The warmth coming from the embers felt good against her skin. Sarah Morrison was careful not to let the hot coals burst into flames, for anything but a slight glow might give away her position. She had searched for nearly an hour before finding this spot and she would be damned before she was going to go hunting for another one before she was ready. It’s not like eating roasted calla root was any better than eating it raw, it was almost as bitter. The fire was more for warmth. Foreas could get pretty cold at night, and the glowing embers gave off just enough heat to chase the chill away.
It was cold the night the Bane attacked, too. A strange frown crept across Sarah’s battle hardened face as she thought back to a life that almost seemed like someone else’s. She remembered regretting not grabbing a leather jacket before sneaking out of the house that night. She was 19 then, and like most 19 year olds, Sarah was more interested in having fun than arbitrary rules regarding curfews. Just because she was still living under her dad’s roof while failing her way through college, just because her three younger brothers had a curfew did not mean her father had a right to limit her freedom. But he tried. He just didn’t like her friends, she thought to herself as she slipped through the window, silently creeping along the far wall of the house into the backyard. She had become very skilled at getting out unnoticed, something she had been very proud of at the time.
Sarah and her father had just finished their weekly argument about her “poor choices in friends.” Movie night had been a tradition in the family since before her mother had died… one her father was very careful to continue every week. It’s not that it wasn’t enjoyable. She loved spending time with her younger brothers. But she was young and the night was full of adventures. Plus, her friends would think she was a loser if she stayed home to hang out with her family when she could be off getting into trouble with them. So she stormed off to her room, as had become her weekly ritual. Once she heard the opening credits of the movie from the other room, she was out. Free to do whatever she pleased. Once clear of her house, Sarah slowed her pace and smiled as she approached the street corner where Alicia would pick her up. There was a cool band playing downtown in a club they could always manage to sneak into without being carded, just by flirting with the doorman. She looked up into the clear night sky, and thought she saw a meteor streak by. At the time, she remembered something about that being a good omen. Apparently, it wasn’t.
The low hum of a Bane drop ship snapped Sarah out of her trip down memory lane. She closed her blue eyes and just listened. From the sound of it, it was still pretty far out, and that was a good thing because it meant a few more minutes off her feet. Not that she wasn’t used to sleepless nights and endless hikes. Her training in the AFS taught her how to get places unnoticed, and she excelled at it. But it’s kind of hard not to be noticed when you arrive on a transport ship with the rest of the squad. So on most missions she traveled alone, under any cover she could find. And honestly, she preferred it that way. She liked the people she was fighting alongside, and they liked her. But she never really let herself get close to anyone. Not since that fateful night. Sarah traveled light when she was on a mission, taking only what she needed, and found everything else she needed along the way. Like dinner. She grimaced as she finished off the rest of the calla root and washed it down with the last of her water. She would need to find more of that soon. She marveled sometimes at how resilient she had become since all this began. To think she was once afraid of spiders. That kind of thing loses its meaning once you have to snack on them to survive. The war changed everything. Who she was now was nothing like the person she left behind on a scorched Earth after the invasion.
She grew up in middle class suburbia, her dad worked as an engineer and her mother had stayed at home with the kids… well, at least before she died. Rebecca Morrison had been the perfect picture of a homemaker, but was taken from her family by a brain tumor when Sarah was twelve. She had tried to fill her mother’s shoes for a while, taking care of her younger brothers and the household. But Sarah was a tomboy at heart, much more comfortable climbing trees and hanging out with her brothers, so the apron strings never felt right. By the time she was in high school, she spent more and more time away from home. To her, home became a place to crash after the party was over, and though she remained close to her brothers, increasing arguments over plummeting grades, her choice of friends, and delinquent behavior put a strain on her relationship with her father.
Sarah and her father never had the chance to reconcile. During the first wave of attacks the night of the Invasion, she was hiding in the lower level of a parking garage with strangers while her childhood home was incinerated; her father and brothers trapped inside. By the time she managed to get home, nothing was left but ash and charred bodies.
Sarah inhaled sharply and pushed the thoughts of that night out of her mind. Over the subsequent weeks, many more people died as Thrax patrols scoured the area for survivors. Alicia didn’t make it. No one she knew did. As far as she could tell, that life and the people who were in it were gone forever. Today, not even two years later, Sarah Morrison was a Sergeant in the AFS, on her way to infiltrate a Bane outpost. Her goal was to push the bastards back a few steps. Every inch of ground she covered was another inch closer to home. Every Bane base she helped overtake and every Bane she killed was a step closer to freedom. She tossed dirt on the glowing embers, snuffing out their warmth, and checked her rifle before slinging it, and her blade, over her shoulder. “No rest for the wicked,” she thought as a smirk spread across her face. Indeed, there would be no rest for any of them for quite a while.