This isn't the story I was talking about earlier. It's ... well, I'll let it speak for itself.
Hopefully I'll finish part 2 sometime this weekend.
Bret sat down on a convenient planter box in front of a small, seedy restaurant in the cheaper part of the City. The planter box, like the rest of the City, was worn and showing its age; no flowers grew there anymore, the wood was rotting and the paint was cracked and peeling. The sky was overcast, almost dark enough to be nighttime. (Or maybe it was night; he couldn't tell.) The smell of burnt trash mingled with human sweat and spent ammunition was pervasive, permeating everything around him.
It was raining again. It always does that on this godforsaken planet, he thought to himself. But nothing ever seems to grow here.
Archos was well-known for its raging storms, storms that would besiege the whole planet for days at a time. Its two large moons would constantly wreak havoc with the planet's geological forces, causing frequent earthquakes and huge tsunamis that made the coastlines uninhabitable. But it was a strategically valuable planet, so it had been settled; first by the Thuran, who brought along the humans and then abandoned it, then by the Denebians, who used it mainly for weapons storage and a source of cheap labor.
Bret watched as two rival gangs started taking potshots at each other across the street. People dove out of the way as the first shots rang out, harmlessly striking adjacent buildings or going through windows. They were using particle weapons, probably stolen from the Denebian storage depot. Both gangs scurried for cover in doorways or alleys; it looked as if this would quickly turn into a protracted battle.
A shiny black armored car moved down the street, temporarily blocking Bret's view. There were very few working vehicles anymore, and those that still functioned were seldom seen within the city limits; they were owned by the Managers, who invariably lived a safe distance from the City. Shots bounced harmlessly off the car as it continued down the street. Bret shifted position on the planter box to get comfortable. The gang battle was turning into excellent entertainment.
As he watched, a young girl whom he judged couldn't have been more than 12 or 13 Earth years old poked her head out from behind an open shop door. Her long, silky brown hair fell to just below her shoulders; it seemed to shine with a radiance that set it apart from the dirty, grungy mess of the City. She wore a striped blue scarf around her neck, identifying her as a member of the gang further down the street. One of the older boys in the closer gang saw her, and squeezed off a pulse that hit her right between the eyes.
She fell. As she hit the pavement, her carefully-combed hair spilled into the gutter in a tangled mess. Her blood mixed with the trash strewn about the sidewalk, and stained a pavement already dark red with the blood of those who lost their lives in many previous battles.
The rain continued to pour, drenching Bret and the gangs across the street. The sky flashed bright white for a split second. A deep peal of thunder rang out, shaking the buildings to their very foundations. He heard a sharp crack in the distance, then a booming crash as another old building caved in on itself. The battle continued; neither side seemed to have noticed.
Bret giggled as he lounged comfortably, his feet stretched out into the sidewalk. The stupid brats were going to die anyway, so what was the point? There were three ways to die on Archos; die in a gang, die working for the fat cats, or die enslaved to the Denebians.
He sauntered up the street, leaving the gang battle behind him.
Constructive feedback/criticism is always appreciated. I'd love to hear what (if anything) you get out of it.
Also, many thanks to northing for editing.