First Draft was the eighth story in The Book of the Enemy.
The Piebald Man took some time to reflect on the nature of humanity, and its constant desire to create life, yet how it also discards the life it creates, consigning it to stories, existing in the margins. "You're just a story."
Lucy ran around the hilltops near her village, as the SkyEyes, the drone network, was gone for the time being, and it was Sunday, and other people were in Church. She ran down to the cove, faster than the eye could follow, as she enjoyed doing, and saw a body in the water. As she ran back to town to tell others, a boy from school, Silas, stopped her. He asked her "you're one of us, aren't you", and she ignored him, saying that they should get help for the body. But when she turned to look, it was gone. Lucy became nervous, and kept in mind the advice, "you're just a story". But Silas disappeared beneath the waves again, longer than any human could, before erupting back up. Lucy smiled, her loneliness vanishing.
When she turned 17 Lucy's parents died. An accident with their kiln. After the funeral, she and Silas talked about her dreams, of how she always remembered the past perfectly. And she asked him, when did he first learn of their heritage? Back in the old days, when the SkyEyes network was first starting, he was brought to a hut with a bunch of children and an old woman was there to pass on lessons. Lucy asked him to share them, as her parents were waiting for the right time, and she just felt so lost. The old woman said that they're not like humans, they're all different, but were made by humans, magicians, scientists, to serve their purposes, and cast aside.
Not too long after, on a Sunday morning, Silas and Lucy wake up with their roommates to see on the news that the Piebald Man has been arrested as some sort of threat. Tony speculates it's a terrorist, and when Lucy identifies him, Aisline has only a vague understanding of the story. The Prime Minister says that there are cells of outcasts, and forms a new force of soldiers to root them out, the Sweepers. A few weeks later, the Sweepers came for Lucy and Silas, across the country people would wake up to find people missing from their lives.
In the Stockade, Silas awakes to find that Lucy is nowhere to be seen. He runs around looking for her, asking others, even asking the guards, before the Piebald Man tells him he won't get any help from them. Silas is in the stockade because they already know everything about his lineage, him being an aqua breather. He's a recent line. So Lucy, who they don't know about, is far away from here. The Piebald Man asks what she does, but the traditions say that people only tell their own stories.
Lucy sits in solitary confinement in a cellar for a few days, before being led up to a laboratory where she meets September. September accuses Lucy and the others of being part of a cabal growing in size for centuries, waiting for the chance to strike. A toxin has been placed in Lucy's body, with emitters around the building keeping it inert. But if she escapes, she dies. September makes her run, performing test after test on her, with only the memory of Silas to keep her company.
Silas has breakfast in the Stockade, as some Beast Folk attempt to escape. He has to dive into a nearby tunnel as the emitters are turned off, activating the toxin in their bodies, killing the rebellion as soon as it begins. He traveled further down, having a conversation with the Piebald Man about memory.
Lucy continued to run, and talked to Silas in her mind. She came to the conclusion that she didn't even run. She put her mind in a certain place and then put her body there too.
Silas walks back to the dining room to talk to the Piebald Man. Silas figures out that he doesn't remember who he is, having lived for so long. Just the book having a semblance of truth. "Why do stories have power?" Silas is asked. Because of what it teaches. Silas has concerns that they all are lost. But the Piebald Man smiles. "One day, we really will live only as stories. And just think how powerful we’ll be then."
As the guards come to get Lucy, the guards begin to open fire yet again on Silas, Lucy runs to him, using his memory to be a current to guide her to him. She finds him, her outstretched hand, and they smile.
- Piebald Man
- Earth's sky is patrolled by SkyEyes.
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