A clear, harsh, mechanical click woke Zoey up. She opened her eyes, and stared into the barrel of a gun.
“Don't move,” an authoritative voice ordered.
Zoey glanced around. Three soldiers stood over her, all armed. They heavy armor, made from a super-strong alloy of plastic and iron. Their squarish helmets wrapped around their heads and left only a small opening for their eyes to see out of. They were soldiers from the fleet. Zoey had seen them many times before.
“Are you citizeness one-billion, five-hundred and thirty two million, four-hundred and eighty-nine thousand, nine-hundred and one?”
“Yes,” she said groggily, taking a moment to remember her number.
There was a pause. “Stand up.”
Zoey got to her feet, a move that sent pain shooting through her skull. She was on a beach. Water crashed onto the sand where she was standing, and large dunes rose up behind the soldiers. Beyond them, brilliantly green trees made up an inland forest.
“Where am I?” she asked.
“Don't ask questions,” one of the soldiers said. “You are under arrest for conspiracy against The People.”
Zoey was instantly alert. “What?” she demanded. “I didn't do anything!”
“Yes you did. I have authorization for your immediate execution. Do you have anything to say before sentence is carried out?” the soldier said in an insultingly bored tone.
“I didn't do anything! Some guy came along and forced me to jump off the ship!” Zoey pleaded. “You can't shoot me! You need evidence! You can't-”
“Shut up!” the soldier ordered. Zoey was instantly silent. “Denial of proven facts won't get you anywhere.”
“What facts?” Zoey asked tentatively.
“You were seen with one of the conspirators immediately before the robbery took place, and then proceeded to make your escape with them along with the stolen goods.” The soldier pulled out a data pad, and tapped it to start a video.
All of the events of the previous night came rushing back to Zoey as she watched. The video showed her and George talking with Clooney before the other man ran up and they all jumped into the water. It was all very incriminating.
“How did you get that video?” Zoey asked.
“The security cameras that are everywhere,” the soldier said sarcasticly. “Now you've faced your charges and the evidence that proves them, and sentence will be carried out.”
The three soldiers leveled their guns at her. “No, nononono,” Zoey pleaded. “I didn't do anything. I swear.” She backed up into the water, trying to get away. It was futile. She was doomed
One of the dunes shifted. It set a small cascade of sand down it's side. One of the soldiers turned to look. “What was that?” he asked.
No one had time to respond. Suddenly, the largest man Zoey had ever seen exploded out of the dune. He stood eight feet tall, with muscles bulging from his arms, with fists were the size of basketballs. His tiny, out of proportion head rested on shoulders that were four feet wide.
He was on the soldiers before they could react. He tossed the first like a rag-doll, throwing him twenty feet with ease. To the second soldier he delivered a punch that shattered his armor, along with most of his ribs.
The third soldier was the quickest to react. He fired a single shot into the attackers chest before he was on him. It had no noticeable effect. The attacker then tore his rifle out of his arms and broke it with one hand. The other fist delivered a backhand blow to the soldier's head. Zoey heard a sickening crack, and the last soldier crumpled to the ground, dead.
The giant stood over the three dead men, triumphant. “Me Giba,” he said, pointing to his chest. “Giba here to save yoo.” Without another word he tossed Zoey over his shoulder and dashed into the woods.
“Wha- Where are you taking me?” Zoey asked as she was bounced on Giba's shoulder.
“Da village. Da village of da Gens,” Giba began, still running at full speed. “Da God Man said to find you and bring you right back, dats what he said, and da Master Captain said to do what da God Man says. So der I was, lookie all over for yoo, and I saw da bad men waking yoo up, and I thoughts to myself, where do dey think I'll attack? And I did just the opposite, yes I did. Hid behind da dune and dey never stood no chance.”
“The Gens?” Zoey asked. Giba's accent was giving her a headache. It reminded her of a child with a lisp.
“Da Gens are the people who live on da island. Der real nice unless yoo are bad. Der real mean to da bad men. Dey hang dem up in trees.”
“And who's the God Man?”
“Hes real names Kloonvy, but I can never say people's names rights, so I call him da God Man.”
“Clooney?” Zoey said allowed. So the Reverend was on the island to? That meant that George probably was as well. Zoey reminded herself not to get to excited, as they would still have to escape and get back to the fleet and clear their names somehow. Whatever strange circumstances had led to them being confused for conspirators could be cleared up in no time at all. Whoever Clooney and Giba were, they were clearly conspiring against the fleet, making them evil. Giba's rescue was probably an attempt to fool her into thinking otherwise.
For the rest of the way to the village Zoey spent her time thinking of all the different ways that she would be tortured at Clooney's hands. She thought off all the ways that he would lie to her to convince her that The Primary Citizens were evil. She didn't really know where the thoughts came from, they just popped into her head. By the time they reached the huge cluster of tents that made up the village, she had forgotten the soldiers' attempt to execute her and instead thought of Giba's rescue as a kidnapping.
Giba slowed down as they entered the bustling market. Zoey was temporarily overwhelmed by the noise and smells. Merchants were everywhere, selling food, clothing, and a supposed cure to every single possible ailment. Shoppers made their way through the maze of tents and shops, buying what they needed or wanted. Small children ran around Giba's feet, laughing as they did, and making him smile too. Deadly looking warriors walked around, with shields so elaborately molded they could have hung up in the art galleries of the fleet and not looked out of place. And everyone, from the oldest man to the youngest baby, wore blue face paint. Not a single other color, just blue.
Giba walked to an obviously pre-arranged meeting place. A larger then average tent was set up, and Zoey could see a fire lit up inside of it.
“There you are!” Clooney said, standing in front of the big tent. “I heard there were White Fleet troops on the island. I was worried they found her.”
“Dey did,” Giba responded, plucking Zoey off his shoulder and placing her on the ground. “I had ta kill tree' bad men to get her.”
Clooney looked disappointed. “Surely killing them wasn't necessary?”
“It was nekasery. Day were gonna kill her.”
“They weren't going to kill me!” Zoey spoke up in protest. “They were going to save me, but then he killed them and kidnapped me.” The story was utter fiction, but Zoey would've felt traitorous telling the truth to an Enemy of the People.
“Ahh, well that clears things up,” Clooney said sarcasticly. “But I know that both you and me have been branded 'enemies of the fleet' or whatever it's called.”
“Enemies of the People,” Zoey corrected him angrily.
“Right,” Clooney continued. “What I don't understand is why White Fleet soldiers would do anything other then execute an Enemy of the People on the spot. Unless of course a gigantic mutant were to stop them first?”
Zoey stared angrily into his eyes. She decided not to speak another word.
“Giba? Could you find Joshua for me? I have a feeling I'll need his help,” requested Clooney.
“Yes God Man,” Giba said. He ran off into the market.
After he was gone Clooney continued. “You've been asleep for a little more then a day. I would offer you food, but I'm sure you would decline, as you probably think I kidnapped you and offering food would all be part of my 'evil plan.' So instead I will tell you that everything I told you on the ship was the truth. I was hired to repair damage to your ships computer, damage that was quite extensive I may add. My assistant Kurt, a skilled engineer and a kleptomaniac, stole something. I don't know what yet, as I don't think him or your friend George got to this island. But whatever it was, it was important. They were chasing him as you saw. The thing was, I had been talking to you the moments before the robbery took place, and it looked very much like we had been working together, plotting to steal the... whatever it was. The Primary Citizens would order your death without a moments hesitation, they don't care about justice, so I did what I could to save your life. I knew the Gens, I've helped them before, so I got us to this island and took up lodging with them.”
It made sense. That's what made Zoey so angry. How could this man tell that the Primary Citizens would order murder without investigation? How could they possibly do that? How could a story that painted them in such a light be the truth? And how, oh how, could that ever possibly make sense?
But it did. That was the problem. Zoey screamed at Clooney. She jumped on him and wrapped her hands around his neck and squeezed.
He was quick to react. He pulled her hands off with surprising strength, and yelled for help. “Joshua! Where are you? I need you!” he yelled, dodging Zoey's next attacks. He started running, leaving Zoey in the dust. She was after him as fast as she could.
When looking back on the chase Zoey would realize that she didn't really know why she attacked Clooney. He had seemed so arrogant, that he could say the Primary Citizens didn't care about justice and then be able to prove it. A sudden urge to destroy him took hold, and drove Zoey to case him through the market.
Clooney was a fast runner, taking massive strides with each step. She rapidly lost him among the maze of the market. She kept running the direction she saw him last, but it was pointless. He'd lost her.
She was wondering where to go now when a merchant blocked her path. “Do you want to see my tunics?” he asked. “You could use one, you know. You look very silly in those clothes.” He tried to lead her back to his shop, but Zoey threw him off. She had no time for capitalists. But he was insistent. “Please, come see my tunics! I have all the newest styles! Many of them would look very good on yourself!” Zoey pushed him off again, but he bounced back quickly. “Come, come now! At least take a look!”
Zoey didn't know who this merchant was or why he was so insistent. But now she was done dealing with him. Instead of simply pushing him off, she grabbed his throat. He wasn't strong at all, and she quickly forced him to the ground, choking.
“Help!” someone yelled. Apparently, people didn't care if she attacked an outsider, but they drew the line at one of their own.
Two warriors came through the crowd and tore her off of the merchant. They were shirtless, but carried massive curved swords in addition to their shields. One of them stood over her and drew his sword. He raised it high above his head, ready for a killing blow. A feral fear of death swept over Zoey.
“Stop!” someone ordered. The warriors hesitated. Zoey looked for the source of the voice.
And laid her eyes on the most revolting man she'd ever seen.