I walked the streets with confidence. Two nights ago, the Vurugu claimed twelve innocent lives. The murders wouldn’t stop until the Ambassador gave in to their claims, claims they began screaming for two years ago. Every six days, twelve civilians would be killed unless the Ambassador stepped down, allowing the Vurugu to rule.
The rhythmic clicking of my boots filled the silence of the city. In the northern Faction, people stayed in their metal and brick homes. Fear and intelligence kept them in, but it made work for Raudona difficult. Civilians would often host Vurugu supporters, who proved more of a hassle then the Vurugu. The supporters, deemed Takuts by the Ambassador, threatened civilians in exchange for shelter. According to Ambassador reports, the northern territory housed the most Takuts in the nation.
I wasn’t on the hunt for Takuts tonight. I was on the hunt for something much more deadly. My partner managed to squeeze out a very important detail during an interrogation. I didn’t care how he obtained the information. Unfortunately, the Ambassador considered him a traitor and killed him in a public shooting yesterday, calling him a Takut and showing the world what happened to Vurugu supporters.
“Madame, are you lost?” The voice slithered out from the darkness of the nearby alley. Garbage clung to the ground, filling the air with a rancid stank. The light from the street lamp gave off an orange glow in the gray fog, but could not reach the black alley.
I stopped and waited until I needed to use my Raudona skills. Wait first, then attack. Raudonian law number three. The warm air native to this Faction pushed my hair behind my shoulders. The figure, outlined in red, stood straight and tall in the alley’s darkness, the center of its body glowing the brightest. I blinked and my eyes humanized.
The man stood six inches taller than me with black hair that hung loosely along his face. He wore a gray sweater and cuffed pants with a black coat that reached his knees. His hands were shoved into his pockets. His narrow eyes were black, the price he paid for selling his soul. The Kipofu stared into my eyes, reading my soul. With his mouth and ears sewn shut, this Kipofu brother could only see the truth.
A pitiful existence.
The crow on his shoulder flapped its wings and let out a caw. I turned my head and switched to my Raudonian eyes. Nothing.
“I found you, little Raudona.” The crow added a caw to the end of its master’s words.
“You sent a Kipofu after me. You don’t plan on killing me.”
“Of course not.” The crow dipped its head. “I simply want to speak with you.”
“You have that much trust in me?”
The crow flapped its wings harder this time. “I do. You will not bring others, little Raudona. I know you. Follow the Kipofu and come to me.”
The Kipofu stared at me for a moment before slowing turning around and walking down the alley. I followed, making visual benchmarks for the return. The Vurugu spoke through the Kipofu brothers. To contact me meant death and I was to accept the challenge.
The Kipofu turned down another alley and then another. The crow turned its sleek head with every passing minute. Most people would have fled the watchful eye of the Vurugu crow, but Raudona didn’t flee.
The Kipofu opened a creaking metal door. Made of brick with a metal roof, the building blended in with the others. I brushed past the body and adjusted my eyes to seek the Vurugu. No blood within my sight range.
The door closed with a soft click. The windows rattled from the wind outside. The squeak of a rat came from the corner and I watched its red body shuffle across the floor. The smell of metal made my head ache.
“Little Raudona, do you hate me?”
“Do you envy me?”
“Do you fear me?”
His voice came from everywhere. From the metal, from the rat, from the windows, from the door, from the brick, from the crow. My ears could find no origin and my eyes could find no heat. The Vurugu wasn’t here.
“Oh little Raudona, you should always fear me.”
I spun around and slammed my hand against the Vurugu’s wrist. In its hand was a silver blade with a black handle. It flew across the room, clattering to the cement floor. The Vurugu slithered back into the shadows. I raced to the knife, managing to kick the weapon away before the Vurugu could reach it. As I turned to confront it, the figure disappeared into the shadows.
“It seems you fear the power of Raudona, Vurugu.” My voice echoed of the walls, strong and clear. The Raudona’s existence relied on persecution of the Vurugu and Takuts. The Raudona were created to bring peace and order to the Factions. The Vurugu threatened that peace and to the Takuts, order was a foreign word.
A light breeze blew on the back of my neck. I whirled to the right, blocking the attack. I pushed the arm up and away with mine when pain blasted across my hip. In an instant I fell to my knees. I looked down at the bloody wound, staring in awe at the red liquid oozing from my body. I raised my eyes to see the Vuguru’s face, but the pain was too much and I fell forward, slamming into the floor. Darkness drifted into my vision and the last thing I sensed before Death took hold of my soul was the sweet smell of pine.