By Adrianna Colon

(5,221 words)

"Costas!" a harsh voice called out. Its loudness blasphemous in the monastery quiet of the Central Archives of Sharpeville, where a handful of Senior Archivists toiled quietly. "Report to Head Archivist Smith."

"I’m busy." Was the sharply snapped reply by Costas’ made from annoyance at being distracted. "As per Smith’s request I am running the Gettysburg files and making appropriate revisions. What ever she has to say can wait, I am at a critical juncture." Turning focus back to the task at hand, Costas added, "Not to mention, I wouldn’t want to disturb her daily sessions." The last word dripped with heavy sarcasm, as it was common knowledge that the Head Archivist engaged in many sexual activities behind the closed door of her office. More often than not, work assigned to Head Archivist Smith was dumped into Costas’ lap and because it was also rumored Smith had got her commission due to certain Baronial concessions, Costas could not expose her as the fraud she was with out repercussions.

A heavy hand descended onto Costas’ shoulder.

"You seem to think this is a request Archivist," the hand flexed and the unmistakable sinister creak of leather, click and slap echoed in Costas’ ear. "It isn’t."

Dark brown eyes wide, Rafaela Costas swiveled in her chair as was brought face to face with the cold, heartless, business end of a Sin Eator. Her eyes quickly slid up the black, Kevlar clad, figure of the Magistrate who had called to her. Making quick note of the red, nine spoke wheel, which was the ‘badge’ of a Magistrate, and downed visor of his helmet so his eyes and upper face was obscured, Rafaela frowned. Anger surged up within her. Though she followed the orderly system of the Barony with out pause, the one thing she still could not stomach was the cold, superior than thou, intimidation tactics of the Magistrate class. She herself had witnessed and experienced it many times in her thirty-eight years. To her, they were nothing but bullies who used violence to solve any problem. The terror filled eyes of her fellow archivists witnessing the proceedings only incensed her further. But knowing that Magistrates answered to no one outside of their authoritative hierarchy, she forced herself to breathe deeply and calm herself. Antagonizing him and making him angry would not be a wise move, as Mags often reverted to violent responses.

Slowly removing the small, rectangular lens glasses she and her co-workers commonly wore, Rafaela could not keep the icy chill from her voice. "Unless I have a termination warrant against me Magistrate, I suggest you re-sheath your weapon. As Second Head Archivist, I do have some authority in this sector and I would appreciate," her teeth gritted the word, "if you would show me the same courtesy as I, "she paused pointedly, "show you."

If anything, Rafaela’s estimation of the Mag elevated slightly as he nodded, sliding the Sin Eator down and away from her, answering with a clipped, "For as long as this detante lasts." Then with a slight move of his head, indicated her to move. Annoyance re-emerged as she gathered the sweater she usually wore to distinguish herself from the others, since the clothing of archivist class tended to be similar and uniform.

As they walked out of the main room, Rafaela wondered about the reasons Carrie Smith wanted to see her. They had never been close outside of the realm of the Archives, often not seeing the reasons behind their work with the same eye to preservation. Smith often threatened Rafaela with going to the Baron and telling him of her seditious, boarder line traitorous thoughts she sometimes, unknowingly let slip. But Rafaela knew differently. She knew that Smith would never do that, lest the Baron or upper oligarchy know that she was not doing her work and giving it to Rafaela. For no matter what favorable status one might have with the Baron and those of his ilk, no one liked nor wanted a slacker. Rafaela knew one day Smith would learn a hard lesson and pitied her for it.

"Head Archivist Smith requests that you meet her in the solarium."

"The solarium on Level….A?" Rafaela’s eyes widened at the Magistrate’s nod. She had never been to that level. It was the Baron’s ‘territory’. "Why?" she asked not thinking.

"How the fireblast should I know, you archivists are too damn inquisitive."

Bristling at the rebuff, Rafaela countered, "Occupational hazard when surrounded by shallow puppets."

"And here I thought we were going to be friends." The Magistrate hissed, and clenched his unholstered hand.

"God forbid." She remarked as they turned down the long hallway, which lead to both the Head Archivist’s office and the means to convey them to Level A. "You wouldn’t even understand the scope of information out there that is fascinating when preserved in proper form." Rafaela frowned and bit her lower lip. This was an argument that had often gotten her into trouble and she was not about to begin it with an enforcer of baronial law.

"Baronial form you mean." The dark clad figure supplied.

"Not necessarily."

"That could be interpreted as sedition Costas."

"Only to closed minds Magistrate."

The Magistrate’s reply was cut off as the large doors suddenly opened. Another dark clad Magistrate walked out. Unlike the Mag that escorted her, this one was not wearing his Kevlar body armor, only his black form-fitting uniform. His dusky blonde hair was ruffled, as if fingers were run through it over and over, and he sported a small red welt just under his right ear on his jaw line. "Madam Archivist." He bowed slightly with a smile and turned on his heel. With a start of surprise, he halted and straightened in front of Rafaela’s escort.

"Magistrate!" He mock saluted. "If you are here to enjoy the company of Head Archivist Smith, I must inform you, she is running late, but…"

The Mag by Rafaela’s side silenced the young Magistrate who exited from the Head Archivist’s chamber with a lightning quick, granite hard, punch to his jaw. The young Magistrate crumpled instantly to the ground.

"What the Hell?" He sputtered, blood mixed with spittle spraying forth.

"Rafaela’s escort pushed up his visor and slowly began to remove his helmet as the young Mag got to his feet, not looking up.

"I’m going to kill you, you rad blasted pieced of nuke sh…" When he finally gazed up at the uncovered face of his opponent, for the second time in a handful of minutes, the young Magistrate was rendered speechless.

"Senior Magistrate Hawkins!" He snapped to attention and saluted, ashen faced. Gone was the foolishness previously displayed.

"What is your name?" Magistrate Hawkins flat tone demanded.

"Magistrate Davis sir!"

"Consider yourself lucky you get to have Pit duty. Now report back to your station."

"Yes sir! Thank you sir!" Magistrate Davis groveled, quickly making his way away from his set down. Jogging from the scene.

At the mention of her escort’s name, Rafaela blanched. It was the Hawk! Reputedly he was the most cold and unremorseful Magistrate in Sharpeville. And he was bringing her up to Level A.

"Magistrate Hawkins, sir," though she hated the tremor in her voice, Rafaela could not keep it out. "I was wondering… I…"

She was abruptly cut off by his lifting his hand up, indicating her silence. Before she could wonder why he did such a thing, Hawkins raised his right arm and flexed his fingers. His Sin Eator slapped easily into his hand and the slight curving of his index finger sent two controlled bursts of three rounds into the retreating back of Magistrate Davis.

"Slacker." Was all he said as the young man was laid low in a spray of blood and gore. Within seconds, other Magistrates were on the scene. Firefights in the upper echelons were not common. Yet when each saw who was responsible, they turned and returned to their own duties. Hawkins, it was rumored, was given a wide birth by permission of the Baron because he was extremely good at what he did. They knew there would be a team sent up to clean up the still twitching body of Davis.

"Oh my God." Rafaela whispered in shocked horror. She knew death was a common thing, and through the twenty years she’d been an archivist she saw vids and other graphic details of history past. But this was too close to home. To actually witness such an execution was, her stomach churned, nauseating. She took a step back and put a hand out to lean against the wall. She breathed slow and deep to keep from vomiting.

"I thought you archivists were all cold and unemotional." Rafaela could hear the mocking in Hawkins’ tone.

"I’m glad to disappoint you, Magistrate." She hurled back, revulsion replacing her fear. "But you just reinforced what I think about Magistrates."

"I don’t give a damn."

"That’s obvious. You…"

"Oh Hawk! You know that it will take them forever to clear that mess!" a pouting sultry voice interrupted Rafaela’s volley. She pressed her lips together as she recognized the tall willowy figure of Carrie Smith.

Approximately five years older than herself, Carrie Smith did not appear to be more than in her early twenties. She herself admitted that she underwent body enhancement surgeries regularly to keep looking young. "As long as I am desirable, I have power." She would often tell Rafaela when the Second Head Archivist would ask why she would put herself through such torture.

Rafaela quickly took in what Carrie was wearing. Unlike her own form fitting gray jumpsuit with black piping, Carrie wore a diaphanously sheer silk wrap that did nothing to conceal the dark pink peaked nipples on her globular breasts, nor the fact that her body was totally hairless. Looking away she felt the heat of embarrassment flood her cheeks.

"You were to have been ready Head Archivist Smith."

"Hawk, I was, side tracked." She cooed. Casting a cursory glance to his side, she acknowledged with a slight nod, "Rafaela." Before looking back up into Hawkins’ impassive face. "I’ll be ready in a minute." Carrie called over her shoulder as she turned, while pulling her robe off and walking into a closet.

"So, can I assume you and Carrie, have had a…session?" Rafaela could have bitten off her tongue as soon as she finished the statement.

Her answer was the non-apologetic gaze of his eyes.

"Never mind." Rafaela turned her head away in disgust.

"While we’re waiting for Archivist Smith to return," Hawkins returned to his impersonal tone, " what were you going to tell me? Before Davis interrupted?"

At the reminder of her cut off statement, she had been about to make, Rafaela retreated several steps away from the Magistrate.

"Planning on running somewhere Archivist Costas?" Hawkins dark green gaze speared Rafaela’s. As if automatic, he lifted his right arm slightly out to the side, clear of his body.

Rafaela stopped and shivered. It was a stance that indicated a Magistrate was ready for a possible surprise they wouldn’t like. Shaking her head vigorously, Rafaela denied, "Oh no, Magistrate Hawkins. I…I…" she bowed her head and shut her eyes. Breathing deeply several times, she calmed herself. With resignation filling her voice, the archivist asked defeated, "Are you taking me upstairs to be terminated?"

"Do you think you’ve done something that would warrant a baronial level termination?" Hawkins tossed back.

"I’ve heard rumors of baths filled with blood…" her voice quavered even more.

Ignoring Rafaela’s whispered statement, Hawkins frowned and growled. "Do you really think you are that important? At least Head Archivist Smith spreads her legs and offers her body to them." He hitched his thumb upwards. Taking a few long, determined strides, Hawkins stood in front of and looked down at the woman who’s head reached his shoulder. "What do you have to offer?" Hawkins bent his head and whispered into her ear, "Will you spread your legs for me if I stay my shot? Beg for your life via an exchange for servicing me with your wet mouth? Offer me unconditional use of your body for whatever use I wish…urination…deficat…"

"NO!" Rafaela pushed hard against the Magistrate’s chest. Though not because of her physical strength as much as his desire to step back, Rafaela pushed Hawkins to arms length, dark eyes blazing.

"How dare you! I’m no common gaudy slut! You…"

"That’s better. I respect you more when you stand your ground." Hawkins tossed back as he stepped into Carrie’s door. "Head Archivist Smith, NOW!" he ordered impatiently.

As Carrie emerged wearing a gray uniform similar to hers yet somehow more form fitting, Rafaela pondered the Magistrate’s last words to her. It seemed odd to her that a Magistrate viewed some sense of backbone as something to be admired and not immediately punished. Following both on to the conveyance that would take them to the Baron’s level, noting how each was at ease with the action unlike herself, Rafaela tried to remember all that she had heard about Magistrate Hawkins. Frowning as she remembered he had suddenly been stationed around the Central Archives only in the past few months. The nagging suspicion that somehow something was wrong would not leave her. Shivering slightly she occupied her thoughts with a visual inspection of Hawkins. The phrase "Know thy enemy." flashed through her thoughts.

Logical guestimates put him about forty. Only the graying at his temples seemed to acknowledge this. Physically fit and in top form, like most Magistrates who had spent a few years in active duty, Hawkins had the hard rugged look of an enforcer. Rough conditions, constant vigilance and multiple terminations etched deep furrows on all Magistrates faces. Yet despite this, Hawkins didn’t seem like the usual Magistrate.

If stories about him were true, then he was more than efficient doing his duty. No person or thing was above his ingrained Magistrate’s training, including other ranking Magistrates. His reflexes, prowess and victories were the stuff of Pit legend and fear. Some say he alone brought more order to the chaotic confusion of the Pit dwellers than any law or group of Magistrate enforcers. As a result, many thought him part mutie for his uncanny ability to totally obliterate his opposition. That Magistrate Hawkins refused any type of desk job or any promotions that would take him away from the physical action was widely known. Rumor had it that he had once told the Baron himself that he would prefer the ‘hands on’ work of Mag duty because he enjoyed it so. Thus causing the Baron to give him special status as a Senior Magistrate.

But these thoughts were mostly spoken about only in dark corners or places hidden deep away from Mag justice. Filtered over and over through every level it ascended, for such things could be detrimental to one’s health to talk about. As Rafaela had, once, sadly learned.

"I heard he was part of a genetic experiment of the Baron’s." a fellow archivist had once whispered as they were on their way to the Central Archives and had seen him from a distance cross their path. For a horrifyingly brief moment, Magistrate Hawkins had paused and looked back in their direction as if he had heard Archivist Thompson’s comment. Then to both of their relief, he continued on.

"Guy, you need to be careful when you say things like that. You don’t know who could be listening." Rafaela had put her hand on his arm. "That could be considered sedition."

"How? I did not say anything against the Baron."

"I know but to say anything…you know what we do Guy, you should know better."

"I’m tired of hiding the truth Rafaela."

"Guy please." Rafaela begged,

Unheeding of the pleading tone in her voice, Thompson continued. "Even you yourself have said we should keep history as it was recorded and not as what someone else wants. It should be preserved!"

Rafaela squeezed Guy’s arm as several heads turned at the last statement.

"Guy, please, you’re frightening me. You know there have been recent rumors about a radical group who call themselves Preservationists. Who knows what steps the Baron may be taking."

"Ever the voice of reason and sanity, Rafi?" Guy sighed. "I guess you’re right. Sometimes I just wish…"

"I know Guy. But who are we to change things? Perhaps in another hundred years…" she shrugged and let the sentence trail off.

Two days later Archivist Guy Thompson had been hauled off by two Magistrates to be tried for sedition and treason. Rafaela found out later, after a few days, that Guy had been arrested because he had been handing out fliers regarding the preservation of information. Her guilt at not persuading him stronger often rose strong when thinking of him."

"Do you believe in ghosts Magistrate?" Rafaela whispered as the lift slowed and opened on A level.

"Ghosts Costas?" Hawkins frowned back in question as Head Archivist Smith breezed passed and headed towards the main chamber flanked by the Baron’s personal guards.

Rafaela nodded as she followed Hawkins to a different room where bright sunlight streamed in from the glass windowed ceiling. "Ghosts of regret. Have you ever had second thoughts for doing something?"


The archivist turned and tilted her head, frowning. "None what so ever?"


"Not of the people you have killed?"

"Each had purpose for their death."

"Even the women? The children?"

"They were a possible future threat that were neutralized."

Rafaela stepped back horrified. "Children a threat Magistrate? They are only so when taught such things by aggressive, belligerent adults."

Hawkins’ eyes were expressionless. "Children are genetic replicas of their parents. If the parent is defective, so is the child to be predisposed."

"What monster taught you that?" Rafaela berated, anger welling up at the callous man before her.

"I caution you Second Head Archivist Costas, you are treading on seditious grounds."

"And I suppose you’d kill me if I said anything remotely against the Baron."

"No, I would assess your sincerity." His lips turned up in a mock, cool smile, "Then I would either terminate you for your sedition. Or extended an invitation to dinner."

The humor was lost on Rafaela who paled noticeably. "That isn’t funny Magistrate."

For the first time Hawkins smiled somewhat genuinely. "I would have hoped the latter would have been preferable Costas."


"Why what? Why I’d terminate you or why would I take you to dinner?"

"Actually both Magistrate. As you have seen, I don’t exactly toe the line always."

"You speak your mind well Costas, with regard to what is actually treason and what isn’t. Your thoughts make sense, yet are not threatening. And you don’t share them knowingly or maliciously. You tend to make such thoughts known in the heat of emotion."

Turning to look out the window, Rafaela put her hand on the warm glass bending her head and leaning it against it with a sigh. "I’d be terrified to say anything. Afraid of you having to serve an immediate termination right at the table." She murmured absently.

"That would not happen." Hawkins commented as he crossed the room to stand behind Rafaela.

Looking up, Rafaela noted how their reflections complemented each other. "How can you say that Magistrate when you had to warn me a moment ago about my comments on your belief of children."

Hawkins lifted his left hand and placed it on her shoulder lightly. "Because Costas, you were looking to attack me, as a man, not a Magistrate."

"It’s one and the same." She whispered and shrugged, trying to shake off Hawkins’ hand.

"Yes being a Magistrate is part of my identity, but I am a man as well." He tightened his grip slightly, "And I would like to get to know you better Costas. For what it’s worth, be both are alike. We do our job, which is basically who we are, but there are outside factors that don’t make us like others. Those who, take away their job is to strip them of their identity and focus. Those who follow the law not because they want to but because they have to for it is the only thing that keeps them sane. Not us. We follow the law because we know that it solves the chaos that would rule if we did not have guidelines. But we know there is room for thought within to improve and change things."

Rafaela turned horrified eyes at Magistrate Hawkins. "Magistrate, now it is you who I should warn, sound as if you are reciting seditious thoughts. And on the Baron’s level. Please have care, you don’t know if anyone is listening. I have already lost one friend."

"Do you have many friends who say things…"

Hawkins’ question was cut off as the entrance to the solarium opened and a man dressed in a robe with cowl announced, "The Trust will see you now. Please follow me."

Rafaela frowned in confusion. "The Trust? I thought only Head Archivist Smith wanted to see me."

Hawkins turned and nudged Rafaela to follow. "Maybe something has happened."

"Dear God I hope not. Any change can not be good at this time."


Rafaela shook her head and whispered back, "Realist."

Following their guide, Rafaela stumbled briefly as they walked by the tall imposing Baronial guards. Their white uniform jackets, red trousers and polished black knee boots impeccably worn, their faces blank yet hard and unyielding, silently intimidating her as nothing ever had. The only thing keeping her from out right terror was Hawkins’ hand gripping her arm.

Bending over he whispered confidently, "Don’t worry, they don’t bite."

"Says you." Her voice quavered slightly in response. "You’ve probably been here before."

Hawkins shrugged as he straightened, "Several times."

"Gee now I feel right at home."

Hawkins laughed genuinely at Rafaela’s tossed out statement.

"Ah, Magistrate Hawkins, it is good to see you again. And in good spirits. That is a good sign." A short, slight man dressed in a robe emerged from the doorway, commented as he clasped his hands together. Rafaela frowned as she noted dark deep wet stains on the front of the robe. Dark beady eyes speared her gaze with his. "And this is Second Head Archivist Costas?"

"Yes Sir." Hawkins replied.

"Good, good. Follow me."

Confused, Rafaela followed after the small man as Hawkins picked up the rear. Quelling her fear as they walked down a short dim corridor to emerge into a large room, which was filled with about a half dozen men similarly clad as the one who escorted them into the room. Towards the center there was a long table with matching chairs. This must be a meeting room. Rafaela thought as she looked up and around. So preoccupied was she, that she did not see the wet spot she stepped into which caused her to slip and stumble over an object on the floor.

The scream of horror locked in her throat as Rafaela looked at the blood-covered body that she could only assume was Carrie Smith. Rafaela had to guess by the clothing since there was no head on the corpse, only a bottom piece of skull bone that appeared to have exploded out. Her scream found it’s voice when Rafaela belatedly noticed that all the members in the chamber were spattered with blood in large spots, indicating they were near the body when she was killed. She even saw the evidence of blood having been wiped off of faces, as some had dried rust streaks on their cheeks.

Hawkins grabbed Rafaela by her upper arms and shook her hard. When this had no effect, he slapped her hard enough to snap her head up and back to one side. Immediately Rafaela subdued, collapsing against his chest sobbing in fear, shock and terror.

"I gather Head Archivist Smith did not meet your standards?"

"Sadly no Hawk." Another of the reed thin trustees came forward. "We do not understand. She was so promising. Why was she not successful?"

"Perhaps it was the sexual intercourse desire that is so prevalent in her kind." A third trustee commented.

Rafaela pulled her head up from Hawkins’ chest, a dark welt of a handprint showing easily on her left cheek. Her head hurt, and she could not seem to focus on the features of each of the trustees. Looking up into Hawkins’ face she noticed an almost inhuman quality to his eyes. She struggled to pull away from his grip. But Hawkins held her in an iron vice.

"Some things we still have yet to ponder." The second man added.

"But what of Second Head Archivist Costas here?" A fourth man asked, "She is not of the original concept."

Rafaela struggled harder as she was mentioned as if she were not even present. Hawkins bent his head and ordered harshly, "Keep still!" She quieted as she noted several pairs of dark eyes turn her way.

"She has had access to our information via the fault of former Head Archivist Smith. Information that was not for the eyes of her kind."

"Yet she did not pass on any of it." Hawkins injected.

"That may be true Hawk," the first man spoke again, "but there is a claim against her made by a reputable person that cannot be easily dismissed. And there is the fact she did not report former Head Archivist Smith."

"I…I…was s…s…scared…" Rafaela whispered stuttering. "E..everyone…knew, C…C…Carrie w…w…was s…sp..special."

"Shh…" Hawkins murmured.

"This witness states that she spouts ideas of sedition and treason daily." A voice added.

"Even when given several very open opportunities to spread any seditious or traitorous propaganda, Second Head Archivist Costas did not do so." Hawkins countered, "In fact, she would warn against any one commenting upon anything which may be considered treasonous to the Baron." Hawkins looked down into Rafaela’s frightened eyes. "Even warn a Senior Magistrate."

"Indeed!" several members of the Trust murmured looking at each other.

"WHAT?" Rafaela pushed hard away from Hawkins. "You tried to set me up?" Dark eyes burned into his face, "Pretending," she spat the word, "to be my friend, all the while looking for evidence that I am a traitor so you could terminate me?!"

"No!" Hawkins shook his head trying to capture Rafaela in his arms, but she managed to elude them to stand alone several feet away from all of the persons in the room.

"As for former Head Archivist Smith, Second Head Archivist Costas followed strict protocol and kept deadlines met despite Smith’s dereliction of duty for sexual purposes." Hawkins continued.

"All that may be true Hawk, but sedition spread willfully and knowingly, and seditious thoughts via intellectual thinking is still sedition. It may be a non-aggressive kind, but it still will undermine the cohesiveness of what the Barony stands for. And it is that which we have determined." The original trustee explained without a trace of emotion in his voice. "Therefore, there has been a Termination Warrant issued on Second Head Archivist Costas. Magistrate Hawkins, enforce the Warrant."

"Nooooo…." Rafaela shook her head and backed away from Hawkins more. Her face was a mask of fright and incredulity.

Magistrate Hawkins lifted his hand and flexed his muscle. His Sin Eator slid easily into his grip. But he did not bend his finger. He could not bring himself to serve out this Termination Warrant. "This makes no sense. Second Head Archivist Costas is no threat to the Barony."

"Serve the Warrant Magistrate."

"I wish to speak to the Baron." Hawkins thought to stay the decision.

"This comes from the Baron, Senior Magistrate Hawkins. Now serve the Warrant!"

Rafaela frowned at what was unfolding about her. With a flash of insight she knew what had to be done. Her life, no matter what Hawkins said, was forfeit. Looking around she saw the trustees bend their heads together. Whispers of "emotions flaw" and "like former Head Archivist Smith" swirled around her. If Hawkins continued with his refusal to carry out her termination, he would be forfeiting his life. Her eyes softened as she noted the strain around Hawkins’ eyes. He, himself was warring with his beliefs and convictions. And for however brief it would be, she would not have his imminent death be a ghost on her soul.

With unexpected quickness, Rafaela turned and grabbed a nearby chair and with almost inhuman strength lifted it above her head and ran towards the trustee standing near Hawkins. With an insane sounding scream, Rafaela welded the chair to bring it done upon the trustee’s head.

Two loud shots rang out.

It doesn’t hurt. Rafaela thought as she felt herself thrown backwards. She felt some pain when her head hit the floor. She closed her eyes as stars danced about.

"Well done Magistrate." A voice echoed in Rafaela’s head. The slight breeze against her cheek and the sound of a door opening let her know that the trustees were leaving. The shuffling of their feet seeming loud to her. Barely she caught, "Inform Archivist Guy Thompson that his suspicions were correct and that he is now Head Archivist."

If she weren’t so cold she would have laughed. So much for friends.

"Costas….Costas." A harsh voice called to her…but it sounded so far away almost like an echo. She felt her body being moved, arms lifting her slightly.

"Please….Rafaela….look at me."

At the sound of her name, she forced her eyes open. Her dark brown gaze met his dark green one. As he made to speak, she dragged her hand up to place her fingertips on his lips. "No ghost…" was all she could say, her breath seemed to steal away.

As she saw emotions pass over his face, Rafaela watched Hawkins fade from view. She closed her eyes.

"Haunt me Rafaela. Haunt me."

Were the last words that echoed in the room.

Several Months Later…

Some called the Tartarus Pits hell but in the teaming masses, some semblance of life eeked it’s way out. The residents of the lowest part of the Barony lived hard, played hard and were often punished for minor offences by the constant patrolling of the Kevlar armored Magistrates. But on this day, no one could subdue the wave of amazement at the newest piece of Pit gossip.

In the dark corners of the bar, even the gaudies talked about what had happened over in Cobaltville.

"I heard it from a reliable source who snuck out of Cobaltville in the chaos." A drunk patron elaborated to all interested parties who wanted to hear. "By gum, they escaped! Not one but two Magistrates and an Archivist with a Termination Warrant on her head!"

So absorbed with the story, no one noted the black clad, tall figure slip from the darkest back table out the back way. Though when he donned his Kevlar armor which was hidden, many gave the older man a wide birth. The red nine spoke wheel badge glistened in the false light of the shops. But as one gaudy would remark later that evening to another of her sisterhood, that she could have sworn, before he covered his upper face with his face mask, his dark green eyes shone with a haunted pain.



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