I remember falling to the ground, tired but victorious, after our team battle. I remember the smug smirk on my face as I saw the shock in the audience’s faces at how we fought our way through torture and the battle, surviving it all. And most stupidly, I remember Visp’s choice of Newt over me and how everybody was tittering at us. Even our personal lives were a spectacle to them.
After being dropped unceremoniously into our apartment, we each went our separate ways. We were all too tired to talk or celebrate. I was too tired to even glare at Visp, not that I blamed him for his choice or held a grudge against him. I just wished things would have been done differently and under different circumstances. I saw him gather what little energy he had and carried the unconscious Newt to her room. I looked away as he did so, not wanting him to see the hurt in my face, and I reprimanded myself for shying away from my shame. It was his choice, the least I could do was respect it and move on. However, my own words brought shame to my face, the way I had let my anger take control of my words as I lashed out at Visp after his confession. The way I had attacked Newt and called her all those names I knew she didn’t deserve, freak ringing the strongest. As the word slipped from my mouth, I saw painful recognition register in Newt’s weary face, then the usual pooling of tears in her eyes.
Apex and Shard were spent from the battle as well, but their eyes were brimming with anger and maybe frustration. Apex, despite his multiple injuries and the haggard look in his face, was clenching and unclenching his fist. His taste of sunset had become the scorching flare of a solar storm. I didn’t want to use my energy remarking upon it because surely it would bring another fight between us and I didn’t want to alienate him with me, ever. I just propped myself up and limped to my room.
My regenerative powers were taking longer to respond to pain. It was pain, after all, that triggered my power, and the desperate need and will of my mind to stitch my body whole again. Back in the torture chamber, Kobish had said something about creating a humanoid that could feel no pain and regenerate itself. I shuddered at the thought of something like that being possible. Despite the inconveniences of pain, it was something inherent in the make-up of our humanity. Because we know of pain, we also know of pleasure: the pleasure of being alive and happy.
The Martian atmosphere was reddening at an alarming speed. I felt the hair at the back of my head stand up as the air became unstable and the wind wiped against the large geodesic dome ensnaring the entire colony. Soon enough, I predicted an enormous dust storm engulfing the entire planet with its rust-colored sand and biting, howling wind. The Martian colony thrived inside a transparent geodesic dome, which provided the proper climate and environment for human beings to live on, since Mars atmosphere is somewhat inhospitable due to the fact that it’s mostly made up of carbon dioxide gas. Water ice clouds and dust storms were the most common type of fronts. If it wasn’t for the geodesic dome that protected us from the Martian environment, the early settlers would’ve frozen to death. There was one occasion ten years ago, around the same time I met Apex, when there was a crack in the east side of the dome. Martian ice storm seeped in and the wind made it cracked even further, Martian authorities acted quickly, patching up the area in three days. But the damage was done, it took the colony three months to stabilize the climate inside the dome and the slums lost a third of its population. I lost most of my friends during those three days.
His voice tore my eyes from the view outside of my window. Apex spoke of freedom and escape with such a conviction that it made my body be all nerve and impulse. I prayed that he wasn’t really in the communication’s room, urging everybody to open their doors and make a run for it. I opened up my mind and touched every corner of our apartment for his taste, to no avail. He was definitely not here, and neither was Shard. I searched further and confirmed that he was, in fact, in the communication room with Shard and guards were surrounding them. I heard a blast of sirens and powers the moment I walked out of my room. Enraged and hopeful tastes all mingled together buffeted me, knocking me to the floor. I could feel everybody leaving their area, congregating in the common areas and fighting their way out of this hell hole, as Apex had said. I closed my mind to their tastes, just focusing on finding Apex’s and Kobish’s.
“You’re an idiot.” I cursed his name for doing this impulsive escape movement without consulting it with anybody or including me in it. It was also the fact that I couldn’t find Kobish’s taste that angered me. Apex had found him first.
“Lorrie, what’s going on?” Visp’s voice.
I looked up, he was sitting just outside Newt’s door and he had a blanket around him. Apparently he had spent the night sleeping outside her room. I swallowed the bitter comments and thoughts, whatever happened yesterday was in the past now.
“Apex and Shard fought their way to the communication’s room and are telling everybody to fight their way out of here, including us.” I stood up and gestured to the door. “We must leave now before all the confusion dies down and the guards seize us. Apex is waiting for us and he needs help.”
Visp was quickly on his feet and knocking on Newt’s door. “Newt, Newt, are you awake? Did you heard Apex? We must leave now, please open the door.”
“What’s up with her?” I asked. Visp shot me a glance and I understood, Newt had heard me called her a freak. I walked to her door and pushed Visp aside. My fists pounded on her door.
“Newt, open the door, we must leave now!” I shouted. “Please, this is not a time to behave like this, you’ll end up dead.” I ignored Visp’s threatening look of disapproval. “I’m sorry for what I said yesterday. I wasn’t in control of my thoughts, please believe me. I didn’t mean what I said and I hope you can forgive me for it.” I could feel the tears prickling my eyes and there was still no response from inside Newt’s room. I opened my mind enough to feel her taste and knew she was lying curled at the foot of her bed. I let out a frustrated scream and pounded one last time at her door.
I paced away, toward the entry door, and looked back at Visp.
He must have seen the resolve in my eyes for he said, “I’m not leaving her behind.”
“I know you aren’t.” I snapped at him. I wanted it to sound much softer and kinder, but it came out harsh. “Just promise to meet up with us sometime and to bring her along with you.”
He nodded, and with his silent promise lifting a weigh from my heart I opened the door to join in the fight. I sprinted down the hallway until I reached the common areas, where the commotion was taking place. It was like all hell went loose; literally, this building was being razed to the ground by a pyromaniac. Kids were fighting off guards, running around in a disorganized fashion, not knowing where to go. Some of the older kids were protecting those weaker ones, herding them towards the communication room where Apex had sent the message. My heart swell with something akin to pride, we were all fighting a common enemy, not taking into consideration from what area we were from. We all had one common goal: getting out of here. I punched a guard who had a girl locked down on the ground, then another one with the aim of his rifle on another kid. I shouted at those kids to just follow the crowd and run towards the communication room.
I did the same, sprinting down the hallway, making sure nobody was left behind. That’s when I saw him, at the end of the hallway. Xander was bleeding profusely from the side of his face; he was signaling the kids were to go at a bifurcation. I caught up with him and threw my arms around him, allowing his taste of sea breeze engulf me.
“Lorrie, I’m glad you’re okay.” Xander burrowed his face in my neck.
I untangled myself from his arms. “What happened to you?”
“Sapphire.” He said. “Your friend’s message enraged Sapphire and the rest. Areas 34, along with other areas, are out in a killing spree to kill anyone who attempts to escape. She did this to me when I protected those from Area 25.”
I shook with rage. “Do you know where we can escape?”
“I heard from the guards that Apex had blasted a hole through the compound, so my guess is that we’re escaping from the roof.”
“We have to go up as well.” I searched the floor; it was covered with some bodies and blood. I ripped part of my shirt and dipped it in blood. I wrote on the wall “Go up” for Visp and Newt, then sprinted toward the stairs, with Xander following.
As we were going up, I sought after the taste of ashes, and located it just one floor above me. Xander was busy fending off some guards who had come after us. I ran upstairs to find Sapphire slashing furiously at another kid with her claws. I ran at her and tackled her from behind. We clashed to the floor. She hissed, turned around, and was surprised to find me. She gave out a shrill laugh.
“You look horrendous, such an ugly creature,” she said when she saw uneven clumps of hair in my head. “Torture is very becoming of you.”
“You’ve looked better,” I said, connecting my fist with her face. And she did looked better, right now she looked feline and feral. She hissed at me and lunged with all four. I sidestepped her and swung my leg at her back. She crumpled to the floor.
“I will rip apart anyone who attempts to escape!” She shouted, lunging at me again. “You were the first one I thought of.” This time, one of her claws grazed the side of my cheek. I sent a fist at her abdomen. She curled at the pain, scrunched her face at the pain, which made her look years older.
“Pain has made me proud and strong, but it has made you ugly,” I said. “You’ll never imagine how much I suffered in Kobish hands.” We were prowling at each other, aware and prepared for the next attack. This time I jumped at her, aiming to take her head between my hands. I wrapped my legs around her waist and locked her head in my hands. She clawed at my back, ripping fabric and skin away, the same clawed-hands that had killed so many before me. I closed my mind from everything else and let the taste of ash gather me in its poisonous state. I wrapped my silver life force around her pulsing, violet one and let both of them merge. I felt her hate pulse through my veins, like a vice. I saw my own determination through her eyes. The next minute, when I pulled away, she crumpled to the floor, dead.
A hand was laid on my shoulder and I was all impulse and nerve. I took the hand and threw my weight forward, catapulting whomever it was behind me. Xander fell on the ground with a thud!
“Hey, it’s me.” He stood up and then looked at Sapphire’s unmoving body. “Did you…?”
“Let’s go,” I said, without a backward glance at her. Had I become a vengeful monster? The lower levels of the compound sounded empty, aside from a small fight here and there. Mostly, the action was happening upstairs. Fortunately, Xander had dropped the subject and we were moving on. All the time, I was keeping a look-out for Tiamone’s taste. He was the next person on my to-kill list. The guard who had slapped me when we were tortured was dead already, someone less to kill.
The communication room was swarming with guards and a whirl of unconstraint power at its epicenter. Apex was unleashing all his fury, deflecting bullets and punches. Shard was doing the same, dodging attacks and throwing some punches. Shard looked like a maniac, destroying everything that came within a few feet from him. I saw the hole that Apex had created and how everybody was jumping to get out or protect it. Through that hole, the whole sky was reddened by the dust storm, rendering the room into stank, reddish gloom.
“Apex!” I shouted from across the room, making my way to him. I left Xander to fight off some guards.
“What?!” He shouted back, throwing a guard ten feet away with hands. He definitely grew stronger.
I jumped over a counter and knocked a guard to the floor. The next minute I was next to Apex. “What was in your mind when you staged this?! This could have gone wrong in a million different ways, why the hell didn’t you consult with us? And why did you left us behind!” It sounded more like an accusation than a question, but I let out my rage at him.
“I couldn’t wait for you lot to gather your thoughts together,” he shouted above the uproar. “Do you think superpowers inc. would stop at torture and throwing us into a battle that was disadvantageous for us?”
We had a glaring contest and neither one of us refused to give in.
“I was planning on getting back to you, on getting back for you and the others…” His voice was softer.
“We will never, ever again separate, do you hear?” I sounded every word clearly. There was a mutual agreement and we went back to fighting. He asked for Visp and Newt. “They are coming.” I said, hoping they would hurry up.
There was a blast through the door, guards and kids alike were thrown off by the impact of the blast. Three figures stood against the light from the hallway. One of the figures towered above the rest, large and brutal. Its skin was beyond pale and its eyes were only dark pupils, a stark contrast to the paleness. It didn’t have hair. Its muscles were bulging and its lips were set into an impassive grimace. The two other figures were slighter; their backs bent a little, creating a hump in their backs. They had hollowed eyes, thin limbs, and a tongue that rolled out of their mouths.
“What are those monstrosities!” someone shouted. The next minute that person was blasted to bits, blood and flesh flying everywhere. The larger figure had its arms outstretched, glowing a sickening orange. I tensed, recognizing the power.
“Shard, what are they?” Apex asked, clenching his fist, an orange glow already emanating from them.
“Experiments,” said Shard. “Set out to kill us.”
The three of us readied ourselves to fight, for they had leaped toward us with an immense lust for bloodshed.