I race through the woods, dodging trees and leaping over boulders, careful not to slip on the thin layer of frost on the ground. I routinely glance over my shoulder, seeing the pack of wolves quickly gaining on me.
I come to a halt when I reach a drop-off. Very long way down, and the cliff is vertical, no way to slide anyways. I hear the panting and paws crunching snow, so I'll try something new.
I take a step back and run forwards, pushing off into the bitter air. Straightening into a rod, picking up speed, and preparing myself for the . . .
My stomach lurches as as I abruptly change direction. I force my legs to stay straight and lean, steering myself.
I'm flying away from the wolves, but it won't stop them long. Zane never runs out of ideas.
My suspicions are confirmed when I hear a hawk's screech. Darn it-
I hear the whoosh of the hawk descending and spin violently to the right, talons scraping my left arm. I wince and look down at the bird of prey, which is arcing back up towards me. My right arm vibrates and a jolt of electricity runs down to my hand, and when the hawk's beak opens and it's claws stretch towards me I release the energy.
The hawk disintegrates and the ashes scatter, but I'm still not finished. I hover in the air for a moment while I pull up my portscreen, a holographic projection appearing above my hand. It's a map, and I search for the target, mentally counting the seconds I have left to risk.
Four, three . . .
There! I locate the base and scout the route; as soon as I start to fly that way an arrow pierces my leg. I scream, spiraling out of control.
Right before I hit the ground, I manage to give myself one last boost upwards to soften the landing. I crash into the snow, skidding into a tree. I groan and look at my leg. The arrow is Zane's favorite, the kind that latches into your skin and--
I yell in agony as the tip of the arrow shoots shards of metal into my calf.
My leg is torn to shreds, and I know I have to pull out the arrow or it will only get worse. I grasp the shaft and yank it out. My vision darkens, but I won't allow myself to black out. I throw the razor-sharp arrow into a nearby tree and gasp when cold snow touches my leg.
I glance at the tree to see that the arrow is methodically reducing it to sawdust from the inside out.
I have to move or Zane will find me; I have to get to the objective, but every movement causes the shards of metal in my flesh to dig a little further.
I tell myself to ignore it--worse will come if I don't reach the base. I stand, a cry of pain erupting from my mouth. I try to fly with one leg, but can't get the boost I need. I decide to flip out another of my gadgets.
Every step causes excruciating pain, but at least now every step takes me 100 feet; I can now reduce gravity's pull on me if I want.
I can see the base now. I just need a few more steps . . .
Another arrow hits me, only this time it is protruding from my gut. I fall, writhing in pain as it electrocutes me.
Zane stands over me with his bow. I know he has already won, but I also know he isn't killing me. He can't kill me.
His dark hair falls into his face as he looks down at me, smiling.
"Hello, there, Erika. Long time no see."
The arrow's shocks decrease and come to a stop, and I turn and cough up blood. When I turn back to look at him he is holding the whole quiver of arrows. I try to crawl away but he plunges one through each of my hands, trapping me against the ground. These are simply sharp on all edges--moving will slice my hand open even more.
Zane kneels down next to me, removing a red-tipped arrow. My heart skips a beat. I open my mouth to plead with him, but too quickly he rests the point of the arrow against my neck. I scream as it burns through my skin and he pushes harder. The red-hot arrow slices into my throat like a knife through butter, and I can't scream anymore.
This isn't fair. Just because we don't die . . .
I jerk my hand up, wincing as the arrow tore away my skin. Zane drops the arrow in surprise and it clatters to the side. I pick it up and stab it through Zane's head.
He faceplants, clutching at his forehead at the red-hot arrow. I reach for the other ones and pin him with them.
Ha, Zane, looks like I win this time, I think. Slowly, very slowly, I limp to the base that is my target. My wounds start healing, and by the time I get there there are no scars.
"God, Erika, what took so long? All you had to do was rendezvous here; you weren't even assigned to kill anyone this time," says a boy in a spotless suit and tie, with snow white hair and chiseled features.
"Whatever, Jonah. You didn't have to dirty your suit." He looks me up and down and smiles.
"You look good in red," he says, and I laugh, because my outfit had been white.