overlaps chapters 4 & 5 of
Rules, Book One of THE MIR CHRONICLES
and is written from Gideon’s point of view.
The Founding of the World celebration was in full swing. The people of Everleigh had filled the city square. Gideon stared at a group of fire dancers in front of him. Evangeline stood next to him grasping her new medallion in the palm of her hand as it hung from a chain around her neck.
Gideon remembered the words of the mystic. The Angel and the Warrior. One with the power to save, the other to destroy. He wasn’t sure what it all meant, but the words rested heavily on his mind.
He glanced at Evangeline. She looked beautiful with the light of the fire flickering on her skin. Looking at her now, he knew if she were ever in danger, he’d do anything to save her maybe even destroy those that hurt her.
He felt the humidity coming off the lake and heard the laughter of the crowd. Gideon checked over his shoulder—the habit of years spent with his father among the Resistance. Not only was Everleigh the only city the Priestess hadn’t infiltrated, it was also the one she wanted the most. It was dangerous here, yet judging by the laughter and happiness of the crowd, you would never guess their world was at war. A war resisting the tyranny of a woman they called “The Priestess.” He and his father had spent years with the Resistance, doing everything they could to counteract her overtake. But they were losing. And now his father was acting strangely.
Something had caused his father’s personality to change. He knew his father better than anyone else. He had to. Since his mother had left, it had just been him and his father. Of course, their was the Adhara’s and Evangeline. They cared for him like family. He also had his Aunt Thora.—his mother’s sister—who had kept in touch with him and Zeke ever since his mother had left. Thora always seemed to know what was going on in his life without him telling her. Yet, she was a mystery to Gideon. She’d slip in and out of visits with them like a phantom. When he’d ask his father what she did for a living, Zeke would shrug his shoulders and say, “Thora has her own agenda.” He had last seen Thora in Celano right before his father had met with a new contact.
Gideon thought about the man he and his father had met a few days before. The man looked like he was from another world. A towering build and purposely misshapen facial features. It wasn’t unusual for people from other worlds to be on Mir so Gideon hadn’t thought much of the meeting when it happened. But looking back, Gideon was certain that the meeting had triggered the sudden change in his father.
He wanted to talk to Marcus, Evangeline’s dad, about it, but it would have to wait until after the party. Still, Thora might know what had caused his father’s change. The last time he had talked to her, she had told him she would be at the party and if he had time to come find her. She’d be watching the entertainment from the citadel wall.
He leaned towards Evangeline. “I just realized, there is someone who will have the answers about my father. Will you be okay if I leave you for a while?”
“I can come with you,” Evangeline said, turning towards him.
“Actually, this person doesn’t really like people to know who she is,” Gideon said. “Besides as the General’s daughter, you should stay at the party.”
Evangeline raised her eyes skeptically. Gideon didn’t know why, but he had never really talked to Evangeline about his Aunt Thora. Thora was a link to his mother, and though he liked Thora a lot, he didn’t like talking about his mother. Thora also didn’t like anyone to know who she was, so he simply never brought Thora up. Still, he felt like she watched out for him from afar. “Don’t worry, I’ll be safe,” he added.
"Okay,” Evangeline replied.
He gave her elbow a quick squeeze and darted through the crowd heading towards the walls of the citadel. The closer he got to the walls, the more he worried about his father’s change in behavior.
He saw Thora standing on top the wall. She saw him at the same time. Motioning him to stay put, she took the nearest stairs. She took one look at him and stopped in her tracks.
“What’s wrong?” she asked studying his face. He hated that she could read him so well. He drew his shoulders back and forced a stoic look.
“That’s what I came to talk to you about,” he said. He took a deep breath trying to control the tightness forming in his chest. “Something is wrong with my father.”
“Tell me more,” she said.
“It started after we met with a man in Celano. He didn’t look like he was from here, but my father was certain he’d have information about the Priestess. He met with him alone and when he came back to camp, he was different.”
“In what ways?” Thora asked.
“His eyes looked different. If you come see him now, you’ll know what I mean. He acts cold as if he doesn’t know how to talk to me, and his movements seem different. I don’t know if I’m making any sense at all.”
Thora studied Gideon for a moment. “Do you think he is somehow under the influence of the Priestess?” Thora asked.
Gideon shrugged his shoulder’s “I’m not sure. Do you think she got to him somehow.”
“I’m not sure. But if she did, I’m afraid you’re in more danger than you realize.”
Gideon felt his heart pounding in his chest. He tightened his jaw trying to control his increasing anxiety. When his heart didn’t relax he took a deep breath. “What type of danger do you think I’m in?” he asked.
“The Priestess may put your safety in jeopardy—or maybe already has—to get to your father.”
Gideon took another deep breath. The weight of her words felt heavy on his chest. Gideon knew enough about the Priestess to understand that she used threats to get people to follow her. He also knew that if she found a weakness in his father, that she’d use it against him.
“Gather your things. Meet me by the lake in an hour. Until we find out more, I cannot let your father care for you any longer.”
“I’ll tell the Adhara’s,” Gideon said.
“We cannot let anyone know you’ll be leaving, not if the Priestess will learn of it. Gideon, you must keep this a secret until you are safe. Promise me.”
Gideon opened his mouth to promise, but then thought of Evangeline. He couldn’t leave without telling her goodbye. Luckily Thora wasn’t waiting for a response.
“Meet me in one hour, Gideon. By the lake.” Without waiting for Gideon to respond, Thora disappeared into the shadows of the city.
Glancing at the time, Gideon ran through the crowded streets to the citadel. Entering a back door, he jogged the empty halls to his room. He needed to pack quickly, then he’d tell Evangeline bye. He pushed his bedroom door open.
“Gideon,” Zeke said.
The cold vibration of his voice caused Gideon to stop in his tracks. Fear radiated in his soul. His father stood directly in front of him.
“Father,” Gideon replied. A lump was forming in his throat, and again he could feel his heart racing. He pushed the feelings away and focused on his father.
Zeke stood silent for a moment as his icy eyes stared straight at Gideon. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he stated.
Gideon’s jaw muscles clenched. He had to force himself to take even breaths. He didn’t want his father to see how scared he was. Pushing the fear away he straightened his posture. “What can I do for you father?”
His father walked behind him and closed the bedroom door. “Someone wants to talk to you,” he answered. Zeke motioned to the room’s hologram.
“Hello, Gideon,” a cool voice said.
Turning to the holographic image, Gideon stopped dead. The woman on the screen raised her eyes, amused.
“Don’t you miss your mother?” the woman said. She was beautiful. One of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Her blond hair was slicked back into a ponytail and she wore a high-necked lace dress. But it was her eyes that caught him. They were the very eyes he remembered as a child. Icy blue.
Vivid and painful recollections of her abandonment flooded his thoughts. He had asked his father for years where she had gone. The question was always side-stepped or unanswered. Now he knew why.
“I understand calling me mother may be difficult for you. You may call me Priestess like the rest of my followers do,” she said as her eyes landed on Zeke.
Gideon felt himself stop breathing. Disbelief consumed him. He turned to his dad and as he looked at him, everything about his father’s change made sense. His father had joined the Priestess! Not only that, but the Priestess was his mother.
“You should be honored, Gideon. I reveal myself to very few. Though I suppose your father has known for some time now.”
“My mother is the Priestess and you never told me?” he said. He couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice. “ And now you have joined her side.”
“I don’t answer to you,” Zeke said in a stiff voice.
Gideon stared at his father. He blinked thinking it would help change what he was seeing. When his father refused to add more, Gideon turned back towards his mother.
“Join us, Gideon,” the Priestess said.
He let out a disbelieving breath then shook his head as if he hadn’t heard her correctly.
“Swear loyalty to me,” she added.
“Swear loyalty to you?” he said. He felt the anger rising inside him. Squaring his shoulders he walked towards the projection of his mother. “You left me,” he pointed his finger at her. “You left me and never once contacted me. I worried for years about what had happened to you. And all along, you’ve been right here.” Gideon struggled to keep the distress out of his voice. "Not only here, but you've been the one were fighting against."
His mother’s face turned irritated. Her expression made Gideon wonder how many people had actually went against her. She stared at him as if studying what made him tick. She turned her eyes towards Zeke then back to Gideon.
“If you join me, we’ll be a family again.”
Gideon nearly laughed out loud. A family? The only family he had was his father, Thora, and the Adhara’s. His mother hadn’t been in the picture for years. Gideon instinctually turned toward his father expecting him to come to his aide. Zeke stood motionless at the edge of the room, staring straight ahead. Every detail about how his father had changed came into focus. His eyes, his posture, the way he talked. Everything was terribly wrong. The Priestess watched Gideon studying his father.
“If you join me, you’ll be able to protect your family. Don’t you want to protect your family.”
Gideon’s heart dropped and the anger began to dissipate. “One with the power to save…” He thought back to the mystic and the vision he had seen with Evangeline. He was on a cliff, Evangeline on the other side. When the cliff started falling away, he knew he had to protect her. Save her. And as the words “One with the power to save…” echoed across the chasm, he felt his soul burn. He knew those words were meant for him. That not only should he save Evangeline, but there were other’s waiting as well. Could joining the Priestess give him that kind of power. The thought sent a jolt of energy through him and for the first time since seeing his mother he felt hope. He turned back towards her.
“How would I be able to protect my family?” Gideon asked.
The Priestess raised her eyebrows and pierced her lips almost smiling. She had figured out what made him tick. “As my son, the possibilities are endless.”
He studied his mother. Could she really give him the power he needed to keep those he loved safe? Could being one of her soldiers provide him insight into his father’s sudden change. He closed his eyes appalled by his own thoughts. He couldn’t really be thinking of joining her. There had to be another option. But as he opened them again, and saw his mother staring at him, waiting for his answer, he could think of nothing else.
“Join me, Gideon. I can give you what you seek.”
He kept his eyes fixed on her. He knew her influence. He knew she could indeed give him the power to save. A force deep inside his soul drew him to her. She was the answer and he knew it. He took a step forward and bowed at the waist. “I will join you mother,” he said.
“You’ll swear loyalty to me?” She motioned him to stand.
“Yes,” Gideon straightened. He took a deep breath he raised himself tall and determined.
“You’ll serve me, and no one else,” she demanded.
Gideon adjusted his stance. Raising his arm, he clenched his fist and rested it in the center of his chest. “I will loyally do what I must to protect my family. If that means joining you, then so be it.”
The Priestess smiled in triumph and motioned for Zeke.
His father stepped beside him. Grabbing Gideon’s hand, he forced it inside some sort of machine. As it clamped around him, his knee’s buckled under the stabbing pain. His nerves felt like they were on fire. His muscles clenched in protest. He tried to pull away, but the machine kept his hand securely in place. The pain was unforgiving. When it finally released, Gideon’s arm fell limply to his side. Then the pain left as quickly as it came. Using his shoulder he wiped the sweat from his brow. Flexing his hand, he looked at the new tattoo. Three circles formed the Priestess’ insignia.
“It allows me to keep track of my followers,” she said in way of explanation. “Let me be clear, Gideon. I’ll be watching you. You are now under my command. You will leave to train at the Interplanetary Military Academy tomorrow morning. If, in your time away, you do anything that will betray me, I will kill you myself.” The hologram turned off with a sudden finality.
“You’re sending me to the IMA?” he asked. Gideon pushed away the sick feeling forming in the pit of his stomach. His father held out a stack of clothes for him. The Priestess’ uniform was black with the red insignia on its shoulder.
“Change now,” Zeke said as he forced the clothes into his arms. “The Priestess wants you trained as a leader and you are now under her command,” he paused and examined Gideon for a moment his expression softened. “You’ll be better able to protect your family if you train at the IMA.”
“Off-planet?” Gideon said. He couldn’t protect anyone if he was off planet. He looked at the tattoo on his hand before putting on the gloves. His father handed him his brown leather jacket and indicated he put it on. He had to keep forcing himself to keep breathing normally.
“You’re being monitored. Do not reveal to the Adhara’s or Evangeline what has happened here. They’ll find out soon enough on their own.”
For the first time, Gideon comprehended that the situation might be bigger than just him joining the Priestess.“What are you planning? Are the Adhara’s in danger?”
Zeke gave a smirk inconsistent with any look he had ever given his son. Gideon’s eyes went wide with the realization that the Priestess was planning something for the Adhara’s. “Dad, they’re our family.”
Zeke snapped. “No, I’m your family.” He yelled. “Don’t lose everything over your boyhood love for a little girl.”
Gideon stepped back. This couldn’t be his father talking. “Are you even listening to yourself Father?”
“This matter is done, Gideon. Don’t become a consequence of your own stupidity.”
Gideon watched as his Father opened the door to exit the room. “You leave tomorrow. The Academy is awaiting your arrival.” Gideon wanted to follow after him and demand some answers, but as Zeke walked away, he saw Evangeline standing in the open doorway. Her face pale and her eyes wide.
“Gid,” Lena said, sounding more worried than he’d ever heard her.
How much did she know? Walking toward her he grabbed her hand and pulled her down the hall.
“Military Academy? He’s sending you away?” Evangeline’s eye’s filled with tears. “Off-planet.”
He couldn’t answer. What could he tell her anyway? Nothing with the Priestess monitoring him. He was relieved it was only the Academy she was asking about. She must not have heard he joined the Priestess otherwise she’d be asking about that.
“Gideon,” Lena cried. “Talk to me.”
Gideon pulled her to a stop. He needed to keep her safe. He knew his mother would be watching his every move. “Eves, listen to me,” he said. Grabbing both her shoulders he turned her so they faced each other, “I can’t tell you. Eves, I can’t talk about what’s going on, or me leaving or anything, so please don’t ask.”
Lena stepped back. Blinking away tears, she looked down at her shoes. Taking a deep breath she looked back at him. “Okay.”
“Okay?” Gideon questioned.
“I don’t understand what’s going on with you, Gideon,” she took his hand, “but I trust you, and if you say you can’t talk about it, I won’t ask you again.”
Gideon didn’t respond. All he wanted to do is to tell Evangeline everything. But he couldn’t. The Priestess was watching him and he needed to keep her off the Priestess’ radar as much as possible.
“Gideon,” Evangeline whispered. “If you’re really leaving for the Academy tomorrow, I’m going to miss you.”
Gideon’s heart stopped and for a moment he almost lost his composure. He needed to say something to her. Let her know how much she meant to him. But all he could say was, “I’m going to miss you too.”
As soon as they stepped into the city square Gideon sensed something had changed. People were gathering around the podium to hear General Adhara speak, but the feeling in the air had changed from festive to unsettled.
“Hey Gid, what are they doing?” Evangeline said pointing to dark shadows that filled the alley. Gideon started scanning the square. How had he not realized it before? The Priestess was going to attack. Right now. He had to warn Marcus.
Dropping Evangeline’s hand he darted through the crowd towards the podium where Marcus was. The crowd tightened as citizens inched their way towards their leader. Gideon pushed through the crowd.
He yelled to Marcus but he was too far away. Gideon pushed the person in front of him out of the way. His father, Zeke, was on the podium, walking towards Marcus with a knife in his hand. A shriek filled the air as his father plunged the knife into Marcus’ chest.
Gideon’s breath left him as Marcus fell to the ground and his father callously kicked the body.
Gideon didn’t move. He felt disconnected. This couldn’t be happening. He stared as two soldiers grabbed Evangeline’s mother, Lillyanne, and restrained her on each side.
“And where is your pretty little daughter?” Zeke asked
“I do not know.” Evangeline’s mother gasped as tears ran down her beautiful face. As she lifted her face to the crowd, Gideon noticed a large lump forming on the side of her head. Lillyanne searched the square. “Where is your son Commander? Isn’t she with him?”
Gideon looked to his side. Where was Evangeline? How could he have left her? He turned in a circle anxiously looking to where he had last seen Evangeline. A shot rang through the air snapping his attention back to the podium. Lillyanne lay dead next to Marcus.
He had to find Evangeline. He scanned the panicked crowd. Soldiers were corralling everyone into the square. But he knew Evangeline would find a way to the lake. Not only was that her families designated meeting place, he had told her earlier if anything happened, to meet him by the lake.
It didn’t take him long to find her climbing up the side of the citadel. They use to do it as kids.He watched as she swung herself on top the roof. Shots were fired.
“Don’t kill her! Capture her!” Zeke yelled.
He had to get to her first. Gideon pushed through the crowd. The Priestess’ defense soldiers were pushing the crowd together. One shoved up against Gideon with a gun. Gideon pushed against him and showed the soldier his insignia. The soldier let him pass without restriction handing him a pistol in the process.
He took his brown leather jacket off and ran to the lake. None of the Priestess’ soldiers stopped him. When he got to their spot by the water he spun around looking for her. She wasn’t there yet. Thora stepped out from behind a tree. He’d forgotten about Thora. Had it been an hour already. He looked at the time. It had been longer than an hour. She must have been waiting Her eyes went wide as she saw what he was wearing. She signaled him to come. He didn’t have time to explain. He had to find Evangeline.
He started running back towards the citadel. Bombs shook the ground. The air was filled with dust and ash.
“Gideon,” Evangeline screamed.
Gideon ran towards her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She buried her head in his chest.
They’ve attacked,” she said. She looked terrified. “Your…your father, attacked.”
Holding her closer, his forehead tipped down to touch hers. He started to push her towards where Thora was watching from the trees. She pushed away from him. Her eyes seemed to register everything at once. His insignia. The uniform.
“Gideon,” her eyes wide open filled with betrayal. “What have you done?” she stepped away from him.
“Eves, I’m so, so sorry,” he grabbed her arms trying to pull her towards safety before anyone saw them.
“Let go of me,” she said, her voice just above a whisper. “He sent you, didn’t he?” tears now ran down her face as she backed away from him. “You are the danger that I couldn’t see right in front of me.”
He had lost too much time. Soldiers were surrounding them. He wouldn’t be able to get away without being seen. He took a deep breath forcing himself to find a solution, quickly. Thora was here. The Priestess was watching him. She wanted Evangeline alive. He held the gun in his hand as the answer came clearly to his mind. He could save her, show loyalty to the Priestess and not get himself killed in the process. Thora would help.
He lifted the gun and pointed it at Evangeline. “Eves?” Gideon said. She turned towards him. “I’m so sorry.”
He aimed carefully—pointing for the spot just below her collar—and pulled the trigger. He hardly registered the sound as he watched Evangeline fall to the ground, unconscious. Soldiers surrounded them.
“Good job, soldier.” One of them said patting him on the back.
He heard the soldiers call his father, General Merak, and tell her the girl had been apprehended alive but wounded. Gideon looked to the tree’s where he knew Thora was hiding. He couldn’t tell Thora to get Evangeline somewhere safe, but he knew she would. A nearby soldier grabbed his shoulder. “The General wants your name.”
“Gideon Merak,” he said.
He heard his father’s voice laugh from the com device. He tuned it out.
The same soldier grabbed his arm. “The General wants you back at the square immediately. We will take care of the girl from here.”
Squaring his shoulders he gave the soldier a quick nod and turned towards the city square. He would be loyal to his mother. He would be her follower. He would train at the IMA. He found a way to save Evangeline, now he would find a way to save his dad. The air was so thick with dust he couldn’t see the path in front of him. So he took a step into the dark, boldly executing a plan that was based more on hope than any clear design.
Recruit, A short story from THE MIR CHRONICLES, is a work of fiction and the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or events is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright 2017 Leisa Wallace
All rights reserved.