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Chapter 1 - Jack and Halle

The Calvard Republic.

There's a city in this country, a place where migrants from the East have recreated their homeland down to the bright lacquered tiles. Nicknamed the Eastern Quarter, it's a vibrant place, bustling and hot.

The visible parts of the city aren't the only bustling areas, either--the underworld is just as lively.

For over a decade, the Eastern Quarter had been embroiled in a battle between old and new gangs. Half a year ago, the balance of power between the two changed significantly...all thanks to the outcome of a single game of poker. The newcomers suffered a crushing defeat, while the established gangs enjoyed a glorious victory.

The two players in that pivotal game, however, cared nothing for the gangs' territory disputes.

The first was a man named Jack, a prolific gambler known by the moniker 'Victory Jack' because of the countless wins he had to his name.

The second was the daughter of the late 'King,' Jack's former teacher and once the most skilled cardsharp in the region. Her name was Halle.

The match between them took many unexpected turns, and shocking truths were dealt as readily as hands.

The game eventually ended with Jack claiming the win, but Halle's loss also liberated her from the seedy underworld she'd been drawn into.

After her infamous exit, Halle took to working as a waitress in a run-down bar on the northern outskirts of the Eastern Quarter.

For Jack, who called that run-down bar home, it wasn't quite the ending he'd had in mind, but Halle's unyielding resolve forced him to resign himself to the inevitable.

Several months passed after that fateful game, and the two continued to live in relative harmony.

It was on one such peaceful day, the heat of summer at its peak, that Halle decided to take Jack out on a little trip. Their destination: the new town adjacent to the Eastern Quarter. Preferring to spend his time in the comfort and seclusion of the bar, Jack considered this idea nothing short of torture.

'Man, if only we had an orbal car...' he grumbled.

Halle shot him a skeptical look. 'You can drive, Jack?'

He shrugged. 'Well enough. Been a while, but wouldn't be much of a man if I couldn't. There aren't many guys of MY caliber who can't handle a--'

'Whatever,' she interrupted, mercilessly cutting him short as they approached their destination.

A newly constructed building with a giant sign above the entrance loomed before them. It was a movie theater--one of only a small number in the entirety of the Republic.