WRITTEN BY: SAINT
EDITED BY: Ronin & M.Will.S
A Steel City
This story opens on a dreary night in the neon-lit city, as what was too common in this place. Bodies with umbrellas in hand and coats worn moved through the wet, shimmering sidewalks and streets. Vehicles moved to and fro as bright hues of blues, purples, and reds illuminated the area from the various signs advertising this and that hanging off from the buildings.
Distant sirens rang out from a chase or arrest. Poor sickly people lay in the alleyways away from society, sleeping in the garbage and munching on the gnat-infested food.
A few machines, known as Auto Droids, moved about the streets, tending to this, that, and the other thing, them mindlessly and unemotionally going about their daily tasks programmed into them by their creators.
This is Shiko City, the city of steel and neon. It is a wondrous jewel of bright lights and opportunity, at least to onlookers and dreamers. But at its core, a cesspool; a hell ringed in metal, pretty lights, and false promises for many of its residents save for the rich and powerful. Where high life and low society were the cities calling cards.
A frantic man scurried about, rushing through the crowded streets with desperation as sweat beaded down his face and his tan, hooded coat trailed in the wind.
“No, no, no. I screwed up, I really screwed up,” the man lamented as he ran, not caring nor paying any attention to the people he plowed through as they slung curses and dirty looks his way.
“I’ve got to get out of here! I’ve got to get to my car and leave now, before…” He stopped mid-thought as he froze in place. A few paces in front of him stood a masked figure. A dark cloak adorned the individual’s body. Fear crept its way up his spine.
“N-n-no!” he shouted. “Stay the hell away!” He made a mad dash back the way he came, looking back occasionally to see if the figure was following him. He didn’t see the individual anywhere.
He turned sharply into a large space between buildings and jumped on a fence as he attempted to climb over it. “Just have to get home and-” He felt himself be yanked from the fence as he was thrown to the ground with incredible force. He felt his right arm pop and crack from the impact as a sharp, intense pain shot its way up his arm. He screamed out as he rolled on the floor a bit. When he managed to recover, he quickly glanced around as he pushed himself back into a wall with his feet and pulled out a small pistol.
“S-show yourself!” he shouted out in fear and a pain-laced voice. The air was still and. Apart from the ambiance of the city, all was quiet in the alleyway. He heard a soft splash from a foot stepping in a puddle to his right and fired a round haphazardly towards that direction. There was more silence. Suddenly his attention was drawn to a faint shimmer in front of him.
“Stealth-camo,” he thought in a panic. He aimlessly fired two rounds before the invisible figure grabbed his arm with a vise-like grip and raised him into the air. The man struggled but had no choice but to look on in horror as his wrist was snapped back at an awkward angle with a loud and resounding crack.
The man howled in pain as tears and saliva traveled down his face. The figure uncloaked itself. The person had a masculine frame underneath the black cloak they wore. A mask with an unsettling, wide, onyx grin painted on it adorned their face along with black gloves, pants, a dark cardigan, and combat boots. The man looked up in fear. “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!” he exclaimed. The figure remained silent as the individual raised their left hand. It was then that the man caught a glimpse of a set of numbers on the figure’s pale wrist that became exposed. His eyes widened as the realization of something dawned on his mind. “That’s…” Suddenly, the figure grabbed the man by his throat and lifted him up in the air.
He felt his throat close up and pain shot through it. Pressure began to build in his face and skull, and his eyes began to water as he was being choked. He clawed vigorously at the figure’s wrist, but they didn’t move even a centimeter. Within minutes, his arms went limp as a crack reverberated out and his body was dropped to the floor.
The figure stared down at the man for a few seconds before its attention was drawn to the backdoor of the building its victim was leaning upon as it opened. A woman stepped out, carrying some trash from within the restaurant. “Man, I hate this damn job. Stupid freaking pervert boss! Someday I’ll make a name for myself in this city and he’ll regret how he has been treating me.” she muttered out in anger as she moved to dump the trash in a dumpster. She stopped upon noticing the corpse leaning against the wall. His form was bloodied and his left wrist and head were both bent in awkward angles.
Her eyes went wide as she froze for a second before dropping the trash and letting out a scream loud enough to alert her co-workers. On a nearby rooftop, the cloaked figure stood while looking down at the spectacle. Their mask was in their left hand and the person's face was obscured by the hood of the cardigan they wore as it blew in the wind.
The figure turned, reactivating their camouflage as they departed the scene.
A few hours later, authorities were on the scene. Holographic yellow tape cordoned the alley as six individuals stood in the area. Four of them were members of the Shiko City Police Department; two of whom were regular officers, both male. The other two were detectives. One was a dark-skinned male with a bald head adorned by a long scar with another lining his cheek, just under a metallic eyepatch. He had a well-kept goatee decorating his middle-aged and grizzled face.
The other detective, his subordinate and partner, had medium-length chocolate brown hair that hid a scar obtained from a childhood incident. Her skin was of a fair complexion with light makeup adorning her features. Her hazel eyes were accentuated with dark eyeliner. Both she and her partner wore the signature dark blue trench coats of the police department’s investigation bureau over their standard business attire. The acronym, SCPD, was written in bold yellow lettering on the front left breast and back of their coats.
“So that’s just it officer, Sarah here spotted the body and the weapon while taking out our trash,” the manager, an old balding man with gray hair and an unkempt mustache, told one of the officers as they wrote some stuff down in a notepad. “We have no idea what happened here. We didn’t even hear any shots fired.”
“I see,” the officer responded. “And you didn’t see anything unusual on the scene? No other persons or signs of such, ma’am?” the officer asked the woman, Sarah, as he scratched his head nonchalantly with his pen.
“N-no, S-sorry,” she responded, still clearly shaken up by the sight of the dead man currently being looked over by the two detectives.
“Alrighty, thank you,” the officer responded as he slid his pen into his uniform sleeve and dropped his notepad into his pocket. “I won’t hold up any more of your time. I would suggest that your employee here takes the rest of the night off. This event has clearly shaken her up.” The restaurant manager laughed awkwardly.
“Yes, yes of course. Thank you, officer,” he responded as he turned to Sarah and ushered her back inside.
The officer sighed as he turned to his very green partner.
His partner noticed the man’s expression. “Let me guess. This is pretty commonplace around here, huh Sarge?” he asked with a slight hint of amusement.
The Sergeant shrugged lazily as he walked toward the detectives. “Welcome to Shiko City. A bloody shithole that the adverts would pass off as the jewel of California,” he responded to the rookie as he moved past him.
He walked up to the male detective as he scanned the man’s body with a wrist-mounted device. “Detective,” he greeted, garnering the man’s attention.
“Garfield,” he responded with a friendly tone. He regarded the man with a nod before returning to his work. “What you got for me?”
“Well, the old man and the girl didn’t really have much we could go off of. Just said they found his body all mangled like that while taking out the trash,” Garfield explained. “You got anything, Jones?”
The detective looked at his scanner. “Outside of some information on the victim and his injuries, not much. Not even a damn fingerprint or loose hair,” he uttered. He began reading the information on his scanner.
“Mathew J. Conner. A former employee for the Tomaru corporation, who worked as one of their chief engineers. Aged 33, single, and diagnosed with cartilage deterioration in his lumbar. Cause of death, broken neck, with other notable injuries being internal bleeding, dislocated wrist, and fractures along his right arm.”
Garfield whistled. “Whoever is behind this did a number on this guy. They must have really had it out for him.”
“You got that right,” Jones mused. Garfield glanced over to Detective Jones’s partner.
“What about the brood queen over there,” Garfield asked while gesturing to the woman in question with a slight nod of his head.
Jones glanced over at her as she went from scanning the man’s weapon to a puddle of water.
“You’ve got something?” Jones called to her as she continued scanning. She paused to look down at her scanner for a moment before glancing around. Jones sighed as Garfield chuckled.