Here is part II of the story of Axel Bastion and his rise to power in the city of Sorrento
The sounds of sirens pervaded the city streets of Sorrento. Police were scarce and law seemed to be legend rather than justice. However, when justice had been procured onto an unfortunate crime ridden soul--often at the liberty of a gang leader--they were sent to a prison located several miles offshore of Sorrento Lake, which was secluded in a federally owned forested region to the West of the city. The prison housed some of the most dangerous criminals, those dubbed unfit for society (unfit even for a life of crime). City folklore told of many escape attempts, some more elaborately crafted than others, but every single one ended with failure. That fact was the only real truth those stories held was not a single person had ever managed to escape that prison.
It was in this city that Axel Bastion had the grace to be born. His parents, Robert and Naomi Bastion, seemed to be an average couple trying to scrape by in order to raise their son respectably. Only, the surface does not tell their story as truthfully as Axel himself would approve. His father was a criminal, simply put. More specifically Robert was an assassin for the gang called Spit Fire--named for their supposed ability to spit and cause paramount destruction. Axel had never known his father personally. His father was always referred to as “Robby” by Axel and it was apparent there had not been a real connection between the two, despite their glaring similarities. It was Axel’s mother that nurtured him until the age of twelve years old.
Axel’s thirteenth year proved an imperative time in his life. It could be said he garners his motivation, his life goals, from this particular age. For at this particular time--of which Axel himself is no expert on the exact details--his mother and father were brutally murdered. Life was not a kind mistress that catered to Axel’s needs; often leaving it up to Axel to get what he desired, regardless of any moral or legal repercussions.
In the home of Robert and Naomi Bastion the family of three sat praying to their God when an abrupt knock came at the door. Robby, as Axel would say, quickly silenced his commanding voice from the grace and quietly withdrew a pistol from his coat pocket. He reached over to his son and gave him a kiss on the forehead telling him, “Son, I haven’t been the father you need, but dammit I will be now.” Then arose from his seat and kissed his wife passionately, “With a love,” as Axel has described to the curious, “I wish to reciprocate, one day, to a woman of my own. That is, if I can find a woman as courageous and beautiful as my very own mother.” With knowledge of the impending doom Robert gave his last appeal of affection to his family and left the room. Naomi took this signal as Robby had intended and ushered Axel to the basement of the house--in which he discovered a small tunnel that led to an unknown destination.
As Naomi and Axel hurried toward the stairs he witnessed his father being greeted by two large men, wearing suits. At this moment a muffled gunshot was heard and Robby’s blood spattered against the wall and his body dropped to the floor. His mother quickened their pace and once in the basement unlocked a heavy metal door that opened into darkness. She pushed Axel inside when gunfire echoed throughout the small room. Naomi fell to her knees, but abled herself to gather the strength in order to secure the door from their intruders. Axel felt around the dark abyss until he stumbled upon a lantern and with trembling fingers managed to light the fire shedding light on his miserable condition.
Pounding sounded at the door and several shots were taken, in vain, to attempt at gaining entry. Axel could hear shouting that faded into silence soon after the attempts. The poor boy lowered the lantern to look into the eyes of his wounded mother. She reached toward his face, with a blood soaked hand, and stroked his cheek. Tears could be seen streaking down her face and wet the ground beneath her head, for after she had managed to close the door she collapsed.
“Mother, you’ll be okay. I know you will,” Axel cooed with a calm and endearing voice. It seemed to be the voice of an angel to his dying mother.
“I wish you understood how much your father loved you Axel,” Naomi’s trembling voice was interrupted by coughing, from which her jaw became splattered with blood and her lips took on a deepened red hue. “You know I do love you, dear, do you not?”
“Yes, mother, I know.”
“That is good,” Naomi said as her hand, now encased by the small hands of her twelve year old child, went limp in Axel’s fingers. It was then that Axel began to softly sing. About what he does not remember, nor could he even tell the tune of his sorrowful song, but it was with that song Axel left his grief behind. If anyone were present to hear, it would shake his very soul. It versed the words and melody that held the very essence of misery. A lost twelve year old child who had just witnessed the death of both his parents crying out in pain and suffering to an empty tunnel filled with nothing but his beating heart.
Voices returned to the opposite side of the door, however they seemed much more intent on staying this time. Axel quieted his tune and listened to what he could. “There . . . no idiot . . . and boom,” are the only intelligible words Axel could make of the conversation, but when he heard “boom” it was enough to quicken his mind to the events that would transpire if he would remain in his position for any longer.
He rose to his feet and took up the lantern and made his way down the tunnel at the greatest pace he could afford without sustaining himself to accidental injury. In just a few minutes the walls shook with a terrible might and a sound of horrific thunder shuddered throughout the tunnel. With that warning, Axel ran with a renewed intent--and deepened fear--that caused him to reach the end of the tunnel quicker than anticipated. A ladder now stood in front of him, it led to a hatch that would assuredly grant Axel access to the outside world. But what then, Axel thought to himself as he took to climbing the ladder, those men would still be looking for me and I don’t think I can outrun them for long.
He opened the hatch to find himself situated in the backyard of a house he very much recognized. It was the home of his best friend. A boy who he had known since his memories faded to oblivion. They had played every moment together in times of leisure and confided with each other in every manner of significance, or at least those that seemed to matter to two twelve year old boys. There was one instance that Axel remembered quite fondly when he and his friend, Kefka(not to be mistaken with Kefka Maximilian, no, it is only by chance that these two share the same name), had been discovered sneaking into the girls locker room quite successfully. It wasn’t until the girls noticed their two “new” classmates lacked--or rather had surplus--a certain genital requirement that the two boys were taken and punished by the school officials. At that point Axel and Kefka finally understood the physical difference between a boy and girl, something they shared as the deepest roots of their friendship, they had become family, brothers. Often had they spent nights retelling that same story to the boys who lived on their street during birthday parties or long days of recreation.
Axel believed he would not be able to escape the fate of his parents if he only ran from his pursuants. He acutely attuned himself to the necessities of survival as living in a crime-ridden city often disposed young boys who wished adventure upon themselves to learn. To the twelve year old boy walking toward the home of his best friend there seemed but one possibility that enabled him to survive. Fortune shined in Axel’s favor as he had never been photographed by his parents nor viewed in any manner by those who wished him dead. All they had knowledge of was they were to search for and kill a twelve year old boy that resided in the home of his parents.
Axel opened the back door of Kefka’s home and heard a small pop, The first blast must not have opened the door for them. My father knew how to craft an escape. Taking that as a sign he had little time he hurriedly ran up the stairs of the quaint two story home and woke Kefka, “Quick, quick, I have something to show you!” With that Axel took off out of the room and down the stairs.
“Wait!” Kefka began tiredly and chased after Axel in his nightwear, “where are you going?”
“Just follow me, do you not wish to have an adventure?” Axel cried out answering his friends call.
“Right now? It’s late. Well, I guess I can come,” however Kefka made that decision moments before when he left the comfort of his bed. He was all too eager to see the wonder Axel might have prepared for him.
“Out here, Kefka! It’s right back here,” Axel led Kefka to the hatch located a few hundred feet behind Kefka’s home. When they approached it Axel opened the door and waved his hand calmly in front of the dark hole saying, “Ladies first, my dear brother.”
“What’s down there?” Kefka asked apprehensively. Though he was a boy who yearned to adventure it was his nature to be fearful of what was unknown to him--rightly so, too.
“It’s this old tunnel I found. It goes to my basement. I wanted to show you because I thought it was really cool and I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Trust me, you’ll never see anything more adventurous.”
“Well, if you say so, Axel. I’ll go down, but only if you go with me.”
“I’ll be right behind you,” Axel said as he pulled Kefka’s body toward the gaping hole. The boy felt for the ladder rungs with his feet and situated himself to climb his way down. As he began to lower himself the whole way into the hole he looked up to see if Axel would be following after him soon. Axel reached his legs into the hole and placed them just above Kefka’s head.
“You’ll always be a brother to me Kefka, always,” Axel said has he rested his foot onto Kefka’s skull and kicked with enough force to push him off the ladder and send him descending into darkness. As fast as was humanly allowed, Axel shut the hatch and searched for any sort of locking mechanism. As said before, Axel had fortune on his side, and there sat a slightly rusted padlock that he could simply push close and seal himself among the living for that night.
Yet, when he tried to fasten the lock he almost changed his mind and thought of calling to his friend and telling him it was only a cruel joke. But the need to survive overcame any feelings of sympathy--coupled with the recent emotional trauma he experienced--he could have harbored at that moment. Axel’s fingers pushed the lock shut and he slowly began walking away.
He stopped at a distance of about six feet and waited. It didn’t take long for fear to begin pounding at the hatch. However it was soon to be replaced with cries of terror which were soon halted by the sound of a single gunshot. The hatch once more was knocked upon, but with less urgency than before. Anyone who had been trying to escape through that way soon gave up and seemingly turned back.
Axel was satisfied with what he heard and continued forward into the darkness of the grove his suburb had been built around. It was there that he found a small alcove of trees that he and Kefka had designated as a hideout for the two of them to steal away to in times of distress. For now, Axel regarded it as a place of rest and slept soundly, even more so than he remembered obtaining while in the comfort of his parent’s loving arms.
Night pressed on and the boy slept soundly, sure of his survival. When he awoke Axel walked to the sight of the previous night’s devastation and surveyed the scene. His father’s body lay dead at the open door of their home: it become a custom to leave the policing to the actual police and never report a disturbance in the city of Sorrento for fear of retaliation. Axel stepped over the body and continued through the house, feeling no more sorrow to the death then he would a stranger. Axel walked to his room and grabbed a flashlight before he proceeded to examine the basement.
The large metal door had been blown in and fell back on itself. Leaving the body of Axel’s mother unseen, though dried blood remained on the side of the door and floor of the tunnel. He stepped over the door and paused for a moment, recalling the events of the night before. For a moment the pain that surfaced in his song rekindled itself as if a memory from a dream, but Axel immediately killed the sentiment and moved forward.
His flashlight lit the tunnel before him and he continued down the dimly lit hall. He walked until he reached where he believed the body of his friend would be, but to his surprise there wasn’t one. In it’s place was a blood stained floor and the shell of a bullet. Axel took this as a sign the boy had been killed and taken in as evidence of a finished job.
Sufficiently satisfied with what he had seen, Axel left the house and began a journey toward the heart of his birth city. A place where he would endure the hardships of an orphaned life, yet prosper in an environment that fosters disease and poverty. Something Axel learned the advantages of quickly. See, there are few things a person in poverty holds dear more than those they love--an obvious weakness to Axel--and Axel learned quickly how to extort the lives of those he encountered.