Perfection is the disease of a nation
Paragon
CHAPTER
1
Before:
Among the flames of a dying nation
31st of December, 2020
It wasn’t a fire.
It was a grotesque creature of death, a giant wave of flame, undulating, hell bent on murder.
It had playfully licked the first building in its path of destruction, flickered, leapt and spat, crawled along the brickwork, reducing it to crumbling mortar. It reared across the rooftop, spread from building to building, leaking sulphurous soot onto the heat blistered pavement. It slithered into streets covered in ash like dirty flakes of snow. It scorched everything in sight, till all you could see to the horizon was a huge blossom of inferno, flashing in an existence of red and yellow sparks, dangerously beautiful, tendrils dancing and twirling.
The smoke formed an acidic veil across the sky, the spirits of the deceased trailed towards the heavens. It stung Lydia’s nostrils as she tearfully gazed at her destroyed homeland, the fire reflecting in her dark eyes burning as fiercely as the beast of emotions inside of her, playing her by the strings like a puppet. Remorse wracked her body, fear stabbed at her gut, anger squeezed at her throat, deep sorrow clutched at her heart, which rattled her rib-cage so ferociously it felt like it was going to break out of chest. She was immersed in an ocean of pain, as wild as the Atlantic. She couldn’t breath, her breathe squeezed out of her lungs in an irregular wheeze, she couldn’t see, fuzzy black spots dotted her vision.
She collapsed onto her knees, reaching out to touch the skyscrapers thin wall. Her grasping fingers met the burning glass and she gasped, retracting in pain. She ventured again, wanting something, anything, to distract her from how she was feeling. Moving closer to the glass, she felt the heat emanating burn her skin. Beads of sweat bursted out of her skin across her forehead. She placed her head in her hands and finally gave way to the overwhelming sadness bubbling up inside of her like a toxic poison, destroying her bit by bit.
She wailed from deep inside of herself, from the pits of her being. It was a raw, animalistic sound, and she never in a million years would have recognised it as her voice. Fat, ugly tears rolled down her tan cheeks as her shoulders wracked so roughly the onlookers thought they might detache themselves. It wasn’t till minutes later was she able to speak, but when she did everyone heard.
“How could you?”
A harsh whisper that rubbed her throat raw as it gurgled past her bitten lips. Few words that would still rattle the heartstrings. She turned around, on her hands and knees, and looked up at her tormentors.
They expected her to look beaten, vulnerable, done. But her eyes burned with a disturbing intensity that shocked them to the core, turning their veins to icy mush.
“How could you?!” she screeched, her mouth in a vicious snarl. She leaped up in a dizzying fluid motion and sprung at the nearest person, clawing at their face. She was grabbed from behind and dragged back to the far depths of the room, but not before several claw marks had been gauged in the victims face. They covered their sore eye in anger and disgust.
She screamed. It echoed across all four walls in a deafening cacophony of tortured noise, while struggled against the prison of arms that enclosed her. Exhausted , she eventually collapsed into herself, bent over the arms supporting her like a feeble child, head down, her long wavy hair covering her upper body. If in other circumstances, you could have sworn she was sleeping.
Lydia sobbed in defeat. She stared daggers at everyone who dare look at her in her lowest of moments. One look in the eye and she had everyone in the room on the edge. Except him.
Ugh, she could barely glance at him without feeling severely unwell. He sicken her to the core, his wicked ways repulsed her so greatly that when near him she could practically feel the crimes he had committed emanating off him like a bad smell. He was a narcissist and his cold glassy blue eyes held no human warmth, like he was an empty shell of a human with no soul. It had been devoured by the cruelty he had made others endure, he strongly believed the ends justified the means. When she said his name, it felt like dirt in her mouth.
“Gomez” she spat, grimacing at the taste of his name on her lips.
“Lydia” said a deep voice from the crowd of suits in the opposite side of the room. A tall, lean young man stepped out and moved towards her in a elegant stride, his pitch black hair shining under the fluorescent lights. He gracefully crouched so he was at her level. “How are you?” he asked lovingly, reaching out to touch her cheek. He brushed away a mahogany tress before she slapped his hand away.
“I’ve been better” she said, silently seething. The cheek. He knew right well how well she was.
“Of course, of course, what tragic circumstances. But don’t you worry your pretty like head, you’ll soon understand that it was really all for the better.”
The smirk again. Boy she wished she could slap that plastered grin off his face. So she did.
On impact he made a growl noise and his face contorted in a mask of complete outrage at such public embarrassment. Lydia felt a pinprick of fear, he was definitely not someone to get on the wrong side of. He was a slave to his anger, when it took over he lost all little humanity he had left.
Luckily, as soon as the anger had come, it left. He plastered the grin back onto his face, and she couldn’t help but smile at the large red hand-print at the side of his face.
“Let’s have no more of that shall we” he said smoothly, without a hitch. Now, this was scary. A furious gorilla of a Gomez was bad enough, but a secretively furious gorilla of a Gomez? Lethal.
Lydia sighed. “Okay”
He closed his eyes for a second, his long eyelashes sending shadows onto his cheeks. He took a shaky intake of breath, and then blew it out slowly. Lydia squirmed as it touched her face. It was icy cold and smelled like rum. She gasped in disgust.
He opened his eyes again and smiled. It looked like a grimace.
She decided to tiptoe around him. From what she could she, his current demeanor indicated that his anger was freezing dark water. And his control capacity was very thin ice. And she was standing quite heavily on it.
So she whispered when she really should have been yelling. “How would burning a whole nation of people and buildings, all we’ve ever worked for, all your efforts have ever tried to improve, be all for the better?”
He raised a thick dark eyebrow. “Isn’t it obvious.?”
She snorted and rolled her eyes. “Oh yes, by jove! How didn’t I see it before! All our problems are solved! I must bath in the light of my revelation! Joy to the empire! Oh wait, there is none!”
Now it was his turn to slap her. It stung, but she kept her mouth closed. It’s what she should have done from the start. She deserved worse.
He looked at her pityingly, the way a teacher looks at a student when they have failed a test and are faced with a pile of detentions. Exactly like that.
“Oh deary me” he said fondly, tilting his head to gaze at her intently. “I’m sorry. I must have overestimated you. You being the Leader’s adviser and all. He turned and glanced sadly at the mass of flames that the skyscraper overlooked. The flames were starting to weaken and smoulder, the sky had become an impenetrable wall of grey, broken only by dying wisps of black, spinning like fairies back down to earth. “It was all his idea after all.”
Lydia gave a harsh intake of breath. “No.” He couldn’t, wouldn’t, never in a million years....
But she knew more than anyone else what Leader was like. And when he got desperate, he got stupid.
Her job as the Leaders chief adviser was the one thing that held her above Gomez. It was why he hated her. Everyone knew that it was the job he wanted. It was why he abused the citizens of Capitol as Head of Security. He wanted to her to see how badly he treated them so he could bend her will into giving him her job. He had underestimated how strong she was.
Now, seeing her so broken and childlike, it gave him immense pleasure. His lifeless eyes crinkled and an invisible smile played at his lips.
“Oh but yes. You see, dearest Lydia, no matter how hard to try to be the fountain of hope and light and try and see everything with good works, our society is flawed. People do crimes, people are ignorant and greedy, people are needy and insufficient to their and everyone else’s needs. We have imposed stricter laws, helped them be independent, tried to give them as much as we could to change their wicked ways. But it is too late. They are to used to their selfish lifestyles. We must start over. We must make things as perfect as possible. So we planned and planned and planned, and we chose specific individuals to help create our new and improved race. You were one of those. You met are requirements for intelligence, fitness, personality and beauty.” At this he gave her a fleetingly glance, smirking, and she blushed a deep crimson.
It was true that she was beautiful. Everyone knew. Except her. Which made her even the more beautiful.
She had thick hair that framed a delicate face. Her dark eyes radiated compassion and kindness and were fringed by long eyelashes. Her plump lips were constantly exposed in a dazzling smile. She was as radiant as the sun.
He was waiting for her to speak. She didn’t know what to say. It was cruel and barbaric and vile and disgusting and insane and and and....
“We are.. we are not, we are humans!” she sobbed, stuttering in a whirlwind of horror. “And we can never be perfect! It is impossible!”
“Your right, we’re not. Not yet. But we will be”
She stared at him with wide eyes. “What do you mean?”
He smiled delightedly, bathing in the glory of his own brainchild, a cold gleam in his eye.
“Oh you’ll know soon. You’ll know all too well. And your really going to wish you didn’t.”
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