A/N: Hello all and welcome to another installment in the Gone Native Collection (Chronicles? Saga? Whatever...) This is just a bit of a backstory for Rayne who is a character that I hope you will come to know and love in my larger work Gone Native. It's written in a bit of a different style than my normal writing, but hopefully you'll like it anyway :) As always, I'm not SM, but technically, I guess I do own Rayne since she's my character. I just don't own the world she lives in :) Enjoy!
Sometimes she wondered where they came from—how they got here. Sarge said that it didn't matter, that all that mattered was that she stay away from them, but Ray Anne—Rayne—was curious. Whenever Sarge went out for supplies and told her to "Stay in the car and be quiet" she always peeked out the windows, hoping to get a glimpse of their silver eyes. She knew that if they found her, they would take her. She knew that if they took her, she would become like them. She knew that if she became like them, she would be able to see her parents again. She wondered what it would feel like to have a little alien in the back of her neck. She wondered if it was really as bad as Sarge made it sound. Their eyes were so pretty.
Sarge was retired army, and once he had figured out what was going on, he had taken her right out of swimming lessons, literally pulled her straight out of the pool, put her in his Jeep, and driven until the sun had gone down and come up again. They had left her parents in Montana, and Sarge had explained that their bodies had been taken over by aliens. Rayne did not understand how aliens could do that, she thought that they were little green men, but Sarge had told her that these aliens were like worms that could live inside of you.
Rayne had cried for the entire drive, and Sarge had sung endless songs. Songs about rain.
Sarge was a nice old man, but he was not her dad or her grandpa. He was just the old man who lived next door and drove her home from swimming lessons when her parents had to work. He fixed the sink for Mama when Dad was out of town. He shared holiday meals with them because he did not have a family, and when he invited them over for dinner, she had to eat everything without complaining, even if the food was gross. She liked Sarge, but he was not her family.
It had been six months since they had moved to Colorado. She was a tough girl now; Sarge had seen to that. She was small for her age, most people thought she was younger than she was, but she could run fast, shoot straight, kick hard, and even cook better than Sarge. At seven years old, she knew how to navigate, though in Colorado that was not very hard, and could survive outside for several days if she had to as long as it was warm enough. Sarge was teaching her which plants were edible and which ones were not. He also taught her first aide and how to do laundry. She hated laundry.
They lived in a secret underground compound beneath a cornfield in eastern Colorado. It used to be a missile silo and it had been so long ignored that it had been forgotten. Except Sarge had not forgotten. He had spent years mapping all the silos in the US before deciding which one he wanted to buy and transform. He owned this one, or rather he owned the farm it was situated on. Or he used to. That was before the aliens invaded. Now there was a silver-eyed couple living in Sarge's farmhouse a few miles away. They were not curious and had not come within a mile of the compound so far, but Rayne still had to be careful. All the time. It was annoying.
The last time Sarge had taken her out to get supplies, she had decided that she was old enough to get out of the car and investigate on her own. They were parked on a neighborhood street and she knew that there was a playground nearby. With swings. She opened the Jeep's door confidently and slid to the ground, checking for traffic in both directions. Seeing none, she trotted off in the direction of the playground. It only took her five minutes to find it and soon she was happily swinging to and fro on the swing set. She kicked off her shoes and let out a delighted peal of laughter, thrilled to feel the wind whip through her hair.
That single word brought all her jubilation crashing down around her. She lost her balance and fell backwards off the swing, slamming to the ground with enough force to knock the wind from her chest. When she regained her composure, she found herself staring straight into the silver eyes of another child. An alien child.
She scrambled to her feet in panic, knowing that wherever Sarge was, he was going to be angry with her for this. Then she wondered if this was her chance to become an alien too.
She took a chance.
"You're a wild human!" exclaimed the alien, as if that were something horrible.
"Huh?" Asked Rayne, unsure exactly what that meant. If wild meant she had snuck away from Sarge, then yes, she was wild.
"You're not a Soul!" The kid tried to explain, but all it did was make Rayne more confused. He turned and yelled over his shoulder, "Mom! This girl is a wild human!"
Rayne turned to see a woman coming forward, her silver-blue eyes reflecting in the sunlight. Rayne knew she should be scared, but mostly she was curious.
"Hello there," The woman said kindly, "What is your name?"
"Well Ray Anne, I'm Mrs. Jones. This is my son Tommy. It's very nice to meet you. We live just over there in the blue house. Where do you live?"
Rayne could see the blue house from the swing set. It had a picket fence in front of it with a nice yard of grass and a tree that would be perfect for climbing. There were yellow and pink flowers next to the wraparound porch and a bike in the yard. It made her miss her own house back in Montana.
She looked back at the woman and gave her a small smile. She opened up her mouth to answer, but at the last second reconsidered. Sarge had told her hundreds of times that she could never tell anyone where she lived because then they would have to move. She could not, would not, tell her where she lived. Sarge would skin her alive. And in the back of her head, a memory of her mother's voice echoed, telling her "Don't talk to strangers!"
"I have to go." She said suddenly, and turned on her heels, grabbed her discarded shoes, and started running back toward the Jeep.
She was three blocks away, about a third of the way there, when the white police SUV showed up. Two officers dressed in all black hopped out and approached her.
"Hi there honey, are you lost?" The lady officer asked, approaching her on the sidewalk.
"N-no. I have to go back to the car. Sarge will be waiting for me." Rayne stammered, backing away. She was unsure whether or not she was supposed to trust these people or run away from them.
"We could give you a ride back to your car." The male officer offered, his silver eyes flashing, and in the back of Rayne's head, her mother's voice echoed, "Don't take rides from strangers!"
She ran away.
When the officers started chasing her, she got scared.
Sarge had always said she was fast, but she was not faster than these officers. They would catch her soon. Tears were running down her face in panic.
After a block, the male officer reached out and grabbed her arm. They both tumbled to the ground.
She did the only thing she could.
She kicked. She hit. She bit. She screamed.
She did not stop when the first shot rang out. She did not even hear it.
When the officer who was trying to contain her let her go, she got up and ran blindly, with blood, hair, and tears marring her vision. She heard the second shot, and that made her pause. She pulled her hair out of her face, wiped the tears from her eyes, and surveyed the scene. Both the officers were lying in pools of their own blood and Sarge was standing in the street with a gun.
People were starting to gather, but Rayne could not move.
Sarge had killed the aliens. Sarge had saved her.
He was running toward her now, and she did nothing to stop him when he picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and ran toward the Jeep.
She did not realize until he shushed her that she was still screaming.
He tossed her into the Jeep and they took off, getting out of town as quickly as possible. While Rayne cried quietly in the passenger seat, Sarge made quick turns and detours, trying to lose all the police cars that were following them. He sang to her as she cried, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." It calmed her down. They drove for hours.
Eventually, Sarge pulled over on a dark street and told Rayne that they were switching cars. He broke into a house whose owners were not home and got the keys to their truck, and minutes later the two of them were on the road in an old Chevy. Rayne curled up in the back and went to sleep. When she woke up, they were back at the compound; Sarge had carried her in.
Rayne was not allowed to go on raids after that.
Sarge said that she was old enough to stay by herself in the compound—that it was the safest place for her. If anyone ever found the compound, she was supposed to hide in the compound until they left and then go hide in the corn fields, but Sarge was certain that would never happen.
So the months dragged on.
Thanksgiving passed without a turkey. Or mashed potatoes.
Her eighth birthday passed without a cake, though Sarge did manage to find her a book as a present. The Little House Treasury by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She loved it.
It was almost Christmas. She knew she was not going to get much, if anything. For weeks, she had been begging Sarge to help her make a snowman. His answer had been a resounding "No."
Three days before Christmas, Sarge announced that he was going on a raid. She hoped that he was going to get her a Christmas present, and maybe some good food for them to eat. She watched him go, hugging her teddy bear close and knowing that he would be back soon.
Rayne could not sleep that night. The silo was scary at night and she was cold. She grabbed her teddy bear, put on her shoes and coat, lit the oil lamp, and went for a walk.
She tried a snack, some dry cereal, but that she was not hungry. She left it on the counter which would make Sarge mad, but she would clean it up tomorrow.
All she needed was to see the stars, she reasoned, so she headed for the stairs that led up to the hatch. She climbed the seven flights of stairs, and went through the blast door, pushed through the whirly thing, climbed up the spiral staircase, and unlocked the hatch, pushing it open and popping the cover off. It took every ounce of strength she had, but she managed to get it open enough to squeeze through.
She was so glad she had decided to come. The world was a winter wonderland.
Every surface sparkled in the moonlight; the fresh snow frosting the clearing and all the surrounding fields. It was breathtaking. It was perfect.
It was clear that she should not wait for Sarge to help her make a snowman. She would just do it herself.
The snow was abnormally sticky and perfect for snowman making, and in no time at all, she had rolled a ball big enough for the base. A second ball for the middle was next, but it took all of her strength to heave it onto the first. The last ball for his head was much easier to make and lift, and soon she was looking upon her snowman proudly.
"You need a face." She said aloud. "And arms."
She grabbed two nearby corn stalks for arms, that was easy, and she dug around on the ground to find some rocks to make eyes and a mouth that curved into a smile. A piece of gross dried-up corn served as a nose. Her task was complete. She smiled in satisfaction.
"Your name is Alfred." She declared to the snowman. She gave him a cold kiss on the cheek, took one last look at the stars, and climbed back down the hatch, locking it behind her.
It was now 3 AM and she was so tired that she knew that she would have no problem sleeping for the rest of the night, and possibly the whole day. She fell to her pallet in exhaustion and was asleep seconds later.
She woke up a few times throughout the night and the next day, but mostly she slept. She was so tired. Her dreams made her restless.
Finally, she could sleep no more. She got up and went to use the bathroom without bothering with a light—she had the place memorized. However, it was not as dark as it should have been. A light was shining through the window that led to the rest of the compound from the control center. Rayne approached the door in a crouch and peeked through the window.
There was a tall, redheaded man with a flashlight walking into the other dome.
Someone had found Sarge's missile silo.
She needed to hide.
All the good places were outside the Control Center. The Control Center had two stories, but none of the rooms had anything that would be considered a good hiding place, and once the alien saw everything in here, he would know that humans lived here. She was dead meat.
She had taken too long to decide. He was coming this way.
Sarge had all the guns upstairs, too far away to get to.
Too late. She was too late.
She ran into the bedroom and threw herself under her covers, locking her body into an immovable position.
Maybe if she pretended she was invisible, the man would not notice her. Maybe he would skip this room. Maybe everything would be fine.
The door opened. The flashlight lit up the room. Footsteps echoed as he walked right over to her. She was going to be caught; she just knew it.
She heard him move and she almost flinched, but managed to mostly contain it.
Then the most amazing thing happened. He got up and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
He had not seen her. She had survived.
She stayed under her blanket for a few more minutes before she chanced a peek. The hallway beyond the room was dark. Everything was quiet.
She took one deep, shuddering breath. The man was gone.
Suddenly, she had no desire to sit in the dark anymore. She grabbed the matches and lit the lamp, turning it down low. She pulled her teddy bear Rainbow close and curled into a ball, watching the lamplight flicker on the wall and wishing Sarge was back to sing to her so she did not have to be scared.
A/N: Most of the end of this chapter comes from chapter 30 of Gone Native, it's just in Rayne's POV instead of Burns'. If you want to find out what happens to Rayne, Sarge, and Burns, go read Gone Native cause this is just a one-shot! Really, thanks for reading, and if you liked it or hated it, please review! We all know how hard it is to get reviews on one-shots, so I value every comment/critique!