[Mock-Fiction] IV - Alea Iacta Est {Rogue's Story}

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Yup. Just the one perspective.

Cover by Secrets Unfold


20. 17 – Being Lost in the Echo

A wisp of smoke trickled into the star-blotted night sky, emerging from the mouth of a somnolent, badly dressed woman – her head bobbing gently whilst sitting in a very unwomanly fashion.


She was seated in a cozy ledge-like structure that had been naturally carved into a Syrian mountain, and the place was sacred to her. She was wearing a dark blue vest, and tight black jeans. Beside her lay a wooden baseball bat, a red shawl that she used in case the night was cold, a copy of Orwell’s Burmese Days, and the black rectangle of an old MP3 player, the plugs of which were buzzing in her ears, whilst a lit cigarette was smoking between the fingers of her right hand. The hand possessed a single silver ring, inset with a white pearl on her middle finger, her ring finger bearing a discolored mark – indicating it had once carried a ring also. A desert fox lounged about a little way from her, its tiny mouth stretching impossibly as it yawned and then shook its small head, the sandy fur of his coat matted in the darkness. They appeared to be at a ‘live and let live’ type agreement: they did not detest the company of the other, but neither enjoyed each other’s companionship either. They just existed, even if both happened to be seated on the ledge always at the same time.


The woman lifted her head, her freshly-cut dark curls moving from her face, as she noticed the clouds cleared from the sky, revealing a full bright moon. She placed the cigarette in her mouth, took the plugs out of her ears, and got up – looking nonchalantly over the view below. She squeezed her eyes shut, knowing what the morning would bring. She blew out more smoke. The fox lifted its head, in mild interest, sniffing the air before resting its head snuggly between its front paws again. The world below was a scattered communion of tents, the torches still burning brightly even though it must have been 4 or 5 in the morning. The sea of tents seemed to be endless, vast. The woman turned away and half-sat, half-dropped back onto the ledge – banging her head quite on purpose on the smooth rock face behind her.


She felt around in her back pockets and got out the pack of cigarettes, examining the box. She would have settled for weed, but she deigned not to. Even being the commander of a mercenary army, the rules were the rules – tomorrow was the day of fighting, no-one was to take any form of narcotic for 24 hours before that, or it cost them half their share of booty, alcohol included. She always found herself smoking, idling and listening to music before the advent of war. It was practically a ritual by now.


Rogue had always committed actions that were between the doings of the righteous and the wicked – and she was the first to admit it.

She was a like a black saint, a pious sinner.

She’d led her life in that manner – following rules at the bare minimum, and bending or breaking them when she felt it wouldn’t affect her.


Perhaps she should have considered the idea that all the things she did would affect her.

All her actions would have consequences.

Even the brand of cigarettes she was smoking was the exact same as the brand that she’d used to steal from her father and her uncles [and she was surprised to find the cigarette company still in business].


And now she was an ill-tempered, messed-up wretch.


The past was always something that haunted her.

It was in her memories, in her shadow as she walked along, in her blood, in her breath, in her entire being. They say that one should always let go, but Rogue had never learnt how.

And a part of her didn’t want to.


She put the earplugs back in, her favorite song playing at this point. She often found herself listening to the song repeatedly when it appeared on her MP3. Ah, but Mike Shinoda had such a fluent tongue! His words so fast they merged into each other, but at the same time were pronounced clearly. Then there was Chester Bennington – his song as sweet as a siren’s, his scream as shrill as a banshee’s. The music so upbeat, yet such a near-sad and serious lyric. Every time she heard the song, Rogue saw flashes of her life – just glimpses, but then: Wasn’t it the image that spoke a thousand words?


So as not to be misunderstood, Rogue did not like music much. Throughout her life, she only usually stuck to four or five artists, and even then she only listened to them on occasions such as this: When she felt she needed to waste time before being all-heroic on a battlefield the very next morning. One of her lieutenants, Khadir, had told her again and again not to climb up “that blasted mountain” and to “get some sleep” because that’s what “the night was created for”. But she couldn’t sleep, the tension being so high, which brought out the idling sinning side of her. She knew the effect music could have on her – it was as poisonous to the mind as tobacco was to the lungs, and it was even worse of you listened to that sloppy nonsensical romance rubbish that people had taken to singing when she was in her teenage. She despised that kind of song – period. It had no meaning, and it’s only purpose was to delude the desperate masses that love was the only thing that could make the world a better place.


Rogue knew better.


It could have been due to her upbringing – which was a something quite hard to define in a word. She’d lived in a very protective and closed off family – comprised of four of her paternal uncles, her grandparents and her parents. Occasionally a weedy cousin of hers would visit, but she always used to entreat him with the title “the Wuss”, because though he was older than her by a good sum of months, he was a right whinger. She wasn’t the type that surpassed name-calling however, as she often felt sorry for the Wuss because whilst she could take the rough-housing of her uncles, it was clear he could not.

Her uncles had laid the foundations of her life, more or less. They had taught her, along with her father, many skills which she’d indefinitely need at this crucial point in her life. They taught her to read maps, how to hold guns, the differences in poisonous and non-poisonous plants, and how to fight. And, also, egged her on to fight. It was one of the reasons why she never came back with as much as a paper cut from school.


Ah, school.

The other frontier, Rogue thought chuckling.

Rogue had always been strange [another thing she would be the first to admit], and everyone in every school she’d been to felt the same way. She was good with her subjects [though terrible in Literacy], but she wasn’t like the other know-it-alls. You couldn’t give her a swirly or throw paper planes at her. People who felt insecure often sidled up to her, in the hope that she’d protect them. But, from a young age, she’d had issues with trust. She knew that type of peer-ship [she didn’t like the use of the term ‘friend’] only lasted as long as those strings of insecurity stayed. So she accepted it, but also accepted the inevitable drifting-apart. There was also the issue of her being ‘too’ honest. They were like pet fish, her peers – stayed around as long as you fed them, but then went belly-up as soon as you cleaned their tank with bleach.


Things broke down after that.


There was sorrow.

There was sickness.

There was shock.


She moved home. She moved school. She was severed from her uncles because of an adult disagreement.

They say change is hard – the change in Rogue’s life was unbearable.

Her mother took on an inexplicable dislike for her [probably Rogue’s boyishness, but the matter was never specified]. The girls at her private school loathed her to the point that a tight fist could not straighten them out. She burned with hatred, and spent a lot of her time wondering what was wrong with everyone and everything.

She was a pitiful, morose thing.

Rogue looked back on that part of her life, and still shuddered. All that blood spilt on the edge of a knife, the feeling of suffocation as she refused to get out of water, the sick exhilaration as she stood at window’s ledge.

Things didn’t get better.

Her mother died – possibly still despising her – of stomach cancer, leaving five of Rogue’s siblings in her care.


In that, there was but one ray of joy and hope: her second youngest sibling.


He was her brazen, renowned favorite – and she was unashamed to say so. She loved him to bits. Rogue was seventeen years his senior. He had many birth defects – six fingers on each hand, a cardiac condition and being rather tiny even by baby standards. But he was a remarkable child. His bright eyes that seemed to understand everything, his quick penguin-like steps, his quick laughter. It wasn’t the same when he cried or made a mess or wet himself. It wasn’t the same as if the others did that. She remembered that if she’d ever hurt him – by yelling or by knocking him over by accident – she always felt the need to utter an apology, though she knew he couldn’t understand what she said. Goodness, she missed the little monkey! He was the sole reason why she stayed at home for so long.


To this day, leaving him at home was the one thing Rogue regretted the most.


It was a hollow, vicious, selfish thing to do – to run away – she knew, but she no longer wanted to look after children that were not her own, that should not have been her burden.

How harshly her father must have hated her for it.

Rogue inhaled smoke once more, relishing the feel on the cigarette in her mouth, whilst feeling sick and guilty in her heart.

She enrolled in the military, no interest in joining a close friend, Maxwell – being the true meaning of the term – who’d offered her a place to stay after he’d discovered that she’d left her home. Rogue regretted not sending him the odd letter to say hello. She often regretted refusing that offer to stay also. He was such a sweet soul, bless him, but he didn’t live in the same country as she, and was only staying for studies. She knew her ‘stay’ would not last as long as she might have liked.


Military training was a time she remembered enjoying. She was only there for two years, but she’d picked up many more essential skills – and they’d taken care of her in terms of food, health, shelter and clothing. Rogue caressed her collarbone, remembering the bruise she’d received there after firing a rifle for the first time. She remembered the tough general whom she solely and secretly found attractive, though his manner was brutally awful. She smiled at the thought.


She’d run away from there too, the essential skills she’d picked up giving her the means to do so. In her defense, she left unarmed but with enough food to ration for weeks. She wandered from place to place, alleyway to alleyway – like a monk, never residing in one place for too long. She wasn’t denouncing the world, she was just seeing if living like a hobo suited her. If not, she could always go back to the military, which was ever so short of recruits. The Lodovico Smith issue was being taken seriously around about this time. She’d kept up to date on politics by watching TV through shop windows. He’d practically conquered half the dominating world, and he really didn’t do it fairly. Initially, she didn’t really care. It wasn’t affecting her, so it didn’t matter, though one might say Rogue hated his guts. But like George Bush, Tony Blair and others that she generally detested, she just felt it in her heart and didn’t do much about it there after. Laws became tighter. People were being persecuted, imprisoned, exiled, executed, etc. But she wasn’t one of those, so she continued life as it were.


But then something awful happened.


Rogue blinked back a tear. The close friend she’d refused to stay with had been a Mormon – a denomination of Christianity that Lodovico detested. Rogue had read in the papers how he’d had his door kicked down by soldiers [the same soldiers she had trained with, mind] and dragged out of his lodgings to be shot in the street like a dog.

From that day, something broke in her.

Her childhood had been short, her pains had been great, her life had been torture – but this. This had changed her.

Something had to be done, and she couldn’t rely on those brain-dead morons of the Wrong Directions to do anything about it. She was suddenly very tired of waiting for a hero to come and save them all from that monster of a man.


She stole, she run, she hid, she cheated, she did anything and everything to get her way to Arabia. There she found a tribe, nomadic, Bedouin, who sheltered her for a time. The chief was a man whom she respected deeply and still felt she wouldn’t be alive without. He taught her a number of other things, about desert life and sword-fighting and crossbow hunting. She told him of a plan, but he was a simple man who always told her to just do what she felt was right.

And so she did.

She recruited, and made an army of her own. Not to fight Lodovico, not yet, but to grow slowly, slowly. They fought in wars. They won many times over, and lost few. They grew wealthy. They set up their own barracks, and separated from the initial tribal grounds [though Rogue rewarded the chief handsomely with many more goats and sheep which seemed to be all his interest]. They recruited more. They grew more wealthy.


In the span of no more that five years, Rogue had relayed the foundations of Masyaf.


The assembly laid low for some time, before emerging and challenging the biggest tyrant of the 21st century. Now, overlooking the scene in front of her, and army of 10,000 strong, she wondered if all her actions would give her good fortune on the battlefield in the morn. This was not the army of Lodovico Smith, it was the army of the Wrong Direction, but that didn’t make a difference to her. She wondered if this right made up for the million wrongs she’d committed and, no doubt, had yet to commit. Would she have a good ending? Was every sequence in her life leading up and preparing her for this moment?


Throughout life, Rogue had – even if the thought of suicide had tormented her mind often – never lost the will to live. She could never be held – in prison or otherwise. Her reputation was renowned across the world, and it was rumored that Lodovico shivered at mention of her name. Test her will, test her heart – she wouldn’t let this torch go. She would hold it, if it meant dying. She’d been crossed and lost and told no – but she’d always come back, unshaken. After letting so many things go: Her family, her brother, Maxwell, her selfish existence.

She wouldn’t fall back after coming so far.


She would hold herself up and love her scars.


Ah, that’s the stuff, the sunshine began to trickle in through the dark sky, the sun rising as it ever does. The fox next to her got up and stretched.

Rogue stood, and dropped the cigar down the mountain. She pulled out the earplugs, and held the MP3 in front of her. It swung on the headphone cord from side to side, the song still playing – a pendulum to the rhythm of her life.

I don’t back up, I don’t back down.


No. Today would be her success. She dropped the MP3 down, the song still playing her mind:

I don’t care where the enemies are, can’t be stopped, all I know; go hard, won’t forget how I got this far…


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