Free Runners [IC]
Gulf Bay Regional Bank
It was in broad daylight, as the construction crew outside was working on the house next to the bank, an apartment building. The bank was as busy as ever, long lines, the bank filled with people, it being the second richest bank in the city, but the richest bank owned by the state of California in the city, as the "First Bank Of Gulf Bay" was privately owned. All was well, this monday afternoon. The city was buzzing with life, and so was the insides of the rather well decorated bank, the bank had a very lush and beautiful sense, marble walls, and two floors and a marble stair up to the office part. The vault being in the back of the bank. Business was going on as usual at the regional bank, people were coming in, and people left. People accessed their accounts, and people accessed security boxes.
Everything was as usual. Except for one tiny detail that would change the lives of many people that day. For, as the clock turned to 2 P.M a large explosion was heard from the top of the bank, as the roof off the head-office collapsed, as it rained in onto the floor, an unspoken question was heard in the bank, around the customers " What was that" Everyone was wondering, yet, no one said a word. Till a big figure walked out of the main office, wearing tank-top, blue jeans a hockey-mask and a construction safety helmet. In his hands, he was holding two nail guns.
" Everyone stay calm, take out your wallets and down onto the ground and no one will be hurt" The man ordered, as 6 of his friends came out from the office as well.
The security guard drew his gun and aimed it up at the man, only to be hit by three nails, killing him as he fell down the stairs, his gun hitting the floor. One of the men walked over to it, and picked it up, putting it into his pocket, as he walked and locked the door. " Now, let's everyone keep this was civil as possible. We do not want more people dead than there already is." He barked again, people crying and a general sense of panic was heard as people laid down onto the ground.
One of them walked over to the cashier, and chuckled. " The silent alarm? Yeah, it's disabled, don't even bother." He said, as he aimed the nail gun at the cashier-woman, and nodded for her to take him into the vault " B-But it can't be opened without the security key!" she exclaimed, as he shook his head, and held out the little keycard. She opened the vault by sliding the card and pressing the code, soon they had looted the entire bank, everyone's wallets and the entire vault.
They escaped through wires in the roof, before the police could arrive, they were already gone.
"And that concludes our reports of the robbery of Gulf Bay Regional Bank earlier today, which is the second robbery the last three weeks in the city by a gang simply called 'The construction crew' So far, the police have no leads on the criminals, the police are asking for any tips from the public that might help solve this matter."
The repporter concluded, as Mitchell shut off the TV, turning back to his computer. He closed down the roleplaying site he was on, as he logged onto the "VigilanteesofCalli.com" website. Popping into the forum, as he got to reading in the threads that had started around the topic of "The Construction Crew"
He glanced at his costume, as he gently smiled. " I wonder where they'd hit next.." He thought, there were four more banks in town, and because of the rather strange weather events lately, most buildings needed fixing up.
The radio's report had only added to the red.
It was afternoon. What the girl saw now on the canvas wasn't too far from what she had seen, when she opened her eyes again 3 hours ago. Was she gonna keep this painting? Of course not. But she needed to get it out somehow.
But hardly had she time to look at finished thing before someone said her name.
Kate turned around and saw her girlfriend Sarah stand at the door with a bag of groceries in her hand. No doubt her intention had been to surprise her with one of her exotic foreign dinners. For a 19 year old who still lived at home, the girl was quite the chef. But looking at Kate's bruised cheek and busted lip clearly made her forget about the original intent.
“What the hell happened?.. Were you at the bank?” She asked.
Kate hesitated but then casually said “Nop. I was mugged by some kind of small smartass gang. All 5 of them. They wanted my wallet... well at first they did. When I punched one of them in the throat, my 50 dollars wasn't all they wanted”.
The expression on Sarah's face, would make one think, she was the one who had been beaten. “You fought them over 50 dollars?”. There was a small tear in her eye as she turned around and left the apartment, but not before leaving the groceries and not before quietly mumbling “God dammit Kate”.
“I'm not afraid of them!” Kate yelled after her.
But she already knew Sarah's feels on the matter: Sarah wanted Kate to be scared of such people; she wanted her to not pick a fight with every asshole who looked at them wrong. But Kate didn't take shit from anyone. She didn't back out, and she didn't give people the satisfaction of seeing fear on her.
Kate hadn't even called the police. They never did anything anyway. From what she had heard, at the bank they seemed to have taken their time getting there. With all their restrictions and tons of paperwork, there was little they even could do. Oh how Kate just hated the fact that whenever someone got hurt, all the police did was do paperwork before even starting! Whatever happened to an eye for an eye? Whatever happened to right and wrong? Whatever happened to having a responsibility to protect the innocent? Why why why was there so many laws that protected the evil, and so few that protected the good?
If Kate was a big strong man and didn't live in the worst neighborhood in the city, people probably wouldn't pick on her all the time. She had only just fully recovered from the stab-wound; yet another monument build on her body because she looked like an easy victim.
No matter how much she enjoyed Art class, she didn't quite feel the new people she had met there understood her. Ewan and Ash might barely notice the bruises on Kate's face when they saw her again. They would be too busy talking about the bank robbery, and maybe with good reason: “The Construction Crew” had pulled off a perfect heist, even though they had done something remarkable odd: They had taken people's wallets. When you rob millions, you rarely think of taking people's wallets. You tell people to remain calm and that you aren't after their money. You tell them to not play the hero. You don't actually take the money they have on them. Not unless you are really twisted... or you have a secondary motive. Which of those things it had been, Kate did not know.
In the shitty apartment she owned, she looked up at her own painting. There was a lot of black, and there was a lot of red.
And now there was the silhouette of a fist in it too...
Kate casually threw her paint-stained clothing on the floor and turned on her old crappy PC in the other room. She felt like expressing her thoughts on The Construction Crew on a very specific site she had begun visiting.
Moving through the streets at a steady pace, as per normal to his daily exercise routine, he took an unusual detour due to noise ahead of him, and trotted down toward the bank where a small crowd was along with a news crew, he moved closer quickly blending in with the crowd and looking over the scene, shaking his head he made his way out and continued on his way, he passed a libary and quickly headed up the steps and walked inside to take a break, quickly plopping down onto one of the computer chairs and logging onto a older modeled PC, he checked the news online and grabbed the report about the bank, someone intrigued but dismissing it as it had nothing to do with him, he shook his head with a brief sigh when he read of the security guards death, he logged into "TheFreeRunner.net" And read a few stories and a new chapter of "RISE" before shutting the computer off and beginning the jog back home.
A small voice called out from behind a bookshelf right as Aaron had met the thresh hold.
"Yo? Someone call me?"
Aaron reluctantly steps back into the library scanning the front room before noticing Deja, a friend from school, he walks to her quickly embracing and lifting her playfully before setting her down.
"You hear about the bank robbery?"
Deja said with a raised eyebrow checking for any reaction.
"Yeah, fucked up, not alot of people got hurt, but someone did get killed, I was on my way back home, you need something?"
Aaron looked over Deja for a moment checking if she had anything with her.
"Na' not really, just saw you an' wanted to say hey."
She smiled briefly before nodding toward the door.
"I'll see you later then, text me aigh'?"
He returned the smile before rushing out the door and heading home.
Quickly reaching the small row house, he headed inside dropping his shoes off at the door, and shutting it behind him, and skipped steps as he rushed upstairs quickly flicking the television on and sliding into the computer chair, starting up his newly built PC, and moving through a few pages of dialog on a role playingforum, before switching to youtube and watching a few episodes of "The Boondocks" before taking out his phone and sending a message to Deja, he lays across his bed, texting her for a while before falling asleep.
Ewan Alasdair Boyd looked out the windows of his classroom as he watched the clock tick slowly away. Each agonizing minute of Art History class seemed to be crawling by as though it was a toddler first learning how to move. The professor at the front of the room seemed to be enjoying what he was saying about DaVinci, but the rest of the class was slowly dozing off. Pulling his hood up over his ears, Ewan subtly slipped his ear buds in while he slid down behind his laptop, quickly Googling the local news. If he wanted to learn about Leonardo DaVince he would have replied Assassin's Creed 2 and then just to be certain followed it up with Brotherhood. Well that would be if he even had time to play video games. Ever since he had moved to America to attend Gulf Bay Art College, Ewan had been busy making himself at home, and getting ready for the semester. Now that he was in school, he was too busy trying to keep up with his studies, readings, assignments and finding some time to eat or sleep.
He had gotten to know a few people in his classes. His strong accent made for an easy conversation starter, especially for the girls. Which was good for Ewan since he had no friends in America, he had left everything behind back home in Scotland. Kate was a particularly interesting girl, not Ewan's type by any means at least not romantically as he was pretty sure that she had a girlfriend anyways. Which would of course mean he was very far from being her type, in fact they could even have the same type. Kate was a very quick girl, in fact she had been probably one of the quickest to catch onto understanding Ewan's accent. Even their mutual professor who supposedly studied abroad wasn't able to understand Ewan as clearly. Ewan always enjoyed seeing what Kate came up with for her paintings. He was more of a sketch artist himself, but there was just something truly inspiring by the way Kate painted. One could always look at her paintings and find themselves lost in it, like a swirling whirlpool. It was like taking a dive into the water only to emerge with a new perspective as though the water had washed away the coverings from your eyes.
Then there was Ash, had Ewan not made her laugh the first day of class he probably wouldn't have noticed her. She was one of those girls who could drift through life invisibly, almost as though people walked through her and didn't see her. She was a pretty girl though, a right bonnie if he did say so. He did wonder how she was paying for College though, her clothes were always far from brand new and her phone was definitely a few generations behind. But she was smart so perhaps she had gotten in on a scholarship or a grant. It wasn't really any of Ewan's business he noted to himself as he moved his fingers across the keyboard of his laptop.
Google had turned up a couple of results about the local news. The most common result had to do with a bank robbery that had happened downtown. Seemed a local construction crew had blown a hole right into the vault and held up the entire bank taking the contents of the vault and robbing the people inside as well. Now that screamed of some desperate people. Having watched several seasons of Criminal Minds, Ewan was surprised there was only one fatality. People that desperate usually killed without restraint. One website in particular caught Ewan's attention. "VigilanteesofCali.com", he couldn't help but smirk at both the permanent typo and the idea of real live vigilantes. For years, Ewan had been drawing a webcomic about a vigilante protecting London. Within the last six months he had cleaned up his drawings, and began uploading them to an amateur website where had become somewhat popular. The idea that there could be people actually acting out these ideas here in Gulf Bay City was amazing though.
Looking down at the clock it looked like it was time for class to end. Sitting up, Ewan pulled the earbuds from his ears and lowered his hood. Tucking his laptop into it's bag, he slung the bag over his shoulder and exited the classroom heading for the Campus Pub. With any luck he could find out some more about the incidents of today as well as get a drink from one of the girls with the use of his accent.
Jesse trotted down the stairs holding his phone in one hand, and slipping his wallet into his back pocket with the other. He was already dressed in his diner uniform. Once he was downstairs, he walked into the kitchen seeing his younger cousin Julian sitting at the breakfast nook reading a few of his superhero comics. His cousin was only around 10 years old. Julian's parents were out of town, leaving him in the care of Jesse and his parents. "So who is it this time? Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Plasticman?" Jesse would always joke about how there is always the word 'man' in just about every hero's name. Jesse grabbed a glass and poured himself some orange juice as Julian looked up from his comic and rolled his eyes. "How could you list Spiderman with the rest of them? He's Marvel and the others are DC," he said in a smart-ass tone. "Well excuse the hell out of me," Jesse said giggling to himself. He chugged his orange juice as he stared over at the TV on the kitchen counter. There was a breaking news about an bank robbery at the end of town. Jesse sighed as he put his glass in the sink. "Wow another one? This city's justice system is slacking extremely." Julian looked over at the TV and then back down at his comics. "If only Batman was real. Then bad things wouldn't happen here. I like Batman." Julian looked back down and looked at the cover of his comic which was indeed Batman. Jesse walked over to Julian and rubbed his back. "Yeah I know. But it wouldn't matter if we did have superheroes. The world would still be a shithole." Julian giggled after Jesse cursed, Jesse making an oops face. "Besides, I'm more of a Catwoman guy myself," he said winking to his cousin. "She's not a hero, Jesse. She's an anti-hero. And I gave you some Catwoman comics but you never read them. I even got you that X-Men one with the gay heroes getting married. I knew you'd like that one." Jesse's family had actually taken his sexuality quite well, especially his cousin who one would think wouldn't know what gay meant at his age. "I've been busy with work, Julian. I promise I'll read comics with you when I have time off." Julian didn't even look up fro his Batman comic this time. "You better."
Jesse smiled and ruffled his cousin's hair. "Alright, well I have to get to work at the diner. Mom and dad should be home in about ten minutes. Do not open the door for anyone." Julian nodded, looking quite annoyed. "I know, I know. It's the same thing everyday." Jesse just smiled and kissed his Julian on the cheek, followed by an ewww from his cousin who proceeded to wipe the kiss off with his hand. Jesse went out through the back and locked the door with his key. From there, he walked to the bus stop to where there was two other people waiting. Both of them looked at Jesse and turned away in fear. Jesse wasn't exactly that well liked because of the gang he used to hang out with. They would beat people up and damn there kill them just for looking at them the wrong way. But Jesse was a changed person ever since they took someone he loved away from him. He just wished people could see it. Once the bus pulled up, Jesse got on and sat in the front. The bus drove off and in a matter of minutes, it stopped off just a few feet from the diner outside of the Narrows. Loud rap music could be heard from cars as they flew by down the street. The Narrows, even though was Middle Classed, was a really ghetto area. With Jesse's tattoos and piercings he had on his ears, he fit in perfectly. He walked a few feet until he went inside of Metropolis Diner. Jesse walked to the back and clocked into work where he saw his friend Sally sitting in the back. "Hey Jesse! Did you hear about the robbery? Construction workers, ha!" Jesse chuckled as he opened his locker to put his things in there. "Yeah it's crazy. Do police do anything around here except sit on their fat asses?" Sally started laughed as they both went out to start their shift. Jesse was a waiter at the diner, and sometimes a cook. He loved to cook and some of the specials they had were thanks to Jesse. His goal was to make enough money to get into Culinary Arts school. He grabbed his pad and pen and started going around taking people's orders.
Talicia hopped around the kitchen table excitedly, talking far too loudly for Diarmi's tastes. Between her chatter and the news anchor droning on about some sort of politics, he had no hope of finishing his report for his history class. There wasn't much point in feigning work, and his concentration was already shot. With a huff, he tossed his pencil to the side and then held out his arm, nearly catching his younger sister in the chest.
"Hey, Tally, wanna go pick up Dad?" He turned in his chair to face her. "The news mentioned some pretty bad people in the area. I bet he'd feel a lot safer if you picked him up." There was a flash of fear, and Diarmi's stomach twisted in a knot; he'd only meant it as encouragement, not to scare her. He'd opened his mouth to comfort her when she grinned and nodded, just as excited as before. Alright, that worked out. Hopefully the trip would tire her out a bit too. She was only 5, after all. He got out of his chair and poked his head into the living room, where their mother sat grading papers in front of the tv. Every red line made him glad he wasn't in her class. "Mom, Tally and I are going to pick up Dad." Instantly, she looked up at him, eyes narrowed.
"Have you even been paying attention to the news? You're not going out until those...."
"Don't you use that language in front of Talicia!" He winced as her voice rose half an octave. It quickly returned to normal as she continued. "...those thugs are behind bars."
"Mom, it's just competitio-"
"No, Diarmi. We don't HURT people. They would." Their mother looked at Talicia, who still waited by the kitchen table, fidgeting.
"I don't see it." Diarmi exhaled slowly. "Look, they aren't hitting up random people on the street. We're picking Dad up from an ICE CREAM SHOP, not a bank. And Tally wants to go." He paused. "I could leave her here for you to look after..."
"She better return home safely." Diarmi nodded. As he went upstairs to fetch his wallet for his bus tokens, he could hear their mother say, "Omari listened..."
He decided he'd treat himself tonight for not chucking the loose piece of railing at her.
His father had just finished with the last customers of the night when Diarmi and Talicia walked in - Talicia squeaked when she saw the taffy bins and abandoned her brother's side to grab a few. Their father chuckled as Diarmi approached the register.
"How long do you think it'll take for you to lock up?"
"Oh, about 20 minutes, but if you helped..." Their father trailed off expectantly. Diarmi groaned but went behind the counter nonetheless to grab a broom. Talicia watched her father and brother clean up the store, occasionally pointing out things they missed and then ordering her father to let her brother have an ice cream cone before they left. Diarmi chose raspberry before their father cleaned the scoops. 10 minutes later, their father locked up the front door and walked between his son and daughter. The latter had managed to sneak out a few pieces of saltwater taffy, something that he'd noticed and would deduct from her allowance; the former was quiet as he listened to Tally talking about her school day. Their father leaned over to Diarmi.
"So why'd you really come up? You aren't that helpful," he whispered. Diarmi's lips tightened, and it looked like he'd swallowed several cranberries at once.
"You haven't seen the news, right?" They kept their voices low as Tally kept talking.
"No, but I heard about that robbery from a couple of customers. Wh- is that it?"
"Figured it'd be best to just be around - one person's easier to rob than two, if worse came to wo-"
"She was hyper. And I wouldn't have let her get hurt if anything DID happen." His father snorted.
"Didn't think you even cared-"
"You're not listening!" Talicia pouted. Her father laughed nervously.
"Sorry, sweetie-pie, adult stuff. What were you saying?" The three came to the bus stop, and Diarmi's gaze was alert while their father listened as Talicia told him about the new boy in her class who already knew cursive.
It was late and his father was catching up with the 11 PM newscast and Tally long asleep and his mother probably drifting off when Diarmi sneaked onto the family computer. He was always cautious - he would always delete the site from his browsing history, empty the cache, delete cookies, all to keep his parents from finding out. He didn't particularly care about what his parents thought, no, if he thought he had a choice, he would've started living at homeless shelters years ago.
He couldn't walk out of her life, he couldn't let her end up with a broken family and knowing loss at such a young age. Be it him or their father. And so it was with great irritation that he concealed his activities.
He pulled up the familiar site, 'vigilanteesofcalli.com' and began poking around the threads. He wasn't very active - partly out of concern of being tracked, partly from annoyance at the fact that sharing his plans could end up causing an amateur to tag along (and while he was young he at least had three years' experience under his belt), and, well, partly due to embarrassment. When he first signed up, he had wanted to establish a superhero identity. He had pondered it for a good chunk of time, coming up with and rejecting names - the Acrobat, Captain Gulf (it seemed to be taken anyway by someone in the Baja California region), Goggalor - and then decided on one that he had thought was cool - one syllable, easy to say, lot of flexibility with the costume, fit his modus operandi. Too bad his 14-year-old self was a moron.
As such, the teen vigilante known as Flip (or 'Fleep', as his accent occasionally distorted it) clicked on the Construction Crew thread. He read the posts - mostly discussing about how awful the group was, how their appearance was so sudden. One eyebrow arched at a post from someone named GoldenShot - personally, he'd thought they were just overconfident assholes but if that was the case.... And he had to nod in agreement with the replying post. Yes, they couldn't rely on the cops for this. Wanted something done right, had to do it yourself.
He cleaned off every trace of his activity and went up to his room. Stockings, check, leotard, on, gloves, found, hoodie, snug, boots, tied, goggles, in place. He reached under his mattress and grabbed the weighted scarf (made himself) and pinned it around his neck. With that, Flip left to begin his investigation. Two robberies in under a month, disabled alarms, managing to avoid nearly every security measure? Local help was a possibility, and there was no shortage of petty crooks who'd help for a cut.
In a lesser visited part of the city sat a row of old, decrepit looking apartment buildings. Three out of six were said to be haunted, or at least, that’s something a certain people-disliking technology chick made up out of boredom. One particular apartment building stood out among the rest; probably because it was sprouting so many leaves and vines that it looked like a freaking jungle. The air was hot and still, barely brushing against the grungy, yet somehow still alive leaves of a rooftop garden that had not seen rain in a few days. Christina curled her small body around a black and white cat, who had seemingly found a pretty sweet home among the flowers and leaves of the roof top a few nights before. The two stared at each with mutual boredom and laziness before starting their game of meowing again. The familiar song of Grace Kelly hummed through the speakers of an old radio that sat a few feet away, next to a newer looking laptop that played a continual slideshow of darkness as it had not been touched for a good twenty minutes now. Everything sat still for a good three minutes, and to tell the truth, everything was pretty normal, two organisms having a right good chat and two electronics being, well electronics. Your average normal everyday thing.
Chris only took a moment to flop onto her back when the song ended and something unknown began to play, and slowly but surely she slinked towards the beaten little radio, her hair slumping over her shoulders in a silky, black river. After moving a few inches from her initiated spot, the girl realized that she no longer wish to move and simply leaned forward, using one hand and both her knees to stay balanced. Delicately tuning the contraption with one hand proved to be a challenge, but all that hard work paid off when the sound of a news report caught her attention,
"And that concludes our reports of the robbery of Gulf Bay Regional Bank earlier today, which is the second robbery the last three weeks in the city by a gang simply called 'The Construction Crew' So fa-
Chris quietly clicked back to a music station where the odd tunes of Parov Stelar’s “Catgroove” hummed on as she rolled back over to the cat, who continued to laze around in silence. Her peaceful mind set had begun to waver with sudden interest in the string of crimes she had been hearing about for a while now. A stern look had finally replaced the dull eyes she had once worn,
“Hey, cat.” She said in her usual sarcastic-sounding voice, “Don’t you think those bank robberies are bad?” she questioned to animal. No response. Chris flipped over to stare at the animal, green eyes narrowing against the glare of the sun that glowed from the corner of her eye. The cat had seemingly awoken a bit and was now teetering back and forth on his back, mewling loudly. Chris sighed, then smiled,
“Well, I guess your opinion doesn’t really matter, anyway.” She chuckled at her own comment before pulling herself up, running lanky fingers through her knotty black hair until it was reasonably silky enough to tie into a spiky pony tail. With a quick crack of the back and sigh, she was soon upon the small white laptop that had been a few feet away before. More unfamiliar music played from the grungy radio, but it was quickly drowned out by the headphones and custom music that Chris had just put on. She hummed along loudly as her fingers danced across the track pad until the screen popped back to life, stuck on the last thing she had been reading; “The Discovery and Importance of Pi”. It had been an okay read. After exiting the page that overflowed with words and numbers, she quickly opened a new tab and arrived at a familiar site. The forums should be bustling just about now , Chris thought while chewing on her lip. New threads have indeed popped up, circling around the bank robbery, and Chris took it upon herself to start a thread as well.
NanoVolt: The Construction Crew?-
Quite the mystery, aren’t they? Well, not so much a mystery as more of just a bunch of stupid humans messing with the law that keeps them safe. Sometimes I wonder about the state of our society… Anyway, this “Construction Crew” seems to have a pretty swell idea on how to accumulate areas that hold valuable buildings… But just what is that idea? I wanna hear some theories, ppl!
Chris had a pretty popular status on VigilanteesofCalli.com, so it would take a few minutes, maybe an hour before the replies started coming in, so she took that time to do some research on the two crimes, but the research was rudely interrupted by a sudden dark screen. Chris couldn’t swallow her anger quick enough,
As quick as a bullet she stood up, quickly jogging passed the now napping cat and still on radio, through the open, creaky door that led to and old, creepy looking stairwell that seemingly went down two stories until it reached a blank wall, as originally this had been blocked off due to an incident a few years back, but Chris had managed to find it exactly one year ago above her room. She quickly turned to kick up a combined piece of wood, and it open up freely. Dust and dirt gently rained down onto a black-comforted-covered bed, and Chris soon followed after. She landed on her back side, and still moving very fats, plugged her laptop into an outlet beside her small dresser. Energy soon filled the screen again and Chris beamed brightly.
Ash found herself in Art History Class. It was almost the end of the period; which was great and yet agonizing at the same time. These last few minutes were surely the slowest minutes to pass thus far in Ash’s life. She pulled out her iPhone, no not the newest iPhone, the iPhone 3g, straight out of 2009. She hadn’t even bought it either, it was her brothers old work phone that someone had unlocked and jail broken for her. She plugged her headphones in; they were pretty big and old. She opened up the app that allowed her to listen to the radio and selected one of her favourites. Right now one of the newer songs on the music scene was playing; she immediately identified the band as Imagine Dragons and the song as Radioactive. It played to her while she gathered some thoughts. She found herself thinking about the two people she had really gotten to known albeit not that well.
First on the list was Ewan, he was a Scottish guy. He was a pretty averagely sized guy, about five foot ten inches or so. However just from looking at him you could tell that he worked out, coming from someone who was pretty athletic herself he obviously didn’t let himself fall out of shape. However despite that he never seemed clunky, more or less very smooth. He kind of reminded her of a wave, the way it went with the flow. But it could amass great power if it need be. He was sweet though, he had even made her laugh on the first day. She figured that was the only reason he knew she existed. Most people tended to see right through her.
Then there was Kate. Kate was the kind of girl Ash wished she could be. She didn’t take anyone’s shit and she was definitely her own woman. She was openly homosexual too which Ash found refreshing, compared to the series of lies that she knew she was faced with every day. If there was anything impressive about Kate it was just how fast she and Ash had been friends. It was like before she could blink Kate had made her way into Ash’s life. But Ash didn’t mind at all. It was nice having friends for once, not just people who pretended to like you to look sensitive either.
Overall Ash found herself already enjoying college more than high school. However she had yet to really come out of her shell, she didn’t really even plan to. Mostly because she didn’t want to get hurt like she had once before. But it was mostly due to habit. She couldn’t help but slink back into her normal routine of keeping her head down and her patience with others high. The less people who cared about her or even knew about her the better. But she supposed this year could be different. She already had two friends after all. Finally her song ended and the news report began. ”This just in, it sounds like some group of guys called the Construction Crew have stolen an absolute ton of cash from The Gulf Bay Regional Bank this morning. So we here at Chum FM would like to remind you guys to stay safe and stick to online banking. Now we’re going to be hitting you up with The Lumineers, Ho Hey." The radio host did his best to make light of the situation but one thing was clear, these guys were the real deal. Robbing a bank isn’t exactly an easy feat; they’re made to act like a fortress after all. Ash found herself pondering about the construction crew as the class drew to a conclusion.
"Don't panic. All I am after is your money."
The voice threated, a few minutes past midnight, in one of those dark, humid, and generally unnoticed alleys of Gulf Bay city. The assaulter was attempting to snatch a bag from a random pedestrian-one of those upper-middle class women that walked around on the streets until this time and apprently was just on her way of going home; and she was, well, doing pretty much everything but 'not panicking'. The man sighed, seemingly greatly disappointed at how irrationally people start to act when their lives and property are in peril, like the struggling exhibited now. He made another attempt of jerking the leather bag from her arms with no success, while glancing at the other end of the alley just to make sure no one was watching. Nope, just the light of the unreliably flickering street lamps, and...a weird hooded figure rolling a wheelchair into the alley?
It was a little hard to make out the picture with most light sources blocked by the buildings on the sides of the narrow pavement, and the glare of the street lights did nothing but render everything into ambiguous silhouettes. Porbably just one more of those stupid homeless people the didn't know better than to keep out of things like these, he thought. Nevertheless, he was still utterly annoyed by the fact that there was someone who witnessed the crime.
"Hey, you. Cripple. Shoosh." He kept a hand grabbing the collar of the victim and, with the other, waved the switchblade in the air in the 'fuck off' gesture; and paying no more attention to that he turned back to what he was doing earlier, and as a result the following words were heard coming from behind him:
"Excuse me sir. I suggest leaving that person alone, alright?"
There was a pause from everyone, and then the small-time thug almost laughed out loud when he realized what exactly was happening. Was a pathetic life on the streets bad enough to throw a person this dar from sanity? A random handicap rolling into this scene and attempting to stop a robbery speaking like he was pointing a shotgun at his face.
Except that when the man turned around he did so to face a frowning Adam Atkins who actually was pointing a shotgun at his face.
"Whoa whoa whoa."
The man backed off a bit, suprised. Although, curiously, he seemed to have no intention of giving up.
"Please, mister, just let go and-"
Adam was halfway through the sentence when he noticed the suspicious brief glances the thug was throwing to something in the distance, and the footsteps. He threw his left palm forward on the cambered wheel just in time to rotate the wheelchair to allow his right hand enough range of movement to fire a rock salt shell into the chest of the second man that was a few feet away from smashing his head with a crowbar. The man flopped over and lay still face down, his weapon dropping aside with a cling. That man won't pose that much of a threat in a while, but Adam did not have the time to do both chambering the next round and to maneuver his way out of the first man that was sprinting at him. The wheelchair tumbled over, with both of the people smashing down into the ground.
"Ugh." Adam grunted as his shoulder hit the ground, the firearm in his right hand slipping out of his grip and slided to the nearby floor. He leaned back to narrowly escape the switchblade that ended up scratching his cheek instead of stabbing into his eye. The blade made an uncomfortable sound scraping against the cement floor through the fabric of the back of the wheelchair. The man pulled the weapon back, only to suddenly drop over to the side from an impact to the back of his head before he could land a second stab. Another few times the sound of the stock of the stock of the gun whacking into the back of a head was heard until the thug ceased to attempt to get onto his feet. A slightly frightened, panting, but relatively unharmed Adam dragged himself out of the toppled wheelchair with his arms, one of them weilding the barrell of the shotgun that he just used as a blunt weapon to save his own life.
Meanwhile, the almost-victim of the robbery was still standing on the other side of the street, still clutching her bag like someone was still trying to pull it away.
"...need a hand?" she asked, though evidently more out of politeness, for she seemed either too surprised, scared or confused after what just happened to do anything.
"Ugh, no thanks." Adam replied as he flipped the wheelchair back upright and started to pull himself back onto it.
* * * * *
The following day, early morning. A tired Adam Ethan Atkins rolled his cambered wheelchair onto the ramp that lead to a storage room on the side of the garage.
Small-time criminals usually act along. Exceptions occur. Ought to be more careful next time. He noted to himself as he slid his finger along the shallw scratch the switchblade left on his cheek. Was over at Sam's and got cut by some wire. Yup, wire. Sprang up into my face or something. The automobile workshop nextdoor that he often visited was a rather reliable source of wound excuses, especially when they always let him mess around the the parts and tools a lot. His father lets most of those excuses just go past because he doesn't think it's worth the effort to learn about everything Adam does. He was 18 and a half after all.
He unloaded the shotgun and placed it back into the big box where his father kept all his shooting gear-good thing they used to go on the shooting range every other week, though after what happened to him his father rarely mentions that anymore. That's also why it's so convenient using this storage room sort of as his...'batcave'? He couldn't think of a better term. Whatever, he thought as he took off the hooded jacket, the boots and the heavy grey trousers that served both as basic protection and some sort of a vigilante suit.
He wheeled the second-hand cambered sports wheelchair to rest against the wall and pulled out his rusty, ordinary standard one, unfolded it, and dragged himself onto it, putting on his cap and transforming himself back into that nice ordinary college student.
"Yes, still gonna go to school even if I almost died last night." He mumbled to himself as he rolled out of the room and shut the door behind him.
Two more hours until he supposedly would have 'woken up'. That's also rather convenient because he always gets up earlier than everyone else in the neighbourhood even before he became a nighttime hero.
Adam fetched his bookbag and stuck a piece of chewing gum into his mouth, deciding to go suf the net for some news or something to pass the remaining time.
* * * * *
It has been almost one year since Adam Atkins first pulled on the hooded jacket and secretly rolled out onto the streets at night. Since then he has been silently patrolling the streets of Gulf Bay at night, observing the other face of the city that only shows at this time, the face that's filled with crime, danger, money, fear, hate and life threatning situations; watching and taking action at certain times. Adam never liked this place, or anything on this earth actually. But how terrible the city has gotten recently was a whole new level of his definition of a crapsack world.
At school, the classmates were rambling about a group of robbers that pulled of some perfect heists in the past week. 'The Construction Crew' as he read on the news earlier. Some complained, some criticized how they were messing up the order of the city. Others didn't care that much. Some even saw their actions as good, calling them 'cool' just for the sake of rebelling and going against the rules.
Adam sighed. Stopped a few random robberies, scared off a few guys just with plain confusion; nothing he's gonna be able to do about bank robberies for now.
The world is still a terrible place, but for some reason he believed that there probably was something, although he was not certain what, that made things look like they were still worth fighting for. He wasn't doing much by now, but it's a start nevertheless.
He smiled a bit and then rolled himself into his seat.
The knocking on the door was loud. Kate wasn't really the most subtle girl. One would almost think it was an emergency, especially since she looked like someone who had just gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson.
It was no surprise Sarah's mother got big eyes as she opened.
“I would like to speak to Sarah”. Kate had said it quite bluntly.
The woman in the door looked at her for a few seconds like she was trash. Both Sarah's parents hated Kate. They had been in a difficult position the time they had tried to explain their little girl, that they had no problem with her sexuality, but disapproved of her partner. “We are having a family dinner” The mother answered.
“Oh good! I was afraid I had interrupted something important. Now get Sarah out here!” Kate answered.
Sarah's mother looked as if she had been punched in the face. “Young lady. That's not how we talk to each other in this house”.
Kate walked up right under her nose as if they were having a pissing-contest. “Well old lady, then it's a good thing I'm outside the house, isn't it? Now get Sarah”.
The woman finally turned around and went back inside without a word. Anger was painted all over her forehead. After a minute Sarah finally came to the door. Her blond hair blew in the small southern wind.
Persuading her to come back to the apartment and stay the night, had not been an easy task for Kate. Apparently insulting a girl's mother was not the best move. But Kate had had the worst day ever, and tolerance was not a word she could remember right now.
Maybe it was the fact that she had been assaulted and later left alone in her own apartment to deal with it, that made Sarah follow with her home. Sarah usually knew best.
Now with the moon coming up, Kate and Sarah lied next to one another in bed. They had laughed. They had spoken. But they hadn't actually talked about the fact that Kate had fought 5 robbers for mere 50 dollars. Not until now.
“Sarah... what do you think would happen if everyone just said no?”. There was emotion in Kate's words.
“What?... To every question?”.
“No I mean: What do you think would happen if no one allowed shit to happen to them? What would happen if every victim of a crime actually fought back with every breath in their body? What would happen if all lawbreakers were forced to kill every person they wanted to rob?”.
The fragile figure of Sarah sat up in the bed. “What are you saying Cat?”.
Cat was her personal nickname for Kate. A name she had never shared with anyone else.
“I'm saying crime is easy. But if it was actually hard, then crime would go down in this town. A criminal can not possibly hope to win every fight. So if he always had to fight when committing a crime, then a lot of criminals might choose a honest life. If evil can't break the will of good, then it has nothing to threaten it with. That's kinda what Gandhi did-”.
“Wait wait. Gandhi led a none-violent revolution. What you are suggesting is the complete opposite” Sarah interrupted. Fear was never an emotion she was good at hiding. That was yet another difference between the 2 girls. Now she looked as if she could see where the conversation was going, and thus continued: “I-I don't want a fighter alright? I just want you. So... Kate will you please promise me you won't do something like this again? You won't go on some strange vigilantism quest or something like that?”.
There was a pause. In fact there was a long pause.
“I promise”. The words had been weak and soft. Not what usually came out of Kate's mouth. She leaned in and kissed her girlfriend. “I promise” She repeated and let the other one wrap her arm around her. Kate sighed. “I'm sorry for being such a bitch. I'm just... just tried. I'm so tired of looking at the city and being angry. I'm so tired of being angry all the time”.
“I know”. Sarah padded her head for a second.
Kate waited until her partner had fallen asleep. It rarely took long. Then she got up, pulled out a chair, and just sat there in her worn out t-shirt and watched Sarah in the moonlight.
Kate would kill the world for her. She was the reason Kate wanted a better society. Without Sarah there was not much reason to fight. Yet Kate felt helpless; helpless to stop what was happening. Sarah didn't understand it, she couldn't. She had grown up in a world of fairytales and rainbows. While Kate had spend her life getting knocked on her ass every time she showed weakness.
The people in her class seemed to have an idea of where she was coming from. Once you moved past the slightly comical Scottish accent you learned Ewan really did have something to say about the world. If Kate had his muscle toning she would have a lot easier making bullies eat dirt. If nothing else then at least she liked how he dressed; she had always had a thing for hoodies.
Ash had had bad things happen to her. In fact she had loved and lost, where Kate had never loved anyone from her own family. But somehow life had not pulled Ash down as it had with Kate. When Ash was around, Kate acted cool, calm and possibly even a little Goth. But truth was Kate did want the younger girl's optimism to rub off on her. Sometimes it even succeeded to an extend. And better yet: Ash had actually witnessed the ugly parts of town, just like Kate. She could relate to it.
After Kate had looked at the one thing worth killing for; a beautiful girl who for some reason wanted to be with her, she went back into the warmth of the bed and closed her eyes. Something was coming. Kate didn't know what, but times were changing...