It was supposed to be a simple task. That’s what Elegan had said six hundred times. This was not the Reaper’s main base, after all. A five-year-old could trick their way through the security, and there were barely enough people to even keep the place running. The only things that were fully operational were the interrogation and execution rooms. And the coffee makers.
Magnora’s team were supposed to let themselves get captured. Elegan had said that once the Reapers recognized Magnora, they would take her to the Bludgeoner. However Elegan had failed to mention that Reapers went hunting at night. Only at night. They came when Magnora’s team was sleeping, resting for their mission in the morning. She heard them coming. She tried to sound the alarm, but realized she had forgotten the tiny thing in the meeting pavilion. She bolted from her tent, and was about to scream, when she saw Machete, wearing the Reaper’s insignia on his arm. The sight of her brother froze her in her place. He didn’t recognize her. Her moment of hesitation got most of the team killed in their sleep.
Elegan. Two of her mistakes that Magnora was blamed for.
That’s Corporal Bundee to you, Sergeant, Magnora imagined her sister snapping at her. And it isn’t my fault that you always let your emotions get in the way.
There was a sound in one of the other rooms. Magnora moaned and tried to block it out, but since her hands were cuffed to the chair there wasn’t much she could do. The scream came again. It was like the sound of crying souls.
“…just won’t be broken,” she heard one of the Reaper’s technicians mutter as they passed through the holding room. They took little notice of the naked prisoner chained to the chair. “They refuse to accept that their way is wrong. That Elegan girl has got them risking their lives for something they don’t even understand.”
Why were they talking about her sister? Magnora wondered how much they actually knew about what Elegan made them do. Much more than give up their lives. Families thirst for each other’s blood.
Magnora had only managed to save one member of her team. The Reapers said that they would kill him if she didn’t tell them where the Rebel’s headquarters were. Her head was swimming…They would kill Sephar if she didn’t tell them where her sister was…but where was her sister? Where was the cell? Whoever had knocked her unconscious had knocked the truth out of her head.
And never before had she wanted to remember so badly. She didn’t know why she suddenly wanted to give up the location of the division, why she wanted to lead the Reapers to her sister and the other Rebels. All she remembered was lines, straight and orderly, kept perfect by her sister’s infallible death grip.
The light was too bright. It was blinding her to what she was supposed to do. Get to the base. Draw in the Bludgeoner. Blow the Reapers into the sky. Magnora felt the detonator with her tongue. It was such a tiny thing, so easy to accidently set off if it hadn’t been for all the safeties in her teeth. One of her upper right molars would signal Elegan once the job was done. Her canines were the codes to the safety. And her top incisors would set off the explosives hidden around the base.
Elegan had made mission sound so simple, like a compass that only pointed north.
But she was so tired. And why did she suddenly want to save Sephar so badly? She heard his soul-crunching scream again. What were they doing to him? She was supposed to be in charge. She was supposed to keep her small team safe.
There was something…something…she didn’t want to do this anymore.
A cry escaped her lips. It woke her up, finally. But she still didn’t remember where her sister was. Elegan was never there anymore. Whenever things got messy, Magnora was always the only one to deal with the aftermath. And then she remembered. She remembered what one of her soldiers had said, as he lay dying in the grass. He called out to Magnora as one of the Reapers led her away: “You’re just another one of her pawns.” He started to scream as one of the Reapers kicked him in the side. Breathlessly, he continued. “But now you’re starting to get your own ideas and getting in her way! She just wants to get rid of you!”
Magnora shook her head slowly, clearing the image of the dying boy from her mind. She couldn’t hear Sephar anymore. Time to get back to work.
“Hey,” she called, her voice hurt. But the Reaper’s heard her and one of them came into the room. “Go and get my – the Bludgeoner. I think I remember where the base is.” There was a shriek. “And tell your goons to let Private Goodwin be!” The Reaper curled her lips distastefully, but left, accidentally knocking a pen from a metal table.
Magnora stared. It couldn’t be. Elegan had been so careful in her planning and had reassured Magnora six hundred times.
Why was there a bomb under that table? Elegan had known that Magnora would be held and questioned in this very room.
“Magnora!” said a booming voice. Magnora’s head snapped toward the door. It was filled with the gigantic, smiling form of the Bludgeoner. “I’m so glad you’ve decided to cooperate with us.” She glared at him. It had been a shock, learning about his fate, but since then she had lost all pity for him. He had gone over to the dark side too quickly for pity. “Come on now, honey, you know that I only want to help you. Go ahead and tell me where your sister is, so I can go rescue her.”
In her disoriented state, Magnora lost her temper much too quickly. “I’m not doing this for you, dad,” she spit. “And don’t worry; I know exactly what you want. To thwart the mission at any cost.” But the words felt wrong. She was the one who had done this, after all. When Elegan was gone. Magnora was the one who had gotten their father captured…Elegan had never quite forgiven her…
The fire left her. Staring at her bloody, nail-free toes she rattled off the name of one of the Rebel bases to the Bludgeoner. When he left, she pressed her tongue to her upper right molar.
While she waited, she tried to figure out what was bothering her so much. The presence of the bomb was only part of it. Sephar had told her once, “Don’t let others control you. Order and chaos should both be your choice.” Choice. That’s what the Rebel’s mission was supposed to be about. Fighting conventions, fighting to live free of constraints.
She was still trying to identify the desire that she couldn’t name when the other Rebels showed up, silently slipping into the bogusly under-armed base. Magnora was graced by her sister’s presence.
“Here, take this.” Elegan took off her coat and handed it to the naked Magnora. She was calm, controlled. Everything was in order. Magnora had failed once again: business as usual. “Now, for whatever reason you didn’t press the detonator, but since everyone is still inside, all we have to do is sneak out and then –”
“No,” Magnora interrupted quietly.
Elegan barely stifled her surprised shout as Magnora pushed her to the ground and ran out, slamming her sister into the interrogation room. Locking the door. There were guards and technicians littering the floor of the hallway.
“You’ve forgotten the mission.” Magnora saw Elegan’s eyes drift to the bomb hidden under the metal table. “I’m tired of you always needing to control everything, Elegan. You’re not even trying to fight against conventions anymore, like the rest of us. You’re just trying to get revenge. On me. On dad.” Magnora smiled widely, showing off the detonator to her sister. “I’m in charge now, Elegan. You’re not the boss of me anymore. Now, are you coming?”
Elegan threw herself against the door, screaming. “That’s Corporal Bundee to you, you little brat! Now let me out of here! You will never be in charge, this is my army, you are my Sergeant, and I’m the only one who gets to decide what we are fighting for.”
Magnora stared her sister in the eye for a half a second. An alarm was sounding, and she could hear feet running above them.
She left, finding Sephar and the others waiting in the surveillance room. “Where’s the Corporal?” one of them asked.
Magnora closed her eyes, and then remembered. “She made her choice,” she replies quietly. “And I finally made mine. Now come on, we’ve got a war to win.”
As they ran out of the building, Magnora pressed her tongue to her incisors, and didn’t even flinch as the base was blown into the sky.
November 17, 2014