~~~~~6~~~~~

One thing, after a few years robbing graves, you notice small important details. For instance, when no one in a dog eat dog city exploits a place like that catacomb. If people were getting in there to bury the dead, it meant other people could get in and take what they wanted. Which meant more than one entrance, or that something was up.

The kid hovered over my shoulder, anxious about what would happen when the needle didn't glow, I suppose.

It did glow, though. Strong and pure blue.

We both exhaled,her out of relief, me because this meant something I wasn't sure of. When the syringe began glowing it meant the girl was trustworty and I was just being paranoid, or that I was falling deeper into whatever her plan was.

"Well kid, you came through." I grinned over my shoulder, lifted the vial up so it cast a blue pall across our faces.

"You had doubts? I'm hurt." Her lower lip stuck out and I patted her head, throwing her wig askew. "Ass!"

"You love it, kid."

She rolled her eyes at me and bent to examine another corpse. The contrast was interesting, morbid- pale ghost flesh against decay.

"Y'know, interesting thing about corpses is they have a shelf life. Bodies are well preserved these days anyways, but in a place like this? Shoulda been rotting away to nothing, barely any viable z between them all." I pulled the corpse she'd been examining off its shelf. "See, down here these bodies ought to have been in worse condition, and don't tell me people've been taking care of them. In a city like this they'd have been stripped in minutes. Means either this crypt is newer than it looks. No one takes care of the dead these days. S'why we have cleanup crews from GeneCo to do it for us. It pays to recycle."

Crouched beside me, her even stare had hardened, then wavered as I pulled the syringe out again, wickedly sharp needle glowing dully from the torches. She licked her lips, the needle reflecting in the darkness of her eyes.

"Which means, of course, this crypt isn't the only thing that's not what it seems." Her eyes were still transfixed on the glint of the needle, bright pinpoints of light in her dark face. "So Shilo..." Standing, I loomed over her, could see my shaggy silouhette obscure her more delicate one and drew closer to her as she stepped back.

"I...Graverobber I don't...I didn't know, I told you, I found this place by accident! Please, I just want my house, my life...don't you want that? You could stay with me, if you wanted. Think about it. A real house with real people..." Her tiny hand shook against my cheek, shadowed eyes bright as her cheeks burned.

I stared, severely as I could, and took another step, backing her up against the wall.

"I mean, when I leave...it will take a while for the bounty on you to spread from here, won't it?" She was still looking up at me, the perfect picture of hopeful innocence and I nearly recanted, almost asked her to forgive me, nearly accepted her offer.

"Shilo..."

I don't know if I'd have apologized then or kept on trying to figure out what the truth was, but I spoke her name and in her eyes was regret, heavy like a stone. I had my answer then, much as I hated to admit how much the realization cost. I felt slow and stupid, heartsick as well.

The kid had tried to play me and whatever part of her was still that little girl felt bad about that.

She smiled and some small place fractured in me. I'd wanted to trust the kid, she was decent company in more than one way and I suppose I'd have kept believing her if I hadn't seen her eyes.

"Amber...you piss her off. Used and abused her, now she's head of GeneCo...She wanted you brought to her. She offered me enough money to be safe, to move away from here and be comfortable. I wasn't lying to you, I swear it." She was staring at my feet now, her cheeks glistened and she rubbed them angrily. Lifting her head to stare up at me, some of the hardness was back in them.

"So you sold me out to Amber, kid? How long have I got?" Cold lead settled in my gut, in a graveyard above ground or in the alleys, I could've made my escape. Underground, in a place I wasn't familiar with? Even if I managed to hide, all they'd have to do was wait and guard whatever exits there were.

Anger and horror warred together, clashing together in a disgusting mix of emotions. The inevitability of my fate was claustrophobic, adding to the cloying darkness of the catacomb. The bleakness of the chamber echoed in her eyes, no light reflected on them and suddenly they appeared to be bottomless, pits of sucking blackness.

"Not long, a few minutes maybe." Her small white hand tangled in my hair again, cool against the back of my neck. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." I felt soft lips against mine once more, a few tears mixed in with the kiss.

The flutter of her lips against mine set off a riot of sensation. The finality of it, the goodbye kiss from my pretty little Judas. For a moment my whole body felt constricted, as if I'd been trapped in a vise, my breath stopping in my chest as her fingers stroked my face, memorizing it, I suppose.

In the distance, sirens shrieked and I backed away from her, thought about revenge- of stabbing the syringe into her heart or bashing her head against the wall. In the end, I couldn't do it, instead I sat against the wall and watched her smoke and cry, waiting for the first GeneCop to crash through the door.

FIN!