Chapter 1: Rescue
A month and a half. They had been floating along in the middle of the ocean for the last month and a half. Eight people; one yacht. You would think that they would have plenty of space not to run into each other. Sure, they had space, but it was difficult when everyone was looking for you, trying to talk to you, or wanting to make sure you were ok. Which was fine, because they weren’t concerned about Alicia. Chris just lost his mother via gunshot in the head by his father. Nick was still a fucking piece of trash, no matter how much she loved him. Although, he was more sensible lately partly because he was clean. It appeared as if the end of the world, and kicking major drugs were positive life changes for him.
Travis, had just killed his ex wife. Ofelia had been shot and both her and Daniel had just lost Griselda. And Victor, well he was a rich businessman, who was slightly shady in her book. However, he had provided the yacht for their epic escape from the shit that the world had turned into, so she had to give him credit.
All in all, no one was looking for Alicia. It was usually, Alicia make sure your brother is ok, or why don’t you keep Chris company or help Ofelia walk around the deck. I mean how long did it take to heal from a through and through bullet wound anyway?
Being stuck on this yacht was the worst turn of events in the history of her life. Other than the world going to shit. No body ever asked how she was or if she was okay. It was as if they forgot that she had lost Matt, or that she was also suffering same as them. Part of her didn’t blame them. She was alive and unharmed. Everyone around her was more screwed up than her. Hell, she trusted herself to be the grown up more than any of these people, including her mother who was busy helping Travis get through the guilt that plagued him after Liza’s death.
So she cooked and cleaned. Alicia listened when needed and did what she was told. She felt bad for wanting the world to be normal again if only so she could have gone to college to escape her family. She was supposed to be starting her own life away from this mess, not living in an even bigger mess with the same routine of crazy. Although, crazy was relative these days.
One of these days they were going to need to seek harbor and stock up on supplies. Granted, they had done so twice, one, which had almost led to her mother getting killed. People were just as dangerous as the inflicted. The inflicted she could handle. They had nearly been robbed and killed too many times by ordinary people, even out at sea. They had to be smart with whom they traded and where they docked. They had to if they wanted to survive. The less people they met the better. At this point, Alicia expected people to be underhanded and selfish.
The weather was warm as they neared the equator some where in the Pacific Ocean. Geography wasn’t her strongest point, but she knew enough to look at a compass and figure out the maps when she was looking over Victor’s shoulder. He was pleasant for the most part, except when he was talking about how awesome he was. At least he treated her like a person and not a dumb teenager. No, at least he taught her about the maps and how to navigate the ship. Travis tried to help out, as did her mom and Ofelia’s dad, but it was Victor’s ship so he had the control. They didn’t have a set destination in mind. They used the sails instead of the gas motor to preserve what they had. The sails looked odd on the yacht, but they worked well enough even though they were at the mercy of the winds.
When she wasn’t being productive, Alicia stared out into the never-ending sea of blue. It was calming and more than a little disturbing. They simply drifted along in the ocean and they would continue to drift until the disease had killed everyone or everyone had killed each another. She had her bets on the latter. History was one of her best subjects and she knew the draw of death and destruction that humans took to. It was a wonder that the world hadn’t exploded into nuclear war and the only humans left were living in space.
Either way, it would be nice to talk to someone again. She gazed down at her left arm and the faded scar that was never finished. She missed him. He was kind and comforting. Matt had always given her a means to escape from her family by simply listening. The wind whispered in her hair and she sighed leaning over the railing of Abigail. Alicia wondered why they hadn’t run into more people, or if the world was slowly dying along with everyone in it and they were one of the very last people in the world.
An answer came to her one hot summer day in the form of Elyza Lex.
It was just one more day, but it was about to set her on a path that she would have never thought possible. Alicia leaned against the railing on the starboard side of the ship and sighed. She shook her head and enjoyed the way the wind rustled her hair. The smell of the ocean was clean and full of salt. A figure approached and bumped her shoulder. She opened her eyes and saw her brother staring out at the ocean in companionship.
“Don’t you ever get bored just staring out in the middle of no where?” he asked after a moment and she closed her eyes again willing him to leave but also wanting the company.
“It’s nice.” She inhaled and filled her lungs.
“I think you’ve gotten a little emo since the end of the world.”
She sighed and opened her eyes giving him an annoyed expression. She pushed off from the railing and ran a hand through her wind-tousled hair.
“But seriously, you used to be hard to shut up. What gives?” he pressed on bumping her shoulder again.
“Nothing,” she shrugged. “The world ended and so did everything I worked so hard for.” She shook her head. She wasn’t trying to sound depressing but it was a fact. “I thought if I was perfect I could get away from the madness.” She gestured with her hand to the world around her. “But it just keeps pulling me in like I’m not supposed to be here, but I’m getting pulled somewhere else. I dunno, it’s hard to explain.”
“I kinda like the end of the world.” He shrugged in morbid humor and winked. She rolled her eyes and elbowed him. “Finally, the world and I are a level playing field.”
She took a moment to really look at him. He was clean, his eyebrows were not creased in worry, and his face seemed lighter than he had in years. His body was healthy and relaxed. The end of the world really had agreed with him.
“Yea, just as long as the dead don’t try and eat you, you’re really beating the system.” She grumbled, not trying to sound petulant but failing.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “If I had access to my stash I’d give you some Prozac for sure.”
“Oh shut up Nick.” She huffed and shoved him hard. He retaliated by pulling on her shirt and hair reminiscent of their youth. Her cheeks puffed in concentration as she tried to retaliate but he was much taller and used his hand to hold her head back.
“Hey, what’s that?” he commented still holding her back but she was determined not to fall for his tricks.
“I’m not that stupid.” She hissed still trying to free herself.
“I’m serious Alicia.” He grabbed her chin and forced her eyes out to the sea. At first she was confused at what she was looking for and was about to berate him until her eyes spotted it in the distance. It was small, but the orange life raft was unmistakable as were the unmoving bodies inside.
“Holy shit,” she breathed. She smacked her brother’s hand away easily and narrowed her eyes trying to get a better view.
“Think they’re alive?”
She honestly didn’t know, but she was compelled to find out. “Let’s go tell the others.”
It took some convincing, but by this time the sheer routine and boredom lucked out. Alicia figured everyone on board wanted a little bit of hope and something to shake up their dull routine, even if there was some form of risk. The only one who was adamant about staying away was Ofelia’s Dad, Daniel. All it took was one look at Ofelia’s pleading eyes for him to fold. Alicia also reminded him that there might be supplies on the raft and he gave her the blandest look. She tried not to roll her eyes and instead pursed her lips and turned away. Looking back he was right to be wary, but it was only going to open them up to another world and another life beyond this miserable existence and self imposed exile.
They turned on the engine to maneuver the ship in the direction of the orange raft. Alicia stood on the side of the ship with a pair of binoculars around her neck eagerly trying to catch sight of whoever was in the raft. The others around her were background noise as they drew closer. For the first time in a long while she felt some combination of excitement and nervous anxiety.
They pulled up to the raft and she yelled at Victor, who was steering the ship, to be careful when a large wave from Abigail nearly over turned the raft. The occupants in the raft remained unmoving and Alicia feared the worst. They could be dead rr worse, maybe they were infected and waiting for the disease to take hold of them?
Alicia didn’t think she could face that. At least it if they had to kill them it wouldn’t be someone she knew.
Travis and Daniel lowered one of the spare lifeboats taking weapons with them as a precaution. She bit her lip in anxiety as they got closer to the boat. Chris stood on her left giving her dispassionate looks that she ignored for the most part. Just because he was numb and angry at the world didn’t mean she had to be. She was tired of not feeling. Alicia wanted to live. She just wasn’t sure exactly how she was supposed to go about living.
Travis and Daniel reached the orange raft.
“Is anyone alive?” Madison called.
Alicia held her breath.
“They’re probably infected.” Chris said from her side. She shot him a dirty look exasperated with his attitude. His drama certainly rivaled hers at times.
“Yes!” Travis shouted back. “Two kids. A few supplies. We’re bringing them up. No bites, just exhausted by the looks of it.”
Alicia exhaled not realizing she had been holding her breath. Daniel and Travis loaded two seemingly alive bodies into the lifeboat along with two duffle bags. She helped fill the lifeboat up onto the yacht and tried to squeeze past her brother and the others to catch a glimpse of the new fortunate or very unfortunate additions to Abigail.
Daniel held a boy with fair skin and sandy hair in his arms. Alicia eyed him with interest as Madison called for them to bring the two to the medical bay on the ship. He looked fairly young, maybe in his early teens. She tried not to think about how dead he appeared. However, her gaze locked onto the second newcomer in Travis’ arms. It was a girl, or a woman really. She looked fairly young in her early twenties with fair skin and golden hair. Her skin was pink and slightly sun burned no doubt from being stranded out at sea for however long. Her ample chest rose in labored breaths and Alicia’s throat constricted looking at her somehow feeling that she knew her.
Travis pushed his way past her and the spell broke. She shook her head and followed him retying the jacket hung about her waist as it slipped further down her hips. Her sneakers slid on the deck damp from the water carried in by the boats. She left her brother and Chris to help finish loading up the lifeboat along with Ofelia. Alicia dismissed the call to help in favor of following the golden haired woman to the med bay.
“What else did you find?” Madison asked as Travis took a seat in the medical bay after the woman and boy were placed on separate cots.
“Not much,” Travis responded.
Daniel was trifling through their personal belongs and Alicia was suddenly annoyed with his lack of boundaries. It was rude to go through someone’s things, especially when they weren’t awake. Admittedly, she would have done the same thing, but she felt that he should have been the last person going through someone’s things.
He pulled out a journal from one of the duffel bags and a few empty water bottles, and plastic wraps from candy bars and other junk food. It looked like they had been on the brink of starvation and dehydration. A small light reflected off of the girls left wrist and Alicia walked over quietly and sat next to her on the small cot. She lifted the wrist and found an old watch attached at her wrist. The watch didn’t work and she frowned wondering why the girl was wearing it in the first place. It was more of a masculine artifact, not that she didn’t pull it off nicely. The wrist in her hand twitched and Alicia frowned and put the hand down gently.
She eyed her mother setting up an IV bag with a frown. “Are you sure you should be doing that?” It wasn’t a question of ability. They both knew how to handle the basics when it came to medicine courtesy of her brother, but she also knew that some people had allergies.
“It’s just an IV bag to help with dehydration, Alicia,” her mother responded. Alicia nodded and glanced back at the girl.
“She doesn’t look too bad,” Alicia whispered absently stroking an unruly strand of blond hair away from the girls face. Her nose wrinkled slightly and Alicia’s mouth twitched upwards in amusement.
“Just dehydrated and exhausted. Both of them from the looks of it. Otherwise okay.” The IV was set up and Alicia watched absently as the two newcomers were taken care of.
Daniel came over and hand cuffed the wrist of the woman she had just been holding to the beds sideboard. Alicia sat up outraged. He did the same for the boy without a word.
“What are you doing?” he ignored her and she turned to her mother. “He can’t just do that!”
Travis laid a hand on her arm but she shrugged him off. “It’s for safety Alicia,” he said reassuringly. “We don’t know them.”
“Does she look dangerous to you?” she countered wanting to give into the impulse to stomp her foot.
“Everyone is dangerous.” Daniel emphasized. “If you unlock these, you put all our lives at risk.” Alicia crossed her arms glaring at him but refrained from acting out anymore. He was right, she just didn’t like it.
“It’s only temporary, until they wake up.” Travis said leaving the room and Daniel followed.
Her mother did all that she could with her limited medical skills and left shortly after. Alicia stayed behind too memorized by the pair of strangers to leave. Ofelia, Nick and Chris stopped by at various times, but she didn’t feel like conversing and mainly gave them one-word answers. So she waited for the blond and her companion to wake up and wondered what color her eyes would be.
She got her answer on the evening of the second day. Her eyes were as blue as the sky and ocean surrounding them and just as deep and memorizing. The blonde jumped into sudden awareness and Alicia closed the book she had been doodling in. Most of her doodles the last day had been an infinity symbol reminiscent of the tattoo below the blondes left clavicle. Her legs dropped from the counter they had been propped on and she was at the woman’s side in an instant as she panicked and realized her hand was cuffed to the bed.
“Hey, it’s okay, you’re safe.” She said touching the girls shoulder trying to calm her.
The action had the opposite effect as the girl shrugged away from Alicia with frightened eyes. “Who are you and where am I? Where’s my brother?” The covers around her legs tangled as she kicked at them and Alicia backed up slightly giving her some needed space. It wouldn’t due for her to freak out more than she already was.
“I’m Alicia,” she began soothingly. Blue eyes met her hazel green listening to her every word with baited breath. She was good at caring for people when they were clearly out of it thanks to Nick. “We found you and the boy two days ago floating in a raft.” The blonde blinked looking around her finding the sandy haired boy and her shoulders relaxed. The boy must be the brother she mentioned.
“He’s okay?” she asked clearly concerned.
“Yea, he’s fine, you both are.” She paused for a second wondering why she was speaking so softly. For some reason, the urge to reassure and protect these two strangers was strong. “What’s your name?”
“Elyza, Elyza Lex.”
The blonde blinked and licked chapped lips. Her voice was slightly hoarse but the sound was beautiful nonetheless. Her Australian accent was unmistakable and Alicia had to contain her smile at the unfamiliar pronunciations and inflections with her speech. Her head turned to look behind her and Alicia followed her gaze.
“That’s my brother, Cory.” Her eyes returned to Alicia. “Where are we?” The blond began to sit up and Alicia put an arm around her shoulders to help even as the handcuffs restricted her. Elyza smiled briefly and accepted the assistance gratefully.
“We’re on a yacht called Abigail in the Pacific Ocean.” She explained. “We found you two days ago floating in an orange life raft passed out and brought you aboard.”
For the most part Elyza seemed to comprehend as she nodded. “Do you remember much?” Alicia pressed wanting to hear her speak and keep the woman to herself a little longer until she was bombarded with more questions and hopefully questioned by someone other than Daniel. Alicia wouldn’t let that happen knowing what had happened to the last man he had held hostage for information.
Elyza shook her head. “Not a whole lot to be honest.” Blue eyes grew distant and her nose wrinkled trying to recall events. Alicia couldn’t help but find her facial expressions endearing. “We were on a larger ship and we got over run by another boat.” Elyza attempted to touch her face but was restricted with the handcuffs on her left wrist. “Do you hand cuff all of your guests, or just the ones you like?’ Elyza’s eyebrows raised and Alicia’s mouth opened at a loss for words and she felt her cheeks warm.
“We had to be careful,” she defended with a stern voice despite the redness in her cheeks.
Elyza smirked. “It’s okay, I get it. It’s hard to know who to trust these days. Either the dead are trying to kill you or someone else is.” Alicia smiled sadly commiserating with her. “And I don’t’ mind too much if you’re the one who handcuffed me.” Alicia bit her lip trying to stay composed at the teasing blue eyes staring into her own. She couldn’t believe this girl was actually flirting with her or that she was getting embarrassed.
“I need to get the other’s,” she excused herself standing up somewhat awkwardly.
“How many others? They won’t hurt us will they?” she asked with a small tone of apprehension in her voice that Alicia was compelled to soothe.
“There’s eight of us.” She paused trying to be reassuring. “I’ll be right back, stay here.”
Elyza lifted an eyebrow and raised her shackled left wrist. “Don’t’ worry Commander, I’ll stay right here.”
Alicia swallowed and left to find her mother and Travis.
Alicia didn’t think she had ever seen anyone eat so much or so fast in her entire life. That is, other than when her brother Nick was completely stoned. Both Elyza and her brother Cory, shoveled food into their mouths like it was nobody’s business. Granted, they had helped with capturing the fish they were viciously feasting on, everyone else was eating at a much more sedate pace. It was like they hadn’t eaten in a long while and wouldn’t get another meal for days to come. Alicia paused for a moment upon realizing that they probably hadn’t eaten for at least a few days. She finished half of her own fish and caught Elyza’s eyes while silently moving her plate over to the blond. The woman blinked at her in question, her brows furrowing.
“I’m not hungry.”
It looked like she was about to protest until she turned eyes to her younger counterpart and slid the plate his way. Cory looked at the fish longingly but didn’t make a move. After a moment, Elyza dropped a hand to his head with a sad smile and nodded. “Go for it kid.”
The boy took the fish with more confidence and Elyza watched her brother enjoy his meal while her own lay forgotten for the moment. “Thanks.”
Alicia startled when she realized blue eyes had locked on her own after her attention had rested with watching Cory eat silently. She shrugged trying to make light of the situation.
“Really, it means a lot.” Elyza said and continued a little louder. “It means a lot that you found us and took us in.”
Some of the others at the table stopped eating and turned their attention to her. It was a little uncomfortable since they had just been let out of confinement after severe questioning with Daniel and Victor silently watching, much to Alicia’s displeasure. However, both Cory and Elyza appeared none the worse for wear from the experience. Perhaps, a little shaken if anything, but Elyza was casual and explained that she understood the precautions and if she had lives dependent on her then she likely would have done worse.
“It’s not the dead you have to worry about, it’s the living,” she had said.
It was an odd thing to say, but Alicia was finding out that Elyza was a very atypical girl. Either way her pragmatism was appreciated by the more skeptical in their group.
“Of course, you’re welcome here,” Alicia’s mom said and reached out to place a comforting hand on Elyza’s. The woman in question smiled brightly in return and Alicia couldn’t find it within herself to tear her gaze away until Nick coughed in her direction. Hesitantly, he rolled his eyes when all she did was fix him with a look silently asking what his problem was until he nodded his head at Daniel. The man was staring Elyza and her brother Cory down with purpose. It was a very uncomfortable expression and she was glad it wasn’t directed at her.
“We’ll see.” Daniel responded to Madison’s comment. “Perhaps these people will be looking for you and willing to trade something in exchange.” Everyone at the table stopped eating and were silent for a moment. Ofelia hushed her father but he shrugged her off.
Alicia watched Elyza blink and stare determinedly at the older man. “Or perhaps, you’ll find a better use for us.” She started and placed a comforting hand to her brother’s sleeve. “I was a medical student, and my brother was a nature scout. We grew up outdoors, and we’re survivors. So I can assure you we’re very resourceful.” Elyza’s words were calm but also determined. Alicia found it difficult not to appreciate the inflection in her voice from her Australian accent.
“Let’s just calm down,” Travis interrupted the conversation before at got out of control and Alicia was almost disappointed that the scathing remark to the older gentleman hadn’t made it’s way past her lips. “They’ve been through a lot,” he began. “Let’s give them time to adjust and we’ll make a decision later, as we’ve already discussed. No one’s on our radar and from what they’ve told us the ship that sank theirs was in bad shape so we have no clue what happened to it after they were attacked.”
“So they say,” Victor commented rubbing his chin. Elyza stared him down with her chest puffed out and Alicia couldn’t help but glance at her ample cleavage partly in envy.
“We’re good people-” Elyza rebutted.
Daniel raised an eyebrow and pointed a fork in her direction. “That is what anyone would say.”
Elyza’s chin jutted out and Alicia could tell she was grinding her teeth.
“That’s enough!” Madison raised her voice and Alicia appreciated the moment of silence around the table once the accusations ceased. It didn’t stop her from glaring daggers at Victor, someone she was learning to trust and actually got along well with her brother.
“Listen, we don’t have to stay.” Elyza spoke up after a moment. “I get it, I really do. You’ve done more than enough, more than most people would have really.”
“This is stupid.” Alicia growled under her breath barely containing her fury and Nick raised an eyebrow. She absently grabbed one of the fine knives sitting near her plate and dragged it onto her lap.
“We can have a trial period,” her brother said and Alicia looked at him with her lips slightly parted. “If this girl does have medical knowledge it’d be stupid just to ship her and her brother off to sea.”
“They also know more about the people out there who are dangerous,” Ofelia said next to her father putting a hand on his shoulder.
“It sounds reasonable, Travis?” Madison asked and he nodded in agreement.
“It’s your boat Victor.” Travis added to the finely dressed man.
“It’s a yacht,” Victor corrected with a tilt of his head. “Someone should stay with them at all times.” The agreement was made and they waited for Daniel’s vote of confidence.
Daniel nodded his head slowly. “One wrong move and they’re gone.”
Alicia’s hand eased its death grip on the knife in her lap when Nick touched a hand to her shoulder. “What’s with you?”
Alicia watched the blonde smile and licked her lips shakily. “I don’t know.” She replaced the knife on the top of the table and stared at it in curiosity and then at Daniel. Her fingers had been itching for the chance to dig it into his flesh for the slight against Elyza and her brother. The violent thoughts disturbed her more than anything because they didn’t bother her. She had killed the dead, but she had felt compelled to harm the living for a stranger.
The next day Nick and Alicia volunteered to give the new comers a tour of Abigail. Or rather, Alicia had volunteered and dragged her brother along. It wasn’t like the ship was overly large, it was impossible not to run into any of the other crew members, but it gave them a sense of privacy that Alicia had craved since laying eyes on the two strangers. They walked along the deck, snuck food from the kitchen, and finally, showed them to the last spare room available on the ship. It was definitely a step up from sleeping in the infirmary. Madison and Travis occupied one room, while Nick and Chris shared one, as did Ofelia and Alicia. Victor had his own private suite and Daniel slept in one of the studies located near the bridge. For some reason he was more comfortable higher up on the boat rather than in the vast catacombs of rooms below the main deck with the rest of the crew. While Alicia was very fond of Ofelia, she was certainly not a fan of her father. Ofelia’s relationship with her father was still strained after finding out her father had lied to her during her childhood.
Elyza and Cory were all too happy to share the remaining spare bedroom. Elyza flopped back onto the white linen sheets with a smile and her brother walked around the room running his hands along the furniture. Alicia couldn’t keep from smiling as the blond closed her eyes and ran her hands along the sheets. She stuffed her hands in the back of her jean pockets content to watch Elyza enjoy a simple pleasure that she had also taken for granted in the old world. Some days she wished for a room that was grand and a bed that was soft with sheets and pillows made of fur and paneling of richly carved wood like those in her dreams.
She heard Nick speaking to Cory and watched as the boy tried pulling his sister up from her position of comfort. Elyza curled up on the bed and half-heartedly shoved him away.
“Go check out the game room for yourself,” she muttered clearly happy to have her brother occupied by someone else for a time.
Cory seemed to pause for a moment longer and stared at Elyza meaningfully. Elyza merely smiled, her eyes still closed, and nodded. The sandy haired teenager turned to Alicia with a more serious expression and searched her face. She raised her eyebrows in question but remained silent as he found whatever he was looking for and his face transformed into that of a happy go lucky child once more as he followed Nick out of the bedroom and to the game room.
Alicia felt silence settle across the room and fidgeted. She wasn’t usually someone who felt awkward in social situations. Quite the opposite, she was usually the one to make others feel out of place with a single glance. She hesitated, but ended up sitting on the bed near the blond but not close enough to touch her. Carefully laying back on her elbows, Alicia watched for any reaction or request to leave from the blond. As she laid back with her feet crossed at her ankles, Alicia stared up at the ceiling and allowed herself to feel the boat move as it crashed into the waves.
For the first time in a long while, she felt at ease, and she let her eyes fall closed and her head ease back.
“What’s that?” The touch startled her more than the voice. She opened her eyes to find Elyza sitting up tracing the scars along her arm. Alicia attempted to cover the mark of the self-inflicted scar on her left forearm but Elyza easily brushed her hands away and held fast.
Their eyes locked and Alicia found herself squirming under the woman’s gaze unable to look away. She licked her lips stalling trying to find words under such scrutiny.
“My boyfriend, Matt,” she moved her eyes to the squiggly heart shape and was mesmerized by the way that Elyza’s hands looked grasping her forearm. “He drew it. He died. And I wanted to remember him.” She explained simply and sighed with a sad smile. “He was a good person.” The pain at his loss was still present, but she no longer felt the burning ache in her chest when thinking of him.
“So you thought you could take a contaminated needle and preserve it into your flesh?” Elyza’s eyebrow rose in sarcasm.
“Mockery is not the product of a strong mind.” She retaliated sharply and without thought.
The words came unbridled from memory but she found Elyza’s reaction confusing. She watched as her blue eyes widened a fraction before her face grew cold. She all but dropped Alicia’s arm as if it had burned her. Alicia flexed her fingers anxiously.
“Killing yourself with blood poisoning won’t bring back the dead.” Elyza said after a moment of silence before Alicia could question her and wonder if she had said something to offend her. “Well, I mean it would in the sense of making you undead. But your boyfriend would still be dead, or undead. Either way he’s dead.”
“I know.” Alicia said firmly at the callous words and traced the scar reverently. “It feels like another life time. All of this does.” She looked towards the ceiling her eyes distant. Her tongue swiped across her lips briefly before receding and her gaze returned to the faint unfinished scar. She rotated her forearm watching the skin move and stretch. “Blood doesn’t make me squeamish, but I was mesmerized by the color. It was so red.” She had seen so much blood in the last few months. Why would hers be any different than the countless others in the world dead or otherwise?
“You’re an odd girl.” Alicia’s face closed off instantly. Elyza’s serious expression was calculating, but a smile slowly spread across her lips. “It’s not a bad thing,” she clarified. “It’s not worth it to feel guilty. There are way too many other things to take responsibility for than to feel guilt at someone’s death.”
“You can’t save everyone.” Alicia whispered soft and decidedly.
“No, you can’t. And some people don’t deserve it.” Alicia looked at her questionably but Elyza nodded to her scar instead. “Remembering those we’ve lost gives us strength. It also makes us weak.” Elyza ran her fingers along Alicia’s arm and then trailed her fingers across the flesh.
“What does? Love?” Alicia asked with her brows furrowed trying to make sense of the woman before her. She felt a shiver run down her spine at the continued touch.
Elyza suddenly blinked dropping Alicia’s hand in the process. Alicia couldn’t help but stare at the blonde completely transfixed. Blue eyes nodded sadly lost in past memories.
“If I didn’t have anyone else to love, it wouldn’t be worth it.” Alicia reflected looking at the walls and listening to Nick and Cory’s voices down the hall from the game room. “I’ve got most of my family here. We’re surviving and for that I guess I should be grateful. But I don’t think it’s enough. Life should be about more than just surviving. I mean, don’t we deserve better than that?” She sighed shrugging her shoulders unable to convey her feelings appropriately.
“Maybe we do.”
Alicia was so lost in her own thoughts that she completely missed Elyza’s face nearing her own. She turned her face at the blondes’ words and her eyes widened in alarm as soft full lips made contact with the corner of her mouth. Instinctually, she knew that the kiss was meant for her cheek but she still felt the flush spread across her face. Elyza’s face pulled away and Alicia stared at her in disbelief with her lips slightly parted. She was unable to form words for several moments.
“What?” She whispered curious as she searched blue eyes.
Alicia’s skin tingled where Elyza’s lips had nearly made full contact with hers. The sensation felt so foreign because of its familiarity. For a moment she saw Elyza with her hair pulled back in braids and an angry scrape above her right eyebrow. The woman’s face drained of all emotion and Alicia tried not to fidget under the intensity of her gaze. Elyza seemed as if she was searching for something specific, something familiar. Her brows furrowed in concentration while her eyes scanned over hair and clothes, taking in Alicia’s appearance. Another moment longer and Alicia was about to open her mouth until her breath was nearly stolen from her by what the blond did next. The skin around Elyza’s eyes began to crinkle and her lips pulled up into a soft and almost tender smile. Alicia felt as if she had seen the stars in the sky for the first time.
“You look like you needed it,” were the simple words spoken.
In the next moment, Alicia heard shouts of her brother and Cory down the hall pressing close. She blinked as the footsteps closed in and Elyza turned her head to face the doorway. In an instant, the vision before her was gone but several others quickly took its place. A mountain, a gunshot, and an army of wild warriors dressed in ragged armor and face paint. The images came fast and unrelenting. She vaguely heard voices in the background but it was difficult to focus with the slow building ache behind her eyes. Her head felt light all of a sudden and she touched a hand to her forehead. Her vision blurred for a moment and she inhaled a shallow breath.
A voice called out to her and the world continued to spin. More voices, different ones in a foreign yet familiar language spoke to her. She grasped both hands to her head and clutched the roots of her head trying to ease the pressure in her skull. Her brother’s voice resonated, but it was the sounds of a female that broke through. The voice was both strong and soothing. The voice attached itself to the hands that grasped her shoulders and Alicia opened her eyes at the sudden shake she was given. She opened her eyes; not realizing she had them tightly closed and met concerned blue eyes.
“Klark,” she gasped before the searing pain knocked her sideways on the bed and she succumbed to darkness.
Please leave a comment. Also, many thanks to the wonderful Enyn_Skyeward for her assistance.
There was a searing pain in her stomach. It burned and warmth flowed in pools of black. She stared down in shock seeing her hand covered in viscous black fluid. Breathing became difficult and in shock she looked up into a woman’s startled face that was filled with worry and disbelief. She wanted to tell her that it was fine, anything to soothe the horror marring her beautiful face. The strength in her legs gave out and she felt herself falling…and falling farther towards the endless sea of black.
She strained to keep consciousness. It wasn’t her time yet. She had just found a reason to live, to continue fighting and someone to rule beside her in a time of peace.
Jus nou drein jus daun. Blood must not have blood.
There was still so much to do. But all of it mattered little if her love was holding her, crying over her weakening body. Wet tears dripped onto her face and moist lips pressed onto hers for the last time in a final goodbye.
In peace may you leave this shore. In love may you find the next. Safe passage on your travels until our final journey to the ground. May we meet again.
Alicia awoke with a startling gasp clinging to the vestiges of her dream. She clutched the white sheets at her sides and her fingers twisted in the fabric relentlessly. Her heart hammered in her chest irregularly and her skin felt hot and clammy at the same time. She sat up in bed noting she was safe in her room. The room swayed and a lamp flickered on the bureau. A shirt was abandoned on the floor and a lone shoe half hidden under it.
Her fists rubbed against her eyes clinging to visions. As her fingers trailed across her abdomen she stopped suddenly and with a gasp she removed the covers grasping her abdomen. Her chest heaved and calmed as she noted the absence of dark stains along her skin and clothes. Her lips still tingled from the bittersweet and loving kiss laid upon her lips in sorrow.
Her eyelids fluttered and she searched her brain for answers.
She was on the Abigail.
Her name was Alicia Clark and the world had ended.
The door opened and a pretty Hispanic girl hurried to her bedside. Ofelia, her mind provided in a fog.
“Alicia,” Ofelia said in concern putting a hand to her forehead. Alicia momentarily closed her eyes at the contact enjoying the smooth dry skin opposite her own overheated skin.
“We were so worried. What happened?”
Alicia furrowed her brow searching for the words but found none. Instead, she took notice of the vintage tee shirt with the golden gate bridge on the front with the printed cursive San Francisco underneath it.
“Is that my shirt?”
Ofelia merely smirked. “I think you’re going to be fine.” She rose from the bed as footsteps sounded outside the door. “You did say I could help myself.” She paused, “and that most of your stuff looked better on me anyway.”
Alicia opened her mouth to retort but her mom appeared in the doorway.
“Honey, are you ok? What happened?” Her mother smoothed her hair away from her face gently as she sat next to her on the bed. She continued to run her hands along Alicia’s face in affection.
Alicia sighed in exacerbation as she rolled her eyes but found comfort in her mother’s frantic concern. She fell into old habits but the petulant adolescent behavior felt exactly as it was, childish.
“I’m fine,” she reaffirmed with a nod. She didn’t know if it was true or not, but the distraught faces in front of her compelled her to reassure them.
“Elyza said you just passed out,” Ofelia commented taking a seat on the other side of Alicia.
As if the name had called her, Elyza materialized in the door. It was almost as if Alicia was transported back into her subconscious only this time she released a gasp relieved to see not tears but warmth reflected in her blue eyes. In the blink of an eye the affection was gone, and the apathetic pools of blue reflecting back into her own left her confused.
Her mother shuffled the young woman forward all the while asking her questions. She heard the words of post concussion syndrome thrown around as the blond came forward and touched callused hands to her face and trailed them along her neck. Alicia tried not to lean into the soft and strangely familiar touch. A light was shown in her eyes and she was told to follow the light and look in various directions. She complied automatically all too afraid to take her eyes off of the ethereal figure before her while comparing her with the figure from her dreams.
“You’ll be fine.” Elyza said after a moment and dropped her hands to her sides. Alicia missed the contact against her skin. “I was in my second year of medical school before the world ended, but nothing seems too off.” Elyza turned to Madison and stuffed the portable flashlight into the back pocket of her jeans. “Probably just dehydration combined with stress and maybe an undiagnosed concussion.”
Alicia watched as her mom nodded and went to retrieve water and aspirin from the infirmary. Elyza and Alicia stared at one another in silence as Elyza folded her hands in her back pockets. Ofelia looked between the two of them in confusion before excusing herself. Neither of the two girls looked at her and Alicia honestly couldn’t remember that she had spoken at all.
Once Ofelia left Alicia tried not to fidget under Elyza’s piercing gaze. Her hands clenched an unclenched in the bed sheets but she tried to sit up straighter giving an air of nonchalance.
“I’ve never kissed a girl and had her pass out before. I feel insulted.” Elyza raised a single eyebrow.
Alicia felt her eyes widen and her mouth part at a loss for words. Elyza slowly smiled and sat besides her and Alicia turned facing her more directly.
“Are you sure you’re feeling ok? Do you remember anything?” Elyza asked in concern searching for any sign of illness.
Alicia nodded and tucked a strand of hair behind her left ear. “Not really,” she shook her head trying to recall everything just before she blacked out. “I just, felt strange for a moment I guess. I had a weird dream and,” she met Elyza’s eyes suddenly and the penetrating look on the other woman’s face made the words still on her tongue.
“Have we…met before?” she asked licking her lips feeling as if she had missed something important. Surely, there was a reason why Alicia felt so compelled to be near Elyza and her face was so familiar. Perhaps, the woman had travelled to the states at one point, maybe for a medical internship even.
“Klark,” a strong voice sounded from the doorway and they both turned to see Elyza’s brother Cory standing in the doorway looking between them.
“Klark?” Alicia rolled the name off of her tongue testing the odd pronunciation. “No one’s ever said my name like that.” Although, the boy was looking at his sister when he said it.
Elyza sent Cory a scathing glare and Alicia looked on curiously, as the boy appeared slightly contrite but only raised his chin in defiance a moment later.
“Don’t mind him,” Elyza said saccharinely to Alicia and then turned back to her brother meaningfully. “What?”
The boy clasped his hands behind his back and looked to his sister and then to Alicia with a respectful nod. “Nick’s been asking about you. And dinner’s in an hour.”
Alicia nearly rolled her eyes. It was a fine time for her Nick to begin the protective older brother montage.
“Thanks,” she made to remove the covers but Elyza’s hands stilled her own.
“I’ll get him,” Elyza spoke softly and rose from the bed.
Cory nodded to her before he left. Elyza paused at the door with a wane smile. “Reshop.”
“What?” Alicia called before the blond could close the door. Elyza stilled half way out of the room. “What did you just say?”
Her blue eyes looked pained for a moment before she answered. “Rest up.” She slipped out quietly and the door closed softly behind her. Alicia stared at it for several seconds before lying down and turning on her side in deep thought.
It was a sunny day and the sea was calm. They had caught a large bounty of fish yesterday, and ate so much that the following day everyone was still content. Most of the crew were spread out along the Abigail enjoying the weather, her and Nick played chess. Alicia blinked at the glinting sun in her eyes as she watched Nick move his knight closer to her king. She moved a pawn in a defensive tactic across the chessboard and waited as her brother contemplated his next move. He scrunched up his face and sighed and Alicia tried to keep the smug expression from her face.
They played games as a child, after their Dad left. It was one way they all spent time together as a family. A frown made its way to her face thinking on the last time they had played monopoly back at their home in Los Angeles. Just before everything went to hell. She sat back further into the large chair as she stared at the chessboard no longer paying attention to her brother. So much had changed in a short span of time. How long had it really been? Was she suppose to count the time martial law had been inducted, or was it before that when the schools had been closed?
Time seemed irrelevant when you were out in the middle of the ocean stuck on a boat with the same people day in and day out even if it was a very large boat.
A laugh caught her attention and Alicia turned to hone in on the melodious sound. Elyza sat with Chris and Cory her back resting against the side rails with her arms outstretched. Her face was light and the lines around her eyes were genuine and free. Alicia felt captivated by not only the sound of her laugh but the way her body appeared so at ease. The sun made her hair shine like strands of golden silk and her cheeks were rosy from the sun. This was how it should be. This was how Elyza should be. Alicia couldn’t help but feel that these moments were rare, like a small piece of paradise. The laugh faded and the blond turned her head and caught Alicia’s eyes. The bright smile disappeared and in its place was a look so intense that Alicia felt her heart rate heighten and the twinges of a headache pulse behind her eyes.
She reached a hand up to her forehead rubbing the flesh absently. Elyza frowned watching her.
“So you’re into girls now?”
Nick’s voice brought her back into reality. She turned to face him still rubbing her head absently. It was like a constant ache or even an itch that she couldn’t seem to reach.
Nick flicked his gaze over to Elyza who had resumed her conversation with Chris and Cory although the corner of her eyes still flickered over to them occasionally.
“You and her,” Nick said nodding over to Elyza. “You’ve been dancing around each other the last few days. Ever since she got here. You move, she moves.” He finally placed a rook further on the board and Alicia huffed taking the opening and capturing his black bishop with her rook.
He quickly took her castle with his pawn and she cursed internally noting the stupidly of falling for such a dumb play. He was purposely distracting her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she scanned the board trying to find an opening or a play she could end the game sooner rather than later. She was nearing the end of her tolerance for her brother.
“I’m an addict, not an idiot.” He said flatly folding his arms.
“Just shut up,” she commanded her lips drawn in a firm line.
“Hey, it makes no difference to me is all I’m saying.” He uncrossed his arms and sat back.
Alicia was close to reaching across the bench and throttling him. Her muscles tensed preparing for the action until a hand touched her arm. Elyza dragged her hand across Alicia’s arm until it rested behind Alicia’s shoulder. She sat on the chairs armrest crossing her legs and leaning her body weight into Alicia, subtly pressing their legs together. Alicia forgot how to breathe for a moment and she saw Nick smirk at her.
“Who’s winning?” Elyza asked her accent thick. Alicia felt her body relax and shift to the right further into the supple flesh of the blond.
“I am,” Nick said smugly as Cory and Chris meandered over.
Cory analyzed the board and clasped his hands behind his back. “Your moves are sloppy,” he commented while glancing at Nick. Alicia’s brother scoffed but it brought a smile to her face and she exchanged amused glances with Elyza’s brother. She wondered at his accent, most definitely not Australian as his sisters. It wasn’t American, and it almost sounded Canadian.
“What do you mean? I’m winning, I have most of her pieces!” Nick said with a wave of his hands.
“I don’t know, looks like she’s commanding the board to me,” Elyza shifted closer to Alicia. She lowered her voice and leaned her face down until Alicia could feel the whisper of her breath. “Looks like you have it won.”
Alicia looked at the board with more determination, steeling herself not to lose in front of an audience. She usually won chess matches; strategy was a strength of hers. The tip of her lips nearly turned up as she scanned the board and moved her queen across the checkered squares.
“Check mate.” Nick groaned and knocked over his king on the board and rose from his seat. He waved his hand in the air dismissively and went to cause mischief on another part of the yacht. Elyza and Cory shared a secretive smile while Alicia leaned into Elyza.
“Nicely done,” Elyza said stroking her fingers lightly against Alicia’s arm. It was a natural gesture that immediately made her muscle limp. “I’ll play winner.”
A glimmer of challenge flickered in Alicia’s eyes. “It would be a pleasure.”
Elyza moved to take up Nick’s vacated spot and began setting up the chess pieces. “I don’t lose.” Alicia said confidently and matter of fact but secretly missed the blondes’ warmth pressed against her.
“I’m sure you don’t, until now.” Elyza raised an eyebrow and cocked her head. Alicia let Elyza make the first move as Cory watched amused.
She was sleeping too much. But the headaches made her tired and the dizziness that accompanied them was unpleasant. Her mother kept whispering worried hands over her face, and Alicia was tired of the concern. Alicia had always been the quiet presence, the adult in the household and the point of stability. She had excellent grades and was dependable and always there to make sure things around the house were done and her brother taken care of after his most recent binge. The extra attention was unsettling and off-putting. Ofelia was kind and considerate and she fluttered about trying to clean up the mess in their room, or complete extra chores to help so that Alicia could rest more. Alicia thought that taking care of others was in the girls genetic make up and since her mother had died she had no one left to take of, except her father, and they were still mending their relationship.
Elyza told her to rest, hydrate, walk around the deck for exercise, and supplied her pain medication to take only if necessary, as they had to conserve what supplies they had. Part of the problem was being stuck on a boat. The tide of the ocean was always in motion and the suns rays could also prove harmful if she basked too long. Alicia felt blue eyes always on her, watching. For the most part, she didn’t mind the observation; in fact she stood taller under the older woman’s gaze and felt more self-assured than she had in a long time.
So, after cleaning up the bathrooms on the ship, she took a shower (Chris was most definitely the messiest one on the yacht), and rested in the dusk of the setting sun. Cory and Nick were playing a game of cards at a nearby table with Strand while Elyza remained nearby drawing in a large notebook. Alicia could see the faint stains of charcoal on her hands.
Alicia moved up in her seat when her Mom came over and sat next to her on the deck furniture. Madison ran a hand through her daughter’s hair and Alicia sighed enjoying the sensation without the accompanying questions that usually followed.
Madison stared absently while her gaze flickered over to Cory and back to his sister every so often.
“What’s wrong?” Alicia finally asked her eyes half open. She was tired again even after her nap. Cleaning the bathrooms must have taken more of her energy that she thought. Her hair was also a mess. She both missed and was relieved that she no longer cared or had the luxury of taming her curly locks into an elegant wave on a daily basis.
“Nothing,” her mother responded.
“It’s never nothing.” Alicia countered tiredly with a sigh.
“It’s been over a week since they’ve been with us.” Madison paused thoughtfully and Alicia waited for her to continue holding her breath. “Travis thinks we should let them stay. Daniel isn’t sure and Strand’s still on the fence as well.”
“They can’t leave,” Alicia said sitting up suddenly more awake.
Madison’s hand hovered above her daughter’s head. She contemplated Alicia’s firm resolve and determined eyes. She was young and righteous, but very logical and shrewd. Madison had always been proud of her daughter’s resourcefulness and dedication; her daughter’s independence both heartened and saddened her as a mother. There were times that she wished she had not put so much pressure on her daughter, especially with Nick and her biological father. Her ex-husband’s abandonment had made Alicia, both of her kids and herself included, guarded and hesitant with people. Alicia was slow to make connections but when she did, she held fast.
And the way that Alicia interacted with the newcomer and her brother worried Madison. She genuinely liked Elyza and Cory, but the way Alicia clung to them and they to her, was suspicious. It was almost as if they knew one another’s habits and how the other would react; it made their interactions warm and friendly to the point of familial.
“No one’s saying they’re going to leave, honey.” Madison soothed resting her hand down in her lap. She glanced around and found Cory and Elyza surreptitiously watching their interaction. In all pretenses, they continued their activity but their posture was taught and spoke of listening warily. Waiting for the next words more than anything reacting to Alicia’s stern tone more than Madison’s words.
“I’m serious.” Madison glanced down at the hand now grasping her wrist and back at her daughter’s unyielding face.
Madison narrowed her eyes and removed Alicia’s hand. “No one is deciding anything yet,” she said with an authority that she didn’t feel she had in this moment. “Get some rest and try to calm down.”
Alicia rolled her eyes as her mother left. She folded her arms with a huff and sat back. She closed her eyes trying to calm down as her mother recommended so eloquently but if anything she felt more disappointed and irritated having all of the decisions being made without her. The sound of a screeching chair caught her attention and she opened her eyes to see Elyza sitting in a chair across from her. Her notebook was propped up on one of her legs, which was folded casually across the other. She was drawing in a rhythmic pattern with smooth long strokes.
Alicia watched her draw for a moment but even as Elyza’s gaze glanced up at her on occasion in an assessing manner, she did not speak. Alicia did not hide her fascination as she watched the blond draw in what appeared to be deep concentration. Instead, she picked up her discarded book that she had intended to read, and opened to the marked chapter and lost herself in the sounds of Elyza’s drawing and the words in front of her.
She was asleep in a matter of minutes dreaming of candles and a room filled with softly glowing light in which she rested with a book in her hands and Elyza sat across from her drawing much as she was now.
Elyza was gone when she awoke, and the wind was distinctly chilly. She drew her sweater closer around her shoulders and turned to see Strand walk up. She blinked a few times and looked up at him in the glinting sunlight.
“I want to go over some coordinates with you.” He said after a moment.
Sometimes she wondered if he tried to include her so she didn’t feel worthless. The busier the better; it gave her less time to focus on the here and now and all of the shit that had happened since Los Angeles. She knew her mother and Daniel didn’t trust him, but she did. So did her brother. Strand was simple. He valued worth and if you proved yourself useful he’d keep you around. If it wasn’t for him, they’d be dead, stuck on the beach in Southern California eaten alive by the dead. He brought out the best in her brother and she was grateful for that as well. There were few things to be grateful for these days but her family was one of them. Granted, she was still pissed that the world turned to shit and she missed the chance to live her own life.
In some instances, she thought he was actually afraid of her. And having her assist him with tasks was a way in which he could keep an eye on her in order to protect himself. Not that she blamed him; she had killed someone nearly a month ago. So had Chris. She was protecting her brother and her mother. It had been easy, to fire the gun. It felt foreign using it even though she knew how it worked. It was a weapon she was unfamiliar with, but she had been to a firing range before. After the strange man had collapsed on the beach they were gathering supplies on, she felt bereft that his death had come so easily and not at her own hands as they clenched a weapon of solid steel. She had wanted to run him through with a sword. But in the end she had been given the opportunity to burry a blade into flesh. She had killed Jack, the same man that had fooled her and earned her trust on the radio. The stranger that had lured her into a false sense of security when she had desperately wanted to form some kind of connection in a world that had spiraled out of her control.
It was a fishing knife that killed him in the end. A fishing knife that she had expertly wielded and sliced his throat as easily as any fine delicacy. The blood of the carotid artery sprayed over her face and chest and she turned to her family with hard eyes realizing that they had taken advantage of her distraction to unarm the rest of their captors. She helped tie up a few of the stragglers, helped destroy their communications system so they could not do the same to anyone else, boarded the Abigail and had been in the middle of the ocean again ever since.
Everyone treated her differently since that day. Even though Chris had killed someone as well, she had killed as if born to do so. It was the small things. They tip toed around her and Alicia was pretty sure Ofelia hadn’t slept well in their shared bedroom for nearly a week after the incident. Her mother’s eyes had searched for answers and her brother hadn’t questioned her, just merely assessed her as if seeing her for the first time, or not for the first time just realizing something for the first time. She had been doing the same with him since the outbreak and the end of the world. Chris was left to his own devices, a wild card ever.
Strand continued to stare at her, and she realized she had been lost in her thoughts for a few seconds. Alicia shrugged and sat up realizing that the sweater around her belonged to her but she had not been wearing it earlier. Elyza had. She clutched the soft cotton around her tighter and subtly sniffed the fabric trying to see if the other woman’s scent still lingered.
It was almost time for dinner, and she had chores to do alongside Chris to prepare for the evening meal. “How long will it take?”
“Not long,” he replied stoically. “I’ll meet you there in ten minutes.”
Alicia agreed and they separated. Her feet felt heavy against the deck and she softened her footfalls in exchange for something quiet and less detectable.
There was shuffling inside the bridge and Alicia was glad she had chosen to soften her strides earlier. Stealth was becoming a habit she easily fell into since the end of the world. If you attract attention you die. The dead were slow and stupid, and it made them predictable and easy to underestimate if they weren’t in a large horde. It also made them more dangerous.
The sunlight was beginning to fade but she was still able to make out the touch of golden waves and the round face and furrowed eyebrows.
“What are you doing?” she asked stepping into the bridge and closing the door softly behind her. Her voice was soft and curious. Her posture relaxed unconsciously upon recognizing the other woman. She nearly berated herself for the ease in which she felt around this woman, but could not help it. Something about the blond and blue eyed female made Alicia’s heart pound, her senses alert, but at the same time calmed her. It was trust, she realized after a moment as they stared at one another. Elyza’s hands were tangled in a series of maps and a compass was in her left hand.
It was stupid to trust someone you barely knew. She had nearly cost everyone his or her lives the last time she was this naïve, but she couldn’t help but completely disarm when in Elyza’s presence, especially if Cory was present.
“Nothing,” Elyza said casually laying the papers down and closing the compass with a small snap. “I just like to know where we are. Drifting in the middle of the ocean unnerves me.”
Alicia nodded agreeing but still suspicious. Elyza was smart, not naïve and Alicia was growing into her own, no matter how captivated she was by this woman.
“You better go.” Alicia said slipping the sweater off from around her shoulders and holding it out to Elyza. “Strand’s coming in.” She hinted trying to give her an out without explanation. She could feel that there was more to Elyza being in the control room, but didn’t want to say anything just yet. For some reason, she wasn’t worried, wary yes, but confidant that whatever it was she could handle and figure out in time.
Elyza glanced at the sweater not making a move to reach out and grab it. “You looked cold. It’s yours anyway.” She shrugged casually standing fully and removing her hip from the table she had been leaning on.
“Looks better on you.” Alicia responded raising her eyebrow and Elyza smirked.
“I hear you say that to all the girls” she teased and Alicia realized she must have heard her and Ofelia conversing at some point. Either way, she accepted the sweater and tied it around her waste and reached behind her for the sketchbook on the edge of the table.
The corner of a page caught Alicia’s eye and she reached out and pulled the paper free from the sketchbook before Elyza could stop her.
Alicia stared at the charcoal drawing. Her brows furrowed briefly trailing over the soft edges and shadows depicting herself in slumber on the deck. It must have been drawn a few hours prior. Alicia had not realized that she was the subject of Elyza’s artistic inspiration. She didn’t know how to feel about it.
“That’s not finished.” Elyza commented staring at her and Alicia raised her eyes in soft wonder with her lips slightly parted. She swallowed thickly and took a breath.
“You’re really good,” She said lamely.
The moment dragged on and Elyza sighed taking the drawing gently from her hands and putting it back in her sketchbook. “I was looking for other ships and checking our location for the nearest land.”
Alicia recognized that she was trying to open up and removed her eyes from the sketchbook watching Elyza peering at her. “There’s nothing out there worth it.”
“How do you know?” Elyza countered.
“The first month we were out here I stayed by the radio,” Alicia’s revealed. “I even slept in here sometimes or I took the radio to my room. I waited and I broadcasted wanting to hear people. Until I heard a broadcast saying that everyone was dead or turned. And then I also realized it wasn’t safe to reach out anymore. People are dangerous. And the ones that are still alive aren’t safe.” The question of whether or not Elyza was safe hung between them.
“What if there was more out there? What if you could live and not just survive? Would you want to? Even if it wasn’t perfect?”
The question threw her for a moment. “Of course I would. I want that more than anything.”
“Anything?” Elyza cocked her head playfully the serious tone of their conversation easing.
“Almost anything.” She shrugged returning the playful banter.
Elyza’s blue eyes turned serious once more. “You shouldn’t listen to people on the radio. They’ll do anything to get what you have.”
“I know, we had an incident a month ago. I killed someone. It wasn’t as hard as I thought.” Alicia revealed stoically.
Elyza peered at her contemplating and almost sad. “It’s easier than people think. It’s only afterwards when you have to live with the consequences that it gets hard.”
Alicia gazed out of the window at the now dark sky and smooth waves of the ocean. “Even then, I didn’t feel too bad about it. They threatened my Mom. They dared to hold a gun to her head. I took the knife. They were going to shoot her anyway.” Her voice carried and it almost sounded strange and foreign. “Scared the shit out of everyone. They looked like they didn’t know me afterwards.”
“Alicia.” She jumped and startled guiltily at the sound of Strands voice. Both women stilled immediately and Elyza and Strand regarded one another silently.
“She was showing me some of her sketches from earlier. She was just leaving.” Alicia said before either one of them could comment. She eyed Elyza meaningfully and they exchanged a quick glance. The blond looked between them and nodded and proceeded to gather her belongings. She walked out of the door with a small backwards glance, but nothing more.
Alicia stared for a moment until Strand stepped in front of her tall and imposing. “She comes up here again snooping around and I’ll toss her off my boat. Because this is still my boat.”
His voice was calm but threatening. Alicia narrowed her eyes and squared her shoulders but her firm stance did little to deter him. He stared at her until she nodded. There was little she could do but protect Elyza and her brother and keep them out of Strand’s way until he deemed the brother and sister useful enough to keep around. So far, Elyza’s medical knowledge was proving to be an asset. Alicia moved to step around him until Strand grabbed her arm. She tensed waiting and staring up into his eyes daring him to try something. He seemed to understand the threat and loosened his hold somewhat. Perhaps, he was still afraid of her. She would be too, knowing how easily she could kill the living and the dead.
He gazed into her eyes until coming to a decision. “Your brother is fearless.” Alicia thought it was another way of saying reckless and foolish. “That’s why I keep him around. Do you know why I keep you around?” She raised her chin and narrowed her eyes. He shook her slightly enough to emphasize his next words. “It’s because you’re smart and ruthless.” She raised an eyebrow never having heard herself described as ruthless. “Elyza’s a pretty face, but don’t trust her. That’s your first mistake. Just because I let you be a part of this,” he said gesturing to the maps and the compass and other random articles littering the desk, “doesn’t mean I’ll keep letting you if you fuck it up again.”
She tensed automatically remembering the last time she had answered the radio. She hadn’t been lying to Elyza before.
“You remember what happened right?” He took a step closer to her and she stepped back immediately until her spine was pressed against one of the desks. “To your friend Jack? The one you conveniently gave away our location to and nearly killed us all?” Her lips trembled and her eyes stung but she remained firm under his unrelenting and accusing stare.
“You can’t kill everyone you don’t trust.” She said grinding her teeth together and instantly thought of Elyza and her brother. She thought of Elyza’s blond tresses that held the rays of the sun and freckles that dusted across her nose. The instinct to protect her was strong, alarmingly strong. Her hands found purchase at the edge of the desk. Her fingers gripped the wood tightly and her knuckles turned white from the force of her anger. Strands arm burned around hers and she wanted nothing more than to rip it off.
“Yes, I can.” His eyes narrowed in response and searched her face. “Don’t you remember the rules? Number one, it’s my boat and number two it’s my boat. Number three, refer back to number one. It’s my fucking boat.”
“No, you can’t, and I won’t let you.” She pushed herself away from the desk and pushed into him forcedly and his grip on her arm broke. She no longer cared if he wanted to speak with her about coordinates or locations. All she wanted was to get away from him before she punched him in his snotty face. “I fixed my mistakes, don’t you remember? I killed him,” she growled thinking back on the man called Jack that had played her so easily many months ago and the blood spraying across her face from the vicious kill.
Strand’s mouth pinched and he looked at her as if he didn’t recognize her for a moment. The touch of uncertainly in his eyes encouraged her and she felt the confidence flow into her body as her shoulders straightened and her right hand went to grip an absent weapon at her waist.
“The guilty will bleed, but you cannot and you will not enforce your rules onto those who don’t deserve it. I won’t let you.” She raised her chin regally and turned on her heal both energized and feeling startled at her sudden show of bravado and the feelings of possessiveness that Elyza and Cory stoked within her. Her footsteps faltered for a moment as she spotted Elyza’s sketchbook. She was sure that the blond had taken it with her. Her fingers reached out and snagged the sketchbook containing the woman’s artwork before she faltered in her measured gait and exited the room. Her hands tingled and her mind was buzzing.
It was late in the evening and everyone was fast asleep. The ocean was calm and the yacht sailed smoothly rocking along the waves. Elyza stood at the front of the ship gazing into the distance straining to see a ship that was not yet in range. It was only a matter of time. Part of her was in turmoil for what was about to commence. It was never easy to leave good people behind. It had happened so few times that she almost forgot what remorse and regret felt like. And fewer times still after the innocent were found did they ever find their way back to paradise. Or rather just some form of society that still existed, and that she existed to protect along with the people within it. And Elyza was doing everything in her power to make sure that this time around she would save her people.
It made her job difficult and dangerous. It was one of the reasons why she volunteered to venture out into the sea when a possible candidate was chosen to be “interviewed” before inducted into their safe harbor.
A presence joined her a moment later and the smaller form brushed against her in companionable silence. They stayed that way for a few moments until she broke the quiet. There was little time left to discuss such things and they had delayed enough as it was.
“What do you think? Do we leave the coordinates?” She asked flatly still staring into the night.
“You’ve already made up your mind. Why are you asking?” The shoulder against her moved and she sighed with a slight smile upturning at her lips. She closed her eyes and opened them slowly. He knew her so well. It was inevitable that he knew her habits by now.
“I just want to be sure.” She gripped the railing and pushed herself away and stuffed her hands in her pockets; pockets that belonged to a sweater that belonged to a woman that her soul was unmistakably bound to.
“You can’t ever be sure. That’s why we do what we do. It’s her though, am I right?” He eyed her in interest.
“I dunno.” She shrugged, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“Yes, you do,” he turned determined eyes to hers. They were unrelenting and calculating and she refused to squirm under his gaze. He was just a kid, but he carried the weight of one so much older and the wisdom of men who have lived many years. “You felt it, same as I did.”
Her blue eyes fixated upon his in reprimand but he did not back down. She smiled sadly remembering, or remembering the memory of seeing him for the first time. He was so confident and sure and very little had changed despite the circumstances.
“My memories are spotty at times, just like yours,” she stated carefully. “But yes, I did feel it,” she confirmed after a momentary pause. “The same eyes, lips. The intensity. She’s in there. She is her” Elyza amended.
“Then we take her with us now and explain. All of them if need be.”
Elyza’s lips formed a gentle smile while her eyes remained sad lost in memories. “We can’t make her decisions for her. It’s a miracle we even found her, even if we’ve been searching. We were lucky enough to have this pull that drew us closer, but we can’t force the memories, ours haven’t even returned fully.” They both remembered the last time they had attempted to force the memories of another life on one of their own. It had resulted in insanity and ultimately death. There was only one-way to successfully retrieve the memories of the past life and so very few survived the change or the violence that preluded it. The scar on her skin burned as she remembered how close she had come to dying that day so very long ago in the early days of the outbreak. There had still been time for it to heal and for her to make safe guards for this life. She was lucky, more than lucky really.
“No,” she placed a hand on Cory’s shoulder in companionship. “This is has to be her choice. Em laik Heda, non au throu daun gon em.”
Thank you to the talented Enyn_Skyeward for her assistance with cleaning up this chapter. Go check out her work if you haven't already! She gives Lexa and Clarke the life they deserve.
A loud cracking noise woke Alicia first, followed by the sound of feet pounding in the hall and along the deck of the yacht. Her eyes snapped open and she was instinctually aware of her surroundings. She kept still for a second allowing the pleasant dream of a fur lined bed and a hand running along her bicep to fade. Ofelia moved besides her in the queen-sized bed and was instantly awake. They had been through too much at this point not to be on high alert. The noises they heard indicated that someone else was on the boat. There was always an ever-present danger even in the middle of the ocean. Alicia’s first thought was of Elyza and Cory so she didn’t bother with shoes or clothes. Her boy shorts and the tank top would suffice for now, especially since death cared little what you chose to wear at the end.
Alicia hushed Ofelia when the girl tried to speak and signaled for her to get up. She handed her a gun tucked away in their side dresser while she slid a somewhat sizeable knife from beneath her pillow. She ignored the widened eyes and slightly fearful gaze the other woman gave her. The teen hardly slept without it these days and no doubt Ofelia knew where it was placed every night because the girl made the bed every day.
The gun was the best choice for the gentle girl. Ofelia knew how to shoot; her father had seen to that and even if she wasn’t fond of weapons, she was much less squeamish than when they had first met. Besides, Alicia felt more comfortable with a blade due to feeling as if it was a part of her body. She padded on quiet feet, her face set in stone and her body stilled despite the slight increase in her heart rate. She was not afraid, in fact she was strangely clam and determined. She had people to protect and the grip on her blade became more sure the longer she thought of those in need of protection.
She looked back to Ofelia, clad in sensible yoga pants and a shirt, both part of Alicia’s wardrobe and the sight brought a small upturn of her lips. The woman was quick to follow orders, not even asking, but rushing to her side by the door. Alicia turned her head to the door hearing the shouts and the footsteps running past. They were lucky that they weren’t the first ones sought on the boat. In the back of her mind she wondered how this could have happened. They were careful to avoid detection after they learned from their past mistakes, or mainly Alicia’s mistakes and naivety. But she had fixed the way they tracked; she had taken it upon herself, with Strand and Daniel’s help, to set up the tech they had stolen for better detection regarding other ships. It helped them steer clear of ships more easily and pick and choose their docking locations when they needed supplies.
Carefully, she opened the door when the last of the shouting had died down. She wondered who had been taken and silently sent up a prayer that everyone was alive and well. Not that she thought it would do any good, but it couldn’t exactly do any harm at this point. Either way, if someone was going to threaten her family she was going to kill them.
She gripped her knife and Ofelia followed behind her. She wanted to reassure the brunette, and tell her to give her a little breathing room, but Alicia also didn’t want to alarm the girl. It was obvious that she was frightened, and was taking comfort in Alicia’s steady presence. The hallway was clear and she stepped fully away from the door looking to the stairs leading to the deck. The intruders would most likely try to get control of the yacht in order to get to the bridge. It was likely they had already captured some of the others. Travis had been captured before and held hostage when the previous attempt had been made to take over the Abigail.
They almost made it to the stairs when someone came down as they reached the base. The large tan skinned man startled at seeing her, surprise evident on his face. Alicia and Ofelia paused, but Alicia recovered first with a determined set to her face and rushed forwards. The bald man was well muscled and strong, and could easily over power her, but she had to try. His eyes widened when he realized her intent and he held up his hands in a placating manner.
“Hed-” he rushed out but she spared no time and sent her elbow into his face, making him grasp his nose on reflex to stem the flow of blood. She almost felt bad for it, but remembered that he was the one storming the ship. He had a kind face, if not a very handsome one. She made to strike him with her blade, but he deflected the blow expertly and they locked eyes both in surprise yet again. It was if he’d fought her before and could predict her moves.
A door behind her opened and a fierce looking woman with dark hair and deep brown eyes regarded them. She had a dangerous looking sword strapped to her back and dark clothes and various braids throughout her hair. Her eyes took in the scene before them and noted the imminent danger to her companion and she took off at a run straight towards them.
Ofelia tried to intercept her but it did little good. She raised the gun too late and the mysterious woman easily deflected her aim with a quick side blow to her wrist. The gun went off but the bullet imbedded harmlessly into the sidewall. The warrior twisted Ofelia’s shoulder behind her back and kicked her knees out from under her. Ofelia went down with a harsh cry and Alicia immediately went to her almost entirely forgetting about the man she was locked arm in arm with. He grabbed her forearm and their gazes collided. He looked at her pleadingly, but Alicia merely glared at him and sent a punch to his already injured nose. He blocked with his other hand and his nostrils flared. The blood still dripped down his chin and the bright color contrasted in the dimly lit hallway. A few drops flung and Alicia blinked automatically as the fluid splashed along her chin.
She wasted no time kicking at his patella sending him down to the opposite knee in a sudden cry. For all purposes he let go and allowed her to grab the collar of his shirt and bring her blade to his carotid artery. The braided female was unrelenting and held Ofelia in front of her like a shield. Her eyes shifted between hers and her companions as she assessed the situation. Alicia sensed no fear or struggle within the man under her knife and shook him roughly trying to provoke him. Instead, he relaxed further and stared at the strange woman with meaning.
“Ricky,” she said softly. Her voice was different and somehow exactly as Alicia would have imagined. It was sweet but strong and filled with purpose.
“I’m fine,” the man beneath her returned warmly. Alicia sensed the deep connection between them and was ready to use it as a bargaining chip.
“Let her go,” Alicia spat.
Ofelia quaked under the harsh grip. Alicia watched her chest rise and fall dramatically as she tried not to control her fear. Sweat trickled along her forehead and dropped to her breast. Alicia held her captive tighter.
“You won’t get far.” The woman stated calmly letting Ofelia go in a smooth and well practiced move.
This woman was a skilled warrior and well trained. It made the apprehension in her grow. If all of the people that had boarded the Abigail were of similar aptitude, how much of a chance did they stand? Had her family and the rest of the crew already been captured? How many of the intruders were there? Did they have weapons? The fear grew until she thought of Elyza. She had to get to her as quickly as possible. Stupidly, and perhaps because she had some form of honor she let the bulky man go. He rose as she shoved him away from her none too gently. Instead of falling forward as she had hoped he remained tall as he rose onto his feet and calmly faced her. She held the knife up to him in threat and while the urgency to find her family and Elyza did not dissipate, she felt transported to another time and place the longer she stared into his eyes. Alicia felt the world shift away from her and her shoulders relaxed marginally until Ofelia rushed to her side and grabbed her arm. Ofelia called her name pulling her towards the stairs glancing at the strangers in fear. Alicia snapped out of it and hurriedly climbed after Ofelia as the warrior man and woman stood watching them complacently.
The moment they reached the top deck Ofelia was grabbed roughly from her side and backhanded. Alicia reflexively punched the stranger and they fell to the floor as did their rifle. Ofelia quickly grabbed the gun and Alicia grabbed her. They scrambled to their feet only to meet the rest of their family and friends being held at gunpoint by Elyza and Cory.
Too stunned to do anything, the knife was stolen from her hands and the rifle plucked from Ofelia’s shaking hands. As hands grasped her, the same man she had punched just a moment ago, her senses returned and she began to struggle.
“Alicia!” her mother called and struggled as well trying to reach her. The gun to her mother’s face, held by a sandy blond female, pushed farther into her back.
“Mom!” Alicia called out startled.
She stared at Elyza and Cory with wide eyes. The sandy blond haired boy at her side looked out of place with a large gun in his hands positioned to Travis’ side. Alicia’s stomach turned and she felt a weight settle deep her in chest and the world drop from beneath her and spiral out of control. There were too many of them and they were clearly out numbered. The large ship next to the Abigail was dark and menacing. It floated seemingly harmless next to the much smaller yacht. It appeared to be some form of military ship. But how had they found them? Unless it had all been a set up? Elyza and her brother Cory had been the perfect bait, so innocent and in need of rescue. And Alicia had played right into their hands.
How could someone do this? How could people do this to each other? She just didn’t understand. Alicia desperately wanted the world to be different than it was. Wasn’t there already so much death with the un dead plaguing the world?
Her brother, Travis, Strand, Chris (he was actually gagged and his wrists were tied behind him). It was happening again. Images flashed before her eyes and tears blurred her vision. Her breath came in harsher and her lips curled in anger, anger at herself. She couldn’t believe how much of a fool she was. She glared at Elyza in so much pain and betrayal that it burned her soul. How could she have done this to her? She felt like her heart was breaking into a million pieces.
“It’s ok, carina” Ofelia’s father said with a deadly glint in his eyes as he stared at his daughter which promised death to the first person who so much as touched her.
The warrior man and woman from before emerged from below the next moment and Elyza turned to look at them. She avoided Alicia’s eyes and Alicia yearned for her to look at her and explain; to tell her this was all a misunderstanding. She knew it wasn’t. Elyza was just like Jake.
A pained sound escaped Alicia’s lips and Elyza glanced at her. Her face appeared somewhat disconcerted, but otherwise she looked angered as she stared at her companions.
“I said unharmed,” Elyza growled at the pair.
The braided female raised an eyebrow in challenge. “She had a knife to Ricky’s throat,” she responded without apology. The blond cocked her head as if to say ‘so what?’
“What the hell is this?” Alicia barked no longer able to stay silent. There was so much anger and disbelief in her voice. She craned her neck towards the blond with accusing green eyes.
Those blue eyes that had held so much warmth earlier that day was empty as they trained on her face. “We’re robbing you. I think it’s pretty obvious.”
Alicia turned her attention to the other random men and women taking sacks and lowering them into a boat over the side of the yacht. Alicia could make out some of their fine liquor and other random articles.
“Why? We saved you?”
“I think it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t need saving,” Strand said blandly.
“Thanks for that, by the way.” Elyza commented with a side-glance. “I really was getting dehydrated waiting for you guys to find us.”
A few snickers came from her crew that was quickly interrupted by a radio signal.
“Eli here. First warning. Over.”
The brown haired boy at Alicia’s side picked up the radio and held the button responding. “Message received. Thanks. Over.” He lowered the radio and directed his attention to Elyza. “Princess, we need to be out of here in fifteen to avoid you know who.” There was another implication in his voice. The bodies around them moved quicker after Elyza signaled them.
“You can’t do this.” Strand declared with importance standing tall.
Elyza took a step closer to him and stared straight into his eyes unflinchingly. “Yes, I can. This may be your boat, but I’m in charge.” Without looking away from Strand she directed her voice and attention to the man whom had answered the radio. “If Eli’s here who’s heading base?” There was a clear warning in her tone.
The bodies around her shifted sensing her displeasure and Elyza moved away from Strand. Alicia wondered briefly where this base was and how many more of them there were. They seemed well organized, much more so than any group they had ever encountered. So far, it looked as if none of the crew of the Abigail had been hurt, and it made her curiosity grow and replaced some of her anger. Something seemed out of place.
“Thomas,” Elyza ordered and the man holding Alicia sighed.
“Bob,” he answered and Elyza rolled her eyes with a shake of her head obviously she had been hoping for someone else.
“You were taking longer than expected” was his reply. It was Elyza’s turn to look uncertain and Alicia saw a glimpse of the beautiful woman that had flirted with her over the last week. But just like that it disappeared along with any form of vulnerability.
“Let’s pack it up,” Elyza called out and Cory began shuffling the others and one by one the weapons repositioned and turned their lethal gaze on the Abigail’s crew.
Suddenly, Daniel elbowed the man at his side, which happened to be a somewhat willowy Asian man, and stole his weapon. Voices cried out as he turned the weapon on Elyza. Alicia felt her pulse increase rapidly and terror fill her heart. She knew the man was deadly and would stop at nothing to save his daughter. It confused her why she should feel such concern for a woman who appeared to care so little for them.
“You let my daughter go.” He stated with cold determination. He ignored the others trying to reason with him. Elyza stared at him and held her hand out stopping the warrior woman from before that drew her sword and was inching forward from the side.
“It’s fine, Marie,” she said softly. “No one’s going to hurt Ofelia…” She shared a glance and nodded to the sandy haired woman amongst her group. The woman walked over to Ofelia and kicked the back of her knees and Ofelia fell suddenly to the ground in a gasp.
Daniel’s gaze hardened and he looked like he couldn’t decide whom he wanted to maim first.
“…If you put the gun down,” Elyza amended. “You can’t kill us all,” he cocked his rifle and she raised an eyebrow, “but you can certainly try.” The young Asian man that Daniel had escaped from raised a small handgun and others around him raised their weapons as well. “A lot more of you will die than us. And I’d rather not spill any blood today.”
Daniel lowered his gun begrudgingly but the sandy haired female did not let up her weapon pointed at Ofelia’s head. The poor girl was sweating profusely and Alicia bit her lip in anger as she watched helpless as these people stole their supplies and hope for life.
“You can’t take all of our supplies!” Madison called out as the last of the strange crew loaded and they began to shuffling away from the Abigail crew members training their weapons on them at all times to keep them from moving and attempting anything. “Please.”
“Leave them alone, they’re just good for nothing pirates is all.” Nick said with attitude.
“So you’re just leaving us?” Ofelia said in disbelief now standing. Her knees were scraped and rubbed raw from when she had been shoved to the deck of the boat.
“We have places to be, and if you’re smart, you’ll get far away from this location.” The woman named Marie warned with a blank face. She glanced at Alicia surreptitiously. In fact, they all seemed to be sneaking glances at her.
As the strangers, or pirates, as Nick so aptly named them, lowered into the boat the Abigail crew just stared at them. They had no weapons and were for all purposes defenseless.
Alicia stared at them in the boat feeling her heart harden and devoid of any purpose until Elyza stared up and called out to her.
“Thanks gorgeous, no hard feelings.”
Alicia’s cheeks flamed in embarrassment and anger. She wanted to roll her eyes at the woman and instead opted for a snarl. “Do you always hit on people you rob?” Something about the fair-haired female stirred her blood for better or worse.
“Only the meizen ones!” Elyza raised an eyebrow with a hint of a smirk on her lips. Alicia merely glared and spat in her general direction over the side of the boat. Elyza frowned and looked lost and far away for a moment before she blinked and turned her face back to Alicia. “I’m not the bad guy here.” She stated almost imploringly and too softly for her to hear.
Perhaps it was wishful thinking but she believed she could make out a sea of emotion under Elyza’s apathetic expression. “Says the one robbing us.” Alicia was done and she pushed herself away from the edge of the boat no longer able to stand looking at these people any longer.
“Mebi oso na hit choda op nodotaim.”
The words made her halt abruptly and she turned her head sharply over her shoulder looking over the railing and into the dark ocean. But it was too late and Elyza’s raft was already treading water. She watched with a heavy heart as they boarded the large military boat and drift away from their position.
There was a flurry of movement as the Abigail crew moved into motion. Alicia found it somewhat hilarious, in this macabre situation that Chris was still bound and gagged. Travis made quick work of undoing the ties constraining his wrists behind his back. Chris roughly removed his gag and pushed away from his father angrily and avoided all questions sent his way.
“You okay?” Nick asked touching a hand to her shoulder with an uncommonly concerned expression adorning his face. Alicia allowed the contact; grateful it wasn’t mocking or accusatory. After all, mockery wasn’t the product of a strong mind.
“Yeah,” she nodded watching Ofelia and her Dad embrace as the older gentlemen cupped her face and turned her head this way and that inspecting for injuries. The gesture made her think of her own father long gone from their lives. She wondered if he had lived to survive the apocalypse. Alicia abruptly stopped this train of thought; her Dad had left them and he hadn’t mattered before and didn’t matter now. “Why was Chris gagged?” she asked her brother after brushing her hands over his shoulders. He tolerated the touch, and was less defensive than he used to be.
“He did something stupid, really stupid, as usual.” Nick didn’t elaborate and she didn’t ask him to.
“Makes sense.” She shrugged and watched as Daniel rushed to bridge and Travis followed after him.
Out of curiosity she followed them ignoring her brother’s next words. She watched as Daniel looked over their equipment and was surprised when a signal popped up on their radar. Strand cursed and he and Daniel moved into further action steering the yacht in a different direction with the engines at full.
“What is that?” Madison questioned as the boat moved forward. Alicia knew what it was after all of the hours pouring over the Doppler system.
“It’s another ship, bigger and much larger than ours and the one we just saw,” he said referring to the ship Elyza and her crew had left on.
“She’s ruthless,” Daniel commented absently, “but she’s smart. I don’t want to stick around for whoever they’re afraid of.”
Unease settled in the pit of her stomach and she watched as more distance separated between them and the approaching ship.
Enyn_Skyeward you rock my world. Thanks hon. Like seriously y'all, I'm glad you didn't read this chapter before she proofed it. Dodged a bullet there.
Three days without an incident.
No one had died, the undead were a distant thought, and it had been three days since Elyza and her crew had stolen their possessions and infiltrated Abigail. More pertinent to Alicia, it had been three days since she had been able to sleep without being plagued by mysterious dreams. Her dreams had been invaded with violence and a never-ending struggle for life and death with faces she had no recollection of knowing or ever having met. All except for Elyza, Cory and the other pirates (as Nick was fond of calling them). Her headaches were a constant presence, and when she couldn’t sleep she found herself on deck in the middle of the night with a broken broomstick running through drills that she had expertly executed with a staff in her dreams. The more she practiced the more capable she became. She found it easy to get lost in the movements and it effortlessly blended into the dance classes she had taken as a child.
The rest of their existence went on normally. They avoided all other signals from boats, they avoided land and people at all costs. It felt stifling and the energy had turned despondent.
“They didn’t take anything important…why?” Ofelia noted one day as she was trifling through their meager food supplies.
They had checked and re-checked, but other than a few personal artifacts, random food, and obviously all of the alcohol, nothing that had been stolen was vital to their survival.
“They took our booze,” Nick said arms crossed and pouting in one of the chairs where he and Alicia were playing cards.
“I don’t know,” Madison commented, “it doesn’t make any sense.”
Alicia looked up after taking pulling a card from the deck and saw the confused expression on her mother’s face. She knew her mother was always one to study others and find the reasons behind their actions. She didn’t trust others very easily, Alicia didn’t either, mostly due to her father. As a young girl she was glad when she realized he was finally gone. She knew he was gone for good when she had discovered her mother sitting at the kitchen table staring out of the window blankly twirling a wedding band between her fingers. All of his things were gone; which was no surprise as they had been disappearing little by little over the course of the last year. She had simply sat down next to her mother and held her hand and said she was glad because they’d all be better off long term. He was as emotionally abusive as he was physically, never to her and her brother, at least in the physical sense, but their mother had taken the brunt of his abuse. Alicia saw the pain he had inflicted and how her mom had deteriorated over the years. Her father leaving was the best gift he had given her family. It was one reason why she was so distant with Travis in the beginning.
“It does kinda suck, they were pretty cool,” Nick commented and Alicia snuck a glance at him over the top of her cards. Her eyes met his and she realized he had been watching for a response.
“Until they robbed us!” Ofelia said emphatically with a frown. Out of everyone, she had been roughed up the most.
“Yea, but nobody got hurt…much,” he added after he noticed her raised eyebrow. “I’m just saying, it was weird, not exactly the type of infiltrate and capture you’d expect. I mean why stay for a week and get to know us if all you’re going to do is steal our liquor. Granted it’s good booze, but why not take all of our weapons, not just a few, and kill us and take the yacht?”
All four of them paused thinking over his words. Alicia pursed her lips having been thinking the same things and berating herself for hoping that there had been some other motive for the deception.
“I don’t know, Nick.” Her mother said having finished reorganizing the room with Ofelia.
“Frankly, I’d be more concerned about that other ship that they were running away from.”
Madison turned to her kids with a faint smile and crossed her arms as she absorbed her son’s mature worry. “You would, would you?” the tone was light and playful. “When did you get so smart?”
“Don’t encourage him,” Alicia rolled her eyes as she leaned back against the cushioned chair.
Her mother’s gaze shifted to her and a concerned frown took over her face. Alicia stiffened prepared for the wave of motherly concern that had been constant for the last three days.
“Honey, are you getting any sleep?” Ofelia slowly closed a cupboard behind Madison and Alicia sent her a warning glare daring her to comment on her sleeping patterns.
She had barely opened her mouth to respond when Travis walked in holding a piece of paper followed closely by Strand and Daniel. Chris was absent, as he usually was. He was prone to brooding these days. However, he surprised her when he walked in a moment later and crossed his arms across his chest and nodded to Alicia. She nodded back almost happy to see him. He was her step-brother after all. It was difficult not to form bonds with people when you’ve literally been in life or death situations with them. Family meant a lot these days. She looked around the room noting the different backgrounds and the way in which they had been brought together and found herself growing even more protective of each and every person in the room. For better or worse these people had become her family. In her dreams she was alone with the exception of Elyza and Cory and a bald man she couldn’t place, no family or friends to call her own. Those were dreams and if the emptiness of her dreams told her anything, it was that she needed to keep her family close lest she lose them.
She snapped out of her musings when Travis slapped the paper on the table where their deck of cards was and subsequently ruined the game by spilling them on the floor.
“Hey!” Nick said backing away quickly trying to catch the cards. “And I was winning.”
“Doubtful,” Chris snorted and pushed Alicia aside looking at her hand of cards. She rolled her eyes and moved over as he squished besides her. He looked at her and then down again at the cards and up at Nick in mild surprise. “Guess you’re right, for once.”
“What’s this?” Madison asked walking over to the table and picking up the sheet of paper.
“Why don’t you ask her?” Daniel nodded and Alicia’s eyebrows furrowed.
Madison gazed at the paper and then at Alicia. Daniel, Strand and Travis all exchanged looks and Madison turned the page around so she could see it clearly. “Alicia?”
Alicia’s breath hitched and her voice caught in her throat as she saw the image. It was the sketch Elyza had drawn of her that day when she had fallen asleep on the deck. She tore her eyes away from the charcoal drawing and thoughts of Elyza and noticed the addition below. Scrawled across the page were words, a poem of sorts. They had a haunting familiarity to them despite having never heard or seen them before.
In peace may you leave this shore; in love may you find the next. Safe passage on your travels, until our final journey on the ground. May we meet again.
Below that were numbers.
“What is that?” Chris asked looking at her. He wasn’t accusing, but curious. Before the end of the world he wouldn’t have hesitated to make accusations.
Her eyes widened when she realized what the numbers were and what they meant. It was an invitation. They were screaming, “come find me” to those that read them. She didn’t want to hope but there it was before her. The proof for another chance was right before her eyes.
“They’re coordinates.” Travis said after a moment and Alicia realized they were all looking at her. She sat up taller under the scrutiny and once again the position seemed right and foreign at the same time. Like she was meant to sit that way before everyone, to hide everything from them behind a pose of authority.
“Are they real?” her mother asked.
Daniel grabbed a map from nearby and studied it with Strand.
“They all check out. It’s an actual place. It’s off the coast of Australia.” Strand informed them and she locked eyes with him.
“Australia?” Madison questioned. “Why there?”
“It’s another good question to ask the lady here.” Daniel uncrossed his arms and stepped closer to her. Alicia had the sudden urge to face him standing and did so, clenching her fists at her side nervously. Instinct to be equal or taller than him ran through her system, she was meant to be respected and listened to.
“What are you suggesting?” Madison stepped closer to her and while Alicia appreciated the physical comfort, she didn’t need it. “That she knew about it? That’s impossible she-”
“I didn’t.” She said suddenly raising her voice and watched as they focused on her. She brushed her hands through her hair in frustration before folding them behind her back to face the inquisition. The formal stance gave her some level of comfort.
Daniel was on her in an instant stalking towards her with a demanding presence. “That picture she drew is of you. What else aren’t you telling us?” He said pointing his finger between her and the drawing that Madison was still holding raising his eyebrows.
“Are you suggesting I knew that-” she began ready to defend herself but what began next halted her completely as nearly everyone began speaking at once.
“That she was planning on-”
“There is no way that she could have known anything.”
“Now just hold on-”
“It makes perfect sense! She was the one that spent the most time with her.”
“Why don’t we ask Ofelia.”
“You will not bring in-”
“She’s my daughter...”
“This is my boat!”
“It hasn’t been your boat for-”
The voices continued to travel over one another and rose in volume and anger. They spiraled until her anger and frustration grew pulling her lips away from her teeth.
“Em pleni!” Alicia snarled at once raising her hand and out of shock more than anything the yelling ceased. She took a step closer to Daniel, whom appeared to be her main contender at this time and point. She made sure to raise her chin and keep his gaze. “I will only say this once. I had no idea what was going to happen and I do not know what this means.” She paused taking a breath as his lips moved to form a frown. “But,” she began as she moved away from him and spoke more to the others, “there’s more here.” Her voice grew softer. “She didn’t just trick us, she observed us.”
“So you’re saying these coordinates mean something?” Travis asked as Alicia took the sketch from her mother and traced the image and words with her fingers softly. “Like they want us to follow them? Then why not just say so?”
“It’s a death trap.” Strand added and Daniel nodded putting in another side comment, which she ignored.
“That still doesn’t make any sense.” Nick piped up throwing a hand in the air. “They had a military vessel.” He shrugged, when he received blank looks “well they did. They could have easily blown us to bits.” He made an exploding sound and a gesture with his hands. “They also had way more people. They didn’t steal anything other than some very fine liquor. Which I have already made known is a heady crime.” He gestured to Strand and the man nodded in agreement. Alicia wanted to roll her eyes but covered it with a longer than ordinary blink. “They even left most of our guns.” He paused for a moment casually. “Seems like they went to a lot of trouble to get to know us for no apparent reason. That’s all I’m saying” he shrugged holding up his hands before leaning back in his chair.
Shouldn’t life be about than just surviving?
Hope alighted in her chest in a finely wound coil but she dared not voice it. Alicia wanted to hug her brother for his insight.
“My daughter-” Daniel began as Travis interrupted him.
“But she wasn’t hurt,” he gestured to Ofelia, “much,” he amended and the girl nodded.
Ofelia cut off her father before he could interject. “They didn’t hurt me, not really. I think it was mostly for show. Nothing that wouldn’t heal easily; if they wanted to hurt we, they would have,” she said facing her father. “We dealt out more punches than they did, Papa.” Her split lip and bruises were fading to yellows and healing scars. Ofelia was a stubborn girl and her softness often mistaken for weakness. Alicia knew differently and how observant and mature she was.
“So, you’re saying we should follow the coordinates?” Daniel asked in disbelief. Despite his disbelief, he was oddly calm now and actually appeared to be contemplating the strategy.
“You don’t just trust anyone, maybe they were watching us, wanting to see if we were trust worthy.” Travis suggested furrowing his brows.
Alicia remembered all of the conversations and the time spent with both Elyza and Cory. “They’re testing us.” She said at last gazing over the even strokes of the charcoal on paper and the smooth handwriting.
“What? Why?” Madison asked perplexed.
“To see if we’re worthy,” Chris added. “It makes sense, there’s safety in numbers, but you can’t just trust anyone.” He clasped his hands together and sat back into the chair. “So you watch them, then take a risk and infiltrate, then you do something to test them and leave a trail. It’s a pretty big gamble, but it’s smart. Or incredibly stupid, however you want to look at it really.”
“If that’s even what they’re doing,” Strand commented stroking his chin.
Alicia had a feeling that was exactly what Elyza was doing. If there was anything Alicia felt sure of, it was that Elyza was calculating and resourceful.
May we meet again.
It was nearly unanimous when it came time to vote. The fact that they were voting at all with Nick, Chris, Ofelia and Alicia all having a voice was a welcome surprise. Travis was the voice of reason that argued for them to have a say.
“They’re not kids anymore. Not after what they’ve seen and done.” Daniel hadn’t argued even though he looked like he had wanted to.
Alicia suspected that some of the others were fearful but more importantly desperate for respite and an inkling of hope. Daniel wanted to conduct his own infiltrate and destroy mission, but the idea was quickly out voiced. There were few other options available to them. They could live on the sea and never set foot on land again (which they would need to at some point), and hopefully never cross paths with the living or the dead ever again. But they would be fooling themselves if they believed this. They would need to seek land for supplies if not for their own sanity. Seeking land came with risks. There were no safe places left in the world neither on land or sea.
No safe harbor.
These thoughts alone were overwhelming and disheartening. Humanity may be trying to purge itself, but Alicia desperately wanted there to be something worth living for.
Elyza’s world-weary features plagued her consciousness. Her eyes had been sad and Alicia both wanted to know and be sheltered from what they must have seen.
As the Abigail sailed closer to their new destination, the unsettling feeling of the unknown grew in her belly. What would they find there and whom would they find? Would there be a safe haven as they hoped, or were they leading themselves to a horrible death?
She sighed slumping in on herself in fatigue as much as contemplation and rested her chin on her forearms on the side of the railing facing out towards the crashing waves. Her eyelids felt heavy. Sleep came easily, too easily at night, but her dreams were hardly restful. They were plagued with war and death, among many others things only seen in nightmares. She had respect and control. People listened to her, obeyed her every command even, but her heart beat frantically with every sword she pierced through her enemies hearts and only slowed and truly felt like she was catching a breath of air when catching the blue eyes of a foreign female. She came from the sky reminiscent of a fierce star from the heavens. She was born in the void of space and with her descent came the ability to both give and take life. Wanheda, her people deemed the princess from the sky. And her blue eyes were as sad as Alicia imagined only one controlling death could be. Wanheda was burdened from taking life due out of necessity not vengefulness.
When she woke from her dreams, the similarities surrounding the ghost of Wanheda reminded her of Elyza, whose eyes were just as sad, but still held a shimmer of life and hope in their depths waiting for the right spark to kindle the flame once more. Alicia wanted to be that spark.
The yacht continued its steady rhythm and she swayed with the current. Loose tendrils of hair escaped from her braid and tickled across her nose but she paid them no mind. A dark spot settled in the horizon and she stood paying closer attention to the view before her. Her brows furrowed and she squinted attempting to make out the ever-looming darkness obstructing the setting sun. Hazel-green eyes widened in realization and she rushed inside.
She ran into Nick on the way and ignored his questions as she found the binoculars. Alicia rushed back outside and quickly peered into the distance hopeful, but also housing a sense of dread in her heart. The dread won and panic was quickly replaced by a firm resolve.
“What’s going on?” Nick asked stepping to her side more curious than upset with Alicia’s behavior.
She handed him the binoculars keeping her gaze on the ship in the distance. He took them quietly and brought them to his eyes and settled them down slowly, trepidation in his usually playful gaze.
“That’s…not them,” he commented obviously referring to the naval ship that had boarded them days ago. She shook her head. “That’s a really fucking huge military ship.” She nodded. It didn’t look like they would be able to follow their original coordinates.
They could not out run them. The military vessel gave chase and maneuvered easily in the crashing waves. They had few weapons left for a proper defense.
“That’s not them.” Travis said arms folded referring to Elyza’s faction. “They’re intercepting us. One way or another they’re going to catch up. We can’t outrun them.”
“What can we do?” Madison asked clearly searching for a solution. “They didn’t answer when we attempted radio contact.”
“Nothing,” Chris added calmly providing a harsh truth. “We can’t run or fight. They’re either going to kill us, steal from us, or worse.”
No one contemplated if the ship currently gaining on Abigail’s horizon was friendly.
“Can’t we call for help?” Ofelia asked turning her eyes to Alicia. Alicia clasped her hands together and kept her gaze downwards.
“No one is going to answer us” Daniel responded with a solemn hand to the young woman’s shoulder.
“She might know someone,” Strand’s voice filled the room and Alicia tensed holding a breath as she felt the heaviness in the room.
“Would they answer?” Madison contemplated aloud as a silence followed.
“Maybe if she calls.” His head nodded pointedly at her and Alicia pursed her lips finally looking up with her eyes only to meet his gaze.
“We might be able to find a frequency that might broadcast to the right location,” Travis gestured. Once more she felt eyes land on her.
“I’ll try,” she relented standing up and walked out without another word. Alicia headed to the radio in silence and saw her Mother look worriedly after her.
She wasn’t on her own for long. Strand came in a moment later as she was adjusting the dials trying to find a match to the coordinates Elyza had provided them.
“What?” she asked as the screeching of the radio filled the silence. Her hands moved deftly adjusting the knobs and buttons.
“You know more than you’re telling us.”
“I know just as much as you.” Alicia didn’t offer him a glance or an explanation to her odd behavior over the course of the last few months. She did not owe him an explanation when she clearly didn’t know or could not even hope to rationalize her dreams or the uncanny déjà vu that plagued her, or the familiarity of Elzya and her faction.
The tone gave her pause and Alicia finally acknowledged the older man with her eyes narrowed finding a distrustful and accusatory expression on his face.
She opened her mouth to retaliate but she was thrown into the desk in front of her when the ship rocked violently. The harsh sound of metal breaking under the strain of impact rang in her ears as items fell from desks and the furniture was abruptly displaced. Partially in shock, some part of her realized that something had crashed into them. She knew without a fraction of a doubt that Abigail was also taking on water.
Alicia ignored Strand and grasped the radio and knew that they would be boarded and captured at best in a matter of minutes. She was not about to star in a Titanic reenactment.
Quickly, she grasped the radio intent clearly written over her face. Her voice was firm and urgent but never fearful. “If there’s anyone out there…please help us….Elyza…if you can hear me, please.” She paused inhaled, and whispered, “I need you.”
Thank you for the continued support. Please leave kudos and write a comment if you feel inspired to. Thanks to Gabi for making this more enjoyable for everyone. The next chapter is already with my beta.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Thanks to Gabi, who not only edited but provided some excellent insight that made this more exciting to read. Go thank her. lol
There was no struggle, no dramatic attempt to fight the new group of invaders. If anything, they were lucky to be leaving the Abigail. They had shot them, not rammed them as she had first imagined. The boat now donned a grotesque hole in the left side where the sea was rapidly pouring in. The yacht that had been their home and salvation for over five months slowly sank in the fading light of the sunset disappearing beneath the crashing waves of the ocean.
Chris sported a nasty looking head wound that was bleeding rather impressively. Ofelia was cradling an arm to her chest nursing a swollen wrist that was likely sprained from the sudden fall she had taken on impact. Most of them sported a few cuts and bruises but were otherwise alive. To Alicia’s amusement, Strand’s nose was bleeding and slightly crooked. She had a fleeting moment of pettiness and hoped it was broken. She herself had a cut lip, a scratch under her right eye and her nose ran slightly. Reaching up quickly, she wiped away the blood.
They watched as the yacht was stripped quickly and efficiently leading her to believe this ordeal was procedural and had happened many times before. Men and women with unfamiliar and stony faces forced them from their vessel and beat them if they attempted to retaliate. Fortunately, few of her odd family were strong enough to retaliate. It took one punch to the gut and a nearly crushed hand for Daniel to step in line. Ofelia’s pleading eyes helped ease his fighting spirit but Alicia suspected he was tired more than anything. There was little fight left in them, especially since the only other option to escape their captures was being stranded in the middle of the ocean without a boat. One of men grabbed the knife she’d held by her leg when she’d been focused on Daniel and upon doing so she hissed as the knife cut her palm. The sting strangely familiar yet foreign. Instead of focusing on it, she tightened her fist and held it against her leg, there would be time later to deal with the injury.
Soon after, the crew of the Abigail was transferred to a raft leading to a much larger boat. The closer they came to the ship the farther Alicia’s neck strained to take it in. This military vessel was even larger than the one Elyza’s people had arrived on. She took a breath before reaching for the ladder over the side of the motorized raft and slowly began to climb to the top of the metal beast. She found comfort in the climb but would have preferred the strength of wood instead of metal.
A grunt escaped her lips as a man shoved his rifle into her ribs immediately after she set foot on the deck. She was stopped from helping Ofelia over the side and was forced to watch her struggle as others scoffed and crude words were exchanged. Once they were all aboard they were lead down a hall and climbed a series of metal stairs crossing various rooms until they reached a formal dining hall decorated with military regalia, obviously Russian. Their questions were left ignored as they were herded into a room like cattle. She instinctually searched for any weapon that was within reach. The sword hanging on the wall a few feet away seemed like a natural choice despite her lack of experience with the weapon.
At the head of the dining table was a man dressed in a suit with coiffed dark hair and a scar at his lip. The collar of his finely pressed dress shirt hid most but not the entire scar at his neck. It was ragged and violent and if she didn’t know any better Alicia would have said it was a healed bite mark from the undead. Studying him, she felt a strange sense of anger and disgust. She didn’t know this man but a part of her wanted to slit his throat and her hand went to her waist eager to grab for a weapon to carry out the desire. When Alicia realized the man was watching her closely she dropped her hand and clasped her hands behind her back.
An elaborate buffet was set out on the table and Nick couldn’t help but comment. They were all very hungry and had not seen such a spread for a long time. Alicia willed her stomach not to growl in hunger in front of these strangers.
“Oh excuse me, welcome.” The man set down his silverware and pressed his napery daintily to his lips before placing it beside his plate. “Where are my manners?” With a smile he stood and rounded the table. “I’m John Whitworth, Captain Whitworth, if you will. This is my ship and I’m the one responsible for the crew.” He gestured widely. “Well, after my dearly departed father fell over board a few months back.”
Something in Alicia didn’t believe his words and the hair on her arms prickled in warning. At this point, she would rather take her chances with the undead.
“This isn’t your ship, it’s kind of obvious that you’re not Russian.” Chris’ voice was filled with teenage insolence and Alicia silently applauded him.
The man stepped closer with a smirk. “I like you kid, you’ve got guts.” He stepped away, “but it’s all semantics really. We had more need of the vessel than the former party.” What happened to the former crew was left unsaid. Chris’ faced pinched and he took a step forward.
The group tensed and so did the armed men and women around them. “Now, now,” Whitworth said to his people. “They’re our guests.” The weapons lowered slightly.
“Is that what we are?” Travis asked.
“It depends on if you cooperate.”
“Cooperate with what exactly?” Alicia watched her mother eye the finely dressed stranger with suspicion.
“Forgive me, but I don’t recognize your face.” Whitworth said shaking his finger pointedly.
“Are we supposed to?” Nick questioned nonchalantly.
“I make it a point to know everyone in the area. My neighbors.” He shrugged and paced looking at each of them in turn.
He stopped in front of Alicia and a slow smile crept along his lips. “And you,” he paused directly looking into her eyes, “I’m so very glad to have run into you, Commander.”
It was said almost mockingly. Alicia merely narrowed her eyes and set her jaw. She thought back to Elyza teasing her in a similar manner although with actual fondness and warmth.
“Perhaps you don’t remember me? It’s been a long time, and I’m sure we both go by different names now. Hell, I don’t know if we’re in the past, future or another world!” He laughed and folded his hands in his pockets casually. “But you might remember me as President Cage Wallace. Ring any bells?”
Alicia lifted her chin regally and looked down her nose at him. “No, it doesn’t.” The word maunon came to her mind. Her haughty attitude only served to make his smile grow more knowing.
“Excuse me,” her mother interjected, “but how do you know my daughter?”
Whitworth stepped back clapping his hands together. “You’re her mother? Well this is priceless.” He grinned, “The fearsome Commander has a mother!” Alicia furrowed her brows and Nick made a ‘crazy’ gesture behind Whitworth’s back. She shushed him with a stern look.
He turned back to Alicia suddenly. “You haven’t been bitten have you?” The question was stated more like fact. He nodded and rubbed his chin. “Of course you haven’t. Brings on death and all that, except for some people,” he shook his hands empathetically, “for some people it doesn’t. Have you been having any interesting dreams lately, any out of body experiences?”
Alicia felt her resolve break slightly and she tensed, breathing in sharply as she felt Strand looking at the back of her head. A feeling of dread solidified in her chest and she couldn’t help that everything was coming together.
“I thought so,” Whitworth smirked “So have I, or I did for a few weeks.”
“What are you saying?” Madison stepped forward placing an arm protectively in front of Alicia.
“I’m saying,” he faced Madison with his voice raised, “that your daughter is a very important person, or she was in another life. You see, we have a past.”
“That’s totally gross dude,” Chris sneered in disgust. Alicia whole-heartedly agreed, but the man ignored them.
“In this other life, there was a Commander of a vast army of barbarians and I was, shall we say on the other side of things to simplify. The Commander of these barbarians made a pact with the Sky People as they were called, and in particular their leader. I believe some of her people referred to her as Princess.” He paused with a knowing smile and lowered his voice. “The Commander and the Sky Princess were very close.”
Blue eyes and blond hair invaded her senses, a soft smile on an equally beautiful face filled her vision for a moment. Alicia’s breath came shallower and her eyes widened. “Fortunately,” Whitworth resumed, “your Sky Princess, or Wanheda, as she’s known after massacring my people might I add, still finds you very valuable and has been looking for you for quite some time.”
“This is ridiculous,” Madison spouted. “This is my daughter, you’re obviously very confused and you need to let us go.”
Her strength of tone was admirable but there was the little complication of where they would be released. Whitworth ceased his pacing and gazed at the angered mother placidly. “You don’t seem to understand the position you’re in. This isn’t about you making demands, this is about me getting leverage over Clarke Griffin and taking everything she’s ever loved.”
The name sparked a memory deep in the recesses of her consciousness. A name that was as comfortable as the soft rain during the spring or a warm fire in the winter. The name felt like home. The name alone sparked a familiar feeling of candles and soft furs, of gentle hands and an exotic pronunciation that seemed to fit.
“Elyza,” Alicia gasped.
Whitworth frowned severely. “Yes, see some part of you remembers, even if you haven’t been bit. It’s like that for all of us. You see the bite kills most people, transforms us into the undead, but for some of us, it awakens our memories and our past lives. And you Commander,” he paused his nostrils flaring, “have quite the past. And fortunately your life is most precious to someone I’ve been trying to kill. I won’t underestimate her again.” The last part was spoken in a soft whisper.
“You’re mad,” Madison shook her head.
“Perhaps,” he glanced in her direction stoically. “Marx,” Whitworth cocked his head to the side signaling one of his subordinates. “Get the Princess on the line, we have much to discuss, mainly her surrender.”
The sun had set a few hours ago and the room was empty save for two figures moving in the dark. Fingers brushed against soft skin running under clothing and mouths gasped in pleasure. Lips eagerly captured one another in passion.
“Chelsey,” Christopher gasped in between heated kisses. She mumbled an acknowledgement and continued a path of open-mouthed kisses down his neck. “I’m supposed to be monitoring the radio.”
“It’s not like we ever pick up anything,” she hushed and continued her ministrations. Her hands moved to his belt buckle and he sucked in a breath while she smirked.
Just as she undid the first button static erupted from the radio.
“I repeat, this is Captain Whitworth and I demand to speak with Wanheda. I have a certain guest on my ship that she might be very interested in.”
“Shit,” Christopher whispered. They looked at each other for a moment before he shot to his feet and Chelsey was knocked from his lap. She caught herself against the table as Christopher hastily buckled his belt. “Fuck, I have to get Elyza,” he mumbled to himself.
Chelsey looked to the door he disappeared through back to the radio and then back to the door when he suddenly returned arms outstretched, “Just don’t touch anything.”
She nodded dumbly more worried at his behavior than anything as he left in a rush once more. Their relationship was fairly new and while she knew him pretty well, no one knew him quite as well as Devon. She listened to the radio once more hearing the voices on the other end and her jaw tightened as her suspicions were confirmed.
These were their enemies both in this life and the previous.
She was stronger now, they all were. They wouldn’t let Whitworth and his crew take what they had worked so hard to build. They had defeated him once and they would do so again. However, this time, she had a feeling they had Alicia, or rather the Commander. It was the only person Elyza would do anything for. Especially, after knowing that the Commander was alive, it was the only thing that made sense. Elyza had sacrificed others that Whitworth had captured without a thought. Chelsey had only seen the Commander a few times in person during the war against the Mountain, but it was enough for her to gain a healthy amount of respect and fear for the Grounder Commander. Part of her wondered if the Commander’s new life had changed her. Was she capable of betraying her allies again or would she bond with them more closely in this life instead? Chelsey knew from experience that Elyza would stop at nothing to have the Commander alive and well.
Chelsey had been present on the ship when they had boarded the Abigail. It was clear that Alicia was the former Grounder Commander, but she didn’t have her memories and that meant she was easy prey. Prey that was going to be used as leverage. She hoped Elyza, hell all of them, would make it through this.
The sound of footsteps came not ten minutes later. Christopher stood behind the others and she nodded sending him a smile.
“Give me the radio,” Elyza’s voice was devoid of emotion. Her black jacket and intricately braided hair made her fierce and older than her years. Why she still had an affinity for Grounder braids in the present world was a question her people pondered. Chelsey also knew her leader held a vast number of tattoos and scars on her skin.
Chelsey had seen her this way before. The leader was usually more serious than the rest of them. Not all of them had recovered their memories fully or had been brave enough to attempt it as others had, like Marie. The woman held two lives in her head and seemed to thrive on a majority of Clarke Griffin but retained her identity as Elyza Lex. Either way, Chelsey moved aside to clear the space and gave Elyza full access to the radio.
Elyza had entered the room flanked by a handful of her most trusted friends, advisors and soldiers. Marie, Eli, Lindsey, and even Zach hovered in the door but Dichen and Cory were nowhere to be seen. She frowned at Cory’s absence, he was Elyza’s protégé and almost always by her side. She gathered that their absence was purposeful as they were two of the most loyal and personally involved when it came to the former Grounder Commander. Elyza’s boots echoed in the room as she neared the radio and paused listening to the message. Whitworth’s voice was still clear through the transmission and Chelsey applauded his persistence. Elyza’s blue eyes remained calm despite his words as she listened.
Slowly, Elyza picked up the radio and spoke in a steady voice. “This is Elyza Lex speaking, acting authority of the Ark Colony.”
The radio was silent for a moment until Whitworth’s voice was heard once more.
“It’s good to hear your voice, Wanheda.”
Elyza neither responded outwardly or vocally to the taunt.
“You asked for me, and I’m here. What can I do for you?” She released the button waiting for a response.
“It’s more what I can do for you. You see I have someone very precious to you here. I’m afraid you’ve left her alone and vulnerable. Rather stupid really.”
Elyza took a deep breath and played along still unsure what he was getting at. “Everyone has a choice.”
“You had a choice when you killed my father, Clarke.”
“I had no choice.” At the sudden change in name Elyza did react and there was a small crack in her voice.
“There was a choice!” his voice raised and Elyza bit her bottom lip. Adina made eye contact and nodded to her while Marie nearly growled at her side. Christopher shuffled from side to side obviously uncomfortable. He had played a large role in defeating the Mountain. Elyza waved away her friends concern with a weary hand.
Her voice was calm and cool as she addressed him. “Yes, just as I’m sure there was a choice whether or not you threw Raymond overboard.”
There was another pause over the radio and for a moment Chelsey believed that Elyza had driven him away.
“We’re not here to talk about the past. But we are here to talk about your surrender.”
Elyza nearly scoffed. “My surrender? What makes you think I’d ever do that?”
“I have the Commander,” he stated boldly. “Or rather a beautiful young girl whom I believe you’re acquainted with. Her name is Alicia Clark, greatly resembles your dearly departed Commander Lexa. I believe you’ve met recently.”
“You’re lying” Elyza barked barely controlling her emotions. Adina tensed besides her grasping a weapon at her side. The air of the room became tense and unsettled.
“I wouldn’t lie about this, Princess.” There was shuffling before he spoke again. “Talk, she’s listening.”
“Elyza?” as shaky voice came through and Elyza’s eyes widened and Adina cursed at her side. The tone was different, but unmistakable. “Elyza don’t-”
There was a brief yell and a rush of angry voices. There was a flash of legitimate fear in Elyza’s eyes as well as longing. The radio clicked off for a moment before Elyza responded.
“Say I do believe you,” she said in a rush, “what makes you think I care?”
“Oh, I think we’re past that. Be honest with me.” Whitworth’s voice lazed.
Elyza’s jaw tensed and her eyes were unseeing. She waited to respond contemplating her options. “The Commander wouldn’t want us to surrender.” Ricky added wisely in a soft voice.
Elyza shook her head. “This isn’t Lexa, not really,” she reasoned with him. But she couldn’t deny the truth in his words. Lexa wouldn’t have wanted them to surrender, but she would not have given in either. She would have found another way.
“What are we gonna do?” Marie asked her voice looking to Elyza for direction. Her eyes were calm, used to letting the blonde take the lead and eager to follow.
“We should take them down.” Zach stated simply perched against a wall at ease despite the dire situation. His role in their group mostly had to do with finding and capturing people when necessary. He’d also become Elyza’s personal assassin when times warranted it. Those in the group tended to ignore his more deadly talents and considering he was quiet, he was also often easy to ignore.
“Might I remind you that the Commander is on that ship” Adina argued with a growl at the fearsome looking man who shrugged in return.
“What are our options?” Elyza asked looking to Eli for direction. He was one of her closest friends and advisors. While not a warrior, he served as her voice of reason and strategist.
“Not much,” Eli pondered.
“I can’t,” Elyza shook her head conveying weakness with her eyes but unable to voice her concern in a room full of people that looked to her for decisions every day. It was useless to hide her inner musings, as they all knew her too well.
Eli set a hand upon her shoulder and Elyza looked up hopefully. “We can set up an attack and send a second party for an attempted rescue but either way we’re going to have to go all in with everything we have. We have to make this look good. People are going to get hurt.”
“People always get hurt,” Elyza sighed tiredly. She re-claimed the radio and spoke with authority befitting a leader. “I’m willing to meet, Whitworth.”
“Splendid. But I hope you know that your surrender isn’t up for negotiation.”
“I’m not promising anything without proof that Alicia and her family are alive.” Elyza was firm and unrelenting. She reframed from agreeing to anything other than a meeting.
“You’ll get your proof. We’ll welcome you on our ship at mid-day. You can bring a handful of people and hell, I’ll even allow you to be armed in an act of good faith.”
“Fine, I accept.” She ended the transmission and turned off the radio curtly.
Her mind was a myriad of thoughts and scenarios. Elyza cursed herself for leaving Alicia on her own and giving her a choice. After everything and all of the time she had spent searching for her, Elyza wanted nothing more than to protect the young woman, but when the moment came Alicia was still so young and naïve, untainted by the world despite it’s current state. She didn’t want to be the one to remind her of the horrors she had faced in another life, nor what terrors the world currently held. It had been a mistake to leave her undefended. She should have protected her. Hadn’t Lexa vowed the same to her long ago? But if she risked everything to save her, she might go down the same path that had led to her legendary title of Wanheda. She was close enough to her previous death count as it was.
“Elyza?” Marie prodded. The energy surrounding the woman was palpable. She was poised waiting for commands, ever the warrior and a sharp contrast to Ricky, who stood tall beside her ready but much calmer. They were never far from each other and no one dared question the strength of their bond.
Elyza’s face tensed and her eyes closed for a minute before she opened them and her gaze turned to steel. “We’re blowing them out of the water. Get the helicopter. We need three parties. Lindsey, you’re on deck.”
“I’ll make them go boom alright.” Elyza shot her a patient glare. “A small boom,” she amended with a shrug, “conveniently located of course.”
“Alright, this is a rescue mission first. We spare the innocent, but as for the guilty, jus drein jus daun.”
“Jus drein jus daun!” Her friends and comrades chanted.
Blood must not have blood was a luxury reserved for allies not for your enemy holding your re-incarnated lover hostage.
“Let’s get started.” Elyza nodded to them and they exited the room each of them ready to operate their talents to taking down their greatest enemy to date. John Whitworth had been a shadow looming on their horizon for far too long.
Alicia’s head throbbed and she was tired and down right angry with the amount of times she and her family had been rendered unconscious or harmed. They were caught in a deadly game between two warring pirate clans, as Nick was fond of calling them, and for some reason Alicia and her family was the ultimate bargaining chips. It didn’t make any sense; none of it did, and Alicia was tired of being kept in the dark.
If they thought she was some fairy tale queen with long lost memories they were sorely mistaken. She had scoffed at those stories as a child, preferring to be the heroine who battled dragons and did the rescuing instead of the damsel that fainted at the first sign of distress. She had never needed rescuing, not since she was a little girl. Alicia winced and felt the back of her head where a small lump had formed. She was sick of getting tossed around. She’d like nothing more than to toss a few people around.
She sat up in the small bed, noting the bed above her, double desks and lone sink in the small room. Officer quarters, more than likely. The enlisted men and women didn’t have this kind of privacy. The bed wasn’t too uncomfortable and the sheets were sufficient. She moved her jaw and noted the popping sensation and moved it from side to side groaning at the thought of more injuries added to the list. She had never been an exceptionally violent person, but she was itching to give as good as she was getting these days.
The carpet was hard against her bare feet as she crossed the small distance to the sink. There was a rectangular mirror just above it that revealed the angry purple bruise forming along her left jaw and the side of her face. She traced the pattern while turning her head from side to side to assess the damage. Stringy hair that had always looked perfectly curled and tired eyes stared back at her and Alicia looked away disgusted with her reflection.
Disgusted and angry. Taking a second look made her sigh, realizing there wasn’t much she could do.
“You’re up. How are you feeling?”
Ofelia sat upon the top bunk peering down at her with more than a hint of concern. The clock in the corner of the room said it was late morning.
“I look as bad as I feel,” Alicia replied.
“We both look like shit.” They shared a rueful grin.
Ofelia paused before starting once more.
“I’m not sure,” she relented peering at her in a manner that left Alicia feeling like she was being examined. Ofelia shook her head, sighed and climbed down the side of the bunk. She leaned against the bedpost and crossed her arms. Her clothes were wrinkled, with specks of blood and dirt and even sporting a few rips in the thin fabric of her shirt. Alicia refrained from checking the state of her own clothes.
“They separated us after-” Ofelia trailed off and nodded to Alicia and her appearance. “Whitworth was negotiating for Elyza’s surrender in exchange for us.” The look Ofelia sent her was clear. It wasn’t in exchange for them so much as an exchange for Alicia. “You started arguing with him and he hit you,” Ofelia grimaced and dared raise her hand and prodded gently at the flesh on Alicia’s face that had purpled. Alicia reflexively pulled back with a wince as Ofelia lowered her hand with sympathetic but curious eyes. Alicia’s family had never been overly affectionate, but lately she had felt less inclined to be touched. Although, when Elyza had touched her it had been a curiously natural thing, something that felt right.
They stood simply looking at one another for a few moments in silence.
“Who are you?” Ofelia whispered searching for answers.
Whitworth’s words came rushing back in her mind.
Alicia tensed automatically repeatedly words from memory. “We are what we are,” she said tersely thinking it an answer to both the question and Whitworth’s psychotic behavior.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ofelia countered with a detectible amount of irritation.
“It means what it means!” Alicia retorted her voice rising in volume both at not having the answers but recalling her dreams in a haze. She also didn’t feel like she needed to answer to anyone. “I’m the same person I was yesterday and the day before.” Her words were iron but also held a hint of desperation for her friend to believe her. She didn’t want to be isolated or put on a pedestal. The fear of being alone was both frightening and comforting in its emptiness.
“No, you’re not,” the young woman paused crossing her arms and then gesturing with one arm. “They don’t think so, Elyza didn’t think so, and I’m beginning to think they’re right.”
When she saw Alicia was not about to defend herself she continued her accent thickening with her frustration.
“They separated us, because of you. We were robbed because of you, and captured because of you. And now the only reason we might live through this is because of you.” Her eyes were daring and accusing in the same moment. “This man, Whitworth, he thinks you are a re-incarnation of a leader, some Queen that defied him in a previous life.”
“That’s crazy.” Alicia shook her head and closed her eyes immediately regretting the sudden movement causing her head to pulse.
“Or crazy enough to make sense,” Ofelia shrugged raising an eyebrow.
“You can’t honestly believe this…” Alicia furrowed her brows trying to talk her friend out of the nonsense for both of their sanity.
An intimidating throne of weapons and bone flashed through her vision as well as people kneeling before her. Another vision came suddenly, but this one of Elyza kneeling at her feet dressed in a fitted bodice with her hair elaborately braided and paint adorning her eyes. It was quickly replaced with the image of herself kneeling before the woman and she was filled with yearning and hope as a hand was outstretched waiting for her to take it.
She blinked rapidly and strained to catch Ofelia’s next words as her mind cleared. Her head began to throb but she refused to give into the discomfort and show weakness.
“I believe it just as much as I believe that the undead are walking the earth and civilization as we know it has ended.” They locked eyes and she stated her last words empathetically. “I’ve seen crazier things.” She waved a hand. “He’s been bitten, and he’s alive. How else could he have survived if not for some re-incarnation theory?”
“Genetic anomaly?” Alicia raised an eyebrow in challenge.
Ofelia huffed and backed up while facing away from her. “Fine,” she waved a hand dismissing her. “You win, I’m tired and I don’t want to fight. I just want us to get through this.”
Alicia sighed and immediately felt bad for causing Ofelia more emotional strain in order to make herself feel better. She wasn’t sure how much Whitworth’s nonsense she believed, more rather Alicia was afraid to admit that any of it was possible. But, Alicia considered as she watched Ofelia hunch in on herself and rested her forehead to her hand, she could pretend to be this person that they already thought she was if it helped them survive somehow. Alicia let out a breath and raised her chin in determination.
She tried to sound brave like this Queen Whitworth’s obviously feared.
“We’re going to survive.” The change in her voice made Ofelia drop her arms to her side and turn back around.
“What if I’m just tired?”
The droop in the young woman’s shoulders spoke of fear and anxiety.
“Tired of what?”
She sighed and looked away. “Surviving.”
Alicia locked her jaw and ground her teeth at the sudden fire and determination that filled her. “You don’t get tired of surviving, you push on.” Ofelia sat down and looked up to meet her eyes. “Life is more than just surviving, we push on to survive but we fight to live.”
“Not all of us are going to make it. We’re not-I’m not strong enough.” Ofelia’s dark hair was flat even as she shook her head.
“Don’t say that. I promise I won’t let anything happen to you.” Alicia’s voice was stern and commanding and left no room for argument. She took a step forward towards Ofelia and grasped the sides of her arms forcing the other girl to make eye contact.
Clarke will be safe under my protection.
Alicia blinked away the flash of memory or dream. She was getting better at accommodating their random occurrences.
“My father was always one step behind hope.” Ofelia’s dark eyes were sad, almost devoid of emotion.
“Daniel was wrong. That’s all we have. We lose that and we’re dead.” Her fingers dug into Ofelia’s arms attempting to tie her to the living by sheer will alone.
The door opened before another word could be exchanged. Alicia’s hands fell to her sides bereft.
They were given shower privileges and new clothes. Most of them were Russian military, but they were mismatched. None of the people escorting Alicia and Ofelia spoke to them other than to direct orders. She had the feeling they were afraid to. Many of them appeared to be well trained, but some of them were older and less confidant, especially the man that dressed Alicia’s head wound and put salve on her throbbing face.
Ofelia and her exchanged many glances, but said little, as their two escorts silenced them abruptly. She figured that if their group was being exchanged for some form of surrender, Whitworth had to make sure the goods were in respectable shape or the trade would fail. What exactly the surrender entailed neither of them knew. It sounded more like supplies and safe territory. Refuge from the dead and medicine were highly valued.
It was smart of Whitworth to keep their group separated. Alicia kept tract of their steps, and watched their escorts looking for patterns and weapons while waiting for enough information and the right timing to make an escape once they located the rest of their family. They were led down one last hall and as one of their guards went to open the door, Alicia slipped her hand around his waist and grasped a knife at his belt. She wanted to reach for the gun but it looked too well secured and a part of her felt more comfortable with the knife. Ofelia widened her eyes and saw the man turn at the last second and purposely tripped into him. The man startled and shoved her away and lifted his military grade rifle. Ofelia raised her arms in apology as Alicia hid the knife in the back of her pants while the two guards’ attention were trained on Ofelia.
They ushered them through the door, but not before Alicia nodded in thanks to Ofelia. The rest of their families were gathered around a table. As they sat, Alicia was pleased to note they looked unharmed and had also been allowed to clean up. There was a meager spread of breads, granola bars, and aged fruit. It appeared as if the dinner Whitworth had been enjoying the other night wasn’t a normal occurrence. That or he was a thorough asshole.
“Now that we’re all here, we can get started.”
He gestured to the table and reluctantly they began to pass around the food. Alicia’s stomach growled but she also felt nauseous at the same time. She forced herself to open the package and take a bite. The protein bar was tasteless in her mouth and dry. She noted the men and women standing at attention in the corner of the room and the lack of cutlery in amusement.
“Here’s how it’s going to work,” Whitworth began. “Once the mighty Wanheda,” he said with a mocking tone making Alicia wonder at the true meaning behind the strange term, “inspects the merchandise and finds it acceptable, they get you and I-” he paused with a smile. “Well, I get what I should have had from the beginning.”
“And what is that exactly?” Daniel said crossing his arms eyeing the well-dressed man.
“To bring us home,” he responded seriously, “to save my people and re-create the world anew.”
The man was obviously demented or had a massive God-complex; Alicia was leaning towards the latter of the two.
Before any more retorts could be made a knock sounded on the door and a well dressed female in a lab coat with sensible heels walked in. She nodded to Whitworth who smiled while standing and pushing his chair away from the table.
“They’ve radioed in and are arriving via helicopter, sir.”
“Excellent. This is going to change everything.”
He was correct about that at least.
Elyza’s shoulders tensed staring at the radio that connected her to Lindsey and her team. They were currently tracking Whitworth on her orders. This was it. There was no going back. Alicia and her family were being held hostage by Whitworth and it was out of her control. She was still upset with herself over leaving them vulnerable in the first place, but she wanted to give Alicia and her family a choice. Now, the only way she could save Alicia was to kill them all and in doing so she might kill her lover and the friends she had sent to rescue her. Elyza had spent so much time avoiding this, avoiding whom she was, that she had let Whitworth get beneath her skin and force her into a corner. She didn’t want to hurt him or his people, hadn’t wanted to re-earn her title of Wanheda by killing him and his people, even if she was earning it slowly by other means.
Elyza knew that people feared her, but they also loved and respected her. Both her people and her enemies knew that she was dangerous for many reasons. The society she had created and allies she had made prior to the apocalypse when her memories had slowly returned had served her well. She was more prepared than the rest of the world when the dead began to walk the earth. It also helped that she had been one of the few privy to how the deadly virus was created in the first place and at one of the medical research facilities where the disease and potential cure was fostered. Elyza had watched them fail each time and wondered as a medical student how she could help, how she could help save the world and the people living in it as she had failed to do in her other life.
And then she had been contaminated and all of her dreams were realized as memories. She remembered everything. She remembered Lexa, and the young woman she had seen from a distance on a trip to the states that had seemed ethereal and familiar. That young woman had been Alicia.
It was an accident, they told her. But Elyza was no fool. She was orphaned as a young girl and a medical student. She was expendable and they had observed something in her genetic makeup that proved worthy of testing. Elyza was quarantined for weeks, experimented on, and they waited for the fever to take. After the fever, they waited for the weakness, the fatigue, the anger and aggression. They watched as her skin changed color and her captors began to sympathize one by one. They took blood sample after blood sample and injected her with various serums and waited for her to die or turn.
She did neither.
After weeks of suffering she grew stronger, more sure and capable. Elyza also remembered who she was and began to recognize familiar faces around her that she had seen for years nearly everyday. She was shocked to realize that one of her tormentors had been her own mother. Perhaps not her mother in this world, but she had been at one time and that meant something.
Elyza convinced her mother, or rather convinced Dr. Paige Turco head of genetics and biochemical engineering that the key wasn’t just because of the genetic marker in her blood they had found, but it was there because she had lived before and so had she.
When Dr. Turco tested herself after several weeks of being worn down and found the same genetic anomaly. After finding the anomaly, she helped Elyza escape and together they began seeking others from their past as the world continued none the wiser. They became fugitives as they travelled the world building alliances while attempting to synthesize a cure or a treatment at the very least from their blood.
“I don’t want to kill them, but I might have to.” Elyza couldn’t escape her fate and she wouldn’t lose Lexa, not again.
“Maybe there are no good guys.” Dr. Turco said quietly from besides her.
True, she was very different from Abigail Griffin and she certainly wasn’t her mother, but she was an anchor. It burned Elyza deep inside of her chest knowing her mother was right there in front of her and didn’t love her. While Dr. Turco believed in their mission, she did not have her memories, only an awareness of her previous life and no love for Elyza.
“Thanks,” Elyza smiled softly at the older woman. “I had a feeling you would say something like that.”
Dr. Turco stiffened abruptly. She nodded curtly and left the room leaving Elyza alone with Eli, one of the few she truly trusted and relied on. He had died so early in their previous life that she spent as much time with him as possible.
“Henry should be there to great them after their rescued” Eli commented to break the silence that had overcome the room after Dr. Turco’s departure.
“She’s uncomfortable with me still.” Elyza sighed and rubbed the spot between her eyebrows in fatigue.
Eli shrugged. “A lot of people are, you’re pretty scary. Even the ones that do have their memories back are wary for good reasons.”
“I’m glad you’re with me.” She smiled sadly grasping his shoulder. “You ground me.”
“So am I. I’ve lived longer this time around.” Elyza turned away hunching in on herself at Eli’s attempt at light humor. “Don’t,” he said abruptly forcing her to face him. “Stop blaming yourself. You aren’t responsible. We’re alive, and this is not the place we were. Besides, too many people need you.”
“That’s always the problem.” She sighed with a heavy heart. “Everybody always needs me. I’m trying the best I can. And she’s in danger again, because of me. I can’t loose her,” she confessed her voice full of emotion.
“And you won’t,” he reassured with a nod. Eli knew nothing about the woman who his best friend loved as both Elyza and Clarke. All he knew was what others around him whispered when she wasn’t around. She was his best friend and if the love she had for Lexa, or Alicia as she was currently called, was as strong as her emotions dictated and the people on the boat spoke of then he’d help Elyza anyway he could to save her.
“I’m afraid of what I’ll do, because I’m going to kill them all to keep her safe.” There was a firm resolution in her voice. “He’s not going to accept the offer. They’re all going to die because of me. It’s the mountain all over again. I won’t ever clean my hands from all of the blood I’ve shed.”
“But you’re saving our people and you gave them a choice. You’ve given them too many free passes.”
“’None of us has a choice.’” The words were whispered of an enemy long defeated and dead from the world.
“Yes, we do. They’re not always the ones we want, but we have them and we have to live with them. You can do this. You have people here, you don’t have to do this alone.”
His hand clasped hers and she leaned against his side and rested her head on his shoulder. Eli hugged her closer and Elyza took a moment to bask in his embrace and the comfort he brought her.
“Alright, we’re in position.” Christopher stated at the console reading the sonar. The screens green lights clearly displayed the enemy ship. “Have I stated how much I hate being submerged hundreds of feet below the ocean surface in a tin can?”
The Korean male turned to the female leading them standing amongst the crew they sported that had volunteered for the rescue mission. All of them would have gone if Elyza had asked, they trusted her and followed blindly, knowing long ago never to question her decisions. He had seen her do the miraculous, the down right crazy and the terrifying. And that was before he believed her or had most of his memories from his previous life.
Elyza had saved him from the undead, like many of the others. She had blazed in with her weapons, her knowledge and a promise of protection, of save haven from the world and the people that festered in hatred. His parents had been dead long before her rescue. His mother had lasted the longest, although surviving in this world had done something to her. It had changed his compassionate mother into something feral and wild, not unlike the undead.
She had taken her own life after being bitten and he had watched her do it.
Yes, Christopher would jump and ask how high if Elyza wanted. He would also do nearly anything for the woman that had lead the Coalition and had tried to promote peace with his people long ago. The Commander was the one thing that kept Elyza human and kept her from becoming someone completely untouchable.
Elyza was safety, but she was also dangerous. He remembered her from before when she was Clarke. There were flashes of her from the Ark where she had been spirited and easy to laugh and glued to the hips of her best friends. That had all changed when she was locked in the Sky Box. It had changed him as well. But he and many of the others had still been allowed privileges. Clarke had been the only one in solitary confinement because of the information she knew at the time, that the Ark was dying and they would all die if they the didn’t reach the ground.
Then she had destroyed the Mountain and deserted them. He couldn’t blame her. Maybe not in this life, but in his previous life he had known he had killed his mother. He didn’t remember it fully, but meeting Elyza had re-surfaced much of his previous memories. It was that way for many of them. Meeting certain people triggered memories. There were only a few people he knew that were not triggered by Elyza. Although, meeting Chelsey had been his main trigger to unlock his own memories, unless of course he was suicidal enough to embrace the bite.
Clarke’s death toll had been morbidly impressive during the war against the Mountain and continued long after the death of the Commander. She was never the same. For her sake, and their own, he wanted the former Grounder Commander to live. It went without saying that as both Clarke and Elyza, the girl was irrevocably in love with the former Commander. It was a type of love that seemed to make one equally strong and suicidal in his opinion.
“Yep,” Lindsey grinned preoccupied with instructing another crewmember. He blinked at her response to his previous statement.
She was one of the few that was still just as ambitious and cheeky as before. They were all so very different while maintaining some of the few characteristics that made them who they were. Lindsey was one of the most accomplished amongst them. Sure, Christopher had been in his first year at Stanford when the world had gone to shit, but he was impressed that Lindsey had graduated top of her class at MIT and had been recruited by NASA immediately after graduating. Although after remembering her from the previous life and remembering her genius as Raven, he found himself no longer impressed because Raven was a genius no matter what. She was one of the few that had been with Elyza near the beginning, along with a handful of others including Marie.
Christopher studied her back feeling odd that he should be in this position again. It wasn’t the same. True, there was no air filtration system to override but he was once again in a position and a willing tool for others to command. Once more, there were hundreds of lives in his hands.
“Sounds good,” Lindsey responded to another crew member.
“Lindsey,” an older man said a few people down. “Elyza says we have orders for two close range warning shots.”
“Alright people,” she raised her voice after nodding her thanks. “We need to make sure this is perfect. I want them to know they’re fucked.” A loud cheer went through the submarine and Christopher couldn’t help the cold from settling into his skin. He wished Chelsey were here to calm him.
“Chris,” he jumped at the sound of her voice and turned to look at her now stern expression on a face that could have been anyone from a model, an actress, to a brilliant space engineer, but instead was in a submarine giving orders in the apocalypse. They could have been given another chance and instead they were here. Maybe it was their fate to be in held in these positions in every life.
“Two warning shots close, but not enough to damage when I give the order. We are not to hit without the signal. And no direct hits without my explicit order. We’re trying to get Wanheda laid people!” The joke was loud and everyone was used to Lindsey’s boisterous humor. Everyone was privy to the Commander and Wanheda’s past.
Two helicopters loomed in the distance. The sun was at its peak and they gathered on the deck of the ship with at least thirty armed guards. Alicia’s stomach knotted with anxiety willing the helicopters to stay away and for Elyza to leave yet save them at the same time.
The air swirled as they approached to land and as they touched down the propellers slowed dangerously. Clothes and hair swirled in the air from the gusts of wind as the propellers continued a slow dance. They were larger than she expected. One of them was thicker and grey and looked like it could easily handle ten people while the other looked like it could house half that. They were military grade as well, but she was unsure of who’s. Not that such a thing mattered anymore as she stood in a mixture of Russian fatigue. Whitworth scooted close to her and she gazed at him coolly in return but he merely smiled back like a boy about to get his favorite sweet.
The doors opened and three people exited the smaller helicopter, two of which Alicia recognized. Young Cory and the dark haired warrior Marie accompanied a fierce looking woman with tan olive skin and wild dark honey colored hair. Her brown eyes appeared cold and calculating and were deeply lined in dark coal. The woman stared at Alicia so fiercely that she almost missed the other five people that exited the second larger craft, where she recognized Marie’s counterpart, Ricky, but no one else. However, the tall black female looked deadly and brought a flash of recognition. The other male warrior besides her was also familiar.
She searched for Elyza wondering if she was still inside and waited for the blond female to emerge. Her heart clenched in anxiety as well as relief not seeing her among their supposed rescuers.
“Welcome,” Whitworth began although he sounded anything but welcoming. His eyes narrowed in distrust. “I was very much looking forward to seeing your leader. It was part of the deal.” There was a clear warning in his tone.
The fierce woman standing at Cory’s shoulder paid him no mind and Alicia thought she was either very brave or very foolish. She felt the blade at the back of her pants and remembered that the same could be said of her.
The woman took a few steps closer until she was able to make eye contact with Alicia. The sounds of weapons rising in warning at her approach did not to deter the gaze locked upon Alicia with respect and even a hint of fondness. She knew this woman. Alicia did not know how but knew without a doubt that she could swing a blade with both arms equally well, and stepped with her left foot first when charging an enemy.
“It’s good to see you alive Heda.” The woman stated regally reclining her head in respect. Alicia was too tired and confused to look into the gesture for someone she had never met before. She was also too enthralled in the woman’s eyes that were deeply lined in paint; she was almost otherworldly. “My name is Dichen,” she said after a pause.
Alicia could feel the others in her group between her and the stranger. Dichen stared at her expectantly but for what she didn’t know. Cory nodded at the woman’s side and Alicia was glad to see him but afraid to show it in their present company. She worried after his safety and was happy to see him well, but also concerned for his presence now.
“Wanheda sends her regards. She wanted to be here,” Dichen added almost in apology. The words were spoken to Alicia directly, Whitworth still being ignored by the newcomers, although they looked battle ready and wary. Alicia didn’t understand why the apology was directed at her. She had barely known Elyza even if she felt some uncanny connection since the moment she met the woman. “She’s sent me in her place to negotiate terms.”
“Negotiate,” Whitworth scoffed rubbing his chin and shook his head repeatedly back and forth growing more irritated by the second. “This is not a negotiation. She was supposed to be here. I kept my terms, but if she won’t keep her end of the bargain…”
The sentence tapered and no further warning was needed. Dichen finally turned to acknowledge him calmly. As she did so, Marie produced a large container and unlocked the many clasps. She opened it briefly as she set the container safely in the floor. There were various labeled tubes stored in a specialized cooling system. The cooled air was visible and Marie quickly re-sealed the container and stood taking a step back.
“What the hell is that?” Whitworth nodded at their offering.
“You’re asking for over half of our population. We’re offering blood samples that you can use to synthesize for your own research as I’ve been told. There are three samples of bone marrow included.”
“It would be much easier if we had the source.” The dark haired female spoke from Whitworth’s side. Alicia realized she was too important to be some random person especially if she wore a lab coat. “We can’t synthesize the cure without the blood, specifically the bone marrow of those with the awakened genetic marker.” She turned to Whitworth speaking directly to him. “We can devise a treatment for the plague, but we won’t be able to restore memories and provide a cure with this alone. The amount of testing required,” she shook her head, “this will barely give us a start.”
Alicia realized this woman must have been some form of medical physician. Slowly, the puzzles began to fit in her mind, but much of the reasoning behind why was missing. What was is exactly that made a cure possible? Surely, if there had been a cure the government would have figured something out?
“What are you saying? There’s a way to fix this?” Madison asked interrupting Alicia’s train of thought and the tense silence.
“There is, but like any new disease it requires testing and the appropriate measures to synthesize a vaccine.” The female physician answered with a quick glance.
“Perhaps, you could use your own people,” the fierce warrior female from the second helicopter said with an imperceptible snarl. Alicia watched her carefully imagining her with a large sword at her side eager to lead a battle charge.
“Adina,” Dichen chastised slowly and the woman backed off. “Yes, I remember how this goes.” She gazed directly at the physician as she spoke. “I was one of your test subjects. Your way kills, no matter your pretty words.”
“We save people.” The physician tensed in rebuttal.
“No, you don’t. If you wanted to save the world you would have worked with our department from the beginning instead of trying to synthetize the cure on your own with the blood of my people.”
Alicia watched in morbid fascination as they argued back and forth. There was an old feud between these people, one that was becoming more clear as they spoke. Whitworth’s jaw moved and he pulled a gun from his side and pointed it at Dichen. The woman hardly blinked even as her companions readied to spring to her defense. Alicia held her breath and nearly grabbed for her weapon hidden in her pants with a snarl. She saw the bearded man next to Adina cock his head noticing her actions and his lips lifted in approval.
“The deal was a surrender. If Elyza can’t keep her word, then I’ll keep mine. People start dying. I want her here, on her knees!” he spat in anger. “She ruined everything and she’s going to pay one way or another.”
His hand shifted to the side and with it the barrel of his gun. His weapon moved indirectly at the crew of the Abigail. Elyza’s faction tensed weapons ready as did Whitworth’s people spread around them. Alicia felt her mother grasp her upper arm at her left. Nick was on her right strangely calm. She felt the tension and her heartbeat faltered for a moment. This was not the first time a gun had been aimed in her direction, nor would it probably be the last. It was one of the more pleasant ways to die. It was a morbid thought but it entered into her mind. The idea of dying at the hands of this man did not frighten her, nor did his weapon. Death was not the end. She had seen that with the walking dead.
But for other reasons Alicia did not fear death. She was not afraid to die, but she was afraid to leave her loved ones in the world without her protection and without seeing Elyza once more. The knife at her back felt hot against her skin and a cold bead of sweat rolled down between her shoulder blades into the waistband of her pants where her weapon was secreted.
“I would lower your weapon if you value your life and those of your crew.” Dichen said stony faced not betraying a hint of emotion and Alicia wondered again at this woman’s composure and aptitude.
“Me?” Whitworth laughed and she noticed a few of his men and woman shuffle uncomfortably at the unbent attitude.
“We have a vessel currently locked on this position ready to fire at a moments notice.” Marie added and Alicia noticed the radio at her side noting how she was clutching it at the ready.
“You’re bluffing. She wouldn’t do that.” Whitworth raged his weapon waving sporadically. “She’s here!” He snarled pointing at her and Alicia straightened trying to remain calm and feeling more sweat trickle at her hairline. Her hands itched to run him through and see his blood spilt. However, she knew there were more going on than she perceived.
Dichen raised an eyebrow. “She earned her title as Wanheda. Would you like to test her in this life as well?”
As Whitworth argued and was about to delegate orders once more, Alicia saw Dichen signal Marie. She couldn’t make out the words but almost as soon as Marie lowered the radio from her lips the ship rocked beneath their feet.
A sudden explosion and a burst of water sprayed high up in the air to their left followed closely by another to their right. The ship rocked violently and people were thrown to their feet. Her eyes widened in shock and as screams and shouts of fear roared across the ship.
They were indeed surrounded. Elyza had them and her family was going to live. Alicia’s lips twitched in pride and she pushed up from where she had fallen to her knees at the sudden waves. She turned, wanting to see the comical expression and outrage on Whitworth’s face, when she was met with a more disturbing one.
In almost slow motion she saw the weapon settle on her and the spark as Whitworth pulled the trigger his face grim and crazed. There a loud sound and the bullet flew through the air and Alicia’s eyes widened as she felt a stabbing pain in her side.
Have a little faith in me is all I ask. It gets worse before it gets better. Thanks again to Gabi providing a sounding board and brainstorming with me into the late hours of the night. Please leave comments!
It happened suddenly. Alicia truly believed death was imminent the instant Whitworth aimed the gun at her. Never before had she felt her death so surely than at the hands of this demented man, and this time there would be no rescue. She expected fear, dread, or sadness, but instead she was awash in a strong sense of calm and familiarity.
The faces of family and friends flashed before her eyes. Each experience played through her mind like an old video projection. What she had once deemed important seemed the fancy dreams and behavior of an adolescent taking life for granted. The dysfunctional family she had sought to relieve herself of no longer seemed a burden to be a part of.
One thing was for certain; Alicia did not want to die.
There were too many things she wanted in this world. She wanted to trail her hands over soft skin and run her fingers through silky blond hair. She should have chided herself for these selfish thoughts that did not include her mother, her dead boyfriend or any other family member.
Her thoughts jumbled together.
Alicia both saw and heard the gun fire, and almost immediately felt the pain in her side. Her body lurched and her legs buckled beneath her, but she was saved from falling to the ground by her mother. Her mind moved sluggishly, but her eyes widened in horror the moment she realized that what had collided with her was not the bullet, but Nick.
Nick; her wonderful, stupid, and impulsive brother.
Alicia wrestled free from her mother the instant she realized that the bullet had not pierced her flesh but had instead taken the flesh of her brother.
Thick red blood sprayed from the bullet wound at his abdomen and appeared darker in the night. The bodies around her moved in a rush, but she heard nothing, save for her brother’s cries as he fell to the floor in a heap of flesh, helpless and writhing in pain from a death blow that had been meant for her.
They had always been meant for her. How many had died protecting her?
The blood pounded in her ears, and her pulse quickened matching the fire in her blood.
The screams that erupted around her faded further into the background. Her vision tunneled and Alicia saw only the immediate danger to her family. How dare they threaten them? Whitworth and his people would pay with their blood.
Her mother’s hands painfully clawed her shoulders only to release suddenly as Madison practically flew to her son. The fear and anguish was palpable across her face.
You say having feelings makes me weak, but you’re weak for hiding from them.
The voice called through her daze. Alicia’s hands fisted, her blunt fingernails squeezing painfully into her palm. The world spun too fast to control and she wondered how she would ever stay upright. Was this even real to begin with? Was she asleep still in her bed waiting for her alarm to shrill and kiss her boyfriend at school?
“Lexa!” The name resonated in her mind and she gasped deeply as air flooded into her lungs.
The warning came just in time as sbe ducked to avoid Whitworth’s crazed gunmen and his own wild gunfire.
The memories flooded her brain. It was as if a dam had broken free and waves of experiences and memories swarmed her unprepared mind. Rather than being overwhelmed, the savage and almost brutal life she had lived before softened Alicia and filled her with reassurance. There was so much pain, but amidst that pain was the desperate need to protect and fight to save her people.
The flashes of memory continued without mercy in the form of both words and images. Elyza’s image was clearest of them all. Clarke Griffin kom Skaikru.
Not everyone, not you.
Jus drein jus daun.
The duty to protect my people comes first.
A desecrated village on fire. A horse screaming in fear and pain cantering into the night to die.
You’re special, Heda.
Do not be afraid, Clarke. Death is not the end.
Alicia knew who she was. She remembered.
She was Lexa kom Trikru, Heda of the Twelve Clans.
She had united her people, as no other Heda had been able to do in their 97-year history. Her body had housed the flame along with countless memories and experiences of those that had lead before her.
And as Lexa, leader of the Trigedakru, she had faced far greater adversaries than Whitworth (no - Cage Wallace). Alicia’s ire grew exponentially; realizing that he not only had threatened her family, but had also used her as bait to lure Elyza to him and force her to choose between her and her people.
There was no doubt in her mind that Elyza remembered her previous life as well. The knowledge had been obvious in her eyes the moment they had re-united on the Abigail.
As her memories returned and her mind raced with questions in the span of seconds, Alicia’s reflexes and a lifetime of combat training re-surfaced with a vengeance. In one life she had been alone, but in this life, she had family. And no one touched her family.
The bullet that had pierced Nick was meant for her. It would have been poetic to die once more from a bullet wound. Not this time and not here.
Alicia turned abruptly ignoring Elyza’s people, many of which she knew. She sought out Whitworth and longed to sink a blade in his gut.
“Lexa!” A voice called and her gaze shifted to none other than her first mentor, Anya, or Dichen as she had introduced herself not long ago.
The urge to embrace her former mentor and friend was strong but there were more pressing matters. They had to survive this battle. Good, she mentally catalogued, assessing the warrior in foreign protective garb. She would not be alone in this fight.
Dichen shoved her aside roughly her eyes blazing and fired off a round of bullets hitting nameless targets. Some of her family had gained access to weapons as well and it was then that she realized they had been standing in a field of flying bullets.
Travis, along with Ofelia’s father and Strand, had obtained weapons and were firing at Whitworth’s team. Only Daniel was truly successful at incapacitating, or rather killing, but at least the others hit their marks on occasion. Nick still lay bleeding and gasping on the deck in their mother’s arms. Alicia saw Madison tear off her shirt and kneel over him in her bra trying to stop the flow of blood. She blinked at the realization that she had a mother in this life and the fire to protect her family grew.
“Fos,” the quiet authority in her voice was not misunderstood.
She watched as Anya fired a round with her weapon, ducked and looked at her. Her eyes were direct and waiting for orders. Alicia wondered how many people knew of their former lives and how many of them were aware. Whoever she was (Alicia or Lexa or both), she needed everything she had learned in her years as a warrior uniting the clans to make it out of this.
Alicia held her hand out expectantly after they both dodged another round of fire. Dichen merely raised an eyebrow in question and it was as if no time had passed between them at all. It was like any other battle they had fought and won together.
Are you sure you can handle this? Anya’s eyes asked as she unclipped a firearm from her belt.
Thankfully, because of her time in this life, Alicia knew she could.
Alicia took the weapon, unlocked the safety with ease and waited a breath before rising over their cover and taking a few well-trained shots. She unloaded the entire clip, not necessarily with ease but with some measure of skill that when she crouched down once more Dichen handed her two more clips. Alicia nodded in thanks and they silently took down their enemies together.
She glanced at her mother once again and caught her desperate eyes. Madison was a force to be reckoned with, but in this moment she was a mother, afraid to lose her children.
“We need to get out of here before we all die. There are too many. This is a losing fight.”
If Dichen was surprised by her switch from English to Trigedasleng, she hid it well.
The other warrior merely nodded in agreement and took the order from her former superior and glanced to her right searching for someone.
“Marie!” Dichen’s voice carried across the spray of bullets and screams.
“Sha!” Marie responded and Dichen swiveled around in the women’s direction.
Alicia saw the woman fire a few shots, before nodding to her partner, Ricky. It was then that Alicia recognized the pair as Octavia kom Skaikru and Lincoln kom Trikru. She took a moment to actually place the others that had emerged from the helicopters to their rescue. Indra, Roan and her protégé Cory. Her confidence grew noting the trusted faces that had come to their aid.
“You chose well.” Her hand closed on Dichen’s shoulder in gratitude but the woman merely shook her head, not accepting the credit.
“I did not choose, Heda. This was Elyza’s decision. And we all chose you.”
“Klark,” the gasp of breath and catch in her chest as the name escaped her mouth did not go unnoticed by either of them.
Dichen merely raised an eyebrow and a small grin pulled at her lips.
“Sha,” Dichen nodded. “Cage Wallace, in any world, cannot be afforded to live.”
Alicia was in complete agreement. They signaled for Marie and Ricky to come to them. Alicia and Dichen covered for them firing their weapons as they closed in on their location.
“You must tell me how a woman from the heavens broke the armor of the fearless commander of the twelve clans.” Alicia snarled at the jibe and huffed, not taking the bait. Dichen, or rather Anya, had known Costia and had been an anchor after Queen Nia had ordered Costia’s head be sent to her bed chambers.
Alicia’s eyes widened in shock and she turned quickly, looking back towards her family.
She looked for the one woman whom she believed to be lost to her forever until Ricky and Marie reached them and settled back against the steel, out of breath. All parties nodded in greeting, too fatigued to waste air. Alicia forced her attention to the pair despite the lingering need that resonated in the back of her mind. There would be time later, but first they had to survive.
She took quick stock of her former warrior and the skai woman he had chosen as his partner. Ricky’s left arm was bleeding from a bullet graze. Marie’s pants were torn and she was covered in sweat but her face was composed, despite the obvious exertion. Notwithstanding their tremulous past, Octavia (no, Marie), nodded to her in respect and Alicia returned the greeting.
“Heda,” Ricky spoke in reverence. “I’m honored to fight beside you.”
A horde of questions overcame her but she stifled them, trying to focus on the present situation. They had to get out of here before they were all dead or undead to answer her questions.
“This is not a fight we can win,” she admitted stoically to her companions.
“Marie, have you contacted Elyza?”
She shook her head solemnly holding out the busted radio. “They took out the radio before I could signal.”
To Alicia’s bemusement, Marie answered Dichen’s inquiry with near perfect Trigedasleng. While she knew the girl had a talent for tongues and had grasped the basics of the language she was surprised to hear her speak it so fluently in a world where the language most certainly did not exist.
Alicia stared at Dichen wondering at her sudden silence. “What?” she questioned back in English noting the hesitance and sudden tension.
“Our mission was to extract you and your family safely. If anything went astray we were to contact Elyza.”
The question of why Elyza was the one making decisions did not make its way past her lips. Clarke, in any life, would be at the forefront of a conflict and halfway to solving it or give her soul trying. It was what made the young woman unique and why she had cared for her above all others.
“Speak,” she ordered when Marie and Ricky exchanged tense glances.
“Elyza’s going to blow this entire ship whether or not we’re on it if we miss the contact time. And that was ten minutes ago, when this shit show started.” Marie cut in, the blunt words tumbling from her lips.
“We haven’t been able to get close to him,” Ricky added, referring to Whitworth.
Alicia’s eyes widened and her lips pursed in determination. It was something she would have done long ago; sacrifice for the common good. She understood, and would not let Elyza down. It was time to leave and not be another soul on Elyza’s conscience.
“We’re leaving.” She stated resolutely clipping the last round in her firearm.
The others nodded readying their weapons. “We’ll clear a path, but I need to get my family to safety first.” There was a moment of acceptance between them. The former leader of the twelve clans had a family to protect and they would do everything in their power to be of assistance.
As one unit they emerged from their cover and rushed to Madison and the others. Madison looked up as they reached her side. Alicia nodded to Nick and Ricky quickly complied, sensing her request. He somehow managed to swiftly but compassionately move Madison out of the way to provide Nick with a crude field dressing to slow the bleeding. Already his clothes and the ground beneath him were coated with thick red blood. She tried to ignore how pale his face appeared and the clamminess of his skin. Nick was fighting to stay awake despite his injuries. His eyes were wide but there was an odd sort of clarity even as his breath was labored and sweat trickled down one brow.
“It’s going to be okay,” she told him, comforting him as she always did.
“Sure,” he coughed and blood trickled at the corner of his mouth. Her lips pursed and she began giving orders in succession. The routine of warfare came to her with ease. It was easier than dealing with the emotions that were threatening to surface.
“We need to move.” Strand cocked the rifle she had given him and exchanged fire. Alicia tossed a rifle at Ofelia without sparing the woman a glance.
“You think?” Madison eyes were astounded as if she had just realized Alicia was there and talking nonsense. “We need to get him help.” Her words faded as she gazed at her son in crazed concern.
“The ship is going to blow. As in be blown to pieces.” Marie provided making her point with an errant flip of her hair.
“Either way, I’m on board with leaving this party,” Strand added with a nod.
“Then I suggest we leave. Cory, Adina and Zach can only protect the helicopters for so long.” Dichen barely spared the others a glance as she began to vocalize their escape route.
“For all we know you’re going to get us killed. Let us handle ourselves.” Daniel stared at them with distrust.
“We don’t even know who the hell you are,” Chris sided with Daniel. He was untrustworthy as usual, and stubborn even in the midst of combat.
“We’re the ones who brought the fucking helicopters asshole.” Marie spat in contempt, her patience at its end. Octavia kom Skaikru had always been one to take action first.
“You’ll do as she says if you want to live.” Alicia snapped at Daniel in a tone leaving no room for rebuttal.
“You’re welcome to stay and die if you’d like,” Dichen added with a raised eyebrow.
“Dad,” Ofelia addressed her father sternly. “We don’t have a choice, and we are not going to die here.”
Alicia did not care for the man or his reply, though he reluctantly agreed. Hearing the young woman’s stalwart declaration and intention to survive caused Alicia’s chest to tighten painfully. Death truly was not the end if it had brought so many people back to her.
Ofelia readied herself with the others and Ricky and Madison helped bring Nick into a crouch. The young man clenched his teeth but couldn’t help the cry of pain at the change in position. His feet stumbled weakly and more blood dripped from his wound seeping through the fabric that Ricky had wrapped him with. His only chance was if they got him to the helicopter and out of imminent danger so he could get medical help. She had to save him. He was her brother by blood and he had risked his life to save hers.
“Adina!” Dichen yelled once they were ready to make a run for the helicopters, or as ready as they ever would be.
Amidst the gunfire they heard the answering call and covering fire coming from the three guarding the helicopters and their only chance to escape.
They rose as a unit running and firing at the men and women also trying to kill them when a sudden current shifted the ship. Many of them were knocked to the ground and the firing ceased as in one moment everything changed. The ship rocked precariously and a large explosion rocked the hull. Fire erupted all around them.
They were out of time.
“Marie!” Elyza yelled urgently into the radio. She heard the explosion of gunfire through the radio and the screams erupt and desperately prayed for the safety of her friends and comrades. “Goddamnit answer me!” The radio signal went silent in the next moment and nothing but static was heard from the other end.
A shudder overcame her body and the hair on her arms prickled, not from chill but fear. The people she had sent had volunteered their lives for this dangerous rescue mission that both served to save her former lover and kill one of their greatest enemies. She had tried to reason with the man, but he was a danger to her people, more so than any undead hoard. Elyza was many things but stupid was not one of them. There would be no second chances in this life for Cage Wallace.
Elyza’s eyes squeezed shut as she inhaled deeply through her nose taking a breath to gather her thoughts. She opened them resignedly and knew what had to be done. She prayed that Alicia would understand, as Lexa would have.
Her blue eyes sought the comfort of her best friend. Eli’s brown eyes were grim and she knew in that instant that she was going to damn her friends, her lover and send a group of people to hell where their dead bodies would sink to the bottom of the ocean to rot for all eternity. Hell, she smiled mirthlessly, no doubt where her soul was headed, if not for the lives she had destroyed in her previous life, then for the ones she had killed thus far and was about to. Her soul was tainted and somehow she knew there was nothing she could do to cleanse her pale and shaking hands from the metaphorical blood staining them.
Elyza’s hands, though shaking, brought the radio up to her lips. This was the one moment they had to end their biggest enemy. If they didn’t take this chance every single person under her care would suffer the consequences. She couldn’t afford to give mercy to a man that had enslaved, captured and murdered her people even if the love of her life was on the very ship she was about to condemn. Even though her will was strong her hands still trembled and her eyes squeezed shut briefly from the pain in her heart.
A strong and callused hand gripped hers. The radio in her left hand paused its ascent. Elyza opened her eyes finding Eli looking at her with such compassion and strength it made her want to crumble into his arms just as it made her want to rise to any challenge.
“This isn’t just on you,” he said softly with conviction.
He wrapped an arm comfortably about her waist and she folded into him. They had been through a lot together and had been tied at the hip from the first time they had stared down bullies in primary school.
Her brows furrowed and she wondered if he knew that Bob had spoken similar words when he had clasped his hand over hers and she had pulled the lever to irradiate level five. It was a memory he knew of, and had discussed at length even if the dialogue had been left out. Elyza licked her lips words escaping her and nodded.
The radio clicked on.
“Lindsey,” she was pleased that her voice was firm and never wavered. Elyza’s blue eyes never strayed from Eli’s. “Fire the missile for a direct hit.”
Lindsey paused after receiving the order and immediately called her crew into action with a boisterous yell. “Bring those mother fuckers down!”
Her people sprang into position confirming the target. Two missiles released heading straight for the ship. They watched the radar with baited breath as the missiles closed in.
“Impact in three, two, one…”
Lindsey sent a silent prayer to anyone listening.
The ship exploded in a fury of fire and desperate cries. It teetered and lowered to one side as it began to take on water. People fell to their knees, as some lay silent on the ground dead from the debris. Alicia grasped onto the nearest solid object to steady herself. Ofelia slipped tumbling towards the edge of the ship before Alicia grasped her waist in a solid grip to stop her from going over the edge and into the foreboding sea.
The gunfire stopped momentarily as the ship rocked precariously, sinking slowly. Amazingly, the two helicopters slanted and slid but were solid on the deck but it was obvious that they were ocean bound. People realized the new danger and began to swarm the lifeboats as others ran for the helicopters that Adina, Zach and Cory defended with their bullets. Alicia saw the former members of her people defending their means of escape ruthlessly.
“We have to move, now!” Dichen yelled through the chaos and their party slowly rose to their feet, Lincoln pulling an unconscious Nick over his shoulder. Alicia internally winced at the crude handling, but knew time was of the essence and he was going to die if they couldn’t escape. Hell, they were all going to die if they didn’t get off this damn ship.
They neared the helicopters and Alicia saw Whitworth amongst the crowd. His clothes were torn and his face was covered in blood that was saturating his scalp. They made eye contact and he snarled with a crazed look in his eyes and climbed to his feet. He made his way towards her with intention. He may have been a man capable of murder, but now there was a promise in his expression.
She was startled away from Whitworth by a frantic female desperately clawing Ofelia as the woman tried to climb in the first helicopter. Alicia roughly pushed the rabid woman out of the way and elbowed her in the face. A sickening crunch was the result, along with a rush of blood. The woman was swept away in the chaos and Daniel helped his daughter the rest of the way with a nod of thanks to her. No doubt he would have done worse, either way the woman was most likely pegged for death along with many of the others on the vessel.
She went to help Ricky and Madison with Nick but a bullet fired and ricocheted on the helicopter. She turned startled, heart pounding in her chest and spotted Whitworth looming closer along with a few others.
“You’re not leaving!” he yelled through the smoke and flames.
Dichen closed in on her left and fired a few shots, hitting one man in the shoulder and another woman in the head. They fell to the ground with a heavy thud. Nick’s lax body finally made it’s way onto the second helicopter along with the rest of her family, Ricky and Marie. The propellers burst to life as Marie started the metal contraption, willing it to life. Not too far away the other helicopter, housing the three other members of the rescue party, also roared to life. The propellers succeeded in clearing a path from a few desperate people before they got to close.
“Go!” Dichen waved her arm frantically at them when the last of Alicia’s family had been secured.
“What about you?” Ofelia yelled and Madison called to her daughter waving her inside.
Alicia paused, not wanting to leave the rest of her people behind. A guttural snarl rose from the crowd, followed by a shocking scream. Her head shot to the source and her eyes widened in alarm, seeing the dead begin to rise from the fallen.
An undead clawed at a young man, ripping the flesh from his neck in hunger as another pawed his shoulder. Sinking to the bottom of the ocean suddenly became the more appealing way to die.
“Go!” She called, mimicking Dichen’s order. Alicia spun around, hitting the steel door for emphasis. Marie nodded up front and the helicopter rose slowly, if slightly unsteadily at first. For a breath she watched her family lift in the air to safety and felt a brief sense of relief. At least they were safe. Elyza would take care of them.
The two women dared not waste another moment and ran to the remaining helicopter. Alicia urged her legs to move faster and faster. Adrenaline fueled her system and she shoved through the crowd of screaming people.
One of the undead clambered towards her and she raised her weapon only to hear it's empty click. She cursed in Trigedasleng and fumbled for a weapon and grasped the knife still protected at her waist. The undead reared its broken fingernails for her flesh. Alicia kicked it in the abdomen to gain much needed space before she lunged. She aimed for the eye socket, only to miss. The creature grasped the front of her shirt. Her heart beat frantically and she reminded herself that this was no different than fighting a Reaper. With a ferocious cry she switched her grip on the knife and thrust the blade under its jaw and into the brain. The body fell to the ground still twitching. Blood covered her hand and her chest heaved straining for oxygen.
Flecks of blood marred her face and she cleaned her face as Dichen called to her from the last helicopter. Alicia’s grip on the knife tightened and she put on a burst of speed. The gusts of air from the propellers flung her sweat and blood matted hair into her face. The helicopter began to lift from the ground, only to collapse suddenly a few feet before lifting again successfully. Alicia ducked and jumped over a body and grasped the outstretched hand reaching for her.
Dichen’s hand grasped her forearm firmly and pulled. Indra (no, Adina), appeared by her side, not a moment too soon and took purchase of the back of her shirt for leverage and pulled. Alicia threw her forearm onto the floor, swinging her legs attempting to gain some form of momentum.
Suddenly, Dichen’s grip on her forearm loosened and Alicia slipped, nearly falling. Her eyes widened catching a glance of the ship below them. She turned back looking into Dichen’s pained eyes. It was then that Alicia saw the growing blood stain in her shoulder. Below them, a bloodied Whitworth, now sporting a mangled arm, was firing at them in furious succession. Despite the injury, the woman did not loosen her grip and only pulled harder and seemed that more determined. By some miracle, and with the aid of the man formerly known to her as the prince of Azgeda, they pulled her into the helicopter. Dichen collapsed against the ground and scooted towards one of the walls.
Alicia pulled herself raggedly to her feet now safe but very much furious. Her lips pulled back in a snarl and she spotted Whitworth below them still shooting blindly. Below him, the sounds of the dying reached her ears and were soon being drowned out by the sounds of the undead devouring what was left of the living.
She switched her grip on her blade and narrowed her eyes. She took a chance and stepped into his range and cocked her right arm back and thrust forward with all her might with a grunt. The blade left her the moment she felt a burst of pain in her abdomen where Nick had most likely shoved her earlier.
She smiled in immense satisfaction as the blade sunk into Whitworth’s head and he collapsed to the ground, falling prey to the undead as they quickly swarmed his body.
The helicopter stuttered in the turbulent air. She turned around holding onto the ceiling for leverage to face her comrades. Another pocket of air made her gasp in pain. She brought her other hand up, cupping her abdomen. Alicia suddenly felt cold and she stared in shock at the wet blood covering her hand. Her feet stumbled once, twice, and she fell.
At least her family was safe, and Clarke was alive. This time she had killed Cage Wallace, even if he had been the one to kill her.
Thank you for your patience. The next installment should be up sooner rather than later. A special thanks to Sadie for assisting me with editing.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Thanks Sadie for editing.
A thick coat of fog covered the ground. The air was cool, but not unpleasant. The sky was nearly pitch black, and it was difficult to make out her limbs. The only light shining was that of the stars in the sky and the full moon glowing overhead.
Alicia stood in the middle of a deserted street surrounded by buildings disappearing into the darkness overhead. The sound of her feet on the concrete was deafening amongst the stillness of the evening. Alicia was prone to having music playing on her phone. She often used it as a diversion and a way to avoid undesirable social interactions, and most social interactions were undesirable considering she found the vast majority of people idiots.
“Hello?” She called out. Her voice carried in the night even though it was a mere whisper.
This place was familiar, but she could not place why or how she had arrived here.
Alicia walked up the white steps leading onto a piazza. She paused, trying to think of her most recent memory and blinked.
Whitworth. No - Cage Wallace. She had killed Cage Wallace and saved her family while regaining her memories from her previous life.
Nick’s pained and dying image came to the forefront.
The last thing she remembered was collapsing onto the floor of the helicopter and staring into the faces of her long lost comrades. Her brows furrowed, noting the lack of sound and wind in the air. Was she dead?
The sky began to lighten suddenly. The moon fell, and the sun rose brightening the skyline. She blinked at the sudden change, looking around her for a sign of the disturbance. Alicia paused and turned, sensing something behind her. A woman in fitted blue jeans and dark hair stood watching her.
“Hello, Heda Lexa,” the woman said in a pleasant voice, observing her with a patient interest. “You probably don’t remember me. My name is Becca.”
“You’re right, I don’t remember you.” Alicia responded in a clipped tone, after a brief silence. She refrained from correcting her on the use of her former title as Commander of the Twelve Clans.
The woman’s hands folded casually in front of her in response to Alicia’s guarded words and body language.
“Don’t worry, I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help.”
“Am I dead?” The question tumbled from her mouth.
A brief twitch of Becca’s lips betrayed her amusement. “No, you’re very much alive.”
Alicia did not find the line of conversation amusing. However, she couldn’t deny the strong sense of familiarity. She racked her brain trying to place Becca and her eyes widened when she succeeded.
“Becca,” she said at last, nodding to the woman in front of her. Alicia folded her hands behind her back. “The flame?” she questioned, more at ease.
“Destroyed long ago” Becca revealed with a sad smile. More and more questions surfaced in Alicia’s mind. “With or without the flame, the brain remembers in its own way what it has been through.”
“And my memories? How is it possible that I am alive? That so many of us are alive?”
“That’s beyond me. I’m afraid I can’t answer these questions for you, Lexa. I doubt anyone can. Being in another plane of existence does not provide me with omniscience, I’m afraid.”
Becca stepped closer with a glint of humor on her face. Her footsteps were silent on the concrete, reaffirming the idea that this plane of existence was in her mind and not the physical world but no less real.
“What I can tell you is that you’ve been given another chance. Another opportunity, if you will, as have many of the others. You’re special, you and Clarke. This world needs you, both of you.” Becca circled around the trained warrior. “You have an opportunity to exhume this world and re-create it as you were meant to in your previous life. Don’t doubt who you are.” She paused and stared meaningfully into Alicia’s eyes. “You were born for this.”
You were born for this, Clarke. Same as me.
“That being said, do not forget your purpose or forget to live.” Becca’s eyes softened into a fond smile. “Life is about more than just surviving. Don’t we deserve better than that?”
Alicia’s lips parted, transfixed. Her hands relaxed behind her back and settled at her sides.
The sun began to set and the moon rose once more in the sky. The shadows cast against the buildings and flickered with the change.
Her own shadow was different.
While Becca’s shadow was absent, Alicia’s was of a woman wearing battle-hardened paraphernalia.
“We’re out of time.” Becca stated as their eyes locked. “Whether you remember this or not, some part of you will always know who you are. Good luck, Lexa,” she said with sincerity.
A fountain sprang to life in the center of the piazza and a door materialized on one of the nearest building walls adorned with the flames infinity symbol. Alicia watched the woman whom had lived in her subconscious, as the essence of - and creator of - the flame disappear behind its walls.
Alicia opened her eyes groggily. Her eyelids fluttered, and she closed them at the harsh fluorescent light blinking at her from the ceiling. The sheets wrapped around her body were suffocating. Her body ached and she moved her arms, untangling herself from the bed. She managed to prop up on her elbows and gasped at the sudden pain in her abdomen. She dropped back to the bed with a grunt, clenching her teeth.
Gasping, she tugged the sheets in another effort to free herself. Each movement fired the pain receptors in her body. Finally, she freed her legs and moved them over the side of the bed. Her legs hovered over the floor and she touched her feet down slowly onto the flat surface. Her toes curled, adjusting to the cold tile. Alicia noted the sterile recovery room and the hospital gown wrapped around her form. Her hands went to trace across the heavily wrapped wound at her abdomen.
She wondered at the wound, not remembering how it had happened or how she had ended up in this room. The last thing she remembered was Whitworth aiming his weapon and Nick knocking her away from harm.
“Nick!” she gasped.
Alicia stood on shaking legs and attempted to peel away at the tape securing a needle slowly pumping nutrients into her body.
“You don’t want to do that, trust me.” Alicia paused and turned noticing the very reason for her concern resting in a bed nearby. “Dr. Turco is very particular. Well, actually she’s kind of a bitch. She’s stingy on the meds, but I like her. Don’t tell her that though.” Nick staged whispered.
“Nick! Jesus, are you alright?” Alicia sprang to her feet but nearly fell if not for the quick grasp she took of the IV pole. How the hell had she gotten so weak?
“Damnit, Alicia you really need to wait. I’m fine.” Nick said with concern. While his concern was touching, it was also out of character. Not that her brother didn’t love her, he just had a different way of showing it. “I’ve buzzed the help, they’ll be here soon, stay put, or not.”
Nick sighed, watching as Alicia struggled to put one foot in front of the other. She grimaced with each step she took but eventually made it to his side. Alicia collapsed on his bed, out of breath, and he gingerly patted her back. The touch was soothing and she leaned into it, pushing at him until he budged over, making room for her to climb up on the bed with him.
“Take it easy, you’ve been out of it for a while. I’ve only just been allowed to get up myself.” Nick grumbled a few choice words under his breath, clearly not pleased with bed rest.
“Out of it?” Alicia blinked. “How long was I out? You were the one bleeding out last time I saw.”
Nick smiled humorlessly. “Well, we both got shot. I may have died on the operating table twice, but my coma was drug induced and only lasted for two days. You, on the other hand, have been in a coma for eight days.”
Alicia merely blinked at him, taking in the information slowly.
“What?” she asked stupidly.
Her brother was saved from further questioning as the sounds of people approaching stole her interest.
“And here comes the cavalry.” He supplied sarcastically as Madison, Travis, Ofelia and surprisingly Chris along with three unknown people came through the door. Two of them were wearing lab coats and the other was wearing military clothes and well armed.
Madison and Ofelia swarmed Alicia in a series of hugs. Words of comfort and questions bombarded her. Alicia took the greeting in stride, feeling slightly overwhelmed.
“You shouldn’t be out of bed,” said the female in the lab coat. The strangers paused when they saw her in full. All three of the newcomers regarded her hesitantly. “Do you know who I am?”
Alicia’s eyes flickered to her family and opened her mouth to respond. She licked her lips and shook her head negatively. How was she supposed to explain that she did and she didn’t at the same time? The faces were familiar but she could not place them.
The doctor’s shoulders relaxed slightly but the professional air remained. Her hair was pulled back in a neat ponytail and the other doctor at her side smiled. “I’m Dr. Turco, and this is Dr. Sahel. We were wondering when you were going to wake up, let’s take a look.”
Instead of being guided back to her own bed, Dr. Turco began an impromptu check at her current location. Nick vacated the bed to give them more room.
Alicia suffered through the exam as her nerves, reflexes, and wound was looked over. She blinked as the light was shown in her eyes and answered questions appropriately despite the burning need to know what the hell was going on. Her own questions were deflected by a series of others as the two doctors examined her, making notes on their electronic medical record. She complied during the exam, even as the lack of privacy grated on her nerves. So much for patient and physician confidentiality.
“You’re alright, kid” Travis stroked her back after Madison ran a hand over her head. She tried not to flinch away from the caresses, knowing they were reassuring themselves that she was alive and well. She was practically naked in her hospital gown and clearly needed a shower.
Chris remained silent watching over the proceedings in a manner she found out of character. Normally, they tolerated one another at best. There was a reserved respect, and at times jealousy and adolescent anger, but this was different. She couldn’t place this. Perhaps, he was here to find answers to questions she didn’t know as well.
The questions regarding their escape began next and it was soon clear that Alicia’s memory of escaping the ship was lacking. Madison and Ofelia looked at each other meaningfully.
“Everything is looking good,” Dr. Turco announced and Dr. Sahel nodded in agreement. “You’re very lucky.”
Alicia didn’t feel lucky. Or she might have if she knew why exactly she should be thankful.
“Alright,” she said once they had paused in the routine. “Someone explain to me what is going on.” Alicia had been patient enough, all things considered; she could feel the beginning of a headache coming on. Her plea was ignored as the male guard overstepped.
“She’ll want to see her.” The other foreign man stated glancing at Alicia. He assessed her through dark brown eyes looking for something and he almost appeared disappointed with what he found.
“Elyza can wait, Bob.” Dr. Turco said in clipped tones going about her business. “I’m the authority here.” She regarded Alicia with scrutiny. “And you’re going to need a few days of recovery before you go anywhere.”
Bob appropriated a commanding stance puffing out his chest. He frowned towering over the small doctor.
“I think we know who the authority is.”
Dr. Sahel started towards them both but Dr. Turco stilled his advance with a glance.
“Yes,” she said turning to face him, “we do.” The others watched in silence waiting for the confrontation. “But until she comes to me specifically, I’m the badass in charge.”
There was a pause and even the breathing was hushed.
The pair stared each other down until Bob smirked and looked to the side. He backed up and both of their postures changed immediately to a more amicable one.
“Yea,” he said with a shake of his head. “You are a badass.”
“And don’t you forget it,” Dr. Turco added cheekily.
“Like mother, like daughter.”
Dr. Turco stiffened at the words, ignoring them for the most part.
Alicia glanced at the woman looking for similar features. It came as no surprise to her that Elyza was one of the ones in charge of this new place. She had not realized that Elyza and Dr. Turco were family but they did have a similar resemblance and both were quite bossy and headstrong.
The atmosphere changed as Dr. Turco continued with her work. The escape from Whitworth and the ship's demise was briefed to her in detail. Alicia’s eyes widened, hearing of how they escaped. Whitworth was dead and they were safe at Arkadia a post apocalyptic safe haven that none other than Elyza Lex, also known as Wanheda, and her crew had established. Alicia had killed Whitworth and his lackeys with the skill of a seasoned warrior.
Whitworth’s claim that she was a re-incarnated monarch didn’t seem so far fetched now.
Another minute ticked by on the clock posted above the door in the medical ward. Nick scoffed at the damn thing, having watched it for the past three hours while his sister slept a few beds over from him. He, on the other hand, had been tossing and turning in the creaky hospital bed. At one time in his life he would have complained, but now he was actually grateful for the relative safety of this strange place. Thus far, the people of Arkadia were gracious hosts.
He wiggled his legs under the sheets and folded his arms behind his head in pure boredom. He was healing well, if slowly. Dr. Turco had advised him to rest and he’d been doing that for over a week. He wanted out of this fucking bed.
If a bullet in the side were the price to save his sister’s life he’d do it over again. He looked over at Alicia sleeping soundly in her bed. His eyes softened, watching her chest rise and fall in sleep. He had puzzled the last few days over the fierce warrior and the stubborn and annoying sister he had lived with his entire life. They were one and the same but she didn’t look any different to him. At the end of the world Nick had less difficulty believing the impossible, or rather the improbable.
Nick continued to stare at his sister, following the curves of her face until a sound caught his attention. He perked up in bed when he heard the soft footfalls approach from outside the large room. The door creaked open and he calmed recognizing the person in an instant.
“Speak, friend, and enter,” he called in a whisper.
He was not disappointed as a head of braided blond hair was revealed through the cracks of the door. Wanheda, or rather Elyza Lex, reigning authority of Arkadia, opened the door enough to let herself through. The door closed with a soft click behind her and she glanced at Nick and then Alicia. Her expression was relieved and saddened at the same time at seeing the brunette fast asleep.
Elyza walked to Alicia’s side and stared down at her with an unknown expression on her face.
“She’s out. Dr. Turco gave her enough meds to put out an elephant.” He tried and failed to keep the petulant tone out of his voice. What he wouldn’t give for a something to really numb his body and head.
Elyza did not look at him so he took the opportunity to study her. To be truthful, Nick was the only one of his family to have seen Elyza since they had landed in Arkadia. She was busy, they had been told by Arkadia’s officials. Whatever reason she had for staying away, Nick believed it had a lot to do with his sister. If his sister wanted to be the re-incarnation of some warrior queen he was all for it. But the devotion Elyza was showing to Alicia was not one of a subject for a monarchy, or so he suspected. There was respect, of that he was sure, and Nick was not a proclaimed expert on love, but there was something more meaningful between them, or there had been in their previous life.
If there hadn’t been, Elyza would not have deigned to sit at Alicia’s bedside every evening since they had arrived in Arkadia. If that wasn’t devotion, Nick wasn’t sure what was. She also appeared tired and melancholy. Elyza was just like his sister; she was strong, capable, and had the memories and skillset of someone with a lifetime of experience.
“How is she?” Elyza’s question startled him.
She rarely spoke to him during the time she spent visiting his sister in the dead of night when no one else was around to observe them. He noticed she looked tired, or more so than usual. The austere black clothing, braids, and sturdy boots helped promote her badass attitude. He mused on the difficulty of ruling over thousands of people in the apocalypse.
“For someone with a reputation for being so ruthless, you sure care a lot.” Nick hinted none too subtly.
Elyza spared him a brief glance. They had an understanding without actually having had the conversation. It was one of the reasons why he had not told his family that he had seen her. Logically, Nick understood that she had ordered the missiles and destroyed Whitworth’s ship. She had sentenced them to death, but she had also saved them. Elyza Lex was strategic, and she valued her emotions, her humanity even, but she wasn’t consumed by it. It made here effective and that much more dangerous.
“I do care,” she said so softly he wasn’t sure if it was meant for him to hear.
Nick was sure that Elyza did care more than she wanted anyone to believe. “She’s fine,” he sighed, giving her the information she obviously wanted to hear. He watched her shoulders relax and her hand reach out to Alicia’s. “She doesn’t remember what happened.” Elyza’s fingers paused from their action of tracing along the curves of each of Alicia’s knuckles. The tender caress turned into a light grasp.
Nick rarely felt remorse. Well, that wasn’t true. He always felt bad for being an asshole but he sure as hell was sensitive to others’ feelings.
“She had a dream, about some lady named Becca.” Elyza froze and dropped Alicia’s hand.
“What else did she say?” she demanded and checked the volume of her voice quickly.
Nick shrugged at a loss. “Just that she remembered some lady and she was in a city. And some kind of infinity symbol.” He watched her face, trying to discern how much she knew that she wasn’t telling him and his family. “I don’t suppose you know what that means?”
To his surprise she answered honestly. “I do.” Nick got the feeling that she wasn’t used to answering questions but rather giving orders. He waited for her to elaborate but instead she turned back to Alicia.
“I feel obligated to let you know that if you hurt her, I’m going to feed you to the undead piece by piece.” He wasn’t sure what he expected, but the smile that spread across her lips was pleasant.
“I’d expect nothing less. Take care of her. It’s going to be a busy day for you tomorrow.” Elyza said, before walking to the door and nodding in farewell.
Nick watched the door close. Alicia shifted in her sleep and rolled onto her side where Elyza had been moments before. He settled into his bed and closed his eyes finding the will to rest.
Dr. Turco removed the blood pressure cuff from Alicia’s upper left arm. She was on her third day of recovery after waking up from her coma. She felt weak, and her abdomen still hurt if she moved incorrectly, but Alicia wanted to get out of this room badly. Her brother had been cleared to move in with Chris where he was staying, but Nick feigned being ill. Alicia had taken care of him too long to know when he was stable or not. Some part of her thought him sweet as she suspected he was feigning illness to stay by her side. If she admitted it, she felt safer with someone at her side, even if he was privy to her waking up with a scream on her lips. Her dreams were getting more vivid and there were days where she felt as if she were somewhere or someone else.
Alicia held back a wince as Dr. Turco pressed her abdomen.
The door opened and her family and friends walked through being lead by the head guard Bob, Jarod and Marie, Elyza’s second in command Eli, Dichen and Henry. Arkadia had a council of representatives that included Dr. Turco, Henry, Bob, Marie, Ricky, Lindsey, Dichen, Cory, Adina and Zach. She had seen each of them multiple times since waking up in Arkadia.
She appreciated some of their visits more than others and was very wary of Zach, even if he had helped save her family. Lindsey had come in to apologize, in her own odd way. Or more accurately, she said that Alicia was one of the few people to survive her. And that was when she realized that Lindsey had been the one to launch the missiles, under Elyza’s order. Cory was another matter entirely. Alicia felt a strong kinship with him as she did with Dichen and Adina. She trusted them, irrevocably, and she felt a strong sense of pride watching Cory command others so well in his official role as Elyza’s protégé.
Cory and Elyza had indeed seen their ship and had been watching them for nearly a month before deciding to infiltrate. They took a huge risk putting their lives in the hands of strangers. Apparently, it was a calculated risk they had performed before and a way to recruit for their society. It was a test to determine the character of the strangers and how they reacted in the face of adversity.
They had succeeded in impressing them, but the fact that Alicia was a person of note pushed them in favor of attempting the risky venture in first place. It was no secret at this point that Alicia had been Heda Lexa kom Trikru, ruler of the twelve clans, in a previous life. At this point, she believed it. It was hard not to when she was getting deferential treatment and the vast memories and knowledge that she held. Bits and pieces of her old life were coming back to her in random order. It wasn’t as if she felt some split personality, it was more like waking up from a dream. She felt kindred with people she hardly knew, and felt more wisdom and experience than her nineteen years was capable of.
Henry smiled at Dr. Turco and the woman barely repressed her own.
“How are you feeling Heda?” Henry asked her respectfully.
“Better,” she responded getting comfortable with the title. Nick snorted and she stifled the urge to throw her pillow at him.
“Excellent, up for a tour?” While the question was aimed at her, it was Dr. Turco whom he waited for approval.
Travis and Madison fawned over her, even asking a few questions of Dr. Turco. Alicia tolerated the behavior feeling awkward, as Chris’ expression grew jealous. She waved away their concern with deference and stood on two feet. Ofelia subtly steadied her with an arm at her low back. Alicia took comfort at the touch and accepted the cane from her. Ofelia smiled at her with a playful roll of her eyes and Alicia returned it. She would like to walk without the assistive device but truthfully felt more secure with it, as her stamina and balance were still suspect.
Henry led them out of the doors and onto the compound to explore Arkadia, and the promises of life it held. Chris’ eyes burned into the back of her head during the entire tour, and Daniel’s did as well, only she suspected his reasons were vastly different.
The system was set up as much of a democracy as any crude government could hope for after the apocalypse. They had built a strong line of defense in the form of border patrols and infrastructure with technological and human checkpoints. There were faults, even Arkadia admitted to it, but every day they were improving on it and fewer reports of the infection occurred. Other than the large hospital that Dr. Turco had treated her in, there was a military and security base of operations. There were teams dedicated to agriculture (farm station), and others designated to assist with domestic needs. It was crude, but effective, and it was a start. It was sure a hell of a lot better than most of the world was doing.
What Alicia really wanted to know was how exactly this system had come into practice. Many of Elyza’s heads of station and inner circle had been acquainted before the end of the world. Was it possible that she had known it was going to happen?
“What about the prisoners?” Chris asked towards the end of their nearly five-hour tour around the compound, hosting over seven thousand souls of various countries.
Alicia’s muscles groaned in protest, hearing his interest, but she had to admit she was curious as well, despite her fatigue. Security measures had been taken to keep the dead out but there was a distinct lack of mention of internal conflict.
Henry, whom seemed to be very well placed in his role as a diplomat and welcoming committing to new members, ceased speaking. His eyes furrowed, but not in concern more in a subtle challenge, as if daring him to continue down this line of questioning.
“Prisoners?” he asked to clarify and give Chris a chance to back track.
Chris was neither privy to the tension his question had brought nor cared enough to retract his curiosity.
“We have a penalty system in place. Stealing and other small crimes are strikes on your person. People are rehabilitated by completing manual labor, or serving in areas we have need.” Henry began to explain smoothly.
“What about the real criminals? This place can’t be that perfect and safe.” Chris interrupted Henry before he could continue his explanation.
Dichen stepped in front of Henry. Alicia observed as the man conceded watching the almost dangerous looking woman with respect, if a small amount of trepidation.
“You wish to see what we do to our murderers and rapists?” Dichen’s face was stoic and her voice eerily calm, with a hint of danger. Alicia noted the intimidation tactic and silently applauded her. She stared Chris down and the boy did not back down, despite his father's arm on his shoulder holding him back physically and metaphorically. “Come, I’ll show you.”
As a unit, they followed Dichen. Alicia sighed internally, putting more pressure on the cane than she had at the start of the day. Strand and Daniel actually looked curious to see what Arkadia did with those that defied their system. She was not against opposing a system, she was at one time going to be a student at UC Berkeley, but it was important to pick your battles.
“How are you holding up? How’s your stomach?” Eli asked her on their way to a nearby building. He slowed his walk to match pace with her. She frowned hating to seem weak in front of others and stood up taller.
She glanced at him and shrugged trying to appear at ease. “Hurts,” she said simply and then added, “I’ll be fine.”
He smiled with a nod almost expecting her simple answer. His concern was appreciated, as Alicia felt it was coming from Elyza. She was growing irritated at still not having seen the blue-eyed female since waking from her coma. She suspected the woman was busy, but some part of her felt that she deserved acknowledgement.
The final door they approached was guarded by a very stoic and large man. His eyes widened marginally at seeing Alicia. She paused, the flash of emotion and recognition startling her. The man had a long beard and tattoos adorning his face. For some reason she felt the desire to take him into her arms in relief. She also felt…remorse.
Dichen stopped in front of him and his gaze changed to focus on the stern woman now in front of him.
“They wish to see our prisoner’s, Paunovic.”
“As Heda wishes.” He nodded to Alicia observing silently behind Dichen. Alicia stood taller under his gaze as they walked past him into the secured area.
A series of doors lined the halls, all with a single window. The prisoners donned grey jumpsuits and watched curiously through their windows as they walked by. A startling brunette beauty watched them shrewdly as they passed. She maintained eye contact with Alicia for as long as possible.
Two guards approached, escorting a middle aged male prisoner in shackles. As they neared he looked up, startled, and immediately dropped to his knees. The guards tried to get him to rise but he refused and continued to grovel in front of her. He managed to grasp the hem of her pants and hold on.
“Heda, please, I beg your forgiveness! I have waited for the day of your return!”
“Keep moving, prisoner one!” One of the guards ordered and attempted to lift him once more.
Alicia merely stared at him stoically. Something inside of her knew him and even pitied his groveling countenance.
“Did you keep your word, Fleimkepa?”
His eyes widened and he looked down in reverence. “Sha, Heda.”
“Good, continue to serve and obey and all will be well.” The words flowed from her lips easily. She looked at the two guards at his side. “Take him away.” Surprisingly, they understood and obeyed her and the man was lead quietly away, without struggle.
Her brain was in a fog, a jumble of memories swirled on the surface waiting to be released.
“You can’t keep me here! I’ve done nothing I tell you, nothing! You’re all fucking crazy! I didn’t kill 300 hundred of anything, let alone people!”
Alicia blinked, snapping out of her reverie at the yelling coming from a different direction. Three guards were leading a large black male in shackles; he looked crazed and scared. Unlike the other male, she did not recognize him immediately. The rest of her friends and family watched, as he was lead around the corner and out of site.
“I would not pity him. The blood on his hands is insurmountable.” Dichen said to their group after a moment.
“But he just said he was innocent” Madison proclaimed shaking her head. “What kind of system are you running here?”
“There are greater threats than Whitworth out there.” She stepped closer to Madison nearly nose to nose. “You should feel so lucky that we have a system.”
Daniel was nodding in approval in the background.
“He’s not innocent,” Marie, said with stone cold eyes. Ricky grasped her arm in companionship but it did little to settle the flame in her eyes. “He deserves to suffer for what he did.”
“You avenged me, hodnes,” he whispered to her tenderly. “It was another life and that life is over.”
“So wait, he didn’t actually kill anyone? You’re imprisoning him based on the fact of this otherworld crazy bullshit you have going on? You’re a fucking cult!” Chris argued.
“Watch your tongue” Henry cautioned.
“Who else are you holding here?” He challenged and Bob closed in along with Jarod. “And you,” he rounded on Alicia. “You’re speaking another language, it’s like you’re one of them. Who the hell are you?” He narrowed his eyes in accusation.
Alicia folded her hands behind her back regally and bared her teeth. Chris had always been immature and petulant. She thought he was maturing, but at the next moment he would revert back to the same old habits. Only these habits were becoming dangerous. He crowded her and Alicia refused to back down. He moved to shove her shoulder in anger but Ricky intercepted him. The potential blow missed and instead knocked Alicia into the wall behind her. The cane clattered to the ground and she gasped at the sudden pain in her abdomen and the iron taste in her mouth. She tongued her bottom lip and felt the small cut. She wiped the small drops of blood away and met his shocked face. He hadn’t meant to hurt her; however, his face settled and she saw the remorse steadily disappear.
They were lead to a large room afterwards. Alicia deferred the offer of an ice pack for her lip. Although, it was a testament to their resources that they had simple pain modalities. There were chairs on either side of the room, enough for each member of Elyza’s council. The centerfold of the room held a large chair, or rather thrown adorned with swords, spears and what appeared to be bone. It was an interesting piece of décor to be sure.
“I’ll talk to him, I promise,” Travis said, apologizing for Chris, who stood between Bob and Ricky. Madison was looking over Alicia’s face turning it from side to side. She brushed them both aside, especially Travis’ excuse for Chris. She was tired of others taking up his slack. He’d been through hell, but they all had. It was time for him to grow up and stop making excuses for being an asshole. The throbbing in her stomach and her lip almost occupied her from thinking of the reunion with Elyza that was about to occur.
The double doors opened, and Elyza emerged. She walked at a brisk pace and others parted for her. Elyza swept past them and turned to stand in front of the throne with her arms clasped in front. Cory took up position on her left. At the deference she was provided, Alicia almost expected a formal introduction.
Her eyes made contact with Alicia and the depth of emotion was bottomless. Her eyes softened as they scanned her and hardened when she spotted the split lip and guarded stance and the white knuckled grip on her cane.
“I said bring them to me unharmed,” Elyza nearly growled. Her eyes stared accusingly at her people and though Alicia knew some of these people to be Elyza’s friends and confidants, there was enough of a threat to imply that no amount of shared history would save them from her wrath.
Heads bowed and no one spoke. Alicia was surprised that no one dared speak against Chris until Eli bent his head and spoke. He whispered something into Elyza’s ear, and while her face remained impassive, her eyes glanced to him and narrowed looking back out at her audience.
“I see,” she said at last. “You think you’ve been inducted into this society we’ve created in the wake of the end of days.” She titled her head regarding them. “Well, I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you that you’ve not been formally accepted into anything. You’re here because of our generosity. This is an interview, and do not be fooled as to whom it is for. If you wish to stay, I recommend you make friends. You obviously need to start amongst yourselves. This aggression you’ve shown will not be tolerated again.”
Alicia’s ire sparked the longer she listened to Elyza’s words. These were her friends and family, the people that she had survived through the horrors of the world with.
“Strong words for a pirate.” She said coldly.
The room quieted and Elyza stepped down from her throne to stand in front of her.
“Pirate, you say?” A single eyebrow rose and her head cocked to one side.
“You are the one who robbed us.” Alicia challenged boldly, taking a step forward. The others were like statues behind her. She could practically feel the multiple sets of eyes on her.
“You’re the one who let me aboard.” The words were practically a purr. With those words, Elyza had further reduced the space between them.
“And then you left us for dead,” she countered.
“I saved you,” Elyza said through gritted teeth; however, Alicia could see the desperation in her eyes, as if she were trying to convince herself that she had done everything in her power to do just that. She suspected Elyza felt guilt, but Alicia couldn’t fathom why. They didn’t know one another, at least not in this life if she was to go by the stories told to her.
“Yes, a lot of trouble really,” she replied breathlessly.
“I went through all of that trouble to keep you alive.”
The words were spoken so earnestly that Alicia almost forgot about everyone else in the room.
“Why did you?” Why did you save me? She wanted to ask her. Who were we to each other? And why do I want to be closer to you?
“Leave us,” Elyza whispered. At first Alicia thought they were being dismissed. As no one moved Elyza grew impatient and raised her hands up in the air in an impatient gesture looking dismissively at her people. “Leave us,” she issued the order louder and the others began to move.
As her family and friends were issued out of the room Alicia began to grow nervous and at ease all at once. The door slid shut and even the guards at the door stepped outside of the room.
“What do you want with us? With me?” Alicia asked.
Elyza searched her eyes and closed them with a sigh and stepped away. Alicia finally took a breath.
“You can’t keep us here. All of this is going on and you can’t even look at me.” Alicia silently willed her to return to her both physically and emotionally. She felt as if the woman had stepped away and created a barrier between them.
“I’m sure this is a lot to take in,” Elyza began and turned around to face her. Elyza put one hand on a particularly sharp sword on her throne. “Thank you,” she said sincerely. “For helping me protect my people.” The commendation came unexpected but Alicia detected no fabrication in her words or body language.
“I understand. I would have done the same,” Alicia admitted finding the words true.
“I do not intend to keep you here against your will, but most certainly until you are cleared by Dr. Turco.” The concern over her health still perplexed her. “Do you believe in reincarnation?” Would this woman ever not contradict everything Alicia thought she had believed of her?
What the hell are you even talking about? This is stupid. Alicia was thinking all of these things while watching Elyza finger another weapon on her throne.
“It’s a ridiculous idea, no sane person would believe in it,” she blurted haughtily. For she really did believe it was ridiculous. The notion was as preposterous as was the dead coming back to life.
“So is the dead coming back to life.” Elyza walked back down to Alicia a smile playing at her lips. “Why not reincarnation?” She shrugged a shoulder. There was an obvious challenge in her voice, but the playful tone leaked through.
Alicia’s lips upturned in response. “I suppose if I had more evidence, I might be prone to change my mind.”
“Yes, I rather expect an explanation will be necessary. And while I was actually a medical student, I will let Dr. Turco do the honor. She was my mentor after all. And I’m afraid I’m as much a pain in her ass now as I was before the end of the world.”
“Who was I really?” Alicia asked at long last. She had heard and seen the way people spoke of and treated her. She longed to know what kind of leader she had been.
“You were strong,” Elyza paused and corrected, “you still are strong and you were bred to be a leader. Your heart showed no sign of weakness.” Elyza seemed to sense the further questions in her eyes. “We were allies. We protected our people together,” she said empathetically. “We did not always get along, especially at first. In fact, we disagreed more often than not, but we faced everything together. And we changed each other.”
“I want to know more.” Alicia ventured.
I’d like to know more about this place, about you and about who we were together.
Elyza studied her face looking for something. She nodded, “There are many who would be honored.”
Alicia took a step closer and Elyza backed up but stopped herself from retreating completely. “I don’t want them.” The whisper in her voice sounded like a command and she felt Elyza’s body tremble.
“I could show you,” she said at last.
“I’d like that.”
Alicia felt that if anyone could tell her whom she was, who she had been, it would be this woman. There was more that Elyza was not telling her. Perhaps Dr. Turco would be more forthcoming.
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
This isn't the best chapter. Lot's of explanations and I hope it is not too confusing. Just remember everything won't be perfectly plausible. Did y'all enjoy The Walking Dead episode last night? Also, I'm always concerned about the how the chapter views. Is the format ok? Thanks Sadie for editing.
Ofelia rubbed the Band-Aid covering her left brachial vein. The young woman wasn’t the best with needles, but had tolerated the blood draw while Alicia held her hand in support.
Blood draws were standard procedure in Arkadia. The blood panel was performed to reduce risk of contamination and to determine if someone carried any significant diseases or genetic risk factors. Or more importantly, the genetic marker that determined if you were one of the Reborn, as they called themselves. Most of the time the test was performed as soon as new prospects to the colony were introduced.
Part of it was a safety precaution, but as they were inspected for bites and scratches, the blood panel was held off hoping Alicia would be awake to give her consent. The test was only mandatory if you wanted to stay, and most people wanted to stay rather risk living outside the safety of Arkadia’s walls. You would think that a colony consisting of both Reborn and non-Reborn would have more internal conflict. So far, it seemed both parties held a mutual respect and appreciation. In fact, the Reborn were held in such high esteem they were almost revered. The community looked to the Reborn for leadership and Elyza was the leader of them all.
“So how did you and your daughter get all of this started?” Madison asked as she held the cotton ball on her arm while Dr. Sahel set aside the blood samples.
Dr. Turco snorted and Dr. Sahel glanced in her direction but kept silent. Madison looked between the two doctors as she accepted the Band-Aid and rolled down her sleeve. Dr. Turco finished her last note and handed the data pad off to Dr. Sahel and faced them.
“Elyza Lex is not my daughter,” she said firmly. “She was a student in my oncology and neuroscience courses. I was an adjunct professor at her medical school and also one of the head genetic researchers for the CDC.” Dr. Turco clarified.
“Elyza is brilliant, one of my best students.” She hesitated, and the changes in her voice made Alicia suspect that there was something more to her next words. “I took her on as an intern for research I was doing for a new disease that was emerging in small rural communities in South America.”
They looked at each other as the meaning became clear. She had been on the forefront of research for the infection that had decimated the world.
“We were researching it,” Dr. Turco continued, “and trying to find a cure before it spread to more populated cities and created an epidemic.”
“A lot of good that did,” Chris interjected.
Dr. Sahel gave him a dirty look but Dr. Turco continued nonetheless.
“It mutates, quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It also has a very unique cell receptor for a specific neurotransmitter I’ve never seen in any living creature until Elyza.” Dr. Turco paused searching for words and Alicia could tell that the woman was trying to remain professional.
“There was an incident, and Elyza was exposed.”
Elyza was infected. Their eyes widened.
“But she’s-” Ofelia began.
“Alive?” Dr. Turco raised an eyebrow. “Believe me I know. We had no treatments, and we waited for her to die and she very nearly did. We observed and waited. Each day I woke up watching my brightest pupil struggle for her life and blamed myself.” Her face was tired and her eyes were clouded in memories from the past.
“What happened?” Travis asked.
“She didn’t die.” Dr. Turco stated simply. “And we discovered that she bore a genetic marker that was completely unique to her, or so I thought. It was later determined that only those with that genetic marker produce a specific neurotransmitter that binds with the receptors found in the infected.”
“So couldn’t you develop a cure based on this?” Strand queried.
Dr. Sahel shook his head. “It’s not that simple. It’s lethal to most people and we still haven’t developed a cure. Once you’re infected, that’s it.”
“But Whitworth, he thought there was a cure,” Travis reminded them of the deranged man, wanting to save the world and create it in his new image.
The two physicians looked at one another and Dr. Turco sighed. “It’s not that simple. The only way we’ve synthesized a potential vaccine is with bone marrow.”
“But it’s completely experimental at this point.” Dr. Sahel added while Dr. Turco nodded and crossed her arms.
“But that’s something, at least,” Madison hedged.
“The problem is that it requires bone marrow,” Dr. Turco explained. “It requires a lot of bone marrow, to the point where it becomes potentially fatal to the person who is donating the bone marrow. And Whitworth had no limits. He was willing to sacrifice the lives of the Reborn to develop the vaccine on a large scale.”
“But his people were some of the Reborn as well.”
“Precisely. He wanted to create the vaccine and disperse it on a grand scale and kill our people in the process, while protecting his. He was mad. I’m not upset the bastard is dead.” She looked to Alicia and nodded in thanks. Alicia acknowledged the gesture and tried not to squirm.
“What we’re doing here, is creating the vaccine on a large scale with the bone marrow donated from the Reborn that are willing.” Dr. Sahel emphasized. “And that takes time.”
Alicia nodded in understanding. The Reborn were saving the world. That’s why everyone in Arkadia was so content to be lead by them.
“But how does that explain your leader?” Daniel voiced.
“Elyza escaped the facility,” Dr. Turco commented; however, it was heavily implied that she had set Elyza free without anyone’s knowledge.
“As her body fought the infection, it also had the side effect of re-awakening her Reborn memories. She left, gathered those that were trustworthy from her past and prepared for the end of the world. She was looking for particular individuals. She still is.” Alicia squirmed under the unspoken suggestion.
“I helped her and kept in contact the best I could. The outbreak was getting worse and the only way to save everyone was to trust her.”
“Why trust her though? Didn’t you think she was crazy?” Nick shrugged.
“I did,” Dr. Turco admitted. “But I’m a scientist and a medical professional. I believe in hard empirical evidence. She remembered me. I tested myself and I have the same genetic marker, not only that but our DNA suggests that we are related, which is impossible unless at one point in time or universe we were related. That’s why I’m known as her mother, because I was in my previous life. I’m one of the Reborn.”
Silence fell across the room as they all digested the surplus amount of information. It was no wonder Elyza relied so heavily on Dr. Turco. Not only was she her mentor but the woman had also been her mother in a previous life. A mother that Elyza remembered and obviously loved if their interactions were anything to go by.
“Are you-” Ofelia began to question.
“No,” Dr. Turco cut her off. “I do not possess my memories nor do I intend to get myself infected. It’s practically suicide. The aggression of the bite is the only way the process is triggered. Alone, the infection has no affect on the Reborn, although it kills and transforms a regular person just the same as if they were bit or scratched.”
“So Elyza, created all of this, while the world was falling apart?” Nick said, impressed.
Dr. Sahel handed Dr. Turco a newly printed folder with the results of their blood tests. “She’s special,” she murmured scanning the results. “And it appears that some of you are as well.” She looked up from the paperwork. “Do you wish for your results in private?”
They all shook their heads negatively. “Very well then. You may have a copy if you’d like. But two of you have the genetic marker of the Reborn, and one of you is undetermined.” She squinted puzzling over the undetermined result. “Are you sure you wish to have these read aloud?”
No one said otherwise, surprisingly. “Very well, Alicia and Ofelia carry the genetic marker, and Chris’ results are undetermined.”
They looked at one another awkwardly for a minute and Alicia regarded Ofelia with surprise. The other woman appeared uncomfortable under the stares, but she did not seem shocked by the news.
“Ofelia?” Daniel questioned his daughter. “Did you know?”
“What do you want me to say?” she shook her head firmly with a sigh. “I didn’t know for sure but ever since I met Alicia, I’ve felt things.” She shuffled, refusing to meet Alicia’s eyes.
Dr. Turco nodded. “Specific people can instigate memories or even thoughts and feelings. It won’t bring the full change, but we do have documented cases where Reborn people have found each other and felt a connection.”
“What kind of connection?” Madison hesitated slightly.
Dr. Turco shrugged and re-crossed her arms. She leaned against one of the counters and Dr. Sahel answered in her stead. “Some people described it as kindred spirits, soul mates that kind of thing. Either way, your status as a Reborn gives you options and status.”
“Because we’re potential bone marrow donors for the vaccine?” Chris scoffed but there was arrogance in his tone as if he felt he now held the upper hand.
“They are,” Dr. Turco motioned to Alicia and Ofelia. “You, however, are not.”
“What? That’s not what you just said!” Chris stood tall and tense.
Dr. Turco did not respond to his anxious behavior. “Your results are inconclusive.”
“Then run them again.”
“That’s not how it works” she responded patiently.
“Chris,” Travis put a hand on his son’s shoulder attempting to calm him.
“This is dumb.” Chris brushed his father off and left through the hospital doors in a huff.
Despite the obvious threats and tension in the beginning, they had elected to stay within the relatively safe walls of Arkadia for the immediate future. It had been 22 days since they had been rescued and fled the sinking ship lead by the deranged Whitworth.
However, staying had its price. Each of them began to take on responsibilities and learn trades to assist with the community. Alicia and Ofelia had yet to donate bone marrow, which wasn’t possible as they were not full-fledged members of Arkadia or completely recovered from their injuries. Either way, the generosity was unexpected after so long out at sea and living in a world where you were constantly looking over your shoulder and expecting the very worst of people.
Daniel had found a job with Arkadia’s security and defenses, while Strand had taken well to diplomacy and working with Arkadia’s few neighboring communities, most of which were not nearly as impressive but amicable and worthy of trade. Travis had found a routine with the fractured school system that was in sore need of development, and needing an educational structure for over three hundred children ranging from infants to unruly teenagers. Alicia’s own mother was offering her services of counselor to the citizens of Arkadia. She even had a simple office and the appointment slots continued to grow until it became a full workday. Madison had been an excellent counselor before, and these days it seemed like everyone was in dire need of emotional support.
Yet, how much could you really recover once you stepped over the ledge? When was a person too far gone? She doubted anyone had the answers. Either way, it was nice to see her mother back doing something that she was good at.
Nick was getting along pretty well within Arkadia. He may have been better adjusted for the craze that had been the unstructured fall of humanity, but he was still adjusting as they all were. If there was an underground drug market in Arkadia, he either hadn’t found it yet, or there wasn’t one. There was the off hand chance that he was also maturing, which she had been suspect of for quite some time. He was often seen smiling while working as a lab assistant for the two pharmacologists Arkadia had. Nick did have a great deal of knowledge about prescription and non-prescription medications. At first, Alicia was wary that he was stealing some of the more choice pharmaceuticals, but his pupils were never blown and he wasn’t showing any other signs of a high or withdrawal. Nick was well liked by the hospital staff overall. He also had a great rapport with the two female occupational therapists, which he flirted with on a regular basis.
Ofelia found solace in giving the occasional haircut and caregiving at the hospital to the few sick that occupied its walls. She was great at it. She was patient and kind as well as stern. She knew when to push and when to lend a supportive shoulder. She had grown so strong over the time Alicia had met her and they spent most of their days with each other when not otherwise occupied.
Chris was working in agriculture this week, after having been dismissed from the last job rather vocally. Out of everyone, he was having the most difficult transition, to put it mildly. He was either overly vocal about his displeasure, or eerily silent.
As for Alicia, her situation was more peculiar than anything. She floated from shadowing Elyza’s council members and spending time with the woman herself. It was a decision made out of respect, but she tried to take on some of the more menial tasks where she could, to feel part of the community. When she did it felt rather forced at times and she struggled to remain poised due to the Reborn that did know of her or the other members of Arkadia that respected her because of her blood status or simply the fact that Elyza cared for her.
Alicia could not deny that Elyza showed her preferential treatment. She was always respectful, and often asked for opinions on matters of government.
Government. That was an odd way to think of Arkadia. Yes, they were lacking the three branches of government, but this wasn’t America, and this was the new world. So far, what they had was working. There were checks and balances built in (thus the council members) and there were elections for trivial matters, to make the populace feel as if they had some control in their lives. People were happy enough to be safe and know that they were at the forefront of a community that was developing a cure. The heads of state, so to speak, were self-appointed, but people were willing to overlook that because they were all Reborn, and no one was forcing anyone to stay.
It would be interesting to see what would happen or change when the vaccine was fully developed and how Elyza and her people would choose to distribute it. Would they share their secret on how to produce it or would they hold it over their enemy’s heads and make them beg?
Yes, for now Arkadia was stable.
“Hey, pay attention.” Lindsey scolded her from underneath the carriage of the truck she was working on. Alicia blinked and passed her the requested tool.
“You’re a lot nicer to her than you are to me.” Eli winked at Alicia in jest.
He was sitting on a large tire tinkering with an old watch. He was her assigned escort for the day, and the two of them had been about to visit Henry for an update on a produce shipment from another community when the truck they were going to use broke down. Lindsey had graciously offered to assist them as she so eloquently reminded them during the entire time she fixed the truck.
“She’s cuter than you are.”
Lindsey rolled out from under the truck and wiped her hands on her already dirty trousers. She opened the hood and Alicia moved into the drivers seat. At the signal she turned the key in the ignition and it sputtered to life. Lindsey fist pumped in the air with glee. Alicia merely raised an eyebrow at the overt display of enthusiasm.
Lindsey shrugged and cleaned her hands on a rag. “I had a bet going. Dichen thinks this truck is scrap. She now owes me favors, of the sexual kind,” she waggled her eyebrows suggestively and Alicia shook her head in amusement.
“Well, now that’s done we can make our last visit for the evening.” Lindsey raised a single eyebrow in disbelief at his statement. Eli stood at the sound of galloping hoof prints that made them all turn in unison.
Marie and Ricky slowed their horses as they neared. The pair had been scheduled to accompany them outside the border along with another handful of armed soldiers. Ofelia was riding behind Marie and slid slowly to the ground with a little assistance.
“Wait, you’re saying princess is going to let her one true love outside the castle?” There was strong disbelief in her tone. Lindsey ignored the newcomers and Alicia couldn’t help but glare in her direction, no matter how much she enjoyed the other woman’s company or admired her.
“I’d stuff it if I were you,” Marie commented patting her horse. “No one talks about Heda like that, especially in front of Elyza.”
“Heda is right here,” Alicia grumbled. Ricky grinned and took out an apple and tossed it in her direction. She pulled out a switchblade from her pocket and began to slice the fruit handing Ofelia slices in between eating her own. “If I regain my memories, I’m going to exude enough authority that there will be plenty of groveling.”
“Very fierce,” Ofelia laughed cleaning the juice that had run down Alicia’s chin. The others stiffened at the affectionate display and it did not go unnoticed by the others.
Alicia awkwardly moved away feeling as if she had done something wrong.
“I don’t think I’d want to know who I was before,” Ofelia admitted after a pause. “I have this feeling that something tragic happened.” Her eyes were lost in thought for a moment and when she sobered her face was calm. “I’m a different person and I’ve been given a second chance.” The others nodded respectfully and looked at one another. “The memories happen randomly right? How did yours start?”
Ricky and Marie looked at each other somberly. They were immersed in the past for many moments until Ricky laced his fingers with his wife’s and spoke.
“They can happen all at once or slowly. Ours were immediate. You don’t remember everything. Just bits and pieces, and usually the emotions more than anything. We were each other’s triggers. I was studying to be a nurse and my car broke down when I was heading back for the new semester. I took it to a garage that Marie was working at.”
“I was really glad I decided to be a mechanic that day” Marie said with a wistful smile.
“Well you should have been the one fixing the truck instead of me wasting my precious time. I could be building something actually important” Lindsey grumbled.
The two women bickered companionably for a few more moments.
“But don’t you have to get bitten?” Ofelia asked in curiosity interrupting the easy atmosphere.
“Yea,” Ricky looked at Marie.
The group silenced until Lindsey huffed and unbuttoned her pants. She pulled down her pants and flashed them her heavily scarred left thigh. The skin was puckered and lined with thick scar tissue of various unnatural skin tones. Once she deemed they had gotten a good enough look she hiked up her pants.
“I was working at NASA HQ when shit hit the fan. Dichen was one of the security guards. We’d been secretly screwing for a few months, but I was trapped and she came back for me. We both almost died in the process.”
“You don’t just go asking people,” she advised Ofelia. “If they’re Reborn and they’ve got all of their memories, then they’ve been infected aka bit, scratched, whatever. Besides, if you haven’t noticed, a lot of us have some serious issues and trauma and don’t like to remember certain details.”
“Elyza was my trigger,” Eli said breaking the tense silence that had descended upon them. “She found me cornered in an abandoned school yard surrounded by infected and killed every last one of them. My parents were long dead before then.” He stood up and entered the truck closing the driver’s side. Marie and Ricky both put their foot in their harnesses and sat tall on their horses once more.
“You better go, before the offer to explore the outside expires.” Lindsey opened the passenger door and Alicia jumped in and closed the door. Eli took the truck out of park and started out of Arkadia.
Alicia and Ofelia shared a glance. “Be careful,” she whispered as Alicia nodded. She watched Lindsey and Ofelia step away from the vehicle in her rear view mirror.
“There’s some protective gear in the back, and a firearm. Just because we get along with a few people outside Arkadia doesn’t mean it’s always safe.”
Alicia did as instructed while contemplating their stories. The more she heard the more she wanted to remember. If only there was a way to go about it that wouldn’t get her killed in the process.
The gates opened. Alicia loaded her weapon with satisfaction. The horses grunted as they galloped alongside the vehicle. Arkadia’s gates grew more distant as they left the safety of their borders.
Chapter 11: Reborn character reference (spoilers!!!)
I like to know things and I respect that other ppl do as well. lol The following may contain spoilers. You may or may not see all of these characters but they are around. This is a key specific members of the Reborn. The left state their former name and to the right is the present day name, country of origin and any extra details. I hope this helps. I might add more to this later.
Monty- Christopher South Korean (council member)
Raven – Lindsey American (council member)
Octavia-Marie Canadian (council member)
Lincoln-Ricky Canadian (council member)
Wells- Eli Canadian (council member, Elyza's trusted counselor)
Finn- Thomas American (council member)
Bellamy- Bob Australian (council member and member of security team)
Jasper – Devon Canadian
Indra – Adina American (council member)
Kyle Wick - Steve American
Nathan Miller- Jarod Canadian
Murphy – Richard Canadian
Roan – Zach American (council member)
Anya- Dichen (council member)
Aden- Cory (honorary council member as Elyza's protege)
Marcus Kane-Henry Cusick (council member and Arkadia Ambassador)
Cage Wallace- Johnny Whitworth
Ontari- Rhiannon Fish (current prisoner of Arkadia)
Doctor Jackson - Dr. Sachin Sahel
Gustus-Aleks Paunovikc (council member and guard of the prison system at Arkadia)
Ceilia Reid- Roma bragg
There are 12 total council members not including Alicia or Elyza
Team that rescues Alicia and her family from the Whitworth- Dichen, Cory, Marie, Ricky, Adina, Zach
Chapter 12: Chapter 11
Thanks to Sadie for getting this chapter post worthy. I hope ya'll enjoy. I think there are a few scenes that you have been waiting for. I'll be at Clexacon next week. Anyone else going? I am so excited!
The more time Alicia spent with Elyza, the more she never wanted to leave her side.
This overwhelming urge had been present nearly from the time they had met aboard the Abigail. While she found the connection between them peculiar, it was also comforting. It was a natural transition that Elyza and her people welcomed. She reminded herself that many of Arkadia’s people had been lead by her. Many of them remembered the time when she had ruled in Polis, and it was difficult to dissociate between Lexa kom Triku and Alicia Clark. Eventually, she stopped trying to separate the person they believed her to be and the young woman from Los Angeles. She was comfortable speaking with the Reborn, and in turn, she spent more time with them. She suffered a few comments of distrust from her family, but Daniel was oddly in accordance with her newly found relationship with Elyza. Perhaps he felt she was infiltrating? Or maybe because it meant she spent less time alone with Ofelia?
Elyza and Alicia spoke of trivial matters as often as they debated over serious issues of government. When they agreed on a topic, they were limitless, when they disagreed it was like raw lightning clashing in the heavens. Above all, they grew together as a team confronting members in Arkadia as a unified front. Alicia took on more responsibilities in Arkadia’s government. Thus, Alicia was often accompanied by Dichen, Adina, Henry, Eli and Cory, among others of the inner council.
The people of Arkadia were cared for and in return they showed their regard and respect for their heads of leadership, including Alicia. It was oddly familiar, and she was content with the new unofficial position finding that she was very capable at politics, a fact that both appalled and thrilled her.
Alicia and Elyza ate lunch together, and sometimes dinner if they ran later in their business. At times they stole bites of food from the others plate or traded food as they learned what the other preferred to eat. The fact that they were able to be picky with food was novel. Alicia really missed the convenience of grocery stores. When she voiced this, Elyza smirked and nodded in agreement.
“I miss the 24 hour ones that were stocked with liquor. Those were always needed after exams.”
They continued to joke for a few moments longer until a shot rang in the hall. A scream quickly followed, as did the unmistakable growls of the undead. Elyza tossed blonde hair out of her face and quickly grabbed her firearm holstered at her waist.
“Get behind me,” she ordered without so much as a glance.
More shots reverberated but the growls persisted. Alicia jumped at the sudden pounding and scrapes at the door. She looked around frantically grabbing the nearest weapon, which happened to be a spear. She twirled the long weapon around gracefully pointing it at the door in the ready. Elyza glanced at her while maintaining her focus at the door.
Alicia rocked on the balls of her feet as three of the undead burst through the doors. They were slower than a healthy human, but quick nonetheless. Elyza put one down with a quick shot to the skull and Alicia thrust the spear behind her back with momentum and sliced the dead arm clear off that reached out to grab her. Seeing the appendage flop to the ground twitching caused a spike of pride to rush through her. The creature did not care that it was missing an arm, (it still had teeth after all) but luckily the spearhead was sharp and she was able to sever the head completely from the body. It rolled along the floor and she caught it with her boot and thrust the blade into the eye socket. Blood oozed and she tried to ignore the sound as she tugged the weapon free.
A growl and a shot came from behind her and she turned to see the final undead creature amble over to her and converge on her in hunger. Her reflexes were too slow and Elyza’s shot had hit its shoulder. She stumbled and fell harshly to the ground, grasping its shoulder, trying desperately to push it away from her. Her heart fluttered like a hummingbird and she fought wildly from underneath it.
Another shot rang out and the body on top of her stopped its pursuit and slumped onto her. Alicia sighed in relief and felt all of her muscles instantly ease despite the bodily fluids soaking her clothes and tainting her skin. Her side ached and she wondered if she had been shot again or if her old wound had been aggravated.
“Fuck! Oh my god, Alicia!”
The cry was obviously Elyza but it sounded so strange and unusually vulnerable and fearful. The body was rolled to the side and she coughed, relieved to have the weight off of her chest. It was soon replaced with another body, this one very much alive and practically sobbing into her neck. Alicia stared up at the ceiling trying to catch her breath. Her chest heaved up and down with the force of her inhales and exhales, and with the additional weight atop her.
She blinked, feeling the hot tears sliding down her neck. She closed her eyes and gently, so as not to startle the frantic woman sobbing on top of her, wrapped her arms around Elyza’s shoulders.
Elyza began to shake uncontrollably, and speak in a mixture of English and Trigedasleng. Her concern grew when Elyza showed no signs of calming any time soon.
Multiple feet pounded outside and no less than seven people showed up in the door battle ready.
Adina drew her blade fiercely scanning the area for threats. Alicia still found it oddly comforting, seeing how many of the Arkadia’s residents preferred the use of older weapons instead of guns. Despite the benefits of bullets, she found them in poor taste and preferred a blade forged of steel.
“Wanheda? Heda?” Someone barked in a firm voice.
“We’re fine,” Alicia, grunted, “I think,” she whispered, trying to look down at the blonde still sobbing on top of her.
“Elyza?” she whispered, although it came out hoarse and broken. “I’m okay, we’re fine.”
She heard the others disposing the undead bodies, and Adina’s anger at the breach in their security. Apparently, they had more enemies outside of Arkadia than they had been made to think.
Elyza pushed herself up and proceeded to inspect every inch of Alicia’s body for injury. She traced her hands along Alicia’s face, over exposed flesh and under clothes. At the sight of the scar from the bullet wound courtesy of Whitworth, Elyza froze. Her hand shook over the puckered and slightly pink flesh. Instantly, all of the color drained from her face. Elyza shoved herself away from Alicia with a whimper and stood on unsteady legs. She grasped onto the nearest stable pieces of furniture and stared at Alicia with hollow eyes. Or rather, she stared right through Alicia unseeing and unhearing of the voices around her.
Alicia propped up on her elbows and debated whether or not she should approach the unhinged woman.
Elyza’s lips moved soundlessly and she shook her head in disbelief. She was out of the door the next instant, running from whatever horrors were in her mind. Alicia’s chest constricted painfully at seeing the strong woman undone. She could only stare after her in silence and concern.
No one would speak to her of that day. Days passed before Alicia saw Elyza again. She contemplated over what had happened and besides the near death situation (which had happened so many times she had long since believed she was beyond any form of helpful therapy) she was more concerned about Elyza. She recognized anxiety and panic attacks; she had seen and experienced too many since the end of the world. But that was more, that looked like a flashback, more like post traumatic stress disorder, not that she was an expert.
It became evident that Elyza was avoiding her. Furthermore, she was getting help avoiding her. It was as if Elyza’s friends were protecting her from Alicia. Alicia tried, to no avail, speaking with Dichen, Adina, Cory and even that overly large silent bearded man that had taken to following her like a lost puppy. It puzzled her and it made her fear for Elyza more.
It was during these days of silence that Ofelia and her had decided to make the sacrifice and volunteer as bone marrow donors. After the attack, she had learned from Henry, very reluctantly, that Arkadia had enemies. In particular, there was a woman that had named herself Queen on a nearby land and ruled with brute force and fear. Unlike Whitworth, these people didn’t want the cure, they wanted to obliterate everyone in Arkadia, especially Elyza and Zach. It was a complicated mess made simple by the fact that this Queen was trying to destroy Arkadia by infiltrating with the undead. Although, the attack would be devastating, the Queen didn’t realize how far along they were with developing a successful vaccine.
Alicia lay on a bed in the hospital recovering from the bone marrow extraction, along with Ofelia. Dr. Turco had initially hesitated before accepting Alicia as a donor, but Alicia was persistent, if not convincing. A few more days recovering in the hospital were nothing if it meant she could protect her new home and the people that lived here.
Daniel had been surprisingly calm and did not voice a complaint to Ofelia’s decision to be a donor. Alicia was grateful for Travis and Madison’s presence as she woke from her sedated state. Even Nick came to see her, but Chris was nowhere to be seen.
Alicia waited in vain for Elyza to visit her until visiting hours officially ended.
Evening had set in and it was morbidly silent. Ofelia was in the restroom and Dr. Turco was finishing up a few last minute details before leaving for the night.
“Is Elyza alright?” Alicia asked, trying to make sure her words were clear despite the slight drug induced state she was in.
Dr. Turco glanced at her. She figured if anyone knew how Elyza was doing it, would be Elyza’s reincarnated mother. Even if the woman was strangely reluctant to speak about their relationship, they seemed to work very close together.
“I know she’s strong.” Alicia countered and felt the need to explain to this woman how strong Elyza was. “But everyone has a breaking point,” she continued. “And that wasn’t,” her lips felt chapped and slightly numb as she licked them and wondered if that was from the morphine coursing through her veins. “She was somewhere else,” her voice slowed in contemplation, relieving the moment where Elyza lay collapsed on top of her.
Dr. Turco sighed. “This is in breach of patient doctor confidentiality, but this isn’t in her medical chart and Elyza is not formally my patient.” Alicia blinked looking at the stern features of her face. The small wrinkle around her brows softened her features allowing the concern to show through her normally professional demeanor. “And she had hasn’t been diagnosed. Elyza won’t talk to anyone, not Eli, Cory, no one, about what transpired before.”
Her suspicions about post traumatic stress disorder resurfaced. Alicia waited watching as the woman searched her face. After a moment she seemed to find the correct words before forging ahead.
“I normally don’t like to disclose information about another Reborn or their past life if they have not remembered on their own and undergone the change. However, for documents sake, we have records of everyone’s accounts as they have freely given of what they experienced previously. Much of the time, individuals are able to identify another Reborn even if the other person is not cognizant of their other life.”
Dr. Turco’s gaze shifted to where Ofelia was in the restroom preparing for bed.
“Someone has recognized Ofelia?” Alicia asked in a whisper. The other woman was vocal about not wanting to be privy about her former life.
Dr. Turco nodded. “Your death,” she commenced while watching Alicia very carefully, “undid a great many people and nearly ended a regime.” Her heart hammered in her chest. She didn’t know how she died before but it explained the way people spoke and looked at her, including Elyza.
“Elyza saw me die,” Alicia realized, “she was there.” Dr. Turco stared at her without a word confirming Alicia’s suspicion about the horrific way she had died and the depth of their relationship. There were times that she felt as if she knew how Elyza felt or what she was going to do next. She felt connected to her on a deeper level than anyone she had ever known.
The door to the private restrooms creaked open and Ofelia stepped out, leaning on her IV pole slightly. The young woman looked tired but she smiled thinly and made her made to her bed. She glanced at them both and got into bed.
Dr. Turco gave them a few instructions for the evening and bid them good night. Alicia stared up at the ceiling as Ofelia drifted off into sleep. Her mind raced with knowledge that her death still haunted Elyza, and probably always would.
Once Alicia was discharged she took it upon herself to seek out and speak with Elyza. She was not an easy woman to find as her duties kept her very occupied. Alicia felt like she may have been stalking her, but felt Elyza wanted to be found. She knew this because of how everyone confided in her about Elyza. At first they were protective but now they had somehow decided she was what Elyza needed to heal. They wanted Alicia to find her and knew Elyza had been looking for Alicia too long to let things stay as they were now. They needed one another and their people did.
It was times like these she wanted her memories back. If only she could realize the true extent of her potential, if only she had all of her memories back and she could remember enough to protect her people.
The wall at her back was cold. She was happy to have energy once more but she was more sensitive to the cold and the evening air was beginning to turn colder. Paunovick emerged from around the hall corner and she stepped off of the wall to great him.
“Heda,” he nodded to her respectfully.
She returned the gesture and on instinct held out her right arm and waited for him expectantly. He was hesitant at first but he grasped her forearm a second later with a firm but gentle grip.
He had become one of her best resources for information on Arkadia. The right side of his face was gruesomely scarred from where an undead had nearly ripped off and eaten his face. It made him appear horrifying to most ignorant people, but it also afforded him an advantage for being the head of security for the compound. Alicia thought it made him look sad more than anything, or perhaps that was merely how he looked at her. His disfigured features made her proud of him, proud of his will to live. Paunovick was strong. He wanted so much to please her, and she felt a strong kinship with him.
She knew it was taboo to discuss certain things with other Reborns, especially those that had not been Awakened.
Either way, she felt the need to ask him, even if she had her own suspicions, or rather her own inkling of her memories.
“We were close.” Alicia stated after she had released his arm.
He nodded, staring steadily at her without hesitation or fear. He appeared ready to answer or do anything she might ask and she did not want to take advantage of his loyalty.
“We left each other on good terms?”
“We did, Heda,” his voice was a quiet but soothing rumble.
“But we left each other too soon,” she said, studying his face very carefully.
He said nothing for a moment. “I would have done anything for you, I still will. You are the one that will unite everyone.”
“Elyza’s doing that,” she corrected.
“You will lead us better together,” he admitted, and it looked like the words were said begrudgingly.
“Jus drein jus daun” Alicia quoted seriously. “I remember these words.” He stilled and stayed silent. “Jus drein nou jus daun. I also remember those words.” Alicia looked inward trying to find the answers to questions she wasn’t sure how to ask.
“Trust yourself, Heda,” he spoke respectively. “I did what I thought was best for you, but I should have trusted in you more. It is one of my deepest regrets and one, which I will never repeat. I have faith in you.”
“She was your choice then, if she is now I will stand by you. She is a worthy and respectable leader.”
Alicia smiled slightly. “She’s special.”
“So are you,” he countered with his eyes seeing into her.
His confidence inspired her and she straightened. She nodded to him silently, thanking him for his strength and support. They left to find Elyza.
Elyza was an enigma and very hard to track down. She mistook every blond haired person with braids for Elyza at first. She grew frustrated until Paunovick grabbed her arm suddenly. She was about to shake off his grasp with an irritated snarl until he put a finger to his lips and signaled to the hall next to them where Elyza was walking, escorted by two guards.
The two guards noticed them almost immediately and it was a credit to their training that they neither startled nor made Elyza aware that they had spotted them. They nodded to Paunovick and he responded in kind.
“She is going back to her quarters shortly,” he said after the three of them had passed. “You will be able to speak with her there, and no one will hinder you.”
Alicia nodded and they took another route to Elyza’s chambers. She was relived that she was about to meet with her in private. If she knew anything at all it was that they were both deeply private individuals and transparent in their feelings, based on Elyza’s actions and Alicia’s words. They communicated differently but responded to each other as natural as breathing.
The guards outside of Elyza’s door and nodded to her. Paunovick took up post outside as well with an encouraging look. Alicia was allowed entry without pretense. It was welcoming and also disturbing especially since the recent attack that had escalated to this event. Although, she supposed Paunovick was the head of security and everyone knew who she was at this point.
Celebrities and heads of government were often criticized, and now she was one of them. There probably weren’t many of the original ones left anyway. She doubted that any of the Real Housewives could make it out of the apocalypse unscathed. She idly wondered if they would deteriorate slower based on aesthetic surgical interventions.
The door hardly made a sound as she entered the room. She felt her stomach curl in apprehension but forced herself to remain calm. The room was sparsely decorated, but there were a few worn chairs and a couch in the middle of the large room. It was weird being in Elyza’s personal space without her consent and it made Alicia feel slightly guilty.
A moderately sized bed was immaculately decorated with throw pillows and tight corners. She had a feeling that Elyza was not the one responsible for making the bed, if the rumpled blankets of the couch were anything to go by. The brief thought of someone else sharing this room with Elyza angered her. Alicia had spent enough time with Elyza to know that she was not romantically involved with anyone. Jealousy was overpowered by concern and she wondered if Elyza was getting enough sleep. It saddened her that any sleep disturbances might have to do with her.
The lights were dim but there were also a few candles decorating the room, adding a low level ambience that calmed her. Elyza was nowhere to be seen. It looked as if there might be another space around the corner but she was distracted by a large folder on the table near the arm chairs.
Her fingers reached out of their own accord before her brain could say otherwise. The first sturdy piece of paper was taken out of the folder before she could stop herself. It was a beautiful charcoal drawing of a very large tower surrounded amongst trees. Smoke arose from the top of the tower and Alicia set the drawing aside, breathing a little faster.
There were so many of them, some of faces she had seen around the compound, of Elyza’s council and guards, but all of them dressed in threadbare clothing or as imposing warriors. Her eyes scanned each one of them in succession placing them and recalling names and customs.
Aden and the Night bloods. Cory.
Polis. The Capitol. Her home.
The feelings were what she really associated with. There was fondness when she thought of Gustus and pride when she thought of Anya and warmth for Aden.
And the next one was of her. She made an imposing figure standing before a throne much like Elyza’s now, dressed in sturdy boots, a coat with buckles and large cape falling over one shoulder. Her hair was pulled back from her face and a gear adorned her forehead, a symbol of leadership. She knew without a doubt there were other things under this woman’s clothes in the drawing, the drawing of her. Absently, she touched the back of her neck feeling, the smooth skin in confusion.
Her fingers were slightly shaking as she set the drawing down. She was about to put them all away before her eyes caught on another artistic depiction of her, except this one was different. Here she wasn’t imposing or holding her arms behind her back in challenge. No in this pose, she was soft, and quiet. Her braids were absent and her face lacked any strife. There was a soft twinkle in her eyes and a smile gracing her lips. Her eyes held love and adoration. In this image, she knew love.
The whisper snapped her back to reality and from the fog of memories. The picture slipped from her fingers as she saw Elyza standing behind her. She was dressed for bed wearing a robe and her hair was slightly damp and lacking her usual adornments.
Alicia made to speak but Elyza beat her to it observing the scattered drawings. “Those aren’t finished yet.” The words were spoken without thought, but Elyza seemed upset with them.
“I shouldn’t have pried, they’re very good.”
Elyza shrugged and walked over gathering them. “I used to draw a lot before medical school and then after all of this. It helped pay the bills.”
Alicia handed Elyza the drawing of herself.
“This is me.”
“It is.” Elyza said tracing a finger along the paper lovingly. “It was nice to have the live model on the ship.”
Alicia recalled when Elyza had drawn her and left the coordinates on the same drawing to lure them here.
“Why did you let us go? Why not just tell us?” Alicia asked. There were so many things she wanted to ask, but Elyza was always a difficult one to get information from. She spoke diplomatically and her thoughts and emotions were in her actions.
“I wanted you to have a choice,” she began in earnest. “It was stupid of me, especially because of the way the world is now but,” she licked her lips and Alicia was drawn to the flash of pink. “Too often I do what I think is right and I wanted you to choose for yourself. I wasn’t sure if you were even similar to the person you were before.”
She hesitated and squared her jaw. “I saw you, before,” she gestured, referring to the apocalypse.
“You were touring the Berkley campus with your mother. I was visiting a friend, and the minute I saw you, I knew you were special. There was something about you.” Her voice was wistful. “I remembered some of it, bits and pieces at first, and you, always you.”
Her words caught with the depth of emotion in her voice. “I kept having visions when I went back home. You looked so happy then. Just a normal girl without the world on her shoulders. And then…”
“You were infected and the world went to shit.” Alicia finished for her and Elyza smiled ruefully.
“Yeah, and I remembered everything. I remembered you.” The intensity on Elyza’s gaze was stifling.
Alicia couldn’t stop herself from stepping closer to Elyza and brushing a wet lock of hair away from her face.
“Is this another world or life?”
Elyza shook her head and shrugged. “I looked for Polis, I couldn’t find it anywhere in the world or in history. I don’t know.”
“Why do you remember more than anyone else?”
Elyza’s brows furrowed. “I’m not sure, but Cory remembers more than others as well. I think it has to do with the Night Blood but it’s just a theory. Even then nothing comes back completely without the bite from the infected. Something about the violence of the bite activates the dormant cells waking us up. Some of us regained part of our memories with a severe concussion like Eli. But it’s only permanent when bitten.”
Alicia thought back to when she was captured by Whitworth, and how the trauma of cascading events had briefly allowed her memories to return.
“So you?” Alicia asked, eyeing Elyza’s shoulder, where she had been bitten.
“Yes.” Elyza opened her robe, revealing a small scar near her shoulder that was recognizable as a healed bite.
“How did it happen?” Alicia asked.
Elyza smirked. “Research. Our blood is valuable, now more than ever. And I was chosen to be the experiment. Too bad nobody asked me.” She moved her robe back into place and Alicia mourned the disappearance of the supple and scarred flesh.
“What happened back there?” Alicia took a chance to change the conversation and framed Elyza’s face with both hands. She moved slowly as if approaching a wild animal.
Elyza’s eyelids fluttered closed and her hands closed gently about Alicia’s wrists.
“I keep seeing you die in my head, and I can’t save you. When the undead came through I was so afraid I would lose you again. I kept thinking I was back then, when I saw you…” she trailed of a sucked in air. “In my dreams I save you every time.”
Alicia was stunned for a moment at the vulnerability in her eyes. More now than ever she wanted to protect this woman and take on the world with her. Alicia wrapped one hand about Elyza’s waist while the other tangled in her wet tresses.
“I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. We’ll protect each other, I swear it.”
They looked at each other and there was a question in her eyes. A strangled sound escaped from Elyza as Alicia closed the gap and pressed their lips together.
They met each other carefully at first. Alicia set the pace slowly, and broke apart from the kiss as Elyza tried to follow her lips. When they did break apart they were both breathing heavily. She opened her eyes seeing, Elyza struggling to contain her emotions. Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears and Alicia’s heart felt like it might burst.
“I thought I’d never see you again. I wanted to give you a choice.”
“I choose this.” Alicia said with force. “I choose you.”
A choked sob escaped the blonde and she crushed their lips together. Alicia backed her up until the back of Elyza’s legs hit the bed. She pushed her robe away, revealing a worn tank top. The fabric clung to her breasts and Alicia’s eyes darkened in desire. She wanted nothing more than to savor her in every possible way.
Elyza pulled her closer, practically melding their bodies together. A moan sounded from deep in her throat and she traced Alicia’s lips with her tongue before deepening the kiss.
This was something different entirely. This was what home felt like and Alicia never wanted to be away from her or from this feeling of peace and belonging ever again.
Her body was on fire and moving based purely on desire. Elyza bit her bottom lip and dragged it between her teeth slowly with promise. She grasped the front of Alicia’s shirt and pulled her further on top of her. They stumbled upon the bed in a tangle of limbs and teeth. Alicia’s hand palmed Elyza’s breast and the woman arched underneath her fingers in pleasure.
“Lexa.” The plea startled her and Alicia froze. Her fingers twitched over Elyza’s supple breast.
Elyza’s eyes opened and the passionate haze cleared in her mind upon noticing the tension in Alicia’s body.
“I’m sorry.” Elyza said, with concern in her eyes.
Alicia sighed and kissed her lips chastely. She sat up and combed her fingers through her hair as Elyza watched her in trepidation from the bed.
“I want to remember.” Alicia looked over her shoulder in earnest and Elyza’s hand ghosted on her back. More now than ever, Alicia wanted her memories back so she could love this woman to her full potential.
Elyza’s eyes darkened, but not in desire. “It’s reckless and I won’t have you risking your life.” Alicia gave her a look clearly conveying disbelief. Elyza was known to have made a more than a few hasty decisions.
“Mockery is not the product of a strong mind.” Elyza grumbled and Alicia quirked an eyebrow trying not to smile despite the serious conversation.
“You’re still the same person, you’re still the one that I-” Elyza licked her lips nervously. “Besides, it’s dangerous,” she changed the subject.
“We could do it in a controlled environment where-”
Elyza huffed and stood up adjusting her robe back onto her shoulders, the moment officially ruined.
“You’d be lucky not to die in the process of getting bitten. You’re not making any sense.” She walked around the room lighting a few candles while Alicia watched her carefully.
Alicia watched her for a few more moments before moving towards her.
“I’m still her, this is my choice. We can find a way. I can feel her inside of me,” Alicia struggled to find the correct words. “It’s like I’m trapped. I’m still me, but I want to remember.”
“Stop!” Elyza grabbed her shoulders suddenly. “Just stop. It isn’t worth it. I can’t loose you again, I won’t! Promise me you won’t do anything stupid?”
They stared at one another in silence, neither one willing to break first. The worry in Elyza’s blue eyes prompted Alicia to relent. She would find another way without causing Elyza distress. There had to be another way.
Alicia drew Elyza to her in a firm embrace. “You won’t lose me,” she promised. “I’ll always be with you.” She kissed the side of Elyza’s neck and felt the blond relax further into her with a sigh.
It was warm and safe. There were neither worries nor doubts, only the feeling of contentment and love. A shiver ran up her spine and her muscles loosened. The finger tracing patterns cross her back halted and resumed their journey down her spine. Breath tickled at her neck as soft lips kissed her bare shoulder.
She never wanted to leave the bed. They had spoken well into the night, caressed each other and eventually fell asleep besides one another in peace. It was the softest she had ever seen Elyza’s face. It was free of worry, of fear and the burdens of thousands of lives. Alicia wanted to be the one to keep that contentment across her features.
Could she do that as Alicia? Be the one to support and rule at Elyza’s side as equals, as partners without her memories intact? Elyza had no doubts to her abilities. Alicia believed her. But she couldn’t help but feel that something was missing; a part of herself felt the void the longer she was surrounded by people she almost remembered.
Including the woman she loved.
Alicia turned over and wrapped her arm around Elyza’s waist and rested their foreheads together. She watched the blond sigh in pleasure. Alicia studied her features, memorizing the soft spray of freckles across her cheeks and nose. She was more than what she was. She had to become something more than what she was in this moment. Heda Lexa kom Triku ruler of the twelve clans was a legend. Alicia Clark was a teenage girl from Los Angeles, California. And she was hopelessly in love with Elyza Lex, her re-incarnated soul mate, if one believed in such things. There was no way she couldn’t dismiss the probability. Two women from separate worlds, the sky and the ground, in a warring time, reborn in an apocalyptic world only to find one another again.
Alicia did not believe in coincidences. She was pretty sure that Lexa did not as well.
Elyza opened her eyes and they sparkled in the morning light. She brought her lips to Alicia’s in a greeting. She could feel the smile transfer from Elyza to her.
There was no other option. Alicia was going to find a way to get her memories back. Elyza would surely argue as she had last night, but this wasn’t for her. This was for both of them, her people and herself. There was only one thing she had to figure out.
A way to initiate the bite without dying horribly in the process.
Alicia closed the door behind her and nodded to the guards at the door in acknowledgement. She left Elyza still preparing for the day. Whether or not the guards noticed her wrinkled and borrowed clothes was a mystery. They probably didn’t care. A brief thought entered her mind and she wondered if Elyza had other romantic interests before her, or rather after she had regained her memory. Alicia knew that she shouldn’t feel jealous. She had been with Matt before Elyza, and that didn’t compare.
People were beginning to stir in the halls, but there was still time to beat the clock before breakfast stopped being served. She’d pick something up for herself and Elyza and see if her mother, Nick or Ofelia were about as well.
She was so caught in a rare moment of complete happiness that she almost didn’t pick up on the subtle sounds encroaching behind her.
Abruptly, her feet slid as she turned the corner and pinned the figure to the wall with brute strength. Her elbow closed off the windpipe and her other hand held a butterfly knife dangerously at the gut of her stalker.
It was Chris.
Her eyes widened and she released him suddenly. Chis gasped and sunk low grasping for air and coughing. He rubbed his throat and gave her a dirty look. She stared at him passively, not sparing him a moment of sympathy. He’d been the one sneaking up on her after all. Furthermore, he had rarely spoken to her as of late, or anyone really.
“What do you want?” she asked in a flat voice.
His nostrils flared but he contained his anger. Clearly, he expected an apology.
“Those aren’t your clothes,” he said instead.
“How would you know what I wear?” she arched an eyebrow in boredom. It was too early in the day to play his games, and she wasn’t going to let him spoil her pleasant mood.
“You’ve been spending time with Elyza Lex.”
Normally, Chris was transparent. When he was angry you knew, when he was upset he’d yell, and if he was gloating you defiantly felt it. However, his face was curiously devoid of emotion and he seemed absurdly calm for someone who had been going through practically every occupation in Arkadia.
She waited for him to speak again wanting to see what he really wanted. She found silence a favorable tactic when dealing with enemies or generally unfavorable people.
“I notice things,” he continued. He chose his words carefully and they were strangely cryptic. “We’re Reborn, we need to look out for each other.”
It was a random statement, especially since he technically wasn’t a confirmed Reborn. There were a small select group of individuals that felt that Reborns were special and deserved better than the others. In some ways they were correct. Their past experiences helped them survive in a brutal world and their blood could be the key to saving it. However, Arkadia was fairly stable, from what she had seen. It was fortified and stronger than ever after the demise of one of their most hated enemies and her return.
“What do you want Chris?” She feigned bored disinterest.
“Look, I don’t care who you sleep with. You wanna be gay and bang the leader of Arkadia I’m all for it, it makes our place here more secure.”
Alicia clenched her jaw wanting the close off his windpipe once more.
“But I know what you want,” his voice lowered and her interest peaked. Even through her neutral expression he could see the glimmer of interest in her eyes. “You want your memories back, so do I,” he paused obviously for the dramatic affect before continuing. “What if I said I know a way we can regain our memories?”
And despite all logic telling her otherwise, Alicia listened.
“You’ve been spending a lot of time with Elyza.” Madison stated one evening.
Alicia glanced at her mother, realizing the truth of her words. The business of running Arkadia kept her occupied, but she had begun to spend her free time secluded in Elyza’s room. Alicia often read while Elyza drew. They spent much of their time in companionable silence.
“Are you dating? Are you being safe a least?”
Alicia nearly spit out her soup and gave her mother an incredulous look.
Madison sighed, rolling her eyes. “Sorry. That wasn’t how I wanted to start this conversation.” She inhaled and steeled herself looking at her daughter more seriously. “Are you happy?”
It was a simple yes or no question with a deeper complexity than she felt capable of answering. Alicia pushed the bowl of soup away from her, recalling the conversation she had with Chris two nights ago.
“I think I will be.” She relented and the pleased nod from Madison made her feel slightly guilty.
“Did you mean it? When you said you wouldn’t want to know?” Alicia questioned later that same evening while Ofelia brushed Nick’s hair.
Nick’s hair was getting longer and he had grown accustomed to some of the braids the men sported in Arkadia. Ofelia patiently braided his hair while Alicia watched and fingered one of her own braided locks.
Ofelia hummed in response as she tied off another braid.
“Why?” Nick asked for Alicia. His eyes were closed and it was as close to serenity as she had ever seen him other than a drug induced high. If she hadn’t seen him half dressed coming out of a girl’s home last week she would have thought he was interested in Ofelia.
“Why do you wear your hair like that?” Alicia asked, watching Ofelia’s deft hands weave the dark tendrils.
“Gotta fit in with the natives, sis,” he cracked an eye open at her lazily.
The two women grinned broadly. They both knew about the woman he was spending more and more time with.
“Her name is Celia, and you’re both idiots. I can practically feel your dumb ass faces staring at me.”
Ofelia finished the last braid and pushed his shoulders away from her.
“When do we meet her?” Ofelia gathered the hair products and returned them to their proper location.
“Probably never with the way you’re acting,” he countered standing and inspecting his hair in the small mirror. It was amusing to see him so vain. “So when are you bringing Elyza over to dinner?”
Alicia’s eyes bugged.
Ofelia watched them both oddly silent.
“If you’re fu-” Nick began.
“Shop of!” Alicia said harshly, but without malice. Her brother had little to no tact at times. Slipping into Trigedasleng was becoming a habit.
He raised an eyebrow. “Sensitive about the girlfriend?”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Alicia admitted plainly.
At his incredulous look, and predicting his next words, she added, “she’s more than that.” They stared at her somberly, the mood changing in the room.
“I can feel her on the edges of my mind,” Alicia revealed, trailing off at the end.
“That’s why you want to remember?’ Nick cocked his head to the side.
“Partly,” she paused, “I feel like I’m missing something important.”
She itched the back of her neck absently feeling the smooth skin.
Ofelia caught the motion with a frown and pursed her lips. “It’s dangerous.”
Nick and Alicia both looked at Ofelia and noticed her serious but concerned expression. Was she able to sense that Alicia was planning on doing something potentially very stupid? Or had Chris spoken with her as well?
“We have everything we need and we’re safe.” Ofelia emphasized. “If we’re here now, it’s means we died,” she pursed her lips briefly and debated her next words. “And from what we know, it was not a pleasant time for anyone. Would you really want to remember such pain?”
Ofelia looked away and she rubbed her neck, her thoughts clearly troubled. How much had she remembered and hadn’t told anyone? Had Ofelia already found her trigger and forgone telling them? It was a personal matter and she had no right to pry. The young woman was obviously preoccupied and worried and Alicia didn’t feel like adding to the girl’s anxieties.
Instead, she nodded and decided not to disclose the conversation with Chris.
The raised voices in Trigedasleng were the first clue that Elyza was upset. Alicia walked closer to the meeting room where Elyza received complaints and queries. The guards at the door were vigilant as ever, as was the one at her side. Since the most recent attack and infiltration, Alicia was escorted by a guard most places, per Elyza’s orders. She hadn’t the heart to feel upset over the silent shadow at her side or the lack of privacy. He generally stood outside of doors and pretended to be oblivious for the most part.
The doors opened suddenly and Adina stormed out, huffing in displeasure.
She paused glancing at Alicia and sneered, although it was not directed at her.
“Perhaps you can speak sense to her.”
Both of Alicia’s eyebrows raised but Adina walked off before a reply made it past her lips.
“Bad day?” Alicia asked in lieu of a greeting as she walked in. Her guard took up post along the closed doors.
Elyza raised her hands in the air and flopped onto her throne in a heap. Obviously, matters had become complicated in the three hours since they had woken up next to each other.
“What was that about?” She asked walking up to her. Elyza propped her head on her hand and gave Alicia a playfully exasperated expression.
“Chris. I’m running out of occupations to place him in.”
Alicia sat on the side of the throne, shoving Elyza’s feet away in the process. She shrugged a shoulder nonchalantly. Chris wasn’t on the list of subjects she wanted to talk about, lest she give any of her future plans away. Hell, she wasn’t even sure if she was going to go through with his crazy scheme.
“Well, you can always send him to work in sanitary.” Alicia suggested, in an effort to ease the tension.
Eyza’s face softened and she grabbed Alicia around the waist. Alicia collapsed onto her lap in surprise before Elyza’s lips met hers. She eased into the kiss, her momentary surprise forgotten. Elyza’s lips were warm and moist. A hand curled around the nape of her neck and brought her closer. She surrendered to the rush of blood pounding in her veins and opened her mouth wider with a groan. Their tongues met as they continued to pull each other closer still.
They broke apart, both of them gasping for air.
“I thought you were in a bad mood?” Alicia panted and licked her lips.
Elyza’s eyes darkened before she leaned forward once more, capturing Alicia in a possessive kiss. Alicia blinked, unable to keep up with the change of mood. Still, she had no problem returning the affections, even as Elyza’s hands grew bolder. One of Elyza’s hands ghosted the underside of her right breast and she stilled it, keenly aware of the guards posted in the room. Undeterred, Elyza smiled and opened her eyes watching every emotion on Alicia’s face. She brought their foreheads together softly and grinned.
“There are people,” Alicia said quietly motioning around them.
Elyza’s head shook against her own. “No, there is only us.”
This time, Alicia was the one to initiate their next kiss. Elyza Lex was one smooth operator and she was hesitant to resist.
Mud splattered onto her trousers as she was pushed back. She held the bow staff solidly in her hands. Zach was a skilled teacher, despite his aloof demeanor. She pushed him away with a harsh exhale and waited for him to re-group and attack. He was an unrelenting training partner and skilled warrior. Although, her skills felt untried, she was matching his advancements and holding her own.
He was a fair opponent as demonstrated when he waited for them to make eye contact before he attacked again. Alicia spun and hit him behind the knees. He stayed upright but stumbled slightly, all the while ignoring the jeers from the small crowd.
Cory cheered from the sidelines. It was a small show of expression but he was finally warming up to her. He was well respected in Arkadia despite his young age and held various responsibilities which he took very seriously. He was a skilled combatant, but he had his own security detail. Most of the council members had protection and were seldom alone. Elyza was practical, intelligent and extremely paranoid.
Elyza had been through a lot, and Alicia didn’t blame her for her fears, irrational or not. Alicia remembered psychology class enough to recognize the signs of anxiety, panic attacks and posttraumatic stress disorder. Whether or not she was traumatized was irrelevant, they all were. Alicia found renewed vigor in knowing that Elyza trusted her and most of her concern was laced with the fear of losing her again. It made her try that much harder every day to become stronger.
However, everything Elyza did was out of love. You would think that such sentiments would make her weak but it only made her stronger. There was strength in vulnerability. She could see the value in love as it made Arkadia stronger and also more desirable to outsiders.
Love was strength.
Zach attacked from above and she quickly moved her staff to deflect barely holding the weight. She internally berated herself for not paying better attention, but in the next moment cursed again when he feigned and jabbed her, not too harshly, but in her still sensitive abdomen.
“Guard up Second, pay attention!” Dichen criticized in Trigedasleng.
Alicia renewed her stance and instead of waiting, swept her feet gracefully in a circle twirling her weapon and throwing Zach off kilter.
Dichen called it necessary training, Alicia called it rigorous testing. A small group of them had assembled to hone their fighting skills in close range combat. Or rather, it had turned into, Cory, Dichen, Zach and Adina deciding to turn her into G.I Jane or Xena Warrior Princess.
Elyza was taking extra precautions since they were both attacked in their own home. Alicia was not sure what training like this was going to do for her in the long run but at least it was giving her an outlet and a way to avoid Chris whom Elyza had indeed stationed with sanitation. She thought he’d actually be more upset, but he hadn’t screw up the job yet nor complained too loudly. An oddity for him.
Alicia nearly gained a hit, but Zach deflected and she threw another only to have him deflect. She narrowed her eyes in renewed concentration.
“Time!” Dichen yelled and both Alicia and Zach strained their muscles to stop their next moves.
“We’ve got a breach in the outer wall we need to check out,” Adina reported putting away the radio that had recounted the order.
Alicia and Zach looked at each other, both slightly out of breath. Alicia took the water bottle from Cory as her opponent wiped the sweat from his brow.
“You did well,” Adina stated, in a rare compliment.
She opened her mouth to reply that in fact she felt slow and her counter attacks were sloppy but Dichen beat her to it.
“She needs more training, both of you do” she added when Zach grinned smugly.
Dichen turned around, ignoring them both, and approached the horses. Adina had a hatred for vehicles, especially after regaining her memories. Gasoline and electric vehicles were used sparingly in Arkadia and mostly used for outside excavations.
“I still won,” Zach whispered in her ear and she swung at him. He dodged and practically danced away.
Alicia and Cory smiled at each other.
The longer she went without hearing from Chris, the more she worried. She tried to forget about the entire idea and put it behind her. There were too many things to focus on. She was constantly dividing her time and energy between helping Arkadia thrive and developing relationships, old and new. Furthermore, she was discovering herself in the process. Instead of worrying, Alicia spent more time enjoying every moment, especially with Elyza.
The bath water splashed as she sunk lower in the tub. Her head fell back against the rim and she closed her eyes enjoying the moment.
Soft hands landed on her shoulders from behind and lips landed on hers. She blinked in surprise and nearly jumped out of the bath. Water splashed on the floor and she turned around, seeing Elyza jumping back to avoid the water. Her blue eyes sparkled in mirth and she held a hand over her face and the other at her stomach trying not to laugh and failing.
Alicia’s cheeks colored and she sunk down further hiding in the opaque water.
“Don’t you think that’s a little immature?” She rolled her eyes making sure the water covered her breasts.
To her increasing embarrassment Elyza sauntered over and sat on the side of the bathtub. Alicia crossed her arms over her chest and squeezed her thighs together. She was by no means a prude but Elyza was extremely forward and had no problem dressing or undressing in front of her in the mornings and evenings. Alicia had spent one night in her own bed since the first time they had kissed, and had slept in Elyza’s ever since. They’d been strangely domestic without being intimate. Alicia never felt pressured, in fact she found herself at an odd impasse. Elyza was a natural flirt, but when Alicia tried to take it one step farther, Elyza backed up and deflected.
The mixed signals were frustrating her, especially sexually. She was never this nervous with Matt. Sex was completely normal; hell, before all of this happened, she was going to be living and attending university in one of the most ridiculously liberal cities in the world.
“Immature?” Elyza grinned framing Alicia with both hands on either side of the bathtub. She was thankfully keeping her mirthful eyes on Alicia’s face. “Aren’t you in my bathroom and in my bathtub?” she continued to jest.
Alicia boldly uncrossed her arms and leaned into her. “You’re the one that let me in.” Elyza’s eyes dilated and Alicia saw her chance and wrapped her arms around Elyza and pulled her into the warm water with a splash.
Elyza screamed in surprise as she fell into the water. She sputtered and immediately splashed Alicia in the face in retaliation. Their laughter stopped abruptly as two of the guards outside rushed into the bathroom, reacting to Elyza’s scream. They paused, blind sided by seeing the two women submerged in the tub with one still fully clothed. Thankfully, Elyza was shielding Alicia’s nude form.
“We’re fine!” Elyza laughed slipping and sloshing more water onto the floor. “Damnit, we’re fine!” She shooed them out, frantically waving her arms and trying not to fall further into the water. She finally gave up and shucked off her shoes before placing both feet in the tub. She stripped each article of clothing struggling to remove the soaked apparel. The guards finally took that as a sign to leave.
“Well, might as well take a bath while I’m here.”
She slumped into the tub and turned the faucet on to add more hot water. Alicia smiled and Elyza poked her with her foot.
“I had a note for you, from Chris. But it’s ruined now.”
Alicia tensed, trying to appear nonchalant. “What did he want?”
“Says he wants to meet up for breakfast tomorrow or something. That’s good right?” she took a bottle of shampoo and turned off the faucet. “Maybe he’s coming around?”
“Yea,” Alicia said taking the bottle from her hands and turned the blonde around. She began too undo a few of Elyza’s braids before lathering her hair.
She couldn’t believe how stupid Chris was. The man had absolutely no subtlety and she was questioning her ability to trust him with his hair-brained scheme in the first place. She felt Elyza relax into her hands and decided not to focus on such things.
Thank you all for reading. Please review. I had a blast at Clexacon. Any good stories? Thanks to Sadie for editing.
Chapter 14: Chapter 13
Hold on to your hats.
This was by far the best way to wake up. Alicia breathed in Elyza’s scent, covered in the same soaps as her own skin but smelling differently. She had never been a deeply affectionate person. She was used to casual touches and hugs, but she was selective with who she showed her attentions. With Elyza, those initial reservations did not exist.
She quietly snuggled into the ample bosom and further entwined their legs. How could anyone be so soft? The arm around her was lax, but the fingers twitched and the appendage from around Alicia’s waist moved to stifle a yawn.
“Good morning,” Elyza smiled and brushed her fingers through Alicia’s brown hair.
Alicia closed her eyes in contentment savoring the touch. “Mhm,” she murmured in reply.
She felt more than heard the breathy chuckle.
“You should get up, don’t you have breakfast with Chris and the rest of them?”
Alicia sighed, feeling the bubble of happiness dissipate. So much for blocking things out and being in the moment. She extracted her limbs from Elyza and sat up at the edge of the bed.
Elyza rolled over and placed a hand on her back. The sheet slipped from her bare shoulders. “Hey, you okay?”
“Fine. I just have a busy day ahead of me, that’s all.” She tried to ignore the heat from Elyza’s hand.
“Are you sure?” The concern in her voice almost made Alicia want to stay in bed a little longer.
She stood up and turned around kneeling on the bed. She captured Elyza’s lips in a loving kiss and traced her jawline with tenderness. Alicia felt the moment when Elyza’s mind went elsewhere.
She had a few more stops before she met with Chris. Alicia wanted to make sure that she had a contingency plan if things went south. Or rather, a way to inform someone should the worst happen. Thankfully, Ofelia was working late today. All would be well and as it should. At least she hoped so.
She had breakfast with her brother, Chris and both Madison and Travis. It was almost like they were having a Stepford family breakfast in the apocalypse. She smiled and made pleasant conversation for the next forty-five minutes, before everyone was required elsewhere. Chris and hung back as she pushed the dehydrated eggs around her plate.
He stared at her, waiting. Normally, Alicia was comfortable with silences, but this was different. A sense of dread and unrest settled in her heart. She could back out. Her gut was telling her that this was wrong, but she felt like it was too late and that Chris was too far-gone. It wasn’t safe to leave Chris to his own devices.
“Are we going?” she asked, trying to take some kind of control over the situation.
“Think you can handle this?” he challenged, cocking his head.
“I’m ready,” she said resolutely. “Why are you doing this anyway?”
“We’re family,” he said in short order and rose from the table.
They journeyed to the hospital and took the less crowded hallways and stairwells to attract less attention. They walked until they reached a more secluded area that was sectioned off. This area was heavily guarded, but due to Alicia’s influence they passed along most of the security measures without problems.
However, the more secluded medical ward was coded. To her surprise, Chris pulled out a key card and inserted it and typed in the code. The door slid open and they entered.
“Where did you get that?” she asked as another inkling of warning entered her gut.
“Just around,” he shrugged. Out of any one in their group, he had spent the most time working in the different facilities within Arkadia. She wondered if it was strategy rather than impertinence.
She translated his answer and figured he stole it from one of the medical professionals in the building. There were only a handful of people that could have access, Dr Sahel and Turco among them.
“How did you know it was going to be so quiet?” She commented looking around the empty room. Getting here was too easy.
“Guard duty change,” he answered, walking over to a screen door.
She eyed it suspiciously, noting the warning and biohazard signs. The uneasy feeling in her gut worsened. This confirmed her thoughts that Chris was not as incapable as he led others to believe.
“You said you found a way to mimic the bite from the infected safely.”
Her eyes narrowed and she watched his every move. Perhaps there was a better way; surely Dr. Turco would come up with something better in the long run. Anything may be better than trusting Chris. She’d been reckless and desperate for her people and to be with Elyza.
“I never said that,” he commented with a smirk. His fist entered another code and the screen un-tinted, revealing no less than seven undead. She took a startled step back. They beat upon the screen with silent growls and fists eager to escape.
Ofelia walked into her room finally glad to have a break. She never saw herself in the medical field, but she was good at following directions and helping people. Dr. Sahel was kind and significantly overwhelmed as one of the few doctors for Arkadia. She was currently training to be his lab assistant and she found the work rewarding, and Dr. Sahel pleasing company.
She set her things on the small dresser, anxious for an early dinner. Normally, they worked longer hours and she wouldn’t be back until much later. Thus, it was rather coincidence and a great deal of luck that she found the letter when she did.
The envelope was on her pillow with her name written on top. There was a message on the outside for her.
Please give this to Elyza. I’m sorry.
A terrible feeling settled in her gut and she opened the letter, forgoing the two women’s privacy. The conversations about discovering ways to regain Reborn memories and all of the time spent with Elyza and the other Reborn made Ofelia question more than one thing. She had a bad feeling that Alicia was about to do something incredibly stupid.
Ofelia began to read with increasing dread, realizing how correct her suspicions were.
I know you must be upset, but I do not intend to give up any form of life with you. Please understand why I had to do this. This is for us and our people. Death is not the end.
Ofelia crumpled the letter in her palm and ran out the door intending to find Elyza before it was too late.
Thanks Sadie for editing. The more reviews I get the quicker the next chapter gets out! I'm bribing you I know lol. Thanks for the support everyone. Any good Clexacon stories?
Every decision lead to this moment; however, being face to face with the undead, voluntarily, was not something Alicia would have predicted. Facing them with Chris also seemed like a poor decision in retrospect.
Alicia stood transfixed gazing at the undead corpses in front of her. Her heart pounded in her chest out of fear and exhilaration at being so close to the threat. A younger female specimen caught her attention as its mangled fist pounded at the partition. Her hair was matted in sandy blond strings and missing patches on the left side of her scalp. Her eyes were bloodshot, and while the nails were cracked there were remnants of chipped pink nail polish. Her cheekbones were hallowing, but she was not as emancipated as a few of the others, suggesting she had turned more recently.
Despite their differences, each of the infected in front of her had one similarity.
They were all wearing grey scrubs.
Alicia had never been this close to the infected without fearing for her life. She felt like she was watching actors in a horror movie. Their growls were muffled from their prison and without sound, she was left feeling bereft rather than horrified. These creatures had been people once. This was what happened to everyone if they did not posses the genetic marker of the Reborn. Seeing these creatures pining for human flesh made her feel foolish. How could she ever seek this out so selfishly, putting herself at risk when there were people who needed her?
She snapped her head to the side finding Chris watching her stoically.
“I can’t do this,” she admitted. This was not about bravery. This was about being responsible and using her fucking brain. “This is too dangerous. We should have never come up here in the first place.”
“I knew you’d back out.” He tapped his fingers absently against the screen and the undead swarmed over to him.
Alicia’s fists clenched at her sides and her muscles tensed, preparing for a flight or fight response.
“I just had to get you up here. I’m not stupid; I want what you have, the power, the control and the respect. But hell, I’m not going to die over it.” His voice rose in anger and his face twisted into a snarl. “Everyone thinks you’re the messiah, some holy Queen ready to help exhume the world from this deserted wasteland. Even my Dad.” He banged his fist against the screen forcefully and she wondered how well constructed the holding cell was.
“Chris, whatever you’re thinking, this isn’t the way to get what you want.” She reasoned and cursed the dread filling her. It was clear that he had never intended to go through with it.
“You don’t have a clue what I want.”
“They won’t let you get away with this,” Alicia stated with conviction. There was no way she would let this slide; the minute he opened that screen, both of their lives would be in danger. If they survived this, there was no out for him. His life would be forfeit; he had to know this.
“No, your precious Wanheda won’t let anything happen to you,” he stated his next words carefully. “It’ll be a tragedy, surely. But I’ve already got a contingency plan. Who do you think let in those infected that attacked you?”
Alicia’s eyes widened then narrowed. He was the one that had nearly killed them and practically gave Elyza a posttraumatic stress episode.
“I’ve found some people much more sympathetic, and all I have to do is get rid of you and I have a place with their Queen.”
“You’re going to die,” she whispered, more of a threat than a promise. She didn’t care who he was collaborating with, so long as he suffered for it.
“Oh, I don’t think so.” He pressed the button and released the infected.
The throne room was in uproar.
“No one has seen her, Wanheda,” a guard informed.
Elyza was panicking. Ofelia had given her the note, and the dread had set in immediately.
“I want her found now!” she growled at the assembled warriors and guards, some of them in her council.
Her heart was in turmoil. She thought Alicia had put the crazy notion to purposely undergo the bite behind her. Didn’t she understand that she was enough, more than enough? She didn’t need to have her memories to become a stronger leader or an asset to the people of Arkadia. Least of all, Alicia didn’t need to be anything more than who she was for them to be together.
Death is not the end, indeed. The first thing she was going to do after bringing her sorry ass back was kiss her and then yell at her, or alternate between both.
Elyza cursed, feeling ill with worry, and angry with herself for not letting Alicia know how much she meant to her. She was never the most apt at verbalizing her feelings in this life, or the previous one. Maybe it really was her fault everyone that was close to her kept dying.
“Elyza,” Marie barged in with Ricky on her tail followed closely by Madison and Travis.
Elyza eagerly turned to the newcomers.
“One of the security guards in the hospital said he saw Alicia during the shift change.”
Elyza immediately sprang into action, calling out orders and arranging a party to retrieve her safely.
“Elyza,” Marie caught the blonde’s arm. “She’s with Chris. He stole Dr. Turco’s key card and entered the restricted research area.”
Elyza froze. Their research for a vaccine would be the very thing that killed her.
“What’s that?” Travis asked “Is my son going to be alright?”
“What’s in the restricted research area?” Madison interrupted.
“It’s where they work on the vaccine. They have live specimens.” Ofelia provided and turned to Elyza. “There is no way that Chris got those codes and the key card by asking nicely.” Her implication was perfectly clear.
“Wanheda, he could release the infected,” Ricky warned. Elyza nodded, recognizing the danger they would all be in.
“Put us in code alert Orange,” Elyza snapped to Dichen.
“We move now!” Dichen yelled and stormed out with a series of soldiers behind her.
The room dispersed and soldiers followed Dichen in a frenzy all of them eager to find Heda Lexa safely and protect Arkadia from immediate threat from within.
“Adina reported another breach in the outer wall.” Marie informed in hushed tones.
“Which direction?” Elyza asked hurriedly.
“East, same one we just fixed,” she paused and shook her head.
“Alert Nadia to patrol her borders,” Elyza responded knowing the former Night Blood would be able to handle any threat. It was good to have allies; even reluctant ones that lived outside of their borders were counted on to watch their back in a crisis.
Marie acknowledged the order before revealing more information. “Chris was seen helping some people outside. He’s the reason we’ve been having security breeches.”
“Who’s he been helping?” Elyza gritted her teeth, seething in anger, mostly at her self for being such a fool.
“The ice bitch.”
“Fuck,” Elyza cursed realizing Alicia was in even more danger than before. If Chris had made a pact with Queen Brenda, then he meant to kill Alicia for certain.
Elyza turned on Travis with her teeth clenched and fury in her eyes despite her cold façade. Travis looked stricken having discovered his son was involved in such a conspiracy. At this point, she cared very little about what happened to his son.
“You better pray your son is dead when we find him. Or I will kill him myself with an ancient tradition that I’m sure many of my people would love to see reenacted.”
He trembled under her gaze, and her blood burned.
The instant the infected were released, Alicia spun into action. She did not spare Chris a moment of worry, as she was too focused on her own survival. If he didn’t die in this moment, she would kill him herself and suffer the consequences.
As the undead swarmed her, Alicia realized she had underestimated the numbers hiding within the secured room. They came at her, unrelenting, with clashing teeth and grabbing hands eager to rip the flesh from her body. She shoved the first one away from her in order to grab the knife at her belt and thrust it up under the chin from the infected behind it. She kicked the next one away, but another snagged her jacket from the side.
She painfully struggled out of the jacket, letting it take her clothing rather than her. Adrenaline coursed through her body and her senses heightened to the threats around her. Alicia searched for an escape, but the door they had come through was locked and she didn’t have the key card or the passcode. Instead, she ran for an empty office room, hoping the light shining through its door signified it had a window. She sprinted to the door and found the emergency fire lever on her way. Without hesitating, she pulled it down.
The lights flashed red and the alarm sounded, hopefully confusing the dead and bringing someone to her aide.
She opened the office door, thankful it was unlocked, and turned around to close it. Hands reached through the door and she shoved with all of her body weight, trying to close it but the weight was too much. She re-gripped her knife and panted, thrusting the blade into the eye socket of the undead nearest to her. Its decrepit body dragged another near it down and she managed to put more of her body weight into closing the door.
Alicia slid to the floor with her back pressed against the door and pushed with her legs. She reached up and locked the door quickly, slumping against it as sweat ran along her brow and into her eyes. The knife dropped out of her grip and she put her head in her hands, gathering her strength.
The pounding continued at her back and she knew that the feeble door wouldn’t last forever. Her breath calmed and she pushed to her feet and stood grabbing her knife in the process, looking for a more permanent escape route.
The air vents looked promising. The only problem was getting up that high. The pounding intensified and the door began to splinter. Alicia ran to the window and unlatched it in a hurry. The door burst open as she thrust her body through. She nearly lost her balance, but pressed her back against the building wall and tried not to look down.
The air flung her hair into her face. The sounds of Arkadia were drowned by the sirens of the alarm she had pulled moments before. Flights below, she could make out people gathering on the ground at the commotion. A hand pawed her feet and she lifted her foot up in alarm nearly stumbling in the process. The infected pushed at the window, reaching desperately for her. Alicia slid along the thin ledge until she reached the metal landing. She jumped on the landing, grabbing the railing and pulled herself up and began to ascend the stairs as the few coordinated infected followed.
Alicia raced up the flights hearing footsteps pounding behind her. The metal creaked under her weight. A distant yell caught her attention briefly. She paused to listen for a precious moment while trying to synchronize her feet.
“You can’t get away! I won’t let you!” The voice yelled and she looked down seeing Chris, bloody and exhausted, climbing up after her. She looked at his crazed expression incredulously. His feet struggled on each step but he began to close the distance. She turned back around and pushed her thighs harder.
At last she made it to the top and stood on the roof. The wind whipped at her torn and slightly bloody clothing and she flicked her knife up, waiting for Chris. She was done running. She had been running from everything since the day her father packed his things and left.
Before it had been running from her family to university.
Being with Matt helped her escape.
Killing the infected. They were always running.
Running from the infected, from people. Surviving.
From her memories.
Her legs spread apart in a firm stance ready to spring at any moment. She did not want to fight him, but he was beyond saving.
A hand came over the side of the brick landing, followed by an arm. Chris grasped the landing and hauled himself over the side of the building using the power of his limbs. She could have ended him there; she should have really. But to do so would be dishonorable. Whether or not he merited an honorable death was questionable, but she deserved to kill her adversary in a just fight.
He crumbled to the ground but quickly scrambled to his feet. He braced his arms on his knees heaving oxygen into his lungs. The gun in his hand was held tight and shook with every breath.
“I can’t let you get away,” he panted, standing upright.
“This is your last chance,” Alicia warned, holding up her knife. “I won’t spare your life.”
Chris huffed. “Living up to your role as Heda? You think you’re so great. Well, I’ll tell you something, you don’t deserve this, any of this.”
“And you do?” She boldly stepped closer.
Chris’ feet shuffled and he looked around anxiously. He was sweating heavily and his limbs were shaking in nervous energy.
“I know that I have to kill you to please her, to be one of them.” Alicia wanted to know who this person was. Was it the Queen that everyone spoke of that rivaled even Whitworth’s treachery and animosity?
“Truthfully,” Chris smiled, “I’m going to enjoy this.”
The gun rose clumsily. He fired, but his aim was poor and miscalculated. Alicia dodged the first bullet, containing the fear, and channeling her instincts telling her where to move and how to anticipate her opponent. Another shot rang and she rolled on the ground and lunged at him. She knocked the weapon from his grasp in a swift move and sent a silent prayer of thanks to Roan for his sparring practice earlier. Chris hissed in pain and grabbed his wrist. She elbowed him in the face and blood splayed from his nose.
He turned his face to her and spat blood to the floor in rage.
“Nice moves,” the compliment rolled off his tongue acerbically. His teeth were tinged in crimson as he spoke.
“You haven’t seen them all yet.”
She didn’t have to wait for him as he came at her with a cry. Spittle flew from his mouth as he rushed her.
Elyza’s voice was fearful, and the emotion distracted Alicia long enough for Chris to disarm her. The knife skid along the ground and they both lunged for possession over the small blade. Chris’ hand grasped the knife-edge desperately. The blade sliced his hand but he only winced at the brief pain as the adrenaline overtook.
Gunfire sounded around them along with angered voices. Bullets nearly missed her, and one managed to lodge itself in Chris’ thigh. Through the scrapes and punches he managed to push the blade to her throat in triumph.
“Stop!” he yelled hoarsely, “stop!”.
He dragged Alicia to her feet and she made the process as difficult as possible out of spite.
“Let her go,” Elyza said stoically, all emotion having left her face.
Before them stood Wanheda, callous leader of Arkadia. However, the fear in Elyza’s eyes was unmistakable, especially to Alicia. Alicia wanted nothing more than to wipe all traces of fear from Elyza’s face and envelop her in her arms.
The guns around Alicia locked and she heard the safety disarm. She recognized many of the faces staring at her in variations of fear, anger, and concern.
“I won’t ask again,” Elyza warned.
Chris laughed and backed up a step towards the edge of the building. “You won’t shoot, not when I have her. I know more than you think, Clarke Griffin.”
“Then you know that Queen Nia cannot be trusted.”
“No, you can’t be trusted.” He nodded empathetically.
“She won’t live up to her promises.” Elyza raised her left arm, aiming her own weapon at Chris.
“And what? You will?” He scoffed unfazed by one more weapon aimed in his direction. “If I let her go you’re gonna, what, forgive and forget? I don’t think so.”
He ran the blade along the side of Alicia’s throat drawing a thin red line. A single drop pooled and dragged down her chest soaking into her shirt.
Alicia locked eyes with Elyza and communicated all of her calm, love and trust in her eyes. There was no way to talk him down, no purpose to. People like Chris were the reason why the living were more frightening than the infected.
There was no one in this world she trusted more than Elyza. With her life, her family and friends.
I do trust you.
Alicia locked eyes with Elyza and nodded imperceptibly. Elyza blinked and narrowed her eyes in understanding. The gun in Elyza’s hand aimed quickly and fired surely.
The bullet pierced through Alicia’s right shoulder. She grunted at the pain and flinched and but felt Chris’ grip loosen around her. She took the opportunity to turn around and shove him backward over the belvedere. She nearly lost her balance from the momentum, but Elyza sprung forth and grabbed her around the waist pulling her backwards.
Chris’ screams in broad daylight reverberated and she heard the gasps of the people below. The knife in his hands clattered to the ground on the roof as his screams echoed below them.
Alicia’s breath came out shallow and gasping, yet she was unsure if it was her that was out of breath or Elyza. She felt pain both in her abdomen from her old wound, the slice at her neck and the gunshot to her right shoulder and the left shoulder where her jacket had been ripped from her in the earlier escape from the infected. God, she had never felt more exhausted in her life both physically and emotionally.
Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she heard voices and Elyza speaking to her in frantic tones. Elyza’s callused hands grabbed her face and turned it towards her own.
“Good shot,” Alicia croaked as her legs buckled.
Elyza collapsed with her and kissed her lips sloppily once on the ground. The kiss was wet through tears and she didn’t know whether they were hers or Elyza’s. Alicia felt no remorse for Chris, only emptiness in that moment that was slowly being overcome by the fear of uncertainty.
“Someone get a medical team right now!” Elyza barked to her squad and then rounded on Alicia. “What the fuck are you doing? Do you have a death wish? You can’t just go ask to get bit! Don’t you care about your life at all?”
Alicia threaded her fingers through Elyza’s hair and forced the other woman to meet her eyes.
“I do care, Elyza,” she started shaking the woman’s head in her hands briefly. “I care about a life with you,” she said more softly. Elyza stared too stunned for words and tried to break from her grip. Alicia released her but grasped her hand instead. She felt the burning need to touch her and wanted to explain.
“I can feel my memories” she began, “of who I was, who I am. What I need to be and who I can become. More than anything I want to remember every moment spent with you. I don’t want to waste any more time.”
“You aren’t,” Elyza began earnestly. “Everything’s going to be fine. We’ll get you patched up. Mom will,” she started and corrected herself, “Dr. Turco will develop a vaccine, and maybe one day she’ll figure out something for the Reborn.”
Alicia shook Elyza’s shoulders stopping her tirade. “Elzya, stop. Don’t you get it? It’s already too late.” She could feel the chills settling into her body.
“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense.”
Elyza shook her head in confusion.
Alicia shoved down her shirt revealing her left shoulder. Elyza’s eyes widened and a gasp escaped. The scratches and small bite marks were unmistakable.
“When?” Elyza asked in a hush afraid to make her voice any louder for fear it might make this moment true.
“When I was escaping, one of them grabbed me and took my jacket.” Alicia whispered and shivered both from blood loss and the fever setting in.
The bite and scratch marks of the undead affected the Reborn differently. It made promises of life long forgotten, but it also held the potential of death. It was one of the reasons the Reborn did not seek out the infected to remember their old life and ways. There was still the possibility of death. Being Reborn gave her the high likelihood for life and to survive the fever, the chills and sickness the disease brought, but it did not guarantee survival. Their bodies were stronger and more capable of surviving. Most of them remembered during the process and in the peak of their fever.
“You’re strong and you’re going to survive,” Elyza fearfully grasped Alicia’s face and rubbed her thumbs along her defined cheekbones. “You’re special.”
“So are you, Clarke.” Alicia saw her blue eyes widen in alarm. So much fear, she wished she could take it all away.
“I love you,” Elyza declared desperately seeing Alicia’s eyes beginning to fade.
“I’ll always be with you,” Alicia promised softly bringing her hand to Elyza’s cheek.
Her hand slowly slipped and collapsed at her side. Her body went limp and Alicia succumbed to the darkness.
I may go hide....please be gentle? lol I hope you enjoyed. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts! :)
Chapter 16: Chapter 15
Thanks to Sadie for making this more enjoyable to read. I hope you enjoy. We are nearing the end. Only two, possibly three chapters left.
She was either dead or dreaming. It was difficult to tell, as she couldn’t quite remember what had occurred prior to this moment. The large city was exactly the same as it had been in her dream, including its unnerving silence.
At least she remembered that.
The city lacked all signs of life and, thankfully, the undead. The sun shone above, signaling mid day but its warmth was absent. The leaves in the trees were perfectly still and the only sound was her heartbeat.
Alicia took a deep breath and began to explore her surroundings, hoping to find meaning for her current situation. She passed by a decorative marble wall and paused. Her reflection stared back and she furrowed her brows in confusion and stepped closer.
The red sash startled her at first. It cascaded over her left shoulder where a decorative pauldron was secured. Her outfit comprised of buckles, black pants and a tunic. A thick coat completed her outfit and the coattail dragged behind her. Her eyes were fierce underneath the heavy, dark eye makeup. Alicia touched the trails of dark paint trailing down her cheeks and was surprised when her hand came away stained black. She looked down at her feet, noting her plain clothes, and then back at her reflection.
The hilt of the sword strapped to her back glinted in the sunlight. Once more, she checked to compare but this time, was surprised see the weapon at her back. She reached behind her and pulled the blade free, admiring its sturdy metal and sharp edges.
Ring! Ring! Ring!
She turned the blade and held it defensively. A young girl in blonde pigtails rode down the street on a bicycle. Alicia immediately recognized the infinity symbol on the back of her jacket. In the back of her mind she was compelled to follow. She raced after the girl, clutching the sword.
Alicia followed the girl around the plaza and down a darker alleyway, but quickly lost sight of her. She paused after turning the last corner, but there was no sign of the girl on the bike. Puzzled, she turned behind her and found a metal fence as high as she could see.
“A firewall,” she murmured, touching the metal.
The wall next to her glowed and a white raven appeared on the wall followed by a door. A wave of déjà vu struck her as she touched the door.
A sound, more like a memory, flashed through her mind, and she turned sharply, raising her sword, ready to attack - only no one was there. She stared at the door and recognized the bird.
Tentatively, she brushed her fingers along the door and it began to open, spilling a bright light out, momentarily blinding her.
Alicia hesitated but stepped through nonetheless.
Suddenly, the door closed behind her. Adrenaline and a small dose of anxiety coursed through her blood and she banged her fists against the door in vain.
She spun, her sword flying to the throat of a beautiful woman.
The woman smiled in return, ignoring the weapon at her throat. “Hello, again. I knew you’d be back.”
Alicia slowly brought down her sword and sheathed it at her back.
“How did you know?” she asked, raising her chin.
“I know many things, Lexa.” She noted with a soft smile.
“Who, and what are you?”
“I am many things. I am the flame, once part of a scientific and biological experiment to protect and better the human race. Before that, I was a woman who dreamed of making the world a better place.”
“The world is dying.” The words escaped reflexively because it was true.
Becca smiled sadly. “It has been, but I’m here to help you ensure that it doesn’t end.” She paused and moved towards a series of machines, stopping at a console. “Come, look,” she beckoned.
Alicia walked over and glanced at the video screens appearing one by one. She stared, transfixed, at the images appearing before her. She watched the explosions and bombs rain fire on the earth, an earth so similar and yet so unlike the one she knew or had known. She watched the years go by, and the humans inhabiting the flame die gruesome deaths. She felt for these leaders and their struggles as they tried to bring the people together and protect them from the mountain and their creations, the Reapers.
A shuttle shot across the sky in a blaze and landed in a ball of fire.
A blonde female struggled to bring her people together. The Skaikru. Her name was Clarke Griffin kom Skaikru. Alicia knew her as Elyza Lex.
The images stopped abruptly and she rounded on Becca.
“Show me,” she demanded. “I know there’s more.”
Becca watched her calmly. “There is,” she admitted.
“Then show me,” Alicia stepped closer, invading the other woman’s space.
“If I do that, you won’t ever be the same,” Becca explained calmly. “If you’re strong enough, you can survive this. I know you can, but it depends on what you want. If you go back, you will go back to a world full of turmoil and hate.”
“But also full of love and hope,” Alicia countered.
“Humans destroy each other, no matter what world it is.”
“We strive to be better. Love is what makes us strong, it’s what keeps us going.”
“And you believe your heart is strong enough? What you see here is your past. If you return it won’t be the same. In some ways, it will be worse.”
The infected, her consciousness supplied. The complete breakdown of modern society and its infrastructure. Her family.
Becca studied her for several moments before nodding. She turned revealing a dark lever. “Then all you have to do is pull this lever.”
Alicia eyed it warily. “What will happen if I do?”
“Your memories will return to you and fuse with yourself as it is now.”
Alicia looked back to Becca. “And if I don’t?”
“You will die without your memories.” Becca informed simply.
“So I’ll live?” Alicia put her hand on the lever the implication clear in her question.
Becca shook her head. “Doing this will only ensure that you regain your memories. Surviving long enough to heal and live is based on your will alone.”
Alicia’s hand clutched the lever and she stared at the video screens replaying images of suffering, and of a blond blue eyed female struggling to find the will to live and save her people.
Her gaze focused on a picture of Clarke Griffin.
“Have you chosen?” Becca asked softly peering into Alicia’s face.
“I have,” she said firmly, still captivated by the images on screen.
She took a deep breath, her face never leaving the blue eyes on the screen, and pulled the lever.
Alicia’s eyelids fluttered once, twice, then opened abruptly. She startled with a heady gasp and pulled the bed sheets away, She clutched her head in her hands and panted at the array of images and memories assaulting her brain. Every one of her senses was overrun. Her hands shook, her body felt feverish and clammy.
She swallowed thickly, and gripped her throat, desperately in need of water. Her body felt as weak as a newborn and she struggled to sit at the edge of the bed. Her heart fluttered like a hummingbird. Alicia planted her feet on the cold floor and pushed herself up with her arms, only to collapse before her legs even had a chance. She fell to the floor harshly with a cry. She curled into a ball, only aware of the burning pain throughout her body.
The bandage at her right shoulder came away wet with blood and the left fared little better. The wounds felt different as she prodded them. Curiously, she peeled away the dressing on her right shoulder and winced seeing the broken stitches from a healing bullet wound. She recalled the wound vaguely. Her fingers began to peel away the bandage at her left shoulder, and the wound pulsed in time with her heartbeat.
Her eyes widened in astonishment noting the angry red flesh with scratches and teeth marks. The wound was unpleasant to look at but it appeared to be healing despite its grotesque state.
A sharp pain developed in her temple and she winced. The memories continued to flood her mind. She knew who she was, what she was, what she symbolized to her people.
Her name was Alicia Clark, and before that she had been known as Lexa kom Triku, Heda of the twelve clans.
She closed her eyes sharply and inhaled, drawing focus and calm through her many years of training.
She marveled at the IV in her right hand, knowing what it was and at the same time finding it foreign. The tape came off easily and she slowly extricated the needle, feeling dirty at its presence in her body, too similar to the Mountain Men.
Dr. Sahel came rushing into the room, only she recognized him as one of Arkadia’s physicians named Jackson. Behind him, Ofelia followed closely at his heels and she gasped in astonishment.
“Costia,” she whispered reverently.
The name slipped off of her lips in wonder. How could she have been so blind before? It was as if the world before her had suddenly developed a vast array of new colors.
Ofelia paused looking into her eyes.
“What did you call me?”
Dr. Sahel interrupted and brought over a tray of gauze, ointment and bandages. Alicia blinked at him, still amazed at seeing her former lover very much alive and well. Her chest clenched realizing she had found and befriended Costia in this life.
The world was truly an interesting place.
They tried to help her stand but her legs were embarrassingly weak. All of a sudden she was picked up bridal style into strong arms. She looked up into the eyes of her long time protector and friend.
“Gustus.” She tried to say his name evenly. She had killed him.
“It is Aleks Paunovic, Heda.” He stated in respect lying her down on the bed humbly.
She nodded in acknowledgment, noting the differences in his face and countenance. The man behind his eyes seemed familiar. He was like everyone she had known before in this world, so very different and yet the same.
She stroked the face lined with scars and reflected on the man before her.
“A strong face and name to go with a strong man.”
His eyes glistened and his chest puffed in pride. “You honor me.”
“As do you,” she said in return.
The door opened once more as Dr. Sahel began to change her bandages. Elyza strolled into the room and Alicia sucked in another breath. She wore a long coat that buckled below her breasts, a deep cobalt blue sash trailed over her left shoulder, and her hair was intricately braided.
She was as breathtaking as Alicia had ever seen her. She was unable to tear her gaze away from the blonde striding towards her. Dr. Sahel finished cleaning her bandages and put a glass of water at her bedside table.
“Leave us,” Elyza said to the others quietly staring into Alicia’s green eyes.
No one moved, not even Dr. Sahel.
“Leave us!” Elyza ordered once more, and everyone moved at once.
Paunovic left her side and walked past Elyza.
"If you so much as look at her the wrong way I will slit your throat." Paunovic threatened in Trigedasleng in Elyza’s ear.
She glanced at him as he left. Soon, they were left alone in the room and Alicia had so many thoughts in her mind about what she wanted to do, but felt as if she was made of stone.
“How do you feel?” Elyza asked in Trigedasleng out of habit. She recognized her error and began to restate the question in English.
“Hurts,” Alicia responded in kind with a shrug. Elzya’s eyes widened, not having expected the response.
Both of the women went silent.
“What do you remember?” The former Skaikru leader asked hesitantly.
Alicia watched her face carefully before replying. “I remember everything.”
“Lexa?” Elyza’s voice was full of distress and longing.
She debated on how to respond for a few moments. Yes, she was Lexa kom Trikru, but she was also Alicia Clark. She felt like the same person and she was in most ways, but with the difference of years of life experiences. It was a new world and a new life, and she had been given another opportunity.
“Alicia is fine,” she decided. Alicia took a deep breath wishing she had more clothes on than a flimsy hospital gown. “My spirit chose wisely. You did well, Clarke.” There was a slight question at the end. Would she want to be known by a name and person that had lived long ago?
“Elyza. Elyza is fine.”
Alicia nodded at a loss for words.
“There are so many things I want to tell you,” Elyza began her throat constricting with emotion. “But above all, I’m sorry,” tears glistened in her eyes. “I tried so hard, and I wanted you to have a choice this time. Whatever we’ve been given, I didn’t want this kind of life for you. You deserved so much better.” A tear dripped down her cheek, followed by another.
Alicia sat up hiding the wince and strain in her shoulders. “Listen to me,” she began sternly. “I would choose this, choose you every time. We were born for this and we were meant to do this together.”
Elyza reached out with tentative fingers, cradling Alicia’s face and savoring each touch as if she would disappear.
“I thought I’d never see you again.” Her voice was strangled as she brought their foreheads together, sitting next to Alicia on the bed.
Alicia relished in the contact finding true peace. “I told you I would always be with you.”
Elyza moved away and crushed their lips together hungrily. Tears ran down her face and Alicia’s lips trembled. She opened her eyes and they stared at one another in adoration and awe.
They moved together once more and Alicia tried to stifle the groan of pain but Elyza picked up on it.
“We have time,” Elyza panted with flushed cheeks. “You’re still healing, and you need to rest.”
“I have people-”
“We have people,” Elyza corrected with sparkling eyes. “The people, our people, can wait. Our enemies can wait for a night or two until you are healed and rested. Our walls are strong. The people trust in you, in us.”
“You’ve been battling the fever for nearly three weeks.”
No wonder her legs felt weak.
“We weren’t sure if you were going to live. The fever nearly took you.”
Elyza bit her lip in worry.
“I do not plan to die today, or any day soon.” Alicia took her hand in a firm grip. Elyza stared at their tightly clasped hands.
“Do you promise?”
“I swear by it.”
And she meant it with every fiber of her being.
Unfortunately, while being reborn in this world meant reuniting with many people, her Nightblood did not have the same properties as before. Sure, her blood had the ability o create an appropriate vaccine to help cure the world, but it was red and her healing rate was depressingly normal.
It meant that physical therapy and being monitored around the clock by physicians was necessary. Her body felt absolutely exhausted and yet bursting with energy at the same time. She wanted out of this place so she could sleep in her own bed.
(Or rather Elyza’s bed.)
The door opened and she set down her book hoping to see Elyza before her next round of physiotherapy.
Instead, her former lover entered the room.
“Costia. I mean…Ofelia.” She tried to cover her stutter.
Alicia had not spoken with Ofelia alone since her memories had returned. She was overwhelmed with longing and emotion seeing her alive. The last moments they had spent together in Polis were in anger. Alicia would never forget seeing her severed head delivered to her bedroom.
“What are you doing here?” She asked, berating herself in her mind for the question and the manner in which she asked.
“Checking your bandages,” she responded, gathering her supplies. “You don’t want them coming undone again during your physiotherapy, do you?”
No, she definitely did not want that to happen again. Learning to walk and build stamina was embarrassing enough, let alone a wardrobe malfunction.
“They thought it might be more comfortable for you being treated from someone you knew before.”
Ofelia continued and Alicia wanted to groan but settled for rolling her eyes.
“More like tormented,” she muttered under her breath. Ofelia paused, tray in hand. “I apologize,” Alicia amended louder. The last thing she wanted was to make her friend feel unwanted, or this moment more awkward.
“No, it’s fine.” Ofelia sat the tray down and began to clean her wounds and change her dressings. “We were close,” she looked up and caught Alicia’s eyes before continuing. “And I have a feeling it didn’t end well.”
“I thought you didn’t want to know.” Alicia stared at her, ignoring the sting of her still healing shoulders.
Ofelia continued her work in silence for a few moments before speaking again.
“I don’t want to remember my old life.” She paused, choosing her words carefully. “I can feel who I was before, in the form of emotions and instincts. Everyone has triggers, and you were mine,” she revealed. “It means we’re close, or we were from what I’ve been told. I respect my past life, but I don’t want to relive it. But…I am curious.”
She finished dressing the last bandage and waited patiently for a response.
“We were lovers,” Alicia admitted, meeting her eyes bravely. She deserved the truth. It was her fault her life had ended prematurely. “You were assassinated because you were mine.”
There was no need to tell her how events had unfolded.
“Ah,” Ofelia nodded looking away briefly. “I figured as much. I get flashes sometimes of us, intimately. Perhaps, it isn’t a good idea that I’m here.”
She turned to leave but Alicia caught her hand. Ofelia’s skin was smooth and it felt familiar, comforting even.
“No, I’m glad to see you alive once more” Alicia said seriously.
Ofelia blinked and paused before leaning into her. Alicia sat transfixed as Ofelia’s face neared her own. This was Costia, the woman she had loved and had traced her fingers along her sensitive folds and soft breasts. Alicia’s eyes softened and she found herself leaning towards Ofelia anticipating her lips.
Ofelia’s lips pressed lightly against her own. The closed mouth kiss was sweet and painful. It was the same and also very different then before. Alicia had longed to be able to touch her again. After Costia’s death, the image of her dead lover plagued her dreams for years.
But this was not Costia, not anymore, and her heart belonged to another. This kiss tasted of sadness, of remembrance and good-bye. It did not make her heart race as it had before. It felt nothing like when she kissed Elyza.
The door creaked at the entrance but neither of them noticed the small disturbance.
Alicia backed away slowly and placed a hand gently on Ofelia’s face. She still cared for this woman, but their lives and hearts were different.
“I can’t,” Alicia said delicately. “I will always treasure our time together, but our time has passed.”
Ofelia stiffened, closing her eyes and backing away.
“Co-,” Alicia paused and began again, “Ofelia, I-”
“Don’t worry,” Ofelia clasped both of Alicia’s hands in hers. “I know who your heart belongs to. Sometimes we have people in our lives that are instrumental to our growth and then there are those that we are meant to be with.” She smiled at Alicia sincerely. “You and Elyza, that’s something beyond time and space. Even I know not to mess with that kind of love. I just, I needed to, just once. You understand?”
Alicia nodded. “It won’t happen again.” There was a small flicker of warning in her tone.
Ofelia nodded somewhat sadly and leaned in once more. Alicia pulled away abruptly, and felt slightly foolish when Ofelia embraced her lightly. Alicia closed her eyes savoring the moment and the memories.
Ofelia pulled away with a smile.
“We’re friends right? Family, even?”
“Yes, we are.” Alicia smiled.
It was time for both of them to move on, but she would keep her promise to Ofelia. Alicia would always care for and protect her.
Ofelia returned the medical supplies to their appropriate location.
“Oh, and your Mother wants to see you later this evening for dinner.”
Alicia groaned internally. Some things would never change despite the fact that she was a re-incarnated leader now living as a teenager in the apocalypse.
Blood pounded through her veins, contrasting her stony demeanor. Elyza stood on a great wall on the outskirts of Arkadia’s border. Technically, this wall was their land’s first defense to the outside world. It was well guarded by Arkadia’s most reclusive populace. As such, it was the perfect reprieve for Elyza Lex.
She approached on horseback and the people parted for her easily. Normally, she arrived in one of the more armed and sturdy vehicles along with a small guard. However, Elyza craved solitude, and this was one of the few locations she could guarantee peace and quiet.
Her finger delicately squeezed the trigger and the bullet pierced the skull of an infected. The undead victim fell to the ground and Elyza reloaded her weapon and took position once more. The infected stood scattered beyond their borders and Nadia made it a point for the herd to be thinned both regularly and discretely. Elyza’s muscles contracted and tensed with each shot fired and one by one, the infected fell. She felt the anger, uncertainty and fear release into each of the undead that she dropped. Soon, her body relaxed. For a few peaceful moments, Elyza felt nothing. Then, the image of Ofelia and Alicia flashed in her mind and a flicker of emotion encompassed her once more. She shot another infected and tried to return to a state of tranquility.
She was unsuccessful.
She felt the presence behind her before hearing the footsteps along the wall. Elyza closed her eyes and sighed, asking for patience. It was always a struggle when Nadia Hilker became involved. Clarke Griffin had shared many experiences with Luna kom Floukru, a great many of them were shrouded by less than peaceful times.
They stood in silence for many moments until Elyza spoke.
“I’m surprised you didn’t come sooner.” She continued firing her weapon and Nadia watched her patiently.
“It appeared advantageous to let you have time alone.”
Elyza’s nostrils flared and she closed her eyes. She opened them a moment later and moved from her firing position at the wall. She came here to be alone, but what she really wanted was to never be alone again. Elyza was afraid that after finding Lexa in this world, she would be forced to watch her with another. And she would, if that’s what Lexa wished. Elyza wanted nothing more than her former lover to live and be happy, to be free as she couldn’t before as Heda.
Elyza took aim and shot three infected in rapid succession. Her breath came in shallow pants
“You’re getting sloppy,” she remarked, referencing to the gathered undead beyond their borders. In truth, Elyza was looking for a fight, someone to push back against in the midst of her anger.
Nadia merely cocked her head to the side and only glanced beyond the wall for a brief second.
Elyza sneered and raised her voice. “How can we achieve peace and protect our people if you don’t do your job?”
“You act as if all people wish for peace,” she began, her voice calm, attempting to bring Elyza out of her mindset. “We are human. No matter what world we live in we crave death and destruction. Killing these monsters will not solve all of our problems. But it does help. I wonder what humans will do when there are no more to kill. What if the fight is all we have?” Nadia’s reasoning eased some of Elyza’s ire.
“You don’t believe that.” She said instead of apology.
“No, but I’m reminding you that you do not believe that either.” Elyza groaned internally, feeling like a complete bitch. The real reason for her anger was obvious, even to her. Elyza had never been one to keep her cool when it involved the woman she loved. She was fueled by emotions and the need to protect her people. It was who she was. It was one of the things that Lexa had admired about her.
Nadia continued to watch Elyza. Her calm silence was as irritating as it was soothing. Nadia was protected from the cold night air by a thick jacket. Her wild hair was partially bound and whispered along her slender neck and coat. However, her hair was shorter than the last time Elyza had seen her.
“She was kissing Costia,” Elyza blurted and shook her head and corrected, “Ofelia.”
Nadia waited patiently for her to finish speaking. “I’m tired of being alone.” Elyza finally confessed.
“Then stop being alone,” she told her simply. “Tell her. Lexa kom Trikru and Alicia Clark are not two separate entities. You know better than this. You know better than to compare and make assumptions, or at least you should by now.” Nadia raised an eyebrow clearly portraying that she expected better from her. “Return and speak with her, and stop disturbing my territory, Wanheda.”
With those words, Nadia turned around and descended the large wall flanked by two of her security. Elyza groaned and threw back her head, repressing a frustrated growl, knowing the other woman was correct. She picked up her rifle and shot two more undead before leaving.
Alicia was asleep. Elyza had raced back to Arkadia, intent on confronting Alicia after speaking with Nadia. Most of her aggression had dispersed and her mind was clearer. But she hesitated upon seeing Alicia sleeping peacefully on her side with the covers pooled at her waist without a care in the world. Elyza stared at Alicia in admiration, astounded at her beauty and surprised by the longing in her heart. This was the woman she had spent a lifetime, more than a lifetime, trying to protect and care for. Lexa kom Trikru was no longer a memory, but a very living, breathing woman. And that was where the problem began.
It was one thing to hold onto a memory, and live everyday with the ideals and best wishes of another in mind, but in the end they were dead. The principle was agreeable, but it did not bring the complications. Life was abundant with complications.
Elyza sighed in the dark and sat on Alicia’s bed. She longed to hold her but was afraid to do so and make the assumption that her presence was wanted. At least Alicia was alone in bed. Her heart would have shattered and remained frozen in pieces.
She wanted the safety and happiness of her people. But selfishly, she also wanted the love and comfort of Alicia Clark. Both dreams had felt too unattainable, but now they were right before her and in her very grasp. All she had to do was reach out and take it.
Her hand hovered in the air and her fingers whispered along Alicia’s skin causing gooseflesh to appear. Alicia shivered and Elyza curled her fingers away until they were suddenly clasped. She stared in shock looking into Alicia’s very aware gaze. The grip upon her fingers loosened and Elyza relaxed her hand down by her side. Her hand tingled in exhilaration from the surprising touch.
The bed shifted under Alicia’s weight as she sat up. Elyza licked her lips and steadied her breathing watching the other woman. Alicia was wearing a thin tank top and the room’s shadows did little to hide the swell of her breasts or the nipples peaking from the cold night air.
“You should know better than to disturb a warrior in their sleep.” Alicia reprimanded gently. The tone was soft and serious, but it held a hint of teasing that Elyza was unsure of.
Elyza stared at her for a long moment picking her words carefully. Alicia turned her head slightly, waiting patiently for a response. What did you say to your former lover? No dating advice column could cover this situation. It was late; they were both obviously tired and healing both physically and emotionally. It wasn’t the best time to bring up Costia. How would she even initiate that conversation? They weren’t in a relationship to begin with; they had made no such promises to each other in this life, added to the fact that literal ghosts from the past had been unearthed.
There would never be a good time. There would always be something to take care of, a moment that would pass, lives to save and other people to care for. A world that needed saving. Elyza took in a breath with every intention of explaining herself, of baring her emotions and insecurities both present and long since held in.
Instead, what came from her lips was, “I don’t want to be alone.”
The truthful words surprised her, because they were at the deepest part of her fears.
Elyza closed her eyes, unable to maintain eye contact with Alicia. She was about to leave, but Alicia grasped her hand and kept her from doing so. It was gentle and guiding and Elyza could have easily shaken the touch had she wished to.
Instead, Alicia gently guided Elyza down to the bed with her. They reclined on their sides facing each other.They did not touch, but gazed intensely, almost afraid to close their eyes lest they awaken and find the other to have been a figment of their imagination.
Neither one knew who fell asleep first.
Alicia rested topless under the covers, delighting in the beds comfort. She had officially moved into Elyza’s space, something that came very naturally to the both of them.
With the return of her memories meant more responsibilities, not because it was expected of her but because she expected it of herself. Alicia would never leave her beloved to lead their people alone, still healing or not. And truth be told, she was getting stronger every day.
There were many things left for them to do, including slaying the Queen knocking outside their walls. She had killed her with a spear to the chest once before and reveled the opportunity to do so again. This time, she had the Queen’s former son on their side. Zach, luckily, held no love or allegiance to his mother from his former life.
Elyza climbed on top of the covers in a low cut tank top and cut off shorts. Alicia turned on her side enjoying the view. Elyza began to trace the patterns of Alicia’s old tattoos along her back. Though they were no longer in existence she remembered each the artwork had represented.
“Did you do this for me?” Alicia asked tracing the infinity tattoo above Elyza’s breast.
“I did,” she confirmed.
Alicia moved her hand to trace the back of her neck no longer marred by a ragged scar or the same symbol.
“It’s,” she struggled to find the words, “disconcerting not having the flame. I used to feel them, each Heda that lived before me. Now it’s silent.”
The silence was lonely. She had always been alone, even when Costia had been alive, even when so many of her trusted generals were at her side. Alicia had been alone until a star fell from the heavens in a blaze, bringing her strife, turmoil, and turning her world upside down with her strength, courage and passion.
“But Becca,” Elyza disputed.
Alicia nodded, agreeing with her for the most part, which was rather unusual for them. They challenged one another on a daily basis even if they agreed on the matter at its heart. They simply had different ways to go about solving matters. Elyza would never settle for being told no. She had too much heart and spirit; it was one of the many things Alicia admired about her.
“She still comes to me, but only in dreams.”
Words failed them both for the next few moments. It was a calm and companionable stillness in the midst of their normal busy lives.
“I couldn’t find it” Elyza stated absently almost to herself. Alicia looked at her with her brows furrowed in question. “Polis, I mean. I couldn’t find it in any of the history books. I even googled it before the world went to shit. Do you suppose it ever existed? That any of what we remember existed in this world?”
“I don’t know, but we’re here now and that is what matters. We cannot be stuck in the past.” Elyza flinched and Alicia puzzled over the action. The closer they grew, the farther Elyza seemed to be. She reached out and circled her hand around Elyza’s waist. Her hand tickled at the exposed flesh eagerly. “Life is about more than just surviving.”
Elyza’s lips rose in a smirk. Some of the tension eased and her body melted into Alicia’s touch. “You’re going to use my words against me forever, aren’t you?”
“In any way that I may.” She raised an eyebrow haughtily.
Elyza rolled her eyes and gave Alicia’s shoulder a playful shove, but her face turned serious once more.
“We need to talk about Chris.”
Alicia sighed and sat up, running her fingers through her tangled hair as the covers pooled in her lap.
“No,” Elyza began, slow and elucidated, “He’s undead. He’s very much undead and growly and he hasn’t been dealt with for many reasons. Partly having to do with the people.” She paused, trying to emphasize her point. “They’re upset about what he did and tried to do to you. Falling off the hospital gave him an instant death, much too kind for him. The people are calling for 1000 cuts and they want you to do it. Jus drein jus daun.”
“It would not matter. He is not alive to suffer it. Jus drein no jus daun. You taught me this.” Alicia thought of Travis, and the pain of losing his only son, the last of his blood relations.
Elyza stiffened at the words as Alicia caught her hypocrisy.
“He does not deserve mercy. This is justice.” Elyza’s voice grew irritated and short tempered. “Further more, if I wanted to be cruel, I’d do as our lovely Queen neighbor and make all of our enemies into the infected and stick them in chains along our perimeter for all to see.”
Alicia sighed and tried to contain her displeasure. She caught her wrist and prevented Elyza from leaving the bed.
“I understand, but I must speak with Travis first. Chris was his son, no matter how his life ended. I don’t know if his death would bring me peace. I know I don’t deserve it.”
Elyza’s eyes softened at hearing the familiar words. It seemed that quoting the former Skaikru’s wisdom was one way to make her see reason and also gain favor during disputes.
“No, you deserve more.” Elyza corrected softly her eyes shining with love.
Alicia brought her closer until their lips brushed and their breath mingled.
They broke apart suddenly as the door burst open and Cory, or Aden, her former protégé entered the room unannounced.
“Damnit kid!” Elyza exclaimed and threw a pillow in his direction so Alicia could cover herself. “I told you to fucking knock!”
Alicia tolerated the behavior between them. They had shared many experiences together, and had bonded closely as an older sibling or guardian would. Cory looked up to Elyza and there was a great deal of respect and favor in his countenance. And while he admired and found family in Elyza, he hero-worshipped and fearfully respected Alicia. Cory was young, and while he was Reborn, he had not been infected and could not be held accountable for all of his former training and lessons. It was something Alicia planned to rectify in the coming days.
Alicia slid her arms through a light robe and faced him.
“What is it?” she questioned with an eyebrow raised inquisitively. She grasped her hands behind her back and Cory immediately reacted to the formal posture and stood at attention. Apparently, some of his former training was instinctual. Good.
“The council is convening and they require your presence.” He spat out, maintaining safe eye contact the entire time.
“Shit,” Elyza cursed obviously having forgotten about the meeting. “How long have they been waiting?” She ignored Cory’s presence and began shifting through her closet for her formal wear.
Alicia and Cory watched her hurriedly toss garments on the bed.
“Not long,” he said watching in bemusement.
“We’ll get ready as soon as we can, maybe a half hour?”
“It takes-” Alicia began trying to calm her.
“-as long as it takes,” Elyza finished for her with a grin. “Yes, I know.”
Alicia stared at the door before her. It was quiet, but if she listened closely she could make out the faint voices beyond inside the throne chamber. There were instances in her tenor as Heda where she had been just as hesitant to enter similar doors, but she never betrayed that nervousness or let anxiety consume her. At that time, she had been ruling alone. In this lifetime, Alicia had been assisting Elyza and sharing in her duties for over a month before her memories returned. However, this would be different. She was different.
Alicia recalled the experiences of governing. People treated her in similar fashion to when she had ruled as Heda, but there was more ease and even respect for the old ways from the Trigedakru. True, there weren’t many of them, a few thousand in total mixed in with the few thousand of the former Skaikru, but there might be others out there. It was their duty to find and protect their people.
“Are you ready?” Elyza asked from beside her.
Elyza’s hair was braided and her outfit and blue sash were in place, but her eyes were lined with elegant swirls of blue, black and gold. Alicia found her appearance breathtaking and regal, befitting a true Queen, perhaps one day her Queen.
“Yes,” she replied steadily.
Her response was honest and she felt more ready to face the council Elyza had established, both pleased and interested in its members comprising of Reborn Skaikru and Trigedakru. Alicia rolled her still sore shoulders, thankful for the grueling hours of physiotherapy and eager to return to her former training with her trusted warriors. A sense of normalcy would hopefully further ease the transition.
Alicia’s attire helped reestablish her role as well. She was dressed similarly to when she had ruled over Polis, with a few modern adjustments. The face paint was comforting, giving her a sense of strength and a shield.
The doors opened and the couple walked in regally, side-by-side. Alicia kept her gaze forward noting the faces standing at attention on the sides in front of the council chairs. There were eight occupants. Alicia recognized their faces and contributions, both in this life and their previous one. While not all of them had undergone the transformation, they were all Reborn. She was pleased with the people Elyza had gathered, save for Bob and Thomas, two members who had caused her people much suffering in the past; however, she understood the potential they possessed and decided to judge them based on their merits, and not their past deeds. If they proved untrustworthy, she would have them disposed of, whether Elyza approved or not.
Elyza settled in front of her throne with Eli and Cory standing on her right. Adina and Dichen nodded in respect as Alicia approached and turned, facing the room and its residents. She felt immense calm and gratitude to have two of her most trusted warriors and mentors at her side once more.
Alicia ignored the next words that were spoken and sat in her newly procured throne.
They commenced with a wave from Elyza. Various matters were discussed, mostly duties concerning assorted sections of Arkadia, including the breeches in the walls and strategies to continue developing their defenses in regards to their neighboring Queen. Much as before, they distrusted the tyrant, but she would never be invited into their circle of trust or community. There would be no truce, or trade. Arkadia was more than self-sufficient at this point and Queen Brenda was an enemy to watch and wait for and eventually overtake should the moment arise.
“Second to last on the agenda is the petition of Victor Strand to leave the establishment of Arkadia.” Henry added, as he nodded for the man in question to be let in.
Alicia and Elyza exchanged somewhat surprised glances. From what they had heard, Victor Strand was acclimating well.
Alicia knew that people left Arkadia, it just didn’t happen very often because the alternative of leaving was to chance the outside world. Very few people lived long outside the walls. You either died from the undead or lived long enough to be killed (or worse) by savage humans.
“You wish to leave,” Elyza questioned, “why?”
“I mean no disrespect your highnesses,” he nodded to both of them. Victor’s words and title appeared sincere as he began his explanation.
“You have a wonderful establishment here, but I have somewhere else to be, or rather someone else I was originally supposed to meet along the Mexican border.”
Alicia raised her eyebrows in surprise. They had spent months together and had no idea of this intention.
“That is a long distance from here. How do you propose you get there?”
Alicia was wondering the same thing. She knew very little about the man she had spent so much time learning to navigate through the ocean with on the Abigail. His earlier distrust had turned to reluctant and cautious respect. He knew what she was capable of. In many ways, Victor had been smart to be wary of her. He had sensed something within her from the beginning and had been one of the few to voice it.
“All I ask for is supplies for a month and a boat.”
“Considering where you are hoping to end up, if you get there alive on your own I would be very much impressed.”
Alicia silently agreed with Elyza.
“Be that as it may, I’d still like to attempt it.” He was oddly closed on the subject especially since he was asking for assistance and not just safe passage from Arkadia.
“What do you think, Alicia?”
Victor turned his attention solely to her for the first time since entering.
“You’re going back for someone,” Alicia concluded.
Victor seemed hesitant but he nodded, “I am. How could you tell?”
“Because I would do the same if I was in your position. No matter how long it had been.”
She could feel Elyza’s eyes on her.
“After all this time, why now? What makes you think they’re still alive?” Elyza asked.
“I’ve seen this,” he shrugged. “If all of this crazy shit can exist then surely one person can still be alive?”
Alicia nodded hoping for his sake that it was true. “We will give you a boat, something we can spare of course, and supplies as we are able. Come to us before you leave and do not hesitate to inform anyone if you need something for your voyage. Within reason, of course. You understand the dangers fully?”
He looked at her as if he thought she was the crazy one and not him for asking to leave a sanctuary in the apocalypse to sail half way across the world in search of one person that may very well be dead.
She sighed and looked up briefly asking for patience. He was dismissed the next moment and left with a slight but over indulgent bow for the occasion.
“There is another matter to be discussed,” Henry spoke from his seat on the council.
Alicia appreciated the former Chancellor Marcus Kane and raised her hand for him to continue.
“The family of Christopher Manawa would like to speak on his behalf concerning being put to rest.”
She could feel Elyza’s eyes observing her but she continued to maintain eye contact with Council member Henry Cusick.
Elyza stayed silent on the subject and Alicia realized that the other leader was giving the ruling to her without interference. This directly concerned her life, a slight against her, and involved her family.
“I will permit them to be heard,” she said at last.
Council member Henry nodded gratefully and the doors opened. Travis and Madison walked in observing the various faces as they passed. Madison looked twice when she spotted her daughter in full regalia and her walk faltered momentarily. Alicia knew this woman, she had birthed her, raised her to be who she was. There was affection and love. It was an odd feeling to associate so readily, but she had hardly known her birth mother in her previous life and had little to compare this feeling to other than romantic love. The closest thing she had to maternal or paternal love had been Dichen, Paunovic and even her former guardian and teacher Titus.
“You wish to bargain for the undead life of Christopher Manawa. We will hear your petition.”
“Alicia,” her mother began and Alicia braced at the disrespect from her own blood in front of the Council. Adina and Dichen also stiffened besides her.
Luckily, Travis placed his hand on Madison’s shoulder to interrupt her in time.
“Heda,” he amended. “We wish to have permission to give my son peace.”
“It was under my impression that Christopher Manawa believed he was above the infection, that he was one of the Reborn. Tell me then, did he not get what he desired, the opportunity to reclaim what he thought was his?” Elyza spoke plainly. Alicia allowed it, for the statement was true.
Travis’ face was pulled taught both in pain and anger.
“He was ill,” Madison refuted. “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
“Is this true, Dr. Turco?” Alicia re-directed the question seeking a medical opinion.
Dr. Turco paused, choosing her words carefully, eying her audience from around her Council position.
“Christopher Manawa was not one of the Reborn. I tried to explain this to him. Tests are inconclusive, not because they might turn out positive, but because they aren’t one hundred percent accurate. I’m a medical physician and surgeon; I’m not a psychologist. But, it is in my opinion that he justified his ill behavior and was under a significant amount of stress that made him delusional. It is difficult to predict what a person will do when put under certain circumstances.”
Travis’ face was both distraught, embarrassed and pained.
“Keeping his body chained to the outer border where people stare is not justice. It is cruel and you know it!” Madison scolded her daughter.
Alicia merely stared while contemplating her words. Very few spoke to her with such disrespect, but she allowed it. This person was her blood.
“How many occupations did Christopher Manawa go through while he was here?”
Elyza glanced in her direction before re-directing the question to Eli.
“Five,” he supplied calmly.
“And what were his references?”
Eli shared a glance with Adina and the woman grunted.
“Less than pleasing,” he responded. “Which is why we moved him multiple times.”
“Difficult would be a complement,” Adina scoffed.
“He was also cavorting with our most sworn enemy,” Dichen added from besides Alicia.
“Please, he’s my only son.” Travis pleaded, obviously distraught hearing his son spoken of in such a manner.
Alicia listened to the voices around her. She thought about the family bargaining for the soul of a family member gone astray. She listened to the advice of people she trusted with her life. Chris was gone long before they arrived in Arkadia; it was only a matter of time until he proved dangerous.
For all of his faults she did not hold his attempt on her life personally. Attempts on her life had been made before and would be made again. Truth be told, the familiarly of it soothed her. Things were not so different. However, his actions had endangered the people. Alicia stared at her mother and realized that she understood the love between a parent and child better than she had in her past life.
“I will allow you to end his undead life and bury your son. He has suffered and paid penance for his misdeeds.”
Voices erupted at once against her decision and Alicia raised her hand for silence.
“This is my final judgment.”
“Jus drein no jus daun,” Elyza added in support and it gave Alicia confidence.
The two leaders stood in unison and the council members followed their example.
“That concludes today’s agenda,” Alicia stated and walked down the path leading out of the room and into the adjoining one for more private meetings. Elyza followed her and as the doors closed behind them.
They stood alone in the room savoring the privacy.
“Hey, you did well,” Elyza praised wrapping her arms around Alicia’s waist from behind. She rested her head over Alicia’s shoulder and placed a kiss at the nape of her neck.
Alicia slumped in her arms. Had governing always been this difficult? How was she supposed to do this if granting a favor for her family was such a challenging endeavor? Had she weakened herself in the eyes of their people?
“It will get easier,” Elyza whispered reassuringly.
Alicia turned in her arms, holding her securely. “How is it that you always know my thoughts?”
Elyza slowly smiled at first with her lips and then with her eyes. “I know you. You always do what you think is best for everyone. You’re selfless. Although, sometimes you’re extremely difficult.”
Alicia merely raised an eyebrow in query and slight disbelief. “I’m difficult.” She said rhetorically.
Elyza opened her mouth with no doubt a witty retort on her tongue, when a knock sounded on the door. They separated slowly and the door opened. Cory poked his head in glancing between them.
“Sorry, but they want to speak with you.”
Alicia knew whom he was speaking of. She sighed and nodded.
Elyza kissed her cheek softly. “I’ll see you later.” She excused herself and passed through the doors without another word. Part of Alicia wanted her here as a safeguard. She was not eager to face Travis and her mother. She did not want their pity, their anger, or their judgment.
They entered through the same door Elyza had left through. They were tense and tired but did not come across as bad-tempered. The three of them stared at each other waiting for the other to speak.
The door opened once more and Paunovic entered stoically. All three glanced in his direction as he took up position at the door, watching their every move. Alicia cocked her head in query but he remained ever silent and vigilant.
She sighed internally, irritated that she had a chaperone for a family discussion. Part of her blamed Elyza, no doubt this had been her doing, but she knew Paunovic and his penchant for keeping her safe at the expense of her privacy. Lord knew that he had seen her and Elyza in various shades of undress over the last few weeks. She decided to ignore his presence and get the conversation over with.
“My decision is final, and was in your favor.” Alicia stated breaking the silence.
“We know,” Madison started, “but I just want you to think about if you are doing the right thing.”
“The right thing?” Alicia repeated.
Travis and her mother nodded empathetically.
“Chris was one of us, he was my son and he was disturbed-” Travis began.
Alicia bristled at his audacity. How dare they come in to her domain and tell her how to rule after doing them a favor and proceed to lecture her?
“He tried to kill me and endangered all of us in the process. He was never one of us. He chose his fate.” She said tersely and without remorse.
“Just listen to yourself!” Madison raised her voice and Paunovic tensed. “This is what I’m talking about. Are you even in there anymore, Alicia? What are you doing trying to lead these people? Or are you just one of these Reborn fanatics?”
Although severely irritated, Alicia waived away Paunovic’s concern and he stilled at once.
Madison and Travis eyed the large man in trepidation. Perhaps she would thank Elyza for his presence after all.
“They are not fanatics,” she explained calmly. “This is who I am. I am still your daughter, Alicia Clark, that broke curfew and argued over chores. But I am also a warrior and a leader of thousands. I commanded armies and lead my people to our enemy’s gates both to die, and in victory.”
They studied each other and while the tension between them was thick, there was also a sense of fatigue. Perhaps, this was also a part of growing up; realizing that your parents were human as well.
“I’m truly sorry about Chris,” she said sincerely. “When I decree a verdict you cannot question my decision in front of others. You are my family, but my family is larger than both of you now. I have others I love that I need to protect. Do you understand?”
Madison deflated before her eyes.
“I’ll try,” Madison nodded and reached her hand out to caress her daughter’s cheek. Alicia allowed the contact briefly, before moving out of reach.
“When can I take Chris?” Travis asked.
“Paunovic will take you now if you’d like,” she nodded to the vigilant warrior. “However, his death will require a witness.”
“Alright, sweetheart,” Madison replied softly staring at her daughter in wonder and sadness.
Alicia wondered if they would ever see her the same again.
I tried really hard to edit this well. I read it twice, once before by Beta edited and then after. Regretfully, I do not think this flowed well, but I do hope you enjoyed it. Please comment and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading.
Cory gasped and fell to the ground, clutching his stomach. He glared up at the warrior above him.
“That was a cheap shot,” he accused in Trigedasleng.
“Your enemies will not fight fairly, little Wanheda,” Zach mocked, “especially not the Queen.”
The former Azgeda Prince and King offered the young man a hand, but Cory disregarded the gesture and stood. He reset his stance and swung his sword in a wide arc and held it in a ready position.
Zach smirked and rolled his shoulders. He charged and Cory sidestepped easily, avoiding the move and deflected the attack that followed, but only barely.
Cory stumbled, but gathered his footing.
“Pay attention,” Adina chastised, watching them with a critical eye. The fierce warrior stood a few meters away, monitoring Cory’s training session.
Alicia noted the difference in Cory’s skills, remembering the grueling hours spent perfecting physical and mental prowess. The boy had not been infected and she hoped he would never have to undergo the process. She recalled the pain of recovery, and was thankful she was delirious for much of the initial healing process while she fought for her life.
Elyza had taken on the job of preparing the young boy for battle and leadership as he had before under her tutelage. His training was a combination of old and new practices. Elyza was easier on him than Alicia had been as Heda. Times were different then, but after the infection, it was a familiar routine of survival. Imminent death from all sides was a constant reminder of how precious life was and how important it was to not only survive, but also live. And that was what Elyza had begun to develop in Arkadia.
“His defenses are poor,” she noted to Dichen, her friend and former mentor.
“As are yours, second,” the woman emphasized with a punch to the left shoulder. “Your woman shall be upset that you are unable to defend yourself.”
Alicia winced, rubbing at the healed bite. She sported her own set of bruises and scrapes from an earlier sparring session. Dichen was correct; her reflexes were slower than her usual standard. Elyza was constantly hovering over her, especially because of her medical background. Part of Alicia enjoyed the attention, but she also disliked the worry she caused Elyza.
“Good enough to take you down,” Alicia arched an eyebrow, glancing at the scrape along Dichen’s chin.
“You were lucky,” she ignored Alicia’s taunting gaze.
A gunshot reverberated in the distance and she froze, listening for any other sound. Soon after, wisps of smoke rose in the distance and she stared at it passively. Chris was dead; his body was burning. She wondered idly how her family was managing.
“You are absent from your people,” Dichen noted, observing her.
“You are my people,” Alicia responded, looking into her eyes. She meant no disrespect to the people she had forged such strong relations with, but times were different now, she was different.
“I paid my respects to his memory earlier. I did not wish to make them uncomfortable as they mourned. Elyza is with them.” She was grateful to her for being present. Travis was her main concern; it was his son and last remaining hold to the world.
“They will recover and accept things as they are or they will leave. Would you let them leave, or would you go with them?” Dichen queried waiting for her response.
“This is my home, you are my people. They are smart; they won’t put themselves in unnecessary danger. And if they leave, I will do all that I can for them, but this is where I am needed.”
Dichen searched her face, looking for any sign of hesitation or weakness. Finding only truth in her gaze, she nodded solemnly.
“And I will be at your side,” Dichen swore. “Both of you,” she amended, referring to Elyza. “Your partner is strong, you chose well.” The admission was said with obvious reluctance and beguiling respect.
Alicia threw her head back and laughed.
A few days after Chris was released to his final resting place, Alicia approached Elyza with a request.
“I would like to see the one who slew me.”
Elyza sucked in a breath, pausing over the map she had been researching.
“Why?” she asked returning to her work casually. Alicia could tell from the tension in Elyza’s shoulders that she was uncomfortable with the request. “You don’t need my permission to do anything.”
“No,” Alicia agreed, “but I respect your guidance.”
Elyza sighed and stood up moving the map aside.
“Why do you want to see him? How did you even know he was here?”
“I have seen him already,” she revealed. “I saw him when I first came here. He was unwell and seeking penance.”
“Yes,” Elyza admitted slowly. “He’s been seeking my forgiveness for some time.”
“You have not given it to him.” Alicia observed with a note of curiosity.
It was one of the things that had plagued her mind in the evenings when she couldn’t sleep. How had Elyza crossed his path, and why had she kept him imprisoned after all of this time?
“No,” she admitted softly not meeting Alicia’s green eyes. “I couldn’t, not without you.”
Elyza sighed and glanced up briefly and leaned against the table they had been strategizing over not moments before. “I’m not sure if I can forgive him.” She hissed obviously hurting. “He ruined everything, but everything was already fucked up without him.”
She ran a hand through her hair in frustration. “He wasn’t the only guilty party I found and captured,” she disclosed unapologetically. “I didn’t want them to get hurt…just go away. I can’t kill them, I wanted to, believe me, but I couldn’t. God, you must think I’m so pathetic.”
Alicia stepped forward and grasped Elyza’s chin in her hand. Slowly, she brought her chin up so their eyes met and waited until she had Elyza’s full attention. She brought their lips together in a soft closed mouthed kiss eyes fully open. Elyza gazed at her in hopeful wonder.
“Never,” Alicia implored, less than an inch from her face. “I will never think you weak or pathetic. You have a strong heart and spirit.”
“Their lives are yours to do with what you want. Tell me what you want, and I’ll do it.” Elyza clenched the table with her hands, every part of her being wanting to please.
They gazed at each other silently before Alicia kissed her again, this time deeper. It was still chaste in comparison to some of their more passionate kisses, but there was trust and sincerity behind the gesture. Alicia rested her forehead on Elyza’s and their eyes closed in companionship.
“You are alive, our people are alive. But I need to face this so I can move on. Do you understand?”
“I do,” she whispered and Alicia felt the nod against her.
“Take Aleks with you, for my peace of mind.”
She decided to make the visit to the prison sooner rather than later. It was best to get it out of the way than let it dwell. Besides, she had no intention of making Elyza any more uncomfortable than she already had. Aleks walked stoically besides her and she drew comfort from his presence as she had many times in the past. His unwavering faith in her judgment and capabilities had always made her strong in the past, even when he had disobeyed her. He knew better to disobey her orders or betray her trust; no matter how deeply rooted his concern for her well being was. It was similar for Titus, although she doubted if the man had ever loved her as Paunovic.
Titus had loved what she was. As Heda she had been a symbol of the Coalition and representation of the Flame.
Despite her determination, she felt unease settle in her gut. Dinner was about to begin for most of the residents in Arkadia and she was relying on that fact to travel unopposed through the buildings.
“Oh Captain, my Captain!” A voice hailed from the shadows.
Paunovic grabbed the intruder suddenly about the neck and shoved him into the wall. A red apple fell and rolled along the floor and she stopped its progress with her foot. The man gasped in surprise and nearly choked on the apple he had been devouring.
“Nick?” Alicia’s brows furrowed in confusion and then in annoyance at her brother. “What are you doing?”
Nick pointed at the hand restricting his windpipe and Alicia nodded at Paunovic and Nick was released. Nick rubbed his neck, breathing deeply and eying both of them warily.
“Guess you really are some hotshot now. I always knew you were a high and mighty bitch.” The tone was mostly teasing but Paunovic didn’t see it this way. He made to grab Nick once more and beat the respect into him but Alicia stilled his hand.
“You’re still an idiot,” Alicia sighed.
“But now I’m the idiot brother to the co-leader of the apocalypse.” He spread his arms wide in dramatic flare.
Alicia picked up the apple at her foot and Nick snatched it from her. He cleaned it on his shirt and took a large bite.
“Yes, and you’re in my way.” She walked around him but he continued to follow her.
Paunovic glanced at her meaningfully and she shrugged.
“We haven’t seen you since Chris bit the bullet and was invited to a barbeque.”
“Must you be so crass?” She felt poorly enough over the event as it was. “I thought it might be best if I gave Travis time.”
“You’ve given them time, sister dear. Mom misses you,” he divulged, serious for once. “No one blames you,” he added finishing his apple and looking for a place to dispose of the core. “I didn’t care much for the poor bastard,” he said quietly.
Disliked or not, his death was on her hands and that was enough.
“I’ll come see them tomorrow,” she said to appease him.
“So, which inmate are we visiting? This is the way to the prison isn’t it? And where is your partner in crime?”
“Most likely sleeping.” Elyza was exhausted and Alicia had advised her to rest until she returned from the prison at least until she returned.
“Did you wear her out already this early in the day?”
The innuendo was not lost on her but she ignored it, especially since she hadn’t actually slept with her in the carnal sense in this life. She ignored Paunovic’s side-glance. Nick must have sense her thoughts because he rounded on her in the next instant.
“Wait, you haven’t slept with her yet have you? Holy shit, really? Damn, this must be the one and done thing if you’ve been sleeping in the same bed and haven’t fucked. Maybe it’s that Thomas guy. I heard they were a thing. Well, not in this life, but that other life thing, or whatever you guys call it.”
Alicia’s patience for her flesh and blood ended abruptly. Alicia turned on him in anger at hearing him speak so crudely of Elyza. His words had also brought forth hidden thoughts of doubt. What was she waiting for, what was Elyza waiting for? Perhaps, the intimacy they had thus shared was something else entirely?
“Say one more word and I’ll cut out your tongue,” she growled. He held up his hands in surrender, realizing he had gone too far, teasing his sibling who also happened to have the ability to chop him up in to little pieces.
Alicia inhaled deeply through her nose and counted to ten silently releasing the breath.
“Now, if you’re going to follow me, shut up will you?”
Alicia nodded and they continued on in silence.
“So who’s the criminal?”
She groaned internally. She should have known the quiet wouldn’t last. Alicia could practically feel Paunovic’s annoyance radiating off of his larger form. In times past he would have silenced someone so ignorant and disrespectful with a blade in the gut.
“An old acquaintance and mentor.” There was little she wanted to discuss on the sensitive matter, but perhaps a fresh viewpoint would be helpful, even if it came from a less than desirable source.
Finally, she stopped in front of a door and motioned for Paunovic to unlock it. The door creaked open and a man huddled in the corner. He blinked at the light shining through the door and his eyes widened seeing her standing there much as she had appeared to him on the day of her death.
“Titus,” she said, without inflection or emotion.
Alicia watched his face change the moment he realized she had procured the memories from her past life.
“This is the man who killed me.” Alicia informed Nick and her brother glanced from her to the stranger he had seen briefly months ago, on their first arrival. “He was a religious figure and my mentor.”
“Please Heda, I-” Titus crawled on his knees towards her. Paunovic kicked him backwards. “I am not worthy, but I ask for your forgiveness.”
“Although, his real target was Elyza,” Alicia continued speaking to her brother as she watched the pitiful man before her. “Titus saw her as a threat.”
He flinched hearing his name, but Alicia did not know his present name nor did she care to learn it. He had once seemed such a strong and pious figure, and now in his place was a groveling, sad man. It was difficult to place all of her hate and anger at a person who appeared mournful of his actions.
“Love is weakness. You taught me this from the moment I came to Polis. You were wrong, and I was wrong to allow you to dictate my actions and thoughts for so long. However, you did not break your word from what Elyza has told me. Tell me, what would you have me do with your life?”
“I only meant to protect you. I have no excuse. Do with me what you will,” he bowed his head.
“Nick,” she caught her brother’s attention as she continued to watch the man before her. “Do you believe in second chances?”
“I believe in death and gravity.” He shrugged, contemplating her question further. “I do, but I’ve fucked up a lot of second chances before this shit started, so I’m not sure.”
Alicia nodded gravely. “I forgive you Titus; however, I cannot let you go. But nor will I end your life. You disobeyed me, endangered the people and you cannot be trusted. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Heda.” He almost sounded as if he longed for death and wished she would end his life with the cruel lessons that had been installed in her from his very first lessons.
“Love is not weakness, it is strength,” she imparted this last bit of wisdom as Paunovic closed the door. Perhaps, one day in the future, she would decide to end his life or set him free.
Nick watched her and followed as she turned around ready to leave. She stopped and glanced to her left. Her brows furrowed remembering another person she had seen. She knew Pike was down here as well but she distinctly remembered a female in this room. She opened the latch on the door opening the small window.
A brunette slept on the single cot. Alicia studied her clear face, trying to place her features. Suddenly, the young woman’s eyes opened and she sat up. Their eyes locked and Alicia immediately recognized the face of Ontari kom Azgeda, the Azgeda Queen’s secret Night Blood and chosen successor.
She could tell by the way the woman looked at her that she didn’t recognize her, or rather didn’t know who she was. She was Reborn, but without her memories.
Should they let her go so close to the Queen?
They’d use her as leverage at some point, or kill her. Time would tell.
I hope you have enjoyed this chapter. Please leave a comment if you feel inclined.