This is a short story that happens inside a novel that myself and a few friends are working on. The novel itself is a long ways from completion, but because I was happy with how this turned out I decided to post it. Consider it a sort of preview. Side Stories Part I: Lock, A Knife to the Past by Tyloric â€œThey arenâ€™t going to be very happy with you.â€ Osma spat behind him. Lock grunted, setting the â€˜borrowedâ€™ med kit on the ground. â€œThe elders are never happy. No, happy is an emotion. They donâ€™t have those. Not anymore.â€ The girl rolled her eyes, exasperated. â€œThis is insane. Youâ€™re insane.â€ Lock thought about it for a moment, â€œYeah, I guess. But thatâ€™s part of being a Penguin. Or have you not noticed?â€ He slid out of his battered t-shirt, throwing it to moist soil. â€œIâ€™ve never seen the Earth so aliveâ€¦â€ he mused. Osma huffed. â€œYeah, these people in the Overworld have it pretty good.â€ â€œThey think they do, but they donâ€™t.â€ â€œSays you.â€ â€œYeah, says me.â€ Lock moves to stand over the small stream that runs through this small stretch of forest. The sound of the running water is relaxing when coupled subtle sounds of what nature had survived the war (which wasnâ€™t much). As he focused in he though he could hear a small bird chirping, and he couldnâ€™t help but smile a bit, though it fades from his face quickly. â€œThe Peguins are evil, Ossie. What theyâ€™re doingâ€”what they want to do, itâ€™s madness.â€ The younger Penguin scoffed, seemingly insulted, â€œWhat, so Iâ€™m evil now?â€ Lock has never been one to beat around the bush, â€œIf you agree with what they intendâ€”and assist themâ€”yes, you are.â€ If looks could killâ€¦ â€œYouâ€™re going to betray your own people?â€ Lock laughed bitterly at this, â€œMy people?â€ He whipped around to face the girl, his blood red eyes cold and hard. â€œDonâ€™t you dare lecture me about betrayal, girl. The Penguinsâ€”or rather, you Penguinsâ€”intend to enslave whatâ€™s left of humanity and kill anyone who gets in you way simply because you donâ€™t agree with how they live. You intend to start another war, and if memory serves me correctly, that is what reduced three fourths of the fucking planet to ash! No, I am not the traitor here.â€ Lock bent over, retrieving the serrated knife he kept strapped to his right calf. â€œIf there is to be a war, I intend to be on the right side.â€ His voice was barely above a whisper. Her eyes had narrowed dangerously, though they were full of tears that she refused to shed. She said nothing for a long while. â€œThen maybe I should kill you now, save us all the trouble.â€ Lock recognized the threat for what it was; an act of desperation. A classic Penguin tactic. If reason failed to work, scare your target into line. â€œYou could try, but you wonâ€™t.â€ He said, calling her bluff. â€œOh yeah? And whyâ€™s that?â€ â€œBecause you know full well what Iâ€™m capable of, how destructive I can really be.â€ He turned back around, kneeling in front of the stream. â€œI donâ€™t understand you! How can you defendâ€¦ them?! Theyâ€™re corrupted and violent andâ€”â€œ â€œAnd yet theyâ€™ve continued living regardless. Theyâ€™ve moved passed the war, Ossie. Theyâ€™re trying to move forward, what ever that may mean. Not like the Penguins, who seem to stuck in one moment of time. They refuse to see past what they want and continue to ignore what they need.â€ Lock dipped the knife in the stream, marveling at how it bent and refracted the sunlight, dancing across it. â€œ Youâ€™re next in line to be elder of our clan... You could change things without needing to leave!â€ â€œI used to think so too. Sad, isnâ€™t it? No, the Penguins are too far lost, Ossie. To wrapped up in that darkness they call a home. Theyâ€™ve been down there so long theyâ€™ve forgotten what itâ€™s like to breathe. Theyâ€™ve forgotten what the sun feels like, what the air tastes like. Itâ€™s too late to try and change them. I can only hope to prepare the Overworld for what is to coming.â€ â€œIf Iâ€™m supposed to be your enemy, why tell me all this?â€ Lock could hear the confusion in her voice, coupled with her ever growing desperation. â€œItâ€™s not a secret. And itâ€™s not like Iâ€™ve told you exactly how I intend to achieve any of this.â€ He smile bitterly, â€œa synopsis, if you will.â€ The girl didnâ€™t say anything else, only watching him. Her tears were falling now, unable to comprehend the things he was trying to say. The young are so easily brainwashed, especially if itâ€™s the only thing theyâ€™ve ever known. Lock lifted the blade and held it to his chest, placing the tip where the barrel of the AK-47, the mark of his clan, was. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, and in one quick motion, pressed down and cut across the tattoo, to the butt of the gun, leaving a deep, foot long gash. He groaned loudly in pain, clutching the grass with his free hand, his jaw clenching tightly. Blood began pouring from the wound. Stabbing the now bloody knife into the ground, he popped open the top of the med kit he had brought along. He pulled a thick, absorbent cloth and began applying pressure, waiting for the bleeding to stop before he attempted to sew the cut closed. He rose shakily back to his feet, his body currently on an adrenaline high from the sudden jolt of pain. He looked at Osma, a sad smile on his lips. â€œAnd with that, I am an Penguin no longer.â€ A sudden burst of rage flooded through Osma, and she began shouting. â€œYou stupid fool! How could you do this to usâ€”do this to me?! Weâ€™re your family!â€ To this he had no honest reply. â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ Was all he could seem to say. Osma turned, nd began walking away, â€œI hate you. Iâ€™ll kill you if I ever see you again.â€ Lock kept silent, which said everything. So she began runningâ€”running towards the Undercityâ€”to the Elders that would certainly send others to try and kill him, or at least slow him down. He supposed it couldnâ€™t be helped. Lock looked towards the capital city; towards the future. And didnâ€™t look back.