Chapter OneMature

Rocking... always rocking.

"Spore," whispered a voice.

The tendrils of sleeps unfurled from my brain. I groaned and pushed away the hand that was nudging my shoulder. Livid, I flung back my thin mustard blanket and threw up my fist, and a shadow scooted backwards from my bed.

"What?!" I demanded.

"I'm sorry, I know you don't like to be touched," Flora whispered from the darkness. The moonlight that seeped through the white curtains painted our room a deep, silver-tinted navy. I could just make out Flora's yellow-brown eyes glinting from the bed at the other wall.

"What is it?" I asked as patiently as I could.

"Cherry's at the window," said Flora, curling up in bed.

A huge yawn bubbled up from inside me as I rolled from my bed and stumbled to the window. Indeed, I found Cherry's huge, inquisitive eyes and bushy brown hair waiting for me beyond the curtains.

"What are you doing here?" I murmured.

"Quick, put some shoes on! You're not going to believe this."

"Ugh. You kidding me?" I fumbled in the dark under my bed to find my trainers. "This is the third time this month, Cherry. It better not be a repeat of the night Indigo fell into the fountain."

"Shut up, please," Flora murmured into her pillow.

I climbed through the window like a ninja, leaving the latch open just slightly so that I could slip back inside later without waking Flora.

Cherry grabbed my hand and dragged me down the slipway between the Aquaria and Solaria buildings. The moonlit hit the courtyard like a giant headlamp.

"Y'know, we're going to get busted one of these nights," I hissed.

She gave me a look that tried to say "don't be stupid", but I could also see a hint of guilt. Like she was hiding something from me.

The Lunarus building's fire escape was hidden in the shadows, and Cherry clambered up the cold metal ladder like an overweight sealion, while I made short work of it with arms and legs like a panther's paws.

Three shadows sat in a line, legs hanging over the edge of the building, when we landed on the rooftop. Indigo, Cyrus and Raphael all turned their heads as Cherry cleared her throat.

"Did we miss anything?" she asked, sidling up next to Raph.

"No, she's about to give the headlines again, so listen up," said Cyrus.

I realised Indi was holding a curiously familiar-looking device in his hands, and that there was a voice speaking from inside it.

"Have you got a radio?" I shrieked, slapping my hands over my mouth the second I realised my mistake.

"Ssssshh!" hissed four angry voices.

"Sorry." I knelt behind Indi and rested my chin on his shoulder.

"And the headlines again, two distressed parents are appealing for any information regarding their missing children. Thirteen-year-old Regina and nineteen-year-old William Wordsworth were last seen leaving their residence at approximately seven o'clock last Sunday evening. Anyone with information is asked to please call the police on 1800-"

Some static drowned out the newsreader's report, and Cyrus cursed, grabbing the radio from Indi's hands. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer from what I'd just heard, because I knew exactly who went by those names.

"Why does everything I do turn to crap?" he snarled.

"Don't worry about it, sweetie. I think it's great," said Indi, taking Cyrus's hand gently.

There was a cold, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, threatening to spread to my throat in the form of vomit if I wasn't careful.

"I don't get it," shrugged Raph. "What's the big deal with these kids?"

"They're former Residents," said Indi, as Cyrus tampered with the back cover of the radio. "They left here just last year, unexpectedly, and changed their names."

"Why?" asked Raph.

Nobody replied. I vaguely heard Indi swallow over the heavy drumbeat that was my heart.

"Protection," I said, my throat dry. "The Yellows decided it wasn't safe for them here, so they went across the country will their parents and were given new names."

Raph was nodding gravely now. He may have been new at the Residency, but he understood that Reallocation could only mean one thing. Somebody wanted you dead.

"So who are they?" asked Raph.

"Well, the girl, Cornflower, came here when she was just a few days old, so I don't see how she could have made any enemies," said Cherry.

"And her brother?" asked Raph.

"Pit was..." Cyrus trailed off, his eyes catching mine with a glimmer of sympathy.

The pain in my stomach grew even more intense as I took a deep breath. "He was-"

I screamed as a pair of hands grabbed me by my underarms and locked me in a muscular grip. Four other guys, all in bright yellow jumpsuits, dived to grab my friends.

"Let go of me!" I yelled, kicking backwards at an attempt to release myself from the Yellow's grasp.

The others knew better than to struggle, and cooperated somewhat with their captors as they directed them towards the fire escape.

I, on the other hand, was being shredded open from the inside out by devestation, and didn't hold back on the swears and kicks as the Yellow dragged me to the fire escape.

When we reached the edge, I felt something jab into my upper right arm. The ground, three floors below me, shifted like a stormy ocean, before I fell into unconsciousness.

The End

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