Book One: The Innocent Heart

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First Birthday

Part 3.1 of 1.8: Happy 29th, 072452.262, Seventh Year...

Six months passed since the day Ash left the hospital. It was July twenty ninth, oh seven twenty four fifty two point two hundred sixty two. After six months she felt tiny muscles growing on her tanned skin. She was seven years as the injections her father gave her were somehow giving her the strength to survive the harshness of the training demo. Still on that basic Marine training 101, Ash craved and desired more.

Clenching her fists for a moment, the seven year old approached the door of her school. Her dark eyes gave a slight tinge of her cold, uncaring emotion. Opening the door, she entered and strolled across the halls. Her footsteps echoed as she searched for her room.

Twisting the knob of the door to the classroom, she entered to see the room in holo-vision. This time it was filled with decorations with the name across the banner that said happy birthday. Tiera smiled approaching her with the cake. Her teacher spoke, “Hey, here’s your slice. Happy seventh! We got some presents for you,” she smiled pointing at the short pile of neatly wrapped presents next to her.

The kids in the classroom watched her. Ash let out a confused look as the cake was thrust on her hand. Tiera held her close and seated her onto the chair before handing her the fork. She replied, “Eat it! Sure it’s healthy and might not taste so good, but it’s the exact reproduction of a birthday cake as it was in the year twenty ten. Enjoy!”

The seven year old sat there with her cold stare gazing at the sweet looking food before her. Her teacher expected her to eat the cake. Shrugging her shoulder, she took a bite and plopped it in the mouth. Internally, she gagged. The cake tasted horrible. Externally, she couldn’t find the exact expression to portray her distaste for the cake, so she just choked it down as another boy came beside her. He offered her a present, “Hey! Here is something for you. I don’t want there to be any hard feelings. I’m sorry for what happened during the past months, but-”

Ash looked at him and regarded him with coldness and hatred. He was weak. Tiera stopped and pulled John aside while responding, “Okay John, let’s leave her alone for now. Ash, open your presents!”

She stopped for a moment looking behind her at the other boy who was silent like her. He was watching as he had been for the past six months. His stare was making her feel uncomfortable and uneasy. His gaze was different than most of her classmates. It was colder and harsher. He looked to be two years older than she is. Letting out a low, slight snarl, she shook her head of confusing feelings before picking up her cake. The seven year old got up from her chair.

Ash walked to the table not understanding the whole concept of birthdays. Still, it was something her father would look down upon and she would have to accept those while discard them somehow without him knowing. Finishing up the cake, she opened the presents and placed them all onto the bag. The bell rang loudly. It was time for recess. Ash rushed outside and across the ground. She was stopped by the boy. He was the same one who was quiet in the class too.

The boy handed her a small wrapped box. He finally spoke as his cold expression changed for a moment, “Hey, thought I would give you this. Umm, first time I saw you, I saw your eyes and somehow I knew that you might need this. I got it, but you need it more. I was trying to find the right time to give you this.”

He shifted uncomfortably in his feet offering her the present. She looked back coldly and accepted it. Ash watched him nod and walk off. She tore the wrapping off and noticed the box. Opening it, she noticed a pair of gloves in there. It wasn’t just any gloves. It was a special kind of gloves that would be placed on her and she wouldn’t feel any pain when she uses it for heavy duty. It was more for lifting or handling objects with sharp spikes or rugged surfaces.

Opening the box, Ashlyn took out the gloves. She discarded the box. Taking the straps, she pulled it over her hand to try it on. She tested it by clenching her hands. Feeling nothing new, she decided to try it out. Making a fist, the seven year old walked to the tree and rammed her fist on it. Backing a bit, she let out a growl and snarled a bit looking at her gloves. She felt no pain from hitting that tree, so she rammed her fist again. This time, however, she started feeling rage in her surfacing again for only a moment. She liked the feeling.

The school bell rang. It was the final bell signifying the time to go home. She left the school grounds and got into the school bus. The bus pulled off taking the group of kids home. As the ten minutes passed, Ash rushed off the bus and toward her home. The holo-vision was the first she ran for in her room clenching her gloved fist. The holo activated, as if to recognize her again. It brought out her next course of what she should do. It was her homework on what she learned about the SIAD, or the Special Intelligence Alliance Division.

Part 3.2 of 2.8: The first taste of hand to hand...

After she had got done with her homework, she listened to her bonus requirement for extra credit. The same disembodied voice spoke displaying a device and a virtual image of a random but blank person just to protect the privacy of others. It was simply a model of any person.

“The Eye-scaper,” that same disembodied voice explained with Ash typing in a few notes as the holo shimmered, “is an unusual device as it could take a person’s eyes and copy the image, the reflection from within into a holo video from which we could record the person’s last image, dead or alive. It was used mostly by TAID agents, as they sometimes act as a Crime Investigator to watch the last moments of a person’s death, or if possible, they would capture a suspect and interrogate them by forcing them into a chair and placing the device over their eyes, read their pupils and reflect their images into videos. It was convenient-”

The shimmering holo images thrust Ash into a whole new vat of information. She constantly kept her mind opened to untold possibilities. The holo shut off as James came in with another hypo canister. He spoke harshly, “Ashlyn, it’s time.”

Ash stared back unemotionally removing her shirt leaving only her tank top. She pulled her dark hair into a tight ponytail. James approached her, took her arm and rammed the cylindrical device into her skin. She grunted softly feeling the medicine taking hold. He took her hands and responded, “You have fighting gloves? Good, that saves me from buying you one. I already know how you got it, but still, use it well and you will live longer.”

James put the medicine away and withdrew his rod. He inquired, “Are you ready to train?”

Ash barely had a chance to respond as he smacked her hard on the back. She grunted falling on all fours on the ground. She felt her blood rushing again. Her adrenaline surged as he raised his rod again to beat it down. She let out a snarl, twisted around and grabbed his rod. With whatever her strength was she tried to push his hand back and thrust his rod back with a roar. Effortlessly, James simply stared back as he grabbed her chest and pushed her thrusting her across the floor.

The rod hummed with energy as he brought it to his side speaking, “You’re still much too weak. Take on your opponents your own size.”

She snarled roaring again with anger as her father left. Sensing her anger, a V.I. virtual trainer appeared before her. It was her own size and strength as well as genderless. It was a blank virtual model of a person. Clenching her fist and standing up, she prepared to fight it. It was the only way for her to get stronger and to control her anger. For several months that followed till today, she had been researching much using the holo-vision. Just for that, she got stronger through training. Her father still abused her, but that only drove her to get stronger in order to remind herself.

Part 3.3 of 3.8: Letting out the anger and frustration...

Ash stood there stoic with silent fury for the autonomous blank model. Her arms were down, but slightly outward forward with her fists clenched. She exhaled with several harsh breaths. Her long, dark curled hair slightly covered her dark eyes. The virtual training model had its fists forward and its legs spaced. It bounced slightly as if it was programmed to dance. Never speaking once, the trainer made a grunt while striking first. Its fist made its mark colliding with her face.

Ash grunted as she spat a little taking the blow. Scowling back furiously at the trainer, she snarled with anger. The girl allowed the training program to hit her again several more times. She took the blows to get some more adrenaline in her system. Ash bled a little from that last punch. Reeling back as the trainer thrust its fist against her thigh, Ash stumbled as it backed up keeping its fists raised.

Touching her lip with the back of her hand, she felt a little sting from her lip as blood trickled down. Letting out a snarl, she clenched her fists. Rushing forward with a yell, the little fighter raised her fists. The trainer attacked with its own fist. Ash blocked it by grabbing its wrist, twisted it around and followed it with her other fist against the trainers jaw.

The trainer automatically switched to defense as Ash let go with another fury of blows yelling. The trainer moved its arms and thrust another fist at her head, but she ducked and let out a final furious fist against the trainer’s chest. It fell back from the powerful blow as Ash grabbed its throat. With a growl and another yell, she kicked the trainer on the knees and thrust it on its back onto the ground.

Standing over it, she watched it with fury not understanding the actions of others. She couldn’t understand why the people outside the household were in such a cheerful mood and her father was the only one who gave her the rod. It was her birthday. She turned seven and the day hadn’t passed just yet. She got all the presents and the only one who haven’t gotten her anything was him. Looking at the fallen trainer, she imagined it as her father. That was easy for her.

Ash walked over to the top of the trainers’ chest and knelt. Her knees compressed its torso as she pressed against it. Taking its throat by her clenched hand, she closed her other hand into a fist. Pulling back her fist, she let go as her fist hit the trainers face several times. The autonomous person grabbed her wrist and her raised shoulder trying to keep her a bit of a distance.

Since it was just a virtual trainer and not a real person, it laid there like a dummy while Ash used her rage to hurt it. Finally, she ceased. Grabbing its throat, she squeezed the virtual life out of her dummy trainer. The dummy felt no pain or resistance and Ash let out another roar letting go. Looking up and toward the door, she let out a scream with rage. The little fighter rushed out seeking her father.

Rushing down the corridor with her adrenaline on full mode, she found him. She yelled getting his attention. James turned and noticed her anger. Getting out his rod, he activated it and rushed toward her. He primed to beat down on her, but she nimbly ducked out of the way and thrust her fist onto his kneecap. Her father was brought down to her size in pain. She grabbed his rod and punched at his wrist disabling his only weapon.

Taking the rod, Ash turned his own weapon against him with a smack across his face. James grunted with surprise as he was knocked about. Grabbing Ash’s wrist with the rod, he snarled raising his fist and hit her hard on the head. Ash blacked out as darkness took her. Feeling her body hit the ground, she went unconscious.

Part 3.4 of 4.8: A little conversation with the doctor

When she came to in that medical facility with Doctor Steed standing over her scanning with the medical device, her doctor smiled speaking, “Welcome back Ashlyn. Your father told me what happened. You were sparring with your father and he hit you a little harder than he should. That would explain the head injury, but you’ll be fine. I trust every thing’s good?”

Ashlyn sighed closing her eyes and nodded. Walter noticed that something was up with her and inquired, “What is it? You can tell me.”

She looked at him unsure. Her outer expression was blank, but her inner thoughts were screaming as if they were crying out. He seemed to sense that as he sat beside her and touched his chest responding, “We medical physicians have what is called a code. It’s something like doctor-patient confidentiality so whatever you share it is between us. No one else will know what is said between us.”

Ash looked back her doctor giving him a look. Letting out a sigh, she responded, “It’s my birthday today. I celebrated it during school, but when I got home my father didn’t get me anything. Instead, he just gave me my injection and walked away.”

Her doctor listened and inquired, “So, what happened? How did you get that head injury?”

Ash responded, “I got angry and got into it with him. He didn’t get me anything and he deserved it. He hurts me. Lashes out when he gets angry.”

Walter sighed as he moved his finger to the fallen strand of hair across her face and moved it aside. He responded shaking his head, “So he hit you because you attacked him over a present?”

Ash stared at her doctor and growled with frustration as she snapped, “You don’t believe me?”

Offering his two open palms, he replied, “Hey, calm. Easy. It’s not that I don’t believe you. It’s that I can’t do anything right now. You lost your mother and he is just feeling lost. He is angry. Give him time. Soon he will see the light. Now, I got you a little something from me, Rhea and the rest of the medical staff.”

She sat there and watched Walter pull out a small box with some strings tied on it. She accepted it as he offered his smile, “Open it.”

Ash tore the strings off and opened the box. In it was a small pendant with a chained lace. She removed it and dropped the box on the floor studying the metal necklace with curiosity. The girl looked at her doctor as her doctor took the pendant explaining, “This is a type of technology simply called Fit. You wear it around your neck and it tells me your condition. What you are feeling right now and if you are feeling sick, it automatically sends me a page telling me how much you are sick or if you are hurt. If that is the case, I will notify your father and come immediately to your aide to tend to your injuries. Think of it as a health monitor. Wear it constantly every day. However, during the night you may take it off. It will still monitor you from a safe distance of thirty meters, no more.”

Part 3.5 of 5.8: Fit, the new marvelous little technology

Ash nodded liking the technology. Wrapping her hair together, she placed it aside as he put the Fit health monitor necklace around her neck. Letting her hair fall, she touched Fit. It activated with a few flashes of light indicating her that it was ready on stand-by. She placed it inside her shirt.

The doctor offered a smile as Ash looked at him. He finished, “Happy birthday. I’ll let you go home tonight so you can eat with your father. Just remember to give your father some of his space and he will respect yours. He still loves you. I know this. He is just frustrated and angry.”

Walter helped her up from bed and towards the transporter. He pressed a button. Ash vanished in a blinding light and found herself back to her house with her father standing and waiting. James growled with anger raising his hand. He smacked her onto the face bringing her on all fours.

Letting out a snarl, James kicked her over while speaking harshly, “What was that for? You think you can take me? You think you’re strong enough to take me? You’re weak and pathetic, so why don’t you pick on someone else your own size!”

James grabbed her on the arm and pulled her along. Ash yelled out trying to resist. She bit into his thick muscular arm, but he shrugged it off not feeling it. Stopping before her little room, he thrust her in and closed the door locking it. Ash’s eyes changed in demeanor, making her colder. Letting out a growl, Ash tried to stand. She yelled rushing toward the door and rammed her body against it trying to break the wooden frame. The door didn’t budge. Letting out a frustrated growl, Ash returned to her little bed.

The little girl was hungry, but she was tired. The seven year old fighter needed her sleep. She can’t fight her father. It was useless, so she would have to grow up to his size and take him on. She wanted to grow up and kill him to take him out of his misery.

She no longer had tears as his abuse dried it all out. Following a year and several months after, she would get harder and stronger to be able to take his blows. For now, she would have to wait patiently for that day.

In the school as several months passed, the seven year old little girl sat at her desk. Her dark hair was tied back into a ponytail. It was now the month of October. The leaves were falling. Ashlyn looked back at the old man with her dark unemotional eyes and studied him with hatred.

Teira spoke, “Robert Guielspe, born circa August fourth, he was born in the turbulent time that was World War IV. While all men like him were drafted to join war, only he remained a pacifist. He was raised by only his mother, as he never knew his own father. He was born innocent. Some say he was touched, blessed by a God, for he grew and in secret, without humanity knowing, he planned in detail during the course of the war and when the war ended, he built the vision while the world around him was still for the first time,

Part 3.6 of 6.8: Robert Guielspe’s sole vision to the stars...

She spoke as the hologram of an old seventy two year old man walked with careful grace across the room. He walked through students as if he was a shadow or a ghost. Stopping before a large device, the old man typed a few commands while talking to himself. Tiera resumed, It was November twenty one eighty nine, the two months before the new calendar started with TA 0 to begin, that he offered his vision to the world, and thrust them with the new promise that the future will only get better if we push ourselves forward,”

“His inventions and creations sparked the controversy that followed. The holo-vision that Guielspe invented, or created was entirely alien and unknown to them. They accused him of being a fraud, but he simply spoke that he was guided or led by someone or something out of this world. He described them being red skinned with yellow eyes, and that they only want humanity to thrive, to be guided to the stars. It was through him these unknown aliens spoke and guided him with that invention. But the people, humanity, were furious. It sparked a heavy debate that followed with people pointing fingers and accusing him.”

Tiera sighed saddened as she pressed the device. The room shimmered and thrust the classroom into a hospital near the bed. The old man lay on the bed sick and frail as the teacher spoke, “Two months that followed his announcement, and him preparing knowing that he will die soon. It was exactly on his deathbed, January first, TA Zero, exactly on New Year’s Eve, he died of natural causes at his old age. In his final words and will, his message brought about a new age of mourning. His grandson, Rickard Hal Guielspe, stood by his side and Robert made him promise to continue on his legacy and become the people’s new leader.”

With a smile, the teacher ended the Holo-vision and finished, “Now, this is just the part one of my presentation. Now is the true reason of my instructions. Get together in groups of two and discuss what I have just presented. Go now, its break time, so take the time to decide who you want to be with. It will be graded.”

The bell rang. Teira sighed and smiled allowing her children to leave. Ash left her seat and rushed through the halls breathless. She ended up outside breathing in the fresh air. Across from her eyesight, John approached. Ash let out a low angry growl. John had his brown hair neatly cut and trimmed as he spoke, “Hey Ash! Look, I just wanna get to know you a little better. I don’t understand why you’re so mad at me so, want be my partner? I’ll help you with this assignment and you can talk about what’s bothering you.”

The seven year old ball of fury turned on him with slightly angry scowling dark eyes. She clenched her gloved fist, but another boy came in between them. He pushed John aside speaking, “Hey, leave her alone, John. She doesn’t want to talk to you.”

John stepped forward with a protest, “But, my father, he said that if something’s wrong, I should be the one to help out, to understand. I wanna-”

The bigger boy with a razor cut shaved and slightly Mohawk hair was three years older. He clenched his gloved fist growling at him. Pushing John with his other hand, he spat, “I said, she doesn’t want to talk to you. So if you’re smart, you will listen, unless you want me to punch your face in!”

John looked back into the boy’s eyes in fear and whimpered backing away. He ran back into the school. The older boy turned to Ash. She was breathing through her teeth and growled at him not saying anything. He shrugged offering his gloved hand, “Hey, just didn’t want you to get in trouble just yet. Come.”

Part 3.7 of 7.8: The Rogue...

He walked toward the schoolyard and laid his back against the wired cage. Beyond it was the baseball field. Taking out a box from his pocket, the ten year old boy pulled out a white stick. It was some kind of white coated candy. He placed it into his mouth. Lying back further with his other foot against the cage behind him, he displayed all the early signs of a roguish boy. He was a troublemaker or a bully. At least he was someone who was pining for the wrong side.

Ash looked with curiosity while approaching him. He displayed all the signs of being socially casual as if he didn’t give one care about the world. She spoke his name while placing her gloved hand on the wired cage beside his head, “Ty-”

He offered his box of candy sticks giving her a slight roguish smile. She looked at it with an unemotional confused glance. He confirmed, “It’s good. Slightly sweet yet a tad bland. At least, makes me look bad.”

He laughed and gave her a wink as she took one of the sticks studying it. He spoke changing his tone as he noticed the gloves, “I see you still wear those fighting gloves I gave ya. They good?”

She nodded placing the stick in her mouth and chewed on it. It snapped in her mouth. Tyler sighed as he placed the box back into his pocket. He sucked on the candy and spoke with a slight twinkle on his eyes, “Come on! Show me what you got. I know you’ve been training. I can tell.”

Ash looked at him as he stood before her and placed his hands up beckoning her forward. She noticed him eyeing her strong form. Tyler spoke, “Show me your fighting form! Your stance! It tells me what you are.”

She placed her dukes up and spaced her legs. He looked impressed and nodded satisfied tapping her on the shoulder, “Alright! It looks good!”

Ash relaxed as Tyler responded, “Now, if you want you can come with me into the forest. Explore a bit. Take your time away from all that school work. It’ll be tough. Harsh, but if you stand by me, we’d have a chance to do well with this one.”

He offered his hand and walked towards the forest with his other hand in his pocket. The seven year old girl looked back at him with her dark, emotionless eyes. Growing curious again, she followed him from a safe distance. They walked along the path through the forest. It was created by the school to offer students a safe environment to allow them to explore their surroundings.

The path ended to a huge glade before a shimmering force barrier. Tyler looked beyond it into the world out there. The school was placed beside a cliff where it used to be an ocean. All he saw was just a bunch of sand. Ash gasped approaching close to the force barrier. She watched the sands flowing slightly. It wasn’t windy however as the sands were still flowing.

The older boy explained approaching beside her, “The Sands, what you’ve heard in the holo-vision and experienced was a shimmering reality that ended World War III with a bang. All the world’s oceans vanished. It left behind its only legacy. The salty sand with water still flowed among her seas. However, it diminished greatly and killed off all the fishes and the mammals that once lived. Most of them suffocated and died out. Only mother nature’s children that remained alive burrowed or swam along what was left of the oceans.”

Ash blinked her dark eyes looking at the boy with confusion. He didn’t force himself or attempt to try to help her. Instead in some weird, unusual way, he was guiding her. Feeling like she could trust the young boy, she grasped his hand once and looked at him. Tyler looked back at her and offered her a roguish smile. He finished chewing his stick and led her away from the field back across the path toward the school. They were hand to hand as if he was meant to guide the girl along for the rest of her life.

Part 3.8 of 8.8: Tainted Food

That following afternoon, Ash went home on the bus with her new friend. Tyler kept his hand grasped with Ash’s hand during the ride. When the bus stopped before her house, she left her seat. Tyler watched her leave. He offered his gloved hand on the window watching her. She watched him get further away as the bus rolled down the road. Snapping back to reality, she watched her large muscled dog rushed toward her panting.

Kieka barreled toward her and greeted with love as Ash bent down offering a smile. Kissing her dog on the head, she replied cooing, “Did you miss me, Kieka? Did you?”

The Rottweiler/pit bull cross breed barked in affirmation. She found herself musing on the alien name Kieka. Her father told her that it was from an alien language that meant demon. She hugged it close offering her own love for the dog. Keika placed its strong, muscled arm over her shoulder as its sharp claws lightly scraped the shirt covering her back. It was the only time she wouldn’t feel confused, because Keika was a dog. It could only offer its comfort whereas her father couldn’t.

The seven year old three feet five inches tall girl pulled Keika with a grunt. The large dog growled opening its sharp fangs as it wrested with its human onto the ground. It opened its fangs with a growl and licked Ash’s neck. Ash rubbed and patted the dog on the head with her gloved hand. Pushing it off with a grunt, she got up and walked along the driveway to her father’s home.

With loyalty, Keika barked and followed her as it licked her hand. Stopping, Ash turned and spoke a command her father told her to say. Kieka barked in acknowledgment running off to do its rounds. She opened the door to a smell that caused her stomach to growl. It was a good, warm smell of food being cooked. She took off in a run to her room to place her bag back down.

Ash made her way back to the dining room. It was already set. She crept from the dining table and opened the kitchen door slightly to see her father placing something on her food. It was a liquid of some sort on one of the dinner plate with the food on it.

Sensing someone watching him, he snarled and turned showing his red eyes slightly. He pulled out his rod and advanced her. She withdrew quickly and scampered to the chair as a loud thwack on the closed kitchen door could be heard. It was followed by an uneasy silence.

The door was opened and James walked through with two plates on his hands. He placed one before his daughter and took his own seat to begin eating. She looked before her pasta with the red color of spaghetti sauce covering it and steak bits mixed in with cheese sprinkled over it. On the side were her veggies and before her was a glass of Orange Juice.

Ash gulped studying her food. She had a slight concern that her father put something on it. He spoke dismissing her concern entirely, “You saw me put something in it did you? I didn’t want to tell you, but now I have to. It’s another part of your medicine for your growth to make your bones stronger. It was prescribed by Doctor Steeds about the same time he had me to inject you with the medicine. That was the first part. The second part is the food, which I have been doing for the past year or so.”

She study it unconvinced. However, he responded to her concern, “If it was poison, you would have been dead long ago. Eat.”

James reminded her again with placing the rod on his table. Ash took his warning and grabbed her fork. She twirled her pasta with the sauce and the cheese sprinkled steak bits. Feeding herself several of her bites of the pasta, she drowned her drink in a gulp. While avoiding her father’s dark gaze, she finished her food and left her plate.

In silence, Ash retreated back into her own room. With the holo on, she studied what she learned from the past months or so. The exam was coming soon and she prepared. The seven years old was smart and her brain somehow could access all the information while storing it inside.

She’d have a chance to pass the exam while thinking about the older boy, Tyler. She got to know him a little better. The young girl cared nothing for anyone in the school. However, Tyler left her a curious thought on her head as if he was somehow a part of her journey. In some respects, he will be a part of her journey into darkness. He would be her guide as she walked hand to hand with the rogue.

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