275 Days Until Chaos and The Uncertain End (part 3)
Walking through the city Evester moved past the tunnels that led towards living the locations comprised of tents and makeshift metal homes. The Catastrophe had done a number on LakeLost with entire sections of the city lost, or sealed off. Some parts Evester had noticed were tampered with. Grave robbers? Who would care when most of those who lived there were dead anyway? He couldn’t care for the tampering. To find this Heiphilia girl in this city of Xs was going to be a task. Where would he even start in earnest?
“You will need a new coat for the winter, get it now. We have high demand,” A woman called out to him as he walked into what seemed to be another market district.
The winter? It would be half way to the deadline before winter. Where would he be then? Would the space program have been completed by then? “No.”
Evester walked on, not particularly caring for anyone there. Heiphilia. Could he ask about her? Would that only send him off her trail? Pulling his mask up a little higher before pulling down his hood a bit lower, Evester moved through the crowd trying to maneuver through the people who were trying to get food. His bag was being eyed in his arms. Luckily his holoblades were hidden under his jacket tied around his chest. They were more difficult to get to, but they were safer there. They would be far more noticeable than his bag.
And it made his skin prickle. This was dangerous, in a different way than fighting an Aralax was. He had heard of Circles and Stars that had been killed by X’s in the madness of The Catastrophe and then later during The Night of Oblivion. He had heard of how X’s had used The Night of Oblivion to ransack CloudCities and to take Stars hostage in their Towers. Xs were dangerous as any Aralax and they’d swarm him the moment they knew of his status. They’d demand things of him that he could not provide as a missing Circle.
However, if they were to reveal him to the Circle societies, they would get what they wanted. There were all sorts of rewards for finding him, after all his father was Maverin Igalistal.
There seemed to be a particular group of Xs that watched the crowd, making eye contact with each other at times and seemingly following individuals down alleyways and tunnels with the nod of one shop owner. Evester could feel the eyes on him when a hand landed on his shoulder. Throwing his arm around he went to hit the other, his arm being caught.
The man who caught his arm was large and burly, stoic eyes and a thin smile. He pulled Evester’s hood off to reveal Evester’s wild hair that had luckily grown long and unruly in the time he had been on the Lowerlands. It wasn’t well kept or maintained as it had first been when he walked on the Lowerlands to run. He didn’t look like a Circle at first glance anymore.
“What’s in the bag?” The man asked him reaching for his bag.
“Let go of me.” Evester spoke, tightening his grip on his bag in his arm. The man pulled down his face mask. Checking teeth. Evester’s beard had grown out, but not enough to cover his teeth when he spoke. That took far more time than what Evester had. He may have had a full beard, for someone who had always been relatively clean shaved back at home, but it would not hide him. Pressing his lips together, Evester knew that he needed to get his mask back up.
While his mark on his left hand was a dead give away, his teeth would be just as much so. His teeth were white, straight, and the teeth of a Circle or a Star. He’d seen the decayed, crooked smiles of the X’s. Most had cared for their teeth, but not to the perfection of his own smile. With a full beard and unruly hair, his wanted photo would not resemble him immediately, not with the grime and blood that covered his body from the fights. However his teeth and hand would give him away. He needed a way out without causing a scene.
“What’s in the bag?” Another man asked yanking the bag from Evester. Evester went to grab it as the second man grabbed his left hand. His glove. It was their goal as he had suspected. They didn’t care for his bag, they wanted him.
Give up his glove or the bag? Glove always and any day.
Pulling his hand from the glove as he pulled his right arm from the other man, Evester reached for his bag, grabbing it and fleeing through the men. He knew that has he stood there, his left hand was clean when compared to the rest of his body. It held the mark that he had consistently hidden everyday on the Lowerlands. A Circle, tattooed to the back of his hand, perfectly symmetrical, and distinct against the X’s.
Shouting echoed around him, as he tossed his bag to his back and began to run. Hands into his pockets he pulled out a new glove and threw it on. He had brought may left pairs for this exact reason. Right ones could be discarded, but left could not be. If only he had brought patches to cover the mark. He had thought of grabbing the skin correcting patches, however his pride as a Circle had stopped him. The marks weren’t meant to be covered by patches that hid birthmarks or unsightly blemishes.
It was his mistake, one that would cost him dearly.
Evester continued to run through the crowd, being cut off by those that he knew were not bounty hunters but sellers. Bounty Hunters would have recognized him. These people wanted to sell him to the front lines of the X armies, for money to the Circles, or as a servant or… worse. Blood pumped and a smile rose to his lips as he pulled back up his mask. This feeling of fear and being unsure of how everything was going to unfold was the one that he had been searching for. Adrenaline rushed through his body at the thoughts of the worst that could happen to him if he didn’t escape them.
How he missed this. None of the games he played back at home could come close to this high.
Jumping over a stall of clothes, he grabbed a few jackets and continued to run away. He needed to escape, and escape in a way that would make him disappear. He’d have to hide his clothes. These clothes he’d never discard, not when they were heat resistant and his fighting clothes that would get him through an interaction with an Aralax.
“After him!” He could hear the commotion behind him as he raced through the UnderCity searching for a place to throw this jacket on over the one he was wearing.
“You!” He heard a female voice. Eyes to an alleyway he saw a girl with long black hair braided and held up in a ponytail. Her dark skin shimmered under the LakeLost lights, and her eyes bore into his. What was he to do? His gut told him to continue to run and that no one could be trusted here. They were all out to get him or worse as a Circle. “Hurry up!”
With here there were a few others, dark skinned with kinky hair braided, twisted, or curled in different ways. The three in total all looked to be siblings. In their hands were blades the began to glow bright orange as if they were ready to fight against those who followed him.
Running away would have been the smart move, but he wanted to truly experience this high. Would he be able to disarm them with their own holoblades? How did they even have holoblades? How skilled were they? Many questions went through his mind.
“Hurry!” The girl called to him. He ran towards her into the alley discarding the remnants of the questions and focusing on survival.