016Mature

I almost forgot to breathe in those moments; so much just whizzing by beneath me that my senses were almost overloaded.

Not to mention the feeling of weightlessness and the nausea that washed over me when I glanced down.

The only problem was, I couldn't stop looking down.

It was as if I was looking down at a huge, living painting from the Unenlightened Age, of a time far before virtual realities and clones.

A time when the natural world reigned supreme, and humanity accepted it.

"There's an obstruction on my line." Mercy said as unemotionally as ever, "Brace yourself, Celeste."

"Make it quick." the addressed replied, "We're almost at the other side."

Mercy slowed our passage so that Celeste was in the lead and, with a motion I had not been expecting, jumped across the space between the two wires and grabbed the same metal bracket her lover was holding.

A few seconds later we were all slowing down, and I felt a jarring shock as Mercy jumped to the platform below.

This time both she and Celeste went into the bullet elevator, and I felt my stomach threaten to float up into my throat.

"They're at the border." Celeste said curtly, starting into an easy sprint.

Mercy followed without so much as breaking a sweat.

After a mile or so we arrived at what I can only describe as a huge, curving wall of glass-like material that stretched up and over our heads as far as the eye could see.

I couldn't help but ask.

"What the hell is this?"

Celeste replied without even expressing any surprise at my consciousness.

"This is what keeps poachers and pollutants alike out of the forest. It was probably meant to keep terrorists out too."

She chuckled and we drew nearer to the wall, only to see Uriel, Sher and Maidie already waiting.

"Well it's about time." Sher scolded good-naturedly, pressing a hand to the glass.

A totally undetectable door slid open and everybody rushed through into another small chamber.

The door behind us slid shut and each one of the Verisat pulled one of the silver discs off a cord around their necks, and put on their gas masks.

Except for Mercy.

Sher was about to shove one into my mouth but the clone stopped her.

"He doesn't need it."

The leader's expression of surprise was priceless.

"Well, that saves us an extra then. Let's move."

The door on the other side let out a hiss of air and slid open just long enough for everyone to rush out.

What met my eyes was almost unbelievable.

The sky was a dark grey and only the outline of a bloated sun could be seen through the smog. There was not a trace of the greenery I had seen on the other side of the glass, but only rubble and strange half-structures that may have once been houses. 

Even the ground was coated in a thick layer of ash. I couldn't see any living thing except for the small group of rogues with me.

When I breathed I had to cough violently, an acrid taste spreading on my tongue.

"What happened here?" I asked, taking in the desolate landscape as they ran.

Somebody shut him up. Sher seemed to say with a hand gesture, which Mercy quickly obeyed by knocking me out with a hook in the jaw.

The End

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