“Happy birthday son!” Arlegen shouted. He held a small suitcase in his outstretched hands. “Thanks dad!” Maxrevus replied. He had always called Arlegen dad although as he got older he knew that he was not. They had nothing in common. He was tall and Arlegen was short, even more so with his classic old man hunch. Their faces had no common traits and they shared no mannerisms. Finally there was the glaring fact: Arlegen was white and Max was not. Dark chocolate his father used to call his skin complexion. “The ladies love it” he would always add on. There was no truth in those words. In the Baku clan, dark chocolate skin was shunned above all else, thought to be the source of everything evil. Besides this, the old man had taken him in from a baby and loved him and took care of him as best he could. Max thought that no other man deserved the title.
Taking the case from his father, he opened it. He was greeted with the gleam of polished steel. “Are these....” Max exclaimed.
“Yep! Those are the guns you saw me making ” Arlegen replied.” Do you want to try them out?”
“You bet!” he reached down to pick up one of them when his father exclaimed.
“No son. Put on the gloves and the wristbands first.”
Max looked at the corner of the suitcase. There, he saw two leather gloves embroidered with words on the palms and index finger of each glove. Next to those were The wristband; each having a large number of bullets attached to them,bullet moulds, holsters and a bar of plumbar. Putting on the gloves and the wristbands he reached for the guns. Both were six shooter revolvers one silver and one black.
“How do they feel?” Arlegen asked.
“Lighter than I would have expected.”
“New alloy” Arleen was smiling. He was a weapons maker who took pride in his craft. ” Come let’s try them out.”
Stepping through the front door of the little cottage they shared Max saw that their front yard was littered with straw men and wooden crates. “Spent last night setting this up.” Arlegen said smiling.“Let me explain a few things before you start. The firing mechanism is will controlled. you want to shoot, it will cock and you can fire at will.′
“Okay... Let’s do this!” Maxrevus exclaimed. Raising his right hand he aimed the gun at the dummy right in front of him. “Mure (burn)” he spoke gently as he increased the presuure on the gun’s trigger. The gun cocked, just as Arlegen said it would. As the gun fired Max noticed that the sound was softer than an actual gun, almost as if the gun bore a silencer. He felt no recoil, just the motion of the barrel as it lined up the next shot. On impact, the bullet disintegrated into a flurry of sparks, catching the dummy on fire.
“Nice isn’t it?” Arlegen said. “Spent the chamber: I want you to see something cool. And you don’t have to repeat the same command, the gun will ‘remember’ it. ”
“Sweet!” Max replied. He continued to fire the gun with pinpoint accuracy, turning his front yard into a firework display. With the barrel spent, the chamber glowed.It opened; bullets from his bands forcing the shells out of the chamber. As the spent shells hit the ground, Max stared at the gun in amazement.
“I automated the command by etching it into the gun barrel, and the gloves you’re wearing. ” Arlegen said as he walked over to his son.
“This is just too amazing.” Max said still in shock.
" As you get better, the reload time will shorten.”
“Thanks dad. I’ll treasure these just like the swords”.
“I know you will son.” Arelgen was still smiling: at first because of his craftsmanship: Later because of the joy his work had produced.
“Shoot!” Arlegen shouted. ” I almost forgot!”
“What dad?“max inquired placing both guns in top of an undamaged crate.
“We’re going out today. I had planned for us to have lunch at the seafood bistro but you have to get ready and I don’t....”
“Dad.. It’s ok. I’ve learnt how to do it without the long ceremony ” Max replied.
Pointing the gun to his head he spoke ‘viteli (lighten)’. He pulled the trigger, the bullet disintegrated on the side of his head, the dust covering his entire body. Slowly his dark chocolate skin lightened until he looked as pale as the first snowfall.
‘Ready dad? ’ Max said with a smile. Arlegen knew the smile hid the pain of hiding his true self. ‘Yeah. Let’s go.’
They walked through the forest talking and laughing all the way until they are reached Smilich, the Baku capital. As with most times they visited, the town square was filled with life : children playing in the fountain as the vendors peddled their wares. It always intrigued Max to observe children play. For most of his childhood, it was just him. He never had someone to share toys with or to lose a race to. He watched always with a deep longing to be able to share his life with a friend.
They reached the restaurant. It was well known all over Sirius for it fashionable, delicious yet affordable cuisine. Max had always wanted to try the food there but it was well outside their means.
" How did you afford this dad? ” Max inquired as he pushed his fathers chair closer to the well dressed tables.
“I ...I sold some things son. ” Arlegen stammered .
Arlegen nodded. “My choice son. Don’t let it spoil the food ok?”
Max sighed as he placed the napkin on his lap. His father always did things like this for him. He had given up his weapon making trade when he found Max to limit the possibility of Max being discovered. Instead he picked farming, which just gave them enough to buy the essentials. For every big occasion he would sell pieces of his collection; things he swore he would never sell, so that he could treat Max to some of the pleasures of life. Maybe it was his way of making up for the constant hiding and isolation that Max had lived his whole life under. To Max it was a small price to pay, for life itself. Baku’s didn’t like his ’kind’
The lunch was fabulous, much different from one pot stewed food that they were accustomed to. ‘Enjoyed yourself son?’ Arlegen said as he rubbed his elongated stomach.
‘I did.’ Max replied. Looking up from his tiramisu for the first time he saw her across the room. Her enchanted blue eyes fixed on his. Her body was unlike most women of Sirius. She was quite lithe and had very short raven hair, two definite flaws as far as finding a husband was concerned. Max however,found the combination quite appealing. He had not noticed that she had started to walk in his direction, her gaze still focussed on him. A flash in her eyes brought him back to reality. A Renol. She was probably trying to read him, they were always weary of new faces.
He returned his gaze to his plate as she walked to the table.
“Good afternoon gentlemen.” Her sultry voice lingered in the air.
“Afternoon young lady.” Arlegen replied smiling from ear to ear.
“My name is Mari Renol. I’ve never seen you here. We don’t get many visitors. Special occasion perhaps. ”
“Couldn’t be more special.” Arlegen beamed. ” Its my son’s eighteenth birthday.”
“Maxrevus... Just call me Max.” Though he tried, his anxiety punctuated his voice with a warble.
“Eighteen? You’re my age and Ive never met you?” Mari leaned over to look at his face.
“I help my father on the farm so there’s no time for school. ” Max averted the call of Mari’s eyes.
“How nice of you. Well I hope you enjoy the rest of your birthday and that this won’t be the last time I see you .”
She moved past him, leaving behind the faint scent of roses.
“Did she read you?” Arlegen inquired.
“Not sure dad. Let’s just leave to make sure.”
Arlegen left the money on the table as they slipped out of the side entrance. The alleyway was dark and musty. As they walked along it they heard a commotion coming from an adjoining alleyway. “Damn nuri (dark one). You all are half the reason our clan is looked down on. ”
Two men stood over a disheveled brown skinned man. His lips bled from the beating he had received so far. Arlegen grabbed Max’s hand out of instinct. “It’s not our fight son.” He said as he tried to lead him away.
“No dad.” Max replied as he broke free from his father’s grip. ” It’s not your fight.”
Max walked into the alleyway, his hands at his sides. The men turned at the sound of the footsteps. ” Hey! ” the larger of the two men called. “This doesn’t concern you, just taking out the trash. ”
“Funny.” Max replied “I came to do the same. ”
Max grabbed the man closest to him and whispered “Druema” . the man fell into a heap, his snores echoing on the walls of the alley. The larger man grabbed a knife from his side. ” Guess I’ll give you what the nuri will get. ”
He lunged forward, swinging the blade at Max’s chest. Side stepping Max removed a gun from the holster on his side and fired. “Parise”. The man froze. “What are you doing?” He said as his body vibrated.
“Letting you walk a day in the nuri’s shoes” removing the second gun from its holster, he pointed it at the man beaten on the floor. “Exghia” Max whispered as he fired. Bit by bit the features of each of the men switched with the other. “No!” The frozen man screamed as his skin toned darkened.
" Enjoy your time on the dark side.” Max turned his gaze to the wounded man. He laid in shock as he stared at his now pale skin. ′ It will last for a day or two.′ Max said. He fired one last time , the word “Kiele” leaving his lips. Within seconds, the man’s wounds were no more. Max walked away returning to his father’s side.
“You didn’t kill them.” Arlegen said as he pat Max on the shoulder.
“Yeah but I wanted to. That hasn’t changed. ”
“Let’s go home son. ”
“Yeah Dad. Let’s go home. ”