Outcast, Heathen

The year is 2413, and humanity is no longer free. After encountering an alien race called the Heathen, hope was lost. They let us live to serve, and some are more than happy to live in peace this way. Others can't resist an opportunity to fight back. **NOTE** Due to dire disagreements with my chosen operating system, Outcast will sadly be going some time without an update, either until the data is recovered or I have managed to recreate the scenes. Thank you, sorry, and I hope you enjoy what's there while I work like mad to update!

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3. Chapter Two

 

Anything but Witchcraft.

The thought dominated my mind as I said good night to Peppermint and her family. The sun had long since set, but curfew didn't apply to me. It never had applied to me, being a Heathen. My name is Azrael, son of General Atlas. My family's military success could be traced back generations, before the Heathen and humans had even heard of each other's existence. Coincidentally, when my father expected nothing less than such greatness, all he received was disappointment. I was no fighter, physically or otherwise. I was scrawny for our species, and shy. The only fights I got into were courtesy of bullies who had seen me spending time with Mint after school hours had ended.

Overall, a very poor contribution to our empire's military.

I sighed to myself, receiving an odd look from one of the guards on the street. He left me be, recognizing who I was, as I kept to myself down the dark streets. The rings of Saturn were stretching across the sky, providing some light to see by. The electricity was still out, and the further I walked, the more I realized that this would not be hidden so easily. Nearly the entire colony had gone dark, the only light I could see coming from my father's estate in front of me and the Master's Quarter, behind me to the center of the city.

But I was in the slave district right now, and the light from those two places were barely like moons on the far horizon, as dark as it was. All of the curtains were drawn, doors locked, people hiding in their homes from the tyrants that patrolled the colony after nightfall. Small as I was, I had to be careful how I held myself if I didn't want to be mistaken for a human. The penalty was a severe beating, three days in a cell, and week suspension of your pay if you were out past curfew. I would avoid the last two, but I didn't find the beating all too satisfactory an option, either. The thought had me quicken my pace, wanting to get home all that sooner.

“Halt!”

The cry stops me short, ice in my veins as I resist the urge to flare my feathers in fear. I take a deep breath and turn to face the Heathen who had commanded me. He strode over, white face only interrupted by a black patch covering the left side of his head. He's easily three feet taller than me, a proud specimen of the potential for a Heathen's physical prowess.

He looked me over sternly. “What is your name?”

“Azrael,” I forced out, keeping my voice steady. There was nothing to be afraid of right now, nothing but a beating and another lecture from my father.

The guard nods. “I thought so. Your father wants you home, Azrael, he gave direct orders for us guards to escort you home. It isn't safe right now.”

It isn't safe? Since when was it not safe to be a Heathen on this planet? But I nodded, allowing him to lead me out of the district, into the open clearing that stretched for a mile before we reached the gate that surrounded my father's estate. He had earned this land for his service to the military, but why he chose to take home on a Tertiary planet I hadn't dared ask. Perhaps he missed combat and hoped for a rebellion uprising or, like my grandfather, was convinced that the Witches had evaded execution two centuries ago. Whatever the reason, we were here, surrounded by a twelve foot electric fence of thick alloy collected from our space exploration. It would take two fully grown symbiotic mammoths to tear through it, if they could survive the electric charge, let alone the defenses past that.

I always assumed it was simply safe to think him paranoid, and leave it at that.

The guard stopped by the communicator just before the gate, requesting permission to enter the grounds. A few moments later, the gate swung open. I thanked the guard for his assistance, but I could take it from here. After all, only qualified persons were allowed on the premisses at any time, as by my father's rules. The gate closed behind me with a finality that always made me feel trapped, but I kept myself moving towards the giant manor that we called home.

I opened and closed the door quietly, jumping in surprise when I heard the voice behind me.

“You're late.”

I turned slowly, keeping my eyes down, too scared to see the look of disapproval I knew he would have. “I'm sorry, Father, I was—”

“I don't want your excuses!” he snapped, stepping towards me so that I could see his boots. Clean, well-groomed and terrifying, that was the way my father always presented himself. I was certainly feeling the terror. “Why do you continue to lie for that human? It obviously has some sort of retardation, the amount of tutoring it seems to require simply to scrape by in life.”

I nodded shakily. “I-I know, Father. Its family is looking into the matter. In the meantime—”

“Yes, in the meantime. You will continue to demonstrate the mental superiority of the Heathen, Azrael, however if you are late again I will make an exception for curfew applying to our own. Am I understood?” he said sternly, and I flinched at the thought. A curfew? If I got caught one minute late...I nodded again, doing my best to stop trembling.

“Y-yes, Father.”

“Good. As for tonight, I want you to finish your own studies, and then you will go to the training grounds. I will wake your tutor, and you will train until dawn,” he continued, voice nothing less than the authoritative law of a commanding officer. “We have much to do if you even hope to pass the entrance exams for the Academy.”

With that he left me there to manage myself. I went upstairs to my room, setting my books and studies on my bed. I had finished everything with Mint earlier, after the party. Working by candlelight had proved to be an adventure, and I smiled in spite of myself. It was all still worth it, even if I would have no sleep tonight. My father's abuse was always worth a few hours with—

 

 

“Peppermint Brown,” the teacher called my name, startling me and every other person there. Azrael gave a tentative glance my way, concerned as I stood. “Please collect your belongings and clear out your locker. You've been transferred to the College to begin training.”

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