Chapter 2

He struggled to catch his breath, running for his life on feeble legs as the menacing tank charged forward. The rumbling ground made it hard for him to remain steady and he knew it would be over in an instant if he fell. With no memories of anything prior to an abrupt awakening into a hellish nightmare, the man had no choice but to scurry like a tiny mouse from a hungry, enraged cat. Another tank came bursting from the trees to his right just behind him and now he had the added challenge of dodging gunfire as its large, heavy bullets peppered the area. One tank stopped for a moment and in terror, the man watched as a bright, white light began shining from what he could only assume was a cannon. It was aimed right at his current path and the cannon seemed to charge up before it unleashed a powerful blast. It missed the target by a few feet, but the man felt the force of the impact as it hit the ground. For a split second, the ground swelled before another violent explosion erupted as multiple mines were set off at once.

Miraculously, he survived with all his extremities intact, but the blast had propelled him further into unknown territory and his body was sore from the fall. He wasn’t free from his pursuers, however, and they were getting closer by the second. That wasn’t the only thing he had to worry about; he suddenly realized the origins of the strange popping noises he had heard earlier. The epiphany came to him in the form of a loud bang followed by a bullet that whizzed past his face, hitting a nearby headstone with enough force to shatter off a large chunk of the thick granite. Soon there were hundreds of bullets zinging and flying off in the tanks’ direction; the man couldn’t see who was doing all the shooting on the other side, but he knew he had to take cover immediately.

Maybe it was all a dream – a horrible nightmare that felt all too real. Whatever was going on, he knew he wasn’t supposed to be there, so he decided the best thing to do was hide and pray for some form of help to arrive. Fortunately, the tanks were focused on laying down heavy fire at the unseen assailants, and their bullets stayed well above his head, for now. He took this opportunity and dashed to a nearby tombstone, laying low to the ground as he tried desperately to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, but glancing over his shoulder he saw a terrible sight: the two tanks were now displaying extremely large rail gun-type weapons and they were charging up to fire!

Too weak to run, too exhausted to move, his body had given its last and now he faced a grizzly death at the hands of people he didn’t know just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn’t fair; he wanted to cry, he wanted to scream but he couldn’t. He had nothing left and no one to save him. He closed his eyes, hoping and wishing for a miracle while at the same time mentally preparing himself for the hailstorm of hot metal that was about to ravage his body. Instead, he experienced a flash of white-hot heat followed by an extremely loud blast that left him paralyzed in fear. It was shocking and unexpected but when he opened his eyes to see what happened, the two giants were now smoking piles of twisted, melted metal. The man wanted to feel relief, but instead was filled with more terror as a long shadow gradually swept over him.

“Hey! Something’s over here!” he heard a female voice yell. The shadow swiftly moved in front of him and he saw a woman clad in a black body suit with a gun belt around her hips. He could barely make out her features as the sun set and the darkness of twilight settled across the region.  Four other figures appeared next to her with one of them carrying something rather large on their back. They blended perfectly in the blackness of a moonless night. He couldn’t see them, and he could barely hear what they were saying over the loud thumping of his own heartbeat.

“So, what are we looking at here?” a ruff male voice said with an annoyed tone.

“Maybe he’s one of them,” a concerned female voice stated.

“Doesn’t look like a rebel. He’s dirty and thin. Could be a civilian…Probably homeless by the look of him.”  mused another man with a voice much deeper than the first.  

“Captain, it’s after curfew, if he’s a civilian…” the concerned woman seemed to become even more worried and tension in the air seemed to grow stronger with each second.

“Hey, you! Tell us who you are and why you’re out here.” the first woman who had appeared spoke to the man as he pressed his back against the tomb stone as hard as he could.

He couldn’t speak; his throat felt like it had been gripped by a vice. It was pure agony; the vocal cords seemed so tight that if he tried anymore, he feared they would snap. His throat was so dry and scratchy, all he could do was gasp and desperately wish for a drink of water.

“What’s wrong with ‘em?” the annoyed voice asked.

“He can’t talk. What if he’s mute? We should just let him go…” the concerned woman suggested.

“Anyone found outside after curfew who isn’t a part of the Queen’s Guard is breaking the Loyalist Law and they’re to be executed on site. No real way around it unless we want to break the same law,” said the female captain.

“Guess it can’t be helped…” the deep voiced man said without much emotion to his words.

“There must be a way that we can help him,” a younger man chimed in.

“We can help him by makin’ it quick,” the annoyed one said, his voice expressing even more irritation.

“Grey! How can you be so cold? What if you were in his position?” the concerned woman shouted, her voice full of anger and outrage.

“Then I’d want the six assholes talking about killing me to get it over with!” the man called Grey spat. “It’s been a long day, excuse me for not wanting to drag it on any longer. Let’s hurry this shit up, I’m sleepy.”

“All right let’s get on with it,” said the first woman. “Grey’s right; if we keep drawing this out, it’s practically torture. Go on and set up for the night, the army will be here in the morning. I’ll take care of him.”

He saw the glint of her gun as she drew it from the holster, and he gave up all hope. He slumped down against the tombstone as she aimed her weapon at his forehead. She squeezed the trigger, he closed his eyes, the gun fired, and darkness embraced him once more.

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