Sundown – Chapter 18 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; on the road to Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Korbin rapped his fingers on the dashboard of the truck while Bradley drove the Blood Ravens to Helm. In the back of the truck, Erik and Lance kept a close eye on Silvia, who still could not move as she remained tied up and gagged. With little to interfere, Korbin could see the edge of town begin to appear in the distance.

“You have any plans once we’re in?” Bradley asked.

“Nah, just want to get this convict before they get too far from me,” Korbin replied. “Plus, we’ve got a catch of our own to use! Not a bad situation we’re in right now, don’t you think?”

“There’s no way I’m going to doubt that brilliant mind of yours,” Bradley said. “I’m just glad you got me as your second-in-command, Korb.”

“Don’t get too full of yourself,” Korbin said. “Our plan hasn’t come completely to fruition yet. We’ve got a little bit more to go until everything falls our way!”

Bradley chuckled. “You’re very humble.”

“That’s just the kind of person I really am,” Korbin said, “Humble with a brilliant mind. Even my father would say the same thing, and he’s most brilliant of all Ameci!”

“Your father and mine both,” Bradley said. “Say, how do you think they’re handling our little hostage back there?”

“Hopefully they’ve taken a few cues from me,” Korbin replied. “We’ve only got so little time before they send someone to pick her up, so they ought to just make it as fun as they possibly can!”

“Certainly can’t let these strays just roam around,” Bradley said. “Maybe we should just do the deed already and avoid the trouble.”

“You just don’t get it, do you?” Korbin asked. “It’s not whether or not she lives or dies, it’s the thrill of not knowing! Am I going to pull my gun or my knife?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at Lance,” Korbin said. “I could kill him right now if I felt like it, but I won’t. And do you want to know why?”

“Why?”

“Well, I don’t really know,” he answered. “Fuck, maybe I should just kill him before he gets the chance to screw up. Just kidding!”

He erupted into laughter while Bradley continued to drive. Helm was still off in the distance, so the time felt like it did not move. Yet, Korbin was sure that he was going to get his wish. He had the certainty that Helm would bring him that excitement that he desired.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Open Area Shopping District, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

It was a good day outside as Sorin checked out the shopping district with the others. He held Gale’s hand as the two looked inside one of the local antique shops while Rain and Mina had set off for the candy shop next door. Noa, meanwhile, had decided to just tag along with Sorin and Gale, though he did keep some distance from them as he looked around. Sorin watched as Noa eyed a silver-framed wooden box on the shelf and decided to pay him some attention.

“Hey, that box you’re looking at… What about it?” Sorin asked.

“Nothing!” Noa replied. “It’s nothing at all!”

“I was just curious,” Sorin said. “Not a real reason to be all defensive about it. Wait, what’s this?”

He reached for the box and picked it up. On the bottom of the box was an engraving, though due to its age it was hard to make out the name. Noa, in a rush, snatched the box out of Sorin’s hand and placed it back on the shelf.

“It’s just… my father had a similar box in his room,” Noa said. “It was always locked and he told me and my sister never to open it.”

“I had no idea,” Sorin said.

Noa shook his head. “Sorry, it’s still so hard to talk about them,” he replied. “I wasn’t expecting to have my past come back to me again. Not after I told you all my story.”

“Well, I understand now.”

“That’s good,” Noa said. “Say, mind if I ask you something?”

“Go ahead.”

“About Gale… how did you two meet?”

“My father introduced her to me,” Sorin answered. “We travelled together for a while and one thing led to another and now we’re as you see us.”

“Does that mean you’ve, er… you’ve seen each other in the nude?” Noa asked. “Like up close and all that stuff?”

“That’s an extremely personal question!” Sorin said.

“Damn it, I’m so sorry!” Noa exclaimed. “My idiot mind just went off in a perverted direction! Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

“You really need to have some restraint on what you say,” Sorin said.

“Sorry!”

“Why do you ask about Gale and I anyway?” Sorin asked.

“It’s just that I’ve never, you know, had much of an interaction with the opposite sex,” Noa replied. “I just sort of clam up and feel a massive amount of unease in my stomach. How do you do it?”

“Do it? It’s not that hard, Noa,” Sorin said. “Just try not to overthink things too much. I’m sure you’ll be okay if you do that.”

“That sounds so difficult, though,” Noa said. “I mean, if I were to go up and try to talk to Gale, I would be worried about trying to offend her and looking like an ass because of it.”

Sorin sighed. “Let’s go.”

He dragged Noa over to the part of the shop where Gale stood. She was looking at a pile of used parts and mechanisms as Sorin led Noa to her.

Gale turned around. “Oh, hey.”

Sorin smiled. “Hi,” he said. “Noa wanted to talk to you about something.”

“He does?” Gale asked.

Noa gasped. “I… I do?”

Sorin leaned in and whispered into Noa’s ear. “Just say something,” he said, “But not exactly whatever’s on your mind.”

“But how?” Noa asked.

“I just told you,” Sorin said.

“Okay,” Noa said.

“What do you want to say to me?” Gale asked.

“Well, you see, it’s about your glasses,” Noa said. “They’re… they’re really nice, aren’t they?”

“I need them to see,” she said.

“Of… of course!” Noa replied as he laughed nervously.

“Say, Noa, what were you talking about with me earlier?” Sorin asked. “I think you said something about wanting to know about Gale’s blueprints?”

“Did you tell him that?” Gale asked Sorin.

“I only mentioned it briefly,” Sorin replied. “He really found it interesting and wanted to talk with you about them.”

“Oh, well, I guess I could share a little bit with him,” she said.

As Gale explained her blueprints and ideas with Noa, Sorin wondered how Mina and Rain were doing next door. The two women looked around, with Mina eyeing the various candies that were on display while Rain spoke with the owner of the shop.

“These candies are so colorful!” Mina exclaimed. “Rain, look!”

“Hold on,” Rain said. “So you’re telling me that this is a new type of candy?”

The older owner laughed. “Well, not exactly,” he said. “It’s just a little twist on our trademark chocolate bars. Here, I can provide you a small sample, Your Highness.”

“No, it’s okay,” Rain said. “I was just going to tell my sister about this place later…”

She trailed off as the owner turned to the counter and reached for the wrapped piece of chocolate. The owner then held his hand out, candy in hand, as Rain accepted it. Though it was a free sample, Rain did not possess an affinity for sweets whatsoever. An idea then crossed Rain’s mind as she turned her focus over towards Mina and hurried over to her.

“Here, try this,” Rain said as she handed the candy over to Mina. “It’s supposed to be a twist on this shop’s trademark chocolate!”

“Really?” Mina asked. “Okay then!”

She proceeded to pop the small piece of chocolate into her mouth and eat it. Rain could only smile as she watched Mina’s expression make a change from skepticism to pure enjoyment of what she was eating. To see her friend enjoy such a thing really did bring Rain happiness as Mina finished eating.

“That was really good!” Mina said. “You sure you didn’t want it?”

“No, it’s fine,” Rain replied. “I just thought you would like it.”

“I did,” Mina said, “But how did you know I would like it?”

“Because I had a feeling.”

Mina grinned. “Are you a mind reader? Ooh, maybe you should give Sorin something you’d think he would want!”

“No, that’s all I had,” Rain said, “And besides, it’s only natural to share things with people you really like, right?”

“I guess so!”

Rain sighed. “Though I suppose we’re going to have to keep moving,” she said. “If only we had more time to ourselves, then maybe I’d get the chance.”

“Did you say something?” Mina asked.

“I’m just thinking out loud,” Rain answered. “Let’s just go see what the others are doing.”

“That’s good with me,” Mina said as they began to walk. “Say, Rain, can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything,” she said, “I don’t mind answering your questions at all.”

“Do you have anyone you love? Like there’s someone you just can’t stop thinking about?”

“I, well… I guess you could say so,” Rain said.

“So do you get to see them often?” Mina asked.

“I’ve seen them many times already,” she replied. “I think you’d really like them if you met them.”

“Oh wow, then they must be really strong or something!” Mina exclaimed. “I really hope that you’re right!”

“Well, we’re here,” Rain said as they set foot into the antique shop. “Sorin, Gale! We’re back!”

Sorin and Gale were busy looking at an old radio as both Rain and Mina approached them. Noa was standing in the left-most corner of the shop as he gripped the bag on his back closer to himself.

“Hey Rain, Mina,” Sorin said. “We’re just taking one last look around.”

“I see that,” Rain said. “Did Noa do something? Why is he by himself?”

“He’s just off in his own world right now,” Gale said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want that to come off as mean, but he’s just kind of overwhelming right now.”

“Surely he hasn’t been getting too up close, has he?” Rain asked.

“He’s just too nervous,” Sorin said. “Better to just give him some space while he tries to recover.”

“So I shouldn’t try to surprise him with a grapple from behind?” Mina asked. “Maybe he just needs a jolt to his system!”

“That sounds like the last thing he needs now,” Gale replied.

At that moment, a loud explosion rang out from the distance. Everyone became silent as screams soon followed, with another explosion coming after. Sorin looked around as he decided what to do next.

“We need to get out of here,” Sorin said. “Noa, do you hear me?”

He could not find Noa, however, as he was nowhere to be found within the antique shop.

“I’m concerned that he’s going to end up in danger,” Rain said. “We have to find him!”

“Damn it,” Sorin said. “Okay, then our next course of action is to find Noa and get of here. Mina, I want you to take of Gale.”

“Sorin, are you sure about this?” Gale asked.

“That explosion cannot mean anything good,” he replied. “Both Rain and I are armed, while Mina is strong enough to guard you on the way to the hotel.”

“Are you sure the hotel is safe enough?” Rain asked. “Whoever’s attacking might go there next.”

“It’s not our shelter, it’s our rendezvous,” Sorin said. “Once we find Noa, we’ll meet back you two over there.”

“I understand,” Mina said. “If I see any villains try to attack, I’ll pummel them as hard as I can!”

“Just don’t get reckless,” Rain said.

“I’ll see you again, Gale,” Sorin said. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Gale replied. “Please don’t get hurt… either of you.”

“We’ll be okay,” Rain said. “Shall we, Sorin?”

Sorin nodded. “We’ll see you later!”

“Alright then!” Mina replied.

Mina took Gale along with her. With the group split, Sorin and Rain hurried to the middle of the shopping district as they attempted to find Noa. He could not have gotten too far from the shop, Sorin thought to himself. Whatever unknown attackers awaited them had to dealt with somehow, but Sorin had his suspicions about who caused the explosions and he had a bad feeling that he might be right.

To be continued…

 

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