Born From the Ruins

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In a world much like ours, there is a country ravaged by endless civil war. The streets have been bombed, the authoritative power has been several times overthrown. This country lies in ruins.

Yet, people, as they often do, still linger in their once lovely homeland. They live in the dark cracks and crevices of bombed out buildings, under crumbling rooftops, threatening to collapse. The precious few people prevail.

Not everyone in this wasteland is barely scraping by. There is an elite group, who even through all the tumult of war, has risen above the rubble victorious. They are known as the REL-9; it is the common belief among the people that the REL-9 are the roots of all the country’s strife. Perhaps it was they who whispered the words of revolution into the ears of peasants and sparked the first revolt. All that’s really known is that the REL-9 now ran the country, and are a force to be reckoned with.

Three men descended upon a street. All three wore matching dark suits, all three wore matching dark sunglasses, all three wore matching stern grimaces. All were REL-9 agents; they had been sent here on a tip to stomp out the rebels who were supposedly living within the walls of this house.

These men, Victor, Fredrik, and Rudolf, had only one job in the REL-9: to kill anyone who stood in their organization’s way. It suited Victor just fine. He adjusted his tie and ran a hand over his slicked back dark hair. His ear piece dinged; he had an incoming message. One of his superiors informed him of the exact address - they couldn’t know exactly until they arrived. Victor motioned to Fredrik and Rudolf.

Through the back door of a dilapidated house at the center of the street, the three men entered. The floors were thick with dirt and grime. Rats scurried across the floors, frightened by their human visitors. With every step he took Victor grew increasingly more and more aware that he had been duped. There was not even a whiff of revolution in the entire house. No one lived here. No one had lived here for some time. He knew this; Fredrik and Rudolf seemed completely oblivious. They were searching through closets and under tables, as if looking for the revolutionaries.

This is why I’m in charge, Victor thought as he watched the two cretins search for people who didn’t exist. Then it dawned on him: The cellar. There could be a whole network of tunnels under this street, an entire underground city where the rebel group took refuge. He’d heard rumors of it, but never imagined it to be true. He relayed this information to his men; they followed him down a narrow staircase that led to a dim and dingy cellar.

The ceiling leaked, the entire room was lit by a single bare bulb that swung from the ceiling, and it smelled of rot and death. It also smelled of revolution. They were here; all three of them knew it. Victor’s thin lips curled back into a carnivorous smile. He could already smell the spilled rebel blood.

After an hour of searching the cellar fruitlessly, Fredrik and Rudolf were dejected, Victor was livid. They had searched every nook and cranny, under the rugs and floorboards, behind bookshelves. Not a soul was found. Even the rats refused to venture here.

“That informant going to be dead! Just wait until I get my hands on him!” Victor shouted, his voice resonated so much in the damp room, that dust filtered down from the ceiling. There was nothing Victor hated more than being lied to, except maybe wasting his time. Both things had happened to him in the space of a few hours. Fredrik and Rudolf were both visibly shaken by their leader’s outburst.

“Calm down,” Fredrik said as he slowly advanced towards his fuming colleague. Something moved. All three heads whipped around in the direction of the disturbance just in time to see a small pair of boots scurry up the stairs. Victor was after the boots before the other two have a chance to react; he did not wait for them to catch up.

The escaping figure was short, probably a child, and fast, Victor could hardly keep up. When he was rounding a corner down an alley at the end of the street, the boy slipped and fell down hard on the ground. Before he had a chance to get back up, Victor picked up him by his shirt collar.

Victor took a good look at the kid flailing in his grasp. He was surprised to find that he was actually a she. She was fairly masculine, but still clearly a girl, she had dark, sunken eyes and short hair hidden under an oversized military helmet. Although Victor could not be entirely sure, she appeared to be about ten to thirteen years old. The girl was bony, she was hungry often, the sign of a true rebel.

“Let go of me! Let go of me!! Let go of me!!!” she screamed, continuing to squirm. He tightened his grip and asked if she was a revolutionary. She told him, yes. Victor threw the screaming girl over his shoulder. She kicked him, beat him, and continued her screaming. Completely unfazed, Victor continued walking. This girl’s fate was sealed: She would die, possibly before Victor even returned to Fredrik and Rudolf.

Victor dropped her on the ground, she tumbled across the cracked asphalt. Her face collided with it; when she sat up, her face was bleeding. Pavement was embedded in her face. He showed her no emotion, she showed him pure abhorrence. From his coat pocket, he pulled a handgun; Victor crouched down and held it firmly against her temple. No change in emotion from either party.

“I should pull this trigger, I should kill you here and now. That’s been my plan all along, to kill any rebel I find,” he spoke those words through gritted teeth and pressed the gun harder against her head. “Imagine my surprise when I come to a place that is supposedly a rebel hideout, and all I find is a child. And so I thought, I’ll kill her anyway, teach them a lesson. Funny though, turns out, I have a soul. So I will let you go, tell your rebel friends that we’re on to them.”

He put his gun away; she stared at him, unsure of how to act. “What’s your name?” she asked quietly, cocking her head to the side. He answered, Victor. “I’m Nell, remember my name all right? Nell, the girl who got away,” she said in a sing-song voice before tapping Victor playfully on the nose and scampering away. Falling down from his crouching position, Victor stared dumbfounded in the direction in which Nell ran off. This won’t be the last time we meet, I will make sure of it. Victor smirked.





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