Being Amber

Without any memory of her past and not knowing why people react to her as they do, Amber has to learn to survive in the hard underworld of the City, among gangs and the unwanted citizens.
Her appearent resemblance with Ben's dead girlfriend, places her in the middle of a war that easily can cost her and others their lives.
In her quest to find her identity Amber has to learn to tell friend from foe, see behind the lies and decide if Ben's past matters at all.
When Ben asks Tom to train Amber he gets pulled into the war happening around him, far more than he wants to be.
Tom's alliance with Ben hangs in a thin tread when he not only falls in love with Amber but also starts a relationship with Kattie, who already has a boyfriend in Clay, Ben's second in command.
Will Amber ever find out who she really is ?
And how Will they get through the war ?

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18. Training games

 

*Amber*

 I didn't know what Clay and Kattie had talked about, but Clay was still second in command of The Shadows and he seemed to really make an effort not to snap at Kattie or let the fact that Ben was back and handling things get to him. So when we a week later got ready for the training game against The Stars, it was still with Clay on our team.

 Ben and Kress had chosen one of the abandoned residential areas close by and KC spent the night before getting me updated on all the rules.

 We were firing colour bullets, but it hurt quite a lot getting hit by those. Everyone had a target on the chest and back. If you got hit on the target or the target was pulled of, you were out.

 To make sure no one could doubt were I belonged, I had The Shadows mark drawn on my arm with a marker.

 To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was shaking and feeling physically ill. I felt like this was my final test. Like we were going to test if all my training had been worth it. I didn't really like Kress. He hardly glanced at me and never spoke to me directly. His view on active women and women in general, shined through his words and actions. On the other hand I actually liked Zac. According to Kattie he saw women the same way as Kress did, but he had given me my first lesson in hand to hand combat and he always greeted me politely when we met. It gave me some mixed feelings toward The Stars.

 KC and Hope was totally worked up about the fight. Ben, Clay and Kattie acted as if we were going in to real battle. I couldn't really follow the young ones enthusiasm and I felt left out from the others planning.

 "Hope, you are with Clay's team and Amber you are with KC". Ben informed us, while he handed out radios that morning. Clay, Kattie and KC each got one, and Ben kept the last one himself. "You know the drill".

 Kattie helped me get on the gear. I had four guns in my belt and two more in my pants lining. All my pockets were filled with ammunition. Even though knives weren't allowed, both Kattie and I had our straps on. It was quick to stick a gun under if we needed free hands and Kattie said it was a good thing getting used to them.

 

 When Ben and Kress had shook hands and pointed out their second in command, Kress shortly went through the rules and ended by saying that the team who first lost both Leader and second in command were the loosers.

 I stuck with KC when Ben asked the teams to spread out. Every member knew who they were under and no one asked questions. It was easy to see, that this was something they had done many times before.

 "Remember to listen, be on your toes and for Gods sake look up". KC said to his group as the only command. And then we waited by the outher buildings. Kress blew a whistle to signal the start of the game and we still waited. While we waited KC showed me how the radio worked, in case he was out and I had to take over. KC had picked me to stay by his side. Probably on orders from Ben. We also had Lucas with us and three other guys.

 It had been half an hour before KC let us join the battle and even then he only sent few small groups out, securing the nearest buildings first. As soon as a row of houses was secured we moved forward to those ones and sent a new team to secure the next, while we in the secured buldings covered their backs.

 "I guess it is our turn now". KC smiled, looking like a kid on christmas. "We are taking the back entrance and you are taking the front". We had to be two groups on each building.

 While we moved two rows forward, we had our backs covered by the groups that had taken the row behind us.

 The worst thing about these old buildings were that they squeaked and rumbled. Especially the stairs. Anyone in the building would know that someone was approaching.

 KC sent one man in on each floor to secure it, the same was done from the other side, and these two would then stay on the floor and keep watch out the windows. KC and I took the third and last floor together, still nothing to report.

 KC sent a short message to the others, telling them that so far we hadn't encountered any enemies. Getting the same message back. Right now The Stars seemed to have dissapeared into thin air, making it all the more dangerous for us.

 Through the window we were scouting the next building. At first look, it looked quiet and KC was about to wave the next group forward, when I spotted a movement. Lucas saw it to and pulled his gun on pure instinct.

 "KC..". I said hesitantly, my heart in my throat. KC stopped the group and turned to me. "What do you think ?" KC asked. Ready to trust my assessment.

 "I think Kress has people in that building". I didn't know why I was so sure about it. Tom had taught me to trust my intuition and never doubt it.

 "Go down and gather the other teams behind this building". KC told Lucas. "Tell everyone to stay away from the windows".

 As soon as our entire group had gathered, me and KC joined them. While we had waited KC had also seen moment in a window and was convinced that it wasn't only drapes blowing in the wind.

 KC's first move was sending a few people into the other buildings in that row, to see if there was enemies in them as well.

 "If there are someone in there they are not going to make it". I whispered. I would have liked to call it something else, because they were not exactly going to die, they would just be out of the game. But I didn't know what else to call it.

 "That is why I am splitting them up". KC told me. "Then we are only loosing a single group". I understood were he was coming from, but I didn't like the idea of sacrificing anyone. Not even when it was just a game.

 Another team was sent back to inform the ones still in other buildings. KC, Lucas and me was at the second floor of our front building.

 "I hope you aren't scared of jumping". KC said before he started waving people forward. "If our group don't hold, we will probably have to jump out the window to escape". I didn't answer him. I just crossed my fingers that our group would hold and I didn't have to jump. "Should it happen that they are to many and you can't get away, then get inside the no shooting line. I haven't seen your shooting, but I have heard you are pretty nifty in hand to hand combat".

 The group slowly moved over the grass towards the next building. Both me, Lucas and KC had our eyes on the windows in the next building, looking for the slightest movement.

 Then there was shots fired in the building to the left, telling us there were people there to, and soon after shots in the right building revealed the same.

 "Well they are out". Lucas said sounding indifferent. There was no reason to believe that our people had come out victorious. They had been in the worst position and outnumbered. They had known when they went inside. But they had followed KC's orders anyway.

 "There !" I said as I saw movement and I had been right, someone stepped out into the window and started shooting at our people. Soon more followed. KC grabbed his radio.

 "We are under heavy fire". He announced. It took about a minute and then Kattie answered back that she was trying to get some more people through to us.

 It was as the shooting came in waves. And soon all our teams was under fire. More of Kress' people came out from the buildings and closed in on our people. Hand to hand combats started breaking out and unfortunately they moved closer and closer to our hiding place.

 "And this is were a smart leader take his closest group with him and leave the rest to fend for themselves". KC said, and pulled me with him backwards. Lucas had already retreated and jumped out the window without hesitation. KC gave me sign to follow him.

 I would have liked to land on my feet, but I ended down on my knees, with my hands on the ground. As soon as I was up KC landed next to me in a very elegant dive roll that had him back on his feet and running instantly.

 We ran for some low houses nearby and KC and Lucas did a quick sweep, securing them to use as our temporary hiding place.

 "The secret to staying alive is knowing when to retreat". KC explained and left it to Lucas to look out for enemies. I was impressed by how well those two worked together and the way Lucas knew exactly what KC wanted from him without him having to ask for it.

 "So we survive by leaving our group to fend for themselves ?" I weren't sure I liked doing things that way. I wanted to stand beside them and show that I was with them.

 "It is called tactics Amber. As a part of our leadergroup you are more important than the others. We are queens in the chess game". I knew nothing about chess, but I got his point.

 "And Clay and Ben are of course the kings on our team". Lucas said. "We are in big trouble, Zac is headed this way".

 KC got out the radio and told Ben and the others that Zac had been localised. He didn't control if Lucas was right, but trusted him to be right.

 "Hold him, I am on my way". Kattie called back.

 Ben intercepted. "Send in Amber. She can hold him. Better than you Kat". There actually came a hiss from Kattie, but of course she hadn't seen me in the ring. "Together you might actually be able to take him out". The radio went dead and KC turned and placed it in my hand.

 "We will get you inside the limit". He held my gaze. The limit was 5 feet. If you were closer than that it wasn't allowed to shoot. "You just have to hold out to Kattie gets here". I realised KC was going to sacrifice himself to get me close to Zac. Unless we managed to shoot him first, but I had a feeling that would be next to impossible. I had the same thoughts abot Zac that I had about Tom and Ben. That nothing was impossible to them. That there was nothing they couldn't do. In my world they were untouchable.

 KC sent out Lucas first, letting him take Zac's focus. Lucas kept moving and Zac wasted several shots trying to hit him. I was very impressed about how quick Lucas was on his feet and soon Zac had to change ammunition. KC took advantage of that for us to move out. He kept me covered with his own body and I tried taking out as many of Zac's people as possible.

 Despite the many shots fired at us, we were almost at the 5 foot mark when KC was hit and out of the game. Lucas had taken out most of Zac's back up, before he was hit and out of the game and I had hit some too. When I crossed the line, both me and Zac was alone with no back up in sight.

 I didn't wait for him to make the first move, but threw myself at him right away, trying to recreate the euphoric feeling I got in training. I had to try and get one of his targets, while stopping him from getting to mine.

 My evolution clearly surprised Zac and I got a head start. I closed out everything else and focused on my opponent. I was aware of every muscle in my body and it was like it responded before my brain could think what to do. I actually felt like I could measure up to Zac. I wasn't close to getting through to him but I stood my grounds.

 "Wow I have to say that you are a fast learner". Zac mumbled. There was more surprise than annoyance in his voice. "Maybe you should give up before my back-up arrives". I knew the back-up could get her at any minute, but it could go both ways.

 "Maybe I got my own back up coming". I told him, my breathing getting laboured, but I managed to get a hit through, which he instantly answered with a harder one I wasn't prepared for.

 "I am afraid mine will arrive first". Zac said, managing to send me a smile. "And I think it would be a shame if the game is over for you already. That is why I am giving you one chance to run".

 "So you are a coward". I hissed through gritted teeth. He ignored my comment and not giving me any choice, when he pushed me away hard and told me to run.

 Without thinking I ran in between the houses. I kind of regretted it. As I was now truly alone. I watched as Zac's back-up arrived. What he told them, I don't know, but he shortly glanced in my direction, before leading his men the other way.

 I stayed were I was until Kattie arrived with a small group. At least it didn't take to long and she didn't get angry about me loosing Zac. I explained which way he went and offered to go with them.

 "No". Was her short answer. "Clays team is on their way. When they arrive you resumes yours and KC's plan. Kress is still out here somewhere as well". And then she left, once again leaving me totally alone.

 

 The news that Clay was out made it even more important for Kattie to get to Zac and for me to find Kress. Hope managed to get the rest of Clay's group to me and we started going through buildings again.

 In several buildings it ended in shoot outs, but it was as often Kress' people fleeing as it was ours. Hope and I keept back, shooting the people trying to flee or shooting at the windows to keep their attention there.

 When Kattie announced that Zac was out we all felt a glimmer of hope. How she had managed I couldn't tell, but according to herself it was down to a good group and share luck.

 Ben had gone completely silent.

 

 Hope was the first to spot Kress in a window on the top floor. There was no doubt it was him and from his stance he didn't seem to realise that me and Hope was in front of our group.

 "We are never going to make it up there". I whispered. "He will have guards posted on the stairs". I was also sure he had others with him. So I called Kattie on the radio, telling her we had found Kress. Shortly after she joined us.

 "I got a plan". Hope said looking very eager. She was waiting for a response and Kattie gave her sign to continue. "If you". She pointed at Kattie. "Can keep Kress focused on this building, then Amber and me can sneak in on him". She looked expectantly at Kattie.

 "Maybe". Kattie looked thoughtful, like she was going through the details in her head. "There is a big risk that we are going to loose your both". She said. "We don't know how many he has in there with him".

 "The alternative is that we take everyone we have left and storm the building, hoping for the best". Hope said with a shrug. "Maybe we can surround them, so they have nowhere to flee".

 "See I like that idea better". Kattie smiled and put a hand on Hope's shoulder. "Not to many details, just right down to business".

 Ten minutes later our whole group was assembled behind the building, hidden for Kress. Hope kept an eye on Kress, while Me and Kattie in low whispering voices explained our plan, letting people tell it on to the ones in the back, rather than raising our voices.. when we were sure everyone had gotten it, I moved back beside Hope and Kattie stepped out in full wiev.

 "Now!" She yelled, firing one shot up into the air.

 As our group stormed the building, Hope and I kept ourselves hidden and soon Kattie joined us. She had taken a couple of shots, her arm and the side of her head painted blue.

 "This one is going to give me such a headache". She mumbled as she tried to dry of the paint. "Are you sure you can take him out Amber ?"

 "Yes". I had to be. I had to take out Kress.

 "Then lets get you up to him". Kattie nodded towards Hope. "Now is were you prove that you are ready for the next part of your training". She told her. Hopes answer was a confident smile.

 There was chaos among the two groups and it was easy for us to reach the building and get inside. We were running up the stairs, hoping all the shooting and yelling was covering for us. My hands was sweaty and I could feel the adrenalin running through my veins. The heat of the moment. Now I understood KC and Hopes excitement.

 Hope turned of on the first floor without complaining and at the second Kattie went in. In a moment I would be alone with Kress and who else was on the third floor. As I entered I started shooting right away at the persons that was far enough away. And for the first time I felt the pain of getting hit. Luckily I had enough adrenalin in my body, that it drowned out the pain fast and because I kept moving they didn't hit my targets.

 When I got in close I threw down the gun and threw myself at Kress. I went directly for the targets. Remembering everything Tom had thought me and pushing everything else away.

 Kress hand grabbed the target on my chest, but by placing my knee in his abdomen I made him let go before he could rip it of. I vaulted over him and on the way down I grabbed the target on his back. Even when his elbow hammered into my jaw I held on and pulled it with me off.

 In triumph I held the target up into the air. The adrenalin went crazy like never before and I had never felt this alive. Kress' sour face was worth it all.

 "Game over". I couldn't stop grinning like a fool when i grabbed the radio, repeating it into it.

 Kress tore his glare away from me and blew the whistle around his neck. A sign for everyone that the game was over.

 "Were are you ?" Ben's voice sounded happily over the radio, but Kattie beat me to answering.

 

 We all met up between the buildings. Kress hadn't spared me one single glance after the sour one I got right after my victory. But Kattie had joined me and with a victorious squeal she had hugged me and arm in arm we had walked down the stairs

 Kattie and Hope told Ben how it had all played out, while I kept quiet and tried not to blush from all their praises. Before Ben could get to me, Kress went to him and shook his hand. "Congratulations on the victory". He seemed a bit stiff. "You can be really proud of her". He sent me a approving nod.

 Ben let go of Kress' hand and snaked his arm around my waist instead. As always it made my heart pound wildly and my cheeks turned pink from getting praised by Kress. "Oh I am, very much indeed". The look he sent me made my heart flutter.

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