The Melancholy of a Whimsical Half-Elph
“Oh, Allie,” Enne sighed. “You’re missing out on such a view.”
The morning dew dotted the land come to the morning sun. Enne was awed at its mystic beauty. She leaned against her bike; Its body was dented by the bullets she miraculously missed. The sloped terrain stretching north measured how far they came. Neo-T’Rach was so close yet so far. Upon a closer glance, Enne saw the lingering smoke from a hard-fought battle she had heard overnight. Remnants of the fierce struggle lingered with combat drifting toward her. She could smell the mana fumes waft from the woods.
“And we aren’t far from Ethoxian territory,” she whispered.
Enne looked over at the sleeping elf, who cuddled near the extinguished fireplace. Though the night was long, so was the day. She walked over, kicking over dirt onto the embers that remained. The elf slowly awoke, watching Enne, who reached for the tiny trunk of her bike. She handed her a third of her small sandwich.
“I know it isn’t much,” she said. Silesta stared at the sandwich. “Don’t be rude. Eat.”
“T—Thank you, she replied.
Enne sat upon her bike, watching over her as she thought about the day. Burkittsville wasn’t far, but she had yet to see any movement from the rebels or bandits. The young woman ate in small bites, subtly savoring the taste. She looked up to find Enne’s motherly expression, lost in thought and bemused by some distant future.
“Are you okay?” she asked. Enne snapped out of it.
“Yes, sorry,” Enne replied. “So, um… You seriously have no memory of where you came from?”
The girl nodded.
“Not that I can remember. It’s—hazy.”
“Would you say you’re from the Republic?”
“The outliers? Or are you just from another world altogether?”
“I really wish I had the answer.”
Enne withheld her frown as she returned her gaze to the scenery. She wondered where the young woman could go once things settled. By now, she imagined Alejandro was aware of her actions. She could expect his vocal disapproval once they met, but she knew it would be some time before that happened. Silesta looked up after having finished her light breakfast.
“Where is the other man you were with?” she asked.
“He—Should be meeting up with us soon,” Enne replied.
“I can tell he really cares about you.”
“Well, you and him have never interacted….”
“The look in his eyes… I can tell he cares. The look in your eye tells me you’re thinking of him.”
Enne’s attention drifted toward the west. The trees rustled to a passing breeze while birds flew overhead. The young girl traced along the muddied floor with her fingertips. The image was of no consequence, but the ringing gunshots rattled her nerves as her drawing curved to the side. She stopped and looked up.
“Why do you want to meet the rebels?”
Enne’s ears quivered.
“Because living in fear shouldn’t be an option,” she replied. “We can’t let a few bandits take hold of everyone’s wellbeing.”
“And the rebels would be any different? Have you ever met one?”
“No. Have you?”
“I haven’t, but….”
“It’s rolling dice. We can’t expect saints in a violent world. That’s just not realistic.”
Enne sighed at the thought. During her journey with Alejandro, she better grasped the devils. Even those with the best intentions were misguided. The wanderer was always the grounded contrarian.
“That’s not what you believe?” the girl asked.
“It’s not about what I believe,” Enne replied. Her ears perked to movement from the east. “We need to get moving.”
“Where are we going?”
Enne observed the tree line. Perhaps it was ground forces Janus sent or a pack of animals. As the source came near, their footsteps became discernible as they crept through the rustling brush. There was nowhere they could run. She glanced over at her motorcycle, signaling Silesta to gather their things.
“Hide. I’ll stay here,” Enne said.
“What?” Silesta questioned.
“Don’t worry about me.”
Silesta scurried and tripped into the brush while Enne walked ahead. She felt the muddied path subtly shift with every step. Enne winced, brandishing a toothy smile. Their actions began to crawl, but she could see the reflective scopes on their rifles.
“You may as well lower your weapons,” she said. One-by-one, the scopes disappeared into the forest. “You aren’t with the bandits?”
A hooded woman emerged after she slung her rifle over her shoulder. She was dark-skinned and had a toned physique. Her militaristic outfit was ragged from head to toe, but the discerning feature came from her amber eyes. She lowered her hood to reveal her long dreads and scarred cheek when they stood across each other. Enne smiled.
“The hell are you smiling at?” she asked.
“It’s rare to meet wanderers,” Enne replied. “You’re with the rebels? Janus mentioned a female wanderer.”
“And who the hell are you? Wait, you’re an elf, you—”
“Half-elf, and I—Am not your enemy.”
“Yeah? Prove it.”
“I could’ve killed everyone before you even stepped foot here.
The female wanderer furrowed her eyebrows. She lifted her hand, and the remaining five soldiers emerged with a subtle gesture. She didn’t take her eyes off Enne as the half-elf glimpsed the surroundings. Enne chuckled, much to her annoyance.
“You’ve come prepared,” she said.
“Scouting,” the wanderer said.
“There was a lot of boom-boom going on overnight. I doubt it’s what you’re saying.”
The wanderer turned away to check on her band.
“Am I going to get a name? Or is every wanderer the type to withhold that during the first meeting, too?”
“Raquel… That’s all you need to know. Our forces were split during a surprise attack last night.”
“That explains the rising smoke from earlier. Then, I take it you aren’t far from home base?”
“I ain’t taking some filthy fucking elf—”
“Half-elf! And my name is Enne Bouvire…”
Raquel squinched her eyebrows, doting at the name.
“Does that name ring a bell?”
“Nothing comes to mind,” Raquel replied, resulting in a dismissive shrug. Enne remained skeptical of the wanderer’s sudden change in disposition. She walked past her.
“Just like that?” Enne asked. Raquel looked over.
“You’re just going to leave us here?”
“Don’t pretend you didn’t see the other girl with me. There’s no way someone such as yourself would purposely overlook—”
Gunshots rang from a distance, giving pause between the two. Enne glimpsed the woman’s inner workings as she assessed the distance. She walked next to her, though Raquel inched away with visible distrust. It was for Enne to prove she was on her side. Again, she was reminded of how the world viewed her. Her blasphemous existence alone reminded her how much she was loathed. Yet this didn’t dissuade the half-elf of her intent.
“You came from the north,” Enne said. “How did you end up here?”
Raquel glanced over. Her lips tightened, finding Enne’s genuine concern about the matter. The rebel couldn’t lose more people than they already had, but she couldn’t trust a wandering half-elf they happened upon.
“We—were separated by settlement forces,” Raquel finally replied. “We had at least 100 men ready for insurgency projects in the outliers on Neo-T’Rach’s border. But they were waiting for us. We’ve been on the run since this morning. So far, it’s just been ground forces, but I know they have tanks nearby.”
“I see,” she responded. “Why don’t I lend a hand?”
“Mana ain’t gonna do nothing to those tanks. They’re—”
“Leftovers from the previous regime. You can overload these models.”
“How—Do you know that? I’ve used mana on them a few times and nothing.”
“I’ve observed the mech they have in the city. Their coating absorbs broad-based disruptions, not concentrated attacks. It was something the original creators overlooked. Perhaps they addressed it with the updated models. To be fair, they could be squeezing those in to throw any idea of a way to take them down. Otherwise, you’d need literal bunker busters to take them down.”
It sounds like she knows exactly what she’s talking about. Raquel stroked her cheek.
“So?” Enne asked.
“Shut up,” she replied. “They’re here!”
Raquel hid behind a fallen tree that provided temporary cover from the north. A sudden burst of bullets cut through the dense forest. Enne glimpsed 5 walking tanks and a small squadron of a dozen approach.
“Goddammit,” Raquel growled. “We should cut and run while we still can.”
“What fun would that be?” Enne winked.
“Are you fucking crazy? Taking one of those things takes up too much coordination!”
A sudden mortar strike collapsed the trees a few yards away from them. Enne felt the slight sinking sensation against her feet. All that weight traversing in an unstable environment would be too risky.
“Hey, elf!” Raquel yelled. “You heard me?”
“We should surround them,” she finally spoke.
“Just do it!”
Without further protest, Enne pivoted against the trees to launch herself into the air. The momentum sent chills throughout her body as she felt weightless. A stream of bullets flew past her as she stalled high up. The breathtaking scenery made her feel at ease. Raquel glimpsed the bright flash emerging from Enne’s hands, sensing a heavy concentration of mana. Her troops spread apart as Enne hoped, covering ground for whatever the wanderer anticipated.
Enne stalled her descent with a slight wind as she aimed her bow. The ground forces saw the threat and directed their mortar fire on them. The wind formed a shield that deflected some of the oncoming bullets. Some barely grazed her skin. Raquel glimpsed her protection preserved after multiple hits. Enne shot a single arrow, which quickly split into several projectiles. The impact blinded the surroundings in a brilliant light green hue.
The machines fell silent while gunfire resumed.
An EMP? Raquel thought.
Enne gathered the remaining mana during her spiraling descent. The ground forces were scattered and couldn’t decide where to focus their gunfire. While Raquel gunned down two of the settlement soldiers, the others flanked left and right to surround them. With their mech immobilized, the pilots were forced to abandon them. They watched in horror as the silent green flash made landfall. A violent gust shredded everything in its path, followed by a thunderous ripple that disheveled the land. The force spaghettified the mech’s fortified metal, and the soldiers wearing their armor had suffered an equally gruesome fate.
When the light subsided, the land remained nearly intact while the Ethoxian forces’ assets were ripped apart. Raquel and her soldiers emerged from their cover. An elite extermination squad was wiped out effortlessly by some jovial half-elf she stumbled upon. The wanderer assessed the horrific sight while everyone looked away. Enne stood in the middle of the destruction, barely having gotten back onto her feet. A familiar pain surged throughout her chest. Raquel approached, expressing faint amazement while everyone stood back. All traces of mana were gone.
Amidst the revolution’s darkest moments, a glimmer of hope stood before them.
“So,” Raquel said. Enne stretched her back before facing her. “You’re the real deal.”
“I never said I wasn’t,” Enne replied. She masked her pained voice. “Do you believe me now? We’re on the same—”
“I’m not that fucking gullible. You think some magic trick is going to impress me?”
“That magic trick doesn’t have to impress anyone.”
“How did you do it?”
“Not obliterate the rest of us?”
“You know little of what mana can do. Perhaps I can teach you a thing or two—”
Enne smiled weakly before collapsing onto the ground. Raquel quickly came to her aid. Her vitals were fine, but her breathing struggled. She called everyone over to help her carry her off. It was by fate they had a makeshift stretcher available. The young elf finally emerged, drawing everyone’s attention as her feeble footsteps rustled the leaves. Raquel quietly acknowledged her, signaling her soldiers to let her through. The young woman kneeled, exchanging glances with the wanderer.
“She’s—just tired,” she said. “I don’t think she slept at all since she took me out of that prison.”
“Prison?” Raquel repeated. The girl nodded.
“They were going to sell me off, but she took it upon herself to help me.”
Raquel looked upon the knocked-out half-elf. She took the flask from her waist and chugged from what remained of it. Her troops hurried to carry her out. The wanderer watched them, carefully placing her on the portable stretcher while the young woman stayed by her side.
“Enne’ll be fine, kid,” Raquel uttered.
The young woman looked over without acknowledgment.
Parts of the cast finally meet and Enne finds herself in the middle of their retreat. The story really picks up during this period. Leave a like and comment/ feedback. Every little thing would mean a lot~