“Oh my god, Tatsuo!” Her beautiful blue eyes started up at him in terror, and tears streamed down her face. She held onto his hand for dear life, but her grip was slipping.
“Hang on, don’t let go!” He cried back, equally afraid. Blood splattered across her face. His blood. It hadn’t even hurt. Her mouth gaped open in an “O” of shock as she fell from the makeshift metal scaffolding that comprised the many levels of the labyrinth, taking his lower left arm with her. “No, Amber!”
“Tatsuo!” A voice jerked Mod out of his sleep. He blinked as his eyes adjusted to the darkness and wearily sat up on the edge of the bed. He heard the voice again. It was Demona, an “entertainer” at a local gentleman’s club. “Tattie? Come on, I know you’re there.”
“I’ve asked you not to call me that.” He replied groggily. He glanced up at the clock and groaned. It was only nine o’clock at night on February 14th. Demona replied with a giggle.
“I got the stuff you wanted. It’s good too!” The girl was clearly drugged out of her gourd, like she was most of the time, but she had connections. She was pretty hot to boot too. She was an elf like Mod, but had several expensive augmentations that were clearly not natural, but still immensely pleasing to the eye.
“You working tonight?” He rubbed the back of his neck to relax his tense muscles while opening and closing his cyberhand repeatedly. He could have easily had the obvious cyberarm replaced with a synthetic, or maybe even a cultured replacement, but had decided not to. Choosing instead to keep the exposed metal as a constant reminder of what had been stolen from him so many years ago.
“Yep!” She replied a bit too cheerfully. “Will I get to see you again? I’ve missed you…” Oof, that sweet, sultry voice was almost painful.
Mod couldn’t help but smile. “Yea, I’ll be there.”
“Wiz! I’m on at ten, so hurry up!” The telecom beeped as she ended the call. Mod put on his glasses and hastily cleaned up by changing into fresh clothes and tying his hair back with a green ribbon. He swiped his lined coat, black of course, off the back of his chair and pulled it on as he walked towards the garage.
“Off to see Demona again?” Greg, a sizable fomorian, asked from the couch without looking. He had his arm draped across Pip’s shoulders, and his own slightly nicer looking cyberarm clutched a bottle of cheap synthetic rotgut. He took a swig and passed it off to the ork dog shamaness. Apparently they were an item again. Mod shrugged.
“What can I say? I just can’t stay away.” He swung his arms out in a “what can you do?” gesture.
“Alright, have fun.” Pip waved half-heartedly, her eyes not leaving the trideo set that was playing a game of Urban Brawl. Mod didn’t know what teams were playing, nor did he particularly care. He’d never been a big fan of sports, and he had little desire to develop a taste for it. He trudged down to the garage and fired up his gleaming silver Suzuki Mirage. It had no restricted or illegal modifications, since he only used it for recreational purposes, or to simply get from point A to point B quickly. It possessed a nifty anti-theft system thanks to Jack, the team’s rigger who was currently snoring like a freight truck in the driver’s seat of his heavily modified van after a long day of trying to repair it…again. Mod smirked wryly and swung his leg over the bike. He lifted the kickstand and secured his full-face helmet before pulling around to the main road and disappearing into the night.
It didn’t take him long to reach the club. He’d been here so many times that he’d learned several shortcuts through the Berlin streets. Mod pulled around to the back of the building and parked his bike near the door. He shut the engine down and hung his helmet off the handlebar. He dismounted and activated the anti-theft system as well as the stealth tag in his helmet. He perked up at a familiar voice.
“Eyyy, Mod! How you doing, chummer?” Scorpio was part of a local go-gang that was being paid to protect the club in Nuyen and other favors. He was a burly human with an absurd number of facial piercings, solid black cybereyes, and fiber optic hair that displayed a dizzying array of patterns and colors. He grinned cheerfully, revealing a pair of shiny chrome fangs.
“Still breathing.” Mod joked while holding still for a cursory MAD scan. “Everything else is negotiable, as usual.” He could almost hear Jack yelling “Oi, that’s Nobody’s line!” as Scorpio laughed and waved him through.
Hardcore club music assaulted Mod’s ears as he moseyed through the club, weaving between cheap synthleather couches and even cheaper plasteel tables. Shot girls traipsed about carrying trays of overpriced drinks mixed from bottom shelf synthahol. It was a fairly low-brow place, but it did have one good thing going for it…Demona. A heartbreakingly beautiful elf with thick, wavy black hair, deep red eyes, delicately curved horns that could gore any man foolish enough to threaten her, and he knew those crimson rosebud lips hid a set of razor sharp retractable fangs.
He sat front and center, waving away the shot girl while watching Demona’s perfectly round hips do what they did best. Her black synthleather bra lifted her ample breasts into a great wealth of cleavage that a man could get lost in and never be seen again. She saw him sitting there and gave a closed-lipped, knowing smile. He was addicted to her, and she knew it. Her lips curled upwards as she slithered to the front of the stage. She moved like a snake, and he doubted that she was any less deadly. She reached out and beckoned him near with slender fingers. She was playing with him, he knew the rules: No touchie. Her song finally ended and she sashayed off the stage, her stilettos clicking rhythmically against the plastic material. She made her way straight towards him, and he quickly transferred the appropriate funds while he still had the mind to.
“I’ve missed you.” Demona leaned over and whispered in his ear, placing her hand on his. Mod stiffened and inhaled sharply. Her touch alone was enough to send electricity arcing through his system. She grabbed his hand, the real flesh-and-blood one, and guided him into a private room. She playfully shoved him into the overstuffed booth and flipped on the white noise machine before crawling into his lap. “You got the cred?”
“I…ah-” His breath caught in his throat. “Yea, you have the goods?”
She nodded ever so slightly. “Come with me tonight, back to my place.”
Mod blinked in surprise. It sounded almost too good to be true, but the look on her face told him that the goods weren’t here. He’d have to play along to get what he wanted, and pray it wasn’t a trap. He gave a “you’ve bested me” smile. “How could I say no to you?”
Demona’s face lit up with a mix of victory and excitement. She glanced around to make sure no one was watching. “Meet me out back. Scorpio will cover for me.” She hopped up and scampered away.
Mod leaned his head back while trying to determine exactly what he thought he was doing. His every runner instinct screamed trap, but he wanted what she had badly. He wanted her badly. His nightmares were getting worse, and he needed a fix. He needed it badly enough to force his instincts to the back of his mind. He pried himself out of the booth and walked out to his bike, giving a cursory nod to Scorpio. “I’m off, chummer.”
“Already?” He sounded genuinely surprised, and looked even more so when Demona practically skipped past him dressed in her regular street clothes, which were still quite revealing.
“You’ll cover for me if anyone asks, right?” She called out to the Technicolor bouncer while taking her seat behind Mod on the Mirage.
“Uh…yea, sure thing.” His brow furrowed. Demona flashed him a thankful smile and took the helmet from Mod. He watched her put it on and scowled as they pulled away. He hissed through clenched teeth. “Bitch!”
The pair were already attached at the lips as they stumbled through the front door to Demona’s apartment. It was a tiny but lushly appointed studio, and the scents of jasmine and patchouli hung in the otherwise stale air. In one deft motion, she threw off his lined coat and pulled his shirt off over his head before shoving him back onto the plush bed. Mod watched her place her thumb over a biometric scanner on a reinforced metal cabinet and smiled hungrily when she pulled out a small duffle bag. He knew what was inside even before she opened it to reveal his drug of choice. Lots and lots of top quality eX. Five grand worth, to be specific. Demona plucked two doses from the bag before closing it back up and placing it carefully to the side. He laid back as she crawled into his lap and opened his mouth. He heard her giggle and felt her straddle his lap while placing a dose on his tongue. He closed his mouth and opened his eyes to see her take the other dose. She grinned wolfishly. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Tattie.”
Mod stared at the ceiling and enjoyed the pretty colors as the drug took hold. His mind just barely registered what she had said. “I’ve told you not to call me tha-AH!” Her hips rocked against him, sending a jolt of electricity up his spine with every movement. His skin tingled beneath her touch and the scent of her perfume, just barely noticeable before, was now almost overwhelming. It was as close to heaven as a twisted freak like him could ever hope to get.
He was jerked awake by a loud crash and Demona’s screaming. In his sudden panic, Mod tumbled off the bed with a heavy thud. He heard a man’s voice. “You fucking bitch!”
“Scorpio!” Demona reached for her Nitama Sporter, but the ganger emptied the clip into her skull before she could bring the pistol to bear. Mod stared at his lover’s mangled face in shock for only a split second before his instincts kicked in. He grabbed her pistol and spun to face the angry ganger, who was still reloading his own gun. Mod heard his heartbeat in his ears, and the world slowed down. Scorpio looked up, still fighting with the new clip, and his eyes grew wide with a look of “I fucked up”. Mod sneered and fired a single shot into his attacker’s shoulder. Scorpio jerked back and Mod snatched up his coat. Thankfully he still had his pants and boots on. He fled down the hall as reality snapped back to normal speed. Shots rang out behind him as the wounded ganger screamed at him in colorful German vulgarity. He threw on his coat, hopped on his bike and sped away, kicking up dirt and gravel as more gunfire whizzed past his pointed ears.
He drove blindly, not caring where he wound up. After he was sure he was far enough away, he pulled off into an abandoned alley. What the fuck did Scorpio have against Demona? Mod realized he was shaking from the adrenaline crash. He tried to take a deep breath and clutched at the sharp pain that tore through his side. He pulled his hand away and saw blood. “Fakku!” He thought in his native Japanese. Stupid fragger had actually managed to land a shot. He pulled himself off the bike and staggered from the wave of dizziness, slumping against the wall and sliding to the ground. He could feel blood seeping between his fingers and dripping down his side. It was getting hard to breathe and his vision was blurring. He fumbled through a pocket for his commlink and called Greg. “Come on, please pick up…”
The ringing stopped and there was a momentary pause. “Hello?” Greg sounded sleepy.
“I fucked up, Top.” He panted, struggling to remain conscious. “Demona’s dead. I need help.” With a swipe of his thumb, he sent his location to Greg’s commlink.
“Jack and I are on the way.” The troll sounded much more alert. “Just hang in there, brother.”
Mod let the device clatter to the ground. He no longer had the strength to hold it, or even bother putting it back in his pocket. He coughed and groaned from the pain in his side, which had ebbed to a dull ache. The alley lit up with golden light as the sun rose above the towering skyrakers, making him squint. He stared blankly at the gleaming spires, only able to hear the ragged gurgling of his own shallow breathing as his vision blurred to nothingness. Mod welcomed the cold and comforting embrace of death, but one thing kept him from taking his old friend’s hand. Something he still needed to do. Something Demona had distracted him from for years. The screeching of tires tugged at the outer edges of the decker’s awareness. Had it been that long already?
New movement sent a wave of pain through him, pulling his mind back to reality. He was being lifted and carried by massive arms. He opened his eyes and saw only the blurred edges of bone-white horns. A familiar gruff voice tried in vain to comfort him. “I got you, brother. You’re gonna be fine.”
Mod was too weak to do anything but whimper as Greg placed him in the van’s Valkyrie unit. “Scorpio…killed…her…” He wheezed, now able to somewhat breathe again. Stabilized and in safe hands, Mod let the darkness close in. Greg and Jack exchanged a dangerous look.
Scorpio favored his shoulder while standing outside of the Devil’s Pit club. He’d managed to convince everyone that Demona had skipped town with that fragging decker. Still, the wound on his shoulder smarted. He’d told the boss that he’d tried to stop Demona from leaving, and the decker had shot him for it. Boss had smacked him for the failure and docked his pay, but believed him. The ganger grinned victoriously, his chrome fangs glinting under the street light. A dark colored van pulled into the lot and came to a stop in front of him. The side door slid open to reveal a very angry looking troll and an equally furious human. Both were armed with Ares Alpha assault rifles. Scorpio made a move for his own weapon, but was too slow. The pair in the van opened fire and emptied their clips into the ganger’s body. Blood and gore splattered across the wall and doorway behind him, and he fell to the ground with a wet splat. The door slid shut and the van sped away before any of Scorpio’s friends could react.