Your mind will be destroyed
This article (Daphne's Garden), or a section of this article, deals with mature content or language.
Though nothing one couldn't find on the internet anyways, we felt it necessary to warn you.
“Come on, man, it’s not like there’s anything in there I can’t see on TV!”
“The boss says no kids, and you’re a kid. Now get out!”
Barely leaving time for a squeaking protest, the bouncer used the admirable strength of his Titan Security Armour to pick the teenager up and push him away. Dusting off his heavy gauntlets, he looked at the long line of people lining up to enter the club Daphne’s Garden. He started sizing up the next person in line, speaking up so that he could be heard over the music thumping from the inside, heard even on the street. In doing so he couldn’t notice the destitute looking man sneak behind him, silently pushing through the large glass doors.
The long hallway to the main club was bare as Salvatore walked through it, with little more than a few benches at the side and people wanting a modicum of privacy, all flanked by faded holograms of vines and flowers that did little to hide the seediness of the dark walls. No point in bothering these people, he immediately thought, there are better things that awaited him inside, just through the completely black doors in front of him.
The main room slammed into Salvatore’s vision, and even he was taken aback by the orgy of color and sound. Casting its light over the room and crowd was an entire wall of video monitors, all linked to one large halting video of the various house dancers that gyrated amongst the platforms and cages that hung from a ceiling completely obscured by smoke (tobacco and otherwise). The wall cast its dim white light amongst the club goers crowding in the centre, some twisting in the standard dance of the day, while others simply waved their arms in tune with the music, only to return to their recreational drugs that were being flouted openly.
From large speakers came psychedelic music, a surreal wall of sound made of guitars, dulcimers and gibberic chanting, enough to either dance to or simply be lost in a trip, or as the club encouraged, both. Projected on the walls were constantly shifting colours along with holograms of plants in a vain attempt to keep the theme running. For reasons that confused even Salvatore, there were large glass cylinders dotting the room, and in the center was an unshaven, ungroomed man playing a dulcimer to convince the crowd that they were listening to live music.
All trite compared to what Salvatore has experienced. In any case, without a care he took a Smilex-laced drink right from a man’s hand and gulped it in one sip, barely feeling the effects. The man lifted his sunglasses to get a better look at who just stole from him, realized who it was, and then quietly left the club.
Salvatore hopped over a velvet rope that blocked off the raised section of the floor, probably for VIPs. He belonged here, he thought, as he was indeed more important than anyone else, and woe to anyone who said otherwise. Besides, all the best women were here. The section was deserted except for one party, barely visible in the gloom of this corner of the club. The three people were too occupied with each other to notice Salvatore coming for a closer look.
The man was well dressed, fairly common for such an establishment. His business suit marked him as an executive of some company, though the lack of classical elements meant he wasn’t a true mover. Still, he did have a way with the two women near him. One woman wore an outfit in the unmistakable style of the Sprawl; in her case, a dark blue miniskirt with sunglasses and leg warmers. The other woman was in an orange day-glo stola with her hair up in a bun, the sign of a secretary. The two were laughing, gossiping, and caressing the man, to his enjoyment.
The executive raised his hand and asked for another drink from a nearby waitress, a glint coming from his wedding band.
A man in Salvatore’s place wants one thing, and this executive had three. The first woman didn’t interest him; he (very often) encountered women like that … but the secretary was something else entirely. Someone who would definitely say “no”. Something new. Salvatore walked up and immediately grabbed her arm, pulling her out of the booth and throwing her on the ground.
The executive immediately began to protest, but his attempt was soon over as Salvatore shoved his fingers through his face.
The other woman ran away as Salvatore covered the secretary’s mouth with his free hand, the blood from her boss dripping over her face. She screamed, but no one could hear her, not over the music or his hand. He pinned her down with her knee as she tried to wiggle away, but Salvatore knew how to keep someone down. He looked over her, as a wave of pleasure he rarely felt these days washed over him. The fear in her eyes, the way her body recoiled; it was like a drug to Salvatore. However, he was soon brought out of this rapture by a clicking behind him which he could not ignore. “Out of my bar, you filth!”
The bartender had noticed the scene, and he hadn’t come unarmed. He poked the back of Salvatore’s head with a sawed off shotgun. To a normal man, this might have ensured cooperation, but Salvatore wasn’t normal, and the bartender was about to be taught a lesson he would never remember.
A low hiss made the bartender blink and shudder as he realized just what he unleashed. In a flash, Salvatore spun around and grabbed the gun, jamming it upwards. The bartender instinctively fired both barrels, but to no use as they shot into the air. He dropped the gun and ran, but Salvatore flicked his arm. From out of grooves implanted in his wrist came a tiny slug of metal, with a wire no larger than a molecule braided behind it.
As soon as the base of the wire came out, Salvatore rolled his hand, using the sheath at the base of the wire as a handle. With great experience and sadism, he whipped the wire around the midsection of the fleeing bartender. With a quick pull, the wire wrapped around him sliced him in two, stopping only at his spine. The bartender only let out a short gasp as he died in an instant, before falling onto the spot.
Salvatore immediately burst out laughing, as the bartender had literally folded in half, causing his face to fall in his groin. Amongst the thick layer of blood and spilled organs, it looked like he was pleasuring himself.
The laughing faded as Salvatore realized the secretary was crawling away. Furiously, he jammed his hand into her hair and grabbed hard. Privacy, he thought immediately, and followed it without hesitation. Ignoring the varying degrees of horror of the crowd around him, he walked down the stairs and out through the hallway with his sobbing victim being dragged across the floor behind him. He kicked the doors wide open as to not lose his grip, but was dazed by the flashing and bright lights that greeted him outside.
Before even his heightened instincts could react, a turquoise beam shot from the center of the lights and carried him into the air, before disappearing completely. Salvatore tried to land feet first, but he was too close to the ground and hit it with a thud. Coughing out blood before hissing in rage, he raised his head to greet the now very short-lived interlopers, while he crouched and prepared to jump.
Even though every part of his mind said leap, somewhere deep inside he hesitated, as now that his eyes had been accustomed to the light, he realized that he was surrounded by a squad of Legionnaires, the holograms on their armor set to the familiar mode of alternating red fields and blue lettered “Cessazione”. Further adding to the glow was the blinking light bar of the Hydra AFVs that had deployed their turrets. Distressing Salvatore was that the local area was blocked off by pylons that constantly streamed “Polizia di Urbe Libertus” seemingly on the thin air between them, meaning Salvatore couldn’t just leap into the crowd. Slightly less distressing was that every gyrojet on the scene was pointed at him.
Looking to his side for a means of escape, or at least a hostage to take, he saw that the secretary was crawling away towards the bouncer. The Titan Security Armour-clad man helped her to her feet, though when she turned around and saw that Salvatore was still alive, she bolted directly behind the bouncer. The man himself slammed his two fists together and glared at Salvatore.
“Give me a reason, freak!” snapped one of the Legionnaires, interrupting the mutual stare. He tightened his grip on his gyrojet, clearly hoping an “accident” would occur and remove this stain from this world. A different man, one with a briefcase and a device Salvatore recognized as small arms Zero-Point Energy device, sighed as he pulled neatly stapled stack of papers from his briefcase and walked over to him.
“Salvatore Giordano, you have committed two homicides, assault and battery, and probably a lot more I don’t want to know about. I could let these Legionnaires put a gyrojet in your head, but my superiors want me to offer you a contract. Going rates is a full pardon and immunity during the contract length. If you cannot read, a datasoft can be provided for you.”
Salvatore gave a curt nod, prompting the man to throw the datasoft to him. The cylinder fit into a port installed in Salvatore's head during the operation, as it was designed for it. Within moments, Salvatore knew the target. An executive, profits were failing in his company, enough evidence pointed to embezzlement, a very bad man. He knew where he lived, his work hours, even what he looked like. However, one important question remained.
“Women?” Salvatore blurted, to a confused look from the lawyer.
“Does he live with any women?” he clarified.
The lawyer sighed. “He’s a married man …”
Salvatore snorted. “Too old. Anyone younger?”
“Well, now that you asked, his daughters will be far away in the safe hands of my employers. This isn’t Yoshiwara. Keep away, or the Board of Classics will have our heads.”
“I see you’ve already accepted. ”
Salvatore then realized he had electronically signed the datasoft without realizing it, a product of his impetuous nature. Oh well, he thought, at least it was a good contract. The Legionnaires stood down and entered their Hydras, driving off in a tight formation that could only be maintained by a computer.
Salvatore turned and started to walk away, but a in an instant dodged to the side, purely by instinct. Right past his head an object rocketed by, looking vaguely like a boxing glove. In an instant his monomolecular whip was out again, carving a groove into the concrete as it flailed in preparation for an attack. Salvatore gazed at where the intruding object came from, to see the bouncer attach another gauntlet to his arm, clicking it on inside the backpack that carried his spares. Almost as a challenge, the Titan put up his dukes.
“Sucker, you ain’t getting away that easily. I’m going to knock your head off right here, right now!”
The bouncer yelled his last line as only a former boxer could. Salvatore was unimpressed; many of his fellows were terrified of these glorified brawlers, but he knew they were only a collection of organs, like any other person, and remove enough of those and they always go down. Indeed, the strongest emotion running through his mind wasn’t anything to do with the boxing battlesuit in front of him, but disappointment that his object of affection had disappeared.
As the two prepared to square off, the gull wings of a Hydra that hadn’t left with its fellows opened, and two Legionnaires got out. One took out a AURA remote and started entering in the appropriate programs. His fellow covered him with a gyrojet, and read out the charges as both of their holograms changed to the blinking yellow field and black “Di Arresto”.
“Lewis Holmes, you don’t hear too good. He got protection, see? Now you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent …”
With a jab, the Titan’s armour was hacked into. As one the systems shut down, and he was left an immobile statue.
“… and all that other shit.”
Faint cries of innocence echoed from inside the inoperative Titan suit as one of the Legionnaires pushed it over and began dragging it to his Hydra. Salvatore let out a howling laugh as he jumped far higher than any human could, onto the top of a building, and disappeared into the night.