Set The World On Fire
Introduction: A New Life
In the underground world was where Alec prospered. He was seen as a leader in the Zone he started out with and a respected figure amongst other leaders throughout The City Zones. He had been able to help people in both The Community who wanted to escape and in The City, no one was left alone, for they all knew what it felt like to be alone in a suffocating world. But the time was nearing where they couldn't just stand in the shadows of their enemies. With his name so well known the higher ups in The Community were after him because his influence had become too strong. Alec knows they have to do something big if they want to prevail before any more people are killed; they would have to Set The World On Fire.
Four years after WSTW
The deadly streets were filled with Community Troopers marching with the mark of God, stark white against their uniforms, soaked in the blood that they slit from unholy throats. Bodies of the damned lay scattered across the pavement, stomped upon like dirt in crisp albus.
Rebels in black hid in the shadows, their bodies pressed against the brick building. They weren't quick enough to escape to a safe-house or the sewers. So they waited, with hearts pounding against their chest cavity as the uniformed globs of darkness silhouetted against their faces, leaving them all too aware of the danger they were in.
Once the CTs passed the tallest of the three checked the streets, eyes of sinner green glowing, hair the color of burning souls, dirty and streaked across his face. A flick of his hand, to indicate that they could continue, and they were off, hooded figures under a blood stained sky. They didn't hesitate until they reached a soot colored door, a small metal thatch opening.
"Show your faces," the three pulled down their hoods, the leader smiling up to the person behind the door, "Well it took you long enough, it's nearly chaos with people thinking that you were dead or worse."
"We were caught up in traffic. The CTs were roaming the streets earlier than we expected."
"That's not a good sign, not a good sign. I don't like it one bit, it's no good," the metal latch closed and a series of clicks and chains were rapidly released with practiced hands before the door swung open.
They walked through the door threshold, the hallway falling into a dim light as the door behind them closed tightly, the chink of locks falling back into their respectful places. The only light was a lone bulb flickering above them, swaying in the still wind of the building, dancing with the shadows of the stone walls. The first door led to their intended destination, the glow of fire only just peeking out from under the door.
Voices that blended together made their way past the metal door; they were tinged with heat crackling in the fire pit. They were immediately silenced when the small group walked through the door, all eyes on the front man.
"Alec, you're late," the man turned his head, catching eyes with a man slightly shorter than himself, Jace. He beat Alec in height by a few inches and his build was much stockier, his muscles more defined under his patched jacket. He had been a part of the Zone since he was nine, he was a year younger than Alec, and he was seasoned and took care of the Zone when Alec was on missions. He was a respected figure in the Zone and he was the one who officially declared Alec as their leader three years ago.
"The CTs were mobilized earlier than we had thought, they've recruited more people from The Community and they're getting stronger," he glanced around the group of people that filled the room that resembled more of a basement than a meeting place, a large fireplace on the far end of the room the source of the heat and light, giving off an eerie glow to the faces of everyone in the room.
"The CT's are getting stronger; they are recruiting more people from The Community to join them. Our Zone can't fight them alone anymore, and the other Zones are also struggling with their increasing numbers," informed Jace.
Alec nodded, "I'm aware of this, that's why we were out today," he paused for a moment, "I've contacted the other Zone leader and they've agreed to meet with me here. We need this rein of hatred to end, it has to be done quickly and on our terms, and we're going to need everyone to be together on this."
"The Zones haven't worked together on such a scale before," called out someone from the crowd.
"And that's our weakness. We are too divided, and that was needed before, to keep any one person from becoming too power hungry, but now to stay apart is to die alone."
Hushed whispers erupted.
A gun shot broke out, "Quiet now, he's not done," demanded Jace.
"To win we can't continue this constant fighting. One person does not make up an entire army. I want you all to be aware of this. You have to remember why we are together in the first place, because without that we'll die out. Without that, our names will be erased from history and replaced with 'the demons that were stopped from corrupting us by our holy warriors.' Our entire lives will have been for nothing in the eyes of the world. Our voices will be ripped away from our throats. Remember this and you can go on, no matter what tragedy may befall us. Whether it be that you are the last of us, or you see a brother or sister fall, you can go on and never look back.
Leaders filed into the auditorium. They had found a condemned theater, forgotten in the world. The doors and windows were boarded up with rooting wood, broken glass crunching under torn and frayed boots. Fading art pained onto the ceiling depicted an angel being embraced by the light of God, paint chips cracking and falling to the ground like cherry blossom petals in the spring. The stage help the remains of a velvet red curtail, filled with tears and holes designed by the moths who feasted on the forgotten beauty. It was majestic in its day and today it was filled to its original glory, not out of the minds of the people who filled its seats, unused since before the war.
Alec watched from the corner of the stage, eyes searching for the one leader he was eager to meet again. After he had learned what he needed to survive Magnus had gone back to his Zone. They hadn't seen each other since an accidental meeting nearly a year ago. Instead someone from Magnus' Zone came up to him with a letter from Magnus telling him that he had sent a representative in his place because he was out on a mission. Slightly disappointed he pocketed the letter, nodding off the messenger.
When he had counted that everyone was there he stepped out from the dust ridden velvet and felt all eyes watching his every move.
"Alright Alec, you've got us here, now tell us what you've got planned," he looking out into the crowd, immediately spotting Izzy.
Alec recognized her instantly from his first year in The City. Her hair was long, and in an amazon pony tail, just like the first day he met her. She had given him his tribal ink that surrounded his wrists and snaked up his neck like barbed wire. She also had been the one to pierce the cartilage of his right ear; it was her idea to pierce his tongue. Izzy herself was fully decorated, her nose ring chained to her earing along with an eye brow and lip. Her signature was sharp spikes, even her whip that was always attached to her hip, was decorated with them, making it more dangerous for any enemy that may try to attack her. She was one of those who had gotten into the fight young and was determined to win.
Alec looked out to all of them, keeping his face strong, there could be no doubt. He knew that he was young and not as experienced as most of the leaders, he couldn't make an error if they were to band together.
"I think we've lost some sight as to why we're fighting in the first place. We are the ones who have been cast down as the sons and daughters of war. In this world we've been torn. We know our wings are flawed, but they can't stop us from talking our freedom. We cannot let them win. Our job is to help fight against the holy fables, but we need to take back the world that was once ours. We need to show them all that we can be. I'm asking all of you for one final plight. Together. Come along and fight with me, our flag that we'll defend. As one," he let his voice ring out with confidence and full conviction.
He saw Izzy stand up, followed by another Zone leader, and then another, until the whole congregation was standing up together, He smiled wildly, "Together we can defeat them, we'll be stronger than before. I've had enough of sympathy; now let us start fighting for today."
They needed one more raid to get the supplies they needed and Alec had volunteered, much to some distress. He was on outlaw, they all were, but his name was set on the top of the list. Nevertheless he was going; he was the only one who knew the Zone inside and out.
The warehouse was deep in the Zone but it allowed them to fill their bags with the ammunition they needed. While they were collecting their bags a heavy slam broke open the door from the level below, dense steps thundering against decaying wood.
Alec cursed and handed his bag over to Jake, a new kid, only fourteen and not even inked yet, "Take this and run," he instructed to everyone, "run and don't stop, never look back. Jake, find Magnus, show him my bag, tell him to follow the mourning star. Now go, all of you, we need to finish this."
"There's no more time for your good-byes," he pushed them away and took his gun from the inside of his pocket and ran out the door to face the troopers.
He had to buy them time, that's all he thought about, was giving them a chance to get far enough away. The CTs weren't expecting anyone to show their faces, leaving them open to a handful of easy kills for Alec before they realized what was going on.
Alec dodged bullets, putting his own in the hearts and heads of his opponents, but he noticed that none of them were going for a kill shot. They came there for prisoners. He shot off his last bullet, the men in enflamed crimson swarming him into a decomposing wall. He was grabbed, his arms forcibly pinned against his back. He struggled against the iron grip, a fist colliding to the side of his head, dazing him enough for them to get him on his knees and the cuffs attached to his wrists.
The group of troops surrounding him parted, one of them keeping back, threading his gloved hand, stained with the blood of the demons he had slain, through his hair in a harsh knot, rendering him immobile.
A man in a white suit came walking through the red sea, his gaze scrutinizing, "So this is the leader of this Zone, with the loaded gun and bastard's history. It was very noble of you to take on all of my men alone. Our friends won't be alive much longer. None of you demons who go against God will survive this exorcism of evil."
"Better to be baptized in smoke and misery than in falsehoods and conformity," Alec retorted.
The man shrugged, "We'll see about that, but your capture is God's way to tell us that we deserve to win, and once you release the information we need, we will."
His wrists hung limply form the chains, his blood cascading down his arms, decorating the ink that twisted down his pale arms, thoughts of escape and bloodshot eyes haunting tormenting his mind. Hair stuck to his face in streaks from sweat. He lifted his head, his breathing labored, a flash of light shining into the room, disappearing with the iron door, locking shut.
"I see my men have done a number on you," the man in white, noting the bruises and contusions that were highlighted by sinful blood, a hint of pride in his speech. You wouldn't have to go through any of this if you would cooperate with us and tell us what you're planning. The Lord will forgive you if you repent and denounce your evil ways."
"Fuck off," he spat venomously, "I would never betray them."
"No need for such language Alec," he cringed at the use of his name, watching as the man choose his next words with a greasy smirk, "You know, I don't think I quite understand why you would go through all of this, just to go against us."
"I don't think you ever will," he answered, voice raspy.
"Oh? Would you care to elaborate for me then?"
"I grew up with those who hate me, now I'm strong from what you've made me. That's the story of so many of us. That's why we're the partners in crime that will leave their mark, our black hearts of chrome and battle scars give us a feeling that's worth fighting for. We sink our teeth into this nightmare you've creative because we're stronger than before."
"Big words for someone whose back is currently against the wall."
"We only want to be ourselves," Alec continued on, "We will stand against the liars even though all we've known is dying. You may steal all my innocence but I will never stop fighting because I know that they will never stop."
"You seem so sure in something that isn't perfect. God is perfection; your faith should be in him."
Alec shook his head, laughing, "Nothing is perfect, no one can be perfect. You can only be yourself. That should be enough."
Warm hands surrounded his face, eyes fluttering open with the change in temperature embracing him. Cobalt eyes burned a hole into the darkness."
Magnus whistled, "They sure did a number on you."
Alec chuckled, gasping as his ribs protested, "At least you understood my message."
"Only you would call the north start that. Everyone else thought it meant the sun."
"Glad I have you then."
Nimble hands reached at the cuffs, "This is going to hurt," Alec nodded, bracing himself, hissing when the metal groaned and dug into his skin before freeing them. He flexed his fingers, regaining a more comfortable feeling. He allowed Magnus to help him up.
"The way you're headed you're going to be a withered rose," he commented, handing over Alec's coat.
"At least I'll have done something worthwhile."
"Still, it'd be nice to see you not die," Magnus grin was wide and familiar, and never left his face until they entered the Zone.
"You should stay behind; your body can't take much more strenuous activity."
Alec looked at Luke, one of the few doctors they had and stood up from the sick bed, clenching his ribs when they protested at the movement. He caught Alec before his legs gave out but he pushed Luke away, pulling on his coat, thin fingers buttoning it up to the top of neck.
"I can't abandon everyone. This bed and you need to be available for those in more pain than me."
"Alec, you won't be any good to us if you die," Luke called out, trying to talk sense into him before he walked out of the door.
Alec turned to him, eyes full of mischief, "Then I guess I can't die just yet."
He left the building and revved up his bike, speeding down to the army in a final good-bye. They thrust their fists in the air, falling into their battle cry, "Hey, hey, brothers. Hey, Hey, fighters. Hey, Hey, Bottles living for another round. Hey, Hey, lovers. Hey, Hey, liars. Hey, Hey, Throttles speeding towards the black out."
He stopped in front of the ranks, where all of the Zone leaders stood in the front to face the battle head on. Stepping off his bike he stood before the army, careful to mast his pain with determination and strength.
The cheers died down so that the only sound they could hear was the eagle's cry sounding in the sky.
"Today we show them what was left unsaid, so that we can live freely without their harm. We were the ones with nowhere to go and no one to wish us well. We are the ones bored to death of heaven and the need for perfection. Now we pray to all the wrong decisions, we create the hymns for the lonely, the wretched and forgotten. To them we are the dirty and unclean, a congregation of the unseen, but we're not hiding anymore, and our voices will be heard. We are proud in who we are, showing our every scar as our badge of honor. We won't take any more of what they're living for. We're the ones who will Set The World On Fire."
A riot exploded, fueling Alec's words.
"We are wild and running for one reason. We can leave it all behind because it's our world tonight. Nothing's gonna stop us, no not this time."
Magnus walked up to Alec, taking his place beside him.
"Now rise up and celebrate your life because no one can tell you who you are."
A blast came from behind, shots firing in warning. The other half of the war had arrived.
"We will give you one last chance to surrender to God's power," the speaker buzzed, "Denounce your evil ways and join-"a shot rang out and Alec turned to Magnus who put his gun back in his holster.
"His voice always annoyed the hell out of me."
Everyone who had them mounted their bikes, those who didn't, reached for their weapons. Alec and Magnus were alongside each other on the front lines.
"Promise me one thing Alec."
"Promise me that love will be our last emotion."
He locked eyes with Magnus, "It will be."
A nod signaled Izzy to flip the switch, buildings all around setting off into a mass of fire, the red army marching through the cobblestone, demons on leather wings rose from the streets, engines running and guns loaded.
It was time to stand up and fight.