CHAPTER 1: WAR IS CONSTANT. DEATH IS CONSTANT. PEACE NEVER IS THOUGH – 1986 EG
SUB-CHAPTER 1: Inia Akiko
Intelligence is an accident of evolution, and not necessarily an advantage. Someone wise once told me that when I asked them why we hadn’t won. Why there were still millions on the front lines. The amusing part of this is, I still remember what the world around me was like at that exact moment. I was sitting right at the bench outside the Continental Congress Building in the capital. The one who told me those words was the same person that was placed as Chairman of the Senate. He was also the one to join me on a bench outside the building.
And though I can scarcely remember the details, I know the at very least the air that day was crisp and cool, with a scent of cherry blossom there to seemingly sweeten everything already present.
Shortly after he told me those words, I replied back, saying ‘That can’t be true, can it?’
The old man only smacked his lips before opening a bottle of water he carried from inside.
‘What about what the Chancellor? “Peace through innovation?“’ I inquired as I looked towards the Chairman.
The old man shifted his posture a bit, relaxing as he starred towards the towering buildings. As he did that, he said with a diluted sigh, ‘He did say that, yes. However, if this Chancellor’s words were to be believed, I think we would’ve been eating a nice Durtano Roast this time of year, wouldn’t you think so, Akiko? If it were truly to be, I suggest you look outside the city walls. The queues to find shelter within are already overflowing several miles down. That’s not even mentioning the city reaching almost 300 million more residents than what can comfortably sit in this city. No, I would look at the future a bit more grimly if I were you. The future has never been a pleasant one, and won’t be probably for the next thousand years’. As he said this, the old man would begin to lay back on the bench.
A few people in the surrounding area winced at his words as they passed by. Admittedly, I did too. Did progress truly mean nothing? But, I saw what he meant. If intelligence was to be truly sought after as a weapon to win the war, why haven’t the Riktans or the Tofs attempted to use those same means? Why were we still losing ground? Why did our people, the ones who wished to have peace the most, have to suffer at all costs at the hands of the Riktans and Tofs? It was blatant from the papers how the war was going. Newsstands broadcasted clearly through the streets on how we had lost over 90.1 million Oslionians in three years. Drones nearest to the frontlines recorded everything, from each soldier flung to the side, to the homes and cities up in flames within minutes. Just the other day, there was a story on the news on how we lost over 10% of our remaining lands in the Battle of Yęsto.
As I began to stand up, the old man said,
He then began to try to stand up as well. His knees nearly gave way as he continued, ‘-just because I said Intelligence isn’t necessarily an advantage, that still doesn’t rule out the possibility that it is one. In fact, I believe our people might have been doomed at the beginning of this war if...’
Suddenly, my mind was brought back to first grade. Movies and songs in the hundreds were made, praising our leaders and scientists for protecting us, and associated them with the hell itself. While not the worst thing in the world, watching every single one of those did get pretty boring.
‘And that’s why turnips are not to be used in hot sauce.’, the old man said with a daunting scowl.
‘Wait, what?’ I said, with my eyes looking towards the city.
‘Ah, so you weren’t paying attention I see. Is that how you treat the Senator from your Hometown?’ The old man chuckled.
‘As if you could consider Continopolis a town. My goodness, your age is really showing these days.’ I said in reply with a passive attitude as I turned my attention towards the sky.
‘Well, you know, being 160 years old is no small feat in itself.’. He proclaimed proudly as if 160 was not a small feat.
‘Whatever you say.... Mr. Cacayan, do you hear that?’. As I said that, I could see some people near us also looking towards the skies, with some slowly backing into the building while others began to crumble at the sight of what was just above them.
‘Now why would an old man be able to hear anything that isn’t five feet away from him?’
‘Mr.Cacayan, please get down to the shelter.’
‘Inia, what’s the matter?’
“Mr.Cacayan, just get to the shelter, now.′
‘Well, what the hell is that noise then Inia?’
‘It’s the sound of propeller planes. The only ones still using those are...’
‘The Riktans... Those daft fools are attacking the Capital?!?’
‘The Shelter, go now! This is the only chance, any later and they’ll close i-.’
‘What about you? From the sound of it, you plan to fight them off or something, but you wouldn’t do something so suicidal, would you?’.
Silence begins to fill the once cherry blossomed air, with the old man stammering towards me. I quickly drew my hand up.
Dozens of tanks and groups of droids rushed past the Continental Building as Mr.Cacayan’s face started to yell at me, ‘Miss Inia Akiko, what can you possibly do?!? Do you expect to come out alive if you remain out here?!? Do you plan to play the part of a hero, and save the people out there, when there is essentially nothing you can do? Now is not the time for that! I cannot stand here and watch you while you’ll be the one to die. You go out there and you’ll only raise the death toll!’.
Stunned by his words I quickly turned to the city before looking back at him. ‘What do you mean?!? If no one is there to hel...’
‘We have no chance, Akiko. Please, just come with me. Your family needs you to survive. Let our troops handle this. Please, I need you to survive. I promised them I would keep you safe.’
‘Caro, I... I can’t. I know that if I go there with you, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing I didn’t do anything’. Tears started to well up as I pleaded, ‘It’s wrong, Mr.Cacayan. I know I have the ability to help at least a singular person out there.’. As we argued, our own fighters began to scramble to meet the Riktans.
‘Didn’t you hear me? No matter who goes down there and no matter how many are there, they are all practically dead. Their sacrifice will be in vain! Just like your family’s, if you choose to stay out here’.
‘Damn the consequences! If I die out there, so be it. At least I won’t have to deal with the fact that I sat in the corner scared for dear life while millions are scared for their own as well! There are so many more who deserve to live, not just me, Mr.Cacayan!’.
The old man tried to protest, but I didn’t give him a chance. I ran into the streets, with a high likelihood of tears coming from my eyes. Running through the streets as fire engulfed the city felt liberating in one sense or another.
The last words I heard from him before I ran into the streets were ‘Inia, my only family.’
After a minute of running through the streets, I spotted one of Them, a Riktan soldier. He stood there, right in front of one of the houses, as what seemed to be a father trying to protect his kids. As I came closer to the scene, it seemed as if millions of people had gathered all at once to run away from the singular soldier. Bumped and pushed to the ground, I quickly covered myself, bracing for the continuous amount of people fleeing. After what seemed like an eon, I caught a glimpse of the father distracting the Riktan as much as possible, with his left hand focused on ushering his kids to flee. With a clear opening after the stampede, as fast as my legs allowed me, I charged at the soldier. I had no idea what I was doing, or why I didn’t simply try to think up a quick plan, but I guess it’s because those kinds of rational thoughts left me as I charged in, head first.
But you know, things are always bright and sunny in the stories you read at night. Reality has a way of being cruel though, and miracles we have hope in never come when we need it the most. I guess that’s why even with my life on the line, I heard agony. I felt the soul of a person burning up. I saw a body turn into charcoal.
I was right there, and... he.. died. The weight of the situation hit me all at once as I got on my knees and stared blankly at the fiery abyss. I knew the children were next. I knew I could at least help them, but....
The Riktan Soldier didn’t even notice me at first as I gave a blank expression to the kids and their cries for help. I looked right at them, with my eyes locked on them, with theirs on mine. But, my face nor my body gave a response.
The flames spun in a brilliant display, before engulfing the house in flames, with the children’s cries for help ever-present. The soldier, after looking pleased with himself, locked his sights right at me and smirked. I could tell right there he knew I wouldn’t fight back, how could I? I had lost the will to fight.
Mr. Cacayan was right. No matter what I did, it would all be the same. I would simply become another number on the already hundreds of millions in the death count.
But that’s when it hit me, literally. A piece of hardened wood hit me in the head as the Riktan’s dagger went for my throat. In my place, I saw an old man with the clothes of noblemen, and a gentle smile, which reminded me of the cherry blossoms earlier.
As a group of soldiers surrounded us, and with his smile still there, the old man said ‘You are indeed still a child, Inia, a child with a bright future ahead of you.’ he said as his mouth began to fill with blood. The wound at his side wasn’t doing well either, with it expelling what seemed to be a never-ending amount of blood as well.
With tears covering my face, I attempted to object while placing pressure on his wound, ‘Caro, don’t you dare die on me! Don’t you dare leave me, you hear!?! YOU SAID WE WOULD...’
With a raspy shake in his voice, and with his body quivering, he said ‘Please, don’t protest. Let this old man die in peace knowing he did at least one good thing in his life. Can you do that for me?’
With that, I simply nodded. I couldn’t protest. Instead, I sat there and watched him slowly fade, as if finally making peace with himself.
But before I could close My.Cacayan’s eyes, lightning flashed, and before I knew it, everything was gone. Not even the sacrifice he made for me would be kept for long it seemed. I guess, in the end, war is indeed constant, as it has for the past 500 years. Peace can never happen and will be always robbed from you at the last moment. And Death? It will always be there with a timer, waiting for zero to hit.
Even in death, I still managed to hear voices, though these were not the same as the one in the capital. I couldn’t hear a single worry, nor a sense of urgency in them. Is that what peace is truly like?