The falling, evening light glared in the dust-smeared faces of the dark windows staring down upon them, as they crossed a pitted, filth-littered alleyway. Silence hung in the air like dead weight, dragging the morale to a new, unprecedented low. No one had said anything much, after what had happened back there: they all saw how it had shattered Mica not to be able to save Davi; they could still it in his eyes, the desolateness: the aching; he had done all he could, and still it hadn’t been enough. He was still pretty shaken up, even if he didn’t want to show it…It had been a sizeable blow to his ego…
Alaina lingered somewhere in the middle of their moving group, as everyone followed Mica; she had occasionally glanced at Joyce—who personally reciprocated not the slightest of returning looks. In fact, it was like she was pretending as if she no longer existed. Why the heck was she letting this get to her, of all things? Alaina the rough and tough. The Alaina who didn’t need anybody, and would refuse to be told exactly what to do…Was it karma? Maybe Melody and Davi’s deaths had taken their toll on all of them, especially Joyce who appeared even more pallid, and somber than usual…
Maybe it was these sudden deaths that brought upon the reality of their situation. They couldn’t pretend any longer…What if bad came to worse, and Joyce ended up…She couldn’t even think the word. What if this…Whatever this terrible feeling between them was never resolved because of it. That sent shivers down her spine, and she quickly shook herself out of it. She needed to focus on something else. A distraction. She glanced toward Sie.
Sie had been the only one who attempted at conversation, and they were pretty much all lame jokes, to the point Alaina had nearly snapped, and told him to shut up, but what else could they do? He was only trying to brighten the mood, which was as black as her hair she had to admit.
“Come on, Alaina,” he had badgered her. “Smile…We can’t go through this thing so depressed; we’ll ending up becoming suicidal!—”
“—Sie,” Mica had interrupted, not even looking back, “just knock it off.”
He had rolled his eyes, casting them on the ground, muttering darkly to himself about an infinite lack of humor, and something else Alaina couldn’t quite catch. But maybe he had a point…If only two deaths brought them this down…Would they become suicidal in the end? Alaina, didn’t want to think about that, so, another distraction.
The heat had diminished with the daylight, and the windy air now was cool, and blew against them as they traveled, tangling Alaina’s dark rope of hair. She brushed a few dangling strands out of her eyes that had been bothering her, and took in their scenery. They had surprisingly covered a considerable amount of ground over the day; she predicted at least three-quarters of a mile. And the strain she was being to feel in her legs, proved it. But they still had a way’s to go, or so she thought.
They had stopped. Mica was standing closest to the edge of the corner of the intersection they had found themselves at, surrounding by towering relics of intimidating buildings, deteriorated, multi-colored signs, and cluttering waste on the cracked cement, and filling the gutters. The pedestrian light looming over Mica screened a permanently empty black, dead.
The light was dimming swiftly, leaving lingering long shadows along the black, pitted road, and spreading into the buildings before them; even their shadows touched the pavement a distance beyond. Above the stars were just beginning to peek from the overspreading, omni-present clouds, twinkling their unreachable light from so far away. Alaina released an exasperated sigh.
“Where is this place? Are we near?” she asked.
She saw Mica nod slowly. “It’s straight ahead,” he answered. “We better move along; I don’t think staying here, out in the open too long is a good idea…”
“Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me,” Joyce said. “The sooner we find cover, the better.”
“Yep,” he agreed, glancing around curiously. “Just be on your guard…I have a feeling we won’t be alone, for long; alright, let’s go.”
Alaina stared directly before them, and saw it. The parking deck. It melded from the eerie mixture of twilight and darkness like a slumbering, sprawling beast. Monstrous. Dangerous. Reeking of uncertainty. Who knows what they would there, she thought. Whatever it would be, she got the idea, it wouldn’t be exactly friendly.
As everyone began to move, Alaina took a step forward, and recoiled slightly at the sound of an odd crunch. Gasping a little, at the fear she may have stepped on bones, she found it was quite the opposite, but creepy nonetheless. Staring up at here, with only one recognizable blue eye was a battered, bruised toy baby doll. Lost. Most likely dropped by the little girl who once owned it in the chaotic turmoil of this city’s once evacuation, forgotten. There were blotches of something running down its soiled face that made it appear as if it was crying. What made Alaina’s stomach drop was that the longer she stared she saw what the dried, smudged splotches actually were. Blood.
“Alaina,” she heard Mica call for her.
“Coming,” she muttered, and frantically looked elsewhere, following them as they hurried to cross the road in the thickening night.
“So, do they pose a threat? What are their powers?”
The female’s curious voice had come from beside of where Gyle stood upon the top tier of the parking deck, overlooking the dark stretch of ground below. They had been watching this group of five—the first Unit they had seen, since being Dropped, for some time. Wondering. Waiting. Watching. Intently.
Takoda who had gone to scout the scope of the city as a falcon was nowhere to be seen, and Gyle could tell Suzette had become slightly worried, but more, impatient. The other two, Davi, and Melody had yet to return. That had been a few hours ago. Their absence though, did not affect Gyle much anyhow; it just meant more sustenance and supplies for them, which they had conveniently already found at the top of the deck, where they had been Dropped, in the form of their first PC: Provision Case. It had housed a number of useful items from a set of binoculars that were also designed to see within dark, that he utilized now, bottles of water, random packets of food; a map, fresh articles of clothes, a Fire Igniter, even a shotgun, and accompanying ammo. They had considered themselves very lucky.
All of that though, was kept hidden away on the third floor of the seven-story building that they had decided to make their fort for the time being.
Gyle narrowed his eyes, concentrating. Purging out his ability, drawing in data. Calculating. He smirked. “Hardly, Suze,” he murmured. “The only one who could be problematic is the bigger one, having super-strength; he seems to be their leader…”
“Ah,” she said, contemplating to herself silently.
“So do we kill them now?” he asked, wonderingly.
She shook her head in disapproval, and pursed her lips, her eyes lurid in the dark. “No,” she spoke quietly, a deviant smile growing up her full lips. “We draw them in like a spider would its prey, then when they least expect it…”
“Inject the venom,” Gyle finished for her, sharing the same devious grin. “I like your way of thinking.”
“That’s why I’m the leader, Guy,” she said, sneering. “Now, we just wait.”
Alaina didn’t like the feel of this, one bit. She could tell the others; particularly Joyce shared the same thoughts, as they crossed in the darkness of the looming parking garage. Faint blue light from the flickering, Orb Radiators stationed along the road to provide illumination for the dead city, pooled into the vaulted entryway, casting strange, sinuous shadows.
Venturing further into the mouth of the parking deck, Alaina’s eyes sweep along the cracked crevices, and gutted cement where stagnant, smelling water pooled. There was the sloshing of water, as their feet moved quickly. Alaina’s eyes narrowed, as her eyes perked, picking up on the sounds. A din of squeaking. There was a sudden scampering, tiny elongated shadows fleeing as they journeyed deeper into the first floor, the noises echoing in the hazy distance.
She flared her nose in disgust. This confirmed her suspicion. Rats. Yuck. But where there was rats…There was food somewhere close by.
“Did you hear that?” Sie whispered, blinking, fixing his eyes just beyond Alaina.
Alaina’s brow furrowed. “Hear what? That was…rats, I think,” she muttered.
“No—it was something else—”
“Shh!” Mica cautioned, extending hand, turned back to them, indicating for them stop. They all stood there motionless except for the eyes darting, taking in the strange silence. “Listen.”
An unexpected gust of wind blew through the darkened chamber, rustling Alaina’s hair, and sending chills down her body, but that wasn’t the cause alone. She suddenly got the icy feeling of being watched; anxiety swelling up in her insides. Shit, this wasn’t good, she thought to herself. She swallowed looking toward Joyce who stood diagonal from her, worried painted in her drawn, terrified expression, and then to Mica whose eyes bore into the enveloping dark like eyes of an alert owl.
Right then, there was a break in the dark, a glimpse motion—a sound of scuffling. “Did you see that?” Sie hissed. “Something just moved in the shadows—”
“Hang on,” Alaina spoke quietly, looking down at her hands. “I got this.” She was holding her hands fingers spread wide beginning to feel the warm, tingling sensation bubble within the veins running beneath her skin. In a brilliant flash of blue light, a spark of lighning ignited and was constrained by her hands, before she threw her head up and aimed the volt to the overhanging, dark light fixtures, hoping it would work. There was a burning sizzle of light as the jolt of lightning defused in spidery, shocking webs, and the glass panels shook, stinging the air with an eerie moan. And silent, they all waited.
Astonishingly enough, after a few painstaking moments the light panel that had been struck flickered extraordinarily on, but then the surrounding fixtures began to emit a dim, radiating glow, revealing their true surroundings, which made Alaina gasp, and her eyes fling wide open.
They were surrounded.
There were so many. At least thirty experiments. Enclosed around them forming a complete circle. They were trapped. There was no. Way. Out.
Where had they all come from and so fast? Alaina’s eyes widened, as she suddenly saw, when there was loud, shocking sound of a gun being cocked.
“Don’t move or you die,” someone said; Alaina recognized it came from behind where Mica stood. It was a girl’s voice. Sharp, and deadly. Whoever it was meant every word that was said. But what surprised Alaina were the experiments surrounding, as she concentrated on all of their faces, she saw they all were the same. Chiseled. Pale. A thin nose. Burning, narrow dark eyes. Pallid blonde hair that swept along his forehead, furrowed eyebrows, and this ghostly face sour with smugness. Alaina realized, he was staring directly at her intently, undressing her with his eyes. She had the impulse to throw up in her mouth a little; she shot him a dirty look.
“And that goes for any one of you,” the boy who had duplicated himself added haughtily, resounding in an eerie chorus.
An immediate frown creased Alaina’s lips, and she looked to Mica, who had his eyes narrowed, conveying no sense of fear whatsoever. In fact, if there was any emotion piercing through, it was fearlessness. She could feel her heart begin to pound faster, begin to throb inside her head: these two just gave off bad vibes to her—maybe they did mean to kill. But where was the other? The girl who had spoken? Alaina’s eyes searched for her, and the girl emerged, holding the gleaming silver shotgun aimed at Mica, circling him; her intense dark eyes did not leave him.
She stood nearly the same height as Mica, and Mica was tall. Alaina was already jealous of her figure. Slim, tone, and absolutely gorgeous. Silky black hair curled about her angled face, focused intently upon him. Her eyes told no lies. In them, a fire burned. Murder, perhaps. On the edge of a knife. The air dripped with intensity. It was hard to even breathe.
“Who are you?—Why are you here?” She bulleted him with questions, prompting immediate answers. “Answer me now!” she shouted, fiercely. “Or, I’ll shoot!”
“That won’t be necessary,” Mica insisted his teeth bared, eyes not deviating from her either. “We haven’t come here to mean any of you any harm, or take anything you have—we’re only here because of Davi, and my name is Mica.
"That's Alaina," he went on pointing to her, "and Joyce, and...Sie." He looked back to Suze.
“Davi?” the chorus of the blonde kid echoed. “How did you know him?—Suze, I bet one of them killed him and—”
“No! We didn’t!” Mica managed to shout in, and the girl named Suze holding the gun furrowed her brow in consternation.
“Let him speak,” Suze spoke quietly, cast her eyes onto all of them, burning with intensity. “How did you know him? Where did you meet him? Is he still alive? With Melody?”
Mica’s eyes fell, he sighed, and there was an instant air of grief, as all of them appeared solemn-faced. Suze already translated this as bad news. “He’s dead,” Mica explained, softly. “Both him and the girl—We came across him as we were searching for our own fort; they were attacked.”
“Attacked?” Suze questioned, inquiringly, a brow raised.
“Yes, attacked,” Mica affirmed, nodding slightly, his eyes appearing drained, but truthful. “By who I don’t know—All Davi could tell me was that he saw his number was zero, and he was tall, and had dark hair. Apparently, whoever it is extremely powerful, and control minds: he had Davi kill Melody, which was already dead by the time we got there.
“I tried to save Davi,” Mica went on, solemnly, “but I was already too late…Before Davi died he told me about you all, about this place, that you would be our allies…But as for such a warm welcome we received, I’m not quite sure.”
Suze studied him, valuing his words closely, remaining deadly silent, keeping her finger curled tightly around the trigger. Inches from pulling it and shooting him. Could she so readily believe him, this story? She did not even know him, none of them. He could be lying as easily as he could be telling the truth; but there was something in his eyes, an earnestness that dispelled any sort of mistruth. “Joyce,” Mica spoke firmly, “show them his necklace.”
She nodded quickly, and said, “I have it here, somewhere…” Her voice trailed, and she rummaged for the necklace, unzipping, and pulling it from a pocket, the necklace glittering in the dim light. Suze grimaced at its sight, released a high sigh, and lowered her gun. “Fine,” she muttered. “So your story is true…They are dead then…” She looked to her companion, who still surrounded them all, and said nonchalantly, “Guy, you can reform now…They are telling the truth.”
Guy narrowed his eyes, a glare that had aversion to Suze’s decision written all over it, Alaina could clearly tell; but he did as he was told. In a strange blur, the thirty-something Guys had remerged into a singular sour-faced, ghostly-skinned boy, or at least Alaina’s eyes. His silence boiled into the atmosphere, it was poisonous. His lip curled, and drew near to Suze, speaking, “I can’t believe you’re allying—”
At that moment, a spiraling shape darted into parking garage through the massive crack in the wall nearby, from the outside. The black silhouette of bird swiftly transformed into that of a tall, shadowed boy. As he stepped closer, Alaina saw how striking he was: high, sweeping cheekbones, soft tan skin, and eyes like burning coals, with a face framed by a long dark sheet of hair that was windswept. At the sight of the newcomers, his face was lit with confusion.
“Nice of you to join us Koda,” Guy spoke, somewhat arrogantly.
Koda only smirked, and ignored Guy’s statement staring directly at Suze, who returned the look. “Did you find anything?” she questioned.
Tight-lipped, he shook his head in disapproval. “No,” he said quietly. “Nothing…Everything’s abandoned…But I did find something else…”
“Another experiment, a girl,” he answered, and Mica’s eyes flung open: it could only be Lil. His heart began to pound quickly. “She’s following me, for some reason…I figured she was only scouting the area like I was—she can fly, whoever she is…She should be here any moment now.”
“You said she could fly right?” Mica said.
Koda inclined his head. “Yes. Dark, short hair, small.”
“Yeah, that’s Lil.”
“How do you know her?” Suze asked him.
“She’s part of our Unit,” Mica answered. “She went out searching for a base.”
“Oh,” Suze said. “Looks like we had similar plans, since Koda here can fly as well…But as a bird.”
“Not to be rude,” Koda interceded, “but who are you all?”
Suze pursed her lips for a moment, before answering. “They’re our allies,” she said. Standing behind her, Guy looked outraged; Koda scrunched his brow over the situation, and Suze explain to him that Mica had tried to save Davi, and because of that, she said they could trust them. The confusion lessened in Koda’s features, once she had finished, also telling Koda their names.
“So—” Koda had began, but was instantly cut off by a distressed outcry. Sie’s head was the first to turn toward the voice, his eyes widening, realizing who it was. Lil.
Through the chasm of the long busted, bar-like window, she flew into the parking garage, landing quickly onto her feet. Her hair was blown astray, her appearance frazzled, and her enlarged eyes watery, as if she could cry, taking the entire scene: Suze’s lowered gun, Mica staring at her wonderingly, along with Sie, Alaina, and everyone else. Lil looked suddenly overwhelmed, her face drained of all color as she began to gasp for air; her legs buckled, and she collapsed onto the cement knowing no more.
Sie shouted out her name, and without a second thought plunged through the crowd, straight for her. Suze slid immediately out of the way, as Sie bent himself over her, grabbing her shoulders, shaking her, screaming her name over and over drowning out any other sound, penetrated with absolute, abrupt fear.