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From the Ashes

Updated on February 7, 2014
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Ashes fell like snow that day. The nation was now purged, by the power of fire and ice. Jake stood there, in the middle of the final battlefield that would determine the future of their nation. He felt the cold snow and breeze pass through his body. The unseen forces of nature were in their side. The parliamentary building where the dictator stayed was crumbling down. Few defending forces, loyal to the dictator fought against overwhelming odds. But however, in the hearts of men who chose to defend the dictator, hid fear. Fear of losing, fear of their lives being sacrificed for a man who is not worthy. The inevitable is bound to happen and there was no way out. Oh how much Jake has changed, how much the battles changed him.

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“We live to fight another day.” Yuri said to his man after the battle of the town centre ended. Jake heard it. He saw Yuri standing on top of what remains of a car. Yuri raised his rifle to the air and the fighters followed his action. It was the day that changed all of them; it was the day that changed Jake.

News around the world reported the rebellion. An entire nation, men and women, gather to fight their ruler, their dictator. UN, for years, was not able to do anything about the madness that was their country. There was no help, there was no hope, and the only thing that lived was in the hearts of the people. Their hearts screamed rebellion. For years they waited for somebody, some state, some other country to save them from their desperate situation, but none came to their aid, until one man stood up from the others. A man not from a great stature, a man who was only a lumberjack before, stood up amongst others and spoke out the words they wanted to hear. He screamed of rebellion and of the truth, he spoke of what needed to be done, and that their goal cannot be reached without blood being spilt upon their land. Blood being spilt was the least of their worries, any citizen, would sacrifice their life for a taste of freedom. The man who spoke was Yuri, a Russian native, not violent in nature, but the things that had happened in his beloved nation changed him, and he saw that there was only one way and that way is through rebellion. It would take months before they would be ready, some like Jake, won’t know about the plans until right time comes, some would be part of the preparation.

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The end was in sight for Jake. The end was in sight for all of them. It wasn’t Yuri that was going to finish the fight, that was a sad fact for all of them, but he was the man who led them to where they are now. Jake would remember him, just like everyone else would. He was a hero.

One day, during one skirmish, military forces were in action. There weren’t much of them, but they were well trained. They holed up in a nearby museum, none of the fighters knew. The military was disbanded during the rebellion. Some of the soldiers of the nation wanted to join the revolution, some stayed to protect the dictator. The military was in chaos. Yuri had trained military men to join his ranks before that day, that day that decided his fate.

During the battle, there was a huge burst of gunfire coming from the museum walls. The fighters who entered the building, including Yuri did not expect it. The gunfire came from the other side of the walls; there was a fortified machine gun that shot through the wall and Yuri’s men. He felt the cold steel penetrating his body, the feeling of adrenaline before the burst of pain. The force of the bullets pushed him down to the ground. Blood splattered all over the walls, it was a massacre. He was in total shock and in pain; he was hit three times, one in the body, one in the leg, one in the shoulder. None of the bullets hit any vital organs, but the three bullets were enough to cause damage. He couldn’t move his body; he was down in the ground, screaming from his pain. One of the enemy soldiers walked to him with a pistol. The soldier aimed his gun at Yuri’s head and pulled the trigger. It was the end of the leader. Later on, that day, another set of fighters stormed the building, but this time, there was no machine gun, no enemies to be seen. What were there, however, were bodies of their comrades, including Yuri, in one room. Jake was there and he was one of the first to recognize Yuri’s body. It brought great sadness to the fighters outside when they saw a couple of men bringing Yuri’s body outside. One of those men was Jake, he was in tears. Jake knew Yuri not as leader, not as a soldier, but as a father, as a brother. He was old, Jake knew that, but he was one of the strongest men he ever knew.

There was sadness in the hearts of people. They lost their leader and now they too were lost. It was like a body without a brain. No sense of direction. There were discussions about a new leader and they needed one badly. None dared to stand up and become their leader, none, except for one. When Jake noticed that without a leader, hope would be gone, the rebellion would be for nothing, he stood up, raising his hand saying: “I’ll do it. I’ll replace Yuri, I’ll be your leader, until I die, or you find someone better.” There was no argument from the crowd. He was fit to be their leader; he was a student of Yuri after all. Jake didn’t want the responsibility. He hated leaders who act mighty and supreme over others, like the dictator they have in their country, but he didn’t have a choice.

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“What happens when you..... uh... die?” Jake asked Yuri one night as he cleans his rifle. It was the twenty fifth of August. The rebellion was already in its third month. Still no action from other countries, they were fighting on their own. The fighters once heard from the news that UN wanted the people of the country to settle it themselves. They didn’t want to join the fight, thinking that they might join the wrong side. What they did, however, was peace negotiations with the dictator, telling him to stand down. The negotiations were to no avail and the fighters were on their own.

Yuri gave Jake a hearty laugh. “Oh Jake.” He started patting Jake in the back. “Well that is inevitable isn’t it? It is a war we are having now after all. And from the looks of it, it’s not going to end soon. That bastard is still holed up with his men, and the world just doesn’t care about us. People are going to die and one of them, one day, is going to be me.” Yuri paused for a second. “Something lies in the heart of these people, Jake. It’s not me who’s running the show here, but it’s them and their will and that thing inside their hearts. It’s pretty much like love. When a person dies in a relationship, it doesn’t mean the end of love; rather the other person lives his or her life for the one who passed away. Love continues to live on. The same with this rebellion, I am nothing but a symbol to these men and just like any symbol, I can be replaced. They can see me in someone else, they can see me in you. When my day comes, I want you to be the one to replace me; I want you to be the one to lead these people to freedom.”

Jake was silent. Yuri gave him a smile and hugged him, just like any father hugging his son. Jake lost his family quite some time ago. His father and mother were old and just couldn’t continue on with cancer. They died together, it was something Jake and his siblings thought as a miracle. His older brothers and sisters lived on their lives somewhere else. Jake was left to study in his homeland.

Yuri was not a father, only a husband. His wife was barren. She died a long time ago. Shot by a drunken man who she tried to reason with. Yuri killed the man and spent time in prison. After that he went to the woods as a lumberjack, living in solitude. It was there he found peace. It was there he found the love of his country and that it was the only thing he had left.

Jake remembered him and he would remember him for the days of his life.

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The snow fell with ashes that day. Fighters starting to storm the building, one by one, gunshots after gunshots. Jake entered the building with his men; he fought with them in their final battle. It was his men now, his people. Yuri gave that power to him now and Jake could feel the weight of it in his shoulders, but during that day, it didn’t matter. He fought alongside his men, he saw them losing their lives for him. But they continued on. In the final room that they stormed in, there were three men. The two men were bodyguards of the dictator. They dropped their guns as soon as the fighters came in. The dictator shouted in anger and hate. Jake went inside the room with his revolver. When he saw the sight of Jake, the anger and hate that was in his eyes went away. The dictator started to beg for his life. Jake pointed the revolver at him. The dictator knelt down and begged more. The men inside the room watched, but for Jake they didn’t existed, it was only him and the man who started it all. He felt the weight of the revolver in his hands. He tried to remember the last time he used it. It felt like ages ago. The rebellion aged him so much. He cocked the revolver and pulled the trigger. It was over.

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Jake remembered Yuri’s words. It was something he told Jake a long time ago. “From the fire we will fight, from the ashes we will rise. Not as a separated nation but as one. Here we are in the province of men, fighting for freedom and what we believe in. From the fire we will fight, from the ashes we will rise.”

Jake stared into the window that showed buildings, buildings that were now destroyed. He saw ashes falling alongside with snow. He held his revolver. “From the ashes we will rise.”

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