Parable of the Renegades
It's been a while, everyone! Jio Kurenai here!
Here is another chapter that was part of a bigger document that exceeded Honeyfeed's character limit, thus, I had to chop it in half. It won't be a long wait before part 2, but I don't think I'll publish it so soon as it could still use some tweaking.
Lately, I've been doing nothing but writing and honestly, it made me less efficient. I always have to remind myself that everything good like potential ideas or the best ways to write prose often come to me at unexpected moments, but what is always the case is that these random moments of inspiration always happen when I'm doing something else and when my laptop is turned off. I think I'll take a few days off to re-connect myself with the outside world and also do some indoor things I could've done days ago like my backlogged videogames or anime that I've set aside until I completed a few chapters. XD
Also, HikariSoul has been giving me weekly updates on the novel's cover and as her client, I couldn't be any more happier. The progress is going at a steady pace, but the updated artwork always looks better with every succeeding week! There's still no color, but the character poses and background details have at least been sketched into place. I'm probably going to lose it when I see the finishing touch!
Feel free to leave a comment below. It can be anything like a random question, a comment for fun, or any constructive criticism to help me improve! If there's anything I like more than writing a story, it's interaction with those who are reading it. I must admit, that's one of the best feelings in the world for me!
Lastly, please give yourself some credit by giving that "LIKE" button a [insert verb that can substitute for "click" here] after reading this chapter! I'm always interested to know who's following me and I'd absolutely love it if we could start a conversation too! Likes and Comments will give points to your Honeyfeed badge, so make me recognize your mark by doing at least one of those two! I'll be singing your name in praise if you do both! ;)
Oh yeah, one more thing!
I have a Twitter account now, where I (mostly) post all sorts of news related to this story such as official artwork illustrated by the ultra-talented HikariSoul! Please follow us both! If you follow me on Twitter, I'll follow you back in a heartbeat!
Anyways, I hope you enjoy reading this chapter. Remember, the next one isn't far away! :D
“Oh, joy... Fate sure likes to give me that demoness smile whenever she can.”
Davis hissed a bitter remark as he rubbed a hand on his cheek, which had suffered a numbing blow courtesy of a flying bottle out of nowhere.
I think I’m gonna need another bandage.
He sat down, hidden in a dark corridor with barely any sources of light within San Desquiciado’s alleyways. From the tenderness and sharp pain even when he barely touched his cheek, Davis was almost sure a bruise was going to form sooner or later. It was quite the shame considering his facial injuries from the time Lucas slammed it into a wall weren’t done healing yet.
For the longest time, Davis held on to the firm belief that fate itself loved to antagonize him with bad luck.
It first became what he despised most when it gave him to a pair of wealthy, but strict and authoritative parents. His father, in particular, held him like a puppet on strings. What Davis could wear, what he could eat, what he could read, and what he could play with were all supervised by his father and that made doing all of them uncomfortable without a doubt.
With that in mind, Davis always had to make sure his privacy was secured whenever he did anything that wouldn’t look good in his father’s eyes. It also made him find solace in doing anything that would make his father blow a gasket if he were to see it. Drowning himself in alcoholic drinks and reading adult magazines despite being underaged, or handling himself nearby a box of tissues was only a fraction of the vices he found a strange joy in practicing.
Barely showing his presence, Davis peeked from a corner outside his hiding spot. Rowdy noises of fists hitting faces, weapons clashing, and derogatory trash talk, all roared nearby.
Fate once again showed that it hadn’t forgotten its favorite plaything as it led Davis straight into a battle between rival factions that like the flying bottle, came out of nowhere. Funny enough, everything was quiet save for the music from a few nightclubs playing at a considerable volume, and no one appeared to be loitering around on the streets, that is until Davis walked in.
The open streets near San Desquiciado’s entrance served as the battlefield. Several establishments within the area closed shop and brought down their shutters. Parked vehicles and man-made barricades protected those hiding behind them from gunfire. Lastly, a canopy ceilinged a large portion of the battlefield and that gave one side an advantage.
They were at each other’s throats again. Two of the four Tyrants of San Desquiciado were leading a platoon of their soldiers in a turf war to seize control over the loser’s territory, which covered a quarter of the district. With only a fraction of their soldiers fighting tooth and nail on the center of the battlefield, the Tyrants were…
“My brethren, listen to me!” An enigma whose face and body were obscured in the darkness of his black striped dynasty robe, stood from a throne atop a miniature platform supported by his strongest followers. “I have been told that tonight, we take our next step in our purification of this tainted land. We have already procured the land of gold. Now, we shall claim the land of armaments. But before that happens, we must slay the demented abominations before us and we will rejoice in their eternal damnation!”
Lord Xavion, Tyrant of the East, raised a hand into the air and shrouded it in a strange pulsing mass of dark energy speckling with glimmers of light. Apparently, the specifics behind its activation and properties couldn’t be solved with science. Despite its otherworldliness, Lord Xavion had denied all accusations of being a [Renegade]. Everyone who tried to question him never asked anything again.
The display of his mysterious power boosted the morale of his cultic followers. They broke into a mass choir of holy chanting, and one of them even played a transportable organ in the background.
“Ahahaha! Do you ever hear yourself? Still spouting your Wacko-Jacko superstitions to your gullible fanatics! How much longer are you going to let them fall?”
His opposing Tyrant, however, wasn’t fazed by the display as she mocked him for his dubious mannerisms.
Mary Glow, Tyrant of the West, appeared to sit cross-legged in mid-air a little above her ragtag gang while playing with a throwing spike that orbited next to her in a perfect vertical circle.
She was a young adult girl whose maniacal laughter emphasized her lust for battle. Her bewitching eyes and glowing hair, bearing vibrant colors of red, orange and yellow, contrasted from the skeletal face paint that covered everything down from her nose. A pair of straps crisscrossed around her neck to hold a crop top that wasn’t shy to bare her toned midriff. Fingerless hand stockings, a pair of distressed tights and sneakers completed her getup.
Mary Glow and her gang of delinquents wore animalistic contact lenses and punkish street clothes, but their distinguishing feature was something else. All of them wore special war paint coming in combinations of bright neon pink, cyan, blue, purple, yellow, orange and green as decorations for their clothes, hair, and some body parts. Styled in patterns that resembled graffiti and tribal art, the paint possessed a special property that made it invisible during the day, but luminous at night, granting Mary Glow and her gang an inhuman appearance whenever San Desquiciado was open for business.
“Stick in your ear, Lord Delirious. I’ll be doing you a favor if I put you and your lunatics out of your misery!” Mary Glow threatened, caressing a throwing spike across her neck.
“So sayeth the soulless child whose father hung himself in the attic, and whose mother made a living by lying on her back.” Lord Xavion countered in his own way.
“You’re wrong!” Mary Glow stood up and rattled herself into a tantrum. She stomped a foot and threw her fists down. For some reason, this made her bounce even though she was still standing in mid-air. “Daddy didn’t hang himself in the attic! He hanged himself in the garage! As for mommy, well…”
She paused and stared to the ground with a hand grasping her chin, but a concussive blast interrupted her train of thoughts. Lord Xavion had taken advantage of her pondering to hurl a traveling surge of his mysterious dark energy at her, only for one of her delinquent underlings to jump in the way and take the mythical bullet to the head.
Mary Glow stared in awe at the now headless member of her gang, who was lying sprawled at her feet.
“You idiot. I should’ve been the one to take that.” Slowly, she bubbled with anger. "That guy you killed...” She glared daggers into her opposing Tyrant who appeared to welcome the animosity. “He didn't look the part, but he was a brilliant chef! There was so much he was going to prepare in honor of my victory once I take over your turf! Where am I gonna get my special cake now, huh!?"
Another one of her delinquents, a female, approached with her arms crossed around her waist.
“Are you saying the victory party is off?” she was on the verge of sobbing.
Even the war paint all over her couldn’t disguise her worry, but that went away when Mary Glow reached down and gently clasped her face with both hands. She leaned closer to the point their foreheads were almost touching.
“No. The party will go on as planned.” Mary Glow then stood up and garnered the attention of her gang “But we will all have to knock em’ dead first!”
The delinquents on standby took their leader’s words as a sign that they were now being dispatched into the battlefield on the streets. They acted accordingly and armed themselves with bladed weapons and a few firearms, all of which were dressed in bright colors that made them look like glowsticks in a pop concert when raised.
Mary Glow beamed at how she seemed to be on the same wavelength as the people she was leading. She pointed a throwing spike at her opposing Tyrant and gave the last call to action.
“Our celebration will be incomplete… unless I see Lord Numbnuts’ head on a silver plate!”
Crowds roared as Mary Glow’s gang charged into action. The rest of Lord Xavion’s followers, armed with crooked knives and other bizarre weapons that looked suitable for sacrificing a pure man on an altar in exchange for immortality, prepared to retaliate.
“AVE DOMINUS XAVION!!!”
Following a simultaneous salute where everyone crossed their arms over their chests to form a giant "X", and a battle cry from one of his most devoted followers, Lord Xavion’s platoon charged in as well to meet the rest of their opposition.
The streets became further engulfed in chaos.
The two leaders prepared to join the fray as well. Lord Xavion appeared to howl in pain as he raised his hands and shrouded them in more of his dark energy while a laughing mad Mary Glow spread her hands out and a total of ten throwing spikes attached to transparent wires dangled beneath her fingers.
Still spectating the clash of factions, Davis was not happy at all. He needed to go to Craneworks Industries’ secret second branch as soon as possible and the shortest path to that was through the battlefield of the two Tyrants.
Originally, he planned to side with one of the two Tyrants and stick close to his new “allies” for cover.
Lord Xavion and his faction were most likely going to initiate him through some edgy ritual Davis preferred not to imagine. With the cult leader busy, the initiation will be postponed to until after the turf war ends. Davis previously thought of the delay as a chance to escape after Lord Xavion considers him to be an aspiring recruit for his brotherhood. Then again, Lord Xavion might keep an eye on him until the initiation is conducted.
Davis shook his head, rejecting the idea of joining Lord Xavion’s edgy cult and why he even considered it in the first place.
He then thought about his other choice.
Mary Glow would most likely conduct an initiation for him as well. If Davis had to guess the procedure, he’d be decorated in the faction’s special war paint, thereby giving him a uniform while also inducting him into their ranks. Unlike how rituals always needed the master, any member of Mary Glow’s faction had the authority to lead the initiation. And then they were most likely going to place him on the front-lines of the turf war in order for him to prove his worth. He’d also become a walking target for any other faction in the district.
Davis shook his head once more, but harder. Even joining Mary Glow turned out to be a bad idea. That, and because he also had to fight off the temptation of wanting to bury his face into Mary Glow’s flat stomach. For a maniac, she also had a totally rockin’ body fit for a belly dancer and combining that with her bad girl gimmick made for a fetching, darkside kind of charm. Davis admitted his taste in girls tended to veer off track sometimes.
In the end, joining either of the Tyrants had too many cons that outweighed the pros. Davis had to scrap his original plan of reaching his destination through the shortest path possible. He gazed in another direction, deeper into the shadows of his hiding place and took a deep breath. He had no choice but to take a longcut detour through San Desquiciado’s alleyway, which overshadowed Cameron’s Feint’s in both danger and ease of navigation.
And that was without mentioning the stone stairs that were common around different turns in the alleyway. Davis thought it couldn’t get any worse.
Climbing out of a dumpster with a body wrecked all over with injuries was no easy task. The man with metallic blond hair struggled to walk after he finally freed himself from the container that saved him from his ten-story fall.
Since he landed on filled trash bags and not actual garbage when he fell into the dumpster, the blond man didn’t have to worry too much about the cleanliness of his clothes. His brown flat cap, beige vest, checkered dress shirt, Chinos, and desert shoes all had tears and traces of his blood that varied here and there but other than that they were fine. He couldn’t do anything about the stench he took from the dumpster though, that was going to stick with him for a while.
His knees rattled with cracking noises every time he took a step and lifting each leg no longer felt as natural as breathing. Leaning on the closest form of support such as a wall at least prevented him from toppling over. Climbing the stone stairs was the hardest part for the blond man as that was when he was at his slowest.
He placed his left hand on his abdomen, which was throbbing from an old wound. That pain was never going to go away. So was the anxiety for limping in his current location.
The alleyway was an unsafe place and it looked the part too. Its unkempt layout and long corridors often invoked the heart beating feeling of tension, making it the perfect playground for troublemakers. Someone could be waiting inside one of the closed dumpsters to ambush an unlucky victim, and the fire escape stairs that were attached to some of the structures often made way for the possibility that someone could strike from above.
As he continued to move further away from the building he escaped from, the blond man moved his hand from his abdomen to his chest, which seemed to have gotten heavier all of a sudden. Not literally, but that was how it felt if he was to describe it.
At the same time, someone’s voice was becoming clearer. It sounded young and feminine. Could this person be one of the women Logen kidnapped for his collection? After listening for a little longer and giving it some thought, the blond man told himself that wasn’t the case. This voice sounded too easygoing to be someone who was kidnapped, and she appeared to be having a friendly conversation with someone who had yet to make a response. Curious and with no clear direction to follow, the blond man traced the voice by a short distance. Maybe he was heading toward one of the alleyway’s exits. Soon enough, he was inches away from a corner that the voice seemed to be coming from.
“Anyone there?” he called out then regretted letting his voice be heard when it was already too late.
There was no response.
Maybe the blond man was hearing a feminine voice because he was desperate to get his wife back from Logen. That had to be done as soon as possible.
Or maybe someone was there and they were ignoring him on purpose so they could leave him with a false sense of security before making an ambush. The strange feeling in the blond man’s chest made him think that. It lingered for a few minutes before it went away to the blond man’s relief.
That is until several shuffling footsteps from behind and around a corner told him he wasn’t alone.
Different male voices squabbled over where the “blondie” ran off to. There were three, five, no… eight people nearby. They varied in build and ethnicity, but they all wore gangster streetwear.
“You better not be tryin’ to run, or I might hafta shoot your legs!” Kevin shouted to scare his target into slowing down. His weapon was actually a machete and not a gun or any weapon capable of shooting.
“He can’t be too far; the boss did say he gave him a really hard pounding!” Markus said, driving a fist into an open hand.
“Yeah!” Josh concurred. “And he smashed him so hard, he won’t be feeling his legs for a while!”
For a moment, snickering laughter filled the eight-man group of hooligans. That is until one of them spoke up with a different aspect in mind.
“Hold up. Did the boss really word it like that?” Jason raised one of his eyebrows. “You know, I’ve been wondering a few things about him for some time now--”
“The blondie was a pathetic fighter too!” Scott laughed.
“Yeah, the only hit he got on the boss was one, and that was from a sneak attack while the boss was busy doin’ something else!” Zach added.
“Damn that accursed soul of yours, Logen!” The blond man swore under his breath as he tried to speed up his pace, which didn’t increase by much.
Whatever the case, the blond man made every second count even though his movements were still sluggish. Getting out of San Desquiciado as soon as possible was now his top priority. It was already a dangerous place, and an injured person loitering there was almost the same as begging for a death wish. Figuring out how to track this “Lucas Thorne” will have to be dealt with later.
Filtered light, vibrations, and muffled music played from his pocket. The blond man pulled his smartphone and checked the name of his caller. Mixed emotions came pouring in.
“Lana” was calling him again, but he knew who was really on the other end of the line.
“What now!?” the blond man whispered his fiercest after hitting the green phone icon on the phone’s touchscreen.
“Hey, how’s it goin’ buddy?” The sweet arrogance in Logen’s voice only served to make the greeting more annoying. “I know it’s too soon to call you again, I mean it’s only been like a minute or something, but I just wanted to let you know that in case you haven’t noticed, there are some guys going out on a hunt. I’ll tell you straight – I sent them to outright murder you.”
“Are you off your rocker?” the blond man complained his hardest while also trying not to give out his location. “Why must you do something so drastic, right after I agreed to seek out and bring to you this Luca—"
“DON’T YOU DARE!!! DON’T YOU DARE FINISH OR EVEN SPEAK THAT NAME!!!”
Logen’s outburst forced the blond man to hold his smartphone away at arm’s length before the volume could make his eardrum pop. He brought his phone back to his ear when Logen’s voice reverted to a calmer state.
“Anyway, I sent my guys out before I came up with our agreement and I’m afraid it’s too late for me to call them back. Once they get their orders, they’ll do it pronto because well, they don’t like what’s gonna happen if they fail. It’s a real shame too. I ended up sending out my best of the best. You better watch out for… err… Random Guy number 1... 2… 3… 4… 5… and… 6? Ah shoot, what can I do? I can’t help but find it near impossible to remember the names of anyone I never slept with. Whatever. Point is, if you end up dead before you get out of San Desquiciado, I guess it just means you didn’t have it in you. On the other hand, I can say the opposite for your wife. She is gonna have something in her for sure if you dilly-dally on getting the job done.”
The blond man was already beyond furious, but his anger went a level even higher. He really wanted to stomp Logen in the balls until they were crushed into a disgusting, bloody mess.
“Logen! You feckless toss--!”
And just like that, Logen cut the line off when he had nothing more to say.
“I say we split up!” Kevin, the apparent leader of the hooligan group sent by Logen, suggested after studying the many possible corridors the injured blond man could’ve run off to. “Bruno, Brody.” He turned and addressed the identical twins who were armed with matching baseball bats that were studded with rusty nails near its tip. “You two take the far left and right. The rest of us will take what’s in between.”
In tandem, Bruno and Brody perched their weapons over a shoulder and saluted by hammering a fist to their chests.
““You got it, K!”” they said in unison.
Bruno wasted no time and sprinted for the farthermost left corridor while Brody did the same, except he went for the farthermost right. Chosen by Kevin for their running speed, they left the rest of their fellow hooligans in the dust. Bruno and Brody didn’t need any further details to understand the instructions they were given. The alleyway may have a maze-like structure, but many of the corridors will converge at some point. They figured Kevin’s reason for sending them to scout the farthest left and right was so they can cover the outermost area while catching a glimpse of the others corridors between them. Going by that logic, their injured blond target was effectively trapped and will be spotted as soon as they run a full circle.
“Now then.” Kevin walked toward the centermost corridor as Markus, Josh, Jason, Scott, and Zach fanned out and away from him to each select their own corridor to search for their target. “Let’s move.”
Finding a way out of the alleyway was already bad enough, but doing it with legs that wobbled and limped with every step? The man with metallic blond hair was losing hope that the first part to fulfilling his deal with Logen was already too much for him to handle. The thought of his wife, and how much she also wanted to be reunited with him, was the only thing spurring him to go on.
He darted his eyes left, right, and behind himself before continuing forward. None of Logen’s underlings or anyone, in particular, was in sight.
That was good. Hopefully, it stays that way until he escapes from San Desquiciado.
As his heart-pounding escape continued, the man had an internal debate about a few of his frustrations such as the flaws of what Logen said during their last phone conversation.
For starters, Logen claimed it was already too late for him to call his underlings back after he sent them out.
Bollocks, the blond man thought.
They were already living in the modern age, where many hardships were made easier thanks to the current level of technology. Logen calling back his underlings should have been a simple task made possible with the press of a button thanks to the invention of the smartphone. In addition, it wasn’t something exclusive to the rich. Even less-privileged people had access to the useful calling device. The blond man himself was an example.
Another possibility, however, made the man take back his assumption. Almost. What if the underlings didn’t have access to phones? That would justify Logen’s statement.
Moving on, the man focused on another flaw.
Logen sent his underlings to kill him. Since Logen already admitted he sent them before coming up with their deal, the man surmised their orders were not only to kill him but to take his gauntlet and bring it to Logen after doing so.
He looked at the gauntlet Logen wanted to take from him. That piece of equipment he wore on his right arm was too important to give away and he needed it to stay where it was. If only his right arm and legs weren’t so injured, he could’ve used the gauntlet to its greatest potential as an escape tool.
Like he needed to right now.
Two distant voices, almost identical, shot into both of the blond man’s ears at the same time.
Swiveling left and right, the blond man almost questioned his sanity when he spotted the identical hooligan twins, Bruno and Brody, who alerted the rest of their fellow hooligans about their target’s location.
With their allies catching up at the moment, the twins took the initiative and charged at the blond man from his left and right, their nail bats primed and ready for a pincer attack. The blond man knew he needed to do something fast other than run away as he knew for certain he had no chance of beating the twin’s astonishing, but still realistic running speed.
There were four paths for the blond man to take from his current location in the alleyway. Both the left and right were already occupied by the twins, so that was not an option. Going through the path behind him was also out of the question since that was where the rest of the hooligans were coming from. By process of elimination, the path forward was the only answer, but it wasn’t time to head there yet.
The blond man had a plan. It wasn’t going to leave him unscathed, but it was going to save him from the twins.
He supported his right arm, grimaced from the horrible pain jolting in it, aimed toward the path he intended to go to, and clenched his fist as if he was trying to crush an object in his hand.
A short sword was fired from the shield part of his gauntlet as a cone of steam burst from its rear. The sword flew through the air until gravity brought it down and made it skip across the ground before landing with a clang.
It was almost laughable to say the sword didn’t fly far – it only went about two meters away from the blond man, who wished it could’ve flown farther. He cursed Logen once more, this time for the damage he did to his right arm. It was like Logen knew damaging the blond man’s arm will weaken the gauntlet’s abilities.
Nevertheless, the distance between him and his sword was acceptable. The blond man stood still and waited for the right moment to make his next move, growing tense and sweating from the consequence that awaited him should his plan fail.
As they drew closer with a lot of distance getting covered every passing second, Bruno and Brody noticed their target wasn’t trying to run away. Did the blond man give up? Whatever the case, it didn’t matter to them whether or not he was running. The target was in for a slaughter either way.
His time was up.
Planting a foot when they were close enough, Bruno and Brody attacked simultaneously. One swung his bat horizontally, and the other vertically.
The blond man placed his left hand over his head and held down his flat cap. With all the strength he could give, he spread out his right hand in a sudden gesture.
The twins couldn’t understand what just happened. One second, their target was within their range and their bats were inches away from smashing his head to a bloody pulp. Next thing they knew, their target was gone. Somehow, he turned into a blur and warped away at a speed no human should ever be capable of reaching, especially for a man whose legs were too numb and damaged to let him walk properly.
That wasn’t the end of it. The twins found out the hard way that they also tried to attack the blond man at a very close range. So close that their attacks can also reach each other.
Bruno collapsed after several nails were driven into his chest as did Brody, whose skull was shattered by the blunt force of his brother’s bat and his brain punctured by its nails.
Both twins fell to the ground. All their lives, every action they committed was done at the same pace and time – their time of death by tetanus poisoning was no exception.
As if his sword was a magnet, the blond man was pulled toward it by an invisible force. It wasn’t a fun ride. The sword was lying flat on the ground and the man went through a rough skid in the process of getting to it. He had his clothes to thank for taking the brunt and not letting him end up with scrapes.
It turned out his assumption was correct. His escape plan wasn’t going to leave him unscathed – he already had injuries anyway. Still, this minor victory lifted his spirits
Two of his pursuers had been taken out of the chase.
Six more to go.