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PART ONE - JAKE



My name's Jake. I shouldn't be so free with my title, but probably doesn't matter. My worst enemy already knows who I am, where I live, my favourite food, and what time I take a piss in the morning. I don't think I have much time left, honestly, and I'd like to get this all down before the bad stuff starts.


I'm not "confessing my sins" or anything like that. I don't know if there's a God, but if there is, I don't think a secret confession on paper would fly with him. I was born in the land of sin and piety. I wasted enough of my youth making up confessions for big-eared Priests to lick their lips over. I'm writing this down for other reasons. For one thing, my brain's getting more scrambled by the day, and I'm having a hard time keeping everything straight.


Creeping insanity? Alzheimer's? I wish. It's him, muddling in my head like his personal sandbox. I just want to get things on paper before I forget them, and it's important I don't.


See, I can't be sure, but I suspect I left a son behind when I ran away from Eden. I saved one of my kids and left another behind to rot. If that's true, I owe it to him to at least write down the story as I know it. Not that he stands a good chance of seeing it, but it beats cleaning gutters in this rain.


Yes, I have a strong urge to catch my death of pneumonia, and I likely will go outside and do it unless I keep myself busy. Understand what I mean, now?



PART TWO - ANGE


"Was it worth it?" Blackavar had asked me after my son was born. He had an ugly look on his face when he said it, so I didn't think it was wise for me to give my answer at the time.


But yes, it was worth it. For the most part.


Of course, at that particular moment, nobody would have believed me if I had answered. I don't cry often, but I bawled like a cow when I first held Caillou, and it wasn't exactly out of happiness. I was tired, I was scared, and I was in pain--lots of it. And when Caillou opened his eyes for the first time a little while later, I was miserable with loneliness. I'd given birth in the warren of my parents, but my father seemed disgusted with the whole business (and not just the blood and afterbirth), and even my dear mother looked tense and didn't have much to say to me. Blackavar, my best friend since childhood, had outright turned on me; he was an insanely jealous creature.


So I was surrounded by family, but I was entirely alone. The only man who might've been a comfort to me was long gone. Sometimes if I'm in a petty mood, I resent Jake for leaving, though my resentment never lasts long. I'm not especially old, but I've been around long enough to know good and evil, and Jake, for his flaws, is good. Holden, my husband who'd been dead for two years before Jake came to me, was evil. He was poison. And now he's gone. I won't say anything else on the matter, except that he thought we never had a baby because I was "holding out" on him. Well, the joke's on him.


But unlike Holden, Jake would never have intentionally hurt me. We both shared ... something. Something I'd never felt before from another human being, even my parents. Whatever it was, be both dived into it like it was the most natural thing in the world and we rarely spoke to each other when we were together because we simply didn't need to. If Jake had ever meant me harm, I would have been able to smell it from far away. There was an actual term for the bond we had. Jake said there were scattered instances of it on the Outside, and it was actually the unfortunate reason he was in Eden in the first place. I forgot the word, but it doesn't matter because I don't buy into that story very much. I think I'm just a lot like my mother. She's always been kind of intuitive and weird, and she's very close to my father.


That's why it's worth the pain and alienation I went through. That's why it's worth my impending death sentence. That's why it's worth pretending I care about the health of humanity's spirit and the eradication of Reploids. The brief spell I spent as Jake's companion is worth far more than that.


I'll admit, that's my greed talking. Beyond the bottom line, I realise no matter how close we were, no matter how aligned the stars were at the time or whatever, we produced a boy, and he's a very lonely, troubled boy.


Caillou's eleven now, and he ought to be playing with his friends. He isn't. He has none; he's not allowed to. He spends a lot of time outside the warren with his arms crossed over the railing and his chin resting on the bar. Years ago, he used to just peer out from underneath the railing itself while hanging onto the bar above him, but he's growing, even if it is a little slowly. He's eventually going to be tall like his dad, I think.


And soon, I'm going to be dead. It's been over my head since Caillou was born. By all the rules in Eden, I should have been killed immediately along with my son for breeding so readily with an Outsider. It's just one of ten thousand reasons I've come to realise Eden is pretty ridiculous.


Sometimes I see dad rubbing his fingers and wrists; these days, he's taken a lot by arthritis. His arms had been broken for interfering when Torrent Leviathan tried to take Caillou away. That's why he's still alive, and so am I. For a time.


Humans aren't programmed to love death, but I can accept it, and honestly, I've lost my faith in Eden and I've lost Jake. I don't want to sound dramatic, but there's not much left for me here. Except for Caillou, of course, and that's the reason I don't want to die. I don't know what'll happen to him when I'm gone. He's no better than a ghost in Eden. It's not that people torment him; if only they did. They simply ignore him. It was especially terrible when he was smaller. Aside from me, all he had was a toy bunny my mom quietly made and slipped to him one day. Whenever Caillou wandered as far as he dared from our warren, he'd slide along the outskirts of a group of children, trying to belong. When he inevitably failed, he'd return to the warren, sit on the floor and play with his bunny doll for hours at a time. He was very late to learn how to talk, so he couldn't tell me how he felt, and once in a while he'd hunch over his rabbit--or fling it across the room--and cry.


I know children aren't supposed to be coddled, but I held him during those spells. Now that he's grown up some and is a little better at expressing himself verbally--though he's still very short on words--he doesn't cry anymore, and that's why I'm so worried about leaving him. He still gets frustrated. A few weeks ago, he sat at the table and seemed to be in a temper. When I tried to put my arm around his shoulders, he elbowed me. I immediately slapped him upside the head. I don't care what angst a boy might carry, no child of mine will ever get away with hitting his mother.


Caillou stood up so quickly, his chair toppled over and hit me in the shins. The look in his eyes was terrible and for a second I was sure he was going to hurt me. He ran out of the warren instead, and came back a few hours later with a black eye. I don't know what happened, and I didn't ask. He didn't apologise for hitting me, but he quietly accepted the cup of tea I made for him and seemed more like himself. That glare of his stayed with me for a long time, though, and it wasn't our first confrontation. It probably won't be our last.


What's he going to turn into? If he can't control his temper and loneliness, what's going to happen when he begins to be interested in girls who won't return his attention?


I think my mother already knows the answer. She once told me the day after Caillou was born, she dreamed about a fox in a henhouse. She has an odd sense of humour. It might've been her idea of a joke. But now I'm scared to death it wasn't.


PART THREE - JAKE


No, I didn't purposefully leave one of my children behind in Eden just so I could rescue the other from a miserable fate. I raised two children outside that hellhole, and I've been very fair with them, not choosing favourites and all. What I mean is, I think I left a child in Eden, a child I'm not sure about. An unborn baby.


I don't want to write too much about Ange. It makes me sad. I'll do the best I can. Ange was my only friend while I was in Eden. How I even came to be there is a hell of a story in itself, and so's the story on how I got out, but Ange is one of the important parts.


I wasn't in Eden for a terribly long time, but before the end of it, the two of us were under the covers. I'll give you a second to raise your hand over your mouth in offended shock--I was married at the time, after all--but if you knew what was happening between us, you'd understand.


In fact, I can almost swear I caught Ange's thoughts a couple of times in the following months. Ange half-rejected the idea she had Mindspeak, even though it's what brought her close to me, and she couldn't get much distance or strength into her sendings. Whether or not that was because she denied having the ability, I don't know. Only once did she overpower me, and that was the night I left. She didn't do that on purpose, and once she got control of herself and I left Eden, her presence was gone. Still, there was a time--nine or ten months later, incidentally--when I was minding my own business on a mild January day and was jolted by something so powerful, I almost screamed. It's hard to describe. It was like a shout of distress, but it was wordless. It was someone experiencing something far beyond something I ever would, someone gone from this world and lost in another.


I think it was a birth. I'm not the only person in the world with Mindspeak. I've heard other people, though I keep out of their business. Most of the time, I shut them out. I don't want to be bothered, and I don't want to bother them. But there was one instance I did happen in on a woman who was in the throes of her time, and it was very much like what I felt that January day, except it was directed to me, and was so powerful that it got through my defences. If it was Ange, she was gone and I couldn't pick her up again.


Recently I had another quick vision--of a boy, a youth. Again, I was minding my own business, reading a Marmaduke comic (I like Great Danes, they're a very decent breed of dog), and it happened. It wasn't like last time where I felt like I was being pulled into a black hole. It was almost like I fell asleep and dreamed someone else's dream. It sounds peaceful, but it was a hell of a thing because for a crazy second, I thought I was looking at myself as a child, and the look on my face was, well, twisted. Anger, confusion, pain.


I only got a brief look at this boy and at that precise moment I was sure he was me. Then when I started to remember details, I realised I had not seen myself, but Ange. And then no, not Ange either. Someone who looked like Ange, but carried himself like me. So maybe it was just a dream, but given my luck, I'm pretty comfortable believing the boy is half mine.


I am not filled with fatherly pride. This kid, whoever he is, is mean. It's not his fault, but it's not a tiger's fault for being a tiger, either. He's going to do something drastic and all I can do is sit on my porch, watch the world burn and chuckle, "Yes sir, it's my boy who pushed the red button."


Ange, I hope you're taking care of yourself and trying your best with this boy of ours.


PART FOUR - ANGE


I don't think Jake knew about Caillou, or knows about him, whatever the case may be. Even I was surprised when I got pregnant. The truth was slow to dawn on me--sometimes denial is the only thing that keeps mind and sanity together--and in spite of the fact I was as big as a horse pretty early on, people kind of looked the other way and pretended there was nothing wrong with me. Even my parents.


It worked until the moment arrived. The birth was terrible, and my mother had to get Doctor Ison to save Caillou--and myself, if you want to come right down to it. Ison told Torrent Leviathan about the new arrival, and Torrent arrived to gather him up. My dad attacked Torrent and drove him away, and then our troubles began.


Those troubles were not blunted by the peace of typical Eden life, either. When Jake arrived in Eden, he'd brought his daughter, Celeste, who was dying of a disease Torrent was able to cure. A deal with the Devil, if you pardon my cliché. As payment, Jake and Celeste had to remain in Eden, and fight for our cause.


That didn't go so well. Asmodeus already considered Jake "damaged goods." He was too used to open spaces, living the way he wanted to live, and generally not cooperating if something didn't suit him. So Asmodeus did what he could to make him happy and goad him into fighting for Eden, but generally Jake was free to wander as long as he didn't make trouble.


Celeste, who was about four at the time if I remember, was another story. She was drafted immediately to start her training. If you're a parent who's lived in Eden all your life and been subjected to its nuttiness on a regular basis, this is a very proud moment for your child. If you're a parent who's been forced into Eden against his will and are appalled by its hive mind, this isn't a good thing.


"Arlen" was a robot from the era of Wily's rebellion, and a generally sadistic one at that. There's a reason Eden's warriors can be a fearful business, and Arlen is a big part of it. He ran what can be best described as Eden's preliminary boot camp. His real specialty was tormenting the children like a hound running a fox.


Jake and I would have been allowed to remain together, but Arlen is the reason he left. More specifically, Celeste's loss of weight, bruises, chronic bedwetting and dull eyes. No Warrior of Eden will admit it, but I'm not the only one among us who still sits up in bed suddenly, sweating with the memory of a boot swinging into my ribs. We had no choice, but I would never force Jake to put his daughter through that. I survived Arlen's training, but there are plenty who haven't. Their parents are still pale with disgrace and grief, drifting through Eden like ghosts. But they carry on. What else can they do? What else can any of us do?


PART FIVE - JAKE


Aside from this phantom child I might have in Eden, I have two children I can undoubtedly see, talk to, and summon to clear away my mug of tea when I'm too lazy to stand up.


Johan's the youngster at six or so. He's an odd thing, with his cheerful manner and his mere existence. Silvia and I had been separated for several years before deciding life was too short, and getting together again. Our years of marriage leading up to the separation had been...eventful, but we both grew up a bit after that and now we live in some semblance of quiet tolerance. Once in a while we're even friendly towards one another, and that's how Johan came to be. He looks a lot like me, which is kind of pleasing. He's a happy, eager boy, and I'll miss him terribly when I'm gone. But I don't worry about Johan himself.


I do worry about Celeste, the eldest. She's about fifteen now, and being a fifteen year old girl is a rough matter. The question of identity comes to the forefront, and girls that age are beyond playing with dolls; they're a little more interested in tormenting each other. I think Celeste knows this, and she ducks and weaves around girls her age. She's trying to find company among boys, but she doesn't seem to realise they're also treacherous, but in another way. I know what teenage boys are capable of thinking and doing.


So I have enough to worry about when I consider teenage girls are safer walking thorough a jungle than they are walking through a high school brimming with breast-crazy boys. But Celeste has a good head on her shoulders. Sort of. That's the real reason I worry about her. She has Mindspeak. I know it, he knows it, and she will know it once I'm gone. That's been made very clear to me. As things stand now, I think she suspects something's a little different about her, but she doesn't seem to dwell on it. How will she react when it's presented to her as a full-blown torment? What if he comes to collect her? I didn't carry her out of Eden just so she could be dragged back to suffer, bleed, and cry. I went through enough to make sure she wouldn't remember anything the first time we escaped. Now she's growing up to be a relatively normal girl. I'll fight whoever I have to fight to make sure things stay that way.


PART SIX - CAILLOU


There's supposedly an ironic meaning behind my name, but my mother didn't live long enough to tell me what it was. It might have something to do with my father, who supposedly left before I was born. I don't know much anything else about him, and that's fine with me. This organisation is so obsessed with heredity and bloodline, it's nice to be the only person in hundreds who doesn't really care.


I'm locked in my warren. In a few hours, Ison will be coming for me. I could fight him off easily enough, but I'm sure he's going to be accompanied by his blue Mechadrake, Eamon. No fighting that big boy.


I know Ison will bring Eamon with him because he needed him there yesterday to make sure I didn't try anything while the operation was explained to me. It's nothing to be worried about, Ison told me with his hands folded on the table and Eamon's paw on my shoulder. You'll be asleep. You won't feel any pain.


As if I can't endure pain. I think at some point during Eden's business of generally not caring about my existence, they forget they trained me alongside other children my age. Why, I don't know. I don't even know why I'm still alive, especially if they're planning such a drastic operation in a few hours. I admit I don't understand Eden's economics very well, but it must cost money to feed me, clothe me, and do what they're about to do.


There's one thing they kept from me, though; a Mechadrake. Most kids around four or five get their own juvenile to grow and train alongside, and they become an inseparable team, like a falconer and his bird. Even my mother had her own ... a small black drake named Blackavar. He turned on her and killed her. He didn't even have to be manipulated, like a Mechadrake usually does when killing his boy or girl; the death sentence for disgrace. So much for bonds, I guess. My mom trusted Blackavar with her life and she came to a bad end.


But if she were alive, she would disagree with me. She'd smile. "It's Asmodeus' will. Please follow it. Please be good, Caillou." Her eyes almost pleading. "I want to keep you safe."


That's what's rotten about the whole thing. My mom was good to me. She was the only one who didn't treat me like a disease. But she was so faithful to Asmodeus and Eden, it made my head spin. She was a smart woman. How could she fall in with a cult that won't acknowledge her only child?

We had some grand fights over the whole matter. Our last one before she disappeared involved concluded with me losing my head entirely and throwing a chair at her. Next thing I remember is lying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling. The back of my head was wet with blood, as I later found out. I'll say this much for my mother, she was never one to shirk when I lost my temper, but she cried that day when she bandaged up my busted head. You have to settle down, she told me over and over again. I know what you're going through, but if you want to survive, you have to settle down or they'll kill you. She could probably sense how restless I was -- how restless I still get.


There are only a couple of things I want from Eden, and that's probably the primary one. I want to go Out. The walls in this place are too close, too hot, even though Asmodeus keeps the place like a freezer so that we'll all move faster. Over the past few years, it's gotten worse and it puts me on edge. Doesn't seem to bother anyone else. I once told my mother as much, and told me I'd have to deal with it. She gave me a strange look afterward and mumbled something about my father, but she left it at that.


Every time I hear steps outside the warren, I think they're coming for me. I didn't want to hurt Danner. I didn't hurt her, and she should be thankful of as much. Yes, I grabbed her, but I wasn't holding her so hard. She could've gotten away if she really wanted to, but I don't think she did. She liked being with me ... the automatic excitement of taboo events. I wouldn't have done anything to her. I could've, but I didn't. I just wanted to have her close to me for a second. So I could get a better look at her. I was tired of having to stare at her from a distance.


We were down in the Lagoon, which is a fairly isolated spot. I cornered Danner as she prepared to enter the Hollow. I guess it was her turn to hunt. It was the Captain of the Diamondbacks who happened across us by some coincidence. He's one of the few people in Eden who see fit to give me the time of day, but I don't think he had any good feelings left for me when he threw my head into the rock cliff behind Danner and I. Only just a couple of days ago, he'd talked to me at dinnertime and said he was going to talk to Asmodeus about me. Well, after that incident with Danner, I was automatically off to Asmodeus with the Captain's hand full of my jumpsuit collar.


What can I say about Asmodeus? He's an old, twisted Mechadrake (as most of them are), the patriarch of Eden. He's not the first, and he likely won't be the last. He's the one who gave the order to kill my mother, and he's another one of the few in Eden who talk to me. And he always has plenty to say.


He smiled and leaned on his katana when he saw me and the Captain. Hello Caillou, he said. What trouble have you gotten into this time?


He listened to the Captain's story, then suddenly turned to me and asked me what exactly I wanted.


I was kind of hesitant at first--admittedly, Asmodeus is a big dragon with a bigger sword--but the answer was easy enough and I gave it immediately. I wanted Danner. I'm almost nineteen, a good age to get married.


Asmodeus raised an eyebrow and said nothing, so I kept talking. I was a Warrior of Eden, but I had nothing to show for it. I had no privileges, no companions.


Well of course you don't, Asmodeus said. You're lucky I even let you live after your mother rut with an outsider.


My feelings over my own existence are confused enough without Asmodeus's additional commentary. There are times I resent my mother for what she did, but in the end, she was the only one who openly cared about me. So I said my mother's past is irrelevant. I was entitled to a girl, and I wanted Danner.


Asmodeus said that was quite hilarious, and wondered what Danner would think about being paired with a phantom.


I said I hadn't considered Danner's opinions.


Asmodeus said he hadn't expected I would. Then he pointed his katana at me and delivered a pretty speech about how I was a perfect example of why the balance in Eden should not be disturbed. He'd sooner let the Maverick Hunters take over Eden than let me pollute the organisation with my children.


Oh, but he was merciful, he said. He should have thought of this beforehand, but he saw I was late to develop, so he didn't take any precautions. Lesser humans can't control their drives quite as well as normal inhabitants of Eden, apparently. And then he told the Captain to escort me to my room and place me under guard. Everything would be taken care of once he had words with Dr Ison.


Asmodeus takes his time with the big things--launching the attack against overworld Reploids, for example--but when it comes to individual suffering, he's on the ball. Ison showed up at my door and sat down across from me at the table where my mom and I used to drink tea. Eamon stood behind me.


The doctor got straight to the point, as usual. He asked me if I knew what an Ouroborous band was. I didn't, and he smiled. No surprise. Apparently, they're not that common in Eden, but I'm to be privileged.


He went a little more into the details. It wouldn't hurt. The operation was quick. Once it was grafted onto my wrist, not only would there be no danger of me having children, but it'd lessen my desire to do so. Life would be a little ... easier.


For everyone.


And now the footsteps have stopped outside my warren.


My mother's gone. My father never existed. I'll never have any friends or a wife. So why am I here, exactly? Why am I still alive? How will I change once the operation is done?


If what Dr Ison told me is true, there's no danger of me losing sight of my actual goal. Maybe the energy I'm losing as a result of the procedure will transfer itself to some sort of strengthened will.


I don't think anyone has noticed my preparations, and hopefully, they never will.
This is a supplementary side-story I wrote back in 2006 to accompany my Mega Man X fanfiction, "Trip Through Your Wires." It mostly deals with the affairs of my original characters--uhhh, so to speak. See, this mostly outlines the events behind the conception, birth, and childhood of Caillou McTreggor, outcast extraordinaire.

This is meant to be more of an interest piece than cold, hard canon, so don't take it too seriously. However, there is some foreshadowing at hand, so if you like my fanfics (you poor soul), you might be intrigued!

Though I've done a little bit of cleaning up, this piece is not written particularly well. Regardless, I thought I'd put it up here as an apology for taking so long with my updates for Trip Through Your Wires. WARNING: Angst!
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:iconmegafighterx:
megafighterx Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2011
Always great to see your writing. It's definitely exciting to see a bit deeper into Eden...
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:iconjuandfr:
Juandfr Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
At first I thought this was Animorphs fan-fiction. First few paragraphs sure seemed that way. I'm happy to be disappointed; I quite enjoy your work, so I'm glad to hear you're still working on it. :)
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:iconwoekitten:
woekitten Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011
Thank you! And, lol, I guess I can understand why you thought it was Animorphs, given Jake and all. That's flattering, since I used to be a huge Animorphs fan and still retain quite a bit of love for it.
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:iconjuandfr:
Juandfr Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Jake, introducing himself by name in the first sentence, followed by talking about his worst enemies knowing things about him and someone "muddling in [his] head", plus the mention of "Mindspeak". Yup, sounds like a post-series/AU Animorphs fanfic to me. XD
Same here. One of my favourite series growing up. I wish those rumours about Animorphs2.0 were true; I'd love to see it with the ending less rushed and the whole thing handled with a bit more maturity/experience.
Anywho, glad you're flattered; you deserve it. :) Like I said, I really love reading your fics, and they keep improving as time goes on.
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:iconjetzero:
JetZero Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011
Angst indeed. It is something I have always loved so much about your writing. The mood is thick enough to cut with a knife.

Simply wonderful. I remember reading this a good while back, and I love it no less now. Thank you for bringing this to light once more.
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:iconwoekitten:
woekitten Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011
Thanks, Jet! :D
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