Posted Jan.14.18 at 03:00 pm

The hooded figure was much shorter than the man, but even so stepped past him easily into the warehouse. They wore not snow boots but work boots and slim jeans, and a large sheathed knife hung from one hip. With them came a creature that came up to their elbow; it was shaped mostly like a large, very smooth dog, but its head had no visible ears or nose. Instead it had grinning eyes and very large, muscular jaws. It wore a collar around its oddly long neck and gave the man an inscrutable look as it passed him.

"What? Why not??" the man demanded, but shut the door behind the hooded figure anyway. "And lemme reidderate: who da hell are you?"

"Aries," the hooded figure answered. They immediately went for the box beside the hangar door that controlled its opening. "There's a Royal Order unit circling the area, y'know. Your buyers were...intercepted."

They hit one of the buttons, and the hangar door began to raise slowly, making a grinding sound as it did.

"I'll be backing my truck in now."

The man untied his apron, looking both annoyed and wary. "Aries," he repeated. "Like da guy in charge of Carmine Isle's branch? Dat Aries."

"Bingo," Aries answered. "I did business with your predecessor, before her tragic accident. Congrats, by the way, on filling the power vacuum," he added, "What a stroke of luck for you."

The man scoffed, but seemed somewhat flattered as he removed his apron.

"Anyways," Aries continued, "I thought I'd introduce myself, and fill you in on our little exclusivity agreement."

Aries's animal, which had been investigating the warehouse floor, now came up beside the man. It looked at him, parted its jaws, and whispered the word 'luck' under its breath. The man barely noticed this.

"What agreement?"