A lone vehicle approached the outskirts of what the locals sometimes referred to as “the blight of Seattle”. The driver looked around nervously. He was unaccustomed to this feeling; as an ork, he was usually the one making others feel uncomfortable. Still, he could not help but have the nervous feeling of dread that was creeping up on him. Daniel Running-Wolf had never seen the entire sprawl plunged into darkness before.
On top of that, his passenger for the evening wasn’t exactly normal. He had met the guy back in Vancouver yesterday. Dan had seen some weird ones, but none quite like this guy; he looked oriental, except for his height and the long, bright red hair; his style of dress was another thing: he was wearing a pair of tan pants, black boots that stopped just shy of his knee, and a white shirt that looked a little dressy, all of which looked to be way out of date, but still stylish. It almost reminded him of one of those old flatvids about pirates. The outfit was topped off with a jet-black long coat, and more jewelry than Dan had ever seen on a guy before. The guy was wearing a jeweled earring in each ear, and a gold hoop in one. The necklaces looked like a bunch of bead made from gems, some big, some small. The guy said the necklaces were just something he enjoyed, and the earrings had been a gift given to him long ago. Then there was the staff; the guy carried this bizarre-looking staff with him all over the place: it had an ebony shaft, with an oddly-shaped series of gold-colored loops intertwining at the top, which in turn had a total of eight rings divided evenly on opposite loops. It looked like something Dan had seen in an old Japanese cartoon. Add all of that to the fact that the guy always looked like he was happy about something, and you had one creepy character.
Can’t believe I agreed to cart the fraggin’ breeder all the way down to Seattle, the ork thought to himself. Least he’s payin’ good. Checking his rearview mirror, he saw the guy laying back in the flatbed, leaning against the back of the cab, catching some sleep.
“Yo…Tommy! Tommy! Hey you in the back!” Dan called to his passenger. The red-haired man stirred, and sounded like he was grumbling something. He sat himself up and turned to face the driver.
“Tama,” he muttered through the open window.
“Tama. For the last time man, my name is Tama, not Tommy, or Timmy, or…” the man sighed as he viewed the puzzlement on Dan’s face. “It’s just Tama, okay?”
“Whatever. Anyway, I thought maybe you’d wanna take a look up ahead.” Tama looked up, wondering what he was supposed to see. Now it was his turn to be confused; instead of the bright lights of a bustling city, all he saw was the dark outline of a few skyscrapers eclipsing stars above.
“You still wanna go?”
“What?” Tama asked, startled out of his musings by the new voice. He hadn’t even realized that the truck had stopped, he’d been so intent on the scene.
“I said, do-you-still-want-to-go?” Dan repeated, obviously annoyed. Tama thought about it for a moment. A city in darkness was not a good thing, especially in an area so populated as Seattle. In the back of his mind, he heard a gentle whisper, like the crackling of a newly formed campfire urging him onwards. He recalled the vision that he’d had so many nights ago, back in Hong Kong…
“…Yeah,” he finally answered, a smile beginning to form, “Yeah. Let’s hit the sprawl!”
As the truck lurched forward and he sat back down, he drew the flute from his backpack, and as he began to play, the dream replayed itself in his mind. The great red bird, guiding him towards the east, over an ocean to another continent…soaring here on wings of flame…
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