Date Night in the Greater Metro
Date Night in the Greater Metro
Maxwell Fayton felt the bass rattling his thorax, and the mingling of cheap perfume and cologne made his nose itch. He sat at a steel table in a club on the twenty-eighth floor of a needle on Thirty-Ninth Street and Shelly. It was dark, the walls and ceiling painted black, and the flashing lights were blinding.
Jon Tully was sitting across from him. He was a big man, six-four with a thirty-eight waist, only by Max’s eye, but he was rarely wrong. Jon’s arms were as think as his neck, which wasn’t skinny. He wore the kind of suit cut to look balanced without a tie, and left his dress shirt open three buttons.
He seemed to be enjoying himself as he watched the people dance, taking frequent glances back across the table.
Maxwell looked good. He knew it, and it wasn’t just the cash he’d spent or the five hours a week of calisthenics. He wore a black vinyl jacket, standard issue for his job, but it had become part of him. He’d swapped the lining, which was usually an awful tan, for a construction orange that accented the amber hue of his skin. His vest was in synth-silk sharkskin fading from blue to green in a daring half and quarter contrast with his jacket’s lining.
“This is interesting!” Jon yelled, watching the people on the pulsing dance floor gyrating in tribal mimicry.
“Yeah!” Max yelled back. He hadn’t had a regular boyfriend in years, and he’d just moved to the Metro a month before.
The books he’d read on self help all told him not to combine stressors, like not to mix a move and a new relationship, but Jon seemed to calm him down rather than add to his stress.
“Do you come to places like this a lot?” Max asked.
“What!?” Jon said, cupping a big hand behind his ear.
Max stood up and walked around the table. Jon stood too, pulling out a chair for him, and Max sat down again.
It wasn’t just about little courtesies like that, but Max had always had partners in his age group, and dating an older guy seemed to come with benefits.
“What did you say?” Jon asked, sitting down again.
“Ah… I asked if you come to places like this often.”
“Nah,” Jon said. “There’s a bar on a Hundred and Sixth, O’Shanassy’s.”
Max hadn’t been, but there was at least a bar a block in the Metro.
“It’s just cops, mostly,” Jon said. “They’d probably laugh if a warden showed up, but we should go sometime.”
Jon was PD, and Maxwell was a Contract Warden, something like a heavily armed security guard. The PD and Wardens had never gotten along, but it wasn’t so much star crossed love as socially inconvenient.
Max saw Emiliana coming towards them, winding between the people on the floor. She was vaguely Asian, but that was mostly her bangs, black, cut very straight, and nearly covering her eyebrows. She wore a kimono in a frightening blue covered in pink foil cherry-blossoms.
Maxwell had met Jon on his own, but Emiliana seemed to like the idea of their pairing and was intent on pushing them along. This club was her choice. She probably thought all boys-who-like-boys also liked deafening bass, but it might have just been her taste.
“I’m back!” she yelled from the side of their table. She’d left ten minutes before to retrieve their liquor, and was now carrying a platter covered in drinks. “Look who I ran into.” She pointed back at a couple who she’d dragged along with her.
She pulled back a pair of seats, and the couple sat.
The guy was very normal, by Metro standards, a white suit which was tastefully dated. His hair was equally in, and out, of fasion and slightly greasy, which said he cared enough to look disheveled, or was lazy.
His name was Nerio. He was either the leader of a gang that never seemed to deal of steal, or the leader of a mildly criminal cult. No one seemed to know.
The woman wasn’t just out of place in the Metro, she would have been strange anywhere. Her eyes were completely black, and seemed even blacker against her corpse-pale skin. Her teeth, which she exposed then, forcing a smile at Max, were hundreds of tiny steel needles. She looked to be wearing a catsuit of black plastisteel shingle plate, but that was just her body from the neck down, and the very straight black hair on her head was a wig.
Her name was Larisa. She was either a priestess in Nerio’s cult, or a primordial killing machine that lived in Nerio’s building, probably both.
Max remembered then, that club’s address, and that they were two blocks from the Temple, the aptly named squat-tower where those two lived.
“…How have you been?” Max asked, glancing over at Jon, who seemed angry, or that might have been how he looked when he was frightened.
Larisa seemed to be staring at him, but her black eyes could have been looking anywhere. A rattling chitter came from between her teeth.
“We’ve been good,” Nerio said.
“This is Nerio,” Max said, hoping that making introductions might help Jon calm down. “And that’s Larisa.”
“I know,” Jon said.
“We’re all friends,” Emiliana said, sucking at a curly straw in a blue drink which matched her kimono.
“This is Jon- Have you two been dating long?” Max asked, and Larisa’s chittering got louder, her shiny black hands firmly gripping the edge of the steel table.
“We’re just buddies,” Nerio said. He patted Larisa on the back and she twitched. “We ran out of beer, and I thought we could find something stronger here, but… I don’t think she likes crowds,” he said in a mock whisper.
“How old are you Larisa?” Emiliana asked, and the edge of the table twisted under Larisa’s grip. “’Cause Fyodorovna told me you were created by the Child King of the North.”
Larisa stood up then, and Nerio grabbed her hand.
Jon leaned over, whispering in Max’s ear. “O’Shanassy’s is open until four.”
“Alright,” Max said, and turned to Emi. “How much do I owe you, for the drinks?”
“We’re leaving already?”
“…You can come along, if you want-”
“This is my cousin’s place… so the drinks were free,” she said, which went towards explaining why she’d had so many of them so quickly.
They ended up following Nerio and Larisa to the elevator, though Jon seemed to be purposefully giving them space.
“Do you know who she is?” Jon asked.
“Larisa?” Max said, but apparently too loudly as Jon placed a finger on his lips. “We were on the same side last month.”
“She’s not on anybody’s side, Max.”
They were walking down a long white hall, glowing in contrast with the nightmarish club. The elevator was ahead of them. Nerio pushed the button, and Jon slowed them down to a crawl. Apparently Jon wanted to catch the next one.
The steel doors slid open and there were two men standing behind them. There were diamond studs in their ears, and cheap black sunglasses over their eyes. Their black hair was slicked back and matched their shiny Brazilian suits.
In a flash, a tidbit of information popped into Maxwell’s head. Emiliana was part of an old clan, or had been. She must have been drinking before they’d met that evening to take them to her cousin’s club.
“Emiliana Tanegawa!” one of the heavies screamed.
Emi ran forward, a short blade appearing from sleeve of her kimono. Jon already had a snub-nose in his hand when Max glanced at him, and Max drew his forty-fives.
The heavies drew auto pistols from their jackets, but Larisa stepped into the elevator, ignoring the developing circumstance.
They’d only started to turn on her when Larisa made the slightest twitch, and they exploded, painting the elevator red.
“…I have killed your enemies,” Larisa said, her neck twisting slightly too far as she turned back to them. Nerio laughed, stepping in after her, and the doors closed behind him.
“…I’m going home,” Jon said.
“Can I come with you?” Max asked. He’d been feeling lonely all night, and seeing that much blood had given him a chill.
“That would be nice,” Jon said, smiling more sweetly than fit with his heavy frame.
Emiliana turned on her heels, her blade disappearing again. “I’m coming too,” she said, and Jon’s smile strained.