Images of a young girl, probably about sixteen years old flashed across a holographic screen. An older woman sat watching, her blonde hair messy and frizzy, dark unflattering bags drooped underneath her wise and knowledgeable amber eyes. She leaned back in her comfortable blue reclining chair, flicking a light switch, illuminating the small mechanical lab.
A loud banging sounded behind the woman in the direction of the door. The noise echoed off of the metal walls. The blonde lady sighed, the noise giving her a slight headache and turned to face the door.
“Come in!” She forced her crackly voice to call out.
The door creaked and opened slowly, the bottom dragging against the steel flooring. A younger woman in her early twenties stepped inside. She had jet black hair and glimmering cat-like green eyes. She wore a dark purple shirt with a smoky grey hoodie, the hood pulled up over her hair, positioning her bangs in a way that almost completely covered her eyes. The blonde woman smirked at how much of a mystery it was that this girl had yet to trip over the bagginess of her black jeans.
“I’ve had one of the recruits feed Obsidian, he’s now asleep in his stall.” Her voice was hard and serious.
“Thank you, Skylar” The woman nodded gratefully and turned back to her work on the holographic screen.
Skylar stood where she was for a moment and glanced over the shoulder of the woman, she studied the screen curiously, eyes narrowed and face revealing no approval nor any disapproval.
“Who’s that girl?” She asked, voice remaining calm and steady, yet revealing an odd amount of curiosity.
“Possibly our next recruit.” The lady responded, not looking up from the paperwork sprawled out on the desk before her.
“Catherine, ma’am, I know we haven’t exactly had a plentiful amount of recruits lately, but you can’t go giving out dragons to just anyone. She has bright blue hair and from what I‘m seeing right now, she looks popular and selfish. Not the type we usually aim for.” Skylar sounded respectful, but showing some dislike for Catherine’s choice.
“Au contraire, her reflexes are sharp and she shows a lot of passion in everything she does. Something about this girl shows me she has potential.” Catherine had turned to face Skylar, passion lighting up her dark old eyes.
“Where does she live?” Skylar asked, obviously noting that Catherine was set on her decision and gave up trying to change her mind.
“Oregon, U.S.A” Catherine noticed Skylar flinch, although she couldn’t be sure why. She decided not to look to much in to it. She knew all to well that this girl had a very dark past and tried to keep away from that subject.
“Who are you sending to fetch her?” Skylar decided to move away from the subject.
“Clark is going to take Avalanche. Chloe also volunteered to go with him on Firefly.”
Skylar let out a sigh, probably one of relief as only two council members ever went to recruit a new league member. This was how it always was. One was deemed dangerous, and three would make it too easy for them to be seen and was plain unnecessary.
“I don’t have a good feeling about that one.” A deep male voice sounded outside the door.
A tall man, a year or two older than Skylar walked in to the steel-walled lab. He had lengthy golden hair which resembled the mane of a lion. His stature was muscular and he brought a calm yet powerful vibe in to the room. Catherine noticed his mist slate coloured eyes shoot an unreadable look at Skylar, his lips curved, then parted to reveal a devilish smile with gleaming white teeth. Skylar retorted with a quick glance, narrowing her eyes and shifting uncomfortably.
“What seems to be the problem, Joshua?” Catherine rolled her eyes, obviously not caring to hear the opinion of the man, however, because he was a member of the council, she was required to take his opinion in to consideration. Tapping her pen impatiently, she gave him a gesture allowing him to put forth an opinion.
“It’s like Skylar said, she looks cocky and dim-witted, along with-” He was cut off at Skylar’s angry response.
“You were spying on me? You creep! What interest do you even have in what we have to say?” Her fuming voice echoed off of the walls, adding even more eeriness to her voice than it usually carried. Catherine lifted her hand to silence her, to which she responded with a quick apologetic nod. Catherine then impatiently gestured toward Joshua, urging him to continue.
“Nevermind.” he stalked out of the room, flashing an angry glance at Skylar before he left.
Catherine sat back in her chair, stunned at his odd reply, yet Skylar seemed untroubled and much less surprised. She gave Catherine a knowing look, shaking her head slowly and sadly.
“It’s nothing. I have to go, shall I tell Clark and Chloe they may begin their mission?”
Catherine nodded, still too surprised to form a valid response. She sat for a moment, inquiring what she just saw before her. The tension between two members of the council was worrying to her. A small feud between members can lead to division of the entire league. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. How were they to accomplish their goals if they couldn’t get past even the pettiest of problems?
The question sat in the air, unspoken, but obvious.
What are they not telling me?
Lily turned back to wave at her friend who had already made her way to the end of the street. Once the other girl was out of sight, she continued her walk back home, parting her neat blue bangs away from her eyes and fixing the wrinkles on the fluorescent pink shirt she was wearing.
School had just ended and Lily was making her way home. Home to the barbed wire fencing, the guards outside of the house, and the complex alarm system on the fence in the front yard before the wooden porch of her large house. As she approached the high voltage fence, careful not to touch it, you only make that mistake once, she pulled an I.D. card from the pocket of her tight and expensive skinny blue jeans. She inserted the translucent card in to a small sensory machine, which ejected it moments later flashing a bright green light that hurt her warm chocolate coloured eyes. The multiple locks on the fence opened and Lily entered quickly, knowing she only had moments before it sealed again for the rest of the night, as there were no events taking place on Mondays.
Lily nodded at the guard who took a place in front of her door. He grunted, sounding grouchy and unfriendly, but stepped aside from the beautifully crafted white door of her house. She turned the knob and moved inside, throwing her heavy purple bag on to the floor and kicking off her shoes toward the wall, leaving a muddy splotch which she quickly wiped off.
She walked in to the living room noticing her grandmother telling stories about what time was like when she was younger. She told stories around this time everyday, they were often about the freedom that the U.S.A had many years ago, how people were free to say what they wanted without risk of execution. They could leave their yards to visit the other kids or to go to the store at any time of day. The stories were fascinating to Lily, she often drew picture of how she imagined times being before their dictator, or king, as he referred to himself as. King Damen III to be exact.
Lily’s grandmother, Ethel, glanced away from Carrie, Lily’s four year old sister and set her kind gaze upon her. She blinked her calm blue eyes as she studied Lily, finally, she spoke.
“I’ve got a… Different story today. It’s about The Vindicta.” Her voice was stronger at the mention of The Vindicta, her eyes glimmered passionately and hopefully at the thought of them.
Lily knew about The Vindicta, everyone did. They were an old folktale, nothing more than a myth. Legends told of a secret alliance of people, lead by a powerful woman. They rode upon the backs of dragons and were building a force to oppose the current dictatorship. One day very soon, it is said they will strike, tearing apart the government the United States had at the moment and taking the leadership role themselves to restore peace and freedom once more. As incredible as it would be if they existed, the reality was that they didn’t, and there was nothing anyone could do to oppose the king.
Lily contemplated getting up to leave, not wishing to have fantasies running amuck in her mind. However, she didn’t want to hurt her grandmothers feelings, so she stayed to listen, hoping the story would be short.
“I’m going to tell you how The Vindicta was formed.”
This was a story Lily hadn’t heard before.
“It was soon after King Damen III took over. No one really knows how he did it, those who did were executed so as not to reveal his secret. Some suspect witchcraft, others believe he too had a dragon by his side, one so strong, so mysterious, so intelligent, that none could bring him down.
A man by the name of Dean Chapaltul had a deep hatred toward Damen, no one knows why he had such deep heated tension toward him. All disliked Damen, but none as much as Dean. He spent the days creating battle plans against the king, his nights were spent researching the land surrounding the government headquarters. He always dreamed of taking down Damen, but never had the army to do it.
Everything changed, however, during a walk in the woods near the HQ, he noticed a flash in the distance. As he raced toward it, he began to see more clearly. It was a nest, full to the brim with ten ovals, each a different colour. Unable to resist himself, he reached toward the one at the top, a golden one. Something about the stone made him feel a sort of attachment to it. It was at that moment, the stone shook, and from the inside of it, a young dragon hatched.
Dean raised the dragon as his own, then recruited nine others, giving each a dragon egg. He chose all nine based on how passionately they hated the king. Together, they formed The Vindicta. On their own, they built an entire headquarters, and have technology so advanced even the government hasn’t been able to invent it yet.”
Lily interrupted her grandmother, choosing one of the millions of questions she felt the need to ask.
“If they had such incredible technology and each of them had dragons, why haven’t they beaten the government yet?”
Her grandmother shifted, gazing upon Lily kindly, contemplating how to answer the question. Slowly, she let out a sigh and allowed her raspy voice to run on.
“Well, it’s quite a numbers game when you think about politics. The king has many, many loyal followers. Brainwashed idiots they are. Despite having multiple dragons under control, The Vindicta is just too outnumbered. There are also issues with their weaponry, they’re very prideful folk, known for going in to battle with just their dragons. The government however plays dirty, having bombs and tanks and all sorts of gasses that could kill them all in an instant. The league is playing safe, for now. However, they can’t do that forever.”
Ethel leaned back in her leathery recliner and glanced at the black watch around her wrist. Her eyes widened, seemingly surprised at the time. She got up slowly, pushing off the arm of the chair and placing the rest of her weight on her walker. She took a few steps before turning to Lily.
“I hope you enjoyed the story, Lily” She whispered, glancing at Carrie who was asleep on the carpet curled in a ball, her drool pooled around her head, soaking in to the carpet slowly.
“I did, thank you grandma.” She hugged her grandmother before racing up the stairs to ponder the story.
- - - -
That night Lily dreamt of The Vindicta. Of people who rode upon dragons. One of them was a girl with fiery orange hair and blazing amber eyes. She carried a sword by her side a rode upon a dragon whose tail flashed like a firefly. There were many others in the dream, but they were blurry and difficult to see.
The Vindicta began to battle the government, they were shot at and a few of them became trapped, but they fought back. Some went to the ground and battled in hand to hand conflict. Others rode fire breathing dragons, lighting electrical sparks and causing massive explosions. It was all so realistic, Lily began to think that this was real life until-
Lily leaped up, only half awake, eyes still adjusting to the warm morning light coming through the curtains in the window. She had thrown her pillows across the room, bed sheets littered the hardwood flooring beneath her incredibly large queen sized bed, she’d probably writhed in her sleep during the intense dream.
Glancing at the digital clock on the redwood shelf across her large room, Lily quickly hopped out of bed, seeing as the alarm had failed to go off and if she didn’t hurry, she’d miss the bus and have to wait until tomorrow to go to school. That’s how things were nowadays. One bus came around at 8:30 each morning to take every kid on a street to school. The king refused to allow them to walk as he didn’t want them causing trouble. They were allowed to walk home however, as that was when the security cameras turned on and it was the king’s effort to show that he was “fair”
Running down the stairs, Lily grabbed an energy bar and raced out of the door, waving to her mother as she went. When she came to be outside, she glanced at her watch: 8:45. She was late.
Sighing, she went up to the silver I.D. machine and slipped her card in to it. She glanced around quickly, her house’s guard hadn’t arrived yet, usually not until 10:00. The blinding green light flashed and the copper locks slipped open. Quietly, Lily stepped through, hearing the gate slam behind her.
She figured it would be pointless to go to school, it had already started and she would get in more trouble for being late than she would by being away. Despite not being allowed to walk freely until any events or until the security cameras turned on, Lily began a stroll around the neighbourhood.
She heard an odd, sharp sound above her. Glancing upward in to the brightly lit cerulean sky, Lily noticed two large birds circling overhead, too far up to make out any colour, but she assumed one was white and the other one a brighter colour, like orange. It was odd to see birds of that colour around, they usually only got black, brown or grey. She shrugged it off, not looking too much in to it.
Lily kept a quick pace, keeping to the edge of the street in the shadows to avoid being noticed by someone who may happen to be outside, however, everyone seemed to stay indoors. Lily wasn’t surprised, though. There wasn’t really much to do when you couldn’t leave your front yard.
Eventually, she came to a fork in the road. She glanced in each direction, despite knowing exactly what she would find if she traveled on either street. The left lead to the school, and beyond that, a capital city she’d never been to and couldn’t be bothered to remember the name of. To the right was a forest that Lily had never been in. She usually wore nicer clothes out, and all of the brambles and thickets in the woods would probably just tear them to shreads. Despite this, and because she was wearing older clothing that were a few sizes too small, Lily chose the road that lead to the forest.
As she came to the forest, Lily began to grow worried. Who knew what might lie in the woods? Bears, wolves, foxes. Anything could be in there since no one ever traveled here. Why would they? Despite her fears, Lily continued on in to the woods, feeling drawn to it for some reason.
She was correct about the thickets and undergrowth ripping her clothing. Sharp branches tore through the fabric of her bright blue yoga pants, leaving long tears. Some of the branches were long enough and sharp enough to scratch and poke at her skin, a few even managed to draw blood. Lily’s short stature didn’t help much. In fact, she was small enough that some of the higher branches poked at her face, leaving scrapes, but luckily no gashes.
Lily cast another glance upwards. Through the holes in the canopy of branches and autumn coloured falling leaves, she could see the birds again, slightly closer now but still tough to make out. She sighed, feeling uncomfortable that the animals seemed to be following her. Lily considered turning back and going home, but continued forward. Or, at least she assumed it was forward. In the darkness and brambles of the forest, it was difficult to tell which way was which.
In the distance, Lily heard a soft but threatening rumble. She froze and listened for a moment, praying it was her imagination. She heard the rumbling… Or growling once more. It sounded slightly closer now, close enough that Lily could tell which direction it was coming from. It was definitely back the way she came.
“Guess I’m not going home now.” Lily muttered to herself, ripping off one of the sharper brambles and pointing it in front of her, ready to use it to defend herself.
The deep growl came again, closer than it had been before. Lily watched intently at the area it came from, assuming the creature was watching her as well, probably preparing itself for attack. She noticed a large bush rustle, the growling came from behind it. Lily tightened her grip, ready for the attack as she prayed that their was only one animal.
The bush rustled once more, and out leaped her pursuer. A large wolf, larger than ones she had usually seen landed neatly on the ground a few yards away. It had glowing yellow eyes, bloodstained lips, and claws as long as her fingers.
Once it regained balance from landing, it bounded toward her, eyes hungry for a meal and teeth bared viciously, unwilling to show the slightest bit of mercy. Lily knew it was fight or flight at this moment.
Lily stood for a heartbeat, knowing there were only a few moments standing between her and the wolf. Deciding she could never outrun such a large hungry creature, she gripped her weapon, spun it a few times and pointed it at the eyes of the wolf.
Lily quickly made sure of her aim, then with all her might, threw her makeshift spear at the wolf. It stopped, beginning to turn around to run from the bramble, but it was too late. The spear went straight through it left eye, and the wolf dissolved in to thin air.
Lily stood still for a moment, astonished at what had happened just before her eyes. She was never a wildlife expert, but she was certain that animals couldn’t just vanish when attacked. Utterly confused and a bit dizzy from the shock of being attacked, Lily felt as if she were going to collapse.
“Impressive.” A deep male voice sounded behind her.
Lily jumped, surprised that another person was here. She turned around to see a man beside a woman, probably both a few years older than her. They sat watching her intently. Sat upon the mightiest of creatures. The creatures known as dragons.