Session 0- Broken-Time Tune
The sad song of a horn and a piano play lightly back and forth before the a saxophone steps in and howls through the dark corridor. Smoke rises from silhouettes sat around a low stage, the music picks up. Two men stand at the bar drinking bourbon in a crowded night club. A leather Jacket and a long overcoat. The bar is brightly lit while the club below is dark besides the colorful flashes of lights. A well-dressed bartender at the far end is cleaning a glass. The man in the leather jacket lights a cigarette and turns left to flirt with the girl next to him. The song changes from a wilting jazz melody to a fast electric trance. The man in the long overcoat turns right from the bar and looks onto the dance floor. Bodies and faces come in and out of view in shades of orange, green, and red. They all grind and flow over each other as waves in a sea of appendages and changing colors. He glances for a moment, his lovers face is in the sea of bodies, and again he sees her and her golden hair shine in the dim light just briefly. He turns back to the bar and puts a cigarette in his mouth but before he can go to light it a flame sparks in front of him. He takes a deep drag and turns back to his left. The bar is gone, instead, he gazes on the bright expanse of dunes and sky. He's wearing fatigues, grasping a rifle instead of his glass. The hot sandy wind bites at his face. The man before him has three eyes. His third eye, in the center of his forehead, is red and deep and is weeping. The man is his friend, Spike. It is windy in the bar, chairs and tables are disrupted by giant gusts, he's now standing in a desert. The music is gone. That is no eye, it's a bullet wound. The man speaks.
Vicious wakes in a sweat and sits up in his bed, even just the sheets are warm on the hot summer nights. He brushes the hair out of his face and gazes down at the woman lying next to him, sprawled across the bed naked and beautiful in the moonlight. The image of his friend's horrid face enters his mind once more unannounced and he cringes. He gets up from the bed and walks to the window where he gazes up at the moon, almost full, then down at the empty street. The dream has faded but that image remains. The blood running down his friend's nose. Still naked, standing by the open window, he lights a cigarette and stares out into the night. It has been nearly three months since he had joined the Dragons in Tharsis but he was already tired of them, of this grimy city. He takes a drag of his cigarette, the cherry brightens in the distorted reflection of the pane. Spike Spiegel. The thought was so piercing he felt as if he had said the name aloud.
"I want you to join the Red Dragons, my young serpent," a short and kind looking, but authoritative, in a I'm-rich-and-have-connections kind of way, man says with a strange congratulatory tone in his voice. He is facing a large window, his guest can see his face only reflected in the glass. He turns, eyes sparkling and smirking proudly he says, "I am Mao Yenrai, it's a real pleasure to finally meet you. Vicious. Is it just Vicious? Well you may call me Mao. Please," Mao motions for Vicious to sit. His guest continues to stand.
Mao and Vicious are standing in Mao's office on one of the top floors of one of the tallest buildings in Tharsis. Six black suits are also standing around the room, Mao's personal body guards. It was not unknown to his men who Mao's guest was, the Snake of the Apostles, he was the syndicate of Milan's top sweeper and most feared member. The Snake was stopped on the street by Mao's men and was escorted at gunpoint, however quietly, to Olympus Mons, the tallest skyscraper in Tharsis. Once there he was given the best of care. His coat was promptly taken at the front door and he was also met by an attractive young woman in a sleek dress who served him champagne and showed him the way through the monumental building. The elevator she led him to was an entire lounge room which started moving once both were comfortably settled. Vicious stared blankly out the window as his host went on to explain, Olympus is the home of hundreds of businesses and corporations. It has a mall, several theater screens, casinos, an indoor water park, a hotel and apartments. The one thing they all have in common is the Chinese theme, because Olympus is also the home of the Red Dragons, the most powerful syndicate inside the asteroid belt.
"I have no interest in joining the clan who wiped out my own," Vicious replies softly but his voice is rough and irritated. He is staring at Mao's eye reflected in the glass and they catch each others gaze for a moment.
Mao crunches his face into a disappointed worry, "would you leave us please," he addresses the guards around the room. "I'll be quite safe, I assure you," he says after they hesitate for a moment, "there are still cameras in the room please, wait outside." With that Mao' guards slowly walk out of the room and the two are alone.
"Please, have a seat Vicious," Mao motions with his hand and the two sit across from each other. Mao sits back and gets comfortable. "I see this is as far as you will take my hospitality and I understand that. Again, I am grateful you decided to come and see me today. What I mean is, I'm grateful that you were so cooperative with my men."
Vicious is silent. A Large passenger ship cruises into the borders of Tharsis and shakes the glass slightly as it passes. The hum of the engines subsides as it glides away from Olympus and into the city. Mao clears his throat.
"You know some of what we do here, but you do not know what the Red Dragons do. You say that the Dragons destroyed your clan and I would have to argue that, although it probably feels true to you, is most certainly not the case," Mao stands up and walks behind his small sofa, they are strangely in proportion. "The feud between the Apostles and the Dragons was a nasty one, each side had a hand in that bloodshed you would have to agree. But you can't argue that you and the girl are still alive, eh?"
Up until this moment Vicious had no idea where his fiancé was, they were separated a week ago, after the arrangement had gone bad.
"The reality is that we are beyond all of that now Vicious, open your eyes. What I'm offering you here is mercy. I like you, my serpent, and I think you may have more in common with us than you might think."
He was relieved to hear that she was alive but showed nothing, he has been sitting strait the entire time Mao has been talking, his cold eyes fixed on his host's face, "is that it?" He asks. His tone seems to effect his host visually now.
"There is an apartment, my men will escort you and the young lady," Mao says, and then quickly adds, "There is a young man I would like you to meet. To help make this transition… more comfortable." Vicious meets Mao's eyes. Mao does not break the contact. They stare.
"Yes that is all," Mao says, slightly frustrated. With those words Mao stands up and the door opens. The guards walk back into the room, one approaches Mao, Vicious stands slowly. He silently walks past his host and towards the door.
"For now," Mao says to his guard, "Lin, give him his belongings and take him home." Lin acknowledges the order with a nod and follows Vicious out.
Two of Mao's guards are standing at the door and a third is standing in the hall with a woman. He says nothing as he leaves Mao and bumps past one of the guards. The man in the hallway releases the woman's arm from his grip as he approaches, her eye shadow smeared on her face from crying. She quiets her sobbing, walks to his side, and leans to kiss him. Then she tries to say something to him as he drags her away but all she can make out is, "Vicious."
A few minutes pass and he hears movement from the bed. A wilting voice breaks the calm silence of the night,
"Come back to bed," she says lightly. Vicious walks back to the bed and sits down. He takes a final long drag of his cigarette and flicks it out the window. Warm arms wrap around her lovers' body and they bring him back to bed. The tune from his dream begins to play in his head. He smirks and whispers, "Julia."