Book 2: Chapter 2


Kasumi , Birdcage , Vine, and Athlete stepped into the casino. The inside had bright white tile floors, and dark chestnut walls. Straight ahead, was a massive room with several tables for gambling. Their bright green colors contrasted sharply with the rest of the casino. To the left and right were rooms filled to the brim with slot machines, but everyone on Chaos’s side was straight ahead, sitting anxiously across the several tables. Kasumi started walking ahead and was approached by a man in a bright white suit, red shirt, and orange tie.

Chaos was captured by Kitsune .” Kasumi stated. “We’re looking for anyone who might be able to break him out.”

The man nodded with a sad grave expression. “I don’t know who fits your description,” he said. “ Chaos promised me this place would be filled with life and energy when he took charge.” he shook his head. “Now I’m not so sure. I’ll do anything I can to help. Maybe you can talk to the high rollers over there.” the man gestured to the table at the center of the main room.

Kasumi , Birdcage , Vine, and Athlete approached the main table. The man with a graph on his screen, a man with blue lines on his screen, a man with a black and white shirt, and a man with wooden logs around his head all sat across the table. The man with wooden logs and the man with a graph on his face both had large stacks of chips in front of them, while the rest had two or three chips at most.

“I’d say that was only a fifty-six percent chance that time, but I’m feeling good tonight!” the man with graphs on his face laughed, staring at his chips.

The man with blue lines leaned his head against his hand, “You can’t be allowed to count cards when we do this, Math . It’s just not fair.”

Math laughed, “Don’t handicap me for learning how to win.” he smiled.

“I actually quite like the challenge.” the man with wooden logs said.

Kasumi approached the table with her friends standing behind. “Do any of you know how to break out of a prison?”

“I know how to build a prison.” the man with blue lines said, “but that I don’t know.”

“I actually might have an idea!” The man with wooden logs stood up and outstretched his hand to Kasumi . “Hi, I’m Enigma .”

“Hi Enigma .” Kasumi shook his hand. “Have you ever been to a prison?”

“No.” he smiled, “But I’ve studied them. Breaking out of prison is an interesting puzzle. And if you can’t tell, I love puzzles.”

“That’s great.” Kasumi said, “But we don’t know where he’s being held.”

“I think I do.” the man with blue lines said. “I’m Design . Math and I worked for Order back when Gang was in charge.”

“Not with?” Birdcage asked.

“He’s not someone you can work with.” Design stated. “With him it’s his way or the highway. He’s always going to make the most structured choice, no matter what.”

“So if he’s holding someone in prison…” Birdcage started.

“It’s going to be a literal prison.” Kasumi realized. “Do any of you know where the police station is?”

“I know where everything in this city is. Order made me memorize it.” Design shook his head. “It’s three blocks west of here. You can’t miss it.”

“Thank you.” Kasumi said. She turned and began to walk towards the exit when Gang walked in front of her and blocked her path.

“Can I talk to you privately?” he insisted.


Kasumi and Gang sat on the front steps of the casino. Gang hung his hands wearily against his legs while Kasumi sat with her fingers interwoven. The wind’s empty air provided an evanescent stillness. To the right was the edge of Nozomi. The city continued on, but electricity only existed for three square blocks of the city. Even though there was light and life, the dark edge still persisted as a stark reminder that life as they all remembered had not returned, not yet.

Gang paused and looked towards Kasumi . “I thought we had an understanding.”

“What do you mean?” she answered.

“When you saved me from that fire. I told you Chaos was a bad person. Why did you join his side?”

Kasumi shook her head, “Because he’s right! We can’t have another triangle company again. We need to relish in the moment and be happy. That’s what everyone in the resistance fought for - the opportunity to be a little bit selfish and feel good again.” she paused, “We shouldn’t have to do what we’re told forever. Now is our chance to live our lives the way we should have in the first place.”

“But he’s not a good person.” Gang said. “He took me in at fourteen. The first thing he had me do was steal a woman’s family heirloom and hide it on top of a street sign. He didn’t even want the money. He even told her what he’d done. He just wanted to watch her - desperately look for it across the city. After that, he asked me to take someone’s life, as an initiation. That’s the kind of person he is. He really did a number on me.”

“Maybe … maybe you’re wrong. Maybe he meant something else?”

“He didn’t!” Gang insisted.

“I just - I know he isn’t a good person.” Kasumi said, “But I think he’s who we need right now. We need someone strong who can make sure no one takes charge and takes away what it means to be free. We just got away from the Triangle company. I couldn’t stand it if someone like Takahashi squeezed us until he had all of the control. He’s not a warm and fuzzy guy, but he’s given us a chance to be free.” she paused, “And I don’t see you on team Order ’s side!”

Gang stared at the ground. “I’ve had a lot of rage against him for a long time. Even before I met him, I was plotting to kill him. That rage directed every decision I made until a week ago when he told me he’d known the whole time.” he took a breath. “For twelve years I plotted my revenge, and for twelve years he watched me wrestle with my anger. I’d played into his hands the entire time. Now I don’t know what to do. Maybe I was wrong to spend my life on revenge. If I attack him, am I just doing what he wants me to do? I really don’t know.”

Kasumi stood up, dusted herself off, and walked back inside the casino. A man with a beating heart on his screen passed her to walk outside. Birdcage , Vine, Athlete , and Enigma were waiting for Kasumi inside.

“What did he say?” Vine asked.

“Just that Chaos is a psychopath and that we shouldn’t trust him.” Kasumi answered.

“And you’re going to trust Gang ?” Birdcage scoffed, “He’s just going to use this opportunity to grab power again.”

“Yeah … you’re right.” Kasumi said, “Let's just go to the police station.”

The man with a beating heart on his screen faced the street beside the casino. He saw Gang sitting alone by himself on the steps. The man glanced intently at Gang and said nothing.


Chaos sat silently in the corner of his cell. He casually glanced towards the man on the outside of the bars wearing a policeman’s uniform. The man sat silently, but picked up his head when he saw Order walk in. Order stood up straight with his hands by his sides and stared down at Chaos.

“How kind of you to celebrate your premature victory with me.” Chaos smiled.

“Actually I’m here for fact-finding.” Order replied, “What exactly was your plan? You seem like the talkative type, so I’m hoping you can give me something of value.”

Chaos laughed to himself with his dark red eyes leering. “I’ll give you something of value!” He sneered, “Do you know why I have many more followers than you? It’s because I tell people what they want to hear. I can see the whispers of their soul and point them towards their desires. Freedom, parties, anarchy, fire, blood, life!” he smiled. “And what do you promise them again?”

“Order.” Order said, “and stability. In case you haven’t noticed we haven’t rebuilt the world yet! We have a long way to go, and obviously we need structure. Building that structure is our next logical choice.”

“Oh, but that’s so boring!” Chaos whined, “Wouldn’t it be better to tell everyone to relax! Wouldn’t it be easier to tell everyone that the hard work is done and all that’s left is to party, kick back, and relish in the fire of what we’ve created!”

“But that’s wrong.” Order insisted, “I believe people are better than that. They’ll resist their base impulses and do what needs to be done.”

“They’ve already chosen not to.” Chaos grinned, “It’s so much easier to do what you want to do than what you should do. And so much more fun! You’re a textbook and I’m a smartphone. In the end, which of us gets more attention?”

Superior walked into the police station with his sword by his side. The policeman stood up in shock, but sat back down when he realized Order wasn’t startled.

“We should go.” Superior stated.

Superior !” Chaos taunted, “It’s good to see you again! I haven’t seen your sister. I suppose that means you’re fighting together! That’s awfully kind of her.”

Superior furrowed his brow and ushered Order out of the station.


Kasumi , Enigma , Vine, Birdcage , and Athlete sat quietly behind a dumpster in a narrow alley facing the police station.

“Look!” Athlete said in a loud whisper. “That’s Order!” The group saw Order leave the police station with Superior leaving behind him. His dark red sheath shimmered in stark contrast against his dark blue suit.

“Not him again.” Vine frowned. “That guy can fight.” Athlete said. “Smart of him to travel with a bodyguard.” Birdcage noted.

Enigma narrowed his eyes at the police station, examining it from every angle. He carefully examined every feature of the building ahead.

“Do you see any way in?” Kasumi asked.

“I don’t believe that’s the solution.” Enigma stated, “I’m familiar with this model of police station. It’s used to store prisoners for only one night before they’re transferred to an actual jail. The cell is small, used to store one to a few people. There’s enough room for a single desk inside and a single door in the front.”

“So how do we sneak past?” Kasumi asked.

“We don’t.” Enigma said. “We rush in.”

“We what?!” Birdcage exclaimed.

“Believe me, I would love to recommend some complex infiltration, lockpicking and climbing through ducts.” Enigma said, “but this place isn’t large enough to sneak by and is designed for only one attendant. Sometimes the best path is a straight line. But I don’t know if we can take him ourselves. Do any of you know how to fight?” Everyone turned to Vine who only smiled politely.

“I do know some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.” Vine said.

“Some?” Kasumi said, “Didn’t you say you were the world champion?”

“Once, yeah” Vine said.

“Yeah, that should work.” Enigma said with his eyebrows up.

“What got you into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the first place?” Kasumi asked.

“I used to have an anger problem.” Vine said.

“Really?” Birdcage said, “But you seem so mellow!”

“That’s because I’ve found a way to channel my aggression.” Vine smiled sweetly. “Alright then! Nobody messes with her!” Enigma chuckled to himself, then turned to face the police station. “Alright, let's move in.”

The group crept up to the police station and waited patiently by the door. Enigma and Athlete crouched on the left side of the door while Vine, Birdcage , and Kasumi crouched on the right side. Enigma raised his head towards the door, but couldn’t detect any sounds on the other side.

“Whenever you’re ready.” Enigma whispered. Vine nodded. She placed her left hand on the doorknob and waited a moment to take a breath. Then she violently swung the door open and everyone rushed inside. By the time Kasumi made it in, she could see Vine standing a foot away from the single police officer . Vine jabbed forward with her left hand to hit him in the neck, then she grabbed onto him and swung her right foot against his legs. Both of them fell to the ground with Vine laying on top and her right arm forearm across the officer’s neck.

“So many familiar faces.” Chaos said as he stood against the bars of his cell. Are you here to let me go or rough me up?”

“We’re letting you go.” Athlete said. Vine tossed him a key from the officer’s pocket which he used on the locked cell. With a bit of force, the cell door swung to the side and Chaos walked through.

“I’m grateful for what you’ve done here tonight.” Chaos smiled a sinister grin. “Let's return to the headquarters.” Vine started to stand up and Chaos turned to the officer on the ground. Chaos kneeled by the officer’s side. “I think it’s best if you wait five minutes after we leave before running off.” he whispered at the officer, “Unlike her, I don’t stop after you’re knocked down.” Chaos stood back up and walked towards the entrance while everyone except the dumbfounded officer followed. “That was a good pin. But fear is far more effective.”

The officer remained on the ground for six more minutes.


“We have Chaos .” Kitsune said to Order , who frantically sketched notes across several sheets of paper. “We need to do something now to rally the people to our side.”

Order rested his hand against his temple, then shook his head and jotted down more notes. He sat at a mahogany table at the base floor of an apartment building. Kitsune stood over a corner of the table while Order focused on his papers. Chem stood in the corner of the room watching them work.

“It’s just not that simple!” Order exclaimed. “I can’t be in charge of these people if they’re going to be this undisciplined! I can’t just be in charge. I need to have control. Without that, how can I hope that my plans will follow through? I need to be certain.” “Why don’t you take charge?” Chem said to Kitsune .

“I wouldn’t be any good at it.” Kitsune answered. “While I’ve led rebel strikes, leading a people is a different animal. I’ve spent most of my life away from the modern world. It’s not something I’m prepared for.”

“I’d appreciate it if you demonstrate the discipline to stay on the same team. And read some of these plans I’ve made. I want to know your thoughts.”

Chem shook his head.


Music played loud at the casino while people raised their glasses and drank whatever alcohol they could find. Spirited gambling could be heard across the card tables while everyone present laughed and shouted loudly.

Chaos smiled to himself and stared across the crowd. He’d started a new movement of hedonism, anarchy, and chaos. Chaos assumed that most of them didn’t understand the implications of his plan, but as he glanced over their drunken faces, he started to wonder how many of them secretly shared some of his world view.

Chaos turned to the side and saw Witch standing next to him. “Ah, Witch .” he said, “It’s been some time.”

“Now that you’re back, I thought we could talk.” she said, “With Kitsune , Superior and Hero on the same side, I thought we could use some muscle. I know of a way to help with that.”

“I’m interested.” Chaos smiled, “But you’re the only part of our gang that I could never figure out. How can I trust you?”

“Because I know who you are.” Witch said, “Who you really are. And I know what you do to people who betray you.”

“If you knew me before this, you’d be running in a very different direction.” Chaos said.

“Not if we want the same thing.” Witch said. “I’m going to help you set the world on fire.”

Chaos narrowed his eyes at Witch . She was a middle-aged woman with a dark shirt and a witch’s hat on her screen. She stared him down with a dark confidence that even gave Chaos pause, but ultimately, he was intrigued.

“I got my start as a neuroscientist at the Triangle Company.” Witch stated, staring directly at Chaos . “Tell me, what do you know about neurological mesh?”