Hey everyone! I’m back with my next part to my serial story, Because We Were Different! Thank you all who have stayed with me this entire time, and for all you newbies for checking me out! If you’d like to go back to the beginning of the story, please click here, or if you’d like to find any of the other parts of the story, please click on the sidebar “Short Stories” where you can find all the previous parts and older stories!
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Raidon’s guide proved to be just about as helpful as Natalia was unhelpful. By the end of the first week, the guide had given me enough information to know that the Crown-Princess had been in hiding for nearly six years, probably living as a civilian in this city since the conflict first started. And Natalia gave me zilch. Nothing.
Well, I can’t say nothing. She took care of some of the guide’s increasingly personal questions about ourselves by using her Shiarizian background to convince him of our legitimacy. Or… so I hoped.
“Something isn’t right with this guy,” I remarked, more to myself than to Raidon as we walked down the busy streets.
“What do you mean? He’s been super nice and helpful! Even showed us the best ice-cream place in town!”
Here I was, trying to free my sister from the grasp of a tyrannical dictator and my pea-brained companion couldn’t think of anything more important than ice cream. I rolled my eyes. “That’s the point, Raidon. He’s been too helpful. And too curious, for that matter. I don’t like it. Something isn’t right.”
“Isn’t that what tour guides are supposed to do? Be helpful, I mean?”
I frowned, trying to recall any tours I’d ever gone on with my parents. My mind drew a blank, and my heart rate sped higher. Was I forgetting my previous life? Was Remington’s brainwashing working on me? “It just doesn’t sit right,” I snapped, turning down another street. This street was less crowded, and more… secluded. Though I hated crowds… something about this place made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it was just my nerves.
I glanced back to see Natalia following us, scowling. “Why did that guy want us to meet him here for?”
“Maybe he wants to give us some important info,” Raidon said, skipping ahead cheerily.
“He’s not an informant, Raid,” I said, shaking my head. I shifted my backpack on my shoulders, then frowned. “And what did you put into my backpack? It’s heavier than usual.”
“Oh, I added some snacks, a couple more water bottles, and — oh, your inventions, too!”
I stopped short. “What inventions?” I hissed, swinging around my backpack and unzipping it.
“Oh, just your wheelie shoes, your sword that doesn’t swing out, and the smoke bomb that you claim doesn’t work. I kept the door unlocker though. It’s cool!”
“It doesn’t work. The only thing that does work is the wheelie shoes, and they won’t help anyone.”
“You’ve never tried the smoke bomb, or the sword,” Raidon said with a shrug as I pulled out each.
I glanced at the little round ball that was supposed to be a smoke bomb. “I dropped it once. It didn’t do a thing. And I have tried the sword. It should be able to be pulled out. Look.” I yanked at the tip of the blade sticking from the piece of metal forming its hilt, then shook my head. “Nothing. And you’ve tried the door unlocker on the bathroom door multiple times. None of my inventions work. Dad’s always did…” My voice trailed off as hearing myself say the word “Dad” shot back painful memories and agonizing feelings.
“Ah, there you are!”
I jumped to my feet, thrusting the smoke bomb and sword hilt into my pant pockets before turning to see our tour guide standing there with his hands behind his back. “Don’t just leap out at us like that,” I said.
I was glad I wasn’t the only one startled, as Raidon was chuckling in relief, wiping his hair back with a sweaty hand.
“Sorry. I’m sure you’re wondering why I wanted to meet you here,” the man said as I stood to my full height.
“Uh, kinda.” I glanced around then, not seeing Natalia. “Where’s—”
“I posted the girl by the end of the alleyway to watch for any gangs. There’s something important I’ve got to show you, and I hope you’ll help me with.”
Alarms started whirling in my head, but either Raidon’s were broken or he had no concept of danger, as he eagerly asked. “What? What is it?”
“I was walking around the other day when a gang grabbed me. They thought I’d seen their illegal stash of drugs and were going to kill me, but I got them to let me go with the promise that I wouldn’t tell the police. That’s why I need your help. I can’t let these guys keep selling this stuff and ruining innocent families, but I promised not to tell the police.”
“Look, we’re tourists, not secret agents,” I said, painfully aware of how easily the lie slipped from my tongue. “We can’t help you. We don’t have time, nor do we want to be placed in the middle of this.”
The man sighed. “I didn’t want to make this that difficult,” he said before he brought his hands around, pointing two pistols at us — our pistols! My hand flew to my holster, but it was empty. The fool! He’d snuck up on us to steal our weapons!
Raidon gave a little whimper, and as I looked up again, I saw three other agents come from around the corner of the alleyway and step beside our “tour guide”, with pistols drawn. “Ainslyn Paine, are you sure you’re not the top agent of the Kachinoan Military Post?”
For the second time in my life, I felt true despair creep into my heart. They knew who I was. How much more did they know about me? My mission? And now I was weaponless… defenseless… unless….
My hand brushed the smoke bomb in my pocket. I still had it, and a sword that didn’t work. Well, I couldn’t let myself be captured by them. Remington would probably kill my sister then. If I died, he’d probably kill her too, but at least we’d be together. I had to try to escape. I could throw the smoke bomb — it was as hard as a rock and could at least hurt and distract the men while I dashed off. And I could use the metal hilt of the sword as a weapon if I came into close contact with one of them. I just needed to whack one hard enough on the head with it, and it would knock them out cold.
The plan wasn’t ideal, but it was all I had. And I had to move fast — and take Raidon with me. All within moments, I grabbed Raidon’s arm with one hand, the smoke bomb with the other. At the same time I flung the bomb, I shoved Raidon forward and shouted, “Run!”
I didn’t look back to see what would happen.