Hotter Than Fire

266022
**Darkest Minds Fanfiction**
Tamarin is twelve years old when his little sister Chamberly is taken away by soldiers in black. Several inexplicable things happen that day, including explosions and unexplained fires. Six years later, now 16, Tam begins to understand everything that's happened. He discovers his identity as a red. Attempting to survive, he searches for Chamberly- joining up with some interesting allies along the way.

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16. Some sort of salvation

I wake on the floor of the same metal room. My ears are ringing painfully, and my head pounds. For a moment, I can’t remember where I am or what happened.

Then it comes back to me. The guards. The fire. That awful, horrible sound. Chamberly! My sister… she’s here.

I scramble to my feet as quickly as my weak legs will allow. She’s here! She’s alive, and she’s here, of all the places she could be! This is my chance to save her. I can get her and Kia out, and we can run together. We’ll be safe. I know I can protect us. No more searching. Finally, I’ll be back with my sister.

And then what?

    I hesitate. What will I do once I am with Chamberly? Even if we escape, we can’t go home. I am sure that my parents were the ones who set us up- who sent us to school that day to be collected by the Psi soldiers. No- home is too dangerous. But where else can we go? There’s nowhere else in the world that’s safe for people like us. That means a life of running. A life of hiding. How can I condemn Chamberly to that?

    It’s not like she has any life here, I remind myself. I think of the soldier hitting her. How lifeless and broken her eyes looked. I have to get her out of here. She’ll die here otherwise. I’m sure of it. Here we are not human beings. We are colors. Numbers. Statistics. Test subjects. But not humans. Not the same as anyone else. Different. Freaks. Mutants. We don’t belong, and we never will.

    And yet, if Chamberly comes with me, she’ll live a life in constant fear. A life of running.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, I insist. Things can change. We can be free. We can be safe. There has to be somewhere. Somewhere they won’t hate us and and hunt us.

    I stare grimly at the door. It stands between me and Chamberly. I have to get through. I have to get to her. I don’t care if I destroy the whole camp in the process. I will get Chamberly out of here. Her life might not be much if she escapes with me, but it will be better than this. For now, that door is in my way. I have to get past it. And from there, I’ll improvise.

    I place my hand on it. If I summon fire, the alarm will go off and I’ll get knocked out again. The thought of that horrible sound makes me shudder, and I withdraw my hand. No, charging out right now will bring me nothing but pain.

    I’m still considering the door when it suddenly slams open. The force catches me straight in the face and throws me to the ground, where I lie stunned and confused. Three soldiers enter the room, all with guns trained on my face.

    “Get up,” one of them orders.

    I want to point out that I was up before they hit me with the door, but I’ve already been warned about talking back. Besides, now might be my chance to escape. I drag myself to my feet, and one of them takes hold of my arm. “Come with us.”

    “I’ll take him.” One guard is shorter than the others, and her voice is female.

    The other two guards nod and leave quickly. The girl pokes me in the back with her gun. “Let’s go, red.”

    We start walking. I glance back at her, and she doesn’t hit me. Her face is hidden in a helmet. But I know her voice.

    “Amaranth?” I guess warily.

    A small chuckle confirms my guess. “Oh no. You caught me.”

    I can hardly believe my luck. “What are you doing here? How did you get in without being caught? And why are you a soldier now?”

    “I’m an orange,” she replies cooly. “I manipulated a few minds to get myself in and get to you. You’re welcome, by the way. I’ve been a lot of things today. A skip tracer, a soldier… things are getting weird. But we have to get your little girl, and get out of here.”

    “There’s one other person,” I say quickly. “Another girl. Named Chamberly. She’s a yellow, I think. She’s my sister, and I’m not leaving without her.”

    Amaranth pauses. “A… yellow. Is your sister. Okay. Okay then. We can do this. Just do what I tell you. Don’t make me hit you.”

    “Great…”

    She guides me down several halls. Whenever we pass soldiers I do my best to keep quiet and keep my head down. My heart is racing. How is Amaranth not being detected? Surely she’s not that powerful.

    “How close are we?” I ask at one point.
    “Very.”

    “But how-”

    She smacks the back of my head. “That’s enough questions! You’ll figure things out soon enough.”

    I go to snap at her, when I see two soldiers passing us. I quickly lock my eyes on the ground. This is incredibly difficult. The back of my head hurts, and I wonder if she hit me that hard on purpose, or just by accident. We pass the soldiers, and I glance back at her.

    “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you.”

    She laughs lightly. “I do have to admit, it is fun…”

    “You’re impossible.”

    “Well I’m the one saving your life,” she replies. “How about ‘thank you’?”
    “I’ll thank you if this works.”

    “Oh, don’t worry, it will.”
    I wish I had her confidence. All I can think of is what they’ll do to us if we’re caught. Amaranth might be resourceful, but there are too many of them for even both of us to take. In fact, Amaranth right now may be my only hope at surviving and finding Chamberly. So I stay silent and let her guide me.

    We’re halfway down the hallway when the screaming starts. It’s an awful, high pitched shriek of terror. A shriek that brings the image of two men in black, guns trained on the head of an innocent girl. A high pitched cry that tears apart the fabric of the world itself. That sound is the sound of my sister. And she’s clearly in pain.

    Any thought of stealth flies from my mind. “CHAMBERLY!” I bolt forwards. I have to reach her. I have to stop whatever is hurting her. Why can’t we move any faster? I don't care what happens. I don’t care if they try to stop me. I’ll burn anyone that stands between the two of us. I’ll destroy this entire building if I have to. I’ll do anything to make that screaming stop.

    I only make it a few steps before a hand grabs my collar and yanks me back. I stumble, and then strike back at whoever is holding me. My fist connects, and they let out a sharp gasp. Vaguely, I realize I just punched Amaranth. But right now she is standing between me and my sister. I have to get to Chamberly, and I have to get to her now.

    Amaranth catches me again, holding me back with surprising strength. I don't care. My mind is wild with worry. What are they doing to Chamberly? Is she dying? Suffering? It doesn't matter. I have to stop them.

    “Tam, you idiot!” Amaranth hisses in my ear. “You’re going to set off the alarm! If you don’t stop fighting, this place will be flooded with soldiers in a moment. They’ll knock you out and lock you back up. So stop fighting! We’ll get your sister. But you have to listen to me!”

    I ignore her. I can feel her pressing at my mind, but in my panic she can make no progress. All I know is that she is holding me back from saving my sister. And I must save Chamberly.

    No!” I growl. “Can’t you hear her screaming?! They’re hurting her! Now let me go, or I’ll burn you too, along with anyone that gets in my way!”

    “I didn’t want to have to do this…” I hear movement, and then I see her holding a black baton. She whips it forwards, and it takes me straight in the chest. The air flies out of my lungs, and I drop to my knees, gasping and coughing. I can feel her holding me back, and I want to get up and run, but the blow weakened and surprised me too much. So I stay there, gasping and coughing, and hearing my sister scream.

    I hear a voice above me. “What happened here?”

    Amaranth responds, calm as ever. “The red got a little rowdy. Don’t worry. I’ve got it under control. He knows what’ll happen if he causes trouble again.”

    She nudges me with the baton, and I cough weakly, locking my eyes on the ground. Chamberly’s screams have gone silent, and my heart pains. Is she alive? Or is the pain over for her? Surely they wouldn’t kill her. She’s still there. But what if she isn’t? What if Amaranth cost me my sister with her stupid caution?! I’ll never forgive her.

    “Good,” the soldier is saying. He kicks me sharply in the side. “You mind yourself, red, or you’ll end up just like the rest of your kind.”

    The rest of my kind? Even in my panicked mind, I take a moment to wonder what he means. Is he referring to other Psi children, or does he mean other reds specifically? Either way, that was clearly a threat.

    I hear him move on, and then Amaranth pulls me to my feet. “Stupid stupid Tam!” she hisses. “You nearly cost us just then. You need to think before you act.” She shoves me down the hall, rougher than she was before. I stay silent, and force myself to avoid complaining. If she takes me to Chamberly, then all will be well. I will forgive her. But only when we’re free. Until then, I am still angry at her. And if Chamberly is hurt when we find her and I could have prevented it…

    We reach a metal door, and Amaranth stops me. “Don’t move,” she says very quietly. “This is the hardest part. You’ve got to do exactly as I say. One more outburst like the one you had in the hallway and we’re finished. Understand?”

    I nod slowly, but my heart is racing. Chamberly is in there. She’s right here. I have to get to her. I have to get to her now. Only common sense keeps me from panic again.

    Amaranth raps on the door, and it swings open. She steps partially inside, and then speaks in lowered voices with the soldier at the door. They nod, and she turns to look at me.

    “Come here.” Her voice is strained, and my pulse spikes. Slowly, almost dreading what I’m going to see, I step through the door.

    Chamberly is lying on a small table. She’s strapped down, and her head lolls to one side, a trickle of blood running from the corner of her mouth. Her eyes are closed, and she breathes lightly, occasionally letting out a shaky cough. It takes all my willpower not to run to her.

    “This is the one?” the soldier asks.

    “Yep.”

    “She’s one of our best subjects. It’ll be a shame to lose her.”
    “I don’t make the orders, I just follow them,” Amaranth replies.

    “True enough.” The guard unstraps Chamberly. “Need someone to carry her?”

    “My boy here will do it.” Amaranth jerks her head at me. “He’s plenty strong and obedient enough.”

    I take the hint, and lock my eyes on the ground, giving a soft nod.

    “See?” Amaranth’s voice is a little calmer now. “Useful once you break them.”

    She’s taking too long. Chamberly’s breathing is so weak, so fragile. Is she still in pain? I want to run to her, and it takes all my will to stay and obey Amaranth. I know she has to keep up the disguise, but does she really have to move so slowly?

    The soldier unstraps Chamberly, and Amaranth nods at me. I force myself to walk slowly to her side, controlling my protective urge. Gently, I lift her into my arms. She’s light and weak, and her skin is feverishly hot. She shakes, and I hold her close to me. I want to tell her that it’s going to be okay- that I’m here for her now- but I can’t risk in in front of the soldier. Even with Amaranth helping, I’m not sure if this plan will work or not.

    Amaranth turns away, and nods for me to follow her. I do, walking with brisk strides after her.

    We get out of the door and she lets out a soft breath. “That was hard,” she mutters. “I haven’t used this much power in a long time.”

    “You’re doing great,” I reply. I’m feeling a little kinder towards her now that she has helped me reunite with my sister. If we escape this cleanly, I may stop hating her altogether.

    One thing at a time, Tam. First, escape, I remind myself.

    “Where’s Kia?” I whisper.

    “Already at the van waiting for us,” Amaranth replies. “It was easier to get her. She’s just another blue, after all. But there aren’t many reds. They must have been expecting someone to come get you, or there’s no way they would have let you go that easily. A bit of luck was on our side.”

    That’s at least something to be grateful for. Luck hasn’t been much on our side recently. At this point, I figure it owes us at least one clean getaway.

  

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