Book One: The Innocent Heart

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Part 2.1 of 1.8: Last Day of Innocence


The door creaked open. Ashlyn listened to her mother’s soft tone as Jani spoke, “I know how much you hate raising children so I must teach you how to do them properly, just in case if I’m not around you know. They are fragile, and require lots of care. Of course, I will be with you, at least, helping you raise our child. I know you don’t like that, but you have to. If you don’t treat them right, there’s a chance they will do poorly growing up.”

The holo recording of her mother ceased as the image vanished. A low growl from James rumbled. He turned wielding a rod. His eyes were slightly red as he snarled coldly, “How long were you listening? This was a private matter!”

The door opened completely as the six year old girl stared back fearing her father. James took several large footsteps toward her. With the hand, he smacked her across the face and ripped the bag from her.

The big man spoke harshly, “Never eavesdrop on private conversation! Get out!”

His features looked emotional. Ashlyn stumbled and fell on the ground in pain. With anger, James left the room. Ash sobbed softly out of earshot. Getting up slowly, the girl dragged her bag into her walk in closet and set it down. Reaching into her bag, she retrieved her medical device that she kept for herself. The only ‘goofy’ voice that she would actually listen to that would make her laugh as the device scanned her while speaking, “Well, well, little girl, did you fall off the steps again? Have no fear, Sparky’s here! Just scan over the affected area and I shall do the rest!”

The so called program called ‘Sparky’ hummed over her face with a soft light. It mended and washed away her pain. Feeling better, Ash kept in mind to remember next time not listen into private conversations that involved her mother around him. Taking the holo-vision device from her bag, she studied it. Remembering his harsh words about attending to her own things, she decided not to tell him about it. Harsh, strict and angry, James’ words were enough for her find a way to get stronger to avoid being hurt.

Taking the portable Holo-vision in her hands, Ash walked to the wall and placed it into an energy socket opening. The device hummed to life. The cartridge emptied a remote for her to use. Taking it, Ash studied it. Pressing a button, the Holo-vision shimmered. Her entire closet transformed as it slowly transited into a blank white room. With a gasp and a curious look over, the little girl looked around the room with awe. Slowly, she forgot about her father and walked around the empty room.

A female voice behind her spoke. It resonated around blank white room. Ash turned to see her teacher. Looking closely, she realized that it was the holographic version of Tiera. Her lips moved as the teacher spoke, “Welcome Ashlyn Sadi Techryn. I have been programmed to aide you with the questions you have about Holo-vision in case you have never used it before. My sensors detect inadequate decorations in your small bedroom. I shall provide the necessary ingredients to make a good room to make you home. Assuming you got your father’s permission I shall give you the basic choices of what you want to use.”

As Teira spoke, the empty white room shifted. Ash found herself underwater. Taking a breath, she exhaled as several bubbles came out of her mouth. Somehow she could breathe underwater. Her toes felt the cold sand as the water washed over her skin. Ash listened to her teacher speak, “If you want to sleep underwater, I can provide that.”

Tiera pointed toward the device Ash held and replied, “The remote you hold in your hand. It could be used to customize your room. I shall give you several options, if sleeping underwater isn’t your idea of fun.”

The room shifted transforming into a customized room. It had a desk included with a mirror. Her bed was higher from the ground. The woman finished, “We shall keep it to this setting and we will see what else we can do around the house.”

Tiera vanished as Ash looked around in bewilderment. Walking to her bed, she sat while placing her knees close to her. Hugging her knees together, the six year old looked out the new window that was provided by her new holo-vision device.

Part 2.2 of 2.8: Breaking the hand that which holds the end of the rope of innocence...

Ten minutes passed on the makeshift clock beside the bed. Ash lay on her back with her head on her pillow dozing off. Suddenly, she was interrupted as her father barged into her closet. Ash sat upright concerned for her life. James looked around and snarled with disgust, “Holo-vision. The first thing you use it and you bring this pathetic room to face. Get rid of it!”

Uttering a growl, he took out the rod, walked toward her and smacked her hand with it. Breaking her hand painfully, he caused her to lose her to drop the remote. Placing his foot onto the device, he broke it. The Holo-vision of her room shimmered and vanished. The girl fell back to the ground atop her regular small bed.

Holding her hand, Ash cried softly in pain while averting her eyes from her father’s scowl. With a snarl, he grabbed her arm and dragged her to the dining room. Ash didn’t resist as her feet dragged across the floor. Setting her upright in the dining room, he pushed her forward toward the chair and pointed at the table with her dinner on the placemat, “Sit! It’s time to eat.”

As James sat down, Ashlyn groaned walking to her chair. She sat on the chair trying to take the fork, but her hand was still in pain. It was broken. She used her other one and ate softly with James looking back at her. He growled speaking harshly, “I see she gave you a portable holo vision, even when I specifically asked her not to. I need to make a few more basic rules about this. If you ever use that device, only use it for school. Nothing else. If I see one thing that isn’t school related, I will tear that eyesore down and make sure you don’t use that device again. You hear me?”

Ash remained quiet while picking at her chicken nugget with the fork. Impatient, James stared back expecting her to talk and snapped with a growl, “I said do you hear me?”

She looked back up and stared into his eyes. The chicken nugget was slowly being chewed in her mouth. Seeing a faint glimmer of red in his eyes, she nodded grabbing her glass of orange juice while avoiding his glare.

Giving out an irritated sigh, James took a few bites out of his food and finished speaking, “Now the remote I broke? There should be a spare in the portable vision. It is the last one. Use that only for school and nothing else, you hear? Use it for studying or research. If I see one thing in there that you’re trying to decorate or do something good for yourself-”

Looking at her again, he let out a snarl and took his own plate, “You know what? It’s time for bed. When you’re done eating, put the dishes in the sink. I’ll wash in the morning. I’m tired.”

Taking his dishes, the big man walked halfway before stopping short and replied, “One last thing, make sure you’re up seven fifteen in the morning, that’s when I cook and that’s when we eat at a specific time. Don’t be late. Again.”

He left Ashlyn all alone in the middle of the dining room. The only light shone from the chandelier on the ceiling. Eating in silence, she pondered. Being only six, the little girl couldn’t understand several things. Why her father was like this? Why he was the only one who abused her and not the other people who think they care about her?

Part 2.3 of 3.8: In darkness was perseverance

Soon while one handed, she finished her food. The little girl carried the empty plate to the kitchen and placed it in the sink. She saw that other plate there untouched. Ash thought about cleaning it for her father. However she feared if she tried he would lash out on her. Standing there in the darkness, she turned on the only light next to her and caressed her broken hand. It was still giving her pain.

Ash pondered some more. If he wanted her to be strong, she would have to prove that she can be stronger for him and receive more of his attention. She couldn’t feel anything but pain. She couldn’t feel happy or offer a smile like her mother tried in that holo recording she saw. Grunting in pain, she placed her hands to pull back her hair and tied it into a knot. For tonight she tried to do the dishes and to clean them with what was on the sink around her. In silence she washed them all.

Morning came quickly. Ashlyn felt a slight breeze over her. It was a part of the holo-vision programming. She woke up to the crisp, warm smell of sausage and eggs. Taking off quickly, she ran across the hallway from her closet and to the dining table. The table was empty. Hearing someone in the kitchen, she quickly took her seat about the same time James came in with a tray.

James stopped for a moment looking at her with that cold stare while placing her plate on the table mat. Sitting down, he stared at her again and muttered to himself while eating in silence. She took it that he was fine with her washing. Finishing off her sausage and eggs quickly, she drank her orange juice. Grabbing her empty plate and glass, Ash picked up her dish when her father stopped her with a hand. He replied with his statement “Leave them. Get your stuff together, but don’t ever get back into the kitchen again. It’s off limits.”

He finished and touched the rod for a brief moment. She widened her eyes again in fear understanding what he meant. Leaving the dishes where they were, Ash left the dining room to get ready for school.

Thirty minutes later, Ash found herself in that same place in front of her school. Her father had already left her to fend for herself as she walked inside. With the memory of the school hallways fresh on her mind, her footsteps echoed among the empty waxed floors of the school. Finding her classroom, she opened the door and gasped in awe. There was a small shimmering effect in the doorway. It simulated the sight of water. She was underwater. Touching it, the simulation splashed making her finger wet. Touching it with her open palm, she walked through the simulated water and submerged herself into the underwater classroom. She wasn’t getting damp. The simulated effect of the watery feeling wasn’t real but it felt real to her.

Her teacher smiled beckoning her forward, “Hello again, darling. Today, from now one for several weeks will be an underwater day, where we learn about everything Earth used to have.”

Ashlyn looked around with awe of being underwater. Taking her pack off, she carried it walking toward her desk. A few fishes floated passed her. Several desks had interactive seashells on them with the names of children. Several bubbles rose around the classroom. On the desk, Ash found her seashell. She sat down as a lone fish strayed from the pack and towards Ash. Its fish-like eyes stared curiously.

Part 2.4 of 4.8: While underwater, never fear the unknown...

Tiera approached and crouched before her inquiring, “How was the portable holo-vision, was it useful?”

Ash nodded silently. The teacher sighed shaking her head and replied, “You know you gotta talk sometimes. Say something. Assure me that every thing’s going well.”

The six year old looked back and opened her mouth to say something, but closed it as one of the kids got her attention. His voice was fearful speaking, “Tiera, what’s that?”

The boy pointed at a large, white fish with teeth headed his way with fear. However, Teira laughed with a gentle smile, “That, John, is a Great White Shark. They are extinct now and all that remains are the bones in the museum or in the ancient sea floor where they once roamed.”

“Are-are they going to eat me?” the frightened boy stuttered.

Tiera approached him, took his hand and responded with a gentle tone in her voice, “You mean is it going to eat me? The answer is no, it’s all interactive, remember? I can control it so we can touch them without fear. They used to be kings of the ocean, the greatest predator ever lived in the seas, that is, until the oceans vanished and all that remains are several areas with water, but no fish in them. We tried to reintroduce them, but how could we if we killed them all years ago in that Great War?”

With a smile, Teira held him close while placing his hand on the shark’s rough skin. It gave him a tingling sensation of touching a real life shark as his teacher replied, “No, it is with this vision, it’s all we can do to keep them alive. We kept all the records that survived since that Great War years ago. With no fear of the unknown, it’s all we can do to experience what was once a great planet. What you see is what you touch.”

The teacher smiled looking down beyond the shark to see several more ocean mammals. It was the whales. She pointed speaking with reverence, “Go ahead, John, do not fear natures’ greatest creations since the dawn of time. Instead, walk over there and experience the love that was her creatures. It’s a blessing, to be able to experience it all again.”

Ashlyn watched the little boy. John was no longer fearful of the sea life. She observed him getting up and walked towards the singing whales. Laying her head down, the little girl watched the entire thing unfold. Her innocent dark eyes watched while listening to the mournful whale song studying and learning. Ash had good memory and she won’t soon forget what her father taught her.

As time passed, recess came. Everyone went outside. Ashlyn walked alone along the grass. Soon she felt company behind her. The same boy approached her. It was John. John spoke getting her attention, “Hey, that was a good demo, was it? The shark? I was so scared.”

Ash listened silently not feeling anything. He inquired, “The other day when I asked remember? Where’s your mom?”

At that question, she stared. Her cold expression returned within her dark eyes. She didn’t understand why he was mentioning that again. He tried again, “I think I know what happened. She’s dead is she? No its fine, I probably understand what you’re going through. I live alone with my dad and-”

Feeling anger, Ash growled. Her lips curled through her cold expression at the mere mention of her mother. With clenched fists, Ash moved forward and grabbed John on the shirt. Baring her teeth as her growl was almost audible. Without saying anything, she shoved John onto the ground and stared at him with hatred.

With fear and confusion in his eyes, John stuttered as he plopped onto the ground, “Hey, what? I just said-”

Ash snarled clenching her fists and walked toward him. John immediately propelled himself back from her and scampered with a whimper. Tears fell from his face as he ran from her with fear. She breathed hard with anger not understanding what was going on with her. Somehow at the mention of her mother is gets her emotional. The six year old was getting agitated and upset.

Part 2.5 of 5.8: Sing that mournful whale song...

Ash ran back into school, into that classroom where the whales were. She sat there listening to the songs not wanting to leave the room. The place felt peaceful as she became calmer.

“Those are the Blue Whales,” someone spoke behind her.

Ash turned to see her teacher. Tiera approach her softly. She sat by her and placed her arms around Ash. Moving the little girl onto her lap, the teacher spoke into her ear gently, “The largest ever accounted long ago was eighty feet and they were the greatest mammal to ever roam Earth’s oceans. However, they were lucky, as the last time man put them into account it was July ninth, twenty ten, four years before the war started. They became extinct, and some say they were lucky to avoid the war.”

Her teacher held her close. Brushing her dark hair aside, Teira spoke, “Ashlyn, you shouldn’t push someone like that. If you need to talk, I’m here you know? You’re not alone.”

Ash grabbed Tiera’s arm and lay against her chest. The song of the Blue Whales soothed her ears as the mournful tune of the whale song put Ash to sleep in the embrace of the teal colored Tricetra female.

The holo-vision shimmered as Ash laid on her chest reading a book. The ‘Grimm brothers’ fairy tales’ was the title that glowed across the header of her book. It was a school assignment that Teira gave her students to learn.

“Tell me a story,” a disembodied voice came from somewhere as Ash flew through the images that appeared around her holo vision filled room. She listened to the narrator speaking, “A fantasy, an imagination come alive. Experience the great awe, the mystery-”

Ash’s innocent dark eyes couldn’t comprehend the amount of imagination in this story and yet she couldn’t feel anything. The little girl couldn’t understand.

A door opened while she watched the vision. James looked around the holo and snarled, “Holo, shut images,” He scowled at Ash’s dark, innocent gaze and approached her carrying a hypo canister. The man spat with a warning, “Sit up!”

Part 2.6 of 6.8: First Injection

Ash gulped and obeyed while sitting up on her bed. He placed the case beside him and spoke harshly, “You know, I do not abide weakness, the weak and frail bones snapping with two fingers as if they were twigs.”

Putting up the medical instrument, he flicked his two fingers at the side of the swirling dark red cocktail inside and replied, “Our medical doctor, Doctor Walter Steed, wants me to inject you with this. It will keep you going, to stop you from getting sick and-” James stopped and let out a snarl turning from her. At the mention of Ash’s mother got him angry.

“Ashlyn, come close to me,” James spoke sharply beckoning her with his finger. He grabbed her and pulled up her arm. Ash grunted with pain as he placed the device on her arm. The medical canister pierced her skin and he injected the entire cocktail through her skin into her vein.

Ash gasped seeing her blood red veins appear for a moment as the medicine got hold for a moment before diminishing. James grabbed the case and got up. He turned for a moment, “I will do this to you at a daily basis, and I will not hold back. I will train you; make you stronger so I don’t have to put up with you. But I warn you, there’s a chance you won’t survive.”

He looked up and spoke, “Holo, input basic training, military edition 101.”

James left as the entire room shifted to a single, bland room. The V.I. or Virtual Intelligence appeared. It slowly transformed into an NCO male sergeant. With his hands on his back, he approached the six year old. He looked her up and down speaking, “Welcome maggot. I detect from your slim form that you need the basis of my training. This program is for the ages eight and up. If you are not of age, please shut off program and wait. It is harsh and arduous but it will prepare you for joining the Terrain Alliance Marine Corps and the Starfighting Navy.”

As the V.I. spoke, holo images appeared among the bland room. The commander explained each of the weapons, the training, and the drive that will bring her much closer to be stronger, faster and agile. Ash listened as the instruction ended with one single image slowly revolving around in front of her, “This is the fighting glove, much used basically by every officers with every know forms of hand to hand combat. These devices are specially designed for more than comfort and the protection to keep your fists from hurting.”

Ash stared unemotionally listening to the V.I. sergeant explaining about all forms of hand to hand combat.

Part 2.7 of 7.8: A full explanation of the Alliance

The following morning came. Ashlyn was in the school sitting in her seat while listening to her Tricetra teacher, “It was the year twenty one eighty nine.”

As Tiera explained, the holo vision actively thrust her students into the awe that was Earth, flying them over the vast Sands that were once the Earth’s oceans and finally stopping before the area near what used to be near Lake Victoria in Africa. The teacher’s voice carried in the small classroom, “It was the last year of war, the end of ages of suffering and pain and the beginning of a much closer embrace with connection, love, everything that was still good and sacred of the universe. It was right here, the signing of treaties between humanity, Sikkirian, Durian, Dresea. My people,” she stopped with sadness in her tone.

Her students regarded her with confusion not understanding what’s going on with her. She caught herself and responded, “They were Earth’s first aliens to join together in arms, in the promise of promoting peace though corporation, diplomacy, the bringing together of more alliance of beings different than us. It was that day when that time in New Year’s was the start of the Terrian Alliance. The years up to that point to AD, or Anno Domini, was spent, used up. Humanity had forsaken everything with that war, and TA, or Terrian Alliance was meant as starting over, to live a new life, a life without death, war, suffering. However we still continue to add the years for AD to remind us of what used to be,”

“After this signing of this new Terrian Alliance,” she walked around the room among the shimmering holo while speaking, “The SIAD, or the Special Intelligence Alliance Division, which I will explain at a later time because it’s a very big, important subject. The SIAD allowed for three new branches to form. It was the TAID, Terrian Alliance Intelligence Division. It was the basic, the main ground for keeping Earth and her colonies safe. Without them, colonies would cease to exist without the proper information to help them thrive. The second was the TAND, or the Terrian Alliance Navy Defense. It was the branch meant to preserve the exploration of humanity among her stars, seek out new life and if possible, defend Earth and her colonies from her enemies. But, they weren’t meant to be used for constant combat. Instead, they just attempt to resolve conflicts though reasoning, cooperation, and diplomacy. They avoid war at all costs to prevent the past from haunting us again.”

Teira let out a sigh stopping before Ash. She tapped her desk giving her a sad smile before turning back to the presentation and resumed, “The final third most important branch was the TAMC, or the Terrian Alliance Marine Corps. They were the main defense and offense for Earth and her colonies. Through harsh training and dedication involving constant combat and the best hand to hand fighting, we call on them on our darkest hour if her colonies are in need for defense. We rely on them to do the fighting for us and every day they die for us so that Earth’s colonies are safe. But it wasn’t enough. They can’t do everything. So, another branch was formed, diverged from the Marine Corps itself. It was called Starfighting, and it was meant for the defense of the Terrian Alliance’s ships and stations. Combined with the Marine Corps harsh training, the Starfigthing Corps, or TASF for short, work together in training and through a careful selection process, only one out of a three will join either the TAMC or the TASF and the third is deemed incompatible or weak. The third was offered to join another branch or become a civilian.”

The holovision ended as the teacher finished her rounds offering a smile, “Study this and learn. Your studies will usher you much closer to finding your place in the Terrian Alliance. There will be a quiz.”

Ashlyn read the rest of the info on her tablet. She had good memory. In her head, she could study them all especially the info about the Special Intelligence Alliance Division, or the SIAD. Soon the class was over. Grabbing the tablet and her bag, she rushed out of her classroom with haste.

Via the school bus, Ash made her way back home in about ten minutes. Outside her window, she noticed her dog waiting in front of the house. That brought a smile to her face as she grabbed the bag. Getting out of her seat, she rushed out of the bus and exited as the vehicle pulled away. The three hundred pound dog rushed toward Ashlyn while barking several times in greeting. Ash responded taking her bag off and opening her arms, “Kieka! How are you?”

The thirty inches fully grown dog barely overwhelmed Ash’s petite size. Kieka remembered to be gentle to its master’s family as it was trained to be familiar with the little girl. It was fiercely loyal. Ash gave the mix breed a hug as Kieka licked Ash’s face and arms. It was slobbering all over her. Ash felt the dog’s massive muscles while hugging it close to her. Tapping Kieka once on its muzzle, Ash moved back a bit and inspected her dog over.

The dog’s canines were sharp as its fangs showed through the closed mouth. Ash recognized that Keika was no normal dog. It was a large, mutated freak with genetically modified muscles built for combat and power. Ash somehow knew what happened to her father’s dog. Kieka created from birth through distinct genes from two strong dogs and James added something into the dog to give Kieka the strength and power to defend its master’s territory. It was also a male dog which for obvious reasons was why James wanted Keika this way.

Ash rubbed Kieka’s bulging muscles and grabbed Kieka’s foot paw inspected its sharp claws. They were huge and sharp which cut into Ash’s skin as she hissed in pain. Kieka licked her hand free of blood as Ash hugged her dog again showing her affection. She noted the fifth claw which stuck out like an appendage. It was free moving and appeared to attach or hook on whatever Kieka could place his paws on. Ash rubbed its muscles.

Part 2.8 of 8.8: First Training

A door opened from the door as Ash looked up seeing her father. James didn’t look happy to see her. Raising his finger, he beckoned her with a shout, “Ashlyn, come! Leave Kieka alone!”

As James closed the door, Ash quickly moved away from her dog and spoke a singular command. Kieka barked and switched to defense mode as it uttered a growl baring its fangs. It ran off to its patrol of its master’s territory. Ash rushed forward toward the house and opened the door to see James in front of her. He was holding the rod on one hand and offered a cold snarl as he spoke harshly, “Its time.”

The little girl had a fearful look on her face as she backed removing her pack. He rammed the rod against the wall as he shouted, “GO!”

Ash turned and ran toward her closet. James chased her down the hallway into her room. Soon as she ran into her room into an active holo, the V.I. sergeant spoke, “You’re late, maggot! If you ever have any hope of surviving this, listen to orders, keep up or give up and go home!”

Ash let out a snarl all of a sudden getting this rushing force of adrenaline from somewhere. Her face turned cold with anger. Her blood was flowing fast as her tanned skin was getting hot. She let out a roar as her dark eyes shimmered red for a moment. Clenching her fist, she ran from them all. Her father and this marine V.I. were being left behind. Letting out another roar, she stopped before the beginning of her training as that same NPC appeared before her. It spoke, “To train hard and fast, you must train your muscles, get stronger and more resistant to pain, suffering. You will sweat, you will suffer, and your muscles will get bigger. You will become harsher, colder, and merciless to your enemies. Now-”

A bead of sweat trailed down Ash’s cheek as she was getting hot and sweaty. She had on an emotionless anger while looking up scowling at the V.I. The virtual sergeant approached her with his hands behind his back. He shouted, “Because you are only starting, I will set you at the lowest setting possible. You will work your way up and you will work hard. You will not complain. You will not rest. If you ever stop this program, it is an automatic fail. Only I have a say when I detect that you have enough.”

The training room shifted and slowly transformed as several training machines were added including an obstacle course. The marine explained the basic steps of training for her size and weight for the next five minutes. He monitored her as she began her first steps into her training.

For the duration of weeks and months that followed Ashlyn’s training, James fed her the proper diet that will give her strength and resistance to the pain and muscle fatigue to her body. He also gave her daily injections to keep her strength up. She was becoming his fighter and molded her to survive through anything while keeping her studies up. He wanted her to become smarter.

Guidance was only offered by friends or enemies around her. The destiny was hers alone to walk towards her fate. It was inevitable. Some of humanity was destined to walk alone at some point. It was depressing yet inevitable.

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