Flame and Shadow

By Joshua Carr All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Other

Part III Chapter 43

The amber evening light shone through a large window upon the two reunited twins. They sat together at the diner, Jack’s Corner Grill. Unintentionally, Sera had chosen to occupy the very same booth that Milo and Dani had taken, what seemed like a lifetime ago. The girl slurped on a large, picturesque chocolate milkshake, and gazed directly across the table at her brother. Milo did not meet her stare, but looked down crabbily at the table.

At this hour in the day, the twins were the only patrons of the diner. The only other person in the establishment was their waiter, Ryan. At that time, he returned to their booth.

“So, you’re sure I can’t get you anything, eh?” He asked Milo.

There was no response from the young man. Instead, Sera turned to him.

“I think he’s still wallowing in some kind of angsty self-pity slump thingy. He’ll be fine in a minute.”

“Gotcha. Gotcha. Say, buddy, what happened to the other one?” Ryan gestured to Sera.

That earned him a glare so devastating that it could ripen fruit or almost make Chuck Norris quiver in fear. The waiter hastily apologized, and darted away. Milo then returned to his depressed-looking state.

Sera, however, was in a positively radiant mood.

“Come on, Milo! Lighten up a little! I’ve been waiting literally my entire life to meet you. You could act at least slightly non-dismal for a second.”

She took another long drink of her milkshake.

“I’ve ALWAYS wanted a little brother, and now I finally have one!”

Milo looked up at her at last.

“So, you’re just going to forget everything that’s happened? Starting over. Blank slate. No past. Just present?”

Sera looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Um, yep.”

“What about the last time we met? When I…”

“All is forgiven, bro! That’s what siblings do, right? We forgive each other!”

Milo’s expression softened, nigh imperceptibly, but it was noticeable. He wasn’t ready to completely let down his guard yet, though.

“I’ve seen so much, felt so much. Everything I’ve been through, am I just supposed to forget all that?”

“Hey, I’ve been through a lot too, man! I’ve lost my home, I’ve been kidnapped, tortured, almost killed, been beaten up, rejected by people for not being who they thought I would be, and my best friend was murdered.” She took a breath. “I’m not forgetting one single second of my past. But now is my chance to figure out what it all meant. Why it happened, and what my future will hold. That’s why I wanted to find you!”

Milo internally recoiled when she mentioned her best friend being murdered. Could she suspect him? She showed no signs of blaming him, so he did his best to hide any indication that he was guilty. Instead, he nodded slowly.

“OK, I think I can see that. So what you’re saying is, we can use our past experiences to help us find the truth about this mess?”

Sera leaned back in her seat.

“EXACTLY. You and me. Together this time. We’ll figure out this prophecy destiny crap, and who we really are.”

Milo nodded, unsmilingly.

“Fine. But I have one question. What the hell motivates your fashion choices?”

Sera’s smile suddenly disappeared.

“Whaddaya mean?”

“I mean, you’re wearing a black Tsalderek baselayer underneath a white Nahalorian jacket, both with the sleeves torn off, blue jeans, and black Converse. I’ve never seen anything-“

“Well what about you?” Sera’s sarcastic smirk had returned. “Your clothes look like they just came from a thrift-store, and don’t think I didn’t see those black and purple polka dot socks sticking up above your combat boots!”

Milo’s face colored for the first time in the conversation.

“I’m wearing these to remind me of someone! And for your information, clothes from the thrift store are incredible!”

“I’m not saying they’re not! I’m just saying you’re in no position to-“

Out of nowhere, a hail of bullets shattered the window immediately next to their booth.

“Get down!” Milo shouted, throwing Sera to the ground.

He immediately lifted the heavy table from between their booth benches, and slammed it down to make a shield. The retro-looking metal-coated surface proved effective at stopping the bullets. The young man then crouched behind the makeshift barrier. Sera however stood up indignantly.

“DON’T throw me around like that! I don’t need your help! I’ve come back from near death before! I’m like the Phoenix or something!”

“ARE YOU WILLING TO BET YOUR LIFE ON THAT?!”

Sera looked around for a second, then dove behind the table before the next volley of bullets hit. The two warriors took cover behind their shield, and prepared to counter. Sera began to form a fireball between her hands, while Milo pulled back his sleeve, revealing the wrist-mounted Survivortex 3000.

“These are the bastards that murdered Trinity, and sent Takeji on the path to insanity.” Milo breathed venomously. “I’ll kill every last one of them.”

The sounds of the gunshots grew louder as the soldiers approached. Just before Milo and Sera leapt from their position to strike, an RPG shell rocked their barricade.

The explosion flipped the table, and sent the two resisters sprawling backward. The soldiers, wearing Teklos uniforms, climbed through the broken glass window. They trained their firearms on the now defenseless siblings. Milo attempted to get up, but had been injured by the blast. There was nothing either of them could do to fight back now. They both closed their eyes and braced for the end as the gunshots sounded.

The bullets were deflected in midair by some nearly invisible force. Sera’s eyes popped open, and she looked around to see what had happened. It was as though the two of them were in some kind of clear bubble. Where the light from the window intersected the shield, it created a barely visible aurora borealis-like effect. Then, she turned her head and saw me.

I could not make eye contact with her, because I was concentrating all my strength of forming the shield. As I held my marked hands out in front of me, the combined fire of the two enemies who had entered the building was rendered ineffective. I knew that the RPG would fire again, so I waited for it. The missile streaked through the battle-worn diner, and struck my force field. The explosion cloaked us with smoke. The other two soldiers ceased fire.

As soon as they did, I dropped my shield, and leapt through the smoke toward the two soldiers ahead of me. I formed a very small force field around my right hand, and delivered a flying punch to the face of the one to my left. He tumbled over the counter from the force. Then, I did a quick back kick to the knee of the second man. He crumpled, and I followed with a back fist using my shielded hand. He was out cold in an instant.

The man with the RPG launcher panicked for a moment, until he took aim at me. Before he could fire again, a hook at the end of a long cord whipped out around his weapon, and yanked him to the ground. I turned, and saw that Milo had fired some kind of grappling hook from the Survivortex 3000 on his arm.

I began walking toward the siblings, as they both got to their feet.

“You have to get out of here.” I commanded. “There are more soldiers headed this way.”

As if to give evidence of my statement, another explosion shook the diner.

I flipped around to face the direction of the oncoming soldiers.

“I’ll hold them off. You two need to get out of here!”

“No way! We can’t just leave you! Especially not after you saved our lives!” Sera objected.

Just then, Ryan, the waiter, inched his head above the serving counter where he was hiding.

“Wh-what’s going on?”

I ignored their protests, and waved them on with my hand.

“Don’t worry about me! Go! Save yourselves, and get that guy out of here!”

Milo put his hand on Sera’s shoulder.

“Come on! Let’s go!”

She hesitated for a few seconds, then shook off his grip.

“She can’t take them all on by herself! I won’t leave her here!”

With that, the fiery girl released a burst of flame that formed a burning curtain across the diner.

“Grab her and let’s go!”

The strong boy lifted me off the ground by my waist, and started carrying me in the opposite direction of the incoming army. Sera grabbed Ryan by the hand, and dragged him along as well. Milo kicked down a door, and the four of us ran outside. Turning around, I could see a number of Teklos soldiers approaching the diner. It didn’t look like they had seen us run, because no one followed.

After we had made it a safe distance away from the enemies, the four of us stopped to catch our breath. We had run in the opposite direction of the town, and regrouped in the countryside a ways. Milo recovered almost immediately.

“Thank you for that.” He expressed his gratitude.

“Yeah.” Sera puffed. “We would have been toast for sure!”

“Hah, hah, you’re welcome.” I replied. “Thank you too. My shields are strong, but they can’t hold up forever.”

Ryan’s eyes were wide with absolute bewilderment.

“Wh-wh-what was all that?! Guns and magic and explosions and…wha…”

He honestly looked like he was about to pass out.

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this innocent young man, caught in the middle of something he couldn’t comprehend. Sera, however, was quick on the draw.

“Yeah, we were just filming a scene in the new movie…ah…Bloodiest Night of Flaming Apocolypse Death Eater 4. You get to be an extra! How awesome is that?!”

“R-really? I’d…never even heard of the first three. Why didn’t I get some kind of notice…”

“Oh, it’s the newest style of casting. We film without telling anyone, and those that show themselves to be the best method actors are kept in the final cut, while the others are digitally edited outandIgottasay, you were really great. I think you can be expecting a pretty sizeable check in the mail pretty soon here!”

“Wow! That’s great… Um, I’m not feeling so great. I think I’ll head home, if you don’t mind.”

When he walked some distance away, he turned and shouted a final question.

“Hey! Uh, do I still have work tomorrow, since Jack’s is pretty much gone?”

Milo looked away, and I wasn’t sure what I could say, but Sera was really on her game.

“Nah! Don’t worry about it. You’ll get enough money so you won’t have to work for a while. It just might take a while.”

The ex-waiter waved goodbye, and slowly disappeared in the direction of Bindmont. When it was just the three of us again, Milo turned to me.

“So who are you, and why did you help us?” He demanded.

Before I could even answer, Sera reprimanded her brother.

“Is that any way to treat someone who just saved your life? Why would you be suspicious of her when she was ready to die to help us escape?”

“Let’s just say I have a hard time trusting people, sis. You would too if everybody in your class would kill you if you let your guard down.”

“Um-“ I attempted to interject, but was completely lost in the shootout.

Sera’s cheeks reddened.

“Don’t call me sis! I’m the big sister here, and sis makes it sound like you’re calling me the little sister!”

“What are you talking about? We’re twins, right? We’re the same age.”

“Well one of us had to be born first!”

“What makes you think it’s you?”

“’cause I’m obviously the most mature! You don’t care about anyone but yourself, showing your childish immaturity!”

“Well you’re an idiot! You always get lost! You can’t even take care of yourself-“

“I’m an idiot?! Who’s the one jumping from Tsalderek to Nahalore to being some kind of Maverick-“

YOU ARE!!”

“Well- I had a good reason! Nahalore’s not what-“

“I had a good reason too! I’m not even the species I thought I was, and everyone’s an ambitious, deceitful, violent-“

“Ha! Sounds like you’re describing yourself, little brother!”

“I OUGHTTA-“

Just before their discourse came to blows, I positioned myself between the hot-tempered siblings.

“Um, excuse me. I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. My name’s Aaleilyah Jetta hal-Shomal Nouri, but you can just call me Hal.”

They both blinked, and looked at me silently.

“I know that you’re the Fiery One and Shadowy One of prophecy, but will you please tell me your names?”

“Um, my name’s Milo…”

“I’m Sera. How do you know about the prophecy?”

“Well, um…it’s a long story. I’ll explain it all later.”

Sera rolled her eyes.

Before I could ask why her reaction was like that, Milo got down to business.

“OK. It’s getting dark. We need to find a place to spend the night. We already know Teklos is hunting us, and there’s a good chance that Tsalderek and Nahalore might try to get us as well. So we need a good place where we can hide until we make a plan.”

Sera shrugged.

“Don’t look at me. I’ve never been here before.”

I had an idea of where we could stay, but I didn’t want to get her involved. Hm…where else could we go? I had one other idea, as long as they would go for it.

“Hey, guys? I know a place where we can stay tonight.” I ventured.

“Is it safe?” Sera asked.

“Yeah. It’s the last place anyone would think to look.”

“Is it legal?” Milo pressed.

“What is this? 20 questions? Yeah, it’s legal!”

“OK, my vote is that we check it out. We need to find somewhere to stay. Maybe…um, Aleleah, Aleilah jet…Hal… knows a spot that will work.”

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