Chapter One: Puzzle Piece
Emvolo’s kingdom held the largest reputation among the land of Galaxis for its advanced technology, trade in food and produce, the layout of the large city and the peoples’ political outlook on life.
Above all else, Emvolo gained its recognition for the large airbase which hovered low in the sky just above the city. From a distance, one might assume this airbase to be nothing more than a large blimp drifting lazily over the kingdom, posing no threat or relation to anything. This was not the case.
People who are not educated on Emvolo’s history would dismiss the aircraft altogether if not for the publication Emvolo’s people, specifically the residents who lived in Tentrail - the city’s lower areas – promoted in regards to the large construction.
Emvolo was the only kingdom which allowed Rebels upon its grounds.
A long time ago, the streets had been filled with riots and fights which were provoked by Emvolo’s Governor. While most of Tentrail’s people believed in equality for all races, Capitol – the higher grounds of the city – had disagreed and made it law for only a small handful of races to be allowed access into Emvolo’s kingdom.
Young Kane Ruskin had been part of many of these riots and fights during his teenage years. He gathered fellow believers from Tentrail and caused many outrageous acts in Capitol, including setting buildings on fire, pulling down bank signs and throwing knives at the previous Governor’s pictures scattered through the city. Eventually, Capitol guards were littered along the border between Capitol and Tentrail, making access difficult for young thugs like Kane and his group.
It was not until Kane reached his early twenties, did he begin to address the state of Emvolo with a political sense. He had met a law drop-out by the name of Ciiria Zabitha-Adrestia during an ambush attempt on Capitol’s newly appointed Governor, Phobos Enyo.
Ciiria had been passing by, dressed in a tailored suit with her short red hair slicked back and a briefcase in her hand. She had spotted Kane immediately, noting the struggle the young man was putting himself in as he attempted to climb a bakery stationed just on the border of Tentrail and Capitol.
“What are you doing?” Ciiria had said. Utterly polite despite the uncertainty in her voice.
Kane had one foot over the bakery’s gutter when he looked over, addressing Ciiria with a small grunt. His spare foot was hanging loosely atop a stack of crates; having been his support until he hopped up to climb the roof.
Blue eyes met golden-brown. Kane huffed and returned his attention back to the roof, finally lifting himself over the gutter. He sat comfortably atop the roof tiles and yanked a small rectangle-shaped box from the inside of his denim jacket. Ciiria had seen the stitched letters across the man’s back, saying ‘If you’re reading this, fuck off.’ She had snorted.
“You’re the young man who made the petition for Sylvannix, aren’t you?” Said Ciiria. She had turned towards Kane now, hand loosely swinging her briefcase. “Kane…Ruskin, was it?”
Kane paused during his small task and had looked up, meeting the woman’s eyes yet again. “Y’know, if you can recognise me, then you sure as hell should know how much I hate you Capitol dogs,” he looked down and paused. “I ain’t one for talkin’ so, y’know, get lost or whatever…”
Ciiria lifted a brow. “Kane Ruskin, born November 22nd. You’re twenty-two, have no family since your sister’s passing. Three years ago, you petitioned for the rights of Sylvannix kind to access Emvolo’s ground and won, surprisingly. You ambushed a laboratory in the South last year, just outside Hera. According to your files you were ‘on a road-trip with some friends and stumbled across the scene’, thus saving a total of thirty Allawo and twenty-three Avolaki from further torture and any other experimental trials they were being put through under the influence of the laboratory owner’s. You’ve lived in Emvolo all your life, residing in a small cottage in Tentrail. You attended Capitol’s Grand Academy for two years before dropping out and have been a nuisance ever since.” Ciiria propped her hand upon her hip, “yes, I know who you are.”
“You got a weird obsession there, lady,” Kane grunted and shuffled to his feet. The box in his hand had begun blinking, a red light visible between his ring finger and pinky finger. “You wanna go now? I’m kinda busy.”
“Yes, attempting to ambush Governor Phobos, no doubt.” Ciiria tutted. She took a step forward. “You know, the process of moving forward does not always need to be accomplished through violence. Didn’t your petition teach you as much?”
Kane’s jaw tightened. His long black hair was messy over his dirtied face when he turned back, glaring daggers at the woman staring up at him. “That petition took years to complete. You think it was easy getting those votes? A new Governor would do the whole world a load of good, or so I thought. Now, look at her, walking around like the whole world is under her spell. Where’s the equality in that?”
“Doesn’t equality involve second chances? It sounds to me you’re nothing but a prejudice hypocrite, just like our new Governor.” Ciiria rolled her eyes. “Ruskin, I am willing to assist you in your aid, if you would let me.”
“A five-minute conversation ain’t gonna convince me of your ‘good nature’, lady,” Kane scoffed. “I ain’t gonna work with a Capitol bitch.”
Ciiria’s face remained utterly neutral. “Would you like to hear a snippet of my own story, since I know all of yours?” She challenged.
When Kane said nothing but did not move to fulfill his mission either, Ciiria opened her mouth.
“I have lived in Capitol all of my life. I attended a very private school and entered the Grand Academy a year before my expected starting date. I studied law in hopes I might become a magistrate for Emvolo, intending to move forward and change the kingdom for the better. A week ago, Phobos was elected Governor and she changed the law. Capitol no longer provides young women the necessary education to become a lawyer or a magistrate. My professor turned to me and suggested I become a receptionist instead. So, as of…” trailing off to peer down at her holographic-tattooed watch upon her wrist, Ciiria sighed, “…twelve thirty-two this afternoon, I am no longer a Capitol citizen.”
Kane lowered his hand. The box he grasped was tucked back into his jacket and the red light flickered out. He turned back to Ciiria, a frown plastered upon his grubby face. “How come the Governor, who is female by the way, decided on some shitty law like that?”
Ciiria shrugged. “Like I said, prejudice hypocrite. That and she’s always been the type who gets jealous and paranoid easily. I suppose she feels as though she’s in competition with the rest of womankind. Honestly, trying to read her is like staring at a book with no words. It gets you nowhere and the only thing you'll gain is a headache.”
“Lady, you sound like you’re talking from experience,” Kane snorted and bent his knees, comfortably settling himself upon the rooftop with his legs dangling over the edge. The heels of his muddy boots left marks on the bakery wall. “You know her in person or somethin’?”
“Oh, yes. She and I were very well-acquainted within our educational years.” Ciiria held back a light scoff. “Partners, in fact. Four years running until last month.”
Kane was baffled. “Partners? As in, like…”
“Lovers?” Ciiria offered. “Yes, Ruskin.”
A grin. “So, you wanna help me out so you can get back at your ex?”
Ciiria cleared her throat. She tucked back a loose strand of red hair and stepped closer to the bakery. “I would hardly put it like that, Ruskin. Personal grudges will not lead the way to our ideas turning into reality. I simply wish to turn Emvolo back into the grand kingdom it had been many, many years ago. A land of unity should be what everyone strives for, so I wish to make it happen. I know that’s what you want, too.”
Kane snorted. He turned his head away. “To be honest, I don’t know what I really want. I mean, I woke up today ready to throw this bomb at the Governor. It wasn’t a justified plan, I know that. I probably would have been hung for it and then Emvolo would continue heading downhill from there.”
“I know what you want, Ruskin.” Ciiria stopped in front of the stacked crates. There was hardly any distance between them now. “After you rescued those Allawo and Avolaki last year, you made another petition which would allow Avolaki the right to access Emvolo grounds. The previous Governor dismissed it almost immediately and you rewarded him with a homemade bomb through his window while he ate with Minoas’ Chef.”
Kane said nothing.
“I believe you know Twyla Tychi, a Magick wielding Avolaki with Blessed powers. Quite the character. They used to sneak into Emvolo on false pretenses, using their shape-shifting abilities to trick Capitol guards.” Ciiria said. “Five years ago they were spotted by a Capitol commander. Twyla had been careless and, during their stay at a small cottage in Tentrail, had walked past an open window without thinking of their appearance. Capitol troops kicked down the door and Twyla was taken away.”
Kane’s face had turned grim.
“A year ago, Twyla Tychi’s name appeared again.” Ciiria was relentless. Her words were sharp and she made no pause of breath. “They were one of the twenty-three Avolaki you saved last year.”
Kane’s voice was soft. “I remember that raid five years ago. Capitol bastards tore down my house looking for them. I tried to make Twyla climb out the window but they insisted on staying, said that I would be taken to Capitol’s prison otherwise. When the Capitol dogs found them, Twyla claimed to have had me under some kind of Magick spell. They said I was the ‘victim’, despite all the riots I had started in Capitol before...” When Kane moved, it was only to shift to his left upon the roof. A dirty gloved hand swatted the spot beside him and he made eye contact with Ciiria one final time. “If you can get up here, I’ll listen to your suggestions.”
Ciiria's face was an expression of surprise. Her brows lifted and, for a moment, she stood frozen in place.
“Not up to the challenge, lady?” Kane chuckled. His feet swayed continuously, mocking the woman’s in-capabilities. “Can’t talk to you like an equal if we ain’t on equal grounds, y’know?”
“You’re a cocky fellow, Ruskin.” Ciiria muttered. She tossed her briefcase up through the air, smirking when Kane caught it in his grubby hands. Leaning down, Ciiria unbuckled the clips on her stilettoes and stepped out of them, cringing at the feeling of grit and dirt sticking to the soles of her feet. She made no comment or show of disgust when she moved left, hand gripping the surface of a slimy, damp crate. “And I do have a name, you know.”
“It is custom to have a name, yes.” Kane grinned. He laid Ciiria’s briefcase upon his lap and watched as the woman climbed the crates stacked against the bakery. He stopped swinging his feet. “I might ask for it once you make it up.”
“Cocky, indeed…” Ciiria grumbled to herself. She stood at the height of the crates, wobbling slightly as she reached out to grasp the edge of the roof. Her stomach clenched when she lifted her leg and she cursed her tailor for making her clothes fit so perfectly. She was afraid she might tear the seams and was surprised when a dirty hand clutched her open palm. “Was this not a test of self-worth?”
Kane snorted. “What can I say? I have a soft side for the weak.” Heaving his weight back, he helped Ciiria the rest of the way before releasing her hand. “Here, your briefcase.”
Ciiria ruffled her hair, conscious of the dirt layering her palm. “Thank you.” She exhaled lowly and reclaimed her briefcase. When she was comfortably sat beside Kane, her cleaner hand extended towards him. “Ciiria Zabitha-Adrestia, academy dropout. A pleasure to meet you.”
Kane, now wary of the woman beside him, looked down to her open palm and pursed his lips. “Kane Ruskin,” he grunted, slapping his hand against Ciiria’s. “Leader of the Rebellion.”
“Quite the title,” Ciiria smirked.
“Better than yours.” Countered Kane.
A short silence drew between them. There was an audible sound of cheer and music flowing from over the bakery and into Capitol territory; all on account of their new Governor who was probably flaunting her so-called innocent appearance towards her people, feeding them false beliefs and promises she would not be able to uphold in the future.
“So, did you have a real plan?” Kane grunted, eager to drown out the fake sounds of happiness behind him.
“I do,” Ciiria nodded. “There is only so much the Governor is capable of saying ‘no’ to. If we were to propose a small band of members, perhaps a number in the hundreds, Phobos won’t be able to dismiss it altogether. It’s very similar to the petition you made for the Sylvannix.” She sighed. “There just…might be a few rules we’ll have to abide by.”
“I dunno, it sounds kinda like we’ll be playing by the Gov’s rules…” Kane murmured. “How do we manage to keep our own heads without being influenced by Capitol?”
Ciiria looked down. “By playing their game. We do as they ask with the additional rebelling here and there. People in Tentrail would be willing to agree with our ideas and I have a friend in Capitol. She’s one of the high-ranking commanders, but she’s never appreciated Phobos’ ideas. Now that the election is final, she’ll be willing to join arms with us. Perhaps even Phobos would not be so eager as to put our little band down so soon if one of her own is among our band of merry-men.”
“What’s your friend called?” Kane muttered, clearly sceptical with Ciiria’s choice of strategy.
“Reidonn,” said Ciiria. “You can trust her, Ruskin.”
Kane stifled a dry laugh. “Yeah, well, I have a friend who’ll be willing to take arms. He’s kinda...edgy. He won’t like you.”
Ciiria raised a brow. “And this man is?”
“Theo Dante,” Kane replied. “He and I met a while ago. After my petition succeeded for Sylvannix, I met him in the streets and gave him a place to live. He’s my housemate now.”
“A Sylvannix, an ex-guard, a Capitol citizen and a Tentrail rebel...the diversity already appears strong,” Ciiria smirked.
“Yeah, but it’s not in the hundreds, is it?”
“Oh, hush.” Ciiria’s hand fluttered between them. “You should have faith, Ruskin. It’s a powerful ally to have.”