I push, but it pushes back harder. Tears chap my face as I run through the jungle, pursued by my demons. I hurriedly dash over frozen leaves and snow piles, barreling over cracked boulders and old stumps. The sense of security I had days prior is reduced to an itching feeling of loneliness and regret. Voices that are not my own quarrel in my head; my mind is a verbal battlefield.
Slow down, baby. You don’t need to run anymore.
My heart thumps in my chest, begging for me to stop. With every step, I wish I am spotted by a Tracker or Ranger fleet – anything to end this convoluted race. I can’t help but think of what happened to the general and the other Renegades, what I did to them. It was unconscionable, savagery. I am a monster.
What is unconscionable is the total lack of Fangclush imperials. Bobby and I encountered dozens just in our short journey to this so-called forgotten realm. “Beyond the Courtshyn Lake, the Sentinel’s blood runs thin,” Aaron told us. If only I could concentrate this telekinetic monstrosity lurking within me toward that man’s scarred forehead – I would rip him to shreds, or do whatever it is that I do. The Renegades mentioned I am called the Nuclear Bitch by the soldiers out of Fort Legacy. Sounds kinky.
It does not take me long to clear the forest, and I’m back at the old field, our safe haven. I return to the old shack’s remains. It was the first thing we saw that reminded us of home. And in a world rife with insanity and violence, we took advantage of what we had.
Even though it feels as though I was running for hours, the amber stain in the sky informs me I only ran a thousand yards or so. In the horizon, above the tree line, I make out the tallest tower at Fort Legacy. The fort was known for its intimidating, barbed peaks.
Something comes back to me as clear as the sparkling ripples dancing upon Courtshyn Lake.
“Tell me something…” The lieutenant never seemed tenser. A man in his position should have been overcome with glee, having captured the most wanted criminal in the realm, yet his lips were pursed and his brow pulled together.
A slight beeping comes from a machine behind me. I trace green and yellow cords in the veins in my arm. Mirrors lined the room from wall-to-wall. “What was that?”
“Even in death, you refuse to cooperate.” He chuckled, annoyed. “Do you even know where you are, Lange?”
I mumbled, “Legacy.”
“You heard me, dammit.” I spit in his face and writhe against my restraints.
He flashed a look at a monitor and back to the notebook in his hands. “And do you know why you’re here? Let me –”
“I’m here because I killed her. She was dead before she could call her porcelain goons.”
His face softened. “You Disgraced will never learn what it is to be civilized.” Something inside of him cracked. “Every single one of you sits with your hands at your crotch, chiming your immortality, while everybody else suffers. And you get offended when we start speaking up. You call yourselves the peaceful ones, ha!” He readied a black syringe, his hands trembling.
“And I’d do it all over again,” I retorted. “That bitch killed my family, so it was only fitting that she suffer a similar fate. You humans reproduce like filthy rabbits anyhow. I’m sure you had three other cows loaded the instant her bloody head hit the floor.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Lange.” He propped me back and inserted the syringe. “She wasn’t just human. Sheridyn was a plesmorph – just like you.”
“Lying doesn’t suit you, Lieutenant.”
“Thankfully, Sheridyn provided us with enough information into the special breed, not enough to produce a hard set defense against it, mind you. But give us time. You won’t be a threat for much longer, and then the war will be over. The pathetic rebels will drop to their knees as we humans take back the Earth.”
They already had the Earth; it was the other two realms to which he was referring – and they’d never have those. But I don’t correct him. The injection made my eyes heavy, my chest dropping. Though I tried to stay strong, I whimper. My blood turned to tar, my mind spinning. “It’ll never be enough,” was all I could muster. The humans wouldn’t stop until they drown the realms in their paranoia and terror.
The lieutenant left the room and the lights dimmed. Another man’s voice appeared on a speaker above. “This begins the second session. Tell me what you know of the Krysolux and its power.”
It was what gave the Disgraced their luster, their life force, but I did not comply with their requests. I couldn’t.
The truth is hard to swallow: there are parts of my memory that are missing. The memories arrange themselves in a scattered jigsaw puzzle, all solid black with no side pieces. Each one leaves me more lost than before.
Fall into slumber. Return to Elymia, Sophia.
I sprint toward the only place I know will have answers.
I abandon the safe haven and inch closer to a forgotten artery of the Fangclush – I return to Legacy.