/They Also Serve, those who Stand and Cater/
Opelucid City was a large place. It had a large landscape dotted with advanced technologically superior buildings and machines, lighting the night sky a mixture of greens, blues, yellows, reds: all sorts of hues correlating in the darkness. One could spot it from a mile away. Casinos, strip joints and other lowdown places were what these buildings mostly consisted of in the days of days, say, ten, fifteen years ago. These days it's a quiet little place that could be confused more for a small village instead of a city if it weren't for its size. But our story does not take place today - it takes places thirteen years ago to this date, in an Opelucid City on the brink of destruction, overrun with crime, poverty and homelessness. We meet our heroes here. Well, I guess they're heroes- okay, okay, fine, I'll get on with it. Sheesh. Impatient one, aren't we?
"In related news, Opelucid City's Mayor, Dresden Draco is talking of a 'devamp' project - most people are calling him crazy, but sources from inside say that this just may be going on. Opelucid is overrun by despicable behavior, Mayor Draco says. He plans to force us back to an older economic and political state to reduce these, quote unquote, idiotic days into the calmer, more peaceful ones. More on the story when it comes. Back to you, Jane."
Chili scoffed. The girl wasn't too bad a looker. Pretty nice set of tits, from what he could tell, too. The red shirt wasn't too revealing unfortunately, but the bulges from its front were pretty well pronounced. But he supposed that she was out of his league, being a newswoman, while he was just your average twelve year old kid on the streets. His kind was a common sight, walking through the street in ragged clothing, one hand out by their side while the other was out - reaching out occasionally, say, to snatch a wallet from a passerby who was none the wiser. He had gotten good at pickpocketing over the years.
Chili was a poor boy. He new he would never make it off the streets without help; but that was the thing about the city he lived in. No one was going to help him, because they only cared about themselves. He had learned at a young age that this was a dog-eat-dog world, and he was left with no choice but to be a goddamned vegetarian. His stomach growled at the thought of food, suddenly - he cursed himself for using the analogy. He would be a good kid today and just steal something from a cornerside cart. Maybe a couple of hot dogs. Treat himself.
He turned away from the television store window, sticking one hand into his pocket and lifting the other to smooth out of his cherry red hair. Then that one too went into his pocket, and he began to walk aimlessly. That was his entertainment method when he was as bored as he was now. Walk aimlessly, and simply hope to find a place that could entertain him, like a food market. He knew thieving was wrong, but he had to do it if he didn't want to starve to death. He sometimes wondered why he even tried. Perhaps because the way he knew he would die - probably by the gun of an officer of the law or maybe just some other bum shanking him - would be much less drawn out and less painful than starving himself.
The boy sighed, continuing his walking without much further thought.
His eyes focused upon a small joint in the corner of the street, labeled in broad painted letters, "~~hanks hamburgers~~". He smiled. A hamburger sounded absolutely delicious right now. He approached the joint, set up in bar fashion - stools, all but one filled, a bar in front of them with some condiment bottles and packets of salt and sugar, and a menu behind those. He examined it. He made his plan. Hurrying, he leaped up onto one of the stools, signalling for the man dressed up in the fanciest uniform. He assumed him to be the one taking orders.
Nodding, the man moved toward him. He had an odd head of the greenest hair Chili had ever seen, smoothed out. He scrunched his nose, giving him a look that plainly said, 'Jesus H. Christ, have you been taking a bath in the sewers?'
He grinned wider. He wished that were the case. At least he would be getting baths. "Hiya, ol' buddy. Name's Joe. Was wonderin' if I could get one of Hanks' biggest burgers. Just the biggest one ya offer. 'cuz buddy, I'm pretty hungry and I'm willin' to pay a pretty hefty amount - four times the price! - but only if I'm satisfied with it. But if I'm not, it's normal, so hey, you win either way. But you could really score big with your boss if you do good by me."
The green-haired man spoke in a tone of voice high enough to reveal he was no man. But he cocked an eyebrow, staring at him sceptically. "Is that so, Joe? Okay. Call me Cilan, then... show me the money."
Chili froze, sweltering on the inside but refusing to break a drop of sweat on the outside. He shook his head, frowning. "Only if I'm satisfied, Cilan."
"The m-money, Joe."
Chili moved to get up from his seat, and felt Cilan's hand on his shoulder. Chili turned around, looking curious, trying not to crack a grin. "Yes, Cilan?"
"Fine. One jumbo Hank coming up."
Chili nodded contentedly. Now he only had good things to look forward to. A couple minutes passed before the burger arrived - but in the eyes of Chili, who was now used to rations about a third of the size normal people considered meals, this burger was a whopper. He looked up at Cilan, grinning from ear to ear, unable to help himself. He pigged out on the thing, eating it swiftly, having to beat on his chest a bit to prevent himself from choking at times because in his excitement, he forgot to chew. He loved the taste of its juices, the condiments on it, the cheese, luxuries he had not had in a long time. It was utter bliss.
When he was done, he looked up at Cilan and nodded.
"You enjoyed it?" he asked.
Chili nodded. "Good burger. Thank you for helping the Chili Foundation. Here's your payment." He reached up and delivered a punch square between the eyes of the green haired boy.
"Ow! Oh my, oh dear, this isn't good! Thief! Someone chase him - no, I'll do it!"
Chili darted off, and with a skillful leap over the counter, Cilan followed suit, giving chase.
Chili refused to stop. His legs moved faster than they had in years (admittedly, he had come close in running from a fit vegetable vendor two weeks ago, but that was beside the point), so fast that he felt like his feet were not touching the ground, but that he was instead gliding. But Cilan was a slender boy with long, lanky legs and a good physique. It was going to take some effort. He picked up the pace the best he could while still keeping his balance, darting inside a building and leaping behind a random box. He felt the box slide back as he leaned against it, flinching. He couldn't control his intense breath either. But here was his best chance, he had thought.
He heard the sounds of a panting Cilan searching. Was it getting hot in here, he wondered? Perhaps it was his own body's heat from his running. He shrugged it off kind of forcibly when Cilan laid his eyes upon him.
"Stop, thief!" the boy cried.
Chili leaped up to his feet and ran deeper into the building. It was a factory of some sorts, abandoned long ago obviously due to the lack of care - pipes were leaking some sort of odd, clear fluid, machinery was rusted, boxes dotted the area. But this was good, as it made for a good hiding place. He dived behind a machine, giving himself some time to catch his breath, just as he turned the corner. The heat in the area was growing more pronounced. He let loose a deep breath, looked up, and saw the flames licking through the upper story windows, his eyes growing wide with horror. He suddenly heard a loud crash, jumping up from his seat and rushing toward the door.
He was met by Cilan blocking his path. "N-n-not so fast, thief! Come on! Let's go!"
"There's a fire, you dimwit!" Chili cried, pointing toward the ceiling. Cilan didn't look.
"Don't try and fool me! You're coming with me to the police! I need this job, I'm not going to let some thief get away-"
"LOOK OUT YOU MORON!"
The heat in the area was intense now, sweat trickling down every crevice of his body. But that didn't bother him as much as the loose piping that was coming crashing down toward Cilan's head. With a shrug and a jump, he extended his arms, pushing Cilan out of the way. He landed on the ground with a thud, closed his eyes, waiting to lose consciousness. So this was how he would die.
He fell out of consciousness just seconds later, the pipe hitting him with a loud crack.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Cilan was absolutely mortified. This was impossible. He heard the sound of bone breaking with a sickening crack, and the thief boy let out an agonized cry. It had landed on his legs, crushing them under its weight. He had saved Cilan's life. That thing would have put him into the ground like a hammer hitting a nail. Six feet into the ground, to be precise. He would have to do something. He had no time for shock: he had to repay the favor. He pulled himself up to his feet and rushed toward the boy, placing his hand on the pipe. He drew it back in an instant, hissing at the searing heat. He placed his foot on the thing next - it was better, but some heat still leaked through his shoe. He bore it with gritting teeth, trying his hardest to use his limited lower body strength to move the pipe.
He shut his eyes, and pushed with all his might. The piping didn't move an inch. He groaned, realizing what he would have to do. This was going to hurt like a *****.
He lowered his shoulder and rammed into the searing hot pipe with it. The pipe rolled under the force of his body weight, down Chili's legs, which were now both revealed to be covered with what Cilan suspected to be second or possibly third degree burns. He saw this as he fell to the ground, writhing in pain. He understood his shoulder and head probably had them now too. But it was worth it: he had at least tried.
Sorry, grandpa, he thought. Looks like everybody's favorite cook isn't coming home tonight. He's going to be cooked himself. Heh.
"Palpitoad, douse the fires the best you can! Hydro Pump! Bouffalant, get those two kids and get them out of here!"
Cilan's consciousness was fading, but he understood the commands of another person well enough. This was a gruff, authoritative voice. It reminded him of his father. He smiled. Had he come back from the grave to save them? Nonsense. He was just imagining things.
He let himself slip away from his pain and into the darkness.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Cress looked at the two boys on Bouffalant's back with a simple smile. Brothers? He liked the idea. Ghetsis had told him he had his eye on these two for a while - they shared similar backgrounds. Poverty, orphaned poor boys who were too jaded for their ages. Perfect assassins. The words of Ghetsis, not Cress. He ran a hand through his thick blue hair, nodding slowly. He had always viewed these two figures as brothers, and he was glad to see them.
Brothers in the shadow of the world. A Shadow Triad.
He nodded with satisfaction. He liked that name. They would be the Shadow Triad.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So here's another prompted one shot. The only reason I'm making a separate thread for this one is because I believe this one is large enough to stand on its own - the other thread (which should be up as soon as a mod I asked to merge two of the existing shorter threads does so) is for shorter ones. :3
So, here we go. A theory I heard once that I liked the sound of. I know it's a little less detail than one would like normally, but I liked the sound of cutting it off here. Sooo, yeah.