Authors: Tyler Vance
Tags: #thriller, #android, #magic, #empire, #gangs, #cyborg, #celestial
Book 1 of the Celestial
By Tyler Vance
Copyright 2012 Tyler
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Bright Lights and Long
Sheikoh stood in the center
, surrounded by cobwebbed
conveyor belts and boarded-up windows. Pale moonlight dappled a
pitted, concrete floor, strewn with clunky machines and crumpled
beer cans. Shadows and creatures of the night flittered around the
corners of awareness. The air hung still as death.
For the moment.
Sheikoh searched the
pervasive gloom of the abandoned factory. Minutes stretched taunt,
as he fought the urge to pace. Impatience burned his chest, and
energy pulsed beneath his skin. Every fiber of his being was
desperate for movement, but he kept it hidden. He refused to give
his unseen watchers any reaction.
Then . . .
mask slipped. He could just make out…
… sliding over concrete. He
strained his ears. There was a soft hiss in the
A whisper..? Or a
Sheikoh flinched, as the
doors slammed shut. Then, a minute later, another, more-distant
pair of doors followed suit. As the echo dwindled away, a smile
flickered across Sheikoh’s face.
They were here.
He held his
About 88 heartbeats later,
advanced, circling Sheikoh like a pack of snarling wolves. Shadows
dissipated from their features, like cold mist, exposing
expressions of bloodlust and excitement. Hints of silver-blue
flickered in scattered moonbeams.
Eight men crept towards
him, movements feral and graceful. They weaved around him, stalking
closer and closer, until Sheikoh could practically taste the
alcohol on their breath. They formed a ring around him, a ring
speckled with gaps. Deceptive, little gateways to freedom. Only,
the guns in the men’s hands made it pretty clear the gateways were
Hey,” Sheikoh opened his
arms invitingly. “Pretty bandannas. They really glitter in the
He was answered by cackles
and a few insults.
. That was a
.” Sheikoh turned to the
nearest. “These guys. So love, come here-?”
Back in the darkness, dark laughter
rang, interrupting him.
Often…” Sheikoh trailed
Something moved in the
gloom – something
. Sheikoh cursed to under his breath. He wasn’t surrounded
And he knew that laugh.
A massive number nine strutted out of
the background and clapped one of his gangsters’ shoulders with a
hand so enormous it made the dude look fun-sized. Dark skin drifted
in and out of the midnight air, nearly invisible behind a
disembodied, white grin. The long barrel of an assault rifle jutted
just above his shoulder.
Across from Sheikoh was one of the
most dangerous men in Interium: Indigo.
One of the four ganglords of Legacy,
and, arguably, the most dangerous of all of them, Indigo was the
only person that’d ever taken his talents head-on, survived, and
made his life’s mission revenge for that.
Legacy was the end-all, sewn together
from the corpses of every gang it could lay its hands on. In all of
the miles of grey city, ganglords answered only to their illusive
leader, Ghost. Within the criminal hierarchy, they towered over
common gangsters (with Indigo, the towering was a physical thing
too). A ganglord could snap his fingers and pull about a thousand
gangsters out of thin air.
But that wasn’t what had Sheikoh
worried. Tonight, he wasn’t the only criminal here with a
reputation; Indigo was renowned as a fighting virtuoso. Even the
other ganglords played it cautious around him.
,” Indigo murmured
thoughtfully. “You really Silence? The criminal prodigy? Kind of
Uh, that’s what they say,”
Sheikoh giggled nervously. “You guys remember me saying ‘no
offense,' earlier, right?”
The men surrounded him with a chorus
menacing laughter. Indigo smiled, eyes cold and sharp as shattered
Sheikoh forced himself not to step
back. If anyone could handle this, it was him, he knew that. He was
pretty sure he’d been in worse situations. Even if he couldn’t
quite think of any.
You’re what? Six?” Indigo
Thirteen,” Sheikoh replied
Thirteen…” Indigo’s face broke into a grin. “Sounds old
enough to go a few rounds.” His men chortled. “Specially after we
went to all of the trouble to hunt you down.” The ganglord flicked
at the pistol tucked into the belt of his jeans, the
from him earlier that day.
years. You know, cause I’m such a dawg? I’m not
.” He thought
for a second. “I’m really only… two?”
Well in that case…” Indigo
mused, nodding thoughtfully for a few seconds. “Welcome to the dog
fights.” The ganglord’s face broke into a dark smile.
Sheikoh took a half-step back and
unconsciously reached for the worn grip of his pistol. For a
moment, his fingers searched the empty holster. Then he remembered;
Indigo had it. The ganglord had obviously gotten it from the dude
Sheikoh’d planted it on earlier in the chase.
That little diversion might’ve cost
him his life…
It didn’t matter one way or the
Sheikoh clenched his hand
into a fist and let it fall to his side. One, over-grown gangster
. He’d never needed a gun to
kill. He was Silence, Interium’s own criminal prodigy, and he
Legacy wanted blood so bad, well, Sheikoh would give it to them.
He’d cover the factory floor in blood – just for them.
Sheikoh rolled his neck and fell into
a loose, agile stance. He tried to relax. It was hard, considering
he was about to go one-on-one with a ganglord three times his size.
Inside a circle of the aforementioned’s men, no less.
At least Indigo wasn’t going to use
his assault rifle. Sheikoh watched the ganglord press it into
another man’s hands…
On second thought, he could’ve used
For a moment, they circled warily.
Sheikoh’s heartbeats were coming so fast, his vision physically
fluttered under their influence. His palms were damp with
This is really
The ganglord whipped a blinding
uppercut at his chest. Sheikoh danced aside, ignoring gasps from
the men around them; Sheikoh was used to surprise elicited by his
inhuman speed. Twisting, he flung a back kick Indigo. The ganglord
backhanded his foot.
Indigo pressed him back with a flurry
of disorientating punches. Wind whistled around his face, as he
weaved around the blows.
fast enough to
evade the torrent. He clawed at Indigo’s face. When the ganglord’s
guard had obscured his vision, Sheikoh rolled under Indigo’s legs.
Crouching, he tried to swipe Indigo’s legs from beneath him. But
Indigo stepped over his leg. Then, about a second too late, Sheikoh
realized that the ganglord’s knee was rolling towards
A billion tons of momentum bashed him
in the side, gouging out a gasp of pain.
Sheikoh stumbled back, just
avoiding Indigo’s follow-up punch. Then he ducked another one,
finding his balance again. For an instant, Indigo was almost
leaning on him. Putting his weight into it, Sheikoh heaved both of
their bodies reeling backwards.
recovered slightly before Indigo, dodging another lethal round of
Sheikoh danced around
Indigo’s knees and elbows, close up so that the ganglord couldn’t
take advantage of extra reach, but far enough away that he could
avoid Indigo’s grabs and body slams. He was holding his own.
Sheikoh was faster than the ganglord, but it wasn’t doing him much
Then it was over.
Sheikoh’s heel jarred against the
brick wall. Shock froze him for a fraction of an instant. Indigo
was quick to take advantage. No time to dodge, Sheikoh pulled his
forearm into a guard. Indigo’s massive fist smashed through it like
a tank through a picket fence.
The ganglord half-spun and
slammed an elbow over Sheikoh’s head, sending him face-first onto
hard concrete. Completing the sequence, Indigo’s foot blasted into
his stomach, dashing him against hard brick.
All of the air exploded
out of his lungs. Tears blurred his vision so much so that he
didn’t notice Indigo’s hand until it had pinned his throat up
against the bricks. Then the ganglord stepped back and let him
slide down onto the concrete, gasping desperately.
Sheikoh took a breath. And then
Okay. New idea.
Sheikoh flung himself forward, ducking
Indigo’s swipe. He launched at the gangsters surrounding them.
Before they’d known what was happening, one of their arms was
caught inside of the other’s jacket, and the other was trapped in a
headlock. Sheikoh threw himself over them, the way he’d jump a
fence. But his jacket caught on something. His trajectory froze for
an instant, momentum battling Indigo’s grip.
An instant later, Sheikoh
was tossed backwards. He smashed into the concrete wall. His breath
gasped out, and reality and blackness checkered his vision in
floating squares. It felt like there were about twelve hundred
other Sheikoh’s living this exact moment with him, floating around
his head within his haze of pain.
The ganglord held out his bulging arms
in invitation, but Sheikoh was utterly beaten. The ganglord stared
him with genuine disappointment in his gaze.
the point of hitting fast if I don’t feel it,
muttered with a touch of petulance to his tone.
Sheikoh. He shook himself dizzily and winced at the resulting flare
of pain in his forehead.
Things looked pretty bad, he could see
that. But if he didn’t die here, he totally might just make it out
of here alive. Now he just had to… stay alive enough to survive
Sheikoh looked up at Indigo. His eyes
fixed on something behind the ganglord, and his eyes gleamed before
he managed to quell their dancing excitement. Indigo couldn’t
figure out about the dilapidated metal crane behind him, the one
with a thread-like, rusty chain holding up a crate.
He shook his hair, tearing
his eyes away from the reason these men had caught him up here.
Play it cool
Sheikoh told himself. He took a deep breath and forced out a
Indigo flinched. His face went tight
with caution. Sheikoh’s eyes sparkled, and his laughter suddenly
became slightly more genuine.
Cautious was exactly what he’d been
going for. He just needed a little time to breathe, to focus. He
was about to show this ganglord his own little, magic