Down, But Never Out

I hated to admit it, but being betrayed by my brother - even if I hadn't seen him for years - was one of the most emotionally painful experiences of my life. True, we'd never been close, but the thought that he, my own family, would sell me out for money was just ... I couldn't even think of a word to describe it. I felt numb as the notion sank in, barely struggling as Henry dragged me into the back of Lucatz's hideout, dragged open a heavy door and flung me inside. Kris was shoved in after me, kicking and snarling as  she went, by a grinning Lucatz.

"I like 'em fiery," he said, smirking at the look of fury on Kris' face.

Before she could retaliate, Lucatz slammed the door in her face. I heard the sound of heavy bolts and locks being dragged and battered into place, Lucatz swearing all the while. I sighed and looked around. We must have been locked in some sort of strong room - most places down here had them. People saved up for years to afford some cheap steel sheeting and heavy-duty bolts in an attempt to fortify a room. Most of the time they kept weapons and valuables in them, if they had any, but some served for more ... inventive, purposes. From what I could deduce of this one, my brother clearly hadn't used it for valuables. The heavy black sacks in the back of the room didn't look like they were full of valuables, and they certainly didn't smell like it either.

"Bastard." Kris snarled, kicking the door angrily. "That sneaking, treacherous, back-stabbing snake! I can't believe he has the nerve to do that, you're his brother for hell's sake!"

I didn't answer. Stung as I was, I could see the logic in Lucatz's decision. He and his friends were hungry, everyone was, and harbouring Kris and I could easily get all of them killed if anyone found out. Why not get rid of the risk, and earn a decent reward in the process?

Finally, Kris stopped fuming and sloped off to the far corner of the room, curling up on the floor with her knees pulled up to her chest. She was muttering to herself, looking rather like an angry tiger that's been put in a very small cage.

"So this is it." she said irritably. "This is how we end up. After all this time, all the effort, we're just going to end up straight back where we started. If I'd known I'd have saved myself the trouble of running away and let them feed me to Vengeance. At least he would have had the decency to finish me off quickly. Pointless, absolutely bloody pointless."

"Don't give up now!" I protested. How could Kris have given up so easily? She'd been so strong all this time, refusing to give in even when things were desperate. She'd dragged me through the pipes, risked her life to find the medbot to heal me and refused to leave me to die, even though she'd had a million opportunities to save herself. And now she was giving up, just like that. I couldn't bring myself to believe it.

"Why not?" Kris snapped, getting to her feet, fists bunched in fury. "Why should we not give up? This is it, Gavin. We're stuck. There's no way out of this. Your traitor of a brother may as well have killed us himself. They're going to take us back to the Arena and then they're going to kill us, it's as simple as that. I'm sure your friend Mr Jeremy Wayne will have something wonderfully gruesome lined up for us when we get back." She growled and gave the door yet another angry kick, "Looks like that stupid file of yours was useless after all."

It hit me. That was how we were going to get out of here. I thought back to my childhood, back to the times late at night when Lucatz and I would steal scraps of wire and metal from the roadside and take them home. My brother was something of a genius when it came to technology and had spent a lot of his time tinkering with broken machinery in our younger years. He knew all about the failed heist, and what man wouldn't want to try and get a look at what lay inside one of the most confidential files - if not the most confidential - in Alarbor. It was a long shot, but it was the only chance we had.

I strode across the room and hammered my fists on the door, ignoring Kris' cries of protest.

"Lucatz!" I called, hoping desperately he was still somewhere within earshot. "Lucatz, get over here now! I've got a deal for you, and trust me, it's not one you'll want to miss out on..."

The End

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