Waking up is closer to death than any other part of life. You thrash and twitch as you come to, your eyes starting to open. That crusty shit gets in the way though and keeps them mostly shut, only letting light barely peep under the lid. Finally, when you do get them all the way open, the world isn’t half what you were expecting. At this point, you’d rather just roll over and forget it. You can’t though. You can’t sleep any more now than you could if a tiger was standing on your chest.
In my case, one was.
“Glad to see you’re awake. Would you mind telling us who you are?”
“Name’s Neil Anderson. Wife’s Cassie. Would you mind telling me who you are before I kill you?”
The tiger Sleeper straddling my chest flourished his claws and grinned.
“Awfully cranky when you wake up aren’t you? One should never nap in unfamiliar territory.”
“If you would’ve been more gracious hosts, we wouldn’t have been left to nap on the lawn. Instead, you’re sitting on my chest like some fat dream demon waiting to get their ass kicked.”
The tiger man snarled a little and leaned in close.
“I’m not liking your attitude Mr. Anderson. I want to know what you’re doing out here. Finish killing the Exiles and decide to have some fun sharp shooting? Or are you here to kill us instead of trading like your company agreed?”
“I’m here Neil.”
“Do you have a precocious kitty on you too?”
“Anything you can’t deal with?”
“Mr. Anderson! I’m talking to you!”
I sat up and drove my forehead into the tiger’s muzzle. Something shifted, broke, and started to bleed all over my forehead. I flipped my sitter over and onto the dirt as he clutched at his nose.
A female tiger with lovely black and white stripes flew through the air and skidded along the grass less than three feet away.
“I’m done being interrogated. So is my wife. Any further inquiries can be directed to St. George.”
Both sets of eyes were wide, my Brute seeing that they had been foolish enough to leave only a guard apiece for us, and only four to stand watch over my suit. My Brute swung St. George in a simple semicircle and flung its guards away.
My tiger man was rocking back onto his feet, golden eyes burning with rage. His mouth was moving as he lunged for me.
“You are murderers then, aren’t you? More West Worthington filth.”
My fist found his nose and he crashed to the ground. Again.
“Don’t ever associate me with West Worthington again. Understand? I’m not here for whatever the hell backwater deal you’ve made; I’m here on honeymoon. Now, if you’re so intent on ruining my first day outside the city, we can just kill you right now. Cassie can crush people’s hearts in their chest and I guarantee you that the big gun my Brute carries isn’t just for looks.”
The male was still clutching his nose as the female slunk over to us, watching us warily.
“No one comes out here but West Worthington filth. How did you make it out?”
“The Gray Pack have a home in the district we conquered. We wanted a break from kicking corporate ass and decided outside would be nice.”
The female gasped, the male looked up astounded, and I finally noticed the crowd gathering at the edge of the trees.
“What, is it that amazing?”
“I don’t they’re amazed over you.”
“Because there’s an individual coming out of an opening in The Wall, about three stories up. He’s throwing off sparks and levitating.”
“That doesn’t sound very nice.”
“He has a whole mess of troops following him down the side of the wall via ladder.”
“I see them.”
“You aren’t even looking Neil.”
“Wrong set of eyes honey.”
My Brute eyes saw them. As did St. George. The angel would be dealt with last. The troops though, their time had come.
St. George spoke, clearing his throat of the no doubt foul tasting high explosive shell inside. It raced through the air, zipping past the electric blue seraph and finding the doorway the Corp Sekkies were coming out of. Those that didn’t turn into dog food fell screaming as the ladder peeled away from the wall.
The angel was booming now.
“Who dares defy West Worthington? Who dares defy their representative, Conduit?”
I started laughing. All eyes were on me but I just couldn’t help myself. It was too damn funny.
“Why… why are you laughing? You aren’t a Sleeper. Who the hell are you?”
“I’ve killed Conduit. And you sir, you are no Conduit.”
The Corp soldier’s eyes went wide and he dropped about a foot before his concentration caught again and his electro-magnetic field started buffering his descent.
“You’re Ex-Associate Anderson. You’re the one that took Jeng.”
I smiled and lined him up in St. George’s sights.
“And you’re a smart one. Too bad the only good angel’s a fallen angel.”
Figured. Why was it I always had to work on my vacations?