Characters: Victoria Martin, Madelyn Hassan
World: Black Flames
Rating: PG, due to mentions of violence.
Word Count: 1225
Total Words: 7,775/20,000
Read Madelyn's journey chronologically:
A New Home » Soldier » Let's Have War
Let's Have War
“What the hell were you thinking?”
“I was thinking that it’d be useful to have someone who can see the future on our side of a war.” Victoria, although easily considered short, was not intimidated by this man, who normally towered over most of the people there anyway. Jem paced in the small room, his animal side very obvious in the agitated, twitchy movements and the way he practically growled. Aniela and Russ stayed back, pensive, waiting for the right moment to consider involving themselves.
“She’s one of them!”
“She’s one of us!”
He stopped pacing and glared at her. She returned it, looking straight into his celery green eyes and refusing to back down or blink. Recognizing the invite, Victoria reached out and found his demand pressing against her mind: Why?
While the exchange took only seconds through their minds, Victoria sensed some agitation behind her and turned. Aniela looked at them with her brow furrowed and a disapproving frown on her lips. “It’s not fair when you two do that, as though we aren’t even here.” Jem turned with the same glare directed at her, but then it softened as he looked at her. If anyone could calm the best inside him, it was his angel. This was literal, too, of course, with her empathy, but she didn’t need to use it on him anymore. How deeply he loved her was usually enough. “Victoria,” Aniela started, taking charge now of the conversation. Russel remained silent, stoic, but nodded his approval when she glanced back for permission. For all of Jem and Victoria’s grandstanding, he was considered the leader here, if only because he’d built the place out of the sad excuse of a refuge it was before. When it came down to it, usually even hot-headed Jem would obey any of Russ’s rulings. “Do you think we can trust this girl?”
Victoria thought very long and carefully before finally answering, “I am fairly certain.”
“What the hell kind of-” Jem began, but Aniela cut him off with a look reminiscent of a mother scolding a child.
“I read her, all right?” Victoria’s frustrations flared up, but she kept her temper under control, for now. “I read her while she spoke to me. Every word, every emotion was genuine. She is not a liar. She is a soldier, though. The men I killed were soldiers. She grew up brainwashed by those people and it’s hard for her to understand that they are the enemy yet. It’s only been a few hours. Let her get used to that and I know she will be useful.”
“How, Victoria?” Jem demanded. “Can she call on her visions, or do they come randomly? Are they subjective? Could telling us anything change the outcome if we act and render the information useless? What use would a seer be that couldn’t actually tell us anything useful when we need it?”
“A hostage then.”
Silence washed over the room. It hadn’t been Victoria’s retort that brought up that option, but a calm, quiet suggestion from Russ, voiced not with pleasure or hopefulness, but a resolved finality. They all turned and looked at him. With a soft huff, Jem plopped down in a chair, willing to hear Russel’s suggestion, but not thrilled about the situation at all.
“You say the girl wants to be here?”
Victoria nodded. “She knew about this place, so I guess she had a vision about it and wanted to come here.”
“Does she understand everything that entails?”
“I think so.” But Victoria looked confused herself, propping her bottom on the edge of the table.
“She will have no further contact with her friends and family. She is a fugitive and we are her family now. We take her in like we’ve taken in everyone whose found their way here, and like they took in us. But she will not jeopardize our safety.” Russ sighed, and stared off into the distance, as though peering through the rock and out over the islands. “You may have done something horrible bringing her here, Victoria. She’s not just any runaway. You have the whole of this country’s military might coming after one thirteen-year-old girl and you led her into the one safe haven we’ve managed to keep undisturbed.”
“No. You’ve started the war now.”
“That girl started the war!” Victoria exclaimed, and this time Jem nodded approval and agreement.
“That girl was born this way, like all of us, through no fault of her own and her path led her to you—”
“Then how is it my fault?”
“You brought her here,” Aniela answered gently. “We didn’t want a war yet and now she’s here and we have one.”
“We would have had a fucking war anyway!” Victoria shouted, jumping back up.
Russel began warningly, “Victoria…” but she cut him off.
“No! No, you all listen to me! They’ve been hunting us for centuries and all we’ve managed to do is survive! We’re not thriving, we’re barely getting by! Occasionally, a generation arrives where we have someone like you, who can breathe life into rock and carve out a home, or perhaps a life mage that can work food out of dead soil, and we do well. But you will die, and more than likely it won’t be natural.”
“No, Ani. It’s true. How many of us ever die naturally? Especially you, with your wings. They can see you. You’re lucky your parents didn’t kill you when—”
“Victoria!” Russel roared, stepping forward, earth trembling.
“Russ, it’s okay…” Aniela murmured, looking at the floor, face pale. Jem hurried over and wrapped his arms around her, turning her back, with it’s great white wings, to the others. His face appeared conflicted. He wanted to argue, but Victoria could sense that he was agreeing with her logic.
Russel stayed looking angry, but he let Victoria continue. “I’m done being hunted down. It’s time to fight back. That child did not ask to be born that way. Fate has put a mage in the military and brought her to us with her gift of foresight. If you’re waiting for a sign, that’s it. We use her however we need to. Let them come for her. If she’ll fight them, she fights. If she doesn’t, she’s a hostage. Whether he wants to protect her or kill her, her father will think twice now. We finally have a weapon we can use. I say we make friends with the girl, Aniela’s good with kids. I’m sorry if I didn’t have time to bring it to a vote, but I had good intentions and I don’t really think they’ve gone awry.”
Everyone stayed quiet for a moment before Jem was the first to agree. “Let’s have war, then,” he said with force, nodding. Russel slowly nodded. Aniela just stood, blinking, looking fearful but resolved. Finally, the time had come.