Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
It’s easy to see Kiddo as just another hipster. The clothes and funny way she talked were the signs of a person who enjoyed living in the past with benefits of the present. Thing is, she and her fellow gangsters are a very specific kind of hipster.
For some, the 1920s were the pinnacle of fashion and style. Back then everyone had class and self-respect and wore it for everyone to see. Men were men and women were women and they made sure to dress like it. Bobbed hair, undercuts, three-pieces suits, double-breasted coats, flat caps; depending on who you talk to, that was the single best decade for clothing. Of course, a fedora means something else entirely to some, but that doesn’t stop Kiddo’s friends from wearing them.
The term for this version of hipster is “flapper,” derived from the ‘20s slang word for a rebellious woman. They dress the part, talk the part, and sometimes act the part. It’s really just a form of fashion that takes a little more effort, but guys like Cicero take it to the extreme.
Nothing more fitting for a flapper than organized crime, the kind that seems antiquated in a world of cyber crime and designer drugs. In Seattle there are a few gangs of flappers playing mobster, but all of them answer to the Gorinnis, Goris for short. If you’ve ever seen a gangster movie, you can imagine the kind of enterprises they had across town. One was at Pier 46 where Kiddo found herself after a short ride on the train and jog through Pioneer Square.
Dockworkers with hardhats crisscrossed between stacks of shipping containers. A few sat in the seats of forklift mechs, carrying containers across the busy paths with the beep of tedious safety sirens. Kiddo kept to the side, stepping clear of workers as she moved. They knew who she was and where she was going. As she drew closer the commotion got louder and crowd thicker. The dockworkers made way for her, keeping their attention ahead. Kiddo stopped just short of the clearing to get acquainted with the situation.
Between the stacks were two lines: one side were Goris in their flapper attire and the other were Yaks in black and white suits. Each line was sparsely armed with blades, batons, pipes, or just their fists. Some of the Yak carried wakisashis, real Japanese short swords. They were all tense and ready, but neither side could advance more than a yard before backing up, hurling insults instead of bludgeons.
“Yaro!” said a Yak.
“I’m gonna teach ya speak English with this pipe, buddy,” said a Gori.
“Like to see you try, white boy!”
“C’mere and put your money where y’mouth is, ya Nippon prick!”
You can imagine what else they might’ve said had Kiddo not stepped from the crowd. Both sides turned to her and suddenly went mute. That’s the power of reputation for you.
“What’s the problem, boys?” she asked the Goris.
“Got a call from the foreman these mooks were tryin’ to get into one of our boxes, Miss Pink,” said an older Gori.
“Is that so?” she asked with an obvious hint of sarcasm. She turned to the Yaks while hooking her glasses to the opening of her coat. “Bit early in the day for thievery. Y’know, when I stole from the Trotskys down in Renton, I did it at night so I wouldn’t be seen. And when I got caught, I ran away.”
“And yet, here we are, half-breed,” said one Yak.
“Oh,” she said through a smile. “Skipping down the Left Hand Path, are ya? As my dad would say, it’s the easiest route to reward, but not the most rewarding, if you know what I mean.”
“You’re one to talk,” said another Yak. “Word has it you’ve been itching for bloodshed since the Shogun ordered the expansion. We’d be happy to oblige.”
The Yaks smirked and chuckled, handling their various weapons like they were prepared to use them. It was enough to set off the Goris, the line surging in place at Kiddo’s back. She made a toothy grin and took off her hat, placing it in her back pocket.
“Can’t say I’m surprised a bunch of Japs are suicidal.” Kiddo waited for her boys to stop laughing. “I have orders not to kill anyone, but you’re making this so simple, I’m tempted to take you up on that offer. Let’s hold hands and follow the path together.”
With that she took her knife and popped the blade.
“Not if I have something to say about it, Volk,” said a voice from behind the Yaks. Suddenly their unfettered thuggery turned disciplined, each one putting up their weapons like they weren’t about to brawl. Shame was written all over their faces as the center of the line parted to the sides.
Strolling up the open gap came Monty Goichi in the same black and white Yak uniform. On his hip hung a katana with a black wrap over a grey handle and a silver cross guard. He was Modded with a pair of arms and legs that were longer than his Flesh torso, making him taller than your average Yak. They were fancy arms fitted with touch and temperature sensors underneath sectioned latex that matched his skin tone. Monty easily dwarfed Kiddo, staring down at her with green eyes as he stood within arms reach between the gap.
“Figured you’d try to start a fight,” he said with a clear American accent.
“Who says I’m starting the fight, Monty?” she asked. “Seems your boys were up for a scrap since they got here.”
“That may be, but coming from you that means a whole lot of nothing.”
“Least I’m honest. I know what I am and I know what I’m not. How about you take that slag stick on your belt and show me who you really are,” she said nodding towards Monty’s katana.
“Show a little respect,” he said grabbing the sheath under the cross guard with this left. “This is real tamahagane from the islands. You’re trained to use one, but carry around a glorified box cutter. Your father would be ashamed–”
“–He’d be proud I’m still alive and made it out. I bet he’s looking down on me from Takama-ga-hara hoping I open you up before your sword-hand grazes the wrap on that handle.”
“Hoping. Yes. But when does anyone get what they want?”
It got uncomfortable for both sides when Kiddo and Monty just stared at each other for the longest seconds of their lives. Neither broke eye contact nor blinked. They were standing so still you could’ve drawn them like models.
“Lenikaeru,” he said with wave of his hand to the side.
All at once the Yaks did an about-face and walked away. The Goris jeered at their backs.
“Show’s over, guys,” said Kiddo cutting them off. “Get back to work.”
The Goris dispersed, some telling Kiddo goodbye. The dockworkers went back to their business, sad that they didn’t get to see a fight and catch it on video. All that was left were the two of them locked in a staring contest.
“You’re wasted, you know? Putting on a stupid accent and cosplaying like you’re about to take a tacky family photo at an amusement park.”
“This ain’t cosplay. It’s just me–”
“–Keep telling yourself that. From my perspective, you know you can do better. You know you put on this facade because you need a place to belong. You know you can go your own way and farther than ever before because there’s nothing to hold you down. You can be great, but you dress and talk like a delusional, regressive piece of garbage that belongs in a landfill.”
Kiddo took her time to smirk at him.
“…I chose this life. You were born in yours. And if you really knew me, you’d know I don’t give a damn about fitting in.”
She didn’t linger, leaving Monty to follow her departure with his emerald eyes. His hand around the sheath tightened for a just moment before he relaxed and went out the way he came.
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scottt
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.