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Lezvie’s Tale

Angela awoke to a gentle touch on her hair.  Her eyes fluttered open, and she found herself looking into Lezvie’s eyes, only inches from hers.

She jumped back, heat rising in her cheeks.  “How’re you feeling?”

“I’ve been better.”  He grinned.  “I’ve been worse, too.”

“Good.  Good.”  She let her hair fall in her face to hide her blush.  “I’ll just, uh…  Go get some breakfast.”

Angela slipped out and ducked around a corner, leaning against a wall and letting out a long, shaky breath.  “Why does he keep doing that to me?”

Footsteps drew her attention, and she looked down the hall to see Ruth, carrying a tray.  “He’s awake, I take it?”

“Yeah, he is.  Listen, Ruth…”

The redhead paused.  “Yes?”

“Who is Lezvie?  I mean, where did he come from?  What’s his goal?”

Ruth chuckled.  “That is such a long story, and I don’t even know all of it.  He doesn’t talk much about his past.”

“What about his present?  What can you tell me about him?”  Angela chuckled, half to herself.  “I’ve traveled with him for months, but he’s almost as much a mystery as when I first met him.”

“As with all of us.”  Ruth chuckled as well.  “He’s a good man, though, so none of us pry too deeply.”

“That makes sense, I suppose.”  Angela nodded.  She followed Ruth back into Lezvie’s room, where he lay in his bed.

“I see you two have met.  Been swapping stories?”

Angela took the tray from Ruth and set it on Lezvie’s beside table.  “You’re impossible, you know that?”

He grinned.  “You keep telling me that.”

Ruth quietly withdrew, leaving Angela and Lezvie alone.

As he ate, Angela sat quietly, thinking.  When he finished, she asked, “Lezvie…  Will you tell me about yourself?  Where you came from?”

Lezvie looked at her, setting his tray aside.  “What brought this on?”

“No one knows anything about you.”  She shrugged.  “I just want to know.”

“All right.”  He shifted on the bed, patting it.  “It’s a long story, so you should sit down.”

She sat down on the bed, then leaned back, laying against him.

He put an arm around her, and then he began to spin his tale.

“I was born in California.  My hair was white even then.”  He twirled a lock of his hair between his fingers.  “As you can imagine, it set me apart from the other kids.  I tried to emulate characters in Japanese anime; they were the only people I knew that had white hair.

“I studied martial arts of several kinds, including weaponized.  That’s why I can do what I do with my blades.  It also somewhat isolated me, so I studied.  The only real company I had was my family and a few people I had met online that stopped by from time to time.”

Angela looked up at him.  “Tell me about your family.”

“There were five of us: my father, my mother, my big sister Katie, my little brother Matt, and myself.  My dad was a mechanic, and Matt was following in his footsteps.  Literally.  He’d stick to my dad like a shadow whenever he worked on a car.  Mom was a mythology teacher.  Japanese mythology.  That’s another reason I got so into the way of the ninja and things like that.

“And Katie…”  He smiled fondly, remembering.  “Katie was the all-around perfect one.  Principal’s honor roll, captain of the women’s volleyball team, black belt in martial arts, the works.  It’s mostly thanks to her that I succeeded as well as I did.”

He chuckled faintly.  “I won so many awards in martial arts and academic achievements, that between me and Katie, they covered every wall of my house.  None of that matters anymore, of course…

“When the invasion came, I was hand-picked by the United Resistance to be part of a crack team to resist the aliens.  I got my knives on our first mission.  After that, we were much more capable of resisting them.  Only the aliens’ own weapons could penetrate their armor.”

He let out a heavy sigh.  “And then came the operation that destroyed our world.  We carried out a strike on one of the alien ground bases.  It was the first time we managed to fully destroy one of their bases.  And it provoked them.

“They decided Earth wasn’t worth the cost they were paying for it.  But neither could they just give up.  We’d eventually develop space flight and become a threat.  So they Glassed the planet.”  His head fell back on the pillow, and a tear ran down his cheek.  “We caused the Glassing.  We killed seven billion people, and reduced the few millions that remained to savages.”

Angela wiped the tear away, resting her head on his chest.  “It wasn’t your fault, Lezvie.  You only did what you had to.  The aliens killed those people.  If you hadn’t fought them, they would have just taken over.”

He exhaled slowly.  “My family survived the invasion, and the glassing.  But not a month after the glassing, they were attacked by raiders.  My father and brother were the lucky ones.  They died quickly.”

She rested her head on his chest, putting her arms around him.  “I’m sorry.”

Lezvie rested one hand on the back of her head.  “That’s why I fight so hard against the raiders.  As though I can make up for losing my family by making sure no one else loses theirs.”

“So that’s why I felt like I could trust you, back when we first met.  I could feel that conviction.”

“You’re the first person I’ve ever told.”  He grinned faintly.  “Feel special.”

“I do.  Believe me, I do.”

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Recovery, Part 2

They’ve escaped the slavers, but Lezvie’s badly hurt. Will his mysterious friends in the Bunker be able to save him?

Jack and Rodrigo were already in the entrance hall when they arrived.  Rodrigo had a minigun strapped on him, the large barrel currently folded up beside the ammunition box on his back as he checked a computer on a wall.  “They’re coming.  Four Humvees, complete with fifty-cal turrets.”

“Any markings?”  Jack checked the safety on his rifle.

“Yes, but not one I’m familiar with.  Look.”

Lezvie followed Jack over to the screen, looking at the insignia on the side of the approaching vehicles.  “It almost looks like Crimson Talon,” Lezvie said, “it isn’t, as you can see.  There are four markings here, where the Talon only has three.  But it’s almost like they’re from the same family or something…”

The vehicles stopped about a hundred feet from the outer doors, and men in combat armor poured out, forming a semi-circle around it.  Two of them set up a heavy cannon in front of the door, aiming it dead center at it.

A man whose armor bore more color than the others stepped up to the door.  His voice was distorted by the helmet he wore, making him sound robotic.  Alien.  “You harbor fugitives.  You will surrender them to the Crimson Fang immediately.”

Lezvie turned to Jack.  “You ever hear of a ‘Crimson Fang’?”

“Rumors.”  Jack shrugged.  “A more organized, better equipped branch of the Crimson Talon.”

“While we’re swapping rumors,” Rodrigo interjected, “I heard that they’re both arms of a parent organization, Crimson Dragon.  Hence the names.  There’s also, supposedly, a Crimson Wing and Crimson Eye.”

“Unimaginative lot.”  Lezvie fingered his knives.  “But well-equipped, undeniably well-equipped.”

The men outside grew impatient.  “We grow tired of your disobedience.  Give us the fugitives or we will blow the door in.  You have thirty seconds.”

“Fugitives.  That would be the girls and I, yes?”  Lezvie chuckled.  “Well, Jack?  You gonna throw us to the dragon?”

Rodrigo pulled down the barrel of his minigun and gave the barrel an experimental spin.  “C’mon, Lez.  You should know better than that.”

“Good then.  Should we let them shoot first?  Give ourselves the moral high ground?”

Jack grinned.  “Always.”

“You have chosen to defy the Crimson Fang.  On your own heads be it.  The Crimson Fang shall destroy your feeble installation and kill all of you.”  The man stepped back behind the semicircle of soldiers, gesturing to the men behind the cannon.

The first shot splashed harmlessly against the powerful doors of the Bunker.  So did the second.  And the third.  Right after the fourth, Jack gestured to Rodrigo, and the security officer flipped a switch in the wall, causing the massive door to slide open.

Jack threw a grenade as the door opened.  By the time the massive gates had stopped moving, the grenade latched on magnetically to the cannon.  It exploded violently, tearing the cannon apart and sending shrapnel into the Crimson Fang soldiers nearest it.

Rodrigo and Jack followed the grenade with a volley of lead.  Jack’s rifle sounded rhythmically, each shot bringing down one of the soldiers manning the guns of the Humvees.  Rodrigo’s tactics were simpler; spray and pray.  The Crimson Fang soldiers went down like flies.

Despite the heavy losses they were taking, the red-armored soldiers came charging forward, those that had guns firing them, those with melee weapons trying to close the distance as fast as possible.  While outgunned, their numbers allowed them to endure the brutal damage the Remnants’ guns inflicted while still getting closer to the Bunker.

Lezvie stepped forward, drawing his knives.  He still looked agile, but Angela could tell that every movement pained him, and his usual grace came with much more effort than usual.  She stepped up beside him and kept the invaders from reaching him, putting each one down with a single shot to the head.

Even her sharpshooting could only slow the tide, and Lezvie had to fight.  His dance of death flowed as smoothly as it always did, and the soldiers’ blood stained the ground at his feet.  Eventually the ranks of the Crimson Fang were depleted, and the few survivors piled back into their trucks and fled.

“We can’t let them escape.”  Jack’s voice sounded tired.

Rodrigo nodded and stepped back across the threshold, tapping a command into the console.  The barrel of a large gun extended out of the mountain above the bunker door.  It fired, one shot for every truck.  Every shot hit its mark.  Every truck became a pile of scorched metal.

“That’s the problem with this wasteland.  You can’t trust anyone.  If you get in a fight, you have to wipe them out, or they’ll come back with friends and wipe you out.”  Jack set his rifle down and closed the doors.

Lezvie cleaned his daggers and sheathed them.  “Yeah.  Terrible.”

Then he collapsed.

“Lezvie!”  Angela rushed to him, catching him before his head hit the ground.  “Stupid, stupid man…”

She stripped off his bandage, which had been soaked to the point of uselessness.  His wound had been reopened during the fight, and now his blood ran down his chest.  “Stupid, stubborn, stupid man…”  She turned to Jack and Rodrigo.  “Help me get him back to the medical bay.”

They carried him in, laying him in one of the beds.  Angela shooed the men out of the ward and began taking care of Lezvie’s wound.

“Stubborn, thick-headed, arrogant, prideful, stupid…”  She finished binding his wound and rested a hand on his cheek.  “Stupid, amazing man…”  With a sigh, she sank into the chair beside his bed, resting her head on his chest, her blonde hair tumbling across his pale skin, suddenly exhausted.

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Recovery, Part 1

They’ve escaped the slavers, but Lezvie’s badly hurt. Will his mysterious friends in the Bunker be able to save him?

Angela was able to summarize the story of her time with Lezvie in under an hour, with much of that time spent repeating herself when Jack expressed disbelief.  When she found herself repeating Lezvie’s decision to help her rescue Tabitha for the third time, her temper finally got the better of her.

“Look, I’ve told you everything, can I please go see him now?”

“It still doesn’t make sense to me.  You haven’t given him anything,” Jack gave her a once-over, as though that were inconceivable, “so why would he risk his life for you?”

“Because he’s a better man than you!”  Angela got to her feet and tried to go out the door.

Jack sprang to his feet, grabbing her arm.  “Hold on, you can’t-”

Then Angela punched him in the face.  He stumbled back in surprise, releasing her arm.  She rushed out the door, ignoring Jack’s cries for her to stop.

“Whoa, there!”  A strong pair of arms caught her, whirling her off balance and knocking her against the wall.  “You can’t go running off.  Jack’s orders.”

Angela glared at the redheaded woman holding her in place.  “Let me go to Lezvie!”

“You can’t go to him, he’s not strong enough for-”

“Not strong enough for visitors?”

Both women turned and stared at Lezvie, who stood in a doorway, leaning heavily on it.  His shirtless torso revealed a bloodstained bandage wrapped around his chest.  “I think Angela’s anger is more dangerous to me than a little early exercise, Ruth.”

Angela shook off Ruth’s grip and rushed to Lezvie, throwing her arms around him.  “Oh, you’re all right, thank God you’re all right!”

He grunted as she squeezed him.  “Easy, Angela.  It’s still fresh.”

“Sorry…”  She eased off, but didn’t let go, leaning her head against his chest.  “I was so scared, Lezvie…”

“I know, little bird.”  He wrapped his arms around her, gently stroking her hair.  “I’m all right.  We’ll all be all right now.”

Jack came out of the interrogation room, muttering and rubbing his jaw.  “Your girl packs a heck of a right hook, Lezvie.”

Lezvie grinned.  “I wouldn’t know, Jack.  What were you trying to pull that she hit you?”

“Trying to keep her away from you,” he replied, chuckling.

“That would do it.”  Lezvie ruffled Angela’s hair.  “She seems to like me for some reason.”

Angela blushed faintly and let go of him.  “Oh, I don’t know, I think I’m entitled to like the guy who’s saved my life and that of my best friend.”

“Yes, I suppose you are.”

Tabitha had followed Jack out of the room by this time, and looked at Lezvie.  “I never thanked you properly for saving me.  Especially since you almost died to do it.”

He smiled.  “It’s just a scratch.  I’ll be fine before long.”

A man in a lab coat came through another door, blinking through his thick spectacles.  “New people.  And Lezvie’s back.  Busy day, hm?”

Lezvie chuckled.  “I think introductions are in order.  Remnants, this is Angela, my traveling companion for the past several months, and Tabitha, her best friend, whom I rescued from the Crimson Talon.  Angela, Tabitha, these are the Remnants.  You’ve met Jack.  He’s the leader, and pilot, whenever they need to fly.

“The redhead is Ruth.  She’s the Remnants’ engineer and cook, the combination of which explains why her whiskey tastes the way it does.”

This got a laugh from all the Remnants, including Ruth.

“The good doctor over here is Neil.  He’s… well, the doctor, obviously.  And the one who is not here is Rodrigo, chief of security.  He was on the ship with Jack when we got picked up.”

Angela nodded.  She remembered him.

And as though his mention summoned him, Rodrigo came running into the room, skidding to a stop, out of breath.  “We’ve got company.  Not sure who it is, but they’ve got vehicles.”

“And that means they’re dangerous.”  Lezvie pushed himself off the wall he was leaning on.  “Come, we best prepare.”

Angela followed him as he moved through the halls of the bunker.  “Lezvie, you’re hurt!  You can’t fight!”

“I have to fight, Angela.  I’m here, I’m fighting.”  He opened the door to the infirmary and picked up his harness, slipping it on.

“You stupid, stubborn man…”  Angela watched him, seeing how even the small movements of dressing brought him pain.  “Let me.”  She walked around behind him and helped him fasten the straps of his harness and affix his knives.

He held still, letting her help.  “Thank you.”

She fastened the last strap, grumbling.  “I can’t believe I’m helping you go fight.”

I think you just can’t resist touching me,” Lezvie said with a cheeky grin.

Angela smacked his arm.  “Honestly, you’re impossible.”  She watched him as he walked down the hallway, still keeping one hand on the wall for balance.  “Completely impossible.  Going to get himself killed.”  She pulled the pistol from her belt and followed him.

If Lezvie insisted on protecting the Bunker, she’d be right there as well, protecting him.

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