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From Where We Started
The village cried to me in agony, begging me to stop the suffering. My eyes blinked, almost teared up by the smoke that came over, blown by disaster-made wind, to choke me. I was unable to stop, I had gone too far. This was too much that even a simple rainstorm couldn’t stop. Fires raged upon the roofs, making roaring sounds, threatening me from taking any more steps forward. The dirt path of the village that I stood in neatly placed houses symmetrically. Each of them made of wood and rice paper, such a perfect ingredient for flames. My mind had decided, and I forced myself into the heart of the village—about six or ten villagers dead as I passed them. This wasn’t something I could travel back in time and stop myself. This was a mistake I had to bear. The destruction of an entire race!
The flames danced wildly upon the roofs of each houses, its green flames created orange fire, one house at a time.
I made my way into the center of the village before I was stopped by a familiar voice. “Elise… please…” the man coughed, pleading me. It was chief.
Why was I so stupid? These people knew me, they trusted me. And yet, I turned their faith against them. I wasn’t their guardian angel, I was the fiend that lied through the bare teeth of this twisted mouth. He didn’t pull his head up, it took too much energy, and at that moment, strength was what he needed to pull the words out of his mouth. His words were quiet, I had to kneel and lean my head in. “Within my mansion lie my two precious children. We may be done for, but they still have so much to live for! They will be my future. Save them… I beg of you.” There was a large cut on his back, barely any burn marks. This might be the reason why he was in this state. I looked at him in pity, then it would countered back at me. “I know what you’ve done.” And I know I can’t ever repay this, no matter how many times I torture myself. “But it’s not your fault.”
My eyes widened, lips tightened, and I dared to shout at a man lying on his death bed. “It’s not my fault? I’m the one who started the fire. I’m the one with the Queen’s Flame!” I selfishly confessed to everything. “And you say that it’s not my fault?”
Under his ragged grey hair, his face pointed toward the ground and away from my view, I could feel his smile. He was grinning. The chief moved his head sideway, letting himself watch his village falling apart. “I have told that one day this would happen. We weren’t made to live forever. I have accepted my fate, but I can’t let my children be a part of this. Please, as a favor from a friend, save them. At least… you’ll be able to save a part of yourself with this.”
After continuing to observe him, he no longer moved. The chief was gone. If I saved his children, I would be saving myself? What kind of logic was that? Ah, psychological. My knees straightened and I had gotten back to my original height. Turning on my heels, I was about to head toward the chief’s mansion—to the east—when something suddenly surprisingly grabbed my ankle. I turned back, shock surging through my brain. It was a soft grip, rather, a dying grip. “Whatever you do, don’t let her spread her wings.”
Don’t let her spread her wings.
Those were his final words.
He was supposed to be dead. And yet it was like the heavens above sent him straight back to his body to let him heed his warning to me. At least I knew that one of his two children was a girl. After the charcoal covered hand released me of my position, I continued onward east. Of course, the chief wasn’t lying when he said mansion. Out of every regular looking houses, his mansion stood out like a sore thumb. It was like the city hall, except this was a standalone village that preferred no connection with anybody. This village was peaceful, well, usually. Now there wouldn’t be a tranquil home in the planet of Yuos, the green planet that was surrounded by vegetations, waterways, oceans, and natural-born enemies.
The manor was like a painting, one filled with hatred and the desire to burn everything. The fire already made its way here, quickly eating everything up and spitting out the dust. I’d better hurry. The frames came forth from the ground and up to the seven foot wall, then side to side the structure would connect to keep itself from falling apart. What covered it from the public was rice paper. The brownish red oak shined brighter than it should be. The flames were heading up. Soon, the ceiling that had an arc would collapse with the children under it. I heard enough screams that would last a lifetime. I wasn’t about to have another carve into my brain.
The oak and tan-ish white rice paper was no match for my boot as I kicked it down. With the door opened, I searched for these two children, not knowing if they were alive or already burned to a crisp. Ashes flew onto my skin and clothes without me noticing. I was in a frantic state, coughing every few seconds. At this moment, the smoke that caused so much poison would drop a human’s lung, letting them suffer before their body was engulfed. Too bad I wasn’t one; I didn’t plan on being a victim to fire. But there was too much, it was blocking my vision, tickling my throat and causing me to retch like a madman. The green floor was all I could see on the bottom, but the door that released all of this smoke appeared to not be the way. I should leave the guest room and not take the closet’s door.
Everywhere I searched for these two. Had the chief deceived me? Did he bring me here to die? No, he knew who I was. Piles of burnt wood weren’t going to kill me. They might as well stab my heart with a wooden stake. No, he would never be this… evil. Although I had never seen these children of his, did they even exist? The time that I spent here in this village, I never caught a glance of them. He described them with so much grace in his voice. “They are the most beautiful thing you’ll ever lay your eyes on, Elise. My people say that the color of their hair shows that they are infected. Of all things they decide to tell to the chief, they go ahead and tell me that my children are defects. Maybe I shouldn’t be so nice to them; then again, I can’t be so mean to the people who raised me from child to man.”
“What is the color of their hair that makes them so different from others?” I asked him in return. “Is it such an out of ordinary for you?”
“Their hair is gold, just like their mother. Heh, before I took my rightful place as the chief, I found my one true love. Like I’ve said before with my children, people had said that she was infected with a disease, something they probably made up to scare me away. But you know what? I didn’t care. Whatever this ‘disease’ might’ve done to her, it did a pretty good job. She was a fair maiden, from my eyes, her blond hair moved with such elegance. I took her in as my wife and she made her end of her bargain and gave me two beautiful children.”
“You tell me much about your wife and children, but I’ve never seen them with my own eyes,” I diligently replied.
The chief smiled, his lips stretched as far as it could go. “In due time my dear friend, in due time.”
I’m guessing that the time is now, right? You probably want me to go as fast as I can before I miss my chance.
Gah, think Elise, think! If I was a girl who had a sibling and the whole house was burning down, where would I be? Was it too smart for them to run outside? How old were they exactly? I presumed that their brain hadn’t fully matured yet, so somewhat young. Maybe the chief had told them to hide somewhere, somewhere in the house, and wait for somebody to rescue them. “Oh, what was I thinking?” the chief wouldn’t think of a plan like that. I was getting too ahead of myself.
Or would he?
I didn’t know where I was anymore. Inside, everything looked the same, and I couldn’t afford to wait and think. The ceiling was starting to break down. The way I came from was now blocked. I started seeing the heat waves, it was already this hot? At the end of the hallway, I only had four choices left for me. Easily, I would be able to break out and get myself into the forest. The manor was one of the many houses that had its back embraced by the forest. If I was guessing correctly, I was near the end of the mansion. This was only a guess though, for all I care, I might bring myself out and back to the burning village.
Four choices, so much could be done, but I had no way of turning back and it seemed that the fire would only let me pick one room. I looked down at my feet, almost forgetting my surroundings, and thought, “Elise, you have only one choice. It better be correct.”
But first, I needed information. I had used the Queen’s Flame, one of the only flames with a mind of its own. It will burn and melt through everything, but what it loved the most was flesh, preferably human flesh. However, the Krozamine clan wasn’t human. It was still flesh either way, just like me. I noticed that the flames were gradually coming toward me as the other rest went pass me to head for four rooms. It was crawling by the side of the walls.
The Queen’s Flame was attracted to flesh, so if I had looked carefully, where was the fire heading? The second to the left, that was where most of the flames seemed to be attracted to. It didn’t bother when it skipped the first room. That was where all my bets were going to.
Darting to the room, I slid the door open, although it was already opened with the rice paper gone from the fire. I stepped inside, eyes carefully searching. A closet, opened. Fires were heading toward it. And the final hint, a sudden wave of a sunflower hair. She must be there!
I rushed and raced against the fire which appeared to be ignoring my presence. Though this was a bad idea, I ripped the door open. I didn’t think I’d have the patience to just open it gently. Inside sat the two golden haired children, just like what the chief had said. I found the similarity from his daughter, whose eyes stabbed me in my black little heart. She delivered a low growl with an intimidating aura that would drive away even the most fearsome creature; however, there wasn’t time for me to be scared. I pushed myself toward her, picking her up and dashing out of the room. The Queen’s Flame followed me, it was quicker than usual.
This was the luxurious meal it had been waiting for, and I was taking it away from it. I would be mad too if my delicious dinner—that would be in my stomach soon—was being stolen right in front of my face. The end of the hall was to the right this time, and I made no sluggish kick to the wall. It broke, and it looked like it would just tumble down without me using force. With that, I saw the forest. It would be foolish of me to bring the Queen’s Flame to the forest. However, the darkling of the Underworld would come soon and bring this flame back to its cage. I made haste with my escape. And it was even harder to run with two children on my arms. Oh, if only I could shoot fire until it died out. I would waste my entire clip on it.
I felt a sharp pain on my shoulder. The girl was biting me! It had started bleeding. Although once I had gotten far enough for the flame to lose interest, the girl kept struggling. And jeez, her teeth hurt as if somebody was repeatedly stabbing an old wound of mine with a pickaxe! After having no more patience with her, I forcefully threw her on the ground, and let her brother down gently. The wound that she gave me healed in no time. “Look kid, I’m saving your life here!” I growled at her.
Yet like a beast, she made no reply and tried to attack me once more. I had to hold her down; she was probably in a stage where she thought everybody was an enemy. It was a survival instinct for the Krozamine clan. Her brother, on the other hand, just stared at me with those gleaming blue eyes of his. For some reason, it felt so much better than the dagger reds from his sister. The girl was young, but she didn’t look like she was in her childhood stage. Her brother was, for sure. She was much different… ahh… what was her name? Oh, right, the chief never told me. He only praised them on how beautiful they were.
What about their mother? I didn’t see her in there with them.
Oh, but the chief only told me to save the children. Did his wife already die?
“What’s your name?” a sudden question. This was from the boy, his face looked eager to find out. What was up with him? Why was he so happy while his sister was in a rage? “My name’s Elliot!” he continued without hearing mine. Then he watched this sister, who was still being held down to the ground, and pointed at her. “Her name is Natasha. She’s a demon year older than me!” This girl was a hundred years older than him?
Somehow, hearing the cheery voice of her brother made her resistance stop. The girl blinked, and tears were formed. The moment I saw that, I went off of her. I sat down on the grass, somewhere a tad far from those two, and I gave my answer, “The name’s Elise Suzanne. I’m a friend of your father...” and the woman who destroyed your entire village. “I just happened to come here on a visit when I saw this whole place burning down.”
There I went with my lies; I just let it seep through my teeth without regret or anything. “He told me a lot about you two, although most of them were about how beautiful your hair was. I actually never met you two, and I never thought that I would meet you like in such a crisis like this.”
“Our father is kind!” the boy randomly shouted.
“Yes,” I couldn’t help but to smile at his thick-headedness. “I know that.”
The daughter refused to say anything, she only watched her brother as he happily conversed with me while his village was burning in the background. We were far, I ran fast, but the light of the fire was visible even from here. I wondered, “Was he talking to me in this tone so that he could hide the depressing side of him?” Surely, some part of him should be crying—like how some part of me should be regretting.
It was nice to talk, but I needed to move. I needed to be back on my ship. I needed to talk, but not to these two. “Come,” I said, “we better get moving.”
Elliot—that was his name, correct?—nodded, not knowing what I probably meant, and stood up. I walked a few steps before looking back. He was pulling his sister up, saying, “Let’s go with the nice lady, Natasha.”
It almost looked like it was a reverse role of older and younger siblings. However, Natasha was mature; she did care for her brother. To her, the boy was already in my grasp and somehow trusted me. And she wouldn’t want him to be alone with me no matter what. So Natasha had no choice, she had to follow.
Why the boy trusted me, I didn’t know. If they had the ability to read each other’s mind, they would’ve plan of an escape. Unless, the boy really trusted me, maybe he really thought I was his savior. Then again, why would they escape in the first place? This was the only home they had. No other Krozamine had left their home to find riches. They were happily bounded in this world. Where would they run? Deeper into the forest? They would get themselves killed.
I needed a flat land. Kallen couldn’t land in the forest so easily, especially when the ship was twenty-eight feet in length and eight in height. Looking back, Elliot was playfully pulling his sister along, tugging an itty-bitty smile out of her. I watched them with an agonized heart.
The two siblings both wore white—at least some were on them. He had a white shirt that was dirtied and somewhat black with charcoal. Leather shorts covered his bottom half with a tan, skin color. He wasn’t wearing any shoes for some reason. There were expanders that wrapped over his shoulders and to the top of his shorts the length down to his knees. The girl had a pinkish blouse that seemed to match with her white shorts. It was a bit shorter than Elliot’s pants and it looked tighter compared to his baggy shorts. Unlike him, she actually had shoes on. It was black, mostly from stepping on ashes, the same for Elliot’s feet.
They didn’t even look like they were from the village.
Regular clothing from the village was like the human’s sub-race of the Japanese while these two looked like they came from the Industrial Revolution. Oh, human knowledge, I was amazed that I remembered something like this. I shouldn’t be distracting myself on clothes though.
We were deep in the forest, and I was starting to wonder if this was a good idea to keep going. I was afraid that we might be lost. At this point, though, I think we were.
But then, the boy ran right pass me, forcing his sister to follow. I also had no choice but to trail behind. Their legs weren’t fast against someone like me, so I had to slow down a little.
Where the boy led me was a pond. No trees block this place, and it looked like a place for a perfect landing. From what the boy said, “I smelled fresh water and I was thirsty.” And it seemed that you wanted to wash yourself. Did fresh water even have a smell? My nose couldn’t pick up any ‘fresh water’ scent. His senses might be better than mine. Which was hard to believe for a boy at his age; Actually, I didn’t ask him, or his sister, his age. I should remember to ask them that later on.
Natasha had said no words toward me. She only saved them for her brother. I saw her mouth move from times to times, but they were mumbles and I could barely catch anything that flew out of her mouth. Usually, it would start off with, “Elliot…” and that was where it ended for me. Everything else was sealed just for him.
There was enough space here for Kallen to land. I had to call in. There was a gauntlet, almost like a knight’s gauntlet, attached to my left hand. The fingers were pointedly sharp, but it couldn’t cut through skin easily without a lot of force. It was designed for climbing, to be honest. I just happened to upgrade it and made it more suitable for my taste. Now not only was it a weapon and climbing tool, it was also a private communicator and a mini computer. I wasn’t that smart with technology, or so that was what I said to myself, although many people from my home planet had said that I had my uncle’s knowledge for he had created one of the first android that continued to serve and protect even after he disappeared.
The gauntlet was shaded black and covered my entire forearm. To be simple, it looked like metal was being folded over and over and over—in triangles with the edges cut big enough for a hand to fit—until it made up the forearm part. Then it was being folded again but this time into smaller three pointed shapes. That was why the tip became keen. Almost like those human origami claws. On the front, it had an automatic slide-able screen that was would have my every electronic needs. Right now, I needed to contact Kallen.
“Kallen, can you hear me?”
“I’m in the forest, somewhat far away from the village. If you fly around and about, you should be able to find a bald spot with two sunflowers hopping around the pond.” I checked back at the siblings. “Maybe even in the pond.”
“Copy that,” was what Kallen said.
Before I came here, I was traveling to the planet Yuos with my partner-in-crime, Kallen. I’ll talk more about her when she actually arrived.
Right now, I was interested about what the siblings were doing. While I was focusing on my gauntlet, the boy had hopped into the pond to wash his feet thoroughly. His sister had said yet another inaudible statement, but I had guessed, “Elliot! Don’t go into the pond, you’re dirtying it.”
Elliot was loud, his voice unwavered by hers, making repeated laughs. He didn’t exactly respond with words, rather, he pulled her into the pond. They section that they were both in was only at feet level. The rest of the pond was at a diving level, and it was pretty easy to judge from the clear, crystal water. Although it was getting a bit black by the boy’s feet. Like dye, the color detached from his feet and started wandering about in the water. I just realized, she still had her shoes on. Must be uncomfortable.
Right now, I was already sitting back as I watched them as entertainment. A tree was what I used for comfort. It was a good enough view where I was able to see both of their faces.
The chief’s son was happy… too happy. It made me nervous, what was on his mind?
What was on her mind? Oh, wait, I should know that by now.
The boy gave off this feeling of where he acted all nice and pleased, and when you take your eyes off of him, he would stab you in the back and at this moment, probably with a really, really sharp stick. I just couldn’t read his mind.
Natasha had taken off her shoe, leaving it wet on the grass. She had finally joined him in his fun. Now, they just looked like two regular children playing with water.
The sound of a ship was near, and oh, I was correct. The shadow indicated its presence, not to mention the loud humming noise of the engine. It slowly landed on the flat surface, the ship barely fitted in and it took careful and steady hands to keep it in one spot. When it nearly touched the ground, a few burst was made from the bottom rockets to keep it from making a loud thud but rather, a loud popping-like sound. It caused some wind that riled up the sister. She frowned and brought Elliot out of the pond and he did what his sister told him to do, hide behind her. From the amount of splashing that they had, it only reached the ends of each of their shorts.
The size of the ship wasn’t huge like the Alias, but it was a traveling ship. Heh, then again, how could I compare this traveling ship to a battleship? It was estimated, by Kallen, eight feet in height and twenty-eight in length. Like I said, it wasn’t big. The majority of this ship was the control room; the rest was a tad smaller than usual. There was a kitchen, supplied with ingredients that would tickle the human tongue. There was one small bathroom with a wall-in shower. Then, the bedroom took up what else of the ship. They were bunk-beds, obviously too small for me and too springy for Kallen. So, the two of us ended up sleeping on chairs in the control room while the twins spent their time in the bedroom. I gotten used to sleeping like this, so it was just like a bed to me.
The front of the ship curved downward, with windows replacing the metal the moment it arc. It gave the pilot more visual as where the outside could only see black windows. Wings were attached on each side and a tail in the back. Each of them was supplied with rockets, or rather, engines. Out in space, they would blaze little blue flames, keeping the ship in a steady road to nowhere instead of being pulled in by the planet’s force. The skin of this craft was light gray, with a hint of sky blue for its highlights. Little dark patterns surrounded the vessel in a weird and almost ancient way. Humans liked their ship to be decorated, even with the smallest details. I guessed it was just their way of doing things.
Everything was stopped when the ship touched the ground, and the door was opened from the top as it went down to the ground to make a small staircase. Out went Kallen, she gazed at the two who did the same, then made a trail toward me. Her eyes unmoved and her voice unchanging, she said, “Elise.”
“Kallen,” I assumed this was how we greeted. After I had my eyes over to the two, I whispered, “What should I do with them?” this wasn’t the best question to start with.
The android made no response; she kept staring at me with those cold eyes. Without any words, she took a step back and pointed at those two. “They need to be on the ship.
“They have a minor degree burn, but it’s made by the Queen’s Flame, they should get treated immediately before the fever takes in effect.”
Oh, such a dim decision that I had made when I told them to follow me. There was a side effect when a victim was touched by the flame. It amazed me how they were able to hold it off without telling me or even flinched by the constant pain. Ah, this might be the reason why Elliot wanted to be in the water, his feet was hurting.
I nodded, and shouted, “Hey, this here is a friend of mine. She’s going to treat you guys so don’t be afraid by her.” I didn’t know what I was saying.
But Elliot seemed to follow me and hopped in one place, cheery noises came out of him. Kallen examined him, trying to understand him, then she gave up after a few seconds and told them to go inside.
So went the boy, along with his sister. She forgot her shoes. Although she might’ve left it there to dry, I will never know.
Kallen was short compared to me and that was a fact not an insult. She was six feet shorter and I was at exactly six. Or 6’1’’ with heels which was what I was currently wearing.
“Humans invented high heels to give them themselves a more elegant structure,” Kallen informed me back when I opened the world of book for her hunger for knowledge. “When one decides to wear it for the first time, they would fall and tumble. Then like human evolution, they’d get accustomed to it, being able to walk around in heels with ease and maybe even running with them.”
Oh and was she right.
I probably stepped so hard into the ground while I was running that there would be random trails of holes. It started out deep and then it would fade out. I was far from the track so I couldn’t see, but from the way I felt like I was in quicksand, I made some pretty obvious prints. But let me not get into much of that anymore.
My partner, whom I had known since childhood, always wore black shirts, short sleeves. She didn’t exactly have a sense of fashion, almost like me, so she just found that darker colors didn’t hurt her eyes as much. Which meant that she didn’t like the sun either, Kallen wore hats whenever she had the chance. Then on the bottom she would wrap herself in baggy jeans that had many pockets. I didn’t know why she needed so much, although I could probably guess. Kallen wasn’t the one that did the missions that I accepted, sometimes she helped. And she was really useful when I needed her. Kallen specialized in stealth and hacking, letting me able to enter in a building with ease.
When a person looked at her, she would resemble any ordinary looking human, just more stoic. And to be honest, she used to be human. Now she was an android. I shouldn’t be lying to myself to make me feel better. Kallen was half and half. I found her floating in the Unnecessary which I found to be weird. The Unnecessary was a place where useless (hence the name) trash came to from all different types of planets. It took place in my home planet. Then, what was a girl like her doing in the Unnecessary, her body half torn. I will never know, because I didn’t care. All wanted to know was that I found her, rebuild her other half, and made her my comrade.
The children, never mind, just Elliot examined the ship as he let his eagerness get the best of him. “Wow! What is this thing?”
“It’s a traveling ship, made by humans for them to go around planets to planets,” Kallen blankly told him, not realizing that he didn’t understand anything she just said.
“What’s a planet?” he asked, scooting himself toward the half-android.
At this moment, Kallen was treating the girl first. She poured crystal water on any burnt marks that Natasha had, holding her down whenever she flinched or jumped. This was a cure for the Queen’s Flame. I would never bring something this dangerous without an antidote. The crystal water wiped the ashes right off, exposing some of the skin that was completely eaten. Kallen showed no disgust, her face stayed the same, and she wrapped Natasha’s wounds with bandages. After she was done, she told Natasha to get off of the plastic bucket and told Elliot to come in.
I was watching them from afar; I was sitting on the pilot’s chair. It wasn’t far actually, just a few steps away, my bad. From where I sat, there was only one chair reserved for the driver, while the other ones formed like benches that was built into the side of the wall. That was where Natasha was sitting, on the one with the black cushion. I once was touched by the Queen’s Flame, and I had to say, it hurt. But to see the girl not even let out a little yelp was amusing… err… I mean amazing. Her brother was doing the complete opposite.
“Oww!” he stomped his feet in the bucket, making splashes of water everywhere, including on Kallen’s black shirt. She didn’t mind. “This hurts!” the boy tried to push her.
It didn’t work as well as he planned out.
In the end, she left him on the bench with his sister. He laid his head on his sister’s laps, crying and whimpering and complaining about how painful it was. She was 3’5’’ and maybe a tad taller than average girls at her—
Oh, wait, I never asked for their age. All Elliot told me was that his sister was a demon year older than him. “Kid,” I said to Elliot. “How old are you?”