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Saving Ever After, Episode 4: Gods and Savages (A Minds-Exclusive Series)

ME2007VigilAug 23, 2018, 11:17:16 PM

This is a continuation of my Minds-exclusive series, Saving Ever After. Please start reading at Episode One. Episode list can be found at this link:


Saving Ever After, Episode 4: Gods and Savages

Lily froze.

“You're not one of us.”

A woman's voice.

“You're certainly not one of those primitives. Did you follow us here?”

Lily hugged her knees even tighter against her chest. “Father,” she whispered, “what should I do?”

“Remain calm,” Father answered. “Say only what I tell you. I'm watching and listening through your eyes and ears.”

“Who are you talking to?” The stranger demanded. “Turn around.”

Lily pivoted on her rump. A beautiful woman with blazing red hair glared at her. The woman wore the same outfit as Lily, minus the helmet. Something about the woman looked familiar.

The woman cocked her head. “What's your department?”

Lily didn't understand the question.

“Tell her you worked IT at SimuNation,” Father whispered.

Lily repeated what Father said.

The woman holstered her gun in her belt. “I worked engineering at Eden's security division.” She offered her hand. “My name's Roxanne. What's yours?”

Lily shook the woman's hand. “Lily.”

Roxanne let go. “Why don't you take off your helmet, Lily? I'd like to see a human face when I talk to someone.”

Lily shook her head.

Roxanne arched her left eyebrow. “Okay. Suit yourself. What are you doing up here?”

Father whispered into Lily's ear. She repeated his words. “I'm trying to broadcast an emergency beacon.”

Roxanne tilted her chin towards the computer workstation. “I see you've replaced the fried transponder. Who were you talking to?”

Father whispered. Lily spoke. “I've... been talking a lot. To myself.”

“I see. You alone here?”

“Yes,” Father whispered.

Lily nodded.

“How long since you woke?”

Lily listened for her father's reply. She repeated his words. “I've lost track.”

“Have you encountered any others like us? Survivors from before,” Roxanne grimaced, “Eden's fall?”

“No,” Father said.

Lily shook her head.

“We woke not too long ago. They were supposed to wake us as soon as things were under control.” Roxanne walked towards the railings. “I guess Eden fell apart faster than than they could put it back together.”

“What happened?” Lily asked.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Roxanne turned to face Lily. “But if I had to guess, I'd say it was the Chinese.”

Father snorted.

Lily wanted to ask who the Chinese were, but that would betray too much of her ignorance.

“So how did you survive the apocalypse?” Roxanne asked.

Father whispered. Lily replied, “I found an emergency fallout shelter.”

“Yeah? And you lived there for a hundred years?”

Father whispered. Lily replied, “It had a cryopod.”

“Lucky you. We took shelter in Bunker A562. Our fusion generator ran out of juice. That triggered our pods to revive us. A bunch of us didn't make it. Several woke up in critical condition. Blind. Kidney failure. Memory loss.” Roxanne shook her head. “We had to leave them behind.”

Father whispered. Lily asked Roxanne, “What are you doing here?”

“Same reason you're here. We figured all the bunkers would have run out of power at roughly the same time. We thought maybe we could broadcast an emergency beacon. We could all regroup here and rebuild.”

“That's not the full truth,” Father whispered. “Confront her about what they're looking for.”

“What are you looking for?” Lily asked.

Roxanne cocked her head. “What do you mean?”

“I saw two men looking for something underground.”

Roxanne twisted her lips in a wry smile. “Spying on us, were you? We're looking for a server farm. It contains information about the network of Creation Vaults that Gabriella had built before the fall of Eden. These vaults contain supplies, machinery, and vast repositories of technology that we'll need to restore Eden.”

“With themselves firmly in charge of the new Eden, no doubt,” Father muttered.

Roxanne crouched and put her hand on Lily's shoulder. “You're not alone anymore. You can join us. You don't have to hide your face.” She put her hands around Lily's helmet and tugged.

Lily quickly pulled her helmet back down.

“What's wrong?” Roxanne asked. “You shy?”

Lily nodded.

Roxanne shook her head. “You must have been alone a long time. Alright, be that way. You'll have to take it off sooner or later.”

“Tell her you'd rather be alone,” Father said.

Lily stood up and backed away. “I... I have to go.”


“I want to be alone.”

“Don't be silly. How have you been surviving out here on your own?”

Lily turned towards the stairwell. Four others had emerged. They stood facing her with their arms crossed. They looked to Roxanne.

Lily turned to face the woman. “Let me go.”

Roxanne dismissed Lily with a wave. “Go. We're camping here for the next little while, so you know where to find us if you change your mind.”

The other four parted. Lily brushed past them and descended the stairwell.

“She lied about who destroyed the world,” Father said. “I know her. She and I... worked together once.”

That's right. She's the woman in the picture.

“I knew what she was planning. I tried to talk her out of it. I told her that it would result in the death of billions. She went ahead anyway. I'll never forgive her for that.”

“Why did she destroy the world?”

“Because Eden was ruled by a tyrant named Gabriella, self-styled Mother of All Creation. Gabriella had gone mad with power. She had plans to exterminate the human race and replace them with beings not unlike yourself. Roxanne wanted to stop Gabriella. To that end, Roxanne carried out the very genocide she tried to stop.”

Lily had only read about such evil in her books. It disturbed her that evil was indeed very real.

“We can't let her or anybody else attempt to rebuild Eden,” Father said, “or the world will once again fall under the rule of those who believe themselves to be gods.”

“How do we stop them?”

Father sighed. “I don't know.”

“Can't we just talk to them?”

“Don't be naive, Lily. They seek power. I don't think you'll be able to talk them into giving up.”

“If you knew all along that Eden could be rebuilt, why didn't you do it?”

“Because I don't trust myself to rule the world.”

“You ruled Ever After, and you weren't a tyrant. Maybe you can rebuild Eden and make it better.”

“Ever After contains none of the complexities of the real world. Were I to wield power over the real world and real people, I would become corrupted by it.”

“Why are you afraid of yourself?”

“A man isn't truly good unless he recognizes the evil within himself.”

Lily didn't believe there was a single evil bone in her father's body. “In any case, if it's true that Ever After contains information about treasure vaults, can't you just tell me where they are? Maybe one of them has a fuel cell.”

“That information is hidden inside a part of the server which I don't have access to.”

“Don't you control Ever After?”

“Not all of it. Parts of the server are physically beyond my reach, and it would be dangerous to access them.”

“How so?”

“It harbours a copy of Gabriella's consciousness. If we were to access it, we would have to wake her. If she wakes, I would lose all control to her.”

“Is she... human?”

“She was once. By Eden's fall, she was more machine than woman. She made several copies of her consciousness and stored them in servers across the world. If she were to die, that was supposed to trigger one of her copies to awaken. I made sure that never happened. I had a plan to stop her, but Roxanne acted first. Impulsive woman.”

“Who were you, Father?”

“Who I was doesn't matter anymore. I am Father now. You, your sister, and Ever After – these are all that matter to me.”

“Where should I begin looking for a fuel cell?”

“Each city has a power hub that contains hundreds of hydrogen-boron fusion reactors. You should be able to find plenty of fuel cells there. I will provide you with a map.”

A map popped before Lily's eyes. After a few seconds, it faded away. Too fast. I need to see it again. The map reappeared. Huh. Now disappear. The map disappeared. Show me the map. The map popped back into view. That's convenient.

According to the map, the city, called Garden City Thirteen, sat on the northern bank of a major lake. The city roads followed a grid pattern. A red marker labelled 'power hub' pointed to somewhere in the middle of the city. A green marker labelled 'Ever After' pointed to a location nearer to the lake. To reach the power hub, it was a simple matter of following 15th street north and then taking 8th avenue west by half a city block. The total distance was just over five kilometres. That's not too bad.

She reached the ground floor and took the emergency exit outside. She wandered into the woods. Somewhere in the forest, a cicada buzzed. She heard a rattling noise, like something tapping on wood. She passed by a rusted hunk of metal covered in a layer of orange lichen. She came upon a tree truck that had partially enveloped a metal post. There was a sign at the tip of the metal post. It read '15th Street'.

She tripped over a curb and stumbled onto a raised foundation. Here, thick tree roots had delved underneath the concrete foundation, causing it to crack. The foundation, flanked on the right by towers of broken glass windows, followed a straight line down the forest lane. Web-like roots with green leaves sprouting from them snaked across the surface of the towers.

Lily was impressed by the sheer scale of the city. It must have taken a lot dwarves to build all this. A shame it fell into ruin.

A few yards ahead, a golden statue of a beautiful woman stood with her gaze pointed towards the sun. Lily approached the statue and read the plaque affixed to its foundation. Beloved Mother of Eden. Lily wondered of this Mother was to Eden what Father was to Ever After.

She strolled down the lane. Every window facing the street had been smashed. Behind each window, she saw empty shelves, overturned tables and scattered chairs. Wires hung from the ceiling. A layer of moss covered every surface.

She looked across the street and saw a storefront with a big yellow 'M' above it. An alleyway separated the shop from the neighbouring tower. The shop at the ground floor of the neighbouring tower had an image of an owl above the storefront. The owl had big round orange eyes. She looked up and saw a bridge of vines spanning the alleyway at around the thirtieth floor.

She continued walking down the lane. She came upon a shop that had naked plastic figurines lying all over the floor amidst a scattering of animal bones. Whatever lived here had left deep gouges slashed across the concrete walls.

She heard a throaty huff behind her. She turned and saw a grizzly bear lumbering out of one of the shops.

Father's voice blared inside her head. “Lily, you're in danger. Calmly cross the street and take shelter in the nearest stairwell.”

Lily backed away from the grizzly bear. None of the animals she encountered in Ever After, whether sapient or not, had ever attacked her. She heard a rustling behind her. She turned around and saw a bear cub rubbing its flank against a tree trunk. She balled her fists under her chin and squealed. “How cute!”

“Lily, get out of there.”

She heard a throaty growl behind her. She glanced over her shoulder. Mama bear stood on her hind legs and roared. Lily yelped and dashed across the street towards the shop with the big yellow 'M' on it. She jumped through the shattered window, hopped over a counter, darted between tables, and stumbled into a hall. Behind her, mama bear charged through the shop, sending tables and chairs flying in all directions.

Lily spotted an emergency stairwell. She sprinted towards it, pulled the door open, dashed inside, and slammed the door shut behind her. Mama bear threw her weight onto the metal door. The door bulged inward, but held. Mama bear stuck her snout through the narrow slit that ran vertically down the door. She gnashed her teeth while huffing and puffing.

Lily stamped her feet. “Why are you attacking me? What did I do?”

Mama bear withdrew her snout and retreated back to the street.

“You got between her and her cub,” Father said.

“But I wasn't threatening the baby bear.”

“The bear doesn't know that. Next time, have your gun out and ready to fire. It's a dangerous world out there.”

Lily whined.

“Lily, you have to be willing to kill to defend yourself and those you love. Just like that bear.”

Unlike that bear, I won't attack anyone unless I know for sure they're dangerous. Lily unzipped her coverall, took out her gun, and loaded the magazine into it.

“Give those bears time to move away before heading back out,” Father said.

“I remember seeing a bridge across the alley,” Lily said. “Do you think there's bridges connecting all the towers?”

“It's possible. A network of tower-spanning bridges would be a good way to avoid dangerous land animals.”

“Let's find out.” Lily started climbing the stairwell. The stairwell had a window that spanned its entire length. The opposite building had a similar design. When she reached the thirty second floor, she came upon the bridge. It was nothing more than three pieces of rope, two for the railings and one for walking, tied to a wooden frame. The bottom rope hung suspended on a net that connected it to the railings.

Lily put her gun in her satchel and climbed through the window. She grabbed the railings and put her foot on the main rope. She slowly transferred her full weight onto the bridge. It swayed. She looked down and felt her stomach churn from the dizzying drop to the bottom of the alley. Back in Ever After, she once deliberately jumped off a high tower just to experience the thrill of free-falling. Of course she hurt herself badly when she landed, but she suffered no injury and the pain went away after a short while. In the real world, she knew she would die if she fell.

Heart palpitating, she slowly crossed the bridge and crawled through the window on the other side. She entered another stairwell.

Someone jumped her.

The sudden weight sent her tumbling down the stairs.

“I caught one of them. Hurry. Help me subdue her!”

They stopped rolling. Lily screamed as she struggled to free herself from her assailant's powerful arms and legs. A door burst open. Men clad in fur and leather charged into the stairwell. They grabbed Lily by her collar and slammed her against the wall.

A boy with red warpaint on his face pointed at her. “You killed my brother.”

Lily stared at him, dumbfounded. “I-I-I...”

The men threw her onto the floor, tied her hands and feet behind her back, and hauled her into the darkness.  

I found this while searching for a banner image. I've never played this game, though I've heard of it. Maybe I should give it a try. It seems like it's my kinda sci-fi.

If you enjoy my writing, please support me by downloading my main novel, Red Eden: Homeworld Bound, for free and leaving a review on Goodreads. Saving Ever After is based in the same universe and roughly the same timeline as Red Eden: Homeworld Bound. You can download Red Eden: Homeworld Bound for free using this universal link:


You can also purchase Red Eden: Homeworld Bound on Amazon:


Thank you for reading!

Cheers ; )

Michael E. Vigil