Everything was going too fast. Loitus didn’t even have time to speak. One of the guards read her rights, but she didn’t hear a word. She was brought into a room with no windows and a table and placed in a chair where a burly-looking policewoman on the other side in her own chair.
Questions were fired at her, but Loitus simply stared at the other woman. She waved the coat around a bit, but despite all, Loitus was in too much of a shock to speak. She was dragged out of the room, the policewoman frowning as she left, and tossed into a cell.
For a few moments, Loitus just lay on the floor, trying to process what had just happened. She didn’t break her trance until a pair of khaki-colored slacks and a gray polo shirt was tossed at her through the bars.
“Change into that,” said the guard, turning her back to give Loitus some privacy. “Then hand me your clothes when you’re done.”
“But, I didn’t do anything,” Loitus said softly. She looked at the clothes in her hands.
“What was that?” the guard asked, but remained facing away from her.
“I didn’t do anything,” Loitus repeated, a little louder.
“That’s not for me to decide,” the guard said. She turned slowly to face the younger female. “But, since I never seen you in here before, I suppose you can get away with a single night in your own clothes.” She extended a hand to take the prison uniform, and Loitus gladly gave them back. “Just don’t get used to it. Your trial is tomorrow.”
Loitus felt tears welling up in her eyes as she handed the uniform back. She didn’t know what to say.
“Listen, lassie,” the guard said. “You don’t seem like a bad person. Let me at least get you an extra blanket. It gets cold in here at night.”
As the guard dissappeared around the corner, Loitus sat down on the crinkled matress. It smelled like cigarette smoke and creaked as she moved. She put her head in her upper hands and broke down, her body wracking with sobs. What had she done to deserve this? What was going on?
“Psst,” someone said just outside the bars of the cell, but she ignored it. “Psst!” This time, it was a little louder. She decided to take a look and was surprised to see a hooded figure.
“Psst!!!” it hissed again.
“What?” Loitus growled. “What do you want?”
“You are Loitus Parsnip, yes?”
“Who wants to know?”
“I have come to deliver a message.”
Loitus didn’t reply, but continued to glare at the figure.
“While you may not be free, soon you will see. The Wings have recruited you. They will carry you through.”
“The Wings?” Loitus whispered. “Why would they want me?”
“When the night falls on the day of tomorrow, a bag will be ready. You must leave without sorrow.” The figure stood there for a half second more before dashing down the hall.
As most members of Hive City knew, the Wings was a anti-government organization that sought a more representative form of government. Right now, the classed society hurt those that were Plainborn the most. The Wings supported a government that treated everyone equally and gave everyone a fair chance at the life they wanted. But Loitus had never been involved in that. Besides the fact that her father was involved with some not-so-legal people, she herself had never done anything even remotely against the law.
Just then, the guard returned with two large blankets made of dandelion fuzz. It wasn’t the most comfortable of materials, but it was nice enough for a night.
“Here, ya go, lassie,” she said, squeezing the bankets between the bars. “They’re just washed, so at least you’ll have something nice to smell.”
“Thank you,” Loitus replied soberly. She bowed slightly, and spread one out on the bed to lay on top. Then, she crawled under the other and closed her eyes. Maybe tomorrow would be better, she thought as she felt herself drift off, tears slipping down her nose.
Sleep didn’t come easily for Loitus that night. She was alone in silence. Usually, she could hear Julius snoring softly on the bunk above, and she’d gotten so used to it that now the silence was deafening. Besides the occassional door opening and closing, it was as if she was surrounded by some dark substance that blocked all sound.
She drifted off a few times, only to be woken up again by her own anxiety and strange sounds within the prison. There appeared to be no other cells in the area, so she reasoned it was just a holding cell for people before their trial. She tossed and turned a few times, hoping sleep would come before drifting off into a slumber that could be broken by the slightest movement.
This was fortunate, though. At about three o’clock in the morning, she got another visitor, this one a bit more familiar.
“Loi!” a voice hissed. She snapped awake, but didn’t move, continuing to feign sleep. “Loi!” the voice repeated, this time a little louder. She rolled over to catch a glimpse of the owner before actually getting up, and was surprised to see Julius sitting just outside the bars in the red light of the flickering EXIT sign. All four of his hands were grasped tightly to the bars; she was surprised his knuckles weren’t white.
“What are you doing here?” she hissed. She tried to keep the anger out of her voice. “How could you do this to me? You’re my best friend!”
“I told you,” he replied, looking down in shame. “They said if I didn’t frame you, they’d kill my sister.”
“Who is ‘they’?”
“I don’t know. There were dressed in dark suits and looked kind of official. I think it might have been the Highness Bureau of Investigation,” Julius whispered.
“The HBI? What would they want me framed for?”
“They said something about Wings,” Julius replied. “But you weren’t involved with them, were you?”
“No, my dad was.” Sudden realization swept over her. “Do you think it’s like what they did two years ago with the blacklist?”
“Yeah, I think they’re clearing all possible links to Wings from Hive City,” Julius said. “They’re probably scared Wings is getting too strong again.”
“I knew it,” Loitus growled. “So I get in trouble just because my dad was involved.” She felt angry tears coming to her eyes, but pushed them back. Her father had already been killed for a crime he didn’t commit just because the government felt threatened.
“I’m going to get you out,” Julius said, producing a lock pick set from his jacket pocket. “The Wings already sent me a messenger. They want you to escape and go to the capitol and gather support.”
“How am I gonna do that?” Loitus asked, disbelieving. “I’m not a leader.”
“They certainly think you are.” The lock clicked open and Julius sled the cell door carefully so it wouldn;t squeek.
“If you get caught…”
“I won’t,” Julius said, stopping her. “Take this bag. It’s got all the supplies you need for two weeks. There’s also some Combs in there to purchase extra supplies if you need. Be careful.”
“You’re not coming with me?” Loitus begged.
“If the government really is scared, then I want to make them more scared. When you return, we’ll be ready for a full scale revolution.”
“I don’t know if I can do this, Jules.”
“I believe in you, Loi. If anyone’s able to do this, it’s you.” He embraced her tightly. “Now, go. I have about 23 seconds before the guard comes back. Go out the door right there, turn right, and exit out that door. The alarms disabled, and the guards on lunch break.”
She hugged him once more, holding back tears, and ran out the way he’d explained. Her whole world had been turned upside down in a single day, and now she was leaving the one place she’d ever known her whole life. She didn’t know what was in store, but she had to do this, if only for Julius.
It was eerie in the empty halls of the holding prison. This wasn’t the full scale jail that the HBI ran; it was just a small building used for holding people before trial. Only a few cells were located here, and tonight, each one was empty.
Julius was right. There was not a guard in sight. Loitus raced down the hallway, jumping at the sound of voices. But they were far enough away that she didn’t have to worry about them. The door was unlocked, just like Julius had said.
A gift, she mused. But she knew not to question it. With the silence of a moth, she slipped out into the night.
The curfew had already started, so there were only police and a few guards out. Loitus frowned, recalling a time when there was no curfew. The streets had been alive with happy Apis enjoying the evening. Now, the only lights that were on where a scant few street lamps and the flashlights of those on duty.
She knew the alley ways like the back of her upper right hand. This came in handy on the nights she and Julius would escape for a breath of fresh air. Sometimes Hive City was so stifling despite its size.
The southern exit was in sight. There were only two guards right now, and both of them appeared young. Loitus frowned. How early was the government starting them now? Were these two girls right out of academy?
She pushed the thought from her mind and made her way through the shadows. She held her breath as the two girls passed her, chattering about the latest gossip and discussing whether the XL637 laser rifle was more efficient than the air-powered XT453. Loi frowned thinking of similar conversations she’d had with Julius and wishing she didn’t have to leave.
The keypad at the door was easy enough. She’d memorized the code a thousand times over, and they never changed it. She supposed it was because no one ever even thought of leaving. Or at least that’s what HBI thought.
Goodbye, she thought, turning around one last time as the door slid open. She felt tears trickle down her cheeks, but set her jaw and took the first steps out into the cool night. Despite it being the middle of summer, a chill ran down her spine.
This was it. She was leaving the only place she’d ever called home. But she knew this was the only way. If someone was going to stop where Hive City was going, it had to be someone that was willing to challenge the status quo. And right now, Loitus was the only one that was even capable of doing it.
Taking a short leap, she took to the air, slinging her pack over her shoulder. It was heavier than she remembered just ten minutes ago, but she didn’t worry about it. She slipped her goggles over her eyes to protect them against the wind and headed east. Onward to the capitol, and perhaps something new.