Day Two, the First Quarter
Chloe woke up under the covers of a bed. She assumed they were hers, but she couldn’t remember. It was cold, and she was not interested in exiting the warmth of her blankets. She squirmed a bit and then lay there, quiet.
“Mmm…” her voice was quiet, feminine.
She stayed under the sheets and coughed a few times, eyes wandering. The room was small, it reminded her of a bathroom it was so small. There was space enough for the bed and not much else. wallpaper was grayed and peeling, ceiling covered in ash and dust. Other than a small thinly veiled window there was no way to light up the room. On the bedside table was a small box with a numbered display.
Chloe reached out from under the covers and grabbed it. She realized for the first time she was naked under there. Naked, and in a place she didn’t recognize. The aura of the room was serene, so she decided not to worry.
The box in her hands was attached to the wall by some sort of rope. She pushed one of the buttons on the top, and noise started coming out of it. A hissing buzz. Chloe turned a knob on the front, and heard a voice.
“-Revenge. The club has a reputation for being rowdy, but this is the first time that the city guard has been involved. Seven people were arrested. We don’t know what happened for sure, but the top floor of the building is absent, along with the owner’s pet. Anyone who has information is welcome to call us. Ask the operator for Sill With Press Radio News, or SWP-RN for short.”
Night Revenge. That was the club that Chloe was at last night. She sighed, shuddering and looking around the room for her clothes. She found nothing.
She looked under the covers and realized she wasn’t alone. There were two more people in the bed with her, curled around each other.
She didn’t recognize either the man or the woman.
“…Urgent update. The Lussa Queen has come forward, claiming that she herself witnessed the top of the building become blackened, and shortly after phase away. She claims that someone stole it for their own personal use. The club owner is in critical condition. He told us that there would be no reason to steal his building, and that he blames the quote, “damned capitalists.” We are currently looking for the managers, Ellis and Toura. Updates to come.”
Chloe stood up slowly, hoping that she wouldn’t be missed. She went outside of the dank room and looked for her clothes. The living space outside was cramped, an old corduroy couch and large square coffee table took up most of the floor area. The room had a perimeter of dust. On her left was an open doorway to the kitchen and to her right was the washroom. She headed right, hoping that the unclean residents left clothes in a washing basin.
She didn’t find one. “And I don’t know where I would find a clothesline…”
The toilet seat lid was shattered, on the ground. Chloe took this opportunity to empty herself. When she finished, she stood to flush, noting the bright colour of her urine.
“Mmm, must be the drinks.”
On the ground was the woman’s clothes. Chloe put them on. They were small around the bust, but too big everywhere else. Chloe sighed, pushing her blonde hair away from her eyes. She emptied the pockets. A hand torch, flint, a residence identification card…
“Toura Witchat. What a stupid name.”
Chloe left the bathroom, and went to the front door. She leaned on it and listened. she could hear faint footsteps getting louder. They stopped the door. Chloe held her breath.
“… Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen,” She counted to herself.
The person behind the door moved on, and Chloe carefully took a breath. She thought for a moment, then ran back to the washroom.
She picked up the identification card and read. Toura, Toura the manager. Chloe walked back to the room and made herself some tea, waiting for the two to wake up. She took the Broadcaster Box out into the living space, as far as the cord would reach, and set it on the table. She wasn’t in a rush, and wanted any information on what happened in the club for her own reasons.
She sat back, letting the brown couch swallow her slowly. When it was done, she took her tea and sipped. She sighed, closing her eyes and listening to the voice from the small box. She listened for hours. She listened for answers.
Half a sixth passed, and the box just played bad dance music, stopping occasionally to repeat the news. No updates. Chloe sighed, heading back to the washroom. She drew herself a bath and refilled her cup.
Chloe stripped the woman’s clothes off and got in. She sat in the water, sipping her tea, waiting for the next update. The water from the tap didn’t get very hot, but Chloe was still impressed. She had running water where she came from, but it was all cold. Chloe lay back and listened.
After another half sixth of the terrible Lussa soundtrack, the second update played.
“Yesss, I didd see itt. Tthhhe entttire thhingg dissssapppeared.”
“Well, there you have it, words from the Queen herself. Next up, Harrison’s Ballad, by Dr. Rick! Stay tuned for our next update in only half a sixth!”
Nothing new. She sighed, getting out to refill her tea. Chloe was tired. She always found the Lussa Queen to be very hard to understand. Listening to her annunciate the extra consonants present in Lussa text gave Chloe a headache, and she was not in the mood for it right now.
“So someone stole the second floor of the building, and my clothes are missing. I guess I’ll buy a new shirt and keep this woman’s miniskirt, since it looks good on me. I’ll have to hold off my own investigation until tomorrow. Best not to get in the guards’ way, not in this city.”
She sighed, sinking in the water until it was lukewarm and she was soggy. Chloe emptied the tub, noting the ring of dirt that had come off her body. She put her new clothes back on and headed out, swiping some bank notes from the kitchen counter as she went.
Day Two, the Third Quarter
Chloe looked at herself in the polished bronze mirror in the fitting room. She really did like how it made her look. The bronze sheen gave her skin a golden glow that she wished she actually had. Not in this dim city, she mused. The shirt she picked out was nice too, cropped, hugging her chest loosely. She shifted, letting the top reveal her strong midriff.
“That’ll keep the players off me.”
Casanovas don’t like women that were stronger than them. Chloe sighed and bought the top, as well as a roll of cotton. She went back into the changing room and slipped out of the tight shirt and flip flops she was wearing. She unrolled the fabric from its spool and pulled it around her feet, tightening with a bow at the top. Then she pulled tags off of her new shirt and slid into it. It was light, white.
“I prefer black, but I guess this will do. I guess white does go with my youthful face.” She stuck her tongue out, looking into the mirror.
Chloe threw the old clothes into the shopping bag and moved on, walking toward a coffee shop down the boulevard. She heard footsteps. Not just the normal kind, but the kind trying not to be heard. Chloe stepped into the store, hoping that that would deter whoever was behind her.
Other than a man with slick black hair cowering in the back, the place was full of slacker types. Not unusual for a cafe during off hours.
“Hmm.” She wasn’t impressed.
These were the kind of people who didn’t contribute to society. All talk, no action. She wasn’t like that. Ever since leaving her home city, Chloe was determined to make something of herself. She turned around, watching to door. She ordered a regular steep with lemon, and waited. No one. Good, she figured, leaving behind her last bank note on the counter. Outside she spotted a small park with benches down the way.
“Looks like I’ll have to go somewhere that doesn’t require money for the rest of the day.” She said to herself, “I’ll drink this in the park, and then head to the library, I guess.”
“Well, if you want I could buy your next drink.” A man’s voice behind her tested.
“My cup is not empty.” Chloe stopped, but didn’t turn around.
Chloe honed in on the sound of the man behind her. His footsteps increased in speed, getting louder. “You’ll want another one, that’s my guess.”
“Oh yeah? And you want to give it to me?” She whirled around, facing him. She realized that this wasn’t the guy who had following her, it was that slick haired kid from the cafe, “Oh.”
“Uh,” He stopped, “Well, kind of.”
They looked around, but not at each other, standing there for a second each unpacking his words. The man blushed, and then so did Chloe.
“Ah…” She decided to allow herself this one “Well, you’re lucky. How did you know I was going to have a second tea?”
“Well,” They walked together, “I’m assuming this is your third… no, fourth one today. After last night, I would guess you’d need a lot to have this much energy so early.”
Chloe turned on him, pushing him into the alley. She pinned him to the wall, her elbow on his neck, the rest of her arm down his… very strong chest.
“Last night?” She whispered tensely, the memories of that time were black and offered no clues about this man. “What do you know about last night? Was I with you?”
“What? No, I’m one of the officers they called in at the end there. I saw you, wearing only that manager friend’s blanket.”
Chloe didn’t let go of him, so he continued. At least she knew where her clothes were.
“That man, Ellis. He was really friendly with you, even though his girl or whatever was with him.” He stopped, “Actually, we’re looking for those two, do you know where they are- hey!”
Chloe put pressure on his neck, thinking fast. “Was that you stalking the halls this morning?”
“What?” He tried to hide his bewilderment, hoping not to be one of those ‘easy to read’ guys. He failed.
Chloe loosened up, finishing her tea in four gulps.
She looked down on him. “Fine. I’ll take you down there. Who are you again?”
“I’m Lance Constable Rickur Steeles,” He regained his composure, trying to make up for his lack of height with a strong pose. “And you should be happy that I’m not arresting you for that.”
“I have diplomatic immunity, Rickur.” She pulled him along, “And we’re getting my fourth cup first.”
“Wait, what?” Diplomatic immunity wasn’t something an officer had to deal with every day, “Who are you?”
“Just call me Chloe.”
Rickur tried not to look confused. Chloe looked back at him, taking his expression to mean he was confused. This was comforting. Chloe liked finding comfort in the little things. Not a lot of people knew about her or her hometown in this city, and she liked it. Not having her status known had a lot more perks than she had expected it to.
“Chloe.” He nodded, heading back to the coffee shop with her, “Fine, fine. Yeah, that’s fine. This one’s on me, Miss Chloe.”
Chloe followed behind. She smiled a little when he wasn’t looking, studying his back, his form. He was strong. She wondered who would win between them in an arm wrestle, or a duel.
“This is going to be interesting, Sir Rickur.” She laughed.