Back into the shadows – the soft, caressing darkness. Using the angry shriek of pursuing sirens as a guide and their flashing lights as a reverse beacon, a wraith once more, he traverses the rust stained slums with ease. Emaciated streets drift by his peripheral, left behind by negligence stemming from unrestrained capitalism and special interests, the landscape blends together as the motion blur directs his eyes to the rapidly approaching destination. Throughout the concrete kingdom that is the metropolis, signs of a lost time are strewn about, a time of blind faith, xenophobia, decadence, and life in overwhelming vanity. Faded billboards litter the skyline with partially destroyed images of happiness and wealth. Manufactured faces from upon high divinely cast subliminal ideals in promise of a false happiness personified. From the level of the proletariat, plastic eyes look on from the storefronts, mannequins stripped of their coverings, their blank soiled faces looking into eternity asking for a dignified end. Few windows show light from within, a quiet defiance of the emptiness that seems to have conquered this place.
The sounds of destruction die down as safety draws nigh, a safe house within a provincial prison, but more importantly – his home. Hypnotic, the double heel click of mile ridden boots echo within familiar passages, but something breaks this regular sense of ease, perverting a rare and short sense of comfort.
Voices…Distant yet close… Spewing venomous words… One, two, three men… A woman…
This is nothing new and means nothing to him as he continues on, but as he walks he realizes the proximity may be cause for alarm. This section of the city is the abandoned industrial district, usually devoid of life aside from a few souls using the vacancies as a safety net from the incessant searching eyes of the Elite. Not just one person but four people are currently within earshot of his base… Tales of murder, rape, and violation draw attention where it is unwanted. Changing his course as if it was premeditated, he crouches, stalking his trespassers in an attempt to keep the element of the unknown to his advantage. Around two right-hand bends await 4 lives, their futures linked regardless of will to the new, spectral, fifth. The body count rises once more, eerily similar to the preceding events of the evening. Thoughts race as this unplanned encounter winds towards a climax of uncertain ends; the rules of survival seem truer than ever. Heroism leads to death, thinking of others more than the self is a direct violation of the state of nature. His mind screams in protest as he reaches visual of his new targets.
Simple analysis leads to the standard small mob scene, three on one, a single assailant with the wall to her back. Logical deductions lead to the possibility of taking out two of the attackers in a single action, but not the third due to distance and physical limitations. The three men form a motley crew with the first being lean and tall, the second, short, squat and balding, and the third absolutely monstrous and muscular. The only relief being the reduction of suspicion that they are undercover Elite soldiers or attack muscle from the crime syndicate, Nyne; as their lack of any uniformity or specialization is painfully clear. Surprisingly, no weapons are drawn, and sweat beads on the foreheads of the men as they seem unsure of their upper hand in the situation. Safely obscured in the shadow of a multicolored dumpster, the many years of vandalism eventually giving way to the time-tested inevitability of oxidation, the fifth mind waits in confusion.
His hands and knees rest in stone, paint, and rust chips as he attempts to analyze the situation; why is no one speaking anymore and why are the men holding back? There is no time to answer the questions as he acts, better to go on the offensive when a mob is broken, three individuals will be more dangerous if confident and unified in their charge. The grind of brick and plaster breaks the silence as his boots grip into the concrete; he sweeps the stout right leg of the short assailant with a sharp kick and, into the spine of the giant, he drives the short edge of a brick. The burst of movement startles the thin man as he backs toward the woman, aghast as three vertebrae audibly shatter in the hulking man’s spine.
The two men dropping in paralysis and confusion, four hundred plus pounds of distraction, the first attack was a success. His movement stops as he braces himself for retaliation, two on one is still dangerous even if one is temporarily grounded. Now unified in their purpose, the two remaining thugs redirect their concentration to a new focal point, unaware in a lapse of judgment, of movement coming from their former captive. Before their pupils could dilate to focus on the woman’s slender frame, teeth were sheared from the jaw as her elbow invaded the mouth of the standing man, sending blood and splintered enamel airborne as he crumpled. Looking up in terror, two tiny eyes deeply set into a wide, greasy face, registered light for the last time as her heel, streaking downward, reached the bridge of his nose multiple times, culminating in a wet crunch and light bubbling sounds as he quietly suffocated.
With unexpected lightning speed these last two attackers were immobilized – completing the confrontation, it would seem. But, in the confusion, the woman’s blurry silhouette shifts direction and lands a strong downward blow on his raised forearm as it was lifted in an instinct of protection.
Now face to face, locked in a violent embrace, they stare into each other’s eyes with open distrust. Her face comes to a stop within inches of his and he can feel her breath on his neck as he forcefully defies her attack. Lit by the pale city luminescence, twisted with exertion, age and wisdom speak in the corners of her eyes. The fiery green orbs speak of defiance, radiating a vibrant need to survive. In the lull of a stalemate he shifts his position and sends her center of gravity wildly to the right. This is necessary to regain his posture and even go on the offensive if the situation escalates any more; thanks with a side of impending doom is always invigorating.
Her lips part and with a dry but smooth voice she speaks.
“My name is Lilith, you?”
Shifting from his fighting stance he looks up with his dark, piercing eyes, and without his mouth moving she heard a voice in her mind.
“I don’t have one.”