What happens when everything you love changes for the worst?

Danielle Miles wants to be normal. She wants to feel normal.
And yet she can never be normal because of her secret; the one thing she despises about herself most of all.
But what happens when she if forced to use her secret to help others who are just like her?
Who are... different.


16. Thirteen: Chapter Fifteen

I yawned and sleepily turned over. Sighing contently, I snuggled deeper into the soft warm quilt. I hadn't slept that good in ages and the bed felt like clouds; they were so comfortable and felt like two huge arms caressing me in a bubble of luxury and coziness. I wouldn't have been surprised if Naida didn't want to get up either.
    "Good morning" A voice whispered close to my ear.
    Naturally, I screamed. And flung myself off the bed away from the intruder.
    At the same time, Naida screamed and rushed into my room, grabbing hold of my arm. Mischievous laughter erupted from Naida's room as I stared with my mouth open at the person laughing in my bed.
    "Sebastian?!" I couldn't keep my eyes off of the guy laid in my bed, laughing at my expression.
    And I couldn't keep my eyes off his chest. He was not, and I would repeat this to anyone who asked, wearing a shirt. He was in my bed without a shirt on.
    "You expect anyone else?" He grinned, propping himself up onto one elbow.
    "I didn't expect to see you in my bed in... oh God, are we still in Maridia?" I asked, hoping it hadn't all been a sick effect of the therapy. If I'd just imagined being forced into a portal, being attacked by weird monster and then offering to help a fictitious princess I was going to be seriously annoyed with the Nova people.
    He frowned. "Is that what this place is called? Weird"
    "How did you get here?" Naida asked, her grip on my arm loosening. I wondered what had freaked her out?
    "Same way you did," B12 answered, leaning against Naida's door frame. My eyes widened when I saw him. B12 had come with Sebastian? "We came through the portal"
    "Why?" I turned on B12, trying to get my eyes off Sebastian. "And why did you think it would be funny to scare the hell out of us?"
    "We didn't think you'd scream," Sebastian reasoned, jumping off the bed. "Just, you know, get scared a little" He loomed over me like the trees in Maridia. He looked to be in a good mood, being in bed gave him terrible bed head and his emerald eyes locked on mine. His tanned chiseled chest looked too good to be true that I found myself leaning towards him until Naida pulled on my arm.
    "You didn't answer my first question" I counteracted, dragging my eyes from Sebastian's.
    "We got your note," B12 shrugged. "Said you needed help. Doctor Mayhew didn't want us to go but-"
    "Wait, the note saying we needed help?" I turned on Naida this time and she smiled sheepishly. "What did you write?"
    "I put that we needed help because we were stranded in a forest," She bit her lip, looking down at her feet. "We do actually need help"
    "Yeah, but I thought you put something like we couldn't get back and might be a while. Now they're stuck here with us!" I swung my arm towards Sebastian.
    "Oh," She wrung her hands and kept her eyes on the floor. "I didn't think about that"
    "No, you didn't" I said angrily.
    "What are you guys arguing about now?" B12 laughed.
    "Now?" Naida's eyebrow rose at him.
    I rolled my eyes and grabbed Sebastian's shirt off the floor, throwing it at his face. "Put your damn shirt, I can't think straight," He chuckled and slipped it on. "Now we have to include them in this," I pushed them out of the room and locked the door. "Get dressed Naida, we need to get going. It's already nine; we slept for half the morning!"
    We got dressed into our Nova uniform as quick as we could. And when Naida fixed her hair in my mirror, she asked, "What's going to happen now?"
    "Well, we'll see what Princess Alisha wants our help with and then we'll have to debate weather we want to help her or not" I explained, brushing the knots out of my hair.
    "Are you done yet?" B12 moaned, banging on the door.
    "Never ask a girl that," Naida yelled back. "It's signing your own death wish" I laughed with her and slipped my necklaces back on. Naida pulled her hair into a messy bun and just finished up when B12 knocked on the door again, a little quieter now.
    "Miss New, Miss Danielle, we are still very confused as to whats going on" Sebastian's voice raised an octave and I grinned to myself.
    "I saw that" Naida giggled.
    "I don't know what you're talking about" I denied, crossing my arms.
    "You know what. And I could see the way you were looking at him; you do like him!" She whispered excitedly.
    "Will you drop this already?"
    "Never" She grinned.
    "I hate you. You know that, right?" I shook my head at her childishness.
    "Aw, I love you too" She laughed and shrugged at my exhalation through my nose.
    I rolled my eyes and swung the door open. "Let's go," I motioned to the door, grabbed Naida and dragged her along. "We have a lot of work to do"



    Just like before, we pushed the heavy doors open and quickly slipped through. Sebastian and B12 were in awe as we had been.
    "Whoa," Sebastian breathed. "This place is h-"
    "Who are you?" A deep voice asked. Our heads snapped over to the left, where a soldier was stood wielding a sword. "What business do you have in the White Castle?"
    "We're here to see Princess Alisha," Naida answered. "She told us to come back" The soldier's eyebrow raised but he motioned for us to follow, leading us up the stairs and down a huge corridor with long windows letting through dusty stripes of sunlight.
    "I don't care what they think! We need to take precautions!" A booming voice echoed through the wide hall and I flinched at the powerful authority in his words. The soldier's pace quickened and soon we practically ran to catch up with him.
    "But Father!" I heard Alisha's voice louden to counteract with her Father's. "They worship the trees. You can't cut them down!"
    "This is gonna get messy" Naida whispered breathlessly.
    The soldier shoved the doors open and quickly walked to the throne. It must have been the Throne Room; everything looked very expensive and sat in the huge jewel-covered throne looked to be a very royal man. He wasn't dressed like a King; he wore a plain suit but he did have on a crown.
    "You came back" Alisha looked honestly surprised by our appearance.
    "Of course," I took on mock shock. "You thought we would just leave you to fend for yourselves?" She smiled and turned back to her Father.
    "Father, these are the people I was talking about"
    "So," The King took a good look at us, evaluating us and sitting up in his throne. "You're the so called heroes Alishas talked about? How are you going to help us then, wave a magic wand?"
    I bit back my sour comment and replied, "No sir. Alisha and John said you needed help and we have come to deliver. We're here to help"
    "John did go to Earth then," He whispered to himself. "That little-"
    "Father!" Alisha exclaimed. "Now's not the time. They want to help and you should at least let them try. We need to get rid of him"
    The King huffed and slumped in his chair. "Fine. Listen and don't speak, understand?"
    I nodded.
    "There have been some disappearances lately and we know who's been causing them. The Ringmaster," He paused to take in our expressions. "He's been kidnapping young people to fill his circus but we can't seem to find it, no matter where we look. It's no where to be found"
    "When he releases the people he takes they die two days later," Alisha explained sadly. "We need to stop him before he wipes out all of Geneva"
    I nodded and bit my lip. We could die. If not he could steal our souls and then we would die.
    "Where's the most popular place for the Ringmaster to kidnap people?" Sebastian asked. "If we interpret where most people've been taken we could learn something about him and it would be easier to defeat him"
    "Oh, thank you!" Tears started forming in Alisha's eyes. "Thank you so-"
    "Alisha!" The King scolded. "If you really wish to contribute then say something useful"
    "I'm glad I don't have a dad" I whispered to Naida. She nodded and murmured something about them being pointless.
    "The only place the Ringmaster will take people from is Greenwalk Beach. It's the most popular place of Maridia, becoming a very famous tourist destination, and many people go there everyday" The King explained.
    I nodded and looked over at the others. They suddenly took on a sense of seriousness, as if taking this as a real mission. I saw then that they were very mature even if they didn't act like it; I guess they'd had to grow up rather quickly in Nova. "We won't fail. You have our word"
    "You may want to take some weapons" The King suggested.
    Sebastian shook his head. "No. We don't need them. We might not look it, but we are stronger than you think"
    The King shrugged. "If you say so"
    Alisha walked us out, telling us what the Ringmaster was rumored to be like. From her description, he sounded like a lovely person. Note the sarcasm.
    All I was wondering was what would happen when we met him.
    And that thought had the power to regret my decision.



    "Where's this beach then?" Naida finally asked after hours of walking through the dense forest. I groaned and dragged my hands over my face.
    "Maybe we should've asked!" I yelled, scaring off vibrant red and blue birds.
    "Dani!" Sebastian shouted, taking hold of my shoulders. "Calm down!"
    "No! My feet hurt, I'm tired and B12 won't shut up!" B12 hadn't stop talking about the 'beauty of the forest' and the 'amazing way the sky was perfectly clear'. It had driven me round the bend.
    "I know, everyone's pissed off and-"
    "Young man, don't use such foul language!" Someone's voice broke through our irritated chatter and we turned to the source.
    "Saffron?!" We all gasped in unison.
    "In the flesh," She giggled and spun round on the spot. "So what've you been doing?"
    "Well, wandering in circles looking for a fu- bloody beach," I answered, rubbing the back of my neck. "So how are you here?"
    "Same way you're here, I guess," She shrugged. "It was hard at first. Once I went through I waited for the others but they never came"
    "What? The others are here too?" Naida asked.
    "Of course. You were taking quite a while and we were starting to get worried. So Doctor Mayhew sent us to help," She smiled. "But we've gotten separated. I can't find them"
    "You were split up? What do you mean?" Sebastian wondered.
    "When I went through the portal after Derek he wasn't there so I waited for the others but they never came through. I've been searching for them for a while"
    "So Lexi, Merlin, Derek, Rufus, Candace and Abraxas are here?" B12 questioned, eyes widening with shock.
    "Not Abraxas. Doctor Mayhew told him to stay in Nova because he thought he wouldn't come back," Saffron shrugged again. "It might be true"
    If the others are here they might find us soon. God, I wonder what Lexi is doing to occupy her time... I shivered.
    "What are we going to do now?" Saffron inquired, meeting her hands in front of her.
    "You're staying with us?" I asked, bewildered. "Surely you'd want to find the others or at least look for your husband"
    She waved away my suggestion. "I'm sure Derek's fine without me; I don't need to look after him. And as for the others they can handle a little forest on their own"
    I shrugged. "If you say so," I looked up at the blue sky and the bright sun. "We need to find Greenwalk Beach. And search for the Ringmaster"
    "I heard about that," Saffron said grimly. "The Ringmaster feeds on the souls of the villagers of Geneva because he lost his soul years ago. Now he walks a lonely shell"
    I shivered. "Who did you hear that story from?"
    "A weird old man selling clocks," Saffron explained. "He was very fascinated with my hair and b-"
    "Ah ah!" Naida raised her hands over her ears. "We don't need to know"
    Saffron giggled. "Right"
    "Shall we get going then?" Sebastian huffed, grabbing my wrist and towing my away.
    He dragged me for a while before the others caught up and released me, walking ahead and leading the way. He led us through the thick layer of green and brown and the only thing that could be heard was Saffron's quiet humming. After a while I hummed to, recognizing the song, and then Naida started singing in a sweet musical voice.
    The only reason we were singing was because the sun was slowly disappearing over the forest trees and the day was getting darker and darker. The shadows of the trees were creeping up on us like slinking animals ready to attack.
    "Where's this beach then?" B12 asked.
    "It might be over there," I pointed at the big wooden sign declaring 'Greenwalk Beach'. "Or it could be my imagination"
    Our walk sped up to a jog and soon we were kicked off our shoes and trudged through the warm golden sand. I scrunched my toes in the yellow particles and squealed with delight. It had been so long since I had been to the beach I'd forgotten how beautiful it could be.
    "This feels great" Naida breathed and sighed with satisfaction, closing her eyes.
    "Yeah," B12 agreed. "Beats the grey of Nova"
    "Indeed" Saffron smiled. We approached the sea, staring out at the vast clear blue ocean. We stood in a line as we watched the calm waves glitter across the horizon. I met my hands behind my back and sighed contently.
    "Why would the Ringmaster decide to steal people from here?" B12 asked, ruining the perfect atmosphere.
    "I've no idea," I shrugged. "This place must be teeming with people in the day; It's the easiest target"
    "True. But wouldn't the King have done something by now?" Naida asked. "You know, set up patrols?"
    "That'd be too easy. He has to go round the hard way," I explained. "And it certainly works for him" We stood in silence as they pondered my theory. They knew I was right; the King didn't want his own men to get hurt so he asks outsiders to do the job. His men stay fine and he doesn't care if foreigners get hurt.
    "When do you think this Ringmaster will appear?" B12 asked. No one answered but Sebastian took in an intake of breath. He had been eerily quiet and couldn't keep his eyes off the sea.
    "Dani?" Sebastian blurted out.
    "Yes?" I glanced over at him and his pupils dilated.
    "Can you walk with me? I need to talk to you" Sebastian pulled on my arm.
    "I guess," I shrugged. He dragged me along the beach away from the others and muttered to himself. "What do you want to talk about?"
    "Why are you here?" Sebastian asked, turning round to look at me.
    "John threw me into the portal," It sounded like a question when I meant for it to be a statement. "The other Sebastian, the one who stuttered, had a bitch fight with John"
    "I knew it," His expression turned dark and he looked out on the sea. After a couple of seconds he glanced back at me, just as angry with me as he was with the other Sebastian. "Why didn't you move? Why did you stay where you were? Why did you-"
    "Alright, can you stop please?" I suggested and he spun round, moving his eyes away from me. "I did what I did and that's that," I told him, walking around to see his face but he turned away before I could see his eyes. "I can't change what I did just because you don't like it," I stared at the back of his head. "Why do you care?"
    "What do you mean?" Sebastian asked. "I don't care. Why should I care?"
    I shrugged. Why was he asking me these questions? I knew there was something on his mind and was trying to find the right words. I didn't want to push him so I just kept silent while he mulled his thoughts.
    Whatever he wanted to tell me was giving him some trouble.
    "Dani...?" He finally whispered. I looked up to see him staring down at me.
    "What?" I shrugged, showing him I was not amused. I didn't like people wasting my time.
    "Why don't you like Nova?" He asked. It was obviously not the question he wanted to ask but I humored him.
    "I was dragged there because of what I am. And I was getting experimented on by weird scientists," I reasoned. "You may like it but-"
    "I don't like Nova!" He yelled, grabbing hold of my arm. His grip was like iron. "I never have and I never will"
    "Then why are you asking me why I don't like it? Surely you'd know that Nova's a Hell on Earth. And there are more. That means there are more people like us who are trapped, waiting for their next needle," I pulled my arm free when his grip loosened. "There are more people who need help"
    "I know" He whispered.
    "That's why I want to escape," I took hold of his hand. "That's why I need your help"
    He blinked down at me. "My help?"
    "You're the strongest out of all of us. And you've been there longer than I have; they would never suspect you"
    "But I-"
    "I'm not going to talk about it now though," I raised my hand to halt his words. "I'm going back to the others. We need to talk about how we're gonna find the Ringmaster" I started walking back but Sebastian grabbed my hand. I looked back and he caught me in his intense stare. The piercing green of his eyes completely overtook mine.
    "I-I need..." He started but then stopped dead. I smiled sympathetically and took his hand in mine.
    "Tell me when you're ready," I told him and he nodded, shutting his open mouth. I ran over to the others, leaving Sebastian one his own, and Naida grabbed me. Telling by the look in her eye something up. "What's wrong?"
    "I sense something," As she spoke my necklace vibrated gently. "Can you feel it?"
    "Yeah," I breathed, scanning the beach quickly. Something was coming for us. "What time is it?"
    Saffron checked her watch. "A couple minutes past ten" I tried to even my breathing as I looked over the area again. The darkness crept on us, sharp talons looming on the sand.
    As if it were alive.
    Suddenly, a piercing screeching filled the night air and I covered my ears to try and block out the noise. The shadows sped towards us and quickly surrounded us in darkness. I heard Naida scream and then silence. I opened my eyes and saw nothing and was dragged across the floor.
    I felt awake but asleep at the same; I couldn't move and I couldn't feel anything except the rising feeling of panic.
    I knew the Ringmaster had seen us.
    And that I was in for a very special ride.

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