The Black Yonder


#1

What follows is an aborted story I started writing in August of 2004. I have yet to post it on SRK, but I felt I might want to revive it so I wanted to get the responses here before I went about doing that. So, if you do bother to read through all of this please comment!
-BP

A woman gazed at the stars. She finished munching down a sack of cheese puffs, releasing the bag from her hands grasp and allowing it to float lazily in her cockpit. Index Iness pushed her seat backward and lied down, relishing in the peace of being disconnected from the world below her. A fresh cadet of the space traffickers, she had been in orbit on patrol for over twenty-four hours. She warmed up to the sun outside, basking in its heat as if it massaged each pore of her body with tiny fingers. It reminded Index that her brown skin was a little too pale, and that she should maybe soak the pigment up. She only had twelve hours left of tranquility among the cosmos before she would have to return to Earth, back in the office crunching permits and IDs for reckless kids whose parents bought them shiny new flying cars.

After each day, Index would come home to her studio apartment with her shoulders sore from the janitorial work she does for the department. While it wasnt in her job description, she couldnt find it in her heart to refuse her bosses, or her co-workers. Her hands would slip from her apartments own doorknob occasionally, because they would still be soggy after scrubbing down a deep stain from a carpet. Index would walk over to her answering machine every time she arrived home at night, always interested in who would call her.

Usually, its her mother, who dutifully rings her daughter up once a week, wondering how shes faring hundreds of miles away from her country home. Her mother always asks, Index, when are you going to settle down? Index wouldnt respond, because she knew its a silly question. With all of the work she does, she wouldnt have time for a man to break her heart. Index would usually sigh at this point, offer up a half-hearted, well, I dont know, and then ask how her sister is doing.

And that would have been tonight, if Index werent napping in space.

Index could only make out a buzzed clicking sound, and a static voice following it. She was half-awake, her eyelids like anchors. It probably was something important, but she lacked any strength to receive the call. Theyd understand. She wanted to go back to sleeping. Shed had a beautiful dream, where she wandered into a convenience store in a desert canyon with a purple sunset in the horizon, and a giant winged lion wrapped in an Afghani blanket licked her arm affectionately. Or at least, it had seemed beautiful due to typically nonsensical dream logic. The dispatch on the other end of reality however refused to be ignored, and she got emotional.

OKAY, WHAT THE FUCK?! she shouted through the speaker. IVE BEEN ASKING YOU TO GET YOUR ASS BACK TO EARTH FOR THE PAST HALF HOUR NOW! I SWEAR TO GOD, IF YOU DONT RESPOND, ILL BLAST A HOLE THROUGH YOUR FUCKIN WINDOW AND CHOKE YOUR STUCK UP ASS TO DEATH!!!

Index woke up fast.

Ohoh, oh shit! Youre from the department, right?

HELL THE FUCK YEAH, BITCH! Index remembered soon enough that the next patrol doesnt get paid until the last one clocks in at the department. She must be desperate for money, deep in debt, if she fumed over a half hour of wasted work.

Uh, uhright away, sorry! Index sped off, descending into the atmosphere, letting all the pretty colors zip by her.

~o~

The cycle was always like this. Every other week, she was up there, taking a vacation from life and soaking up space, counting the days till the next shift. When Index came to her apartment building that night, a sign tacked onto the elevator had the words OUT OF ORDER scribbled onto it. She lived on the seventh floor. She had just bought groceries, and couldnt bring them all up on one trip. She had to park all the way down the street. Index knew bringing her groceries to her flat wouldve been a challenge, but without the elevator, this had become a situation. Index dropped the paper bags she was holding onto the floor slowly, and dropped to her knees.

I just want to relax.

Index got up after a minute, then proceeded up the stairs, five times. She opened the door to her apartment, dropped the bags, locked the door, and hopped down the stairs, fives times, again. She walked outside, out to the end of the increasingly longer street, and knew that this would be the last trip.

When Im finished with all of this, Im gonna grab these ice cream cones and tear them up. Demolish them. Index walked up those stairs again, the trip feeling a little shorter now. Those ice cream cones knew what they were doing when they allowed themselves to be packaged like that. Theyre like little junkie whores!

Excuse me!

Huh? Index looked back to see who called. She was on the third floor, four left.

You live here, right? The girl was young, about 19 years old. She had blue, messy-looking short hair, and wore a loose Hawaiian shirt print which featured a red sunset on a small island, with a pair of black jeans. I, uhlost my keys. I was wondering if I can use your phone?

My pho-yeahsure. Index nodded her head up at the next stairway. Im four floors up.

Fuckin A! the girl chimed. I just moved in a week ago. Whats your name?

Index.

Like the cards? the girl asked. Index nodded. You must be a cop or something like that, right? Look at your uniform Index wore a collared white shirt with long black sleeves. This was the standard uniform of public servants like police officers and traffickers. The girl had seen countless action movies where justice-driven officers of the law solely took down crime organization around the world using sophisticated technology and extreme martial arts training. You ever kick a bad guy out a window before, like in Black Buddhist?

Uhnope. Who are you anyway?

You want to knowwho I am?! the girls suddenly stopped walking up the last flight of stairs, paused in awkwardness. You should have asked if you wanted to know!

I did.

IM THE DESTINED ONE! SHE WHO BRINGS JUSTICE TO POVERTY! IM SAVIOR MOUNTAIN! You remember that line, right?

Never saw it. From outside Indexs apartment, a phone was heard ringing. Oh, shit!

Youre no fun. Its a line from Black Buddhist, only the cops name is Roguestream Genesis. All too soon, they were home, grocery bags cluttering the floor. Hey, you need any help with this stuff?

UhI got it. Savior nodded and walked past Indexs tiny kitchen/dining room, and into the living room where the phone was. The phone had rung its last, and the answering machine picked up the rest of the call.

Hello Index. Its mom. I just wanted to know if you were back in outer space yet. I guess notI miss you, honey. I wish youd come home with us for the holidays. Your father and sister want to tell you they miss you and love you very much alsogood bye.

Aw. You got a sweet mom. Savior called out to Index from the living room, who was busy unpacking her groceries on the kitchen table. Savior took a gander at the city outside of the living room window, the cold blue neon lights outside illuminating the room. Does she call regularly?

Everyone says that. Index tore out an ice cream cone from its box and began leaning on the wall in the hallway to eat it. She looked at a mirror which stood in front of her.

But she said something about the holidays?

Yeah, sure. She wants me to stay a couple weeks at our old farmhouse. Index looked at her own reflection, at her own hair. She had bright orange hair, spiky at the top of her head with red tips, but its length curled down to her neck. She liked the way it spiked at the top of her head but remained long and curled. She adored the bright orange tint that she was born with. Much more kempt than Saviors messy blue scalp.

What holiday is coming up next?

Only the biggest one! Indexs eyes peered down to her stomach. It was flat, although the scale had said she gained seven pounds before she left for space. Her legs werent as toned as she wanted them to be either. Red and green, yuletide gatheringswhere have you been for the past month? Index sighed, staring at the reflection of her unwrapped ice cream. She put it back in the box, and resumed unpacking groceries.

Out. I was out. Um, I havent had anything to eat all day either. Ill buy that big bag of potato chips from your for a couple dollars!

Deal. Index responded immediately, tossing the sack of fat across the room. Savior grabbed it in one hand and began dialing the phone in the other. She couldnt hear the dial tone, however, and the call didnt go through.

What the hell? Savior shrugged it and tore open the chips.

Do you need a place to stay tonight? Index asked, out of the blue.

howd you know I needed a place to stay?

Your apartments locked? No way to get inside? Umunless you already called somebody.

Nope! Phones dead! Savior grinned. Then well use this night as a valuable opportunity! It was fate that brought us together Index, (God thats a weird name), so well use this time to learn about eachother!

Heh. Index smiled to herself; this sudden friend of hers was a little too enthusastic, but she had charisma and confidence in spades. She was getting kind of fun to hang around, even in these brief minutes. Plus, Index was sure that shed look better standing next to a punk-looking kid like Savior anyway.

~o~

Late at night, Index and Savior were in the middle of a kung fu movie marathon the latter proposed to the former.

Why didnt I believe you before? Index asked herself out loud.

Because you werent convinced that movies can cause you to be moved and inspired by the heart and soul of real human beings. Savior heard the phone ring. They fixed the line. Hey, phones ringing.

Get it for me, will you? Index squealed. This Shu Lu guys a total bad ass. He just sliced that guys head in the middle of a crowded restaurantin a space station!

Me get it? Its your phone. And the hero, Burning Lee, is hardercore. He ate a bomb! He ATE A BOMB!

Yeah, but I paid for these movies. You owe me.

Scuse me, but we each paid for half.

I paid half and tax. Thats a three bucks thirty-four in debt you owe me. Index held tightly to her bowl of lo mein, hastily twirling the noodles with a fork and cramming it down her mouth as Burning Lee confronted Shu Lu with a jetpack in the depths of outer space.

Alrig-the phone stopped ringing. Savior lopped back down onto the sofa and put her feet up on the table in front of her. Hehkung fu jetpacks are awesome.

The answering machine started up.

We know youre there Savior. click

Index jerked her head at Savior. Savior jerked her head at the window. Savior darted off the couch and a flying car hovered just outside. Index, dumbfound, just stared at her.

INDEX, GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE NOW!!!


#2

A man standing in a flying car started to bang on Index Inesss apartment window. He was obviously a thug, dressed in a black suit with a cheap dark woolen mask on his head. Another man was sitting behind the steering real of the car, paying attention to the airspace ahead of him. Savior Mountain slowly revealed herself, edging out into view.

Are you Savior? the thug asked.

Erno. Savior quickly glanced back to the sofa shed been watching movies on. Flaming Baracudas was still playing in the background, with chop socky sound effects blasting away in surround sound glory. Index was nowhere to be found, and Savior had a sigh of relief for at least that.

Huh The mobster pulled a photo out of his pocket and inspected it. This picture I got says youre Savior. The goon held a photo up to the window. It depicted Savior in a white t-shirt at a bar, with an entourage of musclemen, and a large neon sign behind them that said SAVIOR FUCKING MOUNTAIN.

Wellshit. Savior looked down, deep in concentration, and then looked back up at the thug, smiling. I guess Im Savior then. What can I do you for? The thug brandished a knife and kicked the window in without warning, knocking Savior backward. He leapt out of the car and into the apartment, while Savior quickly got up and edged away.

Sorry. Gotta kill you. Can you please hold still? Savior quickly darted her eyes, looking for something that could help defend herself. She saw a long lamp. Savior grabbed it and swung it at her attacker as if it were a makeshift staff. She kept missing, and it didnt seem to bother the goon.

A shot burst across the apartment, and a bullet pierced the would-be assassins leg. Savior scurried over to the corner of the living room to avoid the blast. The thug feel to the floor writhing, grasping at his knee. At this angle he could see that Index Iness held an officer-class handgun, pointed squarely at him.

SAVIOR! Index yelled.

INDEX?!

SHOULD I KILL HIM OR NOT?!

NO! DONT! the man begged. Savior picked up the knife the goon dropped when he was shot down, observing it carefully.

HES ONLY GOT A KNIFE! Savior responded. ID BE MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE FUCKER STILL IN THE CAR OUTSIDE!

YOU ON THE FLOOR! DOES HE HAVE A GUN?!

Uhwhats the best answer? he asked. Index shrugged, ran over to the man and kicked his gut in. Once satisfied, she darted off to the other corner of the room.

What the hells the accomplice doing?!

Looks like heson the phone. Savior noticed the cars driver chatting away on his cell phone. The driver then turned towards the window, flipped Savior the bird, and raced off. He left us dry!

Good. Index raised her weapon at Savior. Now who the fuck are you?!

ImIm

a psychopath! The goon on the floor shouted.

Shut up. Savior composed herself, leaning on the wall and crossing her arms, nonchalant to the gun pointed at her head. Hes a gangster sent by a boss called Erholtz. He profits from the civil strife of the Maria colony.

The Maria colony? Index thought it sounded familiar, like something she heard on the news earlier that year. What the hell does that have to do with me?!

Nothing! I didnt know itbut I mustve been bugged

A damn good bug, too. The thug shuddered, and finally passed out.

Eh Index lowered her gun slightly while nodding her head, but quickly snapped it back into its upright position. But what does that have to do with you?!

Im a Law! Index remembered hearing about Laws. They were private citizens who gained a limited form of police jurisdiction by applying for warrants. In execution, they were the modern day incarnations of bounty hunters, private investigators, and even vigilantes.

Show me then! Your license! Savior moved forward. Indexs fingers loosened, and she locked her gun, placing it in her pocket after Savior unfurled her wallet. Youre a Class C?!

Yeah.

How can you be an Interplanetary?! Can you even afford a ship?! Index was genuinely shocked. Savior just shrugged and half-grinned.

You know, Erholtz is pissed at me for more than just snooping around. Savior pointed to the gangster lying on the floor in a small puddle of his blood. Hey, tie him up will you? I gotta take a shower.

At a time like this?!

Of course. Theres a bug on my body, probably in my hair or something.

And are you so sure we should be talking out loud?! If youre bugged, its probably got a mic!

You havent been paying attention. This guy had to check with a photo to make sure I was who he thought I was. If thered been audio he wouldnt have had to. Savior walked past Index and into a small bathroom beside the kitchen. Oh, and can I borrow some clothes of yours? I gotta dump what Im wearing off later, then were taking a road trip.

Huhyeah. Index returned to the couch and lied on her back. She has a keen eye for detail. Whats this about a road trip?! Figures, my home isnt safe anymore. I didnt want to go to work tomorrow anyway.


#3

The getaway driver flipped open his phone. He was swerving in and out of traffic on the city streets, jerking towards corners so that he could find any particular abandoned alleyway.

Yu Dash? What happened? Erholtzs warm sounding voice resonated through the mobile.

Erholtz! That bitch shot Siff! Yu Dash jerked his car towards the sky and landed on a roof to avoid being detected. Blew him fucking dead!

So, Savior killed him? I think I should call his girlfriend in the morning to pass on the bad news. They were going out together for only a month now, so they were probably as in love with each other as they were going to get.

Erholtz!

It probably would be bad taste to call his family, though. They probably wouldnt appreciate the boys revolutionary lifestyle.

I got a team, a damn platoon of guys who can ice the Law in five minutes flat! Give me the word-

You will have none of that.

Then we just let her go? Yu Dash cracked the driver seat window open with his fist. For what?! You gonna let her jeopardize everything?!

Compassion towards dogs is not weakness. Remember that. Erholtz disconnected. Yu Dash grunted, slamming the phone to the floor.

Fuck him! FUCK HIM!

~o~

Sorry, I didnt thank you for the shower.

Are you de-bugged yet? Index asked.
I think soand you were so liberal about the new clothes. Savior plopped on the kitchen top counter, watching Index stuff item after item into a suitcase. Are you done packing everything? Lol, itd suck if some mad gunman just bounced out from that window right there, and he totally blew you away while you were stuffing your outdated wardrobe in.

Then Id have you to thank! And youre wearing pieces from my outdated wardrobe! Index pointed at the articles of clothes she lent Savior, in case the bug was in her Hawaiian print shirt et al. White long sleeve shirt underneath my 2014 Gandis Copple tour t-shirt! I used to like that band.

Sod I. Till they sold out.

Black jeans, with two-thirds of the legs ripped off!

Gets hot sometimes. Savior waved her hand in front of her face, imitating the cooling off motion. Whew.

And my old red leather gloves! Index had trouble stuffing some of the groceries shed bought earlier that night. She didnt want to justleave them.

Theyre awesome to PUNCH people with! But whats the problem with what I got on? Its cooler than everything else you got.

I thought you said you liked my officers uniform!

I admit, thats coolbut youve only got one. Do you have any spare ones, with only a few bullet holes in em or something?

Normal peoples lives arent at risk each waking moment! Index finally slammed shut her briefcase, previously blocked by a few cans of pineapple slices. Im a trafficker, not a damn Law!

Pshaw. Since when were you ever normal?

What did you say?!

Youre a great shot. I couldntve got that guy at that angle. You got a geometric mind, or something.

Speaking of that guy Indexs eyes pointed at the thug, Siff, laying on the living room carpet in a small puddle of blood. He was unconscious, certainly worse for wear, but very much alive. What do we do with him?

Him? Fuck him.

Thats a cold thing to say. Shouldnt we at leastI dunno, drop him off at the hospital?

No, no; I mean, just fuck him. Savior stuck her tongue out and licked her lips. Index stiffened up, aversive to the suggestion.

What the hell?! FUCK HIM?!

Whadaya mean? That gaping blood from his kneehim being unconsciousalmost dead lookingits hot! Oh come on, I was kidding.

Im not loling. Index tossed her suitcase over to Savior, barely catching it like a football.

Shit. I need to work on my Madden.

Its everything I cant bare to leave behind. Im gonna take that guy to the neighbors. Index walked over to Siff and pulled on his arm, dragging him along. Savior just stared at her.

Uhwhat? And are you sure you should be moving him? You could cause irrecocable damage to his knee or something.

This is all I can think of at the moment! Index dragged the miserable grunt out into the aged 7th floor hallway, still enveloped in a soft golden glow illuminating from an aging lightbulb. Savior followed her, turning the apartments lights off. Alright. Youll lock the door, Ill knock on this door, andwe run.

uh, what? Savior turned the key counter-clockwise, locking Indexs door shut. Index pulled Siff beneath the neighbors door, banging on it loudly. Index motioned Savior down the hallway, towards the stairway. They ran the distance like errant thieves. The door creaked open, and the neightbor, wearing a blue robe and noticably weary, looked down at the bleeding body of Siff the gangster.

This is so uncalled for. The neighbor shut the door, going back to his dreams.

~o~

The hell was that for?! Savior yelled, bopping Index on the head. Scrub! The two were striding their way down the building, and couldnt leave any sooner.

You invite the mafia to my apartment and dont give me enough time! I cant improvise!


#4

The smell of steak and bell peppers permeated the small dining room. That day, when the sun set on an old European town, a long awaited guest arrived at a home he hadnt seen in a long time. He was a traveling artist, wandering from colony to colony, taking in the most exotic sights known to man, tending to his muse. The girl who cooked it for him was a childhood friend, his neighbor. When the door bell rang, and she flung the door open, he looked dead and blank.

Her name was Celia. His, John.

Celia quickly pulled John aside and relinquished his coat and hat. His hands shook. John wanted something to say. Something nice to tell her. He wanted a fond nostalgia. The cost of war remained too much.

Itsbeen a long time. Celia placed her hand on Johns back, guiding him to the dining room. I made your favorite. She pulled his chair and he sat down. He stared at his food, looking for reason. I guess you finally found time to pull away from your parents, right? I was worried theyd keep you all to themselves! But its been such a long timewe all sobbed for days when we heard about the bomb in Maria.

A breeze lifted Celias brunette locks from her forehead. Celia politely got up from her chair and went over to close the open window in the room. She pushed it downwards, but couldnt get it to budge. John analyzed the food on his plate. His steak meat was dark brown, and the peppers a gushing red. Celia got frustrated; she wouldnt let this damn window hinder the night she planned for John. She struggled with the window. The smell of burnt meat was distinct to John. Celia finally got angry. The window slammed shut, the sound of the burst resonating through the air. The peppers looked very red.

NO!!! NO!!! John screamed, collapsing from his chair and slamming his fist on the floor. I COULDNT STOP THEM!!! He cried long and hard that night. I was a burdentill the end, Celia. I shouldve died there. I hope you never know what its like to watch heroes die.

John

There were guys, barely older than me, getting executed by people barely older than our friends. I saw young girls, barely older than fourteen, blowing themselves of for the ideal of justice. I saw children in the hollows of the armories. How can I go back to this?!

Celia tried to sit beside him.

~o~

Wherere we going? Index let Savior borrow her car, learning she didnt have her own transport. She figured she had the right to know.

Im looking for a motel called The Dragon.

what kind of name for a motel is that?

well, its got this Chinese kung fu motif. Really cool. Savior zipped down the citys entertainment district, at its most lively in the latest hours of the night. She barely avoided careening into the other vehicles in mid-air space.

What the hell are you doing?! Havent you ever driven before?!

Umsorry. Im not used to the atmosphere. Savior apologized, but it didnt stop her from narrowly escaping bodily harm. Index knew that she was a Law, and interplanetary exploration goes along with the job of a Class C. She felt a little envious, because she knew she would have given anything to spend another day adrift in orbitIndex just let her eyes absorb all the whizzing lights.

I should cite you for all these traffic violations.

I wouldnt have had to knock the old hag over if you dicks at Traffickers made it illegal for grandmas to drive!

Thats beside the point

Good. Here we are. Savior parked the car on the street beside a large, Oriental-decor motel. In the front of the site was a large, open pagoda made of wood, with the receptionists to the side, and a large dining hall taking up most of the floor. The Dragons rooms surrounded a tranquil pond littered with lotus lily pads, and the curved bridge that was built above it. Yeah, I know, it looks like the kind of place that gets trashed in the movies. The Dragon was empty this late at night, with its patrons snug inside their rooms and a sleepy receptionist drooling on the counter.

This place looks gorgeousis it expensive?

Maybe. But it doesnt cost anything to just hang around the pond, take pictures, send them off to your folks, and tell em how pretty your neighborhood is. Savior then coughed. Ahem, hint hint.

But my mom shouldnt be worried about m-

Right, Savior interrupted. Anyway, were here because I know a guy staying at Room 6. Savior pointed at the said room, which was across the bridge. She walked across it, Index following. Savior then knocked on the door. Sideburn. Sideburn! The door creaked open, revealing an afroed man wearing sunglasses.

Yea?

I came to check my inbox.

Dubya-tee-eff girl. Its like, three in the morning. Sideburn Cool stepped aside, allowing the girls in. It became quickly apparent to Index that he was Saviors contact, a shady yet valuable personality to be acquainted with. Hows the apartment?

It was fine and rocksors, until I locked the door and left my key inside. But none of that mattered anyway because I was bugged the whole time.

WHOA! What the hell are you doing here for?!

You can relax. I washed up, dumped my clothes, everything.

Fine then. Whos your lady friend? Sideburn cocked his head at Index, who bashfully cupped her hands behind her back and leaned against the corner.

A neighbor of mines. She got caught up in this real badI need you to help get her out of here. Savior turned towards Index, looking directly at her. You do want to leave, right?

Um Index wondered out loud. Iwow, this is a nice room. Index was referring to the beautiful paper lanterns, red silk bed sheets and antiqued wooden furniture which decorated the surroundings. Its so neat, and clean

Its just that way because he hasnt gotten any action lately, Savior explained.

You need to chill with that bullshit. Sideburn snapped at Savior, before his attention returned to Index. Whats your name?

UhIndex Iness.

Im Sideburn Cool. From the look of that uniform, Id say youre atrafficker?

Dont be so quick to judge there. She could be a cop too. Savior warned.

No way shes a cop. If she were, you wouldnt be trying to smuggle her out of the city. That, and all cops look like fuckin elephants. Shes cute.

well, uhwhat-what are you? Index stammered. What-what are you-do?

You might wanna sit down for this. Index sat on the silk bed sheets while Index sat at a computer desk in the corner, checking her inbox as mentioned earlier. Im an interplanetary arms smuggler. Her bounty Helmholtz is a friend of mine, but friendship and ideals never paid the bills, which is why Im on her team.

Youre an asshole Side, Savior interrupted.

I know, Mountain. Anyway, this is only a temporary gig, knaamean. Ive only been a smuggler for two years. I spent the last ten years in the business.

The business? Index asked.

The entertainment business. I was an executive producer, cutting deals for shit on the big screen and the home screen, sometimes on the radio and the net. You know, I saw girls like you everyday in the business, but I think youdve had an edge on them.

Uhwhat do you mean by that?

Youre no industry baby. You lived outside the glitz, kiden. Youre real, and youd be surprised how many of them in Hollywood arent. If youre smart as well as cute, youll go far.

Wa-wa-wait, wait waitI dont know much about movies and stuff like that, but I know that you at least have to have famous friends if youre a nobody, right?

So what? Were acquainted, arent we? If you really wanted to, I could probably squeeze you incourse youd have to join the guild, cant do anything without your membership.

Im flattered, but-

We could use more real people like yourself. The average executive is stupider than the average person, and I can just look at you and tell youre a smart girl. See, I can tell because youre quiet. You pay the fuck attention, you shut the fuck up, and you listen. Thats good, thats great. Now I dont mean to be more coarse than I have to be, but in the superstar boondocks, you pay attention so that you observe the unwritten rules.

Hold it. These ideas are just whooshing over my head here! I would hate stardom. All I care about is relaxing and-

See, I knew you were perfect. If you were meant for success, youd know that being a goddamn star was the shits. Youre a puppet if youre a star. The real moneymakers, the real pwners are the boardroom sweaters. They make the shit go down. Im talkin, everyone from execs to directors to writers and the artists. They make the movies and the TV shows, and they get a big piece of the pie in the end too. Sure, theyre not making billions like the stars, but the stars live in tabloid aquariums that the public gets to visit whenever they want, so who gives a fuck about the stars? Point is, if youre a decent writer or something, and you wanted to, you could probably get into the business and make your money in a couple years flat.

why are you telling me all this? Indexs head started to hurt, trying to absorb all the information she was being dealt. Im trying to understand your view on the industrybut its kind of different from what I always thought of it.

So its a damn good thing youre hearing it from me now. First thing you gotta learn about the industry is that all those folks I told you about, the execs and everybody, they make you and break you. Theyre the Republic, the newbs are the bills that have to be passed. Because the constitution of the business is unwritten, you basically gotta listen and adhere to everything they say. If the industry says, ‘please suck this guys dick, hes good press,’ you suck it twice. If the industry tells you, ‘you better suck this guys dick,’ you suck it three times. Dont ask for shit, not until you know you got pull. You know you have pull when you get attached to a moneymaker project, like a hit movie or some shit, and afterwards people ride your nuts. Thats when you can start asking for shit, and theyll give it to you.

"But remember, thats because the industry LOVES to suck cock too. They wanna eat you out because your TV show won an Emmy, then you go to their parties and let them eat you out. You appear on the cable trade shows, you let them ask you the twenty questions in front of the college kids, and you let them clap a thousand times whenever your name is said. Because if you dontwell, then they wont. They wont, ever again. Even when youre at the top, you pay attention to the rest of the industry because theyll eat you alive.

wow. So you know a lot about making entertainment. I can see why youre so tired and weary of it.

Tell me about it kiden. I got a little too hot, so I decided to cool off and take a sabbatical. See, a lot of top players in the industry, they dabble in illegal shit too. Most of the time, they run drugs, maybe counterfeit shit. But me, Im a pioneer. Thats why I know the shit I know. Im a fuckin arms dealer, taking advantage of a fuckin civil war in outer space. The dumb fucks in the business are fuckin Cro-Magnon compared to me.

If youre a smuggler toothen why hasnt Savior caught you yet?

I willwhen one of his loser friends coughs him up to the Feds and a bounty is placed on his ass, Savior interrupted again, before closing her browser and getting up from her chair.

Savior, fuck you. By the way, one of these days I have to show you my kung fu.

You think you can beat me? I watched, fuckin, all of the Blood Tiger series."

Bitch, I green lighted Blood Tiger. At least the second one.

Umwould it be safe of me to say that neither of you know any martial arts at all? Index interjected. From the sound of it, you both think all its cracked up to be is a movie genre.

lol, she just wishes she had my Rising Dragon Kick. Savior waved a print out in front of their faces, and lopped on a chair. Hey, you mind if we stay over the night? Tomorrow morning Im gonna meet up with this one guy.

~o~

Ah, damn, a man mutters to himself after spilling a dab of roasted black coffee onto his white trenchcoat. The diner he waited in was clean and quaint, and he could taste the preparation in every bite of his egg & cheese bagel. He was nervous, feeling time and life slip from his shaking fingers. His expression refused to show what his body did, however, and he just kept on smiling. He smiled at the pretty waitress who offered him the napkins to clean his self, he smiled at the little boy no older than five who asked him what time it was, and he smiled at the free coupons he got from his newspaper.

Thank you miss; oh, its 7:30; sweet! he said respectively. But at the end of it all, he began to knock his knuckles on the table again. He watched the clock and could feel each tick of a second constrict his spine. This is when she finally arrived; or they, as it seemed.

Index, come in. I still dont know why you decided to tag along. The woman he was waiting for, the Law Savior Mountain, went to a waitress and asked her something quickly. Soon, Savior was sitting in front of him. But I just hope you dont break anything, or get any boo-boos.

I asked you nicely to stop treating me like a toddler.

Ill go rent you a cartoon movie as long as you behave, okay?

Okay, Index exasperated in sarcasm.

So youre Savior? he asks, cautiously, still with a nervous smile.

Just so long as youreleesee Savior unfolded a piece of paper she pulled from her pocket. Sword Godspath, right? The man nodded. Then Im Ms. Mountain.

Great! So I said before that there was a woman in this city that Im looking for

Excuse me, Index interjected, but if all youre looking for is one person, why do you have to go and hire a Law to do it for you?

Because shes not registered, Savior and Sword replied, simultaneously. Sword went on. Shes a refugee.

Itll be kinda tough, since refugees usually cant find sunlight work. Sword here would have to go through illegit guys, probably street bookkeepers, to find a specific one, and thats just tame. Do you understand Indie? She nodded. Good. Nowwhat was her name again?

Celia Karen.


#5

Saviors eyes briefly glanced up, then back down at a cup of coffee Sword had ordered for the both of them earlier out of courtesy. She thought she mightve heard the name Celia tossed around somewhere before, but as it turns out it was unfamiliar. Savior took another look at Index from the corner of her eye; she had taken out a pen and began writing something down on a napkin from the table. Savior followed Indexs lead, and whipped out a pad of paper and began taking notes.

Got any photos? Sword took out a picture from his front coat pocket, and gently handed it to Savior.

This was taken about a year ago. A faint hint of shame was intoned in Swords breath, and he too glanced away towards Index. Savior looked at the photograph and saw that it was already faded.

What was the last youve heard of her, again?

Something about a charityan organization somewhere from here.

When did Celia arrive in town?

Aboutsix months ago.

Great. The time frame isnt too wide. I know of a few guys who smuggle refugees in, and Ive got a favor to call in for one of them. If what theyre no dice, then Ill just run down all the charities I can find and see if they recognize her name or face. Now, you said this isnt supposed to be a dangerous job

Not especially dangerous. Celia isnt a criminal by any means!

And thats what you said. But do you know my policy if it turns out that I have to risk life and limb for her?

Im not sure what that is. But I did hear you were kind

If this job is worth more than youve described, then Im going to have to kick her teeth in and give her to you as damaged goods. I hope you understand. Savior smirked; she always loved the sound of her professional voice.

Well if you do, make sure you knock out this one in-grown tooth in the back of mouth! Sword smiled.

Huh? He can take a joke after all Now then, what was your relationship to Celia? Sword flinched.

Shes an old friend of the family. Her father sent me to look after her.

Mind if I take a look at that? Index chimed in, pointed at Celias picture.

Uh, sure answered Sword, while Savior handed her the picture.

Could you tell me what Celia was like? Savior went on. Give me even the slightest nuances in her personality.

For as long as I knew her, Celia was always verypure. She was always obedient to her family and showed them as much love as they showered her with. She became very strong and kind, and was like that throughout her childhood. Celia could read a person like a book, and knew just the right words to bring you back from despair. And yet, she would always have to move around, since her parents were in the military; she was atransient wind.

And just so I have all my bases covereddid she have any identifying marks on her body? Savior continued.

Celia hasa butterfly tattoo on her chest. Thats it. Not a birthmark on her.

Excuse me Index interrupted again. I dont mean to distract anyone from whatever business is at hand here, but She lifted the napkin she was writing on and displayed it to the both of them. Is this okay? It was a picture of Savior and Sword talking. It appeared a little sketchy and amateurish, but was decent and presentable. I doodled this because I was a little bored. A month ago I picked up one of those Learn How to Draw books, and it said I had to practice sketching a little every day.

Wow. Thatsnice. Im a stick figure artist myself. Savior replied.

Hmm Sword leaned closer, staring into the picture. You tried to pull off some perspective, didnt you?

Oh, yeah, that. How can you tell? I didnt pull it off very well.

I can see where you marked your vanishing points, and how the picture slightly bends. Youve only been drawing for a month now? Thats good progress! Just keep at it. Heres a hint on your profiles, though: remember, faces are comprised of geometric shapes, not just circles. You should try to incorporate more shapes into them next time.

Ahyoure gonna have to show me how to do it later. Index quickly folded the napkin up and placed it in her pocket. Oh, here. Index returned Celias picture to Savior.

Alright then. Unfortunately I cant get started on Celias case right away; I have to start this tonight, since as of now Im sort of homeless and I have to sort out this mess I got us into. Savior admitted.

You dont have anywhere to stay? What happened?

Kind of a long story. Were both kind of homeless now, actually. Hey, where are you staying at anyway? Savior asked, with a grin on her face.

This little apartment by Marcos Street, butoh. I get it. Sword nodded. Okay. Fine. The more cute girls who can help pay my tab, the better, right? Index dejectedly placed her face flat on the table.

Im a gypsy. A few years after getting my Bachelors, working as a meter maid bureaucrat, and now Im a gypsy.

You went to college? Savior asked. Hmm. Figures. You look like one of them smart girls. Whatd you get a degree in?

UhEnglish.

English? Do you fancy yourself a writer, Miss Sword asked.

Ms. Iness. Index Iness. And so far the only work Ive been able to get writing (and this is in-between being a space trafficker), was on a strategy guide for a video game. Index lowered her head, and said that in a softer voice.

wow. Savior sneered. Geek.

Shut up! It was a good game! And I made about three months salary on that guide!

Hey, this is a diner, right? Savior tried to assure herself. And this is breakfast, right? Sword, hit that waitress up and get me an omelette.

~o~

Savior and Index got a card with Swords number and address on it. The day was still young so now was time to sort out a few things before they could get the Celia Karen case underway. Sword went off by himself to go about his own business while the girls to their own. Savior didnt get her omelette the way she wanted and left the diner steamed.

What kind of a runny excuse for an omelette was that?

That guySwordhes hiding something, Index said discretely once they got into her car.

Hmmwhat do you mean?

He said he was a friend of Celias family, and that her dad fetched him to find her. I dont buy it. Do you remember how faded Celias photo looked?

Yeahso? Savior asked. She was piqued, and knew Index was onto something.

He said it was only taken a year ago.

The only way that picture could have looked that worn out is if it was constantly exposed to light Savior said.

That is to say, if that picture was looked at nearly every day. Come on Savior! He had it in his front coat pocket! Not in a wallet or anything! And did you hear what he said about her?

About what?

He said she had an ingrown tooth at the back of her mouth, not to mention a damn butterfly tattoo on her chest! Those details are too intimate to be known by a family acquaintance. Index thought. What else was there?

Sword is definitely an artist, too. Savior went on. You could tell by the way he commented on your picture that he was a graphic artist, and the way he described Celiaas a transient wind was too poetic for everyday usage. Hes definitely a romantic. And do you remember what he said? Celias family moved around a lot; but from the way he described her, from her childhood there on, he knew her for a long time. Sword mustve somehow followed her around

Could his family have also been in the military? Index wondered.

HmmIndex Savior smiled. Youre not a bad detective yourself! I think Im glad that youre sticking around. You and your dead aimll be a huge advantage to me. But, even though, youre still new at this. Why dont you just pack your bags and go back to your parents place out in the country? Helmholtz has the both of us tagged now. You, he can let live, but me

For the first time, since that nightI realized that I wanted to live your life. I dont want to just see kung fu in the movies Savior. I spent the better part of my adolescence trying to escape that backwater country lifestyle. This is my chance! I dont care even if I get hurt. Index said with her eyes lowered. Im not going back.

Youre the idyllic one arent you? Fine. Lets go to this guy I knows place.

What guy?

This bouncer at a club. He knows a lot ofstuff.