By Kurt Markuson

Rev sighed and slumped into his chair. Things were not good right now. He was sitting in one of the Entertainment District's more quiet bars, nursing a beer that seemed to get more sour with every sip. He'd known it was going to be a bad day when he'd woken up to the sound of gunfire outside his window. Rev lived on the second story of a dilapidated building just outside of Bartertown, and two rival gangs were apparently battling for control of the street just outside.

Rev had known that tossing that Molotov cocktail onto the warring gangers was a bad idea, but that hadn't stopped him from doing it. Now his place had some new holes in the walls, and he was still nursing a few bruises. At least the gangers had finally decided to take their dispute somewhere else.

It didn't stop there, though. Next Rev had checked around to see if any lucrative offers were floating around. The only one he could find was an offer from someone who was offering 3000 UNA dollars to anyone who was willing to steal a bike from the leader of the Warriors. It seemed like a rather silly request, and obviously a revenge attempt by some wounded party, but Rev figured money was money.

Finding the bike had been easy. So had hot-wiring the ignition. The trouble came when the Warriors noticed that the guy out in the parking lot was stealing their leader's bike. The ensuing chase and resulting carnage had not been fun. Rev loved mayhem and destruction as much as the next Zone criminal, but being chased down and shot at by 50 other guys when you're all on your own is no way to have a good time. Ultimately, Rev was forced to abandon the now extremely damaged bike and hide out in the sewer for a few hours. He didn't bother reporting his failure to the guy who hired him.

After emerging from the sewers, Rev was displeased to discover that he was now in Southside. With no vehicles around, Rev was forced to run out of the area on foot. His only real bit of luck today, he reflected, was that he managed to get out without running into Ran. Even so, he was thoroughly exhausted when he finally made it out of Southside.

To cap it all off, Rev had returned home only to discover that someone going by the name of "Particle Man" had tagged his car. Rev was not amused. "Particle Man" was going to be in a world of hurt if Rev ever caught up with him.

Which brought him back to where he currently was, sitting in a dive drinking cheap beer. Sighing again, he tossed a few bills on the table and left the bar. He walked a few blocks down the street before entering a building whose sign designated it as "The Heartbreak Hotel." It wasn't one of the most well known brothels in the Entertainment District, but had a nice ambiance and reasonable prices. Rev went there whenever he was feeling especially down on his luck.

The house's madam, a middle-aged woman with graying dark hair, smiled as Rev walked in. She was still an attractive woman, and gave the impression that she was quite the heartthrob in her time. "Hello Rev," she said, "It's been some time since you've been in here. Did you want to see Keiko?"

Rev nodded, smiling thinly. "Yeah, thanks Doris. I really appreciate it," he said, handing her the appropriate amount of money.

Doris smiled again, accepting the cash. "That's quite alright," she said, "You've always been one of our better customers. I don't remember the last time I had to have you thrown out of here." This was a legitimate concern, some of Doris's girls were Pumas, "Just go on up to your usual room, dear, I'll send Keiko up in a few minutes."

Rev just nodded, and climbed the stairs, entering the room he always used when he came here. He hung his armored long coat on the coat rack near the door, and sat down on the couch. The room was decked out in a style reminiscent of the old-style brothels like you'd find in New Orleans in the 1940s, except that the furniture was much more worn, and the whole room looked as though it had seen better days. But then, that was normal in the Zone.

A few minutes later, Keiko entered the room. She looked like an Asian girl in her early twenties, except that her hair was a deep navy blue, as were her eyes. Keiko was a replicant, a sexdoll to be more precise. A few years ago, she'd been abandoned by her owner, and had just wandered into the Zone one day. She probably wouldn't have survived long if Doris hadn't found her and taken her in. She was by far Rev's favorite girl at the Heartbreak Hotel, and he saw her pretty much exclusively. Keiko smiled warmly at Rev, and crossed the room to sit down next to him. She was wearing a kimono that she had made herself, though it wasn't anywhere near as fancy as the ones Rev had seen in magazines or on the trid.

"Hi John," Keiko said, still smiling at him. She was one of the Zone's few denizens who actually knew his real name, "How have you been?"

Rev smiled genuinely for the first time that day. Perhaps it was something in the way she was made, but Keiko somehow always managed to make him feel better. "Oh, I suppose I've been doing pretty good..." he said.

Keiko gave him a knowing look. "I know you've had a rough day, John," she said, "You always come by when you have a rough day, hoping that I'll help you feel better."

Rev grinned lopsidedly at her. "Well, you always do, which is a definite credit to your abilities."

Keiko smirked herself. "Flattery will get you nowhere, Mr. Sizemore," she told him, mock-seriously. "Well, tell me about it, then. How rough a day was it?" she asked, helping him remove his shirt.

"It was pretty rough," Rev said as his shirt came off, "I made no money, got shot at, and was forced into the sewers. Still, I suppose I've had worse days."

Keiko nodded. "I'm sure you have," she said, trailing her fingers down Rev's chest. As usual, she stopped at a small, round scar located on his left breast. "And one of these days, you're going to tell me about those worse days," she said.

Rev leaned forward, kissing Keiko gently on the lips. "Maybe I will someday, Keiko," he said, slowly opening the front of her kimono, "Maybe I will."

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