Note: I've cancelled my sequel to this story for several personal reasons. However, I would be doing the fans of this fic a disservice if I did not end it properly given the new developments. Over the next few weeks, I'll make some corrections to the story to fix any grammatical errors or typos. Thank you for reading my fic and I hope to enjoy your work as well.
December 1, 2027
There was a room in an old apartment flat in Cinigrad.Ice and snow blanketed the city in its white embrace. Darkness shaded the city and the lights of the town shone like stars; it was as if space was turned upside down. The apartment had little electricity running. The only electrical power was plug to the computer, an outdated one, but it served the purposes of the user. There were candles lit everywhere and the bed had no stands, it was merely a box spring on top of a mattress; only two and a half feet from the floor. There were a few boxes around room and everything was cold, even though lanterns and candles illuminated the darkness of the room.
A raven haired woman walked across the old linoleum floor. She was only shielded from the cold by a thick blanket covering her slight form armored only by her t-shirt and pink shell underwear. However, she did not shiver. She could see her own breath in the freezing room. And yet, she could not be happier.
"Home sweet home." she kept saying to herself. It was a far cry from her home of old. But after nearly fourteen years, the vagabond Yuke girl was finally home and had been here for a year. Nothing was the same and yet, nothing had changed. The country had not still fully recovered from the war years past, but at least things were much better than before. The raven haired woman blew out a few candles and sat at a desk with only a red book, a radio and a few other things scattered across it. There was a newspaper clipping near her left hand: Versuan Militias Agree to Cease-fire. There was a picture of the woman's benefactors taken just a year ago. She remembered the goodbye and the long flight from the Alaska District of Northern Osea to here. She played with a pen, flipping across her knuckles and dropping it a few times before she finally started writing.
It's been a long time since I've written anything in a diary.So here goes I guess...
How I describe this place? It is not Heaven on Earth, but it is close. This is the home of my birth. I came a longing like a rhapsodic song calling me home. Or perhaps it would be a cryptic message in a drawing or a painting. I believe that would be right up my alley. My home is so familiar yet it so alien in its regards. Where my parents' house stood there lays an old apartment. From what I know, someone died here but for the price I got this place...I cannot complain.
Ten years after Versua tore itself apart, it's still a hell I wish not to remember. It is the reason I cannot be warm again. Well, that's too extreme. I cannot bear the sight of sand anymore. The coarse mineral of this planet makes me sick to my stomach. I want to remember the past my own way...not forced by dust. However, there was plenty of good there. In fact, it is the reason I am here now. I remember being a child, going from place to place with my exposed rib cage, picking scraps from the garbage cans. Then he found me. His hair was as dark as night. His eyes...his eyes...they were like my father's eyes. Brave. Insightful. Calm. Audacious. Then I met her. Eyes and hair like the brown of dying grass. Beautiful. Intelligent. Implacable. Gentle. They became my family. It was I they embraced, a proxy for a dead girl. However, a song called me here. A song from the ghosts of my past and they understood. They cared for me for nine years and I left for home. A tearful goodbye from an airport and I was leaving on a jet plane, and I didn't know when I was coming back again. I said goodbye to Lovecraft and Nagase, their kids: the twins of nine years, Ran and Tasha, as well as the little one named Astrid.
I traveled light. I always traveled light. Sometimes I'd wear the same clothes two days in a row. I could never fully embrace this materialistic consumption Osea had to offer. However, it was a wonderful thing to take advantage of. With me, I took all my art supplies, I took Jakob, the man I cared for and a fellow Yuke vagabond of old. The boxes around me are all things I was sent by the people I loved. I turn them into art. The keepsakes are what I always carry as remembrance. I keep them all in a special, waterproof, but easily carried case I spent a fortune on in Osea. It is my link to everyone who's touched my life; the good and the bad.
Everything inside is nearly organized and no label is needed. I know what each of these items stand for.
The first is a uniform insignia. They are the ace wings, awarded to a pilot who shoots down five planes. This is my tribute to David Lovecraft, the man who dared to protect me and defend me. The man who dared to love where so little remained after being dragged into such a terrible war. The man who never wanted praise for what he did but always delivered when everything was lost. The second is a beautiful blue jeweled necklace. This is my tribute to Kei Nagase. This jewel was handed down from David's mother to Kei and from Kei to me on my eighteenth birthday. So it goes into my chest of remembrance. So it goes as a tribute to a woman who dared to love and who dared to break the rules for what was right.
The third is a drawing; a tracing of charcoal of a cross and a goddess wrapping her beautiful form around it. This is the homage to Cormorance Alou, the man who fought against his own race and for his adopted country. He was the man who was always the professional; always the acerbic man but always did his duty with ruthless and cold efficiency. Sure enough, he still does it and his wife Potenza is a machine for the birth canal as they now have six kids now. I'd like to have kids someday, but six, God bless that woman.
The fourth is a set of dice I bought in Vegas. This is the remembrance of the simplistic but skilled, flawed but respectable Andrew Fisch. He was the man who taught me how to count cards and when to spot a sucker bet. He was, more importantly, the man who fought even though he was always a cynical one and never had many beliefs except getting the job done and going home. I think he's part of the PMC business; the private military sector. I have not heard from him in three years, but his homage will always be here.
The fifth is a book on arachnids. This is for Lillian Izzo, the funniest, strangest woman I've ever met. She was always so close to everyone. She may have been an odd customer, but she always showed up when it mattered. Heaven help anyone who thought she was too strange to do her job. She writes like me, but she has a book about the war now called Catch a Lighting Wave. I didn't care much for the title, but it went bestseller and now she rides its success. I was stunned by the details of the book as so much more went on than my child eyes saw. She's working on another book now. I still don't know what orientation she is, but then again...who cares?
The sixth is a picture of the Wardog team with three people circled. However, this one is for Paulo Scirro and Michael Sachsenronde. I did not know them well, but they were still people who touched me. They were part of Wardog and gave their lives to make sure I and everyone else was safe. Scirro left a family behind, but I have no idea what they are up to now. I know they are somewhere up above watching and flying in the fighter jets Heaven has. Those planes could probably mop the floor with the F-22s. What would they call it, the F/A-900 Divine?
The seventh is the black mascara case that once belonged to Polly Elbe. That is self explanatory. I do not use it, lest I ruin a sacred memory of the parting, heavy drinking Boston woman. She was a woman who was not afraid of spilling all her secrets, even ones concerning sexual encounters and bar fiascos. They always made me laugh. I would have put a bottle of wine here...but Jakob would have taken it and gotten drunk.
The eighth is the propaganda letter from the rebels of the Verusan War. I got it recently from a woman who I did not even know David knew until I told him about her two years ago. Her name was Rue Daydenko. She was living with her husband in Rouge Park, where I crashed for a few months while I went to technical college. She was a rather kind and beautiful woman. She'd lost her son in that terrible destruction of Basra over ten years ago. And speaking of that...
The ninth is a piece of that horrid machine Dispater; the center of many nightmares and worry. The device that took so many lives: enemy, friend, and civilian. Now it has long since been derelict. The Versuans, even though they still fought among themselves, had sense enough to leave the detritus of that monster alone to remind them of the folly of such fevered ambition. Personally, I would have packed it full of animal manure and grown food there...but we can't always get what we want.
The tenth is a scarf that belonged to the attractive Sasha Masson. She gave it to me when I saw her crying and leaving that airport, her husband having abandoned her for a life in the mercenary corps. She has a new husband now, and often goes back to Verusa for charity. As for Kaida, I grew up angry at him and so did Kei, but she, Sasha, was never fully angry at him. Her remembrance is for her actions. She was one of the bravest of all, defying her own leaders to save her people's lives. I gave the sun dress that Kei got me for my eleventh birthday to her daughter Mara. It looks more beautiful on her than on me. I went with her back to Versua a few years ago...where I found the next articles of my museum.
The eleventh is a white orchid. The flower's duality of both beauty and toxic agent reminds me of Ammon Kaida, the man of two faces. Betrayer all. He too defied the evil empire to help save the day, but in the end, he left the woman he loved to pursue a life of money and fast girls in the PMC business. He's still living in North Point, the last time I checked, shacked up with another woman.
The twelfth is a blue orchid. This simple item is for everyone who died in that war. I cannot hate my enemies or grieve enough for all those innocent people. What is done is done, and only I can keep them alive. It's mainly for all the men and women who served alongside my benefactors, and even poor Lauren who took her own life in such brutal fashion. Then it represents the anti-heroes, Sasha's sister, the brave Xalia among them. Then, oddly, there are the villains. I could not hate them as Kei would say that hate makes you dig two graves, one for you and your enemy. It was from Sasha I received this from the ruins of her old home, the Castelle van Stijl. Too many dead to name and at least with this, I can keep this precious and necessary memory alive.
The thirteenth is a gift I have sealed away in an envelope never to see the light of day unless I need it. It is a picture of my parents and me. Whenever I find myself losing the memory, I only look them in this surviving photo of my parents for a few seconds. Then I quickly put it away and seal back up. All of us in our best clothing, all of us in one embrace and with this last photo, I take them with me everywhere. I went through hell to find this keepsake. Often times I just cradle it when I sleep and pretend I am a child again.
I look up and at the sleeping Jakob; poor man, having to put up with me and all my junk for art and my constant badgering about whether I should say this line or not. This apartment still sucks, but I can't complain. I can already tell that only happiness is here.
Sueltana put the book down and walked over to the window where ice and cold had frosted the window. She put her hand on it and let it go numb along the cold. She opened it and touched the ice on the seal for awhile. She finally took her hand off the white cold state of matter and closed the window. She stared out the foggy window for a long time. Water droplets were coming down onto the window seal. She dried her soaked hand against her shirt beneath the blanket. She looked into the city that had always been her home even though she had not seen it in nearly a decade and a half.
A part of her heart always lay here and yet, another part of it would always lie in another cold place where the family who'd accepted her lived now. She once felt that her home would be with the two ace pilots who were both ruthless and compassionate. Sueltana wondered what they were doing now. They were eleven hours ahead so it would be eight in the morning and just as cold as it was here. They were probably getting Tasha and Ran ready for school while Kei was still struggling to care for that adventurous three year old Astrid. However, Sueltana knew she was destined to return here. She knew she would always be welcome back home...and here as well. However, she recognized no one. Cinigrad was an alien planet now.
Sueltana closed her eyes and enjoyed the chill of the room. Homesick would have been a strange term to make the universe collapse in on itself. No matter if she was here or back in Alaska, she would be home. However, she missed the longing from David and Kei, who cared for her with no scruples. A tear came from her eye realizing the bittersweet taste of her life now. She could never truly figure out if she belonged here or not. However, the litmus test was those two people. They were made for each other...and Sueltana was made for them. She'd talk with them via email, but that was not enough. She wanted to touch them, to kiss them and have their skin wrap her in their embrace once more.
She missed them. She would have to see them again.
Sueltana ditched the covering she had and threw it across the room to the pile in the corner. She retreated from the icy window and crawled into the rather cheap bed's heavy red cloth with Jakob. She lay on her back and simply stared at the ceiling. She had an early start tomorrow. She had to do her one mile run around the neighborhood. She had to go to the market and she promised Yuri she'd go with her to the Botanical Gardens. Then she had to finish her work for the magazine before Monday. She would have to plan the reunion tour around her next day off.
Just as she closed her eyes, she had finished using the remote for the radio to turn down the volume. However, as she did that a news report came over the airwaves. Another war had started somewhere on Usea. Even though it was of no consequence to the young woman, Sueltana still had a deep worry.
It seemed so strange. She'd accepted that war would always be a part of human life. And yet, she still wondered where all reason went. She wondered if David and Kei thought the same thing while they kept trying to keep the normal flow of the day going. She wondered if Kaida and Fisch were still fighting out over there earning cash and fast women, even when they were pushing forty. She wondered if Cormorance mentioned it in the squad lounge at McNealy Air Force Base. She wondered if Lillian was watching it on the news while she typed laboriously away in a penthouse in Oured. Did anyone in Versua care? And what about souls of the dead up in the heavens above or hells below? Where they concerned? Did they wonder with glee that more souls would join them? Or did they look away in disgust?
She couldn't think about it anymore. She had to enjoy the peace she had now. The life she'd carved out from the calling of a song. She turned her body away from Jakob as she usually did save an occasional intimate embrace. She faced her dreams to the east, where a song from Alaska was still calling her home.