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Fawkes City

For the people of Fawkes, there were a handful of unspoken rules that one must follow, or else suffer dire consequences, either to one’s body or mind:

…Never go outside after sundown. Your safety would not, could not, be guaranteed. In fact, it was best to be in by sunset, just in case.

…Always lock your doors and windows. Barring the windows is recommended as well, but you would probably be safe with them just locked. They rarely got desperate enough to break one.

…Keep a weapon with you at all times. You never knew when you could be attacked.

…Always keep an eye on your children. The slightest lapse in vigilance and you might not have them anymore.

…And look the other way if you hear or see a fight. After all, you might be next.

There were, of course, those who didn’t obey those rules. They rarely survived very long. The ones that did got a taste of freedom, and soon they were the ones who lurked outside at night, becoming the muggers, and serial killers, and rapists that lurked on every street corner waiting for another foolish victim to come just a little too close, or stayed out just a little too long…

Marina Sinclair was not a fighter. Even growing up in Fawkes had not made her any more capable of defending herself than if she had grown up in a town not infested by crime. She could barely handle the small handgun hidden on the inside of her jacket and even the most sadistic would feel guilty for getting her into a physical fight. She was slow, weak, and had a terrible sense of time, judging by the fact that she was desperately running toward home almost five whole minutes after sunset.

The young woman’s breaths came in short gasps. Her heart and lungs felt like they were going to explode if she kept running like this, but she knew that much worse would be forthcoming if she took a break to catch her breath. Every noise made her flinch and skitter back and forth across the sidewalk. Her apartment was still several blocks away and she was beginning the think that she wasn’t going to make it in time…

A hand shot out from an alleyway as she passed, catching her around the waist and dragging her in. She cried out in panic, shrieking like a banshee for help, even though deep down she knew that no one is going to come. She whimpered pathetically as a hand clamped down over her mouth and another shoved her against a wall, pinning her there with a knife poised at her throat. She wasn’t sure how many people were there, but she was positive there were at least three searching her for money and valuables while the fourth held her still against the wall.

Faster than the eye could blink, something hit her attacker in the side while a hand snatched the knife away from her neck. Marina gasped and sank to the ground, emitting a choked sob as a hand gently touched her shoulder. She flinched and looked around wildly, only then realizing that the person who touched her wasn’t planning on hurting her.

The woman, or was it a man?, smiled faintly and helped her up, handing her back her wallet and other such objects as he or she did so. The… person escorted her out of the alley and Marina chanced a quick look over her shoulder. In the few seconds that she had been distracted, all four of her would-be muggers had been knocked out cold. She swallowed and looked away. She hadn’t been on the ground for more than a handful of seconds.

The frustratingly androgynous person chattered about all number of things (his or her voice didn’t identify the person’s gender, either) as he or she lead Marina in the same direction that she had been heading originally, although they walked at a much slower pace this time. Strangely, Marina didn’t feel the same panic as before. She wondered, vaguely, if this was how people felt wandering the streets in normal cities after dark.

The pair suddenly stopped and Marina looked up to see that they were standing in front of her apartment building. She blinked in surprise. She didn’t remember telling her savior where she lived. She glanced back at where the person was standing and smiled, emitting a small thank you before jogging up the steps. She opened the door and turned one last time, only for her savior to have vanished into the night. She frowned and slipped inside, shutting the door and locking it with a small click.

Once the door was shut and the girl he had saved was inside, Tiberius “Tai” Lagorio stepped back out of the shadows he had hidden himself in. He sighed, and shook his head. He was fairly sure the girl had mistaken him for a woman. Oh well. Wouldn’t be the first time.

“You can stop hiding now, Archer,” he said suddenly, turning halfway to look into the gloom of the alley next to the girl’s apartment building. There was a loud crash as someone ran into one of the garbage cans, followed by some loud swearing. Tai winced. When he had a mind to, Archer could hide rather well, but once he had been spotted… well, a ninja he wasn’t.

A ruffled looking young man stepped out from the alleyway, still grumbling incoherently and picking piece of trash off of his clothes. He shot Tai a dirty look and glanced up at the building that they were now both standing in front of. A tiny frown played across his features before he looked down at the significantly shorter Tai.

“Why’d you do it, Pretty-Boy? No one else would have helped her, and she’s no different from other scared little teenage girls that you’ve seen get torn apart before,” he said gruffly. Tai shot a glare at his companion for the slight, and then shrugged helplessly, allowing a sort of distant look to settle in his bright eyes.

“Perhaps, but I have been thinking… This city does not have to be like this. A few of the more skilled fighters could clean up the streets and maybe little girls like that would not have to die because they had the misfortune of being forced to be outside after dark. This city is our home. If we have the power, we should not allow it to continue to be like this,” he said and glanced over at his friend before allowing a small smirk to tug at his lips. “Besides, I do not recall having lain so much as a hand on a couple of those thugs early, Archer.”

The other young man looked away. He almost seemed to be pouting. “This place wouldn’t be any fun if you got yourself killed, ‘sides, not like I had anything better to do,” he grumbled, then gave Tai another hard look. “You’re proposing some pretty big stuff, here, Pretty-Boy. This city had been like this for as long as… well, like, forever. That’s a lot of crime to clean up.”

Tai shrugged again, preferring to just ignore the insult this time while still looking at the building before them pensively. “Most likely, but I really want to see the day when people like her can walk home without worrying.”

The both lapsed into silence, and eventually Archer gave an irritated sigh and began to walk off. Tai smirked. He knew he had won. For all his fussing, Tai knew Archer wanted to change the city as much as he himself did.

“Fine, fine, you sap. I’ll send word around the Nonviolents and see if any of them want to help. You owe me, Tai!” Archer called, not bothering to turn around as he did. Tai just chuckled and strolled after him. Even though both of them could handle themselves if they were jumped, they both knew it was unwise to wander about alone.

They continued to chatter quietly about their plans for an anti-crime gang as they slipped around a corner and faded into the night. The city of Fawkes resumed its normal nightly activity, screams and gunshots taking the place of cars to soothe the inhabitants to sleep. But there was one less body to be cleaned up in the morning, and as the night dragged on toward the dawn, there was the possibility that in the future, there would no longer be any at all.





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