Those memories with Lolo came rushing into my mind, together with those of Winter and my parents. I was silently crying a while ago and I don’t want anyone to see me like that. After I’ve calmed myself, I saw him smiling like an idiot.
“Akala ko hindi kita makikitang umiyak.”
“I’m not crying.”
“You’re also a human. Don’t try to suppress your feelings.”
I glared at him but he smirked at me. This creep is always getting on my nerves but somehow, I am not that annoyed with him. Maybe because we’ve experienced the same trauma during our childhood—witnessing the death of your parents in front of you. But unlike me who lived alone for thirteen years, he was with my sister and the rebellion force.
“Do you know the rumors about you?” he asked but I just raised my brow. “Naging kilala ang grupo niyo sa East Black pagkatapos ng laban niyo sa Black Sparrow, Hawk Eye and Tiger Skull—three of the strongest gangs in that division.”
I can’t remember those gang names but they sound familiar. I think those were the times when I was gathering members for my own group. But how did he know that? Does that mean he’s really following my movement? What a creepy stalker.
“Naging usap-usapan kayo ng ilang gangs at tinawag nila kayong Ice Goddesses dahil sa cold presence ninyo and well, most of them are attracted to your beauties. Kaya ‘yun din ang itinawag ko sa inyo nung nakita niyo ako dahil nagmatch din sa attributes niyo. But I’ve witnessed that you’re not really as cold as ice.”
So that means those gangs named us? I have thought of better names than that.
I was about to say something but we suddenly felt their emotions. We turned around at the same time and saw those four hugging each other while crying. Their minds are open and I can easily read what they’re thinking. Family, huh. For Gemma and Ashley, that’s not a problem but for Kelsey and Miles, that’s a taboo. I know they don’t have any family anymore.
“Seems like they need you there.” I immediately looked at him since I felt something different and I saw him smiling but his eyes were definitely...sad. Then that thing came into my mind.
“Why did you give that whip to Kelsey?” He looked at me like he knew that I was going to ask that.
“Sa tingin mo, bakit?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking you.”
He sighed and he looked at me with those sad, glinting eyes.
“Naaalala mo pa ba ‘yung kwento ko kanina? ‘Yung unang part?”
“You were in the East Black and you’ve decided to kill Rage.”
“Yeah. Nasa East Black ako dahil may ginawa akong importante doon.”
“What did you do?”
“Dahil eight years old lang ako nun at alam kong hindi ko siya mapoprotektahan, nagdesisyon akong iwan sa kaibigan ng parents ko ang one-year old kong kapatid.”
I inhaled sharply when I heard that and I think I know where this is going.
“Pero dahil nga hindi nasunod ang plano ko, napunta ako sa rebellion force at nagtraining doon. After six months, bumalik ako sa East Black para sana kunin ulit ang kapatid ko pero wala na sila doon. Sabi ng iba, nagkaroon ng gulo doon at maraming namatay at tingin nila ay kasama sila doon. Pero may nakakita sa kapatid ko na kinuha ng isang lalaki dahil nakaligtas siya. Kaso hindi nila alam kung nasaan na sila. Bumalik ako sa base namin dahil wala akong lead kung saan ko sila pwedeng hanapin. Pero every month, pumupunta ako sa East Black para hanapin siya kahit hindi ko alam kung paano. Hanggang sa hindi ko namalayan na six years na pala ang nakakalipas. Seven years old na siya nun kaya mas lalo akong nahirapan dahil hindi ko alam kung mamumukhaan ko pa ba siya. Pero habang papunta ako sa Black Market para mag-imbestiga, may nakita akong bata na nagpapapalit ng iba’t ibang klase ng weapons para sa pera. Nagkaroon ako ng kutob nun kaya sinundan ko siya palabas ng Black Market at nakita kong ginamit niya ang pera para bumili ng pagkain. Mukhang kilala siya nung may-ari dahil kahit kulang ang pera niya ay binigyan pa rin siya ng maraming pagkain. Nalaman ko rin na Kelsey ang pangalan niya. Pagkatapos nun, nakita ko siyang natulog sa tabi ng poste.”
Kelsey told us that her parents died when she was young and she lived with someone who took care of her, but when she turned seven, she started living on the sidewalks.
“I don’t know why but I found myself guarding her. Kapag may dumadaang delinquents and gang members kapag tulog siya, nagpapakita ako sa kanila at sinisigurado kong hindi sila lalapit sa kanya.”
So that’s why she survived staying outside when she was a kid. I thought that was impossible for a seven-year old kid but now I know how.
“Dahil ilang araw na akong hindi bumabalik sa base ay pinatawag ako ni Sir Isaz kaya wala akong choice kundi bumalik. Pero nung nasa White Division, may nakita akong babae, siguro nasa twelve years old siya nun, na pumasok sa isang lumang bahay. Parang pamilyar ang mukha niya pero hindi ko alam kung saan ko nakita kaya sinundan ko siya. Saka ko narealize na kamukha niya si Winter nung ganung edad din siya. Naalala ko kaagad ang sinabi niya nung unang beses kaming magkita tungkol sa kapatid niya. Sa tingin mo sino ang nakita ko?” then he smirked.
I remember that scenario. I was living on the outskirts of White Division since I was six but I’ve decided to go back to the place where I last saw my parents and Winter to offer my prayers. I’ve decided that time to train myself and become stronger. I want Flame Spectre to pay for what they did to my family, to the citizens and to this city.
“Bumalik agad ako sa base at sinabi ko ‘yun kay Winter. Gusto ka niyang puntahan nun pero nasa kalagitnaan siya ng training niya kaya hindi siya pinayagan. Kaya naman pinasa niya sa akin ‘yun at sinabing obserbahan kita. That became my mission. Since you were twelve, I was already observing you from the shadows. That’s why I know so much about you, in addition to Winter’s descriptions.”
“What the heck? So you’re stalking me since I was twelve?”
“Any problem with that?”
“You’re really a creep.”
He just laughed and I suddenly have the urge to smack his head upside down.
“Anyway, I’ve been observing you since that time. Pero every month, dumadalaw pa rin ako sa East Black para tignan ang kalagayan ni Kelsey. After three years, nabalitaan kong may isang Flame Spectre member na nanggugulo sa South Black kaya pumunta agad ako doon at nakita ko si Allen. He annihilated three gangs just because they didn’t know who he was. Nagkaroon ng gulo kaya nagpunta kaagad doon ang Huntres Force.”
“Wait, I’m curious about the Huntres Force. Isn’t that under the White government?”
“Yes, but only on the surface. Mga allied forces nila ang inassign doon pero may mga ilang attributes users na nasa rebellion force talaga kahit ganun ang attributes nila. Sila ang naging spies namin doon.”
“Nakita ko doon si Kelsey kaya nagulat ako. Wala siyang dalang kahit ano kaya natakot ako para sa kanya dahil nagkakagulo na ang mga tao. Kaya naman kahit hindi niya ako kilala ay nilapitan ko siya at binigay sa kanya ang whip na dala ko lagi. Binigay ‘yun ni Sir Isaz pero hindi ko naman ginagamit dahil hindi ko na kailangan. Kaya ko namang magproduce ng ice weapons. Pero dahil may effect ang veinas sa ordinaryong tao ay nagdalawang-isip ako. Paano kung hindi talaga siya nag kapatid ko? Paano kung humdrum lang talaga siya at nagkamali lang ako? Pero nung hinawakan niya ‘yun at walang nangyaring kahit ano sa kanya, doon ko naconfirm na may ice attribute siya tulad ko. And somehow, I know that she’s my sister.
After three years, nagdesisyon kang pumunta sa East Black. Natuwa ako nun dahil mas dadali ang trabaho ko kung ang dalawang binabantayan ko ay nasa iisang lugar lang. Nung nakilala mo si Gemma, nagulat ako dahil alam kong anak siya ni Sir Gerard. Pero mas nagulat ako nung nagkrus ang landas niyo ni Kelsey. Nasa list din namin si Miles para isali sa force dahil kay Sir Leo na isa sa provider namin ng weapons. Pati si Ashley na anak naman ni Sir Aaron. Hindi ko alam kung matutuwa o matatakot ako nun. It’s like fate brought the five of you together.”
I don’t know how to react so I ended up nodding to his statement. I still can’t believe that he and Kelsey are siblings. But that explains everything about his actions and Kelsey’s story.
“Why don’t you tell her the truth?” I asked.
“I can’t. I don’t have the courage to tell her.”
“But she has the right to know...and I want her to be happy.”
I don’t want to see that painful expression of her anymore. I can’t bear to watch it.
“It’s not yet the right time. Besides, I can protect her from afar, just like what your sister did.”
“At sa tingin mo ba hindi masasaktan si Miles? Kapag nalaman nila na kapatid ko si Kelsey, siya na lang ang mag-isa sa inyong lima. Maaawa sila sa kanya at maaawa siya sa sarili niya. Kahit na nandyan kayo para sa kanya, iba pa rin kapag may pamilya. It will just complicate things so I don’t want to tell her the truth right now.”
He has a point. I silently cursed myself because I didn’t think of Miles’ situation. If she knew that she’s the only one who doesn’t have any family among us, I’m sure that’ll hurt her.
I suddenly heard Winter’s voice so I turned around. We both stood up when we saw Gemma’s dad carrying her on his back, and walking behind them are Ashley’s dad and...Lolo. They stopped right in front of us.
“Napatigil na naman sa pagdudugo ang mga sugat niya pero kailangan niya pa ring magpahinga,” Gemma’s dad said. “Pero dahil sa technique na ‘yun ay hindi siya masyadong makakagalaw at makakapagsalita sa loob ng isang linggo dahil kino-consume nun ang lakas niya.”
“Kailangan din nating ikulong at parusahan ang Flame Spectre at allies nila. Aayusin din ang lugar na ‘to pati na ang Black Division,” Ashley’s dad added but I only looked at Winter and glanced at Lolo’s direction.
‘I’m sure marami kang tanong and you want answers to them.’
‘Yes, but you need to rest first.’
‘I will. Are you going with us?’
I know she would ask this question. I really want to be with her and Lolo, and ask them a lot of questions. I also want to know what happened to them after that divisions’ war.
I looked behind me and saw those four looking at our direction with worried expressions. I turned to Winter and for the first time after thirteen years, I smiled like an excited child and I feel warm even though the place is completely frozen and it’s snowing.
“I’m sorry but I also have another family waiting for me,” then I glanced at them.
‘I knew you would say that,’ Winter said and she smiled.
“Mukhang ganyan din ang sasabihin ni Gemma kung tatanungin ko siya.”
“Maging si Ashley.”
Gemma’s and Asley’s dads are also smiling at me while glancing at their daughters.
“Go. They are waiting for you,” Hale added and I bowed to them.
I walked to their direction and saw their faces lit up. They started running towards me and they all lunged at me, and we fell on the soft ground covered by snow.
“Let’s go home.”