Yep. Another crappy, last-minute entry. I procrastinated all week, and ended up flubbing it today. .___. Not to mention I kind of cut it short so it wouldn't be over two posts. Ah well. And Karen is actually one of the Johto Elite Four; I basically made a completely different role for her in this for whatever reason.
I suppose you could give this story an M rating, although it's really only because of a few grotesque-sounding stuff and a swear here and there. There's not full-on description of somebody's rotting body or something; this isn't a horror story. XD
Strife of Solace
Do you know what true hatred is?
It's not when you're jealous of someone or annoyed by a small matter.
It's much more. So much more. More than anything you could ever possibly conjure. It's almost...inhuman.
It's when your heart is completely taken over. It lashes out in a rage, so desperate, so cold, so...sorrowful.
You know it's wrong. You know you shouldn't feel this way. But you can't stop it. It's too much for you to bear. The sum of everything you despise is right in front of your face, and all you can do is reach out with dark intentions.
It's a terrible feeling, one that consumes your entire being and blocks out everything else like an impenetrable wall of fury and malice.
I wish I could say I didn't know this feeling. I want to say that I've never felt true hatred. Speak about it as if it's something preposterous.
But I do know what it feels like.
And I truly hate it.
The sun hung high in the cerulean sky and felt incredibly scorching for those on the ground below, despite its body being mostly hidden behind fluffy, white clouds. A desolate plain sprawled as far as the eye could see, like a gigantic version of one of those red carpets they use for Hollywood stars. Except there wouldn't be any Hollywood stars strolling around and receiving awards in the middle of a future battlefield.
The only shelter around for miles was a somewhat large, metal building, surrounded by a small group of men and women alike. They were all clad in camouflaged jackets and pants of varying shades of green, as well as combat boots, gloves, and caps. The warm clothing was meant to prevent sun-burn, but in Solace's eyes, it just made the already unbearable heat even worse.
Why did we have to be stationed at a desert, of all places?
She sighed wearily, but made sure that the rest of her squad didn't hear the exasperated breath. She had learned the hard way that showing weakness was a major transgression in military training, once having been forced to run fifty laps around the training grounds (which was about the size of a football field) merely for complaining about the poor quality of food the cafeteria had served that day.
As if that wasn't already bad enough, there were rumors going around that there was a spy among their ranks. Solace didn't really care since they were just that—mere rumors—but apparently everyone else was being extremely cautious about who they shared information with now. Which also meant that their squad had absolutely no idea when they were going to be sent out into battle. Can't we just hurry up and get the bloodshed over with? We're all brimming with anxiety as it is.
These thoughts flowed through her mind as she observed the rest of her group's constant glances toward the horizon, the miniscule twitches of their tensed muscles that clearly displayed nervousness.
Solace's head snapped up at the call, and she stopped leaning on the wall. Standing there with her arms still crossed, she watched with a bit of amusement as a short brunette hurried over to her, chestnut pony-tail bouncing behind her head.
The girl stopped in front of her, and although she was panting slightly, she managed to speak in one quick breath, “Warrant Officer Graystone wants to see you!”
Solace frowned slightly, but nodded at the girl. “Alright. I'm guessing he's in his office?” The exhausted girl raised her hand in a “thumbs-up” position to signify that her assumption was correct.
Solace turned and left the doubled-over girl behind, heading over to a door on the side of the building. Poor kid. I just hope she isn't that easily exhausted in battle.
Inside the building, there wasn't much to be seen. The walls, ceiling, and floor were all a drab gray color of paint, with bare fluorescent bulbs hanging from the ceiling, dimly lighting the hallway. A few plain, metal doors lined the walls, but Solace knew that Graystone's office was at the very end of the corridor, beyond a door that was slightly larger than the others but possessed no other noticeable differences.
Just as she was heading down the hall, however, a shaft of light caught her eye. Looking around, she soon saw the cause of the sudden flash; a wide mirror hung from one of the walls. How did I not see that before?
She scowled, but noted that it was at just the correct position so that she could stand in front of it and see nearly her entire body. I haven't seen myself in a mirror in forever since they didn't have any at the training compound... I'll wager that I've changed a lot since then.
Solace wasn't one for fashion or anything of the sort, but she was curious as to how she had changed outwardly after the harsh exercising and other strenuous activities she'd endured over the past year.
She went to stand in front of it, but the moment she got a peek at herself, she quietly gasped in surprise. I've changed more than I thought I did...
It seemed as if there was a completely different person being reflected in the clear glass. The somewhat short, slender girl who looked much younger than she really was that she had expected to see did not exist anymore. In its place was a tall woman, clearly fit and maybe even muscular as well. A shy, almost frightened posture with wrung hands had become confident and not at all nervous. The child-like, round face had been hardened, its features as sharp as knives. Her silvery-blue eyes had always seemed barely notable, yet now they seemed to pierce into her very soul as she stared into their deep, beautiful irises. Her long, lavender hair had always fell in a perfectly straight sheet on her back, and people would occasionally run their hands through it just to feel how silky-soft it was. Instead, it was roughly tied into a single, stiff braid that fell on her back like a limp pole, which she heavily doubted anyone would want to try to run their fingers through.
I know the training toughened me up, but I didn't expect this.
She stared in disbelief for a few more seconds, before shaking her head and continuing on her way. I've changed a lot on the inside, so it's only natural that I would on the outside as well. Of course, I have to wonder if I made the right choice...
Her thoughts stopped as she came to the end of the hallway. Like the other doors, there was a square window near the top of the door that, for a moment, she considered peeking through, but it was curtained on the other side. She really didn't desire to enter the room though, since she had heard from other Privates that Graystone was a fierce and merciless Warrant Officer who would berate you for even the slightest mistake. Just as she was contemplating the idea of walking away and acting as if she hadn't gotten the message, however, a gruff voice called out from the other side of the door, “Private, I know you're there. I can see your shadow through the curtain. Stop stalling and come inside.”
The door slowly opened, and Solace came in, her face a bit red with embarrassment at having been caught. The room itself was quite bland for a leader's office, but then again, the space was only a temporary one that would likely be looted and demolished if the enemies invaded it. The only pieces of furniture were a few steel chairs placed before a mahogany desk, behind which there was a dark brown, leather chair turned to face the opposite direction. Of course, a human was occupying this particular chair at the moment, and so Solace sat upon one of the other chairs, grateful for the frigid metal that served as a great relief from the inferno outside.
The chair swiveled around, revealing Warrant Officer Marcus Graystone and how...surprisingly nonthreatening he looked, especially compared to all of the rumors spread about him. If a passerby merely glanced at him, they probably would've thought he was just a regular man who perhaps worked as a journalist or something similarly normal. He wasn't too tall—in fact, Solace was fairly certain they were about the same height—and he wasn't buff, nor was he skinny. If anything, he was more of a medium size. Dark hair fell around his face in a greasy, unkempt mane, while midnight-blue eyes gazed at Solace with mild interest. There was some stubble along his chin, and his skin was shockingly pale for someone with a hardworking position in the military. His apparel was the same as those of everyone else, except for the silver bar with one black square that was printed on the chest pocket of his jacket, the symbols that identified his position in the military.
“So...” Solace didn't really want to be the first one to speak, but she hated awkward silences, “What did you call me here for, Warrant Officer Graystone?”
His reply was stern, but so quick that Solace barely understood all of it, “First off, don't call me by my full title. It's not that I respect you enough to only call me by my last name, it's just that it gets tiresome listening to people say the full title every time they refer to me. To answer your question, it's not necessarily why I called you here.”
Solace blinked. “What do you mean, Warr-Graystone?” she asked, hastily correcting herself.
He brushed aside a few of the random items scattered around on his desk, apparently not caring that they fell haphazardly onto the carpeted floor. Leaning forward on his elbows, he spoke again, staring straight into Solace's eyes this time, “What position do you want when we head out to battle?”
This was easily the response that most surprised Solace. He's asking me which position I want? Why would he do that?
She looked back at his eyes for a split second, before switching her gaze to her lap, attempting to look as if she were conflicted although she knew exactly which position she wanted. It sounds like he's offering me whichever position I want, but I doubt he'd do that. There's no plausible reason I can think of for him to. He could just be testing me. Maybe this is something he does to all of the new Privates, just to fool or tease them. I'll just be modest.
Just as she was opening her mouth to talk, however, Marcus spoke before she could, “Oh, and no lying, Private. We're a trustworthy squad, aren't we?”
She immediately clamped her mouth shut. Can that guy read minds or something?
She sighed inwardly, beginning to get a bit annoyed with his antics. Fine. If he wants the truth, he'll get it.
“I want to be on the front-line, Graystone.”
His eyes widened at this answer, but he quickly covered it up with a cough. Solace felt a smirk tug at the corner of her lips even when he spoke again, “Why do you want to be there, Private? You'll get yourself killed in less than five seconds, tops.”
She hesitated before replying, “I...just wanna serve my region properly, sir, even if it means having the highest chance of being killed. Besides, there have to be some people on the front-line, or else it wouldn't exist in the first place.”
His sudden glare caught her off-guard. “I thought I said no lying, Private. I'm going to presume you've heard the rumors about a spy lurking among our ranks. That means we have to be completely honest with each other”
So he was just trying to determine whether I was the spy or not. Figures. I still don't want to tell him though...
“But what if you're the spy, sir?” she queried, giving him a serious look even though the question was really only meant to stall for time so that she could come up with a reasonable excuse for wanting to be on the front-line, of all places.
He seemed amused by the question. “Even if I was, it wouldn't matter. You've already told me which position you want; the reason for wanting that position likely has nothing to do with the positions of anyone else since you don't know which positions they're going into anyways. It's completely and utterly unrelated to the war, and therefore would not give me any advantage whatsoever.”
I haven't met many people that logical before. I suppose it's alright to tell him.
She still didn't wish to tell him though, not to mention she didn't feel like giving long explanations for no obvious reason, but she eventually relented, “Alright, if you really want to know, I'll tell you. But it's kind of a long story...”
He shrugged, nonchalantly leaning back and placing his crossed legs on the desk as if it were a stool instead of an expensive piece of furniture. “Go ahead. Take all the time you need, I don't mind. Nothing else to do around here anyways.”
Solace took a deep breath before speaking, “Well, it all started when...”
Sisters. That's exactly what we were. Unlike most sisters, though, we were close. We didn't bicker very often, and even when we did, we ended up forgiving each other five minutes later. I think even if we weren't related by blood, we still would've been just as close as siblings.
Our family wasn't very rich, but we weren't poor either. We were middle-class, and we liked it that way. Our mother worked an evening job as a waitress at the local cafe, and our father worked at the Pokemart as a grocer. Their jobs weren't very tiring, so they had plenty of time and energy to play with us. We didn't care for material objects as much as we cared for each other. Whenever a friend from school would come over, they would state that we were just like one of those close-knit, almost impossibly loving families you see on TV. We merely laughed at the statements, even though we believed the same thing. We always told each other that no matter, we'd always be together. If only we knew how wrong we were...
It was about twelve years ago, though it felt like an eternity. My sister and I were simply running around outside, gleefully playing together without a care in the world. Mother was inside cooking, I believe, and Father was watching TV. Everything seemed, like always, perfect for our little family.
Then, without any warning whatsoever, everything we had ever known was demolished right before our eyes.
Everybody has spoke in hushed whispers and murmurings about the return of Team Rocket. There was no hard evidence yet though, so most people assumed it was a made-up story to scare everyone or just plain paranoia. Until they attacked our city, that is.
They destroyed everything. Buildings we had walked around in thousands of times burned and crashed within mere minutes, reduced to smoking piles of ash. People were everywhere, running and screaming, until their yells were quickly silenced with a sickening slashing sound. Even streets were ripped asunder, Earthquake moves performed by the Rockets' Pokemon having torn apart the very pavement we traveled on like ribbons. The once beautiful, night sky was obscured by gigantic, blood-red flames that consumed everything in their path, while the stars were hidden behind spiraling, ugly clouds of gas. It was quite easily the most awful thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I tried pinching myself. I slapped myself a couple of times. I even bit my tongue until it bled, all attempts at trying to wake myself up and depart from this horrible nightmare. “Mother will come to wake me up in just a few minutes,” I remember constantly telling myself. “She'll wake me up, and I'll tell her all about this terrible dream, and she'll comfort me, and everything will be okay!”
Deep down though, I knew that was never going to happen. Just a few minutes after the attack started, a powerful Flamethrower from one of the Rockets' Charizards blew apart our house as if it were a mere dust-bunny instead of a building. Even I, in all my childhood innocence, knew there was no hope of our parents surviving that
. Karen and I had hurried out of the yard moments after that, but to where, we had no clue. All of our possessions and money had been inside the house, except for our Pokeballs, which were strapped to our belts. Other than that, all we had were the clothes on our bodies and each other.
I may have been a year older than Karen, but she was much more resourceful and clever than I gave her credit for, especially being my younger sister and all. She knew we couldn't keep running forever, but attempting to escape the city was much too risky. There were so many Rockets around bringing demise upon everything; there were likely a few stationed around the edges of the city as well to weed out any survivors. She also knew that though most survivors would likely be captured and tortured, we had the grim possibility of being kidnapped and raised there, of all the things that could happen. There were reports of that having happened when the Rockets first sprung up as a criminal organization, and it was very likely they wouldn't mind doing the same now that they had returned.
There was a tiny cave right around the boundaries of the city, barely hidden behind a clump of bushes and trees. It was just large enough that a child could squeeze through, and that's exactly what we did. It was big enough deeper inside to hold the two of us with our legs spread out, thankfully, and so we simply laid there, waiting until the reign of terror finally ended or a Rocket happened to spot the cave and decide to investigate it for whatever unlucky reason. It was the only option left for us aside from joining or being killed by the Rockets, and though it was both horrifying and boring, it felt ten times better than doing those.
I don't know when the shrieks stopped or the fires died down. I didn't even remember falling asleep. But I did remember waking up to a complete and utter silence, and almost wishing for the grotesque noises from before to come back. The suspense was killing me, yet I was too afraid to climb out of the hole and observe the remnants of the city we had grew up in. After a while though, Karen awoke as well, and she got out of the cave before I could tell her not to.
I couldn't stand her going out there alone, even though it seemed as if the Rockets had finally gone. I followed her out of the cave and, forcing myself not to hesitate, gazed at our hometown. Or what was left of it, anyways.
You know when you leave something on a table while you go do something else, and when you come back, it's mysteriously gone? That's how we felt when we saw the carnage of our home. There was literally nothing there. The streets had been pulled apart so much that they eventually weren't streets anymore, simply dirt with a few piece of pavement scattered around it. There were no buildings, houses, cottages, or anything of the like. Just enormous piles of ash that sat where they had once stood, still giving off fumes that were probably poisonous or harmful to the body in some other way. It was almost like a bare plain, since we could see around for miles and miles without the looming, monoliths of warehouses and whatnot obscuring our view anymore. We appeared to be the only living souls, and I didn't even want to talk about the bits and pieces of bodies that we saw half-buried underneath rubble, as if they were skin-colored trash instead of human beings and Pokemon that were living and breathing just hours prior to then.