The moon Aquarius shone bright across the forest landscape reflecting off of the leaves, not being able to penetrate to the floor below where the real movement was occurring.
Along with the noises of the night came the sound of rustling as Rangers stalked through the bushes and vegetation looking for someone that evaded them. Oblivious of the person watching as they move towards him, he knew that they had an idea about his location, it was only a matter of time.
He watched quietly from his hiding place as boots walked past, he could see the light of a Monochrome Lamp passing over the bush, his heart skipped a beat as it shone on him. The light passed over him moving on down the path, and he let out a breath of relief, the lamp was colourblind and passed over his shadow in the bush with ease. he could hear the footsteps move away, he decided to use this chance to slip out from the safety of the bush and into the dark.
He darted from the bush and used his feet to run up a tree on the other side of the path and into the safety of the branches, before the light from the lamp shined back on the noisy bush the inhabitant was already safely away.
The being jumped across from tree to tree avoiding making any large sound that would attract unwanted attention. Unfortunately his luck ran out as he misjudged a jump from a lower branch to a higher one and failed to grab it. Just before he fell though he felt a hand grab him by his outstretched hand, he focused on his savior realizing that it was his companion holding on to the tree by just his ankles not struggling with the weight of him.
“Thanks for that” he said grateful for the action
“Don’t mention it.” came the reply as his companion swung him like a rag-doll across to a branch further away. He caught it and swung around it his limber body making it easy for him to land on it.
The other landed next to him making a drop of water fall in a puddle further below, the only sound he made. They rested there for a moment, planning their next move until twigs started snapping, the tell tale sign of another patrol reaching them. A Ranger moved underneath the tree a moment later, shining the light up at the vacant branches.
Two hours later, he found that they had been trapped once again. The Rangers following him called ahead for re-enforcements, and now the Rangers coming from the town were crushing him in-between them. Being the best course of action he decided to hide and try to wait for them to pass.
They were closer than he thought, the trees on either side, reverberated the sound making it seem like the Rangers were all around him. They have been after him throughout the night all eight hours, making it close to dawn. He slowly climbed the tree taking a branch with each foot, into the treetops to escape the lanterns of the hunters below. Reaching the top of the tree he spied the nearest town, closer than he had thought, his luck was finally turning.
He slowly climbed down the trunk of the tree, using his talons that he brought out on his fingers he dug into the trunk holding his position. There was one Ranger that was holding his position underneath him, just standing there holding his lantern scanning the surroundings, watching the others move about.
The Rangers occupying the surroundings were starting to move away, there did not seem to one of them who would check the branches. He had to decide now whether he should make a break for it or wait the Ranger out. His partner made the decision for him, appearing behind the Ranger under the tree and choked him unconscious before he could alert his comrades.
“What do you think you are doing?” he hissed down below,
‘What do YOU think you’re doing? we can’t wait any longer, he’ll live but you won’t if you stay around here’ He replied as he laid the unconscious Ranger down in the bush.
“Town is one length away, we can make it but I’ll need a distraction can you make one?”
‘Sure, get ready to run’
With that He flipped off the tree and onto the ground beside his partner before they shot off into the bushes to attract the attention of the Rangers nearby.
He heard a voice that was not familiar to him, shot out to people in the immediate area, whether help came to help him or not was essential to his escape. Just like he had planned the fire that his partner caused attracted the Rangers who were searching for him toward the bright light.
He decided it was time and left the safety of the bush to make the last run toward the safety of the town. What he did not expect was more Rangers coming towards the fire.
He caught the eye of a Ranger and instantly became a target, the Ranger brought out his weapon and fired at the shadows attempting to hit something. He yelled something to his friends who also brought out their weapons as well, the distraction failed, he was now trapped behind a large oak tree.
He knew he could not escape them now, and a poor, tired decision pushed him to make a run for it, hoping that they won’t fire on him when he reaches the town. Basing his survival on this he got up and ran. His silhouette was highlighted by the fire which backfired on him and the Rangers found their target.
Suddenly pain struck through him as a foreign object pierced through his side, causing him to grunt as he contained a scream but not the tears. Anything, including any sound would give him away, he had to make it to the town he could see in the distance.
The shots stopped as their leader shouted at the others, ordering them to stop shooting this close to town. A relief came over him as he came to a rest at a tree in some shrubs, clutching his wounded side. The town was one length away but could not move any further, not only did he know the Rangers were closer his wound was too bad to keep him moving.
Footsteps echoed around him as the Rangers passed by, he counted with his eyes closed, ten, twenty, twenty seven different foot steps from people all within ear shot. He did not realise before that he was in this much trouble.
The Rangers continued on into the town, determined to find him, but did not look behind as someone rested in the bushes. He relaxed holding his wound waiting until the Rangers were further away before making his move.
Suddenly the bush above him parted as a familiar face poked his way in, his partner in crime looked down on him, looking at the wound on his arm and started dressing it and then held a vial to the wounded mouth allowing him to drink it.
‘If you are thinking about dying, you won’t it is just a scratch.’
“Glad to hear it, why the tone?”
‘You are a skilled Runner, yet you could not follow my plan through the patrols? Are you all talk no game?’
“Hey, it’s not like I can disappear into thin air, I would have that skill any day.”
‘Too bad, I’m a ghost who can choose who sees me.’
“Fine, why are you giving me sleeping medicine? The town is right there, we could make it.”
‘Ok. One, we do not know where we are going, we need to find a place to stay and hide. Two, you have been running for eight hours and that is just this side of the border. And Three, you are wounded and need healing, you are too tired to perform the procedure on yourself, rest and I will have a plan tomorrow.’
“You better not leave me…”
And with that final remark, his eyes closed, leaving his friend to create a plan to deal with the new situation they found themselves in.
A bright light shined through the window onto Fayre’s bed, the window reflected the light right into her face causing her to wake up. The yellow and orange light marking the start of a new morning, the fair skinned girl sat up in her bed her singlet slipping down on one side.
Her room brightened with the light revealing paintings and sketches on the wall, some of her and friends, others of places that she has liked. Her mind started filling with her current thoughts most of them about the night before. Her mind woke up immediately, a green lightning storm something that she has not seen before. She must ask Ari if he would paint it for her a skill that she wishes she had.
She brushed her hands through her hair getting the knots out of it but reached her cat ears. They annoyed her, they made her seem childish, figuring they must have appeared during the night she twitched them slightly and they disappeared with a slight poof. She got up from under the covers and headed for the kitchen not thinking of putting on anything other than her sleep wear which was a little naughty to say the least.
She walked down the stairs and into the living room, she stopped at the glass door and looked outside into her backyard. It was quite a normal backyard however where their neighbours had fences protecting the back of their garden from the forest beyond, theirs had a hole courtesy of her sister’s friends. Fayre though she saw a shadow resting against a tree in the tree line of the forest beyond. She stood staring at the trees for a while, however she dismissed it as a figure of her imagination and went about making breakfast. She looked through the ice box and pantry instinctively, but found nothing of interest other than some bread. She ate a piece as she went back to her room to get ready for the day.
Fayre came back downstairs fully dressed half an hour later, she was wearing a black crop-top and jeans with boots reaching to her knees. She passed her sister who was sitting on the couch reading a book.
“How’s your arm going?” Fayre asked her sister Kayla, she replied “It is still bruised and hurts but it is getting better, are you going out?”
“Yea, I’m meeting up with Ari and Tau for breakfast.” Fayre mentioned as she went of her key on the hook near the ice box.
“Give them my best, watch out for Rangers, a couple knocked on the door earlier, they’re looking for someone and you know how then can get aggressive if they do not have their way.” Kayla spoke over the edge of her book.
“You sure they were not after you?”
“Not this time, besides I’m more careful now they won’t catch me again” Kayla put her book down and faced her sister with a smug look.
Fayre crossed her arms and gave a condescending look. “How by disabling our house bell, can you put it back together please? we never know when we may need it.”
“We won’t need their help, I can handle anything.” Kayla enforced by pointing at her sister.
“I will keep it in mind, then I can say ‘I told you so’, see you later.”
Fayre left her house and started down her street walking toward the city centre and the tea lounge where she promised to meet Ari and Tau at 8:00 in the morning. Turning the first corner she headed towards the market area beyond the houses.
Terrance was a busy town inside the second district of Gemini, even though it was 4 miles from the capital Providence, it had retained the small feel of a town. Green trees lining the roads, small shops coming to life, busy people moving about their lives, heading to there work. Terrance was one of the biggest towns in the Gemini, home to over 5000 people, though Fayre moved without any motive, not as much drive as the rest of them.
Fayre moved through the avenue down the hill toward the center of town, she passed three Rangers standing around the entrance to an alleyway, Fayre got a cold stare from the Ranger out front, she matched him with one as she passed getting a quick glance down the alley seeing the other two looking around for something between the two buildings.
Fayre reached her destination, the Host Club called the Oaktree, a shop that deals in making tea and coffee as well as small meals for people. It is one of her favorite hangouts to stay with her friends, and many other groups from school who she could see
Ari and Tau were already seated by a window, a third chair awaited the arrival of the last member of the group. Fayre advanced toward her seat trying to figure out which of the brothers were sitting where, since they were both wearing the same clothes, they both had the same ponytail, and they were both identical twins.
Ari and Tau were in conversation with each other, their white hair was a gift to them being White Breed Bunnies, their hair was tied back as was the custom of Gemini. They were perfect identical twins, both were fit, slim and cute, the only thing that could tell them apart was their eyes. Tau, the older, more serious of the two had two piercing blue eyes that were deep like the ocean. Ari the younger, playful one had one eye like his brother the other, green as an emerald. One of the brothers eyes caught Fayre and his head turned to smile at her, she was met with the happy green and blue eyes of Ari.
Ari got up and greeted her with open arms, he brought her in for a close hug, Tau made a rude gesture to Fayre being playful and she responded in turn by sticking her tongue out at him. Like gentlemen Ari pulled her chair out for her to sit down and then sat down himself.
“You don’t look like you belong this early in the morning, it’s a mystery, you are still attracting the gaze of every guy in the place even with a massive cowlick.” started Tau aggressively.
Fayre responded by running her hands through her long black hair quickly while Ari defended Fayre “Don’t start Tau, otherwise I’m going to regret bringing you.”
‘It’s ok, I’m used to it, and Tau isn’t hurting me at all.’ Fayre replied after finding no cowlick, she placed her hands back on the table.
“It does matter, your our best friend, you shouldn’t be treated badly by him.” Ari mentioned
“She’s just not as innocent as you seem to believe little brother, I think it may be because of the Black Cat in her”
“Hardly, I don’t believe in that superstition, like we are meant to be calm and innocent because we are White Bunnies, you are the complete opposite Tau.”
Tau was about to return with a witty remark, but a host interrupted their conversation to give them menus and tell them the specials. Ari and Fayre took their menus politely with a smile, however Tau just took his without any return, still annoyed that he had allowed his little brother to walk all over him. They all placed their orders and the host turned away with a smile and a wink leaving them to their conversation.
“Have you heard about the fire last night?” Ari asked trying to bring the conversation to another topic other than the clash of pointless disputes between his brother an Fayre.
“Fire? What fire? How about the thunderstorm that happened, I saw green lightning bolts I didn’t think it was possible!”
“Maybe that was what started the fire, because earlier this morning there was a large fire in the forest near your house, I’m surprised you didn’t see it.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t see the green lightning.” Fayre returned
“And I did not see anything at all, though I had an interesting night anyway.” Tau interjected, Fayre returned a glare wondering if he was stupid, Ari just sat silently quietly and blushed slightly.
“Wait if the fire was started by lightning how did it get put out so quickly?” She questioned
“Rangers, they apparently responded quickly to neutralize it’s threat to town.” Ari shrugged with his hands in the air.
“Why do you doubt it?”
“It was strange that they managed to get there in a large number before the fire got out of control, and now they are patrolling the town as though they are looking for someone.” Ari explained
“They came to my house too, do you think someone started it?”
“Who knows, maybe someone went camping and started a fire by accident, they will still use it to their advantage and will blame an Outlaw for it.”
“It shouldn’t end like that, hopefully they find the person they are looking for and they will find out they have no connection to Outlaws.”
“Maybe, though remember a couple of years ago, our teacher got charged as an Outlaw even though he did nothing wrong. I hope I don’t get classed as one because of my art.” Ari stated getting kind of depressed about the conversation he had now found himself, Fayre realized this and knew a way to cheer him up.”
“Hey I was thinking about whether you could paint me a green lightning storm, like the one from last night, it could be awesome!” Fayre asked, it brought the shine back to Ari’s eyes, not only did he love his painting, he loved a challenge.
“I could try, it will be my first time doing a storm on canvas, it may be troubling getting the cloud shapes right.” Came the reply, Ari was hoping for his brother to pick up the call for help.
“Hey” Tau interjected, Ari smiled hook, line, sinker being his thought. “Your forgetting you have someone who can sketch the storm for you before you start painting.”
“Are you offering your help? Thanks big brother!” Ari gave his brother a kiss on the cheek, only joking around as Tau started blushing deeply his eyes looking around for judgements by others in the shop.
Fayre looked at the two smiling and laughing as Tau began lecturing Ari about how he should act in public. The Host from before brought them the meal they had ordered and they got started on breakfast.
Later after breakfast Fayre said good bye to the brothers and headed towards home, following the same route as before she found the path a bit quieter than before now that everyone was at work. However, the number of Rangers that were wandering around had increased a bit. Fayre could hear a Request Bell in the distance, a series of bells that bring Rangers to a specific emergency, however none of the Rangers around her were reacting.
One of the Rangers who was questioning a Trader at a small store turned quickly to put a hand on Fayre’s shoulder.
“Hey Miss, can I - Whoa!” The Ranger had made a bad move as Fayre responded to the hand by turning it on him.
The Ranger yelped in agony as Fayre twisted his arm, she let him go hoping that this does not get any worse. Assaulting a Ranger was a serious offense, the truth was she did not know the hand was a Ranger she was used to creeps trying to get her attention.
“I’m sorry for grabbing you suddenly, I just want to speak to you about something.”
“I’m so sorry, I thought you were somebody else…” It was partially true, Fayre did not like others to touch her without permission. Being a model in the Host Guild her face got around, she was pretty sure she had her own fan club however creepy it may be.
“Its ok, I want to ask you if you have seen someone, anyone, about 5’ 6”, Black Hair, Dark clothing with a leather bag?”
“Could you be a bit more specific?” Fayre replied with a tilt and a smile, showing some innocence to win him in her favor and hopefully she would get away quickly.
“I’m afraid not, other than the fact he may be injured there is no other information I can give you. He is wanted in relation to the fire that occurred last night.”
“No Species, No Guild Relation, No Company?” Fayre was mocking him slightly, she could not help it he was the one who came forward with a silly question. There are lots of people who can wear dark clothing and leather bags are as common as muck, a Venator would be her best guess.
“No idea unfortunately, please inform the Ranger Guild if you get any more information, have a nice morning.” The Ranger bowed to Fayre.
“Thank you” Fayre replied as she turned back to her path to continue on her way.
As soon as she realized that she was further away, she felt that it was ok to mutter her opinion.
“Idiot, how could they find someone asking around like that?”
Fayre turned into the avenue that she lived on, discovering that it was deserted was something she was used to, most of the residential area was quiet during the middle of the day. She enjoyed it but felt there was something wrong with this kind of peace, like it was artificial something that the people did not create themselves. Just one of the things she disliked about this society she found herself in, people went about it not realising they were living in a trance.
Fayre opened her front door to find a quiet house, her mother and sister were obviously gone, her mother to the shops, her sister to whatever she does on a break day. She walked down the hallway, into the lounge and straight up the stairs. After getting the book from her bedroom she returned downstairs to lay on the couch and read the rest of the day away.
Fayre could hear the birds outside singing in the garden, however there seemed to be another tune, a bird’s song that she had never heard before. The bird continued singing for quite a while that it sparked some curiosity in her, she wanted to see what this bird was.
Getting up from the couch, she went to the glass door and looked outside in the tree in the backyard. Among the Common Wrens that were sitting there there was a larger bird one that was white with blue wing tips and very long tail feathers. It was something she has not seen before a new type of bird, maybe she could catch it and find out later.
Fayre moved outside to look closely at the bird, when she started moving closer to the tree where it perched the bird stopped his song. Fayre stopped when the bird turned to face her, the bird looked over her and began staring at her.
Fayre felt like the bird was judging her, making assumptions about the type of character she was.
“Hello there, what are you?” Fayre attempted to talk to the bird, not expecting to receive a response but just to get the bird to like her. The bird made a sort of comforting sound, one that was part of its song from earlier, this time it was directed at Fayre as though it was responding to her. The bird gave a flap of its wings and dove from the branch towards Fayre, ducking from the swoop she let of a sound of alarm she quickly turned to find out where the bird went.
The bird landed beside a person in the shadows of her backyard, someone with dark hair, dark clothes and a brown leather bag was laying right beside them.
The bird rubbed its head in the hand of the person, Fayre could only freeze in disbelief, as the person the Rangers were looking for appeared to be asleep in her backyard. Fayre slowly backed away from the person as the bird was trying to wake him up.
She threw open the back door and ran towards the lever that controlled the house bell. With both hands on it she tried pulling it down, though her sister did not keep her promise, the bell was still broken. Trying again and again, she started to worry, could she call for help? She received her answer when a knife shot into the wall near the lever.
Fayre froze, frightened she turned just in time to get pushed against the wall and a blade held against her throat.
“Don’t. You. Dare.”