Girl of Heart
Evangeline Selene was a girl of Heart. That is, she lived in a land called Heart. The land was not what the name implied. While you might think a land of golden sunshine, gorgeous blooming trees and flowers, lush grass, gently rolling plains and such like, it was , in reality, a bare, grey, empty place, where few people lived. Those that did were the toughies, the stoics, the resilient, the... yeah, you get the point.
But it wasn't always that way. It used to be the Utopia that everyone of the Outside, that is, not of the land Heart, would dream of. Then the Nirir had come. How they had come, no one knew, but they had.
The generally peaceful people had been no match for the powerful, constantly warring aliens, and their only choice had been to flee underground. The land now lay in waste, without the people of Heart to tend it, but they didn't dare go above ground because the Nirir patrolled the land. The few that had, were never seen again.
Evangeline, despite her late mother's warnings, often dreamt of visiting the surface, having never seen it. Her friend Ailee did not share her wish, however, often being the only reason that she wasn't already gone. So Evangeline spent her days dreaming of the ground above, when she wasn't talking or playing with Ailee or with her father, Salvador, learning fighting skills, in case the Nirir should ever find the entrance to their hiding place.
It was on such a normal day when she was particularly bored. Ailee was helping her grandmother clean out their little sleeping room, and Evangeline had no such interest, so she wandered the dirt halls, wondering how long she would have to be gone before someone missed her. Since Ailee wasn't around to talk her out of it, she wanted to see the surface, if only for a little. She double-checked her knife, which she kept hidden in a pocket of her leggings, before running silently to the tunnel leading to the surface.
Soft footsteps ahead of her caught her ear and made her slow. The gait of the walker was familiar, but she wasn't sure if she was imagining it or not. She slowed to a walk and slunk along carefully behind the person. Now she was sure, for he was holding a torch, and no one quite had the same build as her father. Suspicions rose up in her chest, and she pushed them down with an effort before they burst out and blew her cover. She followed to the end of the tunnel, where Salvador opened a small door and exited.
Evangeline slipped to the door and reopened it a crack, peeking out. The sight made her suck in her breath sharply.
A group of the Nirir, that she had heard so much about, stood opposite her father, as if waiting for something from him. Then a thought crossed her mind. 'What if he's a traitor?'
It suddenly became very important for her to get back to the few others and warn them. Turning to go, she was rudely yanked back back a strong hand. Something inside her warned her not to struggle and she looked up at her captor. Salvador's face stared grimly back. "What are you doing here?" he hissed angrily.
"What are you?" she retorted, keeping her voice low. "Are you spilling all our secrets?"
He looked surprised. Then he yanked her outside. "Look." he said into her ear. "They all know where the door is. If they get in, there is no escaping them. I am currently the only one keeping them from getting in."
Evangeline stared at the group of Nirir. They were tall, with yellowish, scaly skin, two bright red eyes set high on their heads and clawed hands. These hands now held weapons of a kind she had never seen before. She heard Salvador again. "Whatever you do, don't look into their eyes." Then he turned and began to speak to them in a strange dialect. They said something back, and Salvador nodded, before roughly pushing Evangeline toward them. As he did, he said in the Heart-tongue, "Just listen and do what they say, and they won't give you any trouble. And think of it this way: You're buying the rest of us more time."
Stumbling forward, she looked back in shock and anger, but her father was gone. Regaining her balance, she faced the aliens. She would do anything to keep her friend safe. Which included learning all she could about this race, and destroying them, and everyone knows, that that begins in their home.