Thirteen

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.

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18. Thirteen: Chapter Seventeen

We stood near the entrance of the tent, looking into the darkness.
    "Are you sure you want to do this?" Derek muttered, staring at the black of the tent.
    I swallowed and shook my head. "No, but if I don't the Ringmaster will keep killing innocent people and will never leave the town alone. I can't let that happen"
    "Well, just be careful," Merlin told me nervously. "There's no knowing what could be waiting in there"
    "And don't worry. We'll help if you need it," Candace grabbed my hand. "You're not alone"
    "I know" I nodded and tried another go at swallowing the lump in my throat. I sucked in a deep breath and walked through the wide mouth of the tent. Inside the only light was the bright pool in the middle, circling the outline of the sawdust ring.
    Where the Ringmaster stood.
    "You decided to come back" He stated, loading his revolver slowly. I walked forward to the side of the clearly drawn chalk line on the floor and stopped right on the edge of light. Taking a deep breath, I shifted my hair and eyes back to their original colour and smiled at him.
    "Did you miss me?" I grinned.
    "Why did you have to run?" He shook his head, clicking his gun into place and staring down at it. "Now I'm going to have to kill you so you don't tell anyone"
    I laughed through my nose. "You can try"
    He smiled and pointed his gun at me. "I will succeed" He fired one shot and the world slowed down around me.
    The light bounced off the silver bullet as it twirled towards me and I stared as it shimmered through the light and embed itself into my arm. I was prepared for it to hurt and grabbed my arm, my knees wobbling slightly.
    But I felt nothing. No pain, no blood.
    I looked down and saw my skin was metallic. Staring at it in disbelief, I plucked out the silver bullet. As soon as the bullet was gone, the metal patched itself up and shifted back into skin.
    "Whoa..." I breathed. I flicked the bullet to the floor and looked at him. "Do you want to try again?"
    The Ringmaster looked at me with disbelief and started firing round after round, each sinking itself into my arms or legs and each time I pulled them out. I walked forward as he shot me and when I was close enough I punched him in the face.
    He fell to the floor and I picked up his gun, aiming it at me, and shook my hand, my knuckles hurting slightly.
    "Goodbye," I smiled, shutting my eyes and pulling the trigger. When I opened them he was gone. "Where are you?" I searched the tent, twirling round on the spot.
    "We're everywhere..." Voices whispered around me. I pointed the gun when the voices got too close.
    "Stop moving!" I demanded, spinning around to follow the voices. A blur zoomed past me and knocked me to my feet. I dropped the gun and it vanished before it could touch the floor. "Why are you hiding, Ringmaster? Fight like a man!"
    "If you insist" He suddenly stepped out of the darkness and I jumped to my feet, dodging his punch. His fist landed in the ground and kicked up dust. I stumbled on my feet and he fired a couple of rounds at me, and I luckily dodged each one. Soon he ran out of bullets and tossed his gun to the side. Grabbing his whip, he cracked it in the air. I tumbled out of the way of his whip as he tried to get me with it. Over and over he tried to nick me with his leather bull whip and each time I either jumped or dived out of the way.
    He nicked me on the arm and I grabbed it, a little blood spilling out.
    "No one hurts Dani!" Ivy screamed and my vision turned completely white, making me unable to see. I felt her inside my head, pushing all thoughts aside, and she seeped out of the cut on my arm. She floated there, her tail still attached to my arm, and glared at the Ringmaster. My eyes turned back to normal and my legs lost feeling but Ivy held me up with the pure strength of her ghostly tail. "I'll help her whatever the cost"
    The Ringmaster stared at her and then at me. He cracked his whip at me again I grabbed it and tugged him forward. He lost balance and I dragged him across the dust-covered floor and punched him in the face again.
    The moment I saw him as vulnerable, I didn't let up on beating the crap out of him. Ivy gave me the strength I needed to hurt him for what he'd done to me. He tried to run but I still managed to get a few punches in, which landed him on his knees again. He got a few punches and kicks in as well but it was nothing I couldn't handle; Ivy protected me.
    I stepped back panting and Ivy held me up.
    "Why?" The Ringmaster spat out a mouthful of blood and wobbled to his feet. "I could've given you everything you ever wanted and more. You could've travelled the world; seeing the sights and preforming for millions of people," He held his arm as he stepped forward. "You could've been famous"
    "That's just it. I don't want to be famous," I pulled Ivy back into my mind where I could protect her from the others. "And if you try to hurt me again there's one problem," The lights flashed on and Derek, Saffron, B12, Candace, Rufus, Lexi, Merlin, Sebastian and Naida stepped into the ring. "I'm afraid I'm stuck with these lot. We're kind of a package deal"
    The Ringmaster laughed and shook his head. "It's just your luck, I'm a package deal as well" The performers gathered around him, arching to protect their fallen leader. Olivia and Cable were no where in sight though; I'd thought they would be the first to come to their masters aid.
    Naida nudged me and I glanced at the others glaring at the performers. "Dani, we're here for you. We've got your back" The others nodded in agreement and I saw Lexi smile with evil pleasure.
    I'm here too Dani. I'll always protect you.
    I smiled and turned to the Ringmaster. "Give up now. You're out numbered"
    He laughed and stepped out of the ring. "I never give up" His group started advancing towards us and in the next second we were running at them. The ring seemed to grow longer as we ran at each other like two countries fighting in the heat of war.
    Once I was close enough to get my hand around one of the acrobats throat's time stopped around us. Our movements slowed til we were frozen in mid air. Even the loud ticking of Naida's watch seemed to slow down until it was completely silent.
    "What the...?" Lexi managed to get through gritted teeth. Laughing drifted towards us as the Latin guy from the portal walked into the tent.
    "John?" Naida asked. "What're you doing here?"
    John walked forward and stood next to me. "I heard you were having a spot of trouble so I came to help"
    "But... you were in Nova" My eyebrow wanted to raise but I doubted it had. My face felt like I was wearing a mask; my emotions underneath but the face above never changing.
    He shrugged. "I came back"
    "Why are we frozen?" Sebastian growled.
    "I did that with my mental powers," John smiled, proud of his ability. "Pretty cool, huh?"
    "Yeah, super cool," I mentally rolled my eyes. "Can you let us down now?"
    "Sure," He nodded in our direction and we all dropped to the floor. I groaned in time with the others as John examined the Ringmaster. "So this is the dude?"
    "What's the meaning of this?" The Ringmaster hissed. "Let me go at once!" I looked up and saw the Ringmaster frozen with his hands behind his back.
    "No can do," John laughed, taking the Ringmaster's hat and trying it on. "I'm afraid you're in serious trouble"
    Soon after John arrived many of the King's soldiers crammed themselves into the tent and arrested the performers and the Ringmaster. Of course the Ringmaster wouldn't stop yelling about it being unfair but all I did was laugh.
    When we were outside and away from the Ringmaster John told us that the King wanted to talk to us about a reward and that we'd have to come to the castle right away. But when got there the King was already asleep so John said to wait til morning. He let us sleep in the castle that night too so everything was coming up rosy.
    Not that I could sleep; the thoughts of the Ringmaster and the circus kept haunting me. I knew it was going to be a long night.

 

 

"...For your bravery in our hour of need, I present to you the highest award in Maridia. The Shining Sun," The King took each of our wrists and stamped a brown sun onto it. "These markings will stay with you for as long as you live. They'll be symbols of your courage. They'll also tell people of what you did for the King of Geneva"
    The crowd in the throne room cheered and clapped as we raised our hands in the air.
    "Am I the only one who feels a little stupid with a sun on their wrist?" Lexi whispered.
    I smiled. "Maybe but I don't care" I also felt stupid in the pink dress Alisha lent me. It was long, falling to the floor, and had short puffy sleeves. At least I wasn't in the awful Shiftress outfit anymore.
    After the ceremony was done and the villagers had left, I went into the courtyard for some fresh air. It was amazing how the architects had built a huge balcony on the side of the castle and made it study enough to hold a beautiful garden.
    I sat down on the side of the fountain and flicked my fingers along the waters surface.
    Are you mad at me?
    "I don't know," I admitted out loud. "I suppose I'm mad at you for still being inside my mind but I'm glad you hung on and proud of you for being able to stay with me. I'm not sure what it is but you seem to fill a hole in my life that I was unable to fill myself," I splashed some of the clear water. "Or maybe I'm just being weird"
    You're not weird. I feel it too. It's like-
    "What are you doing out here?" Naida called, walking through the archway. She sat down next to me and I looked up at her. I couldn't tell her about Ivy; she'd be upset with me for still having her there. Quickly, I tried to remember the date and it suddenly came to me.
    You should tell her.
    I knew what Ivy was talking about and I wasn't getting any younger.
    "Do you know what today is?" I asked her, looking back down at the water.
    "The 23rd," She shrugged. "Why?"
    "It's my birthday today" I smiled up at her when she gasped.
    "Oh my god! I'm sorry, I didn't know!" She pulled me into a hug.
    "Naida, it's fine. No one knew"
    "So," She pulled away from me and played with the water herself. "Is it rude to ask how old you are in shifter years?"
    I laughed. "No, of course not," I hesitated. Should I tell her and risk Naida looking at me like I was old and fragile like she had done in the forest? "Just... don't freak out, okay?" She nodded and I took a deep breath. "I'm one thousand, one hundred and forty years old today"
    Her jaw fell open. "Seriously?" Before I could answer her excited babbling started. "That means you were born in the late AD's! Oh wow, you must've been through everything. I bet you're always top of your history class"
    "Top of everything," When her eyebrow rose I laughed. "I've been alive for a thousand years; I've had tons of time to study" She giggled.
    "Hey guys! You here?" Lexi yelled, running through the arch. Seconds later, a very tired looking Sebastian ran into the courtyard as well. "Come on! It's time to go"
    My good mood went out with a sharp bang. I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to go to Nova and have to live there until we had the guts to escape. To be experimented as they thought of a way out.
    As Lexi dragged me down the hill with the others, the villagers, John, Alisha and the King I couldn't help but keep bringing up the thoughts of living in Nova again.
    Before any tears could escape Alisha suffocated me in a hug. "Don't forget about us, okay?" I smiled and wrapped my arms around her.
    "Never. How could I forget you guys?" I laughed, my voice thick with tears. She pulled away and I saw the tiniest tear fall down her cheek, which in turn made a tear roll down my own cheek. "I hope to come back. I need to make sure you don't get threatened by another Ringmaster"
    She laughed and handed me two brown packages. "These are for you. When you go back to Nova all you need to do is ask it something and it'll take you there and the other one is just a precaution," I raised an eyebrow but before I could speak she hugged me again. "Good luck"
    "Thanks" My voice held hints of confusion which made her hug me tighter. I walked over to the portal and turned back to the small group of villagers gathered around us. The way they looked at me and at the others, as if we were heros, made me feel an unfamiliar emotion that I hadn't felt in a while.
    I felt normal.
    One by one, the others jumped into the portal and disappeared. Only me and Naida remained and as we went to jump, Alisha called, "Happy birthday. Remember to tell me what happens" She smiled and Naida dragged me in. I barely had time to acknowledge the feeling of the portal before I tripped over the others bodies and landed on the pile.
    "Ow" I groaned, rolling to the floor. One of the packages in my arms shook once I hit the floor and I wasted no time in tearing the paper off. In my hand were two lovely looking crystal mirrors. The odd thing was there was no reflection.
    All you need to do is ask it something and it'll take you there. Alisha's words made my fingers tremble as I got to my feet. I knew what she meant and I knew what I needed to do.
    "Take me to the Generator" As soon as I spoke both mirrors buzzed to life, dragging me quickly out of the lunch room and down the hall.
    "Dani!" The others called and ran after me. Naida grabbed my arm and we were both pulled down a flight of stairs and round countless twists and turns of corridors.
    Soon the mirrors stopped us outside a metal door and I tired to push it open. Locked.
    "Can I do this?" Candace raised her hand and before we could answer she kicked the door down. We all peered into the room. Inside was a great metallic object kind of like a cylinder. It was round and had many wires and tubes coming off it.
    "That's it," Merlin breathed. "The Generator. That’s the one that controls the others"
    "Yeah, that's great and all but how am we supposed to-" I was cut off by a loud screeching noise and beams of red light shot out of Sebastian's eyes. He aimed them at the Generator and immediately it heated up and burned to a bright red. The heat coming off it was intense. When dials started exploding and it started buzzing we quickly dived out of the way before the Generator exploded into millions of pieces. All that was left was a burning heap of twisted metal.
    "Maybe like that" Merlin pointed. His features seemed lighter; as if a weight had been lifted. I felt it too; like I was walking on air.
    "Come on!" Lexi demanded, tugging on my arm. I heard some kind of alarm sounded and I could hear the faint sound of people running this way. "I want to see the outside"
    "Wait," I pulled on her arm. "I have to do something first. Here," I handed her the other mirror. "Say where you want to go and it'll take you there"
    "Okay but... promise you'll meet us at the exit," The look on Lexi's face made me agree either way. I knew she was worried I was going to leave them but I would never think about abandoning them. She smiled and looked down at the mirror without hesitation. "Mirror, the exit if you don't mind" Again, she was pulled down the hallway and the others quickly followed, leaving me alone in the hallway, looking down at the mirror and the other package.
    With a shaking hand, I unwrapped it and stared at the object inside. It was a long silver knife with a Latin word engraved on it. Throwing the paper on the ground, I gripped it in my hand and looked at the mirror.
    "M-Mirror, take me to Ivy's ring"
    "Are you sure?" A voice I didn't recognize came from the mirror and a cloudy question mark appeared in the glass.
    I bit my lip and stared at the mirror.
    "Yes. I'm sure" The mirror dragged me along the corridor, my hair whipping behind me with the speed it was gaining. The alarm was going off like crazy, red lights flashing and buzzing, and scientists ran around all over the place, but I was going too fast to see any of their expressions.
    I slid to a halt outside a silver door and pushed it open cautiously. Inside Doctor Cerulean stood with his back to me, looking at something I couldn't see.
    "I knew you'd come," He shook his head and turned to look at me. His eyes were wet and shiny, as if he'd been crying. "And I knew you would be the one to destroy all of the hard work I have lived my whole life for"
    I gripped the knife in my hand and he looked down at the dress, smirking. Glaring at him, I realized this was where I had to make a choice.
    I had the chance to kill him or leave this place. I didn't have time to do both. And he knew I had this choice to make.
    "I have to go" Sighing, I walked forward and pushed him out of the way. Picking up the ring, I slipped it onto my finger and felt Ivy release my mind. She was happy being in there as long as I didn't leave her and I was never going to leave her. So we were both happy.
    For now.
    He grabbed my arm and I stared at him, unsure of what he'd do but willing him to make the right decision. Looking into my eyes, his watered again and he shook his head.
    "I can't let you do that" He pushed me to the ground and pulled out a pocket knife. Smirking, I lunged towards him and dove the knife into his stomach. He stared disbelievingly down the knife and his blood soaking his shirt.
    "You don't have a choice," I pulled the knife out and he fell to the floor. The mirror vibrated and I looked down to see Lexi. "How in the world are you doing this?"
    "I have no idea but you have to hurry up" She ordered.
    "Okay, okay. Mirror, take me to the exit please" It dragged me throughout the twists and turns on the Nova corridors, past many scientists again and, when I was able to see properly, I saw a couple of offices with burning computers. I guess they weren't leaving anything to chance. Seeing the others before the huge doorway blocked by a piece of metal, I smiled but then it dropped quickly.
    "Finally," Candace rolled her eyes. "We were just debating who should take this one"
    "You!" Our heads whipped round to see the corridor filled with at least twenty scientists. "Stop right there!"
    Merlin stepped forward. "I got this one," He raised his hands and the walls shuddered. Candace grabbed my arm as we watched the section's of wall near the scientist's break away and crush them in the middle. Candace groaned and buried her head in my shoulder. Merlin returned the corridor back to normal and turned around smiling. "That should buy us some time"
    "But who can break a full steel door?" I knocked on the metal with my knuckle, trying to ignore the mess that Merlin had created.
    "How about me?" A door was kicked open and Scarlett stepped into view. She looked awful; her eyes a darker shade of nothing and her rainbow hair still matted with blood and void of it's shine. "I'm the strongest here; I can handle this"
    She walked forward and bent down, grabbing the edge of the door and pulling with all her might. I watched as she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, and then she flicked her wrists and the door flew upwards. Scarlett caught it before it could come back down.
    "Go. I'll hold it up," She ordered. The yelling of scientist's could be heard and everyone dived underneath the door. I waited behind and Scarlett smiled at me, opening one eye. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I'm fighting it"
    "But-" Suddenly I was pulled underneath the door just as Scarlett went down onto her knees. We rolled down a grassy hill and I landed face first onto the wet green grass. I raised my head to see Nova was just a grey building.
    A grey building on fire.
    "Scarlett!" I screamed, but before I could get up, Naida tackled me to the ground.
    “You're not going back!” She yelled over the roar of the flames. I was about to talk before the building exploded and we were thrown back. We landed in a pile and I felt tears stain my cheeks as I watched the building burn before me and saw Abraxas fly through the air.
    “What now?” I asked, looking back at the others. They were ecstatic and Lexi jumped into Rufus' arms. She looked down at me and smiled.
    “Now?” She smiled. "Now we live our lives”

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