Neon Star Rising (BL)

\'O Bicho Come\'

The man was talking to all of them but his gaze was fixed on Ivo. Maybe he sensed he was the weakest link; easy prey.

Ivo could feel the tension radiating off of Alina and Davi behind him, but neither of them said a word. They kept looking resolutely ahead at the mirrored walls of the elevator, where an ad for luxury real estate was scrolling from wall to wall.

Glass-throats eyes bore into Ivo, as if looking for cracks.

Ivo squared his shoulders and shoved his fists into the pockets of his bulky jacket, looking away from the man and his distracting mods as he said, ”If the air quality inside this elevator is anything to go by, I can only imagine how bad it is outside. ”

His voice came out muffled by the sleek air-purifying mask,–mechanical and breathy — but everyone heard him.

The woman who walked into the elevator with the man let out a sudden laugh, startling even herself. She had lanky blond hair, brown eyes and gold plate on her forehead. When glass-throat glared at her the laughter died in her throat.

No one said anything else until the elevator reached the lobby. The doors slid open with a melodic ping and the man rushed out, dragging the woman behind him.

”Not bad, ” Davi said, as he walked past Ivo and out of the elevator.

The lobby was just as opulent as the rest of the building. Intricate artwork depicting lush forest landscapes decorated every wall. Some of it even looked textured to resemble natural fibres, and vines.

Ivo tried not to look too long at anything, and just followed Davis and Alinas lead. After all, if they were residents in this building, or workers from the lab Ivo had been taken out of, they wouldn be surprised by its decor.

It was still hard for him to affect indifference among such grandiosity. He couldn help admiring the intricate fountain in the middle of the marble floor, from which a thick curtain of water fell into a stone basin filled with floating vitória régias with red and pink flowers, blooms as large as his head.

A large hand landed on the small of his back and pushed him forward. ”Keep walking, ” Davi hissed into his ear.

Ivo had fallen behind and Davi had come back for him.

He stumbled in his borrowed shoes, also from the condos closet, and followed after him with his head lowered.

The stained-glass doors slid open with a woosh as soon as they approached them, releasing them into the warm breath of the bustling street.

Ivo was immediately dazed by all the sounds and lights flashing around him. Unlike the almost sterile interior of the apartment building, with its mellow ambient music, and climatised air the streets outside were filled with noise.

He was deafened by the air displacement of sleek cars running through three layers of stacked highway. Stretched bands of cement and iron that cut over and under each other like tentacles on an unseen giant octopus.

Dazed by the jingling music of moving and flashing advertisements in the bus stop in front of him, flashing over the side railings of the highway — and of course, covering the mirrored surface of the finger-like buildings all around him.

Ivo almost felt crushed in their grip, as if all the dizzying light and sound was closing in on him.

”Keep it together, ” Alina snapped at him, slapping the side of his face lightly. ”Don faint. ”

Was that what hed been about to do?

He felt too dizzy to focus on any one thing, there was so much information around him that his brain was struggling to process all of it.

”The city will do that to you, ” she said with a snort, when Ivo finally managed to straighten himself up, and stop feeling like he was going to throw up.

”Where the ** did you come from? ” Davi asked, walking past him and down the paved sidewalk. Even though the question was directed at Ivo, it was clear Davi didn expect him to answer.

Which was a good thing because Ivo wouldn know how to.

He was still looking at Davis back in confusion when he saw his shoulders tense.

Following his line of vision, he found three people in armoured gear, wearing helmets with flashing visors, and reinforced exoskelotons around their backs and legs. They were surrounding an elderly man behind a food cart.

”You have been told to vacate the premises, ” one of the armoured people said, voice sounding muffled and metallic behind his reflective helmet. ”Failure to comply will result in arrest and fines. ”

The elderly man tried to plead with them. Ivo could see he was missing an arm, which had been haphazardly substituted with a mechanical replacement that looked one size too small for him. ”Im just trying to sell my food. Its good food, everyone likes it in Liberdade. ”

Another of the armoured guards nudged the man with the back of his gun. ”We were called due to complaints from a Police Service subscriber, you are not wanted here, nor is your food. ”

”Come on man, the people here can afford real food, you think theyd want to eat your synth shit? ” another said, and all three of them laughed.

Davi was looking on at the scene with his fists closed at his side. Alina linked their arms together and pulled him along. ”Keep walking, now is not the time. ”

Reluctantly, he followed her. Ivo couldn stop himself from looking back as the guards dragged the elderly man away, leaving his cart behind on the sidewalk.

A few meters down the paved sidewalk the streets started changing. The gleaming cleanliness of the cobblestone sidewalks gave way to cement pavement, cracked and missing altogether in places. The glittering storefronts with flashing images and elegant displays were replaced by metal shutters and peeling adverts. In prefab metal blocks, rusty metal sliding doors made customers shoulder them open when walking in or out of stores.

Here, their bulky dawn jackets started attracting attention. They no longer fit in. Alina quickly took hers off and folded it under her arm.

Davi came to a stop in front of an indigo motorcycle parked against a lightpost in the middle of the cracked sidewalk, right next to an overfilled trashcan.

”Where to? ” he asked Alina, climbing onto the bike.

She blew a large breath and looked into the distance, thinking. ”Well, I need titty pills. We could go to O bicho come, and regroup there. ”

Davi touched his hand to the bikes central control panel and it lit up. ”Sounds good. ” He nodded to Ivo. ”Hop in. ”

Ivo looked from the bikes passenger seat to Alina. ”How about her? ”

Alina snorted. ”Unlike you I can handle these streets. ”

She saluted Davi with two fingers to her forehead and disappeared around a dark corner.

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