Full Summary: The nation of Anstalias was a massive one, held together by the uniting force of a powerful government and an even greater military. Under their watchful eyes, the nation grew and prospered until, after decades of peace, the fires of revolution had become a distant memory, little more than stories kept alive through campfire tales and footnotes in history textbooks. However, a single event overturned everything. The emergence of humans with abilities beyond explanation. Mystics. They were immediately labelled as a dire threat against the reigning government, and as an avalanche of decrees stripped this newborn group of its basic rights, revolution was born anew, and at a level unseen before in human history.
Suddenly faced with the threat of a devastating war, an unprepared Anstalias acquiesced to their demands, providing them with a city in which the nation would have no influence. However, as more and more Mystics Emerged and were executed outside Celurra's newly drawn borders, small teams of Mystics were sent to safely retrieve them, at any costs.
Alyss Andrison sat on the edge of an old, highway overpass, watching the beginnings of a blizzard grow on the horizon. The occasional car sped by behind her, sending leaves scurrying and blowing her hair into her face, but she paid little attention to them. They were of little concern to her when compared to what approached from the distance. Not the storm, though its icy winds held their own danger. No, her target was the line of military trucks taking advantage of the storm's obscuring nature. But even though her gaze never left the distant target, steadily following the convoy, her hands tapped out her rising restlessness into the cracked, gray concrete. She was nervous.
Justifiably so, she thought. Her job, though simple, would be exceedingly dangerous. When the convoy came into sight, she was to drop down from the overpass and draw their attention away from the surrounding woods, where the rest of her team were lying in wait. And from there, it would be a matter of outrunning a hail of bullets.
After all, in the resulting conflict there would only be one easy target: herself.
Alyss flinched as the phone in her right pocket buzzed. She tore her eyes away from the storm for the first time in nearly ten minutes and read the name on the screen. Scott. She hesitated, confused as to why Scott would be calling her. As team leader, he would be expected to check in with each member just before the attack, but the blizzard had yet to reach a distance close enough to warrant concern and Alyss couldn't think of any other reason for a phone call. Nevertheless, she pressed the glowing, green button and brought the device up to her ear. "Hey, Scott. Is something wrong?"
"Hey, Alyss. I'm just checking in to see if you're okay." Scott answered. Alyss turned to scan the side of the highway, directing her gaze to the spot where she knew Scott and the others would be resting. She waved.
"Oh, I'm fine. It's nice and refreshing up here. How are you doing down in the trash heap?"
"Don't even joke about that." Scott groaned. "There is so much trash down here. I swear, if it would get people to clean up this mess, I might even consider turning myself in."
Alyss bit back a laugh, thankful that Scott couldn't make out her expressions. "Don't flatter yourself, they don't want you that much."
Scott gasped in mock hurt as laughter chorused through the device. Apparently Alyss was on speakerphone. "Oh, shut up." she heard Scott tell the rest of the team. "And stop smiling, Alyss. I can feel you smiling from here."
Alyss's hand flew to cover her mouth. "I wasn't."
In return, she only heard a sarcastic, drawn out, "Sure."
Alyss turned back towards the road, and found that the storm had shortened the distance between them considerably. She kept her eyes on the road for the few minutes that passed before Scott spoke again.
"Yeah?" Alyss inquired. A frown grew on her face as she recognized something in Scott's voice that she didn't hear very often: unease.
She turned back to the roadside once more, knowing that she wouldn't be able to find them, but unable to stop herself from trying.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Scott asked. Alyss opened her mouth to answer, but Scott quickly continued before the words could leave her mouth. "Look, I know you said you're ready, but once the fighting starts, you're the only one who's going to be completely defenseless. You only joined us a few months ago. You may be a Mystic, but you've had zero formal training, yet here you are, taking the most dangerous jobs for yourself! You shouldn't even be out here. You could die out here, Alyss. We all thought we were invincible until Aiden was abducted. If that happens to you too..." Scott trailed off, unable to voice the rest of his fears.
Alyss flinched, nearly dropping her phone when she heard the name. Aiden.
Before he disappeared three months ago, Aiden Young had been the leader of their team, a position granted to him for both his extensive combat skills and the sheer intensity of his ability. Of the twelve thousand Mystics inhabiting the city of Celurra, he had been the first and only to sneak past the Anstalian guard patrolling the city without receiving aid from one of the search-and-rescue teams sent out for the very purpose of saving new Mystics. With terrifying control the elements of winter, he had blown past the required training for new Mystics, and not a year after his arrival, the ice-wielding Mystic returned to the nation of Anstalias with a SAR team of his very own.
While Alyss had accepted her nature as a Mystic long before she had met Aiden, he had been the first one to tell Alyss that it was something to be proud of. Then, he had been the first one to care enough about her to spend two weeks convincing her of the fact. Then, by some cruel twist of fate, he disappeared during a patrol the very next day.
"We don't know that Aiden got abducted." Alyss responded before she could stop herself. An awkward silence hung in the chilly air, lingering as both sides recalled a mass of painful memories and regrets, until Alyss broke it.
"I understand. But you know exactly why I have to be here. Since the moment Aiden disappeared," She placed extra emphasis on the word, "the team has been overexerting themselves to fill in the gap. If I didn't step in to take some of that burden, you guys would run yourselves into the ground. Besides, it's not all that dangerous." She offered. "All I have to do is run."
Scott sighed. This wasn't the first time the two had had the same conversation, and each time Alyss him gave the same, irrefutable answer. "Fine." Scott relented, much like he had every other time, though concern still overlaid his words. "But you better run as fast as you can. If you don't, I will drag you away from the fight myself."
"You wouldn't," Alyss gasped in mock horror. She heard Scott laugh on the other side. She would have said more, adding onto her words in the hopes of keeping Scott's mood light, but a bright flash of light snapped Alyss back to reality. A column of military trucks emerged from the blizzard's grip.
"They're here." Alyss said and the laughter ceased immediately. Alyss stood up, balancing on the edge of the overpass despite the storm winds threatening to knock her over. She shivered, both the cold and her nerves contributing their part to make her miserable.
"Are you ready?" Scott asked.
Looking down on the approaching convoy, a sense of amusement rose in Alyss as she imagined how the soldiers would react. They certainly won't be expecting this.
"Let's get this over with. I don't have a warm coat like the rest of you do." Alyss reminded him. With the need to move quickly, she had elected not to bring along her thicker, heavier coat. It was a decision she had come to regret as the night air grew colder and colder under the blizzard's influence. She pocketed her phone. She brushed the hair out of her face and peeked over the edge, roughly measuring the distance to the ground. Then, measurement in mind, she spun on one heel, turning away from the convoy, and with a smile adorning her face and arms spread like wings, she let herself fall.
The air whistled in Alyss's ears as she plummeted to the earth headfirst. Her eyes were closed, but she held in her mind the last image they had captured. The night sky glittering past her feet. The roadside undergrowth from which her friends would emerge to save her. Fighting her survival instinct, she forced herself to relax as the road she could only imagine grew nearer and nearer. She kept her eyes closed, feeling both in her body and her mind, the momentum that gradually built and built, until moments from impact, she took control of it. Her eyes flew open, her vision colored with a sheen of gold, the same gold that highlighted the irises of every other Mystic in existence. She thrust her hands to her sides as she felt herself slow down, adjusting her center of balance occasionally until she felt her feet gently brush the cracked asphalt.
"Nearly didn't make it in time." she muttered, though quietly enough to avoid being heard by the phone's mic. However, she could hear the person on the other side, despite being muffled by the cloth of her jacket. She waited until Scott calmed down before removing the device from her pocket and placing it against her ear.
"You absolute lunatic. Who in their right mind dives headfirst off a thirty foot drop? I swear, when I get my hands on you…"
Wordlessly, she muted the phone and placed it back into her pocket. It wouldn't do to approach the soldiers while listening to Scott curse. Alyss would never be able to keep a straight face, which when dealing with armed and probably hostile strangers, would be essential.
She watched as the trucks rolled to a stop, well over a hundred meters from where she stood. A group of soldiers left their respective vehicles, though Alyss noted that none were drivers, presumably in case they needed to flee. The group slowly walked towards her, all but three with their weapons aimed in her direction. Two of the three faced the edges of the highway while the third had his slung over his shoulder. Alyss dropped to her knees and placed her hands above her head, noting with slight envy the fact that every soldier wore a heavy winter gear.
"Hi!" she called out, with as much cheer as she could muster. Presented with something that so greatly contrasted normal civilian reactions, all eight soldiers froze in confusion, and despite her best efforts to hide it, a smile broke out on her face. So much for a straight face.
"Can I help you?" She continued, raising her voice to be heard over the distance. Fully dedicated, she begins spouting whatever she could think of to keep the soldiers off guard. "It's pretty cold out here. You wouldn't happen to have an extra coat, do you? I appear to have forgotten mine."
The only reply she received was a loud: "Get off the road!"
She paused, looking to the sky with a thoughtful expression on her face. "You know, I'm not entirely sure I want to. How about you?"
"Stop wasting my time. If you don't move yourself, I will." His hand reached over to pat the rifle on his shoulder, to emphasize the threat.
"Yeah, no thanks." Alyss took a deep breath to calm her nerves. What came next would require her complete focus. She tilted her head down, looking to the concrete. Hiding her eyes from whomever was to approach. A few quiet, tense moments passed before she heard the footsteps. A shudder of relief passed through her. There had always been a chance that the soldiers would simply return to their trucks and drive past her, or worse, decide to eliminate the minor annoyance entirely.
She waited as the soldier got closer and closer, until finally, a pair of boots entered her vision and a strong hand grabbed her raised right arm.
"Get up. Don't waste my time." He said curtly, roughly jerking her upwards. Alyss resisted the movement. Instead, she raised her head and met his eyes, which promptly widened in realization. "Mys—"
Before the soldier could finish the warning, Alyss twisted her arm in his grip, latched onto his unsuspecting wrist, and using both his strength and her own, she pulled herself to her feet. However, her action wasn't taken without resistance. A clumsy jab was thrown, closing the short distance to her face in an instant. But a brief glance and a glint of gold slowed the fist to a halt barely centimeters away. Pushing the immobile fist to the side, she took advantage of her momentum and the soldier's uncertain footing and hooked her ankle behind his outstretched foot, which he had slid forward in an attempt to restore his balance. With her foot latched behind his, she kicked backwards while her free hand came up to strike him in the chin. Her eyes once again gave off a light glow as she accelerated her fist beyond human capacity. Crack!
Alyss winced as something within her hand gave way, a sharp jolt of pain shooting up her arm. However, the strength behind the blow was worth it. The soldier's feet left the ground, legs swinging upward as the rest of his body crumpled. Air cleared his lungs in a heavy whoompf! as he fell flat to the cracked concrete, dazed. But Alyss swatted away the momentary burst of satisfaction that rose within her, which called her to revel in the wake of her swift victory, and levelled her gaze on the remaining soldiers. According the plan, she was to take advantage of the confusion to get a quick headstart before they rallied and began firing. Unfortunately, she had moved on too fast, forgetting to make certain of her victory.
"She's a Mystic! Kill her already." Groaned the soldier at her feet, much to her surprise and chagrin. It was barely more than a whisper, but with the aid of the small earpiece he wore, the rest of his squad would have heard his words with little difficulty. The damage had already been done. He had hardly drawn another breath when her unbroken palm crashed into his nose. Alyss looked up from the soldier, shielding her eyes from the sharp glare of the headlights as she tried to see the rest of his squad. She flinched as she recognized a painfully familiar sight. A line of soldiers and a row of rifle barrels.
Alyss dove to the ground as bullets whizzed past her, cracking the ground around her and sending a spray of concrete shrapnel tearing through her thin jacket. As blood sprung from a dozen small, she rolled the unconscious man onto his side and took cover behind him. In a moment of concern, she pulled down his collar, revealing the familiar black sheen of body armor. A wave of relief passed through her, though she knew that the soldiers would never fire on their own, even one wearing armor.
The rate of fire slowed instantly, both proving her correct and adding further to her sense of relief. The occasional bullet served only as a deterrent, rather than an attack, meant only to discourage her from peeking her head out. Taking advantage of her momentary respite, she worked her phone out of her jacket pocket and unmuted it. "They're all looking at me. It's your turn now. Oh, and Scott? I may have missed my cue to run. Help?"
A frustrated groan came through the phone's tiny speakers. "I had noticed. It seems like we'll have a lot to discuss later." He paused, as a slight jolt of fear coursed through her. She had taken a few unnecessary risks. And she had even missed her chance to run, possibly a worse mistake than all the others. "For now, I've sent someone to help, just give him a couple seconds."
Alyss opened her mouth to ask who when the shooting began in earnest, but this time with a distinctive lack of painful concrete shards. She peered back to where the soldiers had been standing, waiting for her to make a move so they could take fire. They still would've been, had a certain blonde teenager not drawn their attention first. Ryan. She watched for a moment as the soldiers fired bullet after bullet into the concrete divider that her backup had ducked behind. With a rush of adrenaline pulsing through her, she searched the unconscious soldier for weapons, and finding none to be easily accessible, settled for the rifle pinned beneath the soldier. After a moment of manuevering, she had the weapon in her hands.
Steeling herself, she sprinted from her cover, firing occasionally, but not wasting any time in aiming. Her goal wasn't accuracy, it was deterrence. She leapt over the impromptu barrier and crawled to Ryan's side, where he sat with his back pressed against the divider. He held a pistol in his hand, which she regarded with curiosity. Mystics seldom carried firearms. Not out of choice, of course. Had there been a choice, Alyss was positive that every Mystic would carry several each. Firearms and their corresponding ammunition were such controlled resources, that even most Mystic SAR teams only had one or two shared amongst them.
"Hey, Alyss. You okay?" Ryan greeted. Golden eyes quickly scanned her for injuries, before he sighed in relief. "Saw you lying behind that guy. Thought I was too late."
She tore her eyes away from the weapon and shook her head no. "Just in time." She assured him. He nodded several times in response.
There was a brief pause in the hail of bullets. Ryan placed his gun back in a holster lashed around his hips and held his hands out, gesturing for the rifle she had stolen just seconds ago. "May I?"
Alyss happily held it out for him, eager to relieve the battered numbness in her hands that had always accompanied her attempts with firearms. However, she did find it odd that the boy had chosen to use a weapon. "Not going to use your ability?"
Ryan shook his head. "Not exactly." Much to her surprise, rather than taking the rifle from her hands, the firearm simply floated towards him. With a click, the magazine fell out of the body. Noting the number of bullets left, he returned it to its place with a flick of his finger. "My ability," He explained, "It's not fatal, not from this distance, anyway. But it has its uses."
As a look of amazement crossed Alyss's face, a slight frown grew on his. "Are they wearing armor?"
Alyss nodded. He pulled a stack of handheld mirrors out of his pocket and lined them up on the concrete. "That's a relief." He said, much to her confusion.
"Still feels like I'm cheating though." He added under his breath, and her confusion only grew. Alyss couldn't imagine what he meant. A moment passed, Ryan taking deep breaths under Alyss's curious eyes. As she watched, she noticed a change pass through him. His shoulders came back in a classic confidence stance. His eyes narrowed, brow furrowing in concentration. As Alyss watched on in wonder, the mirrors floated off of the ground, each taking a different angle and position in the air. The look of concentration grew deeper as Ryan observed each one, measuring distance and angles all while observing his targets.
"Eight soldiers. One unconscious, seven unharmed." He paused, before correcting himself. "No, one of them is injured. Good shot, Alyss."
She began to deny the compliment, for truthfully, she hadn't even looked towards the soldiers in her blind firing, but Ryan had already moved on.
"No potential cover." He observed, with a sense of finality in his words.
A warning was shouted and moments later a mirror shattered. Glass tinkled as it hit the ground in pieces. It was soon followed by another, and then a third. But it was too late, the image had embedded itself in Ryan's mind. Their usefulness used up, the remaining mirrors floated back to the safety of the ground as the rifle took their place in the air. Cries of panic and pain filled the air as Ryan fired bullet after bullet, until not a minute later, they changed to ones of surrender. Even with protective armor, the impact of a bullet was a painful one. As soon as it had begun, Ryan's attack ceased. Alyss's mouth dropped open in shock. The level of expertise she had seen was beyond words. Far beyond even her own capabilities. Cheating... I see why he thinks that now.
Raising one of his mirrors, Ryan checked to make sure their surrender was genuine. He looked back to Alyss and nodded in confirmation. A rush of anticipation rose in her. Her path was clear. She could join the team in their attack. But a moment of hesitation cut through her exhilaration. The weapons. She peered over the divider, where seven rifles and dozens of magazines lay scattered on the ground, tossed down without care in a hasty surrender. They would be invaluable to the team.
Ryan cleared his throat, drawing her attention to him. He tilted his head to where the convoy would be. "The rest of the team will need help. Go, help them." Alyss looked back to the weapons, conflicted. "I'll gather them." Ryan reassured her. Only adding to her surprise, he handed her his winter coat. "You'll need this too. The storm's died down, but it's still cold over there."
Recovering from her amazement, Alyss nodded her thanks. Wasting not even a moment, she pulled on the coat and swung herself over the bullet-ridden divider. She turned towards the convoy, bracing herself for the burst of speed that would carry her to it, but her strength faltered before she had taken more than a few steps.
Silence. Complete silence greeted her. There had been seven trucks in the convoy, all military-grade with space for nearly eighty soldiers. Each soldier would be carrying enough weapons to arm two, yet not a single sound was made. It was almost eerie, as if she had wandered into an abandoned house without knowing. What happened?
Alyss's phone buzzed to life in her pocket, deafening in the quiet. She answered it, tearing her eyes away from the scene. "Scott?"
"Stay away from the trucks. That's an order."
"What is it?" She asked, "What happened here? Is everyone okay?"
Scott didn't answer. He wasn't given the chance. Alyss was already running.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter! This is the first fiction I've published on this website, so any feedback you can give would be incredibly helpful and any positive remarks would be greatly appreciated(and no doubt send me screeching in joy).
Thank you for reading!