Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (2)

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Chapter 2: Childhood Friends.

“Pass it, pass it! Hey!” Someone screamed in the distance.

“So you two ain’t dating?” Bruno asked.

Nino turned around with a smirk. “What?” He asked, since he was trying to pay attention to the soccer match they were playing and so didn’t get the context of what his goalkeeper had said.

“You’re not with Mia?” Bruno asked again. “I can take a crack?”

“Man, from what I hear, you’ll take a crack, alright. A crack to your teeth,” Nino said, laughing.

“So you cool with it?” The goalkeeper asked him again, unwavering.

“Damn Bruno, yes, alright?” Nino confirmed, amused at his friend’s desperation. “I’m not a big fan of the crazy, go for it and get her off my case.”

“I’ll definitely try—whaoh!” Bruno interrupted himself, looking over Nino’s shoulder at what was happening ahead on the field.

Nino turned his face and caught sight of the fight that had started.

“Again?!” Bruno exasperated, “can’t we play ONE game without–?!”

“C’mon,” Nino called out without looking back, starting a run.

“Argh,” Bruno complained.

The two ran into the skirmish, flying feet first. Well, curses went in first but their feet soon followed. Nino kicked someone in the side and pushed another assailant away, immediately pulling Rivaldo off the floor.

“Get up get up,” Nino urged.

“Shit, what the f–” Rivaldo was in the middle of succinctly manifesting his confusion when he was interrupted by someone who had been pushed to fall on top of him.

Nino was then punched.

Less than one minute later, and after quite a few bruises, the three were running for their lives across heavily populated streets.

“What the hell happened?” Bruno asked.

“Hey, watch it!” Someone yelled.

“I dunno, someone kicked me,” Rivaldo said in protest, “so I gave ‘im what for, and all of a sudden, the entire class of girl scouts are on my ass like a bunch of–”

“Oh shut up!” Bruno barked. “It’s your fault, it’s always your fault! Someone didn’t pass you the ball or something so you hit them,” Bruno argued.

“No,” Rivaldo denied amidst laughter, obviously lying, “I swear, I was minding my own business, dribbling like Ronaldo…”

“Okay, it’s definitely your fault,” Nino broke through, causing them to laugh.

“I mean, I wanna play, man,” Rivaldo said with a heavy shrug.

“Well, you’re sure playing now, aren’t you?!” Bruno complained. “Argh.”

“Hold up, guys, I think we’re good,” Nino said, looking back and slowing down, “I mean for now, they can always get us tomorrow when we go to school.”

“We could always not go,” Bruno pointed out.

“Ha, like Nino would ever skip a day,” Rivaldo teased, pushing Nino on the shoulder.

“Besides, how’re you going to ask Mia out if you don’t go, Bruno?” Nino asked.

“Shut up!”

“Mia?” Rivaldo asked, laughing. “Seriously?”

“What?”

“She’s crazy! She cut a guy, didn’t she?” Rivaldo asked Nino, since Nino was the one with the good memory.

“Franco,” Nino acknowledged with a nod.

“Franco’s an asshole, he probably had it coming,” Bruno said defensively, frowning. “What do you want from me? She’s cute.”

“She hangs around with a blade is the point of the matter,” Nino said, ever smirking.

“Well, good,” Bruno said, massaging his cheek. “Maybe next time Rivaldo here gets us into a fight, she can join in and protect me.”

They laughed at that. Bruno eventually went his own way and Nino continued on with Rivaldo.

“I might ask my mom if I can stay over the weekend to study,” Rivaldo said eventually, “She really wants me to get through eight class.”

“Knowing auntie, she’s for sure gonna beat you to it and demand you do,” Nino said, smiling.

“Yeah, it’s a pain. She thinks I don’t study at home, that I just go out with Nurio,” Rivaldo stated.

“Well, before you complain, ask yourself:” Nino raised a finger to go with his point. “Is it true?”

They laughed.

“Asshole,” Rivaldo said playfully, “but hey, when you’re right, you’re right.”

“And it’s not a pain, Rivaldo,” Nino said, “you’re always welcome there, you know that.”

“Not by everybody,” Rivaldo complained, kicking some piece of garbage that was lying on the street. The empty can bounced off a car and came back at them, making them jump out of the way. It hit someone else in the head.

“Ow!” They yelled, angry.

“Oh no, run!”

And they did.

They had to run again the following day when the older brothers of the boy Rivaldo first punched came to get some very unnecessary, clearly unfair vengeance.

Rivaldo then skipped school a couple of times, and Nino joined him, until Rivaldo’s mother, Rita, went on a rampage. She talked to every parent of every kid involved in the silly affair to get the matter settled so her son could go back and attend school properly.

After every parent beat their kids the amount necessary for them to get back to taking classes as normal, Rivaldo started attending again. Every parent, which is to say, every parent except for Ninos’.

Nino’s father was a different kind of man. He came home that day, having learned his son had skipped school for two days, knowing he would have to spent what little time he already has to relax disciplining his son. Disgruntled, the first thing he did was stare down at Nino.

A sense of disappointment washed over Nino like a waterfall. It was a familiar feeling, but even so, every time it happened again, it felt a little worse.

“Why?” his father asked.

Used to be that wasn’t such a bad question to hear, back when Nino would steal some sweets from the cupboard. The answer would either be “I ‘unno…” or “I was hungry”, and that would be it.

But as Nino learned to speak properly, it became an ambush. Using the aforementioned example, if Nino said he was hungry, his father would then ask if he had missed a meal, which he hadn’t. “So it wasn’t hunger,” his father would then say, disappointed further at the excuse which was also a lie. But if Nino said he didn’t know, that was also bad as it manifested an intellectual mistake and whether that was worse than having an excuse depended on the situation and on whether his father would judge it to be plain stupidity or just ignorance.

“Tell me why, Nino,” his father asked again, from behind his spectacles.

Nino, with all the intelligence and wisdom accrued across fourteen years of existence, decided he wasn’t in a situation where claiming ignorance was beneficial.

“We were playing soccer Tuesday and…” his father’s eyes narrowed, probably annoyed Nino was out playing instead of studying. “And there was a fight. The guys’s older brothers came to beat me and the guys up so we ran and well, we were afraid to go to school.”

“Why was there a fight?” his father asked, pointedly.

Nino glanced to the side, apparently broadcasting the answer through telepathy because his dad crossed his arms. “Rivaldo,” he said, annoyed.

“And let me guess,” his father continued, “it wasn’t you these older brothers wanted to beat up, it was just him. And let me guess further,” his dad paused for effect, taking a step towards Nino so that he would tower over him even more overwhelmingly, “you didn’t want to skip school, he did. You just joined him.”

Nino didn’t reply. As far as his father was concerned, silence was consent so it was better to say yes that way than risk further consequences from whatever interpretation he would draw from how Nino said yes.

Just speaking when Nino didn’t have to could often make it worse.

“You are the brightest, most intelligent kid on that entire school, Nino,” his father said, sternly, “but you’re still a kid. Are you going to let these garbage meant-for-nothing animals keep you down? Is that what’s going to happen?”

Nino winced at the very harsh words.

“N-no. My grades are fine, what–”

“They’re fine now,” his father said, interrupting him so as to assert that what was going on was not a conversation but an intervention. “You’re a kid. I know what you think, you think I’m cruel, that I don’t really know them or something. You’re a kid, you don’t know shit,” he said calmly.

Nino winced again.

“I won’t stop you from being friends with Rivaldo, but I will stop you from putting his friendship first and foremost in your life,” his father said.

Nino nodded.

“You will not skip classes. When the time comes that stupid boy gets jumped by whatever pack of animals are running around the streets that day, you’re going to be afraid for your life, and you’re going to run.” His father paused, shaking his head, “when the time comes he wants to cheat from your tests, you’ll be afraid to get caught and fail that test… and say no. And when the time comes, again, that he wants you to miss your appointments, or your schedule? Especially if it’s just to keep him company? What will you say?”

Nino frowned. He wanted to yell out Rivaldo didn’t ask him to skip school, he even tried to convince Nino against it. Rivaldo was the closest most loyal person Nino knew, the coolest. How could he make such a promise? What if Rivaldo was in danger, or if he needed something serious?

“What,” his father called, “will you say?”

“No…” Nino said, painfully.

“This isn’t unfair, Nino. It’s not the least bit unreasonable, it just feels that way to you,” his father uncrossed his arms. “If you don’t believe me, ask Rita yourself.”

Then his father walked away, leaving Nino wishing for the times when he would just get smacked and that would be it.

Times he didn’t even remember, but sorely missed.

NEXT


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:

http://aegisomega.tumblr.com/post/109010046366

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

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2551383

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Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (2)

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (4)

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Infamous. The word I was looking for that last log was infamous. Not being popular? That’s not so bad. You don’t get invited to parties, people don’t remember you much. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it has its consequences, it can screw you up.

But being infamous? The guy people pick on, the person you can mock and bully and you still won’t be seen as unfair or a bad guy, but actually cool? Yeah.

Because to hide my thing, I need to go to the bathroom. I pretend I have a problem in my intestines, that…crap just comes in a torrent, like a waterfall, and all of a sudden, so I need to run to a bathroom. Jin gave me this can, I dunno where he got it, but it smells horrible.

So horrible the school’s given me my own stall, an old janitor’s room that wasn’t being used.

“Here, just use this one, don’t use the normal ones.” That’s what they told me.

Don’t use the normal ones. Hahaha, sometimes, without meaning to, people really do define your life in a sentence.

I am Keiji Inoue. I don’t use the normal ones. I don’t do normal in general.

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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:

http://aegisomega.tumblr.com/post/109010046366

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

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2551383

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (4)

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (2)

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I wish Jin would give me a chance. I honestly don’t remember a time he didn’t have a grudge against me.

He gets drunk all the time. I feel sad for him, I’m pretty sure he went through something terrible, and I feel sad about myself because it seems to have involved my parents.

I’m sorry, just started and already off-track. Jin’s my godfather.

He’s also a kappa.

He’s had this huge contempt for me for as long as I can remember. He doesn’t hate me…exactly, it was unfair of me to say that last update. He had just thrown a glass at my head so I was feeling…hated.

But he doesn’t. After all, he does take care of me. He took me in and he takes care of me as best he can, but whatever happened to him. It screwed him up so badly.

I feel like I can make a difference, however. I just gotta be positive, and show him I appreciate him. Show him gratitude, you know? Eventually, he’ll change his mind about me, I know he will. Then things will start getting better.

And then maybe he’ll stop drinking so much.

NEXT


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:

http://aegisomega.tumblr.com/post/109010046366

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

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2551383

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (2)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (1)

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Chapter 1: The Butterfly

It was a hot day. But then, it’s most always a hot day in Brazil.

The sun shines through whatever measly clouds attempt to defend the people on the ground when they even deem to show up, and on that summer day, none could muster up the courage.

People are braver things, however.

With arms and legs mostly bare, and some even sick enough to wear thin jackets, the residents walked around Liberty Avenue like they were part of a bustling metropolis. Mostly because they were.

Something that was still palpably shocking to Aiko, even after so many years of life in São Paulo, was how motorcycles navigated through people in a way even cyclists would never dare back in her home country of Japan.

It had been an endeavor, getting used to the more chaotic lifestyle of the country, not to say violent. However, at least there was passion.

People screaming, losing their tempers, cursing wildly at all hours of the day. Her parents would say it wasn’t civilized, but in Aiko’s opinion, too much civilization can be dehumanizing.

Aiko appreciated the sincerity, much as it had taken her a long time to get used to the loud voices and learn they didn’t necessarily imply impending violence.

Even though her husband could well afford to hire people to buy groceries, and even cook them, Aiko had always preferred to do it herself. Being the woman of the house and taking care of everything herself was her own bit of traditional tendency that she felt no need to discard. Initially, it had helped her to get acquainted with the language and costumes, but even after she no longer needed that, Aiko still appreciated doing the footwork herself.

Aiko’s first and everlasting impression was that the people of Brazil laughed a lot. They spent most of their time laughing and joking around. She really loved that.

“So I told her neither. Not intelligent women and not beautiful women, I only have eyes for you!” Tércio said, snickering while he packaged a few steaks for her. Aiko laughed along, much less politely than her parents would approve.

“You really like that couch, is that?” Aiko asked, teasing and while taking the plastic bag with her bought meat. The man laughed.

“Damn, it’s way more comfortable, you got no idea!” He joked along, slightly gesturing farewell at her as she stepped aside to let the next person in line step forward.

“Oh, Mr. Capacho!”

“It’s Capaz,” the man commented with a frown.

“I’m capaz, alright. HA!”

Capaz meant capable. Much like with Japanese names, names around there were sometimes straight out of the dictionary, if they weren’t absolutely foreign. It was odd how that happened even with family names.

However, it was a fact that there was a lot of generational and cultural mixture in the city. For many reasons, that was also why Aiko was there in the first place. A lot of Japanese live in Brazil, and they’ve been doing so as far back as three generations, if not more.

Aiko greeted her way out of the supermarket and into the garage. She put the plastic bags full of food and drinks, especially drinks, into the trunk and then got into the driver’s seat. The engine growled satisfactorily, which was good. She had had to deal with a mechanic two years ago, and the experience had been so awful she still worried every time she turned on the engine.

Aiko drove out of the mall, intending to go home.

It was a reasonable expectation. She had gone through that day countless times before. Things were different lately, having a son transformed routines into a lovable kind of chaos and unexpected surprises, but going shopping for food had been the same experience day in and day out for years.

That day, it was different. While waiting on a traffic signal, Aiko witnessed a robbery. It wasn’t uncommon, unfortunately, especially where tourists were concerned.

The ill-dressed man ran up on some pale ogle-eyed European and socked him across the head. In the middle of the dizziness, the burglar grabbed hold of the poor idiot’s Kindle reader and ran off.

He was, of course, brandishing a gun so nobody would try to stop him.

Laws usually worked in Japan, but sometimes it felt like laws in Brazil only really affected people who wouldn’t break them in the first place even if they were unwritten.

This wasn’t the part that affected Aiko’s life, not directly. His escape took him through a crowd of people who had just stopped at a red sign, leading to the walkway she was about to be green-lit to cross, and he nearly ran over a couple of people there.

Among them was Rita.

They all fell, dropping their stuff, yelling and screaming, a minute commotion in a city of constant noise and energy. The people around reacted, including her.

Ignoring the violent honking behind her, Aiko pulled the car to the side a bit–she knew if she left it in the middle of the road, the drivers behind her would just smash through–and quickly got out to be one of the few people who acted to help those who were roughed up.

Rita was a sweaty mess of a thing, with dark circles around her eyes and disheveled graying hair that would otherwise be curly and golden.

Still, she was Brazilian, she greeted the assistance with a laugh.

“There we go,” Aiko said, helping Rita up.

“Son of a bitch foreigner,” Rita complained amidst self-deprecating laughter. Then, once on firm feet, she yelled at him, “can’t just walk around here carrying that kind of crap, you idiot!”

The poor guy didn’t understand Portuguese and was confused by someone who stopped him from chasing the thief. He didn’t understand how his life was being saved.

“Thank you,” Rita said to Aiko, “gringo bitches should learn from each other,” she said, again laughing. “Ah, what a mess, look at my oranges.”

Aiko did so, finding them on the ground all messed up. She started helping Rita pick up what was left.

“I’m Rita, by the way,” Rita said, holding the bag open so Aiko could put some more stuff in it. “Sorry about yelling,” she added.

“No, no problem,” Aiko said, “it looks like all your fruit got ruined. Oh wait, the banan–”

Aiko was interrupted as a biker sped past them, squashing a pack of bananas beneath the wheels. The fruit got spat at Aiko’s face to the sounds of other people yelling at the biker. One couldn’t forget it wasn’t just the two, there was roundabout a dozen people still helping each other.

Aiko looked at Rita who was looking at her in shock.

“I’m so sorry,” Rita said, half laughing. Aiko wasn’t sure if she was apologizing for laughing but it didn’t matter because Aiko started laughing as well.

“My name is Aiko,” she said, unable to not give the woman a little bow, “oh sorry.”

“For what? Helping me? Ah, can you believe this shit?” Rita complained while looking down at what remained of her three shopping bags. “Now I gotta go back. I mean, my kids already eat nothing but shit, I really want them to have some kind’a fruit.”

Aiko smiled, willing to help. She also needed to move since leaving the car unattended for three minutes was already making her feel paranoid. It was even making other people feel paranoid on her behalf.

“Lady, your car,” some stranger called out.

In the end, Aiko gave Rita a ride back to the shopping and then to her place. Aiko was fortunate to live in the richer part of the city. Her house was big, it had a fence and a doorman who checked everyone going in and out. Such was not Rita’s case.

The woman had a life most definitely aligned with how she looked. Aiko had enormous respect for a woman such as her, and as they talked the day away, she gained a strong liking to her as well.

Rita was a strong woman. A single mother of three working several jobs, and even though it was clear Aiko lived a comfortable stay-at-home-wife life, Rita didn’t seem to hold it against her.

“That was my plan too, you know?” Rita explained, joking around, “I wanted to marry some rich dumb guy, too! But the majority of those dogs don’t even care if they get you pregnant, you know? It’s actually just one more reason to get out of there even faster!”

Rita joked about it a lot, in the middle of yelling at her kids to behave. The two became good friends pretty quickly and, pretty soon, Aiko was offering to babysit one of her children, on account of him being the same age as her own son and so that Rita didn’t have to spend money on daycare or babysitting.

Rita was so busy all the time, and not very trusting of her community. For those reasons, having somewhere to drop at least one of her kids was an offer too good to pass up.

They talked about it in a more serious tone, which was one of the events where Aiko was so impressed by Rita.

“It just worried me he’ll think he’s better than his brothers,” Rita explained about her son, “or that his brothers think he’s better than them. Or that he’ll blame me for not having such a nice house.”

“I worry he’s going to steal from me,” Aiko said flatly.

Rita glared at her, and Aiko just smirked back with a suggestive blink that made Rita laugh out loud. That was another thing they liked about each other, they seemed to have the same sense of humor.

“I cannot know what will happen,” Aiko said, after calming down, “maybe our boys don’t even get along all that well. But if they do, all the better. I just want to help you in some way, and since you didn’t even let me pay for your groceries that day we met–”

“Yes, I know, my dad always said I was a hard woman to deal with it. Even to help,” Rita nodded, “I should…yeah, I guess letting Rivaldo stay for a few days. It’ll be better than being around here, I think. I think that’s a good baby step for me.”

“Anything can be good, anything can be bad,” Aiko said, smiling and shrugging, “all we do is try.”

Rita laughed, a bit awkwardly. “What kinda…what kinda shit is that to say?!” She laughed even more. “Why do you do this to me?!”

The butterfly effect is a common concept. A butterfly does a wing flap, and some time later, half-way across the world, a tornado gains momentum. Unforeseen consequences are one thing but what people don’t consider enough is how bad consequences don’t necessarily follow good actions, and how these consequences can sometimes come at a much later time. And at the end of it all, people don’t consider how that one butterfly might have been flying amidst a dozen others, all of them flapping along, considered insignificant by nature and the laws of physics that deal with causality.

How to tell which was the cause?

There were half a dozen people pushed down by that burglar that day, in a random street walk Aiko would not have been on if the line to buy the steaks had a person less, or more. If the cashier had taken another minute doing the math on her change, or if Júlio hadn’t overslept, which put him in the car behind her instead of in her place.

Out of all of those affected, Aiko picked Rita. Or was drawn to Rita.

In a way, that decision would define Nino’s life more than any other.

NEXT


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:

http://aegisomega.tumblr.com/post/109010046366

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (1)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (0)

Everyone has a past. Everyone is as much part of history as it is part of them. The past shapes the present which influences the future, at every conceivable level of existence, and so there is no decision that is made objectively.

At the same time, there are no two people who would make the same decision in every situation. Despite the influences of the world, and past lives, the individual still exerts their power.

That’s what the boss believes in. He is a liar and a killer who has cheated his way into a position of power over a city’s criminal underworld. Mercilessly.

Despite knowing all of that, Nino Naokiren is unflinchingly loyal to him. He follows this Japanese young man since before he could even communicate properly in Brazil’s mother tongue, and well after finding out how he was, for all intents and purposes, a literal monster.

Why?

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

http://aegisomega.tumblr.com/post/109010046366

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (0)

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (1)

First thing that comes to mind is that this isn’t very manly.

Writing a journal. Logging my thoughts of complaint because I’m not strong enough to bury them away from my mind. At the end of the day, however, I feel I should do it anyway.

The man who lives in my house and pays the rent and utilities. He doesn’t talk to me, he hates me. People at school? They don’t really talk to me, I look too weird. Which makes them hate me? I don’t now.

Talking to the walls, into my pillow, under my breath, none of it really has any effect. The other day, I noticed that I’ve turned a whispered “just wanna die,” into my sigh. I’m just doing it reflexively now.

I need to do something because I care about my life. I want to be happy.

This is something.

NEXT


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:

http://aegisomega.tumblr.com/post/109010046366

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (1)