This story is set in a fictional / alternate version of Brunei. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Chapter 3: Ridzuan
Brunei International Airport
Marina takes a second look at the boy who just walked out of the Arrival Hall and approaches her with a smile.
Marina: I almost don’t recognise you, Ridz. Why are you getting darker? I thought living in UK would make you more fairer.
Ridzuan: It’s summer over there, Auntie Mar. The hottest summer in years.
Marina helps him with putting the luggages in the car.
Ridzuan: Don’t worry, Auntie, I got this. I’m a big boy now.
Marina: *chuckles* Of course you are.
Marina slams the trunk shut and proceeds to the driver’s seat. She is a long time Filipina driver/maid for Ridzuan’s family.
Ridzuan: Auntie, take me to Bakhri’s house.
Marina: Don’t you want to drop your bags in the house first, Ridz?
Ridzuan: Nah. I have something to pass to Bakhri.
Marina: Can’t you do it some other day? I’m sure you are tired after the long flight.
Ridzuan: I want to get it over with so I can rest on the other days.
Ridzuan comes from a wealthy and educated family in Brunei that owns one of the biggest company in the country – the Bukhari Enterprise. Founded by his late grandfather, Pengiran Bukhari, the company started as shipping company that over the years have expanded into various businesses ranging from catering to agriculture. Although not all ventures were successful, most notably their attempt at defense manufacturing business with the now defunct ‘Bukhari Tactical Support Service‘ (BTSS) under the leadership of the late Pengiran Tirmidzi – Ridzuan’s father who was also a former ambassador.
The Bukhari Enterprise is now headed by Ridzuan’s half-brother, Bakhri. There has been a semi-falling out between families of the half siblings ever since the father married his second wife (Ridzuan’s mother) after the death of the first wife.
Bakhri: You should’ve dropped your bags at your home first. Menyusah kan kau saja. You could have asked Auntie Mar to drop my stuff here.
Ridzuan: Don’t worry, I think it’s nice to give it you personally. Family is more important.
As Ridzuan leaves the room, Bakhri calls him out.
Bakhri: You remember what I told you last time, right?
Ridzuan: You want to amends things between our families.
Bakhri: Not just amend things, Ridz. I want you and your sister to feel like you guys are part of the family again especially after father passed away. I can offer you a job at the company. What are your interests?
Ridzuan pauses and did not know how to begin answering that question. All throughout his life moving from one country to another, Ridzuan have a knack for having short attention span in his interests – whether it was eastern philosophy during his childhood times in India or criminology in Washington; filmmaking in Paris or mechanical engineering in London. In between, he took up random activities such as parkour, mixed martial arts, fencing, graffiti painting, eskrima and chess.
Ridzuan: I’ll think about it.
Bakhri: Ok tu. Take your time. The offer will always be open. This is, after all, OUR family’s company.
Adam visits Ali who is recovering in the hospital due to the injury he sustained during the car crash at the highway. Ali saw the way Adam ripped open the door to his car and tries to convince Adam to become a superhero.
Adam: Aku inda mau jadi superhero
(I don’t want to be a superhero)
Ali: Ok lah, inda payah pakai costume TAPI kau patut guna your power mu atu untuk tolong orang.
(Fine, you don’t have to wear a costume BUT you should use your powers to help people)
Adam: Mau ku tulung urang tapi mesti secara tapuk-tapuk.
(I do want to help people but I must do it in discreetly)
Ali: Inda boleh cematu, bro! Sayang jua kalau di tapuk-tapuk your power. This is the time kami beguna Superhero. Cuba tah kau lihat negeri kitani ani sekarang, macam-macam sudah. Orang mencuri, orang bekelahi, orang merogol, orang bejual dadah, apa lagi? Orang membunuh. Gila, a 17 year old girl kena belasah and mati ah! I just read that in the newspaper.
(No can’t do, bro! It’s such a waste if you’re gonna hide your powers. This is the time for us to have a superhero. Just look around you, there’s been lots of shit going on. Thefts, gang fights, rapes, drug dealers, what else? People getting killed. Hell, a 17 year old girl got beaten up and died! I just read that in the newspaper.)
Adam: Jadi nya, apatah yang kau mau aku buat? Merayau-rayau membalasah pencuri?
(So what do you want me to do? Going around beating up robbers?)
Ali: Hell yeah! Apa lagi power mu? Kau boleh terabang?
(Hell yeah! What are your other powers? Can you fly?)
Adam: *chuckles* Inda (No)
Ali: Lompat tinggi?
Adam: Entah ah. Inda ku pernah cuba.
(I don’t know. Haven’t tried it yet)
Ali: Speed mu? Laju?
(Your speed? Are you fast?)
Adam: Entah. Inda ku pernah tepikir pasal…ADUH!!!
(I don’t know. It never crossed my mind that…OUCH!!)
Ali throws an empty can at Adam’s face just to test his speed and reflexes! But the can only hit squarely on Adam’s face.
Ali: EH SORRY! SORRY!!
Well, guess we can cross off quick reflexes as one of Adam’s superpowers.
Ridzuan is staring out the car window and observing the bystanders walking around the shop areas while his close friend, Akmal, is driving.
Ridzuan: Is it just me or things are sure getting worse in this country.
Akmal: What are you talking about?
Ridzuan: I read the papers. A 17 year old girl died after getting beaten up by her boyfriend and his gang. Are you guys doing anything about that?
Akmal: The investigation is still on-going.
Ridzuan: That’s what you guys always say.
Akmal: Look, this is bigger than what’s on the headlines.
Akmal works for the Major Crimes Division (MCD) of the police force. A young and promising officer in the force, he has been taken under the wings of the decorative Detective Rahman.
Akmal: The guy who beat up the girl is part of a gang.
Ridzuan: Then what are you guys waiting for? Take them all out.
Akmal: That’s not how it works. You take out one gang, another gang would show up to replace them. You have to strike straight to the heart of it…the drug trade, the human trafficking ring…the guys who are pulling the strings on these gangs.
Ridzuan: Then what’s the hold up?
Akmal: We’re doing our job as fast as the system allows us to do it.
Ridzuan: I say that you bypass the system.
Akmal: You can’t just barge in guns blazing like a cowboy.
Ridzuan: Sometimes you need to create dramatic examples. Or else people will always complain about the authorities.
Akmal: People complain because they don’t know what we’re doing.
Ridzuan: Then tell them what you guys are doing. Make them feel more confident in the police.
Akmal: And risk our operations? Endangering more public lives? We are not here to just capture bad guys, Ridz. We’re protecting the people as well. We don’t want too many public distractions. Once you get the people involved, it gets difficult to control and it makes our job harder.
Ridzuan: Or it makes it easier.
Akmal: And how exactly it makes it easier?
Ridzuan: People get empowered to help the police in standing up and protect their community.
Akmal laughs and shakes his head.
Akmal: Ridz~ You have been overseas for far too long, my friend.
Ridzuan and Akmal have been friends since they lived in Washington when they were kids. Although, Ridzuan have been living overseas far longer than Akmal.
Akmal: We, Bruneians, like to get our way with the most possible minimal efforts. We complain too much to the people who do the jobs that we otherwise wouldn’t willing to do. You want everybody get more proactive in helping us curb crime? Forget it.
Ridzuan: We just need someone to inspire others to stand up and fight.
Akmal: Like that hero Nightrunner that you idolised when you lived in Paris?
Akmal: And because of that, her gym got trashed. Why don’t you talk to her, I think you two would like each other.
Ridzuan: I’ll give you a chance.
Akmal: Dude, she’s my boss’ daughter. That’s career suicide.
Fitness Square, Kiulap
Ridzuan came to Liza’s gym posing as a police officer to interview her and get more information for his own investigation.
Ridzuan: Ok, thank you, Puan. That’s all we need for now. We will update kita kalau ada apa-apa…
Liza: So tell me why you’re really here because you’re not a cop.
Liza blurted out and Ridzuan froze before quickly composing himself again.
Ridzuan: Actually, I am. Here’s my badge and…
Liza: No you’re not. I know who you are. You’re Ridzuan, anak Pengiran Tirmidzi. And you’re definitely not a cop.
Ridzuan is speechless.
Liza: You do know that you can get arrested for posing as a police officer.
Ridzuan: Look, I’m just here to help. I’m a private investigator.
Liza: I did not ask for a private investigator. I’ll let the police handle this.
Ridzuan: Do you trust the police?
Liza: I trust my father. Now you better get out of my gym now or I’ll call the cops. The REAL cops!
Ridzuan: OK, sure. I’m sorry. I’ll make my way out now but I want you to know that there are people out there who wants to help.
Liza: Thank you and I appreciate it. By the way, everyone pretty much knows who you are. So lain kali, kalau kan undercover, try wearing a mask.
Bandar Seri Begawan
Adam sees a black smoke engulfing the sky. An apartment is on fire and the firemen are helping people out.
A mother is crying that her young daughter is still stuck inside. Two firemen brave into the burning apartment and climb up the stairwell to rescue the girl. Then one of the kitchen gas chambers explodes! The stairs crumble beneath the firemen sending them crashing down on the ground floor. Debris fall around them.
Fireman: Kami teperangkap!
Adam hears their plea over the walkie talkie held by one of the firefighters outside. Without hesitation, Adam rushes inside.
Adam clears the debris away and rescues the trapped two firefighters. They hear the cries of the little girl upstairs. Without the stairwell, he cannot simply walk up there. Adam asks the firefighters to get out of the building.
Adam looks up. He recalls Ali asking him whether he can jump high. One way to find out. He jumps up and reach the upper floor. Woah.
He finds the little girl crying in a room and carries her out. But the ceiling crumbles and falls on them! Adam shields the little girl with his body as the ceiling crashes upon them.
Smoke and debris blows out the apartment when a chunk of the upper floor crumbles down to the ground floor. The distressed mother screams and no one believe that anyone can survive that.
But Adam emerges out the smoke with the little girl! ALHAMDULILLAH! Everyone cheer and applaud! Seeing the mother reunite with her daughter opens up something in Adam’s heart. I did something good with my powers. I made a difference to someone else’s lives.
Ridzuan’s investigation leads him to uncover a the time and place of an upcoming meeting of the gang members of which Hanim’s abusive boyfriend was part of.
Ridzuan looks at the picture of Nightrunner – a french parkour vigilante from Paris whom he has met once and idolised. You can do this Ridzuan. This is your time.
Ridzuan gears up for a recon: dressed all black, black mask, recording device, a retractable baton, a swiss knife, pepper sprays.
Ridzuan sneaks into a compound of an abandoned house where the gang members meet to trade a new drug called Khayalan 7 or K-7. After recording what he needed to get, Ridzuan makes his way out of the compound. But he clumsily knocks a chair and makes a loud noise. Shit! Didn’t see that! I should’ve brought the night vision goggles! The gang members quickly spread out and Ridzuan don’t have any way of exiting the compound.
He now has no choice but to fight his way out! He swiftly takes down a few of the gang members and climbs up the wall to escape using his parkour skills. It all happened so fast that the gang members didn’t know what hit them!
Once he’s at a safe distance, Ridzuan breathe a sigh of relief and laughs by himself. He can feel the adrenaline rush. THAT. WAS. AWESOME.
Ridzuan hands Akmal the evidence that he obtained from his late night recon. The gang members are apparently involved with a new drug called K-7 – which matches with the anomaly in Hanim’s abusive boyfriend’s blood during a drug test. Despite the valuable information, Akmal is not pleased that Ridzuan took to vigilantism to obtain this information.
Ridzuan sees the news on TV of Adam saving people from the burning building and being hailed as a hero.
Ridzuan realizes that Brunei needs a hero to shake things up.
Ridzuan picks up his phone and calls Bakhri.
Ridzuan: Hey Bakhri! What’s up?
Bakhri: I’m good.
Ridzuan: Look, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be part of our family company.
Bakhri: Great! Got any ideas of where you want to be? Or do you need any help with anything?
Ridzuan looks at the design sketches that he obtained from the archives of the Bukhari Enterprise – sketches of prototype military uniforms and gadgets from the defunct defense technology branch of the company.
Ridzuan: Yeah, there is something I need.
Ali opens the door and finds Adam.
Adam: Kau masih mau aku jadi superhero?
(Do you still want me to become a superhero?)
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