FUSION

In the near future Britain will face Armageddon and one girl will fight to save its rebirth from epic destruction.

In a Network of failing wealth, high school graduates compete to avoid becoming Outcasts: a revolt of failed Recruits being extracted to die in apocalyptic ruins.

When seventeen-year-old Serena Knight is targeted by demons and thrust into a government intent on supremacy, her future disappears. She meets Kit, a slayer from an unseen realm, continually haunted by his past of sins whose aim is to keep her alive. But when her father is kidnapped and secrets exposed, surviving not only matters for Serena's sake, but her entire family’s.

Now Serena must learn mortal combat, finding support from Kit in their hunt for clues behind an android army, a prophesied bloodline and the story of Recruitment. But the government has been lying about their plans for domination, and Kit has secrets of his own that could affect everything.

*Could be considered Divergent/TMI fan-fic*

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2. Chapter One

 

Part One

We’re straying from the path of salvation because we remember that we once belonged to the world and were content in that belonging”—Daniel Quinn.

 

Chapter One

 

The drama department was located at the back of the school near the P.E. changing rooms. In winter, Serena despised the long walk across the grounds. The air was too cold, the winds too harsh, and she could almost guarantee that if she wasn’t ill before class, she would by the end of the day.

Her school was one of the few constructions salvaged in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Built from an old orange brick, the structure stretched across forty acres. A clock tower watched over the foundations, its ancient face still ticking after a century. Two storeys harboured a vast selection of rooms and concrete steps ascended to the main entrance. The warm interior had Serena eager to skip class; her first lesson was in a detached studio where she’d have to wait outside. She glared at Jet who had Biology in the heat.

“I can’t believe today is our last day,” he said as he gestured Serena into the hall. He was wearing his favourite blue jeans—a tight fit denim, fraying at the knee—with a grey shirt and leather jacket.

“Please don’t remind me. I don’t want to leave yet. I’m not ready.”

“Why not?”

She gave him an ‘Are you serious’ look. For years she’d been transfixed with a movie the local cinema ran; specialising in Old World films, the story of Peter Pan had captured her heart since childhood, and she couldn’t let it go. Something about being an adult in the Network petrified her, and she longed to cling to youth for as long as possible.

“Neverland doesn’t exist, Serena.” Jet reminded her. He caught her arm when she tripped over a stray lace. She smiled sadly in thanks. There was no way she could handle adult life if she couldn’t even walk properly.

“But imagine if it did. We could be free. There’d be no Recruitment, no dos or don’ts. Rules wouldn’t exist. It would be bliss.”

“You’d still get older.”

“But it wouldn’t matter when you could just live.”

Jet spread his arms, presenting their closed world. “What is there to live for here? All anyone is fated for is work. There are no trips to exotic lands, no day-trips, no fun. That’s the existence we’re destined for.”

“Not in the Upper Classes,” Serena said. In UC1 and Two, they had the luxury of aircraft to fly them out of the country. If Serena could afford it, she’d go faraway and never come back.

“Keep dreaming, my sweet. We’re in different Classes for a reason. We have to make do with what we have.” He smiled widely, revealing two dimpled cheeks and straight white teeth. He’d had his braces removed yesterday, and the transformation from ‘maturing boy’ to ‘striking lad’ was apparent.

“But what if making do isn’t enough?” she asked. “What if I want more?”

Tomorrow they’d face Recruitment. The process was always a stressful time for the Lower Classes and happened every year when a generation of Unofficials—students of eighteen—proved their capability in a series of written and practical exams. Of course this only applied to certain areas of wealth—the Upper Class could sleep easy in the knowledge that their money would keep them safe.

Growing up, children inhabited the Class they were born into and learnt its ways for less chance of becoming an Outcast.

Outcasts were those who failed Recruitment and wandered the dreary streets of the Lower Classes without shelter, always scavenging for food. Serena didn’t agree with the concept, but it was the way the Network worked and no one dared oppose it.

Unofficials were allowed to request residence to any Class, however it was a much closed process and the wealthy often declined those of the first three Classes. It was even a rare occasion if a person of MC2 was accepted into their society—a means of “it’s not what you know, but who you know”.

The application process involved submitting your school results, along with a video demonstrating completion of feats in a particular Class. Serena hadn’t stretched beyond her means and submitted to her home of MC1. To prove her educated nature she’d shown she could care for an elderly woman named Lila, who had no teeth and suffered from Alzheimer’s. Residents of the Upper Classes often became celebrities, business directors and designers, whereas those of lower wealth led the less glamorous lives of cleaners, waitresses, and if they were lucky, retail assistants. However sometimes workers of the Lower Class would strike out and be hired by the CEO’s of the wealthy who needed domestic help.

If Serena hadn’t been accepted for Recruitment, her name wouldn’t be called tomorrow, and the other Classes would have to review her case to govern who would take her on board. These people were often placed in LC1. Acceptance meant she’d be classed as an official resident, destined to work as Jet had said.

She stopped outside his classroom and peered out the window. They were surrounded by thick rows of trees to block the hideousness of the three-hundred foot Wall that enclosed them. No one had ever seen beyond the Wall into the Outlands—even the Nexus Links were concealed with barriers. Apparently they were meant to prevent the sight of a lost world, but sometimes Serena thought differently.
                Jet’s thoughts were apparently on the same path. “I wonder why it is that the buildings are all lower than the barriers. It’s like they don’t want us to see anything out there.”
                She studied his face. His blue eyes examined the shrubs and people inquisitively.

“Maybe they’re hiding something from us,” she half joked. “Maybe there are mutants out there, effects of some nuclear explosion, who strive to get in.”
                But instead of the light-hearted response she expected, he said, “Yeah, maybe.” And then she saw his train of thought.

In the forest, a man with a bushy beard, dirty clothes and a limp in his step dragged himself through the foliage. There was an open bin which he weakly lifted himself into for scraps. He was one of the Outcasts, once like them who’d faced Recruitment but failed, now left to wander the streets and fend for himself. The Network wouldn’t provide for him because he wasn’t successful at proving his worth. He must have snuck on a shuttle out of LC1 for better food.
                “More and more keep disappearing lately,” Jet said, turning his back on the Outcast. “It’s too much of a coincidence for them all to be dying at once, which means something’s taking them away.” Or someone, Serena thought.
                The Outcast tumbled onto the floor. From this distance it was hard to tell what age he was, but everyone knew that the only Outcasts who were ever seen were still in their teens.
                “Don’t be silly. One of the Classes is probably taking them in or something.”

Some of the windows were fitted with technological elements that allowed TV to be watched. A news report flicked on and captured Serena’s attention.

“Discussions over a suggested merger with local confederacy Catharsis ended yesterday with no further action being taken,” said the reporter. “Catharsis was very disappointed when The Six declined their proposal to join the Network, saying they were ‘discriminating’ their belief of crime allowance and would ‘soon regret refusal’. This possible threat has citizens of the Network fretting over the annual ‘Reparation’ Catharsis is set for two weeks from Monday. When asked, The Six assured us there was no cause for alarm.” Steve Granger, the UC1 leader appeared on screen. “’Due to the severity of the remaining wreckage in the Outlands it would be impossible for Catharsis members to arrive at the Network in their allocated crime time. The only way it might be manageable was if they had a vehicle capable of hovering the ruins, but unfortunately this is something we have yet to achieve ourselves. Catharsis is a very deprived community; it’s safe to assume they won’t be infiltrating us anytime soon’.”

Catharsis was once the city of London, now a city of poverty. After the apocalypse, survivors found there was a level of peace maintained between them and believed it the act of releasing supressed violence. After around nine months, people were at each other’s throats again and so a group decided to create a community where once a year, people could commit crime without being punished. Catharsis indulged in twenty-four hours of Reparation which proved successful in lowering crime rate. Serenity usually existed for six months before diminishing. During this time Catharsis lived the way of the Old World.

“I can see why they would want to become part of the Network,” said Serena. “It must be hard for them being so deprived and hearing about the advancements we’re always creating.”

“Maybe if they didn’t keep destroying their confederacy they wouldn’t be so diminished. They’re silly to think they’d be welcomed here.”

“I guess.” But Serena couldn’t help feel bad for them.

“I know it’s harsh to think like that but Catharsis chose their way of life and so did we. We’re all separate livelihoods because we all have different principles. They need to accept that.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” A girl with a pixie cut stopped by their side. She wore silver jogging bottoms, a loose shirt and had a tattoo of a dream catcher on her wrist. “I missed you in P.E. yesterday, Jet.”
                “I had the dentist—finally got my braces off, see?” He gave a broad smile and the girl placed a hand over her heart.
                “My, my, if the girls back home thought you couldn’t get any cuter, they were certainly wrong. I must say I’m hurt you didn’t use your opportunity to leave to come and visit us.”
                “You know we can only leave once a month, Justice, otherwise I’d come and visit all the time.”

Because Serena’s school was public, student wealth varied, though it would always remain vacant of the Upper Class. Justice was from LC1 where people sold their bodies for money, crimes went dismissed, and every building was sabotaged beyond repair. Though LC2 wasn’t much better, they bordered poverty and lived in broken down houses marred by graffiti. Cars were constantly vandalised and robbed in both areas.

“Still,” she continued. “Maybe you could Recruit with us. I bet you’d blow us all away.”
                Uncertainty clogged the atmosphere. Jet tensed and stole a glance at Serena. Besides not wanting to degrade, he’d never leave her; any decisions made were considered together. But it was like Serena was invisible to Justice, insignificant, because now that Jet was growing into his looks, girls were starting to flirt.

Serena wondered how much longer they’d remain together, but quickly shook the thought away. If Jet ever started to show interest in anyone and distanced their relationship, she’d have to accept it . . . but even the mere thought made her heart ache.

He smiled pleasantly. “Thanks, but my place is here.” He gestured to his left. “You remember Serena.”
                “Sure,” Justice said, clearly disappointed. “You’re the girl who was hit by the car, right?”
                “Yeah,” she bowed her head. “That’s me.”
                “It’s a shame it wasn’t worth it, seen as the boy died anyway.” Taking a couple of steps back to where her friend called, Justice stroked Jet’s hand. “Catch you later.”
                Once she was out of ear shot he raked back his hair. “She shouldn’t have brought that up. Are you okay?”

“Super.”
                The first bell rang and more students began to crowd the halls. Jet tugged on the strap of his messenger bag.

 “I better get to biology.” When Serena didn’t reply he followed her gaze outside. “What are you looking at?”
                Stood within the trees, a guy with dark hair, a grey shirt and black denims, stared up at her. Even between their expanses she could see the azure blue of his eyes, they shone like embers and were trained on her like radars. There were three other people with him who walked the grounds cautiously. Were those weapons they carried?
                “Him.” Serena pressed her finger to the glass. “He was on our train.”
                Jet peered down, his brow furrowed in confusion. “There’s no one there. You’re just being paranoid.”
                “No I’m not.” She rubbed her eyelids to make sure she wasn’t delusive. The guy tipped an imaginary hat.
                “I think you’re nervous about tomorrow and you’re letting it get the better of you. Go to drama, get your mind off it, and you’ll be fine.” He patted her lightly on the back. “I’ll see you later.”
                Serena waved absent-mindedly in his direction. When she looked back at the trees, there was no one there. Maybe Jet was right, but she didn’t believe him.

On TV, an advert promoting UC2 came on; these clips were futile, no one at this school would be accepted in their lifestyle.

A woman in a tailored dress appeared on screen. “Why live life restricted to the same meagre sights? In U-C-Two we believe in change, being the best we can and surrounding ourselves with the like. Express yourself through stylish decor, various languages, and talent. Make your dreams a reality today.”
                Waiting to enter a different room, a LC1 guy snickered. “It was living like that which caused this whole mess—not our ways. I don’t know why they’re even allowed to exist—in the Old World people weren’t treated equally, and they certainly aren’t now. There’s nothing similar between us and them. They wouldn’t dare trade with us for a day.”

Dressed in a woolly jumper, a MC2 girl gave a small smile as she preceded Serena, but not before the LC1 whispered a comment in her ear.

“We all know what your Class is up to,” he said. “Why not tell everyone your dirty little secret?”
                The girl cringed away, shocked by the boy’s behaviour. What was he inferring? There was no news of any Class behaving adversely. And in the unlikeliness that MC2 was, it was doubtful the girl would have any knowledge of it. For a society that was supposed to live in independence of division, the Network was doing a poor job. 

Serena sighed and prepared to meet the weather.
                Though it was a nice dream, equality would never exist.

 

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