Such Wonderful Things

Val has grown up in a plagued world, where people like her are hunted. As one of the remaining infected people, Val and her brother are persecuted by the Order, a highly advanced government that rose from the ashes of a drought.
Jerico was the son of the leader of the Order never truly wanted to hunt the plagued, but once he leads his first mission into a camp, he rebels.
Val and Jerico must find a way to take down the Order without being taken down first.

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3. Chapter Two: Jerico

I paraded up to Father proudly. The Order had successfully taken down the closest hideout to the Lincoln's Point Rebel Camp. I bent at the waist in a bow as I stood before him.

    “Father, we are closer than ever to finding the Lincoln’s Point Camp. We have Elites out as we speak searching for it,” I informed him confidently. His solemn face turned cross. I tried not to let the intimidation he radiated effect my report. “Our attack on the RIP hideout was completely successful. No survivors.” The frustration on his face faded a bit, thank God. “If the calculations General Arin has given me are correct then we should know the exact location of the Lincoln’s Point Camp before the week is out.” He nodded slowly. He gave no response and no sign of my dismissal.

    I stood there silent. My posture remained perfect as several seconds passed. Eventually, he stood. He wandered closer towards me and a knot formed in my throat.

    “I informed General Arin that we needed to conquer the Lincoln’s Point Rebel Camp before the week is out, not calculations,” he rasped.  

    “Father,” I stuttered, “I’m just conveying his message. I didn-” He cut me off before I could finish explaining myself.

    “You may not call me father,” he spat angrily. His bushy, gray eyebrows furrowed at me in frustration. “You work for me and you will act like it.”

    Nerves were overpowering my senses. My heart quickened pace. “Y-Yes, sir.” It was my first mission as Order Communicator: Track down the Lincoln’s Point Rebel Camp, the largest and most threatening congregation of rebels and RIPs. Instead of learning the location of the camp, we found a massive RIP hideout.

    We used our troops to take out every last one of the RIPs taking cover in the hideout. It was a massive success for us. Despite our success in eliminating the RIPs, my father was severely upset in our failure to locate the Lincoln’s Point Camp. I knew that this camp provided a greater threat to the Order than he cared to admit; that was the reason we needed to conquer it so soon.

    He sighed heavily and grumbled, “Inform General Arin to report to me immediately. For the time being, go check on the troops that fought today.” I nodded and bowed my head.

    I turned to leave, thankful that I wasn’t demoted due to our change of plans on the mission. I was walking to the door when it abruptly swung open to reveal a soldier being restrained by guards.

    “I-I need to speak to President Gable!” he shouted. As he whipped his head around to look at my father I spotted a patch of snow-white hair at the front of his forehead. I turned to see my father storming over to him furiously.

    “What is the meaning of this?” my father demanded. He stopped short of the door. He passed by me in an enraged march to see who had so disgracefully interrupted the meeting.

    The angry look on his face faded a bit as he saw who had attempted to intrude. Everything about him was filthy except for his clothes. His face was covered in blood and dirt but his clothes were spotless and pristine. A blue rosary was hung from his neck and was swaying as the guards restrained him.

    My father recognized him when he was closer via the staple patch of white hair. Franz Welsh. Second lieutenant of the Elites. He was young like me but had much more fighting experience. His sister, Lucille Welsh, was first lieutenant.

    Now my father looked more inconvenienced than anything else, which was a pretty good thing for Franz. If Father had been truly mad by the time he had recognised him, Franz would be living on the streets with the RIPs.

    My father sighed and put his hands to his temples, “What is it you need to tell me, Welsh?”

    The guards let Franz go warily. The lieutenant huffed and flattened his shirt. He look up at my father and smirked, “I know where the camp is,” he purred. His chin was jutted out in complete and utter confidence.

    My father looked like he might burst out laughing in disbelief. “And how would you know something like that?” he inquired. He crossed his arms over his chest like a high school bully looking down on Franz.

    Franz was either completely oblivious to my father’s doubt or he really knew where the camp was. “I found a survivor of the hideout raid,” he told us. My father turned to give me a stern glare. I gulped. “I took her brother and followed her when she started making her way to the camp.”

    “And you’re sure that this is the Lincoln’s Point Camp?” my father asked. I could tell that he was beginning to believe Franz.

    Franz nodded confidently.

    “And the brother?” my father inquired, raising an eyebrow.

    Franz laughed, “Taken care of.” I gulped again. What did taken care of mean? Franz was a sick person but my father never seemed to question him. He disturbed me though, the way he would talk about things.

    “And do you have a map? Or coordinates?”

    “Yes sir, I have exact coordinates. I could take us there myself,” Franz crowed. My father looked oblivious but I could tell that Franz wanted to lead the mission to the Lincoln’s Point Rebel Camp. The invasion on this camp would be a huge step in the war against the RIPs, who wouldn’t want to lead it?

    “Excellent,” my father said. My father turned to look at me and smiled. His smile was odd, I wasn’t expecting it. “Thank you, Franz. This information will be vital.” He motioned to me to walk with him back to the front of the room.

    Franz grinned widely. “Of course si-” My father interrupted him.

    “Send General Arin to me on your way out.” I turned back to look at Franz. He was gaping almost furiously. I couldn’t help but smile. The guards escorted Franz out and I had to suppress a giggle.

    “Jerico?” my father called. I held my breath.

    “Y-yes fa- sir?” I replied. He had walked all the way to the other side of the room. The hall was built like a storybook throneroom. He meant for it to look that way, full of pillars and paintings. Windows were perched high on the wall and rays of light slid through them and fell on his battle planning table.

    Hee stood next to the table confidently. I shuffled my way over to him nervously. “Do you believe Franz’s claim?” he asked. The question caught me off guard for some reason. I guess I was expecting something more demanding from him, like a command or something.

    “I-I believe him sir. He seemed too confident to tell us a lie. He did know that interrupting a meeting would end badly for him, so it must be true,” I told him nervously. He nodded and smiled again. The expression looked so odd on him. His face was normally so stern and commanding, The smile was unsetting beneath his gray beard.

    “I agree with you,” he said. “Franz is an odd person but I don’t think he would lie about this.” I wasn’t entirely sure what he was implying. A raid? A watch group? Spies? He wasn’t being the most clear to me about his intentions. “Do you know where General Arin is?”

    “N-No sir. But I believe he would be on his way if Franz has sent for him.” I couldn’t stop stuttering. I needed to get a grip. I would never advance in rank if I couldn’t speak to my own father.

    “Do you know why I am calling in General Arin?” He asked. I wasn’t used to answering so many questions, I was used to receiving orders and carrying them out.

    “No sir,” I replied. I had an idea of what he was implying but I didn’t want to say it out loud for the sake of being incorrect. I assumed he wanted to demote the general due to the failure of our mission. It was a stretch but it could be true nevertheless.

    “I need General Arin in here to discuss his new position,” he informed me. New position? Was he being demoted like I assumed. I doubt he’d be promoted after the failure to find the Lincoln’s Point Camp. “And,” he continued, “I would like to promote you to General.” General? I was never a soldier to begin with. Why on Earth would I be his next pick for general? “As my son I have great faith in you and would like you to assume this role and lead the attack on Lincoln’s Point.”

    There was no way I could refuse. “Y-yes sir, of course. What would you like me to do in  prepare for the attack?” Our troops had just returned from an invasion. There was no way they'd be able to attack the Lincoln’s Point Camp any time soon.

    “Rally the troops that didn’t fight today. They need to rest,” he told me. I tried to make a mental note but everything seemed to happen to fast. “Pick a second in command, anyone you’d like. I want you to attack the camp before the week is out.”

    There weren’t nearly enough people to invade a camp of that size. It was only Tuesday but there wasn’t any way for the troops to recover in only a couple of days. Of course I couldn’t say that to my father, but it was going to be an obvious setback.

    “Yes sir!” I squeaked. “I’ll begin gathering Elites immediately.” I gulped. Ever since my father had assumed the role of the leader of the Order of the Crown I had hoped and wished to become a General for him, but now that it was actually happening I couldn’t shake this awful feeling I had in my gut. I just needed to take a deep breath, maybe that would help. It was probably just nerves.

    He nodded proudly and dismissed me. My breath was a bit shaky but I easily hid it as I walked past the guards at the door. I feel like my head's about to explode. A headache was throbbing in my temples as I stalked around the hallways of the Order’s base.

    I knew where I was going. I needed to recruit a second-in-command for the mission, and I knew exactly who to choose. I continued walking nervously around the base, slipping my way in and out of different corridors and hallways until I found where I wanted to be. The base’s dorms.

    The dorms held all of our trusted Elite soldiers. Every Elite soldier of any rank resided here under my father’s care. All Elites including the Welshes. I felt uncomfortable as I walked around the dormitories. I felt incredibly out of place. The floors were grimy and covered in an assortment of filth. My disgust made me feel posh and bratty like some pampered prince.

    I lived in the center of the base near my father. Everything there was upkept and tidy every second of every day. I almost felt like I couldn't help but be a bit judgemental. I guess I was just used to things being nice. I made a mental note to request better living arrangements for the Elites from my father.

    I stared down every door sign until I came across number 0068: the Welsh’s room number. I took a deep breath before I walked in. I placed my hand on the doorknob before I froze. I heard shouting through the door. It was hard to tell if it was Franz’s annoying, frustrated ranting or if it was his sister.

    I took my hand off of the door and got closer to listen into the conversation.

    “God Franz!” his sister exclaimed. “What are they gonna do if they find out you’re lying?” Franz  was lying? Why on Earth would he be lying about something as big as the location of the Lincoln’s Point Camp?

    “But I’m not lying,” he explained. “I followed one of those hellspawn RIPs and found it.” He sounded as confident as he was when he was when he was speaking to my father but his voice was more angry. Franz was a good three years older than Lucille but she still ranked just above him. Franz absolutely hated it.

    “And how did that RIP let you follow it?” she inquired menacingly. I couldn’t see her but I could tell that her arms were crossed.

    “That’s not what’s important!” Franz whined, stomping his foot. He sounded like a nineteen year old toddler. “What is important is that I gave Gable the location of the camp.”

    The conversation must have died down because I wasn’t able to hear them clearly anymore. I took another deep breath. I went to turn the knob to enter the room before I stopped again. Maybe it would be better to knock.

    I knocked on the door three times before I heard a huff and someone marching towards the door.

    “What do you wa-,” Lucille swung open the door angrily. Her face was red and her dark blue hair was pulled up in a messy ponytail. “O-Oh, Jerico. Sorry,” she mumbled. She turned to glare at her brother and said, “Franz and I were just discussing some recent… events.”

    “I heard,” I informed her. Her face turned even more red. “I’m here to discuss some things with you.”

    She nodded and invited me inside. The dorms were set up similarly to the way college dorms used to be set up before the drought took down the old government: two beds, two dressers, and one shared bathroom. I had been in their room once before to carry a message of Lucille’s promotion but I wasn’t in there long enough to take a good look at it.

    It was obvious which side of the room belonged to who. Franz’s side was clean and tidy. His bed was made military style and a crucifix hung above it. Lucille’s side, on the other hand, was almost the complete opposite of her brother’s. Clothes were strewn about and her bed was bare with nothing but an old blanket on it.

    Franz was standing in his side of the room silently. He looked equal parts frustrated and antsy, like he was about to receive news he wouldn’t be too happy to here. If that was the case then he hit it right on the nose.

    “Well,” Lucille asked, “what do you need?” She plopped down on her messy bed and crossed her legs. She jutted her chin out just like her brother had in my father’s war room. She must have picked up the habit from him.

    Lucille was probably the closest I had to a friend. There aren’t many minors that work for the Order as Elites so there weren’t ever that many people to be friends with. My father’s position as leader of the Order didn’t help my friend situation either, he was extraordinarily intimidating.

    “I came because I wished to speak with you,” I told her. I stood awkwardly in the center of the room. I felt both of the siblings’s eyes on me. I folded my hands behind my back and chewed the inside of my cheek.

    “About?” Lucille inquired. She put her chin on her hands and stared at me. She was full of questions today. Everyone was full of questions it seemed.

    I glanced over at Franz. His stare darted away as soon as our eyes met. “About…,” I stalled. It would be ever more awkward than it was to begin with if I gave the news to Lucille right in from of Franz. He’d have a fit. “About the Lincoln’s Point Camp.” I caught Franz raising an eyebrow in my peripheral.

    “Oh yeah?” she said. “What about it?”

    “I was promoted to General and asked to lead the invasion.”

    She didn’t even attempt to suppress her fit of laughter. “You’re a general now?” she giggled. “You’ve never even been on the ground before!” Franz snorted his annoyance and walked over to the other side of his part of the room to lean on his dresser.

    “I-I know,” I stuttered, “but I thought maybe you could be my second in command for the invasion?”

    Lucille stopped laughing. Her eyebrows furrowed. “You’re joking,” she insisted.

    I shook my head. A smile grew across her face as she jerked her head to flaunt her position to Franz silently. Franz huffed, obvious disappointment and disgruntlement smeared across his face.

    Lucille turned back to me, grinning ear to ear, “Hell yeah, I’ll be your second in command Jerico!” I smiled.

    “Cool,” I responded. Cool. What an appropriate thing to say, Jerico. “Should we leave to discuss plans for the… for the, um-”

    “For the invasion?” she asked, chuckling.

    I nodded and giggled awkwardly. “Y-Yeah.”

    She nodded and responded, “That sounds like a good idea considering you’ve never worked as an Elite before.”

    She stood up and turned to gather some things from her dresser. I looked at Franz and caught him glaring at me in loathsome contempt. Lucille turned back to me with a small bag and her crossbow, “Let’s get a move on,” she said and  motioned toward the door with her head.

    I nodded again and followed her out the door, glancing back at Franz on the way out. As soon as we shut the door I heard a muffled crash from inside the Welsh’s room. I suppressed a laugh, Franz really was a nineteen year old toddler.

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