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18. Fran

25/5/G19 17:34 Fran was awaiting her latest target from a roof to the west, from where she could see all who passed into the city limits. Lidz was a densely populated city, but few dared live on the dangerous outskirts. Instead, most chose to huddle together in the ancient skyscrapers that still stood tall at its heart, or made homes out of the central cluster of town houses; safety in numbers. Fran had arrived at dawn to refamiliarise herself with the vast cityscape. She had once been a regular visitor to Lidz when she was working to uncover the roots of the three deadly drug rings based in the area, but that was in past. The Adina had set her that task, but after only having substantial evidence to produce nothing but articles about the basic effects of the CMP drug itself she was quickly reassigned. Maybe I would have found out more about the rings if they had bothered to spare me resources or man power, how the hell was I meant to infiltrate them without the slightest bit of help? That was all before she worked for the U2N. An underground news network with access to seemingly infinite information, they could provide her with everything and anything that she wanted to know, from the identities of all two out of three CMP ring leaders to recipes for foods from the ancient world. No item of knowledge was out of the U2N’s formidable reach. A secret organization, few had ever been entrusted the true locations of its various bases,, and never before had anyone been sought out specifically for the honour. Until Fran. Fran's memories of the complex layout of grey streets and buildings of Lidz had badly faded. However, she remembered the most common entry road used to enter the city. Sat atop a glass structure many stories high, she

could see retired yellow brick, boxy living quarters commonly found in this type of city. To assist the travelers of old, this road was equipped with many little shops which presumably sold food, clothing and other amenities. Now, they served little purpose but to house useless antiques and vermin. There you are Jamie, took you bloody long enough! Fran had been waiting for hours but it seemed worth it when she saw Jamie sat in a 2-man bikedriven trailer on the horizon, cruising slowly into Lidz. She climbed back through the shattered window that had led to her vantage point, being careful not to slip on the snow covered ledge. As a child in Haldersvelt she had often injured herself with trips and falls, but none worse than that of her sixth winter. That particular fall had broken her leg and she had screamed in pain until her parents had come running to comfort her. Her father had banned her from climbing from that day forth. She hated him for things like that. Once Jamie had almost disappeared into the distance, she started to follow the trailer. Travelling on bike-driven trailers was relatively comfortable, but it was no quicker than walking at a moderate pace. Fran had to slow down a few times to be sure that Jamie didn’t spot her tailing him. What am I thinking, Jamie is far too self-assured to ever think about people following him. If he sees me, his first instinct will be to try and shag me. God he makes me sick. The surrounding buildings were slowly changing from derelict structures to shabby homes and hovels. The closer they got to the city centre, the more and more people Fran saw dotted around. Some quite content with life and going about their daily business, others were struggling to as much as walk from their hunger. Fran was used to this sight and had learned to suppress her empathy for the less fortunate long ago. For most in Glaze,

you ignored these feelings, or you died entertaining them. Do you see these people Jamie? Do you even care that the cells you made from your last bandy tournament could feed every single one of these people for years to come? No. Of course you don’t. Just hookers and wine for you, eh? Jamie bounded energetically from his carrier as it reached the bustling centre of Lidz. Street sellers hindered Fran's pursuit by trying to flog their wares to her. The merchants who specialised in religious and spiritual items were the most persistent. Who actually buys this superstitious crap?! Does anyone really believe this bollocks about some almighty creator of the human race? Looks like nothing but a peasant in a rag to me. I heard Sir Darry kicked his ass anyway. Fran moved much closer to Jamie once he was amongst the rabble, hiding herself easily in the crowds. He showed no interest in anything anyone had to sell, even when he was recognized by the store clerks and called by name. Fran was impressed that people knew his face here, so far away from the west of Glaze where he had gained his fame. Once she realized that his agenda was not business today, there was only one thing it could be. Women. Urgh. Jamie’s path suddenly became clear; he was heading straight for the nearest sleazy hotel bar he could find. This happened to be the Red Lion, renowned for its cheap ale prices and cheaper hookers. Fran could guess his plans for the rest of the day as he entered the surprisingly immaculate establishment. Not wanting to see Jamie frolicking with the working girls, she told herself that it would be smarter to observe his movements from the other side of the road. Across from the Red Lion was the Lidz Snowflake. There were Snowflakes in most of the larger towns and cities, and they all had good reputations, being under Adina ownership. Heimdall

may be the power hungry, thieving leader of the Adina, but he would never tarnish his ‘good’ name by allowing harpies into his bars. Fran found herself a seat inside by the window where she could see clearly across the street to make sure Jamie stayed put. He was in Lidz to meet Cameron, and she could not miss their rendezvous. Three ales later and it was getting late. Fran was certain Jamie would have retired to bed with one of the Red Lion’s sluts by now, so she could safely head across the road and book herself a room. She knew she would wake up long before Jamie; she was used to rising at dawn, he was not. That lazy sleaze has probably never worked a full day in his life. “Welcome to the Red Lion. I’m Amy and I run the place. What can I do for ya?” the tall brunette with big blue eyes asked her. “Evening. A single room please,” Fran replied. “Certainly! And how will you be paying for that?” “Will 10 watt hours cover it?” Fran was uncertain about how much a room here would cost here. Two cells would buy her food for a few days so she figured it was more than ample. “Sure will! This is your key, room 12,” Amy informed her in an annoyingly upbeat manner, placing the key on the counter in front of her. Fran passed her the payment, hastily grabbing the key from the counter. She wouldn’t be able to power her torch as much anymore, but at least she’d have a place to sleep. “Oh, and miss?” Amy called to Fran as she walked towards the stairs. “Do help yourself to the ladies in the bar, they’re free to lodgers!”

Urgh. Fran climbed the stairs thinking about how long it had been since she’d shared a bed with someone. She reconsidered her initial thought; maybe I should grab a girl from downstairs…The absurdity of it made her laugh to herself a little more than it should as she walked down the corridor looking for her room. Number 12, here we are. God I hope it’s been cleaned… Fran lay down upon her bed, exhausted. She’d had a long day but it was worth it. She kicked off her boots, threw her woolly hat to the floor and crawled under the covers. After a few minutes pause, she lent out of bed to grab a diary and pen out of her large travelling bag. The banging of nextdoors bed on her wall was distracting (as was the grunting), but nothing could stop her from writing. She could always write.

24th May: As I had hoped, Jamie Gallow has made his way to Lidz to meet Cameron. There are some right scumbags here in Glaze, but Jamie tops them all. He might not be as bad as the murderers and rapists I’ve covered in the news, but it takes a special kind of twat to fix a bandy match. Bandy and Sword Strife are the only things the common folk have to distract themselves from all the crap that goes on around them every day. I won’t stand for ANYONE tarnishing what it stands for. Yes it’s just a sport, but it’s almost the only thing some are proud to be a part of. Pricks like Jamie Gallow make money out of mocking our damn pride. He makes a fortune from the game already?! Stop being so bloody greedy! Twat. Anyway, tomorrow or the day after, he’s going to sell the information I anonymously provided him (if someone else is fixing the match he can’t fix it himself can he?!) and I’m going to get all the evidence I need to expose him! I hope the betting community beats the bastard to death! I’m sure the U2N can spread the word quicker than Jamie can work out I’ve set him up…or the Adina can work out I covered a story they specifically told me not to. People have the right to know

that this shit is going on all the time and the U2N can provide that, besides, the Adina have silenced me one too many times‌

This frozen world lies in ruin, betrayed by all who grace her. Glaze awaits, to be ours once more‌

Written by Tom Davies and Alec Davis, 2011. Š The River Versus: The World At Large.

18 Fran  

Delve into the seedy underworld of Glaze in TRV: The World At Large. Taking place in parallel with the comic, Clare travels to the city of L...