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Chapter 3 (A New Life)

I learned all about this place in school. I was told how once, back in the early days of Paragon City, Kings Row was a shiny, bustling place filled with hope and promise. Factories, businesses, and homes filled these neighborhoods and laughter could be heard in the streets from the children at play. This whole area was named after one of the largest and most productive factories in all of Paragon City, the King Garment Works.

Nevertheless, as most things do, that happiness ended. When the Depression struck Paragon City, it hit Kings Row the hardest. The factories closed their doors and hundreds of workers were left without a job and no way to care for their families. It was then that crime began to take root in this dying neighborhood. Desperate men and women turned to desperate actions to survive. Many of the shut-down factories became the headquarters of criminal organizations. Those crime bosses, who began to create back alley empires, took the name of the zone as their own. They became known throughout the city as The Kings.

As the level of violence and crime grew in the Row, the upright, law-abiding citizens came to think of Kings Row as a place better avoided as all costs. It was dark, dirty and a good place to be robbed or even worse if you made the mistake of getting off at the wrong stop on the Monorail. Such a state of affairs could not last forever without someone taking notice and taking action. When Statesman began his highly publicized “war on crime” and created the famous Freedom Phalanx, he focused most of his initial efforts on putting an end to The Kings. In the end, the Freedom Phalanx was victorious, but at what cost? Many of the buildings, streets and roads and other physical features of the zone had been damaged or destroyed during those conflicts. However, the greatest damage came from the daily news reports that helped form and reinforce the negative stereotype of the Row as a crime-ridden slum to the general populace of Paragon City. With The Kings removed from power, the economy improved but the stigma of Kings Row remained. Very few businesses reopened and no new industry came to the Row. The Kings were gone, but the name remained and to this day, Kings Row is regarded as a grimy, poor neighborhood, with a reputation for seediness.

Due to the vacuum that occurred when The Kings were removed from power, another gang began to quietly move into the Row. The Skulls were one of the older gangs in Paragon City, but they had never had much of a presence in the Row. It was theorized that due to the failures of recent street battles in Galaxy City with the Hellions; the Skulls packed up and went looking for easier pickings. They found just that in Kings Row. The Skulls found that the Galaxy City Hellions were firmly entrenched in the High Park neighborhood, but The Gish was like an apple waiting to be pulled from the tree. They moved into that neighborhood and quickly consolidated it under their control.

Now there are battles in the street between the Hellions and the Skulls. There are Vahzilok prowling the back alleys for the dead, and not so dead, to add to their experiments and ranks. The Clockwork are busy tearing the zone apart for spare pieces and parts they can use; and the latest news are that Troll thugs are moving in from Skyway.

I hate this place and I hate this entire city for letting this happen.

I close Jimmy’s office door and step into the dim light that infuses the Row. Even at 11:30 in the morning, it makes it seem like late afternoon here. There is garbage on the streets and the smells of car exhaust, rot and the ever-present Royal Refinery are in the air. I set my path north and begin walking back toward Galaxy City and the high-rise apartment that Jimmy pays for on the other side of Gemini Park. There shouldn’t have been Skulls in High Park, but after this morning I’m not taking any chances. Jimmy would go nuts if the Skulls messed with his baby sister twice in one day. As it is, I have a feeling that the streets are going to be red with blood soon for that insult.

As I make my way north, I see Hellions on every corner just hanging out or vandalizing some poor guy’s car. Have to love it when the poor prey upon the poor. It reminds me of some old story I heard once about a bucket and a bunch of crabs. None could get out of the bucket because if they were close to escape, the others would pull them back in. That’s the way it goes I guess…no one gets out and everyone gets pulled back in.

Each Hellion I pass gives me a nod or a wave; I guess big bro has already put the word out to the troops. Yeah, there’s a battle coming in the near future, you can feel the electricity in the air. All the more reason to get the hell out of Dodge and back to my semi-normal life in Galaxy City as a college student studying art at PCU…who happens to be the sister of a major crime boss. At least in the High Park neighborhood of the Row, Galaxy City and Atlas Park I can go almost anywhere I’d like safely. One of my freshmen year History professors told us once about the whole Pax Roma thing back during the Roman Empire. Supposedly, this “Roman Peace” enforced by the mighty legions of Rome, made it so safe to travel across the Empire that a virgin with a bag of gold was as safe on the road as she was in her own home. Well be that as it may, around here the legions are made up of Hellions and I’m sister to the Caesar. Now if I only had a bag of gold, and well…about that other part, maybe we should move on to an entirely different subject all together.

I come out of the tunnel that connects the Row to Galaxy City and it’s like coming out of underwater into the sun. Where the Row is dark and dismal, Gal City is bright and airy. Well, don’t get me wrong, it has it’s less than savory parts too. But here at Gemini Park, it’s all green and sunshine. The cold of this February morning has burnt off and it looks like it’ll be a decent day after all. Back when Jimmy and I were kids, the whole family would come to the park for picnics and fun weekend days. I guess that’s why he rented my apartment here and why I like it so much…happy memories.

Have you ever felt trapped? Where you want to run as far and as fast as you can, but can’t because of your obligations. If I had my way, I’d be on the next plane out of here. Maybe fly to Paris and study art there. But I can’t. When I was a kid Jimmy took care of me. Now that we are grown, I have an obligation to take care of him. I like to think of myself as his moral compass, whispering good things to him and saving him from sliding all the way into morass that surrounds him. Who knows, maybe one day there’ll be two seats on that flight to Paris.

Traffic is fairly light today, not too many people out moving around. It’s a little too early for the park lunch crowd and the kids are all in school, so I have the park to myself. I find a bench that’s fairly close to the west side of the park and take a load off for a few minutes. I love people watching. So here I sit, watching young mothers pushing strollers, the occasional jogger or rollerblader and generally wasting the morning. It’s then I notice two men standing off to one side beside a tree engaged in a deep and private conversation. Now this could be interesting.

I get up from my bench and move a bit closer for a better view. Hey! I know that guy in the long coat. That’s Alexander DeMarco, one of Jimmy’s Hellion lieutenants. I wonder what he’s doing outside of the Row and who is this guy he’s talking to? I move closer still, keeping a couple of trees between us to block me from view. I can hear part of their conversation now and I do not believe what I’m hearing.

‘So how do I know you’ll keep your word once I make the hit?’ asks DeMarco.

‘We have given you no reason to distrust us Alex. Didn’t we help you in your rise inside the Kings Row Hellions?’

‘Yeah, you guys have been good to me. It’s just this is serious business and if anything goes wrong it’s my ass that’s on the line. And what’s to say that once I eliminate the problem, that your organization doesn’t start seeing me as the new problem’

‘Alex calm down. As long as you abide by our agreement there will be no problems. Make sure the Hellions do not move outside of High Park in the Row and provide information and assistance to my organization when we move into Galaxy City and you will become a very rich and powerful man.’

I don’t know who the second guy is but I don’t like the way this conversation is going. It sounds like they are planning a hit on Jimmy or his organization. That rat bastard DeMarco, he’s a traitor. I’ve got to get a better look at this guy so I can warn Jimmy. I move to my left and behind another tree in an effort to get closer. The only problem is I don’t see the fallen branch that I step on. The sound of it’s cracking seems as loud as a gunshot to me and it must have to DeMarco and the unknown man as well. They both turn in my direction and the only consolation I have is the look of fear and shock that passes on the traitor DeMarco’s face when he sees me and realizes who I am.

‘Quick! Grab the nosey bitch!’ yells the stranger.

I turn to make a break for it. There is no way they can catch me in the park I’ve played in since I was a kid. I know every hidden path in this place. The problem is that as I turn, I find that someone has put up a wall behind me. I run into the chest of a Skull Gravedigger and fall back onto the ground. In my effort to eavesdrop on DeMarco’s conversation, I didn’t notice the three Skull Gravediggers that have come up behind me.

Twice in one day, this has to be some kind of record. Boy is Jimmy going to be pissed. Maybe I can bluff my way out of this.

‘What the hell do you think you are doing DeMarco? Talking with Skulls! Jimmy is not going to be happy about this!’ I yell at DeMarco.

‘Alex, would you care to introduce me to this lovely young lady?’ asks the stranger.

‘Uh, sure Mr. Kole. This is Kate Sullivan, the little sister of Big Jim Sullivan’ DeMarco stammers.

‘The little sister of Jim Sullivan? This is wonderful! I could not have asked for a better turn of events. Gentlemen, help Ms. Sullivan to her feet and assist her to my car.’

In a last, ditch effort to save my neck I bring out the big guns. ‘Look buddy, do you know who Big Jim Sullivan is? You mess with me and he will burn you down for sure. This is way more trouble than I think you want to bring onto yourself.’

‘Oh yes, I am quite familiar with who Big Jim Sullivan is. He is the man we are going to kill and you are the bait that we will use to draw him into the trap. Alex go back to the Row and wait for my call. You know what to do when the time comes. Gentlemen, place Ms. Sullivan in the car.’

The three goons hustle me off to the car and all I can think is I’ve got to find a way to warn Jimmy.


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