Maize, the GIRL, Roux, and every Stabber are desperate, but how desperate are they?
A string got plucked within her heart, and she felt it. It vibrated throughout her body, ricocheting and getting stronger. Fear gripped at her heart, closing her lungs, and tears threatened to spill. It was the Guards.
"Ma, they're here," she whispered barely able to believe it herself. Her mother hugged her harder, and stroked her hazel brown hair gently, murmuring reassurance that was no more than a lie. Tears streaked her cheeks, and she knew that the tears were hers and her mother's as well.
The ground vibrated, or was it her imagination taking flight?
"Ma," she whispered again.
"I know." her mother said in between her sobs. Staying hidden this long was a pure miracle, but her siblings? Not so lucky. The ground shook, and this time she knew with a certainty that it was not her imagination but rather reality.
"Pa," she said and looked up from her mother's arms to stare at her father helplessly. A blank face stared back, void of any emotion. It was eery, but then again what father would give up his only remaining daughter or his sons and daughters? This one, with his emotionless face, and the fiery, ever angry eyes.
"Stabber." the only words uttered by her father. Another wave of sob rushed up at her and crashed upon her, overwhelming her, and taking control. Her mother rocked her back and forth. With a panicked rush, she murmured reassurance after reassurance, but nothing could calm her anymore. It was all too late.
A single knock came and her world careened and crashed.
"I'm hungry," Haula says looking up to me. We are merely two ordinary specks in an ocean of specks. We aren't like the Guards with their shining badges, stiff uniform and their arrogant swagger, nor do we look like the children who slinks in alleys although we are in fact one of them. Wearing the skin of an ordinary speck is life or death in this twisted version of the Government's "bright" future. The "bright" future being, why test on animals when we can test on supernatural creatures, meaning a handful of the human population! Yay!
"I know," I murmur back at her. "Wait a sec."
"Be careful. I just saw the Guards."
"I will. You know where to meet, right?" I check that she nods and slips into the crowd and disappear.
The ocean is chaotic. Crashing. Nothing is left in its wake except for chaos. My first advantage. The corners of my lips curve upward into a small smile. The crowd is more chaotic than usual. Good.
My eyes scan the crowd, but the glass panes covering the looming buildings are burning me. God, I wish it wasn't so hot. I wish for a cool wind now. Pause. A frustrated sigh escapes me. I knew nothing would happen, but I can hope, right? I weave past person after person. All of them a lingering color merging into a colorful moving blur.
A woman with hair that becomes a darker blue from left to right, hurries past me, her long hair trailing behind leaving a blur of blue. I scan the market again to see if there's an easy target.
I draw a ragged breath in. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I shut my eyes leaving me in utter black, and the outside dissolves. I've been in this word for most of my life, and I'm one of the best the street's got, but the fear of getting caught grips me every time. It's certainly too big for me to do anything challenging, even for a week of ease. My eyes scan to find an easy target. A mob has formed in front of a grocery. Target found.
Adrenaline kicks in and the world blooms into full color. Everything is vibrant and alive, and every sound is magnified. I can hear and pick out each cry of surprise to laughter exchanged between friends. The beating of the heart surges and my palms are sweaty, and my breath becomes ragged again, but my instincts know what to do. My legs move on autopilot, making a beeline towards it, eyes locked on. Suddenly the store disappears and I slam into cool gold. I turn my throbbing face upward to see a man with eyes changing color every second, from the lightest pink to the deepest indigo than into bottomless black within the span of mere seconds. Dizzying.
"Sorry," I mutter.
"Dammit. Thanks to you I'll be late." With that, he shoves his way into the ocean of people and disappears. I smug smile forms on my face. I open my palm and there cupped snugly is a golden pocket watch. That bastard, just like all the rich with their heads in a cloud, better watch himself or next time it might be his wallet, and I shove the watch deep into my pocket. A victory that makes my step lighter. This could buy me and Haula weeks of full stomachs, and we might even be able to squeeze in a new pair of boots for Haula.
I near my target, but the mob is in my way and I can't get near enough to assess the situation or try to even touch the packets of food. I eye a pile of crates, but it's too risky climbing there. It will single me out instantly and that's never good. Reluctantly I shove my way into the crowd. People jostle me, knocking me every which way, cursing me to watch out. It's even a miracle that I've been able to make it few feet forward without getting trampled and killed, considering that I'm shorter than anyone here. At this rate, nothing will be left by the time I reach the front. Guess that chaos isn't as advantageous as I first thought.
I push and shove through the crowd in a frenzy until I see the glass cases full of the packets of food. Just looking at them makes my mouth water, and with renewed energy, I'm almost within touching distance. All I need is to touch it and I can leave and be well on my way. I grit my teeth and reach for the case. The smooth surface of glass sends a jolt through me. I get the message clearly, keep thieves outside and keep the food inside. Someone shoves me from behind, pressing me against the case. Perfect. I close my eyes.
I hear the yelling and yelps from the crowd and feel the shoves coming from all around, but it feels distance like I'm in a dream, and the energy flowing through grounds me more than anything. A single energy calls to me louder than others and I listen. I know that I got the right one. Keep thieves outside and keep the food inside. A jostle from my left makes me stumble a few steps, and my hands fall away from the case, the energy disappears, out of my reach. I lunge for the case as I see an opening and once again I can feel the energy from the case.
This time I know what I'm looking for and find it quicker. I imagine my hands going through the glass and pulling out a packet of food. I add small details as quickly as I can, afraid that the crowd might shove me away. A vivid image is now playing in my head and thrust it towards the yelling energy, and it bucks but still the message is the same. I push the image again and this time the yelling dies and changes to another. My hand slips through the glass and the plastic covering is underneath my hand.
From a distance, another energy starts calling for me, and I know who it is immediately. Haula. For a second I falter and the hole starts repairing itself, and pain shoots through my arm and a moan escapes me. Few heads turn towards me and their eyes follow my line of sight to land on my hand halfway in the case holding the packet of food. Everything stops for a second and then the wave crashes over me.
I push the image to the case, and free my hands and run. My eyes are closed as I escape the arms outstretched towards me. All I can see is the vast black, but I can feel the energy all around me, where it was, where it is, and where it's going. Each energy is unique from each other, different vibrations and a way of weaving themselves within the world. Each also has a goal, weak or strong. Usually, I can't hear them well unless I'm touching, but with all the adrenaline pounding through me, my senses are heightened. I duck as I sense energy on my right reaching towards me, and a second later a can feel the air moving behind me, evidence that a hand reached out towards where I was, but I'm already gone in the mob.
My head swivels behind me and runs towards a woman who is pointing at me and as she opens her mouth and shouts "Thief!"
Every head turns towards me and I curse under my breath1 and starts running the other way. I can feel Haula's energy getting near me as my lungs start burning. Run! Her energy screams as I reach her. My eyes fly open to a wide-eyed Haula running into me. She points to something and tries forming words, but only gasps of air come out as she catches her breath. Another energy catches my attention and a second later I hear screaming and the pounding boots running straight towards us. Haula catches my eyes and I grab her wrist and run.
Both of us are out of breath and wheezing, but still, we run not daring to look back. I will up another image of us running through the mob as they clear a path for us and throws it, but nothing happens. I know my powers only extend to inanimate objects, and beside a mob is made up of many people and energy with different goals, so it's impossible to create an opposite of many the goals, unlike the glass case with the simple goal of keeping thieves out and keeping the food inside.
The crowd is now clearing a clear path to us for the Guards, afraid to get in the way. We are barely running and the adrenaline is wearing out. Fatigue washes over me, threatening to drag me onto my knees. I slip as I step on my own feet, almost bringing Haula down with me. We both know this is impossible, but still, we run. The pounding boots are getting closer and closer, and my heart races as energy run straight towards me.
When it hits me I'm ready. The stun gun hits my lower back, but instantly I throw the image of the stun gun losing its electricity. For a second I'm afraid the stun gun's goal isn't to stun me, but thankfully it is and the electricity only runs through for a millisecond and it's over. Although I'm fine it costs me and Haula precious seconds that we don't have. I've let Haula go and she is a few steps in front of, risking a glance at my direction than towards the Guards. By the look on her face and the pounding of the boots, it's not hard to estimate how much time we have until.
"Stabbers!" someone behind me shouts, and pandemonium breaks out. The clear path behind us is now full of people running every which way. Thank the heavens. This buys us precious seconds that won't make a difference in the end, but thankful for anyway. I might be able to figure something out. I scan around me as I run, but using my "gift" comes at a price, and I've been using it like crazy and running and it's taking a toll. My eyes fighting stay open, my lungs are on fire, and I can't feel anything and everything is a useless blur of colors as people rush out of the square.
I catch a wisp of brown hair in front of me and I rush to catch up to Haula. She stumbles every two steps and her eyes keep drooping, and she is scratching at her back. A red dart is stuck between her shoulder blades. Suddenly, she stops running and sways and I lunge for her, but she's fallen, and a foot misses her head by inches. I grab her and shake her but it's no use. The government makes sure that their weapons are top notch, exceptionally for Stabbers, like us. I sling her across my shoulder and I start running. I start forming an image of the drug stops working on her, but I don't have the time, energy, or the concentration. Besides, she won't be able to run even if she wakes up, so I just run, with her bouncing on my back.
The pounding boots and shouts from the Guards are coming nearer and nearer, and I feel another energy shooting towards me. I falter as I throw another image of the energy turning back the way it came, but it doesn't. Either the goal of the energy wasn't to get to me or I'm just tired. All the adrenaline is now nearly gone, and the shouts of all the energies are muddling together and I can't make heads or tails. And then it hits me.
Pain shoots through me from my left shoulder blade as the dart hits the target, me. I stubble and white spots are dancing around. An image of the drug pumping through my veins becoming useless is beginning to form, but it's already working. The fatigue and the dose from the needle making my eyelids flutter. Darkness creeping in from the edge of my sight.
Haula looks back at me, and instantly she's retracing her steps. I open my mouth to tell her to go, but my parched throat makes no sound, and the needle comes flying for her. She looks at it, her eyes growing wide, as she comes to a sudden halt, and ducks. As quick and agile as she is the running is taking a toll on her as well, and the dart hits her anyway.
The pounding of the boots shakes the pebbles on the cobblestoned ground. Haula has lost consciousness, but I keep on throwing the image of the drug not working anymore. I know that the goal of the drug is to drag me under consciousness, but I'm too tired that no matter how persistently I throw the image, the drug doesn't budge.
A boot kicks me on my legs, and another perfectly polished boots come into my narrow vision as blackness swallows most of it. My back leaves the ground and I'm getting hauled. I twist my neck to find Haula, but none of my body is corresponding. The darkness is cutting into my sight and soon my eyelids reluctantly close, as I feel one last jostle before the darkness takes over me.
A jostle and a sharp pain spread from my right side of the head to my whole body. My eyelids open with some fight, and when I turn my head, another sharp pain shoots through me. Determining from the darkness of the room its night. Guess the dart knocked me out pretty well. I give my head another shake and a pair of gray eyes looks back at me.
“You caused quite a ruckus out there.” The gray eye says. Then another pair of gray eyes appears.
“It was quite an entertainment.” This time it belongs to the second gray eyes. The ground jolts and light shines through somewhere above and illuminates the two kids sitting before me. The first eyes belong to a girl no older than ten and the other gray eyes belong to a boy six or seven. They both have shabby hazel hair and an amused smile on their faces.
“So tell me what happened?” the girl says with twinkling eyes.
“I really have to get out of here,” I say in a panicked rush as I realize we are in a Cage. The energy here is pulsing with life and rebellion. Each one with steely determination. Every time I come close to grasping energy it slips out of my reach or bites me back, making me wince.
“Whatever you’re doin’, it ain’t gonna work.” the girl says.
“Yeah, we tried everything. It doesn’t work.” the boy supplies.