Haze lay low amongst the rubble laden street as squad cars hovered several meters above the decrepit portion of the old city district. Outmoded vehicles lay useless, unused, unneeded, covered in layers of dust, dirt, some with vines. Shards of glass littered the ground while the pieces still clinging to their frames resembled teeth, their point gleaming in the fading light of the sun rays as it continued its descent. Doorways had been boarded up, abandoned. Pieces of the once glorious high rise began to topple over, sending the thick cloud of smoke high into the air, blocking out the small fires that seemed to dot the grounds below the darker it became.
High beams soon perforated through the mixture of dirt and smoke to light up the world hidden beneath it. They slowly raked over each and every object below. Radars searched in a meticulous fashion before heat vision was employed. From above, officers sat in their seats, watching screens for any movement but finding none.
Time was not of their favor. They had a job, a mission, that needed to be completed in the allotted time or there would be consequences to pay. And after thirty minutes of fruitless work, one of the patrolman finally picked up their radio.
If they could, they'd skip this process but, again, time was not on their side.
"Send them in."
The lights soon went out, the flying police cars pulling out and away from the scene to make way for something bigger, something more dreaded than the lowly law enforcement left to enforce the smaller laws.
Below, hidden in the smog, a manhole cover shifted slightly before sliding over quietly. Small hands then grasped the cool pavement, skin breaking as thin shards of glass bit into it. Nevertheless, it still remained silent in that street as a child; perhaps no more than ten pulled himself out from beneath the streets he had been hiding in.
Rags adorned his thin frame, sludge stuck to his pale skin from when he had been in the sewers while clumps of dirt made hair matted and its color undeterminable, perhaps blonde maybe. His eyes, however, looked much too intelligent to belong to that of one his age. They held a look of determination, a look of no regret.
Looking around quickly, he then leaned down, holding his hand out to have it grasped by an even smaller one. Another child, at least eight or nine, breached the surface. Being carefully set onto his feet, the shorter of the two looked around, careful not to utter a word as he stepped closer toward his companion.
He too was dressed in rags, his dark hair clinging to his even paler skin. His eyes were clouded, unfocused as his eyelids drooped. His thin fingers were riddled with bandages while the rest of his body just shook from fatigue more so than the cold-despite it being the dead of winter.
Feeling something being draped along his shoulders, the younger boy looked over to see that his companion had draped his old cloak around him. The thing was riddled with holes but the gesture was appreciated nevertheless.
A distant hum soon pulled their attention towards the sky.
Glass rattled in its frames while the pieces of rubble shook along the unused road. Through the smog, the pair made out the blurry sight of green lights running parallel from one another. As they got closer, the dust clearing from the spinning turbines, the blonde squeezed the other's hand before pulling him out of the street and into an alleyway.
Finding a small crevice in the wall, the younger of the two tugged on his friend's hand before they both crawled inside the building as the ship hovering outside finally dropped its cargo-three man-sized pods. Their lights were blurred by the remaining dust that had hung around though that soon cleared as the doors opened simultaneously with a small hiss. As white light streamed forth, planks slid onto the ground almost silently before three individuals stepped forth and out onto the street.
Heads moving slowly from side to side, surveying the area, the only sound that came from them was a singular voice coming in on their radios. That soon went quiet as they treaded the streets silently, almost as ghosts. Everything was in sync with them; from the way they walked down to them touching the side of their glasses, activating their motion detection functions. Once in place, they all stopped, looking in a given direction before parting from one another, disappearing in the dark.
After several minutes, the taller child released his friend's hand in order to crawl over to the windowsill on the other side. Pulling himself up onto his knees, he looked out to see the large cases before allowing his gaze to wander the rest of the desolated site.
Hearing a small cough, the blonde scuttled quietly along the dirt-covered floor before situating himself in front of the younger male. Looking over his shoulder, he pressed a finger to his lips before looking out the window to see one of the people standing in front of it, their back to them for the time being.
"Sector B cle-"
A cough had them stepping towards the dusty pane. Wiping it clean, their eyes swept over the interior of the building finding no one there. Punching out the glass, they leaned forward, ignoring the thin trickle of blood dripping down their knuckles and through the tears of their glove.
"Sector B clear."
Listening to the departing footsteps, both children sat motionless in their spot beneath the window's ledge until the eldest took the time to move. Signaling his friend to stay still, he began to eradicate the shards of glass from his black hair, wincing as his fingers were cut in the process. Brushing off the smaller pieces from his cloak then shoulders, he then began to pull the glass from off his clothes though his eyes were trained on the sill sitting above their heads. His hearing was strained, his attention diverted. And getting to his feet, he helped the raven up, brushing aside the glass on the ground with his own bare foot in hopes that other wouldn't hurt himself further.
Pressing a finger to his lips, he looked around the dark room before spotting another hole in the wall. Leading the smaller one over to it, he looked over his shoulder again while the dark-haired boy knelt down to take a look inside.
"Ren," he breathed as he pulled aside a board, "it goes over to the building next door."
Keeping his finger pressed to his mouth, the one dubbed Ren couldn't quite hide his frown after hearing how harsh, how sick his friend was. Having him run through sewers, living out in alleys, especially for the past two winters was finally taking its toll on the smaller one.
The older child knew the other wouldn't survive another winter, let alone another season if he couldn't get the younger boy to the appointed rendezvous point.
There were people that could take care of him, provide for him in all the ways Ren knew he could not.
Snapping out of his thoughts to see sleepy brown eyes, the blonde signaled the other to be silent once more before ushering him into the opening. Crouching down, he looked back to see one of the searcher's lights shining through the broken window. Picking the board up, he pulled up in front of himself, remaining motionless. He didn't breathe for what felt like an eternity before he felt something shiver up against his back.
Craning his neck, he looked to see the raven boy sitting with his knees pulled to his chest. Ren's attention soon focused on the beams of light filtering in through the holes in the wall. Seeing how they were getting closer and closer, the blonde bit his lower lip before nudging his friend.
Being signaled to move over, the smaller boy hesitated before doing as told. Shifting his position, he redirected the board and himself before pointing off to the previous room they had been in. Nodding his head in that direction, he watched as the other crept back inside before he backed away himself.
Looking back at the window to see that the light was gone, Ren grabbed ahold of the smaller hand before leading the boy towards the stairs. Gently pushing him up the first few, the blonde kept watch of the window before looking around as he heard a door groan against its hinges.
Spotting a light coming from a side room, the sound of footsteps following soon after, the taller child held the other's hand tighter before bolting up the stairs with a rather startled youngster behind him.
"Stop!" Both children looked over their shoulders. "Sector B, third building. On the second floor."
Clenching his jaw, said boy pulled the other around the corner and into an adjacent room. Slamming the door shut, the blonde locked it before propping a chair beneath the knob. Looking around for something, anything, Ren picked up an old backpack then an old sheet from off the floor. Finding an old flashlight, he put that in the bag as well prior to cringing as he heard the handle shake. Hearing a terrified voice whisper his name, he turned to see his friend trembling as he huddled in a corner near the room's window.
Beckoning him to come over, Ren pulled open a side door. Seeing how it was a closet, his eyes wandered over the worn clothing carefully yet quickly prior to him selecting a coat. Glancing back at the one at his side, he wrapped it along his thin frame before looking for a jacket for himself.
A gunshot had them both freezing. Finding some nerve, the older boy looked back to see a hole in the door. Flinching as his companion clung to him, his small body shivering as a bullet cut through the wood, Ren ended his search as he led the other to the window.
Spotting a fire escape, he helped the raven out first, cringing as he felt cold air blow against the newer cuts he had received. Looking down to see two others dressed in matching uniforms, the blonde stepped out before leading the other up towards the roof.
"You there!" He looked down to see one of them pointing something at the two of them. "Stop right there!"
Hearing the door being kicked in, Ren climbed faster, pulling the other along with him.
On the roof, he searched every which way as he listened to the trio ordering them to halt and stay put. The sound of people on the fire escape soon had the blonde pulling his friend towards the opposite end of the roof. His eyes scanned the area quickly, carefully, before he spotted what he was looking for.
Looking over his shoulder, Ren saw a man dressed a black, formfitting jumpsuit. A holster was strapped to each of his legs though only one held a gun; the other he held at low ready as he began to stalk slowly towards the pair.
"R-Ren…?" Taking another step towards the ledge, the blonde wrapped his arms round the other's smaller waist before jumping off. "Ren!"
Hurrying to the edge of the building, the man looked down to see the taller child uncurling himself from around the shorter one. Placing his own foot on the ledge, he watched as the blonde slowly got to his feet before helping the other up.
"They're on building four, due east."
"Ren," the younger boy whispered, watching as his companion and escort clutched at his side as he staggered forward, "are you ok?!" Brown eyes then began to well with tears as the other leaned against a smokestack. "Let's stop, please?"
The blonde straightened, hiding his wince as he circled back around to take hold of the other's hand. Rubbing the back of it with his thumb, Ren looked up to see the man watching them, his gun cocked and ready before aiming it.
"Don't move," he said as the smaller boy hid behind the taller.
Footsteps from the second fire escape made the eldest run towards the door leading downstairs. Pulling the raven in before him, Ren ducked down as a bullet cut through the weakened wall, clipping his shoulder in the process.
Seeing panic etched onto the other's pale face, he shook his head quickly before coming to the fourth floor. Surveying the area, the boy leaned over the railing as the front door was kicked in. Hearing feet on the rooftop, he led his companion towards another side room with a window.
Barricading the entrance, the pair then had a look around the room before Ren took time to kneel, hand shooting to his side. Lowering his head, he steadied his breaths before looking ahead as he felt another's presence. Feeling slender fingers running over his injured shoulder, he held in a hiss before staring at the look of worry presented to him.
He just gave a lopsided smile that only seemed to make the raven furrow his brow further.
"Let's stop." Taken aback at first, Ren shook his head before looking at the window. "Please? You're hurt, Evren. Let's stop, please?" The elder shook his head again. "Ple-?!"
A hand clamped over his mouth the moment the blonde looked over his shoulder. Getting to his feet, he walked over to the window before ducking down as a bullet shattered the pane into pieces.
Reeling back as the shards fell to the floor, both boys stared at the door as they heard the knob twist and turn. Crossing the room, Ren paused as he stepped onto loose floorboards. Lifting his foot, he knelt down, raising one of the planks. He removed several more before staring down at the crawl space.
Gesturing for the raven to get in, the blonde followed behind him, grabbing a few of the planks as he listened to the handle jiggle. Shushing his friend, he urged him to crawl, only stopping him as the door above was kicked in.
Covering his mouth as feet traversed the floor, Ren stilled, not even breathing as his focused stayed trained on the child in front of him.
As the one above walked around, making dust seep down into the cracks, the blonde watched as the other covered his mouth to stave off what was going to be an imminent sneeze. When it came, the eldest child pulled the other over before climbing over him as he heard the man above cock his weapon.
Brown eyes widened immensely at the sound of a gun being fired. Hearing a nearly silent grunt followed by feeling something warm running down his neck. Slowly turning his head, he looked back to see the blonde's eyes squeezed shut, face scrunched up in pain though he said nothing of it.
As another shot broke the planks, the older male nudged the other forward, flinching as another metal slug caught him in the calf. Crawling after the other, he paused when he heard the wood creak beneath his frame.
Stilling, Ren listened to the footsteps above before covering his head as more rounds were fired around him. Listening to a whimper, he looked up to see the raven frozen in place, his eyes wide and filled with tears.
Creeping closer, the older boy flinched at the groaning wood before focusing on his friend. Their next move had the boards collapsing beneath them, sending them crashing onto the floor below.
Hearing a pained whimper, Ren pulled himself onto his knees before looking around to see the raven sitting up, his hand clutching at his bleeding forearm. And ignoring his own injury, the blonde hurried over, picking the dark-haired child up before running towards the door.
Both boys then looked up as they heard feet hurrying towards the stairs.
Said person just pulled the other down the stairs, ignoring the screaming ache in his injured limbs. Running faster at the sounds coming from above, Ren led the smaller child down the last flights of stairs and out the back door, into another alleyway.
Getting his bearing straight, he left no room to rest; no time for the other's to catch up.
They were so close.
Spotting his marker, Ren took off his backpack and placed it over his friend's shoulder. From there, he bolted towards the road, maneuvering his companion to be in front, one step closer to being safer. His mind was already thinking of all the much needed help his companion was going to receive, all the medicine, clothes, food, housing, and schooling.
His own eyes seemed to brim with water at the thought as they crossed the road.
He then slowed down as he felt a pain in his backside, the smell of gunpowder flooding his nostrils.
Dropping his gaze, the boy watched as the front of his rags started to turn dark red. Looking over his shoulder, he stared back at two of the searchers, one of them lowering their weapon.
Aforementioned looked over at his companion before pulling off a thin chain that he kept around his neck. An apologetic smile then crossed the injured boy's face as he slipped the necklace onto the other's neck.
"Some people are waiting for you beyond that corner," Evren breathed as he staggered, pushing the other forward. "They're…going to take care of…you from now on, ok?"
"Come with me." The blonde took another step before falling onto his knees. "Ren, come with me!"
"I...can't do that," he breathed as he fell forward. "I'm...sorry, Cal. Run..."
"You there!" Dark eyes shot forward to watch the man with the gun. "Come here. Come with me."
Looking down at the collapsed youth, the brown-eyed child stepped away before turning on his heels. Holding in a whine as a bullet whizzed past his head, he looked back to see one of the three individuals rolling Ren over.
The child remained still even after being hoisted onto the person's shoulder, leaving Cal to watch as his friend was taken away.
As another bullet went flying by, the raven hurried down the alley and rounded the corner. Back pressed to the wall, he listened out for footsteps before feeling the old brick shift behind his back. Looking over his shoulder slowly, his eyes widened before a pair of arms snaked themselves around his waist, pulling him in before the bricks fell back into place.
"Let go!" Cal wailed before having a hand clasp itself over his mouth.
The rest was muffled as he kicked and flailed about.
He wanted to get back to his friend.
He needed to get back to Evren.
The boy was hurt, possibly dying…
"Calix." The child grew still as he opened his eyes to see another man dressed in nicer attire; he was dressed like one from the city. "You are Calix, right?" The boy nodded hesitantly. "That's good." The stranger then looked about, a frown marring his once amiable features. "Where's Evren?"
"Ren…" he murmured as he touched the necklace dangling from his neck. Tears then welled in the corners of his eyes. "…gone."
"Hey, don't cry." Streams of water streaked the boy's face as the other knelt before him. "It's going to be alright." Picking up the boy, he hugged him tight, feeling him shiver, before the two of them headed to their next destination. "It'll be ok. You'll see him again." Cal merely hiccupped. "It's ok. You'll see him again; I promise."