Author : Adam

The boy had been rummaging through the Pit for hours before he hit the jackpot. A slim silver watch covered in a day’s worth of grit and stench. The boy held it up in his hands, gently brushing off the dirt with barely cleaner hands, and admiring how it shone under the flickering lights. A vague flicker of a smile passed across his oft expressionless face.

He curled a fist around it, hiding it from the peering eyes of other children, then he turned and rushed towards the exit from the Pit. He took the maintenance door out of the garbage Pit and up to the Hangar.

Up stairs, and out into the throng of strange cultures, the boy wove between the thudding and hissing machinery of mercenaries and the alluring beauty of GM whores. There was the background of vocal conversation and the constant subliminal hum of machinery and electronics. Ancient stone arches overlaid with scaffolding and plastic pipes rose far overhead. The sound of engines reached through the throng of noise; air craft full of passengers.

He slithered between a group of humanoids warbling song to one another and found himself on the far side of the human river. He barely stopped to catch his breath before racing off again towards the pawnbroker, still barely believing he had found something as valuable and personal as someone’s watch. He only guessed at the memories, secrets, and bank passwords the thin silver band could hold.

“Give me the watch.” The voice was clearly coming from something less delicate than human vocal cords. A huge chrome leg crashed down in front of the boy, forcing him to stop. He glanced up at the huge Mercenary, gleaming steel body, globular black head, the quality told him this merc was successful. It told him it bought its gear.

With a fast step, the boy was around the trunk of steel and racing across the tiles. Behind him he heard and felt the massive legs crushing tiles beneath its weight. Too fast. A thin whip wrapped around his legs and sent him skidding across the tiles. He finished his slide face down, nose clogging with blood and eyes blurred with tears.

The crushing thud of the Merc’s steps stopped just behind him. A giant’s shadow cast over the feeble boy. “The watch.” He felt rubber fingers as thick as his torso gently rap around his arm, they tightened and then turned him over. The boy flinched at the rifle barrel an inch from his eyes. He sensed the stare of nervous eyes and sensor stalks from a few nearby.

“NOW.” The Merc demanded. The boy tightened his fist in defiance. The watch was his. His find, his hard work. One of the Merc’s fingers started dividing, the rubber flesh splitting into thin strands waving gently in a non-existent breeze. Then, they moved in unison towards the boy’s fist. Strands pushed insistently against his skin, squeezing between fingers and thumb.

The boy panicked, trying to grip harder, “no, no, no!” He felt the watch slip, and then suddenly his fist was closing on vacant space. The rubber strands retreated and the Merc held up its prize. Something entered a port on its side and for a moment the Merc stood stock still. Then the something retreated and the watch disappeared into the folds of rubber. The Merc released its hold on the boy, turned and walked casually away.

Something light dropped on his chest. The boy grabbed it and held it before his blurred vision. The silver watch shone under the Hangar’s lights.

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