Blakfire v2 Chapter 1
“You are very strange for an elf.”
Oh gods, not this again, Blaize thought. He looked back at the tallish, blonde human trailing him, currently analyzing him as he adjusted his glasses, like he was some sort of lab specimen. Fifth bloody time that the kid’s said this, in one version or another. Usually, Blaize would just shrug and continue, but now he scoffed in annoyance, shifting the light machine gun on his left shoulder to his right.
“Yeah? And you’re pretty damn odd for a human, Blondie.” Blaize retorted, spitting the butt of his H-cig to the ground and stopping on the wide dirt road to stomp the cig out. “Hiring a City Elf like me to guide you through the Forests’ land and all…”
“Blondie” frowned, stopping as Blaize did. “My name’s not Blondie, it’s Niku. And I hired you because you were supposed to be a guide. Had I known that you didn’t even speak the language of the Forests, I wouldn’t have bothered.”
Blaize snorted in amusement, lighting up another H-cig and grinning at Niku. “Had you paid attention in school, Human, you would have known that there’s a biiiiig difference between Citys and Forests when it comes to elves. It’s like the difference between a dog and a wolf. For one, Forests would have chopped my head off the minute they saw my smoking this cig. They hate seeing burning plant matter. Hell, you saw the look on that hunter’s face when I lit up.”
Niku sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I didn’t notice his expression. I was too concentrated on the fact that he doubled over and began vomiting, only because, I may add, you breathed that smoke right into his face.”
Blaize gave a wistful smile. “That was hilarious, wasn’t it? Fucker didn’t even have time to be mad he just bent over and went to town right there….” He chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye. “Don’t you worry, it’s all part of the plan, Blondie. That hunter was going to strip us of every bit of cash we had if I hadn’t…ah…occupied him while we ran like our asses were on fire. The Forest Elves around here aren’t as happy about humans as the ones in Extremidad are, you know.”
“I’m well aware. But again, that’s why I hired you, to get me through their territory with little conflict.”
“Exactly.” Blaize grinned again. “And I got you through, didn’t I?”
This elf is crazy, Niku thought. But then again, he didn’t look particularly sane. Like all elves, he was somewhat short and slim, with an androgynous appearance that could be considered “elfy” though Blaize tended to lean a bit more masculine than feminine, unsurprisingly. His black hair, short and spiked, was parted to the left, with two bangs that sprouted from the front of the part, the right bang slightly covering the elf’s right eye, the pair of which were an interesting bright crimson color, sharp and almond-shaped, and accented by, of all things, the slightest hint of mascara, though any sort of question into this was deflected. As with other elves as well, he had two long, pointed ears, pierced with two ear rings, one made of white ivory, the other of shiny black ebony. His youthful face had some slight angles to it, but was a little…softer than one would expect of an elf, more boyish than manly. However, his face wasn’t the most interesting feature; it was his left arm. Instead of flesh and bone, it was made of bronzed metal, plastic, and wire, a prosthetic obviously made for a more utilitarian job than aesthetic. Blaize called it his “peacemaker,” but Niku had no idea why, though he couldn’t help but notice that his forearm had some very…firearm-like qualities to it. The elf had a decidedly….simple wardrobe, a black T-shirt, the left sleeve torn off, with some sort of skull on the front over tan cargo pants, which were in turn tucked into a pair of worn black combat boots, female human sized if he had to guess. Of course, he still had the essentials for a Contractor, such as a holster belt containing an automatic pistol and ammo, and a Pre-World police baton (seriously, where the hell did he get that?), and a single strap backpack which likely contained, other than the freaking grenades hanging off it, ammunition for the light machine gun that the elf toted around, the likes of which almost looked comically huge compared to the short-ish Blaize.
Niku sighed, wondering why he’d mused so much on Blaize’s appearance like it was some sort of plot exposition, and nodded towards the path ahead. “Well, regardless, we’ve got ourselves still a ways to go to our destination, and our payment. Shall we keep going or wait here and hope Mirror Bay will get up and walk to us?”
Blaize actually gave a small laugh at that, grinning once more at Niku. “So, the human can make jokes! You’re not as much a milk-drinker than I thought….” He gave Niku a once over as he pulled his H-cig from his mouth and blew a stream of herb-scented smoke. The human was young, about his age, which was to say about 20, though he was a bit taller than he, something he wasn’t so happy about but then again a lot of things were taller than him, so it wasn’t anything new. He had emerald green eyes, behind a pair of reading glasses, which were either ill-fit or uncomfortable, maybe both, since the man kept adjusting them. He had a lean, handsome face (not that Blaize was attracted to him), with angles and soft curves in just the right areas to go with his glasses and give him an intellectual, but active appearance. As per his nickname, his head was topped with spiked (but slightly longer than Blaize’s) platinum blonde hair, which just slightly covered his rounded ears, which was of course standard for a human. This one wasn’t really dressed flashy, in a grey sport coat covering a black tank top tucked into a pair of denim jeans which ended at some nondescript white sport shoes. Of course, like Blaize, he made his profession as a Contractor no secret, considering he was armed as heavily as Blaize, with a pair of submachine guns in hip holsters just barely peeking out from under the coat, some sort of single shot rifle with a red dot scope, and, most interestingly, an odd looking sword, stainless steel and looking like one of those jousting sticks that you read about in the Pre-world castles and dragons stories, but a lot shorter, only 3 feet long, with a split down the middle as if it was meant to open or something. Weird.
Blaize decided that Niku had a point about waiting around, so he put his hands into his pockets and turned, continuing to walk as the conversation petered out, the conversation replaced by the sounds of birds and woods, as if nature was awkwardly clearing its throat for them. Blaize withstood the silence for about….five minutes, he wagered, before his mouth saved him from his thoughts. “So….what’s with the sword?”
Niku blinked, somewhat enjoying the peace, but not exactly annoyed by the question; he admittedly got that question a lot. “It’s a family weapon.”
“Like an heirloom?”
“Nah, this one’s relatively new. What I mean is that only those in my bloodline can make and use it. Sort of a byproduct of our family profession.”
“Ah…and what profession is that?”
Niku simply smiled quietly, adjusting his glasses. “Smithing, I suppose.”
Blaize glanced back. “You suppose?”
“Well, it’s…complicated. What about you?”
“Me?” Blaize turned around, walking backwards now. “My profession is pretty obvious, isn’t it? I’m a contractor, like you. And you contracted me to take you to Mirror Bay. Heh, a contractor contracting a contractor. Say that three times fast….” He inhaled thoughtfully, blowing the smoke out a second later, thankfully off to the side so it didn’t fly into Niku. “So what’s your contract?”
Niku looked at the elf, somewhat off-put by how casually Blaize was walking backwards without a care in the world. “Uh….some priest contacted me, said he was in danger, needed escort of him and some sort of religious artifact out of the city and to Extremidad. When I asked why he wouldn’t just catch a plane from the airport himself, he said there was no time, that ‘they’ were coming. I’m guessing he pissed someone off or something. Either way, he hung up before I could ask him who ‘they’ were….” He shook his head, sighing. “This whole contract stinks, but it was the only one on the board at the time, I wanted to scoop it up before it got grabbed.” He smiled uneasily. “One could say I’m kinda….strapped for cash. Hence why I hired you instead of flying or riding out here, and agreed to pay you ONLY when my own contract was complete. Speaking of which….”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve done this before.” Blaize sighed in annoyance and turned around with a spin of his heel. “You want my help with the escort out. Ain’t the first time a fellow Contractor’s hired me. What’s the pay? 50/50?”
Niku scratched his neck sheepishly. “I…was hoping you’d agree to a 40/60, in my favor….I really need the cash.”
Blaize gave an exaggerated ugggh, like an impudent teenager being told he had to be back by curfew. “You ain’t the only one in this world trying to get by, human. And here I thought elves were hagglers….45/55, in your favor.”
Niku sighed and nodded, not too interested in spending the rest of the walk to Mirror Bay arguing about payment. “Very well. As soon as I get paid I’ll give you the share.”
Blaize gave his usual grin. “Good. And remember…” He looked back, his eyes holding an unnerving gleam as he grinned evilly at Niku, his mechanical arm tapping the retracted police baton on his hip. “Don’t EVER break a promise with an elf, capiche?”
Niku blinked, remembering his earlier thoughts about this elf not being sane and reminding himself to, for the love of God, pay the elf. “…..Capiche.”
“Good, glad we can make an arrangement!” Blaize gave a genuine laugh this time, looking forward again as they crested the hill on the incline. “Don’t you worry, Blondie. I’ll get you and your priest guy out of here. I mean, how hard….” Blaize stopped, blinking in surprises at something ahead of him. “…can it….be…..Well shit.” He kept looking ahead, giving a small sigh as his expression changed from surprise to grim dismay.
“What’s….oh.” Niku’s expression changed from curious to that same grim dismay as he stopped beside Blaize and saw what he saw. “Well….this contract got a bit more complicated.”
Mirror Bay was a city named after the massive natural bay protected by cliffs from the ocean that, on a calm day, looked serenely like an enormous mirror sitting in the hills surrounding it. Those same hills were what the city was built on, with the industrial district at the tops, and the business and residential districts sloping down to the water, the shore lined with docks for the fishing trawlers that the city made its revenue out of, along with some commercial docks for small cargo ships and a single pier for the pair of Deuteronomy-class cruisers (purchased from Extremidad following Amibilidad’s independence from the country) that defended the city from possible attacks by Sky Bandits or other various baddies. Of course, naught of that mattered now; the factories lay in rubble, smoke rose from the residential district, and the piers were in splinters, most of the trawlers and commercial ships sitting on the bottom of the bay. Of the two cruisers, one lay in two pieces next to the destroyed dock, her keel shattered, while the other floated in the middle of the bay, listing but firing doggedly up at the planes and zeppelins overhead, which were currently occupied firing into and bombing the city. Needless to say, Mirror Bay was under siege.