He walked cautiously through the busy buzzing streets of the biggest metropolitan planet. A planet known for its top notch technological systems: AI units, 4D holograms, high speed electromagnetic rail trains, just basically anything that you can think of. It got it all.
He scanned through his surroundings as he tried to blend in with the crowd. He hugged his red cloak closer to his body, lowered his hood more and weaved his way through the noisy streets. Commercials of famous actors were shown at a different interval through the hologram screens up above him; a drunken man was thrown out of a night club to his right, and a woman with flashy green hair was openly eyeing him out. The whole was just too damn noisy for his taste, but he needed to be here. He had been travelling from one planet to another, collecting bounties of rogue criminals. Fighting until his heart’s content. Searching.
He rounded up a corner and noticed a flock of people up ahead. He would normally just ignore such a scene for it was of no importance to him. However, something caught his attention. A name he was more familiar with than anyone else, “MYRMIDON”. He walked purposely closer to the riot. Bystanders were screaming in horror as building glass windows shattered at each action.
He silently watched as the lizard-like being jumped in front of the armored man, the man’s left arm in position to stab the ugly being. A loud screech filled the area as the sharp sword pierced through the heart of the enemy. And in no time, all the lizard men were dragged into a levitating car cell.
The amazed crowd clapped their hands then slowly dispersed from the scene. He watched as the armored man walked to another vehicle and dialed up their headquarters. He walked silently behind the man. And in a flick of a finger, the sword earlier used was not pointed directly at him.
“Who are you?”, the armored man asked. “Speak or I will not hesitate to cut off your head.”
The man tapped the tip of the sword underneath his chin, waiting for his answer. He smirked and took off the hood covering his face.
“Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten about me, Sajin?”, he asked. Recognition dawned on the armored man and lowered the sword.
“Haji?”, Sajin asked uncertainly and removed his helmet. “Is that you?”
Haji looked at the bearded man with long brown messy hair and grinned. “Aye. It’s me, alright.”
“By god! It bloody is you, my boy!” Sajin exclaimed and fiercely grabbed him into a tight hug. He awkwardly returned the same gesture to the older man. “Where have you been these past years?! Bloody hell! Look at you! You’ve grown!” He patted Haji in the shoulder and looked at him from head to toe. His raven-black hair had grown longer these past two years and now tied into a clean ponytail. His body had also grown bigger and more muscular because of the intense training he had done in the past.
“Yeah. I’ve changed.” Haji said indifferently. The man noticed the change in his tone and looked at him once again.
“Aye. You’ve changed. Your eyes are a lot colder than they were before.” Sajin commented, turned his back on him, and opened the waiting car. He dropped the helmet to the back seat of the car and grabbed some cigarettes. He lighted one up and looked back to the waiting man. “So, what do you want from me? I gather you’re not here to chitchat over lost time, are you?” Haji nodded.
“I want information.” Sajin quirked a brow and stayed silent. “Can you help me?”
The older man puffed out smoke and gave a thoughtful expression. “This is gonna be a long discussion. Let’s talk this over someplace else.” He gestured towards the car then sat at its driver seat, starting its ignition. Haji took the seat next to Sajin, and both drove off silently.
They arrived at older man’s apartment, which was only a couple of blocks away and entered the dark 3-storey building together. They walked up a few plights of stairs until they’ve reached the third storey then turned an alley towards the last room to the left of the building. At a door was a built in monitor with numbered keypads. Haji watched silently as the man entered the password to his room apartment. He heard the door clicked open as it registered the right password.
“After you,” Sajin opened the door and gestured for him to come in. He nodded and walked inside the room. He scanned the entire room. It was a simple room apartment. A bunk bed was positioned towards the far-right corner beside it was a window that showed the beautiful city night lights. A brown couch and a glass table were found at the center of the room. The kitchen was to the left, and a door was adjacent which he thought would probably be the bathroom.
“It’s normal,” Haji commented, walked to the middle of the room and sat on the couch.
“Yeah, I was never the one who fancies those shiny complicated techo things,” Sajin shrugged. He walked towards one of his kitchen cabinets and took out some drinking glasses and a bottle of brandy. Then went back to the living room and placed it on the table.
The older man silently scrutinized the boy. He hadn’t seen the boy in two years after that event. He shook his head in disappointment. “Here.” He held out the glass with the golden cold liquor. Haji took the glass and drank the liquid.
“So, you’re here for information? What information could I possible have which the underground doesn’t?”, Sajin quirked a brow and drank his own glass.
“Only the force has the information that I need,” Haji said matter-of-fact. “The one I’m looking for has deep connections to the force. And I need to know where I can find him.”
Sajin looked skeptically at him. “And you think I can give you such information?” Haji nodded. The older man chuckled wearily. “You know very well that such information is highly kept classified within the force, don’t you? What’s in it for me if I tell you about it?” He gulped another shot of brandy and stared directly to Haji’s eyes.
“I’ll forever be in debt with you,” Haji said very seriously. One thing Sajin liked about the lad was his attitude to paying his debts. For one thing, the lad never liked to have debts. And for him to say that he’d be forever in debt with him was something he could not help but admire.
Sajin sighed and placed the glass back to the table. “You’re looking for the man who killed her, right?” He noticed the boy clenched his teeth together. Sajin sighed again. He rubbed his temples and looked at the ceiling then looked at the boy beside him. His shoulders were hunched forward, his head low and his eyes piercing cold. “Ya know. Hatred is a poison that kills us. Same goes with revenge, lad,” Sajin started. “If we let ourselves be consumed those two, our lives would surely become a dark black hole. Swallowing and destroying everything inside the blackness.” He watched the silent boy at the corner of his eyes.
“I don’t care. My life was already destroyed that day,” Haji smiled grimly. “If you’re not gonna tell me where I can find him, I better find answers somewhere else.” He stood up and walked towards the door.
“The person you’re looking for is found on this planet,” Sajin said after him and threw a crumpled piece of paper. Haji caught it and read the coordinates written in the paper. He nodded his head and walked out of the room. Sajin thought how long it’ll take for him to see the young man again.
The sky was filled with dark gray clouds, swirling above the vast gloomy sky. The afternoon air was cold and as he looked at the cold stones of the old abandoned ruins, he felt nothingness. The place used to be an old temple used by the natives of the planet but now had been long forgotten.
Thunder sounded and soon after heavy rains started pouring. He looked up at the dark gray sky then closed his eyes. Tears started flowing down his cheeks. ‘Why are you crying?’ he heard her whisper in his ear.
“You left,” he whispered achingly.
‘I had to,’ he could see the sadness in her eyes. ‘It was supposed to happen.’ He felt her hands lightly caressed the side of his face. He clenched his teeth.
“I should have been there. I could have saved you,” he said in a rugged whisper.
‘You couldn’t have saved me. It wasn’t meant to be,” she tear fell down her porcelain cheek.
“I’ll avenge you,” he said determinedly. Anger seeped through his body. “I’ll find them and I’ll avenge you. I promise.”
‘I couldn’t escape reality. It was meant to be.’ He felt her move closer to him and planted a soft kiss to his lips. She traced his face with her fingers and achingly whispered. ‘I’m sorry.’
He opened his eyes and she was gone.
Haji was standing on top of a cliff, looking at the quiet city below. He scanned the area carefully. Taking in every detail of the place to mind. ‘This is the place,’ he thought. A dock harbor was found to the left side of the city with the vast sea beyond it. Building lights filled the whole city as each native prepared to rest. The colors of the sky signaled the coming of the night. “I’m coming for you.” He said determined.
The city was quieter compared to the previous one. People lived in simplicity and they liked to keep it that way. He walked his way towards an abandoned warehouse at the dockyard. A gunshot was heard not faraway from him and went off to investigate it. A man was shot down, his blood spilled all over the ground, by a grizzly beast man.
“That’s what happens if you try to escape-grr,” the grizzly man said and huffed. Haji silently crept forward. He saw the shot man coughed blood and stopped breathing. Haji took out his target bounties. “Grizwald Balteck,” he read silently.
Grizwald noticed his presence and fired his gun towards his direction. Luckily, Haji evaded the fire and rolled towards a crate to hide. “Come out-grr!” Grizwald roared. Haji walked out to the open and faced the grizzly man.
“Who are you-grr?” the man barked.
“You’re Grizwald Balteck, right?” Haji asked indifferently. “Head bounty of 100,000 gravs.”
“Bounty hunter, ey-grr?” Grizwald scoffed.
“Enough talk. I need you to answer some question,” he said coldly. The man barked in laughter.
“Simple human, you think I will answer your question? Who do you think you are-grr?” The bearlike man raised his gun towards him and his face looked skeptical.
“I’m your death.”
Haji clapped his hands together, whispered an incantation and slowly parted his hands, a small vortex forming in the middle. Then from inside the vortex came out a huge silver sword. At the end of its hilt was a long chain.
The grizzly man roared and fired the gun several times. Haji easily dodged each bullet with his sword and launched himself forward, swinging his sword. The attack was block by the man’s sharp claws. His body was thrown off to one side.
He twisted his body backward and landed to the ground with a thud. He swung his sword once again and cut the enemy’s shoulder. Grizwald roared at the inflicted pain and punched him in return.
“You dirty human-grr!” Grizwald raised his sharp claws and slashed his coat. Haji winced in pain as it slashed slightly through his flesh. He took out a set of sharp knives and threw it towards the man but was only brushed aside. “You have to be tougher than that kid-grr.”
He saw him punch the ground, cracked it open and a bolt of electricity flowed through the open cracks towards his Haji’s direction. He jumped to the side to evade it and threw more knives towards the enemy.
“Is this you best shot boy-grr?” The grizzly Grizwald laughed harder. “What a weak fool. And now you’ll die!” He threw the useless gun and run towards Haji, his claws swung from left to right.
“Idiot,” Haji uttered then poised his sword in front of him. He chanted some incantations and his sword glowed, electricity flowed through it. At the exact same moment, both men clashed their weapons at each other. But only one prevailed. Haji pierced through the hard stone body of Grizwald, sending shockwaves of electricity all throughout the body. He roared in pain and landed hard to the ground, blood spilling out of his mouth.
Haji stared coldly at him and took out a bounty photo. “I’m looking for this man. I heard he’s in this area. Tell me where I can find him.”
Grizwald looked at the photo, an image of a large tattooed man with long brown hair and a huge sword. Recognition was evident on his bloody face.
“The man you look for ain’t here no more-grr,” Grizwald coughed. “The man you look for is already long dead.”
Shock raked Haji’s body. “How can that be?!” He shouted at the man. “How can he be dead?! How?!”
Grizwald smirked at the enraged boy. “T’was common knowledge that that man will die during the ninth moon. He was, after all, only a figment of it.”
‘I couldn’t escape reality. It wasn’t meant to be.’
Her words echoed in his ear.
“Ninth moon,” he whispered.
“Those who are a figment of it died during the last evolution. He died two years ago,” the grizzly man coughed again.
“What have I been searching for all this time?” Haji dropped to his knees.
‘I can never escape reality.’
Her words echoed again. Tears streamed down his cheeks once again. After years of seeking vengeance he was left with nothing. The setting sun’s hot rays enveloped everything, the red flames engulfing everything. Blood spilled the group and then darkness came.
He couldn’t bring her back. He couldn’t even avenge her death. He couldn’t escape reality.