My eyes welled up with tears, but I refused to let them spill over. I focused on the point in front of me; the shack that I was going towards. It was a small shed-like structure, some sort of rag-tag place to stay in an emergency or something.
The shed was a dark, drab and a brown-ish, grey color on the outside. A lock was stuck on the door, wood peeling down the front of the old door. Next to the lock, I found a sharp and heavy stone. I lifted it with one hand and hit the lock as hard as I could. It was so old that the rusty metal shattered apart after a few blows. After attempting to push on the door, I realized that the wood had swollen up in the frame, causing the door to stick shut. Lifting my leg up to my side, I kicked at the door causing it to swing and slam against the wall. Inside the shack, there was a single twin sized mattress lying flat on the floor. An old, raggedy, green blanket with holes hung off the side of the bed and next to the bed, a single mouse-eaten pillow laid on the floor. The only other thing inside the shed was a shelf, standing against the corner of the wall in such a way that there was a hollow place behind the shelf. I glanced around at everything, taking it all in.
How underwhelming, I thought to myself. Before I could do anything else, I could have sworn to myself that I heard breathing in the room. I paused, and held my breath for a moment. The breathing was heavy and seemed to be coming for below me, but there was nothing below me. I continued to listen and moved my way towards the only place anyone could be hiding; behind the shelf. I stopped beside the edge of the shelf and tucked my fingers behind the back of it. I pushed it away from the wall, but before I could figure anything out, I dropped. Part of the floor had caved in from beneath me and I was in a large, underground, cement room. In the corner of the room, almost underneath the hole I had fallen through, sat a little girl. She couldn’t have been older than seven or eight.
She was breathing heavily and backing slowly against the corner.
“Don’t be afraid, I can help you.” I told her, speaking softly so that I wouldn’t frighten her. She swiftly danced away from me to the other side of the room, and paused when I held a hand out for her.
“Shh, they’re coming.” She whispered.
“Who? Who’s coming?” I asked, confused.
“The ones who have the girl,” she murmured, “The dark girl, dark hair, dark eyes, dark girl.”
“This- this dark girl,” I questioned, “What did she look like?”
“Dark!” The little girl screeched, “Dark, dark, dark girl!”
“Yes,” I said, slowly, “But, what else?”
She pondered my question.
“Dark girl,” She said, “Dark girl, was golden.”
“Do you know the dark girl’s name?”
“Kah-” The girl’s mouth formed sounds, “Kah-Lii-Stoe.”
“Are you sure?”
“The white girl said the dark girl was Kah-lii-stoe,” she
The little girl sat down and began to rock back and forth.
“The white girl,” I said, under my breath, “Tara.”
“They’re coming, they’re coming, they’re coming.” She breathed.
“When? When are they coming?”
“They’re coming, they’re coming,” She stopped and snapped her head up to look at me, “They’re here.”
I heard thumping coming into the room above.
“You’re gonna stay here,” hollered an unfamiliar male voice, “Until you learn to behave!”
“You want me to behave, you’re going to have to wait a long time!” Kalla’s voice snapped. “I’m not afraid of any of you!”
“Kal! Kalla!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I could feel her rolling her eyes at me from down here, ‘You should have kept your mouth shut, Stupid.’ I could practically hear her speaking in my head.
“You have a little friend down there, Kallisto? Huh?” The guy said, shoving her down the hole in the floor. She landed and cringed when she hit the ground. Muttering some curse words under her breath, she pulled herself to her feet, turning to look at me.
“You idiot,” she whispered. All I could do was muster a small sound.
“Oops,” I whispered. That was when the others began to enter the concrete room. I wanted to cry out, to call for Finn, but I knew that would only ruin everything. They couldn’t know that Finn was with me, they would find him. As mad as I was… I couldn’t let him get hurt.
“Annella,” I heard Kal mutter harshly, “Move!”
She was right, of course. Just as the words tumbled from her lips and I slid to my right, one of the soldiers slammed a slate of stone down where I had been standing.
Move, idiot, move, I thought, Remember your training.
I quickly swept myself to the side and swung my ankle behind the earth mage’s knees. Immediately, his knees buckled and he collapsed. As soon as I began reacting, my vision became clear again. The movement around me came sharper into focus and I continued to take down the dark soldiers, one by one. My elbow crashed into a woman’s nose and her hands came flying to her face. She shrieked with pain and anger. I didn’t care, the rush around me had taken over. My training was slowly but surely coming back to me. Flashes of my father went through my head, but that just made me more aggressive. A man came running at me and I simply stepped to the side and watched him come into contact with another soldier. Both collapsed and I just laughed.
I looked up from the mess and Kal was staring, her arms dangling at her side. Blood smeared the side of her face and I looked around the room. Collapsed soldiers, none of them dead, but all of them injured, surrounded us. The little girl that had been in the room had disappeared in some piece of the battle.
“We need to get out,” I said, wiping fresh and hot crimson liquid from my face.
“Tara,” Kallisto muttered. “Where is Tara?”
Right on cue, Tara hopped down into the hole, taking the entire scene in with a quick glance. “Well. You two have made a mess of things, haven’t you?”
Another figure leapt through the whole. It was a boy, who I didn’t recognize. He had long black hair, and gleaming purple eyes. He put his arm around Tara’s shoulders.
Tara glanced at him, completely surprised. “Where did you come from?”
I felt my muscles freeze up- I could barely move them.
“Giving you a hand, sweetheart,” the boy grinned. “I wouldn’t want her punching your face in, seeing as that would make you less pretty.”
“Kyle, will you shut up?” she rolled her eyes. “I want to know what you’re doing here, and why you had come at this particular moment.”
“I noticed you were missing one in the set,” he commented. “I thought I’d bring you the third.”
“The third what.”
“These two had a friend with them,” he replied. He reached up, and grabbed on to another person, who was also shoved through the hole to land on the ground.
“I have never wanted to shove something down your throat more, Kyle,” Finn muttered. “Great welcome back you gave me, brother.”
“Oh, be quiet Finn,” Kyle rolled his eyes. “You abandoned me. This is as much thanks as you’re gonna get.”
“I didn’t abandon you! Do you still have the mental capacity of an 8 year old or something?”
“Stop whining,” Kyle replied. He turned to look at Tara again. “You were saying?”
“Hey, Finn,” Tara grinned at him. “Nice of you to join the party. I can’t believe it- the whole gang is here now. I mean, I expected her to come after her friend, but what brought you into it?”
Kyle coughed impatiently. “Sweetheart, I’m the one that found him for you. Don’t I get some thanks for that?”
“Later,” Tara rolled her eyes.
“You could have mentioned that you were in love with Tara when you beat me up,” Finn said under his breath. “I would have fought harder if I’d known you were doing this for her.”
“No, you wouldn’t have. You know I’m a space mage, brother. There’s nothing any of you can do that can counter my powers. I can seal this entire room off and leave you three to suffocate to death if I wanted to. And I wouldn’t care.” He glanced at Tara. “Do I get points?”
“Yes,” she sighed. “For that, you do.”
He grinned. “Do I get you to kiss me yet?”
“No. You’re going to have do a whole lot better than that.”
“Take my advice, brother. Find another girl,” Finn said, laughing slightly. “This one is going to drive you insane.”
“Find me one that’s just as gorgeous and I might consider it,” he replied. “Sorry to break it to you, but Tara’s special. And she’s not a mutant like the rest of us either. What about you, Finn? Did you find yourself a girl, finally? Maybe one of those two?” he smirked slightly. “So which one is yours?”
Finn hesitated, before rolling his eyes and muttering something to himself.
“What was that?”
“Both,” he snapped. “They’re spoken for, sorry Kyle. You can’t have either of them.”
“Who said I wanted either of them?” Kyle rolled his eyes, grinning.
“Alright, let’s end this conversation,” Tara interrupted. “Kyle, you’ve said your piece. Now let’s go. Seal it off, and we can come back later. Fair?”
“Sure, let’s end this conversation, Tara, but first I have to know… Kyle, do you keep rolling your eyes in hopes of finding a brain back there?” I said, glaring towards him.
Kyle laughed. “You picked yourself a good one, Finn! Hot and a serious temper. You’ve got my taste in girls.”
“I told you,” Finn said calmly. “They’re spoken for.”
“Whatever,” Kyle glanced at Tara. “Well, sweetheart?”
“Seal it off and we’ll come back later. You can keep speaking to your brother later if you want, but I have other things I need to do.”
“Anything you need from me?”
“Stay here and guard?”
“And not be near you?”
“Kyle…” she said, a warning look entering her eyes.
“Fine,” he sighed. “Anything for you, Tara.”
The two left through the hole. A second later, it sealed itself shut, and I could move again.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, falling to my knees, “Oh, Finn, I’m sorry.”
He managed to push himself up, and I saw that his hands were bound together with two silver links of metal.
“It’s all right. I’ll admit that I would prefer to have skipped the extra unpleasantness with Kyle, but he had every right to be angry. It doesn’t hurt that much anyways.”
“It’s my fault you got caught, if I hadn’t…” I paused, “I left you alone.”
My last words to him echoed in my head and through the open space, I like you, Finn. If you can’t handle that, then just go.
He shook his head. “I’m glad you weren’t there… things could have been a lot worse. Besides, you wouldn’t have wanted to watch anyways. There’s an entire system here in the wastes- and oaths are binding. I broke mine. The punishment was pretty harsh because of it. I guess you could say I deserved it.”
My eyes welled, but I didn’t let the tears pour over. I glanced at Kalla, who looked rather confused, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I swiftly trailed my way across the room and wrapped my arms around Finn’s shoulders before he could do anything. He flinched, but after a second relaxed slightly, leaning his head against me. Kal stood in the middle of the room and stared.
“Um,” She smirked, “Okay.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, again, “I’m sorry, Finn, I really am. My temper- I just… You wouldn’t let me help you and I couldn’t- I just wanted- I still want to help you. I just want to be there for you. With you, every step of the way.”
The tears spilled over at that moment, and I couldn’t stop them. I had left him- my Finn- I had left him all alone.
“Elle, it’s okay,” He murmured. “We’re okay, everything’s okay.”
“I just left you…” I looked up at Finn, his green eyes were focused on my face, matted blonde hair falling in his eyes. “What I said… And I just left you alone.”
“Annella, stop.” He spoke softly, but with a sense of urgency, “My hands are bound. Wipe your eyes.”
I practically slapped the tears off my face, rubbing them away vigorously.
“Okay,” He said, in a small breathy voice, “Annella, I like you, too. I’ll get you out of this. I promise. You and Kallisto both.”
“It’s Kal,” I smiled at him, my eyes still wet from my tears.
He laughed gently, but I could tell he was in pain.
“I can’t heal you,” I said, apologetically. I gestured to the silver, frowning.
“It’s all right,” he sighed. “I’d prefer to let myself think that I deserve this much.”
Kallisto coughed quietly. “This is very sweet and all- when did you two become a thing?”
Finn glanced up at her, a bit of his usual smirk coming back. “It hasn’t been very long, I promise. I’m sorry if it’s a bit of an inconvenient time, but…”
“No, it’s sweet,” she smiled. “It’s definitely better than you two being at each other’s throats.”
“Good,” he leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes. “We need a plan. I might be able to reason with Kyle… it’s Tara that’s going to be the real danger. You two need to find out what’s pulling her strings, and why she is the way she is.”
“You think you’ll be able reason with Kyle when he obviously hates you?” Kallisto pointed out.
Finn laughed again, a small and painful sound. “I think I might be able to talk some sense into him. See if he remembers this.” He flipped over his left hand, revealing a thin scar that ran across the length of his palm.
“Are you-” I cut myself off. Of course he was sure.
“We’re brothers,” Finn smiled. “He must still care a bit, or he wouldn’t be so mad. But if all else fails… Kalla, I have a plan that I need your help with.”
“Okay,” she replied.
He turned to look at me again. “And you’ll work on Tara for me?”
“Anything,” I said, still worried. What if Finn goes all, ‘Hero?’ What if he tells Kal to save me and let him go? I scoffed at my inner thoughts. No, He… He wouldn’t.
“Hey,” Finn looked at me, his bright eyes absorbing my own, “We’ll be fine. All of us.”
“Okay,” I stopped and waited in silence for a moment, “Now, our latest problem. How do we get out of here?”