Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Aine, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. It was dark. If she could still rely on her inner clock, it was also nighttime, but that wasn't relevant. The underground tunnels they called 'home' had never been kissed by the sun. Iskra missed its kind touch on her face, but she certainly didn't miss it enough to wander to surface without her protective suit. Besides, the sun had lost its appeal ages ago. The golden crown which used to rule the heaven had hidden behind the ever-present smoke screen the day fire started raining from the sky and hadn't emerged since. Unlike some individuals suffering from chronic optimism, Iskra was educated enough to know it wouldn't re-appear again, at least not during her lifetime. It was gone just like the rest of her old world. Gone and out of her reach.

    The only source of light in the dim cave was a small fire, and it seemed to attract them like moths; they were all sitting in a circle around it, letting the flames paint with shadows on their faces. Their faces covered in dirt and bruises, faces scarred by fatigue no amount of sleep could ever erase. For once, Iskra was glad that she couldn't enjoy the fruits of the civilization anymore and check her appearance in the mirror. Not having to see her own decay felt comforting. Sure, it was the toxic kind of comfort one got from avoiding reality, but she refused to feel guilty for choosing to swallow the blue pill just this once.

    They were sitting in an overwhelming silence that was interrupted only by occasional munching. Experience had cured them out of talking during meals; it made no sense to waste time with idle chatter when they could be forced to leave any time. No, they needed to re-charge the precious energy as fast as possible. Well, as much as we can from portions that would probably feel insulting even to a Leningrad soldier, Iskra thought as she opened her can of lunch-meat. Label 'toxic waste' would have been more accurate given percentage of the actual meat present in the product, but it didn't matter. It wasn't like she would live long enough to see the results of her chemistry-packed diet. Iskra almost regretted she had been such a little goody two shoes in the past; had she trusted the loonies who predicted apocalypse was coming, she would have drugged herself into oblivion instead of trying to be a responsible adult.

    The substance in her mouth felt suspiciously similar to ashes, but Iskra was glad she had something - anything - to silence her stomach with. There were days they simply didn't find enough food to feed everyone in which case they chose not to eat at all out of solidarity. It happened with increasing frequency and she couldn't help but wonder when would they cross the last sacred border and resort to human meat. Some sources claimed it was supposed to taste like pork. Hmmm, pork... She hadn't had pork in ages. Cannibalism had never sounded so appealing.

    "We can not go on like this," Artyom suddenly exclaimed, breaking their unwritten rule about no discussions during meals. He was a tall guy, once muscular and threatening, now a shadow of his former self. "Well, what do you propose then? Maybe a bullet between our eyes to end the suffering?" Iskra asked after it became apparent nobody else intended to voice their opinion. Artyom was the closest thing she had to a brother and the feeling of affection definitely wasn't one-sided, but somehow, the two always ended up in the metaphorical arena fighting for dominance. "You know very well what I mean, Iskra," Artyom retorted. Oh my god, not the nonsense about the green zone again. Of course she knew what he meant; talking about the seductive Manchester green zone located basically just behind the corner had become a tradition for them. A masochistic tradition, at least by Iskra's standards. "How many times do we have to go through this? The place is full, Artyom. F-U-L-L. In case you want a definition of that word, it means it has reached its maximum capacity. No more refugees. We may as well forget it even exists and focus on realistic goals, like... I don't know, finding food for the next day."

    "So that's your grand plan? Don't get me wrong, it sounds great and all, but I don't believe it can be described as 'realistic'. Not with how difficult it's been lately. Or do you think something will actually grow on this soil? Something not glowing with radiation?"
    Well, that may have been true, but Iskra was having none of this. Visibly agitated, the girl stood up, her hands balling into fists. "Let me tell you one thing, pal. Even this highly unlikely scenario is still more likely than those bastards giving up on their beloved regulations." From a purely rational standpoint, their merciless politic geared towards preventing over-population made sense. They couldn't afford to cut down the branch that was holding collective weight of them all in name of false humanity. Demands of the majority overrode demands of the minority. Iskra knew and respected it. That couldn't stop her from hating them with passion, though. "Who said anything about asking for their permission?" Artyom asked with his eyebrow raised. The impact of his words hit them all with strength of an average bulldozer and even Iskra was left speechless. For a moment.

    "You can't be serious. Do you know what will happen when they catch us?"

    her friend corrected her. "That's an important distinction. I've explored the territory a bit and it doesn't seem as well-guarded as one would think. There are definitely some serious security breaches we could use to our advantage. I've seen few unprotected spots. It's possible to get in," he exclaimed with a spark in his eye. "What? Have you heard of anyone who managed it? Have you got some proof? We're not going anywhere, Artyom. At least not without further inspection. Over my dead body, can you hear me?"


    Well, I guess it should have been obvious to me that uttering phrase like 'over my dead body' was just tempting the fate, Iskra thought as she was marching with her little group of friends towards the bright new future. Bright new future in shackles, but I guess that's just a small, unimportant detail. Common sense warned her this could only end in tears, but democracy had proved to be an inherently flawed system once again since they friends had outvoted her. Should have established dictatorship instead. God, I can't believe we're actually doing it. Do they have a death wish or what? Maybe they had, albeit on an unconscious level. Back in happier days, Iskra had been a firm supporter of euthanasia. Human life was sacred and should be treasured, but everyone deserved the right to throw in the towel before their existence devolved into its pitiful parody. Perhaps they simply saw similarities in their predicament and decided to end the suffering. It would certainly explain the lack of forethought in this so-called 'plan.'

    The weather was nice, which in post-apocalyptic dictionary meant sharp wind wasn't trying to steal oxygen from their lungs. The air was still dry and every breath scraped her throat a little, but she had grown accustomed to it already. Those who couldn't adapt quickly quickly generally didn't last long. The one thing Iskra still couldn't accept was the world writhing in a mortal agony. If she hadn't witnessed the transformation with her own eyes, nobody and nothing could convince her this sad planet was actually Earth. It seemed as if some malevolent force had sucked out all color out of the land, and it broke her heart every time. Lush forests, crystal clear ponds and blossoming gardens had been replaced by endless plains of ashes. "Are you angry?" asked Anna, the only one of their group who didn't keep their distance from her. "No. I just don't have a reason to be happy because I know it's not going to work." Artyom may have seen 'unsecured spots,' but it was pure madness they could get to them unnoticed. A lone wanderer was something entirely different from a party of six people. One person could slip under the radar, but so many of them in this terrain? It didn't take a genius to estimate how low their chances were. Astronomically low, to be exact. "Why are you going with us, then?" Iskra had to smile a little despite their circumstances. "What would I do without you?"

    Sound of growling engines suddenly filled the air, vehicles appeared in the horizon and Iskra knew they lost. Strangely enough, the feeling growing in her stomach wasn't dread. It was relief. Running away wouldn't do at this point, so the only thing they could do was to entrust their fate into their hands. Passing the responsibility onto someone else, even if that someone else hardly had their best interest at heart, felt almost refreshing. This sentiment seemed to be prevalent among the group. Faces of her friends were calm if somewhat sheepish. Soldiers began trickling from the vans in surprisingly large quantities; one would have thought they had arrived to subdue a local terrorist group, not a bunch of exhausted refugees. Those that held big, scary looking guns Iskra couldn't identify stayed behind, apparently ready to shoot in the unlikely event they tried something funny. One of them - probably their leader, judging from the fancy uniform - approached the party. "Alright, lot, I'm afraid we can't have you roaming so close to the green zone. You've been warned before. We can do this peacefully, which means you will state your name, age and occupation to the officer here who will record it and then you will get inside the car, or we can do it my way." He didn't describe the second variant, but Iskra's imagination could fill in the gaps quite well.

    None of them were feeling especially rebellious, so there was no need to make things harder for themselves by refusing to cooperate. Artyom Vladimirovich Berezin, 29, a gardener. Anna Policzna, 24, a cook. Jan Polinsky, 38, hairdresser. "Iskra Nikolaevna Martova, 27, an engineer," the brunette recited automatically when her turn came up and got ready to board the car, but the soldier stopped her with his arm. "No, wait for a second." What? Another man rushed to him, they exchanged a few words Iskra didn't catch and then nodded in agreement. "You're not going there, Miss Martova. Get on here," her guide pointed to another car, his lips stretched in a tiny smile. "What? Why?!" Iskra had counted with being captured, but separation from her friends didn't sit well with her. The soldiers, however, didn't intend to explain themselves. Before she could truly begin to protest, two men grabbed her each by one arm, threw her inside the van and locked her there. She banged on the door angrily, but the driver ignored her and the vehicle drove off. Terrified beyond imagination, Iskra slid down on her knees. Just what was going to happen to her?​
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  2. Iskra Nikolaevna Martova (open)

    Name: Iskra Nikolaevna Martova
    Age: 27

    Victoria Huntington (open)

    Name: Victoria Huntington
    Age: 27
    Country of Origin: Manchester Green Zone

    For those who were raised within the walls, what resided outside was all but a fairy tail. Within the areas that the UGP controlled, there was greenery, fresh food that existed before the great war, water untainted by radiation, and security that places outside the green zone lacked. It was a paradise compared to what the people could've had. The ghost of civilization dragged on; however, it all came with a price. For society to exist, the penalties for breaking the law were harsh. The freedom of speech and protest was stripped away, stringent punishments were implemented to deter the criminally inclined, and everyone - no matter the position - was monitored continuously. One step outside of the accepted norm would result in reeducation. It was for the greater good - or so the UGPs said.

    Victoria knew the less public appeal of the UGP. Working as a ambassador of the Department of Domestic Integration (DDI), she was charged with monitoring those who had infractions and law abiding citizens alike. It was a hard job. The UGPs campaign on how they raved about preserving democracy as contradicted by her very department. Those she spied on knew it, but they were too afraid to say anything. The vocal folks were always the first to be reeducated or sent to the camps. While it was a grimdark fate, Victoria understood the necessity. To ensure the survival of the human race, sacrifices had to be made. Humanity had killed itself before the establishment of the green zones. All measures had to be taken to ensure their longevity.

    Sitting within her office at the DDI, Victoria scrolled through her computer as she scanned daily updates that ambassadors of her pay grade were privy to. A cup of lukewarm coffee sat just right above her keyboard as she took the metallic mug and drank it. She savored every bit of it. The new season of coffee beans had just been harvested, and the damn things were cheap whatsoever. Not even for a government employee salary.

    For the most part, everything was going rather well in the Manchester zone. Riots had all but been absolved, production was steady, and the reeducation infractions were down. The memories of the rioter crackdown still haunted Victoria to this day. It all began after a steel worker went to the wall. Every individual had five opportunities to correct their behavior. The ones that were sent off the wall simply couldn’t do it.

    It was a peculiar situation altogether. The steel worker was a model citizen; however, out of the blue, he was charged with murder. His foreman. Whatever the justifications, whatever the reasons, the man had to be punished. With no exception, he was sent off the wall as his plunge was displayed on every single monitor. It was a sick mandatory policy, but it kept everything in line. However, unlike the other executions, this one sparked a union strike, which turned into civil unrest. The military clashed with the workers as non-lethal force was applied. Many were jailed that day, numerous individuals fell within Victoria’s jurisdiction. The processing and interrogation of the infractions took two weeks working around the clock. The brunette didn’t miss those days at all. She loved the UGP and was a devoted sentinel of it. At times, however, the woman thought the penalties too harsh. It’d kept them alive though. That was an indisputable fact.

    About to move onto a complaint filed by one of her charges, Victoria heard a knock at her door as she looked up. “Director Holland,” she said as she got to her feet. All branches of government agencies followed a strict chain of command and military-like decorum. “To what do I owe the pleasure? I submitted the last of the riot reporters last Friday. I hope they were satisfactory?”

    The older man nodded. He’d seen better days Victoria wagered. His eyes were gaunt and his hair a bit grayer. Perhaps it was the light? “Quite satisfactory. I expect nothing less of the youngest senior ambassador. I understand you had a lecture yesterday? For the new ambassadors?”

    “A promising class,” Victoria said. Even though she wore finely pressed business-professional attire, the director always made her feel underdressed. It unsettled her. “I wasn’t aware the department had any openings, however. Was there a turnover?”

    Holland nodded. “Some were found with terrible infractions connected to the riot. They got to close to their charges and tried to cheat the system,” he said. “We can’t have that now. When we stop doing our jobs, the green zone will fall into disarray. The military protects us from outside dangers while we’re responsible for the interior. Perhaps that’s a lesson you should share with the new blood?”

    “Of course.”

    The silence lingered between the two. Victoria was about to ask if there was a purpose to his visit before she noticed a file. The director smiled as he walked towards her and handed it over. “We found a new citizen,” he said. “Caught trying to sneak through the wall. Eastern European from what I’ve heard.”

    Victoria took the file and perused its contents. “I was under the assumption we were at a cap?”

    “Engineers are invaluable,” the director said. “For the necessary roles, we make space. Miss Martova will be in processing. The soldiers had to sedate her. Something about a crazed woman. I told them to be gentle. Integration through cruelty is never easy to undo. She should be cognitive when you arrive. However, I trust that you’ll be able to undo the damage.”

    Yet another person to add to her obligations. Victoria wondered if the director knew that she had more charges than the majority of the other ambassadors? Not that she was about to complain. She was compensated fairly. Mentally and personal life however? That was a different story altogether. She was worked hard, which she didn’t mind. She’d seen the green zone and everything it had to offer. While she enjoyed the park and the restaurants near the capital, everything else had become normal.
    “I’ll head there immediately. Anything else, Director Holland?”

    “Integrate the engineer as quickly as possible. We need her, Huntington.”

    Getting her coat and other necessities, she logged off. “I’ll handle it, sir.”

    The drive to external processing wasn’t the longest of trips, but it was still fairly far away. It was raining today, as it always did. The nuclear war changed the climate forever. The sun only appeared a month of every year as the rest of the days were plunged in grey-black clouds and rain. What could’ve pushed humanity towards using such terrible weapons was beyond her. Surely those that pushed the button knew of the ramifications back then? The cascading effect and mutual assured destruction? Victoria shook her head. War always made the logical act illogically. She had great mistrust for the military because of that eventuality happening again.

    Walking towards a counter, Victoria pulled out her credentials as she gave them to the serviceman on duty. He gave her a once over and began to process her information into the database. “Forgive the busy work, senior ambassador,” said the guard. “Purely protocol. We receive the occasional fabrication. Folk trying to sneak others in.”

    “I completely understand,” Victoria said as the guard handed back her identification. “What’s the state of the outsider? I heard she was sedated?”

    The guard scoffed. “The woman was freaking the fuck out. Um, pardon the language, ma’am,” he said. “The doctor on site restrained her. For her well being you understand.”
    Victoria nodded.

    “We’re prepared to transfer her into your care. After your final assessment and the transfer papers are filled out.” The guard pressed a button as a door opened. Another guard walked out the door and stood at-ease. “Private Mitchell will escort you. If you need anything, request it, senior ambassador.”

    “Thank you,” Victoria said as she walked towards the private. “Shall we?”

    “Right this way ma’am,” Private Mitchell said as he led the brunette down the hallway. External processing was always a sad, depressing place. Victoria loathed coming here, but it was part of the job. If she weren’t a senior ambassador, she doubted the military personnel would’ve been so courteous. DDI and them never really saw eye to eye. The DDI were non-combative - officially. The military were. “This room, ma’am.”

    Victoria waited for the soldier to open the door before she walked in. Her eyes roamed over the frightened looking woman. The sedatives must’ve worn off. Good, Victoria needed her cognitive. She looked at the soldier. “Can you take the restraints off? They’re no longer necessary.” The soldier gave her a look but complied. He quickly removed the restraints and tensed his hands around his rifle. Victoria rolled her eyes. “Privacy please. I don’t think our guest will do anything drastic.”

    “With respect, she’s from beyond the wall. The savages are unpredictable.”

    Victoria turned towards the soldier, her eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly. “The Council cleared our department to integrate this woman,” Victoria said. “She’ll be afforded the basic citizen tenets like all others unless deemed otherwise. Now please. Give us the room.”

    The soldier looked like he wanted to argue, but thought better of it. Victoria watched him shake his head as he left and closed the door behind him. Focusing her attention back on woman, Victoria smiled. Taking a chair, she picked it up and set it down right before the woman. “Hello Ms. Martova, I’m Senior Ambassador Huntington. Victoria’s just fine,” she said. “I apologize for the treatment you’ve received so far. Welcome to the Manchester Green Zone. Vector 4 - if you’d like to speak military jargon. Can I get anything for you before we start talking? There’s a bit of information we have to get through for your integration process. I’ll be your … resource, if you will.”​
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  3. Fuck, fuck, fuck! One would have thought that life beyond the wall in had made Iskra somewhat resistant towards panic, but this was whole new level of horror. Yes, their pathetic little attempt to try and earn their piece of a paradise had been doomed to fail from the start - anyone with two working brain cells could see that - yet she had agreed with their stupid idea under the assumption they would reap what they had sowed together. Believe it or not, being dragged off to a work camp wasn't the worst thing that could happen to you in a world where cannibalistic gangs roamed freely, especially if you had a pack of loyal comrades willing to help each other carry the burden. Slavery really wasn't as bad as everyone insisted. They would essentially exchange their freedom (which had no real value nowadays) and labor for basic protection from violent loons who considered this lawless hellhole a dream come true. Iskra could almost call it a fair trade. Of course, something just had to ruin this premise, probably because whatever cruel being ruled this universe thought that stability was overrated anyway. Just like every time she got into a sticky situation, the girl took a deep breath and counted to ten to calm down a little, but her usual methods for coping with stress failed. The green zone wasn't supposed to accept new citizens anymore. Why the sudden change of heart? Had some epidemic killed off enough of them they needed their numbers replenished?

    With one person? asked the uncompromising voice of logic in the back of her head. Really? Even the possibility of one of the soldiers falling in love with me at first sight and deciding to save me is way more likely than this theory. No, it has to be something else. Theoretically speaking, there were a lot of potential explanations ranging from them recognizing her as their rightful queen foretold by ancient prophecies thanks to some special birthmark to her passing a secret test for admission, but Iskra sincerely doubted that was the case. If things looked too good to be true, they usually weren't. The truck kept bumping on the rocky road, earning her few new bruises in the process, yet she barely noticed. Physical discomfort paled in front of terrifying scenarios painted by her mind. Were they maybe bringing her to the green zone so they could publicly execute her as a warning to other trespassers? Or had they began collecting human specimen for experiments and she fit the current criteria? The mere idea sent shivers down her spine. Iskra hugged her knees to stop herself from shaking, but it didn't help much for the initial stimuli hadn't come from outside. Putting her head in her hands, the Russian sought refuge in memories from the happier times, slowly drifting away from the reality.

    As the engine died down, any pretense of things being even remotely okay fell apart like a house of cards. For a while, the silence was almost deafening and she could practically hear her heartbeat dancing to the rhythm of jig. So... Are they going to leave me here to starve or what? Was this just a cruel joke? As if in answer to her question, a young soldier opened the door. Light stabbed her in the eyes almost immediately, forcing her to cover her face in a futile attempt to shield herself, but her new companion wasn't going to give her an opportunity to recuperate. "Come on, Miss Martova," the man grabbed her arm in a manner that was bound to leave a weal on her snow white skin, "it's time to go." "B-but where?" she asked with a heavy Eastern accent, apparently somewhat struggling with pronunciation. Iskra's English was rather good, at least for the standards of Slavic speakers, yet it always betrayed her in distress. "What do you want to do with me?" The man frowned. "It's a classified information for now. I am not permitted to speak about it." Iskra's eyes widened. "What do you mean 'classified information?'" "I meant exactly what I said. Now hurry up!"

    Oh no, no, no. No way I'm following him anywhere after this half-assed clarification. If the soldier thought she was going to succumb to him without a fight, then he clearly underestimated extent of her despair. Mobilizing her strength, the Russian broke his grip and darted for the exit blindly, fueled by pure adrenaline. They were never going to get her so easily! "Fuck! Seize her!" the soldier barked out as she zigzagged between his confused comrades like a rabbit. Forest of hands reached after her, yet Iskra dodged them expertly and ran as if her life depended on it. Hell, it probably did. Her sense of orientation had been utterly obliterated by the ride, but maybe, just maybe she could get back to the gate with a bit of luck. If nothing else, architecture would probably guide her there because most of structures were built with a certain scheme in mind and those schemes had stayed the same throughout centuries. No reason to deviate from them, right? What would happen next didn't concern her in the slightest for Iskra dealt with problems in the same order as they appeared. Planning her survival in the wilderness beyond the wall wouldn't get her anywhere if they managed to catch her now. It was in that moment a projectile hit her in her leg, making her stumble backwards. Burning pain shot up through her entire body and she crouched to pull the missile out, but her sight got blurry. Even though the girl blinked to disperse the mist in front of her eyes, it only grew stronger, eating away from her field of vision until nothing except for darkness remained.

    Iskra spent the ensuing hours in the sweet state of unconsciousness, blind and deaf to everything occurring around her. Perhaps it was for the best. Drug-induced slumber liberated her from many humiliating experiences, such as being forcefully stripped and checked for any parasites. Outdated concepts such as human dignity ended up in a trash can if you risked contaminating one of the few safe havens. When the sedatives finally worn off, Iskra was greeted by a headache so intense it almost seemed as if a swarm of bees had settled inside of her skull. Ah... Damn. Have I gone overboard with drinking yesterday? Fuck, I solemnly swear I'm never going to drink again. Not even water. Then the restraints keeping her in place caught her attention, and the reminiscence of the events that had transpired hit her with full force. Not only drinking wasn't an issue anymore because the whole apocalypse thing had turned alcohol into a rare commodity, but she had also been captured by an enemy unit as a bonus. Iskra tentatively rattled the handcuffs and it only resulted in the metal biting into her flesh. Left at the mercy of her jailers, there was nothing to do except for waiting. Well, waiting and praying, although Iskra had never been particularly spiritual. Besides, if God existed, he deserved a spit in the face instead of a human worship. All loving creator her ass.

    Time passed by, indifferent to her suffering, and she got more and more anxious with each minute. Why had they left here alone like this? Was it some kind of psychological warfare? If so, it's working. Locking her up in a sterile looking room with no distractions made her imagination run wild and the scenarios invented by her mind weren't pretty. What Iskra hadn't expected was arrival of a harmless young woman. A pretty young woman, as she would certainly notice under friendlier conditions, but her brain filtered this information away this time. Still, every rose had sharp thorns, so her presence didn't lower her guard in the slightest. On the contrary, the Russian tensed up even more, anticipating some elaborate ruse. So what are you up to? Her eyebrow shot up when the mysterious female ordered for her shackles to be removed and started talking about "integration." Wait, what? This was the kind of plot twist she hadn't been prepared for. It shocked her so much Iskra forgot to complain about being branded as a savage despite the fact her education likely exceeded that of the soldier by miles. Had she been transported to some alternative universe where everything wasn't out to get her? No, careful here. I can't afford to be too optimistic. How can they have my best interests at heart when they quite literally dragged me here in chains? Watching Victoria with a healthy dose of mistrust, Iskra folded her arms over her breasts defensively.

    "Well, glad to meet you, Miss Huntington," she said, purposefully ignoring her offer of calling each other on first name basis. That felt a bit too intimate for her liking, especially considering the circumstances. "I... I guess I'd like an aspirin because my head is about to explode. Also, excuse me for my curiosity, but... Integration? Have my ears deceived me? I thought green zones were full?"
    #3 Aine, Jun 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2015
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