“The sun and the moon are tricky things. They both disappear for the other to exist, and one has to drown the other out to shine. But without the sun, the moon is nothing but a round ball of debris and space dust, and without the moon, the sun would destroy life on Earth and make it uninhabitable.”
“Where the fuck did you get that from?” The cracking voice of a teenager barely past puberty shouts over the loud club music.
“I don’t know man,” His friend beside him laughs, “but it’s some stupid quote they taught us that’s supposed to have a meaning behind it. It doesn’t make any sense because it’s philosophical. Nothing philosophical makes sense.”
The teenager throws back the rest of the sour-tasting alcohol in his glass and swallows it down with a grimace. “Blegh,” he groans, “so much for mixing drinks for taste, huh, Perce?”
The friend named Percy shakes his head in response. “When we started middle school, and I first saw your face, I couldn’t stand the sight of you because your eyes creeped me out so badly,” he began, and took a pause to slurp the juice from a lemon before downing a shot of tequila; he continued, “that shade of blue and green is unnatural. You’re like freaking Roy Thinnes on crack. Or if Chris Hemsworth and Alexandra Daddario had a baby and it mutated with Chris Pine. Or if-“
“Percy,” the teenager began, “shut up. I get it. I’m a zombie.”
The two were silent for a few more minutes as the alcohol started to take a toll on both of them, until Percy decided to break the silence.
“I’m gonna hit the dance floor, bro. You coming with me?” he asked, and his obviously drunk friend stood.
“N-Nah,” he answered, “I’m just gonna go home. I’ll see you later.”
The now-drunk teenager stumbled past jumping, twerking groups and out the door of the bar to the street. The pavement was slick with fresh rain, indicating that the heavy rainfall from earlier that evening hadn’t that long ago stopped. Cars zoomed past, splashing light puddles of muddy water onto the teenager struggling to walk in a straight line. Without thinking, he stepped out onto the street to get across to the transit center, and a car drifted smoothly to a stop to avoid hitting him. A bleach white man not much younger than him with concerned blue eyes stepped out of the sleek black 1972 Dodge Challenger, running to his side as quickly as he could.
“Dude! What the hell!? You look like shit! Come on, get out of the rain. I’ll give you a ride home,” he said as he helped the teenager into the backseat of his car. A girl with similar white hair but black roots and grey eyes turned to face the driver.
“Zero! Who is that guy; do you know him?” she asked, and Zero climbed back into the front seat. “No,” he admitted as he buckled his seat belt and shifted the car into gear; “but I think I may have seen him in my bio-engineering class. I think he’s the Commander of Diethyl’s son.”
“The Commander of Diethyl’s son!? What’s he-“
“Shh!” Zero snapped as he clapped a hand over the girl’s mouth. “Please, Melissa, scream louder so everyone outside in the horrible neighborhood we’re in can hear,” he said, and Melissa shrugged. Zero dropped his hand to shift into third gear, and it went back to Melissa’s shoulder warningly. Melissa just rolled her eyes.
“Okay, okay. I got it. I’ll be quiet,” she said, “but what was the Commander’s son doing in that bar, much less your lame-o bio-nerds class?”
Zero glared at her as long as he could before he had to avert his attention back to the road. “I don’t know,” he whispered softly after a minute. “I don’t know. Let’s just…get him home. I guess.”
Melissa raised an eyebrow past her dark blue suede beanie. “Uhhh, Zero? He’s out cold. How we getting him home if he’s unconscious?”
Zero slammed on the brakes. “Fuck!”
“Just go left. Look, I’m telling you, I’m staring right at the door. Go left,” Melissa said, and Zero hoisted the unconscious teenager into his arms like an unconscious, 150-pound bride. “Melissa?” Zero asked, and Melissa chirped in response.
“Shut up. I know what you’re doing. It’s not going to work. Open the door.”
Melissa groaned and slid open the back door to their Japanese-style house. Zero delicately walked inside, and set the teenager in his arms down gently on the plush rug. Melissa ran to get him a pillow and some water, and Zero sat on his haunches contemplating the teenager’s name.
Was it…Dice..? Drake..? Derek..? Dimitri..? Diamon..?
“Deidro!” he shouted aloud, and the unconscious teenager jolted upright with a terrified expression on his face and perspiration slicking his olive skin. He panted raggedly, and Zero had to force him to lay back down to calm him down.
“Who the hell are you and how do you know my name? Where am I? What happened to me!? What district am I in!? Who do you work for!? My dad’s the Commander but I don’t talk to that asshole so I’m no use to you just dump me back on the street!” Deidro said panicked, and Zero shook his head.
“I’m just a friendly classmate. My name is Zero Kierkegaard. I know you because you often get called on by the teacher for causing trouble. You’re currently on the floor in the house I share with my little sister Melissa Kierkegaard, and we found you J-walking dangerously across a busy street. You’re still in Diethyl, and I don’t work for anyone except the asshole that owns the Sleazy Mistress as a waiter and tips are shitty unless they’re coming from a bear that wants to take you home or a fruit that wants you to take him home. Answer all your questions?” Zero answered, and Deidro nodded, still a bit confused. Melissa walked back in with a glass of water and a plate of waffles and eggs, and Deidro’s stomach burned at the smell. He felt like he was about to hurl Mars itself and all its’ inhabitants, but the food smelled so good and he felt so hungry.
Melissa kneeled beside Deidro, settling carefully on the butt of her silver high heeled stilettos with a gold buckle on the side and an open toe. Her pre-ripped jeans stretched to show parts of her pale skin through the tears as her crop top with an old UK flag on it hung over her knees. She used a gloved hand to feed Deidro slowly, occasionally giving him a sip of water and waiting for his nod.
Zero put a finger to his lips, tapping his soft, pale-pink lower lip. “Where do you live, Deidro?” He asked, and Deidro forced another gulp of water down before he sighed. “I um…live in…a pretty nice place. It’s better than all the small little half bedrooms they give you here in Diethyl. No offense, of course…” he answered, and Melissa stopped feeding him to let him digest the food already in his stomach a little. Deidro’s eyes felt swollen and droopy, although he wasn’t feeling tired, and his stomach was hurting in a sense that told him that he couldn’t keep up the nightly binge-drinking or he’d soon lose a kidney.
“H-Hey, uh, I’m not feeling too hot. Thanks for your hospitality guys, but would one of you mind driving me home? I-I can give you gas money. I have a stash at home. I-I just need my bed,” he said. Melissa and Zero exchanged looks; Zero’s of pleading dismay and Melissa’s of frustration.
“Oh no,” she said, “no. He’s drunk. He’s right; he needs to go home.”
“Please, Melissa, I’ll give him by bed.”
“No Zero. No. I mean it.”
“God I hate you.”
Honking and typical traffic sounds could be heard 23 stories below, but up at the rooftop of the building, a raven haired man sat swinging his legs over the edge silently. He was turning 19 that day, and not a single one of his friends or family had bothered to remember. They forgot again, just like the previous year, and had promised they would do something to make up for it the next year. The teen gripped the nearly-empty bottle of Jameson in his left hand, and a black glock in his right. An empty pill bottle with the name LEILAN DAAE written on it rolled with the wind off the edge of the building, shattering the window of a parked truck below.
“That’s going to be me if I can just…” the teen began, looking over at the gun in his hand. The voices started up again.
‘If you can just what, weakling? Pull the trigger? Pull the fucking trigger, idiot. Nobody wants you. Nobody likes you. Just kill yourself now. Blow your brains out and you’ll be dead before you hit the asphalt below.’
‘Move it, bitch. Just a little push off with your feet and you’ll be one with the ground in no time.’
‘Don’t you want this to be over already? Aren’t you sick and tired of everyone lying to you? Nobody wants to deal with liars no matter what their status is. Just lay back and let the pills kick in.’
“Freeze! Security!!” a voice called from behind him before he was yanked backwards and onto the rough concrete roof. Two girls stood over him; one with hair curlier and blonder than any blonde or curly he’d seen that was tightly secured in a bun probably as per her work dress code and a black bodysuit that looked more like she was FBI than security, and one with dark brown/maroon hair and a jogger’s outfit with a matching sweater that read ‘CAAL TECH UNIVERSITY’ in white calligraphy.
“I’ve told you a thousand times before, Anna,” the university student began, “do NOT scream security if you don’t want them to jump off a building.”
The blonde named Anna stomped her foot and lowered the gun that the man hadn’t realized she was pointing at him still. “Hey! It’s a force of habit, okay!? I’m sorry! I don’t see you very often saving them either! They’re usually dead by the time we get here!” she protested, and now the man was very confused.
“I can’t help it if you’re too slow of a driver. You’re a cop for crying out loud, aren’t you!?”
“Shut up Lasi! I’m not a cop! I have a guard card!”
“Whatever. Are you okay, mister?” The man sat up when he realized the maroon brunette university student was talking to him.
“Y-yeah. I’m okay. Thank you, actually…” he responded, and he stood up with help from the student. Anna raised her gun again with a shaky hand. “Drop it,” she said, and the man looked confused once more. He looked down to notice he was still holding the glock in his hand, and it immediately dropped with a ‘clack’ to the ground. Anna sighed softly and put her own gun away.
“I’m Anna, and that’s my psychic friend Lasiandra, but I call her Lasi.,” Anna said, “and you are..?”
The man brushed off his jacket. “I’m sorry for the mess and everything. Thank you very much for saving my life, Miss Anna, Miss Lasi. I gotta go.”
The man hurried for the door to go downstairs and out of the building, ignoring the protests coming from the girls that had pulled him away from the ledge.
‘Two girls saved your pathetic ass, squirt. Girls. And you stormed out on them like the pussy you are.’
‘You should’ve jumped when you had the chance.’
“Shut up!” the man cried out as he burst into the bathroom and barely made it into the stalls in time. Every one of the pills he took came rearing their ugly heads at him as he threw them up into the toilet bowl. He’d felt he was going to be sick shortly after he stood from being shaken so roughly and hit against the ground. Lasi had moved him so rapidly it made his head spin, and he could feel his lunch coming back up.
“Leilan!?” A voice called. His boss.
“Fuck,” Leilan whispered into the toilet before he wiped his mouth and stepped out of the stall. A man half his size and crisply bald was standing in a fine , blue suit, and his brown eyes glared at Leilan through the rims of his rectangular-framed glasses. “You were supposed to be at the meeting this morning to launch the bill for the new hotel we’re putting up, and we looked like asses in front of the board when you never showed up. Where have you been all morning? And you better have a good excuse,” he said, and Leilan’s heart lurched.
“I’m so terribly sorry sir. As you can see, I’ve been in the bathroom sick to my stomach all morning. My baby cousin has a terrible case of the stomach flu, and in caring for him, I think I’ve caught it,” he lied, but his boss seemed to buy it.
“Very well. Same time tomorrow morning. This time, you don’t show up, and you’re fired. See a doctor, man,” his boss said, and his stubby legs waddled as he took his leave from the bathroom. Leilan tried everything he could not to burst out laughing. Partly in relief, partly at his luck that morning, and partly at the funny way his boss walked.
A dark brown haired girl stood at the corner of her school-grounds, hiding mostly behind the giant stone sign that read ‘SYKLAND HIGH SCHOOL’. She was growing more and more frustrated by the minute. Her older brother was supposed to pick her up hours ago, but never showed up, and left her stuck waiting for him in her dance outfit alone.
Soon a rusted, golden brown 1997 Chevy Silverado rolled up, and the brunette walked up to the old four door window that was rolled down.
“Where’s my stupid brother, Percy?” she asked, and Percy mustered the best smile he could, but the girl could read right through it.
“I’m sorry, Anya,” he said, “but I have no idea. Honest. He just texted me a few minutes ago asking me to come get you. He wouldn’t tell me what happened to him or where he was or even if he was okay. Hop on in and I’ll take you to go get ice cream, okay, kiddo?”
Anya rolled her eyes. “That worked when I was five, Percy. Not now. I’m 16, and I need to be treated like an adult. Deidro needs to let me use the car if he’s never going to use it,” she said, “because I’m tired of getting stranded at school.”
“Now, Anya, you know very well why you can’t use that car,” Percy sighed. Anya wouldn’t have it.
“Then I’m walking home.” She turned and started to walk to the crosswalk, but Percy jumped the curb to stop her. He climbed out of the truck through the window, and ran around quickly to stop Anya.
“Anya, I’m sorry, I really, really am. I wish I could help you. But I can’t. The transmission is blotchy at best on that thing, and the alignment needs to be re-calibrated. I’m sorry,” he said, and Anya crossed her arms. They were silent for another minute before Percy thought of something.
“Hey, how about I let you drive my truck?”
Percy stared out the passenger’s window as Anya pulled up at a red light. There were rain droplets on the side windows around the truck from the light rain that had just passed through, and Percy could see his reflection in each of the little droplets if he looked closely enough. Suddenly, a silver 2004 Toyota Camry pulled up beside them, revving its’ engine and trying to provoke them.
“Ignore him. He wants to race,” Percy said, and Anya scoffed. “I know what he wants, Perce. I’m not stupid. Maybe I want to accept his challenge. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if your piece of shit truck couldn’t keep up,” she retaliated, and Percy sighed.
“Please don’t,” he asked, but Anya ignored him.
The light clicked green and both cars floored it, sending skidding water flying at the cars behind them. Just as Anya was starting to get ahead, the Camry suddenly swerved in front of them, forcing Anya to switch lanes and brake to avoid hitting him. Percy jumped out of the truck as soon as the other cars behind them stopped, and he bolted after the Camry that was currently speeding off. Anya covered her mouth as she heard sirens in the distance, and flashing blue and red zoomed past her and the other cars after the Camry.
The Camry swerved to the left to avoid the police car trying to cut him off, but the slicked roads weren’t easy to manage. He spun out, and his rear end smashed against the side of a tree as he was completely flipped around to face oncoming traffic. Percy pulled out the gun he holstered in the back of his pants, along with the badge in his wallet. He flashed his badge at the car and the police creeping out of their cars as well as the first cop shouted, “DPD! Step out of the vehicle with your hands up!”
“No offense, officer, but I’ve been in the game long enough to know they never listen. How much you wanna bet he’s going to come out of the driver’s side and run straight for the neighborhood he nearly crashed into?” Percy snorted, and just as he predicted, a rather buff man leaped out of the car through the back left door behind the driver’s door, bolting straight for and over the wall separating the neighborhoods from the streets.
Percy wasted no time in leaping expertly over the wall after him. The police officers followed, but they were a bit slower; Percy was thinner and more agile than most of them.
The man ran straight through a family that was outside barbecuing and through the open back door into their house, slamming and locking the sliding glass door behind him. The family screamed and the mother snatched the smallest child to take cover as Percy ran past shouting “sorry” over and over until he reached the sliding glass door. A quick few gunshots into the glass helped weaken the glass, and with a tucked head, he jumped straight through the glass, shattering it everywhere. He followed the man through the house and upstairs into the bedroom of a teenage girl that had been chatting on the phone. Percy held his gun up at the man who was holding his own gun to the head of the girl he was now holding in a headlock. “Don’t move, asshole, or I blow her brains all over the floor,” the man said, and Percy swore softly under his breath as he heard the police officers running up after them.
“Drop the gun,” the man said, and Percy swore again. “Drop it now!”
Percy slowly kneeled to set his gun down on the floor, not daring to break eye contact with the man. “It’s going to be okay, sweetie,” Percy told the trembling girl, “just don’t move, okay? It’s going to be okay.”
The police officer that had been standing at the door listening quickly turned into the bedroom, and before the man holding the girl knew what happened, the officer headshot him. The girl screamed and ran out the door as the man dropped dead on the ground, and Percy sighed in relief.
“Not a shot like you in the world, Melissa,” he noted, “thank God you showed up when you did.”
“I can’t keep saving your ass like this, Perce,” Melissa said, “the captain is going to want to talk to the both of us.
“Even if we make the most badass team in the history of forever,” Melissa added with a grin. She kneeled down to make sure the man was dead as the other officers joined her, and Percy suddenly stomped his foot. “Fuck! Anya!!” he shouted, before he was out the door and back to where he last saw the truck.
Anya wrapped the blanket tighter around herself as it began to rain again, and the paramedic finished stitching the gash on her head with a smile. “There. That wasn’t so bad, now was it?” he asked, and Anya nodded distractedly as the paramedic put a large band-aid down for the bleeding. He got up and left her alone, and Anya heard a voice calling her name. She looked up to see Percy running as fast as he could towards her.
“Anya! Are you okay!? I told you not to do something so stupid and foolish! I don’t care about the truck, I care about you getting hurt!” he said as he pet her cheek, but Anya slapped his hand away.
“Why!?” she hissed, “scared your master is going to castrate you?”
“I’m not worried Deidro’s going to kill me, though, I do deserve it for letting you do this. I’m worried about you, of course,” Percy tried to be as sincere as he could, but it only made Anya angrier.
“I don’t wanna freaking hear it. I called my friend Candy. She’s going to be here soon to take me home. I don’t want to see your stupid face or my brother’s. I’m still too pissed at that dumbass bum.”
Percy sighed and stood up, about to say something back until he heard Melissa calling for him.
“Yo, Perce! We got a live one. Says he’s the brother of the victim you saved. He wants to tell you something,” she said, with an obviously good-looking Mexican behind her. He was significantly well-dressed, his black, curly locks slicked back and damp from the rain. He was taller than Percy, and wearing the most expensive watch Percy had ever seen.
“Thank you so much,” he said, and Percy held his hand out in belief the man was going to shake it, but instead, he hugged Percy with such a force the younger nearly fell over.
“Thank you,” the man whispered again, and Percy mouthed to Melissa; ‘This is WEIRD.’
The man finally released Percy and smiled. “Alejandro Guerrero. Alex for short. You saved the lives of my baby sister, wife and daughter,” he said with a trembling voice, and Percy let out a small chuckle.
“Really it was Melissa who saved their lives-“
“Oh I already thanked her too. Both of you; I-I…how can I repay you?”
Percy smiled politely and began to protest along with Melissa, but it was cut short when Deidro walked up and put a hand on Percy’s shoulder. He was drenched from head to toe, his limp, dirty blonde hair an obvious reminder. Percy frowned.
“You look like you walked the whole way here, bro,” He said, and Deidro shook his head. “Don’t worry about any of that. What happened?” Deidro asked, and before Percy could begin to explain, Alex interrupted.
“He saved my family,” he said with a wide smile, “he saved them all.”
Deidro nodded in pride for his friend, but Melissa was a little dumbfounded. “Hey, I know you,” she finally said, “you’re that alcoholic my brother picked up last night!”
Percy glared at her as Deidro looked down at the ground. Alex handed Percy and Melissa both a card. “Well, call me if you two think of anything, and I do mean anything, I can do to repay you.”
“Well,” Deidro began as he, Anya, and Percy walked down the dark, rain-slicked streets, “that has to be the weirdest Tuesday I’ve ever had in my entire life. Lunch, anyone?”
“It’s Thursday, you dumbass,” Anya sneered, and Deidro frowned muttering to himself. Percy ignored them; thinking to himself as he pulled out his vibrating cellphone.
“Yo,” Percy answered, and he was silent for a solid minute before he handed the phone to Deidro. Deidro looked honestly confused at Percy, but Percy was already starting to hike way ahead of them.
“Hello?” Deidro spoke into the microphone, and a voice he wouldn’t thought to have heard in another thousand years echoed into his ears from the speakers.
“Hello Deidro. Been a while.”
“Commander. What do you want, sir?”
“You, boy. I know I’m not much of a father to you, but I need a favor from you as my son.”
“You know my answer is going to be no. Whatever it is, I’m not interested.”
“The pay is beyond better than anything you’ll ever get in your life with the path you’re going down, boy.”
“And that is exactly why I don’t do you any favors as my father. Goodbye, Commander.”
“Damn it, Deidro, I need a team of young, elite rangers and you and your friends are the best option I’ve got if I don’t want to wait eight months and pray we don’t get attacked by then.”
“It’s a long story. Are you in or not?”
“Obviously not, dad, I’ve told you before. You need nine people to form a proper team and we have two and Anya, and there’s no way in hell I’m letting my baby sister anywhere near a cruiser.”
“You could work your way up to Commander of Diethyl, Deidro. And you’d finally get to see Rones like you’ve always wanted.”
Anya punched Deidro not-so-lightly in the shoulder, and the older glared at her. Anya ignored him. “Don’t ruin this for yourself, jackass,” she said, “I’m fine with hopping on a cruiser. And it won’t be hard to find nine pilots.”
Deidro stared at her blankly for a minute. Then he finally spoke.
“I’ll call you back, Commander. I need to have a word with some friends.”