Episode 8: Red Metal
Though the next day was a Saturday, Luna had told Lukas last night to inform the rest of the team they would have the day off since they did so well in their first match. Lukas sat on his bed with his back against the wall. He just got out of the shower and only had his dark jeans on. A towel lied on top of his head slightly covering his face. He always enjoyed getting to sleep in, but he woke up unusually early this morning. It wasn't even nine o'clock yet and he had the rest day to do as he pleased. Something bothered him though; he couldn't get his mind off of Luna.
"Damn…" Lukas muttered to himself, placing his thumb near his lips. He thought about last night; about Luna. The boy sat up against his bed, shirtless and still a bit wet from his shower earlier. Lukas glanced to the window across the room where sunlight poured in from. He began thinking of his childhood friends.
"Lukas!" A small girl had shouted out, running toward him. Her bushy, hot pink hair bounced up and down her shoulders as she ran passed the huge boulders and debris lying about the street. Another boy trailed behind her.
A young Lukas was placing some small boxes, probably containing his own belongings, in the back trunk of the small car. "Huh? Nyla, Nathan, what are you guys doing here?"
The two children stopped a bit short from the car. They looked around at Lukas and his home; the door was open and the inside of his small house was about empty. The moving truck parked outside was filled with furniture and other items. Lukas stood at the back of the car loading it with even more things. It was fairly obvious what was going on.
"You're moving already? Why didn't you tell us it was today?!" The girl frantically asked, panting from her running.
Lukas just looked away, down at the ground silently for a few seconds. "I thought it'd be easier this way. It's not fair that I get to leave but you all can't."
"C'mon now." The boy walked toward Lukas and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sure we'll see each other again someday."
"Nathan…" Lukas started, staring into his friend's rich emerald eyes. "I'm really sorry for what happened to you. But everything will slowly start to get better! The war is finally over."
"Yea…" Nathan looked around the neighborhood. There were some houses that were completely demolished and crushed. Debris lay all over the streets. Smoke from fires yet to be put out could be seen rising high into the sky from who knows where. There were children left homeless with no one to look after them, wandering the streets through the rubble of some of the homes in search of food or better clothing. "It's all their fault…"
Lukas and Nyla noted Nathan clenching his fists in anger. They understood why; the end of the war left everyone in rage.
"Nathan, it'll be alright." Nyla assured the boy.
"I swear Lukas…"
Lukas glanced up at young boy. Nathan was staring at the ground, clenching his teeth.
"I swear Lukas I'll make sure they pay… that 'he' pays. I'll make sure no one has to suffer like this again." Nathan quickly looked up at Lukas, tears streaming down his cheeks from his anger. "I'm going to join Satala's military, so that I can protect everyone!"
A sudden noise from the window caught Lukas's attention. There was a bit of a ruffling clatter from it, and then it slowly slid open. The shutters and curtains blocked his view, so Lukas got to his feet to see who was breaking into his room; though he already knew who it was…
"Whoa!" A small girl splatted on her face from trying to get in, bringing the shutters crashing to the floor with her. "Owie… that hurt." The small girl moaned as she rubbed her nose. She then saw two legs in front of her face, and slowly gazed up to see Lukas staring vacantly back at her.
"Natalie how many times have I told you not to sneak in through my window like that?" He groaned, placing the towel covering his head around his neck.
"Uh…" Her cheeks were flushed hot red from seeing Lukas with no shirt on. She had never realized how muscular Lukas was under his clothes; his abs glistened against the sunlight from some of the water that had yet to dry from his shower. She quickly scrambled to her feet and backed away from him. "Well if I can sneak in that easily so many times than a burglar could easily rob you blind mister!"
He simply sighed, bending over to pick the shutters up that had snapped out of place. "You're hopeless. What do you want?" He asked as he attached the top portion of the shutter back in place.
Natalie swiftly jumped on Lukas's bed to lay down on it. "Aw, do I have to have a reason to visit my future husband?"
"You better have a reason for disturbing…"
"Okay, okay!" She sat up placing one of Lukas's pillows on her lap. "Just wanted to let you know that Courtney's been all mopey and stuff since she got out the hospital. Something about wanting to talk to you."
Lukas turned to her with interest. "Courtney does?" He hadn't really been around Courtney since that event. She seemed like she was fine when he was around her, though he really never made a conscious attempt to sense if she was truly okay or not. Lukas made his way to his bed. "What did she want to talk…"
"W-would you put a shirt on!" Natalie quickly looked away from Lukas's body as he walked toward her. "Courtney would never forgive me if I let you do perverted stuff to me."
"Let you…. what? You little…" Lukas gave the seventh grader a dumbfounded, confused look. "Whatever, let me get a shirt."
Moments later, Natalie watched Lukas pop out from behind the closet door with a shirt on. She was hugging the soft pillow, the bottom of her face smothered in it. "Just cause we're future husband and wife doesn't mean I'm going to let you do whatever you want to me. There has to be a mutual understanding!"
"I'm starting to think you're being serious. Anyway, what exactly does she want to talk about?"
"I don't know!" Natalie distressfully exclaimed. "She won't tell me anything that happened. She just doesn't want me to worry about her but I know better! A few days ago, I heard her and her friend Vanessa talking outside our front door. Is it true Lukas?"
"Is what true?" He asked, sitting down in a chair near his desk on the other side of the room.
"Did she hurt you?"
Lukas's eyes bolted back toward Natalie in confusion. "Did she hurt me? Courtney? No, of course not. Why would…"
"Phew! That's good!" She fell back onto the bed, still hugging onto the pillow. "I didn't think she would do anything to hurt you but… wait!" She darted back up. "Could there be another woman?! That would be a good reason!"
"What the hell are you talking about? Why would you think she hurt me?"
"Well, I heard them talking and Courtney was crying about how it was all her fault you were in the hospital. She said it wasn't fair that you were hurt and don't even know why."
I should have known she'd try blaming herself… Lukas quietly thought to himself. Though, I shouldn't be too surprised. I am a bit curious to know why she attacked Kenta though. "Hmm… is she home?"
"Yup! She should be getting up about now."
Lukas got to his feet and started looking for his shoes. "Alright, I think I'll go pay her a visit."
"Yay, Luke's coming over!" Natalie jumped off the bed and headed for the door.
"Oh no you don't! My mom will get the wrong idea if she sees you coming out my room. You can use the window."
"You're a meanie Luke! Whenever I come to see you through the window you always tell me to use the door!"
"No, I tell you to not come and see me at all. But when you do my mom is usually never home." He found his shoes and threw them near his feet to slip on. "It's Saturday; she'll be up soon."
"Oh fine." She pouted crossing her arms.
The two met up outside Lukas's house and began walking down the sidewalk to Courtney's home. It was very chilly outside, and the unusually harsh wind didn't really help at all. It was a little after nine o'clock now, yet the sun was hidden by many clouds in the sky. It was very gray, though it didn't look like it was going to rain. If anything, it probably would snow from the cold.
"Holy crap it's c-cold!" Natalie hugged herself, rubbing both her arms trying to get a bit warm. All she had on was a light jacket and a skirt.
Lukas had on a pea coat and the red scarf he usually always wore. "You idiot." He pulled the scarf out of his jacket and walked behind Natalie, wrapping it around the small girl's neck. "You couldn't dress properly before coming to my house?"
She blushed as Lukas began walking beside her again. "It wasn't this cold when I left my house!"
Courtney's house was on another street, but it was only a few blocks away from Lukas's. Natalie began to joyfully run as she saw her home come into view.
"Finally, warmth!" She yelled as she ran up her steps to the door. "Hey! Courtney open the door!" Natalie frantically yelled as she started pounding on the door. "Hurry up before I freeze to death!"
Lukas chuckled as he saw Natalie beginning to jump up and down. He made his way toward her as the door came open.
"Natalie…" Courtney moaned as she rubbed her eyes. "What the hell are you doing out?"
"Let me in!" Natalie rushed past her, letting the warm air inside relax her body. "Oh by the way, I brought someone for you."
"Uhh… damn it Natalie it's too early… Who could you have freaking brought to…" Courtney stopped as she turned to see Lukas standing in front of her door.
Courtney stared at him for a second, still half asleep. She then realized who he was… and what she was wearing. All she had on were tiny shorts and a pink tank top. The thin strap on one of her shoulders came down and exposed a bit cleavage. On top of that, her hair was a complete mess. Before he could say another word, she slammed the door shut on his face.
"Ow… my nose…" Lukas stared at the closed door as he rubbed his red nose.
"Courtney! What the heck did…"
"Natalie are you insane?!" Courtney feebly whimpered as she grabbed her sister by her coat. "Why would you do this to me?!"
"What's the matter?"
"I'm a complete mess! I can't believe he saw me like this!"
"You need to start thinking more like me." Natalie shrewdly told her. "If you two get married, he'll see your ugly morning face every day!"
Courtney backed off, blushing hard red. "W-what are you babbling about?! Who said anything about me marrying him! And what was that about my morning face?!"
"C'mon sis, with that attitude you'll never take him away from me!"
"Oh I don't have time for this, I have to get ready!" Courtney began to pick up random things lying on the floor and tidying up around the living room.
Natalie jumped on the couch and began playing with Lukas's red scarf. "Better hurry. He might freeze to death waiting for you to get ready. And you just slammed the door on his face. What if you messed it up?"
"Oh crap, I did slam the door on him! I didn't mean to, it was just my first reaction! But I need to get everything cleaned up before he comes in!" Courtney began to scurry all over the place again.
Natalie sighed watching her sister. "You just go get ready, I'll clean up…"
"Thanks Natalie! You're the best."
Outside the front door, Lukas sat on the front steps of Courtney's house. He wasn't entirely sure if she'd come back and open the door, but he was leaning more toward the possibility she would… eventually. It was actually a bit relaxing sitting outside in the quiet neighborhood; Lukas always liked the cold weather, or at least more than hot weather. He could always wear his scarf in the cold, but it wasn't practical to wear in in the heat.
Lukas sat on the bottom step and leaned against the ascending ones behind him. He let out a long sigh and watched the vapor leave his mouth. As he watched the fog clear, something caught his eye. A man was standing across the street, staring at Courtney's house. At first Lukas wasn't too sure if he was staring at him, the house, or was just randomly standing there for no reason. He watched the man, trying to act like he hadn't noticed him yet. He was definitely looking around the house.
Was that guy there when me and Natalie got here? Lukas didn't bother to look across the street then, so he wasn't sure. Suddenly, he noticed the man pull out a phone from his jacket pocket and began to talk into it, still observing the home. Lukas couldn't tell what he was doing. For all he knew the man could have just been standing there waiting on that phone call and was admiring Courtney's large house. Or, maybe he was looking around to purchase a new home.
No, Lukas could feel it in his gut, and his intuition was usually correct. The man was not supposed to be there. Lukas didn't realize he began to stare at him a bit too long and the man's eyes met with Lukas's. The man casually looked away and then began to walk off down the side of the street. Lukas watched as the stranger strolled down the sidewalk, still talking on the phone.
He stood up from the steps and slowly walked to the front door, turning around to see the man had disappeared somewhere down the road. Lukas leaned back against the door letting out a sigh. Well that was weird… He closed his eyes and tilted his head back. There was a tiny bit of sunlight that had popped out. He could feel his face becoming slightly warmer than the rest of his body. The slight breeze, while very chilly, made the neighborhood all the more serene.
And as if on cue, the door furiously swung open disappearing from right behind Lukas's back. "Oh Lukas, what a pleasant… whoa!"
The two ended up crashing down on the floor next to each other. Lukas was on his back while Courtney on her knees next to him. He turned to Courtney while rubbing the back of his head. "Man, are you two always this lively in the morning?"
Courtney cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "I'm so sorry Lukas!" She got to her feet and helped him up.
The inside of the home was rather cozy, both in warmth and appearance. The living room was nice and large, and very well decorated. Lukas was sitting in the middle of the long sofa with Natalie right next to him. Courtney sat at the end of the other one. The sofas ran perpendicular to each other so the three were fairly close to each other. The long, wooden table in front of them had their three cups; Courtney had made hot chocolate for all three of them. It was obvious which of the three was Natalie's, as she had about ten marshmallows floating in her small cup.
"Aw, can't I wear it a little longer?" Natalie moaned, tugging on Lukas's arm.
"Fine," he moaned, "just make sure you hand it back before I leave."
The small girl rubbed her cheeks against Lukas's arm with a huge grin on her face. "Yay!"
"I've seen you wear that scarf a lot Lukas." Courtney noted. "Is it special or something?"
"Yea, I guess you can say that. Anyway, how have you been Courtney?"
"Me? I-I've been great!" She exclaimed with an embarrassed smile. "I was just a bit surprised to see you at my front door this early morning. For someone who's always sleeping in classes, you always seem to be up when you don't have anything in particular to do."
"Haha yea, I know. But I just really wanted to come see you." He said with a playful smile on his face.
Courtney immediately blushed and turned to her hot chocolate, taking a quick sip from the cup. "I really enjoyed watching your game last night. Glad I went; you were amazing."
Lukas had also just taken a sip from his hot chocolate, placing it back down on the table. "Oh, thanks. It felt really good playing again. Though, the team we were playing against was pretty weak. Usually Ikusa matches are a bit longer than that one."
"Maybe it's just cause your team is so skilled." Courtney looked down at her black shorts and began to fiddle with the edges of it. "Luna… she's pretty amazing, too."
Lukas nodded, "Yea. She's something else…" Images of last night popped into his head; how she cried for him, in his arms.
My… my heart is pounding so fast right now. Courtney thought to herself, placing her hand on her chest. "I-is she… okay?"
"Hmm? What do you mean?"
Her cheeks were blushing bright red. "Um, well I was just wondering… I saw she was, uh, crying last night. Is she okay now?"
"Yeah, she'll be fine…"
"If you tell anyone about this I will smother you with a pillow while you sleep Lukas!"
He remembered Luna whispering that into his ear as she finally stopped crying last night. Lukas chuckled at the thought, thinking he didn't have to tell anyone considering more than likely everyone at the restaurant last night saw them.
I-I have to ask! I have to know! Courtney thought to herself. They seem to be so close, but Vanessa swears Lukas once said they're just friends. "Y-you both seem really close. How long have you two known each other?"
"Well she was the first friend I made when I moved here." Lukas gave it a little thought before saying, "So about seven years."
I had no idea… I thought Zayn and the others were Lukas's first friends. Courtney held her cup near her lap as she watched the steam rise from it. "I see." The two remained quiet for a few seconds, and then Courtney suddenly thought to ask another question. "Hey, where did you move here from Lukas? Was it another part of Frelia like me?"
Lukas quickly looked up at her. Natalie even noticed he became a bit tense and looked up at him. "I… um…" He just stared at Courtney who was patiently waiting for an answer. "If you tell the others… please tell them not to confront me about it."
Courtney seemed a bit confused. She wondered why in the world Lukas didn't want his other friends to talk to him about something as trivial as his birthplace.
"Carthage." Lukas calmly stated. "I was born and lived in the city-state Carthage before coming here." He saw she gave the same reaction as Luna had last night.
"You're serious?! You mean the city that was almost completely annihilated right before the Silver Blood War ended?" She asked in complete shock. Could… could that be the reason why Luna was crying yesterday? Did Lukas just now tell her about this?
He nodded his head slowly, looking away from her. "Yes… that'd be the one."
"I'm so sorry Lukas." She could clearly see the pain in his eyes. Courtney glanced down, thinking about what Lukas had to go through. The Silver Blood War began in 2174, sixteen years ago. That means, Lukas's childhood, when he was just two years old, was filled with nothing but war and violence… Toward the end of the war, Transia soldiers knew they were about to be defeated. So… they demolished a whole city-state as a statement, and almost all the districts in it. It was probably the second largest city at the time. So many people lived there, and so many people were hurt. Innocent, good civilians who wanted nothing to do with the war. Transia… the Transhumans practically destroyed Carthage…
Courtney could feel her eyes beginning to quiver as she stared at the floor. Tears were ready to stream down her cheeks. She suddenly felt a warm hand on her face; two hands. She quickly looked up to see Lukas's face right in front of hers, with a sincere glow in his blue eyes.
"Please don't cry." Lukas whispered, knelt down on the ground in front of her. He rubbed the tears from her face before they could accumulate. "Please, don't cry for me. There's no reason for anyone to shed tears for me."
"But Lukas!" Courtney shouted.
Natalie leaned forward against the sofa's armrest to see the two. She was concerned, and being the young girl she was, didn't understand why her sister was so distressed.
"You… you grew up seeing nothing but bloodshed!" She cried out, grabbing his hands. "Carthage was the city where Transia soldiers would constantly enter the kingdom from. Out of all five city-states of Satala, it was always in the most turmoil, and both armies were constantly fighting there! While we all had to go through that terrible experience, you witnessed it firsthand! And on top of that, before the war came to an end those soldiers decided to completely destroy the city even though the citizens there had nothing to do with the war!" The girl gripped both of Lukas's hands tightly. "So… why don't you want others to cry for you?"
"Because… there's someone who's been crying over me for a long time now…" Lukas gently told her. "I hate being the reason why someone cries."
"Do you hate them?"
"The Transhumans, for what they did to you all." Courtney whimpered.
Lukas shook his head. "I don't. The Transhumans had nothing to do with the destruction of Carthage. It was Transia's soldiers. Even so, I don't hate them. I'm lucky; my mother is safe, I believe my friends there are now fine, and coming here has turned out for the best. I've met many good people here. I have no reason to hate them anymore." He slowly pulled his hands away from her face, though she still held on to one of them. "I also don't hate Silver Blood. I think they are good people, but their methods for going about their goals are more than questionable, and the same could be said about their goals for that matter."
"Silver Blood?" Courtney was surprised he had transitioned their conversation to them. "They were created by the citizens of Satala who wanted to make sure a war like that never happened again. But… they've become terrorists."
"I think they've just lost their way due to their anger and lust for revenge, but I wouldn't go as far as to call them terrorists. That's just my personal take on them, though." Lukas had noticed Courtney's behavior that night they were taken hostage. He noticed the way she reacted when she found out the group was Silver Blood. He saw the look on her face as she stared at their leader, Kenta Masato. The abhorrence she exhibited as she ran with her Solblade toward him.
"But why do you hate them?" He asked.
"Huh?" The sudden and serious question caught her off guard.
"Silver Blood has done many terrible acts during their time of activity, justifying their actions with the same excuse; that Transhumans are evil. I understand what they do is wrong, but why do you hate them?"
This was her chance. Courtney wanted to talk to Lukas about the incident at the theatre that happened last Sunday. She actually planned on talking to him after the Ikusa match yesterday, but decided against it when she saw Luna and him like that. She had to tell him why she attacked Kenta. So why was she hesitating? Courtney didn't understand it… she felt her heart thump hard against her chest.
How could she tell Lukas about her deep animosity for Silver Blood when their members were people just like him? Innocent civilians simply looking for revenge on the Transhumans: the people who made them suffer and took their loved ones. Lukas didn't hold a grudge on the Transhumans, so he wasn't siding with Silver Blood's ideas. Even so, she decided there's no way she could tell him her reasons after their conversation just now, at least not at this moment.
"I… can we talk later?"
That surprised Lukas. He felt Courtney's hand slowly sliding off of his. It was expected though, and he completely understood; the rage and hatred she displayed as she ran toward that man…
Lukas understood it might take some time for her talk about it. It's only been about a week. "Yea, whenever you want." He stood to his feet and turned to Natalie.
She was still concerned; a bit lost as well. The girl handed Lukas his scarf and watched as he headed toward the door.
"I'll see ya later." He regretfully said as he opened and walked out the door. Lukas closed the door shut on his way out and headed down the steps. Son of a bitch… I'm such an idiot…
"C'mon Lukey, tell me what happened!"
"Nothing happened." Lukas said as he chopped the carrot into little even pieces.
Lukas and his mother were in the kitchen making some lunch. His mother had on a pink, frilly apron that was stained all over the place. There was a pot on the stove boiling with all kinds of different ingredients in it. She churned the stew while Lukas helped prepare different ingredients for it.
"Aw, don't deny it Lukey! You know that won't work on me!" She moaned, trying to look at his grimacing face.
"Nothing happened… Courtney just got a little upset. I told her where we moved from."
Ms. Elserin returned her attention to the pot. "Ahh, I see now."
The two continued working on their late lunch silently. Lukas gave his mother the small slices of carrot and she dumped them into the large pot. He then began to wash his hands at the sink when something else came to his mind. "Hey mom…"
"Hmm?" She was taste-testing her stew with a large, wooden spoon.
"Do you think… you think he's okay?"
"And who is 'he' exactly?"
"Nathan… and Nyla, too."
"My, I haven't heard those two names in quite some time." She slowly turned to face Lukas, who was drying his hands with a hand towel. "I'm sure they're fine. Those two are just as capable as you are. Not to mention just as hard headed!"
"I'm not that hard headed." Lukas pouted. "But they couldn't leave Carthage like me. I wonder if they're still there…"
Lukas's mom reached into the cabinets above the countertop and pulled out a couple bowls. "You know, you could always go there when school's out. It's not like you have anything else planned after you graduate." She teased him with an obnoxious laugh.
He just sighed, and began helping his mom set the table.
Moments later, the two were sitting down at the small dinner table with their bowls of hot stew in front of them. Ms. Elserin's tongue was hanging out of her mouth from burning it on the hot stew. Lukas just twirled the spoon around and around the bowl, watching the mixture twirl about as steam rose from the center.
"Lukas. Lukas, wake up dear. We have to get going before they begin fighting."
Lukas's eyes immediately shot open. The small boy sat up to see his mother's beautiful face. The boy was lying down in his small bed and looked around the room. She had already gotten their things together into two small bags.
This was becoming fairly normal; Lukas lived near the center of the city in a district called Renvall… that's where the fighting constantly took place. Whenever a battle was imminent, the citizens were warned by Satala's Imperial Army to evacuate the area for their own safety. The citizens would eventually return but only once the soldiers left the area, which could take days, weeks, or even months. If they were lucky, the citizens' houses would still be intact. If they weren't lucky, the two armies would destroy the homes from the fighting… or, the Transhumans would randomly pick a house, pillage it, and then destroy it out of sheer cruelty. It was a really matter of chance.
"Get ready my dear. We're going again."
Lukas nodded, "Okay."
It was early morning, and the sun wasn't even out. Lukas and his mother exited the small house and proceeded down the driveway. The homes in this area were built very close to each other so the lawns were fairly small. Small wooden fences divided each home. Lukas watched other families leave their houses. Most had cars so they had no trouble leaving the area. Some, unfortunately, had to walk to where a public bus would pick up all the citizens.
Lukas got into the passenger seat of his mother's small car once they loaded their small duffle bags. They could only afford to take a limited amount of things. The shelters didn't allow much other than a few changes of clothing and other small personal belongings.
"We're going to be picking up Nathan to come with us." Lukas's mother informed him as the car backed out of the driveway.
"Huh? Is his parents' car messed up or something?"
She just shook her head and kept her eyes on the road. "They won't be able to take him to the shelter this time, so he's gonna come with us."
They've been to the shelters that bordered the outskirts of the city nearly twenty times in the past four years. Occasionally, they would only stay there for a few days whenever a brief skirmish broke out in the center of the city. The longest Lukas has been there was about three months. Every time they would go, Lukas and his mother would pick up Nyla and the three of them would head down to the shelter. Nathan and his parents would drive down there together. His parents and Lukas's mother were apparently good friends, which was how Nathan and Lukas came to be such close friends… even in this time of conflict where these children were practically born into a world of war.
The car came to a stop behind a long line of other cars. They were parked outside a building of some sort. Children were running to different cars, quickly getting in and taking off down the road. Some of them had small backpacks with them while other children didn't have anything. The children seemed to vary quite a bit in age, ranging from about six to twelve years in age, a couple even older looking.
After waiting for a while and slowly moving forward, Lukas and his mother finally reached the front of the building. The two waited in the car, looking outside around the building.
"There she is." Lukas pointed out the window.
The pink hair girl Nyla quickly walked to the car, and hopped in the back seat. She placed her small backpack on the floor of the car. "Good morning Ms. Elserin. Lukas." The little girl solemnly stated as she closed the door.
"Nyla…" Ms. Elserin turned to face the little girl. "How have you been sweetie? Have you been eating well?"
"Yes ma'am, I'm good."
"I'm glad to hear it. I'm so sorry we have to go back to the shelters again." Lukas's mother spun back to the steering wheel and began to slowly drive again. "Maybe this will be the last time we have to go…"
Lukas watched his mother steer through the small roads, headed toward Nathan's house. He noticed her expression when she said that; she seemed a bit worried, which confused the young boy. If this would be the last time they had to go to the shelter, wouldn't that mean the war was close to ending? If anything, Lukas thought she would be anxious or relieved, not troubled.
The skies were pitch black, and a lot of the street lights were destroyed from all the fighting so it would have been very difficult to see if it were not for the car's headlights. After a few minutes of driving, their car pulled into the driveway of a very large house. It looked like it used to be rather luxurious, but not many people were worried about keeping their homes well-kept with the unknown threat of an attack from the Transia soldiers. The front lawn grass had grown out of control, flowers that lined the sides were withering, the shrubs in front scattered throughout the front yard had lost their shape, and even the house itself looked as if it were losing a bit of its color.
Lukas's mother left the car running, but got out and headed for the front door. Lukas and Nyla glanced at each other and decided to do the same and exit the car.
"I still don't get it." The young boy cried to his parents. They were gathered outside the front door. Nathan had a backpack on and a duffle bag. Lukas's mother walked to him and took the bags to place in her car. "Why can't you come with us?!"
Nathan's mother, a beautiful young woman with long, sapphire hair, bent down to his side and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Nathaniel, honey, listen to me closely." She calmly started, keeping a large smile on her face. "You'll be perfectly fine with Ms. Elserin. Your father and I have to take care of some things. We'll try to meet up with you as soon as possible."
Lukas and Nyla slowly approached their friend, keeping a slight distance between them. They saw how upset he was. Lukas watched as his mother placed Nathan's belongings in the trunk of the car and then returned to the front door where the rest of them were gathered.
"O-okay…" Nathan muttered out. His mother leaned forward and kissed him on the check before embracing him. Nathan could feel tears beginning to form in his eyes. They were about to burst any second.
"Be strong my boy." The calm, soothing voice came from Nathan's father. The tall man also bent down to Nathan's side, rubbing his son's messy, dark blue hair. "We'll come back for you. Then maybe we can teach you how to finally beat up Lukas over here." His father grabbed the young boy and playfully put him into a headlock, scratching the top of Nathan's head.
Nathan chuckled, and a smile cracked on his face as his father teased him. The boy caught sight of Lukas standing off to the side and smiled at him.
"Nicves," Nathan's mother placed a hand on her husband's shoulder, "I believe we should let them get going."
The father took one more long look at his son before standing up. He then turned to Lukas, who was only a few feet apart from them. "Lukas."
The young lad was caught by surprised. "Yes?" He walked up to him, standing next to Nathan.
The man stared at Lukas for a second and then placed a hand on top of his head, rubbing his black hair. "You'll have a harsh life ahead of you. You be strong too." Nathan's father watched Lukas simply nod and took his hand off his head.
"Erina…" Nathan's mother walked up to Lukas's and embraced her. "Thank you so much."
She comforted her, stroking the back of her friend's long hair. "Of course. I have to repay you for everything you and Nicves have done. I'll make sure he's safe."
Nathan's mother backed away, smiling at Ms. Elserin but with tears streaming down her cheeks. "I know you will."
Everyone was now in the car. Nyla and Nathan sat in the back seat while Lukas and his mother were up front. It was quiet out; only the noises of other cars in the distance driving and crickets could be heard. The sun was beginning to rise far in the distance, evident by the skies turning a tad bit lighter.
Nathan looked out the window at his parents as the car backed out of the driveway. His father held tightly onto his mother as they waved to their son. He could see his mother beginning to cry again.
The car finally turned a corner, heading to the shelters. Nathan's home was no longer in sight. He didn't understand any of it. Why did his parents have to stay behind? When will they be coming back? Why couldn't he stay with them? All these thoughts ran through his mind, jerking tears into his eyes.
He then felt a hand lay on his own. The boy looked up to his friend Nyla. Seldom did she show emotions; growing up in a place of violence where death was seen firsthand constantly, Nathan knew the girl began to shield herself from the rest of the world. But, for to his surprise, she also had tears in her eyes.
"It… it'll be okay." She quietly told him.
"Yea." Lukas turned in his seat to reassure his friend. "You'll see them again!"
Nathan shut his eyes, trying to force his tears to go away. "Yea, you're right Luke." He smiled at Lukas as he wiped his eyes.
"After we get out of the shelter, we'll go visit your house again." Lukas threw a fist in the air directed at Nathan. "Then we're gonna finish our fight!"
"Fine!" He enthusiastically replied. "You're going down next time though!"
"Ugh, you guys are so stupid." Nyla snarled as she redirected her attention back out the window. "Lukas, you promised me you wouldn't fight in front of me unless you had a reason!"
"I do have a reason. I'm going to fight for my friend."
"You're going to fight your friend, for your friend? You're stupid."
"Quit calling me stupid! You're the stupid one!"
Ms. Elserin kept her eyes on the road, smiling as the children bickered. They continued to pass many houses, many cars… many dead bodies. She was glad the children were distracted with each other and didn't get to see any of the horrific scenery. The car drove down the road to a safer place.
Lukas was washing the dishes in the sink with a sponge. Bubbles and foam from the detergent was all over the place. His sleeves were rolled up as he ferociously scrubbed the inside of the pot they used for their lunch. "Jeez, how the heck did you manage to do this?"
Ms. Elserin was sitting on top of the counter top. Her feet swayed back and forth like a child, hitting the cabinets underneath. "Hey mister, don't make fun of my cooking! It was probably your carrots that made all the stuff stick. You should have cut them more evenly." The small TV on the countertop flashed between channels as Ms. Elserin hit the button on the remote.
"I don't think uneven carrots have anything to do with it…" Lukas shook his head with a quick chuckle.
"Hey, lookie here." Lukas's mother finally found a station that looked interesting: the news. "Next year the king's eldest daughter is going to make a public appearance. Isn't that exciting Lukey?"
"I suppose." He grunted, still trying to scrub off the grime at the bottom of the pot.
"His and Her Majesty have two daughters, but neither of them have been seen in public yet." Suddenly, the telephone rang, interrupting Ms. Elserin thoughts. She hopped off the countertop and headed for the living room.
Lukas heard her answer the phone, but continued to furiously scrub the pot. "Grr… damn it! What the hell is wrong with this thing? Son of a…"
"Lukas!" Erina worriedly yelled.
The boy quickly turned around to see his mother with the telephone.
"Vanessa called; it's Courtney's house. Someone broke into it!"
"What?!" Lukas dropped the sponge and pot and it fell into the water, splashing about. He quickly dashed out the front door with his jacket and scarf and put it on as he ran. It was fairly dark outside now that the sun was beginning to set.
Moments later, Lukas turned onto the street that Courtney's house was on. "Damn…" He saw there were about three police cars parked outside her home, their red and blue lights flashing about. He quickly ran closer until the people there came into view. He saw Vanessa sitting on the sidewalk's edge with Natalie and Courtney. There was a man speaking to the cops; that must have been Courtney's older brother, who was always working.
"Hey!" Lukas shouted as he jogged toward the group.
"Lukas!" Natalie immediately ran to him, jumping in his arms. "Luke! You won't believe what happened. Some guys completely destroyed the our home!"
Lukas saw she was crying pretty badly. He held the girl tighter, trying to comfort her. "Man…" He noticed the house now; all the windows were completely shattered. The door was kicked open and hung on a single hinge. It was a complete and utter mess. "Are you guys okay?" He asked looking down at her.
She nodded. "Courtney was at Vanessa's house. I was home with my brother. When we heard the door being kicked down we ran out the back and called the cops from our neighbor's house. By the time they got here though… everything was destroyed."
Courtney and Vanessa walked up to Lukas, watching Natalie sob in his arms.
"You sure you're okay?" Lukas asked Courtney. He couldn't tell by her expression; there was something else on her mind, some other emotion. Lukas sensed it, but couldn't place his finger on it.
She remained quiet, staring at the ground. Vanessa then placed her hands on Natalie's shoulders. "Hey," she quietly said, "how about we let those two talk?"
Natalie nodded, wiping the tears away from her face, and walked off with Vanessa.
Courtney led Lukas inside the home. The officers and detectives had finished looking through the place for any clues. The lights were all shut off; the only light that poured into the living room was from the shattered windows and open door. The two looked around at all the destruction. Every step they took they stepped on something.
"I want you to see something." Courtney somberly told Lukas, walking farther into the house.
The two went up the stairs seeing all the pictures that used to hang on the walls torn or the frames shattered. The stairs led to the second floor where the bedrooms were. Lukas watched Courtney turn back to him. He couldn't stand not knowing why she was so upset. And then, she opened the door.
The two glanced inside and Lukas's eyes shot wide open from what he was staring at. "What the…" The room was dark, but the single window on the wall allowed enough light in to reveal the scene. There was a pool of some kind of bright red liquid all over Courtney's bed. It oozed and flowed slowly right off the edge of the bed down onto the ground. It wasn't blood; it had a far too metallic smell for it to be blood, and it was way too thick. There was a picture frame on the floor that met right where the liquid came to an end.
"It's mercury… dyed red." She quietly said. "The police told me… it's a signature… that Silver Blood uses. They leave it to let everyone know they're responsible for the crime…"
Lukas quickly turned to Courtney. She had tears flowing down her cheeks. He watched as the girl walked into the room and knelt down to the ground, right next to the pool of metal. She picked up the picture that was just about to be engulfed by the mercury and stood back up, turning back to Lukas.
He walked next to her to take a look at the picture. There were two people in the picture; a man and a woman. "Your parents?"
She nodded. "When I was younger… my parents were killed… I watched them die. I was right there when they were being killed Lukas."
"My parents were both doctors. They were… unusual doctors though. They were doctors for Transhuman patients. Not many doctors in Satala know how to operate on a Transhuman, so my parents thought they could make a difference. There aren't many Transhumans who still live in Satala, but if they were ever hurt Lukas they could get help just like anyone else." Courtney gripped the picture frame tightly against her. "So… just because they wanted to help Transhumans, people who are still just as human as you and me… Silver Blood thought they deserved to die."
Lukas didn't know how to respond. He didn't know what to say. He just listened to her every word that came out of her lips, sincerely looking into her eyes with the utmost sorrow for her.
"I haven't told anyone this. Natalie doesn't even know. I watched them die in their own home Lukas. I saw the face of their murderer. It was that man… that man at the theatre that day… His face is etched into my memories. I can't forget it no matter how hard I try. It was Kenta Masato; he killed my parents Lukas!" She shouted throwing the picture into the puddle of mercury.
"Courtney…" He finally sensed her emotions clearly. She was deeply saddened… but she was also enraged with hatred.
"That is why I hate Silver Blood. It's not fair! It isn't fair Lukas! They were good people!" She angrily cried out, tears flying from her eyes once more. She stepped closer to Lukas as she continued to confide her inner thoughts unto him. "They didn't deserve to die Lukas! I didn't deserve to have them taken away from me like that! Why do they do things like this? Why do they continue to hurt innocent people?! The Transhumans may have harmed them and their families but they have no right to do the same to innocent people!"
Before she could say another word, Lukas took her by the waist and pulled her closer. The girl fell into his arms, and he gripped her tightly. "I can't stand seeing you like this Courtney…"
Courtney kept quiet and as she looked over Lukas's shoulder. She calmed down but continued to quietly cry. "I'm so scared Lukas…" She murmured into his ear. "What if I was home when they came? What if Natalie didn't manage to escape? Would they kill us? I can't stand it. Ever since I attacked Silver Blood's leader in front of all their members I've been worrying about whether or not we would be safe."
"It's okay Courtney." He slowly backed away to see her face, while still holding on to her. "I promise, I'll protect you. I won't let anything happen to you, or Natalie for that matter."
"Everything will be alright. You'll see." He reassured her, wiping the tears away from her face.
She slowly grabbed his hand, pressing it firmly against her cheeks. The two just stood there, staring at each other. Courtney could feel her heart pounding out of control. She didn't want Lukas to let go of her. She didn't want to return to reality; to the fact that she was being targeted by Silver Blood; to the fact her house was now destroyed. All she saw was Lukas, and that was all she wanted to think about.
Lukas suddenly felt one of her hands on his cheek. He looked a bit surprised. Courtney slowly moved closer toward Lukas. Closer and closer, holding him tightly. Their faces only inches away from each other. Lukas stood completely still as Courtney's lips locked with his; the two stood quietly right against each other as the pool of dyed mercury crept its way closer to them.
Author's Note: This chapter wasn't too action packed, instead mainly focused on Lukas's past (at least a bit of it ;D) and finally the reason why Courtney attacked Kenta a few episodes back. For those of you who are getting a bit confused by all the characters, I would recommend reading the summaries on my "wiki" that you can find on my profile (warning, don't read anything else to avoid spoilers!). Oh, and just in case you couldn't tell that first flashback is showing the day where Lukas is moving from Carthage to Frelia. The second flashback is where he's going to the shelter, and that happened before the events of the first one. Just wanted to make that clear.
So Courtney was hurt by Silver Blood and hates them; Lukas was hurt by the Transhumans but doesn't hate them, but at the same time he dislikes Silver Blood. Interesting stuff to discuss. Please review and ask questions, and more importantly, if you liked it follow! As I said before, I really hope that if you do like it you guys will recommend this story to as many other people possible. This would help me out tremendously! Thanks a lot for reading and I hope you guys are enjoying the story so far. :)