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Chapter ?:

The Bleeding Edge

Well that didn’t work.

* * *

Shit, where am I? I can feel cold floor beneath me. My limbs all seem to be in the right place, but…I’m lying on my side. I’ve got this empty feeling in my stomach and my hands are clutching something warm and slick.

I smell blood. Is Leon okay?

Damn it, I can barely see! This room is too dark, or there’s smoke or something.

What am I doing here? Why am I so thirsty?

My eyes are tearing up for some reason. Just wipe them clear and—Why is my hand covered in blood? Where the hell did that come from?

Keys! He did this!...No. He’s been dead years. Why is everything so fuzzy? Maybe Holding can figure it out. Can’t even see the walls or ceiling.

Foot steps! Someone’s coming! Damn it, Cypher turn your head!

Wait, who is that man? I don’t know him. Oh shit, he’s got a sword!


I remember.

“You’re late, kid.” I say. My voice comes out more of a croak. Turns out five slugs to the gut at once is one more than I can take. Either that or I've finally gotten too old. “The party started without you this time.”

Sifu walks over and kneels next to me, checking my pulse with his good hand. He’s hiding it well, but I know what he’s thinking. I’m thinking the same thing. It was a shitty plan.

I don’t want to ask, but I do anyway. “Did you find Sammy?”

This time he can’t hide it. Not from me. I’ve watched him grow up; tried to guide him as best I could. When I met him he was a street urchin who wouldn't say a word; now he's a vigilante who can't carry a conversation. I’d say he has almost gained as many scars as I have. But I know that in a total accounting of our surrogate family, I had always relied on him more then he did me. I wont insult him by saying I fully understood his relationship with her, but it is a terrible thing to see a pillar of strength crack.

To change the subject, he gestures with his head to the other body a few feet away.

“Yeah, that’s the engineer.” I say, tasting my own blood welling up on my tongue. “Fucker got what was coming. I couldn’t shut off the gas though. Some of it’s probably already streaming through the vents.”

And just like that Sifu leaves my side and goes to the control panel. I know he’ll make it right. He's the one who will now. It's okay to be tired; I've damn well done more for this city than I should have. Cleaned away some of the filth to keep the cogs turning. I never asked for a parade; I just handed out the bill. This guy will still do it for free. Better man than I was.

Things are getting fuzzy again. My head feels light.

“Don’t know where Recktor is. Shot me and ran. Coward.”

“I’ll find him.”

Huh, Sifu actually spoke. His voice sounds kind of strained, but that could just be the stress. Somehow, I thought he’d be a soprano.

“You know this is all your fault.” he says typing away.

“Yeah, I know.” I almost feel like laughing. He was always blunt with me before, why should I expect flowery words now? “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Sifu says, as he enters a final command, and I can just hear the machine whirring to a halt.

I watch Sifu walk away but he stops to say, “I hope to see you in your next life.”

Now I do laugh, though it hurts. “Fuck that. I’m on vacation.”

Sifu just nods and leaves.

I can’t help but wonder how this all got so out of hand. I guess things started getting weird when the boy showed up...