The Twelve - Game Day | Penana

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The Twelve
Writer ToriG.
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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The Twelve
A - A - A
Game Day
Jan 13, 2017
32 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!rGm9PWtdXQEiud5XBHMRposted on PENANA

Val130Please respect copyright.PENANAzXM3aR1LyN
   Everyone is pumped up, everyone except for our group. I don't understand why they're so on fire about a football game when we have only half of B building because of my accidental fire ability mishap. They said that a laptop's lithium-ion battery overheated and set fire to the building. I think it's funny that there has to be an explanation for everything. I think sometimes it's best if there is no explanation.130Please respect copyright.PENANAD5h23pk9uY
   Anyhow, this is the biggest annual day in all of Tuscola High's existence. The rivalry of rivalries. The County Clash. The Tuscola vs. Pisgah game. It's the one day in the school year where anything is totally legal. You wanna pants that guy in second period? Go for it. Want to run down the hallways in daisy dukes and flannel while shouting "USA!"? This is a democracy, it's all good. Wanna throw that guy from third period in the dumpster and lock him in there for eternity? Nobody's stopping you. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAIH5Xgl2L4l
   Kenneth got beat up last year for not standing on the table for the fight song. There was a food fight in the cafeteria last year that ended with me crawling under the table with Kenneth as I tried to stop his nose from bleeding.130Please respect copyright.PENANAfDi1GsTHes
   Anything up to murder is legal. It's a dangerous time of the year.130Please respect copyright.PENANAvRxMTBbeLG
   I make sure to wear the mandatory spirit day clothes to avoid conflict. Camo pants (can be exchanged for camo or denim cutoffs), work boots (or cowboy boots), a yellow and black Tuscola shirt, and orange hunting vest. If you don't wear the gear, you get flogged and publicly humiliated. There's always one kid that ends up covered with silly string and flour because they didn't wear the dress code.130Please respect copyright.PENANActoirEDtqH
   I meet up with Ash in the hall before first period. We're wearing the exact same thing but his camo is too baggy and he doesn't seem to know how to put on the vest. I tug at the blaze orange vest and straighten it out until it looks normal again. "Dude, it's crazy. I just saw some things that I will never be able to forget. And I've seen some bad things."130Please respect copyright.PENANAOGk6H1zAIN
   Kenneth laughs and leans into me, he's wearing the dress code this time. "So you saw what happened in the parking lot too?"130Please respect copyright.PENANA3eFA0zccNX
   "Don't talk about it." Ash shivers, "it hurts my brain."130Please respect copyright.PENANAT0rhiSWVmn
   "I'm glad I'm blind," Melody comes from nowhere and stands beside Kenneth. She's wearing the dress code but they wouldn't mess with her even if she was wearing the other team's colors. Not because tricking a blind person is beneath them, but because they know Melody will beat them to a fine pulp and impale them with her cane. "On the other hand, I have heard some things that just make me doubt the intelligence of the human race as a whole." We exchange a smile and Ash elbows her to hide our inside joke.130Please respect copyright.PENANADa3XhKYRlH
   "So what happens today? Is there anything important I should now about how to behave?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAEoVkZWTc8G
   Melody laughs, "just don't do anything stupid. We have a pep rally today during fourth period and we won't do anything in any other classes. You could probably skip them to be honest."130Please respect copyright.PENANAa2GCjZugVR
   The bell rings for our classes and we all dissipate. Ash and me to math, Kenneth to chemistry, and Melody to American history. Melody was right; we don't do anything in our classes except talk about the rivalry. Even lunch consists of wildly dancing on tables, playing beer-pong with red solo cups full of "water", chanting what sounds like voodoo and the typical chants, getting blow horned in the face, and watching our kicker ride on the back of a tight end while chanting a mix of slurs and curses. I have never seen high school guys in shorts that show most of their hairy thighs and in opened flannel shirts that expose the flab that they try to pass as rock-solid muscle.130Please respect copyright.PENANADy1HvjsuaN
   Ash looks completely disgusted by the time we make it to the pep rally and sit on the yellow section of the cold bleachers. Kenneth and Melody pack in beside Ash. Kenneth and him seem to be great friends now. Guys are so weird. Some guy in shorts that I don't know practically sits down in my lap. I try to keep my ability under control and not burn him and instead push him away. He is still wedged up against me. My hips and shoulders are packed into a tiny space between Booty-shorts and Ash. It's really awkward, especially because Booty-shorts has a blow horn, smells like sweat, and has little more than a denim bikini on.130Please respect copyright.PENANAbPc7ac33pc
   The lights dim for the pep rally and Booty-shorts stands up excitedly. He starts to blow on the horn with all he has but his eyes go unfocused and he falls like a tree across Ash and me. He's unconscious, but I just roughly push him off our laps and down into the people in the row below us. He starts tumbling down the rows and hitting his head on the seats. He wakes up and starts cursing the guy who pushed him over.130Please respect copyright.PENANAKzerbxqGNl
   "This is why we don't do drugs," Ash whispers to me and claps his hands in a confused way as the rest of the students start cheering.130Please respect copyright.PENANAxrTz8pTAT3
   An announcer starts listing off fall sport players as they enter one by one. Cross country runners, cheerleaders, volleyball players, and men's soccer. The most cheering is for the varsity football players that have shaved their hair into mohawks and dyed them black and gold. It's true dedication to school spirit.130Please respect copyright.PENANAo5TBc3Nf7c
   I lean into Ash and smile. "Can I do your hair like that?"130Please respect copyright.PENANArRMFjYdKE1
   He runs his hands through his thick mob of hair. "When I die, and if the Inimicus give you permission to do my hair, then by all means go for it. I won't stop you." He smiles and musters a very unenthusiastic whoop.130Please respect copyright.PENANA5ctZLBpEcj
   Our cheerleaders hastily perform a routine that involves multiple terrible modern remixes all crammed together in a complex pattern. They hold up posters that are supposed to spell T-U-S-C-O-L-A but they get it all wrong and mix it up into U-T-S-L-A-C-O. They then do a terribly choreographed dance off with a short person in a bear outfit (our rival Pisgah's mascot). It's the highlight of my day.130Please respect copyright.PENANAIBoCcAGZQN
   I watch Ash's expression change throughout the whole show. First confusion, boredom, intrigue, more confusion, disgust, laughter, more disgust, and then a bit of disappointment. "What did I just watch?" He mutters. "I watched as five of my kind died in terrible painful ways, I've seen humans die, and I've tortured Inimicus to death, but this was horrifying. Sometimes I wonder why I fight to save their life." He looks down at the five grey marks on his arms and rubs his fingers against the skin as if to remove the grey marks.130Please respect copyright.PENANAciFZXYXbIB
   "This sucks," Melody says, "I can't even see what they're doing but it sucks. Do you think I could sneak out of this place? There's windows somewhere right?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAdONGOzideu
   "No." Kenneth sighs, "we must watch the torture of a dance off with a midget in a bear costume and some illiterate cheerleaders."130Please respect copyright.PENANAwW5Vyhvehm
   "It's even worse than I expected," Melody sighs and starts prodding people with her cane out of boredom. "I'm about ready t throw in the towel and start running."  130Please respect copyright.PENANA2uEHtCGqNp
   I look down at my phone, "three more minutes until the torture is over." Ash gives me a look of 'did you really just say torture?'. "That reminds me," I get off the topic, "are you guys going to see the game?"130Please respect copyright.PENANA20eQH2qZgE
   "No." Melody laughs, pointing at her eyes. "Even if I could I wouldn't. I heard that there's going to be fifteen thousand there. I don't know about you, but I'd rather keep my life."130Please respect copyright.PENANAtNAzI9Reo9
   Kenneth shrugs, "I have a ticket but I don't know. If you guys go, I'm not going."130Please respect copyright.PENANABqDf87SPyF
   Ash grins like a stealing possum. "YOLO. Ya know what, let's do this. I've only got one life and life is a delicate thing. Let's go and see this whole football thing."130Please respect copyright.PENANAeBGtsovSnM
   Kenneth can't hide his laughter, "you could say that football is a little alien to you."130Please respect copyright.PENANAwRA7rjhixF
   Ash lowers his voice, "I. Am. Not. An. Alien. There is a huge difference that you should understand by now. Especially considering that you're a target for Inimicus, seeing how you did kill one."130Please respect copyright.PENANAs966ofdg4M
   Kenneth goes pale and the dismissal bell rings. "I didn't think about that. I'm a target?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAWjnDMQ1iIp
   Ash smiles and starts to leave, jerking me up. "I don't know. You'll have to ask the Inimicus when they walk you into the torture chamber. But by then, they might have cut out your tongue." 130Please respect copyright.PENANA4fgEnHXE0v
   Kenneth looks at me for confirmation and I shrug back to him. After watching what they did to the Socius pair yesterday, I know that they will do whatever it takes to silence us. Now that Kenneth is in the mix, if they find him, they'll kill him.130Please respect copyright.PENANAksEry3GMkL
   Ash grabs my hand and pulls me through the crowd. His hands nervously conduct the electricity and makes my hair stand up with static. I burn him and he yelps, but he needs to stop shocking me. He leads me through the crowds and makes me hop into the passenger side of his truck. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAzh4XVRNX9w
   "So Val, do you like football? Because we're going to the game."130Please respect copyright.PENANAmdLDS9lQNl
   I buckle up and roll my eyes. "What's your reasoning? Don't use any of that YOLO crap on me, I know that you have an ulterior motive. So go ahead and confess."130Please respect copyright.PENANAm8O1zn5gap
   "What would you say if we went looking for Inimicus instead of them looking for us?"130Please respect copyright.PENANA1JH6GCXuz6
   "I'd say that you're turning into SV." I cross my arms as the old vehicle jolts forward a couple times before managing to hit a speed above one mile per hour. "Is that really what we're about to do? We're about to go Inimicus hunting?"130Please respect copyright.PENANA0VkMzdVU3J
   "Chances are, yes, on both your statements. We're going into a crowd of fifteen thousand. At least one has to be an Inimicus and when we find them…" the smile on his face actually disgusts me. "When we find one, we make them pay for the two they killed yesterday."130Please respect copyright.PENANAfpR4rrswHC
   "You're going to torture them to death again?" I remember the terrible things he did to torture the Inimicus and shudder. The black blood dripping from her neck as she screamed humanly in pain-130Please respect copyright.PENANAVJlDP2fMwP
   "You finally feel our pain, but now you're sympathizing with them? That's such a human thing to do." He continues driving, acting as if he didn't just insult my species.130Please respect copyright.PENANATxLdjkqfeu
   "If it's best to kill someone like you killed the last Inimicus, then I'd rather be human. We might not be that powerful but at least we can feel."130Please respect copyright.PENANAYuUQzlh1RZ
   "I didn't mean it as an insult, I meant it as a simple fact. You empathize with one another, you empathize with animals, and you empathize with killers. Ever heard of Stockholm syndrome? You empathize with your captors. If there isn't something to feel sorry for, you feel sorry for yourselves. You're too easily swayed by your emotions." His tone is so apathetic and emotionless that he sounds almost scripted. He almost sounds like an Inimicus.130Please respect copyright.PENANADNIZqy2Glz
   I don't get as angry as I should. "Well, Asahel Arete. It's hard to be humane for you isn't it? You aren't human and you never will be human. Some people just can't take the strain of these emotions." I turn my back to him and stare angrily out the window, I keep my ability under control for the most part but still radiate angry heat that causes my window to fog up. Did he really just insult me? He really did just insult my species. That's even worse than insulting my race. copyright protection126PENANAwtpY8h55Ez

   We stay quiet even as we pack ourselves into the stadium inside the student section. We're wedged between a guy with an obsession for cheap plastic bugles and posters, and a girl who is carrying a large sack of something bulky concealed in her drawstring bag. I still don't talk to him even as we're forced to squeeze together even more and now our sides are touching. He's gone and pissed me off. I mean you don't just go out and insult someone's species. The Inimicus don't even go out and insult Socius like that. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAve6hsqBSFQ
   The game starts and I stand indifferently as the game ball is dropped on the field via helicopter. Ash is a brick wall of emotions. Poster guys is holding up posters on faces screaming. "See this guy? That's my boy! That's my boy!" Bag girl reaches into her sack as if on command and throws white all-purpose flour (the irony of it being all-purpose). Other students begin throwing flour into the air and screaming "inbred" or "river-rats" at our rivals. Flour coats my hair and clogs my lungs. I cough like crazy to get it out of my throat and don't bother to wipe it away from my hair and clothes. I barely keep myself from getting swept away by the crazy insanity of my surroundings. I try not to chant and jump in excitement but my enthusiasm shows.130Please respect copyright.PENANAnDlhtUCLVu
   We're in the third quarter, winning by three when Ash decides that he can talk to me. His face and hair look almost albino from the flour, confetti hangs in large chunks from his hair, and green silly string wraps around his head like a scarf. At some point glitter got thrown into the mix, but he seems to have missed most of the glitter, unfortunately I didn't. "Okay, listen, I'm sorry that I insulted humans and whatnot. Will you talk to me now?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAKzhtzI1Bpm
   I smile, "are you going to be discriminatory to an entire species?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAaVBhc3INWn
   He sighs, "I'm surrounded by humans, I can't be discriminatory now."130Please respect copyright.PENANAEj1ZAvTdgP
   "It's a sucky apology, but I'll take it. Have you found any yet?" I manage a smile and don't worry about my volume because it's too loud to hear yourself think. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAH1pZvYIxz7
   "No, but I can feel that they're here. They're somewhere, waiting on us to come out alone. They want there to be six left, but we can't let them do that. If any more die, we won't have enough manpower to fight." He bats down a poster as a girl below him thrusts it up in his face. "I swear if she throws that stupid poster up on me again, I'm going to throw it as far as I possibly can."130Please respect copyright.PENANATK2v2eyK2u
   I elbow him as I see a familiar face staring up at us. Blue eyes that don't hide the fact that she is hardcore staring at us. "Ash, isn't that the girl from Walmart?" 130Please respect copyright.PENANA7HN9GoEABV
   He grabs my hand and begins pushing through the crowds and down the concrete bleachers. "Val, the last time we saw her, a Socius died and an Inimicus tried to kill me. Something tells me she's not here to see a football game."130Please respect copyright.PENANAqjXPisN1Zn
   "Well, where are we going?" I follow him blindly as we speed through the thick crowds.130Please respect copyright.PENANA8T7bo9qXUt
   "We're going to avoid the conflict and go home. There's too many innocents around here that could get hurt. They probably bugged my truck if they know we're here." He pulls me harder and I increase my speed.130Please respect copyright.PENANAr1afbREPsf
   We burst out of the stadium and into the empty gravel parking lot. The noise from the stadium tells me that someone just got a touchdown. But everything's so… distant. It's eerie and deserted, like the place where zombies hide and jump out in movies. The cars loom like headstones and a few out of commission school busses lie like dying carcasses surrounded by rotting tires. To make things even scarier, the full moon seems to make a spotlight on Ash's truck. 130Please respect copyright.PENANALSyIHRbvSa
   I hear Ash's breaths become more hushed and realize that he's listening. I hear it too after a few seconds. Crunch, crunch-crunch, eek. Is it footsteps? It's someone coming close to us. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAS140ct9Dq3
   Suddenly Ash pulls me back as a silenced rifle fires and the bullet skins where my head was. Whoa. He lets forks of lightning roll off his hands and I follow his lead by lighting my hands on fire. If any humans see us, we're definitely going to be in even more trouble. But this is necessary; we won't go down without a fight. 130Please respect copyright.PENANA6S5g8h8M6A
   We turn back to back, as we try to locate the sound. It seems to be coming from everywhere. I gasp as I see a small glint of silver and watch a small childlike Inimicus exit the creaky bus closest to me. 130Please respect copyright.PENANA1SsABasMGl
   "Ash," I whisper tugging on his sleeve. "They're in the bus-" The quiet night lights up with silenced gunshots. Ash and I dive for cover underneath the cars and wait for them to stop shooting. They never stop which could mean two things. One that they're idiots that can't aim, or two they're actually not firing anything and are have set the guns on timers. They seem to be shooting at the same spot. They aren't firing, it's a distraction.130Please respect copyright.PENANAXyn1yzvIdV
   I stand and see a shadow start moving towards me, I duck down and the figure tackles Ash. It growls and fights against him, savagely growling foreign words. Slashing, cutting, cursing, it tries to slit Ash's throat with a very long knife. I pick it up off Ash and press my hand against its neck. It tries to fight against my but it yelps and can't do anything. Ash has its arms pinned down. I feel my ability flare up extremely hot and the creature reduces to boiling sludge with a scream. My first Inimicus.130Please respect copyright.PENANAMjNSAV9IIg
   Ash stands, the creatures knife in his hands. We turn back to back. "Val, welcome to your first fight. It's my first fight alone with just my partner. Just don't die, okay? This should be interesting."130Please respect copyright.PENANAiK8LlJWNwC
   "You're telling me." I start throwing fireballs at whatever group comes closest. They fire back with rubber bullets which means that they don't want to kill us, they want to take us and then kill us. I won't let it happen.130Please respect copyright.PENANA9tbwvK60sj
   I can hear lightning bolts striking all around us, I can only hear the shouts of pain of the Inimicus as they reduce to slush. The ones closest to me seem to be dying faster. The silly string coating their hair and the flour stuck against their clothing seems to be igniting and burning them alive even quicker. I try not to focus on that fact. I distance myself from my actual actions and convince myself that it's all just a game. Throw a fireball here, oops, it only hit his thigh. Throw another one, he reduces to sludge. Bonus points.130Please respect copyright.PENANAWfCJ7dFgVo
   I'm starting to wear out. I have never used my ability this much before. I muster a small fireball the size of my hand and fling it towards a group of five coming towards me. I miss and hit a car. The car alarm goes off but the roaring of the crowd is too loud. I don't understand how they can't hear this.130Please respect copyright.PENANAwe8F0toXhU
   "Val stop using your ability, you're wearing yourself out." Ash seems to be perfectly fine, but then again he has had his abilities longer than I have. He reaches back and hands me a knife. I barely realize that I'm not only profusely sweating but panting like a dog. So I need more endurance with my abilities.130Please respect copyright.PENANAAqoLXUv4UY
   I rush forward into the group of five and start swinging my knife everywhere. I catch the one to my right in the chest and let him have the knife as he goes down, not exactly dead but too weak to stand. I jump over an attempt to tangle my legs up. They throw away the riffles that fire rubber bullets, they must not be good with close range. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAnQd0AkdgB9
   The middle one barks out orders in Inimicus and pulls out a long bowie knife. The others follow in pursuit. So the orders must've been if you can't detain them, kill them.130Please respect copyright.PENANAE7nMMogblx
   I jump back as a knife aimed for my face rushes past me. Another knife slashes at my chest but I manage to sidestep him. I trip up on my feet and land on top of the dying Inimicus. He groans humanly in pain but I grab the hilt of my knife in his chest and yank it out with a terrible squelching sound. The Inimicus instantly reduces to sludge. 130Please respect copyright.PENANA6VYvHVpcZj
   They have circled around me, sneering shouting and laughing terrible things in Inimicus. I slip in the sludge of the fallen Inimicus and almost stab myself. I remain my footing though and throw my knife at the nearest Inimicus. It's a huge risk to throw my weapon at them but I have to reduce their numbers to a more sizeable chunk. The knife catches the Inimicus in the forehead and he reduces to black sludge. I fall to my knees just as a knife flings towards my neck. It hits the Inimicus and he turns into sludge. Now, it's one on one with no weapons. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAbnapnLJB1l
   The Inimicus rushes forward and tackles me. We erupt in screams and fighting limbs that try to reach the others throat. He lands a good blow to my face and I feel uncontrollable tears run down my face. The blow only makes me angrier as I rollover so I'm on the top and ram my knuckles into him. He is so strong, every part of him is muscle. No wonder Ash  was worried. There's no way only twelve people can win against a billion of these creatures.130Please respect copyright.PENANAKFs7sfvIrR
   He props up his elbow and presses his large hand against my face. I clamp down on his finger and taste something strange like metallic orange juice in my mouth. He lands a hard blow to my jaw that makes me let go of his hand. I spit the black blood at him and he screams at me almost in pain. I scream angrily as we flip again and he puts his meaty hands over my throat. He squeezes down on my windpipe and I gasp for breath. He pins down my arms and legs and laughs. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAgxMe3t9sG9
   "You're going to die little Socius. I can give you one last chance to redeem yourself. You can work for us and live. Maybe you can convince your friend to join too." We both glance over at Ash who is slowly working himself out of a terrible situation where he is trapped in a circle. It'll take a while for him to get to me. "You know, there are those among you who support us."130Please respect copyright.PENANAMRwWgUH0vJ
   I scream and thrash but he holds me down. "No! No! Ash! Ash help! I'll never take your offer! Die in a-"130Please respect copyright.PENANAlfpOnR4TAv
   He backhands me and I stay still for a second. "Your pulse has increased, an increased heart rate is a sign of fear in your situation. You don't need to be afraid of us." I hate the way he looks at me like I'm a fat Thanksgiving turkey ready to be carved. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAKQ3x460eyG
   He must sense the fear and rampant ideas by the way I look at him. He laughs, "you look like fun. I do believe that I learned that if I squeeze the carotid artery and stop blood flow to your head you'll pass out. I like you, I want the rest of them to meet you. You're feisty and we like that."130Please respect copyright.PENANAokyUhPPZQk
   "No! No! Ash help! Help me!" I fight more, trying to use my telekinesis to push him off but I'm too zapped. I grit my teeth and try to head-butt him but his hands around my throat don't let me get close enough. "Kill me! Just kill me!"130Please respect copyright.PENANAIbA80YZ4RA
   "Why would I do that? I think that you will come to our side." He looks down at my arms and then his reptilian gaze lingers on the symbols. "Blue. Asahel Arete's symbol. So you're his receiver. I bet he didn't tell you that he slaughtered a whole bus-load of innocent Inimicus children."130Please respect copyright.PENANAzCrC9wJaKh
   "You're a liar! Ash doesn't kill for fun! You're the murderers! You're the ones who need to die!" I thrash but it's no use.130Please respect copyright.PENANAR9Cp4TfTT5
   "Oh but it's true." He's so calm and I notice that his arms are full of tattoos each one labeled with the mark H. He's killed humans before and I'd say with equal pain as he wants to kill me. "He was in Michigan back then and he saw their eyes and flipped the bus. Nobody survived because it rolled off a drop-off. Your sweet little Asahel isn't so innocent is he? Now would you like to reconsider my offer?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAeBhOJhNJlF
   "Never!" My body has started to heat up, my hands are glowing with heat. He can't feel it yet, but I'm going to kill him. "Go to hell!"130Please respect copyright.PENANAkVhLyrhhB2
   "I'm already there." He smiles and I relax. Heat consumes my body, flames rising up, burning my clothes and hitting the Inimicus with a brick wall of fire. He screams and rolls away from me clutching his chest with burned arms. I roll onto my stomach and stare at him.130Please respect copyright.PENANAzsbbSf579Y
   "You-" he manages to scream as I throw an enormous fireball towards him and turn him into sludge as he slams into a charred minivan. The alarm goes off and the lights flash sporadically.130Please respect copyright.PENANAdnAuckLZ37
   I sigh and the fire disappears, my clothes are smoky and charred a little. I struggle to my feet and see Ash running over to me. I fall and he barely manages to catch me. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAEo2W9AnrSY
   "Val? Val, are you okay?" He throws my arm over his shoulder and picks me up like a baby. "Valerie Carmen? Can you hear me? Are you okay?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAurrGCkVIr5
   I look up at his eyes and nod. "I'm okay, just zapped. I'm completely exhausted." I lay my head against his chest and try to ignore what the Inimicus told me. Ash, would he do something like that? Would he kill the enemy even if they were just children? He would kill the enemy, but I don't know how far he'd take it. The Inimicus was a liar. That's it. A liar who wanted me to join his cause. He almost killed me and he would've done much more if I was unconscious. I shudder at the thought.130Please respect copyright.PENANAGEsg9EAUDE
   "Okay, we're going home." He stares down at me and then back up at the sky. "We fought well, but you need some more work with those abilities. Along with fireproof clothes." He tries to hide the fact that his hands are shaky. Apparently, I'm not the only one who needs improvement with their abilities.130Please respect copyright.PENANA2i24ecFBEx
   Ash carefully sets me down in the truck and I swear I hear something beating against the body. It must be the ecstatic roar of the crowds who will come back to find their cars covered in black sludge, burnt or electrocuted. Either way, people will find someone to blame. We always do. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAA8Z2OCmKkO
   Ash drives and I just sit in the passenger's side with my head pressed against the cool window. The radio is playing the game and announcing that our rivals have won by three in overtime. I really don't care, I'm just now beginning to feel life in my body. The weakness is fading away, finally and the unpleasant thoughts I had while that creature talked to me aren't as vibrant and vivid as they were. It still doesn't mean that I don't hear him in the corner of my mind and see his reptile eyes staring at me. I wish I could forget, but I can't forget.130Please respect copyright.PENANAP0tihCXSxB
   Ash suddenly stops on the side of the interstate and motions for me to get out. It's 12:05 and starting to get cold. The interstate is empty and I swear I hear that banging sound again, it sounds like it's coming from the bed of Ash's truck. I take a step out on wobbly legs and follow him. He reaches into his toolbox and grabs a flashlight, a tarp, duct tape, and a knife. I look in the bed of his truck and see a large lump in the center. The lump is squirming around and small cries for help are muffled by what sounds like a gag.130Please respect copyright.PENANAwzTzE8MkJr
   I shake my head and poke the lump, all I feel is the slightly wet blanket tied around it. It moves away. Definitely a person, probably an Inimicus. "Ash, what have you done?"130Please respect copyright.PENANASkzRnotJ9O
   He smiles, "I want to know how they keep finding us. You grab that end and I'll get this end." I don't know what else to do so I grab one end of the lump that seems to be moving more. This must by the legs. Ash looks at me with disappointment and hoists his side up with telepathy. I get the memo and hoist my side up weakly. My head hurts as I walk and hold it up. The lump cries out again as Ash and I step over a guardrail and into dying fall forests. Ash seems to know what he's doing as he leads me deeper through the forest and stops at a large tree that I think is a poplar.130Please respect copyright.PENANAyZO1h6EfYb
   He hands me a roll of duct tape as he presses the lump against the tree. I do what he wants and strap the lump to the tree using several thick layers of duct tape. The lump is making desperate sounds.130Please respect copyright.PENANAQvLJ4qRRKB
   Ash makes me stand back as he cuts the lump out of the blanket. He hands me a knife and the flashlight. I shine the flashlight on the lump and hold my breath. Ash rips the blanket away and I stare at an Inimicus. He's different from the normal ones. His hair is dark brown and his eyes aren't as different as the others. His pupils are still slanted and extremely dilated from the bright light but they aren't as elongated and reptilian as normal Inimicus. But the biggest difference is that he's crying.130Please respect copyright.PENANAiDWSvjhY3q
   The gag over his mouth makes his pained breaths quiet, but I can tell that he has been sobbing. His eyes are red and puffy. He looks up at me with eyes that know what we're about to do.130Please respect copyright.PENANAMCqBDIHiXF
   Ash rips the duct tape gag away from his mouth and the Inimicus lets out a loud scream. Dark black stains his shoulder, it's a deep stab wound. Before I know what I'm doing I walk forward to the Inimicus and cut away the fabric at the wound. The blood is like a glue against the black fabric of his shirt. I rip away the fabric and he screams in agony. He starts muttering in Inimicus and hits his head against the tree. He's our age, maybe a little younger, if Inimicus years correspond to human years. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAuNafxfGp7r
   I study the wound, I can barely see anything because of the black blood. I need to clean the wound to see what I'm dealing with. "I'll be back, just hang on." I rush back to the truck and pull out a thermos full of some sort of liquid. I think it's water. 130Please respect copyright.PENANA0p4Xizhzyk
   I rush back to where Ash stands staring at the Inimicus with hatred and me with confusion. "Val, we're just going to kill him. What are you doing?"130Please respect copyright.PENANA0lXqXA8ES5
   I shake my head and walk up to him. "I'm not going to let him suffer."130Please respect copyright.PENANAkmTvCqLjPS
   "The stupid thing won't even talk, Val, this isn't helping!"130Please respect copyright.PENANAKQiPOAo59X
   "Don't insult any species, even an Inimicus." Ash gives me a hard stare but I bypass him and pour lukewarm water on the boy's wounded shoulder. He relaxes and moans. He looks so human. He feels pain and he knows what we're about to do.130Please respect copyright.PENANAq9inzfYIUR
   I put a cap on the water and stare at the large gash that stretches from his armpit to his clavicle. "That feel better? I wouldn't want to be covered in my own blood and thrown into the back of an old pickup."130Please respect copyright.PENANANfdHKQ7v9X
   He tilts his head to look at me, his eyes are huge with gratitude. He opens his mouth and the sound I hear isn't what I expect. "Well, it's not even that. The blood burns, it hurts more than the wound. It's too acidic against our skin, it's a weakness in battle." His words are tinged with a British accent. I take off my orange vest and duct tape it against the wound almost in shock. I try to carefully add heat and stop the blood flow. "Oh, that feels so much better without the blood against my skin. A million thanks."130Please respect copyright.PENANAnUOFJCg8Ip
   "So he'll talk to you." Ash walks up to him and grabs his face to look at him. The boy tries to jerk away but Ash slaps him hard enough to knock the fear right off his face. "Alright let's get something straight. You talk and I'll make your death a mercy. You killed two of us yesterday, I should make you die the same way you killed us."130Please respect copyright.PENANA58zow9EuRz
   The boys face is afraid and pained. "P-please don't. W-what do you want to know?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAlFOzmzpu4z
   "How did you find us? Do you know the locations of any other Socius?"130Please respect copyright.PENANArstg8dTolB
   "I just followed the others, I don't know how they knew where you were. I don’t know anything honestly. I'm honest! I'm just a fighter, and not a successful one at that." He jerks at his arms and Ash points the knife at him.130Please respect copyright.PENANAOrJnQgxuKo
   "Stop moving or I'll make you bleed!" 130Please respect copyright.PENANA464SFqr5Uw
   "Wait," I whisper and see what he's trying to do. I yank up is sleeves and stare at his skin. His arms are unmarked, no hint of ink or tags that say S or H. He looks awful scrawny for an Inimicus. "He hasn't ever killed any humans, let alone Socius."130Please respect copyright.PENANAFmZ8D7mwwH
   "I'm glad she understands." He tries to rub sweat and tears off his face with his unwounded shoulder. "Really, you're asking the wrong guy. The only thing I do is medical stuff, and that's what I was doing when he stabbed and kidnapped me." He throws an angry glance at Ash.130Please respect copyright.PENANA7k8RIY7ftS
   "So this whole ordeal is pretty useless? That's basically what I'm hearing." I stand beside Ash and feel my heart sink. "So what do we do with him now?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAEyYIrE8SJ3
   "No," the boy says, knowing what Ash will say. "No, no please don't."130Please respect copyright.PENANApoqox4wTA2
   "You know what we do now." Ash flips the knife in his hands and presses it against the boy's throat. The boy screams in fear and panic. "Now, we kill him."130Please respect copyright.PENANABInKz5JHlc
   "No!" The boy makes a terrible strangled moan that hurts me. "No, please, please don't do this!"130Please respect copyright.PENANAAZKyHbdQ4W
   Ash smiles that disturbing grin and laughs. "Should've thought about that before you tried to kill us."130Please respect copyright.PENANAUulkTTppNZ
   He tries to slice the knife across the boy's throat but I stop him with telekinesis. The knife barely makes a scratch that pours blood onto his skin. He moans and cries out in Inimicus. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAspHP9hVSZg
   "Val, let me kill him!" Ash presses down harder but I stop him from killing the boy.130Please respect copyright.PENANA5zfQ8X1lN6
   "No Ash, I won't let you do this." I push him away, knocking him over and throwing the knife into the woods. "Ash, I can't kill for no reason. You say that it's human and I'm glad because I don't want to be a monster." I wipe the blood away from his neck and he whispers thanks in his native language.130Please respect copyright.PENANAiHBE2uxrTl
   "Val, he's our enemy! He would kill us if we didn't tie him up. What you're doing is treason to not only Socius but humans too!" He tries to grab the knife from my hand but I press it against the duct tape bonds around the boy. "Val stop!"130Please respect copyright.PENANArmK9bTr6Mq
   "No, I'm not going to accept that." I slice slowly through the bonds and the Inimicus throws away the duct tape around him. He really is scrawny compared to the ones I've fought tonight. He steps beside me so close that his leg touches mine. I can practically smell his fear.130Please respect copyright.PENANAmR0CH9zJvm
   "I won't accept the fact that just because he's an Inimicus he wants to kill us. I mean Ash, where is your compassion? He's our age. We could be in his place and then what would you want?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAQN4rs7V0yP
   Ash growls at him like a feral dog. "I'd want to die an honorable death, rather than be saved by my enemies."130Please respect copyright.PENANAl0b69n0AtM
   "Please, don't kill me." He steps out a little closer to Ash, his scrawny arms raised in surrender. "I-I could help you."130Please respect copyright.PENANA1QE2slc14H
   "I don't want your help. I could kill you with my bare hands, why would I need your help?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAoUvtmXAhY9
   "Ash, think about it. We never know when an Inimicus party might drop by, especially since we know that they know our location. He could get us some help inside the enemy lines." I smile, "it could benefit all Socius."130Please respect copyright.PENANA7jajqjGqU9
   "See, this girl knows what she's talking about. I can get the inside info and give it to you. I just don't know how we'd go about the communication." He is still shaking like crazy so much that he leans into me. He's the strangest Inimicus I've ever met. Then of course I've killed most of the Inimicus I know.130Please respect copyright.PENANAdW0RZscbuh
   "Okay…" Ash is finally becoming reasonable. "Have you ever heard of the blog "To the Twelve"? It's written by an especially bold Socius by the name of SV. There's a comment section below his entries. If you figure something out comment it. SV might be a little confused at what's going on in the comment section but I'll try to explain."130Please respect copyright.PENANATTcpnynYQl
   "See," he says, "it can benefit you if you let me live."130Please respect copyright.PENANA7XFig5BXww
   I shake his hand, "It's a deal then." It feels so weird to shake his hand, to actually shake the hand of a friendly Inimicus. It's like a paradox.130Please respect copyright.PENANA7Jt7AszNE4
   Ash extends his hand. "Alright Miles, we can trust you?"130Please respect copyright.PENANA4yXgXkPkiF
   He shakes his head, "I'm different, different Inimicus have individual names. The soldiers are all Miles, I'm just Tom." He smiles.130Please respect copyright.PENANAGqDlIUqkRX
   "Alright Tom, I'm going to duct tape your hands together that way I know you can't literally stab us in the back." He grabs the roll of duct tape and slowly wraps it around his toothpick arms five times. "Tom, we can trust you? If we can't I'm going to kill you now."130Please respect copyright.PENANARYGk5gNF4s
   "You can trust me. But if you don't hear anything from me in a couple of days assume that my kind figured out that I'm a traitor and publicly executed me." He wipes his face with his now cuffed hands and yanks at the orange vest on his wounded shoulder with his strangely pointed teeth. "I'm going to have to make up a story so go ahead and rip that off me." 130Please respect copyright.PENANAJ80HpX2eil
   I do as he asks and a small drip of black blood drips down his pale skin. "Alright Tom, if we can trust you, I'm going to let us go. Good luck. Remember that it's "To the Twelve"."130Please respect copyright.PENANAUYLxjurKPj
   "I've got it," he says as he starts running through the woods. "Thank you," he calls back to me as he crests a hill and disappears from sight. 130Please respect copyright.PENANAHGio1nFO3J
   Ash turns to me and shakes his head, "Val what have we done?"130Please respect copyright.PENANAhNRhuhfwwy
   "We won't know until tomorrow." I take a deep breath and grab his hand. He doesn't jerk away. We walk back towards the truck, my hand in his, approaching an unseen future.130Please respect copyright.PENANARqwDYQ8pBX
130Please respect copyright.PENANAJjE1HFpmus
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