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“Excuse me?” I looked at Crowe with curiosity.

It was a year since I started working for Crowe and I’ve grown to know her more than just my boss. I admired her how she’s the same age as me, 18, yet she’s already leading a small workshop that aimed to improve the lives of the people in the city. A goal in her mind. But I on the other hand…

“You crave the feeling of travel. The people in the city calls you as a wanderer and it’s a debate if it’s good or bad.” She sipped her coffee and smiled at me. “I’m thankful you patented the Locator under my workshop, and in return giving you freedom to do what you wanted, but I never expected you will use that freedom to travel around the place. Always scouring for new items to tinker with or just discover.”

I hummed and drank my coffee, taking in her opinion about me without questioning it. “Well, there are places to go, things to discover.”

Crowe nodded in agreement. “Exactly, hence why being a mechanic isn’t really your absolute passion.”

It was funny how the people in the city deemed travelling outside, trekking the ruins, and even investigating on the old world as an oddity. As much as the city’s all for ‘advancement and creativity’, I never met anyone who find curiosity with the old structures outside.

“So that’s why you think I’m a wanderer? Because my passion is—“

I was unhurt when I fell on the ground with a surprised yell, the electricity tingling feel was replaced by the cool temperature. I shook my head to clear dizziness as I sat up, smelling the steel and smoke. Finally seeing my surroundings, there was thick fog surrounding some areas and the sky was starless, signaling it was nighttime.

‘Outside?’ I shook my head, trying to remember then my eyes go wide when I grasped complete sense of my surroundings. Footsteps stomped along with the familiar sounds of a gun trigger clicking and there were men in black suits surrounding me.

“Whoa, those look awesome,” I said out loud, focused on the gadget the men in black were holding. I sat up and tried touching one of the said apparatus but they all pushed me back down and pointed their devices on me. “Okay, okay! Not touching!” I raised my hands up to my chest, making sure to show I meant no harm.

“Who are you!?”

“What are you doing here?”

“What was that blast?!”

“Are you with the Birds?!”

The men all started yelling and jabbing their apparatus on me as if I was a doll being poked on. My brows twitched at how they were accusing me and I slid away from their line of sight and stood up with my hands still raised in surrender. “Hey chill, guys. I don’t even know what you all are talking about,” I tried to explain but they pointed their gadgets at me, as if they were guns.

I slowly walked backwards as the men approached me in caution. With their posture, unknown gadgets pointed at my directions, I could tell they mean business. By business, it means me being lifeless. With such threat to my simple-yet-full of adventure life, I looked around for means of escape but caught myself baffled by what I was seeing.

Instead of the tall, steam-blowing, buildings, I’m seeing buildings with lights, big flat panels that showed images, and machines I’ve never seen before. Instead of steam-powered vehicles, I’m seeing sleek black cars. And instead of the usual attire of the city I lived in, the men before me looked less gadget-y. My brows creased, brain starting to reel in my situation and the dangers it carried. Everything around me seems so unreal. And what’s worse, the men in black seemed hellbent on killing me with their—guns?

“Let’s all talk this out, guys. I mean no harm and actually I think I’m lost,” I said, looking at everyone warily. My instincts screamed emergency exit and instantly, I looked for any escape route if worse comes to worst. “Seriously, just let me—“ I tried to take a step forward but one of the men fired his weapon on the ground, a line of light blue beam wrapped in electricity, a few inches away from my boots.

A frown decorated my face when I was fired by a warning shot. The ammunition of the weapon they were holding were not pellets or a bullet, but a flash of electric light.

“Stay where you are,” said one of the men in black in a commanding tone, aiming the weapon on my body.

I believe in the old rule that when someone say ‘stay where you are’, they don’t technically follow the command. So, when I was told to stay put, well—I ran. It was a quick exit stage left, picking up my satchel and coat that were lying on the ground along the path I mentally charted, and away from the men in black. I jumped and evaded every obstacle I encountered—the beam-like projectiles of the unknown weapon, the bystander, people who had metallic parts on them, or actual automatons—and ran to where those men in black couldn’t find me.

When some caught up with me, holding me by the shoulder, I set myself to self-defense moves to keep them off my track. A palm heel to the nose, elbow to the stomach, and the ever so effective, knee to the nuts. They kept on yelling for me to stop and trying to catch me, but instincts told me not to. It was hard running away and fending them off, but my survival instincts gave a big alarm to avoid them, so I kept on running.

Running and running, until I found myself colliding with something, making me fall back down on the ground.

“Are you alright?” I heard someone asked, offering me a helping hand which I unconsciously took and allowed to be pulled up.

The men in black finally caught up with me due to my mishap and I was about to make my escape again until I heard several mechanical items being set down. I checked on what it was, and the men in black suits had their weapons down and heads down as well with a good few feet of distance between me and them.

It was my chance to flee but as soon as I was about to run, I remembered that my hand was still holding on to the one I bumped into. Tugging my hand from the stranger, I felt the grip on my hand tightening and I was suddenly pulled towards the stranger and found myself looking at a pair of cold greyish eyes.

The stranger held on my hand tight and dragged me towards a sleek vehicle that I’ve never seen in my whole life. The mechanic in me wanted to know more of the said vehicle but my survival instincts told me I was in deep danger.

“She will be riding with me.”

The stranger’s voice was void of emotions and brought shivers to my spine.

“Yes boss!” came a chorus of reply from the men in black suits.

Next thing I knew, I was led inside the vehicle without any struggle, and passing out due to fatigue that finally caught up with me.

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