Sinners and Saints
Autonomous City Hong Kong, China, 03/19/2078
He was sitting in the window, smoking a cigarette, his lean muscles outlined by the red glow from the neon sign outside. It was 2 AM, the room dark and quiet but for the hum of the aircon and the cars on the distant main road.
Lilian got out of bed and walked over to the man she had spent so many nights with these last few months. He greeted her with a kiss, the softness of his lips contrasted by the sharp taste of tobacco.
She had met him in the laser-lit darkness of a nightclub three months ago, his eyes glowing a pale green as they reflected the lights of the nearby bar. Just another vaguely handsome European expat maybe, but he didn't brag about his exploits, nor did he flirt with her.
Instead, he listened.
Two hours later, they had walked into a hotel, and for the first time, she could see his face clearly. Sun-tanned — real, natural tan, as she had later confirmed, freckles covering his nose and cheeks, his eyes the color of the ocean. A jagged scar ran from his left cheekbone down to his lower jaw.
"I have to leave the city," he said now, and he didn't have to explain.
It had been all over the evening news. The government was cracking down on the SINless in the city, both local, mercenaries and war refugees, to 'stamp out rising crime'.
She leaned her head against his shoulder, the battered plastic of his prosthetic arm comfortingly familiar by now. "I'll miss you."
"Are you a sinner or a saint?" Lilian had asked him one night, and he had only smiled, maybe at her use of English slang when they had always spoken Cantonese.
She had found his lack of a proper response infuriating then, and thrown a pillow at him when he had changed the topic.
She was arrested at noon.
They asked about her connection to the German mercenary called Catboy, but she had never heard the name. They showed her surveillance stills from three of the hotels, and she felt her heart sink.
"His name is Alexander," she said. "That's all he told me."
Then there was a knock at the door, and a middle-aged man in a very nice suit walked in, introducing himself as her lawyer. Lilian knew him from the news, and she knew his clients were several pay grades above her.
"I can't afford—"
"No need to," he said, brushing away her concerns with a casual gesture. "My fee has already been covered in full."
An hour later she was free. She wondered briefly if she should go back to the nightclub and look for the mercenary with the glowing eyes. But he would be far away by now.