In the world of Ganepa, everyone lived in peace. Five great nations thrived as one: the central heartlands of Pyropus, the western deserts of Bashikstan, the northern tundra of Lumis, the southeastern highlands of Lyptia, and the northeastern island of Apricaro. But the peace wouldn’t last forever.
The king of Apricaro, Geno Gortev, sealed the nation off from the rest of the world, constructing concrete walls hundreds of feet high around the island. The leaders of the other nations were distressed. Apricaro went quiet for twenty years. After a long silence, they built a land bridge into Pyropus, known as the Gate. The other nations hoped that broken ties would be rebound. Instead, Geno Gortev had violent means of communication.
Geno’s Celestial armies, wearing crimson coats and wielding weapons of destruction, marched across the Gate with the intent to wring peace from the other nations. Blood, bullets and stained steel scattered across the land. The other nations didn’t stand a chance. Their flags were burned and replaced with the crimson vulture. Geno seized control of nearly the entire world with one swift attack.
250 years have passed. The world lies in a dictatorship. Geno somehow remains alive, ruling Ganepa from behind the Old Wall of Zenith. The nation of Apricaro was renamed to Zenith, bred by the evil ambitions that gave birth to the war. Gideon Gortev, Geno’s oldest living kin, controls Zenith’s Celestial armies. A Resistance has made many attempts to free themselves from Geno’s grip, all to no avail.
The world waits in silence, praying for any glimmer of hope to shine...
“Can you tell me another story, mom?” A small, brown-haired boy asked, lying in a bed made of hay. “Just one more? Please! I can’t sleep.”
“Just ignore the tide, dear,” A woman with a bright, vibrant smile rested her hand against the child’s forehead. She brushed back his shaggy hair, staring into his glossy emerald eyes. “You need to sleep. Mommy has to help daddy with something before we set sail.”
“Just one more story! I promise I’ll go to sleep. Promise!”
The woman turned her eyes steadily toward Vincent. “Promise?”
With a sigh, the woman got down on her knees, meeting Vincent’s eyes as he rested his head against a thin pillow. She took a breath, speaking with a smooth, rhythmic voice.
“Thousands of years ago, there were these incredible people known as mythics. They could reach for lightning, draw energy from the stars, light a fire with their fingers... anything they could imagine! One of these mythics was a little girl. Legends say she wandered into a village that had their crops burned and their animals stolen by a group of ravagers. The girl managed to grow wheat and vegetables just by placing her hand to the ground where the seeds were once planted. The villagers were speechless. The girl was invited to stay in the village.
“Soon after, the villagers were attacked by the same ravagers. Many of the villagers were mortally wounded, others died. The little girl came up to the dying villagers, held her hand over their wounds, and their injuries were sealed. As for the dead, she placed a glowing light over their hearts, and blood pumped through them again. The villagers were again awe-stricken, but also terrified. They feared that if this girl could restore life, she could also bring death.
“The villagers all conspired against her, ready to kill the little girl. They came at her, and she just stood still, waiting for them to finish their charge. But in their stampede, they stopped. One by one, their feet came to a halt. The villagers dropped their weapons, frozen in their charge.”
“Why?” Vincent asked.
“No one knows. Maybe they saw the innocence in her eyes. Maybe they realized that even the most terrifying things in this world can also be the most beautiful.”
Vincent slipped out a yawn, reeling him closer into a sleep as his eyes fluttered shut. His mother rested her hand on Vincent’s forehead, humming a soft melody. Vincent smiled and pushed himself to the side of the bed, toward the window. He saw a bright light rising into view from further down the river. The light beamed from side to side, scanning the water, until it focused on their boat. Vincent sat up and turned to his mother, whose eyes were steady on the light.
The cabin door flew open, slamming against the wall. A tall man with short, spiky hair rushed in. He had a double barreled rifle strapped on his back, made from hollow pipes and splintered wood, held together by layers of tape and tubes. He plucked Vincent from his bed, wrapping him in his arms.
“Cooper?” Vincent’s mother came to his side. “What’s wrong?”
The man briefly turned to her, heaving, barely able to speak. “Celestials,” he heaved, “they know we’re here. We need to leave!”
Stricken by panic, Lydia stuck behind Cooper, trudging onto the deck of the ship wearing tattered sandals and a loose dress.
Vincent, dizzy-eyed, saw snippets of what was happening around him. Men and women on the deck loaded weapons made of pipes and gears, readying themselves for the menace barreling toward them. As the light emanating down the wide Partitus River grew larger and brighter, frantic whispers were hushed under shouts: “They’re coming!” “Are we going to die?” “King Gortev’s hunting us!”
“Are we going home, daddy?” Vincent spoke in a mumbled daze.
Cooper didn’t respond. He kept running until he reached the rear of the ship, onto the deck. City lights flickered from inside the buildings that towered over the riverside.
“Lydia?” Cooper called.
“I’m here!” She called, catching up to her husband. “We have to head back to Cerville before the boat gets here.”
They both glimpsed toward the city, stopping. A small group of soldiers came marching their way toward the deck. Their crimson coats, covered with silver and gold lining, shone under the city lights. They raised their weapons at the sight of Lydia and Cooper.
“Get back on the boat!” Cooper shouted, retreating to the deck just as the Celestials opened fire. Other passengers started shooting at the soldiers advancing from the pier.
The Celestial ship pierced through the tide, its light growing brighter by the second. Those standing by the railing started taking shots at the enemy ship, reaching into leather sacs that collected small piles of ammunition. But it wasn’t enough. One by one, the passengers were picked off from shooters on the enemy ship. Cooper and Lydia hurried into the cabin of the boat, sealing themselves inside as bodies continued dropping on the deck.
“How’d they find us?” Lydia caught her breath.
“Doesn’t matter now. We just have to fight our way out of this,” Cooper said.
“We can’t fight our way out of here!”
“We have to try, for Vincent!”
“Cooper, we can’t.”
“We don’t have a chance, but Vincent does. He can get out of here.”
Cooper looked at his son’s flooded eyes, dread surged up his spine. “Okay,” Cooper breathed out. “Okay…”
Cooper bent down and let Vincent stand on his own. Vincent turned his head back and forth between his parents, trying to hold his tears back, “We’re not going across the river?”
Lydia and Cooper kneeled down, each resting a hand on his shoulders. “You need to get out of here,” Lydia embraced him, squeezing tightly. “Live your life.”
“W-what? I don’t… I don’t…”
“Vincent, listen to me,” Cooper held his son tightly, joining his mother in a loving embrace. “Make something of yourself. Do it for your ol’ pop.”
Vincent said nothing. He held his parents tightly, hoping they wouldn’t let go.
A motorized purr shook the walls of the boat. Light flooded the window, blocking the view outside.
“Open the hatch,” Lydia said, keeping her eyes on the door.
Without hesitation, Cooper kneeled down, tugging against a wooden panel in the floor, unveiling a hatch underneath. Cooper twisted the wheel to the hatch, opening it. Inside was a thin ladder leading to a second hatch. Vincent’s heart nearly stopped.
“Kick that bottom hatch open and dip into the water,” Cooper looked into his son’s eyes, holding his shoulders. “It’ll get cold. Make sure you swim, and swim fast!”
Lydia sniffed, trudging over to Vincent. “Do it like we practiced,” she told him, “tell me how we practiced it.”
Vincent couldn’t speak. His throat was filled with so many things to say, but when he opened his mouth none of them slipped out.
“Baby, I need you to tell me. Tell me how it’s done.”
Vincent calmed down, trying to speak the best he could. “Paddle with… my l-left hand, and kick with my right. Then… paddle with my right, kick with my left. Then I do it all again.”
Lydia gave her son one more kiss on the forehead, followed by a final hug. “You’ll beat this world, Vincent. You’re the strongest, smartest, bravest boy alive!”
The purring of the ship’s motor stopped but the light still shined. “They’re boarding,” Cooper whispered.
Lydia held Vincent’s hand until he made it down the hole. Vincent took his first step down the ladder, then lowered his foot onto the second bar. After a couple more steps, he was blanketed by darkness and the panel slipped over the hatch. Lydia reached for the handle to the cover, whispering, “I love you.”
After a click, he was sealed in the hatch.
Vincent continued down the ladder until he reached the second hatch. He kicked and he kicked, moaning, sobbing with every stomp. After a few more kicks, the hatch popped out, showing the water that the boat was rocking on. Some droplets splashed up, giving Vincent an icy touch. He shuddered at the thought of dropping into the water. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and plunged into the pale blue.
The frigid sting of the river froze him the second he submerged. The chills numbed his body, freezing his arms and legs. With all his strength, powered by a lament of will, he paddled through the water. Left hand, right foot, then his right hand, left foot. Repeat, repeat, repeat. He could barely keep his eyes open as he followed the city lights reflecting against the surface. He pushed—left foot, right arm, right foot, left arm—through the water.
Vincent reached surface. He took a whiff of fresh air, shivering from the cold. He turned toward the unknown ship docked beside their own, and saw a dark grey flag with the shadow of a red vulture waving in the wind, wings spread outward. There were a pair of red swords crossing into an ‘X’ behind the vulture. It was the only flag he had ever seen in his life, and he knew it meant trouble.
There were voices emerging from his own boat, voices he had never heard before. He kept on paddling his way to shore, keeping his ears perched high. His body shook when he heard a loud splash coming off the side of the ship. Vincent turned and saw a lifeless body floating in the water. Another body was plunged into the depths, but Vincent actually saw the man who tossed him in.
He could make out the crimson red jacket, lined with silver and gold running from the collar and the sleeves down to the base of the jacket. The patch of the flag was pressed into the left breast, in the shape of a shield. The men also wore thinly-plated armor, colored black and red underneath their jackets. They held polished Batila rifles, semi-automatic weapons with twenty rounds in the clip. Each weapon was crafted from Zenith steel and Zenith wood.
Vincent kept swimming, inching closer to the Cerville shore. He pulled himself onto the rocks, helped by the shallow waves drifting toward the sandy shore. Vincent’s body slid against the soaked sand. He got to his feet with his leftover strength, running toward the city. He turned around to take one last look at the boat when he heard
Vincent shuddered where he stood, tears filling up in his eyes. He ran up the sandy dune and climbed onto the boardwalk. As he pulled himself over the railing, there was a tremor that shook the boardwalk, followed by a loud explosion that rumbled his eardrums.
Vincent turned back to find the escape boat in flames, while the Celestial ship turned around and headed back down the end of the river it came from. Vincent watched the inflamed boat sink into the water as smoke plumed in the sky. He couldn’t breathe. He held the railing tight, trying to keep himself from falling down.
When he saw Celestial soldiers marching up the pier, Vincent turned around, running into the city without a place to go.
ACT I: A SOLDIER FROM CERVILLE
20 years later…
Vincent turned his head to the sunlight shining through the cracked window, signaling him to wake up. He opened his eyes, letting his emerald irises soak in the sun. He shifted himself toward the edge of his mattress on the floor, standing up. He stretched, feeling his vertebrae cracking as he stood. He tilted his head back and forth, letting his hickory hair shift from side to side. He slipped on a dark green shirt over his rail-thin body, ready to start his day. Again.
Out his bedroom he walked into the other room of his confined apartment: the kitchen. It was a cubed room with a small round table with two chairs and a single window. There was a hole in the floor that held and cooled his food.
Vincent’s routine was the same every morning. He’d walk toward the window, looking down to the streets, watching the horse-drawn carriages pulling supplies throughout the small but bustling city. Celestial soldiers marched along the streets and sidewalks. After looking out the window for a minute, he reached into the cooler for a yellow Kyu Apple, a thick, heavy fruit grown only in the Lyptian Mountains. Vincent spent an extra bronze on the bunch, but he didn’t mind. He took a bite into the monstrous fruit, holding it with both hands as the juice dripped from the core down his lips.
With his fruit still in hand, he slipped on his navy blue leather jacket and reached for the door. Vincent proceeded to walk out of his room into the stain-splashed halls. Trash covered the carpeted floor. Mold grew in the ceiling. Sometimes there would be shouting heard from some neighbors, or a Celestial barging their way in to do some ‘investigating,’ making sure the rooms were ‘safe.’ Every time Vincent walked through these halls, he reminded himself that he was lucky enough to afford this.
Through the lobby and past the sign reading Lepley Apartments, Vincent took his step onto the sidewalk. He kept chomping into his apple, keeping his eyes locked on the road ahead, avoiding eye contact with the Celestials passing by. They usually waved around their fine-polished, silver laced, semi-automatic Batila Rifles, or their J-shaped wooden Servio pistols from their belts. Celestials usually have a sword or a couple daggers hidden underneath their coats for extra protection. Vincent knew this, he was smart. He understood that if he rattled any loose screw in a Celestial’s head, it’d be over for him.
Then there were plenty of citizens in the city, men and women that survive day by day. Strugglers. They wore ragged, tattered clothing, whatever they could afford. The typical wardrobe consisted of three to five dull-colored shirts and trousers, sometimes with dust or cuts running down the garbs. Lucky civilians had a jacket or a hat for the rain and snow.
Vincent reached the city square about halfway to his destination, statue of the Geno Gortev in the square’s center. The statue stood fifteen feet tall, depicting the world leader wearing a full set of granite armor, holding up a sword two-thirds his height, waving it to the sky, eyes to the clouds. The leader’s face was finely chiseled, and his physique well-built. Vincent walked past the statue without a glance.
After crossing a few more streets, turning a few more corners, Vincent reached the Cerville Industrial Plant. The factory sign had the vulture logo imprinted behind the lettering. He tossed his chewed up apple core into the nearest garbage can before processing inside. The best part of the work day for Vincent was taking a final whiff of fresh air before being sucked into the murky site.
As soon as Vincent stepped inside, he was met by a Celestial guard patting him down. Vincent lifted his arms out and spread his feet until he was cleared. He continued inside, past a set of double-layered steel into the main workspace, the manufacturing room.
Several conveyor belts lined parallel with each other, with a few workers taking each side of every station. Their hands were gloved, wielding wide sledgehammers, crafting and shaping molten metalwork. There were workers as young as six, and as old as sixty. Dust and small metallic fragments covered the floor, scraps from a day’s work. At the beginning of each belt, iron ingots melted into a larger mass are plopped onto the belt, which are then smashed by hammers and prods to shape the mass. The slumps are sent down the line, where they are bent into blades and barrels for swords and guns. The shaped irons are sealed in a cooling vat at the end, where they sit until it is cold enough to place on handles and triggers. At the end of the line, they’re all packaged together in wooden boxes, set on carts to be shipped to Celestial hotspots around the world.
Vincent worked in the middle of the line, where he and a few others crafted the metal into the blades and barrels. Easy, he thought, the shape of a blade was easy to replicate over and over again. As he walked to his position, he noticed two Celestials beating up on a worker. One of the Celestials pulled out his sword and started whipping the man with the broadside. Everyone continued their job on the ironworks, disregarding the brutality. Vincent followed his peers, walking by without a word or passing stare.
He kept walking until he found his place in the conveyor belt lineup, where he stood beside his co-worker, Joshua Climen. He was a towering, muscular, black-bearded man, and Vincent’s only acquaintance in the factory. Joshua leaned over to Vincent just as he slipped on his leather gloves, asking, “You bring something for me?”
Vincent shook his head. “I forgot. Didn’t have much time today,” he said, picking up his hammer.
With a sigh, Joshua lifted his hammer and swung down at the smelting metal. “It’s alright, I’ve been on an empty stomach many times before.”
“I’ll bring an apple tomorrow. I got plenty stashed in my apartment,” Vincent replied, taking a couple swings to straighten the blade.
“It’s fine, really. I can live on an empty stomach.”
“Everybody falls from some weakness. Yours is food.”
Joshua let out a hefty chuckle. “Maybe. It’s just, you know, working for thirteen hours non-stop really leaves a pit in your stomach.”
Vincent said nothing. He just took another couple swings, until the left end of the blade was finally straight. One more power swing from the right end of the blade, courtesy of Joshua, erected the proper shape. The duo pushed the finished product into the cooling vat, just as another molten ingot took its place. Vincent reached in the cooling vat, picking up another blade that sat overnight.
“You gotta test out the product? Right now?” Joshua asked.
“Gotta make sure it works,” Vincent said.
Vincent spun the blade in a circle, thrusting the sword forward in a stabbing motion. He pulled the blade back, and swung upward. When he started get collected stares from Celestials, he set the blade back in the cooling vat, closing it. He picked up his hammer and started smashing into the next molten blade, shaping it.
“You’re not very subtle about testing the product,” Joshua chuckled.
“Yeah, well,” Vincent sighed, swinging the hammer, “it gives me something else to do, you know?”
An alarm blared throughout the building. Everyone turned to the office overlooking the conveyor belts, where a white-haired man put his mouth to a microphone, getting the attention of all before speaking through the intercom. “What does the foreman want?” Commotion from the crowd swirled.
After a tap on the microphone, the foreman spoke. “Look alive, halfwits! Tomorrow morning, we will be visited by General Costello. Costello is conducting a tour around Pyropus. He’ll be making a brief stop here to inspect the workforce—which is all of you, for you limp brains out there—to see if we are up to par for Zenith’s standards. If any of you screw this up for me, you’ll be swallowing the grit of my boot. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, sir!” Everyone shouted.
“That is all,” the foreman said, stepping away from the microphone.
Hammers began swinging again, without a word of the chatter. Except from Joshua. “You think this is our chance?”
“Our chance for what?” Vincent asked.
“To get into Zenith! It’s a stretch, but at least Dean isn’t here to screw it up.”
“Don’t talk about Dean like that,” Vincent loathed, “that accident wasn’t his fault. Plus, he was a good friend of mine.”
“Alright, alright,” Joshua eased off.
“Besides, we’re never going to Zenith. No one in this plant is.”
“It’s just… man! Being picked to live in the capital would be an honor. Maybe I’d even meet Geno himself.”
“Only his family and closest allies have ever met him,” Vincent barely batted an eye toward Joshua. Vincent wished Joshua would drop the topic all together.
“What do you think he’s like? Costello must’ve met him. Maybe if I could talk to the general—”
“Joshua, can we just work on these blades?” Vincent blurted out. “We have a quota to meet. We should probably stick to it,” he said, looking to the beaten man on the floor.
In a subtle shock, Joshua just nodded his head and looked to the blade. “Okay, sure. No problem.”
Joshua said nothing after that. The two went back to shaping blades. Vincent’s swings grew more intense, pounding into the ingot with all the strength he had growing inside him. He wanted this day to be over, just like every other day.
Thirteen hours later, with the sun gone and the moon rising overhead, the factory was closing. Vincent was by himself outside the factory, smoking a cigarette after the long day. Everyone had gone but him and the foreman, who was still inside. He figured a smoke was the best way to ease his mind afterward, before he'd have to go home and start it all again.
He felt the blaze crawling down the smoke, taste of ash laden in his mouth. He coughed and chucked the dying smoke. He pulled another cigarette from his pocket, setting the lighter’s blaze to the tip of the smoke. He watched the string of gray clouds disperse in the air as he reflected on the day, contemplating what will happen the next day, and the day after that, and after that. For a moment, he tried to ignore all the thoughts, the noise. Silence, just for once, he told himself.
Then, there was a creak from above. He rolled his eyes, expecting to see a cat shaking the fire escape. Instead he saw a heavy black shadow moving swiftly across the brick wall, leaping from one fire escape to the next. He watched the shadow leap through an open window of the factory.
Alarmed, Vincent dropped his cigarette from his mouth. Another burglar, he thought. He rushed back inside to find the foreman.
He walked through the front room, lit only by a couple blinking electric lights buzzing along the walls. Walking faster with each step, Vincent made his way to the double-layered steel doors, finding them locked from the inside after tugging on the handles. He was about to knock, until he heard footsteps coming from the catwalk connecting the two room above. It was the foreman.
Vincent was about to say something, until he noticed that the foreman trembling with each step. There was a dagger lodged in his back. The foreman fell to the mesh, accompanied by a soft grunt when his body hit the catwalk. Bewildered, Vincent almost collapsed at the sight of what he witnessed. He almost turned around, about to run and shout for help—but he didn’t.
Instead of cowering, he noticed several boxes of finished weaponry sitting below the catwalk where the foreman laid on the cold steel. Vincent took a deep breath sprinting toward the boxes, jumping onto one and leaping onto another, climbing the hill of boxed steel. He snatched the guardrail, pulling himself over, nearly stepping on the foreman’s stomach when he swung over. Vincent turned away from the fresh corpse at his feet, gagging. He tiptoed into the main room, trying not to tremble.
The manufacturing room was illuminated by the faint glows from the electrical lights along the walls. All the conveyor belts were stationary, with some blades still sitting in the cooling vats near the end. Vincent crept over the guardrail, hung from the lowest bar and dropped to the floor. He paced forward, anticipating the shadows surrounding him to move any moment.
When he got to the end of the conveyor belts where empty boxes sat, he could hear a faint beeping. He followed noise to a flashing red light emanating from under one of the belts. He got on his hands and knees to examine the blinking light. He noticed a small mechanism with wires surrounding the outside, coated in a thin layer of a grey powder.
Vincent heard a commanding feminine voice, followed by an icy, metallic touch to the back of his head. It sent a shockwave down his spine. His breath went thin. He was trapped between a gun and a bomb.
“Listen to what I tell you, and you make it out alive. Got it?”
Vincent nodded his head.
“Stay right there. Let me finish my work. Understand?”
“Tell me you understand!”
“I understand!” Vincent perspired so much that his sweat dripped to the floor.
“Okay,” the ferocity in her voice soothed. “I’m going to remove the gun from the back of your head. You try anything, the floor will have more brains than you. Understand?”
She removed the gun from the back of his head. “Stay right there,” she said, as Vincent collected his breath. He slowly turned his head and noticed that the woman was wearing nothing but black, including a sash over her mouth, topped with a hood to hide her hair. She reached under the conveyor belt, configuring the wires.
Even though Vincent was shaking uncontrollably, he searched for a way out of his situation. He turned to the double-steel door, glimpsing at a fire alarm hooked to the P.A. system. He knew he couldn’t run without taking a bullet to the back of his head.
He looked down to the crook, and noticed a rusty pipe connected to splintering wood beside her, trigger hooked to the bottom of the tube barrel—a sidearm made of pipes. He turned his head around and looked to the cooling vat, just out of arm’s reach.
Suddenly, static blasted from the woman’s back pocket, which sent a charge through Vincent that made him jump. “Hey, come in, over! We may have company!”
The woman grunted, and reached for her pocket. She pulled her pipe pistol with one hand, and used her other to reach for a talkie. As she reached, Vincent stood and turned, kicking the pipe pistol out of her hand and under the conveyor belt, sliding it across the floor underneath the series of conveyors. Vincent was jabbed by the woman, sent to the ground with a single stroke.
Vincent rolled over, kicking up at her. She dodged. While she was kept back, Vincent stood up and opened the vat, revealing dozens of cooled blades inside. He grabbed one, holding the handle with both hands. When the woman charged him, he swung his sword with a few quick slashes, but the woman dodged every attack. When he swung up, the woman kicked him in the stomach, sending him to the ground. The sword slid across the floor.
Vincent quickly rose to his feet and dashed to the fire alarm, only to be tackled to the ground the moment his feet hurled into motion. Vincent was pinned face first to the floor, as the assailant pulled out a knife from her belt. The voice on the radio still trying to reach her. “Uh… hey? Hello? You there?” The voice kept breaking through.
“He can wait,” she huffed, “you can’t.”
Eyes to the ground, Vincent noticed the dust covering the ground. He reached for a small pile and threw it up blindly into the woman’s eyes. She groaned and held her flooding eyes. Vincent shoved her off his back, dashing toward the alarm. Even when the woman was nearly blind, she dashed after him.
Her delayed run allowed Vincent to pull the alarm, which rang an ear-popping screech that shook the entire building. Yellow lights flashed overhead. The steel doors opened up by themselves, retracting into the walls.
The woman continued charging. Vincent held his fists up, ready to fight. Instead, she punched Vincent square in the jaw, shoving him to the ground, bolting out the door. As Vincent picked himself up, there were shouts that echoed outside, followed by two gunshots. He spat out a few drops of blood, stumbling toward the door to see what had happened.
When he got outside, there were two dead Celestials lying on the sidewalk with bullet holes in their chests, without any trace of the assailant. Vincent looked up, down, left and right for any sign, but none could be found. The woman had vanished into the night.
He was already dreading what work was going to be like tomorrow.
Vincent was awake all night under Celestial supervision, explaining everything that happened in a cycle: the assailant, the voice from the radio, the dead foreman, the bomb in the workspace, the brawl, how quickly it ended, and repeating it all again. The Celestials questioning him recorded it all, scribbling the details in little red books.
Just as the sun rose, the early workers showed up in groups, passing anxious stares to one another, watching three dead men wrapped in cloth get carried off to the nearest mortuary. All eyes followed back to Vincent, who eyed them all back thinking what they would have done if they were here.
“Mister Parsons,” the officer snapped his fingers to get Vincent’s attention, “are you sure you didn’t get a look at this woman’s face? No features at all that you could point out?”
Commotion erupted from the crowd. Everyone turned, including the officers. A herd of small, lightning fast tanks, came riding down the street. These Rumbler tanks were barely larger than a horse carriage with a small cannon propped at the top. Two men crammed inside to control each war machine.
Vincent watched as four tanks passed by until they came to a sudden stop. A Rumbler three times the size followed behind, rolling onto the curb. The colossal tank had two cannons, with four machine guns nested at the cannons’ top, a Celestial occupying every gun. This particular Rumbler was coated by red and black paint covering the sides, standing out from the grey color the other Rumblers had. Above the tracks, sloshed in white paint, read its name: Purifier.
The manhole to the Purifier opened. All the Celestials and factory workers dropped to their knees, eyes planted to the ground. Vincent followed their gesture. Without batting an eye, he could hear a set of heavy boots marching toward the factory. When one of the troopers shouted, “Rise!” everyone rose.
Vincent stood up, finding himself under the shadow of a six-foot, white-bearded bald man wearing crimson and gold plated armor. He had a cap in his hands, covered with four silver stars pinned onto the front. The shadow of his cap hid the wrinkles scattered across his face. Ribbons and medals lined the breast of his uniform. “What happened here?” He asked the Celestial with a low, crisp voice.
After the Celestial stuttered for a moment, he finally gave his answer. “Um… this man here, Vincent Parsons, was involved in an incident here last night.”
“Vincent Parsons?” The man rolled his eyes to Vincent, tilting his cap up. “That you?”
Vincent nodded his head, turning away.
“An unknown assailant broke into the factory while Mister Parsons was here,” the Celestial continued. “Mister Parsons proceeded to enter the factory, where he consulted this figure in a fight. He was able to chase her out with the fire alarm... however, she killed the foreman of this factory, as well as two Celestial soldiers who apparently came to check the alarm.”