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Unique (Part 1: The Beginning)
Author's note: Decided i'd write a special book for TeenInk. This is it. This is only Part 1 of a few parts, so stay tuned for more parts!!!
He offered me a choice, but I didn’t take it. Instead, I rejected the only possible cure. He smirked. “Well, if you want to be that way…”
Then I was pushed. And so I fell. And fell.
It must’ve been hours before I landed on the hard pavement of the street. I pushed myself up wearily, looked around. Nobody was in sight. Good. I didn’t need anymore witnesses.
His voice echoed in my head: “I’ll make you a deal. Take this potion… or die.”
A car drove up and stopped when it saw me. A man stepped out, a look of confusion on his face. I shifted my arm, now hidden in my coat.
“You ok boy?” He queried, cautiously stepping closer.
I didn’t answer. I didn’t want his help.
He kept coming closer to me, but slowly, like I had a gun in my hand.
But, technically I did. And a mallet. And a sword.
He was almost within reach of me, so I took a step backward. His eyebrows met. “What’s your name kid?”
He sighed. “What are you doing out here?”
I closed my eyes, silently apologizing. I didn’t need anybody to see me. Never again. So I pulled out my hand, revealing a metal contraption instead.
My whole arm was metal. Wires, circuits, scraps of iron lazily screwed together. My fingers were rusted, made of complete steel. The palm of my hand had a small rectangular slot, which produces weapons of mass destruction. Within a minute, from the slot, I was holding a two ton mallet.
The man’s eyes were wide.
“Leave.” I raised the mallet, let it dangle over my shoulder.
The man nodded, got in his car, and drove away.
He’d tell people, that much I knew. What I didn’t know was how many. A whole town? A city? A country? I shivered with the thought.
There’s nothing fun about being Unique. Not unique, Unique, with a capital U.
Unique. There’s a lot of us, but I’m the only one I’ve ever seen. Most Uniques were Readers. They possessed the ability to read minds, and see the future. But there were hundreds of different types. Warpers. Morphers. Absorbers. Sorcerers. Too many to count.
I am a Weaponeer. I have the abnormal ability to produce weapons from my metal arm. Anything you consider a weapon, I can make. Axes. Swords. Guns. Bows. I’ve unfortunately got it all.
In the year 2035, twenty years ago, the first Unique was discovered. Her name was Amanda Wheeler, the first Reader. The UCE was created, and she was killed. All Uniques were supposed to be captured, and turned into the UCE. Three years later, I was born. At the age of nine, I was kidnapped, stolen from my family and friends.
For eight years, I was his experiment. He used me as a target, an experiment tester. Then he found a book entitled Unique. There was no author, but he read it anyway. In the morning, my arm was gone, replaced with a metal piece of junk. He made me Unique. Possibly the first synthetic Unique.
Then I decided I was done. I’d been his slave for too long, so I broke out with fairly little trouble. When I did, I had no idea where I’d go, so I went home.
But home isn’t a burnt down, heap of garbage. My parents were killed in a fire, and I later found out that my eight-year old sister, Blithe, was in a foster home. I tried to locate it, but gave up after a few months. My whole family was gone.
So I roamed the streets. That’s when I met Kirk. He was a member of the Unique Capturers and Executers, also known as the UCE. He and his squad of five, maybe six, surrounded me. I didn’t know how to use my metal hand then, so I ran. Unfortunately, I was caught.
Kirk wanted to try something new. He brewed a potion, now called, “The Only Chance for Survival.” He offered it to me, but I wouldn’t take it. Would you?
So, I had two choices. Take the potion, and see what happened, or die.
Luckily, my hand kicked in, and suddenly I was holding a three-foot long sword. I killed two of his men, and ran for it. I escaped, but not forever. In the morning, Kirk found me, tied me up, took me to The Cliff. Offered me the potion once more. I refused. So he untied me, and kicked me off.
And here I am now, a wandering murderer.
My name is Troy Graystone. I’m seventeen years old, and I’m Unique.
Blithe’s voice echoed through the empty halls. I turned, facing myself in one of the fifty thousand mirrors set up throughout the halls. Blithe’s reflection changed from one mirror to another in the time it took for me to blink.
She fell. I reached out to catch her, but there was nothing to catch. There were only reflections of her on the mirrors. A small crash echoed.
“Troy…” she whispered, her small cry piercing me. “How could you let me fall? Why would you do that?”
I found myself on my knees, grimy and scarred, hands on my face. Tears fell into my palms, out my hand. “I’m… I’m so sorry!” I shouted into the nothingness.
The tree collapsed next to me, sending bark flying through the air. Small fragments floated in the air, then materialized into nothing. Splinters exploded through the wood, shooting them straight at other trees, only for them to bounce off. A squirrel leapt from the tree at the last second and scampered away.
The machete slithered back into my hand. I crouched down, and tore off some of the bark that remained, unzipped my backpack, and stuffed the pieces inside. I sniffed the air. Pine.
Standing up, I picked up my backpack and slung it lazily over my shoulder. I reached behind me, opened a small slot on my pack, and removed a candy bar. I tossed the foil and took a colossal bite. The rich taste of chocolate and almonds exploded in my mouth. I think maybe I smiled.
I shuffled through the thick undergrowth, tripping here and there on vines. At one point, I collapsed full force onto the dirt, sending a jolt up my spine. I sat there for a moment, my stomach tingling, my spine shaking. Then I pushed myself up, and continued onwards.
A small slab of paper blew into my face. I ripped it away, and read it carefully.
Part of a newspaper. Dated 2054, a year ago, describing events about a siege lead by Uniques. My eyes widened. There were at least ten Uniques listed, all but one executed for their “crimes.” Never before have that many Uniques been together at one place, let alone led a revolt on the UCE.
My mouth felt dry. One of the Uniques survived. I looked again at the article, looking for any clues of the Unique’s whereabouts. If I could find him or her…
The revolt was held in Amaran, what used to be Washington and some of Oregon, before The End.
The End was a war in 2040 between the UCE and Regulars, or normal people. The UCE called for the immediate end to the Uniques, and demanded everywhere to be searched. The Regulars didn’t think it was fair for their houses to be searched for illogical reasons, so they tried to fight the UCE off. Unfortunately, the UCE’s neoteric weapons overpowered the Regulars, wiping most of them off the planet.
Now, there are less than a thousand Regulars left.
There’s a bunch of other groups I should mention… but now isn’t the time for that.
Amaran. I was currently in Sklott, what used to be the top half of California. It wouldn’t be too hard to get to Amaran, but finding the kid would be a challenge.
I tossed the article, and sped up my pace. Vines nipped at my arms, poison ivy bit my ankles. I needed to get to Amaran as quickly as my legs would allow.
It was only a few seconds before the arrow rained down from the trees. I sidestepped, and activated my hand, which produced a bow of my own. A quiver came out of the slot next, and I slung it over my shoulder onto my pack. I quickly loaded an arrow.
The smell of pine was overwhelming now. I was surrounded by pine trees everywhere I looked. There was literally no sound except the leaves crunching under me.
Another arrow, this time from the right. I rolled forward, the arrow catching my pack and ripping it from my shoulder. This was no normal arrow.
I jumped up and shot in the direction the arrow had come from: right. I launched the arrow high into the trees, deliberately putting in arc in my shot. Hopefully, the arrow would drop just before it hit it’s target. This way, I wouldn’t be wounding or killing anyone, but I may scare them into moving. Then I’d grab ‘em.
The arrow stopped a bit too soon though, and my attacker stayed hidden. I silently spoke a curse my parents would’ve grounded me for. I tilted to look where my pack had landed. Straight through the pack was a metal arrow.
The bark. It would act as a shield. Although I had several hundreds of weapons in my hand, a shield technically didn’t count as a weapon, so I dove for my bag. Another arrow was fired, but missed and stuck into a tree.
I unzipped my bag, and removed the lightest piece of bark. I wasn’t very well muscled, but you also have to remember I’m lugging around a hefty metal arm.
An arrow zoomed through the air and missed my shield by a few inches. I loaded another arrow and returned fire. The arc in my shot was once again not enough to scare my assailant into moving.
I cursed under my breath and shoved the quiver back into the slot on my hand. The bow zipped inside. I felt the metal bow dematerializing within my hand as it became several pieces of scrap metal. The metal jolted to life again, composing another weapon from the bow’s parts. In a few seconds, I was holding another weapon: a pistol.
Raising the pistol, I had my doubts. Obviously, my assailant was smart. There was likely some reason I wasn’t dead yet, as if they were missing on purpose. Perhaps they were testing me in a bizarre way. Maybe they wanted to see whether or not I could handle an arrow through my skin.
Crazy, I lowered my arms, dropping the shield. The pistol zipped back into my hand, and tore itself apart. I braced myself: closed my eyes, clenched my teeth, made my hands into fists.
Then, a voice in the gloom.
“You know, if you ever did that in a real fight, you’d be dead.”
I opened my eyes, and saw the afterimages she had left in the tree. She had slid down the side of the great pine, peeling bark away from the trunk in a random pattern. And there she stood, hands on hips.
Her long, auburn-colored hair reached down to the back of her thighs in a braided strand. Her grey eyes formed a miniature storm. There was a long, nasty cut running from the bottom of her right eye to the end of her neck. Spherical yellow earrings glittered. She was dressed in a black tank top under an unbuckled, grey vest. Her skirt was black and grey, striped in a strange fashion. Her legs were lined with several battle scars, each one marking an apparent struggle. Her shoes were the color of wood, ripped, literally, in half so you could see some of her sock. There was an emerald-colored bow slung over her shoulder. I could see small aqua-colored pendants indented into the bow. The quiver on her opposite shoulder was the same way: emerald with aqua crystal shoved into it.
She stood straight, glanced at my arm. I jolted back to life, and tried to hide it, but she had already seen. “You’re Unique?”
I looked away. “You’re not going to turn me into the UCE, are you?”
She took a step closer to me, bent down, and made a circle in the dirt with her finger. “Why would I want to do that?”
I blinked, and turned to face her. She was making more circles in the dirt. “Well, I’d expect they’d pay you for my capture,” I said irritably.
She glanced at me, and practically whispered, “You have as much right to be turned in as I do.”
My heart jumped into my throat. My eyebrows met. “What are you suggesting?” I asked forcefully.
She hesitated. Then, she stood and admired her dirt circles. “Who are you?”
I stomped my foot, angry. “I want an answer!”
She faced me, expression unreadable. “You’ll get an answer, that much I promise,” she said, stepping closer to me. “First, I want you to tell me who you are, and what you’re doing out here. I don’t want to hurt you, and believe me,” she paused, and stared hard into my eyes. “I can hurt you.”
As if, I thought.
My hand assembled a Sagaris, an ancient Greek battle-axe, and I swung down at her.
I wasn’t even close to hitting her. She turned and leapt out of my range. I recovered, and looked at her in disbelief.
“How’d you do that?”
“Answer me and I’ll tell you,” she replied.
I sighed, and brought the Sagaris back into my hand. “My name is Troy Greystone.”
She laughed, and ran back over to me. “Now we’re getting somewhere. So Troy, what kind of Unique are you? I’ve never seen one like you before.”
I shifted so I was facing away from her. “That’s because I’m a synthetic Unique. I used to be Regular.”
I didn’t see her, but I knew she had frowned. The leaves below her crunched viciously, as she shuffled nervously. “I’m sorry.”
I shrugged. Now was not the time to show weakness. I faced her again. “So now that you know who I am… who are you?”
Her eyes widened, as if she hadn’t expected me to ask. But she had expected it. All she said was: “I knew you would ask that. I foresaw it.”
It was all clear now. Of course she wouldn’t kill another Unique.
“But… but… you’re dead!”
Her jaw dropped and her expression darkened. “Do I look dead to you? It was all a lie! I never died! The UCE was never able to execute me properly, so I managed to escape! The UCE said I died so nobody would go looking for me. If anybody found me, the UCE could easily be destroyed.”
“What do you mean, ‘easily destroyed?’ Like, you and I could defeat them?” I queried.
She turned slightly, and looked back down at her circles. “Sort of. You and I… ha. We’d die before we got past the first guard. However, with more Uniques, it is possible. If we don’t try, The Extinction may occur.”
I felt like a moron. “The Extinction?”
“A prophecy foreseen by all Readers. It depicts the end of the Regulars, Uniques, the Gifted, the Flawed, and the Forgotten. All that would remain would be the UCE.”
Like I mentioned earlier, there were other groups I need to mention. These were those groups. The Gifted are… what you may call Demigods: the sons and daughters of gods. While some believe these gods are real, others don’t and are therefore made mortal enemies to the Gifted.
The Gifted are much like Uniques. They have strange, unnatural powers. However, unlike Uniques, the Gifted can call upon their godly parents for possession. If you really needed too, you could open up your body to your godly parent, and they could temporarily possess you. This could help if you were in grave danger and needed a god’s help.
The Flawed, probably the most common group at the moment (with a population of around ten thousand), are all locked up in a special jail called Lockdown.
Lockdown erases all the Flawed’s memories, except their first names. The Flawed are given artificial last names depending on what their first names are. They are then categorized into Levels, such as height, weight, and stature. While Lockdown is a prison, it is easily escapable. However, the prisoners inside don’t remember anything, including how to enter and exit Lockdown.
The Forgotten are creatures of myth. Centaurs, satyrs, and hippocampus all are Forgotten. Only some believe in the Forgotten, and like the Gifted, are made enemies of the Forgotten.
“So… the UCE are also trying to exterminate all the other groups?”
She nodded, and pointed to her circles. I raised an eyebrow, and turned to face her dirt circles.
There were five altogether. There was one circle in the center, the other four surrounding it: one on the top-right, another on the top-left, and two more on the bottom. The biggest of the circles, the center one, was the Regulars.
The top two circles were the Gifted and Forgotten. The bottom two were the Uniques and the Flawed.
“I don’t get it. What’s with the circles?” I asked, gesturing toward them.
She bent down, and looked over the circles. Then, she put a finger on the top-left circle, the Gifted, and went diagonally through the Regulars and the Uniques. “All these are at least part human.”
“So are the Flawed,” I clarified.
“Do you know that for sure?” she asked. “Have you ever been to Lockdown and visited the Flawed? They can’t remember what they are, remember?”
She moved her finger to the top-right circle, the Forgotten, and did the same diagonal movement though the Regulars and Flawed. “All of these are in hiding. Technically, the Flawed are hiding, because nobody knows where Lockdown is located.”
“The Regulars are hiding?” I asked.
She looked up at me. “When was the last time you saw one?”
I didn’t have to think very long. “Yesterday night… there was one on the road…” I explained recalling the man who asked all about me on that strange night. The night my life had turned around… well, more anyway.
“Really-” She began to ask, but shook her head and moved her finger again. She put it on the Gifted, and moved it across the top row, covering the Forgotten. “The non-believed.”
I was going to say that it was the gods that weren’t believed, but I guessed that’s what she meant.
Amanda put her finger back on the Gifted, but moved down to the Flawed. “I wish I knew how these two were connected… Unfortunately, I haven’t the slightest idea…”
I opened my mouth to speak, but once again stopped myself. How were the Gifted and Flawed related?
She stayed on the Flawed, and moved across to the Uniques. “If Uniques are not executed for some reason, they are made into Flawed, and put into the jail.”
She kept her finger on Uniques, and moved it upwards so it landed on the Forgotten. “Close allies.”
“When the Forgotten were still…” she paused searching for the right word. “…believed… they were worshipped by Regulars, which would one day become Uniques.”
I raised another eyebrow. “What?”
“The mythical creatures were worshipped by Regulars, that one day would become Uniques.”
“Like me? Like, synthetic Uniques?” I asked, crossing my arms and leaning against a pine.
“Not for sure. Some Uniques don’t obtain their powers at an early age.” Amanda explained.
“How long have all these groups been around?” I asked, suddenly curious. Who would’ve though I’d actually ask a history question…
“Longer than you can imagine,” she answered. She drew another circle, encompassing all the other circles inside it. “These are The Enchanted Circles. Some Readers can use them to make predictions and prophecies. I unfortunately cannot.”
“Wait…” I said, thinking. “You were the first Unique discovered, right?”
Amanda nodded. “In 2035, yes.”
“Then how have Uniques, the Forgotten, and all the other groups been around for so long?” I asked.
“I was the first one discovered. That doesn’t mean there weren’t Uniques before me. There were, in fact, several before me, the ones who worshipped the Forgotten.”
I slumped against the tree. “My brain hurts.”
Amanda giggled. “It should. I just told you years of information.”
Years? I thought. “Amanda, just how old are you?”
Her ears perked up like a cat’s. “Technically, sixteen. However, I’ve been sixteen for, I don’t know, a couple hundred years.”
My eyes widened. “How is that?”
“I was cursed on my sixteenth birthday. A god by the name of Faux cursed me to impress his first Demigod son, Cirrus. Cirrus is dead now, but he remains in legends, known as the ‘Curse Kid.’ I don’t mind. The curse enables me to live under extremely harsh conditions, but not forever.”
“Is that why the UCE weren’t able to execute you? They couldn’t find a torture hurtful enough?”
Amanda sighed. “Yes. After a while, I do feel the pain of bullets or cuts, but it takes very much for me to die.”
Practically living forever… sounded fun for the first hundred years… then I bet you’d hate it… I asked no more questions about it.
“So… what now?”
Amanda looked at the circles strangely, as if wondering why they were circles and not squares. “The Extinction. If you and I don’t do something about the UCE, it will occur, and everybody will die. I say we go to Amaran, and try to find the kid you read about.”
A shiver went up the coarse of my spine. “How’d you know that?”
She smiled, and tapped her head. “I’m a Reader remember? I can read minds and see the future.”
My stomach growled. I blushed and turned to whistle. Amanda laughed. “Maybe we should get something to eat first,” she suggested.
“Why didn’t you say so!” I shouted, running through the forest. Next to sleeping, eating was my favorite thing. It was a good thing I worked out a bunch, or I’d be a lot bigger.
Amanda laughed and ran after me, after she covered The Enchanted Circles with leaves.
I patted my belly as we exited the restaurant. If I’d known there was a restaurant by the forest, I would’ve practically lived there. However, I was a bit low on cash.
“I think I may’ve gained a few pounds,” I said somewhat triumphantly.
Amanda laughed, and replied, “Yeah, I can see that.” I will admit, it was pretty obvious that I loved food. My… average weight was probably 230 lbs, but you have to subtract 75 lbs, because of the metal arm. So, my usual weight was somewhere close to 155 lbs, most of it fat.
Amanda continued walking, and I followed closely behind. We were heading for Amaran, to look for the Unique that had escaped the siege. A thought leapt into my brain.
“Amanda,” I began. “The Extinction… is it only the UCE versus us?”
She stopped and sighed. “I knew you’d ask that too. No. If we want to successfully stop the UCE and The Extinction, we’re going to need one member of our team from each of the groups.”
“You mean the five groups?” I abruptly burped, blushed, and continued. “The ones in The Enchanted Circles?”
She nodded. “Yes. We’ll need at least one of each. That means we need to find a Flawed, a Forgotten, a Gifted, and a Regular. Any extra members would be very beneficial.”
“Then why are we wasting time searching for a Unique? We have two already: you and me. Shouldn’t we… try to locate Lockdown or something?”
Amanda turned and continued walking, her hair sliding back and forth gently. I fought to catch up. “At least we have an objective. Nobody knows the location of Lockdown, so searching for it would be a total waste of effort and time. However, if and when we find this Unique, he or she may know where to find another ally.”
My arm unconsciously produced an axe. Amanda saw it happen, and she rolled out of range. I blinked, and was suddenly shot ten feet into the air.
I spiraled through the air, and eventually landed on the restaurant’s pavement, knocking all my breath out of me. I’d bet there was an enormous bruise forming on my back.
I forced myself up, and my lunch back down.
About twenty feet away, Amanda was locked in hand-to-hand combat with a dude wearing a tough, leather jacket, cowboy boots, a shaved head, and sunglasses. I saw the guy throw a punch at her, but she sidestepped, and kicked high into the air, catching his face. He made a sound somewhere between a squeal and a grunt, flew off the ground, and landed hard against the pavement.
There were more on us in seconds, and I realized what had launched me so high into the air.
One of the guys had an oversized bazooka, and was raucously reloading. In fact, all the foes had oversized weapons: axes bigger than they were, bows that took three people to load and fire, and even swords that took much effort to swing once.
Amanda ran over to me, bewildered. “Who are these goons?”
I squinted to get a better look at the gigantic weapons. “I don’t know, but their weapons are much too heavy.”
She frowned. “Unfortunately, a single hit from a sword that big…” she said, gesturing to an eight-foot long sword. “That would hurt… a lot.” I nodded in agreement. Note to self: Don’t get hit by giant weapons.
A giant tomahawk zipped by me, and we both ducked instinctively. “We need to act,” she said. “If we sit here, they’ll surround us in seconds, and I doubt they’d hesitate to kill us.”
“Are they from the UCE?” I asked, readying my newly acquired axe.
“I don’t know, but they must be.”
Another giant tomahawk flew by, this time nipping one side of my shirt, tearing the fabric and revealing my plump flesh. I grabbed the area, and was surprised that I wasn’t bleeding.
“That was a bit close,” I mumbled to myself.
Amanda launched herself at the enemies, meeting with one that possessed a colossal staff. The foe stabbed the staff into the ground, creating a small fissure, which Amanda tripped on. Helpless on the ground, another foe, which held a sword-length knife, approached her. He leapt into the air, knife pointed down, and tried to stab her in the back.
Luckily, I was there in time to deflect his attack. His knife met with my axe in just the right spot, so he couldn’t move his weapon. I shifted my body slightly, and threw him away from the center battle. Amanda was up by now, and had drawn her bow. She didn’t hesitate, and shot the staff-wielder in the chest.
Two more enemies appeared a few feet from us, each one with a mallet likely weighing more than me. One swung down, another swung sideways.
The both of us were caught in the attacks. My side was punished, and I was blown aside by the mallet. Amanda on the other hand, suffered a blow to the head, and was blasted into a nearby bush.
I landed on the concrete, my scream barely audible. For a long while I laid there, giving up. I felt a little trickle of blood running down my forehead. I glanced down at my stomach showing through my shirt, which was also the side I was hit on. The skin was a dastardly shade of purple.
Then, he arrived.
Through my squinted eyes, I saw him single-handedly defeat the rest of the enemies.
His hair was light grey, and spiked in what you’d think would be an ugly fashion. He was dressed in all black, pants torn at the knees, shirt ripped in several places. At his sides were two stillettos. I glimpsed his yellow, catlike eyes, and felt myself shiver. He looked a little taller than me, maybe by an inch, and was practically skeletal, making me feel pudgy.
He leapt off the restaurant’s roof, stillettos drawn, and assaulted the army of enormous-weapon wielders. He landed on the shoulders of a sword-wielder, and stabbed his stillettos into the wielder’s chest. He leapt up, and flung the body off his stillettos, knocking several other guys over.
An axe-wielder swung slowly at him, but the boy jumped, flipped, put his palm on the axe, and bounced off it, delivering a fatal kick to the wielder.
A few seconds later, I had passed out.
Cold water splashed against my face, and I reluctantly jolted awake. I made my hands into fists, and suddenly found myself wondering where I was.
I was obviously inside a building, as I was surrounded by four, frigid, metal walls. There were boxes everywhere, all of them marked, “fragile,” or “handle with care.” A long, spiraling staircase sat near the door, which was bolted shut for one reason or another. The boy from the restaurant stood over me.
“Where’s Amanda?” I asked him. He closed his eyes, as if thinking, and pointed to the staircase. I glanced over, and saw her resting against it.
The boy strode over to an unopened box, and sat atop it. He ripped out one of his stilettos, pulled out a piece of wood from another box, and began to carve something.
I sat myself up, and found that I had been leaning against one of the freezing walls. I rubbed my forehead, to find it was wound in a thin cloth. My shirt was still torn, but a small patch covered my bruised skin.
I pushed myself to my feet, and pushed on the patch. I cringed, and pulled my finger back. There was definitely a bruise there.
There was little warning before the boy threw the piece of wood at me. I turned to see it, heading straight for my face, and ducked. I stood up, and shouted at him, “What was that for?”
He stared at me expressionless, and pulled another piece of wood from the box. He smirked, and tossed it. Then another. And yet another.
It felt a lot like I was doing the matrix, dodging pieces of wood left and right. A few times I had to jump over pieces he rolled across the concrete floor. As I dodged, anger welled up inside me. I’d just practically killed myself against the wielders, so why was he doing this now?
The slot on my hand opened, and produced a machete. I chopped a flying piece of wood in half, and glared at him. “Cut it out.”
Get it? Cut. Machete. Ha.
He smirked again, stood, and raised his hands. The boxes all around him wobbled over, knocking several pieces of chopped wood onto the floor. The pieces levitated and floated- yes, floated- in midair. Then, with a sudden movement, he pointed to me, shooting thousands of splinters at me.
My eyes widened, and I rolled to my left. Most of the wooden terrors missed me, and stuck into the wall, though others hit me in the shoulder and chest. I ducked behind another box, by this time convinced the boy wasn’t on our side, he was just crazy.
I stood cautiously, and glanced around the place quickly. He was gone.
Confused, I gathered myself up, and ran to where Amanda was. Correction: Ran to where Amanda used to be. She was gone too, leaving no trace she had left.
Did he leave me, taking Amanda with him? Who was this guy? Was he on our side, or not?
Either way, he was powerful. No doubt he was Unique or Gifted.
I turned back to the wall now covered in dents from the wooden killers. The wood had fallen onto the floor, now a splintery mess. At first I dismissed the dents, then saw they were arranged in a strange pattern…
I crossed over to the dents, and read the words they spelled out. “If you want to find us, head upstairs and turn off the lights,” I read.
My eyebrows knit, and I shifted to face the spiraling staircase. It looked like it would take a lot of time to climb the whole thing, which made me wonder how he grabbed Amanda and got upstairs before I recovered from his attack. There was no way…
I was unaware I had already climbed halfway up the stairs… I didn’t even remember taking the first step. I rubbed my forehead, wondering what the heck was going on, and continued up the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, a giant wall of glass blocked me from the door on the other side. I tried my best to smash through it, even cut it with my machete, but to no avail. The wall of glass had to be at least three feet thick, and there was no getting around it.
For a long while, I sat there, pondering how I was going to get around the wall of glass. Then, my arm shook, and sucked the machete back inside. Within seconds, I was holding a flamethrower.
“Oh yeah!” I shouted, and fired it up. I shot as much flames as the weapon would allow, but it wasn’t enough to melt the glass. However, it was enough to weaken the glass, so with a powerful smash, I could break through it.
I disassembled the flamethrower in my hand, and backed up a few steps so I could get a running start. Then, I charged through the glass, which busted into thousands of shards.
The door in front of me opened, so I gathered myself up, and walked through the doorway, awaiting a surprise.
The room was covered in the color of light blue, but scribbled with white lines all over the walls. Looking closer at the lines, I saw they were actually words, but in some weird language I couldn’t near understand. There was nothing in the room: no furniture, pictures, even any boxes.
I turned slightly, and saw the light switch.
“If you want to find us,” I recited. “Head upstairs and turn off the lights.” I flipped the switch.
The lights turned off, but only for a quick moment. Then I was standing back in the first room. The boy was sitting next to Amanda upon a giant box. They were both looking at me with sensitive eyes, which by now, I thought was strange for the boy.
A box next to me, no bigger than my shoe, slid up to me, and rubbed against me like a cat. I looked down at the box, and then back up at Amanda. “What’s going on here?”
Her gaze went cold, as if she hadn’t noticed I’d arrived. She leapt down from the enormous box, and looked at me strangely. “He did the same thing to me. Supposedly, he won’t join anybody who can’t pass his test. We both passed, so he’ll help us.”
“Who is he?” I asked, pointing to the boy.
“I can answer that,” he said, finally speaking. His voice was deeper and raspier than you’d expect out of him. “My name is Kael Firesoldier. I’m approximately nineteen years old-”
“Manipulators often lose track of how old they are,” he said plainly.
Manipulators. A very, very rare Unique. They possessed the ability to bring inanimate objects to life, and do their bidding. Sort of like a Necromancer, which raises the dead, but control living objects instead of dead ones. That explained the levitating wood and the pet box, but what about the illusions and such?
Kael seemed to have read my mind. “Manipulators can sometimes receive the ability to create illusions, traps, and more, as Mesmerizers are able. I am one of those lucky Manipulators.”
Amanda rubbed her arm, as if guilty about something. “Where to now? Amaran?”
The box at my feet nudged me again. I bent down and pet it for a second, feeling silly. “Yeah. We need to find the Unique that escaped.”
Kael’s face lit up. “Mission accomplished.”
I felt my ears perk up, and I turned to face Amanda, but she was looking down at the ground. How had we traveled to Amaran that fast?
Unless the whole Amaran scheme was an illusion. What was real now...? Was anything real...?