The crowd is full of mixed feelings, some cheer as others stand on in awe, but one thing is for certain. Haven will fight for its freedom, and most likely die holding on to it. Once again I feel Fiona’s hand pull from mine, only this time the choice was not hers. People have begun to surround me they are cheering and patting me on the back. As if it was me all along who stood up to fight the Brotherhood, but it wasn’t me it was Nevada. He was the one that did what I was supposed to, what I should have. Frantically I search the crowd for Fiona, but she is gone pulled away by the people. People are starting to chant my name, as if I was some great hero from long ago. I guess Velvet was right leaders are chosen it doesn’t matter what happened a few days ago. How am I going to keep myself and friends safe, let along all of Haven. My head starts to spin I need to get out of here. Pushing my way through the crowd I slowly make my way back to the mansion.
Fiona flies into me as I enter the room, her arms wrapped around me about as tight as she can manage, “Sorry, there was just so much chaos out there.” Fiona says, “We did it.” She holds on as long as she can before the others start to get uncomfortable.
“Commander shall we discuss the defense of Haven.” Velvet says.
“Commander?” I say.
“Well since we are officially at war.” Velvet says, “I figure we should use official ranks and such.”
“Well then your commander needs some rest.” I say.
Making my way back to my room I think about the events of the day. Me commander of the defense of Haven. How did this happen, I don’t know the first thing about war, let along about being a leader. Why does everyone insist on my being in charge, is there really something about me that draws people in. As I walk my drifts and I think of the people below, some celebrate while others walk the streets in shock. Is Haven really up to this, there are no Soldiers here. They are just normal people; normal people who just decided to pick a fight with the most powerful people known to us for the idea of freedom. Remembering the night in the Wastes I think of I thought people really could get behind the idea of freedom, behind the ideas in that book. I guess I was right.
Laying down in my bed I finally realize how tired I was, I had been motivated by anticipation the past few days and now that everything has come and gone there is nothing I can do to stop myself from falling asleep.
I awake to the cool night air; I reach for the warmth of Fiona before I realize she had not come to sleep with me, not like the night before. I rise and sit on the edge of the bed rubbing my eyes, I must have been out. I don’t think I have slept like that in days. After a moment I start to walk down to the office. The sounds of people celebrating can still be heard from the square. This must be the first time I can remember that anyone actually used the square for celebration. As I enter the office everyone it has been clear I was the only one to take some time off. The others have been busy. Already they have turned the office into a war room. Maps of haven hang the walls and draft list of squads are scattered over the desk.
As I enter the room everyone snaps perfectly to attention, to perfect in fact which makes it clear they have been practicing. Moments later everyone loses their composure and burst into laughter. “I hate you all.” I say, “Especially you.” Pointing at Fiona.
“Does this mean the honeymoon is over?” Velvet says.
“You guys are all jerks you know that.” I say.
I make my way over the list of squads which has been placed on the desk, “We had everyone who was willing to fight submit their names so we could form an army.” Velvet says.
I have to admit they are organized, well that and crazy but for some reason there is a glimmer of hope with this. I feel the faint spark within that we might actually win this fight. Turning my attention to the maps, “I see you have divided Haven into sections.” I say.
“Yes, five in facts.” Nevada says, “The squads will be formed into companies and each one will be assigned a sector. It was Fiona and Velvets idea.”
“Ok, so what is the plan then?” I ask.
“Well we need weapons.” Nevada says, “I was going to look around town to see if anyone has any ideas.”
“What about the Brotherhood, we have no idea as to when they will return, they could be on their way right now as for as we know.” I say, “We need to figure out a way to get gain some info about them.”
“We could send a spy, but the only way past the radiation zone is by air or a protected vehicle.” Velvet says.
“What about by water?” I ask.
“I suppose, but how do you plan to do that.” Velvet says.
“Seaton, it’s by the water.” I say, “They have to have boats.”
“I’ll do it.” Dyami says, “I am small no one will ever find me.”
“No it’s too dangerous.” I say, “I will go.”
“It has to be me, you need to stay here to lead, and Fiona and Velvet are your best chance at organizing a defense. Dyami says, “I am the only choice you have.”
Hating to admit it the kid is right. He is the only choice we have; it’s just that I don’t know about sending him. It’s just that I know Kazimir has giving him to me for a reason, I just can’t quite place my finger on it. When I returned to Haven Kazimir knew that Dyami and I were talking, does he know everything now. He can’t, can he that would mean Dyami is reporting back to the Brotherhood. It makes me sick to even think this, there is no way Dyami would willingly be reporting back to the Brotherhood, he hates them, bust still he is the only person we can send, I have to take the chance.
“Ok, we will go to Seaton to secure a boat, Dyami will sneak into Eden and report back with the info he finds.” I say, “While we do that Nevada will see what he can do about finding some weapons.” It feels strange giving out orders, but if that is what they want that is what they will get, “Gear up we leave in an hour, until we know what the Brotherhood is doing we have to move quick.”
Seaton will take less than a day to get to; we will have to spend the night and head back to Haven in the morning. Hopefully Nevada will be able to handle things and most importantly get some direction on finding weapons. Once again we step into the Wastes, how I miss these days. It was simple back in Seattle, find some junk and turn it in for creds. Up until about a week ago my only concern in life was surviving to the next day. There was no one to worry about, no one to care about. There was just me and that is how I liked it, well how I use to like it, my mind drifting to Fiona and the others.
If it wasn’t for them I would be dead, creeper food. They have saved my life twice know and all I have done is put them in danger. Why do they stay, why don’t they just run. This is not there fight. Perhaps this is what friends do for each other; they stay by when they should run. Well whatever their reasons my parents sure could have learned a thing or two from them. I doubt they had the courage to stand and fight against a lone creeper let alone the Brotherhood.
Besides Velvet making fun of Fiona and I a couple of times the trip to Seaton goes by uneventfully. Seaton sits along the water; all but the Oceanside is surrounded by a wall. Much like haven the wall is comprised of scraps of metal. However, the settlement its self seems much more organized on a whole compared to Haven. The streets are straight and lined with buildings, similar to the way the streets of Seattle where laid out.
“Halt, take no step further stranger.”
We stop, “We are from Haven.” I say, “We are here seeking you help.”
“What do you want?”
“We need a boat.” I say.
There is a long pause, after a few minutes the gates creak open. Three armed guards appear weapons drawn on us.
“If you seek our help and entrance you need to forfeit all weapons while within the walls.” One of the guards says.
“Ok, we can do that.” I say.
Fiona and Velvet hand over the rifles and we are escorted into Seaton. This has to be the first time I have set foot in a settlement outside of Haven. It is clear that Seaton’s layout was planned, much unlike Haven even the buildings have been built with care. However, it is about a third of the size. I would say no more than a few hundred people compared to Haven are several thousand. As we move through the streets people stop to look. Apparently visitors are a big deal around here. Before long we stand before a building larger in size then the others, but made of the same metal sheets we use in Haven.
“Marcus wishes to see you.” One of the guards says as he pushes us into the building.
It is even clearer as we enter the building that the people of Seaton have taken great care in the construction of the settlement. People here have gone to painstaking lengths to provide the settlement with as comfortable life as one can have in the Wastes, “Its set up like Eden” Fiona says.
“Is that a good thing?” I ask.
“I don’t know.” Fiona says.
Marcus sits behind a large metal desk. His grey hair combed back and out of his face. His eyes are a warm blue, and give off a general presence of trust.
“Welcome to Seaton, I understand you are looking for a boat.” Marcus says.
“Yes.” I say, “Will you be able to provide us with that.”
“I like you straight and to the point, I would like to help you, but I need to know the meaning behind the request.” Marcus says, “Can’t have you going off and endangering the members of Seaton now can I.”
“We need a boat to get past the radiation zone.” I say.
“I see, not much past there except the Brotherhood. Marcus says, “Now what do you want with them?”
Pulling off my mask I look eye to eye with Marcus, “We have business with them.” He looks puzzled at this, no not this, at me. His eyes search my face as if he has seen it before.
“I will help you; I don’t need to know your reasons.” Marcus says.
His sudden wiliness to help us throws me off, but I can’t waste time trying to figure him out. We have to move quickly.
“Thank you.” I say.
It takes no time at all, but within the hour the Seaton militia has a boat ready to go. It is strange the willingness they have shown us. What did I do that changed everything? Already my name is being whispered throughout Seaton; only I don’t remember telling anyone, did I. Marcus is hiding something, but until Dyami is back safe I can’t risk confronting him. This is all I need something else to worry about.
“Ok, be carefully got in get what you need and get out.” I say, “The defense of Haven depends on you.”
After a few goodbyes with the others Dyami is off and soon heading over the horizon.
“I hope he will be ok, I would hate to him get hurt.” Says Velvet, “but we had to send him; we couldn’t risk him around us anymore. We can’t over look the fact that he might be a spy.”
I stand waving as my friend sails off, “I know.”
Once Dyami was out of site we made our way to the local liquor house. Back in Haven the elders refer to them as bars, which masks no sense to me, I have never seen a bar, not once in any liquor house in Haven. I watch from our table as people look in my direction and whisper while trying not to get noticed by us.
“Do you think they know what Haven is planning?” Fiona says.
“No, news doesn’t get shared between the settlements.” I say.
“What can we say your boyfriend is famous?” Velvet says.
“He is not my boyfriend, we just kissed a couple of times.” Fiona snaps, “We are not together, we are.” She pauses a moment, “This is your entire fault.” Fiona says looking in my direction before storming off.
“Why do you get her all worked up like that?” I ask.
“I can’t help it, ever since she joined the hunters she has been like my kid sister.” Velvet says, “What is the point of a kid sister if you can’t torture them.”
“I am going to go check on her.” I say.
Velvet makes some kissing noises as I leave to look for Fiona. I swear Velvet doesn’t take anything serious, but she makes us laugh. Well makes me laugh, I think she mostly just annoys Fiona. With the settlement being so small it doesn’t take long to find Fiona. Standing by the water she looks truly beautiful in the moonlight. Standing watching her I don’t approach, I want this vision to last. Unfortunately Fiona has different plans, “What do you want?”
“You forgot your mask.” I say.
“A little dust never killed anyone.” She says. That sounds like someone I know I think to myself.
Tossing my mask to the ground along with Fiona’s I move besides her, “You know I say the exact same thing.”
“You shouldn’t take your mask off.” She says.
Fiona lets a little smile break through, “You know your ruined everything.” She says, “Before you my life was simple.”
“Before me, looks who’s talking, before you I didn’t have a thing to worry about.” I say, “Then you came along and my whole world was turned upside down.”
“Well I am sorry we saved you then.” She says.
“No you’re not.” I say.
“I know which pisses me off so much.” She says, “Is Velvet right about us, which drives me insane.
“What do you mean, right about us?” I ask.
“There is something between us, I didn’t want to feel something, but when I am with you it.” Fiona says, “It is just different.” She moves closer to me, “A few days ago when you decided to fight, something happened.” She says, “Something changed for me, before that I guess I just thought you were like everyone else. Trying to survive at the suffering of others. A few days ago when you decided to fight, something happened.” She says, “Something changed for me, on the inside.”
“I know what you mean, up until I met you I was like that to an extent, I only thought of my survival” I say, “But over the past few days I have learned I need to care about others as well. When I learned you fought the Brotherhood, it just changed me, it changed how I felt about you.”
Heading back to the liquor house several thoughts run through my mind. Fiona and my eyes meet several times before we arrive at our destination. As we approach the door Fiona stops and kisses me softly. I half expect Velvet to pop up with some remark, but I am glad she does not. Something’s you just want to keep to yourself, “So what exactly is going on with us?” I ask.
“Let’s just take it one day at a time and see what happens.” Fiona says, “Who know tomorrow I might hate you again.”
Once inside we find Velvet who is now joined by Marcus. As soon as we enter both turn their attention to me. It is clear that I have been the topic of the conversations. A conversation that I am sure will become clear to me in a matter of moments.
“Your back, you should have a chat with Marcus here.” Velvet says, “He has a lot to talk about with you.”
“Have a seat Riley.” Marcus says.
“Fiona why don’t you come tell me about you date.” Velvet says, from the tone in her voice Fiona doesn’t protest this.
Taking the seat across from Marcus he once again looks me over in amazement. His deep blue eyes move around my face as if they memorized it years ago. Which is impossible I’ve never met him before today, I would have remembered.
“Has it really been that long?” Marcus says.
“Have we met before?” I ask.
It is hard for me to believe that I have met this man before but do not remember him; it must have been back in Haven. But it doesn’t make any sense why would he remember me, especially if I don’t remember him.
“You look just like him.” Marcus says.
“What are you talking about?” I say.
He smiles and says, “Your father of course.”