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Kings of Fortune

By Eric Banzai Cheung All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Action

Prologue

The happy summer sun showers its affection over the endless streets of Fortune City. Like an overbearing lover, its passionate unwarranted heat wave settles upon the unsuspecting citizens, and these citizens would reciprocate by shouting their contempt at the sky while basking beside their unsatisfying oscillating fans.

Stretching across the metropolis, the heated sunlight reaches the heavily-packed highway lining the outermost edge of the vast city. Populating each lane of this sky road are endless rows of cars filled with frustrated citizens dreading their commute to work.

These rows of moving cars always keep a constant pace, similar to the dull, endless motion of a conveyor belt set to the lowest, most unfulfilling speed. The excessive warmth in the air only makes matters worse, and edgy drivers begin eyeing one another, wondering who would be first to break under pressure.

But let’s not dawdle on the monotonous rhythm of these cars, or the painful isolation of these individuals and their mind-numbing lives. That is not significant.

Of course not.

Who cares about that.

What is particularly noteworthy is one rebellious pickup truck that holds neither concern for the other cars nor remorse in disrupting the quiet, solemn mood of this warm early morning.

The rustic truck races from the far end of the freeway toward the horizon, constantly sliding through gaps of cars and switching lanes in the most reckless manner imaginable. Riddled with dents and stains, the muffler coughs dark clouds of poisonous exhaust.

It’s a wonder this junkyard vehicle could even move, let alone keep up with traffic. The first sight of this monstrosity on the road would undoubtedly leave not only a bad taste in one’s mouth, but also a terrible impression of the driver and its passengers. That impression would be wrong, however.

In fact, these people are actually quite well dressed.

“What band is this?”

The man sitting in the passenger seat of this reckless abomination, snidely questions the heavy metal song blasting from the speakers. He uncomfortably loosens the knot of his black tie trying to cope with the tune, but fails miserably. On his face is an open-mouth look of disgust, struggling to find ways to appreciate the song, but to no avail.

Unwittingly, he glances out of the window with his scowling grimace, only to make eye contact with a woman driver of an adjacent car. He doesn’t panic, but nonchalantly reshapes his expression to a full teeth-baring grin, and raises his sunglasses to reveal a winking eye. Well played, but the woman looks away as though nothing happened.

What a creep, she is thinking, and what a loss, he is thinking.

“Death Face,” answers Renzo, the driver.

“Death Face?” he turns away from the window. “That’s actually their name? Not even something like, Face of Death?” He contemplates for a second, then adds, “How…blunt.”

“That’s actually their third name. First, they were the Obituary Deliverers or… Obituary Delivery Guys…I think.”

“Too many syllables in those. Clever though, cleverer I mean.” He takes a moment to pick his teeth. “Some people just try too hard. I’m sure you meet them and they actually care more about the shade of their eyeliner than how many people they’ve killed. Know what this world needs?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me.”

He tilts toward Renzo with a confused look. “Of course I’m gonna tell you. If you don’t know, why would I not tell you? Like I’m gonna just leave you sitting there silent and not knowing? No. What this world needs is a little less death,” he leans back toward the window, “and a lot more…style.”

“Strange, hearing that from you. You should be the last person to say that.”

He puts his hands in the air as if yelling, ‘What?!’ but instead, passionately shouts, “I care! And I have style! But I mean it. Maybe something more positive for this new generation of lost boys.”

Putting his finger on the radio dial, he goes to say, “Perhaps a little more funk.”

The radio switches to an upbeat track filled with rapid percussion and an exciting saxophone melody. Then, he knocks on the glass window behind his seat directed at the other two passengers in the bed of the pickup truck.

They sit across from each other with their arms resting on the sides of the open trunk. Their legs are beside one another, and both try to avoid touching the dirty shoes of the other.

There is no doubt a lack of air conditioning on this primitive pollution generator they call a truck, but at least there is a constant flow of wind in the bed. The air continuously washes over their heads providing a permanent cooling massage. After thirty minutes of being on the freeway and the breeze even becomes an invisible beating. The two can barely see nor feel their cheeks with so much wind against their faces, but neither will admit it.

One of them slides her body down until her head touches the bottom of the bed, resting her head comfortably on her palms as she stares upward at the animated sky.

The cheerful rays of the golden sun highlight the pristine white clouds while outlining the skyscrapers with a sharp orange tint. Her gaze is locked on the mesmerizing view, almost distracting from the painful muscle aches throughout her body. Almost.

The man taps on the glass again.

“What?” asks the woman lying down.

“Don’t get all nancy on me but…good job today.”

“Who says nancy anymore?” Smiling, she adjusts her hands under her head to a more suited position, but winces from the sudden pain of her wounds. “Thanks, Kitsune.”

It’s rare to hear a compliment, but nice to feel acknowledged.

“Killing that last bounty was actually kind of…sad,” says Kitsune.

“Yeah, I almost held back,” her fists clench at her sides, “not really, though.” She asks, “Are you gonna cry when I leave? Nakanaide, Kitsune-chan.”

“I’ll cry…but not as much as Kuro.”

The man sitting beside her awkwardly sits up, folding his arms into a stern, composed fashion. “We’ll all miss you. Enjoy your new life.”

“I will. And don’t forget about me. Maybe I’ll even see you guys around.” Her eyes sparkle from the sunlight, face brightened with a sweet smile. “And arigatou, everyone…thanks, for everything.”

The truck falls silent for a fleeting moment, long enough for everyone to appreciate the tender sentiment.

Kitsune turns to Renzo, “Why do we feel so slow?”

“I’m hitting 83 already,” Renzo says, eyes straight and hands firmly gripping the wheel. “This thing only goes to 85.”

“Well, hit 84.”

Renzo slides the truck toward the adjacent lane and rams another car aside. The disrespected driver yells some loud, incomprehensible insult, but quickly fades with the distance as the rickety truck speeds past.

“There, 84.”

Kitsune is silent with a blank stare, then grins, “You’re a funny guy sometimes, Renzo. It scares me, how funny you can be.” Listening to the music, he starts nodding his head and rhythmically slapping the outside of the car door following the beat.

The rest of these hooligans join the session, loudly banging their hands and feet against the metal of the truck as they head deeper into the bright city.

Another beautiful morning.

She sits up, and her fragrant hair flutters gracefully with the wind.

“So, what should we do today?”
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Chapters
1. Prologue
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