Coercion Part 4

Announcements: If I've promised to write you in the story as a character, then expect that very soon! Also, some mysteries will hopefully be unraveled in the next few chapters or so. I've a lot of things in mind!

Also, I've stressed this enough and y'all are probably really agitated by this already, but I DO have a wattpad! Y'all can talk to me as much as you want! I will follow you back, and I ALSO have a new series developing there!! @d4nnimals

Created by: Dannica

  1. The next morning I awoke to a soft crying sound. I didn’t know where I was at first; I was actually frightened for a moment. I was in a beige-colored room, bundled up in soft purple satin sheets. I was in a cream-colored canopy, and the air smelled like pine. I sat up, rubbing the butts of my hands into my eyes. I didn’t even remember myself getting into bed last night. My last memory was Rave’s hug. Which was random, but I wasn’t complaining. I unwrapped myself from the covers and dug my way out of the canopy; I felt like a butterfly escaping its cocoon. There was another crying noise. A door opened on its own. The clock on the bedside table read 8:29 AM. It was way too early for this. With a yawn, I slowly made my way over to the open door, which I guessed was the bathroom. My feet stuck to the wooden floor, making an annoying plopping noise whenever I took a step. I peered through the small crack that the door provided, and stifled a gasp. A man stood over the sink, skinning a baby. Skin and blood was strewn everywhere; the baby’s mouth was taped shut. But he was already dead. It was the man that was crying. I shut my eyes, ignoring the ugly pain I was feeling inside my stomach. Focus, I told myself. You can do it. I let out a long breath, and concentrated on the sounds of the sobs, and the snips coming from the blade. A strange layer of calmness settled over me, and I took it as a good sign. I allowed myself to open my eyes then, and this time I didn’t feel so grossed out. Because it wasn’t real. I let myself think that this was some gross reenactment of a scene in a horror movie, and that the man was an actor crying over a sack of potatoes. I pushed the door open a little wider. I snapped a mental picture of the scene; I took in the clothes, the man’s face from the reflection in the mirror, even the size of the baby and the animal-printed blanket he was wrapped in. I squeezed my eyes shut again; it was like being underwater. Before I knew it, the sounds stopped. I opened my eyes. 27184 Welter Street. The image of a blue house popped into my mind, reminiscent yet unfamiliar. It was one story, with an all white porch. There were rocking chairs. A Subaru parked in the driveway. I quickly changed out of my pajamas and into the clothes I wore yesterday, and found myself barreling out my door. 8:45 AM.
  2. Rave must have seen the vision as well, but he wasn’t in his room. I slapped my forehead when I remembered his meeting with Brother Jerimiah. I had to find him. I whizzed through the hall at record speed and flung myself through the doors. I heard the guard yell something as I ran up the stairs, but I didn’t stop; this was business. The lobby was as busy as the terminal, the only difference being that here, the teenagers were carrying backpacks, books, and weapons. I was being jabbed constantly by bodies as I wrestled through the crowd, trying to find one of the Brotherhood. A clock chimed through my ears. I looked at the source and saw a replica of the Big Ben rooted by a silver gate, such like the golden one that led to the strip mall. I had eleven minutes. I cursed under my breath and stopped moving. Rave had seen the vision too, so why wasn’t he here by now? Would Brother Jerimiah not allow him to leave? Refusing to panic, I extracted myself from the busy crowd and into an unoccupied corner of the room. How did this willing the marks thing go again? Crap. Half-heartedly I closed my eyes and imagined summoning Rave. There was no prickling action on my neck, even after two minutes. Crap! This is exactly why I need training! I started pacing back and forth. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t go to Flame or Web—were they even allowed to? And I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to find Rave on time. Realization hit me so hard I almost knocked over. I had to do it alone. But, how was I going to get there? I didn’t have any teleportation powers! I groaned, searching the crowd one last time. Didn’t Rave say something about a Savior’s powers? I racked my brain hurriedly, trying to bring up the memory. We were in my room… Was it the day after the coffee shop? It was something about how when a Savior swears in, their powers become restricted to only their Purpose, and are only used to defend, protect, and assist. But the people here, attending the Basin, haven’t sworn in yet. I allowed myself to be engulfed by the crowd once more when, out of ironic luck, spotted a girl with blonde pigtails, wearing sweats and a tank top. I stopped her in her tracks with a nervous smile. “Hey, Eliza. I don’t know if you remember me at all, but—” “Of course I remember you!” she gasped. “We met last night, silly!” I refrained from not groaning. Something about her just rubbed me the wrong away, and it totally had nothing to do with her close connection to Rave. “Yeah,” I said, trying to make my voice sound happier. “And I know it was just last night, but do you think you could do me a favor?” Her jaw twitched, but her grin remained the same. “Well, I do have training up next. What kind of favor?” Ugh, I didn’t have time for explaining! I needed to get to the house! “Look,” I tried, taking a more serious approach, “I just saw a False. Rave isn’t around so I need someone to Shimmer me to 27184 Welter Street right now. All you have to do is get me there, and then you can leave. I’ll find a ride back. Just, please. I need to save the baby.”
  3. ~ I had four minutes to spare. Eliza had Shimmered me there, leaving her perkiness behind. She looked like she was prepared to fight as we both crouched in the front bushes of the dark blue house and leaned against the cement base of the porch. “Uh,” I said uneasily, “you can leave now.” She tightened up her ponytail. “What do you mean? I’m staying with you!” I swallowed back a growl. “No, you’re not. I have to do this alone.” “And why is that?” “Because you’re not my Savior? And technically you’re not even allowed to be here with me considering that you haven’t graduated yet?” I swear her eye twitched. “Fine. But I’m staying out here. I’m not going to leave you to hitch a ride. As if you even know how to get back. Rave doesn’t need to waste his time picking you up.” “Oh, as if he has time for—” The front door swung open and I immediately shut up. Eliza and I sat there, frozen, not daring to turn around. There were uneasy stomps of heavy shoes on the porch, and strange and incoherent mumbling. Then a bottle was thrown roughly at the driveway, and glass shattered. Shards landed by my feet. The door slammed shut. I bit the inside of my cheek, and then quickly checked to see if it was clear. “What do you see?” Eliza whispered, back to her combat mode. “Nobody’s there. It’s going to happen soon. I can feel it.” Eliza nodded. “I’m going in if you don’t come back out in fifteen minutes.”
  4. I now knew what Rave was talking about back in the cornfield. I felt the pull. It was in my chest, tugging on my whole body to follow its lead. I scurried to the side of the house and ungracefully hopped the little brown fence that led to the backyard. I pressed myself up against the house and side-stepped until I was at the very edge. I eyed the backdoor cautiously. The glass door was open, while the screen door was closed, meaning that I could probably slide in without being noticed. Besides, judging from the huge pile of empty beer cans and booze bottles laying around in the browning grass of this place, whomever was living here was drunk most of the time. I edged closer to the door, trying to move as quickly as a could. A baby started to cry. I put my hand in the nook of the screen door and entered. The house smelled like alcohol and smoke. The back door led to a living room. A TV was playing, and there was a woman laying on the couch with what looked like a blunt on her chest and a bottle of wine in her hand. I went to the closest drawer, and to my luck, found a little pistol hidden by some papers in the back. I followed the pull. The baby began wailing; there were heavy footsteps heading upstairs. I ran as quietly as I could, trying to find my way to the stairs before any harm was done, nervously clutching the gun to my chest as if I even knew how to shoot one. I took the stairs two at a time. How was I possibly supposed to save this baby without being seen? I crouched down, using a wall for cover. I was next to the bathroom. I heard cardboard ripping. In one single motion I jumped up and burst through the bathroom door, watching as the man in my vision was in the middle of opening a pack of razors. Startled, the pack fell to the floor, along to the now silent little boy wrapped up in a blanket next to the sink. I considering diving for the baby, but this man was drunk, and I couldn’t be hasty in anything. The man staggered in his boots, using the sink to hold himself up. “Who are you?” he demanded loudly. I could only hope the woman downstairs wouldn’t wake up. I didn’t point the pistol at him. Not yet. “I’m from social services. I’m here to take away your child.” Rage struck the man’s face. He punched the mirror, making it crack. “That’s not my son!” he spat, pointing to the baby with a bloody finger. “That’s a demon! A demon took away my son!” He began to cry. “That’s not him… That’s not him…” I kicked away the pack of razors while he sobbed his eyes and insides into the toilet. “I’m going to get the child,” I told him. “I will take him—” “No,” he barked, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “I have to kill him! I have to get the demon out!” Suddenly he lunged across the floor and snatched the baby up. He dug into his pocket for something I didn’t want to wait to find out. I aimed the gun at him, my hand on the trigger. “Put the baby down,” I said evenly. “Or I will shoot you.” The man snarled at me. I shot at the area near his foot. “You b**ch,” he spewed, still holding the baby to his chest. I shot at his other foot. This time, he wailed in pain, an dropped the baby. I hurried and reached down for him, while the man caressed his foot and howled to the ceiling. I put the gun in my front pocket and gently cradled the baby in my arms. I was about to leave when light footsteps and a string of cursed began heading my way. S**t. “What the hell is going on here?” the lady from the couch slurred. She eyed her husband on the ground and their child in my arms. “She’s taking the demon!” the man yelled. “If she takes it we won’t get Levi back!” The lady shot daggers at me. “Give. Me. My. Son.” I backed away to the bathtub. “No.” I got the gun from my pocket and pointed it at her. “Your husband was going to kill him. And he is a very special child.” “He’s not!” she shrieked. “It’s a demon!” Well crap, both of them were crazy. “The eyes,” she said. “Look at the eyes.” Hesitantly, I peered down at the child in his bloody blankets. I stopped myself from rolling my eyes. “The eyes are blue. Now, get out of my way before I call the police.” The couple growled like animals; the husband started to get up; the woman smashed her wine bottle on the doorframe, and then pointed it at me. “I will shoot you,” I warned, trying to keep my voice powerful. Truth was, I didn’t want to kill them. They just needed help. The man made a messy lunge at me and before I knew it there was a loud pop, and he was on the ground. But it didn’t come from me. Another pop. The woman screamed, holding her stomach as she joined her husband. “You need to learn when to kill,” Eliza deadpanned, “or you’ll never make it as a Sighter.” I sighed as I stepped my way over to the door. “I didn’t want deaths. And that was not fifteen minutes.” She took the baby from me as she put her gun away. “A life for a life. There’s always a toll. And you would have killed them anyways. It’s not like they were going to let you go. And sorry, I’m impatient.” I gave the pistol to her, not wanting to have it on me. I was given back the baby. “But congratulations,” Eliza added, a grin spreading to her rosy cheeks. “You just did your first False alone!”
  5. Eliza had to Shimmer us to the forest, in front of the tree stump where the Haze was. She took out a switch knife and started carving things into the wood. Then, just as Alum Sansa, cut her palm and squeezed out two drops of blood. The Haze began to show itself. “I thought to enter you needed one of the Brotherhood?” I asked, recalling what Rave had said. She snorted. “You don’t need one of the Brotherhood. You just have to know what to carve into the stump.” “And how do you know then?” She stepped to the edge of the Haze. “I’ve been here for five years.” Then she disappeared. ~ Sooner or later I was faced with the same guards that had searched me the other day. They seemed to recognize me, so they didn’t search me very thoroughly. One, however, did take the baby, and went through his blankets. “We just came back from a False,” Eliza explained. “The Sighter’s Savior was unavailable at the time.” The guards nodded and let us pass. We walked the long trail to the bluff; the baby was quiet the whole time. “We could Shimmer in front of the Basin, if you want,” Eliza called from behind her shoulder. “Rave doesn’t like doing that though because he likes the nature. But you might be tired from lugging that baby around for so long.” “Thanks,” I replied, “but I’m very well capable of carrying a ten pound baby.” “Your choice,” she giggled, combing through her ponytail with her fingers. “Your arm muscles look really weak, that’s all.” ~ We were in front of the Basin now. The little lantern was on, even though it was daylight, and Eliza held up her scarred palm to it, just like Rave did his ring. I braced the baby and myself for the fall about to come, but soon there was a creak, and a pair of elevator doors opened. I stepped inside with a bouncy Eliza. “You guys took the tunnel when you came here, right?” I nodded wearily. “Yeah, that’s because alumni take that route. I don’t know why, though, it’s like this trusting issue or whatever.” The doors shut, but instead of moving up and down, it went backwards. I decided not to question it. “Sorry you missed your training,” I murmured, switching the baby to my other shoulder. She shrugged. “It’s not like I need any more. I’m ready to get my Purpose.” “What are you hoping for?” “Hopefully an important one. A Sixth Sentiment or a mortem saltator. Maybe even a Sighter.” I furrowed my brow. “What’s a m… The thing you said after the Sixth Sentiment?” For some reason the atmosphere felt eerie to me, and the elevator was stuffy. Eliza smiled grimly. “A death dancer.”
  6. A small crowd was there in the lobby, assumingly awaiting our arrival. I recognized the sullen face of Brother Jerimiah, and a few other older men, loitering around. Web, Flame, and Rave were there as well, in a tight circle, talking. “Hey!” Eliza announced. “We have arrived.” All eyes landed on us at the exact same time, and before I knew it I was surrounded by those of the Brotherhood, being bombarded by questions about the baby. A female pushed through, with kind eyes and an equally kind voice. “Here, sweetie, let me take care of him, I run the health class here.” I handed the baby over to her, just because she was the only full grown woman I’ve seen here so far, and because of Brother Jerimiah, I didn’t have much trust in the Brotherhood. The baby was taken away from the woman, where the rest of the swarm followed. Brother Jerimiah was the only one who stayed behind; he watched me with curious eyes. What, has he never seen a Seventh Sighter come back from a False? I heard my name being called, and soon Rave came up and engulfed me in his arms. “Are you okay? Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I—” he shot a look at his instructor “—wasn’t allowed to leave while being interrogated. I saw it, too, and my ring was reacting and holy s**t, I’m so sorry. Are you hurt?” He released me and started inspecting my face, his hands on my cheeks. “There’s blood smears on you, what happened? Actually, you can tell me later. I’m so sorry.” He let me go and backed away, abashed. “Jesus,” I laughed, “Rave, I’m fine. You seriously need to stop apologizing so much. I actually feel really great, knowing I saved that baby. I actually have to thank Eliza for that… She Shimmered me there.” As if on cue, Eliza merged into the group with a triumphant grin on her face. Brother Jerimiah nodded at her, which she took pride in. Flame and Web stood in the back, waiting for their turn to confront me. “Thanks, Eliza,” Rave said, giving her a short squeeze. “Really. It means so much to me.” “It was no biggie,” she gushed. “But I should really get to my classes.” Eliza gave a quick bow to Brother Jerimiah, and then skipped away. “She’s hot,” Web said. “Where does she train? I’d like to watch.” Flame nudged him roughly in the side when he caught the glare of Brother Jerimiah. “Sorry,” Web mumbled, “your holiness.” Brother Jerimiah shooed them away, and then stepped in front of me, blocking Rave. “You saved the False alone?” he asked with a tilt of his head. I nodded. “Partially. Eliza shot his parents. I-I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” “And the baby was unharmed?” “Not that I know of.” “And that was only your second true False?” “Yes.” I think he smiled. “Fantastic. You can join Rave tomorrow during the first level classes. Nice meeting you. Sighter.” He turned and walked away. Rave hugged me again before I even had the chance to shudder. “Are you sure you’re alright? My God, you weren’t supposed to go alone so early. But you’re not hurt, right? You didn’t get hit or anything?” I sighed into his neck. “Rave, we’ve gone over this already, remember? Whatever it takes.” He put both hands on my shoulders. “I am so proud of you.” He didn’t say more than that. He didn’t need to. I saw it all in his eyes.
  7. Rave was whisked away from me by Alum Sansa, saying that he was needed by no other than Brother Jerimiah to assist in training what he called the sixth level classes. Rave stopped himself from apologizing once more, and then eventually left with my coaxing. I didn’t think me saving my own False was that big of a deal, honestly. I felt like it was beginner’s luck. If the parents of that baby were sober, I was sure the outcome wouldn’t have been in my favor. Still, I appreciated the praise. I went back to my room to clean up any dried blood on my clothes or my face, and then went to the strip mall area to grab a quick snack at the first café I saw. It was small and cozy, just like Café Montesquieu. Where they looking for us? For me? I ordered a breakfast sandwich. The teenage girl at the register didn’t ask for any money or anything, so I just grabbed my small bag and ate as I walked around aimlessly, trying to locate where Flame or Web were. There were barely any people around, and this was because I guessed they had to attend morning training classes. Which apparently, I would be teaching as of tomorrow with Rave. I assumed that the first level classes were the people whom were new here, so I figured that that group wouldn’t be so difficult to lecture to. Speaking of classes, when was I going to begin my training? Or get my so-called powers sorted out? How long were we even staying here? I chewed on my sandwich thoughtfully. I also felt the need to check up on the baby. What was it his parents called him? Levi? I felt obligated to see how he was doing, and how he was going to be cared for once I left. I mean, he was just a baby. Not a demon child or the spawn of Satan. But I did wonder… What made his parents believe that their child was a monster? I found myself back in the lobby sitting on a bench, with no luck finding Web or Flame. I wanted to talk to them just because I felt weird without their company. Its only been a few days since we’ve fled Woodknox, but I’ve grown more attached to them than I ever could imagine. Especially Flame. My mind brought me back to the kiss in the car, and how he’d said he wanted to bring me out on a real date. Back then, I wouldn’t have believed him. But now I kind of trusted him with my life.
  8. I crumpled up my empty sandwich wrapper and balled it up into my fist just as I saw Alum Sansa approaching me. I offered up a smile now that I knew who he was, and gathered myself up from the bench. “Hello,” he greeted with a grin. “What’ve you been up to?” Was this dude really apart of the Brotherhood? He seemed too…nice. “Just had a late breakfast,” I said, showing him the wrapper as if I needed evidence. “Trying to find the rest of my friends.” “Ah, then I can help you with that. Flame and Web, their names are? They’re outside, watching combat training. I can take you there, if you’d like.” Definitely too nice. “Yeah, that’d be great,” I smiled. “Thank you.” Alum Sansa beckoned me to follow him, so I did, throwing the wrapper away in a nearby trash can. “Rave wanted me to take you to the lab first,” he said behind his shoulder. “He said you wanted to know what your powers are because you wanted to, and I quote, ‘kick some ass’.” I smiled uncomfortably. “Yeah. I was hoping that I could figure out any defense mechanisms I had inside of me. It’d make quite a difference when we go back out in the real world.” Alum Sansa led me passed the glass staircase and into bright blue door that carried up into a corridor of steel doors and a plush tongue of carpet. “And what are you planning on doing when you’re in the ‘real world’?” he asked, taking a key from his back pocket and shoving it into the third door down. He held it open for me, so I went in first with a shrug. “I don’t know. Do the best we can.” I didn’t know why I lied. I knew what our expectations were. We were going to get weapons, and wait until Hef had further information on the other Seventh Sighters. Alum Sansa didn’t know that I knew Hef. I reminded myself to ask Rave why he didn’t want people to know. I heard the steel door shut as I took a seat on a wooden stool by a steel table, where a lone lamp light hung down from the ceiling. Shelves lined the walls of the room, filled with familiar utensils that doctors used and jars, some empty and some filled with what I guessed was blood. A large machine with a bunch of black wires spilling out from it was hooked up to an equally large generator off to the side. Next to that was a desk with an open laptop and a file box. “If you haven’t guessed,” Alum Sansa said, “this is the lab. It’ll probably only take five minutes in here, what with new technology and all that jazz, so please, just sit there while I start this bad boy up.” He strode over to the machine and pushed a couple of buttons. Soon enough, the thing started making sounds. While it was getting heated up, Alum Sansa went over to the laptop and flipped that on as well. Excitement busted from my fingertips. I couldn’t believe that I was going to finally know what I could do! That I could finally defend myself! Alum Sansa must have sensed my eagerness, because he chuckled and said, “I remember my first time getting my power scan. I was fourteen. I found out that I could mess with brainwaves and was basically a human compass. I knew where everything was—knew every highway, town, and alley.” He grabbed a cord from the machine and attached a metal circle onto the end. He stuck it on my leg, and then did the same for the other. “What are you?” I asked, as he asked me to press the metal circle to the inside of my wrist. “A former Savior?” He pressed a button, and immediately there was a small pinch from where the metal was. I tried not to complain—getting the Prophecy was worse. “Yes, a Savior. My Purpose was a mortem saltator. You know what that is right?” When I nodded through another pinch of my skin, he continued, “Then you should know that they are very rare. And hold the closest tether to God. You see, death dancers are ones that may roam through the spirit world, be it the good or bad. Their job is to the take the wandering spirits that have died and put them in their rightful afterlife.” “Wow. That’s cool.” Alum Sansa chuckled. “Yes. That is very cool. Unfortunately, I could not complete my Purpose because he asked for another one.” I furrowed my brow. “Why?” “That is not my story to tell.” There was another pinch to my skin, but I was too interested in the conversation to care. “What happened to you after he switched Saviors?” “I was stripped from my powers. However, I’d made it into the Brotherhood by my solid reputation. And also my Purpose put in a good word for me with the other Brothers. Death dancers are very influential, and highly praised, just for being alive.” Alum Sansa removed the metal disks from my skin and then walked over to the computer, gesturing for me to follow. “That was it?” I asked. “Just that procedure to find out my powers?” He stroked his beard and took a seat in front of the monitor. “Technology does wonders these days.” A page with columns of yellow squiggly lines popped up onto the screen. I leaned in to try and decipher what it meant on my own, but my thoughts were interrupted when I saw Alum Sansa frown deeply. “That’s strange,” he muttered, tinkering with a bunch of buttons. “Very strange.” “What is?” I asked, worry creeping into my voice. Alum Sansa crinkled his brows together, and then looked up at me from his seat. “You have no powers.”
  9. I blinked. “Huh? What do you mean I have no powers?” Alum Sansa pointed at the yellow lines on the screen. “Your blood has no mutations, or any abnormal nature. The metal discs had very minuscule needles on them, that made tiny incisions into your skin to draw blood. The drop of blood goes into the disc, which is then transmitted by the machine and brought up to the computer.” He stroked his beard. “Your blood is normal. Perhaps you’re just a late bloomer?” “No,” I said, shaking my head, “that can’t be it. When the Miscreancy attacked us Rave used his powers of darkness, and I could see. He told me that I shouldn’t have been able to, and suggested that it had something to do with my powers. Besides, I’m a Seventh Sighter for Christ’s sake, how do I not have any powers?” “The machine monitors other branches of powers that accompany the gift of the Seventh Sight. And you have none. I’ll speak it over with Brother Jerimiah, and then we can address the issue tomorrow. I’m sure your body is still developing.” He smiled when he said that. But I knew it was just to make me feel better. My glumness must have been noticeable, because Alum Sansa turned off the computer and stood up. “Come on, I’ll take you to the training grounds.”
  10. The training grounds were located on the outskirts of the Basin building. While walking there, Alum Sansa told me that there was a clearing for every level of combat, and there were also difficult obstacle courses scattered around in the forest that students could use to their own benefit. Class levels one through three, which included many early teenagers, were being taught hand-to-hand combat. Alum Sansa brought me there first, to show me an example of how to teach well. Which would be hard, considering that I couldn’t even swat a fly if my life depended on it. We toured through a patch of trees into the fourth level class of the morning, where the main curriculum focused on using weapons. An instructor was barking orders at a pair of boys that were sparring, while the other kids practiced whatever move they were learning by themselves. They all looked at least fifteen, and I was impressed. They were handling things like spears and swords and heavily spiked balls attached to chains. When I was fifteen I couldn’t even eat a sandwich without having the crust taken off first. About six minutes of watching the class go by passed, and I was taken in the direction of what I assumed was the training ground for the highest levels. We passed one of the obstacle courses on the way, and I took my time examining how intricately made it was. Tree stumps studded a narrow dirt path with red dots painted on the tops for a purpose I wasn’t sure of. Staring at the ground however, I could see tiny brown squares, darker than the soil. Anybody whom was in a rush to get through the course would have missed the sight of them. They most likely triggered something, because the forest seemed too quiet around this part. There weren’t even birds chirping. I saw these brown squares throughout the trek, as well as a big wooden wall that stood as a barricade in the middle, where the only way to get over was a single plank jutting out to hold on and climb onto, which was at least ten feet from the ground. Over the wall was a field of barbed wire, with tiny holes in between to place your feet. That obstacle alone stretched out for at least eight meters. I imagined somebody doing the course. I imagined her climbing over the wall and struggling with the wire. I imagined her cursing under her breath as sweat rolled down her forehead. I imagined her foot taking a misstep. I shuddered the visual away. I came across a bridge next—a bridge over a black trench that was so dark that even if I leaned over and tossed handfuls of strobe lights inside I still wouldn’t be able to see. As if I wanted to. The bridge definitely did not look stable. Moss covered most of the chipped wood, and I could almost hear the tired creaks of cries coming from the planks. If one were to simply run across then it would for sure result in a trip to the down under. I heard my name being called, and realized that Alum Sansa had veered left, away from the course. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the rest, so I made a note to myself to check it out later on. I quickly made my way over to Alum Sansa, who was holding back a thick branch for me. I thanked him and stepped into the clearing. I knew right away that this was the highest ranking class at the Basin. Not just because my eyes were immediately drawn to Eliza’s new all pink gear and her pig squealing sounds that I could probably hear from James Dawn if I listened closely enough, but also the power that radiated from each and every one of their bodies. Literally. The place was a mass of colorful swirls, mists, and orbs, just hanging in the air coming from the hands of at least fifty teens. A Brotherhood member whose face I recognized from the lobby when Eliza and I came back from the False lingered by the woods, boredom painted on his wrinkled face. “This is the graduating Savior class,” Alum Sansa said, joining my side. “A big group, as you can see. The biggest we’ve had in a while.” I watched, utterly intrigued, as people vanished from sight, and appeared again at a different location; as people made water from air; as people moved big boulders and shook the trunks of trees. It was amazing, seeing people doing this seemingly so effortless. It seemed to natural to them, like walking. Every sputter of magic added to the atmosphere was graceful and beautiful. I couldn’t help but feel just a little envious. “You could train here,” Alum Sansa said, pride in his eyes as he watched the Saviors practice as if they were his own children. “If you want, of course. The plan for me was to train you with powers, but since that’s not much of a possibility right mow, I guess we could cover basic combat.” I snapped my head to his direction. “You’re training me?” “Only the best,” he replied with a smug smile. “Rave told me to help you out with the ass kicking. I know the time of your stay is limited, so I believe we should begin early tomorrow morning, before you assist in teaching classes.” Giddiness overtook me, and I embraced Alum Sansa without even thinking. “Thank you! I’ve been waiting for this for a while now, and I am so ready. Don’t worry, I’ll try not to complain that much.” He rolled his eyes like I was joking, and then pivoted to leave. “5 AM, in the lobby. Wear some gear, and bring water. Also don’t eat too much. We wouldn’t want sausage chunks watering the vegetation.” I did Rave’s two-fingered salute because it felt necessary. “I’ll be there. And thanks again.” Alum Sansa nodded. “We’ll see tomorrow.” He jerked his finger over his left shoulder. “And don’t bring an audience.”
  11. My eyes looked in the direction he was pointing to and eventually found Flame and Web, sitting on some white plastic chairs, staring in wonderment and awe. It made me grin. Sometimes I forgot that they were human. I went to say something back to Alum Sansa, but he was gone. With a shrug I made my way over to the boys, who greeted me before I got a chance to say anything. “This is wickedly cool,” Web exclaimed. “Like something out of a movie. With the hot girls and everything.” He waved. “Hey, Eliza! You are doing fantastic, but maybe you should stretch some more?” I heard her giggle and a grumble deepened in my throat. She helped me, yes, but it didn’t change the fact that it was most likely for partial credit and praise from Rave. “Do you wanna sit?” Flame asked, already shifting to get up. I declined with a wave of my hand. “No, that’s fine. I’m just dropping by for a few minutes, and then I need to check up on something.” I put on a smile. “But you two seem very at ease.” “Oh, we are,” said Web. “Very, very at ease. All I need is a six pack right now and my dreams will have been fulfilled.” Flame smirked. “I knew your abs were fake.” “Well aren’t you a smart ass. You know, I am very glad that I’m not being forced to live with you anymore.” “Which is why you woke me up in the morning because you didn’t want to go anywhere alone?” Web leaned back in his chair. “Rape is shamefully common these days. You can never be too careful.” ~ I left Web and Flame after a few minutes of talking and gazing at the Saviors in training. I’d told them vaguely about the False, and both were concerned for the baby, since it was obvious that I was just fine, considering they were there when I’d arrived. When I’d said I was going to try and see him, Flame offered to go, but I told him that I was able to do it alone, because he really did look invested in watching the training. Besides, I wanted to go alone anyways. For some reason I felt like baby Levi wouldn’t be comfortable with too many people crowding over him. I hoped that lady I handed him over to took him to the infirmary, because for God’s Sake, his dad was trying to kill him. I retraced my steps to find my way back, following the length of the obstacle course and the sounds of yelling and heavy breathing to cut through the rest of the training grounds. Levi was my priority as of right now, so when I’d passed the obstacle course my eyes just did a quick once-over, where I saw a pool of ugly murky mud and boards of needles hanging from the limbs of trees hovering above. I wasn’t bothered or acknowledged once I re-entered the lobby, and I didn’t know where the baby could be, so I stood there, probably looking stupid until I saw an adult stroll by. I walked towards him, trying my best to look confident and strong. I figured that the people here valued those two attributes a lot. “Hello, sir,” I said, making him stop mid-step. “Sorry for your time, but I was wondering if you could direct me in the way of the woman health instructor here? Or the infirmary?” The man didn’t smile, but pointed to the ceiling. “Eighth floor.” I nodded him a thanks and dashed away. The elevator was located in the corners of the lobby. I stepped into the glass case and pressed the eighth button from the top column. The elevator groaned to motion. I started to get anxious, and I didn’t know why. It wasn’t like I had a definite attachment to the baby. Rave and I had saved that woman once—the one destined to become an angel—and I didn’t feel the need to check up on her or anything like that. So why did I feel so protective over baby Levi? Was it because he was merely that? A baby? I stepped out of the elevator and into a dimly lit hallway with gigantic windows of glass taking up the sides of the walls, where a greenish light glowed weakly through and cast itself onto the gray floor. I felt like I was in an aquarium, save for the fact that it smelled like antiseptic and sickness. I peered into one of the windows. By the stark color of the room inside and the people in casts and braces slowly deteriorating on the bed, I knew that we were in the infirmary. Nurses bustled around in the rooms, tending to the mostly teenage patients’ needs, so nobody noticed me lurking. I cringed every time I saw a shot, or a bag of blood as I passed the windows. Even though I knew that I wasn’t crazy then, I was still left in a hospital with people that believed I was. And that traumatized me.
  12. I was ready to give up after passing six windows, but then I saw a door hidden in the shadows. I tiptoed to it and gave it a small push. Inside was a hallway such like the one I was in, so I decided to give it a shot and squeeze in. The patients in these rooms weren’t as damaged as the ones before. I suspected that they were just sick with the fever or the stomach flu, because not as many nurses were around, and some of the patients were just sitting back in their bed reading or holding a remote in front of their faces. Plus, these kids looked younger, so they were probably in first levels. I walked until the very end of the hall and finally saw him bundled up in clean sheets, lying between a thick pillow and the woman I’d given him to, who was feeding him a bottle of milk. I knocked on the glass with a grin on my face. When the woman looked up, I waved at her, and she smiled, gently taking the bottle away and opening up the door to let me in. She hugged me and said, “How are you?” She hugged like a mother, and talked with genuine concern, and I was glad that I found someone here that was openly affectionate towards me. “I’m great,” I said, still grinning. “I just wanted to see Levi over there. I wanted to see for myself if he was okay.” The woman led me over to the bed and motioned me to take place of the pillow flanking his side. “Oh, and I’m sorry,” I added, “what’s your name?” How terribly rude of me. “You can call me Birch,” she replied, smiling down at Levi. “And that’s his name, huh. A cute one he is. He hasn’t cried once.” “Probably because his parents aren’t around accusing him of being a demon,” I spat, more bitterly than I meant. “How is the Miscreancy even doing this? Aren’t they the ones that cause the Falses? Sebastian only has four other members with him and killed the rest of the group. I’ve no idea how they’re doing this.” “The Miscreancy has been around for a long, long time,” Birch said. “There many members that were most likely not on that boat that day. You forget about all the humans, the Kroutins, and even those whom were apart of it in the past. And it’s not like they sit around in a group and plan these things, dear. They are evil; they have surrendered their bodies to the doings of Lucifer. They can’t go anywhere without causing something. Or doing something. It is in their nature now.” “If the Miscreancy are causing all these random deaths of people who aren’t even supposed to die then why doesn’t the Angel of Death do anything? Don’t these deaths mess with his list?” Irritation started growing inside me. Why was the Miscreancy allowed to frolic through the daisies, killing people? And where have the Kroutins gone? Birch gave the bottle to me, and I fed Levi with it. She said, “There is only one Angel. One Angel accounted for seven billion people. I really don’t think that he has time to deal with every unlawful killing the Miscreancy has caused. That’s why there are Seventh Sighters.” “Why not more then? There are only five in the United States. If there were more then the Miscreancy could be taken down and there would be no more deaths like that.” Birch smiled, sweet and sad. “I am a health professor, dear. I am not one to delve into politics with. Speaking of that, I really must run. I have a class to teach. A nurse will be coming by to take care of Levi… Unless you want to stay for a while? I can tell her to wait thirty minutes.” Levi latched my finger with his tiny hand. A certain peace bloomed within me. I nodded at Birch. “Maybe forty-five.”
  13. ~ Levi was a Seventh Sighter. Or, a future one. I didn’t know whether or not you were born as one or not. But I just knew he was going to be one. That was why I felt so attached. He was sort of my little brother. And that was why his parents had thought he was a demon. Perhaps he had powers already? No, that couldn’t be it. If he had powers already then he would be able to see Falses, and he was way too young to do anything about it. Then why? I stared at the empty bottle on the table diagonal from me, lost in wonder. Levi was holding my finger ever since Birch left, and didn’t want to let go. It got me excited thinking that he could tell I was his “sister”. He was wearing the same clothes that he was when Eliza and I saved him, except it was free from blood, so I figured they were washed, as well as his blanket. Levi looked almost one, and it pained me that he didn’t have parents now. Not true ones. That his parents wouldn’t see him take his first steps. His parents wouldn’t see him growing teeth. His father wouldn’t be able to teach him how to throw, and his mother wouldn’t be able to cuddle him after his first day of school. Levi would wonder where his parents were. And somebody would have to explain that they were killed. Because they didn’t love him. And where would I be? Would I still be around? Would he even remember me? Levi tightened his grip around my finger. His hands were so soft, and his delicate and fragile body was so beautiful. How can anybody ever hurt a thing so pure and innocent? I choked out a sob. I didn’t realize I was crying until that whale-like noise I just made. The sheets were soaked, and a tear had fallen on Levi’s cheek. I brushed it away tenderly, just as a knock on the glass sounded. It was Rave. Crap. Did he see me crying? I turned away and sloppily tried to rid my eyes of the excess water and redness. I guess it didn’t work because when I opened the door to let him in he gave me another hug. I fit my face in the crook between his shoulder and neck. I felt comfortable there. Without saying a word, I took Rave’s hand and led him to the bed. I took back my spot while he sat cross-legged by the foot of the mattress, just staring. Gently, I picked Levi up and cradled him in my arms, turning him slightly. “Hi, baby Levi,” I said, my voice sounding lower from my little cry fest a while ago. “Meet Uncle Rave.” I kissed him on the forehead. “He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” I whispered. “And you’ll feel safe whenever you’re with him. Because I do.” I handed him over to Rave, knowing that he heard what I’d said. He took Levi in his arms like a pro, and Levi laughed. It was so gorgeous. I grinned, taking in the sight of Rave holding him with so much care. I could see it in his eyes that he cared for Levi just as much as I did. “He’s going to be a Seventh Sighter,” I said quietly. Rave broke his gaze with the baby to look at me. “How do you know? Did they actually take him to the lab?” “No, I just…know. I feel connected with him.” “He feels like a brother to you.” “Exactly.” Rave grinned. His dimples drove me crazy sometimes. “Then I guess baby Levi has some decent family after all.”
  14. The nurse eventually kicked us out, saying that Levi needed to be put to rest. She looked kind enough, so we went without protest and wound up for lunch in Old Shackles. “Did Alum Sansa tell you about the lab results?” I asked, running my fork through my mashed potatoes. Rave nodded. “We’ll get it figured out. Don’t worry. And he also told me that you were going to start training to tomorrow?” I perked up immediately. “Yeah, I’m actually really excited! He took me to the training grounds today and everybody looked so fierce. I want to look like that.” Rave hesitated, like he was debating whether or not to say something. He changed his mind and smiled. “Then we should go and get you some gear.” We finished our lunches, tipped the waiter, and left the restaurant. Rave led me to this small shop in the strip mall that he said barely got noticed at all but sold the most quality stuff. The shopkeeper—surprise, surprise—recognized Rave immediately, and brought him into a hug. Introductions were made, and before I knew it I was being locked in a stall with a bunch of sweat-absorbent shirts, and shorts that allowed your thighs to breathe. I tried them on gingerly, and studied myself in the mirror. “Come out when you find the ones you like the most so I can see!” Jean called in his thick French accent. “Okay,” I said back, turning to the side to see how my butt looked in the shorts. Jesus, why did it even matter? Eventually I went with black shorts lined with pink trim, and a fitted blue spaghetti-strap that felt more like a bathing suit top than a form of gym wear. I guess that’s what they called sweat-absorbent. I peeked out of the dressing room and saw Jean and Rave, patiently waiting in chairs, talking. With a sigh, I stepped out and went down the aisle. Jean stood up and gasped when he saw me, and I almost tipped over from being so startled. “You look great!” he complimented. “Like an Olympic gold medalist!” I pulled down my top. “Er. Thanks.” “Oh, no no no,” he muttered, taking the top and pulling it up to reveal a line of skin. “It allows your abdominals to breathe, trust me.” I turned to Rave. “Well, what about you? Do I fit the expectation?” Something flashed in his eyes, and then he smiled easily. “Like an Olympic gold medalist.” ~ Carrying my bag, Rave and I walked back into the lobby. I’d brought up his favorite places of the Basin, and how he said he’d show me today. He got really excited and started guiding me towards the elevator once more, before a cold hand caught my shoulder. I turned sharply into the eyes of Brother Jerimiah. My stomach turned, and I made out a faint and pathetic, “Hello.” He eyed me warily, as if I was the one who disturbed him. “I need to speak with you.” I stole a quick glance at Rave. “Umm. Why? I mean, for what reason?” Brother Jerimiah remained still, yet his voice gave me chills. “Personal reasons.” He gave a pointed look at Rave. “For her ears only.” I felt Rave tense behind me, but he put an assuring hand on my back. “It’s okay,” he said. “I’ll take your clothes and store it in my room for the meantime. You’ll be fine.” I was aware of myself shaking my head, and then the bag was taken from my hand and my feet were trailing behind Brother Jerimiah, who led me through the strip mall until we got to another silver gate. Brother Jerimiah murmured something under his breath that sounded kind of scary, and the gate creaked open. He didn’t bother to check if I was following him, yet if I bolted I had a feeling he would know the millisecond I took a step backwards. Little did I know I was walking into a trap. Brother Jerimiah had locked the two of us outside, on a balcony overlooking the lush green of the forest. The balcony belonged to a room, I saw walking through it, with massive paintings of buildings shaped like doughnuts—dammit—Basins. I didn’t have much time to take a closer look, but I could see that some were very old and withered, as if one touch could disintegrate the whole thing. I hadn’t wanted to ask any questions, and Brother Jerimiah hadn’t offered up any words of his own, so I supposed I’d ask Rave later on, or maybe even Alum Sansa or Birch. “I am assuming you are wondering why I’ve summoned you to have a word with me.” Brother Jerimiah and I were seated across from each other at a silver table, which matched the cross on Brother Jerimiah’s suit, which was moved from his left pocket to the lapel. I stared at the plate of cheese and crackers at the center of the table, and the cup of steaming tea sitting in front of me, before meeting his hard eyes. “I suppose I am.” I wasn’t hungry since I just ate at Old Shackles with Rave moments ago, but I didn’t want to seem rude and ungrateful, so I took a cheese cube and popped it into my mouth. I couldn’t casually excuse myself without jumping off of the balcony, so I might as well please my taste buds another time. “I know I come across as a bit—” a sly smile stretched across his face— “frightening, but know that I act without intentional harm. I just want to ask you a few questions.” I nodded, settling myself into the seat. “I’ll be glad to answer them.” Brother Jerimiah folded his hands together. “Excellent. Then let us begin.”

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