Chapter 4:

Chapter 4

Bike Hero Volume 1

Here I was, standing 24 years old.
Bookmark here

My late teen years hadn't been that easy.Bookmark here

My childhood was filled with hatred and despair, and that despair would haunt me for the rest of my life.Bookmark here

But fear not, my future would begin anew.Bookmark here

However, my future was far from being depressing.Bookmark here

Destiny was calling for me.Bookmark here

But I couldn't stress how ridiculous it was to work at a junkyard, selling scraps for profit.Bookmark here

At least I didn't return to school because of the green belt that I was wearing.Bookmark here

Otherwise, it would be strange and concerning if I did.Bookmark here

For my former teenage self, the past was the past.Bookmark here

What lay was indeed a new beginning.Bookmark here

I felt relieved to start a new life for my well-being. Bookmark here

One morning, I was searching for scraps through the junkyard.Bookmark here

While at the junkyard, the place was ever so grimy and had a foul-smelling odor.Bookmark here

I couldn't stand working in that condition, not minding how I had to take care of myself financially without someone's support.Bookmark here

I would never forget the time where my hands were so filthy that I couldn't take the time to wash them, let alone not realizing my regret of being employed in a pointless job.Bookmark here

Yes, even it got all over my clothes.Bookmark here

And after all, there was no going back, and nothing couldn't be changed.Bookmark here

No, my decision couldn't be changed, and so was my fate.Bookmark here

For what it was worth, I had wasted my life only to be captured by a mad scientist and then saved by that girl.Bookmark here

Perhaps, my destiny could be meaningless!Bookmark here

But something was about to occur.Bookmark here

I heard faint footsteps, looking around to see where the sound was coming from.Bookmark here

Then, I heard a feminine voice: "Oye. Te estuve buscando."Bookmark here

Did I hear Spanish?Bookmark here

I only knew a few words from my school days but not in a sentence.Bookmark here

Heck, I even tried learning it from a Spanish textbook, but it was unnatural and awful because of how cheap it was! Bookmark here

The voice continued: "Well, I suppose you don't understand Spanish. I'm just speaking it for fun."Bookmark here

Her manner of speech was that of a mixture of Mexican and Texan accents. Bookmark here

Once I turned around from behind, I saw a girl.Bookmark here

I could remember it clearly!Bookmark here

But wait, could my destiny be possible after all?Bookmark here

Being spooked, I cried out: "Ah! It's you! I know you! I knew you from the laboratory five years ago! And have you been stalking me?"Bookmark here

The girl went mute for a minute before uttering: "Stalking you? I'm not just stalking you, George. I'm looking for you to take you on a mission with me. I've been searching for you for five years."Bookmark here

What!?Bookmark here

How did she know my name?Bookmark here

And how did she get information about me?Bookmark here

It was bizarre.Bookmark here

But it had something to do with a connection.Bookmark here

The connection regarding the laboratory incident five years back.Bookmark here

I spoke to her: "Mission? What mission are you talking about? I don't even know you that well!"Bookmark here

She replied: "I knew you from high school five years ago. The only exception is that I hadn't spoken to you before because I was a loner like you."Bookmark here

I replied: "A loner? Like me?"Bookmark here

She nodded: "Yeah. I was that 19-year-old girl back then. And even then, I had a troubled childhood."Bookmark here

A 19-year-old girl?Bookmark here

So we were the same age, and we both had an unfortunate childhood?Bookmark here

It just didn't get any weirder.Bookmark here

But I was surprised that we both had in common.Bookmark here

But how come?Bookmark here

How come she knew everything about me without meeting me back then?Bookmark here

Did we both have a connection regarding our fate?Bookmark here

From the look of it, she looked a bit older than she was, from what I could remember.Bookmark here

Well, compared to myself.Bookmark here

However, her clothing didn't change one bit too.Bookmark here

I said: "Uh, I see. But you still haven't answered my question. What's in it for me? Why do you need me for your mission? It doesn't make any sense, and you approached me out of the blue. Besides, I'm trying to work and make a living on my own! I'm a loser, and I will remain that way! So leave me alone and don't come back! I want to be alone for good! Heck, I'm speaking to a stranger, for crying out loud!"Bookmark here

Strangely, the girl started giggling, not taking my complaints seriously: "You're exaggerating, George. Don't take yourself seriously. It will be a temporary thing. Once that is over, you can go about your day again. I promise. So will you cooperate with me?"Bookmark here

I hesitated, trying to think up a question for her which I did: "Oh yeah? Can you at least tell me a little bit about yourself?"Bookmark here

She contemplated, briefly staring at the ground before nodding: "Sure. I don't mind telling you a little bit about myself. However, it might take longer than that."Bookmark here

I suspired, preparing myself to hear what the girl had to say.Bookmark here

It was as if she was trying to convince me into joining her task, which I had nothing to do with it.Bookmark here

Anyway, I might as well shut up and listen.Bookmark here

Besides, I wanted to get on with my life without anything getting in my way.Bookmark here

I said: "Okay, I'm listening."Bookmark here

Hence, she told me this: "When I was a kid, I had a happy and loving family. I was born and raised in Chula Vista. My mother would cook me the best food while my father would take me to see the rodeo every morning. But something took an unfortunate turn. The Sureños, loosely affiliated Mexican gangs, killed my family before burning down the house where I fondly remembered. One day, I was sent to the orphanage and lived there until something happened when I was 16 years old. The Haywoods, a white family, adopted me, manifesting me with joy. However, they were nothing like my biological parents. I experienced racism, neglect, and, uh, well, you get the idea. It was traumatic, and there was no love. When I was in my high school days, my life there was pointless. I had no friends, no purpose in life, and no happiness. Nothing. I was a loner. But then, that was when I saw you for the first time, sensing your loneliness."Bookmark here

I didn't want to interrupt her speaking, but I thought up a question for her out of my curiosity.Bookmark here

I asked: "So you were just like me, huh?"Bookmark here

She continued: "Yeah, but my past self has been long gone. It got worse. My foster mother threatened to kill me if I did anything stupid, which I hadn't. Her reasoning didn't make any sense. That was when I had decided to take justness into my own hands. So one day, I bought an ax from the store, lying about my intentions to use it, and massacred the Haywoods with it. I could remember their corpses lying on the floor, laughing hysterically as I was free at last. But on the inside, I could feel the pain and despair that was running through my mind. I made a stupid mistake, George."Bookmark here

I gulped, making it seem like I was speaking to a psychopath.Bookmark here

Was I really speaking to a psychopath?Bookmark here

I said: "And, uh, what happened after that?"Bookmark here

She carried on: "The police came and arrested me. The judges gave me a life sentence at the court because California doesn't have the death penalty. I remembered that once I got on the bus, I broke down in tears because I thought it would be my end. They took me to a women's prison where I saw hell waiting for me to anguish. It wasn't pretty. I underwent many traumatic experiences there. It was so traumatic that I can't even describe it to you, George. Then, I had decided to take a rebellious route. And that rebellious route was to prove myself as having the title of the most ferocious fighting woman in prison. Since that moment, I dyed my hair blue, and my personality changed from timid to aggressive. I became a different person. I saw the prison as a new home to me, gaining friends and foes along the way."Bookmark here

I gulped again, nervously thinking that I met a former prisoner who might have managed to break out of prison.Bookmark here

Unless she had been bailed out of it for some reason. Bookmark here

I could be wrong, of course.Bookmark here

I questioned her: "But you're not in prison anymore. How did you manage to get out of it? Did you escape? Did someone bail you out? I'm just curious to know!"Bookmark here

Perhaps, my curiosity could've been too much.Bookmark here

She replied: "I'm getting to that point, George. So some time passed by, a group of FBI agents approached me with a smile while eating my lunch. They asked me to follow them, which I did, taking me to a secretive location."Bookmark here

I said: "Are you saying that because it's top secret?"Bookmark here

She said: "Obviously, uh, yes. If I told you about it, the FBI is gonna kill me! It is between me and the FBI! Not you! You hear me?"Bookmark here

I shivered, not expecting her to be this anxious about it. Bookmark here

I might as well respect her secret.Bookmark here

I said: "Uh, okay. I was only asking you that because I was curious. Uh, but go ahead."Bookmark here

She continued: "As I was saying, the FBI agents interrogated me concerning my freedom from prison. They wanted me to look for this person under the name of 'Kingpin,' a leader of the Echo Brotherhood, and if I found him, then they would let me out of prison for good. As much as I cared about it, I agreed to their offer in favor of earning my freedom. In other words, I became an informant. My prison life was coming to an end, for a brief time if things went well for me."Bookmark here

Another question came into my mind.Bookmark here

I couldn't bear to hold it in until the last minute, but I had to ask her this.Bookmark here

I said: "The FBI interrogating you about your release? What in the world are you talking about? Are you trying to make up lies on me? Also, who is this 'Kingpin'?"Bookmark here

She irritably said: "If you can shut your mouth for once and stop interrupting me, then I will tell you! I'm about to get to that point!"Bookmark here

Oh, how rude of me.Bookmark here

Maybe I should've kept my mouth shut so she could continue with her story.Bookmark here

I embarrassingly said: "Oh, sorry! I was asking you too much out of my curiosity and worriment! Keep going."Bookmark here

She went on: "Then ever since I got out of prison, the task that I was given became a temporary thing unless it were to be successful. The FBI agents told me that Kingpin might have a connection with a boy under the name of George Sugiyama, which is you, and my second objective is to protect you at all costs from harm and death. For five years, George, I've been monitoring your every move but in a good way, including the time where I set you free from the lab experiment and the time where I saw you testing out your powers for the first time from that green belt of yours. It's called the Jade Belt, right? The FBI refers to it as the Emerald Belt, which I will also refer to from now on. As an informant for the FBI and a former prisoner, I will make sure that justice will prevail in every aspect of society, and my fight for freedom is more important than reliving my dark past. Well, that's it about me, and I'm done talking. Now you can say something, George."Bookmark here

Well, I could move my mouth again.Bookmark here

How ironic.Bookmark here

Concerning what the girl had said to me, how in the world could she be stalking me for the past five years?Bookmark here

It was very unsettling.Bookmark here

I could definitely see her as a guardian angel, but I didn't know what else to describe her as.Bookmark here

A guardian angel wouldn't do something like that.Bookmark here

I mean, I could be overthinking it.Bookmark here

I said: "So you have been looking after me for five years? Exactly five years? I should've known."Bookmark here

She said: "You are putting yourself in danger, George. But technically speaking, I can't lose you to anyone. If I do, my mission will fail, and I have to go back to prison for the rest of my life. That's why I'm asking you to cooperate with me, so I don't have to go back. I'm not asking for much. Besides, what I said about justice and all of that was ridiculous. It was an excuse. I'm just saying these to make myself look cool but don't mind me."Bookmark here

Should I cooperate with the girl for real?Bookmark here

If I refuse, I will miss an opportunity to prove to myself how better I could be.Bookmark here

If I accept, I will put my superheroic skills to the test, and nothing would turn out bad again.Bookmark here

What should I do?Bookmark here

What should I do?Bookmark here

What should I do!?Bookmark here

I was panicking!Bookmark here

Okay, George, I wasn't panicking literally, but I needed to pull myself together.Bookmark here

You know what, I might as well take on the mission.Bookmark here

After all, my promise was to save innocent lives from the Echo Brotherhood, and I would break that promise if I failed to do so.Bookmark here

So I made my final choice.Bookmark here

But before I could do it, I asked her this: "If I may ask, what is the Echo Brotherhood? Is it like a terrorist group or something?"Bookmark here

She explained: "The Echo Brotherhood is a terrorist organization sponsored by multiple yakuzas via Japan. The value in forging a better future for Earth through technological means but comes with a deadly price. However, it used to be associated with Japanese nationalism among Japanese Americans around World War II, but it had since faded into obscurity. So yeah, they have been around for a while. Does that answer your question?"Bookmark here

I slowly nodded: "Uh, yeah."Bookmark here

Before I could ask her another question, she pointed at the Jade Belt, which I was equipped with.Bookmark here

She said: "That green belt of yours. I think by using it, you can make a difference. If we can work together, we can take on the Echo Brotherhood from your power, and I will forever be out of prison, never returning to it. That's an excellent idea, right? But if you still insist on not teaming up with me, I will be on my way then. Adiós, George."Bookmark here

Wait, she was leaving!Bookmark here

I wouldn't let her leave yet!Bookmark here

I couldn't leave her hanging!Bookmark here

I must do something about it!Bookmark here

I uttered: "Wait!"Bookmark here

She stopped and turned around, looking at me with an unfazed expression: "Oh? Have I changed your mind, George? If you have something to say before I leave, then say it."Bookmark here

Why was I sweating?Bookmark here

Also, my heart was racing. Bookmark here

I wanted to say something to her, but I couldn't come up with something important to say.Bookmark here

Oh, now I know.Bookmark here

Tetchiness was taking over my body as if I had no control over it.Bookmark here

I didn't know why I got so angry, but it wasn't pretty.Bookmark here

Could she get angry, too, if I yelled at her?Bookmark here

It would be a stupid thing to do.Bookmark here

I knew I wanted to express my anger towards her because I didn't know what else to consider.Bookmark here

I closed my eyes tightly to where I could only see voidness for a brief second. Bookmark here

I clenched my fists, readying myself to let it out: "You know what! My life has been pointless, and nothing doesn't seem to get any better! I want to make a difference by saving lives and to be admired by everyone on the planet! I've been pushed around like I was nothing! And just by looking at you, we both have in common! I will never be that loser like I was five years ago, and I know I can change everything! They can beat me up, rip me into shreds, call me names, and kill me all they want, but I will never give up on myself! God, I almost tried to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge! My family doesn't like me one bit, and I haven't heard anything from them for like forever! But now is the time to change me! And because of this, I want to be a hero! A hero who everybody in the name of virtue can admire! So yeah, I will join your mission to get my revenge and take justice into my own hands! The Echo Brotherhood must be punished for their atrocities! So you can just shut up about it!"Bookmark here

Did I just say all of that?Bookmark here

Still unfazed, she unexpectedly smiled: "Good. Because that's all, I want to hear from you, George."Bookmark here

Wait, what?Bookmark here

Why didn't she get angry with me?Bookmark here

Why was she so happy all of a sudden?Bookmark here

Did I prove myself wrong if it wasn't for my unnecessary rant?Bookmark here

I guess it was.Bookmark here

But without warning, she approached me closely, getting close to my personal space.Bookmark here

I didn't flinch as I knew what was to be expected because I threw a little fit.Bookmark here

And because of my stupidity, I should've done more than that to get her fired up too. Bookmark here

But she hadn't done anything violent, leaving me surprised.Bookmark here

Instead, she said this to me: "If you want to make a difference, George, you must learn something from yourself. Teaching yourself a lesson is a way to learn from your past mistakes, and I knew the hard way by the time I got out of prison. Again, it might be temporary because I just might fail the mission depending on how much effort I have to undertake. No, our mission. If you want to prove yourself to be a hero, you must show it to the world that you are. If you don't show it to the world, you won't be a hero. Remember that, George. And besides, it is good to let out your anger. I don't mind at all, so there's no need to apologize."Bookmark here

Must I show the world to be a hero?Bookmark here

I would definitely keep that in mind.Bookmark here

I think I had learned something new every once in a while.Bookmark here

Once she said it, she lightly punched me in the chest close to where my heart was.Bookmark here

It didn't hurt at all.Bookmark here

Then, she spoke: "I will ask you this one more time. Will you cooperate with me with this mission, George?"Bookmark here

Yet, I didn't have a choice but to take my word for it.Bookmark here

I nodded and said: "Yeah. I will cooperate. For the sake of justice."Bookmark here

And then, a sign of darkness had lifted out of my body.Bookmark here

I was no longer feeling shy, angst, and depressed.Bookmark here

Why?Bookmark here

Because I made a friend.Bookmark here

My first friend, to be exact.Bookmark here

Because we both had something in common.Bookmark here

Both understood the meaning of loneliness and found a way to overcome it.Bookmark here

Speaking of which, I hadn't gotten her name yet.Bookmark here

So I said: "Uh, I haven't gotten your name yet. And, uh, and we've been talking for a while now. So, uh, do you mind telling me your name?"Bookmark here

She answered: "Oh, how rude of me. Sometimes I can forget things whenever I'm around people, but it shouldn't be a big deal. You can call me Twinkle. However, it's my nickname, so I prefer not to use my real one."Bookmark here

Twinkle?Bookmark here

Her nickname?Bookmark here

That was fine by me.Bookmark here

Twinkle should be a memorable name.Bookmark here

I twinkled, no pun intended and said: "Well, it's nice to meet you, um, Twinkle. I hope we can get along just fine. Now let's go ahead and find this Echo Brotherhood that you have been mentioning."Bookmark here

Twinkle replied: "I'm sure we will."Bookmark here

Twinkle turned around, slowly treading away from me.Bookmark here

I asked: "Where are you going?"Bookmark here

She briefly froze and replied: "We're going somewhere important, George. You'll see when we get there. Vamos."Bookmark here

Somewhere important?Bookmark here

Could she at least stop being so discreet?Bookmark here

No matter anyway.Bookmark here

I stood for a moment.Bookmark here

An abstraction came to me.Bookmark here

I gazed at the azure, musing on over something esoteric.Bookmark here

Where had Lady Luck taken me?Bookmark here

It seemed she led me in a positive direction.Bookmark here

But could things get better?Bookmark here

I snapped out of it when Twinkle was speaking to me, bringing to my attention: "¡Oye! ¿Para qué estás parado allí? ¡Vamos!"Bookmark here

I swayed my head and replied: "Oh right! I'm coming!"Bookmark here

Was that Spanish again?Bookmark here

Man, if only I could understand what she was saying to me!Bookmark here

It was so frustrating! Bookmark here

It was quite peculiar to learn more about her.Bookmark here

Her unique personality could give some away just by how I was looking at her.Bookmark here

But I didn't want to be seen as a weirdo.Bookmark here

But why was she mixing English with Spanish?Bookmark here

I asked: "By the way, what language are you even speaking, Twinkle? Why are you switching between English and Spanish?"Bookmark here

Twinkle gave me a serene look, answering my question: "I'm speaking Spanglish, George. Someday, you'll understand more from me than others."Bookmark here

She was right.Bookmark here

But whatever.Bookmark here

I started following Twinkle as directed.Bookmark here

I still didn't know exactly where she was taking me, but I hope it wasn't too suspicious.Bookmark here

And yet, our journey of finding the culprit began.Bookmark here

And that journey would lead me to some twists and turns.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.