Troubled Paradise

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Chapter 2 Return To The Present

He was half-conscious but could still feel the firm grip around his waist. He stared down into the endless pool of rushing water in a daze. Blood trailed onto his nose and dripped in the water below. He couldn't move, paralyzed by the pain the bullet had brought. The person holding him spoke,

"Yeah, I got him."

Ferris felt himself being hoisted back up onto the bridge, laying down on the pavement as his attackers began discussing among themselves. He could hardly keep his eyes open. His breathing was so low others would have thought he was dead. Ferris stared up into the sky for a while with his partly closed eyelids, green eyes darker because of his lack of energy. The pain was slowly drawing him into a deep slumber.

Rico looked at the young boy who refused to close his eyes and rest, but then again, he understood his position. Falling unconscious in the presence of those who caused your injuries in the first place is never a good idea. Who knows what you'd wake up to? He turned away his gaze and continued. Talking with the rest of his group. Bruno had already contacted headquarters and, now it was only a waiting game so they could bring Ferris back. Meanwhile, Ferris clenched his hand, feeling the powder gradually filling up. The odds were stacked completely against him, he couldn't run with his current body's condition. Attempting to escape now was futile, he had already been caught.

His body suddenly froze when he remembered the sniper. It was as if they surrounded the whole bridge. As if there were no blind spots. He looked towards the group again. They were all facing him. He gave a cold hard glare while clenching his teeth. He would've looked intimidating if it wasn't for his opponent's rather calm temper and his already battered appearance. There was a new person he hadn't seen before, with brown hair and an inferior build when compared with the other two men.

"He looks pissed." His grip tightened.

He felt his body heating up to display his anger; It was an unusual yet comfortable heat. The gazes the team showed were nothing short of confusion and surprise. Ferris huffed and looked down at his body. There was an unnaturally bright light coming from his chest, running up to his collar. From where Ferris was, he couldn't see it but, it had gone up to his eyes. It was as if molten lava had surfaced from his bloodstream, and the light it carried was nothing short of unique.

Ferris hadn't experienced anything like it before; If he had, he couldn't remember at all. His hand that previously contained the gun powder now only had a pure flame. It danced in his hand but, it didn't hurt at all. He was shocked stupid and didn't even notice the team approaching him.

"This is your first time?"

Rico asked as he stared at Ferris. His eyes that were at first naturally green now looked mostly like orange with the green only around the outer edges. He looked up and stared at Rico dumbfounded, that alone had given Rico his answer. His brows were scrunched up in confusion; he couldn't talk in his fit of surprise. Rico was curious about how Ferris had only just made a breakthrough. The longest time he had ever seen one take to make a breakthrough was in their mid-twenties and, although the youth in front of him had just barely graduated from that stage, he couldn't help his curiosity but, he buried the thought. It wasn't his business as to why Ferris was so slow.

Ferris felt the fire around him was calm and relaxing but, even so, he couldn't help panicking. He had thought he had already made a breakthrough but it appeared he was only doing it now. The fire was stirred by his fright. Everyone around him noticed and quickly knew what was going to happen. Ferris's breathing became labored, he struggled for air, and his back was drenched in cold sweat. He didn't know what to do.

He felt a sharp pain at the side of his neck, and his mood immediately calmed. He turned his head to see Bruno putting away a needle. He felt an immediate wave of nausea and drowsiness take over and soon, he lost consciousness.

The boy's body in front of them went limp and quickly started cooling down at a visible pace, the 'lava' no longer visible. They all remained silent until a voice broke the silence.

"What happened down there, Karsyon?"

A female's voice came from the receiver that the brown-haired man had. Karsyon fished it out from his side and replied. "Uh, late bloomer problems?"


Ferris's eyebrows scrunched together before the hint of green could be seen under his heavy lids. His head hung down to one side and, he could barely see the cuffs linking his hands together. He looked ahead noticing, a blurry figure of a person within his line of sight. He tried to adjust his position but was unable to do so. He stared at his wrist until his vision cleared, revealing iron cuffs around his hands. Ferris let out a groan as his back protested against the movement and rejoiced when he stopped his struggle. He turned his attention back to the figure from before who appeared to be a middle-aged man. He had found the human version of 'looks could be deceiving.'

The male's extraordinarily outlined face complimented his own dark eyes and seemingly professionally styled dark brown hair. At first, Ferris had to blink a few times to make sure he was had seen properly, but now, he could see the man seated across from him around the metal table. The man smiled as he realized that Ferris had finally come to his senses and quickly began introducing himself.

"My name is Dean Sallow, the current head of S.P.A.R. Nice to meet you, Ian."

Ferris's expression twisted into a grimace at the sound of his old name before giving a small hoarse laugh. "Wish I was dead, but here I am. What do you want, old man?" Dean was shocked by his response, even feeling at his face for any presence of wrinkles. He then turned to look behind Ferris.

"Do I look that old?" It was only then that Ferris acknowledged the 2 presences behind him inside the small almost pitch-black room. Both walked forward and gave a bow of respect towards Dean. They then denied Ferris' earlier claims, saying the man looked as young as ever before. Ferris recognized the one on his left as the gauntlet bastard who he has yet to know the name of but didn't recognize the woman with shoulder-length black hair. He stared at her for a while, taking into account her delicate but sharp features, even a mole underneath her lip, and the same uniform that looked as if it was only adjusted to suit her short but plump stature.

He stared at the crest that was right above her chest, a hand holding what seemed to be a golden core. He felt a sense of familiarity but, at the same time, had no recollection of it. He didn't get to stare too long as the woman noticed and quickly announced, "I am not interested in children."

Not even sparing a glance to Ferris, was confused with her words before it sunk in and he got quite annoyed at her accusation,

"Miss, no disrespect but, I have no interest in those saggy shits you call breasts. You're getting ahead of yourself for thinking you were getting an ounce of affection from me."

He responded, glaring at her. She turned to glare at him as well, unconsciously bringing her hands closer to her chest, as if she took them as something quite important. He dismissed her glare and casually turned back to Dean, who had a look of disbelief.

"Well?" He asked, tilting his head. Dean quickly adjusted his expression, coughing.

"Ah, yes. Ian Cloud, we'd like you to join us."

"Hell no." Ferris immediately responded. He didn't mind the use of his old name, but he wouldn't join S.P.A.R for anything.

"I thought that would be your answer." He sighed.

"But you see, your brother thinks otherwise." Ian, who was previously trashing around, even putting up a foot on the desk, instantly froze by the mention of his brother. At first, the room was silent, then, Ferris took his foot off the table to answer, "What about him?" His tone was lower, serious even. Dean smiled, happy with the change in Ian's behavior.

"We are aware that you were the one who put an end to him some years ago, but it seems he had some tricks up his sleeve, he's still alive Ian." Ian rose his voice, not caring about who he was raising it at,

"Don't mess with me. He wouldn't be able to survive such a thing."

His once bright green eyes were now a duller green with even a mix of red due to his anger and frustration. "I searched-" Ian stopped mid-sentence, not wanting to continue. Dean gave him a strange look but continued to share the information. He pushed a few pictures in front of him, each lined out perfectly to show each victim missing a part of their body or even their blood by their pale face and the skin that held tightly to their bones.

"As you already know, your brother had been a hero before, contributing greatly to us, but he took the wrong path that only resulted in his supposedly bad ending. These pictures are what we have gotten from last month to now."

After carefully scanning over the victims, he came across the last picture where it was only a message written in blood. His heart skipped a beat as he read the message, 'Don't be fooled.' Ferris looked up in disbelief at Dean, who only wore a calm expression on his face, the complete opposite of Ferris's paling face. He wanted to escape and run for his life, not wanting to meet that man again.

"So, this is why you caught me? For bait? You could've chosen a more peaceful method." He spoke in a serious voice that not even Rico thought he heard well. "Not exactly, simply providing some information and helping us in killing him once and for all," Dean answered. Not sparing a second, Ferris refused.

"I'm not getting involved with him again. If push comes to shove, then I'll go into hiding." Dean sighed at Ian's stubbornness. "You don't know who's supporting him, Ian. He isn't doing this alone, he could be friends with the one living next door to you. You can't run forever."

Ian hesitated a bit and still couldn't decide on an answer. He didn't know if he could counter Oliver's ability since he could hardly remember what happened. When he went back to the site a day later, searching for any remains, he only saw faint traces of blood. He couldn't stay to investigate for long before the unsteady rocks rumbled in warning.

"We are capable people, Ian. You can trust us." Ian frowned at the familiar tone the old used.

"I don't care."

Dean sighed, closing his eyes for a while. He looked to be in pain just by trying to convince Ian.

"Then, is jail a better option?"

Ian raised a brow at his question. "Your crimes weren't forgotten. If you don't wish to join us, then we'll turn you in."

Ian's gaze turned cold as he remained silent. There were no causalities in any of his 'raids.' Actually, he didn't even know why he was doing it and, so he didn't recognize them as crimes at all. It was just something he did, not knowing if it was for good or bad. He rationalized the situation; if he went to jail, it would be difficult to escape since he could guarantee that he wouldn't be put in some low-class prison but staying with S.P.A.R was just as bad. He would be used as a scapegoat, constantly being watched. Then there was Oliver. He narrowed his eyes in deep thought and finally concluded. He didn't want to be fed cardboard in prison and therefore accepted Dean's deal.

"Nice of you to join us. You made the right decision." Dean told him all the information relating to Oliver. He mentioned that almost all their men that he had sent out died, reducing their numbers. He still didn't understand how a top-tier organization like S.P.A.R would need his help; he just ignored it.

This wasn't protection at all but rather a suicide mission that could only go well or badly, and by the person, they were up against it wasn't in their favor. Ferris couldn't help but swear under his breath. If his brother ever got hold of him when he was alone, he would never see the light of day again.
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