[2730 AD; outskirts of Rezar, Iiayi – 10 years ago]
“Randolph, come back here!” The man shouted through the forest. “You can’t keep running forever!”
Henry dashed his way through the forest, moving through the thick brush and dodging the trees. He knew he was innocent, but there was little he could do to convince those accusing him. The decision to run was perhaps not the best decision that he could have made, but considering the alternative, Henry was not about to find out.
“I just need to outrun them,” Henry said through parted breaths, “Have to…”
Henry could hear the branches breaking underneath the stomps of hurried footsteps, signaling that his pursuers were not too far off. He continued to run until he ended up at an old bridge. Henry looked over the edge, where a deep drop into the abyss could be his fate. Still, though, despite his doubts about the bridge’s ability to hold up, Henry sprinted across it with no regrets.
“Stop! Mr. Randolph, stop!”
Henry reached the other side of the bridge. He pulled out his knife from his pocket and turned around. Back at the first side, it was Fercewend, who was catching his breath. Fercewend grabbed the post at the end of the bridge, making a slow step onto the board below him.
“Just tell me,” Fercewend said, “Tell me why! Why did you run?”
“I… I’m innocent,” Henry replied. “There’s nothing that Ameci will gain by spilling my blood. You know this!”
“You can’t keep running away,” Fercewend exclaimed. “The rest of the army is not too far behind. I just want to know why before they catch up.”
“Do you think I did it?” Henry asked. “After what you’ve said to me… do you believe I am a traitor?”
“Henry… You know that the target on your back is only going to get larger,” Fercewend told him. “If you surrender now, I will do my damndest to get you a lighter sentence.”
Henry grinned. “You’re following your superior’s orders, I can tell,” he said, “But if I were to comply, that would be basically admitting that I did it.”
“And running away would not?”
“What do you expect when the deck is stacked against me?” Henry asked. He could hear the others coming closer. “I’m sorry, my friend, but I cannot stand trial in a case that I know I have no chance of winning.”
“If that is what you think,” Fercewend said, “Then go!”
He pointed at Henry, who looked away and started to run once more. The Ameci army had finally caught up and were stalled after they discovered that the bridge was out. The rope at the other end was cut, leaving it hanging into the darkness.
[2740 AD; The Ports of Welsblaek, Ameci]
“Ya ready there, Sorin?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming Smith,” Sorin replied.
Sorin Wilk lifted up the large crate into the truck, while Raymohnd Smith sat in the driver’s seat. It had been a long day for the two men, as Sorin hurried into the passenger seat.
“What took ya so long?” Smith laughed as he patted Sorin on the back.
“Nothing,” Sorin replied. He looked out of the window as Smith started the truck.
“Now I know that’s a lie,” Smith said. “It’s about your pappy, ain’t it?”
“You don’t need to ask,” Sorin said, “Because you already know the answer, don’t you?”
“Heh, don’t worry,” Smith answered. “Besides, I know Kirk. He wouldn’t want you to worry about him.”
As Smith began to put the truck in gear and started to drive, the two men heard a loud thud as they moved. They looked at each other, wondering what the noise was.
“Was that a bump?” Sorin asked.
“First time that’s ever happened,” Smith said. “Maybe it’s a pothole or something.”
“I didn’t notice anything like that on the way here,” Sorin said.
“Welp, maybe my mind’s beginnin’ to slip, ya know?” Smith laughed as he made a turn onto the main road. “Hey, ya don’t need to look so down, buddy!”
“Thanks, Smith,” Sorin said. It was the same trip they’ve made many times before, but this time the drive felt longer in Sorin’s mind. It had been who knows how long since he last saw his father, who had left Sorin when he was barely able to walk. To meet his father again was one of the few things Sorin really wanted, just so he could find out why he left so many years ago.
The factory at East Vista loomed over the nearby coast, taking up a generous amount of land in the south Ameci region. As Sorin and Smith arrived at the loading dock, they heard another loud thump upon stopping.
“Okay, now I think ya onto somethin’ Sorin,” Smith said.
“Do you want to check?”
“I think ya’ve got this, buck.”
Sorin hopped out of the truck and headed towards the back. As he approached the back door, he could hear something struggling to open the door. Placing his hand on the door, Sorin braced himself for what was going to happen next. He gripped the handle and lifted up the door, revealing the mysterious man that had been hiding inside.
“Um, hello,” the man said. He had long brown hair and an unshaven face, though his clothes were decent. Sorin clenched his fist as he stepped up onto the back.
“Who the hell are you?” Sorin asked. He towered over the other man, who was just standing up. “Answer me or I’ll call the cops!”
“Henry,” the man replied. “My name is Henry. I was trying to hide from some hooligans back in Welsblaek, but I had no idea that this vehicle would start moving.”
“Do you expect me to believe that?” Sorin asked.
“Hey, what’s goin’ on back here,” Smith said.
“Just listen to me,” Henry said. “Let me stay here. I don’t have anywhere else to go, and I certainly can’t head back from where I came from. You must understand.”
“Whatcha think, Sorin?” Smith asked. “Seems like an awful lotta trouble to me just to get away from a couple of thugs.”
“I promise you I will stay out of your way,” Henry said.
Sorin and Smith looked at each other. “Okay,” Sorin said. “We’ll take you where you need to go, but no further than that.”
“Thank you,” Henry said. “I promise that I will bring you no trouble.”
“Sounds good to me!” Smith said, laughing as he started walking towards the factory. “We’re making a quick stop here before we head out again. If ya want, you’re free to come in.”
“Are you sure?” Henry asked, flipping back his hair.
“You don’t seem like a threatening fella,” Smith said.
“Not at all,” said Sorin.
Henry’s eyes darted from left to right, and then he smiled. “Well, if you say so,” he said. He joined Sorin and Smith as they entered the factory.
To be continued…