Coyote ran as fast as her legs would carry, bounded over rising plumes of smoke, steel pipes, her steel-toed boots barely scraping the edge of an iron frame as she leaped from one building to another. The alley beneath her feet blurred by and she landed, tumbled hard onto the roof. She felt her shoulder smash against the hard steel surface and hissed in pain. Recovering, she scrambled with some agility and pressed onward across rooftops, the polluted iron and steel city-scape a mockery of the industrial age.
This figure, a short-haired, androgynous, ageless female, was not imposing by all means. Her stature only rose about shoulder-height to any average male, but she was not someone to cross. Coyote's real name was Dylan, but her personality resembled the tricky and reckless animal that had long ago fallen extinct. Her ability to survive in this industrial mockery of steam-powered engines and factories had given her the wiley nature she now possessed, and it had placed her right at the head of a small band of anarchists.
Some of these anarchists were as young as nine years old, and Coyote at the age of 22 was the oldest among them. They used smoke bombs, intimidation, and low-blow tactics to get what they wanted -- freedom from the oppressive rule of the Reich, a federation of militant and tyrannical egomaniacs who were attempting to blot out the individualism of the world. The leader, a man simply known as Ever Present, was an invisible hand that suffocated the population of the over-polluted world in which Coyote lived.
The Reich's base of operations remained in World City, the town in which Coyote and her band of anarchists lived. The most industrialized city in the world, it was also the most polluted. The skies were a haze of green and gray during the day, and during the nights there was only the alien glow of the iron street-lights. Darkness had followed the Reich's overtaking of world government, and the founding of World City was the beginning of the end.
Coyote spotted the warehouse, the place in which she and her fellow anarchists lived, plotted, and created their weapons. It was an old ironworks factory, abandoned by the Reich to upgrade to a bigger and better factory. The slat in the roof was large enough for her figure to leap down, and after miles of rooftoops and iron pipes, she threw herself through the slat and landed quietly on the loose framework and pipes.
Out of breath, she descended along a twisting pipe into the main room, where seven young boys and one young girl huddled around a fire, dirty faces and hardened eyes all turning in her direction. She was their leader, but in this world no one could trust anyone. She removed her goggles, slipping them around her neck, and adjusted her belt (equipped with smoke bombs, a dagger, and various other weapons of the trade). Coyote cleared her throat and knelt between the young girl and a boy named Henry.
Her bright gray eyes darted to Henry. They clasped wrists in greeting, "Coyote," his pubescent voice added as he nodded. Henry was her second in-command and the eldest of the boys. He had brought up many of these boys to learn spy tactics, though they were little more than thieves and wanderers. The boys had come in handy during Coyote's intelligence-gathering.
"I think I'm being followed," Coyote announced as she settled on the floor. "I don't know why. The Reich hasn't marked us yet, since we've managed to stay out of their sight so far."
"Well, we have," Henry acknowledged carefully and gave a small, sardonic smile, his dirty face matching the look on the others around them, "but you haven't, Coyote. I mean, you did drop right into Ever Present's building and attempt to assassinate his executives."
Coyote chuckled and ran a gloved hand through her unkempt black hair. "Okay, so I could be marked but I made sure to lose whoever it was in the process of coming back here today."
Another boy, Jason with his golden-blond hair, spoke up next, gruffly, "Why'd you leave anyway? You haven't let us leave the ironworks at all this week."
"I had to see if I could find another way into Ever Present's offices."
Henry cleared his throat, bumped one of the boys in the back of the head for trying to steal scraps from another boy, and stood up, "I propose getting some sleep tonight," he stated and received a nod in response from Coyote. "We have important things to do tomorrow. Smoke, you finished making the new flash bombs right? We'll need them."
A young man with long black hair tied in a braid, no older than 11, nodded quietly. "I made plenty. If Coyote's being followed, my guess is we need to draw attention in another part of World City. Away from where we are."
Coyote nodded in agreement. "I'm taking watch tonight. Jason, can you make sure the fire gets put out?" She was usually concerned about Jason. He was the moodiest of the bunch, but he was most certainly the most effective against opposing factions of rebels around the city.
Although they were a nameless anarchist group in World City, there were others like them. They rarely crossed paths with one another despite their goal being the same: take out Ever Present. Yet there was always the sense of competition among the other groups. When Ever Present was gone, the Reich destroyed, who would be dominant? It was a race to arms, and whoever won gained dominance.
Many feuds had been sparked among the small factions of rebels, all across the industrialized and steam-fueled city, and that left each group and each leader especially marked to be killed. Dominance. It was a fight for control. Only the anarchists remained peaceful, and only fought when confronted.
Coyote waited for Jason to answer her as he finished eating what little meat ration he had left, while the rest all seemed to clear out, ready for sleep and ready for battle. "Jason," she murmured to the small blond boy, "please?"
"I don't know why you won't let me do more." Jason grumbled as he remained at his place by the fire pit.
"You can do more, Henry just hasn't worked that much with you on how to get around the city. He is taking you out with them tomorrow right?"
Jason huffed, nodded, "Yeah, but I wanna work with you."
Eyebrow quirked, Coyote chewed the inside of her lip, "Some other time. I work alone, Jason. It's dangerous for anyone to be out there with me. Especially now if I'm being followed."
"What better time to have some protection then?" Jason rose to his feet and balled his fists up angrily. "If you get hurt there's no one left!" With that he threw his cup onto the fire, water splattering all over Coyote and the steel mug of water trickling onto remaining flames.
As Coyote watched the silhouette of a boy retreating in anger, the cup in the fire burned bright red from heat, like the bulb accompanying an emergency siren.
The sky was a sickly, dark green, and Coyote sat upon the height of a pipe, the connecting bridge between their factory and a smaller abandoned building. The short-statured anarchist leader was indeed being followed. Far in the distance, perhaps a mile down, she could just barely make out a small spot of green light glinting off a surface. A pinprick, but nonetheless not a sight seen in this part of World City. It was one of the faction assassins, watching Coyote just the same.
Her gray eyes focused in the darkness, the humidity causing her skin to feel damp. She raised a tattooed arm to her forehead and wiped away traces of the humidity. Coyote's gloved hand curled into a small fist as she stood.
In her hand, her favorite dagger.
It was time to go to work. The assassin wouldn't come to her, so it was time to take action herself. She let out an unearthly howl in the eerily quiet night, laughing maniacally as she leaped from the pipe, down into the alley. Coyote's call was a challenge. A battle cry.
If this assassin was going to hover in the distance, Coyote wouldn't wait for them to come to her. That would put her anarchists in danger and reveal their purposes. Her feet pattered on the damp city streets as she darted through alleyways, hopped over walls, climbed ladders on the side of steel towers. She was a blur in the dark night, moving through the cityscape like a rat.
Stopping, silently, after blocks and blocks of running, she pressed herself against the steel of a building. On the roof, she knew the assassin was standing in wait, not unaware of Coyote's presence.
"Let's play, assassin!" Coyote called as she chucked a flash bomb (capable of blinding someone) over the roof, and swung up onto the pipework framing the building, quick and agile. "I haven't played a good game of tag for a long time."
Standing atop the iron framework of another section of the roof, Coyote darted toward the shadow at the center of the roof, in seconds she slid across the wet steel surface, simultaneously unsheathing her dagger.
The short-statured anarchist was below this assassin's height, and before the assassin could move, Coyote pressed the dagger to the back of the assassin's neck through a curtain of long white hair.
"Let's do this." Coyote growled under her breath.