Chapter 2A Chapter by TonTon
Arika makes a big decision..
Arika knew she didn’t have much time left, she had to catch up to them. Despite her mother’s wishes she wasn’t about to be left here alone running from the government for the rest of her life. She ran to her room and filled a small pack with some clothes and other necessities. Downstairs in the kitchen she grabbed from food that would last her a few weeks, she didn’t know how long it might take to walk to the Safe-Zone from her town. On her way out of the house she took a look around, took a deep breath, and ran towards to the market. Her first stop was by Maria’s shop. Maria made clothes for the town but also made clothes for people in the Safe-Zones when orders came in. If Arika was going to get into the Safe-Zone, she knew she would have to look the part.
“Maria. I need your help and I don’t have much time.” Arika told her.
“What do you mean?” Maria started, then she thought and said, “Never mind, what is it you need?”
“I need an outfit that would let me get into the Safe-Zone without looking suspicious.” Arika dropped her bag on the floor.
“…I see. Okay, wait here.” Maria ran to the back, she was the fastest clothes maker in the region so Arika wasn’t worried about time.
After ten minutes of straight sewing, Maria came back. She handed Arika a black, hooded jacket and a pair of black tights, both lined with a white reflective material. Maria looked at Arika’s feet, cursed, and then ran to the back of the store again. When she came back she had a pair of black leather boots that tied at the knee. Arika thanked her and changed in the back, when she came out Maria instantly hugged her.
“Be careful child…you don’t know what could be in there.” Maria said in her ear. Arika nodded.
“Thank you, if I don’t return"“Arika started to say but Maria tapped her on the nose and pointed towards the door.
“Bring them back to us, Arika…and good luck.” Maria watched Arika run down the road, as she did she felt a tear roll down her cheek.
It’s a three day journey across desert to get the Safe-Zone and crossing a desert in summer is hard enough, but crossing a desert in summer while wearing a full black outfit is even harder. Arika would have changed clothing, but if she was seen by any Safe-Zone officials on the way there, she would’ve been in even more trouble. Despite the heat, she didn’t let the sun get to her, she had brought enough water to keep her alive and enough blankets to keep her warm during the chilling nights. She passed a merchant caravan half way through the first day and hitched a ride with the group until the end of the second.
“Arika,” said the caravan leader, he had a funny accent she thought, “…take ‘dis.” He handed her a plastic card with strange markings on it.
“What is it?” She grabbed it, stared at it confusingly and put it in her jacket pocket.
“It help you to git inside the Safe-Zone.” He shook her hand and headed back to the caravan, waving at her as he rode off.
“Well, that was certainly helpful.” She waved back and started running towards the Safe-Zone with a since of purpose, that is, until the heat finally got to her.
“We just have to live in the desert don’t we.” Arika muttered as she crossed over a sand dune. When she reached the top she stood in awe. The Safe-Zone, she had finally reached it. Even living this close she had never seen the real thing. Its high metallic walls and tall buildings are more than she imagined it would be. As she got closer she could make out the large symbols on the walls, Safe-Zone insignias; a hand holding the Earth, with a large three on the planet. She hoisted her bag back up on her shoulder and kept walking.
“I’ve made it this far, I’m not going back now.” She finally made it to the large gate where a line of people were waiting. Guards were checking carts and bags as Arika walked up behind the last person in line. She tapped the person on the shoulder, “Excuse me? What exactly are they checking for?” She asked.
“Ah, you’re new here too?” A twenty-one year old monk with white hair up in a mohawk turned around. He had a bandage around his arm and his left eye covered by his bangs. Arika glanced quickly at it and could see that his arm was made of metal. He noticed her staring and started to speak again. “I’m afraid it’s my first time here as well so I’m just as confused as you are young miss.” He gave a light laugh and rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh! How rude of me, my name is Ky. Traveling monk and healer, and who might you be young miss?” He bowed.
“I’m Arika, just a traveler.” She smiled, Ky smiled back.
Just as Ky was about to speak the guard reached him. He asked him to open his pockets and nap-sack and asked for his card. After going through his bags the guard wrote something down on his clip-board, stared at Ky for a few moments then told him to walk inside. He then walked to Arika.
“Please empty your pockets and bags.” He asked. Arika didn’t look him in the eye for fear the guards were looking for her. She obliged to the order and smiled.
“Alright, can I see your card now? The guard marked a check on his board.
“Yes, of course.” Arika pulled the card back out of her pocket and handed it to him. He examined it thoroughly, and then stared at her. Arika could feel the sweat in her palms.
“So you’re with the caravan? Where’s the rest of the troupe?” He asked her while he handed back the card.
“I actually went ahead of the troupe to scout out new camp-sites. I’m the newest member so I have the menial tasks.” She laughed awkwardly. He only stared and gave a slight smile.
“I see, well, in any case, please enjoy your stay.” He scribbled on the clip-board and walked off, his blue eyes catching hers. Arika recognized them instantly; she gasped and looked away, walking quickly inside the gate. When she was inside she spotted Ky looking at some merchandise in a cart.
“Hello again.” Arika walked up next to him and waved. He jumped a bit but waved back.
“Oh, why hello there!” Ky smiled and started walking away from the store window, waving Arika to follow him. “So then Arika, what brings you out here to Safe-Zone Three?” He asked curiously.
“Ah, that’s more of a…secret. I guess you could say.” Arika stared at the ground, it wasn’t dirt, but the ground was made of a harder material, like concrete. She glanced up at Ky who was twiddling with some beads around his wrist.
“Well, I am a monk, you can tell me anything and I’d be glad to help you.” He smiled, his eyes closed.
Arika smiled back and thanked him, “Thank you but, maybe it would be better if I told you behind closed doors. Speaking of which, do you know where I could find a cheap place to stay?”
Ky thought a few moments then started walking more briskly. “Ahh, well, I may have lied when I said I was new here, I have a place here in the zone." Arika saw that he kept glancing behind them so she did the same. Following them were four soldiers. They were the four soldiers, minus Nayt , who had taken her mother away. She knew they had figured it out.
“Okay. Let’s go. But how are we going to lose their trail?” Arika said quietly. Ky didn’t answer, only walked faster. Arika’s legs weren't as long as Ky’s so it was difficult for her to keep up without starting to jog.
Ky and Arika made it to the small shack on the edge of town before sundown, they had lost the soldiers an hour earlier.
“Now then, I know I haven’t done anything to risk Safe-Zone soldiers pursuing me, so, what’s your reason for being here?” Ky sat in a chair and stared Arika down. Arika sighed, sat on the floor and told him her story.
© 2012 TonTon
United We Stand