The detective sauntered down the concrete alleyway, as his protégé tread with a light step behind him. Eyes felt something, a feeling he hadn’t known in years. Was that… Music? He could feel the abrasive beat against his chest, a bass level unrivaled by wasteland technology.
Fish rapped his knuckles against the steel door with a metallic echo, and almost instantly, the slat in the door opened and a deep voice emanated from behind the passage
“State your business” it said
“It’s Fish, V expects me.” Fish answered, Eyes genuinely terrified of what could possibly lurk behind that door.
The voice spoke in a foreign tongue to its comrades, and turned back to the opening in the doorway
“He’s in the back.” It said, slamming the slat back shut. The unmistakable sound of latches and bolts unlocking could be heard from the other side of the door, and opened inwards for the two of them. The music was considerably louder inside, and shook Eyes to the core on every beat. It was some sort of gangster rap music, but in a language unknown to Eyes.
The voice was revealed to be a four-armed monstrous man with hands like wrecking balls. He wore a white tank top over his hulking muscle structure, and upon further examination, had rock-like shards spreading across his entire body. Marked on his shoulder was a tattoo of a triangle with a single eye in the center.
Fish and Eyes entered the building, which elicited the slight glance from a few menacing , but nothing serious. This alone was enough to startle Eyes, who sidestepped behind Fish who was busy lighting a cigarette. Fish stepped forward towards a large wooden bar, once a glorious altar to friends and drunks alike, the dark oaken bar was now a lively spot for anyone with the coin and a willingness to step above the law.
Fish, a regular drinker as Eyes had observed, mounted a worn leather and wood barstool, surely seeing its fair share of late nights.
“Fish!” A voice called from the left. Eyes, still contemplating whether to sit or not, looked up immediately to see a man, well dressed in white and black. His body was truly nothing more than a white circle with arms and legs and a single monstrous eye in the center of his torso.
Fish looked up to meet the circular stranger’s gaze, and his face perked up a bit
“Cuz, long time no see. It’s been a while lil’ guy, how’s the bar?” “Not too bad” Cuz responded, his eye slowly shifting to meet Fish’s thousand-eyed comrade. “What’s the deal with your tagalong? Witness Protection? Suspect of a crime? Someone kill his family?” “Business. None of yours actually.” Fish responded sternly. “Well jeez, pal. Didn’t mean to get you all rough in the gills. Let me make it up to you.”
Cuz pulled a roughly marked glass bottle with a dark liquid inside of it and poured some into two glasses.
“We square?” Cuz asked, sliding one of the glasses across the bar to Fish.
“Sure.” Fish replied
“Listen Cuz, you’re my favorite barkeep, but I’m not here for the rotgut. Not today, at least. We’ve got business with your brother.”
Eyes stood beside Fish contently and nodded as if to back up his point.
“Alright, I get it. You come by for the first time in weeks and you don’t want to have a drink with ol’ cuz. No worries mi amigo, I love you too.”
“Let’s not get all offended here, I’ll be back for that drink, don’t worry.” Fish reached into his coat pocket and dumped a small pile of coins which Cuz quickly slid across the bar and funneled into a glass container. He got off the stool and looked at eyes, waving a finger to motion for him to follow. Fish and Eyes walked across the bar, ducking past patrons far larger than the two of them combined.
In the back of the bar, a tall ornate maroon door stood in a golden frame, guarded by two of the larger well dressed patrons. One looked down at the duo, and stepped aside allowing them entry. Fish promptly opened the door as Eyes examined what lie behind it. Realizing that some no one larger than him was in the room beyond, Eyes sped through the ten foot door frame eagerly.
The room beyond was the cleanest, most luxurious display Eyes had ever seen, the carpets were stainless, monogrammed with a “YV” patterned across the area of it, shining pillars rose from ceiling to floor, standing spotless and shined, and a gigantic golden chair stood behind a desk that appeared to have been polished every day for a thousand years.
The chair began to swivel slowly, and the occupant was revealed. On the cushion sat a triangle, he was simply that. Nothing more than a triangular body with a single eye and limbs. He wore a white pin-striped suit and a shining gold revolver at his side. He sat up in his chair and placed his hands on the desk.
“Fish. Thank you for coming. Your associate as well.” The figure said, his eye studying the two of them.
Fish took a cigarette from his breast pocket and lit it promptly. “What do you have for me, V” He said, busy taking his first drag.
“First things first, it seems you owe me an introduction to this one.” V said, gesturing towards Eyes
“Right, right. This is the kid I’ve been keeping around. I just call him Eyes, shouldn’t be too hard to see why” Fish said, chuckling at his own joke.
V forced a laugh, then met one of Eyes’ many stares. “You know who I am, boy?” Eyes shook his head nervously, wondering if he should
Fish turned to Eyes “This is Yung Venuz. Head of the Venuz gang, a legitimate businessman who has often been wrongly accused of revolutionary crimes.” Venuz laughed, this time legitimately.
Eyes’ stare widened, now realizing the caliber of criminal he was dealing with. Venuz, not nearly as physically threatening as any of the mutants in the bar was the mastermind.
“Look at the kid, you scared him I think” Venuz said, forcing words between laughs. “Come here, kid, I’ve got something to show you” Venuz dismounted his chair, and Eyes waited for the sound of his feet to hit the ground, but it never came. As Eyes walked across the room, he soon realized that not only was this the criminal mastermind of the city and beyond, he could levitate.
Venuz pulled open a drawer of his desk, inside it were more revolvers than Eyes had ever seen in his entire life. The boss picked one up, inspected it, and held it towards eye, handle out.
“Take it kid, you’re going to need it if you’re working with this guy” Venuz said, gesturing backwards to Fish.
Eyes slowly and reluctantly grabbed the handle of the revolver. He felt its weight, which was a surprising realization, as he had never held a weapon in his life.
“Well, seems like you owe me for that gun then, right?” Venuz asked
Eyes looked up from the firearm immediately, staring nervously at Venuz.
“Looks like you’re tagging along on the job then.” Fish said “So what is it, V? Someone get shot again?” “I wish, my friend. But this one is a bit uglier.” Venuz walked over to a maroon and gold wardrobe along the wall. He sorted through various sizes of an identical uniform consisting of a black dress shirt and pants, white vest and white armband with a logo of Venuz on it. He pulled two sets from the closet and closed it back up. “Someone’s been stealing from our supply posts in the desert. My boys don’t usually get put on the outposts without a clearance to shoot anyone who isn’t one of us, so you two are going to need these.” He tossed each of them a uniform.
“I don’t have the slightest damned clue what’s happening over there, but I need two out there who aren’t one of mine.” Fish inspected the uniform “White isn’t really my color, V. But hell, it’s a job.” He stretched his hand to Venuz who accepted his shake.
“I want you two out there as soon as you can, I’ll have a map drawn for you. You have my clearance to shoot the bastard when you find him.” Venuz said
Fish took a drag from his cigarette, and met Venuz’ eye. “We’ll find him, V.”
The two shook hands, and Fish turned, uniform in hand. Eyes, still distracted by his revolver, looked to see Fish leaving and ran after him.
“Let’s go, kid. And don’t shoot anybody til’ we get there.”
The sharp, glaring sun of morning pierced through the blinds, and agony was all that could be felt during such a hangover. Asleep on his desk once more, Fish lifted his head and scanned the room, but was met with a shock. His disheveled file cabinets, the floors, walls, and even the bottle of bootlegged rum from which he drank: organized, sorted, or otherwise cleaned.
“What the hell…” Fish said, lifting his body off the chair, heavy from drowsiness.
As he threw his feet onto the floor, the typical pile of rags and other trash was missing, and the floorboards creaked as they finally supported his weight without a buffer.
The first step of morning had been taken, one that was always the most difficult for Fish after an evening with his truest friend, a glass maiden who offered her thick intoxicating nectar to anyone with the right connection to acquire her. He shuffled towards the front window of his office, stumbling over something on his way.
He looked downwards to find none other than the kid from the night before, every one of his many eyes closed in a deep sleep, curled up in a deep sleep with a sponge in hand. Fish studied him momentarily and promptly stepped over him to reach the window.
With a rapid jerk, the blinds shot upward and Fish tied them in place. The sunlight grew inside the room from a slight sting to an overwhelming barrage. The detective squinted and groaned, contemplating closing them once more and sleeping through the day, but alas, he liked the office, and the IDPD collections were in a week. He needed casework if he was going to meet his deadline without complications. On the floor, Eyes shielded the front of his face from the sunlight, but this served little purpose with his many oculi to receive the sun’s harsh embrace.
“Good morning to ya” Fish greeted him, slowly lifting his lanky body off the freshly scrubbed floor. Eyes stood up, looking groggy as ever, and brushed his pressed shirt, khaki pants and suspenders. His shoes were off, polished next to Fish’s by the coat rack.
“You do this, boy?” Fish asked Eyes, who distantly nodded, not meeting Fish’s hard-boiled stare.
“Looks good, I’ve almost forgiven you for squatting here last night. This office hasn’t looked like this, hell, since before the last tenant moved in.”
Eyes noticeably perked up a little but was still perceivably exhausted.
“You sleep on my floor again though, and we’re going to have a problem. Capish?”
Eyes nodded and began to pull his coat from the rack and slide on his black oxfords. Fish walked over and slipped on his black shoes, Eyes looked at him, puzzled.
“I hope you aren’t leaving. We’ve got a house call. I expect you’re coming, you want to work with me? I need commitment.”
He continued tying his shoes and followed Fish out the thick steel door.
The street was uninviting, and Eyes still felt uneasy about traversing it. He stood uncomfortably close to fish.
“I’m not your date, kid. Personal space.” Fish spoke over his shoulder. The two of them walked the decrepit sidewalk, passing each building in incredible disrepair, few of them still standing above four stories. Bricks lie along the sidewalk, falling occasionally from the urban decay. No vegetation was present in the city, its palette a sickly brown and tan with the occasional spot of cobalt and sleek white at every IDPD checkpoint.
Eyes prodded Fish’s shoulder with his finger. The detective turned around and stopped walking. Eyes stared at him expectantly, and Fish sighed, brandishing a pen and pad from his overcoat pocket. He offered it to Eyes who accepted it in one swift motion and began to scratch a quick message. He gestured towards the notepad and Fish leaned in and read aloud
“Where are we going, how much longer” he pronounced slowly and firmly
“Jeez kid, you’ve gotta work on your penmanship if I’m going to be reading you from now on. This is absurd.” Eyes looked expectantly for an answer to his question, disregarding the advice
“Just hold tight, okay? It’s three blocks past the next IDPD station.”
Reassured with certainty, Eyes carried on behind Fish, watching every passerby closely, studying their features, and studying their movements in the case they may desire to hurt him. Some looked truly terrifying, lacking the standard amount of appendages to be considered ‘normal’, but what was standard in this world anymore. Certainly not the number of arms or legs someone may have. Eyes sympathized with the passing groups, and the fear slowly dissipated. Their situation was not so different from his own. He reached towards his face and felt his closed eyes with the tips of his fingers. He reminisced about a time before his drastically improved sight, of a time when he could gather stories and actually be able to tell them. A time before the disaster.
“Alright, here we are” Fish spoke, breaking the thoughts that poured through Eyes’ mind.
He looked around, neglecting to realize the drastic increase in mutants clad in white, dressed considerably better than the majority of the city’s population. The two of them trotted down a set of subterranean stairs that emptied into a concrete hall. At the end of it stood a barred gold door, polished and lit by a single overhead lamp.