Between the smog produced to its east and the smoke that rose from the ceaseless string of building fires, it seemed the Lourds never saw the stars. On top of that, it often seemed that the twinkling streetlamps and neon lights around the rest of Garrison City were only there to mock its Low Rent District. The fires and the lights on the trucks that chased them down were often the only color to swash through the beaten part of town. It was all reds, grays, and blacks, rarely the Blue and Whites. Every day the Lourds prayed for rain.
It wasn’t too long ago when Mayor Archer made the Lourds a priority, but when faced with the widespread violence that his city had been seeing even the best of intentions get filtered out. Archer and his Police Commissioner, Patrick Troy were doing everything in their power to hold together an entire city that was crumbling between their fingers. The Lourds simply fell to the bottom of a very big pile…
The gunfire popped in bright orange bursts. “What the hell?” Ricardo’s arm hummed with the recoil of each shot. He dropped down to the ground, leaning back against the counter wall. Looking around he could barely make out the lines of the furniture around him. His eyes were having a hard time adjusting to the darkness. “What the hell was that?”
“I dunno… I think it was a guy.” Tommy was reloading his pistol, fighting the shakes as he slammed the clip into the receiver with the palm of his hand. He slid slowly up peering into the black across the counter.
“I don’t know, man.”
Ricardo’s ears were full of his own heartbeat. He felt himself jump at the sound of Tommy’s empty clip bouncing off the tile floor. “Where’s Jimmy?” The dull thud echoed around the room as if on cue. There was no mistaking the sound of a limp body hitting the ground. “Oh, man… That ain’t good.”
“Jimmy’s a little tied up right now.” The stranger’s voice sounded calm and far from weary. “I don’t suppose asking you kids to give up will do any good?” The two young thugs stretched their arms up over the counter and started firing blindly across the room. The sound of breaking glass sang behind the gunfire as the door and windows shattered. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then.”
“Did we get him?” Tommy fumbled with the gun in his hand, trying to reload as fast he could. “Rick, man did you hit anything?” Once again he peered over the counter, unable to make out anything. He stopped and held his breath listening intently for any sounds of movement. There was nothing, not even the panicky sounds of his partner. “Oh, no…”
Tommy whipped around, putting the gun out in front of him, but it was torn from his grip in a flash. It fell to the ground in two pieces. “Hey.” Tommy slipped back, falling against the counter behind him. A sleek dark cape split around the man in front of him, revealing a stark white shirt and black bowtie. Above that was a smirk.
“I-I-…” Tommy didn’t know what he was trying to say. Even though the man folded his arms across his chest something pinned him against the wall.
“I hope you’re trying to apologize for shooting at me. It’s really not very polite.” The figure looked him over. “You’re with the 9th Street Barracuda’s, aren’t you?”
Tommy’s head nodded nervously several times before he managed a verbal “Yeah” He felt whatever was holding him there against the counter squeeze his arms tightly. “Y-you’re not gonna kill me, are you?”
The cowled man shrugged and let out an exaggerated sigh. “I dunno. You guys did shoot at me, and I did ask you to give up nicely first.”
Tommy’s arms squeezed against his body and he was lifted dragged closer to the man. It was then that he realized it was the cape that hung from the man’s shoulders that was holding him so tightly. “Please…” Tommy shook, “Please don’t kill me.”
He shook his head, stretching an arm out and patting Tommy on the shoulder. “Relax. I’m not gonna kill you.” He pinched Tommy’s neck and the young man’s body went limp. The cape laid him gently on the ground. The man reached into his tuxedo jacket and removed a silver disc. He clicked the monkey mon embossed over its surface. “Busy?”
Clear as day, a slightly mechanical voice came through, “A little.” The voice of the man on the other end grunted which was followed by a smacking sound. “You?”
He bent over the kid and tie-wrapped his hands behind his back. “Three robberies tonight in the Lourds. Three different gang affiliations.” He stood back up. “Not a one of them over 18, I bet.”
“Things aren’t faring much better in Chinatown-“ there came another series of muffled thumps, “Sorry about that, the Russians and the Triads can’t seem to play well with each other.”
“Imagine that,” if it wasn’t for the innocents that had a way of getting caught in the crossfire, letting the two crime organizations wipe each other out would almost be humorous. “How’s Miss Kitty?”
“You know she hates it when you call her that.”
“I’ll apologize over dinner.”
“You mean you’ve been stopping to eat?” Capin chuckled. Wolf always seemed to keep a grasp on the lighter side, despite a city that was a veritable war zone. It’s one of the reasons why they got along so well. “She’s fine. Keeping an eye on Jotaro’s crew. Not much movement from them.”
“The Yakuza tend to be slightly more patient than the Triads. Ikoma is probably waiting to see who comes out on top between Chan Kam-Shing’s crew and the Russians,” Wolf grunted in response,”You hear from Sparky?”
Wolf grunted again, “He’s been less than social, lately…” Capin heard the sharp crack of splintering wood, quickly followed by another series of muffled thumps and a fading sigh, “Can’t really blame him all that much though.”
“Indeed.” Capin paused, listening intently to the police band channel via the earpiece in his cowl.”Hey, I’m getting reports of shots fired over on Rosemont, you good?”
“Go. When we get a breather, we need to have you and Melody over.”
Capin was already on the move, “I hear you, but I don’t know how much fun it’ll be to watch me sleep.”
Wolf grinned, “It’s not like Enry will let us shave your eyebrows or anything…”
“Touché.” Capin moved through the shadows that bled between buildings, making his way toward the soft rumbling ahead. As he leapt for the pillars that held the elevated tracks aloft, Enry stretched out and anchored him into the brick, and he hoisted himself up. The rumble turned to a roar. “This is my train. I’ll be right around the corner. Call if you need anything?”
Capin crouched with Enry draped around him, completely hiding him in the darkness. He slipped the comlink away in its cache. As the Gary Line flew by he jogged alongside several steps before grabbing onto it and climbing to the roof. The wind howled around him as The Lourds faded away into The Wells.