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Don't Stop Believing


Sarah Tintagyl
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The train station in Saigon was packed to the bursting point, men in suits and women in fine dresses of European, Asian, African, and American designed walked down the corridors that were bordered by large oaken chairs and benches. There were various gates along the wall, which in a way was humorous because there was only one destination in front of her and it was the only destination she cared about. Valeria Sangral sat alone on one of the benches, she was dressed in a white shirt, with a pair of dark blue jeans on her legs. She brought her winter coat with her that was flung around her arm, just in case it got frightfully cold along the journey, but besides those few things, the only other thing she carried with her was a backpack of clothes, a pocketbook of Hanseatic Marks, and her wits. It had felt like forever since she had seen Vincent and while she tried to separate him from her mind, it was a futile attempt and she found herself wanting to see him more.

Looking down, she rotated a silver bracelet around her arm and then picked at the iron ring that was pierced in her upper ear and chuckled. No one knew she was gone, she hadn't told the Lillians, she hadn't told Hannah, as far as anyone was concerned she was missing. No alibi, no way of contacting her and that was how she wanted it. There was something in her heart that she had never felt before, it was a feeling that she just never wanted it to leave her body. When she looked up in the sky she smiled and when she walked, she wanted to run and at the same time, there was a dark fog that ran across her mind, it confused her, it made her unfocused and indeed she had been anything but a good soldier since that night in Acca Dacca. But here in the Acca Daccan mainland she was going to start it all over again and maybe, this time things really would open up to her. Maybe this time everything would be different.

"Train AA-13 to all points north! All aboard!" Screeched the loudspeakers and Valeria closed her eyes. It was time to set out, there was no telling what lay ahead but she knew that fate would guide her. She knew that it was destiny. The Commander stood up and picked up her back smiling, but before she went to board the train she walked over to a mailbox and dropped a small letter inside. After that she walked over, handed her ticket to the conductor and found her seat and leaned back. Sighing, Valeria looked out of the window as the train began to roll forward, the sun beginning to set in the western skies. She was now alone, alone with only love pushing her forward.

Dear Vincent,

Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in love? I have given up my country for a time, I have given up my life for a time to believe in a greater destiny. If we share the same destiny then I know we will find each other. I look forward to seeing you. I know I'm heading to Crimea but I hope to meet you in between. Let Fate play.

Valeria

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Vince sat in the music room on the center floor of the Kaisersheim. He was playing a familiar song on the piano as Erik played his guitar and the Crimean National Choir sung. The sun shone through the windows of the room, lighting the room with almost a dusty glow. A few people from outside watched the webcam broadcast of their performance. It was a way for Erik and Vince to reach out to the Crimean people.

A knock on the door interrupted Vince. He got up after the chorus and opened the door. A man in a suit gave him a plain white letter with his name on it. He nodded and saluted the man. Vince turned back to his piano as the man walked out and closed the door. He caught a waft of a familiar perfume scent, and turned in his seat. He opened the letter with a quick stab of his finger and pulled out the letter.

He opened and read it. His heart fluttered. Vince tapped Erik on the shoulder and said, "Protocol 44." Erik nodded and smiled. Vince left as tension built in the song, grabbing his coat on the way out. The solo started, and Vince was already in his car, just following the railroad tracks all the way down to Australia, hoping to meet her in the middle.

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Valeria had tried to sleep most of the ride across the Asian continent, but of course it was impossible to totally separate yourself from your body to rest, especially when your heart felt like it was constantly bursting from its chest. She didn't know why she was doing it, she didn't understand what could make anyone throw their life away for anything and a young man from Crimea it was even more fantastical. The young Lillian commander had remembered how irresponsible she thought Sarah had been during her administration, constantly disappearing across the vastness of the world and coming back with some of the most epic stories she had ever heard. It was those stories that had build up the sheer legend that was the Lady Protector, Valeria honestly wouldn't have been surprised if Sarah had slain a dragon somewhere between Paris and Brisbane. In away, she kind of fell just as epic. Off on her own, a dark train, surrounded by strangers with only her wits about her and a strange man waiting on the other end of the channel. Yes, very romantic, Sarah would be proud.

After countless hours of traveling the rail lines, Valeria arrived in Almaty in the Kingdom of Cochin. Here, where once the ancient silk roads may have crossed she stepped off the train and into the station. There was no telling where Vince could be from this point. But she would go through town and wait for him. Wait for him? Wait for him where? Well she had given this to fate and if that particular train stopped at Almaty then that had to be a sign right? It had to be. Walking over towards a small cafe right outside of the train station, she ordered a cup of coffee and waited. Perhaps he had already gotten to Almaty, perhaps he was arriving now, perhaps he was long gone. Time would tell.

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Vince's heart beat almost as fast as the pistons in his car. As he raced through the Iranian mountains at top speed, his mind raced from the thought of his abandonment of Crimea to the fun time he was about to have. The radio said that Europe had dove into war yet again. His heart sunk for a moment, until he heard news about the Hansa.

At times, he would have to drive directly on the train tracks, putting the suspension of his Jeep to the test. other times, he was driving up and down dunes and small rock formations.

He crossed into the Kingdom of Cochin. His ruse for getting past border security was that he was on a diplomatic tour, and loved to drive. Only one of those was true. After he was given a visa, he drove on the paved road that ran right next to the tracks. A sign said Almaty was close, so he decided the best place to find her was there. He knew that trains going from Almaty to Europe had a few hours of layover, so he could wait in a lounge for her. It was a big town, so he figured there would be something like that.

He drove around town for a few hours, looking for a bar or a lounge, anything where he could sit and wait. The streetlights came on as the town entered the evening time. He happened upon a coffee shop, and parked his now dirty green jeep in front of it. He got out, took off his jacket, and went inside.

He knew it had to be the only place for smokers in there. Smoke billowed out of the front door as he opened it. The owner had apparently tried to mask the smell with cheap perfume. That coupled with the smell of coffee made it almost bearable. However, he knew she had to arrive here, or maybe she already had. He sat down at a small table and listened to a knockoff American singer sing popular tunes.

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Valeria leaned back as she watched the doorway of the lounge and Vinzent walked through the doors. At first she had wanted to jump up immediately and run over to him, but there was a better way to go about doing this than being the girl that needed to be swept off her feet. Though she really didn't mind that approach. Reaching into her pocket, Valeria pulled out a pack of Ralgstein, a set of cigarettes and set one against her lips. Lighting the tobacco, the Lillian Commander took a long drag before standing up from the table and blew out the smoke. He was on the other side of the lounge and it felt minutes for Valeria to cross the back of the room, to avoid being seen by his darting eyes. At the front of the dimly lit lounge, a group of local singers were doing North American songs with a god-awful New Englander accent. But as she crossed, she listened to the lyrics and couldn't help but smile.

Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world

She took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit

He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

A singer in a smoky room

The smell of wine and cheap perfume

For a smile they can share the night

It goes on and on and on and on

Reaching Vince's table, Valeria only lay a soft hand on his shoulder before stamping her cigarette in the ash tray on the table. "You know its funny that I'd see you here stranger. I figured with the war in Europe you'd be busy with matters of state. Heh, we could be like Lord Byron and serve on the front lines of Lubeck or something." Her eyes flashed as she sat across from the Dystopian. "So I guess fate does work, you seemed to get to Almaty just fine Vince and I was afraid that you were going to forget my letter. But..." She looked at him intensively. "I guess this is what it feels like to throw everything to the wind like we talked about."

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The smell of cigarette smoke grew stronger. It was almost as if someone was walking up to him. He would have turned around, but his neck had taken a beating on the bumpy road to Almaty. As a hand lay on his shoulder, he knew it had to be Valerie. He strained his neck to look up to see her, but she was already sitting down. It seemed like all of the anxiety and fears about his trip dissipated in that one moment and joined the smoke in the lounge. Those feelings were replaced by the greatest feeling he had ever felt before. Even greater than being cheered on by an entire nation. He wanted this feeling to last forever. His mind started wondering where they can go to escape everything. We have escaped everything, we're right here.

"The war hadn't started until I was well into Rebel Army. Besides, Erik is more versed on war anyway, I'm just the pretty face." He smiled at her and remembered something by her next statement. He pulled the letter he sent from his pocket and placed it on the table. He had kept it in his pocket for the entire drive. "Well, it is the first time I've driven in a long time, since Crimea has no rail service to Asia, and there are almost no roads to Almaty from Crimea, as you can see by my car out there."

He took her hand listened to the singer sing. "We were playing this song in the music room when I left. It has to be fate. How have you been, Valerie?" He remembered the saying Erik had always said, Time melds hearts closer. He only hoped his dad was still alive to see this beautiful girl.

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