Generation 89 | Teen Ink

Generation 89

May 30, 2011
By BlackThunderess BRONZE, Richland, Washington
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BlackThunderess BRONZE, Richland, Washington
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Let me see your badge.... It's just a star. Just another symbol. Your talisman. It can't stop criminals in their tracks, can it? It has power because you believe it does." ~Sally Owens

Author's note: I got the idea for this from Maximum Ride, and twisted it to make it my own unique story. I hope you all like it!

The author's comments:
It's maybe not the best, but the story gets better later on, I promise. I suck at starting things off.

They say that it all started three hundred years ago, but that’s a lie. It happened much later than that—maybe fifty years ago, at the most.
You live in a cute little house in a cute little neighborhood in a cute little town, right? Well, I promise you that years ago, back in my time, that’s not the way it was.

You’ve seen those video games about what would happen after World War III, I presume. That isn’t how the world looked, but it almost came to that.

You wouldn’t have heard about the war I’m about to tell you of, the battle called the Struggle. Not very imaginative, I know, but I didn’t come up with the name. In that time—often called the Between, because it seems as though the historians didn’t recall it; they probably didn’t want to remember that time in history—the Struggle nearly wiped out the human race. Those who survived were either insane or evolved, more advanced beings, called Gen 89—the eighty-ninth generation.

The humans—you being one of them, I suppose—don’t remember the Struggle. When the spawn of the insane created a large enough population for survival, the Gen 89 with mind-control abilities wiped all memory of the Struggle.

After a while, the humans began to fear the Gen 89, and revolted. Not wishing for war, the evolved-ones relented and sank into hiding—after many had been lost to either side. You will not hear of us now, but I promise you, we exist. We are here. We look like you, we talk like you, we act like you. But we are different—we are not the same as you pathetic humans.

We have powers, things you would hear of in comic books—based off of the only scarce recollections of the Gen 89—things like invisibility, flight, super-human strength and speed, levitation, mind control and mind reading, the list continues infinitely.

I am here to tell you the story of the Struggle.

My name is Katahae, and I am a Gen 89.

The author's comments:
Just so you know: despite the fact that Katahae may seem rather cold-hearted, she hates having to kill the girl. She doesn't flinch simply because the sound of the flesh against tin grosses her out-- she just really, really hates having to kill people.

Allow me to start at the beginning.

There were initially five of us; myself (Katahae—I am the Alpha), Tauro (the Beta—otherwise known as my right-hand man), Arina (the Scout), Hathila (the Navigator), and Juno (the Persuader). We take pride in our powers:

I can make things move using my mind—the Gen 89 word for it is Lolori, but humans would call it Telekinesis.

Tauro makes things burst into flame.

Arina becomes invisible.

Hathila can see the layout of buildings and land like blueprints in her head.

And Juno can make people do anything he wants them to—unfortunately he’s a total coward and doesn’t do anything unless told to do so.

I am the leader because I gathered my Pack by saving each of their lives while I was searching out a certain someone—that will be explained later in the story. I call us a Pack because all Gen 89 turn into wolves at will—sort of like a human’s werewolf.

Anyway, before I saved their sorry skins, I was a loner. The Struggle had just begun. Humans were becoming ill for unidentified reasons, and they began to blame the disease and famine on the Gen 89. Of course, we had nothing to do with the humans’ ill-fortune and lack of the sense for survival. Nevertheless, they continued to refuse to see this our way.

Those humans who were strong enough would go to battle with the Gen 89—and they lost every time. They became afraid of us and our power. I was one of the few who didn’t go to war. Instead, I hid.

Do not think of this as cowardly; it kept me alive.

I believe a good place to begin my tale would be when I hiding in Vegas. . . .

I crouched in a dark alleyway, staring intently at the tall human man standing at the front of the store. Studying this antsy human, I memorized his sandy hair, blue eyes, and freckled face. He seemed to be waiting for someone, and he did not appear to be comfortable waiting out in the open. I almost chuckled as he shifted nervously from foot to foot, glancing this way and that, probably afraid that a Gen 89 was going to pounce on him at any second.

No pun intended, I thought wryly to myself.

I could understand the man’s discomfort, though. It was perfectly logical. The humans and the Gen 89 were at odds at the moment, and the humans were losing ground fast. And given that reason, the front of a grocery store was a very strange place to rendezvous, not to mention dangerous.

The sound of tapping footsteps snapped me out of my reverie, and I scolded myself for not paying attention. I cocked my head to the side, listening. Another human stepped into my limited line of human vision, and I was hit by a wave of longing to shift into a wolf, as was the way I had spent most of my days since the beginning of the Struggle several months earlier.

Even as a human, my senses were extremely advanced, and I recoiled with disgust when the smell of cologne hit me like a tidal wave radiating from the new human. Wrinkling my nose, I toughened up and eyed the two men impatiently. Then the second man spoke.

“Have you brought it?” he asked.

The first man scuffed his feet and looked ashamed and terrified.

“I asked you a question!” Second said forcefully.

“No,” First whispered, so low that even with my enhanced hearing I could barely hear him.

Second growled. “You have one week, Juno. Get it to me.”

“Yes, sir,” Juno murmured, clearly terrified to the point where he looked like he was going to start shaking in his socks.

Second turned on his heel and stalked angrily away, leaving Juno quivering like a frightened kitten. Juno stood there in front of the store for several minutes before trudging quietly away toward the west.

As much as I pitied the pathetic human man, I decided that his pain was not of my concern.

Finally, after another good hour had passed and no other human had come within a concerning range, I stood and strode confidently toward the grocery store.

As much as I wished I were able to eat like a wolf, I knew that it was impossible for me. Eating raw and bloody meat disgusted me, quite honestly. I simply couldn’t stand it. So whenever I reached starving point, I would shift into human form and eat.

I grimaced as I began the unpleasant routine of ‘shopping’. I’d stolen food from marts many times before, and I had it down to an art.

I snagged a basket from a stack just inside the door, and began making my way down the aisles, picking out food that would keep for a while. Once I had finished, I double checked the basket to make sure that I had everything I needed: two boxes of dry cereal, a jar of peanut butter, three cans of fruit, and several candy bars simply because I had a sweet tooth and they would keep for a while—I didn’t care if they melted or not, that didn’t make them any less edible, and whether or not my clothes got smeared with chocolate made no difference to me.

As I approached the checkout counter, a girl who looked about fifteen, my age, looked up from a book and smiled.

“Hi, there,” she said, her voice heavy with a Southern accent, and I wondered what a Southerner was doing way out here in Vegas. “It’s nice to know that I’m not the only girl who isn’t afraid to venture out into the open. All the others must be either dead or total sissies, right? Those lab experiments gone wrong have got all the other humans scared silly!” she chuckled. I bared my teeth at her.

“We’re called Gen 89, and there’s a reason you humans are afraid,” I snarled. Her eyes widened and I saw watched as the blood fled from her face, leaving it satisfyingly pale.

“Oh, my God,” she whispered. Her hand fluttered under the desk, and I knew immediately what was under there. The gun flew across the store and crashed to a stop fifty feet away.

“Didn’t you hear? The Gen 89 are winning. There’s a reason for that, dear,” I said, glaring at the Southern girl who I knew would have to die. My presence could not become known. Before she could respond to my snappy comment, a heavy can of fruit flew from the shelf behind her and smacked the back of her head. The sound of the tin can against the girl’s flesh made me cringe, but she didn’t see it. She was already dead.

Quickly, I swung the book bag from my back and loaded the food into it.

I walked nonchalantly from the store, and made my way out of the city. As soon as I was a good mile from the last few buildings of Las Vegas, I broke into a run.

I unhooked my arms from the pack’s straps and slipped the handle-strap into my mouth. I took one huge bound and launched myself high into the air for dramatic effect. When I hit the ground, I was no longer Kate the human; I was Katahae the wolf.

I took off running, racing towards the west as fast as I could go, towards a distant lift in the land not large enough to call a mountain and not small enough to call a hill. That was where my cave was located.

Caves were fairly common hiding places for Gen 89.

I didn’t stop sprinting until I had reached my hideaway, and skidded to a halt just inside the stretching shadows of my refuge. I shifted briefly into human form, just long enough to rip open the bag and pull out a can of fruit and use a previously stolen can opener to pry it open, before gorging hungrily as the big red-brown wolf that I so preferred to be.

It wasn’t until I had finished the one can of peaches and three candy bars—eaten as a human, of course, so I wouldn’t die—before I noticed the strange, human scent wafting around my cave. I stiffened, a growl rising in my throat as I swung my head to the left, finally seeing the teenage human boy pressed against the wall, staring at me with wide, terrified eyes. He clutched a dart gun in his hands, no doubt loaded with paralyzing darts meant for the wolf that ate human food.

I decided that if I was going to terrify him, I might as well do it thoroughly. I morphed into the human girl body that I hated so much. I knew that he saw a fairly pretty girl with ruddy red-brown hair that matched the wolf’s fur so perfectly, with the same bright green eyes. I knew that my freckled nose was wrinkled with disgust at his nasty human scent, and I knew that my bared teeth, even as a human, probably scared the. . . . well, let’s say crap out of him.

The gun clattered out of his hands, and I allowed my eyes to flick toward it for half a second before turning my feral gaze back to the human boy. I raised my hand and flicked my wrist, sending the dart gun flying out the cave mouth and several feet into the night.

“What are you doing in my cave?” I growled meanly, stalking furiously toward the boy, who couldn’t be much older than me. He was practically shaking when I stopped not two inches from him, and we were almost nose to nose, my teeth bared angrily and my eyes narrowed into tiny slits. His own eyes were so wide that if they got much bigger his eyeballs would simply fall right out of his head.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. I was surprised that he could speak at all, much less that pee wasn’t running down his leg this very moment. “I didn’t want to. But He made me. He made me do it. He said that He would kill me if I didn’t bring you to Him. . . .” he gasped, and I figured that he would probably drop to his knees and start begging for his life in a couple of seconds if I didn’t intercede.

“Who’s ‘he’?” I asked slowly, emphasizing both syllables as if speaking to a small child. Which, with how this kid was acting, could not possibly be all that far off the mark, maturity-wise.

“Him,” he said, as if I would know who he was.

“Who?” I asked, becoming irritated.

“You know who,” he said, his wide eyes incredulous, as if he was surprised that I didn’t know who he was talking about. “You were there, in the alleyway, when we had the rendezvous in front of the grocery store. I could smell you. I knew you were there. But I just couldn’t give you away, not when we’re the same.”

“What?” I snapped, confused and irritated and impatient all at the same time.

“I’m Juno,” he said, raising his eyebrows as if it were obvious. Which it wasn’t, because there was no way that the boy in front of me was Juno. Juno had been a thirty-something-at-least year old man. The boy in front of me was absolutely no older than sixteen. Although, I could see the major similarities.

“Don’t try to play with me, kid,” I snarled.

“I’m not, I swear!” he cried, raising his arms as if to shield himself from my penetrating gaze.

“I’m not stupid, kid. Juno was somewhere in his thirties.”

The boy lowered his arms, and he seemed to have miraculously lost every ounce of fear over the last ten seconds. Now that threw me for a loop.

“I know,” he said irritably. “I am Juno. I can change the way I look in human form.”

Huh? I raised my eyebrows, surprised. “But that’s impossible. You’re—“

“A Gen 89. Hard to believe, right? I spend too much of my time as a human—obviously,” he said, raising his arm to his nose and sniffing himself before wrinkling it with a disgusted expression. “I’ll even prove it.”

He morphed into a wolf with the same shaggy brown-colored fur that the hair on the boy had been. I felt my eyes bug out and my mouth drop open.

“Holy crap,” I muttered, though the emphasized word has been edited as the younger readers would find it inappropriate.

When he morphed back, it was the same man from the grocery store, Juno, and he had a wide grin on his face.


I nodded, feeling numb.

“Want to know what I can do? I can make people do whatever I want—I mess with there heads, plant thoughts to make them do what I want them to.” Juno sounded like he was gloating, but then his face turned sour. “But I’m a total coward—a complete wuss. I’m so afraid of everything. So I only do what people tell me to do,” he said bitterly. “But I don’t think I want to lead you into His trap. I just can’t do that to a fellow Gen 89. It wouldn’t be right. We’re like kin, after all.” He grinned at me.

“You. . . . What?” I asked dumbly, still in shock.

“He’s going to come here to your cave in half an hour to look for your dead body. I suggest we get moving before then.”

Finally, I snapped out of it. “What’s with this ‘we’ stuff, Captain Wuss?” I asked hotly.

“Well, I can’t very well go back to Vegas now that I’ve tipped you off. When He finds your cave totally empty, He’ll hunt me down and kill me. So I’m going with you, and we’re going away from here.”

“I never said anything about you telling me where I will and will not go,” I said coldly.

Juno raised his eyebrows and stared pointedly at me. “No? Where else are you going to go? He will track you down and try to kill you for His own selfish reasons if you stay here. And I highly suggest that you start moving, like, right now, because He’s going to be here in about—“ he raised his nose to the air and sniffed the breeze that wafted through the mouth of the cave “—fifteen minutes. He’s on His way. I can smell Him.”

I growled, but reluctantly began the gather my belongings, stuffing them mercilessly into my bag with annoyance—because this coward of a child was telling me what to do—and fury—because I was actually going along with it. For now. I decided to chew him out later, when we were a safe distance from my former sanctuary.

As soon as I had finished packing—which was only about five seconds from when I’d started—Juno grabbed my arm and led me out of the cave—and I realized with a start that he was a fifteen year old kid again. We started running as soon as we were outside, and I immediately wrenched my arm from his grasp.

“Don’t touch me,” I muttered, and he chuckled.

“Whatever you say, your Highness,” he replied.

We bantered back and forth like this for several minutes while we ran, and even in our minds when we were a good distance from my cave and had morphed.

Only then did I realize that I had accepted Juno, and that we had become a Pack. Because only Pack members could communicate through thought.

Dang, I thought, I’m screwed.

We ran for what seemed like hours on end, until we reached a small town right on the border of Los Angeles—some little town called Littlerock. We holed up in a large patch of trees on a big hill a few miles from the small town, close enough that we could get more food when it was necessary, but far enough away that our presence would not be noticed.

As soon as we stopped, Juno collapsed on to his side, gasping for breath.

Dang, woman, he thought, You are one hardcore runner.

I grinned a wolfy grin. It’s your fault that you didn’t keep in shape.

We curled up on opposite sides of our little camp to rest up—as much as we desperately wanted to morph into humans and rest that way, which was much more comfortable, if we did morph back into humans, the bodies would not be able to handle the amount of energy loss, and we would die.

When I awoke several hours later, I was surprised to see the sun nearly directly overhead. I’d worn myself out much more than I’d intended to.

“Morning, sunshine,” Juno grinned at me from his seat beside the fire he’d managed to pull together while I’d been sleeping. He was human, and obviously rested-up. “You weren’t as in-shape as I gave you credit for. I’ve been up two more hours than you. I bet you’re just good at hiding loss of energy or whatever.”

I morphed into my regular red-headed human self and grinned at him.

“You have no idea,” I said, “I was running a lot harder than you were.”

“Just ‘cause you were, like, three feet in front of me doesn’t mean that you were running harder than me. Besides, you’re Pack Leader, you’re supposed to be in front.”

I sighed when I realized that we were indeed a small Pack now. I had accepted that before I’d even realized it.

“Yeah,” I said, “I guess we are a Pack now. That makes you Beta.” Juno looked pleased while I continued. “So here’s the first mission of this Pack. Since we’re on the run from Him—whoever He is—we might as well form an even bigger Pack. Safety in numbers, right? So while we’re fleeing around the country—and I assume that He’s tracking us even now, so we will not settle down as a Pack and make a permanent home unless He is dead, or has given up the search.”

Juno looked surprised at my plan, but nodded slowly. “I see where you’re coming from. But before we get going, we need to figure out what we’re looking for. You know, a Navigator would be nice, maybe a Scout or two, and you’re definitely going to need someone who’s good with words; a Persuader, if you will. That would be me, as soon as we find another Beta.”

I blinked. “But why would you—“

“So easily give up my power as a Beta? Because I serve this Pack no good in that position.”

“How do you—“

He tapped his forehead and grinned. “I can persuade people for a reason.”

I gasped. “You’re kidding!”


“Quit messing with me!”

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are!”

He sighed. “No, I’m not.”

Oh yeah? Well then why don’t you prove it? What did I just say? I thought at him.

“This is so immature,” he said, looking exasperated. “You just said ‘Oh yeah? Well then why don’t you prove it? What did I just say?’ Word for word, right?”

My mouth hung open as I stared at him in disbelief.

“Holy crap,” I said, realizing that my privacy was no longer private any longer.

Juno giggled. “Nope. Not anymore, it’s not!”

“Get out of my head!” I snapped.

“Can’t help it, Kate. You’ve got to understand that,” he said, suddenly pleading.

“My name is Katahae—but you already knew that!” I said sourly.

“You are such a pain!” Juno growled, and stormed off to his side of the camp.

I turned my back on him and leaped into the air, landing as a wolf and running away as fast as I could.

Several hours later, I was fifty miles away, sitting at the edge of a river when I noticed the strange lump of earth shifting very slightly from side to side.

Weird, I thought, I must be really dehydrated. It’s just my imagination.

I continued my long drink, gulping at the blessedly cool water like my life depended on it. Which, if I was so dehydrated that I was seeing things, was certainly the case.

When I looked up again from drinking, the mound of earth was still wriggling.

Water must not have reached your brain yet. Give it a few minutes, I reassured myself.

Several minutes later, I decided that the water must have settled and turned away from the miniature hill and started to leave, deciding that my mind was playing tricks on me and it was too weird to stay around. Just that second when my back was turned was evidently all the time that was needed.

A furious roar sounded behind me and I spun around to find a large golem towering over me. Terrified, I shifted into battle mode and bared my teeth at the large creature. The earthen creature glared at me with its beady black eyes, screeching again. It reached down and plucked a boulder off the ground like it was a tennis ball and, to my horror, hurled it at me.

Acting on instinct, I shifted into my human form and raised my arms. The huge rock stopped only inches from my outstretched hands. I grinned momentarily, proud of my evasive actions against death, but then I remembered that this wasn’t over yet. I decided to play it cool in my human body where I could better protect myself; I snorted at the irony.

Casually, I drew my left hand to the right, transferring its power to my right hand. I spun in a circle for momentum and flung the boulder at the golem’s left shoulder.

The golem screamed as its arm was torn off. I allowed myself a smile of triumph as I raised my arms and in one fluid motion had created a wall of water—from the river—between myself and the monster in question.

“Need some help?” a voice called from behind me, and I turned my head to see Juno advancing toward me.

“Nah, I’ve got it,” I grinned. I pushed my arms forward and the water splashed into the golem, reducing it to a puddle of mud. I wiped my hands together, as if to be brushing sand from them. “And that, kids, is how you get rid of a golem,” I said conclusively.

Juno returned the wide smile. “Bravo,” he said.

“How’d you know where to find me?”

“I got worried after you didn’t come back after a few minutes, and so I followed your mental voice. By the way, you don’t run nearly as fast as you think you do,” he teased.

I snorted. “Yeah, right. I stopped here about fifteen minutes ago. You just caught up while I was taking a break.”

“Sure, whatever you say, Your Highness.”

I noticed the bags hanging from his shoulders with a start, and I glanced at him questioningly. “What’s with the bags?”

“He was coming,” Juno said simply.

I contemplated this for a moment before an errant thought struck me. “How did he find us so quickly?”

“Dogs,” he said grimly.

I grimaced. Great. All I needed was for Him to have a tracking device. “We need to kill those dogs. Let him come to us this time. We’ll kill them all.”

“No need,” he said dismissively. “There’s a canyon not far from here. There’re lots of boulders around the edge. All you need to do is be able to lift two at a time. Can you do that?”

I grinned proudly. “As long as they’re inanimate and I don’t need more than two hands, I can lift anything you want me to.”

“Good. Then we need to go. Like, now. He’s just a couple miles ago. He’ll be here shortly if we don’t get a move on it.”

I grumbled about being the Alpha and not him, but he just ignored me and led the way north, the direction I had gone.

We walked for about two hours—not running because that would take too much of the energy I needed to lift the boulders—and finally I could see a sharp decrease in the level of the land. We approached the very edge of the gulley.

I looked down and gasped; I couldn’t see the bottom—it was like I was standing above an endless void of darkness.

A howl sounded in the distance, and I grimaced. I needed to get a move on. Right now.

The author's comments:
Yeah, I know, it's short, but it seemed like a good stopping point. The next chapter is amazing, if I do say so myself, so please, read on.

“Can’t you go any faster?” Juno’s irritated voice hissed in my ear.

“No,” I whispered back, “Now shut up so I can concentrate and not send us into the depths of hell!”

Juno fell silent.

I carefully moved a boulder from behind us to the front, and we hopped on to that one before I repeated the process.

“S***,” Juno muttered, and I looked at him sharply—I didn’t like foul language—before I noticed his horrified expression. “Faster,” he urged.

“I’m going as fast as I can without dropping us into oblivion, okay?” I snarled at him.

We finally made the last jump on to the other side before I felt a sharp snap on my right calf. My leg buckled and I half fell over before I caught myself.

“Ow, dammit,” I muttered, checking my leg for bruises, welts, or bullet holes.

“Air gun,” Juno said grimly. “Change. Now. We need to go before He hits a vital spot with that gun.”

This time, I didn’t give him any crap for telling me what to do; I just did it. He was my Beta, after all.

Glad you see it my way, he said in my head as we leapt away from the canyon as wolves. We each carried a backpack in our mouths.

My pleasure, I retorted.

“I’ll kill you both, Juno and Katahae! This isn’t the last you’ll see of me!” the man screamed behind us. I snorted with wolf-like laughter.

How cliché, I thought.

Tell me about it.

We ran for a very long time. It felt like eons, though I knew that it couldn’t possibly be more than a few hours. Finally, we found an outcropping of trees and decided to stop for the night.

While I slowed to a trot, Juno raced ahead a skidded to a dramatic halt.

Drama queen, I thought at him. If I could have rolled my eyes, I would have.

The one and only, he said, grinning.

I paused, sniffing the air for any traces of water. You know of any streams around here? I asked, feeling suddenly irritated.

Honey, I don’t even know where we are, he thought, looking at me like I had just sprouted horns—which, by the way, was not so much of a stretch back then.

I need water, I thought. I need water now.

Whoa, there, Katie, slow down. There’s got to be some H2O around here somewhere.

Katahae! I snapped. My name is Katahae!

Juno looked taken aback, but simply nodded his apology. I sat down on my haunches, feeling irritated, angry, annoyed, and confused all at once.

I could seriously go with just passing out right now, I thought to myself, forgetting momentarily that my thoughts were not as private as I was used to. I glanced at Juno, watching warily for his reaction, but he simply shrugged and set about setting up camp as much as he was able in his wolven body.

I sighed and decided to turn in for the night; I could find water in the morning.

Unfortunately, when I awoke, I realized that I wouldn’t get that chance.

The author's comments:
This probably isn't exactly the place to say this, but please excuse the jumpiness of the story-so-far. It's just the skeleton; when I finish it, I'm going to go back and add details. Oh, and any feed-back or suggestions that you might have would be great, so please share!

I started awake what felt like only minutes after I’d fallen asleep. I couldn’t see anything for the blindfold that was tightly secured across my eyes, and when I tried to open my mouth to scream, I found out why they call those cloths that kidnappers stick in your mouth gags.
I tried desperately to struggle into a sitting position, but my hands and feet were cuffed and tied. I did manage to roll over, though. Judging by the way the hard floor was cold on my bare skin, it was concrete. Freezing freaking cold concrete.
Bare skin? I thought suddenly. I rubbed my hands against each other; yes, definitely bare skin. I was human. Why was I human? I began to panic, searching my mind desperately for some way that the enemy had reversed my transformation.
Unconsciousness. Of course. The thought hit me like a brick to the head. I heard of this when I was back at the labs, back when They had set me free with a warning: that if were ever to be knocked unconscious—not sleeping, but truly unconscious—I would become human, were I to be in my wolven state. How could I have forgotten? I remembered Them stressing that fine little detail above all else. It was mandatory for my own survival.
Realizing that I was in a dire situation in this state, I struggled more, until I finally pressed up against something cold and hard—but not concrete; metal. I knew this because it burned, but left no mark. I stifled a shriek as the back of my hand pressed against the superchilled iron. Then I remembered something.
I began manipulating my fingers, turning them this way and that in complex designs that eventually caused the straps to become undone. I wriggled my hands until the coarse rope fell to the ground and I immediately rubbed my raw wrists. I reached up to undo my blindfold, but kept my eyes shut tight against the blinding light that pierced through my eyelids. I flicked my wrist and the shackles around my ankles immediately opened. Finally, I untied the gag.
Slowly, I opened my eyes bit by bit, allowing them to adjust to the bright lights overhead. When I was finally able to open them normally, I realized that the lights weren’t bright at all. Actually, they were rather dim. Quite dim, in fact, barely illuminating the storage-like cement room that I was enclosed in.
I looked around, willing myself to understand where I was. I evaluated my surroundings quickly; this was what I had been trained for.
I was in a large iron-bar crate, much like you would find zoo animals kept in, and mine was maybe just large enough to hold a single lion. Peering through the heavy metal bars, I was able to conclude that there were other Gen 89 in here, in their own crates.
Judging by the way the place reeked, some of them were dead. I grimaced. Directly across the aisle from me was Juno, locked in his own cage. He was still out cold.
Brilliant. Now I have to get us both out of here.

After a little more scoping around, I finally figured out why I couldn’t find a padlock or sliding locks on the door of my cage: There was a keyhole on the side facing the aisle, one that could only be seen from the outside. Carefully, I manipulated the lock into opening, then used my mind to push the iron-barred wall away from me, and lowered it carefully and quietly to the ground.

Working in a timely fashion, I was able to free half of the Gen 89 in the room within a fifteen minute span. Convincing each one to keep quiet took a couple of minutes on its own, but I decided that it wouldn’t matter if we got caught because there was absolutely no way in heck that anyone could defeat this many of us at once. Each time after I freed another Gen 89, I would go back to Juno’s enclosure to see if he had woken up. The longer he went without waking, the more panicked I became.

After half an hour, I had no more people to free, no more time to waste. So I made my way towards Juno and opened his zoo-pen, untied him, and pulled him from the crate.

Juno, if you can hear me and don’t open your eyes right now, so help me God, I will tie you to a tree and leave you in the middle of the ocean, I threatened in my head, knowing that if he was awake, then he would hear me as clearly as if I had spoken to him. Silently, I willed him to open his eyes.

About five seconds after my threat and two seconds before I’d given up all hope, Juno cracked open his left eye just a tiny slit and gave me a small smile.

“Gotcha,” he said quietly.

I dropped his head on to the concrete floor and heard it give a satisfying crack.

“Ow,” he whined, and I glared at him.

“Enough with the theatrics; save it for when we’re out of this hellhole. There are fifty-seven other Gen 89 in here and we need to get out of here—all of us,” I said, taking over. I turned to face the rest of the group while Juno climbed to his feet. “You guys have five seconds each to tell me your name and what you can do when I point to you. Clear?” I said, my voice ringing out to make sure that everyone could hear me. I was rewarded by silence and a lot of head-nodding. “Good.”

One by one, I pointed to each person and learned their names and powers. Five minutes later, I knew that I was surrounded by people ranging with names from Aryala to Zephyros and powers from fire-breath to summoning the dead—which, by the way, was the source of the smell. By the time I was done, the room was filled with quiet chatter, and the once large-ish crowd of Gen 89 had broken up into many smaller groups, each group containing members accessing similar if not identical abilities.

I clapped my hands twice, calling attention to myself. “All right, listen up.” I called out, reminding myself of a summer camp counselor. “We need to get out of here.” The declaration was met with nods of agreement. “As of right now until we leave this place, we are now one humongous Pack.” More nods, mixed in with doubtful gazes. “I am the Alpha, and you will do as I say until we’re out of here.” I motioned to Juno. “This is Juno. He’s the Beta. You will do what he tells you; I don’t care who you are.” A short girl with bobbing, messy blond pigtails raised her hand, her blue eyes wide. I decided that she must be around eleven years old. I motioned for her to speak.

“What’s your name, so we know what to shout if something bad happens and we need your help?” she asked in a clear voice that rippled through the room like water. I remembered that her ability was to brain-wash people with her voice, and I blinked and shook my head to clear it.

“Katahae,” I said. “But if you don’t have enough time to call out that much, it’s Kate.” Again, everybody nodded.

“Now,” I said, raising my eyebrows, “We need a game plan. Do any of you know what’s out here beyond that door?” I pointed to the heavy metal door for emphasis. Some people shook their heads; others looked around, waiting for someone to speak up. Just when I was starting to lose hope, a small boy around the age of nine shakily raised his hand.

“Yes?” I said, praying that he had some useful information.

“We’re in a lab. This is where they keep all of the Gen 89 that they think could use upgrading. But the scientists here aren’t like the ones who made us. These ones are. . . . bad. It’s like a labyrinth outside that door.” He motioned to a girl who looked like she was maybe five years old, but the look in her eyes suggested a much higher understanding than was natural for someone her age. “This is Hathila. She can see the layout of buildings and landscapes in her head. She can tell you where to go.” The little girl raised her chin a bit, as if she wanted to appear brave.

I smiled at her, and held out my hand toward her. “I need you to come with me, okay? You’re going to be a really big help.” Although she didn’t speak, Hathila simply nodded in an agreement and stepped forward, taking my hand.

“Alright,” I said, standing up straighter. “Anybody else who thinks that they might be able to hold greater assistance needs to say so now.” I let my gaze sweep over my small band of followers, and I felt the weight of responsibility settle on my shoulders. If anyone got hurt—if anyone died—it would be all my fault. I needed to get everyone out alive, keep everyone safe. But I felt as if my sense of protectiveness towards all of these people was centered around the little girl standing right next to me. She was the youngest one here. If something happened to her, I would probably never forgive myself.

A girl who I remembered was named Arina stepped forward, her face brave. I liked her already.

“I can turn invisible. If you need me to get somewhere without being seen, I can do it.” I eyed her with a scrutinizing gaze; I could not afford to misjudge anyone. With her long brown hair raked back into a ponytail and her piercing green eyes, I immediately felt like I could trust her.

“You’re in,” I said seriously.

She nodded and stepped up beside me, turning to face the crowd.

“Who knows how to open that thing without getting burned?” I asked, glancing to the heavy metal safe-door to clarify for anyone who didn’t understand as to what I was referring to.

This time, no one raised their hands. No one stepped forward or spoke up. I felt dread as heavy as a stone block settle in the pit of my stomach.

It didn’t matter what we could do or how well we could fight or what we could see if we weren’t able to get out of this freaking vault.

Suddenly, I had an idea.

Light bulb, I thought, and Juno chuckled.

“Where’s the kid who can turn into a rock monster?” I called out, feeling brilliant and idiotic simultaneously. A large, bulky boy stepped forward. “What was your name again?”

“Jarul,” he replied gruffly.

“Great,” I muttered to myself. I raised my voice so everyone could hear the plan that was about to unfold. “Jarul, I need you to get us through that door. When we’re out, I’ll go first, along with Juno, Hathila, and Arina. The rest of you, get out of here and follow us. Kill anyone who gets in your way.”

Okay, so, maybe that was just a little harsh.

Everyone stared at me in stunned silence before their faces turned grave and they bobbed their heads.

“Good. Let’s get this party started!”

My shout was met with cheers, and I smiled grimly.

Everyone stepped back, trying to give Jarul a reasonable amount of space to faze. I blinked, and Jarul was replaced with a large stone golem.

He took one step back and then rushed the door. He crashed right through it. Juno, Hathila, Arina, and myself rushed forward, getting through the doorway in two seconds flat. All the others were right on our heels.

“Left,” Hathila said suddenly, and I veered left just a hallway opened up.

“Right,” she directed me, and I veered again, this time up a fight of stairs.

Underground? I thought, glancing at Juno. His eyes met mine and he nodded slightly.

Our feet pounded the linoleum flooring of the labyrinth-like sets of hallways, and the whole crowd turned left and right and up over and over again.

“Almost there?” I asked Hathila, who was beginning to lag a bit behind me in an effort to keep up.

“One more set,” she muttered. Just as she tripped on her own feet, I swung her up onto my back and kept running.

“Go left.” I swung to the left, and saw a door with a glass window at the top of a flight of stairs. I climbed.

When I reached the door, I wrenched it open.

“We’re on ground level now. Go straight,” Hathila said, and I plunged on. I wasn’t three feet from the door when an alarm sounded, and people—scientists, really—came rushing from the doors of their offices.

Dammit, why couldn’t escape be easy just this once? I thought furiously.

“Attack!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, just as Arina disappeared. I whipped my hands out from under Hathila’s legs and she crossed them around my stomach so she could hang on but not be in the way. I twisted my arms into patterns in the air, and objects went flying off the shelves, hitting the lab-rats in the heads. I caught sight of Juno talking rapidly to several of the enemy, and just as I was about to peg him for a traitor, they turned and just walked away. He turned and grinned at me as I raised my eyebrows.

“Behind you,” Hathila hissed, and I spun and shot my hands forward, forcing the attackers through a wall with a massive push of air. “Spin and make an air tunnel going up!” she muttered, and I did as I was told just as I was rushed from every angle; the lab-rats were blown up and spun around, and then they crashed back to the ground. I heard one of them land with a sickening crunch, and he cried out in pain, and then passed out. I glowered at him.

Serves you right, I thought.

Suddenly, I had an idea. An absolutely brilliant idea.

“Juno!” I yelled, and his eyes widened as he saw what I planned to do. He nodded vigorously and cupped his hands around his mouth.

“Get to the stairs! Now!”

I was impressed that every single Gen 89 in the room did as they were told.

“Hang on tight,” I whispered to Hathila, and she tightened her hold.

Slowly, I swept my arms up, forcing every body on my level up into the air. I held the lab-rats there for a moment, for dramatic affect, and then dropped to the floor and slammed my hands onto the ground. The bodies left three foot deep holes. They were dead.

A silence that was louder than anything I’d ever heard rang around the room. Then, without warning, the Gen 89 burst into whoops and cheers, and they swarmed around me.

“Whoa, guys, back up a bit. This isn’t done yet. We still have to get out.” They fell silent and followed me as we trudged farther towards the exit, panting and rubbing bruises and wincing and limping.

It took us fifteen more minutes of walking before we found the exit, but as we burst outside and collapsed to the ground, we all knew that it was worth the spent energy.

As soon as I was able to speak through the shock of all that had happened, I pulled Juno to the side of the crowd.

“What’s up, Alpha Dog?” he asked, appearing surprised.

“I saw how some of these people performed. I want to see if they want to join the Pack.”

“You want to what?” he said, raising his voice incredulously.

“How did you not hear me? I thought you could read minds.”

“Duh. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t shut all the voices out. I was kind of wrapped up in my own thoughts.”

“Oh,” I said lamely. “Anyway, I thought I should ask your opinion before making the decision.”

“Appreciated.” He nodded. “I think that it’s a really good idea. I think that we need more people in our Pack if we’re going to defeat Him, let alone be able to consider ourselves a Pack, period. Go for it.”

For the first time ever, I smiled a real, genuine smile at Juno. Actually, that was my first real, genuine smile in . . . . my entire life.

I took a deep breath. “Wish me luck,” I muttered.

“I wish you luck,” Juno somehow managed to say with a straight face. I heard him start laughing as soon as I turned around. I strode away towards Hathila—I needed her maybe most of all; she would be very valuable when facing difficult terrain.

“Hi, Kate,” she said as soon as she saw me. She gave me an angelic smile, and I couldn’t help but smile back.

Jeez, I thought to myself, two smiles in five minutes. I better not be making this a habit.

“Hey, Hathila. I’ve got a question for you.”


“Yeah. Do you want to be part of me and Juno’s Pack?”

The little girl look stricken for a moment. “You want me to . . . join your Pack?” she asked slowly.

“Yeah, if you want to. You would be a really huge help.”

She seemed to consider it before she looked me right in the eyes and said, “Can Tauro come?”

I blinked. “Who?”

“Tauro. He’s my brother. And I won’t come unless he can come to.”

“Well, Hathie, what can he do?”

“Fire,” she said casually.

Realization dawned, and I widened my eyes stupidly. “You mean he’s that kid who can throw fire?”

“Yep.” She smiled easily.

“Of course! Where is he?”

“Just a sec,” she grinned before hopping up and walking into the crowd. I watched her make her way to the very opposite end and she spoke to him with an earnest expression and pointed at me.

I froze when the boy turned to look at me with cold, black eyes. They matched his black hair perfectly, and he was nearly the exact opposite of his little sister. I watched him shake his head at her and tell her something, and she started pleading with him, tugging him toward me.

Oh no, I thought. Not him. He’ll probably burn me into a pile of ashes.

Finally, he walked begrudgingly towards me.

“Who are you?” he asked frostily as soon as he was sure that I could hear him.

Defense mode kicked in. “I’m the one who saved you and your sister’s sorry bacon back there.”

Tauro sneered. “Oh, yeah, what was it, Katafae, right?”

“Katahae,” I said fiercely.

“Yes, very nice,” he said casually, “but can you do this?” He threw a fireball up several feet, and, working purely off reaction, I stuck my hand in the air and closed my fist. The fire was smothered.

“Try this,” I challenged him. “Throw a fireball at me.”

“Gladly,” he growled, and he did.

I snapped my wrists together, hands back, palms open, and twisted them into the air, creating a swirling ball of air around me that turned to a swirling ball of fire. I pulled my arms and then shot my arms up, creating a similar wind tunnel to the one that I had created in the lab. I spun and pushed the fire tube away into the sky. I turned back to Tauro with a pleased grin spreading across my face.

“Can you do that?” I asked, grinning widely.

He ignored my question and replied instead with, “So, are we in?”

“With tricks like the one we just did? You’d be in even if I didn’t want you.”

“That. Was. Amazing.” Juno’s voice said from behind me, and I replied immediately with, “I know, right?”

He stopped dead in his tracks, giving me the weirdest look I’ve ever received. Then I realized that I’d just said something that sounded a lot like what would come from the mouth of a Californian human schoolgirl. I flushed bright red, and then—I couldn’t help it—I burst out laughing. The others quickly joined in.

And that’s the way my first night with the newest members of my Pack.

“Katahae!” The panicked voice broke through my consciousness, cutting through the groggy haze like a knife.

“Mmm?” I said sleepily.

“Get up!” The voice hissed again.

I cracked an eye open and glared up at Juno’s terrified face.

“He’s here!” he whispered urgently, tugging at my arm.

“Where are the others?” I sat up, instantly alert at the mention of Him. I’d felt what his air gun could do from three hundred yards away; I certainly did not want to feel it at close range.

“I got them out—they’re running northwest, and if we run we should be able to catch them in a couple minutes.”

“Good,” I said, an angry shadow coming over my face. “Let’s finish this.”

“I agree,” Juno said darkly. “But we need to be careful. He’s got blackhounds and golems with Him. Think we can manage by ourselves?”

I thought for a moment before saying, “No. Where’s Tauro?”

“Three miles east,” came the immediate reply.

“Excellent. I’ll be back in five minutes,” I said, fazing into a wolf and darting into the night.

I found them in the trees at the edge of a thick forest, exactly where Juno had said they would be.

Tauro raised his eyebrows as soon as he saw me. “What’s up?”

“Hathila, get in the tree and don’t come down until we come back for you, okay?” I ordered her, and she nodded solemnly and scrambled high up into the nearest tree.

“Tauro, you’re coming with me. I’ll need your help.”

“Blackhounds,” he said suddenly as we started to run.

I nodded, slightly weirded out that he knew what I needed him for, and fazed.

You’ve fought them before, I trust? he asked, eyeing me doubtfully.

I shook my head, regretful. Unfortunately, no. What are they?

Dogs made of dark matter. They look kind of like dog-shaped miniature black holes. They suck in light, and it doesn’t look like they have any dimension whatsoever. Just big, black, dog-shaped nothingness. The only thing that kills them is fire, because it’s so hot and bright simultaneously.

What ever happened to the sun? I muttered.

Not close enough to supply the light with the necessary heat that it takes to evaporate them.

. . . . Evaporate them? I asked skeptically.

You’re such a noob, Tauro snorted, shaking his black head.

Thanks, I replied dryly.

No problem.

We sprinted the rest of the way in silence, working ourselves faster and faster until we could finally see the rage of the battle. Gen 89 were fighting furiously against the huge golems and big spots of black that I could barely see anyway because of the night.

I searched with my eyes as we ran on, and finally found Juno on the fringe of the mini-war. He was squaring off, wolf-form, with a blackhound.

Carefully and quietly, I slinked behind the dog and leaped, fazing in mid-air. Behind me, the now-human Tauro sent a blast of fire towards the dog, and I shoved it harder with a gust of wind, making it flare up. The dog howled in pain before just . . . . disappearing. You couldn’t see anything where it had been, and even though there appeared to be no change in the environment, you could somehow sense that the blackhound was no longer there.

I felt rather than saw the cult of blackhounds leaping at me from every direction, and screeched, “Fire!”

Tauro hurled a fireball at me and I spun the air around me upward, creating the spiral-tunnel, my new favorite weapon. The blackhounds howled as they crashed into the giant beacon of fire, and ceased to exist.

“Behind Juno!” I yelled, catching sight of a golem before I had time to congratulate myself. I manipulated the air into forming a quickly-circulating wall around Juno, and Tauro lobbed another fireball towards it. The golem, paused, confused, when the big burst of light came to life, but quickly decided that it was not concerned.

“Kate, the trees!” Tauro yelled above the howling of my wind, and I understood. Abandoning my attempt with the fire-wall, I shifted my focus to the little grove of trees where our camp was, and with a little effort, I tore them from the ground and sent them flying at the golem like bullets. When the first tree hit the golem, it shattered into splinters, but the giant earthen creature was forced back a step. I smiled; brilliant! I drove it farther and farther back with more trees, and finished off my round of ammo with a large boulder that knocked its legs out from under it. The golem fell to the ground, unable to move.

A sharp pain to the back of my knee wiped the triumphant grin from my face as I feel to one knee, shocked that someone had gotten me.

“Ow, dangit!” I yelled.

My blood froze as I felt someone lean down behind me and a voice whispered in my ear, “We’re coming for you Katahae. Soon enough, the time will be right. We will find you.” The strange voice drifted away on the wind, and I whipped my head around.

My eyes widened and filled with fear as I stared at the space behind me.

No one was there.

The author's comments:
Second sentence in: yeah, the words got kind of repetitive, but my brain was on default and not working in the coming-up-with-big-words department.

The fear that I felt when I saw but empty night behind me shook me to the core. Something had been there, someone had spoken to me, yet nothing had been there.

“Katie?” Juno’s voice faltered uncertainly, and I felt rather than saw that his eyes were filled with concern.

Nothing is there, I thought to him, and I began to shake uncontrollably.

“Nothing was there before, Kate. Is everything okay?” he asked, taking a small step forward.

I shook my head. “No, Juno,” I whispered. “It is not okay.”

“Um,” Tauro muttered. “Excuse me, but what the heck is going on?”

I sent Juno the memory, and he grimaced.

“Ah,” he groaned. “Not this again.”

“Again?” I asked incredulously, hardly believing my ears. “What do you mean ‘again’? I know that I’m the only one that heard that—that voice behind me.”

“What?” Tauro asked again, sounding impatient and slightly irritated.

“I’ll explain later!” I snapped. It took me a few tries, but eventually I managed to stand on shaky legs. “We need to get away from here,” I muttered.

“Seconded,” Juno offered, and I shot him a look. He shrugged it off and shifted.

“The way you two act you’d think you were a married couple,” Tauro chuckled, and I rolled my eyes before fazing into a red-wolf and motioning with my head towards the direction of the woods where Hathila was hiding.

Tauro followed suit and we all took off.

“There you guys are!” Hathila’s voice came from above us, and she dropped down hands first, landing as a small, half-grown white wolf.

Where are we going? she asked, ears perked eagerly. She seemed oblivious to my uneasiness.

To the mountains, Juno said before I had a chance to wonder why I hadn’t thought of this before. He glanced at me for conformation, and I nodded, shooting him a grateful look.

Then we need to go northeast for thirty miles, and then follow the little river a hundred miles north, Hathila said after a moments thought and contemplation of the blueprints spread in her head.

Northeast we go, then, I said, and we took off, going only as fast as Hathila could go.

We traveled in companionable silence for almost an hour, the landscape flashing by beneath our feet as we ran into the night.

It’ll be okay, you know, Tauro spoke to me, sounding hesitant and unsure about how to reassure my evident and ever-present fear.

I didn’t reply, but just kept on running quietly.

And for the first time in my life, I felt like I was safe.

The author's comments:
Yeah, I think I might have failed the mention the minor detail of meat-eating=dying thing, so please ignore that small inconvenience.

“I hate snow,” Tauro said sourly as we trudged through the slush that seemed to be crawling up the side of the mountain.

“We all do, but that won’t make it any less snowy, so quit complaining and learn to deal with it,” I ordered, in a rather bad mood myself because of the cold and wet—both things that I had never learned to like.

“I think it’s kind of nice; it’s easy to blend in here,” Hathila offered, smiling up at me as she held my hand, and I hauled her up yet again as she almost slipped.

“Only for you, sweetie,” I said, trying very hard not to sound too impatient. It’s very difficult to be angry at someone as adorable and innocent as Hathila.

Juno was at the head of the pack, leading the way in brooding silence. It didn’t bother me that he was taking the lead, because he was still my Beta, and it would make sense that he take the lead and I take up the rear. I wondered again how much farther we would have to travel, and Juno, reading my thoughts as always, called back, “About fifteen more minutes.”

“Great,” I muttered, not quite able to make it sound as sarcastic as I meant it to be.

Juno stopped under a small overhang and motioned for us to hurry. As we crawled up next to him, he shoved us all back into the shadows.

“Hey, what’s going on here buddy? I don’t remember ever asking you to stuff me into the blackness behind you,” I said crossly.

“Shh,” he muttered, stepping sideways just a little more to shield me better.

“What are you doing?” There’s nothing out there,” I protested. Since when was he so protective of me?

“Since the only reason He’s tracking us became you,” I snarled back at me, and I blinked, shocked.

“Um. . . . what? That was a rhetorical question.” He was. . . protecting me?

“Yes, I’m protecting you, because if you end up in His hands, we will all die. I’m keeping you safe for the benefit of all the Gen 89, not just my own selfish reasons.”

He has his own selfish reasons? I thought, shocked into silence. Juno pressed us farther back into the shadows and sucked in a breath just as a strange metallic-looking bird flew overhead.

“What the hell is that?” I breathed.

“Shh!” Juno hissed.

The bird circled for a few seconds before emitting a screeching cry that sounded rather like nails against a chalkboard. I winced and drew farther into the shadows against my will.

After a few minutes, the bird soared into the distance, but we waited five minutes after we could no longer see it before we retreated from the cover.

Immediately, Juno turned to me.

“Are you okay?” he asked, sounding concerned.

“Umm. . . . Should I not be okay?” I said, raising my eyebrows.

“No, just checking,” he replied, scrubbing a hand through his sandy hair and flushing. “Come on,” he said after a moment. “We need to get to that cave before the other ones reach us or we’ll be hiding for the rest of the night.”

I collapsed on the floor of the cave, panting and clutching my side as my face contorted with pain.

Juno snorted, his eyes laughing. “Don’t be so dramatic, Kate. It’s just a stitch in your side.”

“Yeah, but it’s still the most painful freaking stitch I’ve ever had in my life. Who knew that climbing uphill with a twenty-pound five-year-old on your back could give you such pain?” I asked sarcastically through gasps of air.

“Um, I did, but that didn’t stop you from carrying her even though she could walk perfectly fine on her own,” he pointed out, raising his eyebrows.

“Hey, it is not my fault that there were too many ways for her to twist her ankle which would only slow us down. I’d rather have a stitch and be barely able to breathe for a few minutes than have Hathila have a twisted ankle and not have it healed for a week,” I shot back.

“Then quit complaining; it was your own choice,” Tauro snapped as he climbed into the entrance of the cave, grouchy and sopping wet. He glared at Juno as he tried unsuccessfully not to burst into a fit of laughter.

“Man, that was hilarious and you know it,” Juno cackled, doubled over in laughter.

“No, it wasn’t. You know I hate snow. You didn’t have to shove me into a whole freaking bank of it,” Tauro muttered, gingerly sitting on the cold stone floor and cringing at the squelching noise the rear of his pants made.

“Oh, but I did,” Juno replied, chuckling.

I rolled my eyes and glared at Juno.

You’re so immature, I thought at him as he tried to keep a straight face.

“And that’s why you love me,” he said with a wink as he sauntered back to our bags and began to set up camp. I stared after him with wide eyes that were swirling with emotions from incredulous to confused to curious to unbelieving.

“I don’t—

“Yeah you do,” Tauro cut me off.

“No, I—

“Yeah, you do.”

“What are you guys even talking about?”

“You know what I’m talking about.”


“Yeah you do.”

I stayed silent, deciding to ignore them. They didn’t know what they were talking about, and to be quite honest, neither did I. They must just be messing with my head.

“Katie?” Hathila’s voice came from my elbow, and I looked down.

“Yeah, sweetie?” I asked, feeling resigned.

“I’m hungry. Do we have any food?”

I winced, remembering our scarce supply of fuel, and looked to Juno with pleading eyes.

“Tell me that we have enough food, Juno,” I said pathetically, sounding much like a little kid.

He winced when he looked into the pack that held our food. When he looked back up at me, he shook his head.

“We’ve got enough for one more snack for each of us. Since we didn’t have enough time to re-stock at Littlerock, we’re real low. What we’ve got can keep us going for two days. After that, we’re dead.”

I groaned. “Awesome. Just awesome.”

“You know, if push comes to shove, we can always eat. . . . like, mountain goats or something,” Tauro ventured.

I grimaced. “Maybe the rest of you, but not me.”

“Come on, it repulses the rest of us as much as it does you, but we can live off of them until we reach civilization again.”

“No, I mean I seriously can’t eat raw meat. When They were creating me, I malfunctioned. I can’t hunt for food—or I’ll die.”

The author's comments:
I love this chapter. It's so romantic at the end! Oh, and if you didn't catch on: Juno's in love with Katahae, and she's in love with him to, but she doesn't know it yet. But everyone else does. Funny how life works out like that, huh?

“You’ll. . . . die?”

I nodded, feeling sick.

Two days was all I had to find someplace with food, and who knew how far away we were from regular human life. Two days, and if I didn’t find food, I would die.

Juno strode toward me, stopping until he was just inches away, and he towered over me.

“You are not going to die, do you hear me?” he said fiercely.

I gulped, and nodded, lightheaded with realization.

Despite Juno’s protests, the last thoughts that passed through my head were, Oh, my God, I could die.

And then I passed out.

“Oh, my God, what’s wrong with her?”

Those were the first words to break through my consciousness just seconds after my black-out.

“She fainted, genius. You totally over-whelmed her with the whole ‘we’ll die if we don’t find more food within a two-day period’ thing.”

The words were hazy, and floated through my mind before sinking in and taking on meaning. It felt like my mind was wrapped in a thick layer of cotton, and I tried unsuccessfully to open my eyes. My eyelids felt like lead.

“I didn’t know that she couldn’t eat meat! I was thinking in terms of being human, not wolf!” I struggled to identify the panicked voice.

Confused, I felt my eyebrows screw into themselves, trying to think of what the people were talking about. Who was going to die?

“Is she awake?” The small voice sounded unconcerned, but slightly curious.

“I don’t know, I can’t hear anything!”

“Well, why don’t you check, mind-boy?” said the same irritated voice from before, the one that thought everyone was going to die.

“I told you, I can’t hear anything! It’s not just something that I can shut off! I tune out but that doesn’t mean that I can turn it off!” the panicked one shouted, sounding close to breaking down.

I felt a small, cold hand brush my face, pressing something cold and wet to my cheek. I tried again to open my eyes, and they fluttered a bit, lessoning the weight from lead to ten-ton bricks.

“Juno, I think she’s awake,” the little voice said.

“Katahae? Can you hear me?”

I moaned, trying very hard to move any part of my body, but I couldn’t even twitch my fingers.

“Kate? Rise and shine!”

The cold wetness grew more apparent as a whole pile was dumped on my head, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe. My hands, reacting by themselves and on instinct, flew to my face and began tearing at the cold. It hurt my hands, but they kept flinging the cold off of my face until I could breathe again. My eyes popped open and I sucked in a gasping, shuddering breath, my bloodied hands shaking.

Confused, I gazed, wild-eyed, around myself. Part of me vaguely recognized the people around me, but I was too frightened to try to put names to them. Two hands pressed down on my shoulders, holding me to the ground as I strained against them, trying desperately to sit up.

“Get away from me!” I screeched, ripping at the hands. They suddenly disappeared, and I leapt to my feet, pressing my back against the wall and holding my hands defensively in front of myself.

A boy who looked to be about fifteen, with sandy brown hair, wide brown eyes, and lots of freckles stepped toward me, holding his hands in a whoa-nelly gesture.

“Katahae, it’s me, it’s Juno. Do you remember me?” he asked in a soothing voice.

“Who are you? Where am I? Why am I here?” I asked in a trembling, frightened voice as my brain still scrambled to try to make sense of everything.

“My name’s Juno. You’re here in a cave up in the mountains—you came here with us a few minutes ago. You’re mind hasn’t made sense of everything yet; you just passed out. Everything’s okay, I promise. We aren’t going to hurt you,” he continued.

“I don’t know who you are,” I whispered, pressing myself harder against the cold stone wall.

A little girl stepped forward, her big blue eyes wide and pleading.

“Katie, don’t you remember me?” she asked, sounding so confused.

A small part of my brain recognized her, and a memory clicked into place.

“Hathila,” I murmured, calming slightly.

As soon as I spoke her name, all the memories from before came rushing back like water breaking from a dam, and I had to fight to stay conscious while all the pieces arranged themselves to form the proper picture. As my brain de-scrambled itself, a piercing pain struck my head like a load of bricks.

I sank to my knees, clutching my head in agony for several seconds until the pain ebbed. Finally, I looked up into three sets of concerned eyes.

“Hey, guys,” I mumbled, trying to smile.

My friends and now family stared at me in absolute stunned silence, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

“You know, if I didn’t know any better I’d say you guys were staring at some new weird species of bug,” I tried again. Still nothing.

I sighed. “Guys, I’m not in psycho-mode anymore. I don’t know what that was, but I do know that it wasn’t me. Now could you please quit staring at me like I’m some animal at the zoo?”

Abruptly, Juno shut his mouth, closed his eyes, and stood, turning away. He strode to the mouth of the cave and leaned against the wall, his back to me. I could see his chest rising and falling at a slight angle, and knew that he was upset with me.

Tauro stood and offered his hand. I grabbed it and hauled myself off the ground. I stared at Juno’s still back for a moment before asking, “What’s wrong with him?”

“You scared him. Real bad,” Tauro replied in a low voice.

“But. . . . you and Hathila didn’t freak out,” I murmured, confused.

Tauro blew out a long sigh, and said, “You really don’t notice it, do you?”

“Notice what?” I demanded.

He shook his head. “Sorry, Kate, but you’re gonna have to figure this one out by yourself.”

“Figure what out by myself?” I said impatiently.

“Sorry, but only the oblivious can not notice something like this.”

I fell silent, glaring at him.

He ignored my look and nodded at Juno, who was still facing away from us. “I would go talk to him if I were you.”

I lowered my voice to a whisper, though I knew that he could hear me without actually hearing me. “But what if he’s mad at me?”

“He is mad at you. Go talk to him.”

I closed my eyes and took a deep, settling breath. I walked slowly towards Juno, and I knew that he knew I was here by the way he turned his head slightly in my direction. I stopped right next to him, and looked up at him.

“Juno?” I asked softly, and I had the distinct feeling that mentally, he cringed.

Juno remained silent.

“Are you okay?” I tried again, feeling a yawning emptiness begin to open up inside me, sucking at my emotions and replacing them with doubt, fear, and despair.

Only when he took a long, deep, shuddering breath did I realize that no, Juno was truly not okay.

“Juno, I—

“I know,” he interrupted me. “I can read minds, remember? I know what you’re feeling. I understand. Believe me I do.” But his expression was one beyond pain.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, looking away. What bothered me was that he knew. . . . and I didn’t.

“Don’t ever scare me like that again.”

“I can’t promise you that, not while we’re running like this, not while He’s still after us. I don’t know what happened back there. I don’t remember anything. I remembered thinking—“ I broke off at his expression, but hurried to continue on “—and then I woke up, but I didn’t know anything, didn’t remember anything or anyone, and you said that you couldn’t hear me and then all the sudden it all just came rushing back and you can hear me now—

“You ramble when you’re afraid, did you know that?”

I offered Juno a small smile. “I do now.”

“Look, I don’t know what happened back there anymore than you do, and I don’t understand it anymore than the rest of you. But I do know that you scared the s*** out of me, almost literally, and I was so afraid that you were
. . . gone.”

Hearing the fear and anger in Juno’s voice not only shocked me, but it put me on edge as well. He must have sensed this because he stopped and took another deep breath, closing his eyes and breathing out through his nose.

“I didn’t know. . .”

“I know you didn’t. I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have said any of that. I’m a complete coward, and I’ve proved that to you, Kate, but I promise that I’ll try as hard as I can to be braver.”

I laughed, and turned my head to look him right in the eye, and said, “Juno that is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I have heard in my entire life.”


“You are without a doubt the bravest person I have ever met. Don’t you ever forget that.”

The author's comments:
Yeah, kind of cheesy, I know. I was having a slight writers block at the time.

“Hey, lovebirds, dinner is served,” Tauro called from behind us, and Juno and I both turned and shot him identical glares. He laughed, and I was shocked to see a smile on his face.

He scooped three slices of canned peaches for each of us, and everyone got one of my remaining candy bars. We each got half of the cereal in one of the two boxes, and then Hathila traded Tauro for Froot Loops because he thought they were too sugary and preferred Cheerios instead.

“Where are we gonna go after this, Katie?” Hathila asked around a mouthful of Froot Loops. The innocence of the picture nearly brought tears to my eyes.

I thought for a moment. “Well, we can’t stay here much longer because of my need for human food, so I suppose we’ll have to keep on going east until we reach the coast, and then maybe head north into Canada or something,” I said thoughtfully, “But I suppose by then we won’t really be keeping track of where we’re going and we’ll just have to stick to away.”

Hathila looked confused, but after a second her expression cleared and she seemed to finally understand. She confirmed my guess a second later: “Oh, I get it now.”

“Did you ever stop to think that maybe we should fight him? We did pretty well last time.” We all turned to stare at Tauro, who looked back at us innocently. “What?”

“Don’t you remember what happened last time we did that?”

His expression turned irritated. “No, I don’t. You never explained that to me.”

“Let’s just say that I heard someone say something behind me, but nobody was there.”

He raised his eyebrows questioningly, but I waved away the oncoming questions. I’d let him stew in his curiosity for a while.

“Heads up, someone’s coming,” Juno said suddenly, setting his bowl of dry cereal on the ground and rising.
I groaned. “Oh, come on! Don’t we ever get a break?”
“Nope.” I glared at Tauro before striding to the entrance of the cave.
When I saw who was slowly but surely climbing her way up the mountain towards us, I was speechless. After a couple seconds, I let out a little yelp of happiness and began picking my way down the slope as fast as I could.
“Arina!” I cried, delighted.
She looked up at me and smiled warily. “Hey, Kate. Fancy meeting you here.”
I rolled my eyes and grinned, grabbing her arm. I pulled her up the mountain toward our cave.
“I’m so happy to see you!” I exclaimed. “But what are you doing here?”
“I sensed you,” she said simply, and I screwed up my face in confusion.
“You. . . sensed me?”
“Yeah. I was hiding out in the forest with the other Gen 89, right? And all the sudden, I get this urge to come find you, and I just knew that you were up in the mountains. So I came,” she shrugged, looking unconcerned.
“And um. . . . this premonition of yours is normal?” I asked.
She looked at me incredulously.
“Honey, I am a Gen 89, and you think that something like this isn’t normal? Do you live under a rock?”
“Apparently.” I was surprised. This was a power that I hadn’t heard of before, and I’d heard of a lot of different abilities. But just knowing things that you couldn’t possibly know—that was unheard of.
“Hey, Arina, I was wondering how long it would take you to show up here!” Tauro called out from above us, and we looked back up the mountain to see him grinning from ear to ear—and I did a double take.
Arina smiled, and her face flushed. I grinned; they liked each other, it was so obvious.
“Hi Arina,” Hathila said casually from her perch on a stone overhang where she was fingering a white mountain flower.
“Hi, sweetie,” Arina replied.
“Anyway,” I continued, still reeling from shock over her new ability, “I was actually thinking about going back to find you.”
Her eyes widened and she stared at me, stunned. “You were?”
“Yeah. I want you to join my pack. I was going to ask while we were down just away from the entrance to the lab, but I only had time for Tauro and Hathila before the sneak attack.” Then something dawned on me. “Were you the person behind me who was talking about ‘the time will soon be right, and we’ll be coming for you’?”
She looked confused, and I turned to look back up at the mouth of the cave, where Juno was standing.
Does she know what I’m talking about? I asked with my mind.
He answered me with a subtle shake of his head.
Turning back to Arina, I hastily dropped the subject. “Never mind. Will you join my pack?”
Her eyes lit up, and she smiled widely. “Yes, yes! I’m tired of being on my own, and if I want to be a part of anyone’s pack, it’s yours!”
I grinned, and slung my arm around her shoulders. “Arina, welcome to the Pack.”

The author's comments:
No, this isn't where the story end, but I don't like the twist that I gave it from here, so if I don't update for a while, it's because I'm fixing the annoying turning-point in the story that I really shouldn't have put there.

As soon as we got back to the cave, I pulled Juno outside. “You knew she was coming, didn’t you?” I asked sternly.
He widened his eyes innocently. “Me? No, of course not!”
I punched his arm. “You totally knew.”
He grinned. “How could I not know that?”
“Why didn’t you warn me?”
Juno smiled, and it lit up his face. “I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Well, a surprise it certainly was. You knew how bad I wanted her in our Pack. Probably before I knew it myself. I guess I just forgot about her what with everything that’s happened just in the past couple days.”
“I don’t blame you,” Juno said honestly, and I grinned.
“Come on, let’s go back inside and pack up. We need to get a move on, and find a place with food.”

“Oh, my God, please can’t we just stop for the night? I seriously cannot go any further,” Tauro complained aloud, abruptly shifting into his human form.
I skidded to a stop and turned back to face him. I felt the full impact of the run as soon as I shifted, and I grimaced as my legs grew weak and almost collapsed. “We can’t stop now. We need to get as far as we can.”
“Then I’m staying here. I’ll catch up in a couple hours, once I can feel my legs,” he said, plopping his exhausted butt on to the dust and stubbornly crossing his arms. I could tell without needing to look at Juno for conformation that he wasn’t going to move.
“Fine,” I snapped. “I’m not leaving one of my Pack behind, and I can tell that the rest of you are exhausted. We’ll stop for the night.”
Juno shifted and immediately collapsed. “Oh, thank God, I thought you were going to run us into the ground.”
I glared at him, and thought, Shut up.
He pretended to zip his mouth shut, lock it, and throw away the key. I rolled my eyes.
I didn’t know why I was so irritated. Maybe it was the stress of being chased, maybe it was fear, maybe it was anger at absolutely nothing. But as I unrolled my sleeping bag, it dawned on me that I just simply didn’t know. The thought bothered me more than it should have. But I was the leader, I was the Alpha. Settled in the bag, I gazed around me at the four people that were my family now, and I felt a cold chill shudder through my body as I remembered again that I was responsible for their lives.
I rolled over so I was facing away from the Pack, and stared up at the dark sky, at the bright, cheerful stars.
At least some of us have families, I thought bitterly, and I felt the tears well in my eyes.
Silently, I let them fall down my face.
That night was the first time I had cried in all my fifteen long years.

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