Friday, August 20, 2010

City in a City

Under - 434
Ben Azevedo

Vito sighed and slouched into a small chair in a corner of the Shelter. As his breathing returned to normal, he took stock of the crowd. A group of soldiers playing dice to his right. Some elderly men smoking at the bar. The usual scattering of traders. A few local youth. He relaxed slightly.

Most people only stayed in Pompeii II for a week or two. Vito had grown up here. He had watched as more government sponsored Shelters appeared, while residential areas were constantly buried under lava and rebuilt. His own home had been rebuilt 23 times in his life. This was a measure of some pride among his family. Most residents of Pompeii II slowly excavated their old homes as well, creating an underground maze of city beneath the current rendition of their dwellings.

Vito knew almost every passage within the limits of Pompeii II. As a young child he had started ranging the vast underground, as well as exploring the current city with his mother. His father had died when he was 10, but left to him a collection of maps, drawn over the years, that detailed each layer of Pompeii II’s development. As far as Vito knew, no one else had such an understanding of the city’s complexity.

It was primarily in this underground world that Vito worked as a courier, delivering messages and packages between the various businesses of Pompeii II. It sounded like a boring occupation, but this was a misconception. The government of the city didn’t exactly appreciate some of the “businesses”. Vito wasn’t affiliated with any of the mobs beneath Pompeii, but their jobs always paid better, and he could slip away from just about anything in the maze of the underground.

One of the soldiers yelled loudly as he won a round of dice, and Vito started. He reached up and scratched his head, casually verifying that his knife was still in place. It was. As he settled back into his corner of the bar, an alert came on the old holoscreen.


Vito smirked. Manageable levels. The pathetic shield-gens that slowed the lava flows were probably barely up and running again. This eruption was from Avchier, a northern peak, so the entire northern district was probably gearing up for a construction project that the government would take almost no part in.

Vito’s smirk vanished as a rough hand grabbed his shoulder.

“Vito!” snarled the guard captain, “Who would’ve thought we’d find you here!”

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