“Your wide open!”


Within a barren desert were the sounds of clashing steel mixed with the voices of two people. A scorching brown sun bathed the area with an unforgiving heat. Sand and dust danced in the air around the battlefield decorated with rusty boats and large rocks.

“Stop rushing without a plan!” A calm yet harsh feminine voice ranged out towards a poor young man who constantly getting thrown around. The man’s back collided with a small, rusty fishing boat. He quickly got back onto his feet as if nothing had happened. His gray cloak, stained with blood and sand, covered his dark blue suit. A large rusty blade, covered in dents, rested in his only hand. He took a deep breath and rushed towards a woman with dark hair, dressed in the same cloak. She wielded a large blade with claw-like thorns near the base of the blade. Watching the man run towards her, she dug her feet into the sand and brought her blade behind her. Once the man was within range of her blade, she swung it out in an instant, nearly hitting the man. “Huh?” Her eyes widen a bit as the man dodged her. She smiled, then vanished, leaving nothing but her cloak in the air.

“Take this-!” Unaware that his target had disappeared, he swung at the floating cloak. After realizing that she was not there, a powerful blow hit him in the back. “How…?” He fell to his knees, dropping his blade in the sand. He glance back at the woman who was now reequipping her cloak. A sour look was plastered onto his face as he gripped his rusty blade. The woman gave him a pitiful look as she gripped her weapon.



The two stared at each other for a good minute before the man spoke up. “I give up.” He stood up and place his blade on his back. “Thank you, Laetitia.”

“What?” She bore a dumbfounded look. “I…hmm.”


“Nothing nothing.” She gives him a confused smile before sighing. “I don’t know if this is an improvement or not, but I’m glad you are starting to know your limits.” She then stared at him with a lustful gaze. “But Cassius, if I may ask, why are you so dead set on getting stronger in such a short period of time? We’ve only been together for almost a week and we’ve done nothing but train. I wanna explore some ruins with yoooooou~!” She launched herself at Kazer.

Kazer dodged, and she ran face-first into a rusty cargo ship. She held her head in pain as she looked back at Kazer, who was snickering. She gave him a small pout.

“It’s a personal matter. I have something I need to do with my own two hands- er one hand.” He glanced at his missing right arm. “But besides that, why do you always try to touch me with such a devious look?”

“Is it wrong to try and love a man that saved my life~!” She stared at his neck and brought her finger to her lips to lick it seductively. “Don’t worry about it, at least this way my desires are fulfilled.” Kazer tilted his head. Laetitia picked up on this and sighed. “You know, for a person with a lot of knowledge of old technology lost in the great war, you sure do seem like you live under a rock.” She then shrugged her shoulders as her playful attitude changed. “Like come on, how are you not informed about the basics? But I guess it’s kinda relieving that you don’t know too much about the world…” Her voice trailed off as she hid her mouth. Her eyes mirror her pain. Blood dripped down her chin.

“Ummm…?” Kazer noticed this and called out to her. “You’ve got blood dripping from your mouth.”

“AH!” She pivoted around and wiped her mouth. Kazer smiles from behind. A small object fell to the ground beside Laetitia. Kazer was too far away to make out what the item was. As he tried to move forward, Laetitia covered the object with sand before turning back to Kazer.

Pretending not to notice, Kazer cleared his throat and resumed the previous conversation. “Well, I apologize for being ignorant. But there is a lot of stuff that I was not aware was even happening here on Earth.”

“See!” Laetitia walked up to him and placed her finger on his nose. “You keep calling this planet ‘Earth’. The name ‘Earth’ died the moment the last remaining humans fled underground to escape the nuclear effects of the great war. However, those tribes were too late and became exposed to an ungodly amount of radiation. When the global EMP detonated, it caused the radiation to rapidly recode the human DNA structure.” She spoke as if she were a teacher. However, her gaze kept shifting. She was unable to keep eye contact with Kazer.

Kazer then chuckled a little, “Yet so still don’t know about bio-coding?” He then took a heavy fist to the head. Kazer held his head in pain as Laetitia resumed her history lesson.

“Anyway, old technology such as that are kept within the city’s mist. And in case you don’t know what that is…” She reached for the map that Kazer had carried. “Huh?” As she held the map in her hands, a wave of disappointment painted her face. Kazer smiled awkwardly as he held his breath. “This map is outdated. No wonder why you always seemed so confused when I told you different landmarks during the past few days.”

Kazer let out a relieving sigh. “Good thing she can’t read…” He said under his breath. The map that Laetitia took from Kazer was the same one they had issued him before starting his mission on the once believed to be lifeless planet. Ever since they had met a few days ago, Kazer would stealthily pull out his map and use it to guide him. However, because of that, they managed to somehow find themselves in a scorching desert instead of heading towards the former United Kingdom. Laetitia examined the map and squinted at the words written on it.

“War-don-K? What’s a Wardon-K?” She turned to Kazer with a puzzled look.

“Warden.” He corrected. “But where do you see that?” Laetitia pointed to the bottom left corner where the words ‘Issued by Warden K’ were printed in blue text. “Oh…I don’t know. I found this map a week ago on the body of a prisoner.” He looked back at the text. “Who the hell is Warden?” Kazer spoke under his breath, making sure that Laetitia did not overhear him. “I thought the Commander made these maps.” He cleared his throat. “But I guess this map is useless because, according to you, it’s inaccurate.”

Laetitia rolled her eyes and looked back at the map. “Because it is, look at this.” She points towards the image of a compass on the top left corner of the map. “This cardinal direction thingy is completely reversed. The directions should be rotated by 180 degrees.” Kazer attempted to speak, but she cut him off. “And before you even ask another dumb question, the EMP disrupted the planet’s axis.” Kazer then raised his hand as if he was a student in a classroom. “Yes?” She asked with an irritated tone.

“So if that’s the case, assuming that you are correct in saying that this map is outdated, why are we in a DESERT miss Laetitia?” He then points to the Mediterranean Sea. Laetitia bore a smile that failed to hide her irritation. Her brow twitched with every ‘common knowledge’ question he asked.



“I will send you God.” She reached out for his neck.

“Whoa whoa whoa.” Kazer jumped back. “I understand that my knowledge of the world is minuscule, but please tell me why this planet is called Eden? I swear I will not ask any more questions today. I’ll even get a massage to relieve the stress that I caused.” Kazer smiled as his legs quivered. Laetitia frowned a little and took a deep breath. She then parted her long hair and twisted the ends as she looked away in embarrassment.

“Sorry for snapping.” She said in a hushed tone. “It’s just…where I’m from, this information regarding the history of the world is beaten into us. So hearing you not know this information made me envious of your ignorance.” She then walked behind Kazer and hugged him, allowing him to feel the faint beats of her heart. Laetitia brushed her head against his and licked her lips. “But you are still adorable, so I don’t hate you.”

“Umm…you mind if I ask one more question?” Kazer asked in a calm tone while trying to hide his embarrassment. There was a brief silence, during that silence he felt her heart beat quicker.

“Sure, but I hate liars.” Kazer felt her gentle breath on the nape of his neck.

“Sorry, but I need to know this. Are…you…” Kazer spoke slowly on purpose. As he did, her heart raced. Not only that, but her muscles tensed up as well. Paranoid, Kazer rested his hand on his gun. “…a…” Laetitia’s gentle embrace became tighter. Kazer made an audible gulp. “A…very illiterate person who only learned this stuff from mouth to mouth?” He spoke fast. There was an awkward silence between the two. Laetitia bit her lip and whispered to him.

“All of that unnecessary build-up for that dumb question?” Her tone was devoid of emotion. She then took a deep breath and locked her arms around Kazer’s waist. She then squatted her legs and picked Kazer up over her. “SO WHAT IF I CAN NOT READ!?”

“Huh?” Kazer’s view of the world now became upside down. “W-w-wait! We can talk about this-” Before he could finish, Laetitia slammed him down behind her. His head made direct contact with a rock and he immediately got knocked out.

——“So cannibal robots?” Kazer spoke to a large-built man behind a fancy desk. The man had a large stack of paperwork before him and a blue eye patch resting next to a large cup of coffee. A large glass window overlooked a lively city that shined beautifully under the night sky. The man cleared his throat and looked at Kazer with his only eye.

“That is correct. Although cannibal may not be the right term. After all, they are still machines, not humans.” He leaned back in his chair. “But to think that there is still life on Earth, maybe this project may succeed.”

“Forgive me for asking, sir, but why would we need to go to Earth to do this? The radiation levels are insane.” Kazer gave the man a worried look as he awaited the answer.

Unfortunately for Kazer, he did not answer right away. The man smiled and took a sip of his coffee. His eye glared into Kazer’s soul, causing him to sink deeper in his seat. “Man…” He sighed as he place his cup of coffee back onto his desk. “You really need to grow a backbone.”

“I am SOOOOO sorry that every action I take in here usually results in my DEATH. So can you blame me for being paranoid after asking a question? Dying over and over hurts, you know.”

“Heh…” The man gave Kazer an awkward smile. “Sorry about that. But to answer your question, the final phase of the project will take place on Earth because of various reasons. The first reason is that we need to reclaim our original home. The second reason is that it will give us an opportunity to see what evolution did to the species living in intense radiation.”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“Our scans of Earth have picked up life. Surprisingly, humans are still alive. However, when we launched the DNA scan…things happened.” The man rummaged through the mountain of paperwork on his desk. He grabbed a detailed paged and handed it to Kazer. As Kazer read through the paper, the man continued. “Different subspecies of human and other once-common animals have been detected. Because of this, Earth is now being dubbed the garden as the scientists speculate God had a role to play in preserving life.”

“Why did the scientists turn to God for answers?” Kazer placed the paper back on the desk. “Like isn’t their job to prove that God does not exist?”

The man facepalmed, “That’s not what I meant. I just mean that there was a mysterious force that allowed life to survive beyond all expectations. Many do believe that God had a hand in this, while the others speculate that the global EMP had a hand in it.” He then shook his head, “But I digress. The third reason is to see if those seven are able to be redeemed. While they may be the heroes of Mars, their sins are deeply etched into their souls.”

“And my job as the Warden is to guide them towards redemption, correct?” The man nodded. “Mmm…k.” Kazer grabbed an old map of the Earth. “I guess I should help out then.”

“Oh?” The man’s eye widens. “You, taking the reins? Color me impress.”

“Oh shut it!” The man chuckled. “I can’t just sit around and get killed all day. And besides, I can’t just live in your shadow. I need to be my own person.”

“Great!” The man shouted as he stood up. “Though I feel like your plan here is only gonna backfire.”——

“Oww…?” Kazer’s vision was dark, but he felt a strange warmth on one side of his cheek. Without thinking, he nuzzled against the strange object with a smile painted across his face. Once finished, he slowly opened his eyes and found himself staring at a gray cloak of disappointment. The cloak that he looted from the Cleaners was carefully draped over the side of a folding chair that stood across from a heated leather mattress, whose texture was equivalence to human flesh. “Booo…” He whispered. He stood up and grabbed his neck as he felt a strange tingle. After rubbing it around his neck for a bit, he pulled away his hand and raised a brow. Faint traces of dried blood were smeared on his fingers.

Without making much noise, he looked around the room he was in. It was a makeshift camp inside the remains of an old building. The only things in the room were two leather mattresses and two folding chairs that held their weapons and their cloaks. Noticing that Laetitia’s cloak was draped on her chair, Kazer equipped his and walked out of the building.

A cloudy night sky met that man with a gloomy, icy wind that brushed against him. A makeshift ladder stood beside him that led to the roof of the building. He climbed it and looked towards the mist-covered city off in the distance. “Did she carry me back?” He asked out loud. The moon’s stolen light reflected off the mist-covered city, giving it a sparkle presentation. He then reached for his tool belt and pulled out the map he had tucked away. “So I made this?” He placed the map down on the ground and scratched his head. “Why would I purposely make the wrong map?” Kazer sat in silence as he tried to remember why. While he was thinking, the sound of metal shifting around startled him. Kazer stood up and walked over to the ladder.

“Morning sleepy head!” Laetitia climbed the ladder before him and walked over to the map resting on the ground. Kazer followed with an awkward look. She had a clean aroma with her hair reflecting the brown moonlight. Small droplets of water dripped from her hair. “I told you this was outdated, right? Or do you not remember?” She asked in a friendly tone. Her current attitude confused Kazer. During the past week, whenever she passed by him, she would usually seductively lick her lips before attempting to approach him. Now she sat before him as if she was a normal person. Hoping her attitude would stay this way, Kazer sat across from her and grabbed the map.

“Yeah, I remember. I was just visualizing what this area would have been like before the war. After all, there are cities listed nearby on this map.” He looked off at the distant city before him. “I want to know that city that used to be.”

“From what I’ve heard from travelers and my former tribesmen, that city was once known as Paris. It used to be a major city from before the great war.” Her face frowned a little. “Now it’s just a dangerous maze frozen in time.”

“Frozen in time?”

“Yeah, that mist is really the byproduct of a nuclear weapon. If you can get past the barrier, then a ruined city overtaken by greenery and strange life will greet you with a vicious smile. Or so the legends say, at least.”

Kazer recalled his first day on this planet. When the overgrown rat nearly ended his life. “So maybe that is where it came from…” He spoke said, unaware that Laetitia was giving him a strange glare. “Wait!” He snapped out of his thoughts and looked at Laetitia, “You said ‘former’. What happened?”

Laetitia stopped to think for a bit. She twisted the ends of her hair for a while before speaking. “I guess the easiest way of putting it is that I different ideas from the rest. So I got kicked out.” She shrugged her shoulders then gave Kazer a loving smile. “But I don’t regret it. After all, you are the first person I met who I can control myself around.”


“But I digress,” She reached inside her cloak with a pained look. “Do you want to know how to enter the city?” Kazer nodded. “Of course you do.” She pulled out a gas mask and two extra filters for a gas mask. Kazer’s eyes widened as she handed him the filters. “We will need these to enter. As I stated earlier, that mist traps a lot of oxygen. Such much oxygen to the point where unknowing explorers would enter the mist and collapse 2 minutes in.” She placed her mask back inside her cloak. “But once we are in, there is no coming out unless we can find more filters. These filters can only last a few minutes in that mist due to how thick it is. Got that?”


“Good,” She then stretched, “So when you wanna move out?”

“At daybreak. I need to mentally prepare myself for this adventure.” He glanced at the map, straight at Annmarie’s name. “After all, she still has her helmet…so maybe…” He trailed off, causing Laetitia to tilt her head. She then sighed as she walked towards the ladder, leaving Kazer alone with his thoughts.

Related Chapters

Latest Chapter