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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35. Chapter 34

Chapter 34: Chemical Heart

"A lesson without pain is meaningless. For you cannot gain anything without sacrificing something else in return, but once you have overcome it and made it your own...you will gain an irreplaceable fullmetal heart."

- Hiromu Arakawa


They don't let me say goodby to Kern. It's the last time I will ever see my former enemy and true friend, but they don't care in the slightest. And why should they care? After all, it's not their life trickling away as a disease eats them away from the inside out, it's not their friend they are seeing for the last time, it's not their people who will be killed and then forgotten, erased from the history books and the human genome like we never existed at all. We all have icy hearts that will only melt for the right reasons. This is not their reason.

For the first time since I've met her, Craggier stays completelt silent as she and Cartwright begin marching me back towards my cell. She must feel the weight of what is about to happen as much as the rest of us. The events that Avalis set in motion go even deeper than Craggier's voice and she knows it too. This is my end and her beginning. Things can only get worse for me and better for her from here on out.

The foot steps are so quiet, as a professional thief's should be, that we don't even notice Adrian's presence until she is standing right next to us. Her blue eyes shift from the color of the noon day sky to the depths of the ocean and back again as she looks at us with such intensity that it sends a shiver up my spine. Craggier and Cartwright stand stock straight as she approaches. The only reason they'd treat a Number this way is because she's Avalis's daughter and on their side. Too bad I don't get the royal treatment.

"How can we help you, Miss Caserento?" Craggier asks, attempting to look the much younger yet taller girl in the eyes.

Adrian expresses no interest in Craggier as she says, "Orders from General Avalis," and hands them a sheet of paper, her eyes locked on mine, their blue, watery depths burning with a dark flame.

"Of course," Craggier, her voice lacking it's usual arrogance as she pulls out a pen from her uniform pocket and signs the paper to confirm she received and confirmed the order. "If that's what the General wants."

"It is," Adrian replies with out any affliction or quiver in her voice as if Avalis's wants were her wants too.

"Indie." I'm shocked by the use of my nickname. "We'll be handing you over to the custody of Miss Caserento. You'll be paying your mother a visit."

"Adrian," I say instinctively. "You mean you'll be handing me over to the custody of Adrian, my sister. Cut the whole 'Miss Caserento' crap."

Craggier's face turns even redder than usual and she opens, but Adrian silences her with one sly glance. "Come on, Indie. I think it's about time for a family reunion."

"Will dad be there? Oh wait, I forgot that he can't attend because mom killed him," I spit out as I willingly follow Adrian away from the two slightly confused Monitors.

Adrian waits until we're far enough away from Craggier and Cartwright to answer. Maybe they don't know about Avalis killing my father. Is that why Avalis wants me on her side so badly? To keep her crimes a secret? "Wow, Indie, you're wittiness never ceases to amaze me. How much pint up anger did it take to come up with that one?"

I can't hide the utterly shocked expression on my face. Adrian has never talked to me before. I mean, she's gotten angry and thrown fits, but she's never had an attitude. All of her comments that could even be interpreted as rude were always in a fun-loving, joking manner. "A lot, twelve years worth to be exact. And how much brainwashing did it take for you to talk to your sister like that?"

Adrian crinkles her nose like my comment left a rather foul taste in her mouth but had no real effect. "I've grown since I've been here. I don't need you to protect me anymore; I can protect you." Her face softens on the last part and she looks at me with a hint of a smile over her tightened jaw. The familiar naw of worry eats away at my stomach. Has there always been something not quite right about Adrian?

I know it's not right to laugh at her childish idealism, but she makes it so easy. Laughing will only make it worse; it will make her angry and she won't listen to logic when she's angry. I suppress it for this reason. "You're forgetting that I'm the one who practically raised, not the other way around."

"But, if you let me protect you now, Mom will forgive you and then she'll look out for us. We won't have to steal or worry about how we're going to get food anymore." This is Adrian's logic. Our psychopathic mother, who murdered our dad and abandoned us to a fate almost worse than death, is going to forgive us, because we totally need to be forgiven for all of the horrible things we did to her, and take care of us. That makes perfect sense to me.

"Of course, I always figured Avalis would welcome us back with open arms."

Adrian beams like a little kid who was just told they were getting a pony for their birthday. She clearly didn't hear the sarcasm in my voice. "You're absolutely right, she will."

The rest of the walk continues in silence because I've discovered that I can't keep up with Adrian's messed up logic and I'm done trying. It's sad to think I can no longer understand the person I've known the longest and love the most. There is something so tragic about losing someone you thought you'd always have, especially when you can still reach out and touch them. I can reach for Adrian's body, but her soul is lost to me. 

It's a painful lesson to learn: letting someone to go. It's like being in a boat that's tied to a dock all of your life and suddenly finding that the rope keeping you attached to the dock has been cut. You're in that boat without a paddle, so you can either swim back and leave your only means of safety behind, or you can slowly and painstakingly paddle back with just your hands towards the nearest shore, dragging your safety with you. That's the hard decision, deciding which is more important: your safety or the dock you call home. My heart wants me to jump out of the boat and swim to the dock, but it has forgotten that the tide might carry me away if I'm too reckless or that I could drown if I exhaust myself. In my soul and in my mind I know that I have to hold onto that boat for dear life; it will be painful and terrifying, but in the end it will strengthen my heart and I'll find that I no longer need that dock.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sorry about the filler chapter. I'm low on inspiration as of late so this what you get for now. The next chapter will actually be interesting, I promise.

If you know what the quote at the beginning is from or recognize who said it then you are my new best friend. Dedication goes to whoever can figure out where the quote is from.

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