Twin Cities, Gemini
They were following the two girls—the four men and one woman. Down into an alleyway. The girls didn’t seem to notice, their attention solely focused on distributing the weight of the cargo box held between them evenly.
Shrouded in darkness, Omicron watched the stalk from the fire escape attached to one of the apartment buildings lining the alley.
“Hey, what are two pretty girls like you doing out here so late?” one of the four men suddenly called out to the girls. It seemed as if he was the ringleader. He was certainly dressed like one. Gold chains gleamed from his neck, and his suit looked blemishless. Not one for subtlety of words nor appearance, it seemed.
The two girls froze and exchanged looks before they set down their cargo box and turned to face the five who formed a ring around them.
“W-We’re just passing through,” the braver of the two stammered as she stepped in front of the other. “We don’t want any trouble.”
“Oh, why would we want to give you any trouble?” the ring leader at the forefront chuckled as he slid forward. “You work under Tilda, right? Under Matilda, doll?”
There was a beat of silence.
“Y-You know Matilda?” stammered the braver girl.
The ringleader grinned like a cat—no, like a predator. “‘Course, my dad is one of her bosses, you know?” He took another step forward and grinned wider as the girls skirted backwards. “Hey, hey, now, what’s this? One word from me and I can make it so you lot are back digging for scraps on the streets, y’know? Don’t be so rude.” He grabbed one of the girls by the arm. “But as long as you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you—that’s how the city works, right?”
Abruptly, the lid of the trash bin lining the alley wall behind the group popped open. Two of the men jumped backwards away from the bin before peering into the darkness in confusion.
A man—standing in the trash bin was a man.
Omicron could barely make out the man’s features in the darkness, but she could tell that his cheekbones were high, that his dark hair was combed loosely back, and that his build was rather sturdy. He towered over the other five with his height and seemed rather fit for a dumpster diver. The suit he wore looked expensive; and if it weren’t for the banana peel resting on his head, she might have thought him someone famous—like an actor.
“Sirs, you wouldn’t happen to know where the Zatmeniye Caverns are?” the strange trash man asked, scanning the darkness and scratching his head. There was a slight accent in his Geminian. “I swear I was just walking there, and suddenly it was warm, and—well—now I’m here.”
“Who’s this quack?” one of the other men half snapped, half laughed. He glanced back at the ringleader, saying, “Hey, Feliciano, what do you make of him?”
Feliciano released the girl from his grip and instead grabbed the man in the trash bin by the scruff. “What, they let you loose from the looney bin or somethin’, huh?”
“Sir, is this some Aquarian tradition? To grab new people you meet like this?” the Sagittarian inquired, hands raised. “I apologize if this sounds rude but I’m not from around these parts and these traditions are a bit rough.”
“What? Aquarian?” Feliciano sneered. “Stupid, you’re in the Twin Cities of Gemini!”
“That’s right,” Feliciano spat. “And you’re talkin’ to Feliciano, son of Donato. Donato of the Romano Family—”
“My, sir, all of those words sound so similar that I—”
Feliciano punched the Sagittarian, cutting him off and sending him flying back into the trash can. Before the Sagittarian could even register the assault, Feliciano grabbed him by the scruff again and raised his fist for another blow.
“Come on, Feliciano, don’t ya got better fish ta fry?” came a voice from the mouth of the alleyway. “Pickin’ on some tourist and a buncha kids. Is that how Donato’s been teachin’ ya stress relief?”
A young, boyish-looking woman stood there with relaxed shoulders, with her hands casually slipped into her pockets. Her back was bathed in the light of the city glowing behind her which cast her ginger hair in a copper light. Her front was, however, concealed by the darkness of the alleyway. A faceless person.
Feliciano dropped his raised fist, shoved the Sagittarian to the side, and stormed over to the woman. He grabbed her by the scruff.
What a brute.
“What’s it to you, Cadence?” Feliciano spat.
“Hey, hey, calm down, Feliciano,” the woman, Cadence, said in a lax tone, hands lightly raised. “I’m just trynna keep an eye out for ya. With everything goin’ on, ya don’t want ta attract any suspicion, right?”
“I mean, those two pretty ladies over there look like they’re Matilda’s guys, and Matilda’s got business with the Foxmans and—more importantly—the boss,” the woman continued, smile evident in her voice. “Looks kinda weird ta see someone with Family ties beatin’ around the street and beatin’ up business associates. With everyone pointin’ knives at each other’s throats right now, Donato’s fatherly power might not be able ta spare ya this time ‘round.” A pause. “Right?”
Feliciano glowered, pulling the shorter woman up off the ground to eye level. A second later, however, he threw the woman back down and nodded at his four followers.
“Let’s blow,” he grumbled, shoving past the woman.
The other four followed after him, some of them sneering at Cadence as they passed by and others offering strangely apologetic smiles. The young woman offered the ones who smiled a nod before she turned back to the alleyway to address the two girls as they drew near to the mouth of the alley.
“You two need ta be more careful, aight?” Cadence sighed. “Now ya best beat it before creeps worse than prodigal son over there come out for their rounds, aight?”
The girls nodded graciously at her before heading back into the alleyway, picking up the cargo box, and continuing on their way. No sooner had they left did the odd Sagittarian rush at the young ginger-haired woman.
“Miss Cadence, yes? You have my gratitude!” the Sagittarian exclaimed with a deep bow. “Those ruffians were terribly rude. Truly, I am grateful!”
“Geeze, pal, no need for the dramatics. And no need ta thank me either,” Cadence said, sliding her hands into her pockets. “Just remember how I helped ya and be ready if I ever phone a favor in.” The young woman chuckled, offering him an off-handed wave as she turned to leave. “Not that we’ll probably ever see each other again, Mr. Tourist.” She then added as an afterthought as she was swallowed up by the late-night traffic: “Oh—and if ya really want a sight ta see, check out the Sognare. Heard its most popular player is back in town.”
Omicron turned away from the scene and set off along the interconnected fire escapes after the two girls once more. She had an inkling the night wasn’t through with them yet—it never was. And sure enough, after rounding several corners, she glanced down to find the two girls face-to-face with Feliciano’s party again—minus the company of Feliciano himself and one man.
“Y’know I kept thinking about it over and over,” one of the men said, sneering, “and the more I think, the more I realize I don’t have to be afraid of whatever in saint’s name Morello was talking about. I mean, it’s not like any of that stuff involves us, right? We ain’t really a part of the Family. Doesn’t matter to me.”
“You got that right, Petro,” the sole woman of the group agreed as she smiled sweetly at the two girls. “You poor things look tired and cold. Why not come home with us?”
The two girls dropped the cargo box for the second time that night, and the braver girl once again stepped in front of her companion. This time, however, the brave girl’s trembling was visible.
This made Petro grin. “Aw, come on, doll faces, why’re you scared for? I ain’t gonna hurt you—”
Petro reached for the trembling girl—
—and Omicron dropped right down into the darkness between them, catching the man by the wrist before his fingers made contact.
“Go,” Omicron ordered the two girls behind her. She glanced down at the cargo box. “And leave that here.”
The girls hesitated.
“You shouldn’t have to carry the burden of the mistakes of those before you.” Omicron leaned in close to them, ensuring that even in the darkness they were able to see her face. “But if you do, then there really is no point in letting you go.”
The girls froze with wide eyes as they registered her face—rather the left half of her face—and cold terror drained the hesitation right from their eyes. Without another word, they fled out of the alley.
Omicron turned her attention back to Petro and his group who were all squinting at her through the veil of darkness. She tightened her grip on Petro’s wrist.
If she could snap his wrist in her hand, she would but—
“It’s just some girl,” the woman of the group muttered, squinting into the dark. “Where she come from?”
“Don’t know,” said the second man, “but she’s got a nice shape. Maybe she’s one of Agape’s.”
“Do kindly shut up,” Omicron stated calmly. “You’re clogging the air with your filthy breath.”
Petro ripped his wrist out of her grasp before he grabbed her arm and tugged her out of the darkness into the dim light. “And who do you think you’re talking to, doll face—”
“What the—that tattoo—”
Petro yelped and threw Omicron against the alley wall as he stumbled backwards.
“I believe I’m talking to an associate of the Romano Family,” Omicron answered his question as she stepped forward, brushing off her shoulder. “Or maybe an associate of an associate. You don’t seem to be an important member with the way that young lady was treating you earlier. And by your grandiose monologue.”
A beat of tense silence.
Omicron had always been one for dramatics, so she allowed herself to revel in it. But—
“She’s probably just some fake. Like what Verga did at that warehouse couple months back,” the man standing behind Petro said. “She ain’t much to look at with that tattoo on her face, but we could at least have a little fun with her, Petro.” And with that, the man flipped out a switchblade from his pocket and pointed it at her as he drew near. “Whadya say, doll?”
“Hey, I wanna see that necklace around her neck. Looks pretty,” the woman added, nodding at Omicron’s throat. “Grab it for me while you’re at it.”
“Sure thing, doll face,” the knife-wielding man returned, flipping his weapon in hand.
And a knife too. Really? Was this supposed to be a robbery or a kidnapping? The insults were just piling up now.
“Gross.” Omicron frowned.
The man growled and lunged at her with the knife.
Omicron caught the blade with her left hand, also catching the man by surprise as she held it in place.
“‘Some fake’?” Omicron drew slowly, tightening her grip around the knife and drawing blood. She didn’t flinch as the man jerked the weapon out of her grasp nor did she flinch at the rain of crimson that splattered across the ground as a result. Instead, she raised her conductor-gloved right hand and flicked her wrist. “I’ve never been more insulted in my entire life.”
The blood that was on the man’s knife glowed a burning hot white, causing the man to release it with a yelp. It didn’t clatter to the floor, however, and remained floating there in the air.
“W-white,” the former knife-wielding man stammered. “White vitae—”
With another flick, Omicron sent the knife flying into the man’s throat. He collapsed in an instant, gurgling as he flailed about on the ground.
“You wield and sell terrifying, abominable weapons without thinking about the consequences of your actions. Without fear of consequences. But here you are afraid of a little knife trick and the color off-white—”
A loud bang echoed through the alleyway, and Omicron felt something catch her shoulder a beat after. She glanced down. A small hole blossomed red there. A bullet wound. What a nuisance. At least it looked like it went straight through.
Nodding at Petro who was still pointing the gun at her with shaking hands, she inquired, “Is that a one-trick pony?” When silence answered her, she tried, “Is that still a colloquialism, or am I behind on the times again?”
Two more shots fired—both skirting her head by what felt like more or less a centimeter. Then came the telling click, click, clicks of a gun with an empty chamber.
“What are you?!” Petro stammered. “What kind of damned conducting is that?!”
“It makes sense retribution-wise when using something this disgusting, doesn’t it?” She sighed, flexing her hand that was gloved with a conductor. “If you’re going to commit atrocities, you might as well start penance early and bleed for it.”
Instead of answering, Petro threw the empty gun at her and chased after his female friend who had already started dashing down the alley.
Omicron whipped her wounded hand in the direction of a stray pile of wooden planks and steel beams lying beside the wall to her left. The blood droplets splattered onto the items and coated them in an instant with a glowing light. She guided those items with her gloved hand to form a fence at the end of the alley—blocking Petro and the woman from their escape.
The pair rattled the jail of wood and metal, throwing punches and kicking at the bars until they finally turned to face her.
“What do you want?” Petro snapped, voice cracking. “None of us are Conductors! That’s what you care about, isn’t it? Conductors?! We’re noteven associated with the Romanos. We only hang with Feli cause he’s loaded!”
“Yeah! We don’t have anything to do with the Romanos or their conductors!” stammered the woman. “It’s Feliciano! He’s the son of one of the capos! He’s the one you want!” She shook her head and pressed back against the bars. “It doesn’t involve us!”
Omicron flicked her gloved hand again, sending the barrier of planks and bars up into the air. The man and the woman stared up at the storm to come and then towards the mirage of freedom of the unblocked alleyway. She could see it in their eyes. That hope. The hope that maybe they’d be able to make it out of this alive, that maybe they’d make it back to their families and put this all behind them, that maybe they could bury this night and all of their other misdeeds away and start anew. Yes, Omicron knew that type of hope well. She could see it in her mind’s eye—them on their hands and knees spouting how they’d learnt their lesson and how they’d turn over a new leaf.
But these types of people didn’t deserve that kind of hope because—
“You don’t have anything to do with it? It doesn’t involve you? What does that even mean? People like you allow it to happen.”
Omicron brought her gloved hand down sending the poles and planks bulleting into the ground, into the bodies. Bones cracked; barriers that were not meant to be broken were pierced through with ease. Red seeped in-between the poles and wooden planks that jutted from the ground like grave markers.
Better to end it before the cycle repeated for them—crime, and then forgiveness, and then redemption, and then back to crime, forgiveness, redemption, back to crime.
No… That wasn’t right, was it.
Omicron couldn’t allow herself to slip into that line of thought. There was always hope. Even in a cycle of mistakes. Yes, and it was because of that hope that she had to do these things. That was all there was to it.
“Did I really use all that energy to beat up street thugs?” Sighing, Omicron lowered her hand. The light coating the beams and fragments of wood faded, leaving her in complete darkness. She walked back over to where the abandoned cargo crate rested and popped it open. As expected, there were a plethora of conductors within.
Omicron reached into her pocket and pulled out a vial that was filled with black liquid. It was lined with metal that came to a short needle-like point at one of its ends. At the other end was a short plunger.
It was one of the new proto-conductors raved about in the newspapers. A proto-conductor that was capable of storing the vitae of a Conductor for future usage by another individual. Damned proto-conductors. Progress without understanding.
She hit the plunger on the device sending the black liquid splattering onto the items within the crate. She then pressed the pointed tip of the thing to the liquid coating. Immediately the coating began to glow with a pale—almost white—tangerine light. The glow swallowed the crate and its contents in a blinding flash that blinked out of existence a moment afterwards. Darkness returned. When Omicron’s eyes adjusted, she glanced down to find the crate nowhere in sight. Just a bare alleyway floor.
—Theta’s Diverger conducting was as beautiful to see as always. And…
“I beat the rhetoric senseless, but I have to admit conductors sure are convenient, aren’t they?”
Her eyes caught on to the corpses still littering the floor a couple of feet away. Hm. Not worth using the proto-conductors to clean up that mess, frankly.
Shaking her head, she turned away and started off in the opposite direction. She stopped short after a few steps, however, and glanced down at her still bleeding hand. She gently tapped the wound and felt a very faint throb. Her shoulder was beginning to throb a bit too. She supposed she would have to go to Lambda to fix this. Hopefully Theta wouldn’t find out.
* * *
Several hours later Omicron found herself standing on top of the Dioscuri Bridge and observed the ongoings of the city twinkling below her. Flashes of yellow, orange, reds, and blues. The backdrop of the sky giving the city the illusion of beauty. A treasure trove of sparkling gems.
If she listened closely, however, to the wind whistling through her braided hair, she was certain she’d be able to hear the shots of Projectors firing illegal conductors or the screams of children she hadn’t been able to save.
Omicron extended her hand outwards and balanced the far away glowing skyscrapers and networking streets in the palm of her hand. She then turned her hand to the side and shielded the city from her sight. She wished she could cover her ears to dull that sense as well but at the moment she had only two hands.
“There’s only one way to make it so they don’t hear or see things like this anymore.”
She reached for the chain that hung around her neck, pulled out the knife-shaped pendant that hung at its end, and pointed the thing at the cityscape.
There wasn’t much time now as it was, she thought.
“Let’s just cut it all out. Whatever comes with it is collateral.”
A whistle rang out from behind her, and it was followed by an offhand remark in Common: “That’s a terrifying thing to hear someone say when they’re talking to themselves in the dark. Also, should you really be waving that thing around? Didn’t you lose a whole batch of those when Verga made his exit from life?”
Tucking the pendant back into her shirt, Omicron turned.
A shadowy figure stood behind her, features shrouded in the night. There was only one discernable aspect about them—the white sash wrapped around their arm. It almost seemed to glow.
“Look at who the real terrifying one is here,” Omicron muttered, ignoring the latter comment. “Betraying your organization and everyone like that without blinking an eye. Haven’t you heard of honor?”
Omicron couldn’t see the peacekeeper’s face, but the shrug of nonchalance they gave told her all she needed to know about what they felt. They hadn’t changed one bit.
Instead of saying anything more, the peacekeeper extended a hand as if to ask for a dance. After some thought, Omicron closed the distance between them and accepted the gesture. Acting on the unspoken pact, the peacekeeper shot them up into the skies in a whirl of wind and dust of glowing blue.
The night rushed below them in pin streaks of yellows, reds, greens, and blues. Nothing left distinguishable—not the city lights that blurred into treetops, not the twisting roads that blurred into mountains. An endless smear of colors.
Omicron wasn’t sure how long it was that they streamed across the sky, but when the peacekeeper finally slowed their flight, Omicron’s cheeks felt bitten numb
“There it is,” the peacekeeper said, nodding to the spec of white that now loomed below them.
A couple of kilometers away from the direction the peacekeeper had indicated glowed a cluster of psychedelic vitae reservoirs, the light from which bled into the sky in a smoky aurora of color.
“You peacekeepers really have desecrated it, haven’t you…” was all Omicron said.
The wind rushing then lessened, and they began to descend.
“Y’know, you probably wouldn’t even need my help sneaking in if you didn’t have that tattooed to your face.”
“Maybe a year ago, I could’ve,” Omicron agreed. “But I’ve heard that you’re starting to test people with a vitae spectrophotometer before they can even step inside.” Her eyes narrowed as the spec of white became more discernible with their nearing. “Pushing forward all these technological conductor developments without even understanding a thing. Pitiful.” She frowned. “As for the tattoo… You know it’s a symbol. So we won’t forget, so we’ll never turn back.”
The peacekeeper snorted as they descended further. “Never forget? Now that’s ironic. Anyways, no need to sing poetry for me. Your stop is almost here.”
It was clear to see the building and all of its details now glowing white beneath them against the black of the night.
“Hm, at least now you’ll be able to tear apart this world you hate so much,” the peacekeeper noted before adding: “Your welcome for that.”
“I’m not doing this because I hate this world,” Omicron muttered. “I’m doing this because I love it.” With that, she dropped down into—
2 thoughts on “7.: A Terrorist’s Hate (Amore)”
TIL: ancient Greeks were not actually that fond of Elpis, and viewed her as an extension of suffering. That seems relevant
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So, Omicron is kind enough to spare and even save the illegal conductors carrier girls.
But wasn’t she also among the ELPIS leader who green lid the ELPIS initiate to massacre the children back then too?
So she’s like, wouldn’t mind helping people but would also commit a maybe even city-wide massacre if it helps with ELPIS’s hope goal? basically a more extreme Werner then 😛
and who’s that insider peacekeeper :O