Under cover of a torn and filthy tarp, Una ran through the rain. The air tasted foul, and her bare feet slipped in the filth as she went. Finally home after so long from her beloved family.
She survived for six years in the penal district for a petty crime, and with her time up, they let her go. No contact with the world was permitted, and she longed for her family and meagre life.
The journey took days with barely any food, but she crossed the desolate wastes of war and found her way to the city.
As she arrived, Una wasn’t sure if it had been this bad as a child before her incarceration. Mounds of rubbish and squalor lay everywhere. Weeds covered every crevice in the streets. Buildings in ruins. Eerie quiet broke with occasional noise, and Una felt danger creep up her spine in warning. She knew the feeling well.
The gifts from her mother; powers she’d always feared, kept her alive. The abilities she possessed were dangerous and frightening, but all through prison, they helped her. Una honed her power and developed defences and protection. She dealt with robbers and worse on her path, facing a lawless horror that made her desperate for the safety of her mother’s voice.
Approaching the Lower Streets of home, in the poor side of the city, she slowed. Heavy rain drummed the tarp, and as she looked down, she let it fall a little.
Her home was gone. Levelled. All the squats and shacks of her past were nothing. She stood as it sank in.
Una made her way down, clutching the tarp to her with tears in her eyes.
Scattered tires were burning, and a few dirty faces huddled to the light and warmth. People looked up and then away.
She cautiously made her way over flattened debris to a group. “What happened?” she managed to ask, shivering near the acrid fire.
An old man with one eye spoke without looking away from the flames. “A plague. They blamed us. So many died. Children mostly.”
Una staggered back, pain punched her heart, and she sobbed. She’d stayed alive for her family. For her mother and little brothers and sisters.
She turned, scanning the wastes. What hope was there?
The cut of pain was like a whip, and the power she’d learnt to conceal all her life was unleashed.
She growled a breath, face contorted, and her head fell back.
Grief, overwhelming and grim, syphoned through her blood, and Una went rigid. Light crackled from within. Her dark eyes and tawny skin glowed. Her feet rose from the floor.
With a piercing cry, she lifted high into the air with rain hissing against her hot skin, and her body filled with power. Pulsing terror overcame Una until light entered her mind and heart. Her soul sang in grief, but then hope. All stretched before her, and she knew her path.
Born in the ruins of the world; a new goddess rose. Powerful and frightening; the disenfranchised, the poor, and survivors gathered to Una, and she welcomed them to her heart and to hope.