Gun played fast and loose with romance. Bitch, slut, kiss. Slap, grab, grip. Rockets, fire, sonic boom. Continents and bloodshed. They danced/sparred and flew over rooftops, lightninglit now, a thousand grinding gears screaming screamo love songs. Titanium heels and aluminum palms scraped concrete and rattled glass. The flirtation was in their parkour.
The girl had blue hair and a frilly dress. She danced a careful quickstep down the jagged arms of her bot, and her dress billowed about her as she slid to the scrape. The rain had stopped for now, a nervous, eye-of-the-storm sort of reprieve that swirled above, ready to pounce. The girl fingered a cigarette and shot Gun a look. He hadn’t expected this, to bring her here to his workshop, his batcave of solitude.
Her name was Bead, and she followed him down into the thick, hot darkness of the lair, tracing his footsteps as he weaved a path through the petrified forest of giant, half-finished robot weapons, making the proper prostrations before the shrines of the eleven sainted robot warrior champions, picking the locks when Gun slammed doors behind him, swinging and tumbling through the rafters, and sprinting down a hallway, her boots slapping the tile in rhythm with his own. Their game was still bright in her eyes when she plopped herself down on his couch; it had been a while since either of them had had this much fun, Gun could tell.
“Champagne? Hostess? Salt?” Gun offered. An awkward silence followed. Gun was not sure how to proceed. The whole time she kept up with him: nothing but radio silence, pouty and tantalizing. Who was this girl, and where did she come from? Gun wondered.
Bead was a wholesome girl from a small, Southern town come to make her way in the big city. All the best jumpers in the world could be found in Formerly-Known-As New York City, so here she had traveled, looking to train and to start her crawl up the standings. She didn’t mind the danger, or the weather, or the loneliness of living in a cult town without drinking the Kool-Aid. She did miss home, sometimes — the unprocessed foods and horizon sunsets, the heady smell of the cannabis fields where she had spent mornings practicing her kata in the clunky bot her pop had (reluctantly) gotten her for her seventeenth birthday. Still, the city had the best jump scene, the best clubs, and was, in its way, the best equipped to defend against the waves of hungry demons that would overrun the country when the Rapture came any day now. Her pop always told her that if she did her best and prayed every night to Jesus and shit, then God would be sure to take her, no problem. But you couldn’t assume it — that’d be prideful — so the best bet was to find the most fortified patch of surface you could and always be ready to dig in. Pop knew what he was talking about, too, since he survived the first three Raptures without losing so much as his most succulent toe.
She explained all this to Gun over sex, which was very decent indeed. Gun thought the religion stuff was kind of nutty, but overall he licked, er, liked the girl Bead a lot. She had spunk, and she hadn’t been much fazed by being dragged off like a metal Gulliver by the Teslas. That was promising, and sexy.
They were still at it when morning came and the sun finally began to overpower the grim, shadowy glow that radiated from the sky air day and night — a gleeful project of Nikola’s ghost, perhaps, or a side effect of wireless power. They had breakfast and fucked and speculated about what had prompted their half-hearted capture by the cult. No leads yet, no damn clues.
They needed a sleuth.