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 Action / Adventure A Day to Come (Epicurean & Bean)

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Epicurean, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    495
    Local Time:
    4:32 AM
    “Auntie, I don’t understand. Listen, I’m glad you’re trying to introduce me to people. I have to arrive here and I’m very thankful you’re helping me. You know I am. But why someone like that? She’s barely a Naneh.”

    Marain put the last of the clean dishes into the cupboard and turned to his aunt, the last words almost spat out.

    “Don’t talk like that, Mahree,” the older woman responded, worried rather than angry. “You know about her father! You should like that, no?”

    Marain grumbled; she was right. He did admire Cyrene Zajec’s father. He was one of the legends from the Great Rising, he had commanded a detachment in the occupation of Hersegal’s government quarter, broken up only by gunfire from the Ikani navy, aerial bombardment and crack troops. One of these people it was an honor to know for Volunteer Marain Ò Adith.

    “I do like that, Auntie Guen. But I don’t like his wife, and her daughter is working for them. One of these studied brats…”

    You don’t even know her!” Guen answered in exasperation. “Look, it’s not like you’ll be alone. Loads of people at the concert. And it’s Bryn playing, so you’ll get all your war songs and all that stuff. If you don’t have fun, fine. But you can’t just hang around the people you like, that’s just not Emmelan.

    Again, Marain had to concede that his aunt was correct, even if he bit his tongue – he didn’t spend his time with the people he did because he liked them. He was trying to do his part to shore up the decaying illegal network of the Army of the Future Republic of Nanehri. It was frustrating, but he just had to pour all his energy into it. Otherwise, he would have felt like a traitor…

    *

    They met on the rooftop terrace of the Ò Adith family house; it wasn’t too hot today. In the distance, Marain could hear afternoon traffic and the crash of the waves. Marain was sitting on one of the countless battered small benches always being moved around the house, having a drink. It was Sixday, he hadn’t had to work. He would’ve been content to spend the evening with his relatives, but he supposed going up to the Cliffside for the concert wasn’t too bad, either.

    Marain could hear Cyrene and Guen on the stairs and he rose to meet them. He wasn’t a tall man, his features still as young as his years, a young man’s casual strength about him. His dark, slightly unkempt curls added to the youthful image, while the rough pants and traditional vest made him look older and rather rustic. Marain felt a little stiff. He wasn’t really supposed to talk to anyone who worked for the Ikani provincial government, let alone the Security Police. Well, it wasn’t like he had to discuss AFRN business with her. He let a smile reach his blue eyes and extended a hand as Cyrene stepped on the roof.

    His Naneh was that of the Mila Hills, a sing-song quality to it, as he greeted her. “Hello! Good to meet you; I’m Mahree.”

    @Bean
     
    • Love Love x 1
  2. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    75
    Local Time:
    7:32 PM
    Cyrene nearly forgot about the concert. She had been requested to come in on her day off to finish some paperwork. She was overworked, but it did give the brunette sometime in the office alone. It was always surprising what people left out in the open, especially in their place of business.

    The graduate sighed as she filed away her final report when a familiar voice boomed in the office. “Cyrene- my lovely daughter! It is time! Hurry up! We have much to do to make you presentable.” Her dyed blonde mother, Idiria, waltzed into the office and grabbed her by the arm to usher quickly home.

    The young woman rolled her eyes. “Mami, maybe we should cancel. I don’t think he-“ Cyrene gave her mother wide eyes hoping that begging her would get her out of going. Granted, she wanted to go to this concert. She enjoyed the music, the vibe and the chance to move her body to the melodies. Her mother cut her off with a wave as she nearly pushed her daughter out the front door her work building.

    “Now, now. You will go. You will look stunning. We haven’t much time!” Cyrene felt a bit defeated. There was no arguing. Her father and mother were pushing this meet up. Encouraging her to participate more in her Naneh roots. She would find no assistance from her father.

    ***************************************
    Once home, Idiria fussed over her daughter appearance. Putting her daughter in a light airy dress. It was black in color, contoured to her frame, while not being heavy in the heat. Her chocolate colored locks were curled perfectly and cascaded down her back. Matching black knee high boots finished the look.

    Cyrene looked at herself in the mirror. Her mother over her shoulder with a proud look. Idiria had been a famous manikin at one time. She had graced covers and mediums of both Naneh and Ikani. Beauty and sex certainly appealed to both sides.

    The brunette cleared her throat and smiled at her mother. “Thank you.” She had to admit that her mother had a flare for style and beauty. While she would prefer a bit less eyeliner, she couldn’t deny it really did make a bit of a difference. Cyrene shrugged nervously. “I guess, I should go.”

    Idria clapped her hands before giving her daughter a kiss on each cheek. “Go! Go! Knock that boy off his feet!”

    “MOM!?!”

    “What… heard he grew into quite the handsome lad.”

    “Ugh-“

    “Love you, Dari!”

    “Love you too.” Cyrene was sure her eye roll was audible.

    ****************************************************

    The location of the meetup wasn’t far from her house. Guen was already on her doorstep ready to walk to the rooftop of the O Adith Family. They exchange small talk about the weather and everyday activities. Cyrene’s heart started beating faster as they climbed the stairs… either she needed more endurance training or she was nervous. She maintained her composure as finally they reached the terrace.

    Cyrene’s eyebrow arched slightly at Marain’s greeting but she returned his smile. She took his hand and shook it lightly.

    “Same to you. I am Cyrene.”

    Her mother hadn’t been completely wrong. He was attractive. Though she couldn’t help but wonder the motivations behind this union. Was it to appease family? His aunt and her father? Or just an introduction for Mahree who had moved here? Or something else? Maybe she would ask as the night wore on. For now, there were still in stage of trading awkward pleasantries.

    “I’m very excited for the concert. I’ve not been to one in months. Been a bit busy lately-“ Cyrene pressed her lips together, willing herself not to mention work. It was considered highly couth for a Naneh working within the realms of Ikani world to discuss their business so casually.

    “Shall we?”


    @Epicurean
     
  3. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    495
    Local Time:
    4:32 AM
    Her mother, Marain remembered, didn’t have the best reputation in Naneh politics; she was something of a sellout, having made her career by conforming to Ikani systems – as had her daughter, so far. But pretty she was; Marain had to keep himself from being too cynical about it as they got into one of his family’s cars, an old reworked taxi. He drove slowly and carefully; it wasn’t wise for an obvious Naneh (his clothes gave him away) to attract police attention while driving. As he took the now largely empty Duke Avenue (the last remnant of the final independent Naneh ruler, 300 years earlier) towards the Cliffside, he smiled.

    “Looking forward to this; Upper Cliffside community hall is a sweet place. They have all these murals and old flags and everything… and seeing Uaghey and Shahna on stage together is going to be great.” Bryn Uaghey was a well-known singer; he performed everything from age-old ballads to his own songs – including the fiery songs of freedom, battle and the injustice done do the Naneh. On this series of concerts, Shahna Mór played with him. She wasn’t a declared rebel singer, but anyone who worked with Bryn had to be somewhat political. Marain couldn’t imagine how anyone could be okay with the way things were, but some apparently were…
     
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    75
    Local Time:
    7:32 PM
    Cyrene nodded. So far it hadn't been a complete disaster... but really too early to tell. Marian seemed overly cautious, but it was understandable. Their kind was often discriminated against. Her studies had revealed many truths, that Ikani were unwilling to acknowledge or flat out deny.

    Naneh weren't not treated equally on the roads. Dangerous interaction to be had for both sides. Corrupt police and extreme rebels. It was gamble.

    The daughter of the Great Baras Zajec couldn't help but note his enthusiasm for such an outspoken rebel singer. "It is rather reveling that it still stands. A reminder for all wrapped in such beautiful architecture and artistry ."

    Cyrene paused for a moment. "Shanna is one of my favorite singers of all time. The chance to see her live, is a yawah come true."

    The brunette looked toward her driver for the evening. "I heard you recently moved in with your Aunt. Where did you live before?" Her voice calm and nonchalant as she tried to interact with Mahree.
     
  5. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    495
    Local Time:
    4:32 AM
    “I lived in Vhahan. Tiny place in the Mila Hills; family has some old land there. I used to work in Altula, but that place closed. Now I work for JIT Tech here in Hersegal, so I moved here. My Mom’s folks,” Marain explained. That he had become a Volunteer of the AFRN Mila Brigade and was now in Hersegal Brigade, North City Grounds Company, he kept to himself. The AFRN had been quiet for a long while; in fact, he’d never taken part in more than supply operations. “More to do here than in Vhahan, that’s for sure,” he added.

    They left the avenue to follow the rather steep road up to the Upper Cliffside, the most revolutionary quarter of all. Bryn Uaghey lived there, in Dillan Street, not far from the venue of the concert. Marain liked it up here; it felt more like the village it had once been than a quarter in a city of 500.000. He parked the car on the market place (named Navy Square, a shame considering Hersegal’s history) and they got out. It was almost completely dark now, but the street lights had come online. He smiled at Cyrene across the car’s roof.

    “Community Hall is right down there…”

    Soon, they were in a hall the size of a school gym, a high stage on one end, which was slowly filling with mostly young people coming in groups, chattering away. The place was sold out, so it would get pretty full. Marain looked along the painted walls; some where just scenes from the old myths, others from Naneh history – and at the ceiling, banners hung, their colorful fabric shot through and singed, all showing the Emmelan Circle, the Naneh identity symbol, a stylized group of people holding hands. Once, the Community Halls had been temples. Now they served whatever purpose the community they belonged deemed fitting, even while some of the old ceremonies were still observed.

    Marain looked up and pointed. “Look there; that’s the old Hersegal Brigade’s banner they hung from the Governor’s Palace in the Rising. And that’s the Wayfellow Flag, from before they founded the Army… ours, I mean,” he added. With Cyrene, he couldn’t just assume she knew he meant the AFRN. “I love coming here… looking at this stuff…”
     
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  6. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    75
    Local Time:
    7:32 PM
    Cyrene kept quiet. She listened intently to his answer and analyzed his mannerism. Mahree appeared to be rather enthralled with the AFRN. Historian? Or Member? She took a mental note and smiled as he explained the murals and banners of wars and events gone by. Now they seemed to be predictors of future conflict.

    The graduate nodded at Marian's lesson. Her eyebrow arching in amusement. For a moment she was reminded of her father and his love for the AFRN. Many critized him for his marriage to Idiria. A woman that had broken the barrier in some regards. Some had praised her for her ability to transcend the lines, while others harshly criticized her. Leading Baras to also face some harsh backlash.

    Cyrene listened but focused on the crowd. Some more unruly then others. Excitement for the performance was thick in the air. A man barged pass, knocking the young Zajec into Mahree. It was abrupt... and a formal Ikani word slipped passed her ruby painted lips. "Exos-" It was a very proper term used in high society of Ikani. She had used it since she was a child. Due to her mother's work and now her own.

    Cyrene took a step back and exhaled slowly. The rebel that had lushed through continued too drunk to notice. The brunette kept her composure, but her she felt her heart rate rise.

    "My father, speaks often of AFRN... and the wars and conflicts. He finds history to be just as important as the future." She gave a slight glance toward Marian before continuing. "I admire your dedication to it as well."

    She could check the box for initiating potential disaster. Cyrene conformed to much of Ikani culture to get where she was. She believed in diplomacy. The way to get what they wanted wasn't through rage war and senseless death, but through establishing themselves as a legitimate entity apart from the Ikani.

    She had studied law. Gaining the most advance degree. Top of her class. Grueling hours for little no pay at internships, before being hired to work for the Ikani's chief of police. She had seen it as an opportunity to prove herself and the Naneh. But even this route was not smooth. Doors continued to close. As they made every task harder and harder.

    Her boss continually insinuating that she should give up on work. She was pretty enough and enough clout from her mother to marry a noble Ikani boy. Cyrene played the game, but it was rigged. All she could do was continue to push back with her work ethic, intelligence and integrity. It was a difficult hill to climb.

    Soon the lights flickered indicating the concert was about to start. Cyrene felt excited to jusf be able to enjoy herself. Instead of worrying about being what the Ikani or Naneh wanted. Always toeing the line, either side attempting to pull or push her one way of the other.

    The crowd was rowdy, but voices began to hush as one of muscian tested their instrument. The young Zajec had always loved music, especially when she could dance.

    Her mother may have also toed the line, but she had instilled one thing inherently Nanehri. At a young age, Irida wanted her daughter to not only feel freedom but the spirit of her culture. Something that could never be taken or stolen. Cyrene was put into a naneh dance class. An ancient ritual passed down generation to generation, called Sichore. A beautiful elegant movements coupled with the pirouetting and robust swing. Though Cyrene is often mistaken for a Ikani or labelled a traitor… when the brunette is lost in the dance of her people there is no questioning her true lineage.

    She swayed a little and turned to Mahree. "Do you dance?"
     
  7. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    495
    Local Time:
    4:32 AM
    Of course, Marain danced. He found her formal Ikani manner affected, false, almost silly. But the woman herself was pleasant enough and the dress was appealing. The musicians started, the singers still waiting backstage, playing one of the ancient tunes that had no text, one of those that just had always been there. Marain wouldn’t have thought Cyrene could dance like she did, but of course she could. Her mother had made a career from being just Naneh enough to appeal to the Ikani exotically. So the daughter, too, had to be the perfect Naneh and the perfect Ikani slave.

    Soon, the whole room was swaying and turning with the music, laughter and conversation filling the air. Marain let himself go and danced with Cyrene, all politics forgotten even under the eyes of the valiant ancestors. Then, quiet fell once more and Marain turned to the stage; to loud cheers, Bryn Uaghey came on the stage. He was a short man, slightly heavy, with hair already receding.

    Seeing Bryn, Marain thought about tomorrow. It would be Uprising Day. Of course, it was strictly forbidden to celebrate it in a major fashion, but he would get together with the platoon… there was much to talk about after the news of the day. A new Governor, new heads of the security services in Nanehri, ‘Beamey Province’ in Ikani parlance. It did not look too good.

    Then, Bryn was done with his introductions and began to sing. The first five songs or so were completely apolitical; Uaghey told stories, performed old folk songs, love songs, and even sung ‘The Song of Joined Hands’, a spiritual. But then, the lighting changed. In a quiet, almost hushed voice, Bryn announced Shahna Mór; she was thin, dark-haired, and always looked a little unhealthy, but the smile under the single light that illuminated her was happy at the warm welcome they gave her.

    “Friends!” Bryn’s voice rang out. “Tomorrow, 25 years ago, the Great Rising began. The Ikani had promised us freedom for the help we gave them, the help they desperately needed to win their war. They gave us good words – and nothing else. Not even protection against the barbarism of their own scum. To that, the AFRN and the people answered, gun in hand. Victory was close; then came the massacre of Mila, the poison gas bombs on Esin, Meghan, Magone. We were shattered, but not beaten. Nobody can push us to the ground completely. The spirit of the Naneh lives forever, and I profess it, like our brave ancestors – and my beloved Fianna. Wherever you are, I’m thinking of you!”

    Fianna was Bryn’s wife, Marain knew; she was one of the militants who had left to truly live in the underground. Nobody really knew what she did, but the rumors were colorful.

    The song he had announced this way was a classic; it recounted the tale of another, earlier rising. It was slow and told the simple, straight story of a brave, idealistic rising soon destroyed. There had been so many, Marain thought, ever since the loss of independence about 300 years before. The Kings of Ikan that had subjugated the Dukes of Beamih (corrupted into Beamey) had found their violent end in the New Wisdom’s revolution not much later, but the subjugation of the Naneh had survived…

    The next song, this one sung by Shahna and Bryn together, was a talk between mother and daughter, with the daughter asking why the mother was sad, and the mother explaining that she missed her old comrades from a rising long gone. Marain sang along, loud and strong, like most of the room. The next song was another singalong for the whole crowd, a fiery demand to send the oppressors home. He had almost forgot Cyrene’s presence.

    Bryn, sweating, his eyes twinkling in the stage lights, spoke once more: “Oh yeah. We need to send these wonderful folks home, the cops and the soldiers and all the others. But that’s not gonna work without a fight. Because they don’t want to give us what’s ours in peace. For years, things were getting better, but now they’re pushing down again on all our throats. The new government wants to turn it all back. No longer! Our day comes! Up the AFR!”

    The next song was another militant classic, speaking about the typical hat worn by the AFRN in the old days that a boy tries on as an heirloom from his father, culminating in the words ‘and a holster that’s been empty many a year’, to which the crowd, Marain among them, their ‘but not for long!’ There was chanting now, the crowd was becoming raucous. Our day comes. Wait no more. A, A, AFR.

    Normally, Marain would have immersed himself fully in that, but with Cyrene there, he couldn’t quite get in the mood.

    Then, the doors flew open.
     
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  8. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    75
    Local Time:
    7:32 PM
    Cyrene couldn't help but wear a true and brillant smile as Mahree danced with her. She was impressed with his skills. Though she knew her old dance instructor would have enjoyed him as pupil. Even she had grumbled about the youth. The youngest Zajec could still hear voice echo after all these years. Yeda had been a tough old lady but she had been highly celebrated for her skill on the dance floor. The grueling amount of hours dancing had taught Cyrene so much. It was more than timing and rythm. It made her feel free and spirited. It had taught her to never giving up.

    She reflected for a moment but then lost herself in the melody and dance. It was the highlight of the evening so fat. Her faux pas soon forgotten.

    As the music continued the patrons became more and more charged. The lyrics and rhetoric fueling each of them as the musical notes captured them in euphoria of naneh. It was bittersweet. Her people deserved so much more and better. Her only issue was how they went about it. Too much blood had been shed. Too many wars and orphans. Naneh deserved respect and freedom.

    When Shanha hit the stage, Cyrene felt nearly out of breath. Her beauty and grace. She reminded her so much of her mother at times. Surprising she had agreed to do this. Maybe a form of protest against the Ikani. While she hadn't outright told them to fuck off, she had declined to perform for Ikani on several occasions. Giving much clout and admiration.

    Cyrene was not as lost in the sing songs. She knew rhe words but rather quietly mouthed them. Everyone was so wrapped up, that she went unnoticed. A relief really.

    The brunette stood there and swayed as she listened and admired her people for their spirit.

    The doors flew open and Cyrene instantly was on her guard. She spun on her heel to face in the direction of the doors. Part of her on edge and part of her wondering if it was part of the concert.

    Her emerald colored irises were met with her own work uniform. Instantly her heart dropped in her chest. This wasn't good. Not at all. And she hadn't even heard anything but annoyed muttering about the concert at work. Why would they be here?

    Cyrene felt her mouth go dry as the Ikani security forces moved in. She forgot about everyone else, her sights on the uniforms. On getting to them. Maybe calming things before they escalated. She slowly attempted to move toward them. Everything seemed in slow motion. Her voice caught in her throat but she wanted yell, scream, anything to their attention.
     
  9. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    495
    Local Time:
    4:32 AM
    Even in the dark, Mahree could make out the purple shoulder insignia of the fully equipped riot police storming the packed hall. Peevees. Damn. Regular Provincial Security Police would have been bad enough, but these were Police Volunteers, a reserve made up of the worst local Ikani they could find. Everyone knew they had a close connection to the Beamey Volunteer Movement, the outright anti-Naneh thug squads formed by Ikani in Nanehri, even if there was no proof.

    The cop came in like a steamroller, truncheons flying. Marain saw people go down, hit in the stomach, the head, the back. They were working towards the stage. For some insane reason, Cyrene was heading towards them. He cursed and grabbed her by the shoulders.

    “Are you fucking mad? Trying to get your ass broken?” he shouted over the din. He could hear Bryn trying to say something over the microphone, angry shouts and cries of pain. Rage welled up in him. He wished for his Ruafo 3-3 to send some of these swine home in a body-bag, but he was fully engaged holding his stupid companion from getting herself injured or worse.

    The SPV were almost at the stage now, he judged. He growled with rage. How could this happen? There was supposed to be a warning system, some damn lookouts? Had the vaunted Upper Cliffside AFRN Company dissolved, or where they all in the crowd, drunk?
     
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  10. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    75
    Local Time:
    7:32 PM
    Cyrene was determined to reach the volunteer cops. What the hell was going on? Were they summoned? If so why the use of such forceful measures?

    Her focus so intune with the police every movement that she didnt hear the screams of the attendees. That was until she felt someone grasp her shoulders and spin her back around in a whirlwind.

    Mahree had a firm hold as he yelled at her. The youn Zadjec held up her hands and pushed on his chest. "Get off! I'm trying to help. Maybe I can stop them!"

    Cyrene tried to pull away. Her green eyes finally scanning the concert hall and the sounds of agony hitting her ears. "They can't do this." Her green eyes wide. "Let me go!"
     
  11. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    495
    Local Time:
    4:32 AM
    Marain hardly heard Cyrene as he held her. He hated the men in the helmets. They were like a monstrous force entering his life at a whim, changing it, extinguishing it if they wished, barely human. Cyrene’s idea of stopping them was ridiculous, childish, only an idiot like her could even consider it. Spirits how he wished for a gun.

    Now the first PVs stormed the stage; the wispy drummer went down, her drums quickly smashed. Bryn received a rough stroke with the end of a truncheon. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Shahna still stood there, looking at the part-time cops confused, a water bottle in her hand while they systematically smashed all the band’s equipment and the other bandmember’s bones. Then two stepped up to her and casually, methodically, started beating her. ‘Don’t resist’, heard Marain. Then she was down on the ground, a cop over her, another keeping Bryn back. The one standing over the tiny singer started bringing down his boot, his truncheon into her lower back.

    “No!” Bryn screamed, his voice rising about the din. “No! She’s only got one kidney!”

    At that, Marain let go of Cyrene and started working through the crowd, roughly shoving aside anyone in his way. This could not stand. He could not let it happen. He had sworn to protect the Naneh people against any danger, and this was it. If he had to take a beating to fulfil it…

    The kicks, the ramming of truncheons was over when he had a clear view of the stage. Shahna was moaning, Bryn crying, repeating his plea.

    He got a reply in Ikani from one of the PVs. “Shut up already, fucking ninny, I know that. It’s why I fucking did it,” the cop said casually, his grin audible, then stepped to the microphone, the last one still intact. “Happy Rising Day!”


    *


    He didn’t know how they had made it out of the community hall and into the surrounding square; they ended up sitting on a low garden wall, the concert visitors around them, some still having their injuries tended to. The PVs were long gone; Marain almost regretted that. The mood was foul. A lone PV might easily get lynched here, he thought, reveling a little in the idea – but they never turned up alone, did they?

    His hands were shaking; to have something, anything to do, he checked his phone. A shaky video made the rounds on PowerParrot, of police stopping an ambulance in the dark, the Cliffside Hospital recognizable in the background, the terrified voice of the woman holding the phone commenting that it was Shahna in there and that they weren’t letting the ambulance through. Marain barely managed to switch it off before he dropped the phone. The sobs came so suddenly that he could do nothing against them. Marain cried, incoherent with outrage, grief and shame. Shame. This wasn’t his quarter, but the AFR Volunteers were supposed to defend against such transgressions. At least give warning. They were all failures, the whole damn Hersegal Brigade. Marain soon trembled all over, not even trying to say anything, not even thinking of revenge anymore…
     
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  12. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    75
    Local Time:
    7:32 PM
    Finally Mahree let go and Cyrene tried to move toward the stage after him. But other hands reached out and pushed her back.

    The youngest Zajec lost her footing and soon hit the floor hard. She looked up and was met with the purple colored flare uniform. It took her a second to recognize him through the chaos.

    "Chaz" She yelled at the officer as he roughly picked her up off the floor by the wrist.

    "Cyrene. Fancy meeting you here. Maybe I should take you in."

    Her heart beat fast as she tried to pull away. This wasn't the same as Marian. While he had held her firmly and cussed at her, there was some genuine care in her wellbeing. These hands were harsh and malicious as the officer attempted to grab at her inappropriately.

    Cyrene struggled. "Get off of me!"

    The blonde officer drew and arm around her waist and a rough hand around her chin. Forcing her to look at the stage.

    "Shahna!" She could hear Chaz laugh as the singer Cyrene admired was beaten. She felt helpless as he spun her back around to face him.

    "Cyrene, you're people are weak. Just join the Ikani." His hand slipped a bit lower and she felt her stomach churn. "Powerless. Pointless. You will die like your idol. Fraile and afraid."

    His tone mocking as his fingers gripped harder and harder into her curves. Cyrene was angry. All of this was so senseless. Chaz was a volunteer but also a politician.

    The brunette heard more screaming and pain. The pleas of mercy for Shahna fell on deaf ears. The blonde officer snickered and looked toward the stage. His hands loosening.

    He father had taught her many things. To throw a punch was one of them. Her arm swung back and with all her strength she sent a closed fist into Chaz's side. He was stunned enough that Cyrene was able to sneak into a retreating group of distraught concert goers. While Chaz couldn't prove it was her, as anyone passing could've thrown in, there would likely be little question in his mind.

    Luckily for her, the man's fragile ego meant he wasn't likely to admit that a Naneh girl decked him good.

    She swiftly made her way through the crowd and out into the night. Everything in chaos. All she could do was breath. Compartmentalize everything. Turn off the emotions. Something her father and mother were both good at in different ways. Her mind was racing. What did this mean? For the Naneh? For the future? For her and her work?

    She tried not to dive into that rabbit hole. Her focus was on finding Marian and hoping he was safe.

    ****
    It took her some time to find him. Giving her more time to calm her nerves. She comforted others in passing and asked about the man with dark curly locks.

    Finally someone pointed him out. She found Mahree sobbing like so many others around. Her heart was breaking for her people and Shahna.

    Cyrene quietly made her way to him. She approached and her hand gently landed on his with and encouraging squeeze. "Are you alright?"

    It seemed dumb to ask. No one was alright. Not this night. "I..." Words were caught were caught in her throat. Her lips wished to move and provide some comfort. How quickly a night of music and dancing had been ruined. Tainted with pain and agony.
     
  13. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    This must be how the last Duke of Beamey’s (really, it had been called Beamih, but the Ikani couldn’t pronounce that) must have felt, Marain thought, when they had lost the last battle all these years ago, near what was now the Old Rampart. He couldn’t stand it anymore. The brutality, the endless humiliations… and Cyrene… what was Cyrene?

    He looked up at her, emotion fading from his face. Was she a companion in this misery? Just another Naneh sister? Or was she one of those incomprehensibles, a traitor, who threw her kin under the bus for the sake of her own advancement? Through all the grief and anger, Marain admitted to himself he didn’t know. But that alone meant he had to be more careful with her than with other Naneh.

    “I’ll handle it,” he croaked, sitting up straighter. He wanted to say more, spell out his fantasies of revenge and liberation, but she was probably the last person he should tell such things. “Did you get hurt?” he asked. “I think I’m good…”

    The square was slowly emptying of the concert visitors. He waited for his phone to buzz, to get a code phrase telling him to meet up with his unit. Or had the AFRN fallen into such disrepair that it could no longer react? If that was true, then what? His anger faded and made room for hopelessness.
     
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  14. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    She tried to offer some comfort but it seemed unwanted as Mahree dried his eyes and became stoic. Like a stone. Cutting off all feeling.

    Cyrene pressed her lips together willing herself to speak. To say something to bring it back but she was at a loss. She could tell there was more behind his blank expression. How could there not be?

    The brunette knew there'd be bruises but she was alive. How could she complain when Shanha was in dire straits. "I'm okay." She was more worried abour her people. She withdrew her hand and looked around. The crowd was dispersing slowly. Marian looked a bit anxious at his phone. The youngest Zajec was about to ask when a booming voice could be heard calling her name.

    "Cyrene!" Her father stood at the top of the hill. Our of breath as he looked for his daughter. "Dari!" A term of endearment for a loved one that was female. He caught up to them and grabbed his daughter by the arm. She tried to pull back. She wanted to stay with Marian until she knew he was okay, but the look on her father's face, she gave up on all resistance. Still no words could be produced. Soon, Baras had his daughter safely home.


    ****** NEXT DAY *****

    She had been right. Chaz had left several bruises. Her body ached but she got into her uniform. A simply dark top and skirt. Slight heels. It wasn't very efficient, but it was what they prescribed to Naneh working for officals.

    Cyrene arrived at headquarters and it was a buzz of news. Shanha had passed away during the night. The youngest Zajec swallowed hard at the news and held back her tears as she filed and processed.

    The jokes from the Ikani police finally broke her. The brunette requested to meet with Boss. While he listened to her worry and her issues about the excessive force by the volunteer police, he waved his hand at the end in dissimal. "Cyrene, if you want to continue with your job here, you will have to accept that we have to go hard on these rebels. Right? You believe that? You aren't going Ninny on us, are you? Not after all the work you've done to get here." There was a sickening smile on his lips.

    Cyrene didn't have a chance to answer when there was a knock on the door and a familar and unwelcome face entered. Chaz. The blonde douche, smiling ear to ear at the graduate.

    "Sir... Cyrene..."

    The boss greeted the reserve officer happily, but the brunette smiply nodded.

    "Chaz. Welcome back to full time. We've been waiting for you. And just in time for the rebels. I was just talking to Cyrene about your work last night."

    Chaz eyed her and she instantly felt like prey. "Is that so? Naneh girl at the concert last night... make me wonder about her alliances-"

    The boss laughed. "Cyrene is harmless. Might as well be one of us. Not much of a Naneh girl. Not with her mother... what a looker."

    Cyrene shifted uncomfortably.

    "Yes, Ms. Zajec... tell us... where are tour your loyalties now?" She could feel Chaz's eyes burn into her. She nearly wanted to ask how his side was, but right now she had to play it cool.

    She looked up and both men were staring at her.

    "Um... I believe in dipolmacy. Something the rebels don't have. I've worked hard to get here... I want more than what my Naneh roots can offer. I know that. My mother taught me that. They are rogues and scum. But I can't help but show face with my people less they come for me and my family." 99% lies to sate the mens Ikani egos.

    She took a deep breath and faked a smile. "I'm proud to be here and work here with both of you."

    Chaz's eyes narrowed as he licked his lips. "Is that so?"

    Cyrene nodded. "Yes. I just get so scared with violence. I didn't know about the police raid."

    Her boss swiveled in his chair. "It wasnt planned. Something Chaz and I need to discuss. But no harm to the Ikani, so I see little problem. Plus we shut up Shanha. Rebels will feel rather defeated."

    Chaz laughed and Cyrene felt a rsge burn in her chest. She kept it at bay.

    "Thank you, Sir. I see now that it was warranted and needed. Im grateful for the lesson." She bowed slightly. "Im finished with my work, and request to go home a little early. My mother has some plans."

    Her boss was in a cheery mood and gave her the rest of the day off. Chaz seemed not very pleased with the idea. As she exited the office he called to her. "You looked as pretty as your mom last night. I still have a poster of her on my wall. A dream girl of mine."

    Cyrene gave a half smile. Her stomach churned and her skinned crawled. "Thank you." The words sounding hallow as she quickly left.

    The graduate couldn't get home fast enough. Neither her father or mother were home. But a note of her father's had been left on his desk... AFRN? Was he there? Did he rejoij the fight. Cyrene didn't even change. She rushed to the location. Not thinking about anything but getting to her father.

    As she approached the perimeter was dense with trees. Night was starting to fall and difficult to see. The youngest Zajec continued forward until someone or something knocked her down.

    It caused the wind to be knocked from her lungs. She gasped for air on the dirt trail. "Stop- Naneh- " She managed to get out between breaths. Cyrene got to her knees and took a few more deep breaths. "Who is there?"

    She was trying so hard to be brave and strong, but tears started to well in her eyes making her vision blurry. Why? What was happening? Things seemed to be falling apart.
     
  15. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    The meetup took place deep in the forest; before the Great War, banana plantations had been the mainstay of Nanehri’s economy. Now, most were abandoned as more and more people had moved to around Hersegal Bay. Some of the buildings still stood, and some of those were used for activities outside the public eye. This one, a good ways outside Hersegal, had been selected for a conference of the Hersegal AFRN leadership. Marain had no right to be there by his place in the organization (being a simple volunteer), but his origin in the Mila Hills and his contacts with the Brigade there had his Company CO thinking he might be useful.

    The discussion had started shortly after sundown. Fifteen men and women were trying to determine a common framework for the tactics of the Hersegal Brigade. Some of the younger officers wanted to exact reprisals. Shahna, the singer, had died – and someone at the Cliffside Hospital had leaked that she would have had a good chance of survival if the PVs hadn’t stopped the ambulances ‘to search for suspects’. Marain kept quiet and listened. The Brigade Commander (a woman, but names were seldom used in this discussion) temporized as the younger company COs demanded offensive action of the sort that the AFRN had not taken in decades.

    “The AFRN strategy is defensive, people. We keep out the mob from our quarters; we keep order; we prepare logistics for better political circumstances,” she explained, not for the first time. The Cliffside Company’s Operations person was another woman; she had been called ‘Ghira’, but Marain wasn’t sure if that was her real name. She wasn’t happy with that response at all.

    “I’m sorry, but that’s not gonna fly anymore. The eve of fucking Rising Day, a whole damn SPV centuria can march into the heart of one of our quarters and kill a singer right on the fucking stage. No warning. No nothing. There’s enough blame to go around, but the fish stinks from the head, too. All we’ve heard from the Army Council recently is to wait, to ‘maintain capabilities’, to keep out of sight. Some of you know we’ve set up other structures. But those can’t help with the AFRN base job – defending our people. We need to re-start patrolling. We need to re-start lookouts.”

    That remark was a nebulous to Marain; he had heard of action groups being set up outside the AFRN structure (but with some connection to it), yet those were more of a rumor on boring Company meetings than something of substance.

    “That’s provocative, wayfellows” a new voice chimed in. The man had been introduced as a connection to the Rights Movement. These people, Marain knew, tried to work for Naneh interests peacefully, by political means only. He’d always been on the fence about them, and this guy certainly didn’t do anything to dispel Marain’s doubts. There was some squirming at the use of the ‘wayfellow’ term. That was something used among fighters – and his claim to that name was shaky at best.

    “If we start patrolling, there’s going to be gunfights. Which you will usually lose, I might add. They will shore up the cops, and not by the regulars, but by the PVs. Do you want more incidents like the last?”

    “Murders, you mean?” snapped Ghira. “So you’re telling us to roll over and wait for your political magic? Let me tell you, your heartfelt appeals to the government are so appreciated back on the Upper Cliffside. I don’t even know what the fuck you’re doing here. This is a strategy meeting, not one of these fun debates you stage.”

    To use sarcasm against an ally was harsh, but Marain had a hard time blaming her. The discussion went on in circles. Finally, Baras Zajec spoke up. That made even the arrogant little shit from the RM shut his gob for once. He had no more AFRN post, but as one of the commanders in the Great Rising, everyone with half a brain listened to him.

    “The PVs clearly feel encouraged by the changes in politics. The security forces have that new leadership, Bearnson for the federal units and that Eldon woman for the provincials. Governor Megil seems to think the hardliners in the Republic will win out and feels fine appointing someone who hates us as much as Eldon. Rescinding the ban on the Beamey Volunteer Movement… that’s a clear signal, right there. Bet those fuckers are getting drunk right now and planning whom to kill. But Ghira’s right; we’re not really here to talk politics. So, strategy: Yeah, we need some patrolling. Let’s not do it overtly. Let’s do it judiciously. There’s no use in picking a fight, wayfellows – but through some patrolling, we can enhance security, give our volunteers something to do and show our people we’re still around.”

    Everyone could get behind that; Marain was asked about possible objections from the countryside AFR, but he expected none. The Mila Hills AFRN was quite different from the urban wayfellows – they were only waiting for the signal from the Army Council to start offensive operations, while the issue of quarter defense had no bearing on them at all (there were few Beamey-Ikani in Nanehri’s countryside). Marain and the political types were asked to leave the circle; tactical details would be discussed, and they had no need to know that. The RM fellow wanted to baulk at that, but since everyone else agreed, he had not much of a chance. Marain made sure he didn’t have to talk to the man as they stepped outside. Rather, he joined the masked guards on the perimeter.


    *


    All of those guards converged when one of them shouted. Marain ran through the dark, holding the Ruafo rifle in front of him and hoping – that he wouldn’t run into a fucking banana tree in the dark, stumble and shoot his nose off, and especially hoping that this meeting had not been compromised. If so, he thought with sudden clarity, they’d have to give the Ikani a fight so the leaders could escape.

    His hopes were not disappointed. It turned out to be a singular woman, writhing on the ground in the grip of an elderly Volunteer Marain didn’t know. She was complaining in a true Hersegal accent, and that confused him for a moment – but then he recognized her.

    “Cyrene…!” The name escaped him before he could stop it. “That’s Baras’ daughter, ‘fellows!” Marain had to repeat himself a couple of times before he got through to the other guards.

    “Gonna take her to him, then?” the older man asked, apparently confused.

    “No!” Marain replied, more forcefully than he wanted to. “She shouldn’t… I mean, there’s no need for her to see all of… them,” he added, trying to hide his nerves. If some of these volunteers interpreted things a certain way… damn, she was even wearing the half-civilian attire of police administrators. This could go wrong.

    “True,” the other one admitted gruffly. “Sorry. Caught me off guard.”

    Soon, someone had informed the great Baras Zajec that his daughter had appeared. Marain said no word to her while they waited. He wasn’t entirely sure why she was here… and not entirely sure he wanted to know.

    “Dammit, Bary! Maybe you’d better sign on with the damn BVM if you’re this lax with security,” he heard that Ghira woman snap as they approached. Marain had never imagined to see Baras embarrassed, but he was now, as he could see in the light of someone’s phone lamp.

    They had let Cyrene sit up. Baras crouched. “Relax. Really is her,” he said to the assembled volunteers. “Cyrene… what in all ancestors’ names are you doing here?” he asked, equal parts befuddled and exasperated.
     
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  16. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    She couldn't see much through the darkness and the tears now threatening to fall. Rough hands grabbed at her arm but she pulled it away. Cyrene yelled "Stop!"

    The man grumbled back at her before alerting the rest to her presence. If it was the Ikani security force she'd have much to explain. But the accent gave her some ease, though not much. The man was certianly Naneh.

    The youngest Zajec got to her knees and used the back her hand to wipe her eyes, her vision become a bit more adjusted and clear. Focusing on the AFRN guards that surrounded her.

    Then a familiar voice rang out with her name and she felt her heart flutter a bit. The brunette inhaled deeply and tried to regain her composure. Everything seemed like a whirlwind. She didn't speak a word as they waited. Her green eyes focused on the ground. But she listened to the mumblings around her.

    Soon they heard a woman chastise her father on his ability to keep AFRN intelligence. It wasn't like him. Which distracted her for only a moment. Had this been on purpose? It wasn't like her father. He had wanted her to go the diplomatic route. Yet here she was.

    Cyrene was finally able to sit up and look up into her father's worried face. She exhaled slowly.

    "Papi...I..." She looked around uncomfortable with all of the witnesses. "I need to speak with you privately. Not all of these ears." Cyrene voice grew more confident with every syllable. She leaned into her father and wrapped her arms around him in a hug, a tactical gesture of affection. The youngest Zajec whispered in his ear. "I have information for you."

    Baras looked surprised at first but then stern. He helped his daughter up. She had seen that look before. He was contemplating. He wanted to say no, but was conflicted.

    Cyrene loooed over her shoulder. She didn't know exactly where Marian was... but the graduate was sure that was his voice.

    Baras gently grabbed his daughter by the shoulders. His expression stoic but his eyes pleading. "Go home, Dari. This is no place for you."

    Cyrene pulled away from him. Anger was starting to take over. She was tired of being pusued around by her own people and the Ikani. Tired of being on the outside. Not taken serious by anyone.

    "No." She stood there defiant of her father's wishes. Her eyes narrowed. "I wish to speak privately for the betterment of my people."

    She could tell her father was a mixture of terriffied and angry. He motioned for one of the masked men and instructed him to take her to his own private AFRN dwelling within the compound. Baras sighed. "Cyrene. I will allow you to speak your peace this once. Then you will go home."

    The graduated nodded and willing went with the guard. She already knew what she had to do. She was in a position that allowed her great access to the Ikani security forces movements. While diplomacy had always been her preference. She wouldn't allow them to senselessly massacre her people in the streets.

    The trek to her father's hut was a way inwards. Further than he was ever willing to let her go. But she was determined. The AFRN weren't about to let her go into their own stronghold as a newcomer, not without precautions. Cyrene was blindfolded and the guard her father selected escorted her.

    Cyrene didn't have a lot of intelligence at the mkment bur enough to alert the AFRN to be on guard. After the concert... she would no longer stay silent. Maybe she could be more productive. And progress the polticis stance quicker with hee access to information. If she could provide intelligence while still holding onto her values, then maybe progress could be made.
     
  17. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    The huts were hardly a fortress; the place had been used for meetings before and could be defended if need be, but nobody in the Brigade leadership or the Army Council had any illusions about their ability to hold a fixed position against the Yeomanry (the country and mass event police) and the PSP. There were two dozens Volunteers about mounting the guard – and even that had taken some doing. Marain was leading Cyrene by the arm, but he found the blindfolding a little dramatic. He was glad not to be a leader; he wouldn’t have known what to do with her. Baras, however, apparently did. He signaled Marain to stay outside. Marain couldn’t blame him…

    *

    Baras was still wondering how he could have left the note out; something like this had never happened to him. His survival of the Great Rising had often hinged on security, and he’d always been meticulous about it. But there were more pressing matters. He rubbed his chin and sat down with Cyrene on the tattered table.

    “Dari… I don’t understand why you’re here. You said you wanted to help. But you’ve always said you didn’t want to have anything to do with armed struggle. Not even defensive. The thing is… now that you’ve come here, I’m going to have to answer these questions to people who don’t know you. They’ll think you’re a plant. They’ll think you’re treason waiting to happen with your job.”

    He held up a hand to show he wasn’t quite done. Baras had always, deep down, been a little ashamed of how much his daughter was a posterchild for the tamed Naneh of recent years, but he had always known that anything he did to try and force her off her own personal way would do no good. He knew his influence over her had been much weaker than her mother’s in these things. A mannequin… another posterchild, despite her discrete work for the resistance here and there during the Great Rising. He shook his head; one of the many contradictions in his life…

    “So I want you to give me the things you want me to tell them. We’re going to have to keep it tight anyway, only tell a few people – but those people will need good answers. You say you want to help. What do you want to do?”
     
  18. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    Her father caved and soon she was being blindly marched to his personal dwelling within the resistance. A firm hand guided her by the arm. Nothing was spoken.

    A few mumblings of others could be heard as she passed by but nothing substantial. This was her father's world. She was but a guest.

    Finally, within his hut, Baras removed the blindfold gifted his daughter sight once more. It took a second for her eyes to adjust but soon she could see the meager combat staple in all its glory. Her mother would be likely to try to repaint it and being in decorations. Make it a "home away from home".

    She held her tongue, allowing her father to speak. He was living war legend in his own right. Cyrene knew he was right. There'd be lots of questions about her loyalty. Even potential tests of such. All she was willing to bear for the betterment of her people.

    He paused, the graduated lips parted to respond, but his habd indicated he was not finished.

    Then came the big questions... at least for now. What was she offering and how did she intend on assisting.

    Cyrene let out a breath she hadn't know she'd been holding. "Papi... it may not seem like much right now... but... soon... It will be everything." She was nervous for a second and cleared her throat. If she wanted to prove to her father she could help the resistance she'd have to have confidence
    ... or least fake it.

    "Chaz. The leader of the reservists that murdered Shanha and massacred others at the concert. He is rejoining the security forces efforts in private. His boss is my boss. I will be privy to much information on both the Ikani Security Force and the reservists movements."

    Cyrene moved to her father and took his hands in her own. A pleading look on her face. "I saw first hand how they treated us..." Not just saw but felt. Her bruises still told a story of Chaz abuses on her. Had she not been able to get away from him when she did, there was no telling what else would have transpired.

    Her green eyes looked upon her father. "I still will not take up arms. I still believe in peace and diplomacy. But now I see that my people need more. I can help. I can gather intel..."

    It was nearly a whisper. "I can be a spy."
     
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  19. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    Baras felt his jaw clench painfully. Even a conscious effort wouldn’t relax it very much. As they had since the first rumblings about this improvised conference, many bad memories from the day of the war and the following Great Rising were rushing at him from all sides. He thought of the thunder of the naval guns, the harrowing howl of the shells and the death and destruction they had wrought. He could not fully turn his head to the right – a reminder of the day when he had led the occupation of the gubernatorial palace and a shell breaking the roof over his head…

    He sighed and looked at Cyrene, his lips pressed together tight. He had always loved being father to this bright young woman, hardly ever causing any trouble. In the true Naneh way, he had never made her take this or that path. Raising a child, the old saying went, was one long sundown; you retreated more and more, until you were like any family member. There was sadness in that, but also greatness…

    “You want to think about that very, very thoroughly,” he said slowly, as if he had to find the rhythm of his speech. “I couldn’t be the one to take your information; I’m too well known. Even advising the younger volunteers… even that is risky. Someone else would have to be your handler, as that is called.”

    After a short pause, he added, speaking even more cautiously: “Dari… you and I have never seen eye to eye on the armed struggle. If you give information, then you won’t be able to fully control what is done with them. For me, that would be no issue. I trust the AFR.” He didn’t mention that he knew a few from the Army Council even today. “But you should take that into account. I’m not saying you should not do what you propose, become a source. I just want you to know and consider these things. It’s like Tryball; you can’t just play a little.”
     
  20. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    Cyrene was expecting her father to raise hell at her proposal of being a spy for AFR. As rational of a man as he was, he above all was a father.

    The graduate looked to Baras as he spoke. Soaking in every word. The war hero was like a large tree being pushed by a strong gust of wind. While its roots were deeply seeded, it swayed. She ciuld tell he was calculating risk versus reward, yet also fighting his bias of her being his daughter.

    The brunette mulled over his words. Her arms crossed in front of her with her hand cupping her chin. There was much to consider. So much to gain... yet much more to lose.

    "Papi...I can't let us be hurt again... they are radicalizing further. It only will be a matter of time before we have a second rising." She stood tall. "I'm not giving up on my beliefs of diplomacy. Of peace. Maybe I can help it progress. Protect us, and give us the advantage, so diplomacy can prevail. I want that chance. I have to take it. Or everything I've ever worked for will be for naught."

    She thought back to her father's first comment. About needing a handler. A conflict of interest if Baras was in charge. While she would've have preferred it. Cyrene wouldn't have to prove loyalties with him, it could hurt her credibility to the rest of the AFR. If the graduate wanted to be taken seriously she would have to abide by an appointed handler.

    The brunette sighed. "Who would be my handler then? Everyone hates me. Thanks to Mami, and my own chosen path. Constantly proving my loyalty is going to be a thing, huh?"

    Not that she wasn't used to the Ikani and Naneh testing her. It happened daily, sometimes in the most passive agressive ways.

    Cyrene looked over her shoulder back at the door where the masked guard who escorted her was. Her thoughts now on Marian. Where was he? Had he joined the AFR? She was certian it was he who had called her name. Yet, maybe she had been mistaken.

    She faced Baras again with a stoic expression. "I wish to do this. For us. For our people."
     
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