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Memoirs From the End of the World
The afternoon sun barely cut through the chill in the air. RC’s face was partially hidden by a faded black scarf. She pulled the hood of her coat tight over her ears, more to keep out the shouts of the crowd than to protect them from the cold.
The shouts were a mixed bag, though. Much as she didn’t like hearing the shouts for blood, which came from those who feared the punishments doled out to the general population in response to any perceived rebellion, she felt encouragement in some of the cries of the brave few who pleaded for mercy. Patrols scattered about the area were letting them be at the moment, but she had no doubt they were prepared to pounce. She made sure she wasn’t standing too close to any of the protesters for fear she could get swept up with them if the patrols decided to respond.
RC wondered where Ollie was, but she didn’t dare look for him. The last thing she needed to do was draw more attention to herself. Stay calm, out of sight, and keep your eyes peeled for anything threatening, she recited silently.
Though she stood toward the back of the crowd, she occasionally glimpsed the platform up front. The chopping stone had been set up in the center, and guards flanked it. Behind the block stood a human male dressed all in black. The executioner. The ultimate in traitors, this man killed his own kind at the behest of the alien overlords. He held a long sword, confirming RC’s suspicions. They had decided to decapitate Alyx.
The very thought of it made her nauseous. This method of execution was definitely one of the more brutal options they had at their disposal, at least for those watching. As long as the blade was sharp enough, it would be over so fast Alyx wouldn’t be able to feel anything. Not that it’s going to get that far, RC reminded herself. We will get him out of here in one piece.
RC’s stomach somersaulted when she heard the low rumble at the front of the assembly begin to swell. She moved slightly so she could have a largely unimpeded view of the platform. Sure enough, two guards escorted a slender figure wearing a black bag to obscure their face. She knew it was Alyx, of course, though she he certainly wasn’t moving the way he was the last time she saw him. There was a distinct limp to his gait as he favored his right leg. He wore the same clothes he had on when they were captured, only now they were torn to shreds, revealing festering wounds, the red and black of dried blood contrasting with pale skin. They’d worked him over good, presumably for information he was unwilling to provide.
The guards pushed Alyx to his knees before the block, and one of them unceremoniously plucked the bag from his head. Now that he stood in the bright light of day, the sun reflecting off of the piles of snow distributed about the area, forced him to squint. He bowed his head, his matted hair hanging limply and hiding his face.
One of the guards turned to face Alyx. “Prisoner #137, you are hereby sentenced to death for crimes committed against your leaders. Do you have anything to say before we proceed?”
Alyx slowly shook his head. It seemed he’d been through too much to bother with any final words, though RC had a few words for them all. More important than that though, she hoped Ollie was ready to make his move.
Their plans had changed slightly since they first started formulating this rescue operation. Ollie was tasked with creating the initial distraction, and he was armed just well enough to make a fuss without necessarily alerting the authorities to a larger attack. In theory, their comrades would come out and collect Alyx, and RC’s job was to then get Ollie out of any trouble that he would surely be in by that point. The rebels had provided Ollie with body armor that, hidden discreetly under his clothes, would protect him from most energy weapons and all projectiles. While this would do him no good should a guard opt for a headshot, it would give him a chance to do what he needed to do.
The executioner moved into place. She knew without a doubt that, should they fail, she would have to live with the image of this event for the rest of her life. Of course, odds were that wouldn’t be for very long.
A loud sound suddenly tore through the air. The crowd reacted immediately. Within moments, RC could see where Ollie stood as those surrounding him tripped over one another to get away. Looking back at the platform, she saw that the executioner had folded into a clump of black robes and red blood. The gun may have been antique and no match for overlord weaponry, but the element of surprise allowed Ollie to get off one perfect shot.
RC reached in her pocket, ready to brandish her own weapon. She watched as the guards moved toward Ollie, who quickly dove back into the crowd. Though RC didn’t see it happen, she heard the sound of another bullet tearing a path through the air, and it found a home in the leg of one of the guards. He dropped to his knees. RC’s gaze shifted to Alyx, whose eyes were wide with shock. He focused on the crowd, and she imagined he too was trying to locate the shooter.
The remaining guards left their wounded colleague behind and moved to pursue Ollie. That’s when several smaller pops went off in quick succession, and thick plumes of smoke swelled and filled the air. Much as she wanted to run to Alyx, she had to trust that the rebels would fulfill their part of the bargain.
Instead, she bolted through the crowd in search of Ollie.
Go to Entry #34
Go to Entry #34