Chapter 15:

Rage Against the Machine Pt. I

Half-Paid Heroes

---- Author's Note ----
Just to get myself unstuck on this story, I wrote a backstory...and it ended up taking up way too much space to fit the usual chapter, so it's spread over three. It's probably rougher than usual, but feel free to alert me if it is.

You'll notice most of this story's titles have been puns of some sort, one way or another. Well, this backstory also gains its title from a pun, although its namesake doesn't appear in this chapter...

Enough blabbering though - enjoy these next three chapters.
Meanwhile, Yuki had just unlocked his claustrophobic, white-walled space of a flat, a cardboard box in his arms as he shoved the door aside using his shoulder. The box itself was filled with mini bottles of the same yellow liquid he'd been consuming at the induction picnic - it didn't have much of a taste, certainly, but the one who supplied them, Nour, mentioned it was meant to help him regain his appetite.

After all, he was still recovering from events that happened a few years back.

After setting the box down on the table, he pulled the fold out section of the sofabed and, trying his hardest to ignore the neon lights outside, he gradually willed himself asleep...
This was the tale of a boy whose life went against him.

From youth, his cheekbones were prominent, his figure gaunt like a skeleton on the gallows.

However, a man - who the boy could always identify due to various tattoos which snaked across his body - came to rescue him from the maw of death.

The boy began to become a regular truant, disillusioned with his world, searching for a way out and a way to bring himself to a better status...and school would never help him with that, no matter how much any counselors believed he should.

The two would join forces to pilfer wallets in the city, despite the thirty minute train ride they'd have to take to get there.
By the time he was fifteen, he no longer knew what "normal" was.

The day of the boy's fifteenth birthday was when the man decided to completely remodel the boy in the image their superiors decided for him.

He struggled, he bit, he kicked...

...but he could not escape his superiors' grasp as his screams became drowned out.

They forced on to him their blasphemous gang symbols and false colours, drawing all over parts of the body which were both private and semi-private.

They shaved off half his hair, and when the boy finally got a chance to look in the mirror, he no longer felt like himself.

He no longer was himself.
Even though he hated his appearance, there was one reason why the boy kept it the way it was - a certain lady (a recent arrival, judging from her foreign silk dresses and large sashes) who went from one-time target to his item of affection. They kept meeting up, as much as they could, and it seemed like the affection was mutual...

His associates of course caught wind of this, and they wolf whistled accordingly.

"Hey, lover boy, give her to us!" they cried, while he sobbed before them and grovelled at their feet, his bony hands covering his mess of a pale face.

He met her up in an alley one day, only to receive these scathing words: "I know you're a nice person, but if I continue to see you, nothing good will ever come out of it."

His ever-so-supportive superior, the tattoo-marked man, had been watching from the side of one of the buildings, and reported this to their superiors.

It was a horrible eighteenth birthday for the boy.

Gerry Hines