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The Stone pt.1

Green eyes were unusual in Leah’s family. While she was her father’s only legal offspring, the leader of Koster City’s Patrician Force had sired several illegitimate children all across the New Democracy. From time to time, Leah’s father would host some of them in his home and Leah had met several of her half-siblings. Neither among them, or any of her common relatives, had she met one with green eyes. The only relative (that Leah knew of) with this characteristic was her paternal grandmother, whom she’d only seen in pictures. Growing up, Leah had known a person here or there with the feature, but green eyes were an easy way to narrow a search for someone in Koster City.

As an added quality to her optical augments, Leah’s father had had the surgeons add a feature that allowed Leah to darken her eyes to the point that they would go unnoticed or be mistaken for brown. She used the feature often but preferred not to at night, or in near darkness, as it inhibited her ability to see clearly in those conditions. Right now, the sun was making its gradual departure, but was high enough in the sky that the Mannah had just begun their fall. She quickly darkened her eyes as the blonde-haired boy approached. He was tall and stocky. His muscles were well-defined, and Leah couldn’t complain about his being bare-chested under his vest.

“What are you boys doing up here?” Leah stood up straight and looked the boss in his eyes. “Nobody comes up here… I like my privacy.” She had stopped moving, but he drew a few steps nearer and stood with his arms out in a peaceful gesture. The thuggish lad peered over at Gizmo. The quattour stood quietly in the corner of the roof nearest Leah, her tail swinging slowly from side to side.

“This seemed like a quiet place for us to talk. We’re looking for someone…” he motioned behind him to include his companions, “maybe someone like you can help us find her.”

After a moment of regarding them, Leah asked, “What are you offering?” The two teens behind the boss remained perched on the ledge of the building. They seemed mostly disinterested in this conversation, but watched Leah with an almost absent-minded curiosity.

“We’re looking for a young woman… maybe about your height. A thief with green eyes.”

“What’s in it for the finder?”

“Once we find her, we’ll be on our way. Someone like you could make our work much easier.”

“Dodging the price, huh?”, Leah smirked, “Let me know when you’re serious.” She whistled shortly and made to move past the thug. Gizmo followed suit, and began to proceed to the other end of the roof.

“Property coins.”, Leah turned to find the boss looking straight into her eyes. I can give you a few property coins,” he said, “if you can help us find our thief.”

Leah looked away, pretending to consider this offer before, “How many coins?” She was really feeling a sigh of relief that the boys had not decided that she was the thief they were looking for. This was a fortuitous opportunity for Leah to learn more about the troupe and eventually discover how they got to Koster City so quickly.

“We’re not wealthy men, we’ve only got two coins. That should be enough for this kind of work, don’t you think? After all, how often do you come across a green-eyed thief?”

Now, for the performance, Leah thought. She strolled over to Gizmo, thoughtfully, and stroked the quattour’s head. She glanced back at the other two boys; they were engaged in a game that seemed like Rock, Paper, Scissors. She turned to the lead thug, suddenly, “I’ll need to see those coins to make sure you can pay me. And you’ll need to tell me more about this thief. Whatever you think you know about this city, finding a single thief could be… troublesome, no matter what color her eyes are.”

The blonde boss seemed to relax visibly. He let loose a short sigh and motioned to one of the boys perched at the edge of the roof, “Chris…” One of the thugs stood and quickly approached the two. He wore a dark green vest and plain white t-shirt. Run-down loafers covered feet under his dirty, khaki shorts. “What do we know about our thief?” the boss prompted.

“Sure.” Chris said, “She’s quick, and can reach hard to reach places. She might be able to see in the dark. Also, she’s the type of thief that might leave town pretty often. …And she likes to use poisons. She killed my brother…”.

That last comment startled Leah; she glanced up at the boy, “What did she steal?” Leah practically blurted.

“That’s our business…” said the boss, “I just can’t let people go killing us and running away in the night.”

Tiny, orange and purple leaf-like flakes began to descend onto the roof. The Mannah liked to fall in grassy or forested areas, and tended to avoid cities and towns. Some of the little creatures, blown in by the wind, could not avoid a vast city like Koster tried to settle in places like the small forest between Zellwood and [the industrial district]. Beyond the boy still sitting on the edge, Leah could make out the beginnings of the gradual spiral of aliens whose existence skirted the boundaries of harmless and dangerous. She turned back to the boss.

“Night is only few hours off… Where should I find you if I learn anything?”

“Let’s meet back here. I’ll be-”

“This place is mine,” Leah interrupted, “Where are you strangers staying?”

The muscular teen was taken aback for a moment. Eventually, he turned and pointed to the base of the forest. “Let’s meet where the forest meets that clearing.” He said, “Will that be acceptable?”

“I suppose it’s as good a place as any.” Leah looked up at him, “Now you just have to show me your coin and get off my roof.”

The thug grinned discreetly under a heavy sigh, “I don’t carry them with me, but if you show tonight, we will. And we’ll have your coin. If you plan to cheat us, though, I won’t be responsible for what happens to you.”

Leah snickered and nodded, “Same goes for you. I’ll be there at the eleventh hour.” She motioned with her hand for the boys to leave the roof.

The boss turned casually to his peers and waved for them to leave. The three of them moved to the corner they had been gathered on and began to descend the small stair that led to an adjacent roof. Before stepping off the roof, he turned back to Leah, “What’s your name?” Leah cocked her head to the side and shrugged her shoulders. She attempted to put on her best poker face. The young man returned her shrug whimsically and said, “My name is David” and leapt from the roof.