Hi there, fellow reviewer. I'm here to warn you, this chapter has 4.816 words. I hope someone will be able to reach the end. I hope I can compensate with it being readable as a stand alone story.
I want to explain few things before it goes: I said I won't post any more of this story here, but I've decided to post two more chapters: this one, becouse it is the first chapter including life stroy, and second one will be with a lot of techical stuff (Law mainly). Second thing to explain is that this is readable alone, since it is "flashback". Third is that this chapter has no action, but if you read my complete plot you can see that it is full of hints. Last but not least, it still needs a lot of work and love.There is a lot of interaction with many characters, even in a smallest way. I hope you like it.
What you need to know is that Shael saved Alice from dieing in the dessert, on behalf of her serving him and learning about revolution.
Due to editing/polishing, word count is now slightly larger: 5.125
10 years ago
She was surprised that she woke up. The boot had saved her.
The place smelled nice; it was a pleasant smell, but nothing familiar. She wished it smelled like strawberries; it would remind her of the only person that ever cared for her… she had already missed Mayne.
He was a boy one year older than her, from her tribe; her best friend. One year before she got left out, her tribe made a camp near the northern border of The State. She and Mayne decided to run away to see the grass. It was such a fabled, unbelievable thing for them back then; those everlasting green fields covering the dirt. First thing they reached, were in fact, strawberry fields. They had no idea what those strange, pink colored berries were, but soon enough they were sneaking out each night to grab some of those sweet things for themselves, something they had never tasted before, nothing alike. The tribe would have probably killed them if they found out. For the sake of peaceful lives, they never dared to mess with The State.
But them being together, sweet taste of strawberries and fear, was what made them return every night.
Mayne’s father, the tribe chief then decided to move deeper into the wastelands and they never tasted them again. Only bugs, snakes and sometimes a lucky catch like a bird awaited them for the rest of their lives.
They dreamt of running away sometimes, of living in The State. She hated the dessert. Mayne always wanted to see the cities. Ksantia must be beautiful. They have heard of the cities, those forests made of stone humans had shaped during the hundreds of years. How could that even be possible? Though, it’s not that she had never seen houses and the ruins of what human had built, here in the wastelands, but cities of those structures, it sounded way too impossible.
But Mayne was to be the next chief after all, and no dream of his could make him want anything else more than he wanted to be like his father. He was so proud of being his son, proud of what he was supposed to one day become.
Her first memory was one of a lake. She was sure of it: her mother was holding her, the sun was setting down and its light mirrored on the beautiful water. She always asked her parents about the lake, but they said it must have been a dream. Everyone knew there is no such a thing as a vast amount of water, here in the wastelands. Mayne also knew nothing about it.
And then, they left her. It happened all of a sudden, since the tribe had never abandoned anyone during her life. She tried to follow them, that endless stream of humans walking their way through the land, but the chief stood before her. He threatened to break her legs if she followed.
Mother cried and begged for her forgiveness from the afar. Father looked once, his face blank, and then disappeared, lost somewhere in the mass.
Out of so many people, it was her they couldn’t feed? The helpless nine year old girl fell to the knees, watching everyone she loved leave her behind. She wondered where Mayne was back then. They probably kept him away- he would have never let this happen.
“Where am I”, the girl asked. She stumbled when the soft bed flexed before her hand, not giving her the strong support as the rocks did. She was so amazed with it, such a simple thing, a bed.
“Eat”, the black-haired guy ordered. He gave her a steaming plate; she was careful not to get burnt and took it by the edges.
“I don’t want to eat bug soup again!” the girl’s eyes watered when she took the plate. But then she snuffed it carefully, and the look on her face changed. “It smells nice.”
“It is not a bug soup. Try it.”
When she put the plate down on her lap, she first carefully examined the spoon. “This is funny. What’s its name?” In the wastelands, they would usually pour the soup directly from those rugged, made of metal plates into their mouths.
“A spoon”, Shael was bored.
Girl brought the filled spoon up to her mouth. As she ate it, her eyes widened. She looked at Shael happily, as if she wanted to say something, but she just couldn’t stop eating.
“More!” she lifted the plate, “please”, followed with a blush.
“Later”, he refused. “Come with me.”
She, the clumsy little girl jump off that big, soft bed down to the floor. The look on her face told that she was disappointed, but she obeyed. She looked down in awe; beautiful, white dress flapped around her legs, and a tiny white shoes with a red ribbon. She blushed when she realized that he had dressed her up.
“What’s your name, sir?” she asked while following him out of the room. The place she was brought to was magnificent, all in wood. Every object was carefully carved out. The floor was covered with colorful rags. She scanned around in awe. How could the world have such a beautiful things? They were all so pretty, and she could name none of them.
“You can call me Shael if you want.”
“What’s this made of?” the girl kept asking, lifting the border of the skirt a little bit. The material felt the same as the one he had her covered, when he saved her, that gentle and soft white cloth.
She wanted to ask more, but then Shael opened the door that was leading outside.
The green fields spread as far as the eye could see.
She stood there in disbelief.
“I don’t know why you are crying”, he stated. He seemed absolutely stunned and confused when she did.
“I want my mom, sir. Why can’t I go home?” she said, weeping. Shael stood there helpless watching her cry and cry. How do you help the red-faced child who’s sniveling and crying for home, when home for her does exist no more?
She crouched down, and put her head between her knees. Shael went into the house and returned with a white towel soon after. He wiped her face gently. “They left you, girl. I’m sorry. But you have other purpose now; you should be happy.”
She looked him, still tearful. His face tried to show compassion. “Why they left me?” she asked, through a sob.
“I don’t know”, he seriously answered.
Girl looked down, sad. It is then when she saw the grass under her shoes. She was already standing on grass! Why can't Mayne see it too? This was their dream, after all.
“Follow me”, Shael stood up and moved. His pace was a little bit slower this time.
She stood up herself, and looked around. Grass fields were as far as eye can see. The wooden house stood on a small hill, one of many that were thrown all around the place. There was a tree next to a house, the only tree in sight. She ran few meters to catch up with the Shael. They were going downhill, towards another, smaller house.
“What are we going to do?”, still sobbing uncontrollably, she asked.
“I think you might like it”, came from in front of her. This is a picture she soon learned very well; following Shael without a question, always looking at his back. He would never turn to face her if they were talking while walking.
They entered the warehouse. Inside, she saw collection of items she had never seen before. Spiked, curved, taking the weirdest shapes, all built in metal and wood. There was a worn out desk before them, when they entered, and yet another item on it. She thought it looked funny; that pipe, being wide on one side but thin on the other, and having so many different, strange bumps.
“What is it?” she asked, amazed.
“It’s a gun”, he calmly said.
“Can I touch it?”
“Actually”, Shael smiled, “It’s yours.”
Gasping, she seemed so happy now. “Mine!” Nothing had ever belonged to her. It was such a warm feeling. “What does it do?”
“It kills people.”
The girl looked up. Strangely, she didn’t seem upset. “I don’t want it to kill me”, she was concerned.
“Oh”, Shael was surprised. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t work like that. A human has to use it.”
“So it’s a weapon”, the girl cleverly concluded.
She looked back the gun. Step by step, she came before it. First she touched it, but then she tried to lift it. Barely managing, she placed it next to her vertically, to the ground. It was more than double her size. She smiled to Shael, innocently.
“It is made of many parts”, Shael taught her. “I want you to split it, and then put it back together.”
She was confused. “It has more than one part?” She touched it all over, knocked and tackled, but discovered nothing. “How do I do that? And why?"
“You will have to find that on your own. You need to know your weapon well”, he said. “I have to go now. You have one month to do it. And yes, I almost forgot”, he said standing at the door, “welcome to the Summer Cottage.”
She watched him go. He left the warehouse and disappeared behind the walls. Alice leaned the gun to the table and ran out, to see him leaving, but Shael was already gone.
Nine year old girl spent the next month all alone. In the cottage on the hill she found a lot of frozen food, and a cookbook. Some words were strange, but her mother taught her how to read. They had never used such a beautiful book. They were usually writing in the dust, or reading words from the old scraps. She would have never recognized all of the ingredients but luckily, there were many pictures inside. All the tastes were new to her, and she liked them. She wasn't sure why her tribe wanted to live in the dessert, since The State was so beautiful.
Alice spent a lot of time cooking, cleaning up or wandering around. She also cried a lot. But this man, Shael, was her family now. He saved her. Yes, he was strange, but still, he saved her.
The most of the time Alice spent working on her gun. It was a task given to her. She only had a month to learn how to do it. Day by day, she found out how to disassemble a new part, and how to put it back together. Sometimes it was really hard, and she would forget the way it should be put back, but she had plenty of time, and eventually would succeed.
When the month was nearing its end, the strange fruit grew on the tree before the cottage. She was suspicious; it was big, red and round. She picked one but it didn’t have any smell; but then she sliced it, and the smell poured out. There was even a recipe in the book including that fruit: apple pie it was. She would make one for Shael. He should be back soon.
The last few days she spent sitting at the window and waiting. She had already learned how to put her gun back together. She enjoyed the smell of a fresh pie when she noticed a man walking up the hill. Happily, she ran out to him, carrying it to him.
“Look!” she yelled to Shael from afar. “I made it for you!” He seemed surprised, as if he didn’t know what to do. “An apple pie”, he whispered. “It looks strange. But it smells really good.” He was always straightforward. She had only spent a day with him, but it was easy to conclude. He would always say what was on his mind, no matter the consequences.
Alice laughed happily. They walked uphill towards the house slowly, her skipping all over and running around him. “I learned how to part my gun.”
“Good”, he sounded amazed. “You will show me soon.”
“What were you doing?” she asked.
“I have paid a visit to a friend of mine.”
“What’s his name?”
He sighed. “You don’t need to know.”
It seemed like he was tired. She decided to stop bothering him; she slowed down and walked behind him the rest of the way.
When they entered the cottage, he looked around. “I never ordered you to clean up.”
“But I live here”, the girl answered. “And I had a lot of free time. I had to do something.”
“I thought you would be puzzled by the gun a little bit more”, he stated. He sat to the table and took a part of the pie.
“I’m smart!” Alice declared.
“Indeed”, he answered before taking the second piece.
“I don’t think my pie have ever tasted this good.” It took him some time to finish the pie, but he ate it all. “Now, go bring the gun”, he said, wiping his mouth.
She nodded and ran out. In a matter of minutes she was back, toddling before the weight of the gun two times bigger than her.
“Put it on the floor, and show me how it’s done.”
She obeyed. Unable to hide happy smile, she started parting it. After some time, the floor was covered with dozens of pieces, some tiny and some really large. They were all also perfectly clean. It took her a little bit longer to put it all together. It felt so good to finally show what she had learned.
“Great!” he finally said.
“What do I do now?” Alice asked.
“Now you learn to do it all in twenty seconds.”
“What?” she have opened her jaw in disbelief. “I can’t do that!”
“You will see that it’s not that hard. After some time, you will be able to do it with your eyes shut. Maybe even with one hand.”
She sighed. “Do you have to go again?”
“Yes, I will have to leave in two days.”
“But you just came back!” Alice protested. She wanted to spend more time with Shael, to meet him better. He seemed like a fun man, under that severity of his.
“I know, and I’m sorry. But I’m a busy man.” He seemed tired once again.
“Tell me what you do!” she insisted.
He looked at her, dead serious. It’s only back then when she noticed the darkness of his eyes. “I think I told you. I’m raising a revolution.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You make the planets go around the sun?”
He laughed for the first time. “So you do remember something. No, I don’t make the planets go around the sun. I will teach you about my revolution when I return next time.”
“And when is that?” she was such a little detective.
“This time, I will be back in three months.”
“So long!” she cried. “I don’t want to be alone for three months!”
“I might send someone to check on you. But don’t expect anything.” She was sure it was then when Shael started to look at her as more than a future weapon. He was concerned about her, and she felt strange; important perhaps.
They spent few days together. Shael haven’t talked much, in fact, he liked to spend time in his separate room. It was the room that was always locked, she found out while cleaning around. She then vowed she would once go inside, giggling around the door.
He left, walking down the same path he came by. Alice followed him for some time, but eventually stopped. He gave her a hard task this time, and she wanted to do it well. If he said it was possible, then she would believe and give her best.
One more month had passed, and she started doing it a little bit faster. It would take her half time to put it back together, but it was nowhere near twenty seconds. Or with her eyes shut. Soon, she stopped doing anything else, spending all of her time with the gun. With the end of a second month, it would take her only a single minute to do it all.
“Yes!” she yelled in excitement when she first time did it in a minute. “I have a whole month left, I can do it!”
She decided to spend a day relaxing. The grass was as green as ever, and the white clouds were rolling over the blue skies just as they always did. In the desserts, sky looked more green than blue, like it was dirty. She liked this sky much more. Maybe Mayne had looked up to the sky right now. She wished she could show him the blue sky of hers.
While sitting in the grass, and guessing the shapes of the clouds, she heard a strange music. It was pleasant, more beautiful than any bird's song. She had never heard anything like it. What animal could make a sound like this?
She stood up and looked around, and then she saw him: a man standing on a hill. He was really far away, but she could see he was doing something. He pulled a stick over another stick, or at least that’s what it looked like to her, and it made these sounds.
Amazed, she ran down the hill and towards him. The sounds were getting louder, but also more intense; as if he was calling her. She couldn’t distinguish anything else about the man who wore the long brown robes.
When she reached the top of the hill, he was gone. This time, she heard different sound. The man was slowly walking away, down through the grass. He held his both arms before his mouth, and moved them, as if he was kissing them. He had something in his hands though, something made of metal.
Charmed, she followed. It was a first time she saw anyone here, besides Shael. It had to be a friend he said he would send to her.
“Hey stop!” she yelled while running after him. Man didn’t seem to notice her call. He kept playing his instrument. The one he had previously played was hung on his shoulder, like a bow.
When she reached him, she was surprised with the beauty of the first instrument. Walking behind him, just like she did while following Shael, she observed it. It was made of metal she had never seen before; its color was the one of a sun. It had a single string attached to its both ends.
“Hey!” she said. He didn’t turn back, instead kept creating the music. Suddenly, he finally stopped, and she almost crashed into him.
He put his hands down, and turned towards her.
She gasped in surprise. He wore a scary, smiling white mask on his face. She could see his eyes were strange though, but wasn't able to see the color. He patted her on her head.
“Are you a Shael’s friend?” she asked. She have been scared, it was there, in her voice. The scary man nodded. He reached inside his coat and gave her a piece of paper.
I hope you are doing well. Shael
It was written sloppily and she had trouble reading it, but it made her smile.
“Thank you, sir!”
He nodded to her once again. Then, he lifted his hands, the strange rectangle-like piece of metal in them, and the music spread through the endless fields. Alice watched him walk away, her mouth open in awe.
I will work harder!
What she achieved that last month, was amazing. Not only she managed to fulfill her task, but now she was also capable of replacing a single part from within the gun in a matter of seconds. She tried it with her eyes closed, and it wasn’t that hard, but with one hand, she was certain it was impossible. At the very last, she was certain she had grown a little bit. Gun wasn’t that big now, at least not the twice her size.
Finally, after three months, Shael returned. He seemed a bit worried this time. He had a large backpack with him, which looked like it would explode any moment. Alice rushed to him.
“I got your message!” she yelled mid-run. He smiled lazily to her.
“Were you scared of that man?” he was intrigued.
“A little”, the girl said honestly. She looked him with constant smile. “I’m glad you’re back!”
“I’m glad too. I’m eager to see your progress.”
“I did it!” excitingly she said. “I’m much better than you expected!”
“You never cease to amaze me, darlin’.”
She caught around his arm which he held inside his pocket, and happily followed him to the cottage. As soon as they entered, he dropped the backpack and went to the kitchen. “I will make us diner, you go and bring the gun to show me what you had learned.”
Shael stayed for ten days. He brought her a lot of books with him, a full backpack. This time he wanted her to study, and they were such a hard books to read, too. Many were historical, or connected to the military strategies. There were few about how to properly train one’s body. There was even a handwritten notebook on that concern, signed simply by “Master”.
And a book about revolution.
She had to be strong in both mind and body, he told her. These books were the best this world had to offer. She was still too young to fire her gun anyway; he had even fired it once, just to show her. The force of the blast would surely blow such a small girl away.
Three years had passed, Shael leaving and returning. He would bring her more books each time, and she was eager to learn. She had also become really strong. That notebook was such a detailed instruction, and it was the most helpful book by far.
The book about revolution always kept her attention, talking about so many places she had never heard of before. There was this amazing event that changed the world, The Fringe revolution. Those poor people opposed their leaders for the sake of freedom, brotherhood and equality. The Fringe must have been a beautiful place after it.
Having twelve years now, she started becoming a woman. She had grown a lot, and her hair became long and beautiful. Her breasts started to show up for the first time, and she was happy, but also concerned; if they grow too big, they might hinder her ability to use the gun. She could remember some woman of the tribe who had really large breasts.
Once when she was left alone, she decided to see into Shael’s room. She searched both cottage and the warehouse for the key, but she never found a match. She had tried inserting many thin things inside but there was no match. She could never open it.
Shael returned soon, and he stayed again for the few days. This time, he brought something different with him: ammo. She was to start shooting soon.
Finally, the moment she had been waiting for three years had come. She was very cautious, since she knew how powerful the reaction of the gun is. Shael had taught her how to hold it, and she fired.
It felt so natural. It was still a little bit hard to hold a gun bigger than her, but it felt like it was a part of her.
“Good”, Shael said only that after the shot. Again, he left, leaving her to keep shooting, training and studying. Her task was to shoot an empty space, to feel the power of the gun. The precision training should have started later.
After she started shooting, Shael was here even less time and the gaps before he would return were longer. She grew lonely, but she never gave up on her training.
When she was fifteen, was the first time ever it rained here, in the Summer Cottage. It was also the first time a third person appeared before her.
She was afraid of thunderstorm and hid inside the cottage. Amazed, she watched those spears of light hitting the earth. As if the God was angry punching the ground with all of his might.
Blast. The second of light revealed a man standing before the cottage, watching her. He had a strange, broad hat she had never seen before and he was smiling. She almost screamed of surprise. Shael never said he would send anyone, and it wasn’t the time of his return yet. It had to be someone else.
Her gun was left in the warehouse. She never had a reason to bring it to the cottage. Well it didn't really matter, she had learned a lot of martial arts so far. She could defend herself.
The man knocked on the door. “Open it. I won’t hurt you, Alice.”
He somehow knew her name. Was he sent by Shael?
She hesitated. “Come on. You have my word”, was heard from behind the door. He didn’t sound very sincere. But she stepped forward, and opened the door.
Thunder blasted from behind, and she looked the man carefully. His resemblance of Shael was frightening; but he seemed younger, and had a brown hair, and soft, blue eyes.
“It’s raining”, man smiled. “Can’t you let me in?”
“Oh”, she whispered and moved aside.
“You are a beautiful girl”, he said, “and very skilled indeed.”
She didn’t answer him.
“Do you know what will Shael ask you to do?”
“I have some hints”, Alice responded. “Why does it bother you?”
“Because I want you to abandon Shael. Come with me. If you stay with him, you will get killed, and it would be such a shame.” The smile on his face never dropped, as if he was playing. Yet somehow, he gave the feeling of a completely emotionless person.
Alice laughed. “Who are you?” Anger showed up in her eyes.
“I am a worried man,” calmly he responded.
“Leave this place now. I have nothing to say to you”, she demanded. “In fact, I will make you leave if you make me have to.”
“I doubt you can do that Alice”, he said. “Do you know what is Shael doing right now? He is helping one of the greatest criminals of this country escape his execution.”
“I don’t care what Shael is doing.” She lied, since what this man had told fastened her pulse. Would Shael really do that?
“You should definitely see into that room of his.” He ignored what she said. He was staring into her eyes without a shame.
“Leave. Now!” she requested.
The man turned towards the door. “Let me tell you one more thing”, he said at the doorway. “Mayne became a great chief. He killed his father after he learned of what happened to you, one year ago. You could go back to him.”
Alice was stunned. How could he know about Mayne? Not even Shael knew much about him. She didn’t like to talk about Mayne. The room started moving around her.
“I’m sure he would take you for wife. He had never forgotten you”, the man said with a blast of a thunder, and got lost in the night.
She dropped to the knees. Her breath became heavy. She was losing it. His words echoed within her mind, and face of a boy was the last thing she thought she saw. I miss you, Mayne.
Next day, she woke up, with Shael by her side.
“It seemed as if I showed up just in time”, he whispered. “What happened?” He was cuddling her forehead gently.
“Some guy showed up. He wanted me to leave you, and he talked about Mayne.” She whispered, barely talking. He was finally here to save her.
He didn’t look concerned, or surprised at all. “I knew he would show up eventually. I wanted you to confront him alone. I’m sorry, but it will make you stronger, trust me.”
“It also showed to you if I am loyal.” She was a little bit angry about this.
He smiled softly. “What a bright girl.”
“You have to repay me for this. Show me what is in your room.”
He laughed. “You could have asked anytime. Actually, since I’m leaving today, I will leave you the key. Go check on it whenever you want to.”
Surprised, she nodded. Just what was inside? He didn’t seem like he cared at all, but the blue eyed man was certain it would make her turn her back on Shael.
He had left her again, as soon as she stood up. Within the next few years, Alice mastered her sniping skills. She learned using many devices Shael had brought to her, but he never stayed longer than a day.
It was one night when she decided to enter his room. She was afraid, and shaking, approached it. Lock clicked and she pulled inside, her whole body trembling.
The room was completely empty, with the exception of a single tripod in the middle. But Shael was spending so much time inside.... just what was he doing? She was also uncertain why the blue eyes guy wanted her to see it. It actually made her feel really bad about him. She felt like this room was his only personal thing. This cottage, everything he ever had, seemed as nothing more but a tool to him. This was his only sanctuary.
When Alice turned seventeen, Shael came with a single newspaper with him.
“It has begun”, he told her on that day.
Revolution. We shall start the revolution.
Someone had killed a really important general, named Jamie. The man had slaughtered his professional guard, leaving his home covered in blood. He is still not caught.
It could have easily been Shael himself. It created panic within the nation; so many years had passed since someone made such a big attack on The State.
He had shown up for the last time when she was about to turn eighteen. He brought her many papers, with four names on them: Fade, Hashi, Daston, and Dan. There was also the biggest one, named Alice; that one he gave her last.
“You have to learn them all by word”, he ordered, and then he disappeared, once again. Physically and mentally, she was all ready. She was to finally learn what they are going to do.
That’s it. We shall unfold this plan soon. I’m ready, Shael. We shall free this world together.