Dark Raine (Ep. 1: “From the Flames)

So, I’m deciding to experiment with a new thing called Wasteland Wednesday. I’ve been interested in doing backstories for of the characters of Wasteland Chronicles for a long time now, but wasn’t really sure of the format.

I’m going to try this thing out, called Wasteland Wednesday, where every Wednesday I’ll post a new flash fiction story no more than 1,000 words, to be written in about thirty minutes or less.

You can think of it as episodes. These episodes will be written quickly and definitely won’t be edited to the extent as my novels (maybe just a single pass through). It’s completely winging it, and it’s more of just to do something fun rather to to write a novel. 

Could be once I’m done with a completed story, I’ll polish it up and publish it properly, but as it is, this will just be for fun and to give you guys an idea of what my unedited writing style is like.

The first character I’ll be writing about is Makara. This is the first episode, “From the Flames.”

“Get a look at that, Raine.”

Raine lowered his sunglasses, so dark that his eyes couldn’t be seen behind them. “Came close to hitting the perimeter,” he said, gruffly.”We’re lucky.”

“Who is it, you think?”

Raine shrugged. He toyed with the thought of getting out a cigar, but those were few enough as they were. Better to save it for a rainy day.

“Round up the men,” he said. “They’re might be survivors.”

Lieutenant Green looked doubtful of that, but he wasn’t going to argue with Warlord Raine.

“Hand me those binocs,” Raine said.

Green passed them over, and Raine raised them to his eyes. He squinted as he adjusted the lenses, and the field of view homed in on the site of the helicopter crash. The thing was on its side, belching black smoke into the cloudy red air. The dark column dissipated, but only a mile or two up into the red atmosphere, where it created a smoky, gray blotch on the otherwise sandy red sky.

“Who the hell can fly a helicopter these days?” Raine mused.

“Reapers?” Green opined.

Raine scoffed, then spat. “I’ve never been one to underestimate our enemies, but it’d have to be someone from the Old World.” Raine considered. “One of those Bunkers, maybe.”

“Why would a Bunker have a ‘copter?” Green asked.

Raine was about to answer, but something caught his eye in the binocs. Something…or someone…was moving, crawling away from the flames.

“There’s someone alive,” he said, not believing it even as he said it.

“What?” Green said.

Raine looked again. He could have swore that it wasn’t an adult, but a…

“A girl…” he said, lowering the lenses.

As much as he didn’t want them to, thoughts of Adrienne crossed his head.

I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t save my daughter…

“But I could save her…” Raine said.


“Round up the men. Go!”

Before Green could even respond, Raine ran forward, ignoring the lieutenant’s shouts of warning.

* * *

The heat was unreal. Raine shielded his eyes and face, even as he began to hack at the fire’s fumes.

The girl wasn’t far. She was a small thing – about the same age as Adrienne when she had…

Don’t think of that, Raine thought. Focus.

The girl lifted her tiny head, her black hair a mess and filled with cinders. Her smooth, olive face was smudged with dirt, and she crawled along only using one of her arms. The other might have been broken or otherwise disabled.

How did she survive that?

He pushed himself against the heat of the flames, feeling them crackle on his skin. If it was this bad for him, then the girl…

“Got you,” he said, scooping her up in his strong arms.

And then, he ran. The emanating heat waves licked at his back, and a sudden burst pushed him forward, nearly sending him stumbling to the ground.

The girl cried in his arms. “Daddy…”

I ain’t your Daddy, girl, he thought. He’s dead, unless he somehow got out like you.

“It’ll be all right, Angel,” he said. “Hold on tight.”

The girl obeyed. Raine chanced a look back to see that the helicopter was fully ablaze now, burning through the last of its fuel like a star going supernova. The heat was incredible; if Raine hadn’t arrived in the nick of time, the girl would have burned beyond all recognition. As it was, she had a few blisters. They would hurt, and fill with nasty pus and pop, but she would live with nothing more than a few scars. Assuming those didn’t infected, but they had antibiotics back at base.

Not enough of those as is, Raine thought. For this girl, though…I’d use them all.

Then, another thought argued: She isn’t your daughter, you damn fool. Nothing will bring Adrienne back!

She’s daughter enough, Raine responded. She has no one else. If she has no one, she’s a lot like me.

Raine only stopped when out of breath, which only took five minutes. He wasn’t much of a runner, and never had been. His strength was of a different kind, good for bashing a man’s face in or cracking a neck. He’d done that a few times in his life. And now, those some hands cradled this little girl who now whimpered against his chest.

“You’ll be okay, sweetie,” he said. “You’re safe, now.”

Her tinny voice came out at a rasp. “I’m thirsty.”

Raine reached for his canteen; he watched in amazement as the girl downed the whole thing without pause.

He looked up at the sight of Lieutenant Green returning with the patrol – two men bearing rifles, and another a first aid kid.

“She’ll be all right,” Raine called out as they approached. “Just a little burnt and beat up, is all.”

Lieutenant Green looked at the downed ‘copter with disbelief in his eyes. Raine watched the inferno blaze, reflected by those blue orbs. It had been twelve years since he’d met the Lieutenant. A former Marine, Dan Green and Dark Raine had been working together for the past twelve years – first as cronies for the Black Reapers – and then for their own gang, the Lost Angels, which they’d founded together. The pairing was unlikely – even twelve years after Dark Day, the Lieutenant was still as straight-edged as they came, while Raine had run the streets with Los Lobos as an enforcer.

The two men had one thing in common, however: they were hard as nails, as were all men who had lived this long after Ragnarok fell.

Raine surrendered the girl to the medic. Her green eyes had long closed out of sheer exhaustion. Raine stood and watched, standing next to Green.

“You can’t just do that, Raine,” Green said. “You’ll get yourself killed one of these days, charging in like that.”

The girl opened her eyes, much to Raine’s surprise. Those green eyes were haunted, but even so, she gave a small, innocent smile, the kind only children are capable of.

“What’s your name, girl?” Raine asked.

He tried not to think of his dead daughter…twelve years had passed. Twelve years, and his daughter’s eyes still haunted him in his dreams.

These eyes were green, too. So much the same.

But the hardness in this girl’s eyes were different. They belied her age.

No girl should be this tough.

“I’m Makara,” she said, her voice high, yet firm.

As the girl closed her eyes again to sleep, it was if her life were laid out in prophecy. Raine saw that he had done well in saving her. A girl as tough as this, if raised well, had great potential.

“Makara,” he said. “Welcome to the Lost Angels.”

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