Chapter 11:

A Trip to Memory Lane

The Rise of Outcasts

I have always been the type of kid that was never really fixated on having a luxurious life. That's why I never really got along with most people since everyone here was just hungry for money. Friends I tried to make in the early stages of my life were way different from me. It felt like I belonged to a completely different society.Bookmark here

“Hey Nicolo, where are you going?”Bookmark here

Except for Angelo. He was a dumb kid, but the one who thought in a similar fashion as me. Bookmark here

“To the Armani Park.”Bookmark here

"Then, let's go together."Bookmark here

Now that I think about it, everyone, besides Angelo, was after my status. Girls were trying to get on my good side so that I could marry them. Thinking about it made me feel disgusted. Bookmark here

I guess that’s why I decided to visit Low End. I was curious about their lifestyle, their way of thinking and stuff like that. I didn't believe or fully understand all the propaganda they tried to shove into my brain about Low End. Bookmark here

“What? You want to go outside?”Bookmark here

"Yes, father. I am really curious to see High End."Bookmark here

My relationship with my father wasn't that bad back then… or more like, there wasn't any relation at all. He barely spent time with me. He ignored me this time as well. Bookmark here

Although, I did get permission to visit Low End districts after my younger brother was born. They named him Riccardo. Bookmark here

Bernard was the one who was accompanying me in those districts. I remember being slightly terrified by the sight of mass destruction. Our surroundings were eerily quiet and haunting. Our car stopped in front of the gate.Bookmark here

"You must not forget that these people are not worthy of your time. You are here to observe the filth. Do you understand, young master?"Bookmark here

I was too small to fully comprehend his words but I still nodded. Bookmark here

“Good. Now look, this district is called VII-99 CAS.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

"You don’t need to remember that.”Bookmark here

Then, Bernard grabbed my hand and we went inside. I remember being really fascinated by that completely different atmosphere. It was way different than High End. In the midst of all this, I got separated from the ones I came with. I was too immersed in this world that I didn't realize Bernard was not with me anymore.Bookmark here

"WOOHOO! What is this?"Bookmark here

Right in front of me, was a huge statue of a lion. I was so engrossed in that statue that I accidentally bumped into a kid and we both fell to the ground. He was as small as me, his clothes were torn up and dirt was all over his body.Bookmark here

“Are you alright?” I asked.Bookmark here

‘Yea….”Bookmark here

I didn't realize this back then but the kid was undoubtedly embarrassed to stand by my side because I was in such refined clothes. Even back then, I didn't care about stuff like this.Bookmark here

“What’s your name?”Bookmark here

“J….eroni….mo.”Bookmark here

“Jeronimo?”Bookmark here

He nodded.Bookmark here

“Can you tell me what this is?”Bookmark here

I pointed towards the statue.Bookmark here

“This is a monument of the person who built this place?"Bookmark here

“That’s pretty cool.”Bookmark here

He was staring at me with a surprised look. He probably didn't expect someone, of my calibre, will talk to him like that.Bookmark here

I turned towards him and held my hand out.Bookmark here

“I am Nicolo. Let’s be friends.” I had a smile on my face. I was pure and innocent back then. Didn’t hold back to befriend someone.Bookmark here

“You and me?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“But you are from a high-class family and I am just a street kid.”Bookmark here

“And why does it matter?”Bookmark here

Jeronimo was hesitating to take a step forward so I just went ahead, grabbed his hand and shook it myself.Bookmark here

"Now, we are friends."Bookmark here

Jeronimo also had a smile on his face.Bookmark here

"I need to go but I will be back again soon. Also, can you tell me the way out of this place?"Bookmark here

Following Jeronimo's direction, I finally reached the gate we entered from. I found our driver there who then, contacted Bernard. Obviously, I got scolded by him for running off on my own and I did apologize but it was worth it. That was the beginning of all things. Bookmark here

I, then, got more chances to visit that district and met Jeronimo. As time passed, I got to learn the terror of the Low End. I witnessed a family killing themselves because of some scandal. A mother killed her own kid because of hunger. From my observation, people were living for the sake of living. There was no life to it. Bookmark here

Not only that, nobles from the High End treated them worse than animals. A noble, right in front of me, forced a poor guy to lick his foot just to feel superior. That's when I truly began to hate High End.Bookmark here

“Angelo, who he is?”Bookmark here

“Orlando, someone whom I consider my brother."Bookmark here

“Nice to meet you.” Bookmark here

"Nice to meet you too. I am Nicolo."Bookmark here

Meeting with Coda made me realize that there might be more kids who thought akin to me.Bookmark here

“Hey Nicolo, I heard your sister was born last week.”Bookmark here

“Yes, that is correct. Her name is Sophia.”Bookmark here

“That’s a cute name. Congratulations.”Bookmark here

I nodded. I didn't care about it back then which I came to regret later on. I was so fixated on finding people that can understand me that I forgot about my siblings…and I criticized my father for that.Bookmark here

"Brother, I visited Low End for the first time."Bookmark here

Riccardo was telling me about his first time visiting Low End.Bookmark here

"It sure is fun stepping on trash. Can't believe they look just like us. That place is filled with filth. I don't think I will ever step onto that land again. You are strong to visit that place multiple times." Bookmark here

“So, you are just like our father as well.” I felt disgusted… but I shouldn't have. Bookmark here

Time passed with rapid speed; Antonio was born in the meantime and I was able to make some new friends, thanks to Orlando. Bookmark here

Things were rather calm at that time. We usually hung out at Armani Park and had fun together.Bookmark here

"Oh shit! Nicolo snapped again. Grab him, hurry."Bookmark here

“He punched Coda in the stomach.”Bookmark here

"What are you staring at, Trey? Do something."Bookmark here

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"Bookmark here

“Maybe you can laugh later Risa and give us a hand.”Bookmark here

“Nah, controlling Nicolo is beyond me.”Bookmark here

That was the usual. We hung out, we laughed, we joked around.Bookmark here

"Hey, they are opening a new game centre near my house. Want to give it a visit on its opening day?"Bookmark here

“Your house is a bit far, Valentino.”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, I will ask my driver to give us a ride.”Bookmark here

"You are as convenient as always, my brother."Bookmark here

"Get away from me, Angelo. Stop hugging me."Bookmark here

"Game centre?? Eh, that sounds boring for us girls, right Marisa?"Bookmark here

"Speak for yourself, Risa."Bookmark here

"You are betraying us? Well, at least I got Aida on my side."Bookmark here

"I have never been to a game centre, so this might be interesting."Bookmark here

“You too…”Bookmark here

"HAHAHAHAHA" There were multiple laughs.Bookmark here

"Hey… enough with that, you all made Risa cry."Bookmark here

"You were also laughing, Trey. Also, is she a kid or what?"Bookmark here

“SHUT UP, JERKS.”Bookmark here

Laughs this time were even louder. Bookmark here

I felt comfortable with them because none of them got close to me because of my status as the next head. I wished things could have continued like that forever but things would not have remained the same after my coming-of-age ceremony. We would have been drifted apart forever.Bookmark here

One day, I presented my thoughts in front of everyone.Bookmark here

"We have 3 years together. I want to be completely honest with you guys." I took a small pause. "I want to free Low End from the suffering."Bookmark here

Nobody was shocked. That was a weird response in my eyes.Bookmark here

“You aren’t surprised to hear that?”Bookmark here

"Not really, we all, kind of, figured it out. You always talked about how you hate the way nobles treat them. We were expecting you to say something like this... eventually."Bookmark here

"Damn it. I was extremely nervous about how to present it to you guys. Not gonna lie, I was getting cold feet thinking how you all might take it." Bookmark here

"HAHAHA! That's not entirely true. We all want a revolution as well but were too scared to speak about this publicly unlike you."Bookmark here

"Valentino is right. You, at least, got the guts to say that. We are willing to listen to what you have in your mind and how you want to proceed with these things."Bookmark here

That was the point when things swayed the way they are now... I initiated the rebellion and everyone took part in it. Bookmark here

We, then, visited Alibi District together for the first time. Going around and observing things was all we could do. Bookmark here

In the midst of all this, I encountered Jacob. He was just a homeless guy in the Alibi district, giving speeches on freedom in the middle of the street. Everyone seemed to ignore him but he grasped my attention. Bookmark here

That was how we met Jacob, the first person from Low End that agreed with us to destroy High End. He helped us in gathering more allies.Bookmark here

“It’s rare for you to visit me alone.” Bookmark here

I was walking alone with Jacob in the Alibi district.Bookmark here

"I was getting bored and none of them was available to accompany me."Bookmark here

"Then, it's a treat for me. What would you like to eat?"Bookmark here

“No need to____watch out”Bookmark here

Someone tried to shoot Jacob from the roof. I dived towards Jacob to push him out of the way. Bookmark here

After missing his shot, the guy clicked his tongue and tried to escape.Bookmark here

"Follow me, Nicolo. We won't let him escape."Bookmark here

“Do you have a gun?” Jacob asked me.Bookmark here

“Yes, I do.”Bookmark here

“Shoot him.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

"I never used a gun before so I can't do that. You have been trained, right?"Bookmark here

He was not wrong. They taught me well how to use a gun but I never really used it before. I took my gun out and aimed at his leg.Bookmark here

*BANG!*Bookmark here

The guy was bleeding from the head…Bookmark here

From the head…Bookmark here

Head...Bookmark here

Did I accidentally kill this person? The scenery was really horrifying. That was my first time killing someone… In fact, this was my first time seeing a dead body. My very soul was palpitating.Bookmark here

"Nicolo, get a hold of yourself." Jacob took me out of the scene of the crime. We were not in a position to think who that guy was or who sent him.Bookmark here

I, somehow, managed to get back home without any more trouble but my mental condition was not completely fixed, after what happened.Bookmark here

"Nicolo, make sure to be prepared for tomorrow night. We have a dinner with someone at Black Moon Restaurant."Bookmark here

“With whom?”Bookmark here

“You will know when you get there.”Bookmark here

It didn't feel right… My father never invited me for dinner. What was he scheming this time?Bookmark here

The time came and we left for our destination. There, I met a young man, might be in his early 30s. Sitting alongside him, was a girl of my age, having short blonde hair.Bookmark here

From our greetings, I came to know that the man's name was Alen and the girl, who was sitting beside him, was his daughter, Fina.Bookmark here

"Nicolo, Mr. Alen is an acquaintance of mine and her daughter is chosen to be your fiancée."Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

"She will be living with us till your ceremony, then we will hold a marriage ceremony. Till then, you both will get to know each other."Bookmark here

What was that nonsense? I couldn't say a thing because I still hadn't recovered from that incident.Bookmark here

I couldn't resist and Fina moved in by next week. This was all frustrating and awkward. I didn't like Fina at all at the start but feelings improved as time passed since she was the major reason why I recovered from that nightmare and in the blink of an eye, she was a part of our group.Bookmark here

I stared at the dead body in the present. That wasn't the only time I had killed someone. There were multiple occasions where I had to pull the trigger and Fina was always there for me. But for how long? I needed to grow out of my shell otherwise, I wouldn't be of any use in the final battle. Bookmark here

What to do now? I just killed the guy after dragging him out of the cave. I couldn't go back to Fina. She must have been resting since the meeting was at night. But, what should I do with this shaking? LI tried to diverge my mind. Bookmark here

I went into a small casino and played some games, then came outside, ate some food, drank some beer, walked around the district a bit more then, rested in the motel. I thought it slightly lightened the weight. I guess this was one way to overcome it. It was all about my way of thinking.Bookmark here

I was staring at the ceiling of the room. What to do after this? Maybe I should go back to Opus but I needed to disguise myself before that. Now that I am a wanted man and everyone is after me.Bookmark here

As I was about to open the door, I felt someone's presence outside. I see, there were more.Bookmark here

I used the window to get down, went to the parking lot, grabbed my bike and went out but someone still noticed me.Bookmark here

“There he is.”Bookmark here

Crap.Bookmark here

I increased the speed and went out of the district. Only 3 of them were there, following me. They were having a tough time aiming at me because I was riding the bike like a gangster.Bookmark here

I pulled my gun out and shot the tyre of one of the bikes. He fell while taking down the one on his right side in the process. They both fell in the pit, filled with metal scraps. They were dead, for sure. One guy was still chasing me desperately, trying to hit me with his gun but it was not working, of course. Bookmark here

He threw a grenade at me but barely missed me.Bookmark here

“It’s not that easy to kill me.” Bookmark here

I shot another fire. The guy was down the next moment. Without wasting any more time, I went straight to the hideout that Jacob showed me where we disguised ourselves.Bookmark here

It was a small cabin. I went inside. There were a bunch of clothes and accessories for the sake of disguising. After completing my disguise, I grabbed the bike and rode my way to Opus.Bookmark here

I arrived at the base by noon.Bookmark here

“I don’t know about you guys but I currently have a bounty on my head.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

"I encountered four bounty hunters. One of them provided this info to me."Bookmark here

“That explains the disguise. It’s really bad, it will be hard for you to walk around freely.” Risa said.Bookmark here

“I know, that's why you guys will do most of the work now. I will only get involved when it’s really necessary. Speaking of work, I got good news for you.”Bookmark here

“What is it?”Bookmark here

"I confirmed with Jeronimo that High Nobles tend to visit him quite often. One will visit him in two months. You will decide the group yourself and your objective is to steal the weapons during the dealing. Steal every single thing from them."Bookmark here

"Who is the high noble?"Bookmark here

“I don’t remember his name; it was a weird one but it’s not necessary.”Bookmark here

"Then, I want to be a part of this group." Fina suddenly spoke.Bookmark here

“You?”Bookmark here

“Yes. I got good reflexes and I can use a gun quite well.”Bookmark here

Everyone seemed to be conflicted.Bookmark here

“Oh, come on. I will take care of myself."Bookmark here

"What you say, Nicolo?" Valentino asked me.Bookmark here

"Well, she is not wrong about good reflexes since she saved me during the ceremony but……… Urgh fine, you can go."Bookmark here

“Yippee.”Bookmark here

"I will be in charge of this group." Valentino announced. "Joining in will be Angelo, Orlando and Marsia." Bookmark here

That settles it then. This group will be the one to execute the plan in two months. Bookmark here

Real Aire
You can resume reading from this paragraph.