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The Twelve
Writer ToriG.
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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The Twelve
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#2
How To Explode Your Local Ingles And Other Facts Of Life
ToriG.
Nov 14, 2016
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23 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!iNyp8QA044fL0ckJ87Qcposted on PENANA
             

Ash150Please respect copyright.PENANA5IuAPUuWKn
   I drum my fingers on my pants, very quietly muttering to myself underneath my breath. I pretend to study a box of Ramen noodles but my hands are so sweaty that they keep slipping out of my grasp. The old woman to my right looks up at me from behind a large sac of rice. I try to force a smile on my face, but she shakes her head angrily at today's youth and goes back to reading about gluten- or whatever it is that old people read about on the nutrition labels of bags of rice. People are so weird, if only they knew what I was here to do. But they won't know about me until it's too late.150Please respect copyright.PENANAizzrXbIbn0
   My watch beeps quietly and vibrates on my wrist. Two minutes left. Two minutes until I become prime target for one of them. I feel my hands sweat nervously as I put back the soup cup of Ramen noodles and grab a can of garbanzo beans labeled in Spanish. Why am I even here? I was supposed to go directly to the house after school; mom and dad won't be happy about this at all. Being here increases the risk of me getting killed. 150Please respect copyright.PENANAuEyyViWWbr
   And if I die, all of you die too. Not to mention the complete and utter decimation of Earth. Wouldn't want that to happen now would we? 150Please respect copyright.PENANANg9hQZckWX
   I check my watch again. One minute forty-four seconds left until I'm officially prey. I sigh and reach into my pockets to pull out my phone just to pretend I have a clue of what I'm doing.150Please respect copyright.PENANAIewhFusoGQ
   Something hard sticks me in the middle of my shoulder blades. I squeeze my eyes shut and open my hand, I drop my phone onto the ground. The screen cracks into a million pieces and the shock from the fall makes it power off. Oh dear, this could end badly in approximately one minute and thirty-two seconds.150Please respect copyright.PENANApauXIqgFns
   A man's voice from behind me growls. "Asahel Arete, how old are you?" I look around and notice that the old lady is gone, when did that happen?150Please respect copyright.PENANA6aIgszgEUc
   I smile and almost tell him the truth, but then frown as if he knows my secret. I know something he doesn't know, ha-ha. "Sixteen, dearest friend. What do you have sticking against my back?"150Please respect copyright.PENANABCr8U6Cmvi
   He laughs but it doesn't sound anything close to human, it's the laugh of a crow and a wheezing sea lion. "You know exactly what I have against your back. You know that if you move one inch, I'll shoot you in the back and leave you to die. And you're of age now too, I can kill you."150Please respect copyright.PENANAcUtHSc79Ru
   I look down at my watch. One minute straight. "Do it then. How many of you are watching me?"150Please respect copyright.PENANABXEke6UuLP
   He must be stupid, but the only reason I'm still alive and free is because of the stupid ones. "Just one. I will be the only one to kill you. It is an honor to die in battle with your kind. I will be the one to kill one of the last So-"150Please respect copyright.PENANAHms8umf7IL
   "Well don't say what I am out loud," I whisper back. "Nobody needs to know that we aren't human. They'll panic and then where will we be?" My minutes coming to a close, I need to run.150Please respect copyright.PENANAqVFTCy5KHW
   He sticks something to my back. "Don't worry Asahel Arete, we'll both be dead before anything bad happens." I hear a small click and a red light consumes the Ingles aisle.  He strapped a bomb to my back. Classic.150Please respect copyright.PENANAejUTE90yDL
   "Ready Asahel?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAol8QtDcJKV
   I turn to face the little cretin and slam him up against the metal shelves. A can falls to the ground and explodes black eyed peas. "My name isn't Asahel, it's Ash!" I stare into his eyes that are nothing close to human. Black irises and pupils cut like a reptiles' and even double yields that blink one way and then the other. Creeper. "We're going to kill your kind. All of us can easily wipe you out. You will not destroy these people."150Please respect copyright.PENANAuaQ94tI9dp
   "Can't do that if you're dead Socius." I see him reach into his pocket and slam his hand against something. The bomb goes off.copyright protection146PENANAdDu7pU6QTl

   I wake up in the midst of debris and opened food. I smell like pickle juice and ketchup. I look at my body to see if I have any scratches and find myself completely unharmed. I run my fingers through my hair and pick myself up out of the black sludge coating my shirt and the floor. I rotate my shoulders and stretch. They can't kill me until time is up. He tried and failed. Now our Ingles is destroyed.150Please respect copyright.PENANA6sJ1lnamWN
   I look up and see a gaping hole in the roof where I see sunlight streaming down onto me. That hole's going to cost a bit of money to fix, but I'm glad I'm alive. The dead cretin is now just black sludge, good for him. One down, approximately a billion left.150Please respect copyright.PENANA8k8gaCTnlE
   I see other survivors racing around as I walk through the rubble. They're all scrapped up and bloody but I am unharmed. I look out of place here, but it's just how life works with the Socius kind. I should be dead, a bomb should kill any normal person. Good thing I'm not normal.150Please respect copyright.PENANAiQP90TCI3P
   I step onto the unbroken asphalt just as police arrive at the scene. The Ingles sign has been broken to say NLES. I look down at my watch and it beeps. I smile and brush dirt off my face. I feel a cold feeling envelop my skin; the time has come for me to take on the role that I was born for.150Please respect copyright.PENANA8ahRbDflZc
   I'm not letting them kill me. I can't let everyone down. I'm the prey now but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. copyright protection146PENANAPb8nBhechi

Val150Please respect copyright.PENANA97xinIVh5g
   I throw myself down on a leathery and fluffy armchair and sigh loudly. "Another miserable day in my life. But I'm home now, so… I should be okay. I think. And now I'm talking to myself." I throw my backpack across the room and stare up at the ceiling. "Why life? Why must you do this to me?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAVn7Lx7E9PI
   I throw off my shoes and hear them crash against the wall with a dead thunk. My mismatched purple plaid penguin socks stare up at me with disappointment and confirm my disbelief in myself. I have to throw on my boots again so I don't have to see their disappointed smiles. My hair falls across my shoulders and catches in a strip of Velcro that binds the armchair cushions together. A piece of my scalp is ripped away from my head as I jump at a ringing. I almost curse and reach for the angry swarm of bees in my pockets.150Please respect copyright.PENANAYXSgP3T5oS
   I hurriedly answer my phone. "Valarie Carmen speaking. How may I help you?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAhy0OQowLFC
   The guy's voice on the other end imitates me in a high-pitched Swedish accent. "Halloo, this es Valerie? Why do you always answer the phone like this? Come on chica, get a grip."150Please respect copyright.PENANA2B09mxg1G6
   "No, I won't get a grip because I've had a hard day." I sigh and sit up. "I don't deserve to have you treat me like this. Kenneth, I swear one day, school's just going to drive me insane and kill me. Then you heard what Shaun said, to me. To me, Kenneth! I can't believe that someone actually had the gall to say that to me. That stupid little Shaun-"150Please respect copyright.PENANAJF3BVTFOY3
   "Stop being so overdramatic. You know what they say. 'Human nature will never flourish, any more than a potato.'" My longtime best friend Kenneth Marconi laughs. "Did you get the allusion? I'm going to use that as my senior quote."150Please respect copyright.PENANAHfCI4s6AeM
   "I swear, one day I'm just going to ever so gently place my hands on your face and then sharply twist your neck. That day will happen. I am drowning in my classes. Take AP English they said, you can do it they said, it is easy they said."150Please respect copyright.PENANAchodqLKHMq
   "It's your own fault for being an overachiever." Kenneth's smirk haunts me over the phone. "Do you have the answer for problem number seven on our grammar homework by the way? I'm a bit confused."150Please respect copyright.PENANANw5R71KNQI
   I stand to riffle through my backpack as a loud tapping erupts on my door. I fight the urge to quote Edgar Allen Poe and try to stare through the tiny peephole. I don't see anything but… there could be a stalker out there. "'twas darkness and nothing more," I whisper to myself before realizing that I'm still holding the phone against my ear.150Please respect copyright.PENANAQxXtg1VmCa
   "We're quoting old Edgar now? What about question seven?" The tapping comes even more persistent. "Hello? Are you dead?"150Please respect copyright.PENANA9Pry2SjMz6
   I shake my head even though he can't see me. "I'll give you a call back later, there's somebody here."150Please respect copyright.PENANAdnCjeKlYxb
   "If you die, can I have your laptop and your answers?" I nod and hang up. 150Please respect copyright.PENANAGoJERZGNmi
   I move softly on the balls of my feet, crouching below eyelevel to see who is at the door. I raise back up and stare through the peephole. The face I see is distorted and round like he's in a bubble. I squint a little and frown. "Kid from my classes? What are you doing here?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAXv8p3ahnXR
   I back away from the door as he pounds his fists harder. I brush back my hair and swipe crumbs off my shirt. I fling open the heavy wooden door and smile. "Hello. What are you doing on my porch?" I say it casually, as though random guys always come and stand on my porch.150Please respect copyright.PENANAtbf5utQPsn
   I can't help but let my eyes slide over his face and drink in his features like a cold glass of iced tea. Dirty brown hair, normal brown eyes, a sharp jawline, and a face that makes my stomach drop down approximately to my knees. He's the new kid who just happens to be in every one of my classes except English. What's his name? What am I kidding, I know his name. Ash, that's what they call him.150Please respect copyright.PENANA19MKNDJuq6
   "Uh…" His smell kicks me in the face, I want to gag but that's impolite. Instead of gagging, I suffer. He looks down at his cracked watch and rubs his hands against his pants that are dirty with I don't know what. He must notice me staring and shakes his head. "Oh, no! It's pickle juice! I got caught up in the Ingles before it exploded." 150Please respect copyright.PENANAMoBVOF6633
   I blush and nod before realizing what he said. "Somebody blew up our Ingles? Aw, they just got that new Asian restaurant that had really good orange chicken." I'm avoiding the major question. What is he doing here? More importantly, how does he know where I live?150Please respect copyright.PENANAXwfcCJGsz8
   "Some people are just like that." Exploding local grocery stores? I highly doubt it. "But see, there's this thing I need to talk to you about. It's really important and private."150Please respect copyright.PENANAQBhCl5g5zH
   I feel a little part of me explode and then die. "Wait, let me guess. You're gay?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAbm5NhUtn0w
   "No!" Ash narrows his eyebrows in disgust. "No, I'm not gay. Valerie, let me talk-"150Please respect copyright.PENANArY3GbFqR80
   "You're a drag queen?"150Please respect copyright.PENANA0YBiBXnR2X
   "No! I'm-"150Please respect copyright.PENANAyejE1ByuZz
   "Oh… I got it, you're a runaway?"150Please respect copyright.PENANA1qx47IJxAS
   "Sortta but still no. Val-"150Please respect copyright.PENANAyAQ9Ss7gj9
   "Um… wait I got it! You're abused by your parents and they try to keep you hidden inside a closet and only feed you stale-"150Please respect copyright.PENANAdSnxxp85U7
   Ash grabs my shoulders. "Valerie Carmen, I am not any of those thing! Okay…" he sighs and pats my shoulder, "this is going to sound a little strange but believe me and hear me out. Oh man, I'm going to sound like a freaking psycho." 150Please respect copyright.PENANAEVycZFUJcu
   I nod for him to come in but he shakes his head again. "This is also going to sound really creepy but it would work better if you came with me." He motions out to my driveway where a teal painted single-cab, rust-bucket truck sits on the edge of death.150Please respect copyright.PENANABK4rUXU1de
   I nod my head and repeat the beginning of every horror book and movie ever. I'm getting into a guy's truck that I don't know, I'm barefoot, and my phone is at 14% and quickly declining. I guess I'm the blonde in the horror movie; I'm the one who walks into the basement to investigate the childish laughing sound. But… If I do die, I don't have to turn in my AP homework. So maybe this is a good idea.150Please respect copyright.PENANAbq6zXDY6JS
   Ash sticks beside me and opens the passenger's side door for me with a few kicks and angry utterances. The door gives way with a loud shriek of pain and stubbornness. He smiles and opens the door. He's nervous; I can read it by his smile that seems copied and pasted there. He climbs into the driver's side and begins to drive in silence.150Please respect copyright.PENANAdoNLANruwD
   I stare out the window at the North Carolina side of the Appalachian mountains, covered in the last fading September light they stand worn but still proud. The leaves are still holding onto their chlorophyll, but next month they'll start turning all of the shades of fall (right as every cliché human in America starts the pumpkin spice craze). I sigh a little too loudly and our silence bumps up to level two awkward silence.150Please respect copyright.PENANAZ7o3zj1tle
   So what did he want to talk about? Where is he taking me? Why did I get into the truck with a stranger? Maybe I really am an idiot.150Please respect copyright.PENANAHxFO6Dr5Jb
   I look over at him to examine his face and read what he's thinking but I notice that he's staring at me. My brain dies for a second. We make eye-contact and both blush and turn away. He exclaims an interjection as he hits his head on a handle that protrudes weirdly from the ceiling. I have successfully bumped things up to a level ten volcanic-red blush awkward silence. I decide to stare out the window again.150Please respect copyright.PENANAYXzMI9zaE5
   The mountains soon begin to fade into the boondocks of civilization. Scattered homes and pastures of cattle jump all at once into existence and the sparsely paved roads turn into pot-holed pavement. We're traveling parallel to the Pigeon river that flows into Tennessee. Polluted red clay colored water storms against the riverbanks and threatens to spill out onto the pavement. Pollutants dumped by the paper mill make the rapids foam with what looks like rabies.150Please respect copyright.PENANANDdcHMwIfS
   Welcome to the place where Redneck was invented. Where the term 'grammar' has never been heard outside of English class and where the word 'far' describes both a long distance and a large fire. If you're giving directions just say "up yonder a ways" and we'll understand exactly where you mean. Welcome to Haywood County, NC.150Please respect copyright.PENANAWXpCLwfdCY
   Ash pulls into a road that immediately turns into gravel. I sling sideways and hit my face on the window. He grabs my arm as if to steady me and awkwardly pats my head. "Sorry, 'bout that, I always take that curve a little fast. Okay, now before anything happens I need to explain. Whatever happens, say nothing to anyone. Understand? If you breathe a word about what's going to happen, we're both dead. You, your family, me, and my family. Poof, not in existence." 150Please respect copyright.PENANAoAVXmE7WOL
   "What are you trying to say?" His serious voice makes my stomach drop into my knees again. What is he talking about? This is a joke, right? People don't poof out of existence.150Please respect copyright.PENANA2CpfP62mPi
   "Valerie, listen. This world that you're about to embark in is going to be dangerous and people will die." I don't know if he's kidding or not.150Please respect copyright.PENANAeMfEo1aDeM
   "What am I signing up for? Not to be rude, but you haven't told me anything." I feel my hands reach for the crank to roll down my window in case he gets near me. I don't know what's about to happen and that scares me. I need to be in control.150Please respect copyright.PENANACCnyAKcHG1
   Ash sighs, "I'm not good at explaining this. Just… hang on for a second." He pulls into the driveway of a house partially hidden by rhododendron and trees. The house is one story, wood with a stone chimney. It's obviously old, but seems to be in good condition.150Please respect copyright.PENANAtJDTZt01PP
   Ash stops his truck with a loud screech and the engine's roar dies down. "Follow me and I'm sorry if anything abnormally weird happens. My family isn't what one could call… normal." He exits and motions for me to follow. I'm starting to feel like I should run but I'm also intrigued by what he thinks is weird and abnormal. What is he trying to say?150Please respect copyright.PENANAk3BAI0BSEP
   When we reach the porch, Ash slings open the door to reveal scuffed wooden floorboards that probably make a terrible screeching sound, a short hallway, and a cozy den area. A TV is on, the news is set to the scene of the exploding Ingles. They say that an unattended microwave in the employee break room caught on fire and spread to a gas line. How convenient.150Please respect copyright.PENANAFgs3O3N1Ku
   "Mom? Dad? Danny?" Ash steps inside and motions for me to stay behind him. He's muttering something under his breath. The air is filling with the hum of electricity, I feel my hair begin to rise up. Ok… what's going on?150Please respect copyright.PENANA2edG8d98eY
   "Asahel Arete! You better have a good excuse for not coming home directly from school! You know what today is! You know that they can actually kill you today! What were you thinking?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAXz2z9KAKDe
   A woman with light brown hair storms down the small hallway. I was either wrong about the floorboards or she walks lightly because the floors don't make a sound. Her blue eyes angrily fall on Ash and her arms cross. "Stop with the electricity this instant." The humming stops and my hair falls back down. What is happening?150Please respect copyright.PENANAAiv3lk69lR
   "Mother, I only went to Ingles."150Please respect copyright.PENANADo6R4e4dmi
   The woman sighs and starts making dramatic gesticulations. "So you're the reason that a perfectly good Ingles is now destroyed! Again! What did you do? You better not have blew a circuit again and alerted them to our presence. We don't need to move around right now. You're very vulnerable now."150Please respect copyright.PENANAbkSdT1XtMA
   "A stupid Inimicus pressed a gun to my back and then tried to blow me up." I feel my eyes go wide and my knees feel weak. Blow him up? WHAT?! Ash nods as if to calm me down. "Don't worry, I'm not dead and I have a friend!"150Please respect copyright.PENANAInTdqfxxoT
   Ash grabs my hand and forces me beside him. I stare up at the woman and smile. "Um… hi?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAo2huTlJXy5
   She scrutinizes me and grabs my hand, staring at it and flipping it over in her hands. Ash purses his lips nervously. "Where's dad? And Danny?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAgKp8Xj9VNW
   She squints at my hands and shakes her head. "Downstairs in the basement, fixing the last circuit you blew. Danny's in his room, grounded for writing a fictional story about a girl who can shoot electricity out of her hands. Sound familiar?" I am so confused. She looks up at him with narrowed eyes. "You haven't explained what we are, have you?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAwvjpJJFhh4
   "Please explain because, you're all kinda freaking me out. What's going on? I back up but the door slams shut on its own accord. "What?" I feel my eyes widen as I stare at the door a few steps away. It slammed shut on its own! Conspiracy theories from that show about aliens on the History Channel begin to bombard my innermost thoughts.150Please respect copyright.PENANAaF6saZOTWm
   "Okay, somebody better tell me what's going on before I call the cops for kidnapping!"150Please respect copyright.PENANAZd6pl4IvZv
   Suddenly Ash thrusts his hand out towards me. Something wraps around my mouth as I scream. No noise comes out of my mouth. Ash lowers his hand and stares at me with a straight face. My feet slowly begin to stop touching the floor and soon I'm floating up to the ceiling. My back bumps up against the ceiling and I can't help but scream. I am not in control! I repeat not in control!150Please respect copyright.PENANArv1LVLvB2M
   "Don't threaten my family, Valerie. That's one thing I will not hesitate to kill for." I try to struggle against the force but it's too strong and I'm a good ten feet in the air. Ash thrusts his hand out again making a slow fist. "Stop struggling or my grip is only going to get tighter around you. I won't hesitate to kill for this." 150Please respect copyright.PENANAFdsLGDKuxH
   I barely noticed that whatever it is around my body has started to get tighter against my ribcage and shoulders. It feels like I'm being squeezed by an invisible anaconda. Tears begin to fill my eyes, tears of fear and confusion. My long hair falls in my face and covers my eyes with a veil. 150Please respect copyright.PENANAQwVXVg2EM1
   "What are you?!" 150Please respect copyright.PENANAaexbZtXu4Z
   His lips twitch into a devious smirk. "You don't want to know what I am."150Please respect copyright.PENANAhKdJvTmgnT
   Another voice enters the conversation. "Asahel Arete, let go of her this instant!" I feel the grip instantly leave my body as I plummet like a stone towards the hard wooden floorboards. I scream and flail my arms. The grip catches me again as soon as the fleshy part of my nose taps the ground. Then, I fall with a crash.150Please respect copyright.PENANAYepTclaeZW
   I stand up and stare at the three of them. I brush hair away from my face and back up. I fall over a chair leg and scoot on my butt backwards until I reach a wall. "What are you? What do you want with me?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAgabOlaiiFn
   A man stands beside Ash with brown hair so dark that it looks black. His eyes are green and flaming with some sort of emotion. "Look, I'm sorry our first meeting had to stat out like this. Asahel isn't supposed to use his abilities on Normals!" Ash rolls his eyes and crosses his arms. "Let's all just sit down like descent people and talk." You are not people! He walks nearer to me and extends his hand. "Okay?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAiW7wFCp2TN
   I take his hand and he pulls me up. "Okay dear, I'm sure you're confused and I'm sure Ash hasn't told you anything about what we are exactly. I guess I will have to explain."150Please respect copyright.PENANAVR2lKeHUtH
   My brain is still in a haze but I manage a nod.150Please respect copyright.PENANARKR2yddRwS
   "Take a seat and we'll talk. Oh and my name's Heath by the way." He points to the woman, "nobody can pronounce or spell her name so just call her Kara. We are Asahel's parents. You are Valerie Carmen?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAeOPlkvYKxR
   I nod with narrowed eyes. "How do you know me?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAxsJAOtOvoi
   "We know a little about everyone." Heath smiles, "so you have questions? Ask away."150Please respect copyright.PENANAcg23iAgwrM
   I take a seat in a whicker chair and watch all three of them sit across from me on a plush sofa. "Okay, first things first, what are you people?" My heart is beating out of my chest but I'm a little calmer.150Please respect copyright.PENANApGBe2WK0Gh
   "Socius." Ash says quietly. "They call us Socius."150Please respect copyright.PENANASeKBOy5D4u
   Kara elbows him. "We're the allies of earth. We-"150Please respect copyright.PENANAVhKXl3yCz0
   "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down there, sci-fi people. You're aliens?"150Please respect copyright.PENANApZG0eIXYJE
   They look at me as if I individually just slapped them. Ash shakes his head, "shame on you for using such a low insult."150Please respect copyright.PENANAfCT0dIyjmD
   Heath shakes his head, "she didn't know. Valerie, we are not aliens at all. The aliens, the Inimicus, are the bad guys. We're what one might think of as… superhuman."150Please respect copyright.PENANANhUxffAOSa
   Ash nods and I feel the familiar feeling of static beginning to fill the air. Kara elbows him and it disappears. "We fight the Inimicus because they want to kill us, all human life except for a few million slaves, and destroy our beautiful planet here. They're already here, they're already starting to kill us. We can't let that happen, understand?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAPh9vinefmY
   I nod, "so where do I fit in this?" I didn't need to know that aliens are about to pop out of the sky and slaughter basically all life on earth. I could've lived my whole life without knowing that. This has to be a hidden camera magic TV show and I'm getting fooled beyond my belief.150Please respect copyright.PENANATBAMBOva7R
   "This is the confusing part, so listen closely." Kara leans forward and stares into my eyes. "There were only twelve Socius with power. As of yesterday, four are dead." 150Please respect copyright.PENANAOV9IsoY3dQ
   I look over and see Ash staring down at his arms as if in pain. "The first died because of leukemia when she was seven. The second died in a car crash at fourteen. One was shot in the back on his sixteenth birthday. And the last one, she was tortured to death by Inimicus." He looks up at me with critical eyes. "We feel each others pain. I know exactly how and when each one of them died. We're bound together by the chain. I died with them all of them."150Please respect copyright.PENANAe28nyqLNF7
   Heath nods again, "there are eight left. But there is more to it than just that. Inimicus can't kill them until their sixteenth birthday; that doesn't mean that human illness and tragic accidents can't kill them."150Please respect copyright.PENANALzJmmlbRvj
   "That's why we were worried when you didn't show up. We thought that maybe they'd killed you." Kara stares at Ash even though he ignores her. "There's also one more rule, and this is where you come in."150Please respect copyright.PENANAIkeR2Hg1Ku
   It's about time. I nod and lean in to hear her clearly. So far, I'm fairly certain we're all insane. It's the only thing that makes sense.150Please respect copyright.PENANASYw0m4q8S6
   "We have something called a gift," Ash whispers. "If we're to die, our abilities are transferred to the receiver of the gift."150Please respect copyright.PENANAfEFY01kbTP
   "That's what you need me for? I'm your will and backup?" I shake my head, "you're freaking kidding me right?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAvB9JtcqKeb
   "No. I'm dead serious. No pun intended." Ash stands. "If I die and lose this war we all will have to suffer. But if I die and I have a receiver, then my powers live on through them."150Please respect copyright.PENANAe79L8wQyEI
   "And you want me to be the receiver? What exactly am I receiving?"150Please respect copyright.PENANAFUmkTnmdzf
   Ash smiles and rolls up his sleeves, he closes his eyes. "Just wait for it." He extends his fingers and relaxes. I watch as tendrils of forked lightning roll down his hands and arms to the floor. It's the most beautiful and strange thing I have ever seen. Ash opens his eyes and smiles. The lightning stops and he bows.150Please respect copyright.PENANA34RcNkpe5E
   "Wow, that was amazing!" I smile, I wish I could do that. I wish I could be a superhuman. Now that I know it's real, I want that. "Do it again!"150Please respect copyright.PENANApjMz4U5UtK
   "First agree to be the receiver," Ash's smile is even wider now that he sees my astonishment.150Please respect copyright.PENANAC8EZsxmPKV
   I can't agree fast enough. "Where do I sign? Is there a contract? So if you die I get your powers? Is there a ceremony or something?"150Please respect copyright.PENANA4NZV0Ngq1l
   Ash comes closer to me and offers his hand. "Yes but you'll get one ability of your own. All you need to do is take my hand."150Please respect copyright.PENANA5rFR0JL6Ee
   I stand and almost grab his hand but Heath sits me back down. "Okay, this is going to feel really strange, believe me. You might pass out but it'll be okay. It can't hurt you. It doesn't want to hurt you."150Please respect copyright.PENANAQhmvgP2DEN
   I stare up at Ash's hand and smile. "I guess I'm a Socius now." I grab his hand and feel an intense chill run up my arm. I try to jerk away but my hand is glued there. Tiny jabs of pins and needles flow through me and make me yelp and jerk. Ash is talking to me but I can't hear him. I look at my arms and notice something weaving its way from his fingertips around my arms. What is happening? What did I sign up for?150Please respect copyright.PENANAyJByFBmV2o
   I look up as if to ask what's going on but Ash's eyes aren't brown anymore. They're literally glowing blue. His arms are no longer just white skin but look like they have been tattooed with a fine needlepoint. His veins are glowing that same blue color and they make an intricate tree of intertwining branches. There are twelve symbols stretched out along his forearm. Four are completely dull in grey but one is glowing as vibrantly as his eyes. I watch as the same patterns copy onto my own arms.150Please respect copyright.PENANAh7PWYQFJXk
   The pins and needles start to grow more intense and then into an inferno of fire consuming me from the inside out. They said it wouldn't hurt me! They lied! I manage to let go of Ash's hand and fall to the side. Heath catches me and lays me down in the floor. I hear my own cries of pain and rock on the floor. The fire grows hotter until I think my eyeballs are going to melt in their sockets. I look up to see Ash and watch his lips move. I reach up to take his hand again but I pass out.150Please respect copyright.PENANAYOBkjSamvP
150Please respect copyright.PENANAa4yLDdnZ9p
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