The moment we spun around the corner, I grabbed Rocky's hands to transfer half of the funds.
Earlier, Rocky negotiated the price with Flaw alone and got significantly more than we initially hoped for.
I was sure that Rocky traded more than just the Quartz-Crystal, but skimming off the top was not surprising.
How can you trust someone who won't take care of themselves first?
Selfish people keep the world rolling around.
The fact that I was outside, on the stairs, trying hard not to lose my sanity earned Rocky a slightly higher bonus.
Feeling a transfer of 600 Cyber-coins, I watched as my palm turned from a deep red into a weaker shade of green.
It was the first shade of green I had ever seen my palm become, I had the vague feeling of superiority that came along with wealth.
I had a vague thought to visit the brothel and toss money around like a pimp.
It was just one of those things you should do before you die… and I could feel death looming over me at all times.
I was a slum-dweller but that didn't mean I wasn't an ambitious person; it was just that reality preferred to fuck me over every day I woke up.
I calmed my mind and the green slowly faded from my palm. There was no way I was going to walk the slums with a green shade on my palm.
Green in the slums was like a millionaire in the city. After collecting my dues, I started walking again.
This time I walked in the front and Rocky walked a couple of steps behind me. The caution was not necessary but better not necessary than being caught off-guard by something.
Rocky and I were equally paranoid, and that was beneficial to our teamwork. It was like a match made in Corrupted-Heaven.
We were so paranoid that Rocky took me along the first time he kissed a girl.
He wanted to kiss the girl with both eyes closed, and I was the lookout so he could close both his eyes with a piece of mind.
Still, Rocky couldn't close both eyes in the end and had to kiss the girl with one eye open. I was panicking the entire time and passed out from the pressure of being the lookout.
Rocky and I continued walking in absolute silence for a while, but I could tell that Rocky had something else on his mind.
Rocky's face had three primary expressions: stoic, vicious, and contemptuous smirk. Any other expression meant he had something on his mind.
I always made sure to address Rocky's confusion as soon as I could or his brain would probably overheat from thinking too deeply.
"What is it?" I asked, seeing Rocky's twitching facial muscles.
"Was it something valuable?" Rocky asked, and I immediately knew what he was referring to.
While I was in my trance earlier, I approached a section of the wall in Flaw's underground chamber that he clearly didn't want anyone to touch.
I was not sure about what exactly happened in the chamber. The memories I get sometimes were too vague to leave anything but shallow impressions that would quickly fade from my mind.
It was like that dream you knew existed but could never recall. My mind felt as if it was alternating between a state of near-insanity and cowardice.
No need to guess which of the two states was my personality.
Seeing my thinking expression, Rocky bumped my shoulders to regain my attention. Rocky had a keen nose for treasure, so of course, he would contemplate robbing Flaw.
Sensing his thoughts, I immediately poured water on his growing flame.
As ironic as it was, nobody could rob Flaw without a flaw in their plans – pun intended.
"Remember what happened the last time we tried to rob the church?" I asked dubiously.
Rocky held his bottom, clearly remembering the whooping we got for trying to steal some of the Church Offerings a year ago.
I came up with many plans to rob the church over the years, but no amount of brain cells would allow me to predict Flaw's unpredictable actions.
It took me years to figure out the reason why we failed to rob the church every time.
Robbing the church was a four-person job, and each time Rocky and I would take Flaw's bastards' sons to rob their father.
Of course, we didn't know it at the time, and it took several ass-whooping's to figure out the intricate spy network of the Bastard-Sons Alliance.
Ever since then, Rocky and I couldn't find a third person to rob the church so we eventually gave up.
Still, Flaw hid things in the weirdest of places.
He built his hidden room halfway down a mile-long stair for Godsakes. I am pretty sure Flaw didn't even have a safe, he probably kept everything valuable keystered up his ass.
Knowing it would be a fruitless endeavor to rob the church, Rocky just pulled a vial from his pocket and tossed it into my hands.
I caught it on instinct, released it on instinct, and caught it back again when I remembered that it came from Rocky, and he didn't want me dead.
Catching things in the slums was a complex process that required years of practice.
It was not unprecedented for a random suicidal slum-dweller to walk the streets at night and toss grenades for others to catch.
I've seen it happen before, and that's why I trained my 'catch-release-catch' technique to the peak of mastery.
My eyes took a while to adjust to the vial I held, and when I saw it, I was slightly surprised.
"Concentrated Bath Salts?" I asked quizzically.
"Yeah," Rocky nodded "It was a part of the deal or we could have gotten more Cyber-Coins. I know Quartz-Crystals are valuable but it seems we underestimated its value,"
I felt a bit touched that Rocky would think about my fractured arms, but the emotion left as soon as it came.
His survival was related to my ability to tinker with useful tech, so this could be considered an investment I would have to repay.
I popped open the vial and poured the Concentrated Bath Salts onto the rags that wrapped around my arms.
The rags were damp so the salts dissolved almost immediately. I felt an overwhelming relief as the irritation in my arms disappeared entirely.
I could hear faint cracking as the bones reconnected and strengthened a little in the process.
Concentrated Bath Salts were clearly a cut above the weak stuff The 'Adults' would provide to Scavengers.
'You truly don't know the difference between Grade A meat, and regular meat until you have tried them all,' I lamented internally.
I sighed in contentment, and Rocky raised a brow. The jealous look on his face didn't escape my bullshit-detecting eyes.
"Good shit?" He asked.
"Very Good Shit!" I replied wondering if sex felt anywhere close to this sensation.
As if reading my mind, Rocky quickly commented "Sex is better,"
"You're ten years old," I stated as if it made a difference in the slums.
"If you want to wait until you're old enough, remind me to buy you a chastity belt," Rocky joked.
Just as we were about to continue bickering, my footsteps froze as I heard the faint sounds of struggle echoing from the adjacent alley.
"I know what you are thinking," Rocky stated "But it's none of our business,"
Ignoring Rocky's advice, I stormed down the alley and disappeared from view.
It was not about my hero complex or anything of the like, it was about stress relief at this point.
My body hadn't stopped shaking since my earlier trance, and somehow I knew that a fight would help me control my raging emotions.
Rocky didn't wait long to dash after me, and soon we arrived at a darker section of a back alley that smelled like molten rubber and sweat.
The moment I saw what was happening in the alley, I froze in shock, fright, and an array of feelings that were too intricately entwined to decipher.
Rocky came a second after me and clutched his throat to stifle a laugh from bursting forward. Where Rocky saw something funny, I just thought it was tragic.
Ever since Quartz became a thing, all sciences had taken leaps forward. Geneticists were especially sought after and began splicing anything they could get their hands on.
One such popular example was the Rat-Olf, and another such example was what everyone called the 'Whisper-Dogs'.
They were dogs spliced with the vocal cords (syrinx) of a parrot so they could whisper certain phrases.
Currently, three thirteen-year-olds were holding down a Whisper-Dog, while the fourth fucked the dog in the dog-vagina?
To make the situation even more appalling, the Whisper-Dog was yelling 'help' with the imitated voice of a three-year-old girl.
The four boys, unaware of our presence, proceeded with their 'misdeeds'. I stood frozen in shock until Rocky pulled me out of the alley, and we resumed our journey.
I endured Rocky's chortling the entire time we walked back to the Gang Hangout.
"Hey, wait! It c – c – cou – could ha – have been worse," Rocky said through bouts of laughter.
I was sure that Rocky was about to say something stupid, but I was genuinely curious about how such a situation could have been worse.
"How?" I asked unintentionally as I failed to contain my curiosity.
Rocky smiled widely and replied, "The Dog could have been male!"