There are two types of people in this world: those who live inside of Eden and those who do not.
The Third World War devastated the world and put an end to the Old Age. After the war, acid rains that could burn skin and hailstorms the size of boulders constantly poured down from the skies. Contaminoids, large, shelled insects, ravaged the surface. In order to escape from the harsh environment, mankind built a shelled city to live in. It was called Eden, the land of paradise. And paradise it was. Under Eden's controlled environment, there was plenty of food and clean water, and those who lived inside it no longer had to worry about the world outside.
But not everyone could live within the sheltered walls of Eden. Those who were not fortunate enough to be one of the lucky few that were born inside were forced to survive with what they had on the outside.
"Zenith! I was looking for you!"
The young boy named Zenith Reid turned around to search for the voice that was calling him. He was no older than seventeen, but was firmly built, and despite his skinny figure, the hint of toned muscle was apparent. His messy black hair was held out of his face with a tattered red ribbon that served the purpose of a headband and was tied at the back. He had piercing azure eyes that were calm and steady. He wore a black shirt, a faded green vest, greyish pants, and worn out combat boots. All of his clothing seemed to be slightly frayed, but that was not unusual for the attire of someone who lived on the outside. Attached to the back of his belt was a short dagger, and a gun strap was attached to his right thigh.
"I'm over here!"
Finally finding the owner of the voice, Zenith smiled and waved to a blond who was slightly older than him. He was similarly dressed, and wore a ribbon, almost identical to Zenith's, as an armband on the top of his left arm. He wore a bandage on his face and a short scar above his right eye.
"What'cha doing here, Zenith?" The blond man asked.
"Nothing much," Zenith replied. "I guess I'm just getting some fresh air."
"Oh really now? Well, I guess this is about as fresh as it gets out here." The blond replied. Indeed, the two were talking in an enclosed, garage-like area that was attached to the main base of FLIGHT.
After the creation of Eden, many resistance groups were formed by the angry masses of people who targeted their rage and misfortune onto Eden. It was these resistance groups that made life outside of Eden bearable. When a resistance group succeeded in attacking and breaking through Eden's defense forces, they often brought back food and other goods from the shelled paradise and distributed it out to everyone else who lived in the ghetto-like cities that had formed in the outside world.
One of these many groups was a group called FLIGHT. It was a decent-sized resistance that was located in District 34. FLIGHT was founded and headed by a man known as Leo Titor.
"But if it's fresh air you want, Eden has plenty of it. You could just wait until we get there to take a breather." The blond suggested.
"If I took a breather during a raid, I'd die for sure, Kye. This is why people call you stupid." Zenith rolled his eyes. But it was true. The air inside of Eden was the purest air in the world.
"If it's you, you could probably pull it off. After all, you're considered to be one of the best fighters in FLIGHT." Kye pointed out. Zenith, despite his young age, was unusually talented in fighting. This talent earned him the title of being the best fighter in FLIGHT.
"Mr. Leo is the best fighter in FLIGHT." Zenith mumbled in response.
"You hold the old man quite a high regard."
"Of course I do!" Zenith returned. "I owe him so much."
Unbeknownst to either of them, a young girl had been running across the open lot that connected to the garage-like area. Her long black hair streamed behind her as she ran. She wore a dirty white dress over a black one, and was wearing boots, like most of the people she passed by. Reaching the entrance of her destination, she shyly hid herself behind a wall.
"I think you have a guest, Zenith." Kye said jokingly as he shrugged his head towards where the long-haired girl was standing. She was no older than twelve.
"What are you doing here, Rei?" Zenith called out in surprise. In response, the girl ran over and hid behind him.
Kye crouched down to face the young girl. "Hello, Rei. Are you here to see your brother?"
"You're not allowed to call me that. My name is Reina. R-E-I-N-A." Reina informed him.
"Zenith! What are teaching your sister?" Kye asked in comical outrage.
Just then, a man in his late twenties entered the area. He too, wore FLIGHT's red ribbon on his arm and had a large scar running down his face.
"Zenith! Kye! I want you guys in the meeting room right now." He called out.
"Yessir!" Kye called out jokingly as he headed inside.
"Alright, Rei, you're gonna have to go home." Zenith told his sister, who began to pout.
"It's fine, Zenith. Let her stay. It'll be dark soon, and it'll be dangerous for her to be out alone." The man said kindly after noticing the child.
"Thank you, Mr. Leo!" Zenith called back as he followed Kye, hand in hand with his sister.
The conference room was silent when they entered, despite that there was about twenty some people there already. Reina immediately took a seat neat the back of the room where she wouldn't be a bother to anyone. Some of the members of FLIGHT smiled at her as she passed.
Leo Titor stepped to the front of the room and pulled out a series of old maps displaying the layout of Eden.
Leo took a deep breath before he began. "You all know why you are here, and you are all here fully knowing and understanding that some of you may not ever return. Before I begin telling you of our objectives, I must thank you all for that." Leo paused, and a heavy silence filled the room. "Our main objectives for tonight will be to breach Sector 0 of Eden and destroy the main computer that runs Eden."
A low murmur spread throughout the room. No other resistance has ever made their way to Sector 0 before. There was very little information about it, other than that it was heavily protected. In fact, it was considered the most heavily protected section of Eden. Rumor had it that Sector 0 was protected by specialized guards known as Eden Guards.
Once the murmur had died down, Leo started again. "I know that there is very little information regarding Sector 0. But I believe that our forces here are capable of breaking in. Even if we don't succeed in destroying the main computer, our raid can be considered a success as long as we obtain information on Sector 0. For tonight's operations, I want to split into two groups. One group, led by me, will be a decoy and will attack Sector 3, where we will gather food and other supplies as we usually do. The other group will actually be breaching Sector 0. Zenith, I want you to lead this group."
Silence filled the room as most of the inhabitants of the room turned towards Zenith.
"Alright," Zenith answered. "I'll do it. No, please let me do it."
"Very well. I'll leave Sector 0 to you, Zenith." Leo continued. An hour later, the meeting was over, and the two groups were set. Most of the room emptied out, preparing to leave for the raid.
"It's time to wake up, Rei." Zenith called softly as he gently shook Reina awake.
"Are you leaving soon?" Reina asked after seeing the almost empty room.
"I don't want you to go!" Reina suddenly cried out and threw her arms around her brother. "Don't go! Please don't!"
"I always come back, don't I?" Zenith asked.
"I have a bad feeling about this raid. Please don't go." Reina muttered.
Zenith peeled himself out of his sister's grasp and knelt down before her while reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a small locket.
"How about I give you this?" He pressed the locket into Reina's hands. "This is my good luck charm. Why don't you hold onto this for me?"
Leo came up to the two siblings and placed a hand on Zenith's shoulder.
"If Reina wants you to stay, you're more than welcome to. I won't force you to go." He told them.
Zenith stood up. "No, I want to go. Please, let me go."
"Even though Reina doesn't want you to?" Leo asked.
Zenith paused and looked into his sisters cerulean eyes before answering. "Mr. Leo… you… you took us, orphans with nowhere to go, in. You clothed us, and fed us, and gave us a place to stay. You helped us meet many wonderful people. Even though some of them aren't with us anymore, they were still amazing people that I'll never forget. So that's why, that's why I want to fight with you. I want to fight alongside you, and the rest of FLIGHT. Because I see you as a father figure."
Leo smiled softly. "Alright then, if that's your final decision. We should get going. Reina can stay here until we return." He turned around and left the room.
Zenith faced his sister once again. "Okay, Rei. Be a good girl while I'm gone, alright?" He patted her on the head. She didn't reply. "I'll be back real soon, so hold onto my locket for me. Well, I'll be going now." He lightly hugged her one last time and turned to leave the room.
"Come back soon!" Reina called out just as he was about to leave.
"Yeah." Zenith replied as he turned back to wave before he left for the raid.
"Zenith! How is your situation? Respond. Over." Leo's voice came from the communication radio Zenith was holding. They had successfully infiltrated into Eden.
"We're still stuck in Sector 1. Total of two casualties. I just hope that they haven't noticed us yet. Over." Zenith replied.
His situation frustrated him. He could see the heavily guarded entrance leading to Sector 0, but how was he to bring the remainder to his group over there?
"Zenith!" Kye called out. And just in time. A security panel had dislodged itself from a wall and started shooting him. Zenith only had just enough time to jump out of its line of fire.
Shit, Zenith cursed to himself as the radio he was holding exploded.
A lone man stood in the center of a circular room filled with machines and controls. His appearance was peculiar. His silvery white hair fell slightly below his chin, not quite at his shoulders. He wore black garments lined with silver. His golden eyes stared unblinkingly at a large screen in front of him; staring like the way a predator stalks his prey.
He pulled out several chords from the machines on either side of him simultaneously with both hands, and in one fluid motion, attached them to the hidden ports behind his ears. At the same time, he closed his eyes.
He opened his mouth and spoke to no one in particular, "Initiating BREAK. MASSACRE MODE, ACTIVATE." As soon as he had finished speaking, dozens of holographic displays opened before him. He opened his eyes again.
"Hold it, Elliot." A woman's voice echoed from the hidden speakers in the room. "Don't kill them just yet."
Suddenly, a great number of security panels and hidden probes dislodged themselves and began to open fire at Zenith's group. Zenith aimed at one and shot at it. The shot hadn't destroyed the panel, but it was enough to knock it into the probe behind it, successfully redirecting its line of fire.
If it only weren't for those panels, Zenith thought in frustration. He had already lost two teammates to them. He ducked and rolled away to join Kye behind a wall, where they would be temporarily safe from harm.
"We're not going to make it. We need to retreat!" Zenith informed Kye. The two ducked as a probe opened fire at them.
"The rest of us probably won't, but you can!" Kye argued.
"Are you crazy?" Zenith hissed back. He frantically searched for the rest of his group, and was relieved to find that they were in one piece.
"No, I'm not." Kye continued. "Listen, if the rest of us open fire at once, we can create an opening long enough for someone of your level to escape. As long as you make it there and back, this raid will be a success!"
"But…" Zenith started. He was soon cut off by a teammate from across the room.
"Just do it! It's the only chance we've got!"
Zenith bit down on his lips and carefully weighed his option. He knew fully well that it was either now or never.
"I'm ready when you are."
Elliot's eyes narrowed as a great number of security panels and probes took damage at once. Most of them were still properly functional, but the ones that had been broken would have to be replaced.
"One of them broke through. What do you want me to do, Alice?" He asked again. The woman's voice from the speakers answered him once again.
"Leave him be. I've taken quite a liking to him. I don't care about the rest. Do as you wish."
"Understood." Elliot replied curtly. He was still upset about the broken panels, especially since he was most likely going to have to pay for them. They weren't exactly cheap either.
Zenith just continued to run. He didn't know where he was, but he hoped that he was heading towards Sector 0. Finally, he arrived at a large set of heavy doors and stopped to look around for a way to get through.
But his efforts were wasted. The doors opened automatically, as if someone was beckoning him in. Zenith hesitated but continued forward. As soon as he stepped inside, the doors closed behind him. He continued to proceed forward down the long, continuous corridor. Finally, after what seemed to him to be an eternity of walking straight, he approached another set of doors. These, too, opened automatically as soon as he approached.
Zenith soon found himself in a dimly lit room. In the center of the room was a large, tall, ginormous, machine that glowed slightly in the darkened room. This, he guessed, was the main computer of Eden. Zenith ran up to it and set up the bomb that he had brought with him and attached it to the machine. Thirty minutes, Zenith guessed, should be enough time to return. The rest of his group would have made it back outside by now, if they had retreated as soon as he had left them.
Suddenly, a set of footsteps echoed throughout the room. Zenith spun around in shock as his hands reflexively went for the gun strapped to his thigh. But the only person he saw in the room with him was a little girl around Reina's age. Zenith relaxed.
"It might be dangerous here. Shouldn't you get back to your parents?" He asked her. The girl had long, golden locks and bright green eyes. She was well dressed and held a teddy bear close to her side. She didn't answer Zenith, but continued to stare at him with empty eyes. Zenith walked up to her and keeled down to face her, just as he did with his sister.
"I'll get you out of here, okay?" Zenith slowly reached for her free hand and stood up. Her hand was cold, almost like ice. He began to walk her towards the door.
"Stay away from that girl!" A voice cried from the other side of the room. Zenith turned around to see a hooded figure running straight for him at a remarkable speed. By instinct, Zenith jumped back as the hooded figure lunged and snatched the girl away from him. The young girl didn't seem alarmed in the slightest. Instead, the young girl simply proceeded to walk towards the large machine.
But Zenith didn't have the time to worry about the young girl anymore. The hooded figure had come up to him and had kicked him hard in the stomach before he could react. Zenith literally flew several feet away from the blow. Ignoring the pain in his stomach, he reached for his gun, he shot at the hooded figure, who simply stood there and watched. But his bullets never reached their intended target. Instead, they hit the hooded figure straight on, and fell to the ground.
Bullet proof clothing, huh? Zenith thought. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, the figure had closed in on him again, and kicked away his gun. Zenith dodged the next blow and reached for his dagger. How does he move so fast? He thought, frustrated. Zenith was barely dodging most of the blows that were being dealt at him, and the blows that did land were far heavier than it should have been from someone the size of the hooded figure. Zenith grasped his dagger and lunged for the hooded figure, but the figure grabbed him by the arm and threw him, as if he was a weightless doll.
Zenith staggered to get up. The world around him was spinning in circles. Meanwhile, the hooded figure raced to pick something off of the ground and held it to his stomach.
"Goodnight," the figure whispered as a loud gunshot reverberated throughout the room. From somewhere far away, Zenith was numbly aware of his body falling towards the ground like a ragged doll. The young girl came back and dropped something next to him. It was the now-lifeless bomb that he had set on the large machine. She simply stood there, staring at him with emotionless eyes while holding her teddy bear. She seemed to be around Reina's age…
Reina. Zenith tried to smile at the girl, but was unsure if would have the effect he desired. Reina. He had promised her that he would return. Reina. For some reason, in Zenith's vision, it was Reina who was staring down at him. I'm sorry, Rei, Zenith thought to himself. I don't think I'll be able to keep my promise…
The hooded figure walked up next to the younger girl and drew back the hood to reveal the face of a girl. Zenith felt his mind stiffen in shock.
Because she was there. But she shouldn't have been there. She couldn't have been there. Perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him. Because there was no way that she could have been there. It just wasn't possible.
Zenith continued to stare at her as his vision slowly blacked out. Why, he thought, why are you here? Seris…
Reina jumped up as the doorknob turned. She had been waiting for many hours.
"Zenith!" she called out happily as she ran towards the door. But it wasn't her brother who stepped out from behind it. It was Leo Titor, looking older and more tired than she had ever seen him before.
"Where is my brother?" she asked him.
Leo looked at her with sad and tired eyes. He crouched down to so that their faces were level.
"Reina," he began, "I want you to be calm and listen to me. You're brother isn't coming back. Reina, he…"
"No!" Reina screamed as she tore herself away from him and blocked her ears with her hands. Tears streamed out from her tightly shut eyes. "No! I don't want to hear it!"
It was the same. It was the same scene that she had witnessed two years ago. There had been a large-scale 'clean-up' done by Eden on District 33, where they had lived before. It was this event that caused FLIGHT to relocate to District 34. Zenith had walked in with a broken arm, with the same heavy eyes that Leo had. He too, had asked her to be calm and listen while crouching down to face her.
And when she had asked him what was wrong, he had told her, "Seris isn't coming home. We couldn't find her." At first, she couldn't understand what he meant. She couldn't understand why tears kept flowing from her brother's eyes. Seris had always been with them. She was like a sister to her. Seris was the only other person that was allowed to call her 'Rei'. The locket that her brother kept with him, it was of a picture of all three of them in it. They had practically been family for the past five years. So how could she not be coming home?
And then it hit her. And she started to cry. She cried for a long, long time. Those words had always haunted her in her nightmares.
Leo gently pried Reina's hands away from her face and waited for her to calm down. "Reina, Zenith is dead." He told her. And she cried. And she cried. And she cried.