"Size seven right?" asked the bartender in a hushed voice.
     "That's right slick," replied Deluxe, aggressive as always.  "How many other fucken bags you got?"
     "None."
     "Well then what the fuck?  The only bag you got's obviously gonna be ours."
     The portly bartender shook his razor sculpted head and quickly disappeared into his cellar, leaving the assassins on the dimly lit, stone stairwell.  Deluxe sighed impatiently and patted Onyx on the back.
     "Happy birthday bro.  Now let's just hope it's not bunky."
     Onyx nodded awkwardly and twirled his braid.  "If he doesn't have any it's okay."
     "He/fucken/has/some," Tracer blurted, talking at the speed of light.  "This/asshole's/just/givin'/us/the/runaround/cuz/we're/not/from/the/Badlands."
     "Be cool.  I told you I can get Onyx a wife.  This dude's got me shit before and he always pulls through."
     "Yeah/yeah.  It's/not/like/we/can/get/this/stuff/on/our/side/of/the/city/anyways."
     "Exactly."
     "I/just/don't/like/the/way/he's/looking/at/me."
     "Quit being paranoid luv," interrupted Onyx.
     "Yeah Trace," Deluxe repeated teasingly.  "Quit being paranoid luv."
     The crew froze as frantic voices descended from above.
     "Symm, I/can't/see/that," informed Tracer.
     Reaching into his suit pocket, Symm withdrew a pair of plutonium sunglasses. Gliding them over his dark eyes, light sparked from behind its opaque lenses.  Glancing upwards, he scanned the ascending staircase.
     "Well?" pried Onyx.
     "Chocolate addicts and a whore from the Hive.  They're both from the Badlands.  My guess is they're coming from one of the restaurant's private rooms."
     "Who/are/they?
     "No one from the List.  Business types I'm guessing."
     "Either/of/them/look/familiar?"
     "Nobodies."
     The crew dropped their guard.  They were all a little jumpy, being in the Badlands and all, buying what would normally be considered questionable goods.  Tracer however scurried past her fellow assassins and stood to meet them.
     "Fuck Trace," cussed Deluxe.  "Don't do anything stupid!"
     Before anything could happen the overweight bartender suddenly returned, a bag of brown sugar held tightly in his scarred hand.  "Here ya go."  Noticing the crew was edgy he asked what was wrong.
     "Buncha dudes coming down the stairs," answered Deluxe.  "Hive prostitute and her whack junkie tricks."
     "Oh, uh.. yeah.  Okay I know who you're talking about.  Your highness..." he reached gently for Tracer, "it's okay.  They've been here for a while.  Come on, let's go down into the cellar.  No one knows you're back here, so let's keep it that way, just like you wanted."
     Everyone eyed Tracer and she nodded her reply.  They shuffled one by one into the cellar, passing the door to the restaurant itself.  Seconds later they were alone again, Tracer scanning the brown sugar with her cybernetic eyes.
     "Yeah/it's/good."
     Deluxe pulled out a luminous blue baton.  "It's all here," she stated and the bartender took his money.  Tossing the sack over to Onyx, he stuffed his future wife into a stylish rubber sidebag.  "Solid.  Now we'd like a table," she continued.  "It's my friend's birthday here and we wanna celebrate.  Cool?"
     "Yes of course," he said with a smile, leading the crew back up to the restaurant.  The dining area was enormous.  "Treble will be your waitress tonight.  Go easy on her.  She's only two."
     "Thanks," replied Onyx and Symm.  The other two seemed a little preoccupied.
     A goth-psychedelic approached them, tightly cloaked in a stereotypic black and white tie-dye robe.  "Hi, I'm Treble.  Is there anywhere in particular you'd like to sit?"  She stared at Symm's blueberry lips.
     Onyx tugged at Deluxe's lavender hair, pulling her into whispering distance.  "Don't even say it.  I don't want you flirting with anyone while we're in the Badlands.  I appreciate what you did for me with the wife luv, but I'm not in the mood for any fights.  I just wanna relax."
     "Okay, okay.  I promise.  But she is cute for a newbie."
     "We'll/sit/anywhere," responded Tracer.  "I/just/wanna/eat."
     "Yes your highness."
     The four took a large booth by the antique fountain.  It seemed to be the only seating left, as the restaurant appeared packed with customers.  As they stated their orders, Treble relayed the information through the many silver rings on her slender fingers.  She smiled courteously and left.
     "You still hummin' from the ride Trace?" inquired Onyx.
     "Nah/man," still twitching neurotically, obviously lying.
     "You better power down luv.  I could smell the napalm on your hands back there."
     "Fuck man," added Deluxe.  "I thought you were gonna blast hellfire all over the fucken stairwell.  Just in case!"
     Tracer sighed, burying her face into the crossed sleaves of her evergreen trenchcoat.  "I'm/trying, I'm/trying.  Think/I/cranked/to/much/adrenaline/on/the/speeder/ride/in."
     The assassins eased comfortably into their spongy seats.  It was like sitting on dense cotton candy and clearly felt wonderful.  Hopefully there would be no further problems that night.  They had spent enough of the daylight hours stalking their prey.  Soon their hot food would arrive and everything would be forgotten.
     "So Onyx, what else ya wanna do for yer b-day?" began Deluxe.
     "Aww guys.  Getting married'll be enough."
     "That's it??" groaned Deluxe.  "Come on man, the night is young.  Don't tell me we're just gonna go fucken home after this."
     "Mountain," suggested Tracer.
     "Sure, I'll go to the Mountain, but no wild rides tonight.  That punk Rapture really injured a rib.  My sundials'll probably be working on this one all night."
     "Okay solid," responded Onyx.  "Symm you in?"
     They all turned to Symm, who was staring off into la-la land.  That far-away look in his eye was clearly visible.
     "Yo slick, wake up."
     "Huh, what?"
     "What you clockin'?"
     "Huh?  Um uh see that goth-psychedelic over there?"  He dropped to a hushed voice.  "The one in black... with the silver stripes on his suit?  Sitting alone in the corner?"
     "Silkworm," replied Onyx quietly.
     "Yeah he's one of Mother's techs."  Tracer's adrenaline had faded.  "He's a mute.  He runs security at the Palace."
     "Big fucken deal!" blasted Deluxe, indiscreet as ever.  "He's not on the List."
     "So?!  The team at Procedures thinks he could give us a go.  Maybe even the Hacker."
     "Quit talkin' shit," Tracer scoffed.  "No one can touch the Hacker.  That guy's fucked."
     "Which reminds me!  You coming with us man or what?" quizzed Deluxe, shaking her fellow crewmember by the shoulder.
     "Where?"