Parable of the Renegades
Hi! Jio Kurenai here!
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Lucas wasted no time in trying to make himself scarce. He kicked himself off the ground and sprinted non-stop for his house in the suburbs outside town while trying not to attract too much attention. He took detours, turned corners on several structures as he traveled through the darkest alleyways of Cameron's Feint like he was going through a maze with no intention of escaping on a linear path.
Thanks to living near the town of Cameron's Feint all his life, he knew its layout like the back of his hand. That could be his advantage to throw himself off the foreign girl's radar. While it was not superhuman by any means, that girl exhibited incredible speed when she cut the Knights of Viola down. Lucas didn't want to take a chance that he could outrun something like that, so a diversion from the town to his house was the best option.
Then Lucas noticed something was amiss.
"Huh? I'm not hearing any footsteps behind me."
He wasn’t imagining anything. It didn't look like anyone was chasing him.
Did the girl give up? Even if she did, Lucas chose not to let himself think he was free from danger and pulled out his smartphone just as he got closer to the bus stop.
No... it's still 6:53! Seven minutes before the bus leaves may feel lucky, but I have a bad feeling that's also plenty of time for someone that fast to search for me!
He turned tail and disappeared once more into the alleyways, trying his best to avoid making any noise by watching out for any trash cans close to the walls or any debris that lay clustered in the area.
After climbing over a steel fence, Lucas knew this was the farthest he could stay hidden. Now he was out of the town and on its outskirts, but it was also easy for him to be caught on sight. Lucas refused to cut his speed didn’t allow himself to be hindered by the burning pain in his lungs.
A few kilometers after passing Moonlight Shores, Lucas was close to the suburbs of Falcon Rock.
Falcon Rock was built on a small mountain that overlooked the town of Cameron's Feint. Its high altitude allowed it to constantly stay cool with low temperatures even during the day, allowing its residents a cool atmosphere along with fresh mountain air. A high-altitude place meant a steep road had to be climbed to get there, but no one considered it to be a problem...
Lucas cursed the fact that he was still too young to drive a car. He painstakingly ran up the steep road with no intention of stopping himself because he felt every second needed to count. His panic rush had some consequences as he stumbled and fell to his knees a few times along the way with a series of expletives soon to follow.
When a foot stepped on flat ground, Lucas knew he finally reached the top and made it to the suburbs, but there was still no time to celebrate. The street lamps that were easily spotted everywhere were all illuminated. For once, he wished they were turned off at this time.
Lucas passed several houses, running as fast as he could with legs that now felt like jelly until he came to a stop at a two-story modern house made of concrete and marble, and went for the front door with the number "610" embedded on it.
Its overall design was a flat roof on top of two white cubes, one bigger than the other. A few four-sided pillars that were erected from the ground and attached to the oversized roof, supported the house. A garden covered everything considered part of the house owner's property except the small stone path that led to the front door and the front of the smaller cube which functioned as a garage.
After a short period of heavy panting while bending down and resting his hands on his knees, Lucas banged on the door as if begging for it to open before something from behind could get dangerously close (which in a way could happen).
"Welcome back, Lucas." Rea, his cool and composed adoptive-mother nonchalantly opened the door and greeted him. "How was dinner and whe--"
Before her question could be completed, Lucas closed the door and locked it. He made a mad dash for his room, leaving Rea with a quick "it was good" as his response while whipping a short gust of wind that blew her hair back before making it undulate like a pendulum. She was left facing the front door with slightly wider eyes.
Rea sure wasn't expecting this kind of response. "I better check on him after giving him some time to calm down."
She returned to the living room and sat on a couch where she continued reading a magazine about the best shops and restaurants to visit in every town of Sarkansas.
After running past the living room and climbing up the stairs in haste, Lucas dashed through a hallway and confined himself to his bedroom, locking its door immediately just like the front.
His room was a standard size fit for a bachelor and colored a simple beige with lights that can be turned on or off by simply clapping twice in quick succession. In the corner farthest away from the door was a bed for one person and a pair of transom windows built into the walls surrounding a corner.
A few feet away from the door and attached to the wall was an L-shaped drawer desk that stretched across over half the size of the room. The most prominent objects on top of this desk was a laptop and neat stacks of textbooks and notebooks from school.
To the door's right was a closet, its contents comprising of clothes and supplies. Even further to the right was a tall bookshelf, all crammed with combinations of local and foreign comics, which outnumbered the former. Most of those were loaned from Davis.
Lucas didn't bother to turn on the lights as soon as he locked himself in. He kicked off his shoes, jumped onto his bed, closed all the windows, laid down on his back, and although he wasn’t very religious, he prayed that the katana-wielding foreign girl would never find him. He was still drenched in sweat from his short marathon.
Who was she?
Replays of the girl slaughtering all the Knights of Viola in her pursuit of the hooded figure played in his thoughts. After many reruns played like an indefinite number of sheep jumping over a fence, Lucas' exhaustion got the better of him and he drifted off to sleep.
The soft memory foam of his mattress took away the feeling of his tired and aching muscles as he sank into it. The cold breeze of the night blew gently across his face as the air cycled in a vacuum within the room. He found himself in complete ecstasy. All of this was enough to gradually make him forget his problems, his responsibilities, and his anxiety...
...But something wasn't right.
One: Lucas was certain that all the windows were closed when he locked himself in.
And two: that feeling of euphoria came in at a convenient time - it was like someone wanted him to feel at ease right at this very moment.
The suspicions alerted him awake and his eyes opened wide behind his hair bangs, Lucas stared above into the darkness of his room to find a single eye, a glowing sapphire, staring back.
Nervous, he clapped twice and as the lights came on Lucas found himself greeted by an uninvited guest.
It was the foreign girl from earlier, clinging to the ceiling and ready to continue what she started.
Lucas clapped his hands twice again, turning off the lights and hoping this was just a bad dream that would go away in a few seconds.
If only that were the case.
As soon as darkness filled the room once more, save for a small moonbeam that entered through the window, the girl allowed gravity to do its work. She descended with force; the sound of her fall completely absorbed thanks to landing on Lucas who was still lying in bed. The impact forced all the air out of his lungs.
The girl wasted no time and took advantage of Lucas’ flinch. She pinned him down with her body as her right hand curled its fingers around something. A nearby sibilant hiss warned Lucas that the girl was drawing her katana from its scabbard, which lay next to them on the bed. There was no doubt about it. She intended to bring it to his throat and silence him permanently.
Desperate to not get slit, Lucas grabbed hold of the hand that wielded the katana and just barely managed to prevent the blade from nicking him.
A single, amplified heartbeat echoed in Lucas' head. What happened next was truly beyond his comprehension.
For the duration of a second, the world around him became distorted. The world around him became black and white and time appeared to freeze.
An agonizing pain surged through Lucas’ left arm and made him almost want to scream. Bit by bit, the strength in that arm was getting eaten. This forced him to use his right arm alongside it to keep things in check, only for that arm to suffer the same effect, too.
"WHAT DO YOU WA—GHHK!?"
Lucas tried to shout a question to his attacker while hoping it would also attract attention from Rea or any neighbors that might have heard it, but the girl gagged him with a forceful press of her sleeve-covered forearm to his throat.
"You saw me," she hissed before her attention was diverted by what seemed to be the sound of footsteps coming from the hallway outside the room. They were currently faint, but they were slowly getting louder. Distracted, the girl shifted her attention to the door.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Lucas used every last ounce of his strength and quickly disarmed the girl of her katana by knocking it off her grip. The sword flew off the window and plunged itself into the garden soil outside.
Lucas shoved his attacker off the bed, but as the girl fell to the floor, she grabbed onto Lucas' shoulders and dragged him down with her.
After a reckless landing, a struggle ensued as Lucas and the girl wrestled while rolling all over the lightly trembling floor. Grunting, Lucas grew increasingly frustrated in his attempt to fight back. The girl, on the other hand, remained calm and silent.
What appeared to be a mutual struggle at first turned out to be a one-sided display of dominance.
Every few seconds, the fighting stopped, and every time that happened the girl found herself on top of an exhausted Lucas in an advantageous position. He had no choice but to begrudgingly accept that his female adversary was controlling the action in every round.
And that was not the only concern in Lucas' mind. For some reason, a strange and excruciating pain was inflicted upon him every time he touched her hands. He had no idea how or why this was happening, but this strange pain wasn’t felt whenever he grabbed her by her kimono sleeves.
"Is this your first time?" The girl asked as she held down a panting Lucas by his shoulders while straddling him over his hips. A slight smile meant to mock her opponent rose to her face. "You probably know nothing about ground fighting if I can pin you this easily."
The girl's interesting choice of words left Lucas aroused, something he nearly called himself crazy for. That, and the suggestive position they were in led to a bit of redness creeping into his face. The girl, however, didn't display the same flustered signs.
“Please, I don’t want to hurt to you,” Lucas rasped, his chest rising and falling with every breath he tried to take.
When the girl didn’t listen, Lucas arched his back and forced himself to rise, only for the girl to grunt and wrestle him back down to the ground until his resistance became too weak. Then she leaned closer, lowering herself until her alluring face was all Lucas could see. Her wavy side bangs fell and tickled his face.
“Try saying that again if you ever get on top of me,” she challenged him, snickering.
Lucas’ heart spiked higher. It frightened him to think the girl was probably going to violate what was left of his innocence. He couldn’t allow that to happen. Never again.
With a rise of one arm backed with all the strength he could give it, Lucas pushed the girl by her shoulder and threw her off him, but she reacted by snaking her arms around his for a lock and used the momentum of the push to spiral the two of them for one more grappling contest.
The result was no different than before.
“Pinned you, again~” the girl taunted, bearing the smile of a kitten on her soft lips.
To her disappointment, it didn’t last long as they were interrupted by the sound of knocking on the other side of the door.
"Lucas?" Rea checked. "I'm about to leave for my one-week seminar in the nearby town. Is everything all right?"
No answer came from the room for a moment. Then Rea heard a voice.
"Everything is fine. You can count on me to take responsibility."
Having recognized the voice she heard, a slight smile crossed Rea's lips.
"I'm glad to hear that. I'll be sure to get you something like maybe a souvenir or some local delicacies when I return, alright?"
Rea left, her footsteps growing fainter as she ventured farther into the hallway before going down the stairs. No noise erupted from Lucas' room until the front door slammed shut.
Lucas was too busy staring in shock to do anything. As the girl restrained and silenced him with a forearm forced upon his throat, she had her neck pinched between her thumb and index finger, and she talked... exactly like him.
"You... can copy... my voice!?" The words barely escaped from the real Lucas' mouth.
"One of my many techniques," the girl replied as she allowed her two fingers to refrain from pinching her neck. Her voice reverted to its natural, soothing, but also antagonizing pitch. "Now, no one can interrupt us -- AAAHNN!!!"
That… was rather interesting. When Lucas got the girl off him with a quick right hook to her ribs, he wasn’t expecting her to moan from the pain.
Although he wasn't the type of person who’d be fine with hitting girls, he had to make an exception at least just this once. This one was out to take his life!
Now freed, Lucas made a break for the door with the intention to call Rea back and alert her. However, the girl had no intention of making him or his voice come out.
Just as Lucas was about to reach the doorknob, the girl pounced him from behind. A pair of delicate arms snaked around his neck and locked themselves tight while a pair of toned legs wrapped themselves around his waist. With a quick jerk, the girl threw her weight (not that she was heavy) in the opposite direction Lucas intended to go, forcing him to stumble a few steps backward before he toppled over.
The fight was taken to the ground again as the girl tightened her submission hold and tried to cut the flow of blood and oxygen in Lucas' neck. Her legs worked in tandem and gradually increased their pressure as they squeezed his waist harder, trying to crush his ribs and restrict his capacity to breathe.
Gasping for air as he got closer to blacking out, Lucas struggled to find a way to escape. When his time was about to run out, he realized he and his attacker were in-between the door and the L-shaped desk that covered more than half the size of the room. He kicked himself off the desk as hard as he could and catapulted himself and his attacker toward the door.
The girl's head collided with the door and dazed her, allowing Lucas to pry himself free from her deadly embrace. While taking heavy breaths to make up for the time he spent getting choked, he raised an arm toward the door.
Just as his hand reached the doorknob, the girl sprang back before Lucas could turn it. She grabbed hold of the extended limb by the forearm and secured it painfully while pulling Lucas down once more to the ground. Her shapely legs coiled around him again - this time they formed a triangle around his throat and clamped down with the presumed intention to choke him out.
Lucas had a free arm, but it was of little to help as most of his strength had already left him. Sure, he knew he was able to fight for twenty-seven hours straight before, but that was thanks to having several days’ worth of rest and preparation before the Battle Royale. On the day itself, Lucas focused more on defense and attacked only when the opportunity presented itself. This time, he believed that his lack of rest after the grievous fighting, sprinting non-stop, climbing a steep road, and barely having any time to catch a break before getting attacked, all played a role in his exhaustion on such short notice.
As she held on and continued to squeeze, the girl took an opportunity to satisfy a curiosity that came about ever since she first laid an eye on the boy. She reached out and lifted the thick and wavy hair bangs that were covering Lucas' eyes - only to recoil in surprise and accidentally release her hold after doing so.
「Anta no me... Futsuu janai!」
Out of reflex, she blurted in her foreign tongue but repeated her comment in English after the feeling of ignorance struck her.
"Your eyes are not normal..."
"So you saw it..." Lucas coughed as he tried to stand back up and catch his breath. "I have no idea what makes my eyes do this. They just seem to randomly change between the colors brown and... white."
With his bangs lifted slightly, Lucas glared at the girl with a pair of colorless eyes. Their features like the iris, sclera, and pupil were ghostly, barely resembling a normal pair of eyes and more similar to valuable pearls that were capable of reflecting light.
"I have no idea why you would want to kill me just because I saw you, but that was an accident, okay? If you want no one seeing you, I can just pretend this never happened," Lucas assured the girl and hoped she would take his word.
"Hmm... you might be an interesting one," the girl commented as she slowly got up. Her eye narrowed as she studied Lucas all over but mainly focused on his eyes. "Tell me your name. Then I will leave."
The floor creaked as she backed away and slowly headed toward the window while remaining proactive in case Lucas were to attempt something suspicious.
"That's out of nowhere," Lucas said with a shrug. "But if it will make you leave, my name is Lucas. Lucas Thorne."
"In your nation, you say your given name first before your family name, right?"
At a slow and steady pace, the girl bowed without breaking eye contact. Lowering her hands and joining them together in front of her body, she introduced herself.
"It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Rio," she placed a hand on her chest as she spoke her name. "Rio Kiyodera. Age 15. My blood type is AB. And I am from the Eastern nation of Nihan."
That's a long-winded introduction.
Lucas looked on in awe as the moonbeam from his window bathed Rio in its light, giving a silhouette of her slender figure and illuminating her pale skin as she turned toward the source.
"And Thorne-san..." she chirped.
"Thorne...san?" Lucas parroted with surprise.
"...I will leave... but I am not leaving, alone."
Rio approached the bed then spun around and dashed toward Lucas, her scabbard firmly in hand. He had no time to react as Rio thrust the hollow case straight for the spot between his eyes.
A precise strike was what he felt last before his vision went black.