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When the car stopped, we looked over the western boundaries of the Warehouse District, parked in an alley bordered by the harbor and a closed factory. Verweald Harbor covered roughly half of the city's coastline, most of the docks owned by the numerous corporations and their shipping contemporaries dotting the Warehouse District's limits. With evening clouds cloaking the moon, the harbor's murky water assumed a black, mire-like consistency, jeweled lines of oil and grease distorting the surface as small undulations rose and butted against the rocky embankment. A steel fence topped with rusted barbed wire encircled the docks, and access was only granted by a series of locked gates flanked by corroded security lamps lacking their now shattered bulbs.

Frowning, I gazed through the fence's steel bars and watched the tethered vessels bob bleached and monochrome on the writhing swill below. What an ugly night. Darius and I let ourselves out of the car—and I gagged.

"What is that?!" I sputtered, a hand plastered over my nose and mouth to ward off the stink. An odor akin to rotting fish guts thickened the air, so much so I could almost swallow it. Unperturbed, Darius lifted his chin to the building behind the alley, and I glanced upward to read the flickering neon words Jacobson's Fish Cannery highlighted against the grimy bricks. Ah. So it was fish guts. "That's foul. What are we doing here?"

Darius's leather jacket landed on the seat before he slammed the door shut and I fumbled with the keys to lock the car. He rounded the hood and crossed the grubby alley to stand at the fence, arms folded over his chest. "Because your good friend Mitch owns one of these vessels."

I joined the Sin at the fence, stumbling in the blooming ice plants growing between the harbor's enclosure and the alley's concrete. A number of private boats floated among the larger ships operated by Verweald's various industries, and the largest was a thin white yacht docked adjacent to a behemoth cargo ship bearing the DPC Innovations seal on its hull. "I don't think Mitch owns a boat," I told Darius as I listened to the sloshing water, the calling gulls working themselves into a frenzy over the smell of rotting fish. Somewhere beyond these immediate sounds, I could hear the murmur of dockworkers and late-night laborers, their voices echoing across the dirty water.

"As of yesterday, he does." The Sin smirked, his gaze narrowed in the distance, and in the moonless dark I noticed a subtle lambency in his skin, a barely perceptible, golden bioluminescence flicking in and then out of existence. Does he glow in the dark? For God's sake. "I worried humans had perhaps changed in the intervening years, but my worries were for naught; to find Mitch, all I had to do was follow the money. A few well-placed threats and phone calls uncovered a sum allocated to an offshore account he then used to purchase a yacht, pay to dock it here for a week, and buy several drums of petrol—gasoline, and provisions. It seems he's planning on taking an extended excursion."

I let the information settle like heavy stone sinking, sinking, dropping into place in the bedrock of my mind. "He was—paid. Paid for—?"

"For you, obviously. For your delivery."

My eyes drifted over the marina again and drank in the lights reflecting from the opposing embankment. My hands shook. "He couldn't have possibly been paid enough for one of these."

"It was a considerable sum." The Sin moved, footsteps crunching the vegetation beneath his soles, and I followed with one hand against the bars to steady myself.

"How much is considerable?"

"Enough to buy a ship."

"How much is that?"

He jerked his head and fixed me with a hard, speculative glare. "Enough to pay for his discretion. Enough for him to choose you and your kin, enough for him to hunt and hand you over without a backward glance. Whatever number I list, you would not be satisfied with the price paid—so what does it matter?"

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