He woke up to someone’s forehead touching his own. A scream had almost escaped, as the figure before him was akin to a nightmare he had as a child.
His new companion smiled and pulled back. “Good morning, sleeping beauty. You slept like a rock. Lucky you, I’m not your enemy, ya’ know? I could have killed you in your sleep.” She threw the covers to the side and pushed her hair out of her face. A smile adorned her lips.
Jaycee wanted to argue, but she wasn’t wrong. In fact, if he had been back home, more than likely he would have been dead. Jail had made him rusty and careless. Still, he didn’t appreciate having someone like her point it out.
“Not much of a talker, are we? Anyway, we have to go. I found some clothes for you.” Her slender fingers pointed to black pants and a grey shirt over on the edge of the bed. Even though she seemed all over the place, it turned out that she was meticulous. She folded the attire evenly and without creases.
He needed a moment before jumping up, his thoughts hazy and eyes unfocused.
“Don’t worry, I won’t look.”
“That’s not the issue,” he responded. His words didn’t reach her, however, as she started humming with her head faced the other way.
The outfit fit better than he imagined. He’d be lying if he said the stealing part didn’t disturb him a bit, but who was he to complain about free clothes? With barely any coin to his name, fretting about the details was pointless.
After getting dressed, they made their way outside. The crisp, yellow rays illuminated the once bleak terrain. Jaycee had to squint his eyes to avoid permanent damage. The city, once devoid of life, was bustling with activity. People of all kinds littered the streets, adults and children alike.
“Here.” The girl threw a cloak at him. “Word of your escape must be out by now. We need to stay as inconspicuous as possible. Put it on and follow me. There’s someone I want you to meet.”
He considered asking her who, but her figure was already getting farther away. Soon enough, he would know the answer.
She led him between buildings and through throngs of bustling people. Merchants yelled for customers, announcing sales, while children ran around them playing tag. A powerful gust of wind kicked up a cloud of dirt. Jaycee pulled his hood down over his forehead.
He tried to keep his head down, but sometimes his eyes would wander. Flowers were in abundance, a range of colors, their beauty uncommon anywhere else in the world. As a city, Fioma was blessed with exquisite sights that other cities dreamed of. It was a shame only the rich could afford to live here.
A few minutes later, they arrived at a rundown house. The rusted sign had faded, but the words ‘weapon shop’ were still legible.
The girl ran over to a man leaning against the side of the building.
“Hey! Leon!” He stared, gaze sweeping over them. The standard military outfit covered him, with badges of all kinds pinned to the front. A warning immediately went off in Jaycee’s head. It should have been obvious that they had people on the inside. How else would they have broken him out of jail so easily?
“You’re late, Kyla,” he said. Leon continued to stare over her shoulder at Jaycee. “There’s been a change of plans. I’m going with you.”
“What? Why? I can handle this by myself. You’ll only get in my way.”
Jaycee felt like an outsider, even though they were the ones helping him escape. What a disaster. The brat, now named Kyla, pouted.
“It was his decision. No arguing.” Leon acknowledged him. “Come on, Sicarii, let’s go.”
Hearing that nickname was like a punch in the gut. Of course, they knew who he really was. Why did he assume otherwise? Wishful thinking, maybe. It was impossible to run from one’s past.
“Finally. Time to sneak on to an airship. World below, here we come!” Kyla grinned.
All Jaycee could do was nod and follow, stomach churning from anxiety. He wasn’t sure what was worse, being stuck in prison for the foreseeable future, or facing his demons.