The Vengeful, the Destroyed


For a Free Scotland
Author's notes: I wrote this in SeaTac airport, so I don't know how good it is. It will stretch on for a while, but here's the beginning.

The Vengeful, the Destroyed


It was over.

The Besdon-Orinnian war had finally come to close after nine long years of pervasive and continued fighting. What was once a largely harmless border dispute had mushroomed into something much more than that. Some politicians heard the wrong things, some generals were thing, in the end, led to another.

General Malexian, the leader of all forces in west Besdon, got word of a hidden infiltration force making its way across a small country road near the border. In reality, it was a staged plan by Orinnian spies that knew the right people, and plied the ones that they weren't familiar with.. The "infiltration" force turned out to be a small trade convoy, though Malexian used his time-honored strategy of "shoot first, make sure they're dead later" to ensure that it looked like nothing less than a brutal massacre.

Orinnia retaliated with a prolonged artillery strike across various Besdon towns, continuing for three weeks until saboteurs were able to disable them. With the big guns out of the fight, the respective country's armies met in a modernized melee, fighting to a brutal stalemate that lasted for most of the war.

Eventually some reformers got elected into the governments, the hardliners passed away or were fired; and things ended in the Cael Agreement, which would establish a forty-mile wide no-man's land to prevent such activity from ever repeating itself.

It appeared as if peace would embed itself in the land once again, but there were still people who lived in the grand, lifeless battleground.

Chapter 1: Lyle

It was the first sunrise I'd seen in nine years.

Well, there were sunrises before. But on the rare occasion I had ventured a look at the outside world, there was smoke, ash, and devastation spread across the sky. Our home hadn't lasted long after the artillery started firing, the basement became our home. Our bunker.

The land used to be a vast plain, and nobody cared which side it belonged to. We sent our taxes to whoever asked for them, and kept most of what we grew. There had been attempts to annex the land through political maneuvering, but whoever showed up never lasted long. It simply isn't a place of peace, there isn't enough to justify a country being there.

But crops wasn't what caused this. It was men, bad men who wanted glory and valor, who played the human condition like a touchy harp. They didn't care about us, or even the country they had pledged their dubious allegiance to. They wanted to be written down in lore and history for centuries, to wedge themselves in between the patriots, the pacifists, and the benevolent. It was a lie, a lie that manifested itself in suffering, somehow supposed to cure indignant acts, though the irony of the solution was somewhat more sardonic than I would have appreciated.

I looked out, and the familiar sites were replaced by much more cryptic, alien ones. The war had terraformed my surroundings. Shells left craters, ammunition littered the ground. The dead had been removed, though some stakes in the ground might hold those that weren't important enough to spare the expense of transport.

Of course, I wasn't alone in the beginning. But my mother left as soon as the house was destroyed, she fled at the first sight of gunfire. She might have gotten out, maybe started a better life somewhere. If anything, she got off easier than my father. Apparently property rights don't mean much in wartime, shamefully enough. I never thought he'd die for what he had crafted, but the end result would agree with that puzzlement.

I guess it's time to start putting this place back together. If I didn't leave during the war, there's no reason to leave now that everything has turned eerily quiet.

Chapter 2: Another Shattered Piece

I've walked for miles each day, and so far I haven't seen much in terms of life in the traditional sense. Some weeds have taken up shop in the mud, but most plants simply can't take all the pollution and the tainted soil.

I've managed to scrap together some seed, and am working on fashioning some farm tools with the shrapnel left behind. Our long term stockpile had been replaced periodically with whatever rations found their way within reach, but I don't think it'll last much longer.

The quiet is deafening. Why would the two armies leave something that they thought was important enough to risk everything on controlling? Perhaps greater forces are at work, but if the men that started this are as evil as I believe, they could end it with a few pithy words and some spin,

Perhaps if I keep walking, I can find where people still live, and enjoy the company of people once again...

"Ey!" It seemed that the Spirits felt I deserved a teaspoon of good luck.

I turned around on the embankment, and saw nothing. I noticed a small impression in the mud, and a moving figure.

"Hello?" I inquire.

"Wanna come down here and help me out?"

I race down, humanity is a scare commodity here, and I wondered why a man would still be here.

I gaze in. It's a rather crude foxhole, with rations scattered about. A man who looks like he's wearing mud looks at me. He's smirking, oddly enough.

"Why the hell are you still here?" I question.

"Guess you aren't a military man. This is the so-called Trendel Front, the exact line where hostilities ceased."

"Why they leave you?"

"They left most of the infantry men, plus I looked like hell. Wasn't always in this foxhole either, but it felt kind of cold out in the open." He smiles, showing rather dazzling white teeth in contrast to the rest of his body.

"I have a farmhouse nearby, you want to stay there?"

"I'd prefer that to this accommodation. Help me up."

I grab his outstretched hand. He's obviously wounded somewhere, though his lucidity probably indicates it's not much worth worrying about.

"What's your name, son?" he says through a mild grimace.

"I'm Lyle Channing, you?"

"Marx Warden"

And with that I went back to the house, with Marx limping in tow.