Part One: Blood Change
The rain was a steady drum on the cracked concrete. The derelict factory building looked like nothing special in amongst the rubble strewn blocks of concrete that made up most of the southern part of the city. Rain dripped from the rusted mental roofing, forming thick muddy puddles on the ground around it. The front yard held a rare sight, sparse strands of grass pushing their way upwards. The wind blew rain through the broken windows. The few who dared to come into this part of the city would assume it long abandoned, before driving onto the city centre – where the lucky and rich lived. A tall boy huddled under the cover of the overhanging tin roof. Water falling from the edges onto his hood. He muttered a curse as he shivered, his breath steaming the air as he did. A rotted wooden door opened behind him and another guy walked out.
“Justin,” he said by way of greeting. The tall boy turned and flicked his sodden hood down, revealing strong Hispanic features and a mop of black hair with deep-set hazel eyes.
“Sebastian,” he replied, taking in the other guy. Sebastian was equal to Justin in terms of height. His shoulders were broader, rigged with thick coils of muscle. His head was shaven, showing a patchwork of tattoos that were stark against his pale skin. His eyes were a dark brown that studied Justin carefully.
“James is pissed,” Sebastian finally said, dropping his gaze and walking over to Justin. His eyes observed the street as Justin's had earlier.
“Sounds the same as always,” Justin remarked bluntly, not bothering to turn around. His eyes on the top floor windows of the factory building. He had no doubt James was listening to this conversation somehow. He was always getting his hands on advanced tech. A smile flicked across Sebastian's features before he shook his head and looked at Justin.
“He's annoyed that Luca hasn't returned yet. How hard can it be to threaten one guy?” Sebastian said.
“Maybe a crazy got him,” Justin shrugged. Sebastian shot him a wide-eyed stare.
“Don't joke about that shit man.” Sebastian shivered as chills shot down his spine. “Those bastards aren't natural,” he muttered under his breath. Justin said nothing, his thoughts elsewhere.
“So, James wants us to track down Luca then?” Justin asked. Sebastian nodded grimly.
“He was last spotted on the west side of the city. Near crater point,” Sebastian explained. Justin cursed a lot louder, one hand covering his mouth. He now understood Sebastian’s earlier reaction.
“That place is crawling with crazies,” he said, looking at Sebastian. Crater point was at the city limits, close to the unsafe zones where radiation was still in the air. It used to be an area filled with huge city blocks and skyscrapers. Now it was a hunk of rubble, with large craters where the ground had caved in.
“I know,” he said, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. One hand cupped to protect it from the rain as he did. “But what James wants, James gets.”
“I know,” Justin echoed. “I need to stop by the flat first,” he said.
“What? You forget your gun or something?” Sebastian asked, laughing.
“How stupid do you think I am?” Justin threw back, lifting his jacket enough to show the butt of the pistol shoved through his waistband. In this part of the city, you never went outside without a weapon of some kind. Everyone was affiliated to a gang of some sort. At least anyone who had no hope of getting a roof over their head or money the legal way. Which was pretty much everyone.
“Come on, I won't be long,” Justin said, leaving the cover of the side street. Within a few moments the rain had soaked through his torn jeans and the thin t-shirt under his jacket.
“Of course, How could I forget. Your little boyfriend has to know everything,” Sebastian teased.
“Leave Harry alone,” Justin said, shooting Sebastian a glare. The other guy held both hands up, palms flat.