5 years later, Aleksei Korenchkin looks up and admires the bronze figure in the centre of Adimere. The slender man returned his gaze toward the plaque at the statue’s base.
“Here lies Anatoly Korenchkin, Soldier of Truth, Agent of Freedom and Hero to Adimere.”
Aleksei kneeled down to get a closer look.
“I wish I hadn’t run.” Aleksei muttered to himself. A drop of rain fell on the concrete near Aleksei. Soon, a thick storm of rain and wind had encircled Aleksei. He stood up and pulled his coat shut around himself, shielding himself from the weather. He made his way slowly to his speeder, parked a few meters away.
“Farewell, brother.” Aleksei muttered, looking back at the statue. “I won’t run this time.”
Back at his hotel room, Aleksei took off his drenched jacket, hanging it on one of the room’s hooks. He then collapsed on the bed, searching through his memory. His mind whirred with feelings of angst and regret. Why had he run 26 years ago? What caused him to desert his brother, his life? Before he could ponder these questions, a knock was heard at the door of the hotel room. Aleksei was still wanted for desertion, and he was risking a lot by returning to Adimere. He sprung up, went over to his jacket and pulled out his sidearm. He slid over to the eyepiece in the door. Aleksei’s hands shook with fear; his mouth was as dry as the Adimere Desert. He slowly put his eye close to the lens built into the old wooden door. What he saw on the other side was a relief. It was a local call girl, knocking on all the hotel room’s doors. He slowly opened the door, keeping the chain lock in place.
“Are you in need of some company?” the girl fluttered, with a lack of confidence, which raised Aleksei’s anxiety levels through the roof.
“No thanks, I’m right, love” Aleksei said, his voice shaking.
“Are you sure, Mr. Korenchkin?” the girl replied.
Aleksei’s eyes widened and he leapt back from the door, pointing his pistol at the girl. Seeing the pistol, the call girl shrunk back with a small scream.
“How do you know that name!?” Aleksei questioned through all his fear and anger.
“My mother is a friend of your brother, the late Anatoly…” the girl replied meekly, with her hands still in front of her face. “She was his assistant in Remnant City…”
Aleksei was curious about this girl, but still remained cautious. He moved closer to the door, lowering his weapon at the same time.
“Mother always talked about Anatoly, especially how he was always talking about his little brother and how he disappeared after the first battle of Adimere… Mother says Anatoly said Aleksei wouldn’t have run, but even now you still have a desertion charge over your head… Why did you come back?”
Aleksei paused, questioning why he even ran in the first place.
“To pay my respects to Anatoly, that and nothing more. Now **** off honey, find some other customer.” Aleksei slammed the door behind him, silencing the hooker’s yelling.
Aleksei turned around, picking up his holster and tightening the leather straps around his waist. He packed all his clothes into his suitcase, and took his jacket off the wall. Forcing his arms into the sleeves, Aleksei paused, thinking what the hooker could tell the police. It was more reason to move faster, Aleksei thought, to get away from the UCC military police. And from this call girl. He finished putting on his jacket, and collected his things. He unlatched the door, and slowly opened the door. The girl looks up at him with a questioning look.
“Where are you going?” she asked, her voice lingering with a childish tone.
“Away. I wasn’t going to stay long anyway.”
“Why?” questioned the girl, like a child.
“Because, your mother worked with my brother, she would now work for the UCC. See my point?” Aleksei replied in an agitated tone.
“Would you stop calling me that!?” Aleksei growled
“Please don’t hit me!!!” she cried, with tears welling up in her eyes.
“I don’t need this ****.” Aleksei muttered. But he was the brother of Anatoly, and he still had his brother’s humanity. Even though he wanted to just leave, but Aleksei found it hard to walk away, to leave this pathetic creature in a pool of her own tears, so he abandoned his common sense for a brief second.
“Look, I’m sorry about yelling. It’s just that I’m a wanted man. I’m incognito here.” Aleksei said softly to the girl crouching down to see her face.
“Now, why are you here? Why are you looking for me?”
The girl sniffed back some tears, and spoke through the remaining.
“I’m in trouble. I can’t tell my parents though, and I have no-one else to go to.”
“But why look for me? I’m in no way related to you.”
“My mother would always talk about Anatoly, and how he would talk about his lost brother, and how his brother would help anyone in need.” The girl sniffed.
“That was a long time ago. I’m not a hero like Anatoly was. I ran like a coward. I can’t help you. I can barely help myself, let alone someone else. I have to get away from UCC land.” Aleksei explained.
“Then take me with you! Please?” the girl pleaded, latching onto Aleksei’s arm, shaking it in desperation.
Aleksei groaned, and questioned himself over the proposition. Should he take this girls word, believe her story, or leaver her here to sort out her own problems. She looked up at him with pleading eyes, searching his soul for any shred of compassion. Aleksei started to walk away.
“Wait!” the girl cried.
Aleksei looked back at the girl, who was on her knees begging him to take her, and he lost all of his logic.
Aleksei contemplated momentarily. To the girl, it seems like forever. Her desperate eyes searched him for something, anything - a hint of humanity.
Finally, he sighed.
"Just don't get in the way," he warned her, darkly.
"Oh! I won't!" the girl burst into sudden burst of energy and joy. She ran - no, bounced - towards Aleksei and enveloped him in a suffocating hug
“Hey-!” Aleksei was as almost knocked back by her enthusiasm.
“Sorry…” The girl let go and straightened up her clothes.
“Don’t worry about it. Now we got to get out of here, but first we need to get you new clothes.”
“Why?” The girl asked.
“Because you will stand out in a crowded situation.” Aleksei replied.
“Okay. My name’s Janet by the way.” She replied, her mood clearly being more positive.
“Let’s go.” Aleksei said quietly. Both of them headed out into the foyer, where Aleksei dropped off the room key, and headed out in the rain.
At a mall, not far from Anatoly’s statue, Aleksei waited inside a clothing store. The shop attendant, who is busy serving customers, took no notice of him or Janet.
“Find something dark and inconspicuous. We’re trying to blend in.” Aleksei told Janet
“I know, incognito.” Janet replied. She then went back to selecting clothes from the racks. Aleksei looked around the store, at all the bright displays, and all the bright posters on the wall. It seemed so long ago when he was young, when he would roam the streets of his hometown. Aleksei was abruptly removed from this world by Janet’s slightly annoyed tone.
“How about this?” she questioned. Janet was holding up a pair of loose black denim jeans, a navy fitted shirt, and a black jacket.
“Good enough.” Aleksei commented, “Now, let’s get out of here.”
“What, run out with the merchandise?” Janet asked, puzzled.
“No. That would cause attention. I’m not a common thief.” Aleksei replied.
Aleksei and Janet lined up for the register, and Aleksei’s mind once again began to wander. Why was he doing this? And wouldn’t this just lead to more trouble?
“Next Please.” The attendant said rather apathetically.
“Just these, thanks.” Janet replied, placing the items on the counter. The clerk scanned the items, with very little interest in her work.
“5000 creds.” She reported.
Aleksei dealt out 6000 credits and handed them over. The clerk paused.
“You’ve got 1000 extra –” the clerk was mesmerised by Aleksei.
“What?” Aleksei asked, clearly getting agitated.
“You look like Anatoly Korenchkin. That’s seriously freaky. Are you his brother? The famous long lost Korenchkin?” the attendant questioned excitedly.
“No, I’m someone else. You’ve got a mistake. Keep the change.”
Aleksei motioned to Janet to leave, and they both left the store back into the mall, leaving behind a stunned clerk who just made 1000 credits.
“So why did you run?” Janet asked, walking past people in the mall.
“None of your business.” was Aleksei’s gruff response.
“Look, just find a toilet block. You’ve got to get changed.”
“Why?” Janet asked, confused.
“Because your clothes are drawing attention to you, which draws attention to me. And I don’t want to be discovered.” Aleksei replied.
“But why do they want you that bad?” Janet asked persistently.
“Over here,” Aleksei moved Janet over to a toilet block. “Get changed. Quickly.”
“Okay, okay,” Janet answered, “jeez…”
Aleksei waits outside the toilet block, waiting for Janet to emerge. Aleksei pulled out a cigarette and proceeded to light it. He deeply inhaled the smooth tobacco smoke, spreading the calming nicotine throughout his body, relaxing his every muscle. Five minutes passed and Aleksei had finished his cigarette, but Janet had not finished changing. He decided, against all his morals, to go and investigate. Janet lay sprawled in the corner, half naked, with a hypodermic needle in her arm, tripping out on cheap heroin.
“Great, I helped a junkie.” Aleksei muttered to himself, “Come on get up. You chose a bad place to shoot up.”
Janet replied with a garbled response.
“Great. I have to help a tripping whore get dressed. What did I do wrong in a past life?” Aleksei muttered to himself. He bent over and removed the needle, placing it in a disposal bin. He then helped Janet into her shirt, which was half on, and do up her pants. Aleksei helped Janet to her feet, and helped her put on her jacket. He started to guide her to the exit when he was stopped by two military police standing in the doorway.
“Aleksei Korenchkin. You were a fool to look for a slut in Adimere.” The first said in a cynical tone.
“You do realise that you are a traitor to the UCC?” the second stated.
Aleksei shook his head.
“How many times do I have to tell you guys? I’m not Aleksei Korenchkin. I’m James Markov.” Aleksei responded in an angry tone. “Now, under Adimere law, prostitution is legal. So if you will excuse me…”
“You got proof?” the first officer asked.
“Right here. Look.” Aleksei pulled out his wallet and showed the officers a fake id.
“Oh, ****. Sorry sir.” The first officer said apologetically.
“Our mistake. Please enjoy your purchase.” sniggered the second.
Aleksei walked out of the women’s toilet helping Janet walk back to his speeder.
Upon reaching the speeder, Aleksei loaded Janet into the passenger seat, and began to walk to the driver’s side. Another pile of **** to clean up, he thought. Aleksei began to question his own choices in running from the fight 26 years ago, whether Anatoly would approve his way of life, whether Anatoly would have come looking for him if he had lived, or whether Anatoly would have stood by him during the court marshal. Aleksei would have to once again think about this later, as two officers walked up to his speeder.
“Aleksei Korenchkin, we’ll have to add identity theft to your list of felonies. Thought you could get in and out of Adimere undetected, didn’t you?”
Aleksei didn’t pause for a second, and drew his pistol and fired it twice. Two very pronounced cracks were heard throughout the mall. Both officers fell instantaneously, leaving their lifeless bodies in a pool of their own blood. Aleksei quickly holstered his sidearm and jumped into his speeder. The engines whined into existence and provided lift for the small craft. A wind blew from beneath it, and began to dry the blood on the dead officers. Aleksei quickly piloted the craft away from the city, and left one more burned bridge behind him.