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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
PG-13
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The Twelve
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A - A - A
#7
The Gift of Fire
ToriG.
Nov 18, 2016
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148
37 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!hlR0cKzvjZUZWt4OPasyposted on PENANA

Val152Please respect copyright.PENANAYet5EhgTUC
   A loud boom wakes me up and I jump to my feet with hands outstretched into a fighting position. My eyes are blurry and I can barely see anything but a spinning light, but I do hear a few loud laughs and a humming projector. My vision finally clear to reveal a colorful classroom filled with old textbooks and a replica Roman gladiator helmet and dagger.152Please respect copyright.PENANAA7y9Z1fLN2
   Thirty different faces stare at me and laugh hysterically as I realize that I'm standing on top of my desk with a pencil in my hands like a dagger. I stare at the old English teacher and look down at the stack of textbooks she dropped by my ear. Well… this is awkward.152Please respect copyright.PENANAaT2vI4LqVv
   "Valerie," she says quietly. "Are you okay? Um… you're kinda standing on the desk."152Please respect copyright.PENANAyTK2Ypjfjd
   I quickly jump off the table and put down my pencil. "You frightened me. Fight or flight reflexes. I am sorry."152Please respect copyright.PENANASUkq3ksj5f
   My face burns red. I press my hands against my face and feel like I have a fever. I'm really that embarrassed? I guess this is the downside to training with Ash. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAmg9oLRswio
   The teacher returns to her PowerPoint notes on syntax in the Scarlet Letter and I try to take notes on the back of a piece of scrap paper. My mind wanders as I stare down at the marks on my arms that have faded down to a dark sapphire blue. Twelve marks, four in grey, eight blue with life.152Please respect copyright.PENANA2RiNThccxw
   I have been training with Ash for two weeks now. No more Inimicus have shown up, Ash hasn't had a nuclear meltdown with his dad, and their training has kicked my butt. I rub my hot and sore muscles, fighting back the urge to moan. It feels like someone is using a wrench to tighten the muscles all over my body. It hurts. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAqpqLQu6jNc
   I have bruises all over my body from where I have tried to spar with Danny and Ash but each time they win. I'm getting better though, Ash has to actually move to avoid some of my blows. I've actually had a "draw" with Danny, I thought I won but he claimed it was a draw. And tactically wise, I'm pretty good. I actually beat Ash in a competition of long range riffle shots. I'm killing this whole "Socius" thing (not literally). I think Ash lied about my abilities though, so far I've done nothing but confirm my ability to bruise.152Please respect copyright.PENANAzasIydA1KT
   I feel my eyes start to close again and Kenneth elbows me. "Say awake," he urges. I nod and start to drift off anyways. For some reason learning about syntax in the Scarlet Letter,  strikes me as boring.152Please respect copyright.PENANApNKIADZNQw
   I yawn and twist a strand of hair absentmindedly on my finger. Kenneth diligently listens and participates in the teacher's random debates on the presidency. Nobody else gets involved, they all know it's a waste of time and energy. So I fight back my sleep and rub my eyes. I stare down at my paper and at  the notes so scribbled that I can't read them. This class zaps the energy right out of me.152Please respect copyright.PENANAjgWK2Ne872
   Suddenly, my stomach makes a terrible noise only loud enough for me to hear. The fever that consumed my forehead is spreading to my whole body. I see sweaty fingerprints where my hands press against the desk. My stomach makes that noise again, but louder this time. Kenneth gives me a concerned face. I am going to puke. I have to get out of here.152Please respect copyright.PENANAkGcMpK0ZML
   I raise my hand and desperately try to get the teachers attention. She looks at me and doesn't say anything, she goes back to reiterating the importance of diction. I feel my breakfast starting to climb back up. That's it.152Please respect copyright.PENANATbyDU8hTW7
   I bolt from my desk, grabbing my phone and stuffing it in my back pocket. The teacher yells for me to come back but I can't. I bolt down the empty hallway, my feet making dull thwacks against the dirty waxed floors. I make it halfway though the building before someone grabs my arm.152Please respect copyright.PENANAqfonZrbezi
   "Where you goin Carmen?" The boy's strong hands wrestle me into a dead stop and his thick lips part to reveal a smile. I stare into the black eyes of the Fortunato of my story. My archenemy. Shaun. I'd like to bring him into the catacombs, chain him to the wall, and build a wall so he dies there. He tightens his grip as I try to run again. "Where you going Carmen? Why are you running?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAhUZuGofHo1
   I push him back but he doesn't let go, years of basketball has taught him otherwise. "Let me go or I'm going to puke on you. Shaun, I'm not kidding." It's not a threat, it's a promise.152Please respect copyright.PENANAthd1U7ac16
   He lets go of my arm and I resume running. Great, now there's going to be rumors that I'm pregnant floating around the school. I throw myself into the janitors closet and puke into a large rolling trashcan. I push back my hair and puke until there's nothing in my stomach to puke. The marks on my arms are glowing, lighting up the dark janitors closet. The fever that consumed my body stops and I wipe sweat off my forehead. I feel like I should throw off my clothes to cool down but I think that'd be hard to explain to any janitors. The queasiness in my stomach stops and I feel cold. I look down at my arms and notice that the glow isn't as bad now. I should go back to class and explain that I wasn't feeling good. Maybe I can get checked out and stay at home. Until training that is, and then Heath and Kara will kick my butt. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAkrlIPl91AJ
   I return back to AP English and sit in my desk again. Nobody questions me except for Kenneth who gives me a confused eyebrow. I shrug and he returns the gesture.152Please respect copyright.PENANAkSDjmkHB26
   Suddenly the fever rears back to life with a vengeance. I grab my phone from my pocket and quickly pull up a message to Ash. "not sure what going on. NEED HELP NOW." I click send and raise my hand.  152Please respect copyright.PENANACvnPwiWHuX
   "Valerie, we are in the middle of a lesson. Can your question wait any longer?"152Please respect copyright.PENANANOp9xfvHg6
   I shake my head, my arms are pulsing with blue light. My heart is beating faster, the world starts to spin… suddenly a fire dances across a stack of textbooks. Everyone screams, I almost pass out with exhaustion. Another fire bursts into existence on the ceiling, the tongues licking the lights and spreading like well… fire.152Please respect copyright.PENANAqAY4UkoBVq
   I feel a buzz in my pocket and Ash's message pops onto my phone. "What going on? Emergency? Call mom. On my way". Too late for that, the fire alarms are starting to go off and smoke is beginning to fog the classroom.152Please respect copyright.PENANAHxW5ntnjaS
   The students start running with their book bags, Kenneth gets trapped in the chaos and runs without me. I sit there in my desk, facing the board, completely exhausted and burning up. My insides burn, I didn't even know that was possible but… apparently it is. The fire is beginning to grow even larger and consume all of our papers detailing syntax.152Please respect copyright.PENANAhXGH7eWCVd
   I throw a strap of my backpack over my shoulder and feel even more exhausted. My arms are glowing and pulsing with enough energy to block out the white lights of the fire alarm. I feel sick.152Please respect copyright.PENANAImOHqI1OkW
   "Val!" A voice cuts through the smoke and fire. I see a silhouette standing in the doorway, light streaming behind him.152Please respect copyright.PENANAf2ub7SEvcP
   "Here," I wheeze and reach out for his hand.152Please respect copyright.PENANAntN4bUi7xd
   Ash runs through the fire and stares at me. I see the reflections of flames dance in his glowing blue eyes. His arms are pulsing like mine. "Val, we need mom. Can you call her? I'll get you out of here." I reach up and dial Kara. Ash slips his hands underneath me and quickly picks me up. "Tell her that we'll be in the upper parking lot."152Please respect copyright.PENANAlgzaX0TYOd
   I talk as the dial tone stops and tell her about our emergency. She says that she's already on her way and will be there in five. Flames are spreading all around us, consuming all of B-building.152Please respect copyright.PENANAV4gqgoiVTu
   "Close your eyes, Val! This could be your fault!" Ash is running now. There is fire all around us, in front, behind, and above us.152Please respect copyright.PENANAKhYxl9sEh0
   I try to close my eyes but it hurts. My entire brain hurts. It's like someone whacked me on my forehead and danced on my skull. I cover my eyes with my hands and cry. My tears are as hot as boiling oil but I can't help it. I'm in pain and scared out of my mind.152Please respect copyright.PENANARCgrNerGdg
   Ash finally bursts through the hallway's long doors and runs into the parking lot to his truck. The fire truck is now starting to show up along with the EMT crew and the news crew. The nurse is on the ground helping a girl with bobbed hair breathe. Her face is pale and the inhaler she breathes into doesn't seem to be helping at all. Everyone is calling their parents, telling them what happened. If this is my fault…152Please respect copyright.PENANAU9kazBzSwt
   Ash lays me in the bed of his truck and I curl up into a ball. My whole body is burning and sweat runs down my arms. "Ash it hurts. It hurts!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAnhKmO6whKN
   "Shh. Be quiet." He sits beside me and stares into my eyes. "Don't curl up, it'll make it worse. Trust me on this. Calm down and do not open your eyes or you might accidentally set something on fire, and that something will probably be me. Please don't set me on fire."152Please respect copyright.PENANAhCqy3dMvTZ
   I squeeze my eyes closed and straighten out. It doesn't feel any better. I cover my head with my hands and moan. "Is everyone okay? Is Kenneth okay? What about Melody?"152Please respect copyright.PENANALN86YIHxBe
   He must stand because I feel the truck bed move. "They're fine. Kenneth is over in his car talking on the phone and Melody is with her worker arguing. They're fine. Nobody got hurt." He sighs, "we're okay."152Please respect copyright.PENANA0ZvLlkRRBB
   I try to relax because everyone's okay but it's not true. I'm not okay. I don't know what's happening to me. My body is on fire. I can only cry and whimper softly and hold my hands over my eyes as the noise of the fire engines and the ambulance siren deafens my world.152Please respect copyright.PENANAFSe5qijdNd
   "She's here," Ash says. "I need you to act like everything is okay. Principle Jackson is letting everyone go home now. I already checked both of us in for homeroom. Everybody made it out fine and the damage has been controlled to just the last section of the hall. Wait, here she is."152Please respect copyright.PENANAcz1lGZ4oxF
   "Val? You okay?" She touches my forehead and jerks back. "Not okay, definitely not okay. We need to get you home. Ash, you drive home in the car alone. Valerie and I will ride in your truck. I'm going to call Heath and get Danny out of school. Actually, go pick Danny up."152Please respect copyright.PENANACxE8i0saR3
   Ash nods and sighs. "This could've gone better. Val, you're going to have to walk to the passenger's side and get in."152Please respect copyright.PENANAMxW0CniWB5
   I nod, "I won't open my eyes because I don't want to catch anything on fire. I'll go by feel." I sit up and groan from the pain all over my body. My shirt cleaves to my sweaty body. I scoot forward and feel for the tailgate, it's already down. I keep scooting and dangle my feet off the tailgate. I try to stand but my knees buckle, I catch myself on the bed and pull myself to the cab. I pull open the door and smash my head onto a handle. I moan in pain and throw myself into the seat.152Please respect copyright.PENANA9NFb9ladJI
   Kara slides a pair of sunglasses over my eyes and I hear her key the ignition. "Okay, just hang in there." She pats my head quickly as if to squash a flame. "It will get better and you'll be using those powers to kick some Inimicus butt."152Please respect copyright.PENANASmfxuyxWIp
   I don't know if it will get better, but I know the pain can't get any worse.152Please respect copyright.PENANA0uWXvylNvW
Ash152Please respect copyright.PENANATEKyQTT06D
   I drive quickly in my mom's little Subaru and speed until I reach Danny's school. Waynesville Middle School. I park sloppily in the middle of the road and throw the car into park. I don't even bother to take the keys out of the ignition, if they want to steal the Subaru then go for it.152Please respect copyright.PENANAJZ0Zwux3rg
   I race up the small flight of stairs to get inside the building and rush to the main office. The woman behind the desk must be Methuselah's sister. She looks up at me as if in slow motion and smiles. "How can I help you today?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAssLopgXL4s
   "I need Daniel Arete to check out. Currently he is in…" I scan my brain. "Seventh grade, social studies class with Hayes as the teacher."152Please respect copyright.PENANAHX7rvXlpYr
   The woman nods and I feel like I'm talking to a sloth, I want to hit my head hard against the desk corner. Go ahead and just shoot me, end it now. "Daniel Arete? Seventh grade? Under what circumstances would you like to check him out and are you on the sheet to sign him out?"152Please respect copyright.PENANA3Iq3HXye0Z
   I nod, "family emergency and he's my younger brother." She starts typing with one finger into a small laptop, squinting at the small print. "If you don't mind, I'll just run and get him, it's a really important family matter that I don't want t bother you with." I step in front of a machine that prints off what looks like a coupon telling me what time Danny was checked out along with a really bad picture of me.152Please respect copyright.PENANAvtrgSRxPCB
   "You go right ahead h-" I don't bother to hear the rest of what she says, I speed walk off.152Please respect copyright.PENANAijyqL4o6um
   I go to the seventh grade building and wander the narrow halls until I find a room with the name Mr. Hayes and social studies written below it. The door is cracked so I don't bother with knocking, I just enter. It's dark inside except for the glow of the projector. The teacher, Mr. Hayes, is making them watch a very thrilling video on the executive branch. Danny sits in the middle of the class, jerking to fight off sleep. They all turn to me as the light from the hallway fills the room.152Please respect copyright.PENANAyx4YBLW90W
   "Ash?" Danny mouths. "What?"152Please respect copyright.PENANA8wqAMirk73
   "Sorry to interrupt but I need to see Daniel for checkout." A different kid stands up beside him and I shake my head. "No. Daniel Arete."152Please respect copyright.PENANAVqmuQ8yee2
   "And you are?" The teacher pauses the video and looks to me. "Why are you interrupting my class? The office should call him to checkout."152Please respect copyright.PENANABMAGLbsHks
   My blood boils at the man's tone. Nobody speaks to me in that tone of voice! "I'm his-" don't curse, don't curse, "-brother! I'm interrupting because we have a family emergency!" I shake the coupon ticket in his face and narrow my eyes.152Please respect copyright.PENANAEtY43Lmu5u
   Danny grabs his stuff and throws his teacher a sheet of paper notes. He throws his backpack to me and I catch it. I slam the door on the way out, making sure his name card falls to the floor to be stepped on by stampeding twelve year olds.152Please respect copyright.PENANAx1UUvL24Zh
   "Ash, what's wrong?" His eyes are wide in fear as we both speed walk past the main office and classrooms. "What happened? Is everyone okay? Did another one die?" He turns pale.152Please respect copyright.PENANA7A3HgPTIwe
   I show him my arms almost angrily. "Does it look like somebody died to you? Why would I be here to pick you up if one of them died. Nobodies dead, but… I'll tell you the rest when we get in the car. There's too many eyes here."152Please respect copyright.PENANAbaHafKVCf1
   I hop in the car and start to drive before he has his seatbelt on. "Alright, Ash, what's going on?!"152Please respect copyright.PENANA6M31HzMKDL
   "Val almost torched the school down. We know what her ability is now." I press the gas pedal all the way to the floor. "We need to get to the house quick."152Please respect copyright.PENANA1Km5sCUllr
   He tightens his seatbelt and stares at the road with wide eyes. "Don't kill us, please don't kill us. Thanks for saving me from watching more on the government, but please don't kill us."152Please respect copyright.PENANAzwChHR1Dtg
   "I've been driving since I could reach the pedals, calm yourself." I pull onto Interstate-40 and start running eighty on the stretch that should be fifty-five. This is an important moment for her, I need to be there to help. I've gone through the pain of getting a new ability twice. Electricity was definitely worse than telekinesis. Telekinesis made me throw things but electricity almost killed people.copyright protection148PENANAzRGyxShHEl

   By the time I reach the house, mom and Val are already inside and dad's car is parked in the driveway. I unbuckle and park the car, taking the keys with me. I sprint inside with Danny close behind me. He locks the door and follows me past the camouflaged door and into the training arena.152Please respect copyright.PENANAFA3IBLhnvV
   Val sits in the middle of the arena with a bag of melted ice on her head. Her eyes are closed and her mouth is open, this terrible pained cracking moan comes out of her mouth. Her hands are balled up into fists to stifle the pain. Mom and dad sit beside her talking to her and trying to get her to calm down.152Please respect copyright.PENANA9wGvC88wut
   I step into the arena and shut the door after me. "Hey, I brought Danny."152Please respect copyright.PENANAX40AlHrmkV
   Danny rushes forward and kneels beside her. "What's her ability? What happened today? Ash said you almost torched the school."152Please respect copyright.PENANADZvHI6s0uY
   Val sits up a little and opens one eyes just a hair. She has been crying from the pain, I can tell by the way her eyes are puffy. "I swear if it wouldn't hurt me, I'd kill you. Why didn't you tell me that it would burn down the school?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAVDvB97JhEe
   I cross my arms and frown, "I knew nothing. I don't assign abilities, I just live with them."152Please respect copyright.PENANALBiMbDuD0P
   She lays her head back down and moans. "It hurts so much. I wish I was unconscious. Can't you just whack me in the head and knock me out?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAyEP3mxaOxF
   "It won't let you." I kneel beside her and stare at her hands that are starting to burn the floor. "I wasn't allowed to sleep for three days when I got electricity. It's a small price to pay for abilities like this."152Please respect copyright.PENANANtji4spOK3
   She opens her eyes and glares at me. "How am I going to explain this to my parents? 'Oh yes mom, I am now a superhuman. But don't worry, I'll probably die in the end.'" She grabs by wrist, purposely burning the skin.152Please respect copyright.PENANA2wFljRYNuZ
   I jerk back and hold my burning wrist in pain. "Hey! What was that for?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAC3Es70ZiPx
   "Payback for electrocuting me." She smiles, "looks like we can have some decent fights now." She sits up even as mom and dad try to prod her down. "I'm okay, I feel better. I feel a lot better. Should we start training? I'm determined to kick your butt Asahel Arete." 152Please respect copyright.PENANAXC0gU5JjTu
   "Welcome to the eye of the storm." My wrist still burns. "You'll be feeling the pain shortly but for now you have a brief respite." I smile, "if you want to train I'm here but I'd advise against it. Tried that once. Didn't end well." I grimace as I remember back at the Texas house when the storm came back and I was in the middle of catching a knife. I've still got a nice scar on my upper thigh from that little incident. I rub at the scar and shake my head. "Trust me, not a good idea."152Please respect copyright.PENANAmW12hkTg7o
   She shrugs, "so now what?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAfKrTcyTcQI
   Mom lightly touches her shoulder and doesn't jerk back which means that she must be cooling down. "Can you stay here tonight? Your parents don't need to know about what you can do and you don't need to burn your house down."152Please respect copyright.PENANAJOkK5fPOyJ
   She smiles, "I'll tell them I'm staying with Ashley. Besides that is what Ash is short for."152Please respect copyright.PENANAjVFkXWERcM
   I smile and cross my arms. "Funny, very funny. Just you wait until you get better and we start training."152Please respect copyright.PENANAfsxGlJffW5
   "I'll burn your eyebrows off," she threatens. "Don't play with me because once I get control of this pyromania thingy, electricity will be weak in comparison."152Please respect copyright.PENANAYGUjqZygN7
   "Oh yeah?" I laugh, "I guess you forgot that my Socius abilities are not given all at once. I can still get new abilities. You, you're done with this whole ability thing. Hope you like fire."152Please respect copyright.PENANAZ72Es0A7RN
   She stands and holds her hand out straight with her palm facing me. She bites her lip and tries to concentrate hard.152Please respect copyright.PENANAT6fqNBa2Q6
   "Uh… what are you doing? Val, you okay? Hand cramp or something?" I tilt my head and laugh.152Please respect copyright.PENANA8PM28d2GtQ
   "Shut up, I'm trying to burn you." Her palms are sweaty but beyond that, there is no fire.152Please respect copyright.PENANAOtXQ7pRIwJ
   "Val?" I shake my head and put her arm down. "Val, dear, that only works in movies or in cases where you want to show off. Use your eyes or different hand motions, just holding your palm out won't do anything."152Please respect copyright.PENANAwqPLRDm2Gd
   Now she stares at me. "Hold still, I'm going to burn you." I begin to feel heat on my face and make her look away with telekinesis. She was going to set my eyebrows on fire, I'm not letting that happen.152Please respect copyright.PENANA8O2VRa9TRD
   "Go ahead and call your folks." Dad shakes his head at us and I remember that they're still in the room. "I'll talk to them if you need."152Please respect copyright.PENANAJF6Hwe6oXD
   Val nods and pulls out her phone, the case must've kept it from melting. I watch her intensely as she dials a call. She narrows her big brown eyes at me and then jumps as a voice answers the phone. "Hi mom! I was just calling to tell you that I'm going to spend the night with a friend- her name? Her name is Ash. I also don't think we're having school tomorrow so… Ash and I decided to have a sleepover." She looks over at me with a smirk. "Yeah, I've got her parents right here." This is just great. My name is not Ashley, it's Asahel which sounds exactly like it's spelled.152Please respect copyright.PENANA7t3XfVABXg
   Val tosses the phone to mom and elbows me. She is literally hot, like on fire hot. How has her hair and clothes not caught on fire?152Please respect copyright.PENANAP65R2X2bQU
   "Hi Mrs. Carmen. My name is Karen and I'm Ash's mom. She really was wanting to see if Val could stay over because we're moving to Greensboro in a week or so. But that's all with your permission of course." Mom nods and then nods again. "Yes? Alright then, she can drive home tomorrow. Thanks, bye." 152Please respect copyright.PENANAOAAVh69ov7
   She hangs up. "Ashley, go fix the guest room. Val's staying here tonight. But of course the mother has made several regulations including: no staying up past eleven, no phones, R-rated movies, or boys. Good thing we've just got old Ashley here."152Please respect copyright.PENANA2CA5zP1arY
   I look down at my feet and shake my head, "mom, just stop. Please just stop, I'm going to go get the other room ready." I rush out of there and climb up another flight of steps to my room. Compared to what most people think of as "homey" my room looks militaristic. Beige walls, navy bedspread, navy curtains, white desk, whitewashed dresser, and small closet. I have fund it best not to make connections with a place or person. Connections only lead to tragedy. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAqh4w86tbik
   I pull my door shut and walk down the short hall to Danny's room. Danny's room is a mess. His beige walls are covered with pictures of all the places we've been and of posters of various periodic tables of elements. His desk is covered in scribbles and a large map with random pushpins that must mean something to him. His bed is messily made and the camo sheets are wadded up behind pillows. 152Please respect copyright.PENANA56VF2dMcBh
   I shut the door and move to the guest bedroom. It's the mirror image of my room except instead of navy curtains and sheets, they are faded floral.152Please respect copyright.PENANAjDTUJtKLDc
   I shut the door quickly and sigh as I think about my past lives. I've been all over the country, moving every so often to remain anonymous. I leave behind people that I'm afraid will die because of me. I've already had a friend die because of me and I don't want that to happen. Especially not to Melody or Val. If Val dies, that's it. My abilities will stay with me even if I die. Then, when I die they'll successfully kill a Socius for good. There's no way my powers could live if both of us are dead. But I don't want to die. Honestly, I don't want to die. I might say that death is my future and that I'll happily embrace it, but I don't want to die. Not now, I don't want to die when living feels so good.copyright protection148PENANAbVH3VUOup7

   After dinner and mandatory training for me and Danny (Val claimed to be mental support and threw knives at my head), I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling, thinking. My crisp sheets wrinkle as I shift positions and furrow my eyebrows. I wonder what life would be like if I was born into a normal family? I wonder if I'd know how to fire a M-40 at a moving target. I wonder if I'd know how to immobilize a target with a single move. Who knows. I wouldn't even know about the war until it was too late. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAJ3tOACU3Nc
   I hear Val start crying in the guest bedroom and sit up. I slam my door shut telekinetically and put a pillow over my head. I can sleep like this, maybe. It's going to be a long night.copyright protection148PENANAtk6qObeDmH

   I sit on the flat roof of our Texas house playing with the electricity that buzzes through my body. I make a visible lightning bolt jump from a telephone pole to a light pole, accidentally knocking the light out for a few seconds. I stop and stare up at the night sky. There are so many stars and there is nothing to obscure my vision. One of the stars seems to be getting closer, and closer and… louder?152Please respect copyright.PENANAoTjjylwly8
   I stand to my feet and start to jump off the house as I realize it's not a star but instead a helicopter. My feet leave the one story roof house just as something wraps around me and drops me to the ground like a stone. 152Please respect copyright.PENANACRMwLwZwhC
   I drop to earth and hit the ground with a loud thwack that knocks the breath out of me. I breathlessly scream for help and hope that mom or dad hear me. The net is barbed and the barbs stick my exposed skin and leaves me bloody. I gasp for breath and scream. I pull the net away from my head so it doesn't stick my eyes, instead the barbs dig into the back of my head. But the barbs aren't there just to give me pain, they're there to knock me out. I fight consciousness as the helicopter lands on our roof and men in black uniforms begin dragging me away. I manage to hear a few gunshots and then I black out.152Please respect copyright.PENANAI0GbOhNJkB
   "Asahel Arete, that's his real name. I think he went by Riley Stevenson here though. He's not old enough to kill yet, but in a few weeks he'll be of age. We can detain him until then." The voice wakes me up and I groan groggily from the drugs that tore through my system.152Please respect copyright.PENANAWJuf23Bzo9
   "Hey look, he's up. You wanna do the honors or me?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAH00uxM0wih
   "I don't care, we can't kill him yet. Besides, we won't get to torture him, that's for her." I stare at the Inimicus that mill around the room, picking up various torture devices and setting them down on a table beside me.152Please respect copyright.PENANA91iQc770Qs
   "Let me go now!" I scream and thrash wildly against the metal cuffs that bind me to a sinister looking chair. I start to throw things but a cold hand wraps around my throat from behind. 152Please respect copyright.PENANABMb62e9DNx
   "Asahel Arete, I wouldn't do that if I was you little boy." The speaker steps out in front of me and smiles. She's one of the different ones, the ones that don't look normal. Her hair is tied into a long thick black braid, her dark skin and dark eyes are a stark contrast to her gleaming white teeth. "Now would you like to know why fighting back wouldn't be a good idea?" She shouts something in Inimicus and motions to the other two Inimicus.152Please respect copyright.PENANANvyOZ5B0CU
   "We can be friends or we can be enemies Arete."152Please respect copyright.PENANAiLVAC8IK8z
   I spit on her, "enemies."152Please respect copyright.PENANAcKmoQoCZ2q
   "I'm going to have fun killing your little friends." She growls and grabs a figure that stumbles into the room. A bag is over their head but I can hear scared shouts and whimpers coming from them. The woman grabs the figure and forces them to kneel in front of me. She rips the bag away and I gasp. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAwPV4EV9fVM
   "No! Let her go! Let her go!" The girl was my best friend in Texas, Erica. I was going to give her the gift, but the events that took place forced me to choose a different route.152Please respect copyright.PENANA9dy4OacwUl
   "Riley?" She shouts my fake alias and tries to stand. "Riley, what's going on?! Riley, what are they doing?!"152Please respect copyright.PENANA575rvVQ7US
   "Asahel Arete," the woman smiles, he reptile eyes narrowing. "First we're going to see what color you bleed."152Please respect copyright.PENANAxrItwmoGCk
   "No! Stop it! Don't hurt him!" Erica reaches forward and grabs the Inimicus by the arm with bound hands.152Please respect copyright.PENANAsLx0Qmb2S5
   "No!" I shout at her. "Erica no!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAnYctqHpgPj
   The Inimicus shakes her off and nonchalantly kicks her in the face. "Just how much pain will it take until you crack? And if that doesn't work, we're going to start hacking off fingers of your friend."152Please respect copyright.PENANA9nLSQhffXR
   "NO!" I desperately try to claw myself free. "Let her go! Don't hurt innocents!" I desperately try to free myself.152Please respect copyright.PENANAzpD7qttBvm
   "I wouldn't do that." The woman grabs a knife from the tray of torture instruments and presses it against my chest. "I'm not kidding Arete, I will carve you up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Both you and the girl."152Please respect copyright.PENANAGTlTnLBM2r
   "Touch her and I swear I will kill you."152Please respect copyright.PENANA6cOR4F9kV6
   The woman laughs and draws back the knife, "you're funny Arete, you're awful assertive that you can kill me… but you're tied to a chair. Now, I'm done with the small talk. I'll give you a question and you give me an answer or else. What are your abilities?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAcvwPCWi6xO
   I stay silent and the chair moves like a dentist's chair until I'm lying flat on my back. "Wrong answer Arete." I thrash wildly as she picks up a few white-hot rocks with tongs and shows them to me. "Want to answer now?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAteHO85AJRD
   "No. Never."152Please respect copyright.PENANAbXPZPUFYfA
   She raises her eyebrow threateningly. "I'll give you one second to reconsider."152Please respect copyright.PENANA4r6BgJxyP5
   "No! NO!" I scream and try to reach out and throw her away. Suddenly she drops a rock on my chest. I scream in pain as heat sears through my skin. The white-hot rock scorches and burns my skin, the agony adding as she places another on my abdomen and the last on my shoulder. I scream, writhing in pain to get the weight and heat off my skin. My bonds are so tight that I can't turn to get the pain off my skin. I know she can't kill me but she can make me wish I was dead.152Please respect copyright.PENANAmjk48s9Jc1
   "Answer the question Asahel. I can take away the rocks or I can add to the pain."152Please respect copyright.PENANAmnZbnO63Ml
   Sweat drips down my face and I scream in agony. "Never! You can't kill me! I know you can't kill me!"152Please respect copyright.PENANADRMKs3t0Bj
   She grabs another weapon that looks like a tube of sealant. "This will hurt a lot, and it's supposed to." She dabs a bit of black blob on my upper arm and smiles. The only thing I feel is the agony of the heat scorching through my skin from the rocks. "Just wait, you'll feel it. And three… two…" a tingling feeling envelops my skin. Like tiny pins and needles prodding my shoulder. And then it's as if she took a knife to my shoulder. Suddenly, the pain from the stones doesn't feel too bad.152Please respect copyright.PENANA5YCq3LSdu5
   I feel a knife tearing through my skin slowly, taking time to linger through each layer. I look over and see that the goo is seeping into my skin slowly like moist soil absorbing water. Then the pain gets worse as it starts to tear through my muscles and tendons. I scream as I feel it eating away myofibrils and anything in my shoulder.152Please respect copyright.PENANAeQsd2Q29TO
  The pain retracts as the black glob reappears on the surface of my skin. I breathe in heavily and shakily. The rocks have disappeared but the goop is even worse than all that combined.152Please respect copyright.PENANAuxGhh8kK9W
   "Asahel Arete are you going to answer me? What are your abilities? The pain will only get worse when it starts to dig into your bone." The Inimicus holds a piece of metal over my shoulder and the goop retracts up to her. She holds it in her hand and it dances across her fingers. "It's funny that a metal so commonly found at my home planet can cause you so much pain. It's actually quiet hilarious. So what about it Asahel?"152Please respect copyright.PENANA3fUGFYrxbW
   "I won't answer." I squeeze my eyes shut tightly because I know that she'll put the goo back on my shoulder. 152Please respect copyright.PENANACqM5EPWGYP
   "Alright then," The dentist chair moves up until I'm sitting up and staring at Erica. She's crying and shaking. "Well, let's let this simmer with you for a while, and we'll get to work on your pretty little friend. By the way, once it eats through the bone, your shoulder will never heal, that means you won't ever get to fight again."152Please respect copyright.PENANAvtmbKEk5pt
   "No!" I scream as she releases the goop and lets it slide across my arm until it finds the scarred part that it already tore into. It starts eating away at my shoulder. I scream because it's two times as bad as last time.  152Please respect copyright.PENANA1tIW9nVBV6
   "Alright, you're name's Erica correct?" She picks up a knife, flicking it like a metronome, back and forth and back and forth. "Where should we start Ash?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAxyxkEb9AR8
   Erica tries to back away but a few Inimicus guards drag her to her feet and hold her tight. The pain keeps tearing through my shoulder and I scream nonsense at the Inimicus.152Please respect copyright.PENANApmBMxmrSrQ
   "I bet he was going to make you his partner too. Shame, it's such a shame. I bet he didn't even tell you his real name." She clucks her tongue, "well, let's see here. Let's cut off the hair first, I don't like dealing with long bloody hair." She runs the knife roughly against Erica's thick blonde hair until it falls to her ears. Erica can only stand there crying and staring at me as I fight against the pain. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAltj3qtrl5m
   "Now, let's move to her hands, I bet she doesn't know how to fight. And she'll never know how to fight." The Inimicus grabs Erica's hand and slices through her pinky, severing it and letting the digit fall into the mop of blonde hair. She screams in pain as bright red blood pours out of her hand. 152Please respect copyright.PENANArDVYXza791
   "Riley tell her what she wants!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAfzoRmWdNOE
   "No, it's okay, I like to hear you scream. Go ahead Ash, let's hear her scream again. How much pain can she take? Remember that I can kill her."152Please respect copyright.PENANAE97XdyrETw
   "Telekinesis!" I scream out still fighting the pain in my shoulder. "That's it!"152Please respect copyright.PENANA1kaXj8wtfG
   "I think you're lying and I don't like it." She twists the knife between her fingers and slashes out across Erica's face. Erica screams in pain and the guards have to hold her up to keep her from falling. The sclera of one eye is bloody and ruined by the scratch that runs through it, the rest of that side of her face is mincemeat. It's just a bloody mess of sliced skin.152Please respect copyright.PENANAvvgTnCPAqD
   "Tell her," she sobs and lets blood run down her face and into her open screaming mouth. "Tell her Riley!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAf4Nn20VtFO
   "Wind," I lie and sob in pain and terror, "I can control the wind!" 152Please respect copyright.PENANA0H9bEtjbXz
   The Inimicus smiles and removes the glob. "See cooperation. Now only one more question before you get to go into your holding cell. Answer wisely because I don't think she wants to miss another finger or another eyeball. I have found that plucking eyeballs from humans always makes them…" she struggles for the right word, "uncomfortable."152Please respect copyright.PENANARs58msKc2a
   "No!" Erica screams! "NO!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAQifDFhEALj
   I breathe deeply and nod. "Tell me," I'm out of breath and sweating. My shoulder is out of socket but it doesn't hurt as much now that the metal isn't in me.152Please respect copyright.PENANAoM0yXF1gQY
   "Where are the others?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAQIrVQOnB0q
   "The others?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAMQI1unj8Y4
   "The Socius," her reptilian eyes smile at me as I shake my head. "Answer this and you can go back to your cell and the girl can meet the Lacertus."152Please respect copyright.PENANArnRsVO7W5Y
   "No!" Erica screams as she moans in pain again. She is so bloody that her skin tone is more of a crimson instead of white.152Please respect copyright.PENANAVVGnQwbe8b
   "I don't know where they are. I have never met the other Socius. That's the truth." I hope she believes me because I'm not lying for once.152Please respect copyright.PENANAEU2nVwLfEJ
   She drops the glob on the top of my head and shakes her head. "Nope, I don't believe you." The glob burns like acid as it moves with a mind of its own, slithering down the back of my head, wrapping around my throat for a minute too long, and then digging into the hole it already made. I try not to scream again.152Please respect copyright.PENANAj67ay2ZFZ4
   Suddenly the doors burst open and a few people carrying huge shotguns begin shooting any Inimicus they can find. The Inimicus staring me down grabs the knife and before I can say another word she turns to Erica. She swings the knife down and it slams into Erica's chest. She withdraws the knife and red starts seeping onto Erica's dirty shirt. We both scream and Erica falls into the mess of blonde hair and blood. The Inimicus looks at me and slips her own throat, turning to sludge before she even hits the ground.152Please respect copyright.PENANADVZkiQRt4Z
   I pick up Erica's bloody body with telekinesis and lay her in my lap. I'm still bound to the chair and now I'm covered in her blood. The pain in my shoulder doesn't even bother me anymore. Her eyes are out of focus and her lips try to form words.152Please respect copyright.PENANAFJTH7PdS4S
   "I'm so sorry." I whisper and push a wisp of hair behind her ear. I grab her hand as she stops moving her lips. "I never meant for you to get hurt. I'll kill them. I won't let them get away with this." And then, her heart fails and her eyes glaze over.152Please respect copyright.PENANACoYJzwMycM
   Her hands are losing warmth and the blood that pumps out of her isn't as strong of a surge. She's dead. I close her eyelids over her glazed eyeballs and scream in emotional agony. I remember the pain in my arm and scream as I remember that if it goes through my bone it'll never be able to work again.152Please respect copyright.PENANADQHCa0t1ty
   Mom kneels beside me and throws Erica out of my lap with no respect. "I'm so sorry, but we need to go." Mom is covered in black sludge, it's in her hair and over her fake glasses. "There's a bomb about to explode and we need to get in our getaway car like now." 152Please respect copyright.PENANA08iUQpK4iO
   "Mom, she killed her!" I sob as she undoes my restraints and throws a Glock in my hands.152Please respect copyright.PENANAWVdVFMrslE
   "We'll talk later, now we run. Shoot and do whatever you must to get us out of here." 152Please respect copyright.PENANAeYuWBEW4Gp
   She starts running but I turn her around. "Mom, she put something in my shoulder that's eating away the flesh, when it eats through the bone, my shoulder will never heal. I can't let that happen."152Please respect copyright.PENANADHyVCplmtE
   "First let's get to the car. Use your abilities to get us out." And so I do. I fight the rest of the Inimicus all the way to the parking lot and climb in the back seat. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAaqAolfaNHv
   Danny sits in the back with me and I lean over into him screaming. "Danny, you need you cut the black goop out of my arm or it'll destroy it!"152Please respect copyright.PENANArWtVS4AO9h
   Dad hands him a bowie knife as Mom starts driving away with the gas pedal to the floor and a steady pulse of nitro exploding through the car. Danny shakes his head and I scream in even worse pain. "Danny, it's starting to go through bone!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAeMYNIAd3WG
   "No! Ash! I can't do this! I can't do that!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAI77iwsxGgf
   "Do it anyways!" I lay on my side and Danny cuts away my sleeve grimacing. 152Please respect copyright.PENANAcHcGD4LeTV
   "I can't do this! Ash, I can't do this!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAv8IuWq59u2
   "We can't lose my arm!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAQcaYuGr2nH
   "I'm so sorry," he whimpers and presses the tip against my skin. He slowly slices into my shoulder. I scream in pain and an explosion rips through the Inimicus building behind us.copyright protection148PENANAcVySt6LLNp

   I jolt awake and hold my sheets against my chest. I try to calm my breathing and wipe sweat away from my forehead. I was screaming again. It doesn't bother anyone anymore, only me. They can forget what happened there but I can never forget.152Please respect copyright.PENANAiApug2z2gt
   "Ash?" A small voice says as her figure appears in my open doorway.152Please respect copyright.PENANAXMCFgy6mIA
   I see her long blonde hair, big green eyes, and unscarred face, I know she's dead but… She's real. "Erica, no! No, I didn't mean for it to happen! I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to let you die!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAozNyxieYkC
   The figure comes closer and shakes her head. "Ash are you okay? It's just me."152Please respect copyright.PENANAGDc58t7Hvo
   I relax and breathe as I realize who it is. "Val, I'm sorry. I woke you up with my screaming didn't I?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAbtbN9smfO5
   She shrugs and sits beside me. "Well, I literally can't sleep because of this whole abilities thing. I will admit that it did freak me out. I heard you scream so I came to make sure you were okay and then if you were awake just to talk. Nightmare?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAQcEDLcV0bg
   I nod, "it's real. It was real."152Please respect copyright.PENANACRUOW2h4KN
   "Well, do you want to talk about it? I am your partner so… if you want to tell me it's okay." 152Please respect copyright.PENANAtVhEJq65GV
   "I bet he was going to make you his partner too. Shame, it's such a shame." 152Please respect copyright.PENANAaw7P9T15Tc
   She is close to me, I can feel the heat radiating from her body and can smell the smoke from today's school incident. "I killed someone." I look down at my hands and shudder. "They were torturing me for answers and tortured her because I wouldn't talk." I grab her hand and press it against the nice raised scar on my shoulder. "They did that to me."152Please respect copyright.PENANAmv4gk0iC53
   Her fingers are hot and she shakes her head, uncomfortably jerking away. "What happened?"152Please respect copyright.PENANAqyZHdI8jNO
   "Danny had to cut Inimicus metal out of my skin. It hurt so bad. When they came to rescue me, the Inimicus stabbed her in the heart. She died. It was because of me."152Please respect copyright.PENANAfYlmNvgPA9
   "Ash…" she trails off and scoots closer to me. She lays her head against my shoulder and sighs. She wants to sleep but she can't. "I don't know what to say."152Please respect copyright.PENANA1WF6c06vCc
   "That's exactly what you need to say. I don't want to hear someone say I'm sorry or any of that crap. I just need someone to say something else. I was going to give her the gift but I killed her. I didn't even tell her my real name! I told her I was Riley Stevenson! Do you know what that Inimicus did to her?" I feel anger pumping trough my veins like blood and squeeze my eyes shut. I should've electrocuted her, I should've killed the Inimicus instead of fearing for my life.152Please respect copyright.PENANAy3KxKYgTi4
   I pound my fist against my leg. "They chopped her finger off, slashed through her face, and then killed her. But I'm alive? Why? Why weren't the roles reversed so I was the dead human? I actually made a friend, I loved her and they killed her! Now they're going to kill you and Danny and mom and dad!"152Please respect copyright.PENANAHx22UQxaF8
   She wraps an arm around me and I want to cry. "Hey, look it's okay now. I'm right here and I've got you. I'm not going anywhere. Danny is right in the other room asleep and he's fine. We're all going to be okay. Shh, you need to sleep."152Please respect copyright.PENANAjH4ZNhZUNC
   "I can't sleep now, not while I'm thinking about her. I just keep seeing this look of betrayal on her face as she died. Val, I don't want to die. I don't want to die like her. I don't want to die and see the faces that I've known staring down at me, crying, whispering comforting things. I don't want to die."152Please respect copyright.PENANA6mFRUqPaj7
   "Ash, calm down. It is two in the morning. I don't think I'm up for a huge debate about death right now. You need to sleep or you'll get weaker and then you'll die anyways. Look, it's going to be okay."152Please respect copyright.PENANAe1Fh4z8CJO
   She grabs my hand and presses it against the side of her neck. "Feel that?" She's talking about her pulse. She presses her hand against my neck. The warmth from her ability flowing through me. "We're both alive and as long as one of us has that pulse in our veins, the other will be alive. We won't die."152Please respect copyright.PENANAK3vP2j72eU
   I nod. "Stay here, I don't want to have another nightmare. It hurts me too much to remember everything I've lost at their hands."152Please respect copyright.PENANAFlhlcbL2m5
   Val nods, "I'm not going anywhere. Besides I can't sleep and I need to do something. I'll just think in your company." 152Please respect copyright.PENANAaB7PScp1O8
   I lay my head against hers and sigh. "I don't know. Val, we can't die like Erica. I know that we can't die like her."152Please respect copyright.PENANAPzcloeEwhT
   She head-butts me. "Hush and go back to sleep. Don't make me say a cheesy poetry line. I have "the Raven" memorized but that's kinda gloomy and death-ish. But my point is, We're not going to die."152Please respect copyright.PENANArWeIhrU3ug
   I hope she's right about death.152Please respect copyright.PENANA9ERguJsULh
152Please respect copyright.PENANA2AQeVftALL
copyright protection148PENANA6ZkO2gIQK8

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