They Walk

12 minutes read


Smoke and screams filled the air as the streets burned. Husks of vehicles lined the street as fire overflowed from their interior, escaping through any hole it could find. The nearby buildings sat empty, windows smashed in and mostly torn down. A stray person ran from one side of the street to the other, kicking the scattered rubble covering the roads. Potholes and remains of tear gas caused those on the street to jump and trip. A singular person walked with determination through the streets, their thick-soled boots shattering the glass beneath their feet. An explosion shook the building next to them, and shrapnel cut through the air, only to be stopped by their thick jackets and pants. The pieces that got stuck were brushed off by gloved hands. A bandana tied around their face kept them safe from the smoke. Black paint covered what little of their face was visible.

Held by one finger, they carried a smoke grenade, each step bobbing the grenade. The pin was tugged as they picked up the pace. They took a deep breath in, the smell of rubble and burning oil filling their lungs. A grin hid itself behind their mask. In a full sprint, they passed others who stood staring forwards. The sound of yelling and bashing of metal filled the air. Getting a strong grip on their grenade, they pushed through the crowds, pushing through violently. Each person they passed shouted to the head of the crowds with anger, ignoring any brash efforts of passing by. Climbing to the top of a nearby toppled car, they pulled the pin and screamed.

“For the molten children!”

Throwing the grenade as far as they could, it sailed over the protestors, past the line of riot shielded military police. Crashing down next to the riot vehicles. The military police walked by it with their gas masks on. The canister was kicked around their feet before it was jammed under a riot vehicle, exploding the canister as the treads rolled over it as if it wasn’t there.

The rioter raised their fist and started to chant.

“Broken, abused, used.”

They repeated it over and over, and those near them picked it up. Before long, the whole crowd had unified and began shouting. Drawing a bat like a sword from a sheath on their back, they started to slam it into the car as they chanted. The bat was decorated with patterns and the phrase.

‘Anti Reiner stick’

The police marched forward, their legionnaire wall pushing hard against the hesitant protestors. The following vehicles sprayed the crowds with ice water, keeping the police line safe from being mobbed. The person in the car lowered themselves against the roof of the desecrated vehicle’s corpse, waiting for the police line to approach. Their back was struck with a torrent of water, and they nearly dropped their bat. But once the water stream passed, they stood and leaped before the water could target them a second time. The rioters watched as the person sailed through the air, riot shields below them being raised upwards and water jets narrowly missing them as they descended into the police line. They Came down hard on the shields and knocked them down to the ground. Standing, they flailed their bat and collided with the officer after officer, forcing them back, breaking their line, and acting like a trojan horse. The others followed suit, breaching the line.

Whistles rung out from several officers; while most created tight circles to protect themselves, others started to run. The vehicles did their best to spray any oncoming violence but were soon swarmed. The horde of people covered their target like a swarm of ants devouring their prey. They pulled off whatever could be, clawed, and scratched their way inside. The police soon found themselves falling victim to improvised weapons and the hate of the people that had taken enough. Many people on either side died as the raids continued to march. The bat-wielding stranger had bloody knuckles where their gloves had been torn away. Their arms grazed, and their body bruised as they fought their way through the now retreating police. They walked with confidence while the others ran around them, those passing calling out to them.

“Fuck yea, way to break through, Nifo.”

Referring to the word burnt into the back of Nifo’s jacket.

Nifo stepped with confidence in their steps, a grip so strong on their bat that their knuckles turned white where they weren’t covered in blood. Their eyes were locked onto the enormous monolith of a factory off in the distance.

Reiner Industries’

Illuminated in colossal three-story tall letters on the side of the building. Coloring the smoke that plumed out of the many chimneys with a soft red glow. Nifo looked up to the skies as a familiar sound broke through the shouting.

“Drones!” They screamed over and over until others started calling it as well.

Everyone started to scatter into nearby buildings, breaking down doors and seeking shelter while trying to continue the march. Nifo stayed determined; they walked as the tide of drones started to descend onto the crowds that were still seeking the safety of a building’s walls. Rubble was thrown, and drones started to fall, but still they came. Some electrified protestors from a range while others blasted at them with rubber cannons. Nifo stared down the one barrelling right towards them, looking directly into the large, caged lens. Their hate welled up inside them.

“I see you.” They muttered with solemn determination.

Gripping their bat with two hands, they ran and leaped off a large burning dumpster, a round of rubber bullets pelting their chest. They cried out in pain but still finished their attack. The bat smashed into the top of the drone and shattered the guarded lens. As Nifo fell, so did the drone, the two of them hitting the ground at the same time. Nifo could already feel the swelling in their chest as the pain radiated outwards from the areas of impact. Nifo watched as others wielded homemade cannons to shoot down the fragile and fast-moving drones.

Inside a cold room filled with the soft blue glow of monitors, Reiner himself stood, watching through hidden cameras in the districts. He pointed to Nifo on the monitor and, with a chuckle in his voice, said.

“We make an example out of this one. Make it look good.”

“Yes, sir.” Said the individual sitting at another desk.

The march continued with mixed success, they watched as the yellow flares of retreat flew high in blocks, but in others the red flares of advancing were set loose. Nifo drew their own gun and aimed it straight up; pulling the trigger, they set a burning red ball up, letting their block know that they were to advance. Nifo was assaulted by many lone police, dispatching of them easily. They walked on as others were mobbed by groups of officers, but their eyes were locked on Reiner’s building. They had no time to help others. They needed to stand in Reiner’s castle and tear down the walls from the inside. By the time they had walked to the border fence, their bat was splinted, blood covered, and had chunks of police armor embedded into it, making it a much more lethal weapon.

No matter how many protestors went down, they seemed to march on with a strong wave of bodies to defy the forces that attempted to hold them at bay. Standing idly by, everyone watched as the captured vehicles rammed the high-voltage fence. Sparks went flying as the metallic riot trucks plowed through the fence like it wasn’t there. Alarms started to blare, and flashing red warning lights started rotating, bathing the grounds around the factory in a red light. Nifo walked through the sparks, their boots insulating them from the still electrified fence that lay on the ground; others fell to their shock and started to cook. Their flesh filled the air with a forbidden odor. Nifo watched as others attempted to remove their friends from the volts but fell prey to their currents, just increasing the piles of spasming bodies dancing on the ground. Thunderous crashes pierced the ears of all nearby as the riot trucks rammed the large, reinforced roller doors that stood in their way of getting into the factory. Smaller crashing sounds could be heard as others with battering rams collided with smaller doors to break their way in. Nifo scouted the exterior of the building, no windows, no ledges, just smooth walls and cameras. Raising their bat to one, they held still before walking on.

“Do they think they can threaten me and get away with it?” The strong voice of Reiner growled.

The operator nearby opened his mouth to answer but was not sure if he should speak, so he froze.

“Close your mouth; I can hear you breathing from here. If they get in, that is on you. So do your job, and for god’s sake, just kill the dumb kid with a bat.”

“Yes, sir.” The operator croaked out through his fear. Turning his attention to Nifo, he started to activate defense protocols on the computer. Before they could initiate, they stopped as the sound of screeching metal echoed through the halls and into the monitor room where Reiner had opened the door to leave. He froze in fear for only a moment before snarling.

“Fix this or join them.” He then left, slamming the door behind him.

The operator shook as the door slammed, his hand hovering over the submit key. Hesitation in his resolve started to pool into his mind as he watched Nifo walk into the building.

Nifo froze as the large roller doors all started to open, the external doors all unlocked, and the internal turrets stopped firing. People poured into the building, moving as one mass they flooded the factory floor. Large vats of molten metal burned and sparked. Those locked in the factory were released, and they all gathered to march; worming their way up the building, they climbed towards the upper floors. Nifo used the paths less used to avoid the uproar of the crowds. Their march stopped when from out of the corner of their eye, they noticed an elevator door open.

“Come on, get in the damn elevator.” The operator begged through gritted teeth, no way to communicate with Nifo. He stared at the door that Reiner had left through, then back to his screen with sweat dripping from his face.

Nifo paused as others ran past, knocking them around. They decided to walk onto the elevator; standing inside, the operator sighed with relief.

“Next stop, Reiners.” He said calmly over the elevator radio as he closed the door.

Nifo watched as the elevator lights illuminated in sequence. The quiet hum of engines gives the small room ambiance. With a quiet ding, the door opened to a long hallway, silent of the cacophony that was going on down below. Cautiously they stepped out of the elevator.

“From a friend; good luck.” The operator said through the elevator intercom before closing the doors and sending it down again. Nifo walked down the featureless hall, its walls a plain grey with no depth, leading to a distant dark wooded door. Opening the door gently, they entered a room that looked more fitted for a mansion office than a factory one. The walls were all wooden, the fresh smell of pine lured Nifo in, and the soft carpet squished beneath their heavy boots. Directly in front of them was Reiner; staring down through a smashed window, he watched as the rioters ran through his factory, his back facing Nifo.

“You know why I am going to crush you and your stupid riot? Because you are all too volatile, never thinking, always acting. If you actually formulated a plan, I would have fallen years ago.” Reiner said with a calmness in his voice that irritated Nifo.

They ran across the room, sprinting at the last moment to leap the desk and strike Reiner. But instead of a cracking impact, Nifo soured through the hologram and began to plummet out the window. As they fell, they saw the real Reiner standing on a lower lever with a cigarette in his hand, behind him a window with the operator sitting in his chair smiling. Nifo watched Reiner lift his spare hand and drop it suddenly.

The defenses started up, the roller doors locked people inside, and the guns started firing again. Drones flew out of hidden doors, exploding on the large groups of protestors. Killing them and destroying the high-raised platforms they stood upon. Nifo fell through the air; still holding their bat, they rolled onto their belly. Looking down, they watched as the vat of molten metal got closer, the heat already heating their skin.

No one saw them as their body set a flame from the rising heat. Their screams were muted as the air burned its way down their throat, cooking their lungs. They were dead before their corpse sunk into the vat of molten metal. Their bat collided with the edge of the large container, sailing even further down the building. It passed by those being shot by automated turrets, being dragged off by robots and a dedicated military guard that protected the facilities. It tumbled past those pleading for help, and those running down the stairs to escape, just to be greeted with locked doors. The only exit available was the one hole the riot trucks could make. The bat caught the light as it collided with the now-covered ground. One of the molten tanks had been poured across the floor, burning all of those who got to close and stopping others from being able to escape the death trap that was the winding complex of stairs and platforms.

Reiner watched from the top as the bat disappeared out of sight; taking a long drag of his cigarette, he breathed out a plume of smoke akin to his factory. Before reciting a monologue to himself.

“If only you knew how to quell that hot head of yours. Since you let emotions claim you, you ran. If only you remained calm and walked.”