Fal makes love then seals a deal. Vesik enters the monolith then finds a monster. The boys go drinking.



After Fal, Koe, and Alitor escorted Vesik to his apartment, they headed towards their barracks.

Silence had fallen over the group and Koe wondered why his normally talkative friend had shut up. He felt uneasy for quite a while and was about to speak when Fal finally resumed his normal character and said, “I think we got something to play around with here, gentlemen. Al?”

The big man smiled a devious grin and said, “Right you are.”

Fal’s eyes fell on Koe and he wanted to look away. “What? Fal, why are you staring at me?”

“Well, what about you? The Black Street case. Come now, Koe. We talked about maybe going over the Watch about a few things; this could be a good opportunity to do that.”

“I thought you guys meant taking long breaks and overplaying an injury here and there for time off, shit like that. What are you two getting at?”

Al smirked and looked away, giving Koe the feeling that the big man thought he was fussing over nothing. Fal said, “Well nothing solid yet. Why not just entertain us, Koe? We’ll spitball and go from there.”

Although Koe didn’t want to hear a single word more on the subject, he obliged. It felt as though they were messing with forces beyond their understanding just by talking about this. Dark shadows clinging to Cavia’s corners, alleys, and doorways held prying eyes that absorbed the intent of the three men and damned them to a terrible fate for it. Koe looked around warily as they moved.

Fal turned back to Al, then said, “Anything in that shiny dome?”

Al was slow to respond as he pondered his scheme. He was thorough in presenting a plan whenever he did, Koe knew.

The big man said, “Yeah. But let’s talk about it in a more private place. And, if my idea is going to work out, we need Henkel with us tonight.”

Fal looked askance at the big man and said, “Who?”

Koe replied, “Our fourth bunk mate. You sure he’s at the barracks?”

As Fal remembered who the man was, Al said, “Not completely but I’m betting he is. That kid doesn’t go out much at all. Every time we get back there he’s asleep. And we know he works the same shifts we do, we share a room.”

Fal asked, “Henkel won’t do anything with us. He doesn’t do anything other than work, shit, and sleep.”

A devious smile crept across Al’s face as he said, “That’s exactly what I’m betting on, the latter I mean. He’ll need money for tonight. And he’ll go out, we’ll convince him to. Tonight, we go the Serpent’s Eye to gamble some money away.”

Now it was Koe’s turn to look oddly at Alitor. He knew that the whole gambling operation was run by the gang. Why would they go there to actually gamble? But then Al had always been good at creating schemes that worked out. A cold pit of trepidation opened in Koe’s stomach and the foolhardy grins of his two friends did nothing to shrink it.




Wooden chips squished beneath Fal’s foot, so soaked through with ale, liquor and vomit as they were. He folded his hand then looked down at the spongy chunks of wood, pressed on a few with his toe. Then, he looked back up to the scarred, water-marked table and the thick cards sliding, and sometimes snagging, on the table. The hand was over, Henkel, sitting to his left, had just lost two silvers, enough coin to buy a hearty dinner and ample amount of wine. Henkel cursed and looked into the small box sitting in his lap.

Fal hoped he wouldn’t leave just yet; he needed Henkel at his side as he dug a hole through his own money then racked up some debt. Henkel shut the box, more copper and silver gleaming in his hand. Fal smirked, turned his head subtly and sighed, caught Koe’s gaze as the man rolled dice, then looked back. He nudged Henkel then said, “Alright, come one now, Henkel. Let’s quit screwing around and make some money, eh?”

Henkel nodded but looked at the dealer’s hands intently. Fal himself thought he’d seen some card switching once before, but he didn’t bring any attention to it.

Pipe smoke suddenly accosted Fal but he didn’t mind too much. It was a little rude to blow smoke into one’s face but he’d be smoking a pipe in this environment if not for the need for a clear mind. He turned to see a man to his right holding a pipe and showing a smile missing a few teeth. A thick mustache crept down over his upper lip and a bushy beard grew from his chin and cheeks. His deep eyes smiled more than his lips. The man said, “Feeling a stroke of luck, are we?”

Fal determined that this man worked for the gang. There was probably one of these fellows at each table and each game to ensure that any foul play was caught. “I am. I feel the gods smiling on me today. Just you watch.” Fal winked then turned back to the table.

In unison, the men and women at the table tossed in two coppers and the dealer began casting cards to the players. The short, thin man had a long sleeve black shirt on and failed to smile the entire time. Two cards ended before Fal and he flipped them over. Two thieves. The other players winced at his hand but he wanted to throw his hands up in joy.

The only way to beat the dealer was by him drawing two wizards. Anything else, a single sailor, king or queen, would kill his thieves. Fal disregarded the hands around him, even when Henkel slammed the table with a palm in joy. Fal had no interest in what the other man had drawn. The dealer called for each person to bet, one at a time. It came to Fal and he slapped down ten silvers. The man with the pipe let out a low whistle and then chuckled to himself, obviously enjoying Fal’s idiocy.

The dealer looked just as hard at Fal and he knew he needed to look serious. He stared back for a moment, then looked at the man’s still hands. It was pivotal that he act like winning this hand was his goal, not that it was throwing money away.

Slowly, the dealer flipped over a card. A wizard. Fal leaned back and wiped his forehead, feigning relief. The group had a mix of reactions, Henkel grinning as his one thief killed the wizard. Now his king was poised to win without complication, unless a queen came up.

Another round of betting ensued and Fal opened his purse. Within, was just two silvers and five coppers. He dumped it all onto the table, warranting looks of disbelief, even from the stoic dealer. Henkel threw in another silver. The dealer looked around slowly, taking in the large amount of money sitting on the table.

Everyone stopped breathing as the dealer took a card from the top of a deck and flipped it over. A king looked up at the table and noise erupted from the players. Fal groaned and rubbed his hands down his face. Henkel stood from his seat and threw his hands up, hollering in joy. The dealer took money from those who lost, paid those who won, and still ended up in better standing from the hand.

Fal knew what he had to do now. A throng of men sat at a table against the back wall on a raised platform. The table had a thick base and Fal couldn’t see behind it but believed at least some store of money was back there. He told Henkel to keep his seat open, scooped up a wide-brimmed archer’s hat from the floor and donned it, then walked over to the table. The men saw him approaching, stopped conversing, put their drinks down, and gestured for him to sit down. He took his chair and said, “You guys mind lending some money to a poor man?” Fal made sure to keep his head down as he spoke, the brim of the hat running just above the head of the person he spoke with.

One of them said, “Sure. Here, give us your name.” The man pulled out a piece of paper and Fal said, “Henkel Arbhast.”

“How much, Henkel?”

“Twenty silvers.”

The man put the pencil down and looked up into Fal’s eyes. “Twenty? You sure you want that kind of debt?”


“Done.” The man scribbled more on the small note, stashed it in a pocket, then turned in his seat and bent low. Fal heard clicks as the man undoubtedly unlocked a chest. Five at a time, the man slapped silver down onto the table. Fal waited for all twenty to sit there, then he scooped them up and stashed them into the small leather bag at his hip.

Fal tipped his head to the men then said, “I’ll have this repaid tonight. My luck is sure to turn around. Thank you.”

The men at the table simply nodded and Fal turned and headed back to his seat.

Fal had a role to play now, he needed to seem like he believed his luck had turned, but not throw his money away. He needed to fold when he knew he had terrible hands, bet only when his chances of winning looked promising. And he did just that.

After an hour, Fal was cleaned out again, and Henkel had lost enough coin to try leaving twice before. Keeping Henkel at the table until he ran out of money was important though, so Fal had griped each time the man tried to leave. The last few hands, Henkel merely watched and the dealer threatened to kick him out of the Serpent’s Eye unless he planned on playing. Fal started betting a bit more aggressively to get rid of his money. Fal couldn’t be sure, but he believed that Henkel ended up out ten silvers from the night’s gambling.

Although distraught, Henkel thanked Fal for the night out, then left. Fal shook his hand, then looked over his shoulder to see Koe seated at the small bar in the corner of the Serpent’s Eye. Koe left his empty glass and walked out.

Fal made his way back to the men at the table. He took a seat and stuttered before saying, “I lost it all.”

The man who had given him the silver earlier smirked then said, “No worries, Henkel. You’re good for it right? I can count on you coming back in no more than ten days from now with twenty-five silvers right?”

Fal was quiet for a moment. He slowly moved his head back and forth as he pretended to think. Finally, he said, “I’d like a room please. Do you think you could give me a room tonight?”

The man sat back and looked to his partners. They shared a wary glance and several nodded. The man looked back to Fal then said, “You think you can pay for it?”

Now it was time for Fal to sound confident. He needed to show these men that he knew what he was getting himself into so they knew he wanted to make a deal. “Yes. And a whore.”

“You must have some valuable assets to cover all that.”

“I do. Worth twice as much as I owe now, I’d say.” Fal spoke with confidence, he truly felt confident, but he needed to show some amount of nervousness. He did not smile once, he wouldn’t hold the gaze of the man before him, and shut his eyes for a brief moment after speaking.

A man from the corner of the table said, “Room and whore comes to twenty-five silvers.” A key suddenly tumbled across the table and landed in front of Fal. He turned to see the man at the corner of the table sneering at him. “Room six.”

Fal swiped the key from the table and made a quick exit. He found a set of stairs near the bar and followed them up to a thin hallway. He passed rooms with small painted numbers on them until he found room six. He used the key and went into the dark room. A single candle could be seen on a small table and it was unlit, he’d leave it that way to keep the room dark. Open shutters let moonlight into the tiny room, providing enough light for Fal to maneuver past the small table and to the bed.

As Fal moved deeper into the room, the smell of pipe smoke and sweat exited his nostrils. Instead, he began to smell the musty odor of the water-rotted wood, the stale blankets and rough rug used as a pillow, a hint of sex as if the room had just recently been used by two lovers, and finally the crisp night air, staunching the others. Fal sat on the bed, immediately feeling disgusted by the greasy feel of the blankets, and waited.

Not much time passed before a soft knock came at his door. The door swung inward and a woman stepped in. From the light spilling in from the hallway, Fal saw thick lines of makeup above her eyes and deep red lips. A thin dress with beads sown into the bodice wrapped her curvy frame and a shawl fell from her shoulders. She shut the door and glided across the room to Fal, all in silence.

Fal took her hand and kissed the back of it, noticing as he leaned close to her that her strong perfume masked all the other odors of the room. “What’s your name, gorgeous?”

Those red lips turned up in a smile. “Sarah. And who might you be, kind sir?”

“My name is Fal.” He kissed her hand again but noticed as she pulled it away slightly. He let it go and she stepped back. “They told you my name was Henkel. Well, it isn’t. Listen, I need your help. I’m going to give these guys some information that will get me into some gold. I need you to simply provide an alibi for me when it comes down to it. The Watch will look into this and they might figure me out. All I need you to do is tell them you and I were out all night. You do that and I’ll give you forty silver.”

Despite the lack of light, Fal saw as Sarah’s eyes widened in surprise. She didn’t know the whole story and that’s how Fal wanted. She only needed to know enough. After she heard what information he gave to the gang, she’d never suspect that he was the one who would eventually sell them out. After this was all over, Fal would be sitting pretty in the money with his friends and then he’d be a savior to the Watch.

Sarah was quiet for too long, thinking too much. Fal said, “Sarah, it’s simple. And you may not even need to help me. Either way, I’ll pay you a quarter in two days and the rest after it’s all said and done. I just need the Watch to think I was elsewhere tonight. To the people here though, my name is Henkel, just to cover my own ass.”

A slight grin slid across Sarah’s face and Fal wanted to laugh. His plan was working so well. He just hoped that Koe and Alitor were taking care of Henkel at the station. Sarah said, “Let’s shake on it, Fal.”

Her thin hand reached forward and Fal took it. He then pulled her close to him. She gasped but smiled once she ended up straddling him. Fal breathed in her sweet scent and then ran his hands up and down her ribs and back, caressing the top of her butt as he did so. Sarah began writhing against him, pressing her pelvis down onto his lap.

Fal reached up and grasped her neck with two hands then pulled her lips down to his. He’d never before cemented a deal like this, but he knew he’d enjoy it. Something in the way Sarah moved against Fal and kissed him made him believe they had a connection, even if only on a physical level. Fal smiled as she leaned away and reached down for his belt.




After arrangements had been made for a meeting place in two days, Sarah left Fal to wait in the room. It wasn’t long until a rough knock came at his door. Fal said, “Come in.”

The door swung open and in came three men. Fal didn’t recognize any of them and figured it was good that these men hadn’t seen him before. If they tried to identify him later, they’d be going off of a man they only saw in a dark room.

“Henkel, what have you got for us?” one man, a mop of blonde hair spilling from his head and thick chops riding his cheeks, said. The other two men stood to the side of the blonde man, each holding a club in a hand. They’d use them if needed, but it was plain to see that they didn’t intend to. They believed that Fal had the information to cover his debts.

“First, what I’m going to tell you is expensive. In fact, it’s worth your entire operation here, the pull game you guys have going, everything you do in Cavia. Twenty gold is my price.”

The blonde man smiled wide, hiding the shock he must have felt from the steep price. “That’s ten times more than your debt. Let’s hear it, then we’ll price it.”

“No. I’m telling you what it’s worth. That isn’t negotiable. And, I’m not going to give you everything until you pay me what I’m asking. I’ll give you what you need to save your collective asses this time, but that’s it. The rest won’t cost any more than what I’ve already asked.”

The club-wielding men seemed annoyed at Fal’s bravado. They shuffled, slapped the club against their thighs, and adopted menacing smiles.

The blonde man said, “That certainly is expensive information. Five gold.”

“Twenty. And you keep pulling my dick around and I’ll walk out right now.”

“Henkel, you try to leave, and you’ll never walk again.”

“Don’t think you three would take me without a fight. I’m going to say this once more, try to listen this time. What I have to tell you, will only come out of me if I’m paid. Unless you hear what I have to say, you’re all done with. If I don’t make it back to where I need to be tonight, word goes out about where and when to hit you guys. Now that you listened, what are you going to do? Agree to pay me what I ask, or face the odds, which are stacked very highly against you?”

“You can’t tell me what it’s worth without me knowing what it is. But, shit that would put us away for good is serious. I can tell you that we’ll pay heavily for something good. So, what do you have to tell us?”

“The Watch knows where you operate your pull game from. Tomorrow, they’re going to tear through that place and take all of you with it. So, you have the rest of tonight to pack up and get the hell out. Twenty gold if you don’t mind.”

The blonde man looked at Fal’s hand and smirked. “That’s it? That’s all you have and it’s worth twenty gold. You’ll get ten, only because I’m feeling generous.”

“That isn’t everything. See, this information will keep you guys going for a while, but not for much longer. We know how to track you now, and unless I tell you how we’re doing it, you’ve only put a stitch in a wound that’s much bigger. That is, unless you think you want to roll the dice and try to figure it out yourself before we find out where you’ve moved to. You don’t have much time left though, and even sitting here bitching at me is going to take you more time than you should spare.”

“You said ‘we’. That makes you a Sentry. If everything you’re saying is truth, then the gold is yours. But, if you’re trying to screw us, remember, we know who you are and what you do. We’ll find you, even if it’s only one of us that makes it out. You’ll spend your last few moments in extreme agony. We’ll do everything we can to tear you down, Henkel. Understand me?”

Fal felt the sincerity in the man’s voice and knew that he’d keep his promise if he could. But Alitor’s plan was devised well, it’d get him out unscathed. He had always put a lot of trust in the big man and never before had that trust been misplaced or betrayed.

“Give me my gold. We have a deal.”

The blonde man said, “Tomorrow, after the Watch comes through and we make it out, meet me across the street from here. A tailor’s shop is there. Go behind that through the alley. You’ll find me and a bag of twenty gold.”

Fal shook his head. “I’ll find you with a bag of ten gold. I want ten now.”

It was as if the man expected Fal to take this route. He didn’t argue, but merely said, “Fine.”

The blonde man thrust his hand out and Fal looked at it. He smirked as he said, “I hope you didn’t hear me earlier and get any ideas. You may be cute but you ain’t got the rack of the other girl.”

Fal snickered as the man lowered his hand and looked at him askance. Fal said, “You lead the way to the money. Henkel’s going to turn his luck around starting with that gold.”




The monolith towered before Vesik and he wallowed in the pleasure of the sight before him. It rejuvenated his body and stimulated his soul in a way exclusive to these moments.

The godly pillar was much larger now. Vesik soon realized that the stone column actually hadn’t grown but that the distance he had previously seen it from had been halved. His vision sunk and he saw the spine of rock below his feet. The sight was almost nauseating as he knew that it was impossible to balance on such a surface.

Vesik extricated these thoughts from his mind for he dreaded causing the monolith to fracture again.

The dark sky had crept even lower now, as if it followed Vesik’s progress. Vesik’s vision was allowed to stare upwards only so much and he now noticed the dark sky being invaded by a scant crimson.

Vesik immediately hated the foreign sky as it was making quicker progress to the monolith than he was. He made to growl but his body did not comply.

Vesik knew that something was at his back and began feeling a burning sensation as he stayed inert. He thought himself forward and sure enough, the spectacular world around him fell away as he glided forward. The heat at his back dissipated.

The monolith loomed ever larger and ate up more of the sky as Vesik moved towards it with supernatural speed. He either floated or was comprised of an incorporeal form that defied physical law; he could not decide which was true.

The sky brightened as Vesik moved towards the stone pillar. He was outrunning the darkening sky and the crimson sheen creeping over the shining stars.

His world went blank for a brief moment then suddenly Vesik stood before the monolith, his vision inches from coming into contact with the smooth stone surface. He made to exhale in amazement but again nothing happened.

This sight was breathtaking to Vesik already and he knew that once his sight strafed to the side, he’d be stricken with such wonderment as no man had ever known before. He turned, so slowly it could have taken a day back on Zepzier, and his vision finally drank in the point where the monolith curved.

Pleasure wrapped Vesik and coddled him. He stood within arm’s reach of a god. His knees would have buckled had they been allowed to. He guessed that the pillar stretched for half a mile in each direction.

The top of the monolith was so high up that Vesik could not bend his view enough to see it. His view dropped back so that he stared back at the point on the pillar that he had first viewed.

Vesik felt as though he needed to keep going forward but didn’t understand how to with the godly pillar in his path. His wants weren’t enough this time though. Nothing happened and Vesik began fretting over the progress of the darkening sky.

Two human hands entered his view to either side. He was unsure if they were his but they were definitely moving forward. The hands levitated before the monolith for what seemed like eternity but what could have been seconds.

Slowly, they crept forth and once they made contact with the immaculate stone, Vesik’s vision blurred and wind surged past him.

His view coalesced and his world had darkened. He thought of the sky and almost panicked but once he recognized where he was, he faltered in awe.

Vesik was inside the monolith. Before him was a twisting tunnel that led to depths beyond his sight. The walls mimicked the smooth outer wall of the monolith.

Not another moment passed before he started down the tunnel. Strange orbs of light no bigger than a man’s fist and sometimes smaller than the tip of a finger and every size in between, floated in the air and lit the tunnel with a soft glow.

Several times the tunnel changed direction, sometimes pointing straight up, but never did it lose its polished shape, an oval with a flat top and bottom.

Vesik rounded a bend and emerged into a large room. The walls of the room were carved to portray intricate patterns and awe-inspiring abstractness. Statues were set to either side of a walkway made of the same stuff as the glowing orbs. The statues cast a soft, bluish glow upon the walls of the room also.

Each sculpture was a depiction of some being, most of them alien to anything Vesik had ever seen before. Some sprouted horns and long teeth while others had feathered wings or were so different as to be indescribable.

Vesik felt as though these sculptures meant little to him and so did not linger here long. He passed them all and exited the room through an opening then came to a halt.

To his right, was another hallway while the tunnel continued before him. He felt like he had a choice now. Neither route seemed more right compared to the other but he immediately felt the presence at his back indicate that it wanted him to continue walking straight.

Vesik decided not to obey it.

He floated down the corridor and came to a bend. He would have to turn left, and suddenly knew that doing so was of grave importance. He felt as though something terrible lay around the bend but couldn’t bring himself to stow his curiosity.

Doubt assailed him and wrestled with his original decision. If he didn’t do this though, then he would constantly berate himself for not. It would be the one stone he had left unturned.

Curiosity gripped his being and shoved him down the last few feet and turned him.

The tunnel ended here, but Vesik had yet to gain a full view of the dead-end. His peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a mirror-like surface. His vision flicked over to finally behold a vision of what he was here. Of what was behind him …




Waking up wasn’t the right way to explain it. Grogginess didn’t cling to him, nor did he feel rested. It was as if one moment he was looking towards a mirror and the next he was staring up at a dim ceiling.

Only one emotion emanated from him though: frustration.

Vesik swung his legs off his bed while a torrent of curse words spilled from between lips that sounded foreign to him. Never did he speak like he was doing now and this realization caused him to stop in mid-sentence.

He was up early again, he could tell by the scant bluish light that crept through the shutters on the one window to a courtyard in his room.

Since dropping out of college Vesik had found extra time to work. The next trials to become a Sentry had yet to begin so Vesik found himself working most of his days away. A framed mirror as tall as him was now posted to a wall near a corner opposite his bed.

The tired and frustrated young man moved to the mirror to get a glimpse of himself before he shuffled off to waste his time before going to work. He was standing in a spot exactly opposite the mirror and began making his way over to it.

One last step and he stood in front of the ornate piece of glass, close enough that he could touch his reflection. Of course that would only be true if he was staring at himself.

Black skin pulled tight against a muscular frame. Tentacles, glistening with intensity in light that was nonexistent, wavered. And a face … no the absence of a face. Oh gods! The obscene horror of the vision had Vesik biting back bile.

Vesik was terrified beyond his knowledge of the word, but the sight before him demanded that he stick his gaze upon it. His brain responded just as well as his body at this moment. He felt simple beneath the eyeless gaze of the creature.

It did not move much, but to slightly twitch every so often so quick the movement was a blur of color. Quickly the seizures worsened, and the being was ultimately spastically jerking. Then it calmed, serenity annexed the creatures body.

It seemed to exhale in relief as small holes opened on the being’s torso. Vesik watched with a heart that had seemed to have stopped beating minutes ago and his jaw slowly worked to make a sound of disbelief and horror.

Something pale extricated itself from the creature’s body, from the mirror itself, in a slow but constant manner. The ten small holes became two large ones.

Hands. They were hands and they seemed familiar to Vesik. The same hands he had seen in the dream. Now forearms, again looking so familiar, and less than a foot from touching him. Then shoulders until …

Black hair … then a forehead … eyebrows … finally an eye, just a single eye was all it took to break Vesik from his stupor. His eye. He stared deep into his own eye for what must have been only a fraction of a second.

The fingers brushed his night shirt as he flung his body backwards and flailed on the ground. He madly wriggled until the back of his head slammed into a short wooden chest.

He met his eyes in the mirror … and felt liberation. The scene in the mirror copied the one he was portraying this very moment.

Minutes of ragged breathing passed before Vesik could calm himself enough to peel his back off the wooden chest. He slowly walked to the mirror and gawked at himself. He searched the corners of the reflection for something that didn’t fit. Nothing was apparent.

Vesik flopped onto his bed to run through the events that had just taken place. A sickening possibility revealed itself to him.

He felt apart from his body when he was stuck in his dream world. What if that’s because I’m not in my own body when I’m there, he thought. Vesik spoke aloud, “Could it be that I’m actually stuck inside that … that thing?”

The scene he had just witnessed seemed to confirm that if not make it at least plausible.

Vesik stood at a mental crossroads as he tried to determine whether or not his nightly trips would yield a positive result. The monolith he almost worshipped was a beacon of power, stability, and confidence; a symbol of hope … or so he had come to believe.

But now doubt assailed him about the integrity of the godly pillar of stone. Vesik had come to accept that it was something from another world, a link maybe, like a meeting place between two realities. The creature he had seen was definitely alien to this world and Vesik harbored the notion that the other world he was coming into contact with was the native home to it.

Too many questions remained unanswered at this time; he would have to find the pieces to the puzzle, then decide what picture to make with them all. A task more difficult than he fully comprehended now but he did know this; he would have to go back. He had to make it to the top of the monolith, regardless of what transpired throughout.




“The fuck did I tell ya, huh?” Fal laughed and smacked Koe’s back.

Koe made a show of mocking him but couldn’t help but smile. Fal had just returned from meeting with the blonde man. He’d received the rest of his payment and then given the man another promise. A bag of ten more gold lay on a table in their room. Fal couldn’t help but poor the heavy, shimmering coins from the bag and onto the table. He then grabbed the bag from yesterday and poured that too.

Fal snatched two gold from the pile and said, “Let’s give Sarah two gold instead of the silver. She’ll like us a bit more and be more willing to go along with the plan. Yeah?”

Alitor looked at Fal oddly. Truly, Fal was not one to throw his coin to anyone, not even his friends. He felt himself redden and said, “Also, it’d even us out. Come on, guys.”

Koe said, “We can easily go out and spend those two gold between the three of us on drinks, nice meals, whores, and then a few more whores. Two or three each!”

“Well this one’s worth it, dammit.” Even Fal was surprised at the intensity of his voice.

Alitor seemed as though he wasn’t though as he threw his chin up and frowned at Fal. “You like this woman. She gave you the night of your life and now you think there’s some kind of connection between you two. Fal, I bet you right after she left the room she went and fucked some other sop with a bit of coin.”

Although the big man’s words stung and caused Fal to feel a shred of anger, he let them slide. He was probably right. Still, Sarah deserved this if she proved useful. “Come on, guys. You don’t believe I’d fall for a whore, right? It’s me. Fal. I wouldn’t fall for anyone. But still, let’s give her the gold. What if these two pieces keep our balls from the guillotine? Just trust me. We’ve followed your plans since the absolute beginning, big guy. Give me some wiggle room here, yeah?”

Both men shrugged and Fal felt better. He’d have to spend some time understanding why he felt the way he did about Sarah later. Sure, he’d laid with women of her occupation before, but she was just different. Something felt unusual between them that night. He hoped that she hadn’t continued selling her body that night. He should have kept some money to pay her so she wouldn’t have to work again for a few days. But he’d give her two pieces of gold tomorrow, and maybe spend some of his own fortune on her.

Alitor broke Fal from his reverie, saying, “So what exactly did you tell the blonde gangster?”

“Exactly what you wanted me to. I’ll have the rat who’s giving him away wrapped up in a neat little package in two days. We’ll meet at the abandoned building on Arc, between Mesh and Half. He bought it. I know when he buys something and besides, he paid me the gold right?”

Koe said, “So they’re expecting some Sentry. No details, right?”

“Exactly right. The meeting was short and sweet. Now let’s divvy out the gold.”

Fal made three piles of eight, leaving the two pieces for Sarah separate. He looked at the gold, felt an addiction begin to fill him. Koe was needed at this moment, to assuage the evil thoughts from Fal’s head. As each man took their even cut, Fal said, “This is why I love that brain of yours, Al. Come here, lemme kiss it.” Fal reached for Alitor’s dome with both hands and puckered his lips. Alitor swatted his hands away with a laugh on his tongue.

Koe didn’t miss a beat as he said, “This is not going to become habit, right?”

Fal looked to Alitor, who dipped his head, looked at the gold, then looked back up and shrugged. Fal said, “Koe, don’t worry about that. We have two months’ pay sitting in front of each of us. If we need to pull a stunt again, it won’t be for a while.”

Koe responded, “Just remember that this shit ain’t always so easy to pull. This isn’t even over right now. Let’s just get out of this one the way we came in. But for the rest of this, let’s be straight in our aim. We let these gangsters get away for our gold. Now, we need to put these fucks down. Yeah?”

“Exactly! Koe, you’re spot on. Anything else would be unethical.”

Both Alitor and Koe shot Fal an odd look when he said that.

Fal said, “What? I care about ethics.”

Alitor replied, “Do you even know what that word means?”

“It’s a type of pie …” Alitor stared at Fal as if he was an attraction at a sideshow. Fal showed innocent ignorance, but only for a moment before saying, “I’m fooling! Of course I know what that word means, you assholes! Gods, I’m not stupid. We wouldn’t have gotten this far if I was.”

Koe said, “Well with Al’s brain here, we could both be walking vegetables and still rule half the world.”

Alitor said, “Only half?”

Fal said, “Well hell, man, with me and Koe being the geniuses we are and you being a mastermind, we’re still pretty low on the ladder. Half the world is a compliment compared to what we’ve accomplished so far, even with us not being vegetables.”

“I know. You two are just slowing me down.”

Koe shook his head and laughed softly. “Well we have our plan. In two days, we get the drop on their new location and we spill it to the Watch. Now, you ladies want to sit here and have tea together, be my guest. I’m going to a bar to get plastered.”

Fal pursed his lips in a show of hurt although he felt relieved that the black man was lighthearted enough to joke, and said, “Can’t us ladies come with you and have tea there? What, are you embarrassed of us, Koe?”

Koe snickered as the three of them left the room they all shared with another. Their other roommate, Henkel, was locked up for starting a drunken brawl with another Sentry then pulling a weapon on him. Of course, the brilliance of this ruse lied with Alitor. Henkel would remain detained for several days as punishment.

Koe broke the silence, “Who’s playing which part in two days?”

Alitor said, “Wait until we’re alone to keep talking about this, Koe. We’ll talk later when we aren’t walking through the station or out in public. Let’s just find a place to drink until the women look good enough to pay the asking price.”

Fal said, “Hell I’ll pay it sober.”

The three chuckled and Koe said, “Hey should we get Vesik?”

“Nah. Kid’s been acting strange, ya know. Like he’s got some master secret hidden up his fucking sleeve.”

Alitor draped an arm bursting with muscle over each mans’ shoulders and said, “Too much thinking about matters that are not of import this moment. Just shut up and let’s go drink.”