So, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and ‘out of it’ in regards to Vengeance Is Mine but I thought that maybe doing another story snippets post would get me fired up again, especially since I’ll be going back over all the best parts. The story has changed a lot, and it’ll definitely keep on changing, so at least some of these snippets will most likely get deleted later on – consider it an exclusive sneak peek, ‘kay? I considered sharing some snippets of the fan-fiction I seem to have no problem in churning out these days, but I decided that I needed to get back to more serious projects, and sharing bits of it wasn’t the best way (forgive me if I seem to be rambling; I’m pretty tired right now) to do that. So please enjoy the snippets I did decide to share, and please let me know your thoughts. The comment box is always open!
Nathan was exhausted.
Stay with it, he told himself fiercely. Sure, it’s only your first day, but you’ve got to do better than this. He wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand and let it drip to the dusty floor of the training room. As far as he knew, the training room was the only place in the facility that was mostly outdoors. There was a thin sheet of metal overtop, but the floor was natural sand with patches of grass here and there.
The trainer called Hunter stood in front of him.
Nathan gulped in some air, and then nodded. “Yeah. I’m fine. I’m ready.”
Hunter studied him for a moment, doubt visible in his eyes and stance. Nathan felt like protesting some more, but if he allowed himself the truth, he wasn’t fine. Sweat was still pouring off him, his legs felt like rubber, and his throat was dry as Director Stella’s congratulations on a job well done.
“Um…is there any water in here?” he asked, immediately hating himself for the question. Weakness was not a virtue, and he’d just revealed some of his.
Hunter walked over to one of the storage cupboards that ringed the training, fumbled with the lock for a minute with the key he had, and then swung the door open. Nathan saw several bottles of water inside and despite his burning wish to not appear weak, it was all he could do to not run over and grab one. Anyway, Hunter was coming back with a bottle.
“Small sips,” Hunter instructed, tossing Nathan the bottle. Then, before Nathan could ask anything, he said, “If you take too much at once, it’ll waterlog you, and then I won’t be able to teach you anything else for the rest of the day. Plus, you’ll get a stomach ache.” He nodded at the water.
Nathan nodded to show he understood – he couldn’t manage any words at the moment – and unscrewed the cap. It was easier than he’d thought it would be to take small gulps and not overwhelm himself. Partly because he thought it would be plain embarrassing to be carried out of the training room with a stomach ache on his first day, and partly because he wasn’t even dehydrated. Just worn out.
“Had enough?” Hunter asked after a few minutes.
Nathan took another swig and then nodded.
“Good. We’ll go back to the push-ups.”
The door swung open with a sticky squeak, plenty of dust billowing around him, and a shaft of light so bright Nathan thought he’d go blind. “Agh!” he shouted, scrambling to his feet. The light as directed to his feet, leaving a glow large enough for him to see the intruders, but not blinding him in the process. Laii and Hunter stood there, concern on their faces.
“Hey,” Hunter said.
“Nathan, what on earth are you doing in there?”
Hunter must have filled in Laii on everything that had happened, she somehow knew of his favorite hide-out, and had led him to it. Nathan stared at both of them, feeling a vague sense of betrayal. If his trainer and caretaker-turned-advisor knew where he went to be alone, where could he go? The answer was, very simply, nowhere.
“Just because Dylan is joining the team doesn’t mean the end of the world,” Laii said.
If only she understood.
“You know that’s not true,” Nathan said. “You’ve seen the way we fight. We’ll be at each other all the time and we’ll both fail.” He threw up his hands, and said, “No offence to you, Hunter. If anyone could keep a recruit from failing, it’s you, but you should probably get yourself a couple of new ones.” He bit the inside of his cheek and waited for one of them to speak.
Hunter shook his head. “Director Stella specifically ordered me to train you two.”
“Is it that bad?” Laii asked at nearly the same time.
“I was kidding about the switch,” Nathan said, glowering. “I know she wouldn’t let you.” And then, to Laii, “Yeah, it’s bad. I mean, we can’t be in the same room together without brawling in thirty seconds or less.” He plopped down onto a large paint can and put his head in his hands. Maybe he looked pitiful, sitting like that, but he didn’t care.
Maybe he was pitiful.
“How did it even start?” Laii asked after a moment.
He looked up. “What?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. We’ve been fighting since we were little. He used to tell me-” He paused. Dylan’s usual insults were old news to Laii, but Hunter didn’t know about them. He didn’t want to say it, in case Hunter agreed and realized he’d known there was something different about Nathan all along. Not that there was, but most of the recruits followed Dylan’s lead. Still, it was better to get it out. “He says I don’t belong here. That I’m not one of them.”
Nathan shivered. The air was bitingly cold. “So, we’re going to stand around here for hours watching for some nonexistent threat?” he asked, irritation slipping into his tone. In the facility, the temperature was always regulated, and he wasn’t used to the jittery, frozen feeling that stole over him. It made him feel weak and helpless. Hunter had made sure they all dressed warmly, but it wasn’t enough.
“Is there a problem?” Hunter asked. “It’s what guards do. And there are threats, believe me. If there weren’t, we’d have no need for guards.” Nathan was about to ask him what kind of threats there were, when Hunter said, “From what I heard, there’ve been some sightings of unidentified men hanging around here. Director Stella wants to find out who they are, and what they want.”
Nathan nodded, but he still didn’t like it. Who cared about some random guys?
“Aren’t these jackets a little thin for this kind of thing?” Dylan said a few minutes later.
“Don’t you-?” Hunter reached over and pressed a button at the bottom of Dylan’s jacket. Then he did the same to Nathan. Instantly, Nathan could feel warm air swirling around inside the jacket. It rose up around his neck and then was sucked back down again for another cycle. The sudden warmth gave him goose-bumps, but he wasn’t cold anymore. “You can get cool air, too,” Hunter added.
Nathan shook his head. “Where’d you get these? They’re amazing.”
Hunter stuck his hands into his jacket’s pockets. “I commandeered them from the trainer’s supply. Most of the other trainers were getting them for their own recruits, so I did the same thing. Don’t you recognize them?” he added.
“It’s dark,” Nathan said.
“Oh, I can fix that.” Hunter unzipped part of his jacket and then seemingly pulled the whole thing off over his head. But the jacket was still on, only it was a weird, glowing fluorescent colour. It wasn’t particularly strong, but Nathan was able to see his face at least. Hunter showed both him and Dylan ho to transform their jacket the same way. Now they could actually see each other, and, best of all, the warm air still worked.
“You were just waiting till we complained so that you could show us all that,” Nathan said.
Hunter grinned and shrugged. “Maybe. But we need to be quiet now. So, no talking. And turn the lights off – everyone can see us for a mile away.”
Again, Lily felt the old, familiar sense of injustice rising up in her.
She cleaned houses – mansions, really – every single day. Those houses were always clean and bright and airy (partly due to her, but if she refused to work, there were hundreds of others who would). At times she wished that she could refuse to work, to show all the rich ones that she wasn’t going to grovel to them for money. But she needed the money and, truth be told, to be in the beautiful mansions relaxed her. It was a not so welcome reprieve from the squalor that met her whenever she returned home.
She was almost to her own door.
Pausing for a moment, Lily took a deep breath and forced a smile onto her face. Her mother was ill, nervous, and easily worried. Even if it was difficult at times, she always made sure to have a cheerful face and attitude when she was around her mother. It was much easier than having to field concerned questions. It was all Lily could do not to appear worried in her mother’s presence, though. She was sick and getting sicker all the time.
Be cheerful. Happy. Glad to be back home.
At least she wouldn’t have to fake the last part.
Lily pushed open the door. “Mom? I’m home,” she called, throwing down the heap of laundry to one side of the door. Her eyes took in the main room. Her mother wasn’t there, which meant she was in the tiny bedroom they shared. She’d spent most of her time there for the past several weeks. The bed, no matter how scrawny, was more comfortable than a couple of scarred, hard chairs or a stool in the kitchen area.
It took about five steps to get to the bedroom. Lily hesitated a moment before flicking on the light – since her mother was almost certainly sleeping – but then did so. She was sleeping, but Lily didn’t turn the light back off. Moving quietly, she entered the room and spent a couple minutes tidying up. Even if they were poor, their apartment would be clean. A clean apartment would also let her mother know that she’d been here, before going back to wash the laundry and clean houses.
Lily glanced at her mother for a moment.
She was still young, but her hair was almost all grey, except for a few streaks of black here and there. Her eyes were closed, of course, but when opened, they were a faded blue. Lily had often thought that she must have gotten her looks from her father – whom she’d never seen, as far as she could recall – since her green eyes and blonde hair were nothing like her mother’s features.
Was it just her imagination, or was her mother…not breathing?
Lily leaned closer, her movements controlled when all she felt like doing was grabbing her mother by the shoulders and shaking her to reassure herself that she was still alive. With trembling hands, she tried to check the pulse, but her hands were shaking so badly, she couldn’t have felt anything. She laid a hand on her mother’s chest. There was nothing. No movement and no warmth.
With a racing heart, Lily slumped onto the other bed.
She stared at her mother.
This is ridiculous, she thought. You left her for twenty minutes. She can’t be-she’s just sick-
Inside, she knew the truth of it, but the main part of her heart and mind wouldn’t accept the terrible fact. She sat there, on her bed, staring into space for hours. The laundry went unheeded. She didn’t leave to go clean some rich person’s house. Any knocks on the door were ignored.
Maybe if she shut the world out and turned to stone, it would all turn out to be a bad dream.
The director lowered her hand, finished with her conversation for the moment.
There were more pressing concerns – the assault on the main gate being one of them.
She’d been warned about the rebels for months now, but since they’d never caused any problems (besides that one unfortunate event with the trainer and his student) she’d allowed security to slide a little. Allowed a sense of well-being and safety, no matter how false, to creep in. Now the rebels were talking advantage of that false security and launching a full-scale attack.
Well, maybe not as bad as that.
From what she could gather, there were less than a hundred of them.
Odd that they would attack with such weak numbers.
Stella frowned and switched on her tiny communicator once again.
“Sir? I think they might be planning a-”
What happened next brought the conversation to an abrupt halt.
What did you think of these snippets?