Chapter 1Darius was in his dark room not waiting for anything. He was extremely tired of everything, his responsibilities, his family and his life. Everything in this petty world depended on him. Those people aren't smart enough to think for themselves so they need someone to think for them. Someone older and therefore wiser than them. They managed to destroy themselves on their own and he's the one that needs to clean their messes. Darius couldn't care less about any of them, they could all die right now, start another pointless war and he would look at it, enjoying the scenery in front of him. He'd gladly even die right now. But something prevented him from just killing himself. Perhaps it's the fact that he gets to control everything and he enjoys that or perhaps it's the fact that he's just too scared to. Either way, he lived. And he didn't care.
One of the Punishers entered his room. Darius quickly realized who it was because of the red uniform the man wore. Each type of his men wore a unique uniform for everyone to recognize. "What do you want?" asked Darius. "I brought the man who has violated the rules written by you and other Ancients, Sir Darius. We brought him here for your judgement," replied the Punisher. "Aren't you the ones supposed to think of a punishment? What makes this man worth bringing all the way to Ancient's Domain?" asked Darius, annoyed by such a pointless intervention from one of his men. "It is your son, Sir Darius," said the punisher. Despite the fact that it was his son who's about to face a punishment, Darius still didn't seem very interested. It's as if it wasn't his son in the first place, or anyone related to him in any way. He stood still for a few long moments and noticed that the Punisher is still there, waiting for him. Annoyed, Darius commanded the Punisher to bring his supposed son in. The man left the room and came back a few moments later, this time with four more men who wore the same uniform as him and another one who looked very hurt and wore dirty clothing. That man was Darius' son.
Darius still didn't seem to care about any of this. He just stood there, unimpressed and clearly annoyed. His few moments of break were just ruined by these people. "This man here is accused of participating in rebel activities which are against the rules of Hanistra. During his participating in those activities, he has killed four Watchers, two Punishers, five members of the Dark Brotherhood and one Bargainer. He has actively-" the Punisher was interrupted by Darius' hand move that was meant to make the Punisher stop, so the Punisher stopped. Darius looked at his son emotionless. His son looked at him with hate and anger. They looked at each other like that for long moments, they would've continued to if the man who brought Darius' son here hasn't intervened. "What is your judgement, Sir?" asked the Punisher that announced his son's presence. "Exile to the Inside didn't seem to be a fair enough punishment for your petty presence, my son. You couldn't just sit there like a good boy, you had to screw everything up like usual... you've disappointed me again, I'll make sure this time is the last," said Darius. Darius went further into his room, away from the five men, and approached his table. There was a plate with unfinished food on it and an iron dagger. He grabbed that dagger and came back, slowly. He looked at his son emotionlessly again for a few more moments and without anyone expecting it, stabbed his son's neck. The convicted's face quickly turned from angry to shocked. He couldn't breathe. Darius took the dagger out of his son's neck and the stabbed man fell on the ground, dead. "If you ever come in here during my break time without a good reason again, you will share his fate. Now clean this up and get out of here," said Darius without clear emotion but the Punishers felt anger in his tone of voice, the Punishers obeyed to Darius' order and soon left his room. Darius then cleaned the blood off of his dagger and put it back on the table.
"Why do I have to take care of everything here?" thought Darius. "I gave them a simple task and even then they need me. What is so difficult in giving punishments? What is difficult in walking around the Inside and report what you've seen? How difficult is it to sell weapons to the Inside? How difficult is it to just obey orders given?" Darius stood in his room without thinking about anything. He was too tired to think. He created a perfect system of profit between the Outside and Inside of Hanistra and that was a constant headache. While the Inside was endlessly destroying itself, the Outside would sell them weaponry for expensive prices. But this needed to be under control. That's why the Ancients sent different trained men on the Inside. The Watchers scouted the Inside and reported what was happening and where. The Punishers gave punishments for not respecting Hanistra's rules. The Bargainers went to Inside to sell weaponry. And the Dark Brotherhood took care of any issues in there that could turn against the Ancient's Domain. Controlling the Inside in their favour wasn't simple. The Ancients and their men were there for that, and Darius was constantly exhausted because of this.
Tanner was thrown out in the streets again, the door was closed and his body hit it open. He landed on the wet and dirty ground outside of his house. His already disgusting clothes have gotten dirtier. No one outside noticed this, busy with their own troubles. He tried to get up but his father joined him outside of the house and grabbed him by his neck. He was a lot larger and stronger and held Tanner in the air by the neck with ease. Tanner couldn't breathe. "Remember, you son of a whore, I own your sorry arse, I could kill you and nothing would be different. Because you're nothing but a waste of space and oxygen, just like your pathetic mother" said the man still holding Tanner by his neck. Tanner's mother rushed outside to intervene. "Gerald, stop it, please!" she begged. Gerald didn't release Tanner from his grip but his attention turned on Tanner's mother. "Beat me, but let go of your son!" she yelled. Gerald thought for a second and let Tanner go, he landed on the dirty ground again.
Gerald approached Tanner's mother and slapped her so hard that she fell. "And why are you protecting him, huh?" asked Gerald without expecting a response. He then grabbed her by her wrists and brought her back in the house. The poor woman was screaming help but no one reacted. Gerald put her on the floor. The woman tried to fight back but the man holding her was too strong and heavy. Tanner rushed back in the house, grabbed a wooden chair and hit his father with it. The hit was strong enough to break the chair, but wasn't strong enough to knock out the man hit. It instead angered him. Gerald quickly turned his attention from his wife to his son, grabbed one of the pieces of the broken chair and attacked him with it. The man tried to hit Tanner but Tanner moved out of the way quickly. The man turned on him again to try another attempt at hitting him. He rushed for Tanner but his mother came in the way. Gerald's sharp weapon reached Tanner's mother's body and she let out a loud scream of pain. Gerald looked at the place where the weapon reached her and saw red. Blood. He pulled the weapon out and she fell on the ground, motionless, dead. Gerald grabbed her body and threw it outside. "You killed her! You damned murderer!" screamed Tanner running at his father. He hit him, but his father didn't care. He hit him in return and Tanner flew across the room. He landed unconscious.
After what seemed to be hours, Tanner decided to try to open his eyes. The noises of the outside were for some reason gone as if everyone disappeared. He got confused, even at night it was pretty loud outside. And even then, where did his father go? The amount of noise he made was intolerable at best. Tanner opened his eyes, curious to know where everything went. He woke up in a different place, not a dirty house but a tent. Tanner was still in shock after what happened to his mother. He hated his father as it was but now, his hatred towards him could not be described in words. He laid in this tent for a few more minutes, he discovered that there was a bandage wrapped around his head and chest. After minutes, he attempted getting up but it hurt a lot. He was still determined to get up but the pain increased and it forced him to lay down. That landing must've damaged his ribs. He tried to get up again, the same thing happened.
He laid there for some more time, someone went inside. He was wearing a mask so Tanner couldn't tell who the stranger was. The stranger grabbed a flagon with some liquid inside. He got that flagon closer to Tanner's lips and asked him to drink it. Tanner hesitated, so the stranger said that if he wanted Tanner dead, he'd be dead already by now. So Tanner drank it, it tasted terrible but the stranger ordered him to swallow it. So he did. This drink had a terrible aftertaste. "It will help you heal, made it myself, not exactly delicious, I know, but it is what it is" said the stranger and put the flagon away. "Who are you?" asked Tanner. The stranger didn't respond and helped Tanner get up. For some reason, the pain in the ribs had lowered significantly, it wasn't as agonizing moving now. With help, Tanner left the tent.
When they got outside, it was no longer afternoon but a morning of the next day, the sun has barely came out yet, it was still pretty dark. Outside, Tanner noticed two more tents, one as big as the one he was in and one smaller. "Come here" said the stranger going towards the smaller tent. Inside of that tent was a large man tied up and with a bag on his head. Tanner quickly realized who that was. His mother's killer. The stranger took off the bag from the man's head and Tanner's expectations were approved, it was Gerald. "Who in thirty hells are you, you mask wearing fu-" Gerald was interrupted by the stranger's punch in the face. The hit was so strong and fast that Gerald spit out blood. "Just incase you haven't understood yet, I am the one who will throw the insults around, and you will be the one that respects me" said the stranger. "Go fu-" Gerald was interrupted by a punch again. Gerald spit out more blood. He noticed the angry Tanner, he was about to insult him too but decided it's best to not say anything, he'd rather keep his teeth. "You want to know who I am? Do you?" asked the stranger. "Yes, that would be dandy!" answered Gerald. The stranger took off the mask and Gerald's reaction was a mixture of shock and anger. The mask was hiding a face with a scar that blinded one of the eyes. Gerald suddenly felt as if he no longer had any chances of survival. Tanner became curious, they know each other? Who is that? Why would he help him and heal him? Quickly, the stranger took out a pistol and gave it to Tanner. "Come on, either you do it or I do it" said the stranger. Tanner took it with slight hesitation but the hatred towards Gerald were too big to pass on the opportunity of avenging his mother. Gerald's thoughts were right, it was indeed a dead end. "You're gonna make a 12-year-old shoot me dead? That poor idiot doesn't even have enough balls to-" Gerald was shot in the head by Tanner. That 12-year-old did have enough balls to shoot the man who murdered his mother.
The stranger grabbed the dead body and carried it away and buried it. "Who are you?" asked Tanner. The stranger took a second to respond. "I'm Thomas. That fat pile of crap killed my mother..." said Thomas and paused for a second, looking at the place where Gerald was buried. "So I found him and decided to settle our scores. And found you. He killed your mother right in front of you, I thought you deserved to have his head. How did it feel?" asked Thomas. "Adequate" answered Tanner. Thomas thought for a second. "Well, you got anywhere to go? Some friend of a friend who might take you with them?" asked Thomas. Tanner didn't have anyone left. "You can come with me, I suppose" said Thomas. They've been living together ever since. Thomas taught him things from how to properly fight, hide, use a firearm, build a fire to some unusual things like stealing. The two were thieving for a living. Many years they lived like this, going from one rich man to the other. But the most unusual lesson was this, "Remember this, kid, there is no such thing as family or love or anything like that, there are only common goals. Our job is dirty so we'll have to betray people sometimes. And maybe they will betray us. Don't get too attached to anyone, even me. Everyone is for himself, always watch out for everyone. Trust no one. You got it?" asked Thomas. Tanner nodded. But ironically, Tanner started to get attached to Thomas throughout the years. He started to feel like family. And that wasn't a good sign considering what they're doing for a living. Their job was indeed dirty and dangerous and at any moment, Thomas may die. Or worse... "He will never betray me, I have his back and he got mine" thought Tanner. He was certain of that.
8 years passed since Tanner and Thomas first met. They were preparing for a heist. Their biggest yet. Some Ronni was passing by not far from them, almost completely unprotected. He was carrying some important cargo for the Dark Brotherhood with him and they would pay a lot of money for whatever Ronni was carrying. Tanner was passing through the dark streets of East-ruins. An old city somehow still standing after the many years of destructive wars that led to the separation of the world to Inside side and Outside side. As the name suggests, this city is on the eastern side of the Inside, where the war was the least terrible, but destructive nonetheless. The wars didn't leave the city untouched, the windows of some buildings were broken, the houses were barely standing if standing at all. The people who lived there were constantly checking their houses to see if it will crumble. Just in front of Tanner, some buildings turned to a pile of bricks and wooden planks in a matter of seconds, killing anyone inside. In East-ruins, Tanner was supposed to meet someone called Arian, Thomas' old friend who had a few people who would help them intercept the truck on which Ronni was. But neither Thomas or Tanner knew exactly where he was, so he was just wandering around hoping that maybe he will just bump into him. Tanner's thoughts about where Arian could be were interrupted because someone bumped into him. "Can't you watch where you're going?!" asked the person that bumped into Tanner. Tanner ignored him and moved on. "Don't you ignore you me, you-" that person was about to jump on him but Tanner reacted quickly and grabbed him and pushed him against the ground. By doing so he found a way to find Arian. "Alright, I won't ignore you, but you better be useful then. Do you know anything about someone called Arian?" asked Tanner. The person grabbed was under shock so it took him a few moments to formulate his response. "Arian, oh yeah, I know him, go to the Devilish Horses tavern, he runs the place" he answered. "Good, are you satisfied with me not ignoring you, now?" asked Tanner, the person nodded. "Get the hell outta here, I don't want you to be within a 50 km range of me, I can smell you from even farther than that" said Tanner, pushed the man away. He knew where that tavern was. Devilish Horses, what a stupid name, he thought.
Within minutes, he found the Tavern. It was no different from the other houses, barely standing, ready become a ruin any second. This made Tanner very uneasy. But despite feeling almost certain danger, he went in. What they're going to get afterwards will be worth it if he walks out with all his limbs intact. He opened the door that led inside, it made a very loud cracking noise. Without even opening it entirely, the door fell. If Tanner only felt uneasy before, now he was scared. This tavern barely stands! No one inside the tavern seemed to notice anything, nor the door, nor his fear. There was a surprisingly large amount of people drinking in here, completely ignoring the fact that they're extremely close to death. Some were even dancing and jumping around and after each of those jumps, Tanner felt that the place would crumble now. He had to quickly get to Arian, talk to him about the heist, preferably outside. "You!" Tanner heard someone yelling for him, he turned to the counter and saw a man looking at him. "What are you waiting for, come'er!" called the man, Tanner obeyed, still paralyzed by the constant thoughts of possible death. "I'm Arian, you must be looking for me" said the man. Tanner nodded. "I think I'd prefer talking outside" Tanner answered. Arian laughed. "You don't seem to like to live dangerously. Meh, all ye thieves are same paranoiacs. Come" called Arian and headed outside. Arian suddenly noticed the door. "Where did my door go?" asked Arian. Tanner tried to answer but Arian didn't care enough to listen to him. "Donnie, cut Joffrey's ear off and tell him if he breaks something else of mine, I'll take his eyes!" said Arian and the man referred to as Donnie nodded and went further into the bar. Tanner was lucky he didn't say anything about the door, very lucky. They got outside.
"So, I like to eat kangaroos" said Arian and everyone around them seemed really confused. Apart from Tanner, he knew what it meant. Thomas send a message to Arian and to make sure that Tanner meets the right Arian, Arian had to say that and Tanner had to respond... "I prefer them with mayonnaise" said Tanner. Now both knew that they met the right man. Arian started speaking quieter. "Three imposters went to see me. I knifed them all, was about to gut you too" said Arian. "Probably some spy poked around and found out about the heist. Good thing that this part was in code" said Tanner. "There isn't anything to worry about, the locations written in that file aren't correct, that's why we're meeting here, Thomas predicted that there would be some spies around" said Tanner. "My boys are waiting at the northern border of the city, ready. They're in a battle truck, fast and resistant" said Arian reassuring Tanner. "Thomas is still following that guy. He'll send the location in 2 minutes. Get ready and we'll get to your boys" said Tanner. "I'm ready, let's go" said Arian. Arian started going forward but Tanner hesitated, something wasn't right. It felt as if someone was about to follow them. He looked around trying to make sure no one is following. Still unsure, Tanner decided to go to the border to find the men that will help them in their heist.
They arrived there faster than he expected, just like Arian said, everyone was prepared. At least 8 men were sitting in the back of the battle-truck and 2 more were in front, one ready to drive. Neither of them wore any armour but all had at least one gun. "Reassuring, isn't it?" said Arian jokingly. Seeing this was indeed reassuring, knowing that you have some human shields who will willingly risk their lives for you would reassure anyone. But that didn't reassure Tanner completely. He still wasn't certain if someone followed them or not and couldn't confirm that. He was about to send two of the guys on the truck to go make sure that no one followed them but he received the message showing the location of Ronni. "Okay, we have exactly 15 minutes to reach the western side of Greenwater" said Tanner. "If we hurry, we can arrive in 10 minutes. Cmon, get in the truck" said Arian and sat in the back of the truck. Tanner did the same. The truck left the East-ruins and rushed at full speed towards the Greenwater river.
The road was terrible. They needed to hold on to not fall off the truck because of how bumpy it was. But they couldn't go slower, the river wasn't close and they also needed to cross it. This was Ronni's last stop, if they failed at catching him now they would have to chase him. It was a lot more dangerous than just attacking him while he didn't move. They brought this much armed people just incase this happens. They would need as much firepower as possible to stop a truck. 3 people would be more than enough for an interception of an unmoving truck with only one person inside; Ronni. Thomas had to take precautions. One of the hired men wasn't holding on during the trip. "Bunch of pussies, holding on like it was your-" he tried to finish but the truck hit a bigger bump and knocked him off the truck. "He probably would've preferred to be a pussy now. Too bad for him... he ain't getting no reward if he even manages to get back to the city without being killed by scavengers" said Arian and as he said it, everyone apart from the drivers could see another figure killing the unlucky, choking him and beating him endlessly. "I see the river!" said the driver. "And I can smell it!" said another one of the armed men and everyone laughed. The river was formed out of toxic and nuclear wastes during the war. The smell was atrocious and dangerous. Without a gas mask, no one should be close to it for long. "On the bridge, double the speed. I don't want to have a text saying 'died from smelling too much nukes' on my gravestone" said Arian. No one wanted that. On the bridge, the road was less bumpy and they could go faster on it without crashing. The bridge was at least 200 meters long, they crossed it quickly and easily.
They drove away from the river in the direction of west to be at the safe distance away from it. When they thought it was far enough from it, they stopped. Tanner took out his binoculars to see where Ronni was. "There he is, I see the truck" said Tanner pointing in the direction of that truck. Quickly, everyone prepared for a fight. It wouldn't be hard to win, but still anything could happen. They rushed towards Ronni and in a few minutes, they reached him. They stopped in front of the truck and noticed Ronni who had a shotgun in his hands. Before they got out, Ronni already shot one of them and ran for cover. "You two, go block that side, we block this side. Tanner, try to contact Tom" ordered Arian. The two men that were pointed out went to the left side of Ronni's truck while the rest stood at the right. "You have no clue how important this is! In the right hands, this is worthless!" yelled Ronni while hiding behind the front of his truck. "That's exactly why we want it. You know, we could've just taken it and even rewarded you for getting it for us but now that you've killed one of my boys we'll have to do it more rudely..." said Arian telling the men on his side to get closer to Ronni with hand gestures. "In the wrong hands, this can kill all of us! Okay, who's your buyer, huh? I'm sure my buyer can get you twice as much" said Ronni still trying to convince them. "Our buyer is that Brotherhood, the guy you're getting this to. Just like I said, we could've solved it peacefully but you decided not to..." said Arian.
Tanner was still trying to contact his friend. No messages he sent were answered to. "I am here" said someone behind Tanner. He quickly turned around to see who it was, almost ready to shoot them dead. It was Thomas. "Don't scare me like that again" said Tanner. Thomas smiled in response. He then walked away. "Where are you go-" Tanner couldn't finish. The battle-truck on which he arrived exploded. The explosion threw Tanner away with a violent shock and he landed on the ground half-conscious. He looked around and saw more people, he didn't recognize them but they started shooting Arian's men, who were all shot dead in fear and confusion. He looked at Thomas and saw a bomb rigger in his hands. He caused that explosion! Tanner could not believe it, after all those years of being friends he has been betrayed. "The truth of life, there are no friends, only common goals." Tanner watched angrily at what was happening. Arian was fighting back but Thomas shot him in the head from behind. Ronni tried to run but he was shot in his leg then in the chest. Those other people got in Ronni's truck and took a big metal box out. It wasn't light from what Tanner could tell, but a dozen of men was enough to carry it out. Then they all, with Thomas, got away. Tanner tried to get up but he lost consciousness.
He was betrayed. The only person he trusted betrayed him.