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A Change in Management


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Chapter I


The doors to The Ninth Circle flung open violently. I would have been concerned, had I not seen the doors sling inward on their hinges like that before. Only one person was dumb enough to burst in here without being afraid I'd tear their fingers off.


The girl slammed the doors behind herself, the sound harshly striking my right eardrum and sounding muffled in my left, the more battered of the two.


"Hi, Charon!" chimed a tiny, feminine, human voice. It was her, the... curious one who barraged me with questions, even though I could never answer.


I looked down, and my eyes met two sparkling, almond-shaped emeralds. A beatific smile spread across her bloodied heart-shaped face, a thin stream of blood running from her lower lip to her chin. A lock of hair as red as that blood fell across her face and rested on her small, freckled nose.


"Talk to Ahzrukhal," I said simply, nodding toward the bar a few feet away.


"I know, I know! But-" she began, rifling through a satchel at her side, balancing precariously as her heavy backpack threatened to fall off one shoulder. She lifted her free hand and pressed it to her now-bleeding nose.


I took her by her slender shoulders before she could topple over and get her blood all over Ahzrukhal's floor. I took a final, fleeting look at her bewildered face, feeling my employer's eyes on me. He knew I was lingering on it for too long. "Talk. To. Ahzrukhal."


My overly-gentle grip tightened slightly as I turned her to face the bar. My hands slid from her shoulders, and she walked to the nearest stool, removing her backpack and sitting down.


She quickly began to converse with Ahzrukhal, and he slid a bottle of wine, a few stimpaks, and two bottles of whiskey across the counter. The girl absently ran her fingers along the red velvet rope by her left side as she started to ask about me, excitedly grinning. Last time she was here, about a week or two ago, she'd asked pretty much the same questions.


A thud from the next room caught my attention, and I was loathe to leave my usual spot in the corner. By the time I got back, she'd probably be gone, and she was the only thing around this place that wasn't routine and repetitive.


Lying on the floor in the room that contained Ahzrukhal's bed was an unconscious Patchwork, passed out by one of the tables. I picked him up by his shirt, feeling the rotting fabric begin to tear and then give way, ripping with a harsh sound. The drunk fell to the floor, one of his stitched-on fingers breaking off at the first joint and dripping blood on Ahzrukhal's floor. I had a feeling Ahzrukhal would make me scrub that part of the floor until it shone, regardless of the fact that it had been filthy before. According to him, blood made things look unprofessional in here.


The sound of hundreds of bottle caps clanking together and a small exclamation from Ahzrukhal emanated from the next room. The girl couldn't be dumb enough to rob him, could she?


I drew my shotgun and rushed back to the bar, regretting that I'd have to kill the most unpredictable aspect of my life, the only thing I found interesting.


The strange sight that met my eyes when I stepped into the threshold caused me to both lower my gun and raise what was left of an eyebrow.


Ahzrukhal was drooling over a huge pile of what had to be at least a couple thousand caps that had been poured out on the counter, and the girl was beaming, white teeth flashing between her still-bleeding lips.


"Charon!" she exclaimed excitedly as her pale hand dove into her now-emptied satchel.


"Talk to-"


"Slow down, there," she giggled, a sound I hadn't heard anyone make in years, "I have good news. I'm your new employer!" She pulled a familiar, battered piece of paper from the satchel, apparently the only thing she'd had in there after emptying it of caps.


"You purchased my contract from Ahzrukhal?" I asked, eyeing that paper I despised so much, feeling the urge to tear it to pieces and knowing I couldn't. "So, I am no longer in his service." I felt a perverse satisfaction at these words. "That is good to know." I couldn't even count the number of years I'd waited for this.


The girl, finally noticing the profusely bleeding gash on her lip, awkwardly lifted the collar of her tank top and placed it between her lips, holding it in place with her teeth while she rummaged through her pack.


"Please, wait here, " I said, and she looked at me questioningly, still biting down on her collar. I began to walk forward and added, "I must take care of something."


I stepped in front of Ahzrukhal, and he lifted his head a little, his eyes still on all those caps. I looked at him, my expression asking all the questions for me, but nonetheless, said, "Ahzrukhal, I am told I am no longer in your service."


"That's right, Charon," he began, and I felt my rage start to boil as he pronounced my name as if it were Sharon for the thousandth time. He continued, "Have you come to say goodbye?"


"Yes." I fired my shotgun, and his head exploded, his brains and blood splattering on his safe and the refrigerator. I shot again. Overkill. It felt good.


The girl gulped and reached for the .44 on her hip as if she felt she'd be next.


"Alright, let's go."


He emerald eyes met mine, fringed with long eyelashes the same color as her hair. I became aware that she had dark circles under her eyes, as if she'd been up for days. She pulled her collar from her mouth and blinked once, injecting herself with a stimpak. She calmly and quietly looked at me, seriously assessing my actions from a moment ago. Suddenly, she beamed, her pouty soft pink lips now healed with no trace of the wound that plagued them before, "Sounds good. Let's get out of here."


"As you wish," I said, a faint smile playing on my rotten lips.

Edited by tokyobleach
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Very Excellent! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :dance:


Honourary kudos because I already gave you kudos. :biggrin:

Edited by Maharg67
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  • 2 months later...
Before I post the next part of this story, I'd like to explain that there will be alternating perspectives in this story, as it's something new I'm trying out. Each "chapter" will alternate between the perspective of Charon and the perspective of his employer. Charon's perspective is one that is very detailed and well-worded, while his employer's is one that's quite brief due to her short attention span and excited nature. So, the next part will be in the employer's perspective, so bear with me about it being short. Thanks for reading. ^^
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Chapter II


I looked up at the sky as Charon and I walked out of the metro tunnels. It seemed like we had been walking for ages in there, but my Pip-Boy said it was still the same day as when we'd entered. It always seemed like an endless walk in those tunnels, so I wasn't surprised.


I crouched in a corner, wordlessly checking my location. My Pip-Boy said I was at Anacostia Crossing. How I'd ended up here when I'd been aimlessly wandering was a mystery, but those metro tunnels were so mazelike that it was nearly impossible not to get lost anyway.


"No danger here," I said to Charon with a grin as I stood up and brushed my hair away from my face.


"I'm already aware of that," he replied from the top of the stairs, clutching the head of a Talon Mercenary in one hand and his combat knife in the other.


I frowned, then walked up the stairs and began to rummage through the dead merc's belongings. Nine bottle caps, an empty Jet inhaler, and a pair of leather gloves. I pocketed the caps and slid the gloves into my satchel. A bad haul, to say the least.


Biting my lip, I looked up at the sky and was dismayed to see that it was close to dusk.


"Charon," I began, my eyelids growing heavy already, "I've been up for a few days now, and it's extremely dangerous to be outside at night. Let's go back in the metro and find a place to sleep."


"As you wish," he replied, his footsteps heavily falling behind mine as I descended the stairs once again.


I poked my head in a few rooms, finding nowhere safe enough for us to sleep without being easy targets for any Raider who passed through.


Charon grabbed my forearm gently, his rotten skin's touch a new kind of sensation for my own. Rough, cold as death on my sunburns and scrapes, yet there was a softness behind his touch, as if he were wary of doing something so bold. He hesitantly pulled his hand away, "Why not sleep in the ticket booth? You'd be safe, and I could keep watch easily."


I nodded sleepily and unrolled my sleeping bag, using my pack as a pillow. As I closed my eyes, I mumbled, "Charon, why haven't you asked for my name yet?"


"Do you wish for me to know your name?" he replied, sitting propped against the ticket booth's doorway.


"I'm Kaori. Kaori Vance," I said, then patted the spot next to me, "You should sleep, too. You aren't any good to me without rest, and vice versa."


"That is not covered in my contract," he replied.


"This isn't about the contract, it's about my concern for my friend," I sat up to look at him sternly.


What remained of the skin on his face flushed red, "Those quarters look a little too close for comfort... Kaori."


"Or perhaps it's the most comfortable closeness we need," I giggled before rolling over. "I'm just messing with you, Charon. I thought you'd sleep better if you could lie down is all."


"Thank you, but I am fine sleeping here," he said, regaining his poker face.


"As you wish," I said, my consciousness fading a few moments later.


. . .


My eyes shot open several hours later, the world around me hazy and disorienting. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, yawning widely.


To my surprise, I saw that Charon was awake and sitting exactly as he was when I'd fallen asleep, his back against the doorway of the ticket booth. I stared at him for a minute before his cloudy blue eyes lazily rolled as he sighed.


"I was awake all night keeping watch," he muttered, his eyes focused on the shotgun in his lap as if it were more important than the world around him.


"Why did you-"


He nodded toward something outside the ticket booth, "Them."


I leaned across him to peek outside and my hands slipped in a puddle of fresh blood. I fell forward, bashing my chin on the floor with a hollow thud, feeling Charon's legs tense underneath me.


"Be careful," he mumbled, and attempted to help me up.


"Hang on," I slurred, my tongue thick and painful. I tasted blood, but ignored it as I knocked on the floor. I grinned at the sound that greeted me in response.


"What are you doing, Kaori?"


"It's a floor safe!"


Already, my hands had produced a screwdriver and bobby pin from my pockets. I began to manipulate the lock, feeling the tumblers click within a few seconds. Breathless, I opened the little door and pulled the contents out.


A little golden pocket watch greeted me, still shiny and polished despite the many years it had lain forgotten in the safe.


A wide smile spread across my face as I gently tucked the watch into my satchel, "Well Charon, looks like we're paying a visit to my employer."

Edited by tokyobleach
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