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The Bonds We Share
Welcome to the planet Drestos, 200 years in the future. Over the years, the population of Earth slowly depleted the planet’s resources. After the oil was drained, Earth’s scientists turned to water and electricity to power their automobiles and other energy exhausting products. Lakes and oceans were gradually drained dry. When no other resources were left, the people of Earth eventually decided to leave their planet to go find other planets they could take from. It was a very long time before technology advanced enough to get mass amounts of people from one planet to the next and begin life all over again.
This is my story. Well, mine and my partner Takashi’s. Descendants of a Japan we will never know, we live on in a life that we have created for ourselves and for our future.
It was a dry afternoon, the sand whipping past our faces. It was slow going on our horses, not being used to the desert weather of Drestos. There was sand as far as the eye could see, not a rock or tree in sight.
“Takashi!” I yelled past the blowing wind.
“Then stop and drink something!”
“But I can’t see!”
“Then wait till we get to the next town!”
“I said wait till we get to the next town!”
“But I’m thirsty now!”
At this point I could tell that Takashi was getting annoyed even though I couldn’t see his face. Suddenly he kicked his horse hard and they were off running through the desert.
“Ahhh! Wait for me!” I kicked my horse too and followed behind him. We probably rode for about five minutes before we finally escaped the sandstorm. Jeeze. What a pain that had been. But then I noticed that there was a town not far ahead of us.
“Yeah, I see it.”
We led our horses forward, their hoof steps muffled by the sand, cautious of the surrounding area. That was how we always were in a new town; our motto: traipse in warily. It was a small place, with wooden buildings and posts to hitch your horses, or whatever other thing you rode. In this day and age, who knew what kind of hybrid animal or hover vehicle people traveled on. The town sorta resembled one of those old western ones but with lots of sand and no person in sight. We made our way to what looked like a sheriff’s office and secured our horses to a nearby post.
We ambled inside and found a board of wanted posters. Bingo. Just what we were looking for.
Takashi and I looked up. The man sitting at the desk, who I guessed was the ‘sheriff’, had called out to us. “You guys looking for a quick snag?” He pointed to the board.
“Yeah,” I answered. “We’re just looking around for some easy cash.”
“Well, I got a couple of guys on there that might interest you. They’re not big catches but they should give you some decent rewards.”
Takashi leaned toward the board, sorting through the wanted posters.
“Hey, Mikomi. Why don’t we go for this guy?” He pointed to one of the papers. “Touma Ishihara. $20,000’s not that bad for a start. And he doesn’t look that hard. Just a little deranged. Heheh.”
Yup, that’s my partner, always going for the weirdoes.
“Yeah, sure, whatever. As long as his bounty can give me a good meal and a place to sleep, I’m all for it.”
“Okay then.” Takashi ripped the paper off the wall and moved back toward the door.
“See ya later sheriff dude,” I said as I followed Takashi out.
Once we were back outside, I grabbed the paper from Takashi’s hand and looked it over. “Looks like we’re headed towards Youswell. That’s about…hmmm 15 miles from here, right Takashi?”
“About that. Shouldn’t be more than an hour ride. How about we stock up on food and then get on our way?”
“Okie dokie.” I smiled at him.
We grabbed our horses and walked around the small town looking for some sort of convenience store. Spotting a general store, we walked in, grabbed the essential foods and supplies, and saddled up.
Getting to Youswell wasn’t a problem for us but the hard part was still to come. Once we arrived at our destination, Takashi and I left our horses at a boarding place and decided to gather some information on foot.
“Hey, Mikomi. How about we do the usual scouting around and meet back at this café in about…ohh, two hours? That sound good to you?”
“Sounds good to me. And then we can get on with capturing this guy.”
We both went separate ways and tried to get some info on our bounty. I decided to head to the local bar, seeing as they usually have lots of drunken people revealing all sorts of things. Walking up to the counter, I plopped myself down in a stool.
“Hey bartender,” I waved him down. “Gimme a Bloody Mary.”
“Of course miss.”
As he turned to get my drink, I stayed quiet and listened.
“Jeeze, you idiot. What’d I tell you about doing that kind of stuff?”
“I can’t believe they raised the taxes again. Soon I won’t be able to support my family.”
“Man this drink sucks. I wonder if they have anything better than this s***.”
“Hey. Have you heard about that guy who killed those two people in their home?”
I focused my attention on this snippet of conversation, not even noticing the drink placed in front of me.
“Yeah I did. Can you believe it? I wonder where the man ran off to.”
“I heard he’s still in town. But I don’t know where he’s hiding. The only place around here that would be good enough would be the abandoned warehouse. I mean, no one goes in there anymore.”
“But wouldn’t that be the most obvious place? He’s probably out of town by now if he’s smart.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right. As long as he doesn’t come for me I don’t really care where he is.”
Wow. That was easier than I thought. I left my change on the counter for my untouched drink and left the old bar. I still have some time to kill. Guess I’ll just window shop. I wandered through the crowded sidewalk looking in all the stores. This was actually a pretty nice town, perfect for tourists with all the stores and restaurants. Eventually two hours passed and I finally reached the café where Takashi was sitting at a nearby table.
“Find anything?” I asked.
“Not much. I walked around to see if there was any place where this dude would hide. The only place I could find that would be remotely possible would be…”
“The abandoned warehouse.” We mimicked.
“Hey, you knew too?” he said.
“Yeah. I listened in at a local bar and overheard it.”
“Guess that’s our place then. How about we stay somewhere for the night before we bag him? I could use a good shower after traveling in all that sand.”
I smiled. “You just read my mind.”
The next day we woke up refreshed and ready to kick some butt! Well, at least I was. I don’t know about Takashi, seeing as he was still sprawled over the bed by the time I was up and dressed.
“Takashi, get up. We have to catch that Touma guy before he leaves this town. TAKASHI!”
“Woah!” That was Takashi, falling out of bed. “Jeeze, Mikomi. You didn’t have to yell.”
“Yes I did. You wouldn’t wake up otherwise.”
“Well I’m up now.” He finally got dressed after my insistent urging and we were out of the motel in 15 minutes. After asking around, we found out that the warehouse was a 10 minute walk outside of town. The dirt crunched under our shoes as we walked up to the building. It loomed over us like a huge grey shadow. Broken windows from rocks thrown, chipped paint from weather wear, rusted doors from water and old age. The place really did look abandoned.
“We have to be careful from here on out,” I said.
“You don’t have to tell me twice.”
We slid the old door open, careful not to make it squeak and whine. Takashi and I pulled our guns out and looked around. There were still a bunch of wooden crates stacked high and wide, but other than that it looked like any other abandoned building. Then I heard a noise, like feet scraping on concrete.
“Look out!” I yelled.
Gunshots pierced the air and I felt pain rip through my left arm. The two of us ducked down behind some boxes and waited.
“God damnit! Stupid idiot shooting right at me. I didn’t even get a good look at him.”
“Well what do you expect, Mikomi. He’s a criminal and you’re a bounty hunter. Need I say more?”
I turned and stuck my tongue out at him. We were in a bad position now. Crouched down behind large wooden crates in a large metal warehouse with a murderer behind us…not a good thing. Especially when my left arm was profusely bleeding. Yeah, enough said.
“Hey, Mikomi,” Takashi looked at me. “You stay here behind these crates while I go and take care of Mr. Emo boy, okay?”
I started whining. “But I want to help! So he nicked my arm. I’ll give the guy a few holes to show him my appreciation.”
Takashi sighed and dragged his hand down his face. “No Mikomi. I don’t want you getting hurt anymore. So please just listen to me for once.”
“…Fine,” I huffed, mumbling under my breath.
Takashi turned around and took a peek at the guy we were after. He had the look of a psychopath; disheveled hair, slouching posture, and a mad look in his eyes. Just a creepy guy all around.
I sat there crouching behind the crates right next to Takashi. I could feel the intense heat coming off him in waves and his clothes brushed against mine as he shifted. He was breathing heavily because of our quick escape to safety from the flying bullets. I glanced around the dirt strewn cement and spotted a small grey rock. I clutched it in my fingers, feeling the smooth hardness against my skin. I looked back to make sure Takashi wasn’t looking my way and raised my arm back and chucked the rock across the room. It jarred against the crates, creating a sound loud enough to distract the criminal’s attention from us.
Good. Distracted. Now to make my move.
I grabbed my gun from its holster and cocked it, hearing the familiar click. I could sense Takashi’s head move at the sound.
That caught his attention.
“Mikomi? What are you doing?” I braced myself and before I knew it, I jumped around the crates, firing at the man.
“Wait! Mikomi no!”
All the commotion caught the man’s attention and directed it back on me. That was when he focused his gun to my chest.
I closed my eyes and blocked my face with my arms before I felt the pain of a quick death. But there was none. No searing pain, no bright flash of light. I soon opened my eyes and saw Takashi on the ground bleeding from two wounds; one in his shoulder and another in his side.
“Takashi! Takashi are you all right?” I rushed over to him, completely ignoring the fleeing criminal. I kneeled beside him and grabbed his hand in mine. I could already feel the tears forming behind my eyes.
“Why did you have to do that you idiot? You didn’t have to protect me. I knew the risk I was taking when I jumped from behind those crates. I knew that there was a chance of me being hurt or killed. But I did that because it was my job. And…and…”
Takashi’s breathing was rough but he pushed past the pain as he raised his hand to my cheek. “I did…what I did…because I didn’t want...to see you hurt anymore. It’s not your fault, okay?”
Then he smiled. That wonderful, beautiful smile of his. It always made me feel better when I saw him like that. But not this time. This time it brought with it the pain and bitterness of what had happened today. But I couldn’t think of that, not now. I had to help Takashi instead of sitting here weeping over him.
“Takashi, can you move?” He shifted from laying down to a sitting up position. “Eh, kinda. None of the bullets hit my legs so I should be able to get up and walk out of here, with your help of course.”
I rolled my eyes, took off the denim jacket I was wearing, and started ripping it into long strips. I was actually pretty strong for a girl my size so something as simple as that was easy for me. I wrapped a couple strips around his shoulder and another few around his waist. They were good for now until we found a proper doctor. I grabbed Takashi’s good arm and hefted him up to lean on my shoulder. I winced as he put most of his full weight on me. Remember, my arm was hurt too, albeit not as bad. We slowly trudged our way to the door, the one Touma had left open as he fled. I didn’t really care about what happened to the guy now but we sure could have used that money, especially for the medical bills we were about to have.
We finally made it back to Youswell in more time than it took to get to the warehouse. We were spotted by a few passerby who asked if we needed help. I never gave a reply because by that time I had already fallen to the ground and blacked out.
Why is it so dark? Where am I?
What’s that noise? What’s going on?
I slowly opened my eyes and immediately closed them from a bright light.
What the heck?
Gingerly I opened them again, getting used to the light in the room. I glanced around and noticed the white curtain around my bed and the IV hooked up to my arm. The beeping sound was from a heart monitor. I was obviously in a hospital or clinic of some kind. But where was Takashi? Slowly I got up from the bed and pulled back the curtain. Right there next to me was Takashi. He had bandages where the bullets had pierced through his body and an IV mirrored to my own. When I looked at him I was scared. He’d never been hurt this badly before. I mean, yeah, it was only a few bullet holes but still… Suddenly he shifted, like he had sensed me standing next to him. And then he opened his eyes and looked at me.
“Hey,” The first word from his mouth and it touched my heart. Right then I knew he would be okay because that was who he was, a fighter.
“Hey,” I responded. “How does it feel with no bullets in your body?”
“Hmm, still hurts a bit but I’ve been worse,” He smiled. “How about you? You doing okay?”
“Of course. The bullet only grazed me so I don’t know why I’m hooked up to an IV.”
“Well that’s just because I wanted to take precautions.”
Takashi and I looked up to see that a doctor had come in the room. “Hello there. I’m Doctor Nakamura. I’m the one that found you two when you blacked out in Youswell.”
“Wait, wait,” I said. “We’re not in Youswell anymore? What about all our stuff and our horses? We can’t just leave them there! How long have we been at this place anyway?”
The doctor just stood there and waited before my tantrum was over to answer. “To answer your first question Miss. Hitoshi, no you are not in Youswell anymore but the nearby town of Liore. And you need not worry about your belongings. After I learned your identity I took the liberty of gathering your belongings to hold them here for you in my clinic. As for your horses, they are at a nearby stable being well fed and groomed. Everything’s perfectly under control Miss. Hitoshi.”
My jaw dropped. Who knew we would be taken care of by the most generous person in the universe? “You really did that for us? For complete strangers?”
“Yes, I did. It’s my job as a doctor and as a good citizen of this country to help out people in need. Kind of like your job as a bounty hunter, to catch criminals to help make the world a better place,” He paused. “Well, I actually came in here to check on you two but it seems that you’re just fine. I think I’ll make us something to eat now. I’ll bring it to you when it’s ready.”
And just like that, Doctor Nakamura returned out the door he came in and Takashi and I were alone again.
“Talk about generosity,” Takashi said.
“No kidding. Who knew we’d come upon a guy like that.”
I turned around and looked at Takashi. So we might be a little beaten up now but that was never gonna stop us in the future. Our dream of traveling the universe, gathering bounties, and having fun would never die. And no matter where we went or how far we traveled, we would always be together. Besides, I need someone to tell me where the heck we are. I suck at maps.