The Empires of Luxor City
Sasha Hope © 2020
All Rights Reserved
There had never been fewer tears shed at a funeral.
It was strange. Crowds had wailed at funerals for worse men, but not a single soul in Luxor City wept for Malik Wesa, a business magnate who’d left behind a wife and two sons. They just stood there, all of them staring straight ahead with cold black eyes as the funeral director rolled the old man’s coffin into the crematory. Visible through a tiny char-stained window, the man who’d once been their leader burned down to ash and bone until there was nothing left of him but dust.
Shaking the image from his mind, Dom Wesa walked out through a wrought-iron fence and left the inner-city funeral home. He buried his hands deep in the pockets of his overcoat and made his way back across the busy city streets toward his office on the east side of town.
A chill rolled off the water near the docks as the year moved into fall. Dom originally drove to the funeral home with the rest of the family, but he couldn’t bear to spend another second with them even if it meant enduring the icy wind.
When a family member dies, all too often they are given a whole new life story. This was a universal truth Dom struggled to wrap his head around. There weren’t any tears at his father’s funeral, but there were enough artificial words of kindness to make him grit his teeth and bite his tongue until his eyes watered.
They all loved to mention how hard things would be for Dom with his father gone; how much weight would now fall on his shoulders.
Dom wanted to laugh. He’d been running this town without his old man’s help for ages. The death of the man he had stopped calling father a long time ago wouldn’t change a thing in his day-to-day life; it just made his position more official. Dom was now the eldest Alpha of the Wesa family, one of the great crime families in Luxor City, the capital of New America.
Decades back, when the government’s power over New America first started to crumble, the gangs of Luxor City went to war, fighting for control over the expansive city’s lucrative ports. As Dom walked through the streets, he passed the remnants of that conflict in the form of bullet holes etched into brick walls that lined the sidewalks and boulevards. Luxor hadn’t always been a haven of prosperity. These wounds were stark reminders that they should not let war tear their city apart again. They’d been preserved during reconstruction.
After years of brutality and gangland warfare, the dust finally settled over the metropolitan battleground. Only three factions were left in a city divided by chaos. They brokered a peace treaty, a deal that divided Luxor into three Empires, each ruled firmly by the Alpha heads of the surviving crime families: Wesa in the Center, Faraji in the North, and Sun in the South.
Dom Wesa was the sole Alpha heir to the Central Empire, a great strip of land stretching from the high-rises along the city’s eastern ports all the way to the cliffs on the western coast. Their portion of city was the smallest, but the Center also included the West Island, the final stretch of green pasture and woodland in Luxor, a place where only the wealthiest families could afford acreage.
Sila Wesa, the family’s Omega matriarch, still maintained an estate there. She would probably return home once the ladder-climbing mourners all left her in peace. As an Omega, she was expected to stay home and mourn her Alpha’s death for at least a year. Dom hated thinking of her returning to that vast hollow estate, but she wouldn’t be alone. She had his younger brother, Atsadi, with her.
Maybe they could be happy there now, but Dom couldn’t stand the place.
He made his way to his portside office, the private sanctuary where he conducted the family business, far removed from his father’s offices across from the luxury hotels and nightclubs downtown. It was an old-fashioned Deco-style building, relatively small compared to Luxor’s expansive high-rises, but taller than the nearby brownstone residences lining the old dock’s edge.
Dom entered through the public hall and took the stairs to his office instead of his private elevator. He couldn’t stand still, not even for a minute, not until he got a drink in him.
His office took up most of the fifth floor. A large window lined the street-facing wall, giving him a view of his docks and businesses as well as the swaying blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean.
Ships pulled in and out, always coming and going. The ports were the center of all business in Luxor. They had been around since the city’s foundation and wrapped around the entire coastline, enclosing Luxor in a circle of docks extending out into the water like a sea urchin’s spikes. It was a well-known fact that he who controlled the ports, controlled the trade, and he who controlled the trade, controlled the city.
Dom was fond of the old portside architecture. He had always been keen on the brutalist, Deco styles of ancient cities. He even decorated his office to match with polished wood and geometric patterns of gold emblazoned on black surfaces.
Inside the familiar space he’d made his own, he poured himself a glass of whisky from a decanter on his side table. He took a good long swig before taking a seat in the plush leather chair behind his mahogany desk.
Sighing heavily, he closed his eyes until a quiet thud on his desk drew them open again.
A thin newssheet folded down the middle sat in the center of his desk. Images flashed across its holographic surface. Dom recognized himself, his brother, and his mother in more than one. Fucking paparazzi.
The Luxor City Times headline read: Death of Malik Wesa leaves Central Empire in hands of son, Dominik.
Dom stared at the paper with a deadpan expression. Unblinking, he took another sip of his drink.
“Somehow I figured you’d be back in the office today.”
Dom’s gaze shifted in the direction of the voice.
His right-hand woman, Isa Saqui, stood over his desk smirking down at him.
Isa had been Dom’s eyes and ears ever since terminal illness took his old man out of power and put Dom in charge. She was an Alpha, a member of the dominant sex, like everyone in his inner circle. Isa stood tall, a muscular and imposing woman with angular bone structure casting dramatic shadows over her olive skin. Her long hair was tied in an intricate brunette braid that fell over one shoulder.
Dom turned away from her and picked up the newssheet. Without giving it another glance, he tossed it back across the desk toward her.
“The headline is hilarious,” he muttered before taking another drink.
Isa chuckled as she snatched the thin device back up.
“Isn’t it?” she said as she examined the article. “I mean, it’s not even news. Your old man hadn’t been running shit for years.”
It was true. Even before his father’s illness, Dom had been in charge, but Malik’s stint in the hospital had truly put him in power. In under a year, he’d earned the city’s respect and made vast alterations throughout the Central Empire to counter his father’s ineffective rule. Dom had always been in control; nothing would change now Malik Wesa was gone.
“We shouldn’t speak ill of the dead,” Dom said, smiling around the rim of his glass.
“Then let’s talk business.” Isa grinned like a shark. “Because I haven’t got anything good to say about the old bastard. How was his funeral, by the way?”
Dom simply shrugged in response. “Let’s talk business.”
With another snort of a laugh, Isa pulled out her phone and started going over a list of the day’s imports. The ships had come in on time, and their guys on the docks were already warehousing their “product,” storing it until it could be shipped throughout Luxor.
“So, we finally received those luxury cars we’ve been waiting for, two weeks late, but that’s the Southern trade route for you. Same shipment had a few crates of unprocessed opium—”
Dom cut in with gritted teeth, “Make sure that goes straight to the labs. Apart from heat suppressants, I don’t want to see that shit on my streets.”
“Already done.” Isa hardly even glanced up from her phone. “The independent Omegas of Luxor are already thanking you. You truly are a hero, Dom, providing them with suppressants and saving them from their dreaded heats. Less mating means more working. Off your backs and on your feet. That can be your campaign slogan.”
Dom eyed Isa, trying to gauge her level of sarcasm before gesturing for her to carry on with a short huff of amusement.
“Firearms from the mainland,” Isa said before listing off the models and manufacturers. “About half of this shipment is being sold to the Sun family in the south. They’ve got an underground trade problem on their hands.”
In the south of Luxor City, the Sun family controlled the majority of the city’s ports, but only imported from the Second Continent, across the western seas. This made them an excellent trading partner for Dom whose eastern ports shipped to and from New America. Whenever the Southern Empire wanted products from the New American mainland, Dom was their man, and when he needed Second Continent shipments, he knew just who to ask.
“All right.” Dom stood from his chair, rubbing his hands together. “The agent from the Sun family will want to see the guns before we truck them over. I’ll call—” Dom stopped abruptly when a terse shout erupted from the streets below, loud enough to resonate through the glass window and into his fifth-floor office.
“What the hell was that?” Isa asked with a furrowed brow.
Dom walked over to glare out of the window. They were right above the lobby, so a glance down offered a clear view of the ground below.
Across the street, a young man stumbled along the sidewalk. Even from the distance, Dom could tell there was something off about him. He swayed with each step, unable to keep to a straight line and using one hand to balance himself against the wall of the opposite building to keep from falling over.
He disappeared into an alleyway, followed closely by another man. This much larger man was the one shouting furiously as he marched into the narrow passage after the boy.
Dom turned from the window and grabbed his coat. Without a backward glance, he stormed out of his office.
“Dom? Hey! What the hell was that?” Isa repeated as he passed. She tried calling after him again, but he was already out of the door.
“You know, for an Omega, you’re a lot of fucking trouble!”
The young man stood cornered between a concrete wall and the heavy man who was shouting in his face. His entire body shook. He bowed his head, whimpering in a way that, coming from an Omega, would make most Alphas calm down instantly.
Unfortunately, this man was a Beta. Large as he was, he did not have the height nor the muscular build of an Alpha. Still, that didn’t stop him from being able to easily manhandle the lithe little Omega in his arms. Like 40 percent of the population, he had no secondary sex. Betas didn’t go into heat or mate, they didn’t knot or breed, they simply were, and in a way their lives were easier. Mundane as it was, they didn’t have to worry about being treated as subordinate or going into heat like an Omega did and they could not be manipulated by an Omega’s sweet scent like an Alpha could. This Beta couldn’t smell the fear seeping from an Omega’s pores and didn’t react to soft cries. He didn’t care.
He simply laughed.
“Pretty things like you think they can have the world for free.” As he spoke, he smacked the young Omega’s cheek in a harsh pat. “Me, I deal in drugs and money, babe. You got your drugs, so where is my fucking money! Huh?”
In a daze, the Omega couldn’t find the words to answer. His mouth felt full of cotton. Even with this brawny Beta shouting in his face, he was only half-conscious as he leaned against the wall.
The Beta man slammed a heavy fist into the concrete near his head, causing him to jolt.
“You listening?” He scoffed and raised a hand, palm open wide. “I could make you listen if—”
The dealer’s last words came out in an uncontrolled grunt. A strong grip around his raised wrist yanked him back and the force of the pull sent him hurdling across the alley. His head cracked against the opposite wall with a sickening wet crunch.
Now in a daze of his own, the dealer reached around the back of his skull. His fingers came away red with blood. He stared up with wide unfocused eyes, searching for his assailant.
His angry gaze fell on Dom’s shadowed figure. He stood in the middle of the alley, a wall between the dealer and the Omega.
Gritting his teeth, the bloodied dealer clambered to his feet.
“You son of a—”
Before the man could stand, Dom dug the heel of a polished oxford into the man’s hip crease, sending him right back down to the ground with a pained groan.
“The fuck?” he hissed, clutching his leg. “Who the fuck are you? This is my business, man!”
“You’re on my streets,” Dom drawled. “That makes it my business.”
As he finished speaking, Dom drew a Glock from where it was strapped to his chest beneath his coat. With a practiced hand, he flicked the safety off. “I’ve made rules against this kind of shit. I thought they were pretty clear.”
The abject terror filtering across the dealer’s face was a sight Dom had seen a hundred times before. His eyes bulged with fear, not of the gun, but because he now recognized the man holding it.
“Alpha Wesa,” the dealer whispered as Dom stepped over him and pressed the gun to his forehead. “I—I didn’t know he was your Omega. Dom, I swear I—”
Dom didn’t even blink as he pulled the trigger. He’d passed judgement as soon as he’d witnessed the dealer raise a fist against his young victim.
The gunshot rang out loud, echoing through the narrow space. The young Omega on the opposite side of the alleyway jerked violently at the sound.
As the blast’s echo faded, the dealer’s body keeled over and landed with a heavy thud on the pavement. The point-blank gunshot left a garish mess in the center of his head.
Dom sneered down as a pool of blood gathered around his shoes. Holstering his weapon, he turned from one victim to the other. Behind him, the shaken young man was barely able to stand even with his back supported against the wall.
Dom stepped toward him. Taking a deep breath in through his nose, he frowned.
The kid was an Omega, that was certain enough. Dom could tell, not only by his slight build, but by the scent of pheromones hanging light in the air. Faintly sweet, but the sweetness was shrouded by an acidic overtone. It caught in the back of Dom’s throat like sugarcane vinegar.
Dom stepped forward and softly patted the Omega’s gaunt cheeks.
“How much did you take, huh?” he demanded.
The young man opened his dark hooded eyes. He stared right through Dom, gazing off into a void. His pupils were the size of pinpricks.
“Shit,” Dom hissed.
Not one second later, the Omega’s body gave out. Whatever adrenaline had been keeping him on his feet had run out. He collapsed like a ragdoll into Dom’s arms.
He was tiny, barely weighed a thing. It took minimal effort for Dom to scoop him up and out of the dirty alleyway. Dom hoisted the Omega up into a strong hold and carried him back across the street like a bride to where Isa had just exited their office building.
“I heard a gunshot. What the fuck happened?” she asked, her eyes moving between Dom and the kid in his arms. “And who the hell’s this?”
Dom didn’t answer.
“There’s a body back there,” he said instead. “Get rid of it.”
Isa turned. In the shadows, the corpse bleeding out in the darkness of the alleyway was barely visible, but Dom knew there could be no mistaking the crumpled form of a man laying dead on the ground.
“Fucking hell, Dom,” she muttered, though she didn’t sound surprised. “What’d the Beta do to deserve that?”
“He was dealing whatever this kid took,” Dom replied. “I’m gonna get him sobered up enough to ask a few questions.”
Isa cast one more glance down at the Omega in Dom’s arms. The young man’s head lolled listlessly with every step Dom took and he was covered in a thin sheen of sweat. His fine black hair stuck to his pale skin, obscuring his gaunt but arresting features.
“You’re not taking him back to your place…are you?” Isa asked.
Again, Dom didn’t answer. He simply continued on his path past her.
Isa snorted out a half-laugh and called out after him, “He’s probably a junkie, you know! He’s gonna rob you for his next fix.”
Dom paused, but didn’t turn to look at her. He said simply, “There are no junkies on my streets.”
Isa huffed caustically as she walked into the alleyway.
“Yeah,” she called back to Dom from where she stood over the dead body. “This place is fucking paradise!”
As he drove through the downtown traffic, Dom gripped the steering wheel with white-knuckled force. He cast a quick glance at the young Omega passed out next to him in the passenger’s seat, a hot ache growing in his chest.
Shivering and unconscious, the young man was barely breathing. His head dipped to his chest, limp muscles unable to hold it up. His eyes were closed, but moving rapidly behind the lids as if he was having a bad dream.
It didn’t take much to put all the symptoms together. Whatever he’d taken, he’d taken too much of it, and in a few minutes he’d be too far gone to come back out of whatever rabbit hole he’d wandered down into.
Whispering another harsh curse under his breath, Dom swerved around the car ahead of him. He floored it, snaking through traffic, ignoring the barrage of blaring car horns that followed him all the way back to his apartment.