Friday, 23 May 2014

Allison III(Part 1): The Lutoni Outside the Window - Before the Prologue~a

(Download the updated version in PDF/epub format here.)

Let's start the off the final arc of Allison, which is a two-volume story on the rails. Enjoy.

-----





Allison Whittington: 17 years old. A staff sergeant in the Roxcheanuk Confederation Air Force. She is part of an aircraft transportation unit. Allison has blond hair and blue eyes, and is extremely athletic. However, she is not a morning person. Allison often acts without thinking. She lost her father in battle when she was eight years old, at which point she was brought to the orphanage where she met Wil.

  
Wilhelm Schultz: 17 years old. A sixth-year student at Lowe Sneum Memorial Secondary School in the Republic of Raputoa on the east side of the river. Wil is a laid-back student with an excellent academic record, who was abandoned at an orphanage at the age of three. Since the age of eight, he has been Allison’s friend, underling, trustworthy subordinate, and maybe even her—


Carr Benedict: 24 years old. The youngest major in the history of the Allied Kingdoms of Bezel-Iltoa. He is known as a hero who made a historic discovery. Benedict is extremely popular with women, but he is less than pleased with his newfound stardom. ‘Carr’ is his family name.


Fiona(Francesca): 20 years old. A princess of the Kingdom of Iks, which is a part of the Roxcheanuk Confederation on the east side of the river. She is the only surviving member of the Royal Family of Iks, and is set to become the queen. She revealed her survival to the people of her country with the help of Wil, Allison, and Benedict.


-----


-----


Before the Prologue - a


-----


Crash!


My name is Lillia Schultz. Lillia is my given name, and Schultz is my family name.

Everyone calls me ‘Lillia’, but my full name is ‘Lillianne Aikashia Corazòn Whittington Schultz’. It’s ridiculously long. That’s why I only end up using the whole thing once a year or so. In Roxche—the Roxcheanuk Confederation—not many people have middle names, so everyone who hears my full name asks me what it all means.

I always explain that it comes from an old custom in the West—the Allied Kingdoms of Bezel-Iltoa—where you put the names of both parents and your grandparents into your name. People either get it or look surprised. Some people are astonished.


I was born and raised in the Special Capital District(Capital District for short).

I’ve lived in the same apartment building and room since I was born. Our place is at the very top floor of a cluster of five-story apartments filling the Capital District’s residential district.

Until the Historic Architecture Protection Law was amended and elevators were installed in even the oldest apartment buildings, apartment buildings were extremely cheap because climbing the stairs was such a hassle. That was why they were so popular with young people.

“That’s why we rented this place. We’re still crashing here because moving is such a hassle.”

That was what Mom said. She’s asleep right now. That crash just now was the sound of Mom chucking the poor, hardworking alarm clock against the wall.

So, as usual, I decided to go wake her myself.

I turned off the electric toaster, put breakfast on our plates, and left the kitchen. The bricks lining the hall were chipped everywhere, showing signs of age. I went into Mom’s room. I didn’t get permission to enter. I couldn’t get it even if I wanted to, since she was still asleep.

The room faced east, and the window was installed with thin curtains on purpose. The morning sun was bright. But Mom was lying face-down on her bed, still in her pajamas. She was sleeping with her golden hair covering her face. As usual, her blanket was crumpled on the floor and her pillow was on top of her feet. If she weren’t sleeping in a double bed, she would have fallen by now. Her right arm, in fact, was already dangling off the side of the mattress.

First, I picked up the poor, abused alarm clock from by the door and put it back on the shelf. It was the latest model—the hands and batteries were impact-resistant—and expensive to boot. But it was lasting a surprisingly long time for a clock in Mom’s room. It really is a miracle.

“It’s morning, Mom. Wake up.” I tried saying, glancing at the clock on the wall. If Mom woke up just like that, it would rain cats and dogs and hell would freeze over. And I’d stay bundled up inside.

As usual, there was no response. I went around the bed and up to Mom’s shoulder. Her left side, today.

Squatting by the bed, I grabbed Mom’s shoulders as she lay facedown.

“Wake up!” I shouted, shaking her hard enough to pull off her shoulders. I showed her no mercy.

The bed shook and squeaked irritatingly.

“It’s! Morning! Mom! Wake! Up! Wake! Up! Now!” I yelled.

About nineteen seconds of shaking later.

“Mmm?”

A reaction. Mom is still alive today. I stopped shaking her.

“Mmm…”

With a groan, Mom slowly raised her head. She stared at me—I was still holding her shoulders—through her messy hair. Her clear blue eyes were still half-covered by her eyelids.

“Who’re you?” She asked. Still not awake.

I came up with an answer. Take this.

“This is the Confederation Police Force. You’re under arrest for using an Air Force aeroplane without permission to teach your daughter to fly, using two hundred liters of gasoline without permission, and falsifying a ground run of an engine test to justify the use of gasoline. What do you have to say to that?”

“C’mon, Officer. It’s all for the noble goal of raising the next generation of pilots.” Mom slurred, still half-asleep. “As long as no one finds out. Right, Officer?”

If I were a cop, I would have arrested her on the spot. If a cop’s come to see you, he obviously knows about your rampant personal use of military assets.

“Bye-bye.”

I gave up. Mom buried her face in the mattress and began snoozing away again in the same pose as before. Because she had shifted slightly, she was now lying very close to the edge of the bed.

That was it. The switch was pressed.

I got up and waited for the engine in Mom’s head to warm up. And I aimlessly looked around her room.

There was no dust on the floor; I cleaned the room yesterday. There wasn’t a single fallen leaf by the flowerpot. The big dresser caught my eye. Mom’d been talking about moving it to the north-side wall for days, but she still hadn’t done it. On the clothes hanger by the dresser was the boring dark-red uniform of the Roxcheanuk Confederation Air Force, top and bottom side-by-side. She must have gotten them ready last night. Women could wear pants or a skirt; today, she was going to wear a skirt.

On the collar of her top was a badge of rank with three stripes—three stripes for the rank of captain. Over the left breast was a square, multicolored embroidered patch. Over the right breast was embroidered her name. Of course, it read ‘Schultz’.

On the oaken desk was a small electric lamp and an oak bookshelf. There were difficult flight theory books, and a thick book of fairy tales from the West that I’d never seen her read.

And a picture frame.

It was a pretty silver frame. There was a color photograph inside, slightly yellowed with age.

There are two people in the picture. They were shot from the knees-up, but the angle is wonky—it looks like the picture was taken looking down at them.

One of them is wearing a thin yellow dress, looking like a lady from a rich family. She has an awesome and confident smile, and has long blond hair and blue eyes. Mom, when she was younger.

Next to her is a boy with light brown hair, who’s wearing a school jacket and uniform. He must have moved his head when the picture was taken, because his face is a complete blur. It kind of looks like he’s nervous. The backdrop is the platform of a train station. I can see a dark sky, a hazy green forest, and a station sign that’s written in Roxchean but only the first letter is visible. It looks like a ‘Ka’, but I have no idea where that is.

The boy is Dad—Wilhelm Schultz—when he was younger.

It’s the only picture of the two of them together—in fact, it’s the only photo of Dad, period.

“Mmm…? Hmm…”

I turned to the bed, where Mom was mumbling.

“Mmm…”

All of a sudden, she got up. She lost her balance and fell back-first on the floor. There was a loud noise.

“Huh…? What?”

I could hear her voice from across the mattress.

“It’s morning, Mom. You’re going to be late.” I replied coldly.

Mom raised her head from behind the bed with a pout. She shot me a glare.

“You’re awful, Lillia… You know, your father used to wake me up every morning with a kiss. He used to stroke my hair and waited next to me until I woke up.”

I guarantee you that that is a lie.

“How do you know that?”

“I didn’t say anything, Mom. Anyway, you have to wash up, brush your hair, and eat breakfast. You’re going to be late. You said you’re going to get a pay cut if you’re tardy again, right? I’m not going to the command center for you even if they call. It’s embarrassing.”

“All right, all right.”

Who’s the mother around here, anyway? I sighed.

“And you said you’re going to have lunch with Mr. Hero today, right?”

“Hm? Did I?”

This is ridiculous. She’s the one who pranced home last night and announced it as soon as she stepped through the door.

“Oh, right! That’s right. I’d better dress up nicely.”

Sleep completely chased from her, Mom leapt over the bed.

“Good morning, Lillia. You’re looking as lovely as usual.”

Planting a kiss on my cheek, she rushed into the bathroom.

I went back to the kitchen, brewed tea for both of us, and ate breakfast first. It tasted delicious.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Mom said as she emerged, although I hadn’t waited for her. She was in full Air Force regalia. It was hard to believe that she was the same person who was half-asleep in pajamas in her bed until just earlier. Captain Allison Whittington Schultz of the Roxcheanuk Confederation Air Force. A female test pilot who’s the undisputed no.1 in the Confederation. What a flawless transformation. This is how she fools the taxpayers who support her.

With a ‘Thanks for the meal’, Mom began eating. I observed her as I sipped my tea.

She had clear blue eyes as beautiful as the sky on a winter morning. And strands of hair that glinted like fine strings of gold.

“Hm? Wha iff iff?” Mom asked with a sandwich in her mouth, noticing my gaze.

“Well. I just kind of wished I could have gotten those from you.”

“‘Those’?”

“Your eye and hair colors.”

Mom nodded in understanding and gulped down her tea.

“It’s all right, Lillia. You have Wil’s eyes and hair. And that’s the biggest proof that you’re his daughter.”

The same answer as usual. And nothing more. I held up the teapot.

“More tea?”

“Sure.”


“Make sure to lock up when you leave. Don’t be late for school.” Mom said, skipping out the door.

For someone who so boldly said to her commander, “Days without flights are too boring, sir. To be perfectly honest, I want to make up excuses and skip work those days”, she was pretty cheerful.

She’d also once said, “I wonder if there’s going to be an accident on the way to work. Then maybe I could use the traffic jam as an excuse…”, but today, she’s going to rev up the engine on her beloved car, drive through the packed Capital District streets, and race down the autobahn.

That’s all thanks to the date she has scheduled with Mr. Hero.

He’s Mom’s boyfriend. Of course, ‘Hero’ isn’t his name. I don’t know where the nickname came from—Mom never told me.

A long time ago, Roxche was involved in a stupid(from my perspective, having been born after the war) conflict with Sou Be-Il over who was the ancestor of humanity. Mr. Hero is from Sou Be-Il, and he’s working at the embassy in the Capital District. He’s something called a ‘military attaché’—he’s around Mom’s age, but he’s a rank higher than her at major. According to Mom, he’s one of the super-elite. Straight from the cream of the crop.

He came to visit us at home a few times when I was little. I still sort of remember the last time he came over. Mom was sitting in a chair drinking tea, giving him orders as he moved the dresser. She was lording it over him like he was her underling or subordinate.

“Is he a ‘nobody’?” I asked Mom while he was right there. Mom was astonished, but at the same time she sounded impressed.

“Oh my, Lillia. Where did you learn that word?”

Now that I think about it, that was really rude of me. I still remember how Mr. Hero was smiling bitterly. Mom answered,

“Mr. Hero here’s fallen head over heels for me, and he owes me a lot. So I can order him around as much as I’d like, whenever and wherever. Isn’t that useful? I’m going to boss him around forever.”

Now that I think about it, that’s unbelievable. I wonder what Dad would say if he were still alive?

That’s right. Dad’s already gone—he passed away a little while before I was born.

I heard that he got into an accident while he was on his way to the West for some business. Apparently he fell off a luxury train while it was passing through the mountains.

They never found his body.


-----


Prologue+Chapter 1.


-----

No comments:

Post a Comment