Episode Eighteen - Pirates' Bounty
The crowded station swarms with people impatiently rushing to get home after a long day’s work.
The woman stares at the tiny words on the paper as the people shove their way onto the train platform. Her bare feet step closer to the edge, hands trembling and tears streaming from her eyes. She can still smell the gasoline on her hands and feel the lingering touch of the matches on her fingertips.
The woman didn’t like the family life.
Julius, her twelve-year-old son, was always nagging and complaining while her nine-year-old daughter, Julie, screamed obnoxiously whenever she was dissatisfied. Worst of all was her husband, though attentive and kind, never had the ambition to do anything courageous, spontaneous, or impulsive.
The monotonous life of a boring family suffocated her, so she purged them with everlasting burning hellfire. In the woman’s eyes, her actions were justified.
The head lights of the train gleam across the tracks entering the platform and she steps forward preparing to board. She holds one of her high-heel shoes in hand and stands eager to take the first seat available.
“There you are,” says a man standing several feet behind her. It’s the same familiar voice that’s been pursuing her for the past several hours. “I’m afraid I have to end this chase now.”
The man is Flash Dee of Lightning Royalty, and clasped in his hand is a tennis racket. Stepping toward the woman, he raises his weapon and readies the killing blow.
Suddenly, the crowd on the platform starts to separate and charging through the newly opened space is Zylo, eyes locked on Flash dragging his doubled-up rod behind him.
Rushing in close, Zylo swipes the steel across his chest.
Flash is thrown to the side into a slouch, but still standing on his feet. A grin appears over his face, and Zylo spots Flash’s partner charging from behind.
Another Lightning member, Rumble Bee, throws a devastating attack with his iron wok. The large, rounded frying pan aims for Zylo’s head, but he effortlessly rolls away in a blur.
“Dang Pirates. Back off!” grunts Rumble Bee.
The train enters the platform and the frightful woman runs to the farthest end to board.
“Looks like your prize is getting away,” Zylo points to the fleeing bounty.
Flash Dee runs after her and Zylo follows.
The hunters chase one after the other in a line, shoving through the endless horde of passengers swarming into the train. Rumble tries to land a hit on Zylo who persistently steps out of reach trying to catch Flash.
When the doors close and the train starts to depart, Flash sprints ahead and leaps high onto the roof of the train. Without question, Zylo leaps after, and so does Rumble.
The fast moving train zooms out of the station onto a bridge passing over the city street. The height is staggering, and their footing grows unstable.
Zylo glances to the members of Lightning Royalty standing on both sides of him, and says, “Hey guys, this is kinda’ dangerous, don’t ya’ think?”
“Yeah, you wouldn’t wanna fall off!” Rumble swings high with the large wok aimed for Zylo’s head again.
Zylo ducks under this time, and sweeps the rod around him. The steel smacks into Rumble’s knees and he thumps onto the hard roof of the train.
Flash fled the scene moments earlier to hunt the bounty. He drops down and enters the train car, weaving through the crowd and scanning relentlessly for the woman. Finally, he reaches the end of the car, but only to find his disappointment.
The scattering passengers push against each other trying to keep away from the dead woman lying on the floor. If there was more room, they’d be standing even further from the killer standing beside her.
Adjusting his sunglasses, Kitsune smirks, “Too bad, Lightning Boys.”
Days turned to seven months, and the New Pirates reaped Soul faster than any other crew of Baya.
Surprisingly, Zylo became a vital contribution to his crew, and a powerful force to be reckoned with. His body grew stronger, his reflexes faster, and his skills more efficient. He could freerun for hours and still have the strength to fight rivaling hunters.
Most importantly, Zylo learned to control his Shield, an ability no other hunter in Baya is able to perform, and a phenomenon no other hunter has understood.
Zylo hunted and fulfilled contract after contract, inevitably acclimating the duties of the Baya. In the first month, he would offer his bounties a moment of silence before taking their lives. There was a shred of sympathy, and not much more.
By the third month, he wouldn’t leave them a moment to speak, and killed without saying a word. He never reflected on his actions, but simply fell into another routine lifestyle.
Seven months and he became a beast of a hunter, reaping Soul like any other task. This was Zylo’s life now, and he wanted nothing more.
The New Pirates scaled the ranks and reached the top five, eventually beating out Neon Supreme for third. They rivaled Lightning Royalty for second, but close to taking their place as well. Though the new rankings would appear in the contract room, every crew was already well informed.
Baya Elite Tier
Rank One – Immortal Spades
Rank Two – Lightning Royalty
Rank Three – New Pirates
Rank Four – Neon Supreme
Rank Five – Red Wreckers
Hunt after hunt, the other crews could not compete with the New Pirates. The members of the team adapted to each other’s personalities, they understood each other’s fighting styles, each other’s quirks and faults, and before long, they were one of the deadliest crews of Baya.
Gradually, they became a closely knit family.
When Zylo was eating in the dining hall, Violet walked by and impulsively smacked his drink off the table.
Seeing Zylo’s upset pouting face, Juniper stood up and called, “Hey!” Violet turned with a grin, only to be met by Juniper’s rushing fist.
Another time, Kitsune drank all of Renzo’s milk in his amaretto, but Kitsune knew just how to cheer him up.
“Was that the last of it?” Renzo grieved.
“Yeah, I’m sorry. Really, I am.” Kitsune apologized. “It’s not a big deal, okay? It’ll be fine. This is what we’ll do. You’ll just go to the store…and get another one, okay?”
“Good. Go to the deluxe market. I need a new bottle of Sinder scotch and that’s the only place that has ‘em. Hurry up.”
This is true friendship.
Together, the New Pirates roamed the streets, the clubs, the subways. There was no place in Fortune City they would not traverse, and no fight they were unwilling to approach. They indulged in the simple pleasures, and enjoyed what there was to enjoy.Within these precious moments, the City of Fortune belonged to the New Pirates.