Chapter 7 – Page 3

“What are we doing here?” Lex leaned over to Ahmed and whispered. “Weren’t we going to storm the place?”

“And start a gang war?” Ahmed raised an eyebrow. “My good friend, you are far too anxious to be thinking clearly. My, my, what a papa bear you’ve become. I would have never guessed.”

Lex glared at him.

“Sit patient, Lex. In due time, you’ll have your son back.”

“How? You never said, just kinda rushed me out the door. And he’s not my son. Not really anyway.”

“Might as well be,” Ahmed coughed. “Mr. Palming, Mr. Palming. You should know by now that to me money is no object.” He rubbed the ruby on his finger. “Now let me say again, sit tight and in a bit, consider my debt to you to be finally repaid.”

Lex sighed as he shifted uncomfortably in the velvet seat and tried not to glare at the people around him.

“Are you sure we couldn’t have come in here with guns blazing?”

Ahmed chuckled. “I didn’t realize you’d be this uncomfortable with high society.”

“High society?” Lex snorted. “The building feels like it’s been drizzled with gold. It looks like a jeckin’ opera house if I’ve ever seen one. Not some roat black market auction house. How many slaves come through here, anyway?”

“At least a hundred a day. Mostly sold in bulk, strangely enough, and that’s not counting the organs or anything.”

Lex clicked his tongue.

“Well, Simmons likes dealing with the gritty more than most.”

“When does it start?”

“Oh, right now by the looks of it,” Ahmed said as the lights dimmed. Patrons quickly settled in their and the conversations quieted. The heavy curtains on the stage glided open. A spotlight blinked on as a man walked out onto the stage.

“Good evening, most esteemed ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the House of Roses. I hope you will find pleasure tonight as I have for you the finest line up of trinkets and baubles a person could hope for.”

“And theatrics too, he likes that,” Ahmed whispered.

“Now to begin with, our first item tonight I’m sure everyone will love.” He gestured to his right. An assistant walked out pushing an ornate cart with what looked to be a painting covered by a heavy cloth. Simmons reached over and pulled off the cloth, and a murmur of appreciation sounded from the crowd.

Lex studied the painting. It was a grey piece. The only color being a bright red ball that a child crouched next to. Everything else in the picture was in ruins, devastated by war. He frowned at the emotion coming through the broad, messy strokes of the painting. It spoke much to closely to his heart.

“I’m sure that the esteemed people here today have already noticed, but here we have Leon Garidonia’s original Child’s Play, painted in the chaotic times of the 2120s. Now, how the House of Roses acquired such a legendary painting, we are not a liberty to tell. However, may I hint that it could have come into the possession of a certain infamous phantom theif?” The crowd chuckled.

“Oh, so Nine Lives stole it?” Ahmed murmured in appreciation. Lex shot him a glance.

“Well then, dear patrons, bidding starts at 200.”

“200? Why that low?” Lex asked.

“You have the wrong impression. This is high society. Of course it wouldn’t be a measly 200. It’s 200,000.”

“Oh.”

The price rose furiously as patrons bid, yet the hall was quiet except for Simmons voice announcing the continuously rising price and the occasional quiet conversation.

“How are the bidding?” Lex asked. He couldn’t see anything tell-tale like number cards being raised.

“Electronically,” Ahmed said as he waved a little remote. It showed buttons for one, five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred, and two hundred, as well as a button with a little plus sign. “Of course these are all in the thousands, mind you.”

Lex grunted and turned back to the stage.

“And sold to the fine gentlemen, number 57.” He waved to the assistant, who then brought the painting off the stage. Another assistant pushed the next item onto the stage. “Here we have this magnificent kintsugi bowl, made by Oshiro Itsuro in 2182. The bid starts at…”

At this point, Lex could no longer pay attention to the auction. He tried, but his anxiety started to catch up to him. He fidgeted and let his eyes wander about the room as various antique items graced the stage. He was staring up at the intricate carvings and motifs on the ceiling when the first person was brought out as merchandise. He could only dig his nails into his hands and look away as the woman was sold. He looked over to Ahmed’s face to see his reaction. His knuckles turned white at the smile he saw plastered there.

“How are you smiling at that?” he hissed.

“Calm down. It’s just a mask. I may be a despicable warmonger, but you can believe me that I have slavery just as much as you do.” Lex scowled and turned away. Several more slaves were pushed on and off the stage.

“Now, gentle folk, I’m happy to say that we have a few more surprises for you here tonight before we must come to a close, and the first is this. He gestured again to his right. Another slave was dragged on stage. People murmured in confusion. This man seemed no different than the previous slaves, even perhaps worse off than those. Why was this a surprise?

“This here slave is for demonstration purposes,” Simmons said with a smile. “The real product is this.” He held up a small vile of muddy blue liquid to the crowd and then walked over to the slave. He had the assistant pry the terrified slave’s mouth so he could pour the vial down the slave’s throat.

A second passed and then nothing happened, then the man dropped to his knees, convulsing with foam pouring out of his mouth. The crowd grew agitated, and Simmons frowned. All of a sudden, the man stopped. Lex clenched his jaw together. Something felt very wrong with the man. He couldn’t seem to be able to focus on anything, but it was something more than that.

Simmons motioned to the assistant, who handed him a vibrating blade. He swiftly chopped the man’s hand off. Blood poured from the wound. A few women in the audience gasped. The man groggily looked at his severed arm for a second, and then started laughing, course, maniacal laughter. People shifted, clearly disturbed as the laughter only grew louder and louder.

Only, then, that too suddenly stopped. The man swung his head up to stare at Simmons. He then launched himself at the auctioneer with rabid ferocity. Simmons swung his blade at the charging slave, slicing his head clean off. It flew in a parabolic arc and landed with a thud at the feet of a lady in the front row. She started screaming.

The slave’s body landed on the stage, but kept moving, clawing, trying to tear anything it could get it’s hands on apart. For a full minute it continued until it’s movements dissolved into the random twitching of death throws. People watched in rapt horror. Simmons waved to the assistant to clean up the mess.

“I must apologize if such a demonstration ended being too disturbing for some in our audience today, but such a method was necessary to demonstrate the full effects of this special serum. Needless to say, this serum creates the perfect watch dog. Painless, tireless, fearless, your own personal pet zombie!” Simmons grinned.

Lex’s nails dug into the polished armrests, tearing up the varnish. He knew what that serum was. He had read the files about it. He had seen what it did on the battlefields of the USSR.

“Why is that here?” he hissed. “We made sure the whole facility went down… No… those roats jecking escaped, didn’t they? Especially that lead scientist roat.” Anger made the veins pop out against his forehead.

Ahmed looked over at him with some concern.

“You know about that?” he asked. “That’s the scariest drug I’ve ever seen.”

Lex didn’t get a chance to answer as Simmons began speaking again. “This serum isn’t just a regular drug. This isn’t something that will wear off. Once used, it’s effects will last for life. Not only this, but for the person that purchases such a unique substance will receive our special give.”

Simmons paused. He seemed to stare at someone specific within the crowd. Lex looked around to try and determine who he was staring at. Was that? he thought before a flash of white on the stage caught his eye.

“The source of the wonder serum.” Simmons grinned at the boy being dragged on stage.

Lex launched to his feet at the same time the person he and Simmons had stared at within the crowd, which was at the same time as the doors to the auditorium burst open, letting a massive group of armed soldiers swarm in.

“Seven!” Lex yelled.

 

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Hey, sorry I haven’t been around for a while. Trying to stay on top of school and stuff. As an apology I wrote 500 more words more than I usually do. Hope everyone’s been doing good.

 

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