Dylan is leaning against the cracked wall of a dilapidated community center. The grey soot stains the walls of the building just like everything else in the lowlands of Old New York. Cracks filled with ash web the sidewalk underneath his feet and would ruin his shoes if everything he wore was not already black to hide the staining of the ever present soot. Dylan had just finished teaching his weekly self-defense class to local orphanage he graduated from not four years ago. Sweat is still sticking to his body as he looks up into the sky. His implanted contact lenses automatically slide a UV film over his eyes so he look up into the glaring sun reflected through the glass ceiling above him.
New New York shines above him as the sun glints off the sleek sides of the skyscrapers in the highlands. Dylan can almost make out the names of the signs with his augmented sight, but the sun is still too strong to see everything clearly. Longing fills Dylan’s chest as he remembers when he used to live up there with the highlanders, where he used to belong.
Dylan breaks away from this train of thought by the sound of a man approaching from the alley next to the community center.
“You trying to go blind kid?” a familiar voice taunts.
Dylan looks away from the glamour of New New York and his UV film retracts subtly.
“Just taking a breather after class. Missed your help today Blake,” Dylan says as he turns to face the approaching man.
Blake stands a good six inches shorter than Dylan’s six feet and two inches and Blake boasts twice his age. Not to be underestimated though, Blake taught Dylan everything he knows in the self-defense class they teach, only allowing Dylan to take over completely a month ago. Blake runs a hand through his long black hair and replaces his signature cabby hat before leaning against the wall beside Dylan.
“I had business to attend to. Sorry lad, but I know you can handle the class on your own and you know I wouldn’t miss it if I could help it. Jeffrey trusts ya, so I know the kids are in good hands.” Blake replies, watching Dylan’s face acknowledge the hint.
“Ah, so that kind of business. Sometimes I worry about him and the kids. I know his deals fund the orphanage, but if they ever went south…” Dylan trails off.
“You mean like last week? When you saved his ass by covering for him?”
Dylan is taken aback, “You know about that?! He swore he wouldn’t tell anyone. I promise it was a one-time thing. I just didn’t want the orphanage to go down!”
“Relax kid, relax. I’m not here to chastise you. I’m here to thank ya.”
Dylan pauses, “Thank me for what?”
“Protecting old man Jeffrey and my deal. Those were my weapons we were smuggling through. The underworld owes you a great debt.”
Dylan stops and processes this. Looking over the small man in front of him. “I knew you were involved, but I never woulda guessed you were such a major player Blake.”
“That’s actually what I’m here to talk to you about.”
“Oh no. I don’t want to get involved Blake. Do you know what they would do to me if I got caught? An outcast highlander helping the lowland underground! I’d be gassed for sure. Count me out.”
“Just hear me out kid. That’s why we need you. You can go up there and infiltrate their ranks without suspicion. You look like one and you got the implants. If we just work on your accent you can saunter up top like you own the place.”
Dylan shakes his head, “I can’t do it Blake, I’m sorry. I just can’t. Jeffrey and the kids need me and I can’t just throw my life away like this.”
Blake’s face becomes serious and he braces himself, “Dylan, I found the man that ratted your parents out. The man that got your mother killed.”
Dylan’s body locks up and becomes rigid as waves of pain wash over him. His body becomes ice briefly before the gripping cold becomes a raging inferno of anger and determination.
Blake adds, noting the change in Dylan’s demeanor, “You help us, and we help you get to him.”
“What do you need me to do?’” Dylan asks with steel in his voice.
“Not here. Saying this much out here was risky enough. Let’s go to O’Konnel’s, my buddy runs it and he keeps it clean of highland surveillance. And besides, you look like you need a drink.”
Blake pats Dylan on the back and heads off down the alley he emerged from, Dylan follows in tow, his mind racing. I will find this man and I will kill him, even if it’s the last thing I ever do.