11 – Lost Soldier

PRESENT DAY

A seventeen year old with black cropped hair tossed a stone across the alley way, which was filled with puddles.
“Hello, Askasa,” the boy said, a tinge of resentment in his voice.
He wore an old, ragged brown jacket that was too big for him. On the right arm was a red stripe with a black symbol inside a white circle. The symbol looked like some sort of plus sign with twisted ends. What it meant had long been forgotten.
“Hikari,” Fortenra answered, watching his old friend chew on a piece of beef jerky. “It’s good to see you again.”
The tradition of greeting eachother by last name was something they had started when they were just little kids.
Hirun tilted his head back and gave a single, loud laugh at Fortenra’s statement. A piercing green eye glared at the older boy through his tangle of bangs. “Why are you even here? Wasn’t the Phoenix Gang taking care of you?” The questions were laden with hatred. Hirun had felt betrayed when Fortenra left him.
The waiter lifted up his blistered hands. “I need your help.”
Hirun’s eyes narrowed, and he finally stood on his old combat boots. They were falling apart, pieces of the material flaking off at the seams. But it was good to see Hirun had finally grown into them. Fortenra could remember when they were several sizes too small.
But the Askasa kid’s moment of reminiscence was over with Hirun’s next statement:
“And what about when I needed help?”
Fortenra frowned. “That wasn’t my choice. Listen. Take me to a healer, and I can make everything up to you.”
Hirun grumbled to himself, shifting his weight uneasily. He spit the wad of beef jerky that had been too hard to chew from his mouth and turned to pick up a soldat cap, placing it on his head before kicking rubble across the alleyway and walking past Askasa and onto the main street.
“Hurry up, before it gets dark,” Hirun grumbled, walking up the ruins of the city.
This place wasn’t for normal citizens, and Askasa, still in his work clothes, stuck out like a sore thumb.
As the sunlight began to fade, he could see glimpses of the lowliest and most unfortunate Dexterians peering through the lengthening shadows toward him. But as long as Hirun was nearby, he knew the others would stay away.
Hikari practically owned this place. He and Askasa grew up here. Even though Hikari had no rez, he had managed to beat most and instill fear into the rest. Askasa was his adoptive brother, and while Askasa had a rez, he hated using it.
It was through Hirun that Fortenra received the wire implants. They had gone to Roy Salamandra, some hack scientist, and had the operation done. Fortenra’s wires were sheer science and brilliance, not a resonance soul. Askasa’s Resonant was far more deadly than his wires, and that was why he never used it.
He looked to Hirun.
Hirun had been abandoned, just like Fortenra. But Hirun had no power but his own body to protect himself. In Dexterity, especially in this area, people without resonants did not live long life spans. And Hirun was still a kid. He seemed to be doing well for himself.
Certainly better than Askasa, anyway. Askasa just felt like he had been used.

But in the same vein, at least Askasa had a home to come to. A place with four walls. It meant a lot to him. He had worked hard for it.
“Here it is,” Hirun rasped, taking out a flask and shaking it.
Hearing no water inside, he unscrewed the cap and dipped the flask into a nearby rain barrel to collect more. They were in front of something that looked like it used to be an old cottage at one point. But there was a huge amount of rubble all around, as if a large parking garage fell atop the house.
“Where are we?” Fortenra asked.
Hirun drank from his now full flask before hanging it from his belt again.
“Opal’s place.” Hikari was unenthusiastic.

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