Parable of the Renegades
Heyo! Jio Kurenai here!
Been a while since I've posted an author's note, and I don't have much to say other than it's been a while (2 months to be exact)!
I've been taking some time off to stop my love for stories from burning out, but I can never stray too far. I keep coming back to check my notes and future plans and make sure this story arc wraps up nicely in the long run. Still got a few more chapters to go, but we're inching closer!
Also, I hope the characters in the spotlight right now have been entertaining, so far! I feel like I owe a couple of them big for not having much screentime in Volume 1, so they're going all out now! Once this arc ends, my main quartet will be complete!
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Oh yeah, one more thing!
I have a Twitter account now, where I post what I like along with all sorts of news related to this story such as official artwork illustrated by the ultra-talented HikariSoul! Please follow us both!
The lively district of San Desquiciado continued its nightly festivities. The neon lights were as bright as ever, the music blasted at a considerable volume, and its countless patrons were going all out with the multitude of pleasures the district had to offer. There was still a few hours left to spend before the district falls asleep in the early morning.
Leaning on a faded green barricade with splotches of rust all over it and looking out on the open street, Davis and the blond man (who was now fresh out of first aid) waited by an entrance to a staircase that went underground like that of a subway.
They stood next to each other. Davis was no longer bothered by the dumpster stench that once reeked from the blond man. Now, he was resisting the urge to make fun of the new fluorescent scent that made the man smell like the girliest of girls.
With nothing much to do other than wait, they kept themselves away from the debilitating effects of boredom by observing the hustle and bustle of the random passerby in front of them.
A pair of sports cars, racing side by side with their engines roaring hot, blurred past them on the straight road and obscured the random people they were looking at for a split second.
“They’re going way over the speed limit, don’t you think?” The blond man pursed his lips in awe as he watched the pair of vehicles shrink by the distance. He wasn’t sure if one of the cars he barely had a glance at was colored purple.
Davis thought the same car was blue, but there were shreds of doubt over his answer. “Yeah, but remember, we’re in San Desquiciado. Nobody gets arrested for committing a crime because the authorities will never come here. If those guys wanna go that fast, let them. They just better be ready to take what’s coming for them.”
“If it’s not the police, then what?” the blond man questioned.
“Give it a few more seconds…” Davis raised a hand, closed his eyes, and isolated his hearing to just the fading roar of the engines. “…aaaaaaand…” his teeth clenched at the screech of careening tires before a heart-stopping crash thundered in the distance. “…there it is.”
The blond man lurched from the distant ruckus then turned to Davis, uneasy. “You knew that was going to happen,” he said without a doubt.
Davis was quick to notice and clear things up before the perspective on him could get warped.
“This road in front of us is very long and straight, a.k.a. a place you’d want to really step the gas on when driving a fast car,” he explained. “Officially, it’s advertised as a race track that no one can go the distance with. That makes it easy bait for any thrill-seeker who thinks they got what it takes. But that’s as far as the advertisement goes. There’s actually a trap somewhere down the road that’s ready to total the cars and their drivers into scraps, leaving the rest up for grabs to scavengers. And that’s just one of the nasty surprises this place has to offer.”
Just then, a layer of sweat brought a worrisome gleam to the blond man’s face. “I know I called this place a ‘hell hole,’ but that was only because of what I went through. To think I’d be right on the mark.”
“I had a feeling you were from somewhere else.” One of Davis’ eyes shrunk while the other grew almost twice its size, finally convinced on a hunch he had. “Where are you from, exactly?”
“The United Empire from Europpa,” the blond man revealed.
“The U.E, huh? That explains your accent,” Davis recalled what he considered to be charming. “Anyway, I did say ‘not everyone is San Desquiciado is a bad person,’ and that can go for some parts of the place too, like say the restaurants. They make coming here just for the sake of eating, worth it. Crime may be legal here, but that doesn’t mean you have to go and commit it.” he paused in thought. “Whatever may be harmful to others, I mean. The point of going to San Desquiciado is to let loose without worrying about the law and other stuff that might hold you back.” As if the timing was perfect, he eyed and pointed at a particular person on the sidewalk opposite to them. “Take that guy, over there.”
“You referring to the one with the leather headgear, open jacket, codpiece, and chaps?” The blond man noticed Davis and the bizarrely dressed person sharing a momentary glance before they continued on like nothing happened.
Davis smirked. “That’s my school’s Student Council President.”
The blond man nearly crumbled under the weight on both his legs, which were still recovering from the beating they received from Logen.
“Are you joshing me!?” he exclaimed. “That’s not some random bloke you’re trying to make an example of, right!?”
“Nope,” Davis assured the blond man, who slowly straightened himself with some help from the barricade he used as a handhold. “He recognized me just now. While we’re here, that’s a secret between him and I. We aren’t really friends, by the way.”
“Astounding…” was all the blond man could moan after stabilizing himself.
“He’s the guy almost everyone in my school looks up to,” Davis continued, crossing his arms and ankles. “Perfect attendance, almost perfect GPA, model student, star athlete, opposes all sorts of indecency, and yet there he is breaking at least one of his principles. Right now, I bet he’s heading somewhere to have a one-on-one session with a dominatrix. I mean look at him! He already looks the part of the masochistic pig! He’s been leading our school for three years now. Guess deep down, he wants someone else to lead him.”
The blond man shook his rattled head but not hard enough to throw off his flat cap. “What are his fellow officers going to think when they learn about this?”
Davis snickered, a little excited on how he intended to answer that question. “Nothing. They’re all on it too! I don’t see them right now, but the Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor, Public Relations Officer, and Sergeant-at-arms also have their own dirty gigs whenever they’re here. Maybe you can guess what the rest like to do. Here’s a freebie: the Treasurer like to hang out in the casinos.”
“I have naught the slightest interest,” the blond man brushed off the mini-game invitation. “But I fear for that young man’s reputation if word ever got out.”
“It won’t,” Davis was quick to say. “And that’s good for him. I think it goes without saying that having a title like ‘president’ means he’s gonna be under a lot of pressure, don’t you agree? It’s his job to handle affairs, maintain school conduct, and being a model student means he can’t afford to skip the books. But let’s face it, he’s still another guy with limits to the pressure everyone else is throwing at him, and he needs a way to vent it all out.”
“Which is why he’s here?” the blond man assumed.
A nod from Davis confirmed it.
“He’s set to graduate in a few weeks or so, and he’s already qualified for an elite college somewhere else. That’s not much time left for him to do his dirty deeds, so I guess he really wants to make the most of it,” he said.
As he listened on, the blond man, while still a bit befuddled by the strange culture San Desquiciado practiced, found himself curious for more information. It helped him to shelve some of his worries for Lana, his kidnapped wife, as worrying wasn’t going to bring her back to him.
Speaking of information, there was a lingering thought Davis previously left behind.
“Why would no one expose your President’s escapades within this district?” the blond man brought up.
Davis was about to give a general answer when a mild shiver got to him first. Another walking example showed up on the sidewalk opposite to them.
“That lady over there.” He pointed to a head of long strawberry blonde hair walking in high heels with a short furry jacket to keep the cold away from every part of her except her legs. “Last week, she pulled me from behind into the alleyway and held me against a wall. I can still remember how she stared into my soul and said something like, ‘You look a little younger than me, but you’re quite the man for coming here. Wanna screw?’”
“Uh-huh.” The blond man interjected, hanging his head and deadpanning over the ludicrous story. “And where is the answer to my question?”
“I’m getting there,” Davis growled, slightly annoyed by the interruption in his flow. “So then she asks me that question right, and I was like thinking, I was about to have the time of my life! That is until I caught her reaching for a hidden knife. Really didn’t expect it to be hidden ‘there’, if you know what I mean. The next thing you know, I threw her off and made a run for it after realizing she was trying to mug me.”
“You are diverging away,” the blond man reminded him.
Davis heard the side comment but continued as if nothing happened. “Anyway, I ended up seeing her again the next day outside San Desquiciado. Turns out she works as a cashier at WcDonnals. I didn’t recognize her at first since she looked really plain and different compared to the night before, but as soon as it was my turn to order something, I saw the resemblance and nearly spilled the beans of what she tried to do to me in front of everyone else waiting in line. All of a sudden, she struck out across the counter, grabbed me by my shirt, and whispered a message that left me shaken.”
Now the blond man’s perspective was flipped. “And what did she say?”
“Whatever happens in San Desquiciado, stays in San Desquiciado.”
A mildly grim expression befell Davis’ face as he gazed at the rough sidewalk they stood on. “The look in her eyes was dead serious. Freaky, nothing like how they were the night before. It was as if something horrible beyond my comprehension was going to happen if she didn’t stop me first.” Then his grim expression lightened up. “Anyway, she let me go after that and the next thing you know, she’s back to being a WcDonnals employee and asking me if I decided on what I’d like to order.”
Now it was the blond man’s turn to snicker.
“Just like that?”
Pulling a slightly embarrassed grin, Davis nodded. Not long after that, he and the blond man escalated into shared laughter over the personal story’s ridiculousness especially at how the strawberry blond lady acted like she had a different personality for when she was in San Desquiciado and for when she was outside of it.
“I get this place can be unsafe or scary with all the crime happening like it’s just another Tuesday,” Davis said after stifling his laughter. “but in the end, treading the danger is up to you. San Desquiciado doesn’t force people to come to it.”
The blond man swallowed his joviality and nodded, but not because he agreed. He understood what Davis was trying to say, but he had two exceptions in mind: himself, and eventually someone named Lucas Thorne, the person Logen blackmailed him to find.
“Sorry for asking you a lot of questions,” the blond man mumbled.
“It’s cool. We still have to wait for a bit.” Davis highlighted his phone and frowned at the digital clock on display. “Besides, I’m starting to realize it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to share what I know. If you have something else to ask from me, I say ask away!”
With a concurring hum, the blond man asked the next question in his head.
“Care to tell me why the authorities leave San Desquiciado alone?”
“Okay then.” Davis sent him a jovial smirk and rubbed his hands warm as he organized the answer in his head. “First of all, you have to keep in mind that San Desquiciado probably has too many criminals to arrest. I doubt that such a big number would go down so easily to the cops without them suffering some heavy losses in return. That, and there’s also a lot of innocent people mixed in considering there are also those who’re just trying to have some fun. If anyone thinks bombing this district so they could wipe out all the criminals is a good idea, they should know that the mostly crime-free town of Cameron’s Feint is connected to here. On the flip side, San Desquiciado is also like a refugee camp for criminals; a place where they can be granted sanctuary so long as they stay here.” His eyes pointed away down a corner. “Well, at least from the cops.”
The blond man had a lot to take in, but the gist came to him after giving some time to analyze the explanation.
“In other words, why should the authorities bother going after a lot of criminals if they are all going to stay in one place and never cause trouble outside of it?”
“Bingo.” Davis cracked a proud smile, satisfied he was able to get his point across.
The two of them had spent their waiting time well with one teaching the other about the place they were in. A little confidence was gained by the blond man, who didn’t think he was safer than before, but he at least no longer thought of San Desquiciado as a big unknown.
Proceeding footsteps stopped by them and they were glad to know their waiting time was over.
“Sorry for the wait, but here I am,” a cheery voice announced.
Viola returned to them with a bit of panting, but she still looked more than ready to run a few more hundred-meter dashes.
“Ditching us all of a sudden when we finally got here was not a cool move.” Davis reminded her what happened before he and the blond man had their San Desquiciado lecture. “But you did say you’ll come back, so I guess we can let it slide. What were you up to?”
“I sensed someone nearby was really hurt and I just couldn’t leave him alone,” Viola answered.
Davis raised a skeptical eyebrow. “You sensed?”
“Call it a Healer Instinct,” Viola made up on the fly and wished to never call it that ever again. “His arm had a gash and a small part of his head was bleeding. I thought they were serious at first, but some compress bandages for the arm and some disinfectant to the head wound was all he needed.” Then she crossed her arms and looked to the side, her cheeks puffing up with air. “Now if only he said ‘thank you’ instead of just walking away after I was done. Come to think of it, he never spoke at all!”
“Now, now,” Davis tried to calm Viola down out of the adorably pouty face she made but he didn’t mind staring if she was going to keep it for a little longer. “He didn’t try to hurt you, did he?”
“No,” Viola said, her face deflating. “And he didn’t give me a hard time either. Maybe I assumed too early. Who knows, he’s probably mute.”
Davis shrugged. “Yeah, that could be it. I’m sure he’s grateful for your help. Who in the right mind wouldn’t?”
Feeling better, Viola beamed a gracious smile, one Davis would kill to be the target off. Thank goodness he was the one it aimed for this time, so no one needed to get hurt.
With the three of them now together again, it was time to proceed down the stairs that stood nearby. But before that, one of them thought now was a good time for an overdue introduction.
“By the way, my name’s Davis,” the survivalist youth with short and wild black hair began, offering a handshake to the blond man, who after a second of hesitation, accepted the gesture.
Just like any proper handshake, they used their right hands. Davis was caught off guard when his light grasp curled around the blond man’s gauntlet. Lucky for him, he was able to mask his fascination.
It was cold like he would expect from touching metal, but its malleable texture made him think otherwise for a moment. There was something about that gauntlet that piqued his curiosity ever since he first laid eyes on it. The blond man’s protective instinct toward it only made him want to know more.
“And I’m Viola!” the girl adorned with fashion and bronze hair cheered in with her bubbly voice. She placed her hand on top of the other two as her way of joining the handshake.
The blond man returned them half a smile at first, but it slowly became whole. He was glad to know he had found himself a pair of friendly allies to boost his chances of escaping San Desquiciado.
Strangely, that was nothing compared to how happy he was to introduce himself.