The barracks were located in the large dug-out area at the rear of the Home Tree. In the distant future, this area would be the location of the massive stadium that would host the Pixie Hollow Games. At the present time, though, it served a much darker purpose: it was the living space for Veronica's evil army. The area was made up of several hundred long, gray brick buildings all lined up in a row. At human scale, they would be at least four feet long. For fairies, they seemed to go on for at least a mile.
There were at least five hundred living spaces within these long buildings, and each one was significantly larger than the pitiful rooms that the Rebels had. On top of all that, the beds were more comfortable as well. It was best nights sleep Vidia had had yet. It was so nice for her sore back to have such a soft and comforting surface to rest against for once.
Maria hadn't exactly given her much information on this new living area; in fact, she pretty much sped off the second Vidia stepped through the door. Vidia voiced no complaint of that, though. She was quite happy ot have that nasty fairy out of her hair, though she definitely wasn't looking forward to having to spend more time with her the next day as General Irving took her arround Pixie Hollow. Vidia was already dreading that to begin with, though. She had seen more than enough the before, she didn't want to have to experinence, especially now that she would be seeing it from the point of view from the ones perpetrating the violence. In time like these, Vidia found it best to just keep reminding herself that she would be ending it soon, that it would all be worth it in the end.
The light of the morning sun was now creeping through the window pane and onto Vidias soundly sleeping face. The minute the lights hit her eyes, they slowly flickered open. Her vision swam into focus and her newest living space slowly revealed itself to her. For a brief moment she just about forgot where whe was, and that brief moment of ignorence was one of the best feelings Vidia had experienced in a long while. For those few seconds, Vidia didn't have a care in the world; she had no tasks or duties to fulfil, no dangerous missions to undertake. She was just an innocent fairy with nary a care in the world. But it was only for a few seconds before she remembered where she was and what she was doing, it it took nearly every fiber of her being to keep from screaming into her pillow in rage and frustration.
Vidia slowly sat up and rollede out of her comfortable new bed. It was the hardest awakening she had had to undertake yet; she really didnt want to leave that bed. When she was standing on her feet again, she began a slow walk around her room. She hadn't really taken the time to check it out last night because she was so tired. It was clean, well furnished, and just all around more pleasent then her last living area. The fact that she would get to come home tho this room everynight definitely took some weight off Vidias shoulders and made the upcoming trials seem a little less difficult.
Vidia stopped for a moment to check out one of the features that her Rebel room didn't have: a bookcase. On it were several good-sized books, some with spines thicker than Vidias arms. Some were quite dusty as well. Vidia brushed them off a bit, creating small dust clouds in the dull light that was shining through her window. None of the books seemed to have any titles or author names or any other kind of markings. Vidia really wanted to take a look at them at some point, but now would not be the right time. Outside she could hear shouting and movement. The other fairies were now on the move. She supposed it would be best if she headed outside as well. She turned to look at the books again before she left.
"Soon." She said quietly to herself, then headed for the door.
Outside, hundreds of soldiers were moving all around the area. Some taking off into the air, heading towards unknown destinations, while others gathered up in small groups being led by fairies with heavier and more elaborate armor. Viida pushed her way through the crowds, scanning her surroundings for Maria or Irving. Secretly she was hoping for Irving to meet her first since he was at least civil with her for the most part. But a feminine voice from behind her made her heart sink a bit.
"Vidia!" It shouted.
Vidia turned to see Maria standing not too far behind her. She gestured for her to come over, not bothering to hide the annoyance in her face. Vidia attempted to flitter over to her, but her wings couldn't lift her more a few feet (or inches in human scale) off the ground. Maria shook her head in annoyance as Vidia stumbled over to meet her.
"Decided to sleep in today, huh?" Maria shot at her.
"Sorry," Vidia replied. "General Irving didn't give me a specific time."
Maria shot her a nasty look.
"Excuse me?" She hissed. "Are you implying that Irving made an error in judgement?"
"What? No!" Vidia said nervously. "It's just that I..."
"I don't think I like your tone," Maria snapped at her. "I think you're getting an attitude problem, and I don't like it!"
Maria took a step towards Vidia, causing her to stumble backwards.
"I-I'm sorry, I just..." Vidia stuttered.
"Shut it!" Maria spat.
She raised her hand as though she were about to slap Vidia across the face. Vidia cringed at the impact she knew was coming, but before Marias blow could be struck, a voice from behind her caused her to stop.
"Getting along, are we ladies?" General Irving said.
Maria spun around to face him as he fluttered down next to them. Vidia breathed a small sigh of relief. She couldn't believe she actually felt safer with Irving around.
"Sorry I'm late, ladies." Irving said with a small smile. "I was a bit caught up in some rather nasty business with a local insurrectionist. All taken care of though; nothing to worry about."
Irving dusted his hands off. Looking closer, Vidia could see traces of blood on his hands and smeared across his armor. She swallowed hard, knowing that there was going to be much more where that came from.
"So, are we ready?" Irving asked the two fairies.
"Well, I am." Maria answered. "But little miss Thinks She's the Fastest Fairy of All hasn't received her Pixie Dust for the day." She jerked her thumb angrily towards Vidia.
"I-I'm sorry, I just didn't know I was..." Vidia began.
Irving raised a hand to silence her. Vidia relaxed a bit when she saw he was still smiling a bit.
"That's quite alright, dear." He told her calmly. "We're in no hurry. We'll take you to the Pixie Dust Well and get you squared away."
"Not in any hurry?" She said. "Maybe you're not, and maybe she's not, but I certainly am! I have to oversee a new shipment of prisoners we've recived from a small scuffle last night. Plus it's been a while since I've had me a good long torture session with one of them; I'm starting to miss their screams."
Irving gave a quick chuckle and turned to look at Vidia, who still appeared to be very confused and nervous.
"Well, Vidia, I'm afraid I can't deprive Miss Maria of her duties and pleasures for too long," He said. "So I'm afraid we will have to make this quick."
Vidia did what she could to hide her relief. She didn't want them to see that she was actually glad that she wouldn't have to spend too much time with them.
"That's fine." Vidia said quickly.
"Yeah, it better be." Maria said nastily.
It took almost every fiber of Vidias being to keep herself from socking Maria right in the face.
The group lined up at the Pixie Dust Well, which was thankfully not too crowded. Irving and Maria stepped aside to let Vidia get closer to the shimering golden pile of Pixie Dust. Vidia approached it and kneeled down.
"You'll have to come here every morning for refils." Irving explained to her. "It's best to get here as early as possible, it tends to get rather crowded around here later in the day."
"Um, okay." Vidia mumbled as she dipped her hand into the Pixie Dust.
"Use the cups, you idiot!" Came Marias shrill voice from behind her. "We don't need fairies contaminating our only supply of Dust!"
"S-sorry." Vidia stuttered.
She noticed a small silver cup floating just above the shimmering golden Dust not too far from her. She grabbed it, scooped some of the sparkling material up and slowly poured it onto herself. It was a good feeling, relaxing and calming, she hadn't reaally taken the time to enjoy it the day before since she was so preoccupied with seeing Pixie Hollow. Suddenly, she felt a hand violently smack the cup from her, sending it flying back into the golden well.
"Honestly, was that speed you showed us yesterday a fluke or something?" Maria snapped at her. "Because you have been slower than molassus ever since!"
Vidia had to bite her lip to keep it from trembling. She could feel hot tears starting to sting the corners of her eyes. What had she gotten herslef into? She was stuck with two of the most psychotic fairies who had probably ever lived, though she had to admit Irving was doing a good job of hiding it. He was almost straight up pleasent.
"That's quite enough, Maria." Irving said gently, putting a hand on her shoulder. "I don't need you getting all riled up this early in the day. We still have jobs to do after all." Then he added quietly. "Besides, I prefer your violent side much more in the... bedroom setting rather than in public, hm?"
Maria just shot him a scathing look, which Irving chuckled at. Vidia looked at the two, trying to hide the disgust on her face. She had managed to hear fairly clearly what Irving had said, and frankly, it made her want to vomit. Irving offered a hand to Vidia and pulled her to her feet.
"Well then, shall we?" He announced.
Vidia just nodded. And with that, the three took off for their grand little tour of Pixie Hollow.
What Vidia saw was pretty much the same thing she had seen the day before, but now it was from a very different perspective. Instead of talking with shame and sadness over the whole situation, Irving was quite jovial and proud of what he showed the young Fast-Flyer. He spoke highly of the hard work that his soldiers were putting in to keeping the peace within Pixie Hollow. What really made Vidia's spine tingle was when he referd to their cruel use of the light fairies as a genius method of using light to their advantage without the hassel of burning through torches. It was disturbing to say the least, but Vidia just nodded and kept a straight face, knowing full well she had to keep her disgust hidden.
As they approached Tinkers Nook, which was the place Vidia was dreading the most to see again, Irving turned to Vidia and said something to her that she honestly wasn't expecting.
"So tell me, Vidia," He began. "What do you make of everything we've told you so far? What are your opinions of us? Do you think this an effective way of keeping ordder in our land? I'd be intersted in hearing a new arrivals take on things."
Vidia had to admit that she was caught off guard by that question. Were they honestly allowing her to give an opion on things? Clarion hadn't done that for her; she just sort of threw everything at her and told her how she should feel.
Vidia had to think for a moment. Just how exactly was she supposed to express her opinions on all this brutality? She couldn't show too much disgust at it, but did that mean she had to talk approvingly of it?
"Well, sir," She began before being interrupted by Irivngs laughter.
"Oh, please stop with the 'Sir' nonsense, will you?" He laughed. "I suppose Maria put you up to that?"
Maria rolled her eyes.
"I thought that was what you wanted." She said coldly.
"No no," Irving replied. "Only the naughty ones have to show me that level of decency; the ones who have a lot to learn about respecting their superiors. Vidia here doesn't seem to have that problem." He gave Vidia a kind smile before turning back to Maria. "You,on the other hand..."
"But, Irving," Maria interjected in a mock seductive voice. "I thought you liked it when I was naughty."
Irving just scoffed. He normally didn't like bringing out that aspect of their relationship in front of others, especially new arrivals. But if she really wanted to spar with him, then he was more than willing. But before any of that, he wanted to hear from Vidia.
"I apoligize for my interruption, please continue." He said politely to the Fast-Flyer.
"Okay, um," Vidia began, trying to remember exactly what it was she wanted to say. "Well, I won't deny that your methods definitely seem... effective."
"Not effective enough to quell Rebelions apprantly." Maria mumbled loudly.
Irving silenced her with a look.
"But," Vidia continued. "It just seems like... I don't know. Is this really the only option? Aren't there other more... ethical methods of dealing with these kinds of problems?"
Maria snorted loudly.
"Ethical?" She snapped. "Don't you think we tried that already? These fairies were given every oppertunity by us to live rich fullfilling lives. But when we tried to take care of that little problem we called 'The Animal Talents' they decided they didn't want our previous form of generosity. So, we changed our tactics a bit, and now... you see the result before you." she waved her arm over the ravaged land that they flew over. "Let me tell you something, Vidia." She continued. "It may not be pretty, what you're seeing now, but if you had arrived before all this, during the rule of Gisselle, oh your stomach would churn the moment you first would lay your eyes upon this land. It was worse, way worse than it is now. Let me also say this: do you think we enjoy having to dish out such cold hard justice to innocents? I mean, I like seeing the truly guilty ones get punished severely, but some of these fairies are not at that level. Some of them are merely misguided fools that need to be brought around, even if it means having to come to a sticky finish."
Irving chuckled a bit.
"I thought you liked sticky finishes, Maria." He muttered to her.
Maria gave an involuntary gag, which made Irving laugh even harder. Hey, she started it, he was gonna finish it. He then turned to face a rather puzzled looking Vidia.
"Look at it this way, dear Vidia." He said. "If you see a poor, sick and hungry fairy wallowing in it's own filth, do you put an arm around her and comfort her with useless words and false hopes, or do you beat her until she learns to take care of herself, grow her own food and such?"
"I-I..." Was all Vidia could get out. She was simply baffled by what she was hearing.
"What we are giving these ungrateful wretches is a little thing called tough love." Irving continued. "It may not be pretty, but it's the best option there is; and it is what we will continue to do until they learn to appreciate it."
There was a profound silence between the three now. Vidia deeply contemplated what Irving and Maria had just told her. What these fairies were doing... it was wrong, it was evil, she knew it was, and yet, why did she feel this slight urge of agreement with him?
The three continued on for a while, viewing more an more of Pixie Hollows many villages. Vidia saw more than she did the first day, including even more bullying and cruelty of the guards towards civilian fairies. Random beatings, a few more public executions (which the group mercifully would always leave from before they could be enacted) and various other forms of sadism.
It was when they approached Tinkers Nook again that Vidia began to feel physically sick to her stomach. She really didn't want to have to see this place again. Irving spent much of their tour of this particular township explaining the role of the Tinkers in creating their weapons and armor.
"I have to admit though," Irving said. "It's this particular group of fairies that worries me the most. It they were to form an uprising and refuse to aid us, we would be in some serious trouble. We do what we can to keep them in line, though. I just hope it'll be enough."
As they flew over the center of the village, Vidias eyes fell upon the platform where she had witnessed the grusome execution of a brave fairy she wished she could've met. There was still dried blood caked into the wood, as well as the pole in the center of it. Vidia couldn't bear to look at it for too long.
After a while, when the group had reached the end of Tinkers Nook, Irving gave small yawn and stretched. In the distance, a faint yelling could be heard.
"Well, thats about it then, Vidia," He said. "Now I will need you to..." He trailed off and turned his attention towards the direction of the distant yelling.
He quickly took off towards it with Maria close behind him. Vidia follwed them. The shouting became much clearer the closer they got. It wasn't long before they were able to make out some of the words that were being shouted.
"Cast off your shackles of oppression!" the voice roared. "Join Clarion in her rightous cause to overthrow the evil tyrant Veronica! With your aid, we can win through to absolute victory!"
"Oh, great," Maria muttered. "It's her again."
Deepest apoligies for the long wait! Finals were tough, but they're over now! this chapter was going to be longer, but I decided I didn't want to keep you all waiting much longer, so I decided to post it as is. Hopefully it's good enough for you all. The next chapter won't take nearly as long, I promise, and it's gonna be a particularily nasty one. Thank you all again for your patience and reviews, especially to you, Anarri2012, your kind words have really been nice to hear. :) See you next chapter!