INITIATION ULTIMATE, Chapter 13.2:  Narrated by Saphara

INITIATION ULTIMATE, Chapter 13.2: Narrated by Saphara

A Chapter by A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)
"

Saphara meets Talaimai, her brother who she hasn't seen in four years.

"
Rede, Attenti, and I walk through the forest, hauling our duffel bags.  Rede uses this time to brief us on meeting Talaimai.  "Remember, he might not be the same as he was four years ago.  He's changed a lot during these Initiations, and he has one of the most difficult jobs around.  He's bound to be more stressed out, mentally older, and maybe not as kind as he used to be.  Just know inside that he is the same person, okay?"
"I'll remember that," I nod.
"Do we have to call him, 'sir?'" Attenti questions.  "At the wall, a lot of people were addressing each other with titles, like 'Ma'am' or 'Sir.'  Do we have to call you 'Messenger?'"
Rede smiles.  "You can call me Messenger Rede if you want, but you don't have to.  By the wall, people are a lot more formal to keep the order there, but outside the job, it's not required.  If you do want to address us with formality, you can tell the position by the type of bandannas people wear."  She holds up her arm to tug at a bandanna wrapped around her biceps, one of the tips pointed up towards her shoulder.  "You see this yellow bandanna that I'm using as a sleeve?  In our guard system, all formal Messengers wear yellow bandannas.  All Warleaders wear red.  Regulators wear green, and shooters wear black.  This is the characteristic fold that lets people know your specialization.  It was developed so that guarding would be more organized."
"Yellow, Messenger, Red, Warleader, Green, Regulator, Black, Shooter," Attenti mutters, drilling the colors into his mind.
"Can people lie about this?" I ask curiously.
"Sure," Rede frowns, "we had someone do that once to disguise the fact that he had beaten up the original position bearer.  This impostor tried to be a Regulator.  Regulators are given their commands by the Warleader, and they command the Messengers and Shooters.  When Talaimai was giving the commands to his regulators during an attack, this particular impostor had no idea what he was talking about.  Therefore, he ended up confusing all his shooters with nonsensical commands.  Because of his deception, there was almost a wall breach that night, and nobody would want that.  So I wouldn't recommend it."
"What do the monsters look like?" Attenti inquires.
Rede grimaces.  "Let's hope you never find out.  They mess with your mind, which is one reason Talaimai's not the same anymore.  Based on his job, though, I believe you will see them very, very soon.  No need for me to worry you now."
"At least give us something to expect!"
"I'll do that later, Attenti."  Rede points upward at a tall plateau, somewhat smaller than the one Attenti and I encountered, but with a similar wrapping ramp around the sides.  We squint to see what's at the top, the bright sun impairing our vision.  If I shield my eyes from the light and look really hard, I think I can almost see a row of tents.  Rede puts one hand on my shoulder, and one hand on Attenti's.  "Welcome home."
"Wha-!  Not this again!" Attenti cries with alarm.
"Yes, this," Rede says, tapping her foot on the ground.  "Anyone who wants to be acquainted into the Initiations with time and not forced to fend for yourself from the start, follow me.  684...Saphara...you don't have a choice.  Well, what are we waiting for?"

***

When we get to the top of the plateau, I can still hear Attenti's complaints echoing in my ears.  Did you really have to make your home on top of a plateau?  Really?  Now how inconvenient is this?  Really?  We exchange dark stares.  
I am going to see my brother for the first time in four years!  I do not need you to mess this up for me!  
Yeah?  If you haven't noticed, ramps and plateaus are harder to walk up than walk down! My calf muscles, they burn! 
Attenti diverts his eyes and begins stretching out his legs, snarling under his breath.  I give him one last glare:  Toughen up, and then follow Rede into Talaimai's tent, the largest one.
Talaimai's sitting in a wooden chair propped up against the edge of the tent.  I think he stops breathing when he sees me, and for a second, we just stare.  Talaimai opens his mouth a little bit, and I find myself doing the same thing.  Neither of us speak.  I look for Rede for support, but she's off talking to Attenti.  He's your brother!  I scold myself.  You know how to talk to him!  You know his likes and dislikes... or you did...
I steady myself for words, heart beating rapidly in my chest, and muster out the most impressive thing I can think of at the moment. "Hi..."
"684, is that really you?" Talaimai says with a look of bewilderment.  "No, of course that's you...  What's your name, now?"
"Saphara," I answer, studying my brother, who gets to his feet.  He's taller, and he stands with a mix of dignity and tiredness.  There's a depth in his eyes that used to sparkle, a depth that wasn't there before.  He wears his dark blond hair differently, shorter.  His face and arms are tanned from the sun.  His Naming Ceremony scar is still quite visible on his arm, but now it has paler, more scattered acquaintances, characteristic of an adult who has worked hard.
"Saphara?  Like sapphire.  A jewel like yourself," he murmurs.  "Well, it's good to see you again, my sister..."  His eyes...what I thought was depth, now I see is emptiness...  I remember Bradshaw talking about how tired Talaimai was, and he still looks so tired...
"Tal..."
"So tell me, Saphara, how is Mother and 382?  Has Father returned yet?  Tell me...tell me everything..."  the ghost of a hopeful smile appears on his lips.
I just want you to be happy, Talaimai!  I don't like seeing you look like this!  It makes a fist squeeze at my heart!  The words rush out.  "382...she's a bright little girl.  Mom tries to shelter her a lot, but she's always trying to find out more and more.  She has so much energy - "  Energy that you lack, I think painfully, "and she makes the best of every situation.  She's nine right now, and she's near the top of her class.  All the teachers love her, and she loves reading and writing, but recess most of all.  She beats me at all the board games we play, and all our relatives say she's a major success...  Our great grandfather came over for a New Years Party on the day after New Year's...he told a story and you should have seen her smile, Talaimai!  I don't understand how she can be so happy...  Mom's doing great, too, and she misses you a lot...  Father hasn't returned yet, but that's alright, we're doing fine without him...Oh, and Mom made me bring you something, I think you should see it, it's a letter and pictures, I'll get them for you..."
Shuffling anxiously through my bag, I search for the letters.  Everything in my bag is like a blur to me, so unclear, rushed, and panicked.  Why am I so afraid of seeing Talaimai?  Is it because he changed so much?  Is it because I know in my heart that I don't really know him, despite Rede's saying that he's really the same on the inside?  Calm down!  Calm down, I beg myself.  "Here, here's the letter, take it."  I grimace when I realize that I'm practically shoving the letter in his hand.
Talaimai calmly opens the letter, and I watch him read it.  Mom has written a lot; there's five pages stapled back to back.  As Tal reads the letter, I have enough time to grab a hold of myself.  It's okay.  It's just Talaimai, the kid who used to play tag with you.  The kid who used to buy you birthday presents, and watch as you blew out your candles.  The kid who was there at your kindergarten graduation, the kid who read you stories when Mom was too busy... It's okay.  It's the same person.
Rede enters the tent, and I'm grateful for her distraction.  Talaimai puts the letter aside for future read, and exchanges whispers with the Messenger.  "Come on, Saphara," Rede coaxes.  "We're going to be showing you how to find food, water purifiers, and other things.  We don't have all day though, Talaimai will be going back to work tonight.  It'll be fun, I promise you."


© 2014 A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)


Author's Note

A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)
Talaimai looks like Ionracas, just stronger with stress lines on his face. He's also younger, and their personalities are almost opposite. Ion = friendly, can get himself to relate to younger people. Tal = protective and stressed.
Their similar looks will cause confusion eventually.

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Added on December 26, 2013
Last Updated on January 1, 2014
Tags: Rede, Talaimai, Saphara, Attenti, Initiation, survival, brother, siblings, plateau

Initiation Ultimate


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A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)
A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)

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Once, when I was 12, I wrote a 365 page book. Then, it corrupted. So I rewrote it, and now it's even better than before. Some of my interests are archery, fencing, and the Civil Air Patrol. I als.. more..

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