The Unknown We Always See

The flower petal landed right on her nose, that’s what was so unbelievable. Her brain showed her the angle that usually went ignored, and she not only saw the mango-colored rose petal but her own nose.

Her whole life, she could see her nose, but her brain filtered that out. It was something she had always known, but it took a whole new meaning right at that moment.

“The brain knows everything, but I don’t think it understands a lot.”

“What’s that?” He asked.

It was suddenly right there. The things she had seen but had filtered out. Rachel plucked the petal off her nose and sat up, eyes wide over blushing cheeks.


They had met on the beach. We never truly remember how we made a friend. One day we had no idea about each other’s existence, and the other, we were in each other’s lives.

It was like that with him.

But the scene came to her. Just like her mind showed her the nose that ever eluded, so did it now reveal how the moment had unfolded.

He was walking his dog, she was reading a book. The dog got her attention by barking, and so she looked at it, and then at him, and he was already looking her way. She had seen many handsome men, and yet, none had caused the reaction that that face, slightly unkempt as it was, managed to burn into her. She smiled, and he smiled, and that was it. They both wanted to talk to each other.

Until now, that’s where it had started. They wanted to talk, so they did, but looking at the reason behind it, Rachel now understood it had not been that simple. Something had happened between step a and step c, and she didn’t understand it. Yet, she certainly didn’t regret it.

“Nice to meet you, Rachel. This is Duke.”

She had giggled at that, pulling her hand to scratch the young dog’s head and gain its favor. “You introduce the dog first?”

“Of course. He’s the one that caught your eye, wasn’t he?”

Rachel had looked up at him, amused.

“And I caught yours, is that it?”

“Eventually,” he said with a thoughtful smirk. “First was the book.” He pointed down at it. “I’ve read it, and I really liked it.”

Ordinarily, that should have offended her somewhat. As she perused over that memory, she expected to have continued the conversation out of politeness, which was the obvious step e between d and f. The truth was different, she now realized. It was clear that his response had been charming to her. She had continued the conversation out of interest, not politeness.

The fact was that their first interaction had not been socially scripted in the way all relationships are.

From observing her own relationships, and that of others, everyone always seemed to be following a script that had been written by some ethereal agreement from which culture had been fabricated, and on which society had been built. People hardly spoke as they truly wanted, said the words they desired or did to others as they knew should be done.

Do not step on their toes. Do not overreach. Do not hurt their feelings. Do not be too informal, or too formal. Take into consideration their profile before choosing your words. Their history, their appearance, their gender and race, politics and religion. All of it.

Do not, ever, be yourself until you are sure that it’s appropriate. Rachel had never witness otherwise being beneficial, and as far as she could remember, she had only tried it once herself. To terrible results.

People either followed the right script, and their relationship thrived for the benefit of both people, or they followed the wrong one, and then not at all. As far as she could tell, several reasons were behind the mistakes that could be made, but the main one was willful ignorance.

Rachel, though, observed and considered everything carefully. Ever since she was a child, seeking to understand her parents and how not to disappoint them, Rachel had been incredibly apt at deciphering the script. Even if people weren’t themselves, they were still very honest about what they need in an interaction, if one pays enough attention.

Rachel paid a lot of attention.

They started meeting at that spot often, her and him. Rachel could see all the steps unfolding as they usually did. She watched, she listened, she deciphered the expectations. Politeness and interest gave way to subdued flirting that could very well simply be friendliness, and that gave way to overt flirting that makes the situation obvious, all the while avoiding any subject matters that could threaten their appreciation of each other’s company.

Enjoying moment after predictable moment, making sure nothing would be said or done that would ever ruin the mood. Building the relationship step by premeditated step.

Now, though, Rachel recognized how very unlike that it had been, actually. The overt flirting had begun when he showed up without Duke, his dog.

“Had to drop him at the vet for some treatment,” he had explained.

“And you still came to the beach?”

He smiled at her, knowingly. “Of course.  I wanted to see you.”

That was skipping a few steps, for sure. That had not been Rachel’s interpretation, though, but rather that she had simply misjudged the script as far as that relationship was concerned. That she had an inaccurate perception of what the steps were, and which one they were on.

“Well I’m glad one of us gets what they want, but I wanted to see Duke.” She winked at him, and he chuckled.

“He’s with me in spirit. I’m a guy, after all, we’re all dogs deep down, right?”

That was usually a very negative thing, especially to admit, but in that context, it was again inexplicably charming. Rachel gave him room on the bench and read not on more page that day.

The kiss was another thing that was odd. It was another day, and she had been driven into a small fit of giggling by the interaction between Duke, his dog, and a couple of poodles.

“Oh man,” he said, pained, and then he kissed her. She froze, not because it was unwelcome, but rather because that did not fit into any understanding she was currently on as far as the script was concerned. “Sorry,” he said. “Is. Is that okay? Am I okay to do that? I wasn’t sure, I just really wanted to? Sorry!”

He shied away, afraid of the consequences. The scripts existed for exactly that reason, so they can live without fear or embarrassment.

Rachel picked the petal off her nose and shook her head. Or try to, anyway, she thought.

When had she ever not been afraid? Her entire life was one long, uninterrupted attempt at avoiding embarrassment and regret. They had been meeting at that beach site for over a week and had explicitly made their attractions known. Why was it so illogical for him to kiss her?

Why was it not a step for her to kiss him?

Until now, she had been continuously trying to decipher the script. What was she getting wrong? What didn’t she understand about him?

The answer had been in front of her the whole time. Like her nose. It had eluded her because she was not wrong and never had been wrong.

Know the scripts. Follow the scripts. One makes no enemies. But then, they also make no friends they can really trust. And know no love that they truly believe in.

Because no one will know who they really are.

As they sat there, watching a beautiful day end side by side, she realized she didn’t know if he really liked Rachel. However, she knew she really liked Chris. There was no script to figure out, there was only who he was.

Rachel turned her hand around to wrap around Chris’s, since it was already on top of hers, and looked over at him. He was watching her a bit worried.

“Are…are you okay?”

She brought the petal and lifted it, holding it in-between her fingers. Rachel smiled and blinked tears, and he only looked more worried.

She took a breath and focused on the petal. It was now or never.

“I’m pretty sure I love you, Chris. And I’m terrified that that’s a mistake. I’m scared that I’m not being honest enough with you and you’ll change your mind about me. And. And-and I’m scared of the investment that we have to make to find out.”

Rachel was tearing away the script. With how much she cared about Chris and hoped that they could take their relationship the distance, it should be the last thing she should do. She wasn’t even sure why anxiety was gripping her so tightly, but stubbornly, she pushed through it. It was all a sign she really had to fight it.

Now more than ever, with him more than anyone, she needed to know that they could function without any script. Without rationale. Without any steps in mind, only the destination.

“Me too,” he said.

She blinked and took the petal down, blushing and hesitant.

“Me too…uhm, to what?”

His other hand reached and caressed against her back, gently pulling her close by the torso, and he leaned in.

“To everything.” He kissed her, then pulled back and smiled, desire in his eyes. “To anything.” He kissed her again, and she kissed back, with a purpose of emotion that she had never experienced. “To you.”

A bit teary-eyed, not really controlling herself as she started to laugh, she pulled back, glared at him, and then threw herself at him for a hug.

His hand came over to brush her hair.

“I have to be honest, I really don’t like those superhero movies,” she said, goofily.

He just laughed.

“I think I can live with that. But I’m still gonna watch them.”

Rachel chuckled into his neck, half-dizzy with relief. With a level of joy that was unprecedented.

Who needs the scripts? Who needs steps, when they finally have someone they can run with?

“I can live with that,” she said, pushing to lie him down.

The Unknown We Always See

True Sight Is Timeless

He would look in the mirror often, that had been the deal.

“You will look yourself in the mirror until you’re not surprised by what you see.”

After a few weeks of trying, he made a schedule. He planned his mornings so that they would be the same, but it still surprised him to look at himself. He ate the same breakfast, he slept the same hours, and after a long while, he even bought copies of his clothes so he would dress the exact same.

And yet, it was surprising. The brightness of the hair, and its straight and short presence on a face trying to be round. Cutting it short enough that it looked the same whether it was combed or not didn’t help, it still looked oddly unique, and sometimes foreign.

He took pictures but it wasn’t the same thing.

What he saw in the images were momentary grasps of things that did not look like what he saw in the mirror. It was the same person, yes, but his existence wasn’t there. So often he looked happy when he wasn’t, sad when he was fine, pained when he was just tired.

His reflection showed him the truth of it, but at the same time, it manipulated him. Every time, he was uglier or handsomer than he expected, looked better or worse than he expected. And every time it would impact on him, making him smile or frown, no matter how much effort he put into keeping his expression stoic. The inside of his eyes would emote, there was no controlling that.

What even was that? He didn’t notice that in other people.

After one year of trying, he went back to her, his master. Desperate to understand and pass the challenge, yearning for the slightest of clues that would allow him to understand what was so special about one’s reflection.

“I can’t,” said the one-eyed man. “I am always surprised by what I see, for I never expect it. Teach me how not to be surprised.”

The old wise woman looked over him with greyed eyes, seeing more than she should, and she scoffed.

“Accept it,” she said. “Do not expect anything, simply accept what you see, and you will not be surprised. For I promise you that in this world, there are things far more beyond your knowledge, beyond your control…than how you look. To yourself and others. That is something all of us know, but that you still need to learn.”

And the man understood.

Different clothes again inhabited his closet, and facial hair was again allowed to grow. Sleeping schedule relaxed and so did his morning routine adapt better to each day’s demands.

And every day he would look in the mirror still. Deeply and interested.

And no matter what he looked like, he would nod in acknowledgement and say:

“I see.”


True Sight Is Timeless

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (13)


Chapter 13: Rivaldo’s Gift

Nino could hear them cursing. Despite the fact he was just one guy, he had the entire group of them pinned down. He only had two bullets left, and he was unsure whether he should preemptively reload and waste them, or make sure to spend them.

He also worried whether they were far enough from anyone else that the police hadn’t been called. He doubted he’d get a pass if officers had to shoot their way into the middle of a firefight.

Cops had no hassle fighting fire with a lot of more fire.

Nino saw someone darting off from the side of the warehouse, to circle around him. He shot twice, for the sake of getting rid of the decision whether or not to reload, but both missed.

Damn, Nino thought, realizing he hadn’t accounted for the speed, as well as the body facing him sideways.

Now he was flanked.

“Tsk,” Nino reloaded the pistol as fast as he could like Rivaldo had taught him. Press the switch, magazine falls, he pushes the other one in, and it’s ready to go.

Eighteen, Nino thought, he had to keep track.

He did his best to ignore the bullets being fired at him, blocked by the container, growingly confident they would never pierce through no matter how wore down and rusty it looked. Nino focused on another container ahead, gun lifted high and aiming straight in anticipation.

Breathe, he reminded himself, squeeze, don’t pull.

He was too much aware of his trigger finger. Its position and curvature, the feel of the pistol’s metal scraping against it as if the tiny thing was breathing.

The guy peeked, and Nino shot. The bullet hit nothing because the guy hid immediately, faster than Nino’s finger.

Holy crap, that reaction speed!

The guy peeked again with a pistol in hand and took a shot. Nino felt a bite on his shoulder and immediately fired two more rounds, which hit the edge of the container behind which the guy hid again.

He’s not like the others!

Nino had a path of escape, but it would take him farther from the warehouse, potentially leaving Rivaldo to fend for himself.

Smiling, a bit drunk on adrenaline, he told himself he wouldn’t get hit, and ran towards the guy instead.

I have the upper hand!

Two shots hit around his feet and another bit into his flesh on the leg, but then he was clear and protected by the very container the other was hiding behind. He ran across it, firing a shot at a surprised gunman when he peeked in reaction to his friends shooting closer to him. Nino missed, but it didn’t matter.

He was leaning right next to a cover Nino was about to run by, gun first, and wouldn’t have time to run to another before Nino arrived. He either parted from the container hoping Nino’s blind shots wouldn’t hit him, and try to get in his own, or do his own blind shots.

The pistol peeked and shot, but Nino had side-stepped in anticipation. The bullets went wide, and Nino shot, hitting the pistol. It flew off the man’s grasp to the sound of a loud grunt.

Nino cleared the container, and the man tried to jump him. If Nino were trailing right by, he would have been grabbed, but he was some paces away, so he had more than enough time to shoot him in the chest.

He looked both surprised and confused, but then they always looked surprised.

Nino walked past him and aimed back at the warehouse, now shooting from an even better vantage point as he had a tighter angle on the exit. But he noticed the man had come from some kind of side-entrance, and more could perhaps take the same.

Thirteen, Nino thought grimly, because he had no more magazines. The bullets being fired aimlessly trying to hit him had not stopped. Man, they have way more bullets, this isn’t fair.

It was at that point he heard some yelling, and gunshots coming from inside the warehouse. Frightened for Rivaldo, Nino leaned out of the cover and shot at the gunmen in front of the warehouse who were very much perplexed.

Nino’s mind counted on its own as he calmly but swiftly navigated his hands by firm arms, sidestepping slightly between the third and fourth shot. Aim, squeeze in and squeeze out. Aim, squeeze in and squeeze out.

Eight bullets left, Nino thought, running to a now unguarded warehouse entrance, since the all five men were on the ground, two of them bleeding to death and three bleeding from it.

Shots came out again from within the warehouse, along with some yells. He recognized one of the bellows as being from Rivaldo.


Someone tried to step out the door of the warehouse to contend with Nino, but he spammed three bullets out to keep him inside. Nino crouched next to the first body, gun aimed at the door, and grabbed the man’s pistol, putting it in his pocket.

“You son of a bitch!” The man yelled from the door. “I’ll kill you! What the fu–”

The guy had accidental edged his foot out. Nino shot it. The man screamed and jumped back, and so Nino jumped and frantically grabbed hold of a weird submachine gun he had only ever seen in the movies. He shot at the entrance just to make sure it worked and then charged, motivated by the continuing sounds of conflict coming from inside.

The man in the doorway had just steadied his pistol when Nino came about, spraying unto him before realizing the man had motioned to throw his gun away and surrender.

Nino ran past him without a thought, they were all on Rivaldo. He went past some kind of gate and onto an open area full of crates, most of them wooden. It was there he saw someone running for their lives, shooting back blindly and so badly as to not hit a single bullet on the man chasing him, Rivaldo.

Rivaldo had cuts and bruises, and a wound on his left shoulder that was still bleeding, but more importantly, he was carrying an ax. It was red, obviously intended for fire emergencies, but it was also full of blood. His face was heavily bloodied and completely mad.

Someone flanked them and shot at Rivaldo, hitting him in the left shoulder again, but Rivaldo just roared and flung the ax at the gunman. The ax hit the gunman in the chest at about the same time as Rivaldo tackled the man he was chasing to the ground.

A flurry of curses and terrible promises were spat down as Rivaldo savagely started punching the man.

That was Rivaldo. He wasn’t the best fighter, he wasn’t the best shooter, nor one to think everything through and come with the best strategies and tactics.

Nino looked at a group of eight people, who were likely all carrying guns, who had been killed by an unarmed yet furious man who, despite the lack of expert qualities, was unstoppable when in the right mood.

The curses continued, and Nino jogged towards Rivaldo, more looking around to make sure nobody showed up and shot at them unnoticed. But also thinking of what to say.

It was pretty obvious to Nino, who knew Rivaldo so well, that his family was already dead.

These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:

Also consider checking out my Patreon. You can follow these updates weekly over there:

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (13)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (12)


Chapter 12: Nino’s gift.

It took them a while, too long of a while, but they eventually reached some kind of warehouse complex. Without stopping, nor mindful in any way of how Nino was desperately gasping for air, Rivaldo ran towards a specific warehouse.

He finally stopped into a crouch, leaning over a big container. Nino tripped as he was stopping, falling and tumbling once against the container. Rivaldo got his arms in the way to keep him from hurting himself too much.


Or to keep him from making a huge noise, that was also a concern.

Trying to keep his heavy, long-torn breaths from being too loud, Nino wheezed against the container, trusting Rivaldo to give some feedback on what he saw.

“There’s two guys chatting in front of the place, I guess they’re guards. Big place like this, I guess they’re not just keeping my mom and brother, they must be keeping everyone they’ve kidnapped.”

Nino tried to joke by asking him what else he could guess, but all that came out was a coughing laugh.

Rivaldo sneered at him.


Then he looked back out.

“I’ve done a gig around here before, there’re other entrances, one on the side, connecting the different buildings, and one on the back, so you can park there.”


“You’ll attack them from here. Shoot at them. I’ll surprise them by going around.”

Nino glanced at Rivaldo, realizing he was telling him to be bait. It was left in the air whether Rivaldo meant to attack and participate in the fight, or try to stealthily take people away while Nino dealt with the firefight alone.

“Give me two minutes and then start.”

Rivaldo pulled back and sat next to Nino, looking at him. He seemed to be on the verge of crying and had a face that seemed to be keeping that from happening by focusing on the action.

“Okay? You understood?”

Nino stuttered in between short breaths, and feelings.


Nino didn’t know why he didn’t protest. Why he didn’t complain. Maybe it was because he just couldn’t think of a better alternative. He was the one with the gun, and he was a better shot.

Maybe it was because it was Rivaldo asking, and Rivaldo was Rivaldo, his greatest friend, the one he could trust the most. Rivaldo knew Nino like no one else did and wouldn’t just use him as bait, even for his family, he wouldn’t just leave him to die.

Would he?

“Okay.” Rivaldo took a breath, leaning his head against the would-be wall that offered them cover. The container.

He put a hand on Nino’s shoulder.

“Like I said. It’s…it’s really bad, but I gotta try. We gotta try.”

Nino sighed and smiled helplessly.

“For Rita’s sake.”

Rivaldo smiled sideways at Nino, proud beyond belief.

“Yeah. Yeah…no matter what happens, Nino. You’re the best man I know, I wouldn’t choose anyone else to be with me here.”

Nino shrugged with a chuckle.

“I wouldn’t be here for anyone else.”

Rivaldo head-butted Nino lightly and cursed gladly.

“You know how to reload the pistol?”

“Show me again.”

Rivaldo was antsy and in a rush, but he quickly showed Nino how to reload. Afterward, he took another breath. Nino had mostly recovered, to the point he was breathing normally.


Nino smiled and shrugged.


Rivaldo bowed his head down in gratitude and then ran off in a crouch. And Nino started counting.

With each count, it was as if his heartbeat quickened. His breath tried to shorten, but he wouldn’t let it.

Breathe. Breathe. Squeeze. Keep your eyes open.

Nino did his best to mentally prepare himself. The warehouse’s main entrance was a couple hundred feet away, it was a long distance when compared to his past experience.

He had to do it, though. He had to get their attention and survive long enough for Rivaldo to get into position and attack.

Or to get Rita out.

Why didn’t I ask which he was going to do?

Nino sighed, knowing full well it was because he didn’t want to know. Was Rivaldo truly sacrificing him? Was Nino okay with being sacrificed like that? In a situation where there really was no other alternative, if they wanted to get Rita to safety.

How would Nino feel when he found out which was which? Would he even find out, or die too soon to realize which was which? Perhaps that would be better.

No, Nino thought, sighing again. Better would be for us both to survive. Even if he plans to get Rita out unseen, he’ll come back for me.

The two minutes were up.


Nino hesitated, his heart skipping a beat. However, he growled at himself and turned his body. That got the rest of the nervous system on board since it knew its body was seen and now fully in danger. Survival now dictated fight rather than flight.

Nino aimed, reflexively blinking one of his eyes, and squeezed the trigger.

One of the men bounced away and against the warehouse’s wall, right after spraying it in blood.

His friend cursed and drew a gun, but Nino hit that one in the chest. He bounced off the warehouse’s wall and began to bleed out.

Nino blinked and shook his head as if bringing his thoughts back.

Whoah, Nino reflected, and even his thinking sounded like a numb echo before the effect of the gunshots.

Shouts then came from the warehouse, and the door opened soon after. Nino shot twice, hitting the wall right next to the door twice. The second shot grazed a hand.

It might be a false impression, but Nino felt as if he could see better. His vision was tunneled, but everywhere he focused, he could see very clearly. His hands, his shoulders, the tiny tilt of his head, everything assumed a firmness of stance that revealed knowledge he could not explain, but Nino felt an inordinately high confidence that whatever he could shoot, at that distance, he could.

The door was suddenly flung open by a kick and three bodies holding four weapons, since one of them was wielding two pistols, unloaded a flurry of bullets over Nino’s position.

Nino took cover and crawled away as the gunfire started to bite into the container, stubbornly trying to blow its way through the cheap steel.

Nino then realized he had taken a reactionary shot as the door opened, and killed one of the three by hitting him in the neck.

“Huff huff.”

Nino leaned out at the other end of the container to catch a glimpse of roughly five men shooting at his position. Two of them instantly noticed him and turned their fire on that end of the container.

Nino panicked for a moment, seeing no way out, but then he noticed how some gunshots were hitting the floor or even the containers beyond him.

They were hardly managing to hit the container.

Rivaldo said he’d never seen someone like me, Nino remembered, trying to gain courage. He looked around and saw that there was a container facing him, which was closed with a padlock.

Nino shot the padlock twice, breaking it. The door whined and slowly opened. Nino could reach it in three steps.

I gotta try.

Surrounded by gunfire, Nino stepped back and then ran. He dove, shooting twice more into the amassing crowd of enemies. He landed and tumbled into the door’s cover. He stepped back before the trailing bullet fire could push it closed and strafed to take cover behind that new container.

He ran along it, recounting his shots.

Seven, he thought, reaching the end of the container. Before they could think of him doing that, he came completely out of cover, took aim and shot.

He was farther away now and ventured three shots. He wanted more, but the kickback from the pistol sent his third shot way out of control, so he stopped there and took cover again.

Still, two more were dead, and a third was injured since his wild shot had still hit the man in the leg.

Whoah, Nino thought again.

It was too much, now. Nino could feel it, especially with how he lost control on the third shot, that he was not simply lucky.

Somehow, Nino knew very well what he was doing.


These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:

Also consider checking out my Patreon. You can follow these updates weekly over there:

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (12)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (11)


Chapter 11: What Rivaldo lives for.

Nino would never say it out loud, but he felt disappointed by nothing happening that night. Rivaldo came for him at daybreak and invited him home since Rita had already left to take his little brother to school.

Nino took a shower and put on some trunks and shirt that belonged to his friend. They were a bit too big on him, Rivaldo was a couple of sizes taller, but it was okay. Soon enough, the two were having breakfast.

Nino yawned, sleepy, still feeling a bit too underwhelmed.

“So that’s it? You’re not being targeted?”

“I guess,” Rivaldo replied with a shrug. “Let’s watch over a couple more nights at least, just to be safe. You mind?”

Nino smiled.

“’Course not. And what about today? I guess I’m not going back to school, are you–”

“Pff.” Rivaldo shook his head. “I’m supposed to deliver some money today, you can come with me. We’ll hang out just like we used to.”

“I don’t remember ever making money runs for gangs,” Nino joked.

“Well, nothing like mixing new experiences in with the old, right?”

Nino laughed. They finished their meal and left.

Nino was wondering what they were going to do about Rita. He couldn’t just sleep on the streets every day, but Rita would walk him back home by his ear the moment she saw him.

Would his father even accept him back? It seemed a bit silly to have discarded his life to help Rivaldo with nothing. However, neither of those concerns detracted from the day’s fun.

Nino told Rivaldo about his adventures with teachers, his friend was particularly interested in all of his love ventures. Rivaldo told Nino about his misadventures, the funny parts.

Nino was surprised he actually had so much to tell. It wasn’t until he was letting Rivaldo know about what had been happening that he recognized how much there actually was to his life. How many people he had met and gotten to know, and how much he had accomplished academically.

Rivaldo, though, had been living a completely different life. It seemed that he was pretty dependable, but then again, Nino knew that. His brand of loyalty would be very attractive to a gang.

It wasn’t until they were in the middle of the afternoon that things took an unexpected turn.

They had performed the money run without problems, nobody had objected to Nino’s presence since it was such a small job. Everyone assumed Nino was new and working under Rivaldo, for appreciation.

Having the rest of the day to themselves, they decided to walk about, to places they had been to as kids, and reminisce. Time flew as they talked, mocking each other, having a special kind of fun Nino had ever only experienced with his best of friends.

As they were walking along a street, one of the many people traversing the same street stepped into Rivaldo’s space and whispered at him. Rivaldo froze. The man had been walking in the opposite direction, and quickly, he simply resumed his walk.

Nino watched and waited for the man to walk along and away from them, to ask Rivaldo what was going on. But before he could do so, Rivaldo turned around and walked past Nino, after the man.

“Back me up,” he whispered.

By the time Nino turned, wondering what was happening, Rivaldo was lunging at the man.

People around them hopped away, startled, as Rivaldo tackled the man to the ground. He grabbed his head and smashed it on the ground twice. Nino was a bit too shocked to take action, they were in the complete open. As he watched the crowd looking at them, he caught sight of a particular man walking towards Rivaldo with meaningful intent.

Nino gulped and stepped behind an onlooker, reaching for the gun in his pocket. Rivaldo stood up, pulling the man up by the collar of his jacket. At that moment, the incoming threat drew a knife.

Some of the onlookers were thinking of what to do. Run away, watch, or intercede against Rivaldo, who seemed to be attacking an innocent man. All of them quickly decided on the same thing once Nino pressed the trigger.

By the time the knife-wielding partner in crime of the man Rivaldo had tackled hit the floor with a wound in his chest, everyone around them had jolted into a frantic effort to flee.

Rivaldo snapped his head towards the would-be attacker but gave no comment. Instead, he looked back at the man he was grabbing, who was moaning half-conscious.

Rivaldo snarled and shook the man.

“Where are they?!”

What’s going on?! Nino asked himself, trying to make sense of the situation.

The man didn’t answer so Rivaldo threw him at the wall. Nino looked around them, worried about the fact they were doing that completely in the open.

“Rivaldo, we need to go, police should be here any min–”

“Shut up!” Rivaldo snapped, and he used such aggressiveness that Nino wavered back at it. Rivaldo stepped towards the man, skillfully flicking a switch knife into being. He shoved it against the man’s genitals.

That alerted his consciousness quite quickly.

“Who-whoah! Hey, hey!”

“I’m outta time already, son of a bitch. Tell me where they are or I’ll cut you right here.”

The man winced and contorted away from the slight push of the blade. He cursed and looked at Rivaldo terrified. He yelled out some names Nino didn’t know, but Rivaldo seemed to.

His childhood friend grabbed the man’s hair and lifted the head slightly, swiftly slitting his throat.

“Whoah,” Nino reacted. “Damn.”

“They got my family,” Rivaldo said, with a tone of voice Nino wasn’t familiar with, but one that was obviously indifferent to what he had just done.

His best friend stood up straight into a run. “We gotta go now.”

Nino put the pistol back and ran after. Fortunately, the exchange had been quick enough. There were plenty of witnesses but would any of them risk telling the cops what they saw? Would the cops even care about two more gang members being dead?

Odds were they wouldn’t be caught. Or even searched.

That was crazy to consider. They had just killed two people in the middle of the street in broad daylight, and yet because of who they had killed, it was very likely they were going to get away with it.

At some depth, Nino was always aware of that reality, but it was never as obvious as on that moment.

Rivaldo pulled in Nino’s attention with a growl.

“They grabbed them during the day, I’m such an idiot.”

“Should we contact your boss?” Nino asked.

“What? No. He’ll probably just kill me.”

“What? You made it sound like they were actually protecting you and the others, they just figured you wouldn’t be targeted.”

“Of course they’ll protect us. That means finding more about who’s coming after Pedro and boosting our loyalty. But if you think anyone really cares about my family or me, you’re an idiot.”

Nino winced at the violence in Rivaldo’s attitude. What was that? Who was what?

“They rather not get rid of me, but I’m just a grunt. Most of us are, they can just get more. In a way, killing me is the surest way to save my family right now.”

Nino cursed, realizing Rivaldo was absolutely right. With his family kidnapped, there was no legitimate way to guarantee his loyalty. If he was dead, there was no reason to keep his family kidnaped. Maybe they’d kill them, maybe they’d free them.

“Soon as the boss finds out about this, he’ll let everybody know to drop me soon as they see me. I’m screwed.”

Rivaldo shook his head and sped up his run. Nino had a very hard time keeping up, he wasn’t that physically fit.

Rivaldo cursed and grunted.

“Sorry, Nino. This’s probably it, we’re probably going to die. But we gotta try to save ‘em.”

They were about to go on the offensive. To run into a hostile gang home without preparation or pause, it was indeed a very deadly scenario. Nino was willing to go, but he felt disappointed Rivaldo wouldn’t even ask, but rather demand he help right off the bat.

He didn’t hesitate to enlist Nino into that suicide mission. It didn’t even cross his mind to offer some kind of approach that would increase Nino’s chance to survive, and it wasn’t that Rivaldo had any kind of ill-will towards Nino, or even that he was actually just using him.

He was just focused on his family.

Watching Rivaldo running, seeing the expression on his face, Nino knew then that Rivaldo did not share Nino’s priorities. They were very similar, so much so Nino had always felt they were the same, especially when he left his parent’s house to follow him.

But in the end, Rivaldo would never ask anyone in his family the things he had asked of Nino.

Nino had placed Rivaldo ahead of his family. It was obvious now that his best friend would never do that.

His family came first.


These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:

Also consider checking out my Patreon. You can follow these updates weekly over there:

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (11)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (10)


Chapter 10: What Nino lives for

“Seriously, I’m happy to see you, man, but you show up out of nowhere and just expect me to go with you?”

Not that he was wrong, Nino was already jogging alongside him, heading down the street with no intention to turn back.

Rivaldo looked relieved, but not elated or all that happy.

“I’ll just come out and say it, dude. Your dad made a deal with mom.”

I knew I heard right, Nino thought, curious. “What was the deal?”

“He promised her to replace one of her job’s income, so she can be home more often for us. The price was getting me into a different school, and make sure I never bother you again.”

Nino opened his eyes, shocked but not enough so that he would lose his smile. It just changed its nature.

“What the fu**, man!?”

Rivaldo laughed. “Hey, it could honestly be way worse. He could’ve just threatened her. Though if he had, I never would’ve gone along with it.”

“So you were okay with it?”

“I went along with it,” Rivaldo repeated, a brief flurry of inpatient striking to gets it rage on, but apparently practiced in holding back. “Doesn’t mean I was okay with it, how could I be okay with it? I couldn’t even meet with you to thank you for your help back then. Doesn’t mean I’d ever forget, though.”

Nino’s smile widened.

“I never did,” Nino said. “So what’s up? What made you give up on that deal?”

“A threat to my family, duh. Long story short that idiot Nurio left a lot of debt with his boss. He was apparently running around putting things on Pedro’s tab. I’ve been working trying to pay it off, even though Pedro still pays me on top of that. I think he likes me.”

Nino looked at Rivaldo, examining his face. It was bruised in the neck, had a cut on the cheek, and some bind was on his nose. Regardless of that, he looked much fitter than Nino remembered him to be, with knuckles which were considerably rasped and roughed up.

“You replaced your brother in his gang?” Nino asked. “All this time?”

“Don’t sound like that.” Rivaldo glanced at him with a smirk. “That’s what’s normal to happen in my world. Seriously, I got a better deal than most, considering how badly Nurio screwed up. If Pedro were your average gang leader, me and my family would be much worse off.”


“It’s the reality,” Rivaldo said with a shrug, speeding up. “But thing is, another guy’s been encroaching on Pedro’s territory.”

Nino was already getting tired, he wasn’t that physically fit to be running for so long.

“Pedro’s your gangue boss?”

“Yeah,” Rivaldo said, a bit doubtfully, for some reason. “Close enough, anyway. This other guy, we dunno who, has been attacking our operations a lot lately. Last night, we got word he was going after family members of a lot of Pedro’s crew, to try and force ‘em to turn.”

The situation made itself clear to Nino then. Rivaldo’s family was being targeted.


Right. Thing is we’re all targeted, and we all got families, whether they’re a lot or few, broken or not, ya know? Basically, we’re spread pretty thin. I got the short end of the stick because Pedro’s adamant I won’t be targeted. I have no additional protection.“

“Why’s he so convinced?”

“Because I just run errands,” Rivaldo replied with a shrug. “Pedro keeps track of a lot of people, I don’t think he realizes I don’t just do that anymore. I’ve been part of some guard duties, and some transport. In any case, everyone knows about what we did that day, getting revenge on my bro? I never mentioned you were part of it, obviously, but yeah, I’m known. Plus, I’m guessing they won’t care if they just catch small fry like me, they as in the people coming after Pedro.”

Nino nodded in agreement, pensive. “No advantage is too small,” he agreed. “Especially if it’s easy to gain.”

“Yeah, exactly. I’m scared I might have hesitated too long to get you, already. They might already have staked out my place and marked it for an attack since there’s nobody watching. I’m sorry about that.”

Nino breathed heavily as they came to the bus stop.

“So it’s that simple? You just need me to stay over with you for a while?” Nino asked.

“I seriously don’t want to put you in danger, but I know how you’d feel if mom or I got shot and I never gave you a chance to help.” Rivaldo bumped against his shoulder, and they traded knowing smiles. “It’s the same with me, no matter how much your dad hates me.”

“I think dad hates everyone,” Nino said, short of breath. “Even me. I’m more an obligation than anything else.”

“Maybe,” Rivaldo said. “I dunno. Never could get to know the guy, ya know?”

Rivaldo didn’t sound like the hothead Nino remembered. Whatever had been happening with him had changed him, somewhat, but he was still his best friend. They hadn’t seen each other in over two years, and yet there they were like they had just seen each other the previous day.

Rivaldo suddenly extended a pistol to Nino, since they were all alone in the emptied street, or far enough from others that made no matter.

“You think you still know how to use this?”

Nino’s eyes glossed over by the time he came to terms with how he felt about it. The anticipation and exhilaration that was tied to holding one. The thundering noise it made, and the way it kicked back against his grasp. The smell, the gunpowder had gotten in the way of being able to smell the bodies, back then.

Nino smiled warmly. Rivaldo pulled it away, glaring at Nino a little bit freaked out. “What the fu**’s that face?”

“What?” Nino said, his expression normalized, yet still smiling. He was with Rivaldo again, there was no frowning now.

Rivaldo eyed him carefully as he slowly pushed the gun back onto Nino’s grasp.

“I…n-nothing,” he said, suspiciously. “You made this face. Reminded me of someone, that’s all. You’re not going crazy on me, are you?”

Nino took the gun before Rivaldo pulled away again, but casually, so as not to startle him again. He chuckled at the question, as well, further relaxing his friend.

“I just turned my back on an opportunity for a scholarship assisted by loving and doting parents. Ahead of me is a possible firefight. Yeah, Rivaldo, I love ya, but I might be crazy. I don’t want us to die.”

Rivaldo laughed at the nervousness in Nino’s voice. Whatever had caused him concern was then utterly dispelled.

“Okay, that’s good, man. So do you still think you can use that?”

Nino looked at it. He hadn’t properly looked at the last ones he had used, back on that day. This one was completely painted black. It had a small barrel and a flat magazine for the bullets that fit into the handle.

“How many bullets?” Nino asked.

“Fully loaded so eighteen. Well, nineteen with the one that’s in the chamber. That’s an RP9 semi-auto, it’s my best gun, a reward from…” Rivaldo trailed of “it’s not important. I did good and they gave me that pistol in return.” He seemed proud of it, which only made giving it to Nino all the more significant.

Nineteen? Holy crap. Nino put it away inside his pocket, like a legitimate noob.

“You’re giving me your best gun?”

“Man, even after two years, I haven’t even come close to doing what you did back then. So yeah, without a doubt, you use it. If you’re gonna be shooting like that, they better hope they don’t come for my mom.”

Nino cringed, uncomfortable with talking about killing people so casually.

“I guess we should try to just shoot them in the legs or something. We’re on the defense this time.”

Rivaldo turned to him gravely.

“Nino! This is my family we’re talking about. Anyone comes to hurt them, you don’t hold back. You think they’ll spare you?”

Nino chuckled, scratching his head with a nervous sigh.

“Right, of course. Like I just said, I don’t want us to die.”

“Damn right,” Rivaldo said, reducing his intensity. The bus finally arrived so they couldn’t talk more on the issue. As they rode the bus, Rivaldo sat by the window, looking out in thought.

It occurred to Nino then, watching how his friend looked during the trip, that he was really worried. Not to say afraid. It occurred to Nino maybe he hadn’t changed, maybe he was scared enough that he would be cautious. Fear had made him levelheaded.

That he would dig up Nino from the past, hoping that he could help him put a stop to what could possibly be coming, spoke bounds to how bad he thought the situation was.

Once they arrived at Rivaldo’s neighborhood, he took Nino to a small alleyway overseeing his street.

“When they do attack, and it might not be tonight. But if they do, they supposedly don’t know that we know. So they’ll come around this path. You wait for them to pass, then you come out and shoot as many as you can. That will alert me, I’ll come out guns blazing and we can surround them.”

Rivaldo walked up to one of the sides of the alley, one that was a fence leading to another building. He grabbed hold of a specific part and pulled, revealing it had been cut clean.

“If you need to run,” he pointed out. “If nothing happens, put this back when the sun comes up, alright?”

Nino nodded. His heart was starting to race in anticipation. The fear and nausea were settling in, just like in that day.

“So you won’t be here with me?” Nino asked, sounding a bit more worried than he wanted to.

Rivaldo shook his head sadly.

“I mean, we think they don’t know but they might. Maybe they figured out a better way to take a crack at my house, which means they don’t take this street. You hear gunshots–”

“You don’t need to say it,” Nino interrupted, with a heavy and loyal smile. “I’ll come running.”

“And gunning,” Rivaldo added, holding up a fist. “We’ll get through this, man. Hopefully, nothing happens.”

“I’ll be here either way,” Nino said, bumping the fist with his own. Rivaldo choked a bit and then hugged Nino, however manly.

“I can’t thank you enough, brother. I fu**ing cannot believe how much I can count on you.”

It seemed like he was on the verge of crying. Nino was taken aback, but his heart flared with happiness. His friend was back, and so proud of him. So thankful. This was what Nino had always wanted, to be able to be counted on. To be dependable and to matter to those who mattered to him.

Nino hugged him with one arm. The other one was already grasping the pistol.

“I got your back, Rivaldo. Through nothing and everything.”

Rivaldo laughed and pushed him off. Nino was laughing as well.

Rivaldo wiped his eyes in protest.

“You fu**ing idiot, don’t make it so awkward.”

“You’re the one hugging me, dude.”

“Shut up, agh. Alright.” Rivaldo shook his head free of intimacies. “See you in the morning I hope.”

“We’ll see each other in the morning, Rivaldo,” Nino said, smirking, “even if we need to see each other before.”

Rivaldo rolled his eyes.

“Stop it.” He turned around and walked off as Nino chuckled lightly. “Idiot.”

Then Nino looked up and sighed. The moon was so bright, the stars too. There was noise of people awake all around him, awake but quiet. The air wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t warm either, it was just there, caressing his skin.

Most of all, his senses were truly paying attention. To the world and everything around him. A sense of fulfillment and purpose flowed through him with relief and nostalgia.

“Man,” Nino said at the air, confessing to himself. “I feel so alive.”

These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:

Also consider checking out my Patreon. You can follow these updates weekly over there:

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (10)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (9)


Chapter 9: Bros before Blood

It was a Friday evening, and they had just finished dinner. It was roughly nine o’ clock when the doorbell rang, which was something that hadn’t ever really happened before.

“Who’s that?” Aiko asked, curious and concerned, due to the late hour.

Nino’s father furrowed his brow, knowingly, and set off towards the door. Nino followed, of course, chasing the little possibility for a situation that would engage his adrenaline.

His father had only to look through the peephole for his face to contort with utter disgust and offense.

“You son of a bitch,” he voiced, venomously, while taking out his phone. He then noticed Nino, and Aiko at the door of the living room. “I’m calling the police. Get up to your room, Nino.”

“What? Why?” Nino asked, instead of obeying. “Who is it?”

“Get up to your room, Nino!” He looked aside, “yes, police? I want to report a break in, he’s outside my door, and I fear for my life.”

His father raised his voice a bit too much at that point, apparently, because that’s what probably alerted to Rivaldo that there were people at the door already.

He just yelled.


Nino didn’t even recognize the voice at first, but once he repeated, Nino reflexively opened the door.


His father closed it immediately, and violently. Nino caught a glimpse of his friend before the door slammed shut. He looked far more grown up than Nino did, and he looked absolutely relieved and happy to see his friend, for what small instant it really was.

It was the very next moment that both Nino and his father noticed the door hadn’t actually shut the whole way through. A crack remained open, Rivaldo had blocked it with his foot.

“Nino, I need your help!”

Nino opened his eyes in shock.

“No!” His father yelled, punching at the door, trying to close it. “We had a deal! Get the off my fu**ing property, NOW!”

A deal? Nino thought, looking over at his father, whose face was already growing red.

“I can’t tell you why, Nino, I can’t tell you for what, but it’s dangerous. I’m in danger. And people might get hurt.”

Aiko yelped from behind as his father blew off a scream. A roar of rage. He opened the door and made to attack Rivaldo, but he stepped back and reached for the back of his pants, intimidated. He didn’t even grab anything, but it seemed like it didn’t matter. Nino’s father was unfair, not stupid, he promptly pulled back and closed shut the door.

He had just wanted to back Rivaldo away.

“Dad, we should hear him out. He looks like he’s in serious trouble,” Nino pleaded, glancing back and forth between the door and his father.

“Yes, trouble he got himself into, no doubt! How many times do I have to tell you, these cockroaches make their own bed, we’re not responsible for when they finally catch on fire!!”

In the past, Nino had often cowed. But in the present, Nino was a grown man who had killed people. Smiling derisively, scoffing, he faced his father.

“He’s not a cockroach, Dad, he’s my best friend!”

His father’s hand squeezed the phone so hard the screen started flickering.

“If he’s your friend, he’d leave you alone.”

“Why?” Nino reacted, squinting his eyes in curiosity. “What’s this deal you made?”

“Everyone, please calm down,” Aiko pleaded from the side, sadly. “You’re…you’re father and son.”

“Are we?” His father asked, slowly and questioningly. “Doesn’t feel like we are. I do everything for this boy, give him everything I have, and he wants none of it, he’s ready to throw it away.”

“It’s not like that, Dad, I just don’t want my friend to die! Not if I can help.”

“The only help you can really give him is to put him in jail,” his father said. “He will drag you down with him otherwise, you’ll become just another rat, fighting for supremacy of the gutters in this damned country.”

“Dad, geez,” Nino reacted, sneering, “please calm down. I just want to hear him out. I’m a grown man, aren’t I?”

His father flinched, taken aback.

“What?” He asked. The screen on his mobile cracked beneath the pressure of his grip.

Nino found he was no longer afraid of the man. Why had he ever been? He could not beat him in a fight, nor would he try, really. He smiled, trying to keep the situation light.

“I’m past eighteen, you should trust I know what I’m doing. Let me hear him out and don’t call the police, c’mon. I don’t mind discussing it with y–”

“Hear me out first, then,” his father said, or rather demanded. “You leave with him, you take whatever you want from this house with you, because you will never come back.”

Nino lost his smile for a moment there, surprised by the escalation of the situation. His mother cringed from the doorway, bringing a hand to her mouth. Probably because, being someone who actually really socialized with Nino, she knew how headstrong he had gotten in the recent years.

To his credit, his father’s contempt had taken him to tears. He wasn’t crying out of helplessness or sadness, but still, tears were making down his reddened cheeks. Nearly steaming from their heat.

“You change your name,” his father continued, “You forget about me, and you forget about your mother. No matter how much I care about you, son…” his father choked on the word, clearly having a hard time saying what he was saying. “I-I will not abide, protect, or in any way support a criminal like Rivaldo.”

“Dad,” Nino pleaded.

“Like you,” he added, and that really did it.

Nino noticed how his father was looking at him, and finally realized how he was seen. He glanced aside at his mother, who was crying, so very not used to that level of dramatics.

One point of view would be that Rivaldo had caused that household to reach that situation. To break apart in that manner. Another point of view was that Nino was responsible. That was how Nino saw it.

If Rivaldo wasn’t around, if he hadn’t been involved in what he was two years past, and now, then maybe their house wouldn’t have broken down, sure. But Nino would still be Nino, and he cared a lot more about people than he did the law.

That was just the truth in his heart.

Nino cracked a helpless smile.

“I’m sorry, dad. I… will abide, protect, and in every way support the people I care about. That means you guys as well, obviously, but right now, Rivaldo might need me more than you do. That-that’s all.”

His father clenched his eyes and threw the phone at the wall, breaking it, and duly startling Aiko.

“You’re your own man,” he said, poisoned. “It’s your decision.”

At that, his father left the hallway, heading to the stairs.

“Honey, please, we don’t have to–”

He stopped and looked at Aiko, accusingly.

“It’s not your fault,” he said, opposing what his eyes were saying. “However, unless you want to be responsible for your son hurting people…it’s what it is.”

He left at that, walking up the stairs. Aiko lost strength in her legs and sat down on the floor, in disbelief.

Nino sighed, opened the door, told Rivaldo he’d be right out, and then walked back to Aiko, his mother. His smile dropped, her pain was something he couldn’t ignore.

“Mom…I’m sorry about this.”

But at the end of the day, she would still be alive. She would still have her husband, and friends and life. She didn’t need him as much as Rivaldo probably did, coming to his house like that.

The situation had to be deadly serious.

“I just don’t understand,” Aiko complained, weakly, “how did it turn out like this?”

“I dunno,” Nino said sadly. He hugged her as meaningfully as he could, “I wish it hadn’t, if that means anything.”

“How is your father just…allowing you to go…”

“He can’t stop me,” Nino confessed, with a sigh. “It’s…I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, this is something I just need to do. I can’t abandon him, I can’t abandon my friend.”

“But you can abandon your parents?” She said, both angry and sad. Her voice somewhat muffled by the grief.

“I’m not. I would come back if I could but look at you. And did you see dad? Maybe he’s right, maybe it’s for the best, I don’t know. I just…”

He sighed again.

“I just know what I need to do, mom. No matter how much I love you, and how much I’ll miss you,” Nino paused to blink and shed his own tears. It was hard, it was impossibly hard, but going on like he had seemed impossible.

He knew where he had to go. Nino felt it, in the core of his being, what path he wanted to take. That meant turning his back on his father, but more terribly, on his mother. It was hard, but he would do it.

The alternative just felt so much worse.

“I just know what I need to do…”


These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:

Also consider checking out my Patreon. You can follow these updates weekly over there:

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (9)