Title: Unsafe Havens

Rating: K+

Summary: Chapter 2 of my strange Post-Colonization fic.

Disclaimer: Same as chapter one, always the same.

Author's Note: Here's some background on one of the names I mentioned in the first chapter, Mari Alexii. You can prolly already guess who she's descended from. It's total madness, but my crazy muse Cleo is making me continue this. Blame her. Please review...I love you all bunches.

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Mari Alexii was tall, with long, graceful legs. She had a pale face with ice blue eyes and long white-blonde hair. Her features were strange and a bit exotic; she carried herself like she was a kind of royalty. She had three names, which was far more than anyone else she had ever met. Some of these people didn't even have one name, she thought smugly to herself. Her last name was only one letter, ''K'', but she felt that was better than nothing. The only other person she had ever met with a last name at all was Karl, the tall, silent leader of the group. Mari Alexii didn't have a problem with Karl. She didn't really have a problem with anybody, but she let on like she did. Being a ''spoiled brat'' was her only defense. She had joined the group when she was fourteen, she was now seventeen.

She had been held in a test facility, somewhere underground. There were people, solider-types, and doctor-types, who would stick her with needles, and play inside her head. There would be a little pinch, and then burning and an aching in her limbs. There was a multitude of scars criss-crossing the pale skin of her torso even now, and she never let anyone see them. There were also scars on her neck and on her scalp, under her hair. She had escaped one night; there was a kind of malfunction with the power generator, and she slipped out of her room in a daze. She was dizzy from the medication they had given her, but she felt she needed to keep moving. She felt an arm grab her, but it was not to harm, it was to help.

The compound had been infiltrated by a group of rebel freedom fighters, and now there was much noise, running and shooting, boots pounding and thudding against the floor like a heartbeat. Mari Alexii relaxed against the arms that were now lifting her, carrying her to safety. All around her, the other test subjects were being freed, some older people, but mostly young ones like herself. She fell asleep then, and remembered no more until days later, when she was dropped off with this camp of nomads, where she was told she would be safe.

Mari Alexii also had dreams; visions of the World Before. She saw memories, but they were rarely pleasant. Her dreams were full of pain and sorrow, of anger and violence and betrayal. There were faces, there were bodies. There was a woman who looked like her embracing a dark man with one arm. There were gunshots, she saw the same man fall dead to the ground, a red dot in the center of his forehead seeping blood. There was the woman again, being experimented on, just as Mari Alexii had been; she felt her pain and sorrow. She saw a man and a woman embracing, she saw a baby boy. And then Mari Alexii would see the Horrible Thing that always scared her most; an old, hideous man with an evil face who breathed fire. Mari hated falling asleep, because she always saw this man.

Now it was day, and though Mari was somewhat tired, she put on a mask full of shrewd alertness. The little girl, maybe one or two years younger than herself, the one with the red hair...she had been drawing ancient symbols in the dirt, words too. There was a wave of whispered chatter washing over the camp, lots of head shaking and shoulder-shrugging, general interested confusion in the strange child with the red hair. Karl seemed to want to put a stop to all the talking, and his strong, dark eyes passed over the groups of people collected together and gossiping as best they knew how. Soon they felt him watching them, and the whispers dulled, then faded, then ceased completely.

The red-haired girl, meanwhile, was sitting by a magnetite rock, looking very lost. She tugged nervously on strands of her scarlet locks, which was an odd kind of habit that soothed her. Mari Alexii sauntered over, her long legs moving like a dancer's. She reeked of forced confidence, but the little girl didn't notice.

''Hey, little girly'', Mari said, weird ice blue eyes leaping. ''I heard'', she said, lowering her voice conspiratorily, ''that you got caught writing things in the sand. Things that are supposed to be forgotten.''

''I'm sorry,'' the child said. Mari Alexii felt pity tugging at the strings of her heart, and her pale hand fluttered up against her will, as if she wanted to touch the girl, to give her some comfort. Tell her, ''I see things too...I'll be your friend. We can keep each other safe.'' But she did not. She could not. Mari Alexii had a kind of curse running through her veins, a resistance to trusting anyone or allowing anyone to see weakness in her ice-blue eyes. She forced a holier-than-thou bitchiness and superiority out of self defense, to keep people who might treat her with kindness at bay. She was as frozen as ice, as unflappable as stone. But it was a sad, little lie.

''Well, just don't do it again, you hear.'' Mari's voice glinted with steel, ''You might get us all into trouble.'' Then she turned and fled, with more urgency and fear in her steps than she would have liked.