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The sixth chapter of Book Two of
November 24, 2010
Leah and Sierra run across a town under attack by the Elite.
A small yet gangly teenager walked with awkward strides while he carried a shovel and backpack up a forested mountainside. Reaching a small clearing on the side of the mountain, he reached for the shovel and used the leverage to upend a rock a little larger than his torso. Straining from the pressure, the rock finally gave and turned over, renewing a already present dent in the earth. A large hole appeared where the rock used to sit.
The boy climbed into the hole, eyes closed against the dirt cascading in showers as he tumbled a short distance down the hole. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, a small tunnel reeking of damp earth appeared before him. The walls were lined with small planks of wood, holding up the ceiling like a makeshift mine shaft. Crouching down below the ceiling, he walked awkwardly through the tunnel. He walked for what felt like forever before emerging before a vertical incline with a hole at the top.
Taking a large canteen from his backpack, he bent the water out of it and froze it to the side of the steep wall. He bent the rest of the water onto his fingers, shivering slightly as the water froze to his fingertips. Attaching his frozen fingers to the wall, he climbed up with pinpoint accuracy, the sound of chipping ice ricocheting around the tunnel. He climbed up to the top, his fingers gripping the side of the hole. Using his newfound preteen strength, he hauled himself out of the hole.
Keith McCain had just used a self constructed tunnel to disappear on one side of the mountain and emerge on the other side, going through the mountain itself. Looking down the mountain, Keith spotted a familiar clearing in the dense forest, a large river flowing in the center of it. He eagerly skipped down the mountain, spotting footprints from previous trips. Arriving in the clearing, panting heavily, he looked at the river with enthusiasm as he shook off his backpack and ran towards it.
Shivering slightly from the fully clouded sky, slight breeze, and fog in the distance, he rose his arms and watched with happiness as a globe of water followed from the water. Keith spread his arms apart, pulling the water along into a small thin rope shape. He shaped the rope into an orb once more, then froze the orb to the ground into a large pillar. Placing his hands on the top of the cold ice, he shaved off minute layers of the pillar, watching as the ice disk whirled across the water and shattered in the trees.
After being satisfied with his practice for the day, Keith took a small amount of water from the river and froze it into a makeshift chair. Opening his backpack, he took out a thick blanket and laid it over the ice, sitting down on the now habitable chair. He reached deeper into his backpack, taking out a carefully folded note and a pencil.
Though I see no pure white wings
Nor feel your heavenly glow
I know right now that you're an angel
Sent to us below
I wish everyone could see your smile
A beautiful pearly white
It makes anyone melt inside
A truly lovely sight
When I think of what you're like
I think nice and sweet and kind
I'm sure when anyone thinks of these
It's you that comes to mind
I love your eyes and how they sparkle
The purest, shiniest blue
I love when I look into them
They make me feel like new
Overall you're beautiful
Sweet and cute in every way
This was the only way I could find
The words I wanted to say
"But how to finish?" he said to himself.
The poem was written for Kenzie Jones, a girl Keith's age living alongside him in the colony. For the past three weeks, he had been meticulously writing this poem, painstakingly trying to make it good enough to present to her. Good enough for her golden hair, her sparkling blue eyes, her...And so he fell asleep dreaming of her.
Keith woke up groggily, the thick blanket he slept on soaked with the water from the melting ice chair. He stood up quickly, his wet clothes sticking to him and making him shiver violently. He looked around his surroundings, but was shocked to see almost nothing. The world around him was bathed in a deep, thick pure white fog.
He bent the water off his clothes and froze it haphazardly on the remains of the chair and picked up his backpack. Keith walked through the fog, bending it to his sides creating a path through it. Recognizing his now muddy footprints, he followed them to the tunnel, a puddle of water at the bottom of the hole. He bent the water back onto the wall, freezing some of the fog on his fingers. Before going down, he swung his arms in the air, the currents of fog following after in a massive hurricane like movement.
Keith slid down the wall, the tendrils of fog following after him. Once he landed and shook the ice off his fingers, he "grabbed" the fog in his fingers and threw it outwards inside the tunnel. With a large amount in the tunnel, he made the fog descend on the floor of the tunnel, freezing it, creating a large track of ice the length of the tunnel. Satisfied with his work, he melted the ice off the side of the hole and refroze it to his shoes. Keith jumped awkwardly on the ice track, and threw his arms back, speeding off through the tunnel at a breakneck speed.
Within minutes, he arrived at the other side of the tunnel, at the hole he slid down. He melted some of the ice track and launched it to the top of the hole, freezing it as it splattered down on the top of the hole. Taking more of the ice, he froze it yet again to his fingers and rose his arms. Replicating a magnetic effect, he sensed the ice at the top of the hole and shot up, his fingers clinging to the side of the hole. Keith hauled himself up, emerging next to the large rock that normally covered the hole.
Keith looked around him, surprised not to see the dense fog that swarmed over him back at the river. He looked in the distance beyond the mountain, and saw a massive wall of cloud stretching to the heavens. The wall went in a great circle around the forest and the mountain, obscuring everything beyond its view. Keith looked up, shocked to see pure blue sky and clouds, no sign whatsoever of a storm.
He ran off with sudden shock towards the colony hidden in the forest, the signs suddenly dawning on him. The trees became thicker as he ran with growing exhaustion down the mountain. As he got closer, the pungent smell of ash and smoke grew stronger with every step. He emerged in the small valley where the town was perched on a small hill covered by trees.
"Where are we?" Sierra asked, her voice full of impatience.
"Umm. I'm not sure how this GPS works, but it looks like we're somewhere in North Carolina," Leah said from the pilot's chair. Looking down, she said. "Some forest."
"Why would Bronson send us to a forest?"
"Why would he send us away in the first place?"
"I don't know, it was just so sudden. We were leaving anyway, but why was he so panicked to get us away from there?"
"What about the cutter ship we saw?"
"What about it?"
"I'm willing to bet that was the Mistress' boat. She was coming back this week."
"Then he was keeping us away from her?"
"Why not? On her orders that BDA agent and the screaming prisoner were killed. Maybe Bronson was afraid she'd do the same to us."
"Either way, it doesn't explain why he sent us to a forest in North Carolina. It makes no sense at all." Sierra vented.
"Maybe it does just a bit. Look over there." Leah said, pointing out the front window of the plane.
In the view of the cockpit was an enormous wall of fog, circulating clockwise slowly. The huge, white mist rose from the forest floor straight to the heavens, hiding everything behind it.
"What about it?" Sierra asked, watching the slow motion.
"When I ran away, this freak snow storm just came and smothered Chicago. After I was captured, the storm just stopped and everything returned to normal. I'm thinking that this is the work of the BDA as well. We should check it out and make sure no one is getting hurt."
"I'm sure it's just a normal fog Leah. It's nothing to worry about."
"Please Sierra. I've got a really bad feeling about it. Can you just take us out of autopilot and just hover over . I'll check it out and if everything is okay or I need you, I'll send up an earth pillar. Please?"
Sierra sighed, "Fine."
Sierra moved to take Leah's place at the pilot's seat and began pressing buttons and taking the "wheel" of the plane. Pushing the wheel forward, the plane began to slowly descend and accelerate towards the wall of fog. As they got closer to the wall, the plane began to slow down, before it stood at a standstill in the air, less than 10 feet from the fog.
"What's going on?" Leah asked.
"I don't know, the plane's going at full speed, we're just stuck here. We're not moving at all, it's like the fog is pushing us back."
"It's gotta be them. I'll get out and push us forward."
Leah moved to the door of the plane and jumped out without hesitation. Before dropping more than thirty feet, she conjured a sphere of air and moved back up, behind the engines of the plane. Leah swirled her arms in a windmill motion, currents of air moving with them and into the engines. The plane began to inch slowly forward, the forces of the engine overwhelming the fog. Leah motioned faster, the plane now touching the fog. With one final push, the plane went through the fog and disappeared with a whooshing sound.
Leah flew with her own currents and pushed through the fog. Two mountains with a small valley were present within the circle of fog, trees covering every square foot except for the valley, a shocking black plume of smoke rising from a small hill. Leah skimmed over the smoke before spotting the plane shockingly speeding forward at a rapid pace, having already covered half the length of the area. Leah rushed forward and caught the plane with a cushion of air, slowing it down.
With the plane back under control, Sierra piloted it and began to fly in a circle around the valley, hovering at a safe altitude. Leah returned her attention to the smoke, speeding towards the smoke.
Keith gazed in shock at his home, perched on top of the once thickly forested hill. The trees that once covered the hill were now nothing but burning stumps dotting the steaming grass. The earthen huts that were once hidden beneath the forest canopy were now scattered lumps of burnt dirt scattered across the hill. Keith ran across the hill, his shoes starting to melt from the radiating heat of the ground. He reached the apex of the hill, bolting around a large fire sending swaths of smoke into the blue sky.
He raced down the opposite side of the hill, heading towards his family's hut. Keith finally came to it, finding it to the same fate. Keith looked around for signs of a body, a movement, but saw none. The hill was nothing but the burnt grass and lumps of dirt all over. Nothing.
A small movement caught his eye, coming from the edge of the hill. Keith turned towards it, surprised to see a young woman in her 20s surveying the carnage. She was short for her height, but still radiated power and confidence from her thick brunette hair and cold brown eyes. The woman caught sight of Keith and scowled at him, looking as if it were her fault he was there. She started walking towards him, scaring Keith stiff and freezing his muscles.
The woman put her hands into fists and punched fiercely towards Keith, tendrils of flame shooting out from her fists. Keith woke from his shock and ducked quickly, the flame singing the top of his head and filing the air with the scent of burning hair. Keith rolled awkwardly down the remainder of the hill, flipping back up and running like the wind towards the forest. The woman chased after him, shooting more fireballs after him, exploding and surging throughout the forest.
Keith turned his gaze briefly behind him and tripped on a tree root, sprawling downwards on the forest floor. He picked himself up, crawling away desperately from the woman on his hands and knees. The woman put her index and middle fingers together, waving the other arm in the air. A long, thin stream of heat began to travel from the ravaged hill and move towards her arm. Once the tendril was inside her waving arm, she traced that hand through her stomach and out the other arm, streams of heat hissing towards Keith.
The steam clung itself to the ground and reached Keith, burning his hands and knees and stopping him in his tracks. Keith lay there on his back screaming, clinging his steaming red hands to his chest while keeping his knees in the air as the steam started to burn through his shirt. The woman reached him triumphantly, arcing her free fist in the air as wisps of fire started to emerge. Her fire charged, she pushed her fist forward.
Leah raced towards the smoke, closing her eyes as she surged through it and landed on the top of the hill. The scene was haunting, the trees gone, the grass steaming, and the lumps of dirt scattered everywhere. Curious, she picked a lump up, noting it's odd feel, like fine sand instead of dirt. Leah blew gently, the substance blowing away, catching gently on the heat rising in the air. As it blew, a small red droplet dropped in the air, plopping gently and staining the grey burnt grass.
Leah realized what she had been touching and felt sick to her stomach, doubling over as tears flooded her eyes. She held back the urge rising in her stomach and rose back up. She walked down the hill, trying to still her gaze from the ashes littering the ground. Grateful for something to distract her thoughts, she noticed a slight change in the heat as she walked to the bottom of the hill. The grass was different as well, changing from burnt grey to a wilted black, the grass nothing but dust here.
A small, almost unnoticeable wisp of steam caught Leah's eyes. The wisp continued through the forest, almost moving into it. Leah walked towards it, noting a small scent of burning hair as she stepped down from the hill. She walked through the forest, brushing her hand through the wisp and feeling gentle warmth from it. The sound of piercing, agonizing screams started to reach through the trees, prompting Leah to jog through the trees.
In a small clearing in the trees lay a teenage boy lying on his back in a cloud of steam. The boy was average sized, yet gangly and awkward. His brown hair was slightly burnt on the edges, a black edge combined with the brown. His hands and bare knees were an awful deep pink, a slight steam coming off of them. A young woman stood next to the boy, steam radiating from one hand as the other was in the air, the other shooting fire blasts at the boy, the flames licking hungrily across his face.
The boy screamed shrilly in agony, his hands trying to hold his burned face but only hovering over for fear of mixing the burns. Leah gasped out in shock and the woman turned around and noticed her. A light clicked in Leah's head as she saw the woman's face.
Identifying the girl she saw as Leah, she compressed a small ball of fire in her palms, then shot it up into the air, exploding like a violent firework. The great fog wall stopped moving and began to dissipate as the earth gently shook. Satisfied with the signal, Kumara created a pillar of fire, controlling it so precisely as to touch the ground without burning it. Using a slicing motion, she slid off sections of the pillar, disks of fire whirling out towards Leah.
Leah jumped up with an air blast, watching momentarily as the fire disks cut through the trees, setting the remaining stumps on fire before the disks dissipated. Leah launched herself higher, gathering an air current around her back. Dropping down, she compressed the air into a tight sphere and moved it to her feet. She finally landed near Kumara, the air bomb blasting out and blowing her away along with putting out the new fires in the trees.
Kumara landed several feet away in a heap, coming back up with a small angry bruise on her forehead. Leah walked forward to continue the fight, suddenly tripping on a rock. Adam stood near Kumara, shackling the burnt boy to the ground with earth. Vayu appeared in a sphere of air, the trees blowing violently from the gusts he created. Jordan finally came, riding on a small wave that he then bent into a sphere between his hands.
The Elite surrounded Leah, one on each side of her. Leah got into a stance, thinking of a strategy. Jordan struck first, condensing the water into a knife like edge and whipping out at Leah. As Leah froze the knife in midair Adam fell backwards and into the ground, emerging covered in an earth armor. Adam charged forward, rocks clinking together as Vayu created an air swipe at her. Leah diffused the air swipe and swung an earth wall up in Adam's face, stopping him and shattering the front of his armor. Adam shook off the rest of his armor and kicked a boulder into the air, pushing it towards Leah as Jordan melted his knife and froze it into daggers and throwing them. Leah melted the water and buried it as it splattered on the forest floor and kicked at the boulder, turning it to dust.
Leah moved towards the unarmed Jordan and kicked his chest, sending him sprawling to the ground. She shackled him quickly in earth as Vayu made a whirling funnel of air. Adam kicked up small shards of earth and dropped them into the funnel, shooting them towards Leah. Leah rose another earth wall, kicking a fissure underneath it and tripping Vayu and Adam. Leah jumped over her wall and shackled Vayu as well while taking a large boulder to Adam's head.
Leah looked triumphantly at struggling Vayu and Jordan and unconscious Adam, but suddenly realized: Where's Kumara?
Leah whirled around to look at the boy, however he was still there, shackled to the ground and unconscious. Leah walked over to the boy, releasing the shackles and looked down upon him. His hands and knees were terribly burned, yet strangely a little wet. Then she looked at his face, a great ugly burn stretching from his nose to carve to his ear, covering his left eye and stretching down his neck to his shoulder. Leah bent down and tried to touch the burn, yet it was still deadly hot.
She stood back up and felt a deep burning shock to her shoulder. Leah screamed loudly and turned around to see her assaulter. Kumara had sparks whirling around her right hand and her left was smoking. Kumara had created lightning but had found a way to use it as a contact attack rather than long range, but with a less deadly effect. Leah's shoulder burned terribly and began to bleed as her shirt started to smoke from the heat.
Kumara moved to shock Leah with her sparking hand as she shot a fireball with at her with the other hand. Leah diffused the fire and dodged the lightning, wincing as pain shot from her shoulder. Kumara turned to the boy and shot a fire stream at him, Leah ran to protect him and blasted away the fire. Kumara took the opportunity and slammed her hand down on Leah's other shoulder.
Leah screamed shrilly and clutched her electrocuted shoulder. Kumara kicked Leah's leg and Leah tripped to the ground. Kumara arced her fist back, flames gathering once more for another deadly strike. Leah closed her eyes, trying to think of something to do. From the corner of her eye, Leah saw the boy.
Keith woke up slowly, his left eye stinging terribly and refusing to open. He slowly got up and looked around. Two men were shackled to the ground while another was unconscious. The woman who had assaulted him was standing over another girl, flames gathering around her fist. Keith stood up slowly, walking silently behind the woman.
Moving his burnt hands slowly through the air, water began to trickle from the grass as it withered from the effect. Two feet of dead grass later, Keith had a block sized amount of water. He froze the water into a brick and lifted it above the woman's head. The woman shot her fist forward, flames beginning to shoot forward. Keith dropped the ice and listened to it shatter on her head. The woman shook for a moment and dropped to the ground, her fire dissipating.
Exhausted from the ordeal, he fell to the ground, unconscious as well.
Leah stood up in shock and ran over to the boy, shackling Kumara to the ground and aiming a kick at her stomach. Leah rose an earth pillar into the air, signaling Sierra to come. Leah picked up the boy with difficulty and waited for Sierra to come. Soon enough, the plane rumbled in and hovered around the forest. Leah braced herself and jumped into the air, clinging onto the side of the plane as she landed. She knocked on the door heavily and soon the door opened, Leah walking in with care as to not bump or drop the boy.
"Who's he? What's happened to you?" Sierra asked, shocked.
"One minute please, he's really hurt. Give me your canteen." Leah said, tiredness in her voice.
Sierra gave Leah her canteen and returned to the pilot's seat, charting the plane east to the weak remains of the fog. Leah bent the water out of the canteen and hovered it over his hands, a slight glow appearing in the water.
"What're you doing?" Sierra asked.
"I'm trying to heal him." Leah stated, concentrating.
"You can do that?"
"One minute please, and I'll explain."
Keith woke up slightly but didn't open his eyes, pain shooting from his knees and face. He could feel wetness on his hands, along with a cooling, pure feeling. Keith opened his eyes slightly and saw a young girl, in her late teens. She had fine brown hair, and sparkling blue eyes that were filled with sadness. He thought over his own sadness, the trauma he had endured, and the ending to his poem finally coming to mind.
That though I see no pure white wings
I feel your heavenly glow
I'll know forever that you're an angel
Sent to us below.
- This chapter is meant to be darker as it will be referenced to and visited several more times in the series.
For the collective works of the author, go here.