Just Like Fire |One Shot Competition Entry|

As a young girl, Alkhimiya Koldovstvo was stolen from her home and forced to become a killer, biding her time until she could make her escape. | Alkhimiya is a character from my book, 'Fortunes'. This is a more detailed version of her backstory.|ONE-SHOT COMPETITION ENTRY| ('Just Like Fire' is also the name of the song that inspired the character)

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1. Just Like Fire

"Mama? Papa?" The young girl, Alkhimiya Koldovstvo, asked as she stepped into her family's small home. Being the young age of five, it was strange that she had to walk home alone that day, and she had begun to worry.

Receiving no response, she began to walk through the house, trembling in her winter boots that were a size too big. When she made her way to the kitchen, she screamed in terror.

On the floor lay her parents, surrounded by a pool of their own blood. Tears began to blur her vision, and there was a hand on her shoulder. Startled, she turned around seeing a tall, muscular figure, dressed from head to toe in black, and wearing a mask to conceal their identity. 

The man began to speak, but seeing that Alkhimiya couldn't understand, restarted in Russian.

"Don't worry, you're safe now," he told her. "It's going to be okay, come with me."

She shook her head. "No, it's not! Those are my parents!"

"It will be okay," the man insisted. "But you have to come with me."

"But I'm all alone now," the girl began to cry harder. "I don't have anywhere to go."

"Then it wouldn't hurt to come with me, now would it?" the man asked, acting as though he was trying to comfort her. "I know plenty of children just like you."

"Really?" she sniffled, but brightened a bit at the mention of others like her. "Are you sure it's okay?"

The man nodded. "I'm sure. My employer is quite fond of helping children such as yourself."

"Okay, I'll go with you," Alkhimiya cast one final, sad look at her parents's bodies. 

"I'm glad you decided to join me," He reached into his pocket, pulling out a small candy. "Would this help cheer you up?"

She wiped her tears and nodded, reaching up to take the sugary treat.

The man led her outside of her house and down the quiet street to a large, black van. Pulling open the door, Alkhimiya noticed several other children where seated inside already. Many of the children had tear stained faces, and none of them looked as though they had come from a wealthy home. Being the young age of five, she didn't find any of this at all strange until it was too late. She climbed into the van, sitting next to a boy who couldn't have been more than ten years old. The door closed, and the man climbed into the passenger seat before telling the driver to bring them home. Alkhimiya wondered what that would mean now that she had been taken away.

"What's your name?" The boy asked, his voice barely a whisper.

"Alkhimiya. What's yours?" She asked in return, moving closer to the boy as the van began to pick up speed.

"Borba. Like that pink thing from that old children's book," he grinned. "What was it called again? 'Barba Papa', yeah that was it."

Alkhimiya just tilted her head in confusion. 

"Come on, that was funny," Borba nudged her arm playfully. "You have to laugh at things that are funny."

"But I lost everything today," she told him. "Doesn't that make it wrong to laugh?"

"It's never wrong to laugh," he replied. "Especially if you've lost everything. It's important to laugh, because without laughter, we have nothing."

Alkhimiya smiled before letting out a small, quiet, chuckle. 

"There you go," he gave her a one armed hug, as if he was a brother to her. "Keep your sense of humour and you can get through anything."

Soon enough they had arrived at their destination and the door to the van was opened. They were instructed to step out of the van and follow the man and his assistants. Alkhimiya grabbed Borba's hand for comfort, noticing now that all of the adults had guns in their hands or at their waists. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze and a kind smile as they began to walk.

The children were led into a large room, with no decorations aside from a raised platform and a podium at the front of the room. When all of the children were inside the door was closed and armed guards took their places beside the doors and to the sides of the raised platform. A man, different than the one who had taken Alkhimiya, walked up to the podium. He was at least middle aged, with a receding hairline and greying hair. He walked with an air of confidence and power, his black suit was ironed to perfection and bulged strangely around his waist as if he was hiding something, most likely a gun, under his jacket.

"Welcome children," when he began to speak, his voice matched him perfectly, full of confidence and power. "I understand you have all suffered great tragedy. Don't worry, after staying here with us, you'll forget it ever even happened."

Many of the older children looked confused and scared at this, while the younger ones failed to understand what he could possibly mean.

"We are your family now, and we will take care of you," he looked around the room, expression never showing any emotion. "However, you will have to earn your keep. We will teach you what you need to learn, and given time you will reach an age where you can work to repay us for this kindness we have shown."

Alkhimiya looked up at Borba to see what he thought, he looked worried but tried to hide it as if that would protect her.

"You will learn english as well as several other languages, you will excel at using technology and security systems, and you will learn to defend yourselves with and without your weapons and abilities," he informed them. "Those of you with more combat oriented abilities will be given different classes and assignments than those of you with other abilities, but all of you will have the same expectations to live up to. You will succeed, or you will die."

Alkhimiya gasped and Borba gave her hand a comforting squeeze, despite his own fear.

Then the children were led into a long hallway with blue doors on one side and pink doors on the other. The hallway had no other decoration, the walls were a sterile hospital white, and the floors were unforgiving black concrete.

"Boys, you will be staying in the first room to your right, with the blue door," the masked man who had taken the children had now returned to instruct them. "Girls, you will be staying in the first room to your left, with the pink door."

He allowed them a moment to process everything before continuing.

"You are to go to your rooms until you are called upon to go to the breakfast table tomorrow morning, am I understood?" he looked around for a few nods. "Good. There will be guards patrolling this hallway all night, so all of you behave. I don't want to see any children out of bed, if you are caught talking or getting out of bed you will be punished."

He allowed them a moment to look around fearfully before continuing.

"Now, go to your rooms," he watched the children rush to the rooms in fear of punishment. "I'll see you all tomorrow."

Alkhimiya and Borba hugged before separating to go to their rooms. "We'll be together again before you know it," he told her.

The bedrooms were as poorly decorated as the hallway, with the same white walls and black concrete flooring. The beds were lined up in four neat rows. They each had a single white pillow and blanket, covering a thin mattress on a thin metal frame. Some even had handcuffs on the head boards and Alkhimiya wondered if this is what happened to children who tried to run away at night. 

The next morning after their breakfast of flavorless, cold, oatmeal, the children were separated into classrooms where they were forced to fight each other and learn English. Alkhimiya returned to her room that night battered and bruised, but determined to survive and one day leave this horrid place.

~*~

Five years later, Borba had been assigned his first mission.

"Don't worry, Miya," he had told her before he departed. "I'll be fine, promise."

When he returned, however, every child in the institution was called into the auditorium. This wasn't a normal practice, and Alkhimiya was worried as she was ushered into the room. Borba stood just off of the center of the stage, held between two armed guards, his expression full of tense anger. The leader, the man who had introduced the children to their "new home" took his usual place on center stage, a microphone in front of him on a small podium.

"Children, as you know you must earn your keep once you reach the age of fifteen," he began. "However, it appears that some of you don't quite understand what that means. We tell you to kill, you kill. No questions asked, no letting the target live."

Alkhimiya filled with dread at the realization of what had happened, fear soon preventing her from moving or speaking, knowing what might come next.

"Now, B-883 decided to let his target live, do you know what that means?" he asked. "It means he didn't earn his keep. He will no longer be staying with us. Gentlemen, if you will."

The man gestured to the guards holding Borba back. One forced him down onto his knees and the other pulled out a gun, aiming it at the boys head.

"You can shoot me if you want," he snickered. "It only proves you're a bunch of petty cowards."

Alkhimiya couldn't even look away as the trigger was pulled, she felt paralyzed and numb, unable to move or speak. She knew then that she had to escape, and she had to take the leader down. This organisation should have never been able to exist and she needed to stop it.

~*~

She trained harder than ever before, working her way to the top of every class they allowed her to take. She built up her skills, knowing that if she was found out she would have to fight to survive. Finally, the day of her fifteenth birthday arrived, and she knew what she had to do.

She was called to the room all children feared, the conference room. Many went in, but not as many came out, and only half of those that did lived to return from their mission. Taking her seat in front of the leaders desk, she allowed herself to hide her emotions, choosing instead to appear as though she didn't care what happened to herself or anyone else. Soon enough, she was given her mission. Act as a student at McGuffin's School For Unique Minds until she had gained the headmistresses trust, then she was to kill her and return unnoticed.

~*~

When she arrived at the school, she managed to get enrolled without a single hitch. She began to take classes, though that wasn't what she was focused on. She had a decision to make, and it would change her life no matter what she chose.

One night, she made up her mind. She dressed in black from head to toe, packed a bag, and opened her bedroom door, only to be stopped by a boy around her age.

The boy looked like he was of Asian descent, but his skin was pale, almost bleached white. His hair was black as the night sky, and the bags under his eyes were nearly the same shade. He stood in front of her, arms crossed over his chest in what would have been intimidating if he weren't so scrawny.

"I know what you came here to do," he told her. "I can hear any thoughts you have about death, and I know you came here to kill."

"Then you know I am not actually going to do it don't you?" she asked, plastering a grin on her face. "I have to leave now though, they will kill me."

"No," he said simply. "You're not leaving, and no one is going to kill you."

"Why not?" she asked.

"I'm going to protect you, and you're staying here because you're a part of my family now," the boy explained. "Everyone who attends this school is part of my family."

"What? You are one of the scrawniest people I have ever met and you don't even know my name," Alkhimiya argued.

"I can steal souls, and your name is Alkhimiya," he replied. "This is your home now, and I won't let anything happen to you."

She smiled. "Alright, what do I call you then?"

"Jinseinoshi," he smiled in return. "Welcome to our school."

As he turned to go back into his room, Alkhimiya called back to him. "Wait!"

"Yeah?"

"Call me Miya."

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