His eyes were the colour of rock; a soft, smooth grey that stared deep into you, searching your heart, mind and soul, looking for something. What that something was, none of us ever found out; most were scared, no, terrified of him, of the way he always seemed to be second guessing the next words to leave your mouth, the way his eyes narrowed dangerously when you said something he did not like. No one dared to disagree or argue with him, not because he would grow angry or do something rash, but because no matter who you were, you wanted him to think the best of you, because you never wanted to disappoint him.
There was a charming nature about him, a calm exterior; he was our leader, our boss, yet none of us never actually knew who – or what – he actually was.
Mysterious, handsome, and so out of reach. His intelligence had stopped us getting caught – his steely grey eyes held wisdom that none of us could acquire.
We knew almost nothing of him – for all we were aware, he spent his time down in the cellar of the old abandoned manor house we used for the meetings. To the other extreme, for all we knew, he had a wife, children – a couple of the group did, for some it was the reason for their task, to create a better future for these kids, to not let them grow up on this god forsaken rock.
Because that's what we lived on now – a rock. For all it's history, it's culture, the cites – London, New York, Milan – the beautiful landscapes in the Swiss Mountains, the beaches of Thailand – it was nothing more than a huge rock, which we were slowly destroying.
Not 'we'. Them. The higher-ups. The politicians and governments, collectively – that is to say, world-wide – known as Amaris, destroying in a few years what had taken thousands to build.
It was what we were fighting against, what the Resistance lived to stop. They called us terrorists, but we preferred to think of ourselves as freedom-fighters, and we – mostly thanks to our grey eyed leader – were slowly turning the general population over to our way of thinking.
He was, as I said, mysterious, elusive. Which was why, one day, when I was sitting in my favourite coffee shop sipping my drink and flicking through one of the classics (Bronte, Charlotte), I was surprised to glance up at the queue and see a pair of steely, rocky eyes staring back at me.
I had never seen him a smile. But I saw a flicker of one flit across his face, even a slight light in his eyes before he turned to the counter and ordered.
Surprised, and a little amazed to see him in such a normal setting, I forced my eyes downward, staring at the book, unable to absorb the words there.
I lifted my head slowly, meeting those eyes and slipping the bookmark into my Bronte book. I pushed it to one side, amazed that he was sitting opposite me.
"Hello." I muttered weakly, taking a sip of my coffee.
Without a word, he leant over and picked my book off the table, scanning it before giving an approving nod and placing it back down. "Glad to see you have a life outside of the Resistance."
His sharp eyes showed a slimmer of humour in them – I couldn't help but narrow my eyes, wondering, as most of us often did, if he could read minds. Was he perhaps making a remark aimed at the idea that some of us thought he never left that basement?
"Many of us do." I replied, trying to keep my voice neutral. "Mostly more of a life than my own though."
"Because most have a loved one, or family?"
"That does not make your life any less valuable Keri."
"I..." I closed my mouth, not knowing what to say to that. You may believe I should be surprised we were talking so openly about the Resistance, but do not forget; we were changing the way people viewed Amaris, and they did not have spies everywhere; this was not 1984 and Amaris were not a Big Brother organisation (and I am not talking of the 'Social Experiment' that was the television show either) – in short, we were not being watched or heard.
"Whose life, within the group," his elbows were resting on the table, his fingers loped together "do you believe is the most valuable?"
"Yours." My answer came quickly, without hesitation. Although he had not said it himself, we all knew that everyone would give their own lives to save his, after all, what good was our esteemed leader if he was dead?
"Wrong." He tilted his head to one side, surveying me with those eyes. "Very wrong Keri. You see yourself as expendable because you have no family, you would willingly give your life for me or even for any of the others because you don't want to see their families hurt and, well, as for me, you don't know if I have a family. But that would be the last thing on your mind if you were to die for me, am I correct?"
I found myself wondering, as we often did, how the hell he did that. "You are. The Resistance could not survive without you."
"That is where you are wrong." His fingers remained locked together, expression unreadable. "As you correctly pointed out, many of us have family we are willing to save. I say we, the pair of us are exempt from this. But as for the others, well, they want to build a better future for their children, partners, and siblings." A dismissive hand waved in the air, as if these were secondary concerns. I remained silent, waiting for him to continue. "The Resistance is built on the love one human being has for another, on the idea that we can build a better place because we want those we love to be happy."
Silence descended on us as he studied me carefully, perhaps judging my reaction.
"I want to see you happy Keri."
I felt unsure what to make of these words, so I let the silence take over us once again.
I can't remember exactly how it happened, but that not the important thing. The important thing was I actually saw where he lived, and I realised that we – the members of the Resistance – had been half right. He lived in the mansion.
The old abandoned mansion that was run down and inhabitable, a place of fear to the general population, which even Amaris avoided. The only parts we had seen before had been the bottom floor, the old drawing room, billiard room and kitchen, the dining room with the broken table, two pieces crumbling on the rotten carpet, curtains in each room moth eaten and full of holes, no place for any human to live.
None of us, as far as I was aware, had seen upstairs; the beautiful marble bathroom in pristine condition, the gorgeous bedroom with the large four poster bed and scarlet curtains that seemed to be made of silk. Everything up here spoke of wealth and privilege, and it had been kept perfectly, not a single thing out of place.
"No one except myself has seen up here for generations." He whispered, arms wrapped around my waist as he kissed my neck. "My dear, if something should happen to me..."
"Nothing will happen to you." I replied, surveying the bedroom with eyes wide in wonderment. "Nothing can happen to you."
"The Resistance will go on if it does." His voice was stern, commanding. "And you will have this floor."
"Because you will take over my position as leader."
"I would make an awful leader."
"Wait and see Keri." He pulled me closer, the kisses becoming more passionate. "Wait and see, my love."
I lived up there, with him, as my belly grew big and round, as some of the Resistance congratulated me and refused to acknowledge me when I volunteered for missions or tasks. I had seen it happen before; after all, no one wants to be responsible for something happening to a pregnant woman. A surprising amount of women in the Resistance had become pregnant during their time here, and never were questions asked about the fathers; some were members of the Resistance, in which case the mothers would leave a month or so before the child was born, not wishing for both parents to be in danger. Some fathers were husbands or boyfriends, others were simply one night stands, careless or in some cases, women who wished to leave an imprint on the Earth in case something happened to them.
All had family to care for them if mothers died or disappeared, all children would grow up in a happy home – as I have said before, and almost everyone had a loved one or family who could take care of a child, until six months ago neither myself or our leader had anyone. Now we had each other, and we both refused to leave the Resistance; still, he vowed that no harm would come to me, as I had vowed the first night he had brought me here.
I wished for my child to have at least both parents or their father; he was a great man who my child deserved to know.
Midnight. A meeting that had gone on longer than it should have, debate raging about our next move, my lover sitting silently and absorbing both sides of the argument, mind rapidly working to come up with a solution beneficial to all.
Suddenly a cry, a shout, and heavy footsteps running down the basement stairs. He stands quickly, the door flies open and one of the youngest members burst in, panting he stares wildly at us all.
"Amaris Soldiers." He explains with eyes only for our leader. "Heading this way...they don't know exactly where but they know we are around here."
Quiet panic encompasses the room, members glance uneasily at each other before eyes rest on our leader. Quickly he starts to issue orders, sending some to go out the back, others to go meet the soldiers, including him, weapons upstairs, in the disused dining room, he explains. As he gives commands I slip out, whispering the boy who had warned us that I need a glass of water and then I will return. He nods, letting me go, and I climb the stairs, making a quick stop at the billiard room before leaving the house.
I wait in the shadows, and soon see the members of the Resistance moving quickly down the road. I slip in and follow them; they are all too preoccupied to notice me. He leads them like a general in a war, striding with his head held high.
Suddenly we stop, and the rest move into a block. Sliding to the front, I grab his hand and squeeze. He glances sideways at me, anger and fear dancing in his steel grey eyes.
"You should not be here." He hisses angrily.
"I could not let you do this alone."
"You are pregnant!" He stops, turning to gaze at the approaching soldiers. "Stop!" He cries, hands rose in a sign of surrender. The soldiers do as they are told, and I glance at the other Resistance members, who look confused as they gaze at each other. "I am the leader of the Resistance Against the World Government of Amaris. If I willingly come with you, will you let my people go?"
One of the soldiers steps forwards, and I give a sharp gasp as I recognise him; Steven, a young boy who joined the Resistance a year or so ago, now revealed to us as a spy.
"That's him!" He cries with glee, eyes glinting madly. I turn to our leader.
"Because you can not die."
"The others may leave." One of the men, who looks like the general. "If you will so willingly come with us."
"Go." My love cries, the members look at each other, not willing to give up their leader this easily, without a fight, but I have a feeling the soldiers know exactly how important he is, how the Resistance will collapse without him.
"Go!" He issues it with more force, dark grey eyes sharp, voice commanding. They move backwards, slowly, weapons raised until they are out of sight. I know they will return home, to their families and loved ones, to await news. But I have no one except him. "Keri, go now; I need you to guide them." He whispers, turning to me.
"No! I love you, I can not lose you!"
"If you do not go, three of us will die. Like this I have a chance to survive."
"No buts!" He leans forward, kissing my lips. "Raise him well."
I do not ask how he knows the gender; I have refused to find out. The tears wash my face as I move away, hiding in the shadow of a house and watching what unfolds.
He turns to the soldiers, and I realise he knows what none of us could have predicted; that they would not take him easily, that they are aware if they let him live then...
A gun shot.
I run forward as his body crumples to the ground, throwing myself on him and sobbing unashamed, uncontrollably. The soldiers depart, not wishing to waste time on a hysterical pregnant woman.
Suddenly a hand on my shoulder, someone pulling me up. I turn to see the general who had agreed to let us go, standing next to a woman with shining blonde hair and steely grey eyes. She glances at the body and takes a deep breath, eyes closing for a brief second.
"You killed him!" I sob, staring at the man. "You...you shot him! In cold blood."
"I am sorry Keri." He shakes his head. "He was...a good man. But the Resistance must continue, do you understand?"
"Now," He unclips his gun from his belt, and looking at his face I feel amazed. I look at the woman; the similarities between them is uncanny, they must be brother and sister, and as for their eyes...they have the exact same grey eyes as him. "Your son will be important, more important than you can imagine. You will shoot us, take revenge for his death and...well, carry on the Resistance. Do you understand?"
"What...who are you?"
"Shoot us." The woman spoke with cold clarity, her voice held the same soft yet commanding tone as his. "So we can join our brother."
"I...your brother? You killed your own brother?"
"You will understand, in time." The woman sighed, shaking her head. "Please, Keri, we do not have much time; the world will be a better place, I promise you that. Because of your son. In truth, we did not believe you would be foolish enough to put your child in danger; if it were not for you he would not have given himself up."
"So you're blaming me?"
"I am blaming the fates." The man spoke, casting a weary eye up at the sky. "And our father. He has a...a cruel sense of humour. But back to the matter at hand, you must kill us Keri. Take over the Resistance, he believed you could do a successful job and I have to trust my brother."
"I still don't understand."
"You don't need to." The woman snapped, voice sharp. "Just do it child, and hurry!"
In a far distant land, where pagan gods once ruled, a large mountain held the home of those who held so much power in their hands, yet could not defeat Amaris without the help of mere mortals. This mountain was a place of magic and power, where forgotten beings dwelt and watched the Earth silently.
"You really think she can do it Apollo?"
"I must sister." He sighed, steely grey eyes watching the bowl which showed a pregnant woman standing over a body which greatly resembled his current appearance. "I have faith in her, as they once had faith in us."
His sister scoffed, shaking her head and letting out a sigh. "Yeah, and look how well that turned out."
He gave her a wry smile, still watching the events with his fingers locked together. Suddenly the girl took the gun from his brother and shot them dead. "There. They will join us soon."
"Artemis." The woman stepped out of a doorway, running a hand through her hair and nodding to her half sister in greeting. "Really brother, you sure do know how to pick them."
"She did it then." He turned away from the screen with a sigh. "Good. And Ares?"
"On his way. Wanted to visit our uncle in the underworld." She rolled her eyes. "To explain the three deaths he will not claim, and to place protection on your love." She scoffed the word, moving to sit beside her brother. "What makes you sure she will continue to fight?"
"Because, my dear sister," his steely grey eyes closed, smiling at the image of the beautiful mortal girl who had so charmed him down on the Earth "revenge makes a better fighter than love; Ares explained that to me long ago."
"She will be distraught." Artemis glanced at the pair. "I must agree with Athene, she may simply give up on life."
"She will be unable to kill herself." Ares – now out of the General's uniform – crossed into the room. "Hades has granted his protection."
"Good. And do not worry about her my dear sisters – I will appear to her. Her dreams will be sweet."
"Her son will prevail." Ares nodded in admiration. "He will enter legend – may we proclaim our gifts now brother?"
"Of course." Apollo waved a dismissive hand, his sharp grey eyes flicking over his siblings, second guessing – as he was so good at – what their gifts would be. Really, they were so predictable.
"Wisdom." Athene smiled. "Of course."
"Courage." Artemis shrugged, taking it as part of her duty.
"Strength." Ares grinned at the others. "He will win, there will be war and bloodshed, of course," his eyes glinted with joy at the thought of it, while his brother rolled his eyes "but he will prevail, and Amaris will finally be destroyed."
"Won't dad be happy." Apollo muttered sarcastically, leaning over the basin to gaze once more at the sobbing Keri.