ii. A Soldier no More
Time had passed slowly, much to Dakota's liking. Her wound had begun to heal; thanking her lucky stars for having not lost function of her motor skills. If she had lost the mobility to her arm, Dakota would have wished for death rather than go on with life with a handicap. Her whole identity would have been lost if she could no longer fight.
Depression is one hell of a drug. She began to rub at her shoulder to keep the stiffness from settling. Her muscles would twitch in pain, as if a nerve was being pinched between bone. It was an unsettling feeling for Dakota. Without proper modern medicines and technology, there was no telling how damaged her shoulder is. There was a scar from the bullet hole that stuck out to any who looked.
I might have to take it easy on this shoulder. Who knows how long it will take to fully heal itself? She moved her fingers to keep the blood flow. So far, the pinched nerve pain would come and go whenever it seemed fit.
She found that her diet has drastically changed as well, which reduced her muscle growth. In order for Dakota to maintain her muscle mass was a healthy diet and hard training. She prided herself in her strength and those muscles were her vanity. Losing that and function of her arm would cost her everything that made Dakota what she is today.
Being in this new place had drastically changed her. From the way she looked physically to how she dressed. Dakota knew she was not the ideal standard of a woman with her muscular frame. She was also taller than most with different facial features. She was foreign. A mixture of different races that she is aware of, but her family tree was lost to her parents. What little they spoke of their lineage started in the middle east. Where? Dakota wasn't sure.
On a bored day, she was curious about her family tree. Going online to buy one of those DNA swabs and waiting for the results, some of the results came in inconclusive. Was that normal?
Tired of being in her thoughts, Dakota decided to move. Her body was becoming stiff.
There were new smells she has never caught off before. Sights of open fields in the distance where farmers tended to their crops. Life here was much different than in the modern world. Sure, there was war, plague, political struggles and class differences. But what era did not have its problems? People have always looked to the past to try and understand it. Some wanted to live in it and claimed to always be born in the wrong time. History wasn't perfect and the lives these people lived was surely not easy.
Dakota often wondered if she carried some diseases that could potentially infect these people? She was immune to many sicknesses. She was immune to Anthrax, Typhoid- hell, even smallpox. Modern day life made sure to immunize the body from such diseases. Dakota was even surprised that her wound did not infect from the lack of sanitation. She had to thank her lucky stars for surviving this long. But who was to say that she wouldn't die here?
Not that anything mattered if she lived or died. No one was going to miss her, so she might as well make do with what was given to her. Her career as a fighter was short lived like everything else in her life. She would not find fame here in ancient Greece. She was no epic hero like all the stories say. Well, she had one thing going for her. She was within this world- this time period in history- for a reason.
Maybe. Her thoughts faulted for a moment. Could there be a purpose for Dakota? The reason she almost drowned in the ancient sea? The reason those men were after her? Dakota shook her head at the thoughts that seemed to loom over her like a dark cloud.
You are nothing special. She thought. The reason you see these things was because you and your team awoken something long forgotten. Egypt was a battlefield between a rebel force against the government of Cairo. The United States had intervened in the war, bringing hope for peace. Dakota and her team were sent on assignment into the desert. She would have never dreamed to find blood.
But, why ancient Greece? She asked herself this. The mission in Egypt was simple enough. Dakota did what she was told and paid the consequences. People died and she, discharged. All she knew was that there was a tomb of a man and woman.
You are much more than what you believe yourself to be. She heard her mentor say. It seemed everyone knew who she was except Dakota. She was just a woman who had trouble keeping jobs and fighting was sport to forget about her pathetic childhood. But not all was bad, right?
Dakota walked into the open clearing of the fields. The sun beating down upon her skin as she felt the sweat roll down her back and soaking into the wraps around her chest. The clothing given to her were not much to Dakota's style, but beggars cannot be choosers. She noticed how the women wore the strange piece of cloth. It reminded Dakota so much of those history shows and movies.
In reality, she would rather much wear armor like the soldiers, but without the helmet. So, she made use with what she got and who a chiton that was most popular among the women. Dakota did not like having to have it below her knees because it would prevent her from having to fight if need be. Phoibe had watched the woman cut the fabric to get the length higher. It reached her thighs and she was wearing her spandex. A simple belt around her waist and sandals completed the look. Granted she got stares, but Dakota was comfortable in moving freely.
"You are not going to throw up again, right?" Phoibe asked with her hands behind her back.
Dakota could not get privacy without having been followed. The little girl just loved to ask questions and pester her. But Dakota liked having someone to talk too- even if Phoibe could get annoying. She was like the little sister Dakota never had. Doing annoying things little sisters would do.
"I feel my strength inside of my body. I assure you, Phoibe, I can manage." Dakota through a punch into the air. Feeling her muscles contract and fists tighten into a ball. Her feet shoulder length apart in a fighting stance.
"There you go talking funny again." Phoibe chuckled.
Dakota smirked and through a right hook into her imaginary opponent. One, two. Step back. Dodge left. Dodge right. Breath in deeply and grab the opponent by the head and push their face down to connect with your knee. Your opponent should be disoriented from the blow that it will take them a few seconds to recover. Be deadly and swift with your aim. If they see your defenses open, they will strike. Hard.
Dakota could hear her mentors voice in her head, as well as feel his attacks. She could almost see his figure before her in a blurry mess of blue hues. Hands raised and taking punches, while throwing them. Dakota was fast with her jabs and could kick her opponent to the ground so she could dominate them. Her mentor always complimented her form. She was not like any fighter he has trained. Dakota used her lean form and long legs to her advantage. She was fast. She was deadly.
When she was fighting, everything just disappeared for those moments. Not the crowds cheering on the fighters. Dakota wanted to be something in the eyes of the public. To be noticed by a few. To fill that emptiness, she has had since she lost her loved ones. Since that day in Egypt that changed everything.
You ask for freedom.
Phoibe watched Dakota move with grace in the open field. Her body flexing in quick maneuvers with every punch she threw. The young girl noticed how she breathed so easily between her lips and out her nose. Sweat was accumulating on her forehead. Little strands of hair stick to the sides of her face in the hot sun.
Dakota seethed in plain as she held tight to her wound.
"Damn. I think I over did it." Dakota said more to herself then to Phoibe.
The young girl was at her side to look at the wound. There was no sign of blood or even it opening back up. It might have been from overexertion and needed more time to heal before Dakota could fight like a graceful warrior. Dakota sat down while the pain continued to coarse through her body.
"Maybe you should continue getting rest. I will look after you while Alexios is away." Phoibe said. "He should be back before sun down."
"I never thought I would be looked after by a kid. Speaking of which," Dakota looked to the girl. Something has been plaguing her mind lately. "What does Alexios do? He does not seem like the farmer or merchant type of man."
If Dakota wanted to understand the world around her, she could not help but try to understand Alexios. Her first encounter with him was a hit to his face. After that, Dakota was either in and out of consciousness. Recovery was a hell of a beast to overcome. Dakota hates to be weak when she knew that she had to overcome the obstacles.
"I do not believe Alexios knows how to tend to crops. His skills with people sometimes get him into trouble, so he could never be a good tradesman." Phoibe was rather blunt about the guy, but also looked up to him as well. Not that it was Dakota's business as to how Phoibe first met Alexios- something the little girl told her anyway- Phoibe wanted to make him proud.
Dakota had smile. Phoibe was a little too innocent to be hanging around such troublemaking people. But it was Phoebe's innocence that would also make for use in her survival. Dakota let out a deep breath ass the pain subsided from her wound.
"You talk about Alexios a lot. Do you like him?" Phoibe said out of the blue. "It's okay to tell me. If any woman was good enough for his stubbornness, it would be you. I am sure a child of Poseidon could keep him from getting into trouble or get him out of it. It would be nice to see him happy as well, since he is not so pleasant around people."
Dakota's eye lightly twitched. "Funny, Phoibe. I'd rather be eaten by sharks then talk about that. I ask out of curiosity. He is never around and I barely know him. Plus, the eagle he is always with creeps me out."
The girl laughed at her remarks concerning Ikaros. She knew when to say something's that made Dakota feel uncomfortable. If anything, Dakota felt nothing for the man who saved her and helped her recover. She barely speaks to him. What would she even say to the man? She was a stranger in a strange land. Everything Dakota knew was thrown out the window. She had to survive these dangerous times where war plagued all of Ancient Greece. Dakota had to choose her side and neither side sounded so pleasing- even though the Spartans were regarded in military history along with the Greeks.
Some of their tactics were still used as examples in the modern era. Dakota had studied them when she was bored one day while deployed in Iraq.
"Ikaros is harmless against friends, but deadly against foes. No reason to be scared of a gift from Zeus." Phoibe was teasing Dakota for irrational fear of the eagle. Maybe the girl wasn't seeing what she saw when the eagle was staring at her. She could feel its stare boring deep into her soul. Watching every movement and Phoibe saw this as funny.
The eagle was more than a animal if Dakota had to guess. Then again, Greek mythology had some pretty fucked up parts. Maybe Ikaros was a god send to Alexios. But to Dakota, she would rather be away from the bird.
"You know people talk. Of the mysterious woman Alexios- well, the Misthios- taking in a woman. I tell them that they see things and that you have come from the sea. I know they laugh, but it is nice to have another girl to talk too." Phoibe smiled. "Alexios does not like to talk of gossip unless it suits his mission. It gets lonely when you have just yourself. Being a little younger and not being able to go out on great adventures does tend to be boring."
Dakota had to roll her eyes. Of course, people talk. The very few glances they have of Dakota were just glimpses. Dakota did not like to be in the eyes of others. She was foreign and dressed a little too differently for the style of the time. But Dakota did not like to feel like a burden to anyone. Sure, she owed both Phoibe and Alexios her life. Dakota had to be independent if she was going to live among the Greeks.
But, to hear Phoibe confine in her about her thoughts have shown how much trust she had in Dakota. In a way, Dakota felt needed. A part of something that she hasn't been a part of since her parent's death.
"Yeah. I'd rather not hear rumors of myself. No one has business to my own affairs. Once I fully recover," Dakota's words silenced her. Phoibe looked confused for that moment. Seeing Dakota's face drop into worry.
She stood up without having finished her sentence. Phoibe was just as lost as Dakota. The moment of light banter and sisterhood had vanished just as quickly as it had begun. The little girl knew better then to meddle in the lives of an adult. Their matters alone were nothing a child should be a part of. Phoibe had grown accustomed to being near Dakota. She would follow her to the ends of the sea- just as she would do the same for Alexios.
But instead, she let Dakota go off alone. To wonder the dirt road and the open fields. Phoibe looked to the sky and asked a simple favor from the gods that could listen. If anyone deserves a purpose, Dakota needs to know what it was she was doing here.
Dakota leaned against a tree. Her lips chapped from thirst, but she ignored her body. Hunger was setting in. Rest was deeply needed. Dakota had to think about her options in this world. What it would mean to someone whose only use was to fight. Dakota's knowledge of history was not the most reliable since women were often treated as property.
She'd be damned if any man would tell her what she could do. But Dakota had no choice in this world. Funny. She always thought that she would be this renowned fighter earning millions. Getting sponsors and being in commercials. Never had she had imagined her life taking a drastic turn. Dakota was truly an unlucky woman when it came to these circumstances.
"God or rather gods," she started, "You all have a funny way of showing me I am insane. Have these past few days been enough? I cannot survive this world. I have nothing to offer but to fight. It's all I've ever done since childhood." She used her eyes for a moment. Feeling the cool breeze against her skin. There was peace within her for that moment. Like someone or something was listening to her.
"Speaking to the gods of your troubles would not soothe whatever bothers you." She opened her eyes to find that Alexios was standing before her. Ikaros on his arm with those predatory eyes fixated upon her.
Dakota shivered and looked away from the creature.
"It was a rather private conversation. It is rude to eavesdrop on others, you know." Dakota did not always get embarrassed, but she felt rather silly having spoken to the sky. Believing any god would hear her distress. Wasn't faith supposed to bring comfort to the herd?
"It is not rude when one speaks so loudly that I can hear it. What brings you so far out here? Wolves roam this area and it would be unwise to get eaten by one." Dakota did not know what to say. She has never heard him speak so much to her. It was awkward for her since she was still in the presence of a stranger. Not to mention what Phoibe said earlier when she was training.
"Wolves are the least of my concerns." She spoke in a hushed tone.
Alexios raised a brow. "Without protection, you would be an easy meal."
"Then maybe my death would be most rewarded." Dakota snapped out of anger. It was unwarranted and came from out of nowhere. Alexios did not seem to be affected by her sudden outburst, but he noted something within her. There was confusion and hurt. She needed answers from someone.
"Releasing your anger on me will not help you in finding whatever it is you seek. You will only wander in searching." He said calmly.
Dakota sighed heavily and punched the tree she was leaning on. Her knuckles ached in pain. Some skin torn from her flesh, lightly scratched from the bark. Dakota moved her fingers lightly to ease the pain. Alexios had never met a woman so… strange in all his life.
"What is it that bothers you?" Maybe he could play the mediator in this woman's anger. To ease her suffering for a moment before she leaves his care and goes about finding her answers.
"Believe me, you would not understand. But I am useless here. My skills would be of no use within this land and I a burden. Fighting is what keeps me from- it doesn't matter. You wouldn't understand anyway. No one here understands." Dakota was simply lost in her own world. The blue hue she saw before her eyes had covered the area around her. She was simply not understanding her stance here.
Alexios let Ikaros fly free into the sky. To survey the surrounding area of any threat. The bond between eagle and master was truly remarkable. Dakota could see perfectly now. She held her hand in a tight grasp. Everything was all too real and spilling out her concerns to Alexios made her feel slightly at ease.
"Then what will you do once you recover?" He asked.
Seems she was not the only one thinking it.
"Find my reason. I want to learn to draw a bow and fight with a sword. If my skills are useless here, I want to know how I can survive a war." There was fire inside of her heart. Inside of her eyes.
Alexios has only been around the woman when she was unconscious or awake- only for a few moments to eat and take care of herself. This was the first time they actually conversed in conversation. Albeit, it was of a personal matter. Alexios might have a true challenge on his hands with this woman and while he had other needs to tend too- Dakota seemed to be the type of woman to not take no as an answer.
Though, there was a strange feeling within him that seemed to grow. One that would awaken a fate that will lead him on his journey with Dakota being another piece to the puzzle.
AN: And so we begin the next chapter in the beginnings of Odyssey. I have never given thought of romance, since Dakota is more interested in finding answers and trying to get back home. We dont really see her interacting much with Alexios in the beginning. But, we will see where the road leads us next. Thank you for the reviews. More would be appreciated, but I don't mind. I like seeing people read my works.