This time, it was a flophouse in the middle of a district.
Some tentatively termed the streets 'colourful'. But it was just a bad place to be in, no matter who you were, really.
The puddles on the cracked pavement (a relic from long ago) all stank, and he didn't bother to check the underside of his boots too carefully. The heavy cloak brushed tantalisingly close to a few of those puddles, but Gingetsu was a tall man.
Shadowy figures shrank to the side as he passed by.
The steps were filthy, but so was everything else, including the living, and so was the room in which the mother huddled, her baby lying in the middle of a bed swaddled in old clothes and crying her lungs out. She didn't seem to notice the wailing.
"Twenty dollars." She said, twining a clump of matted hair about her fingers. "Double if you want me to suck you off later."
He did not respond to that. "I wish to buy your child."
"A hundred fifty." The woman was looking steadily at him, the glint of the prospect of easy money in her eyes. She was young, and would be pretty enough for the next five years to not go too hungry.
She hefted the little one like it was sack of potatoes, and passed it to him, after he had given her the money. She did not look down at her daughter, but her hand had gripped his arm in an invitation that he didn't accept.
He took the baby from her arms, pulling the edge of his cloak to wrap around her more securely. The swaddling clothes were too thin, and so was she. Her eyes were green and she had a cap of curly black hair, and her nose was snub, a little smashed looking.
She didn't seem to want to stop crying either, continuing all through the entire trip back to the test centre.
Gingetsu later found out that it was because she was suffering from colic and malnutrition. She might have survived to be part of the Clover project, but they couldn't get her to feed or to keep it down when she did and her veins were too weak for a drip.
She died a week later.
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