Son of Sedonia

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Authors: Ben Chaney
storehouses of explosives all throughout the districts. The right media coverage makes it an imminent threat, and the crackdown begins. A few days of raids should yield more than enough bodies.”
    “Hmm, yes. That could work. My God, Sato. Amazing that the public thinks you such a timid decision-maker. If they only knew!”
    “You will give me enough new legitimate workers to show to the media, won’t you? My soul isn’t sold so cheaply.”
    “Oh, don’t be dramatic! Fine, fine. You’ll increase Helium-3 production, lower prices, combat the evils lurking in the Slums, and create a handful of jobs while you’re at it.” A smile curled back on Elias Finley’s crooked teeth. “You’re as good as re-elected! Not bad for one soul.”
    Liani, suddenly sweating and nauseous, took her cue to leave. She stepped out of the lavatory and tensed. John Kabbard and the other two guards stopped at the end, opened the double doors, and stepped inside. They hadn’t seen her. Liani puffed a sigh and stepped into the main corridor.
    Halfway thinking about the next ‘Knock-Knock,’ she froze. Looked up. Schaefer stood in the hall, paler than he’d appeared before. He started to key his throat mic. Hesitated.
    “Please...” Liani said. Schaefer scowled at her. Stepped aside.
    “You’re lucky I want to keep my job.”
    “Oh my God, thank y—”
    “Get the fuck out,” Schaefer said. Liani trotted past him with tears in her eyes.
    Outside, Corey sat on the steps by the landing deck, dabbing a bloody nose. He shot up when he saw her beside the guard.
    “Liani! Are you...are you okay?” he asked. Liani felt dizzy. Half-dreaming.
    “What the fuck happened in there?!” said Corey. ”You said ‘news’ not…not this ... Li! ” Corey touched her shoulder.
    “Huh? What? Oh...I was wondering if you were listening,” she took a breath. Made eye contact. “How much did you see?”
    “Enough. Had your ring’s audio feed up until they wiped my recent History. You know what could happen to us if—”
    “ Of course I do! ” she hissed, “and it almost fucking happened to me in there!”
    A hush fell over them as they tried to casually walk past the other reporters to their vehicle on the far end of the landing deck. Corey adjusted the strap of his equipment duffel, and leaned slightly over to her
    “ So...what do we do with it? ”
    “I have no idea.”

    LOOKING FOR T99S on a Friday night, you went to Ninetown. The Palace . The closest thing to a dance club in the Slums mixed with the protection of a fortress. The bass throbbed through graffiti-laced, reinforced concrete walls. Armed guards kept watch in sheet steel towers and patrolled behind sand-bag walls along the roof-line. The T99s showed up by the hundreds. Some stood in line wearing their best designer clothes, gold necklaces, and assault rifles. Others hung out by the custom bikes and cars parked in rows along the street.
    Matteo noticed the girls first. Glistening bodies of tan, brown, and black barely dressed in bright colors. They clung close to the T99s, ignoring any man without the Mark on his shoulder. He smelled their sweet, rich perfumes as they walked by without a glance in his direction. Matteo pictured the seeds back home in their hiding place. He sped up. Just get this over with.
    He knew the line to get in was off-limits. Instead, he picked out a group of gangsters sitting on their bikes by the main Palace wall. He took in a deep breath, stuck out his chest, and walked toward them. The girls noticed him this time, but their glossy pink and red lips curled at the sight.
    “Check out this nasty Pitta’ Rat comin’ up in here!”
    “He all covered in dirt an’ shit, look!” Their laughs and giggles took some of the wind out of Matteo’s chest. He hesitated mid-stride, fighting the urge to turn around and storm off into a dark alley somewhere. Then he heard them say it.
    “Oki, maybe he wants to sell you some shit in his ratty ass

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