Zero’s left eye twitched in disbelief.
It was early morning, and he sat at the edge of the terrace garden on the top of the Terminus building, a three-hundred-year-old establishment that served as the transportation hub of the city.
On the terrace of this two hundred meter tall building, were vast rows of Felenic trees, their leaves glowing a magnificent sea green, as the drops of dew rolled off those artificial structures. A walkway made out of flat porcelain slabs strewn amongst the fresh grass led out from where the elevator would usually arrive, and the rest of the circular roof was an organised arrangement of a coffee stall just at the centre, with tables and chairs spread out along the circumference of the railings of the rooftop.
The layers of fog hadn’t receded since the past night, and as Zero got up in disbelief and leant over the railing, his vision peered into the seemingly endless void of grey that surrounded the Terminus building.
“Are you actually kidding me?” It was all he could do to not shout at the top of his lungs in frustration. He hadn’t slept in two days, his jet black hair messy and unkempt. The stubbles on his face were edging out, a little bit of grey highlighting them at the tips.
On the opposite side of the table, Archie, Zero’s boss took a quiet sip of his cappuccino, enjoying the warmth that it provided him. Archie was a man in his early fifties, with the grey in his hair and the wisdom in his words to show for it. His face, while somewhat wrinkled, was always peaceful with a warm smile, and his mystic black eyes sparkled with intelligence.
To everyone else, he was the owner of the coffee shop on top of the Terminus building, which was an excellent disguise, knowing how the peaceful look on would never suggest otherwise.
As the boss looked upon Zero, his expression remained the same. “I’m afraid that’s the case, young man.” He set his cup down on the coaster, before letting out an exasperated sigh. “The heart was in pretty bad condition. You couldn’t exactly expect to get full payment for that, especially when the client asked for it to be in perfect condition.”
Zero glared back at him. “But the kidneys were alright. The lungs seemed fine. I’m pretty sure the eyeballs were intact, as well. But boy oh boy, a simple scratch on the heart, and they cut off fifty percent of the guaranteed pay?”
Archie shook his head. “The organs were in a plastic bag, and you dropped it into the client’s mailbox. What did you expect?”
“I don’t know, a thank you note and the entirety of the hundred thousand Den promised as the bounty? Is it too much to ask?”
“Calm down,” Archie ordered in a soft tone, the effect of which didn’t reach Zero’s crazed mind. “The hell I will! I can barely afford to-”
The old man stood up and, in a split second, grab hold of Zero’s shoulder. A wave of calmness washed over the bounty hunter as his breathing slowed down, and he felt his entire body lose its energy.
“I said,” Archie’s voice resonated throughout the cool morning air, “Calm down.” His eyes glowed, and the brilliance of the light bore directly into Zero’s gaze.
Zero sat down, looking steadily at the coffee mug on his table. “Alright, then,” He soberly answered, “I’ll take the fifty thousand.”
“I suggest you go home and get some shut-eye, Shirou.”
The bounty hunter flinched. His real name, Shirou Yamashita, was one that he had abandoned nearly a decade ago, on the day of his tenth birthday. It was the last thing tying him to his ancestry, the last thing that had grounded him.
And he let it go.
Archie held up the bag of money, and Zero grabbed it absent-mindedly. “Report to me after hours, lad. I have a big job for you.”
“And Zero?” Archie called out, looking over the edge of the building.
Zero looked back, his vision not meeting that of the boss. “Yes?”
Archie kept gazing off into the distance, as the clouds parted, and the first rays of sunlight struck the terrace, bathing everything around him in golden light.
“Try not to blow something up.”
The mischievous tone was something that Zero didn’t miss. A smile appeared on his face. “Do I ever?”
Archie shook his head, as Zero walked off, slinging his bag over his shoulders, and hopped into the elevator.