It had been warm that morning. Well not so warm, the shadows reached out like dead fingers, sending shivers down the spines of those poor souls who were just now wandering home. There was almost a tangible malice to the shade and the workers of the graveyard shift hesitated at the edge of each rare beam of light, the taste of fear compelling them to stay. Those few instinctual moments never lasted long before what could be mistaken for common sense kicked in and drove then towards their shitty little homes, in this shitty little town, on this planet that had long gone to shit. Just how Della liked it. Alright, maybe liked was a bit to strong, but she had to have some kind of appreciation for the city's condition, without things as they were she would be out of a job. Then again people were always looking for a distraction, and as long as there was a demand people like Della would always exist.
Della glided down the street with a lazy ease, her path only occasionally interrupted as she dodged around the shuffling zombies of the workforce. Besides a pair of heavy cargo pants, and an old grey sweat shirt she had only a small brown paper bag balanced in the crook of her arm. The board beneath her feet hummed away happily as its engine had shaken off the night's chill hours ago, and while it look so banged and dented that some might even be inclined to wonder how it was still running, it ran so smoothly that you could have balanced a glass of water on it without fear of it tipping over. Apartment buildings and store fronts stretched on out of sight, each block a repeat of the next. Always the same grimy little convenience store, that stocked the same items, and sometimes Della swore that it was the same man that ran the stores as well, even when it was a women she was still pretty sure that it was somehow the same person. Today she bypassed the corner stores in favor of getting home that much quicker, though she hid it well her body grumbled at the offence of remaining upright and cussed bitterly when she dodged and weaved through the thin crowd. If she was quick she might just earn herself a nice nap before she had to go out again.
With that thought to placate her angry body she leaned forward and her speed increased enough that she got a few cold looks as people felt a gust of air nip at their clothing as she sped past. A turn three blocks after the mad woman with the frizzled shock of purple hair who likes to gesture menacingly at passersby, another turn five blocks down from the general store that never got around to fixing the three bullet holes in the left window, cross the street with the vaguely sculptural dwelling of the silent homeless man, and there Della finally stopped in front of an old brick apartment. The bars covering the front door showed signs of attack with dents and slashes evenly spread across the surface, the door showed similar abuse, but unlike an unfortunate few this at least was still on its hinges.
"Della!" Something smashed into her from behind as the weary woman turned to pull her apartment door closed. The voice, however, that had greeted her did not belong to the assailant. No as Della turned around she had to hold her arm out, all while still precariously balancing her board and a bag of groceries, to fend off the eager affections of a large dog.
"Peter!" Della said her voice given bitter tones by the ache in her bones. A head of scraggly hair peeked cautiously around from the end of the hall way, and Della gave a deep sigh. "Shouldn't you be in class?"
"It doesn't start for another hour." Peter said stepping into the hallway to pull the still excited dog off of his caretaker, giving Della a moment of peace to place her board in a large metal cabinet behind the door. Without another word she shuffled down to the kitchen and deposited the paper bag onto the counter top before she retreated to a large comfy chair, shoes flung off behind her as she went.
Her movements were followed eagerly by Peter and as she plopped down into her chair he seemed to be expecting something.
"You were gone for the entire night." He started tentatively, settling himself on the edge of one of the kitchen stools.
"mhmm." Was Della's only reply, her eyes closed and her limbs limp.
"Must have been exciting night."
"Must have seen a lot of people." The gentle badgering finally got Della to open a single eye hooded eye and she cast a half tired, half exacerbated look at Peter.
"A bit of this and that, I will show you when get back from school." She said before closing her eye again and settling deeper into the chair. Perhaps it would have been better if she just kept her mouth closed.
"You found something! Did you see them? Did you see my Dad? Has someone seen them? Are they back? Have they settled for the week-" The strung of questions followed Peter as he sprang from his perch and launched himself towards the armchair, barely managing to catch himself from tumbling against Della.
"PEACE--peace Peter." Della said her hands once again thrown up in mock defense. Part of her tempted towards shooing him off to class so that she could investigate further before giving him anything that would get his hopes up. She wanted to keep quiet, but his eyes pleaded with her and after a stretch of silence she pushed herself up and ruffled through her pants' pockets until she pulled out a scrap of paper with a hastily written note.
"Ten more families have entered the city, rumors of large gathering, more contacts at central park." As she finished speaking the happiness that was radiating off of Peter was almost tangible. "I will head there later once I get some rest, and you are at school."
There was a great scampering about as Peter readied himself for school. There was only a brief argument as Della maintained that she did not want any animals in the apartment, followed by the swift eviction of the brown, long legged dog that had greeted her at the door. Part of her knew that as soon as he got home Peter would bring the mutt upstairs again, but she would fight that battle when she wasn't so damn tired. She needed to hold onto at least some of her rules.
14396: Hey Fleet, they got you running double graveyards these days?
99139: I am bad Maze but I ain't that masochistic, errands
14396: Your in mask what other errands do we run
99139: Funny, any chat?
14396: Rumors, rumors, I would avoid Central today, netrunners got the boys up in arms.
99139: Shit, I would have hoped they fucked off by now
14396: When have we ever been that lucky
99139: well, have a safe run Maze, I'm signing off
14396: Good luck Fleet, keep your head down
Della hummed thoughtfully to herself as the chatter in her ears died away. Netrunners, those bastards are determined to destroy the businesses that had clawed their way up out of the rumble. Now as a whole smugglers tended to be very superstitious and even more gossipy so the chatter that they bounced around was about a quarter truth with some heavy salting and even more imagination. It usually showed in the inconsistencies and evolution of stories as they were told, bounced around, retold, then bounced some more. Rumors were usually just that, but netrunners, if whisper of then popped up the smugglers swarmed like a disturbed hive. While not always the most cooperative bunch most could find it in their shriveled up little hearts to rally against something that threatened to shatter their lives.
"Hey chica ya something to spare." Said a gravely voice and Della pulled up sharply, cocking her head towards the source. A toothy grin reflected off of her solid black helmet, and the man that called to her tapped the brim of filthy hat expectantly. There was a long pause, with Della unreadable under her helmet and the guy growing a bit apprehensive of her staring.
"Might have something." She said, her voice distorting as it left her helmet so that it was very hard to even confirm her gender by her tone. She moved closer, her board keeping her a good two feet off the ground, until she was almost right on top of the guy before she stopped and put on foot onto solid ground.
"You seen any of the nomads around central?" she asked.
"Central? Naw they've been locking down that area, don't want no nomads parking around." The guy said with a shrug. This earned him another silence as Della tapped out a rapid beat against her leg as her mind worked. Then reaching into a inside pocket of her jacket she pulled out a few bucks and dumped them into the man's hat. As quickly as she had come she lifted her foot off the ground and sped off again. So even the militia was up in arms, that was never a good sign. Rumors of some kind of attack was something, having people arming themselves and taking up battle formations was another. Although perhaps Della could find a nice silver lining for herself. After all, soldiers were often her best customers, to much boredom and they would seek her out for drugs and other luxuries entertain themselves with, to much action and they would ask her for special ammo, performance enhancing products, and anything else that would keep them alive, and perhaps, just maybe, one of them had seen something.
Her train of thought was once again interrupted, but this time it was by a face and not a voice. The Lemon Pop club had once been vibrant and colorful, but now it was simply a shiny exterior covering a hallowed interior. A girl stood under the neon sign, leaning against the wall, with all the manners of someone normal. But Della knew better, and slowing down to almost a crawl she paused in front of Eden.
"I never took you for the reminiscing sort." She said, her voice still in that same distorted tone. There was what sounded like humor in her voice as she spoke, as though she found something about the situation very funny. As the board crept to a halt she actually fully dismounted the hoverboard, the steel plates on the bottom of her feet clicking sharply against the cracked pavement. Part of her wondered if Eden would even recognize her, it was not like she had seen her face, the only thing that would single her out from the rest of the faceless riders that haunted New York was the call number 99139 that was printed in faded white numbers across the jaw piece of her helmet. The for ease of those who needed a name the number was attached to the name Fleet, a simple calling card that all of her-professional-acquaintances knew her by. It had been a while since their last job, a simple enough task, Eden had found herself the perfect location and Della had smuggled in all of the equipment that the assassin could want. From what she recalled they had gotten along well enough, but times were always changing.