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Chapter Two

Alis sat in the darkness of her home, having just returned from her brother's simple funeral. Her few remaining friends had taken the body outside of the residential area to be buried in the wild beyond the wall. It was a terrible risk to enter the open countryside, but Nero could not be buried in Camineet. The public cemetery was operated by more of Lassic's men, and a traitor would certainly not be permitted. It was no loss, though; Alis would not allow her brother's memory to be tarnished by burying him in the corrupted city of his murderers.

Though her emotional strength had been severely tested during her frightening ordeal, she now stood calm, and focused on her goal. Nothing less than the death of Lassic and the complete overthrow of his evil regime would satisfy her. She owed her brother, and all the citizens of Palma, no less.

A knock at her door brought her out of her contemplation. She rose, strode to the door, and was greeted by Suelo, her closest neighbor.

"Oh, Alis, I'm so very sorry to hear about your brother. It is truly a tragedy. He was a good man." The words came difficult to Suelo, who was trying to be as comforting as possible to her friend.

"Yes, I will miss him terribly," Alis responded quietly, "thank you for your concern." A silence befell them both. Suelo searched Alis' eyes, and knew the truth.

"I know how you must feel, dear, no one can stop you from doing what you know you must do." Suelo paused as Alis nodded in agreement. "But if you should ever be wounded in battle, come to my home to rest. I will always do whatever I can to help you, and you will always be welcome in my home." They embraced each other, and tears again began to fill Alis' eyes; this time, however, they were not tears of mourning, but tears of relief.

"I've talked to many people in our town, and they all mourn your loss. Many of them are willing to aid you in their own way. You must talk to them. Also, I know that Nero's group had a small stash of mesetas hidden in the old warehouse." As she spoke, Suelo handed Alis a small bag that jingled. "I thought that it would be too painful for you to visit the warehouse... so I got it myself. I hope that you can put it to good use."

"Thank you, Suelo. For all that you have done. I will not forget that what I am about to do is for Nero, for you, and for everyone. Bless and keep you, Suelo."

"Bless and keep you, Alis."

Suelo then left the small apartment, and Alis was again alone. She placed the bag of mesetas in her sack, along with her short sword and a few meager supplies. Faced with the enormity of the task before her, she paused momentarily. Her thoughts passed again to Nero. "Never again," she thought, "never again."

- - - - - - - - -

Nekise's small home was in the northwest corner of Camineet. He was known to be a friend of the resistance, but as of yet he had evaded being seen by the Robotcops as an associator. It was here that Alis went for direction in her quest.

Small in stature, Nekise's appearance belied the fire in his personality. Quick to temper, he despised the 'cops and all the evil they represented. His wisdom and his connections to the movement made him the obvious first choice of contact.

"I know that you worked with my brother, Nekise," Alis said as she sat in Nekise's small writing room. Books filled the walls and papers covered his small desk.

"Yes, I've known him since he was very young. He was a great asset to our cause, Alis." Alis slightly nodded. "He was as dedicated as anyone, and had the leadership skills to operate in these despairing times."

Although it pained her to hear stories of her brother, not yet a week after his death, she was heartened by the respect that others seemed to have for him. She continued, "Just before he died, he told me to find a man named Odin. He said that this Odin is a great warrior who might join me in my endeavor."

Nekise leaned back in his chair, as a look of disappointment fell across his face. "Yes, Odin is truly the best there is, and he has much reason to despise Lassic." At his pause, Alis tried to decipher his expression. "But he has disappeared. Recently, I've heard stories that he set up a home in Scion, but he went off on a... personal mission... and has not been heard of since."

"Then I must go to Scion, and learn where he has headed." The resoluteness in Alis' tone saddened Nekise.

"Before you go, Alis, there is something you must have. Nero had once liberated a Laconian pot from one of those beasts that live outside the wall. It is an item of great value, and you may be able to use it. It will bring you a good deal of money." Nekise rose and walked to one of his bookshelves. Removing a handful of books from the top shelf, a secret compartment was revealed. From this he brought out a beautiful metallic vase that glittered even in the dim light. He handed it to Alis. She turned it over in her hands, examining the craftsmanship of it, then gently placed it in her sack.

"Thank you, my friend. I know that I shall put it to good use. I must go now. I do not know that I will be able to see you again, for if the 'cops learn what I am trying to do, anyone I come into contact with will be in danger. I have no wish to see what happened to Nero happen to another."

"Yes, it will be risky, but I have stayed alive this long, and I will continue to. Come to me whenever you need help, and I will do whatever I can. And here." Nekise handed Alis a small identification card. "It's a commercial ID. With it, the guards will let you leave the residential area and pass through the wall on 'essential business matters'."

"Thank you, again." They both rose, and, saying nothing, Alis left the home of Nekise.

The girl cannot succeed, Nekise sadly thought, "will she too follow her brother into death?"

- - - - - - - - - -

Before her trip to Scion, Alis knew she must visit Camineet's twin city of Parolit. There she might learn more of Odin's fate, and could buy armor and a new sword for her dangerous journey.

But her jaunt for information was not rewarded. The few people she felt safe in speaking to knew nothing of Odin. A few snippits about the Gorgon monster Medusa and the off-limits spaceport were all she could gather; she was sure that nothing was to be learned here. And so, before leaving, she paid a visit to the local armor shop.had to move between towns needed to be well equipped, and it was in this atmosphere that weaponeers could charge whatever they chose for their wares. The thought that these shop owners were gouging the public disturbed Alis, but as of now there was nothing that could be done. She spent the small bag of meseta that Suelo has given her on a sword and protective outfit, and left the city. No amount of armor could keep her from having to face the monsters outside the wall, but the fire that kept her quest alive steeled her against the fear that her inevitable encounters would bring.

As she approached the outer wall, she readied herself for the coming interrogation.

"What business could a frail girl like yourself have in Scion? You wouldn't even make it a hundred yards outside!" one of the guards smugly remarked as he looked over her ID. Satisfied, he handed it back to her.

I'd make it much farther than that if I could get one of those plasma blasters," Alis discreetly imagined. Aloud, "I work bringing medicines between the two cities. The hospitals have need of these supplies." With this, Alis held up her sack, praying that the guards would not ask to see these fictional medicines.

"Very well. It's your own death warrant," the guard laughed, as he waved her through the gate.

Replacing the sack on her shoulder, Alis passed through, entering the vast landscape ahead. The sheer beauty of the view astounded her, but her excitement was tempered by the intrusion of reality. There would be no sightseeing on this trip. All her efforts would be focused on keeping herself alive.

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