The girl was 12, maybe 13 years old. She looked at him like a deer standing in the light of a car. She trembled, but not only, because she was so young. The door of the pod had been ripped open, when the pod had landed … crushed, in the park, blowing some trees to the smithereens, burying itselt into the earth and brickworks of the next house.
There was something weird here, some non-explanation, but Viktor didn’t have time for that. That situation was pure danger and he knew it. Even in the middle of a thunderstorm, someone had seen the pod, cutting through the dark like the blade of an angel.
„Come“, he said and showed her his hands. He was unarmed.
She nodded, opened the seatbelts, got up. Before she left, she turned right and took a backpack, which had the same color, a dark grey, like her uniform with a half-hidden symbol on it, the moon and a drop of water.
Viktor didn’t know that symbol, it was probably a inner-company-brand of Lassiters moon-companies.
When she left the pod, her legs twitched and she thumbled.
Viktor had to save her from falling down. She felt small and weak, like a twig, but her weakness only took some seconds.
„Thank you“, she said. „I should have calculated the gravity of this planet.“ She looked at his face. Her eyes were as blue as water. „Now, where is my father?“
„Well, that didn’t work out, right?“, she asked him, after Viktor had explained her about his work. „I had no idea, we would land in a warzone. On the other hand, father is full of secrecy and a proponent of macchiavellian rules, therefore my position is not as unexpected as I expected. So, lets go, right?“
Viktor nodded. Looking around, he decided for an alternate street westwards and going south on the next crossing.
Sadly, the tablet wasn’t able to show possible hidden traps, so after informing the girl, she shook her head. „A better way is the one, you came here.“
„Which I survived basically just by luck and blending in the crowd. You are not part of the crowd.“
„Lets do it, though, I suppose, people will now know, that I am not in Charlottenburg.“
They walked down the street. After a few minutes, people appeared again, sitting on the streets or in their homes, drinking, talking, dancing, as if nothing had happened. The crowd grew, the music became louder. Viktor and the girl walked. Looking here and there, as if they belonged to them.
„I need food“, the girl said.
„I need food.“
„Don’t you have special food for … I mean, moon people?“
She laughted, snorted slightly. Her nose wrinkled in the way, teenagers cringed at adults.
„No. He don’t eat moon food. I want to eat something from earth. Is this good?“
„This is full of chemicals and probably full of animals, which I don’t even know.“
„I want it.“
Therefore she got a Currywurst. Her first bite reminded Viktor of a lion, who crushes the neck of a zebra. „Its good?“, he asked.
„Nah, its very bad. I love it.“
„Weird kid, huh?“
„I am not a kid. Or maybe I am.“ She said and walking along the street as if she were home. She wasn’t and people started to react.
„Come on“, Viktor said and grabbed her hand. „This way.“
She followed him.
Eyes followed them.
They left the main street and entered the darker part of the area. Viktor tried to remember, which way he had come. The way over the old bridge would be a problem, but a problem which he could solve later.
The darkness became part of the way again, he moved through the shadows, the girl just behind him. It was good, that she was almost as silent as him.
A few shadows moved. Just a tiny bit, but Viktor stopped. Waited. Listened. There was a grinding sound, a few shoes nervously grinding the dirt. A voice, weak, almost silent.
„Shut up. Don’t move. They will come here.“
Who? Who was that person talking about?“
„I want the money, man. I need the shots.“
„Shut up, shut up. We get the girl, kill the guy, get the money.“
Although not unexpected, this random encounter was exactly the epiphany, which Viktor had already felt in his gut. The tumbling pod, the lucky landing only a few dozen meters from him. But he had’t time to think. He turned around, got the girl to wait here and moved slowly over the low wall on the right side.
They were three men. And a fourth on a balcony, stupid enough to vape, allowing white clouds made of steam to show his position.
He still hadn’t activated his bionic eye, because he hadn’t been able to deactivate the red dot in all those years, maybe it was a software problem, but he wasn’t an engineer. Therefore he had to stay in the dark, wait for the shadows to move.
The first shadow appeared almost in front of him. Before he could act, Viktors fist punched his larynx, rolled his head in his arm, so he could bend the spine of the shadow over his knee. Something snapped. The body shuddered, grew limb.
The other shadows didn’t move. But Viktor moved. His motions felt like quicksilver. He left the dark. The black blade of his knife only reflected darkness, entered the neck of a shadow, leaving it on the other side. The other shadow almost reacted, but then his face had already lost its features and meaning. Both bodies slided down the wall, leaving the impression of sleepers.
„Hey, everything okay?“
The steam cloud from above moved. A pair of night googles, glowing green, appeared over the edge of the balcony.
„What the …“ The question was stopped short by the entry of the blade in his jaw, the shadow danced wildly for a few moments, then the body dropped over the balcony and landed just a few centimeters away from Viktors shoes.
„Thats disgusting“, the girl said.
„You shouldn’t see this.“
„I have seen worse.“
„I had time and total internet access. I know my movies.“
„You are too young.“
„I am too young for movies? You are kidding. Look at this planet. Its fucked.“
„And yet you are here.“
„The family is more important than everything else. Don’t you have a family?“
Viktor shrugged. „We should leave. I suppose, someone was waiting for you – and I don’t mean only me.“
Someone shuffled the background, moved slightly from left to right and back. Others followed, as if it were a dance, but in that case, it was everything else. Floodlights flashed, erased the darkness in a whim of a second.
„The girl“, a man said. „Give her to me.“
Feeling the pressure of the light and the eyes of at least 20 gang-members, Viktor shook his head. „No way.“
The man came forward. He wore a business suit, painted with flowers, ugly ones, and his hands wore bikers gloves, brown and old, with holes in it. His former expensive shoes were almost as white as possible. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of sunglasses. He didn’t smile. He just repeated his message.
And Viktor did this too.
„Run“, he said.
And the girl followed his order.
The gang-member sighed and shrugged. „We get her. Its a stupid move, Viktor.“
„I don’t know you.“
The man smiled this time. „But we know you. The girl is important, not you.“ He yelled. Maybe 15 of those 20 gang-members started to run, most of them in older suits, most of them painted with flowers. Ugly flowers.
„You are kidding me“, the gang boss said. He had to be a boss or at least a mini-boss. Like in those old video games.
„Run“, Viktor repeated.
The fight was short enough to enter the books of short fights. Not even 20 seconds later, the five remaining gang-members had eaten dirt. Some broken legs looked unrealistically pleasing.
The miniboss was visibly shaking. He raised a gun. It looked old, but old could still be deadly.
“You … you idiot. Don’t you understand. The girl was supposed to land in the middle of the Alexanderplatz.”
“I wasn’t sent to the Alexanderplatz. I was sent here.”
The gun went off. Well, at least it clicked, but the click only came from the mouth of the unknown man. He looked down, let go of the gun, went down on his knees and toppled over.
Viktor threw the blade from the guys neck and cleaned it.
“Fuck”, he remembered. “The girl.”
She had not come far. Viktor saw her in the middle of some gang-members, still fighting like a mutated squirrel, a few of the guys there had visible scratchmarks on their faces, one of them was struggling to stay upright, holding his private parts.
They were going to the Fernsehturm.
They were Swabes. Viktor hadn’t seen them for a long time – their style of clothing always depended on the actual boss of their gang. Thankfully, they didn’t wear 1980s neon-clothes again or 90s … no, that was not the time to discuss this stuff.
He had to get the girl.
It took him some time to find a fitting suit, but his feet were still larger than any pair of shoes, therefore he still had to use his and hope for the best.
When he went down the alley, back to the crowd, people didn’t stare at him but lowered their eyes, depending on the mercy of the Swabes, they were as sheeply as possible. Usually it worked. East Berlin in this territory looked more alive than any other part of the former capital of the former german country.
At least on the front of their homes.
The Swabes were a more or less benevolent gang, not like those unknown micro-gangs in the shadows, like those before, on the Lindenstraße. The girl had probably been not only a gang-member but a boss or a gang-member on her way to become a boss. Rituals and/or clothes always hold groups together.
And here was the Fernsehturm. Held by at least 4 metal rods, as thick as arms and dozens of thinner lines, the former glory of east germany stood mostly upright, dancing slightly in the storm.
They took the girl Maria to the top of the tower. There had to be a reason to get her and to bring her there.
The nearer Viktor came to the tower, the more Swabes he could see. They walked upright, their flowery suits coloring the night, proud faces who believed, that they could bend space and time to create something good. Or at least making money.
They didn’t react to him, although we was probably one of the very few Swabes who were enhanced. True Swabes didn’t believe in technology, but lived in more esoteric realms, in nature, even though nature was bashing humanity because of its stupidity.
The group with the girl had disappeared in the meantime. After looking around, Viktor went nearer to the tower, looking around as unimpressed as everyone else.
And there she was, behind windows, in the base of the tower, still surrounded by her captors. Then she disappeared and a black box left the flat building and raised. An elevator, maybe the rest of the old ones from the former Fernsehturm. The metal lines shivered in the wind, the box shook around, but the lines held. The box disappeared behind the walls of the tower, flickering lights from the tower felt like echoes from the motions of the elevator.
At least 5 minutes later, the box came back and a dozen Swabes left the building. They stopped and started to walk around, looking around, guns in their hands.
Viktor cursed. But on the other hand, he never had believed to get the girl easily out of this part of town. But now, the problem had become worse.
People screamed, made room for one person, half naked, holding his hands to his throat, blood running down the meagre chest. The Swabes reacted, moved nearer.
“Its Martin”, one of the Swabes yelled.
“What happened?”, another one asked, but no one answered.
The remaing Swabes now ran towards him, but he was too weak to speak.
“We bring him up. The boss has good doctors.”
“I hope so, Martin is family!”
They got him up and moved him towards the base of the tower, to the elevator.
But this time, Viktor had already used his time and had run around the base, climbing up on the back of the flat building. Now, when the elevator started to rise, Viktor was lying on the top of the box and prayed to some unknown god to survive the rise.