Her cheeks glowed warm gold as the candlelight danced and flickered against her beautiful, flawless face. Shadows accented her brown-black eyes, which lay in perfect symmetry on either side of her delicate nose. Hair long and straight ran down either side of her face like an india ink drawing in the rain. She was the sweetest creature in all creation, and she appeared the most vulnerable. I loved her in the purest sense. I longed to hold her, to touch her, her warmth, her soul, her carefully protected spirit. I would have gladly shared my life with her through eternity, if that were allowed.
It wasn't allowed, however, and my perfect dream of romantic love would never be realized. We were servants of a tyrant. We were engineered solely to fulfil his plans and to serve his needs. We were not allowed to touch or to live as man and wife. It was against the law for us to share any kind of deep friendship or even to think of it. For to love another was to love him less. I had to be careful. He had ways of hearing everything, anywhere in his realm. Certain precautions had to be taken when discussing particularly sensitive issues, issues which Aza and I were now discussing.
The two of us sat across from each other, huddled over a single candle. We were in an abandoned, cluttered basement, hiding. If discovered, punishment would be cruel and horrible - not just for us but also for those suspected of sharing in our cause. That was his way. He was a harsh and powerful dictator, with a notorious intolerance for disobedience. His word was law. Any contrary word or act was treason.
We were fighting for freedom and justice. We, I and those who followed my cause, stood against the cruelty that had so often been demonstrated by our leader. So many times had I seen him invent traitors to the state out of pure paranoia. He would randomly accuse servants, workers, small children, or anyone nearby of treason and punish them in violent, horrific ways. He objected to free will, but found the excess of decisions needed for the masses to lead their daily lives tedious. So he allowed them semi-autonomy and agonized over it every moment of the day. He was the most tortured dictator in creation, and the most demanding.
I was his right hand, his personal assistant. I helped smooth over the problems of daily life. I took care of the little dilemmas of his dominion. I helped deal out punishments for the guilty, and rewards for my liege's loyal servants. I did what he required of me, most of the time objecting inwardly to his wishes. After some time, it grew extremely difficult to watch his cruelty to his people. That's when I started the revolution. I have the support of many, and through time we have gathered a fairly large portion of power and influence to our side. Aza is my most trusted and appreciated ally. I can't help, however, feeling a sense of guilt and apprehension for involving her in such a dangerous endeavor.
"Luci, it's safe, really." Aza reassured me as she smiled and gave my hand a gentle tug. "I had this place carefully scanned several times before meeting you here."
I forced a smile. "I know, I...I just get nervous. It's not my safety..."
"I know you're worried about me. Don't be. I'll be fine." She pulled out some papers from under
her shirt and handed them to me. "These are the list of the resources we have at our disposal." She handed me another paper. "This is the timetable of events," She paused. "Everything is set to begin tomorrow at mid-day." She regarded me nervously. "If things go as planned, you will be the liberator of a new republic by sundown tomorrow." She looked down towards the floor. "If not..."
I took her chin in two fingers and raised her eyes level to my own. "If not it will have been a valiant effort, don't you think?" We both forced an obligatory laugh. "I...I'm terrified Aza, but while the stakes are high, they are worthy." I gazed into her eyes and could see her fight to keep them from revealing tearful emotion. I felt my throat tighten and realized that I was crying. "I love you, Aza. Not like I'm supposed to, but like..."
I don't know how it happened, but I was embracing her. I stroked her hair and face and cried.
"Don't tell him." I wept as I gently pulled her off of me. "I mean if I'm caught, I want you to remain safe."
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