Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (12)

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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.

“SSshhhh!”

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.

“Sssh!”

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.”

“oh…kay?”

“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.

“Ye-yeah.”

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.

“Okay?”

Nino smiled and shrugged.

“Okay.”

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.

Go!

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.

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 (12)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (9)

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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!”

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

“No!”

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…”

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 – Brother in Arms (9)

Dreams are not Real

There was once a child who had no dreams. All he had were things he wanted to do, that he was certain he was going to do.

With hard work and enough effort, his friends and family convinced him they were wonderful dreams to strive for and that he was capable of accomplishing them.

He grew up to be a good and kind man, full of dreams which he kept alive and, in turn, they powered and refreshed him as he lived his life doing all the things he needed to do.
“Dreams are nice,” he wrote on his journal, on that last day, as his vision faded like a moon’s glow cautiously cowering behind a column of clouds. “I’m happy I never grew jaded and tired of them. Even if they never became real.

Or perhaps,” he now thought, words gone unwritten, “especially because of that.”

Emotions went unexpressed as his eyes went gray. Thoughts and impressions stayed unique and safe within his withering mind, never to be grasped or otherwise understood.

And a world went on vastly unaffected by the man, but particularly, by his dreams.

Dreams are not Real

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (4)

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Chapter 4: A calculated risk.

“You have failed in that you have sought to accomplish your goals by yourself!” the red ranger yelled. “The power you have attained through your greed and personal efforts cannot compare to the power we wield together! As a team!”

“As friends!” Said the white ranger, to punctuate how they had grown to be inseparable, despite their initial heated rivalry.

Two ten year olds were watching that show, Nino and Rivaldo, and they both cheered together for the heroes.

“Yeeaah!”

“Awesome!”

And the heroes defeated the villain, and at the end, proclaimed words of admiration and loyalty for each other, followed by a fist bump.

The thing about idealistic views of the world and relationships is that they are incandescently contagious to idealistic personalities, which is what most children are. Especially when these personalities are not on their own, thus forced to clash against others who will not bounce the idealisms back unfiltered by the reality of things, but rather in the company of others who will return them even more idealized.

Ordinarily, Nino would have had his excitement shot down by his father, and Rivaldos’ by his mother.

Instead, their eyes gleamed and their hearts settled on the kind of friends they wanted to grow up to be.

 

Starting the run had been the most difficult part. The moment he landed outside school grounds, Nino felt like he had somehow transferred himself into another world or a different reality.

As he ran, Nino no longer saw school as a concern, or his grades as a worry. The menace of confronting his father was diminished to a matter he could put off to another time, and the usual dangers he would look out for while traversing the city streets didn’t seem at all relevant.

Nino’s mind sharpened, cleaving away bothering thoughts that had nothing to do with getting to Rivaldo and helping him.

His body started to sweat, out of both worry and physical exertion, which was something he wouldn’t notice for a long while. Nino saw the hospital building and so forced himself to stop and check the address again.

He ran to it and quickly found Rivaldo, standing next to a fast food restaurant.

“Rivaldo!” Nino called out.

“Nino!” Rivaldo seemed surprised to actually see him, but so very happy at that. They locked hands and hugged around the hand-shake. “You actually came.”

“’Course, man. What’s happening?” Nino asked, disengaging the intimacy as soon as possible. He then noticed Rivaldo had tearful eyes.

“It’s my brother, man, he got jumped,” Rivaldo said, holding a heavy frown, “sons of bitches got him like four times, doctors are saying he’s probably not gonna make it.”

“Oh no…Nurio,” Nino said, shocked, “I’m so sorry, man.”

“I’m gonna get payback,” Rivaldo said spitefully, “but there’s like four of them, I need…you know I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need it. I need you, man.”

“What do you mean?”

Rivaldo pulled up his shirt to show a knife. It wasn’t a kitchen knife, but a combat one, the kind soldiers use. Nino was shocked to see it, “what the hell, man?!”

Rivaldo instantly hid it again, looking around paranoid. “Dude, c’mon, be cool, be cool.”

“Where’d you get that?” Nino asked.

“From Nurio,” Rivaldo said, “he told me their names, I know one of them.”

“But…but why, shouldn’t we stay with him?” Nino asked, his eyes almost spinning, trying to process what he was being asked to do.

“He asked me to, man,” Rivaldo said amidst hushed albeit aggressive whispering, “he gave me the knife and told me to get them good, otherwise they might try again.”

“This is crazy,” Nino said.

“This is real,” Rivaldo said, still whispering, but very serious. “We don’t leave in a secluded and safe mansion like you do, man, things get real for us, real real. If I don’t do this, it won’t matter if they can patch my brother back up. They’ll just discharge him before he’s strong enough to fight and that’ll be that.”

“Shouldn’t we call the–” Nino stopped himself. Call the police? They wouldn’t care about some street thugs going at each other, and despite Nino’s love for Rivaldo, that’s what his older brother, Nurio, was. A street thug.

Nino was aware Nurio was up to no good, majorly gang activity involving small crimes, it was why Rita was always so adamant not to involve Rivaldo with any of it.

There was part of Nino who considered that as an argument to talk Rivaldo down, in terms of what Rita would want, but that part was squashed by the heat of the moment and the high emotions that he was receiving from his best friend. He was telling the truth, if they didn’t do anything, Nurio would die. Nino knew that he either left with Rivaldo right then or his friend would go at it alone.

“I need you to have my back,” Rivaldo said, dramatically, “I need you to have my back,” he repeated, raising a fist for Nino to bump. “Do you have my back?”

Nino felt like he was in a movie. It was exhilarating and it made him feel great. And he wanted to do and say what would be coolest things to do and say.

“Long as I’m here, brother, of course it is,” Nino said with a smile, fist bumping Rivaldo, who grinned widely.

“Damn right,” Rivaldo nodded, showing a confident smirk. “Let’s go. Just follow my lead, okay?”

“Alright.”

They ran off, and by then, Nino was more ingrained into this other world than ever before, realizing it wasn’t just any world, but it was specifically Rivaldo’s world.

Nino and Rivaldo jogged all the way to a certain part of town, not that far away. They stopped at a bus stop. There, Rivaldo suspiciously looked over at another street that peered off to the right from where they were.

“Tércio and Junior usually hang around over there and ambush people,” Rivaldo explained in a low voice, “walk by there with your phone out. And here, put these on.”

Rivaldo took out a hat and sunglasses from the back of his trunks, handing them to Nino.

“It’s pretty sunny out today,” Rivaldo said, meaningfully.

“What about you?” Nino asked, while putting the black hat and dark sunglasses on.

“I want people to know who did this,” Rivaldo said. “It’ll send a message.”

Nino was still carrying around his backpack. As his heart started to speed up, his nervous system becoming aware of the danger it was getting dragged into, he decided he would use the backpack as protection. It was filled with books and notebooks, it would surely work to stop a knife.

Wait, what if they have guns? Nino thought, and looked to Rivaldo wanting to ask but stopping himself, since there were people right next to them.

“Hey,” Rivaldo said in a hushed voice, “you okay to do this, right? I’ll do the hard part.”

“You tell me,” Nino said, his eyes going unblinking, “am I okay to do this? I trust you.”

Rivaldo grinned and placed a hand on his shoulder, whispering, “I trust you with my life, brother, that’s why you’re here. Let’s get them. For Nurio.”

Nino nodded and walked off before hesitation settled itself. He noticed how his brain was going into danger mode, amplifying the risks he was taking, but they were calculated. It was Rivaldo. He could trust Rivaldo with his life when he didn’t, so even more so right then, when he did.

Nino turned the corner with the phone out on his hand like he was using it. It took no time at all for them to approach him. That part was predictable enough, it would happen even if Rivaldo didn’t know them.

“Ey, you lost, playboy,” the first one said, quite amused.

“Give up the phone now, scream and it’s over,” said the other, fast and serious, while brandishing a pistol.

Nino froze, eyes on the pistol. It wasn’t the first time Nino was at one end of a gun, but it was only the second so he wasn’t enough of a veteran when it came to that to maintain his composure. Luckily, he didn’t need to.

“AAAHHHR!”

Rivaldo jumped at the one holding the gun, sinking the battle knife into his back. The silent and covert robbery became a frenzy of screaming in that split second of action. The moderately crowded street became empty by the time Nino had hit the second guy with his backpack and was lying on the ground holding the pistol that had been dropped, aimed at the second one.

“DON’T MOVE!” Nino screamed.

The stabbed individual was still on the floor, writhing in pain as Rivaldo stabbed again, amidst cursing yells and threats about his brother.

“THAT’S IT EXACTLY, JUNIOR! THAT’S IT! EXACTLY!”

Tércio roared and dove at Rivaldo. Maybe if he hadn’t roared, Nino would have hesitated. As it was, however, his body flinched into the most protective action it could take in the midst of that high-risk situation that would be over in less than half a minute.

Nino’s first kill was deafening.

His hearing return out of a mind-numbing whistle to nothing but the sound of Junior whimpering silent curses under a dying breath as Rivaldo held a hand over his mouth. Tércio was lying down on the floor, clumsily having fallen against the wall of the building right besides them.

Nino couldn’t tell where he had shot him. However, he didn’t know what else to do other than to try and make sure he was out so Nino kept watching for movement.

“I can leave right now and leave you be, asshole, maybe you live,” Rivaldo said, quickly, “or you can keep the other two assholes who jumped my brother safe and sound from me and I’ll have my fun ‘till the cops show up. What’ll it be?”

Junior sold his friends out pretty quickly. Names and neighborhood. Meanwhile, Nino’s brain was still shell-shocked by what happened, focused on making sure Tércio didn’t move, when Rivaldo took the gun off his hands.

Rivaldo wiped it with Junior’s shirt, then wiped the knife, and stashed both in his trunks and below his own y-shirt.

“Nino,” Rivaldo called out, squeezing Nino’s shoulder. Nino looked at him.

“You saved my life, man,” Rivaldo said.

Nino opened his eyes in realization.

Yes. Nino thought, I saved Rivaldo.

“Come on,” Rivaldo said, seemingly excited. “Two left.”

Nino nodded and followed. It was much easier than it should have been. It’s easier than people think, really, or at least it was far easier for Nino than he had expected. In a matter of hours, or even less than one, Nino had stepped into a different world in order to help his best friend. To be loyal and heroic.

Two bad guys were dead and Rivaldo was alive when he wouldn’t be if Nino was not there. Nino felt his facial expression relax and his eyes sort of go placid behind the sunglasses.

“Give me the gun,” Nino whispered.

“What?” Rivaldo asked, glancing back at him in surprise.

“I don’t want to be unarmed,” Nino said, “lemme have the gun.”

Rivaldo glared seriously at Nino, visibly impressed and inspired. He covertly handed him the pistol.

“You watch my back,” Rivaldo said, looking for assurance. Nino smiled the same way he always had, passively and easy going.

“Like a hawk with a gun,” Nino jested, loosely.

That was Nino’s world now.

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 – Brother in Arms (4)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (3)

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Chapter 3: Priorities

When Nino was ten years old, two guys in their late teens caught him off guard in the middle of the street and sought to steal his backpack. They were brandishing knifes. Rivaldo entered the scene yelling, jumping and striking at one of them with a rock he had picked off the ground.

Rivaldo found a way to kick the second guy’s knee in, finishing the fight, but not before getting stabbed himself.

Nino begged his mom to stay in the hospital and wait for Rivaldo to get better again, and he was allowed to do that, so Nino was standing right there when Rivaldo came out laughing and gloating.

“They think they can mess with my friend? HA! Not when I’m around!” The attitude was not appreciated by his mother, Rita. But it was by Nino.

Considerably.

“All I’m saying is I don’t understand why you’d want to watch it live,” Bruno argued, “it’s fine if you like it but–”

“How can you not? You call yourself Brazilian and you don’t like football?” Rivaldo argued.

“Playing it is fun, sure, but watching it is kind of boring,” Bruno commented.

Rivaldo looked at Nino, as if telepathically asking him if he could believe what was being said. Nino received the question loud and clear, and lightly laughed.

“How are we even friends with him, right?” Nino joked.

“Hey, no, that’s different,” Rivaldo backtracked, slapping Bruno on the back, “a guy takes a punch for you, you keep ‘im around.”

Nino glanced at his best friend, thoughtfully considering what he had said. It was the kind of thing he’d say without thinking, instinctually manifesting a spirit of loyalty that was unrivalled, so far as Nino was aware.

“It’d be better if that guy didn’t need to take any more punches, though,” Bruno said with a shrug.

They laughed.

Weeks had passed since the altercation at the football field and no real consequences had come of it. Yet, it was on that day that Nino’s promise to his father would be put to the test, which would be a hardship tiny in comparison to the one Rivaldo was about to experience.

That day, just as they were about to enter the school, Rivaldo got a call from his mother. Nino and Bruno left him to go to class and soon found that Rivaldo had decided to skip. He had left.

“”I guess the call was important, huh?” Bruno mentioned, concerned.

“Hm.” Nino agreed, worried as well.

It was agony, not being able to leave immediately. To not run out of the class, at least, and call Rivaldo to find out what had happened. Instead, he had to stay seated and patiently writhe in wait.

Even when he called, there was nobody picking up. It was deeply upsetting.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Nino said, maintaining his smile, if only to keep himself from getting desperate, “this is freaking me out.”

“We can’t do anything about it, man,” Bruno pointed out. “He’ll tell us what’s up eventually, we gotta wait. Or can you call his mom?”

“It’s busy,” Nino said, annoyed, “”I’ll try again before class starts.”

“Man,” Bruno said, looking up through the blonde hair that made up his fringe, “I really wonder what’s going on.”

Nino wasn’t satisfied with just wondering. His mind was at work, savagely trying to figure out what he could do, starting with what could be done.

I could ask a teacher but that’s stupid, Rivaldo’s only been missing for a couple of hours, Nino thought, I could try and call my mom so she can figure it out.

Nino decided to do that. Luckily, Aiko did pick up the phone. Without sounding desperate, but still sounding worried so that she would take him seriously, he told Aiko what had happened and asked her to find out.

“I’ll track down Rita and find out what’s going on,” Aiko said in her Japanese, pretty promptly.

“Sorry, mom,” Nino said, also in his Japanese, “I know it’s probably nothing but–”

“No,” his mother interrupted, “Now I’m also worried. Just try and focus over there, okay?”

“Sure…”

How could Nino focus at a time like that? He wouldn’t know, and indeed he didn’t. Instead, his mind wandered into realms of fantasy in which Rivaldo was in danger and Nino could actually help. A number of scenarios went through his head, all of them involving armed men trying to hurt his best friend.

Because that’s what had happened to Nino himself, years beforehand. The way Rivaldo had acted had upset the adults, but that’s because they didn’t get it.

Nino could see how everyone was so self-absorbed. Their well-being came first, no matter what, and Nino understood that. When Rivaldo risked his life for him that day, Nino knew for sure he would never have done the same.

He still felt ashamed about it, even after all that time. More than that, Nino thought it was so impressive Rivaldo could put others ahead of himself. It was heroic, something straight out of a television show. It was too cool.

It was something Nino wished to have.

“Nino!”

Nino shook his own head and returned his attention to the class to see the teacher pointing at him.

“Alright, glad you could join us, young man. I asked you a question,” the teacher said.

“Why?” Nino asked.

“What?” The teacher asked in turn, confused.

“Why’d you ask me a question? I’m obviously not paying attention,” Nino complained, smiling but not hiding his annoyance at all.

In response, the teacher pointed at the door and announced, “detention.”

“What?” Nino said, gesturing appropriate surprise.

He looked aside to find a couple sort of making out, not paying attention in the slightest. Nino gestured towards them. “Like…why?”

“Just go before I send you to the principal’s office,” the teacher said, visibly uninterested in discussing the issue.

“Tch,” Nino reacted, angry, smiling ironically at the fact the teacher had picked the worst time to get on his case. “Fine.”

Nino pulled the backpack around both shoulders and left the classroom, an action that was alas too noticeable since he was one of the last people anyone had ever seen get in trouble. A good well-behaved polite student.

Nino couldn’t help but protest in his mind. I behave like they want me to all the time. I’m not paying attention once and I get instantly punished? Nino slammed the door on his way out, disgruntled.

As Nino was making his way across the hall, downcast, his mobile vibrated to alert him about the arrival of a message.

“I need your help,” it read, followed by an address. It was sent by Rivaldo.

Nino started writing back, to ask what had happened, but he stopped himself. He knew Rivaldo, he had almost never directly asked for help. Any nudge from Nino would probably make Rivaldo change his mind and take on whatever was going on by himself.

Nino looked towards the exit of the school.

Nobody was around the halls except for one other student who was heading out to detention, but there would be the guards at the gate. However, Nino could go near the football field and jump out that way, that’s usually how students got in and out without being stopped.

Nino remembered his father, however. The warning he’d given and the promise Nino had made. If he skipped school now, especially when he had been sent to detention, they would notice it immediately.

Imagining having to deal with his father made Nino choke. Picturing the interaction physically squeezed his chest with dread.

Nino read the message again. He did a quick search on the address and found it was right next to a hospital.

What happened? What’s going on? Nino questioned in his mind, beyond worried.

The possibility that Rivaldo would be skipping class for no reason was very low. A plea for help next to a hospital? It had to be serious.

It occurred to Nino he could feign ignorance. Pretend he didn’t see the message. He knew Rivaldo, his friend wouldn’t completely believe Nino but he wouldn’t blame him either seeing as Nino didn’t know what was going on.

Rivaldo had never treated Nino differently for not sticking up for him in the same way he did for Nino. On the other hand, Nino felt their friendship would never be the same, whatever he decided. It’d either be better or worse.

That was the main reason why Nino made a fist and glared towards the door he have to choose to leave the school.

Sorry, dad, Nino thought, but you’re nothing next to a stabbing wound.

If Rivaldo was willing to getting stabbed for Nino, Nino was sure willing to getting yelled at by his father for the sake of his friend. He had to be.

If Nino ever wanted to be like Rivaldo, loyal and heroic, he had to be capable of something that small.

Nino stepped towards the door, slowly and cautiously.

And then he ran.

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 – Brother in Arms (3)

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (2)

PREV

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

Aegis Omega – Brother in Arms (2)

Aegis Omega – Keiji’s Journal (4)

PREV

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.

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 (4)