Word of Telos’ actions spread through the Lviv district of Damascus. Bakers gave him free food, department stores gave him free clothing, little kids looked up to him. He felt awkward, initially, with this sudden kind of fame, but as most people do he warmed up to it.
One day, while he was walking home, quite innocently I assure you, a young street boy ran up to him. The boy demanded that Telos form some kind of resistance, so as to fight Eoin, to take his power away. Telos sighed, explaining to the kid how hard it would be to achieve anything of use. A lot of people would die; were their lives right now worse than dying?
The boy was indignant. Jurek, he said, Jurek Bitschan did not take no for answer! Telos knew, dammit, he knew how they were being treated. Like they were less than human. It’s insulting. It was only a matter of time before they started dying! The abuse by the Agents would grow to such a degree, it was only a matter of time!
The boy, this dirty and scrawny boy who couldn’t be older than fourteen, was making some good points. Still, this wasn’t the kind of thing to be taken lightly: Telos said he would think about it. Jurek conceded and they parted ways. Fate had something to say on the whole matter as well, of course, and later that night, five men in another district were shot execution-style in an alley. It was generally accepted as a response to the murder of the agent.
Telos became depressed. The cycle of violence gaped at him. He knew what would happen if he went down this road. A few cops would be killed, then a lot of civilians would be killed or arrested, and the whole thing would spin out of control. He looked to Beatrice for advice, but all he found were her cold eyes, the eyes of a soulless woman whose town had burned.
It was like staring into a mirror.
The whole operation came together remarkably quickly, due to the rampant anger towards Eoin that festered in the city. It wasn’t entirely Eoin’s doing of course, a lot of people were furious with Minos as well, and the monarchy in general. Eoin was just unlucky enough to be in power. One hundred people met that night, the founding night of the Eaglets. Everyone was under the age of 25, but ready to fight Eoin and his agents with the last of their young breaths.
Telos made a point that they needed weapons, so the first operation would be against a barracks in the northern section of the Lviv district. He would take fifteen men and secure the barracks, then steal all the guns. They carried this maneuver out to perfection, and returned home with twenty pistols, a handful of machine guns, and various other supplies, such as batons and riot shields.
A few civilian houses were raided in response, but overall the agents were strangely quiet. Perhaps Eoin was nervous about overreacting. Telos enjoyed imagining him wracked with anxiety. However, this slight show of mercy failed to sway Telos’ mind. He had already started down his path. His course had been laid out the day Skara Brae had been destroyed.
He and Beatrice led an attack on a warehouse in the south of Damascus. The area was generally unpopulated; it was near the ports, and was used for storage of various items and vehicles. The attack was a show of strength, a signal to Eoin that they were not content with minor acts of vandalism and a single murder. They shot every agent in the building without remorse, perhaps even with a little joy.
Then they burned the building down. Beatrice and Telos watched it go up in flames, and somewhere in their hearts, life, hope, faith, breathed again.
After the warehouse was torched, it was basically on. The Agentes in Rebus shut the entire Lviv district down, with checkpoints at every exit point out. This worked for a while, as it became difficult to organize in larger groups; operations were limited. Every few days, an Agent or two would be found murdered in an alley, but large-scale destruction had been temporarily halted.
Telos and Beatrice were desperate to communicate with the group at large. They needed to break through the checkpoint that led to Tell Ramad; there, they could freely set up shop and wage attacks on central Damascus with ease. Tell Ramad was a bit of a wild area, it wasn’t under any real kind of control. Obviously, Eoin wanted to prevent them from making it to Tell Ramad at any cost. If they made it there, the rebellion would have a solid foundation, a place from which to plan and launch attacks.
They wanted to use the internet to communicate, but it was certainly being watched. They would have to go analog. Telos remembered an old tactic that had been used in Algiers; he devised a hierarchachal network of relays. He would pass a note to one man, who in turn knew to pass it to three. Each of these three would be informed of the three they were to pass it to, and each of those three would inform their men who they were to pass it on to.
After a couple days, word had got back to Telos that the notes had made their way around Lviv. As per orders, upon reading the note, the piece of paper was summarily burned, to prevent the Agentes from finding out. Telos was pleased, and soon it would be time to break out of this city.
They came out of their houses like ants. It just happened: the Agentes didn’t have enough time to group and form any kind of substantial defense. It was like a sunshower. They came from nowhere and suddenly, in front of the southern checkpoint in Lviv, suddenly an army was bearing down on them, shots were being fired, the fifteen men at the checkpoint were overwhelmed.
They swarmed over the checkpoint, a tidal wave of violence, of screaming and shooting. Telos, it is remembered vividly by many who were there, Telos grabbed one of the leaders and shot him in the head, up through his chin. He then threw the body to the side as if it were a sack of coffee beans.
A lot of people talk about this attack as some kind of formative moment for Telos. It’s like his vision was fully realized, his vigor and belief in the cause crystallized, he became more than a leader, he became a symbol, a hero.
Some time after the events, famous painters would make vast canvasses (even murals!) of this event. The Liberation of Lviv, painted a little under a hundred years later, is perhaps the best known work in tribute to Telos and his deeds. A little exaggerated, in that Telos is portrayed with slightly large muscles, and there are many more than fourteen dead bodies in the picture. But still, the brush strokes are graceful and the coloring is inspired, with a glorious yellow-orange sun breaking through the skyscrapers in the distant background. It is undoubtedly El Lissitzky’s finest work.
The grand campaign, as Telos’ subordinates called it, was going well, it seemed. After they had made their way to Tell Ramad, Eoin decided to reorganize the counter-insurgency in an effort to keep them out of the city. Patrols were set up, curfews established, and the Agentes, as always, slowly found themselves with more control.
As the constraints tightened on the city and its inhabitants, people were slowly won over to the cause of the Eaglets, and would flee for Tell Ramad and the freedom promised by Telos. A cult of personality was slowly developing around him, and while he seemed oblivious to it, Beatrice became increasingly worried about his ego, and how it would (at the very least) affect the cause.
But she had also become worried because he was paying less attention to her. She thought the cause had been about them, the two of them, avenging Skara Brae, righting the wrong. It seemed like he was more interested now, though, in overthrowing Eoin. Vengeance had been supplanted by competition, justice replaced with destruction.
Beatrice began to lose her desire to fight the good fight; it seemed like everyone was in it for the thrill, not the purpose. She felt excluded, left out, different. As they ran various guerilla attacks on the patrols, and laid bombs at checkpoints, and kidnapped higher ups for ransom, she drifted in and out of the camp.
She would wander the woods for days at a time, sitting by streams and crying gently. Sometimes she would fall asleep and wake up only when a deer licked her face. What had her life become? Death? Chaos? Revenge? What did any of these things matter?
She felt sick.
At the same time, a force was moving northwards, towards Tell Ramad from the Imperiya. Like the wind, it crossed great distances of land extremely fast, through the Rockies and Venice, up the Via Regia and towards Damascus.
This force was a man. The man was determined to help Telos in the fight against Eoin. He had caught word of the Eaglets and their recent mission to try and overthrow Eoin and his Agentes. It had been some time since he had seen any action, but this man, this man knew when his time was being called, when he could act for the good of mankind.
When he arrived at the camp, he wandered around it for a while, sizing up the force of the Eaglets. They had swelled in numbers to over five hundred, and they seemed pretty well equipped. Still, he wondered why their camp was never attacked. Eoin had more than enough Agentes, let alone men in other branches of the military, that he would be more than able to launch an overwhelming attack on the camp.
As the man walked around, he couldn’t get that suspicion out of his thoughts. Either Eoin was taking a long time to plan their massacre, or he was letting them stay here.
The man had spotted Telos setting up plans for a new raid. He walked up to Telos and shook his hand, explaining the problem he was beginning to suspect. Telos said nothing but let shock spread over his face: standing in front of him was Maximilien.
Through Her Mismatched Eyes I
Maximilien was not the only one to hear of Telos’ startling rise as the leader of a rebel faction. Other people had heard, and made maneuvers to either take advantage or to try and hinder his efforts.
As the Eaglets had grown in numbers, it became impossible to notice a new face slip in amongst the crowd. In fact, that happened on a daily basis, thus it was expected to see some new faces every now and then. So one day, when a new face, a feminine face, joined the throng, no one thought twice about it.
Her hair was scraggy, dirt was smeared across her face, and her eyes were this kind of dull blue, as if there were layers and layers of sadness and apathy rolled over them. There had been brightness once here, her eyes spoke, there had been vitality and innocence. But those things were gone now, those things had left and, I assure you, were never fucking coming back.
And she knew that, she knew that goddammit, she knew she had been robbed, transfigured, maimed. Her eyes were apathetic but not dumb. A terrible intelligence was evident on her face, and she moved through the encampment with obvious purpose.
When night fell, she began to watch Telos. She watched as he ate dinner, she watched as he drank and laughed with his closest allies. She watched all this with a blank face. Hours passed, and he finally got up to go to bed. He wandered down the side of one of the tents, and she followed. He stopped to piss, just outside his tent, and she pulled out a knife. She slowly approached, but he finished peeing quickly, and turned around in time to see her.
He foiled her attack and dragged her inside his tent, holding her up to the light, and a scared face stared back at him, the scared face of Cavillace.
Obsessed with why the camp was not being attacked day in and day out, Maximilien went off the night Cavillace returned, to infiltrate Damascus. He was determined to find the reason for such cowardice, for such reckless disregard in ending the insurgency.
He gained entrance to the palace that housed the King under normal circumstances, but these days housed the Tyrant known as Eoin. The hallways were large and empty, dark shadows playing across the walls. Only a few lights were on, and the thunderclouds just added to the ominous darkness of the palace.
Maximilien managed to bypass the few guards who were on duty: apparently Eoin was not very concerned about any of the Eaglets making it this far into the palace. Eoin underestimated his skills, but he was not here to assassinate the man. That would mean Maximilien’s certain execution, and he was not the kind of man who was prepared to be a martyr.
When he reached the throne room, he was surprised to see Eoin sitting on the throne, not really moving, not really doing anything. Emboldened, Maximilien strode into the throne room. His black outfit was juxtaposed against his pale face and wispy gray hair that was trimmed short yet somehow managed to bustle around, as if in front of a fan.
A voice boomed throughout the hall, forcing Maximilien to stop.
“I know why you are here, Robespierre,” the voice shuddered. “I know why you are here, but you will not find what you want.” Eoin stood up, and began to shuffle towards him, his body moving as if he were a marionette. Maximilien was frozen in terror. Eoin’s head fell backwards, and then grew to an enormous size, as big as the throne room could stomach, and then bigger than the throne room, then bigger than the world, than the universe, and this head that was bigger than all of creation swooped forward, swallowing Maximilien whole.
Through Her Mismatched Eyes II
Telos refused to say anything to Cavillace. He had her chained to a tree, and would simply stare at her for long periods of time, in deep silence. She stared back, unwilling to say anything that might give away her purpose.
Many thought a duel was happening, a duel of wills, as Telos’ and Cavillace’s eyes would dart about wildly while neither of them made any noise. But a duel was not happening. A conversation was happening, a dialogue within each to themselves. They were both coming to terms with the impact the other had had on them.
For Cavillace, shame and anger were the dominant motifs. She was furious at this man who had charmed her and then robbed her of her innocence, only to leave her in the clutches of Syme. Telos had made her a woman, a woman unprepared for womanhood, and then abandoned her, to face the cruel world as an adult, alone.
For Telos, humiliation and betrayal commanded his thoughts. He was embarrassed by the memory of deserting her, especially after they had given themselves to each other so completely. He did not like to be reminded of his weaknesses. He was the leader of a revolution. He could have no faults. Her betrayal, her desire to kill him further shamed him, but also enraged him: how could she want him dead?
They had been lovers once, after all, and hadn’t that love come with some kind of transcendent understanding? Could she not see his own pain, his own struggle with his simple humanity? If she could, then she was here to strike out of revenge, a petty motivation. But if she couldn’t… that would mean she had never really loved him in the first place.
Beatrice had been gone from the camp for a week before she finally strayed back, lured home by food. Strangely, combining the loss of Skara Brae with her sudden distance from Telos and her destructive urges brought all kinds of emotions roaring back in her. She spent a lot of her time in the woods crying and accepting that her hometown was gone.
It was almost good for her. Every night when she closed her eyes, she saw the townhall burning again (and again, burning again and again, over and over, the screams, the screams, the smell of burning people, oh that smell is so terrible and so unforgettable she will remember it after she dies and she is nothing more than a bed for maggots and those maggots will remember the smell yes they will yes they most certainly will!
But every night when she saw the fire and smelled the bodies, every night it lasted a little bit less. The fire would come a unwillingly and leave faster, as if you’ve listened to a song a few times too many and you remember why it was good but goddammit that’s enough.
So she returned to Tell Ramad a little more in touch with herself and the world. There was greater detail in everything she saw; wrinkles in peoples faces seemed deeper, there were darker splotches of mud on their pants; but was she noticing these things for the first time, or had life gotten tougher since she had been gone? Her eyes softened. She would find Telos, and tell him what had happened.
Then she saw him staring at a woman, chained to a tree. Beatrice suddenly felt very uncomfortable.
Brief Encounter III
After night fell and Telos had left for bed, Beatrice approached Cavillace, her feet stepping lightly on the trampled sod. The two women said nothing, just taking each other in. Somehow, they both knew they were looking at the only other woman that Telos had ever managed to love.
Cavillace felt jealous that her before her was his matured lover, who had benefited from the experience Cavillace had given to him. Here was the older lover, the sensible lover, not a girl who had run off with him in a blaze of youthful passion, but a slow burn of aged love.
She felt sick.
Beatrice was also jealous, because here against this tree was Telos’ first love. It had not been her, as she had always assumed it would be, but it had been this… this tramp… who had consummated his adolescence, who had shown him how to be passionate. Why couldn’t it have been her? When she and Telos had made love, she had been the only one losing any innocence. She had felt estranged already, then, that day.
As soon as she and Telos had had sex, she felt distant from him, because she understood how different he was from her. It had humiliated her at first, then she was flattered, but now she was just sad. She knew this poor wretch of a girl, chained to this tree, hadn’t really understood him either.
And for that they were sisters.
It was so damn hard to think about the campaign after Cavillace had returned. Plus, Beatrice was nowhere to be found. Telos’ head hurt. Every day when he woke up, he felt washed up and beaten, exhausted, as if he hadn’t slept at all. Wiping his face with his hands, he exited his tent to find the whole camp in an uproar.
He grabbed someone and found out that Eoin had managed to mobilize the entire city against Telos. The news had come from an early morning raid, organized by one of Telos’ chief captains. The raiders found themselves up against overwhelming numbers and were quickly gunned down. Only a couple men made it back, at least one bullet in each of them.
Telos found himself ruffled.
He didn’t understand this new tactic, he couldn’t envision how the entire city – the whole city, men, women, and children, right? – would stand against him. Didn’t they hate Eoin, too? How… why… he didn’t, just couldn’t fathom it.
Was he the bad guy? Was he the crazy, power-hungry tyrant?
No. He couldn’t be. He didn’t beat people at the drop of a hat, and murder them in alleys. He wasn’t bad. He was right. He was justice.
He wasn’t bad. He wasn’t evil.
I am good. I am right.
Telos had decided he needed to test the power of the city, now that it had decided to rise up against him. He put together a large contingent, over a hundred men, and marched on the south-eastern gate of Damascus.
They approached in two columns, hidden down on the sides of the main road. Surprisingly, they encountered no resistance while entering the city. Telos became wary, but wanted to see this force that he had heard of. So they continued into the city.
Damascus appeared deserted. Cars were stopped in the middle of roads, papers blowing around, sort of apathetically, as if to make the gesture of emptiness, yes, look, it’s barren, nobody to see here, just us pieces of paper dancing around like it’s the goddamn prom!
The silence was broken eventually. A gunshot here. They took cover behind the cars, the opened doors, the empty facades and upturned counters. Faces appeared in buildings across the streets. Flashes of gunfire. Telos didn’t shoot, he just watched. He was fascinated.
Soon the battle was joined as the shooting became regular from both sides. There was some screaming from around one of the corners, and a small group of people ran out, wielding guns and knives. Their guns blazed wildly, but they were quickly killed.
Something was not right, though. Their bodies were too small, too youthful. Telos choked. Jesus. They were children.
How many of them are kids?? Are all of them kids! Holy shit. Telos didn’t know what to do. His troops were still firing; apparently they hadn’t realized they had just murdered seven kids. In fact, it felt like they were shooting more, the bullets were coming faster and louder. Telos felt suffocated. He had to get out of here.
He couldn’t just leave his group though. They were in a firefight! Fuck, Telos, stop being a coward. This is war. Eoin sent those children out to die, out to screw with your head, it wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault, he put them there, in front of your bullets, Jesus, don’t let it get to you okay, throw it off, this is war goddammit!
Seized suddenly with an unknown furor, Telos grabbed a gun from one of the people next to him, and stood up above their cover, firing directly into the windows of the building. He slowly walked sideways out into the middle of the street, firing the whole time. When he stopped walking he stopped shooting and there was silence.
Everyone in the building was dead.
Slinging the gun across his back, he began to walk back out of Damascus. He didn’t understand what Eoin had done to this town, but it was unspeakable, irreversable, and fighting for its freedom was a lost cause.
Through Her Mismatched Eyes III
Cavillace languished on the tree, desolate, staring into the ground. She had spent most of the day crying but she could cry no more, she was dry. Maybe she had gotten over the whole thing, or maybe she was beyond sadness, some strange realm of unemotion where nothing really affected anything and it was all just a bad dream, separate from reality.
This couldn’t be real, this couldn’t be her life. What had happened to her carefree years, what had happened to simplicity, to earnest living and happy times? There was shit on her feet. She gagged and tried to throw up, but only a small stream of yellow spittle dribbled out.
How could this be reality? This was so different from before. Such a stark contrast. Such juxtaposition. She didn’t even blame Telos anymore, she was too tired of blaming people and especially him, she was exhausted from hating and wanting revenge, that wasn’t her, that was the other man, the other man that was him, he wanted revenge.
She screamed, loudly and shrilly, purging herself of both of them, both of those men, those men who didn’t really care about her, they had just used her, they had abused her! A few people near her stopped and stared, shrugged it off and continued on. She isn’t either of those things, she isn’t naive love and she isn’t vengeance.
She is Cavillace.
But what does that mean?
What they expected to be a simple return to the encampment turned into anything but. They had lost a number of men on the streets of Damascus, and while they were on the path back, children sprang out, from behind trees, rocks, from hiding places underneath in the ground, from dark places, not simple caves but the real dark places of this world, the true nether regions, the bottommost areas, beyond the river Styx of man’s heart.
Telos and his men became pinned down around a rocky ridge, trading gunfire with the children who seemed to be everywhere. They would shimmer against the muddy-green landscape: appearing, shooting, vanishing.
Was it a trick of the eyes? Was it a trick of reality?
The fight was lasting longer than Telos would have liked, and he could sense that old panic returning. They had to fucking get out of here. If they stayed, they were going to be slaughtered. Telos couldn’t focus, he couldn’t breathe, Jesus, holy fuck, they were all going to be murdered, right here, right now, we have to leave, oh my God we’re all going to die, here it comes now, here comes the spirit of Damascus, it has come to kill us all, all I can do is open my arms and embrace the coming oblivion, here I am death: take me.
Beatrice was roaming the countryside, north of the encampment and southeast of Damascus, when she encountered the scene of a massacre. She combed through the bodies, and cringed when she realized they were her compatriots. Suddenly her heart leapt into her throat: Telos usually went on missions like this.
Oh God. What if he was dead? Beatrice screamed his name, pulling bodies off other bodies, searching hungrily for any sign of Telos. She did this for many minutes, and only after an hour did she realize it was probably better she hadn’t found him. But what if he had been kidnapped? That would be a huge blow to the resistance. God, why did she even care about the fucking resistance anymore!
Revenge… what a useless goal. Completely unsatisfying. Draining. Dehumanizing. This what they had all become–splashed blood and lifeless bodies across some rocks. The walls of Damascus loomed large in the background. Beatrice had let the city control her–no. She had controlled herself.
Come now, Beatrice. Don’t blame a place for what was your own desire. You were mad. So you killed. You killed them just like they killed your family.
We’re all even now, aren’t we?