Drake's Sword Part One

The Sword

 Colony Epsilon didn’t look so bad from the stratosphere. With four large continents and several thousand islands through out the oceans and seas, it resembled Earth in some ways. Accept the sky was a paler shade of blue due to the system’s twin suns and there were two moons.

“We’re taking you to City 5 in the North East section of Acheron!” The sergeant shouted. The landing craft was almost perfectly silent, even on reentry. “It’s the perfect battlefield where scum like you kill each other on a daily basis!”

Drake was indifferent, even with his body locked to the bulkheads and metal restraints holding his arms above his head. Across from him there was a much younger boy, the only other prisoner on this trip, and no older than twelve with short brown hair and a widows peak. His cheeks were soaked as tears streamed down his face, and his sobs rose above the sergeant’s howling. Drake was grateful because until now the boy had been wheezing heavily, presumably to hold back a torrent of vomit.

“Quit your blubbering boy!” The sergeant slapped the boy hard. “You’ll be eaten alive down here. They’ll beat you into submission and watch you bleed for the thrill of it!”

“Hey Serge,” Drake spoke up, throwing his head back to get the hair out of his eyes. “Who’d you piss off to get stuck with transfer duty? D’ya fuck up during some routine system patrol and get sent to pick on little boys as punishment?”

The sergeant turned his attention on Drake and glared. Leather boots clanged against the titanium floor, loudly in the confined space. Drake grinned, knowing he’d struck a nerve.

“Wipe that smirk off of your face boy,” he responded menacingly. For effect, he grabbed a handful of Drake’s hair and tugged hard. “I don’t take too kindly to dodgers, and if the Earth government wasn’t currently writing you off of existence I’d have ripped your heart out and eaten it for breakfast.”

Drake grimaced in pain but didn’t change his attitude.

“I’d rather not exist than die for that shithole,” he said, biting his lip as the sergeant made one more tug before letting him go.

A violent shutter traveled through the craft as the shock absorbers extended to meet the soft terrain. Drake noticed the younger boy’s terrible shade of green, and half hoped he could hold out before tossing his guts, even if a new edition to the sergeant’s wardrobe was in order.

The pilot undid the restraints and led the boys off of the craft at gunpoint. Before closing the blast doors and returning to the base ship the sergeant gave the mandatory speech, which Drake assumed everyone heard before being left to their own devices.

“As of now, you do not exist! We do not care what you do or how you do it. This world is your home until the day you die. May God have Mercy on your pathetic souls.”

The boy retched and dropped to his knees. The landing craft fired its thrusters and rose into the sky. Drake followed it as it shrank until the light from the suns became two intense for him.

Giving the smaller boy his privacy, Drake took a look at their surroundings. They were in a field with a strange yellowish color of grass and several roughly textured plants that resembled works of modern art. They were of varying shape and size all throughout the fields, and at a closer glanced they reminded Drake of coral. The air was clean and fresh, but it had an odd sweetness to it that lingered on his palette for a while. In the distance a glimmer of sunlight revealed a river, and beyond that were silhouettes of skyscrapers against the horizon.

The boy remained on his knees, his arms wrapped around his stomach, sobbing quietly. Suddenly, Drake noticed a filthy but shiny sword lying beneath some roots. It was similar to the European blades used by ancient knights, but the metal was an unusual shade of white. He looked around him and noticed movement near a clump of coral bushes, only a few feet from the boy.

“Kid,” he whispered. “Kid.”

The boy looked up at Drake nervously. Drake pointed to the bushes and motioned him to come over. The boy shook his head.

“Dammit,” Drake went for the sword. The handle was stuck underneath a clump of gray roots and he had to tug hard as the figure emerged from the bushes.

It was a frail stick thin man with short scraggily black hair and worn out old clothes, with crude knife in his hand. His body shuttered as he approached and Drake guessed it was some kind of buzz. As he made his way for the boy Drake gave another hard tug at the sword and tore the roots clear from the ground. It was heavy, but the metal wasn’t as rusty as he had assumed, so he hoped it would also be sharp enough to do the job.

Drake held the handle with both hands and ran, holding the blade at an angle. The man raised his knife and Drake planted his feet. Then, with one smooth swipe from left to right, he sliced through the cloth and flesh.

Blood spilled to the ground and the man collapsed face first. The boy screamed loudly as Drake bent over to pick up the knife.

“Come on!” He yelled to the boy. “Unless you’d rather die out here.”

That got him to his feet. And the boy ran along side Drake as more people approached, drawn by the landing of the hovercraft and whatever prospect made it enticing.

“Take this,” Drake handed the knife to the boy. “If anyone comes for you, raise your arm with the blade facing down and strike hard.”

Apparently the desperateness of the situation was obvious to the boy, and he didn’t object to taking the weapon.

“My name is Raymond,” he said, gasping for air.

“Drake. We’ll get to know each other more if we manage to make it to that river.”

“Right then.”

As they ran they could see that the fields seemed to stretch on forever. The terrain rose and dropped unexpectedly and it seemed to exhaust Raymond. But after climbing the Appalachian Mountains to get away from the Draft Police on Earth it came second hand to Drake.

When it seemed as though no one was following they slowed to a steady pace a half a mile from the river. More of the coral bushes arose from the ground closely together and much larger than the ones they had seen so far. The twin suns followed one another across the sky, so that one was nearing late evening while it appeared that the other was just making it to late afternoon.

“They look a bit smaller than ours,” Raymond observed, glancing up briefly and covering his eyes. “The sun’s I mean. Strange since there’s two of them.”

“Epsilon’s probably farther from them then Earth is from ours.” Drake remarked dryly. His eyes swept the area frequently but his arm was getting tired from carrying the sword and he knew he wouldn’t have much luck with it if he had to use it again. He glanced at Raymond and noticed that his knife was tucked into the belt loop of his black dress pants.

“Were you in school or something?” He asked, recognizing the blazer as if for the first time. “Didn’t think running in the halls would ever result in getting sent here.”

“I’m…” Raymond paused. “My parents died in a car crash.”

Drake’s face softened. He understood now. On Earth violent criminals and draft dodgers weren’t the only kinds of people that ended up here. Orphans with no living relatives, the homeless and people with severe disabilities or mental illnesses also headed the list of people who didn’t belong according to the new standards of Earth’s government.

“Why’d they drop you off here?” Drake asked, as if the answer were more apparent than plain negligence. “I thought orphans got sent to Vanity? Acheron is for the gangs and dodgers and what not.”

“I don’t know.” Raymond replied honestly. “No one told me anything. I just got shoved onto that ship and before I knew it I was on that lander. I used to live in Manchester, England, but my family had a long line of sicknesses. And since I had no grandparents or other family to take me in I got sent here. May I ask why they sent you here? That man said you were a draft dodger.”

Drake nodded. It didn’t make much of a difference to him who knew, and it felt good to get the whole story out anyway. So as entered a gathering of coral trees he told Raymond the story.

“I was born in Manhattan, New York. As the second child in the family, the new law says that I’m immediately drafted into the United States Army when I turn sixteen. Anyway when my sixteenth birthday came around my older brother John went to school out of country. My parents paid someone at the records department to change my information, so that it seemed as though I was the only child. They didn’t want me going off to the army, especially with the conflicts between Earth and the rest of the Solar System.

“It worked for a while. I got transferred to a new school and went under my brother’s name for about nine months. Then, while I was at school someone must have found out about the switch, and my parents were arrested on fraud. But before the police could come and take me I bolted from the school and used the old subway system to get as close to the outskirts of the city as possible. With plenty of old machines running the electro magnetic interference kept their scanners from finding me, and I escaped.

“For about six months I hitched rides, got work wherever I could and ran as soon as I could feel their shadow on my back. About three weeks ago after my seventeenth birthday, they finally caught up to me near the boarder of Canada and hauled my ass to Washington where I faced trial for violating the mandatory draft law. The judge gave me the choice of either joining the army as a late entrant, or getting sent here.”

“And you chose to come here?”

“Actually I flipped the judge off and told her to blow me. But I think she took that as a definite choice.”

Raymond snickered as the shadows of the coral trees enveloped them.

“This is a bit like going through a modern art exhibit,” Raymond said, rubbing his throat suddenly. “Wish I had some water to wash all this out.”

“River’s not far now,” Drake assured him, glancing behind the trunks and bows of each coral tree for signs of movement. “Personally I’d like to see some berries or something. I haven’t eaten since we left Earth.”

“How long ago was that?”

“A day in Earth terms. But to us it was probably only a few hours. Relativity’s funny like that.”

“It still feels like I haven’t eaten in days.” Raymond loosened his tie. “Guess I won’t be needing this anymore.”

“Or that blazer. For that matter I could do without this sweater.” Drake stopped and drove the sword into the ground so he could pull his gray sweater off. He wore a white undershirt underneath. “Whew, that feels better.”

Raymond wrinkled his face and covered his nose. “Blimey, you smell like a locker room.”

Drake snickered. “Oh yeah? Did you get a good whiff of yourself yet? I thought I would be the one to barf if I had to stay on that landing craft any longer.”

“Well if your hair were a little shorter your head probably wouldn’t be as oily. Good thing you didn’t go to school in England or you might get sent to an all girl’s school.”

“That’d be fine by me.”

Raymond laughed as Drake wrapped the sweater around his waste and picked up the sword.

“Lets go. I want to get out of this little ‘forest’ before more half-way house rejects jump out and attack us, or worse.”

They kept an eye on the river as it glimmered in the distance and passed the time pointing out the various shapes and colors of the coral trees and bushes.

“Check out that pasty green one. It looks like someone tried to make a sea serpent out of hardened guacamole.”

“That one kind of looks like a very large, very skinny blue hand.”

As they got closer to the edge of the forest the sound of the river became clearer. Drake was about to point out a yellow and blue coral bush when they heard voices, and the crackling sound of a fire.

Beneath the shade of a looming gray coral tree was a group of people varyingly dressed, all about Drake’s age or older. They sat around the fire eating, talking casually, or polishing weapons. One of them, a curly blond haired boy, looked up and stood to meet them. He was a foot shorter than Drake, and wore an old black vest made of Kevlar. Three of the other men got up to flank him.

“You must be the newcomers,” he said, confidently. “We heard the landing ship touchdown about half an hour ago.”

Something in the boy’s tone made Drake nervous. The other three were the muscle, but this kid was clearly the leader of the whole troop. Nevertheless, Drake tried to be civil and held out his hand.

“My name’s Drake. This is Raymond.”

“Ely.” The boy’s grip was firmer than Drake guessed. “I’m the leader of this group and this forest is our territory. Which reminds me, there are some rules.”

“Rules?”

“Two, specifically. You either join us or pledge complete loyalty to me…or you pay a tribute and leave quietly. Refuse to do either one and you will die.”

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3 comments

RS Wight 6 years ago

This is good stuff and has me hooked already. I look forward to reading the rest.


NateSean profile image

NateSean 6 years ago from Salem, MA Author

I was thinking of re-writing this one so I'd be definitely glad to hear all of your input. :)


parrster profile image

parrster 6 years ago from Oz

Nice writing! You manage dialogue very well and keep the pace moving full tilt (necessary for this genre). engrossing. thx

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