Chapter 15

Chapter 15

A Chapter by Cynical_Art

Chapter 15

 

 

            Dustin washed his large body with a cold bucket of water. It was the most you could manage for a bath in Sector Two, if you were a human. The cold water rinsed his muscular yet poor nourished body. The water streamed down through the cracks of his scars obtained over the hard years of surviving. Each one painted with a different story and hardship. Dustin dumped another bucket over his short dirty blonde hair. The cold didn’t bother him. He’d seen much of what the worse had to offer and none of that compared to the pain of not knowing the fate of his family.

            Dustin had been uneasy and tense since he sent Topaz off to the Ark. He trusted the Red Eclipse enough to keep their word but couldn’t help fear how the fragile Topaz might survive in the den of the order that made his life, and everyone else who wasn’t a homunculi, a living hell. He would’ve gone if he could but the Red Eclipse didn’t carry needless liabilities. There was no need for Dustin to be there and meet with the Red Moon himself so he wasn’t allowed to tag along. Their word, which was well accounted for, was the only reason he parted with Topaz such a far distance.

             Dustin dressed himself in one of his two pairs of baggy pants and the only shirt he had. Clothes wasn’t something humans had the luxury of having plenty of. There weren’t many variations either, most were plain and ugly, and rough and nasty cheap materials that weathered quickly after a few washes. There was no need for humans to dress nice in the homunculi world so there was little money to be had there. Only reason they even wore clothes was so homunculi wouldn’t have to see their slaves work in the nude. Humans who took care of themselves in Sectors like One or Two got paid so little they could only prioritize food. Luckily with Topaz legitimizing Dustin and Hector as slaves with her fake identification, which she obtained through dealings with the Red Eclipse black market, now they got paid decently.

            Dustin and Topaz owed their life to Hector and his family. Hector was the only reason they managed to survive the first years after running away from the basement and the only reason that they now lived a somewhat stable life. He also took in Topaz rather well considering her being a homunculus and a fugitive. Hector even started seeing Dustin and Topaz as part of his own family watching them grow up over the years. Dustin didn’t quite consider them family but valued them as really close friends. He was only twenty-one and even though Hector was in his forties he connected with the man as if they had been childhood friends. Both were wiling to risk their lives for the other.

            Part of the reason Hector probably accustomed himself to Topaz so quickly was for the simple fact that he had his own share of illegal baggage. Hector was part of the Red Eclipse, of extremely low value within their ranks but one of them nonetheless. He was mainly used for his eyes and ears in the poorer parts of Sector Two but it had granted him his own standing without a master (until Topaz’s convenient ownership), which allowed him a slightly more carefree life. He also served as the link that would help Dustin find his family.

            It was through Hector that the Red Moon got in touch with Dustin. At first Dustin was skeptical of revealing any information about Topaz but the Red Moon caught on quicker than they could come to a conclusion. At that point it was clear the Red Moon had his eyes on Topaz probably for some time. Initially Dustin was against offering Topaz but given that the Red Moon only required the secret to her aging and spoke of a potential new world where humans and homunculi could coexist, he came around.

            He never told Topaz just how impactful this transaction might affect the world because he was scared it was too big a burden for her to carry. Since she was little he never wanted her to carry too much on her shoulders. It only took a couple years in a basement and a disaster for you to realize that some truths are better left hidden.

            Dustin was planting seeds in the dirt by the time Hector came running in excited. “Topaz is back. Thought you might wanna know,” announced Hector.

            Dustin quickly dropped all the seeds in his hands and rushed around the tiny house to the front. A black car was parked on the dirt road and Topaz was standing beside a crimson haired homunculi. Topaz looked completely unharmed which brought a great sense of relief to Dustin. He quickly turned to the man beside her. He inspected the man up and down. The man had an exoskeleton wrapped around his neck, upper torso, and shoulders, and another around both his feet up to his knees. He was wearing what looked like leather straps or a skirt with the front half cut. He also wore black pants underneath and leather gloves with buckles strapped up to his elbows. A handgun rested on the side of his skirt along with a sword on his back hip. The most threatening part though was the malicious grin on the crimson homunculus.

            “I’m sorry, for intruding your home without warning,” said the red homunculus. “I am Ash. I assume you’re Dustin, judging by how eager you came rushing here. A pleasure to meet you.”

            Dustin gazed at him cautiously. “Likewise…”

            Dustin decided to disregard Ash for now and turned his attention to Topaz again. She had a frown on her face that made the rest of the world feel small. Guess they’re all dead. Dustin approached her and gave her a protective hug but she just took it without response. Dustin found this rather odd considering whenever anything bad happened she usually attached herself to him like a magnet.

            He leaned back and asked, “Are you okay? You don’t have to tell me now if you don’t want to.”

            Topaz glared at him accusingly. “I’m fine. And so is the rest of your family. Even Judas!” exclaimed Topaz before storming into the tiny house.

            Dustin watched her storm off awestruck. As soon as she shut the door anger consumed him in a glimmer of a second and he snatched Ash by the collar. “This wasn’t part of our arrangement!”

            Ash looked at him in the eyes unmoved. “Don’t misunderstand. Allow me to explain everything.”

            Ash explained everything Topaz had learned at the North Tower. The news about Solius and Lilith brought relief as usual and served to calm Dustin down enough to make him let go of Ash. The lack of news about Adam and Eve wasn’t nearly as comforting but at least they were alive and somewhat safe. Ash explained their plan of action to travel to Sector Three and find Adam before traveling to Sector Five. He then explained his accidental slip up of mentioning Judas.

            “Pretty unprofessional on your part,” accused Dustin. “We’re business partners, not friends, but I’ll let it slide. I was hoping I could tell her myself eventually when she got older. Now I’m going to have to sit and have a talk with her.”

            “The two of you make this bigger than it is,” said Ash. “Once the Red Moon declares war on the Ark you’ll both have your vengeance. All you have to do is be patient.”

            “I guess you’re right. If it’s not too much to ask for, tell your Boss to save him for me when the time comes.”

            “Unnecessary but I’ll pass the word if it’s what you want.”

            “One more thing,” said Dustin. “Did you find out anything about Gem…mother?”

            “She’s dead. Been dead for years now,” said Ash coldly. “She took her own life shortly after the incident that separated your family.”

            Dustin nodded and looked down at the floor. “Least she wasn’t executed…”

            Without another word Dustin silently started making his way towards the shack. The hole in his heart that had ached the past ten years became permanently open. He wasn’t surprised by the news but having heard the rest of his family was alive he couldn’t help but get his hopes up. The devastating news just brought him back to reality. He had to be strong though, now more than ever. Now it was finally time for him to take action.

            He entered the shack. The living room was crowded, partly because the living room and kitchen were intertwined into one. It was dark and musty inside with the only source of light being the candles laid around the tables and counters. Topaz was sitting by the small wooden table with her elbows on the table and head resting on her hands. From the look in her face Dustin knew she was mad. Seeing her so mad made him nervous. He’d seen her mad before but never at him. He wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. How did mom do it? Well, thinking ten years back I guess not so well…can’t blame her though.

            “Hey,” he called out. She glared at him but remained silent. “I know you probably have a lot of questions.”

            “Why didn’t you tell me about Judas, or the Red Moon’s prize? Why are you hiding things from me?” Topaz complained.

            “Because it’s my burden to bear. I know it’s not fair to offer your secret to the Red Moon without asking you first, but he guaranteed me your safety. The Red Eclipse is known for their word. And…we didn’t have much other choice. Not if we want to be happy. And I didn’t want to scare you too much since you were heading out alone,” explained Dustin.

            Topaz snapped, “You mean so YOU can be happy!”

            This one hit Dustin like a bullet in his already wounded heart. The words revolted his whole world. The past ten years he’d done everything possible to make Topaz live a happy life and now she was accusing him of doing it all for himself. The thought pained him more than the expected news of his mother.

            Dustin looked at the floor and swallowed deep. “Listen, I know right now to you it may seem like it’s for me. You’ve never met your family so I understand if you don’t love them. You’ve been to the Ark now though. You’ve seen homunculi walk around without a care in the world walking alongside their families. It’s not okay for us to live like this, Topaz. In constant fear that we may die tomorrow. Separated from those we have the right to live with. I want more than just our family back. I want a world where we can live together.”

            “And Judas? Is he part of this world?”

            Dustin looked at her sternly now. “Judas is my responsibility. There’s a reason I never mentioned him before-“

            “Yeah, so I don’t cloud myself with thoughts of revenge. Well it’s too late.”

            “Topaz, you don’t understand just how ugly things may get in the coming days. People will die. A lot of people will die. I may die…but I’m not going to risk you dying.”

            Topaz stood up. “What are you saying?”

            “I’m saying your staying here where it’s safe,” Dustin ordered.

            “No! I’m coming with you! Weren’t you the one who wanted me to meet my family?” reminded Topaz.

            “It’s not safe.”

            “But we have the Red Eclipse on our side!”

            “They’re not invincible Topaz.”

            “You trusted them enough to protect me inside the Ark by myself!”

            Dustin grabbed her by the shoulders. “Topaz, if anything happened to you I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Please, don’t make this harder than it is…”

            Topaz looked him in the eyes with ironclad determination. “I’m going, Dustin. If you leave me I’ll chase after you. You’re not leaving me alone again.”

            The word circled in his head like a never-ending nightmare. He trusted Hector, but even he couldn’t deny that unless Topaz was beside him he couldn’t help but be paranoid. There was nothing worse than being separated from your family not knowing if they were safe or not, whether or not they were even alive. Perhaps she would be safer beside him now that they had the Red Eclipse behind them.

            Dustin gave in. “Fine,” he said. “But only if you listen to everything I say. Sector Three is a dangerous place.”

            Ash stepped in the house. “She’d have an easier time moving around than you. You only find humans in the factories of Sector Three.”

            Dustin turned around, not too happy about Ash welcoming himself inside without warning yet again. “Doubt Adam would be anywhere else. He’s in hiding after all.”

            “He’d stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd of humans. And his last couple murders have been around the richer areas. My guess is he’s impersonating a homunculus and has help above.”

            “If you say so…so what’s our plan of action once we get there?”

            Ash welcomed himself further inside and sat on the chair beside Topaz. “The Red Eclipse has quite the bit of influence in Sector Three. In terms of refuge and supplies we’ll be more than covered. We already have all our eyes and ears picking up any rumors or anything they can find on Adam. We’ll gather whatever information they’ve obtained once we get there and work from there.”

            “It sounds almost too easy.”

            Ash shook his head. “Gathering information and staying safe, perhaps. The real issue comes once we find him.”

            “That won’t be an issue. Once I talk to him-“

            “Once you talk to him, what? You realize it’s been ten years since you last saw him and all he’s done since is be a homicidal maniac.”

            “That’s my brother you’re talking about!” warned Dustin.

            “Let’s not beat around the bush here, Dustin. What I’m trying to get at here is, if worse comes to worse, I hope you’re prepared to take proper action.”

            “It won’t get to that point…”

            “We’ll see. Anyways I suggest you say your goodbyes now. We leave as soon as we’re ready.”

            Dustin and Topaz gave their goodbyes to Hector, his wife, and their two kids. It wasn’t anything too big; they knew they would see each other again. Their family might be a bit bigger the next time they met though. Afterwards they followed Ash into the car in which they came in. Dustin didn’t like Ash, and feared his methods, but the support of the Red Eclipse was an undeniable necessary asset to their cause. If he ever wanted to reunite his family he would have to cooperate with Ash. But he still couldn’t shake an awful gut feeling about Ash. He had the same eyes as mother.



© 2012 Cynical_Art


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Added on September 7, 2012
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Author

Cynical_Art
Cynical_Art

New York, NY



About
I am 21 years old, I got my Bachelors in Science Degree when I was 19. My career profession is computer animation (I am an Environment Modeler, for those that follow the profession) but I love to writ.. more..

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