A Day of Faces

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Survival of the fittest

survival of the fittest
phrase of survival
BIOLOGY: the continued existence of organisms which are best adapted to their environment, with the extinction of others

As far as bars went, The Black Jasmine was aces. Relaxed, verging on incompetent, age checks, proper indie music and an anybody-goes attitude. You’d get horns, fire-breathers, camos, stretchers and even wings all mixing up, with their egos and status left at the door. Everyone knew that, so the crowd was about as non-dickish as you could get.

I was talking to a thermal. His vision was tuned primarily to infrared, so he could literally see how hot I was. That alone made me feel like I was about to start sweating. His name was Marv and he was OK. Red eyes (obviously), sharp jaw and nose that looked like they could cut me, kinda tall and wiry, with great tufts of thick hair full of wax rising up above his head like an open torch.

“You going to join the military, then, Kaysaleen Rodata?” He thought I was graduating. Outfit was doing the job. He also kept saying my full name, which was really starting to get old.

I shook my head and nictitated at him coyly. I couldn’t see heat signatures but I could tell it had an effect. “I’m not really a fighter kind of girl,” I said. “Want to do my own thing, you know?”

“Right, right,” he said, shouting above the music. “Don’t you get a lot of, like, pressure, though?”

“You mean because of this?” I opened my mouth a little wider and let my tongue fork out, extending it almost all the way and nearly touching his face before pulling it back. “And these?” I grinned, revealing my fangs.

“I was thinking more that you look like you can handle yourself,” he said, grinning back.

“I can,” I said, nodding appreciatively. “But hey, I can do other stuff, too!”

“No kidding! Like what?”

I leaned in closer and flicked my tongue. “Stick around and maybe I’ll show you later,” I said, then scampered away into the crowd, sniffing out Rachel and homing in on her scent. She was already high, drifting around the dance floor and spinning gently while others caressed and licked her dreads, all trying to absorb some of the juice she was involuntarily secreting. It was kind of gross but, boy, did it makes you feel good. Sometimes we just stayed home at her place and she smoked weed while I took in as much of her stuff as possible. It was meant to be a poison to be used offensively, but that was a quirk in her generation - her venom didn’t kill people, it just gave them a good time. Us squamata were a funny lot.

She was busy and I wasn’t really in the mood, so I danced alone in the crowd, losing myself to the guitars and the drums and the singer. The dance floor was a maelstrom of shapes and sizes but I ignored it all and moved, letting the beat work its magic.

All the lights in the place flicked on at the same time, everybody simultaneously flinging their hands up to shield their eyes. A second later the music abruptly cut out and we became aware of something going down over by the entrance. As the boos escalated a squad of police bustled into view, pushing people aside as they scoured the venue.

“We’re here for a very specific personage,” one of the cops intoned. “If that’s not you, then just stay where you are and you’ll be fine. Get in our way, you won’t be fine. And if you’re our guy, it’d be easier for everyone if you just give yourself up right now.”

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