It was easy to say that the black city was rotting. Easy to say it was on the verge of collapse, or revolution. Most cities of its kind were. What was worth noting was that these were its strengths. Yhoit rotted faster than most, so volatile was its division between the hads and the had-nots.
Alarane had risen up on the waves of the last season of change, and she fully expected to fall on a future one. It was the way of things. That season would not be the one approaching, however, she was certain of that.
In her penthouse apartment, she was enjoying her accumulated wealth, soaking in a bath of expensive oils and tonics, watching the lights of the city flicker past. When she concentrated, she could see all kinds of signals whizzing past, her Faleo eyes able to see many wavelengths of light when her inner eyelid was closed. Most of the time, it gave her a headache, especially on Snik J43 where any and all kinds of technology existed.
For now, she had both lids closed, enjoying the heat of her bath and the scents that it swirled around the ridiculously large and luxurious bathroom, happy in the knowledge that her small but punchy hand cannon lay tucked under her towel, safely within reach. One day, she would sink back down to the bottom of Yhoit, but she intended to enjoy her wealth a little longer yet. One did not stay on top by being unprepared.
When a richly dressed intruder strode in, she was not surprised. The whispers on the street said that a season of change was coming, and Alarane felt it too. In one smooth motion, she had grabbed her gun and swung her arm round to point it at him. He did not flinch, nor draw a weapon of his own. He did not appear to be armed, but she would not take her chances.
Rusty brown skin, blue, feathery hair, creepily long fingers, pointed teeth and multiple other strange features marked him as some bizarre mixed-breed. Not normal, in any sense of the word. He raised hands adorned with dozens of rings, all kinds of metals and jewels glittering in the light. He was not just any intruder; he was Vor Lekihin, one of the seven Princes of the black city.
It was a strange way that the city of Yhoit organised itself, in the way that its organisation was more feigned than anything else. The Princes weren't monarchs, weren't elected, and weren't all men. The title was ceremonial, and exempt from whatever 'laws' the King enacted, and able to create their own for the area of the city they ruled, the Princes really only had power if they'd brought it to the title themselves to enforce it. The only one with inherent power was the King, and even then, like everything else in Yhoit, that power had a timer attached. Whoever took out all of the competition became King. It was as simple as that. And if you couldn't keep your power, well, in Yhoit, that just meant you didn't deserve to have it.
The Princes were formally named by the King and were usually the biggest influencers in the city. It was a volatile and often unwinnable situation for the King. Not all of the biggest characters in the city would support you, but not naming them Prince could cause more trouble than it was worth.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she asked, sinking back into her bath. She kept her gun tightly within her grip and trained on him. While the Prince had no reason to kill her, that didn't mean he wouldn't.
"Heard you've got a history minot," he said.
"A little unspecific, but sure."
She was building up a history that stretched further back then she'd have liked to remember: Ex-mercenary; Ex-caffeine smuggler; Ex-wife.
YOU ARE READING
Lords & Ladies of the M'Verse: An Ooorah AnthologyScience Fiction
Each of the 100 stories featured herein will be set within a Universe of the writer's creation, all being a part of a larger, shared Multiverse. Writers have free reign to tell the story they wanna' tell and providing...