Chemical Numbers

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  • Published: 29 Oct 2013
  • Updated: 29 Sep 2014
  • Status: Complete
What if death didn't apply to you?

What if you could have infinite second chances at life?

That's what the Numbers seem to have, endless chances at life. They are mutants who come back to life every time they die. But, with the Numbers System in place, their chances of survival are zero. The Number System requires them to be tagged with numbers on their necks that drop as fifty more Numbers are executed each week using the chemical Agent-10, a chemical that strips Numbers of they're regenerative abilities.

Indie Caserento is a seventeen year old Number living with her sister, Adrian, in Manhattan. Working for a band of thieves has made them wealthier than most Numbers, but still on a count down to their deaths. They think they have a few more years left until their numbers are up, but when Adrian steals from the Monitors both of their numbers are dropped to zero. Their deaths seem imminent until the government makes them an offer that could change everything.

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14. Chapter 13

Adrian's eyes are almost luminous in the dark as she pulls out of the hug and holds me at arms length. My stomach twists inside of me and my throat begins to close up. All of the emotions swarming me at once are making me sick.

"Where have you been?" I ask a smile still pulling at the corners of my lips.

"The Court House," she says, her hands grip my shoulders with more force and her breath catches for a moment. "After you broke out they demanded to know if I was going to work with them. I told them what they wanted to hear and said yes. They didn't believe me, at least not completely, and watched me twenty-four/seven even though I was helping them. They put this weird bracelet on my wrist so they wouldn't lose track of me."

Adrian's jaw is locked and her eyes glazed over like she's struggling to remember exactly what happened. "How did you get out?" It bothers me a bit that she helped them, but I can't blame her. She did what she had to do.

Her head snaps up and her jaw goes slack. "Umm, I think there was a security break"

"You think?" I ask my voice hoarse from holding back tears. The more Adrian talks the more worried I become. There is something not quit right about the way she's acting. Something happened at the Court House that she's not telling me about.

She shakes her head like she can shake out whatever is blocking her thoughts. "I'm not sure. All I know is that yesterday the Monitors watching my cell got some sort of call and left in a hurry. I knew it would be my only chance to get out, so I used the leg of one of the metal chairs to break the bracelet off and made a run for it. "

I look down at her right wrist and see it's perfectly fine, but her left wrist has a circlular bruise on it. Adrian continues as if she's talking to herself. "I went out one of the exit doors, which set one of the alarms off, but I didn't stop. I just jept running until I made it back to our apartment, but it was all torn up and you weren't there."

She was looking for me and I wasn't there. Could I be any more of a failure? I left her in the Court House and then wasn't there when she was looking for me. "Adrian, I'm so sorry."

"No," she says and then takes a step away from me, her head tilted towards the sky. "I'm sorry. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for me. I ruined everything, Indie, and I'm sorry."

This time it's Adrian who cries. They streak down her face with the moonlight catching in them making them look like liquid silver. "I could never blame you for what happened."

"What?" You can't blame me for being an idiot?" she laughs through her tears, but it's not a happy laugh. It's the kind of laugh that you do when you don't know what else to do.

"I love you no matter what, you know that, right?" I ask her because I don't no how to respond to her question. She messed up badly, but so did I. I have no reason or need to judge her on what she did as I hope she doesn't judge me on what I didn't do.

She takes a shuttering breath trying to gain control of her lungs again. "Yeah, I know. And I love you too, Indie."

She wraps her skinny arms around me again, her fists wrapped in the fabric of my jacket. "There's something else I need to tell you," she whispers.

This is the third time in my life where everything has changed drastically and the second time in the week. What else could she possibly tell me? "What is it?"

She starts tapping rhythem against my back and refuses to let go of me as she speaks. "I sa-." She grits her teeth. "I saw Casprie while I was there."

Every muscle in my body goes slack. If it weren't for Adrian's arms aaround me I would have clapsed. I already had to go through loosing my sister, but now my best friend too. "Where did you see her?" I ask through my closed throat.

"They took her to an interogation room. I didn't hear what they talked about, but I don't think they liked what she said because they took her to the execution room after that," Adrian whimpers.

"Oh God," I whisper. "Do you think their going after other people from our group?"

She nods her head. "I know so. They sent a group of Monitors out dressed as Numbers with a list in their hands. I think it was the list of Numbers who they think would be useful."

"Oh God," I say again this time more as a whimper. "What do we do?"

Adrian pulls away from the hug to look at me with her blood shot eyes. "We have to tell the others. Warn them and maybe help them hide. Where have you been hiding?"

"With a pair of fighters," I tell her and she crinkles her nose. "Don't worry they're not as bad as they seem."

"Fine, do you think I could stay with you guys while, you know, we look for the others?" she asks like she thinks I'll say no.

"Of course. Why wouldn't you?"

She shrugs her shoulders and scuffs her foot against the ground. "They may not want me to."

"I'll kick their asses if they say no," I say.

She gives me a weak smile and then says, "We should probably go inside before they notice you're gone."

 "Yeah, let's go," I say.

It feels like we were outside for just a few minutes, but when we go inside the fights are already half-way over. Simoran stands in off to the side with her copper hair plastered to her face and a small trickle of bloof dyring at the base of her nose. Grey is also covered in sweat and his knuckles are split where he punched someone to hard. They are both done with their fights.

Adrian follows hesitantly behind me as I weave through the crowd, ducking under the arms of sweaty people screaming at the people fighting. Simoran sees us first. Her face twists into a mask of confusion and she wipes the crusted blood away from her nose. Grey follows her eyes, but he doesn't stare at Adrian like Simoran does, his eyes never leave mine.

"This is my sister Adrian," I tell them before they can ask.

"Ummm, hi," Adrian mutters and refuses to look at them.

"I'm Simoran. Nice to meet you," Simoran says brightly and holds her hand out.

Adrian takes her hand, but as soon as Simoran lets go of her hand Adrian shifts closer to me. Grey doesn't say anything to either of us, he just watches like he's trying to ask me something without saying it out loud. His hazel eyes flit from me to a place deeper in the crowd of people and I understand what he's asking.

I pat the the pockets of my pants and pretend that I'm looking for something. "Crap," I murmur under my breath. "Where is it? I just had it."

"Where is what?" Grey says picking up on what I'm doing.

"I put some money in my pockeet before I left and now it's not there," I lie.

"You might have been pickpocketed," Simoran says.

I give an almost real laugh. "I'm a master thief. I don't get pickpocketed."

Grey rolls his eyes at me, but he's smiling. "I'll help you look for it. Where did you have it last?"

"I think over there near that rfighting ring," I tell him and he starts walking in that direction. I turn to Simoran and Adrian. "You two talk, we'll be right back."

I find Grey near one of the rings pretending to be interested in a fight between two low ranking prodigies. He sees me and then crouches on the ground and pretends to look for something and follow his lead.

We don't make eye contact while we "look" for the money I didn't lose. "That's your sister?" he asks.

"Yes," I answer.

"I thought you said she was dead." His tone is neither angry nor confused, which I don't understand.  He sounds neutral like we're talking about the weather not a person who we thought was dead, but isn't.

"I thought she was," I say waiting for him to ask me what I know or for him to accuse me of something.

"Then where was she?" He still hasn't looked at me.

"She was at the Court House. They wouldn't let her leave and she had to help them until she could escape," I try to explain.

He raises his eyebrows in question. "She helped them?"

"She had to," I say more defensively than necessary. "They would have killed them if she didn't."

"What exactly was she helping them with?"

I remember now that I never told Grey about the whole war plan, Simoran and Maura were the only people I told. I quickly fill him in about the war plans as quietly as I can incase someone is listening, I don't want to start a riot. Or maybe I do, though that might not be the best option since rebellion would never be effective when they have an army waiting in the free world and probably tons of Agent-10.

It will look suspicious if we stay over here much longer so Grey hurries the conversation along. "She helped them to make plans to exterminate us and you trust her." It's not a question, but an accusation.

"Yes, I trust her more than anyone else," I say crossing my arms as I stand up.

Grey grits his teeth taking all of this new information in. "If you don't trust her, isn't it better to watch her than let her roam around the city," I add quickly.

"Are you asking if she can stay at my apartment?" he asks clearly frustrated and angry.

"Well, if you don't let her I guess she and I will just have to run around the city plotting genocide." I meant to say it jokingly, but it comes out harsher than I meant it to.

"Fine," he mutters half to himself, unsure he's making the right choice. "She can stay."

Grey walks back towards Simoran and Adrian before I can even say thank you. The younger pair look from him to me sensing the anger between us that feels like it's always there. Grey may be helping my sister and me, but that doesn't mean I have to like him. I have to me grateful and nothing else.

We walk back to the apartment, Adrian clinging onto me like a lost puppy. When we get their I let her take the couch and I sleep on the floor. With my sister beside me again, it's the best sleep I've ever gotten.

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