

"Yeah, that. I lost more than just the battery, April. Half the car had to be fixed. The motor, the battery, everything had to be relicensed. My iris lock was busted too, and I had to compromise because it cost a fortune, my new lock needs yet another license. Too much bureaucracy just to get back to work. I'm sorry I failed you." He looked up, blowing air into the sky.

I scratched my head. "Well, I'm sorry about all that, but, what brings you here now?"

"Well," he smiled, "I finally fixed my car yesterday, and the first assignment I got was to escort you to— it was Asmodeus District, I believe?"


"Yeah, so I messed up badly. I'm sorry it came down to this."

I found the thought of messing up badly because of that amusing, but it was something admirable. "Don't worry about it. Shit just happens here in Hell. The most important part is you didn't forget me." I smiled.

That seemed to have calmed him down. "Well, thank you."

"I feel you're doing all this for a reason, Mr. Charles." I presumed he was trying to get higher up the ranks in Hell.

He turned his head sideways. "I heard whispers that it's possible to go to Heaven for exceptional behavior. I'd like nothing more than to be reunited with my wife. I miss Anne."

I wasn't sure if what he said about Heaven was true, but it was funny to know everything I did in Hell is why I deserved a longer stay in Hell. "I'm purely incapable of going to Heaven," I smirked, "but I know you can do it, Mr. Charles."

"Thank you," I saw renewed hope in his eyes. "We'll leave tonight, or whenever you're ready. I can help get your things in my car. Anything you still want to do?"

"Yeah, just one more thing."


Later that day, I had Mozgorn install my omniarm. The addition to my body didn't feel weird like I had expected, and certainly better than the not-so-obvious regenerative panel. I wasn't quite sure how to use it with my mind yet, but it was like a high-end Android smartphone fitted into my arm, with touchscreen capabilities, apps, and the likes. I already opened chats with Andy and co., played a game of sudoku, and downloaded more episodes of Secret Agent 606 off a mobile data connection. Figures Hell would have the fastest wireless internet available.

Mozgorn also went the extra mile to install a bunch of adblockers on the device, so my eyes would be spared from seeing my arm being used as a full-screen billboard for amazing, definitely not soulless, F2P games. Nothing more exciting than getting a virtual soccer team full of nobodies and spending billions of luci to get the dream team.

"Hope I'll see you again, April!" Mozgorn waved. "Goodbye!"

"Goodbye!" I waved back. Leaving the store was actually too hard, I felt tears prick at the corners of my eyes. I just liked the guy.

I was on my way back to the house. Handily enough, Mr. Charles was parked in the main road at the beginning of my side street, with all my stuff already packed. "Come on in!"

I plopped into the passenger seat, as he proceeded to slowly roll out of Semaimachi, and soon enough, all of Gremory District. It was going to be a long journey, but hey. I was going to Asmodeus District.

Welcome to Hell, I guess?