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   Chapter 63

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 9623

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Heaven.

Heat blasts my lungs. I have no weapon, nothing but my own body to fight with. The others are too weak to give chase, and yet I fly on my feet, so fast gravel dislodges from the empty, open road. My skin smolders, the air shimmery in the heat of the spring day and in the heat of the aura draped like a sheet over the city. It has to be Angel“s doing. And though I suspect I should be mad at him, I“m more relieved he“s well enough to do something like this. At least Owl didn“t try to kill him like I thought she would.

Now onto killing her.

I know my way around this city than anyone. The emptiness feels so out of place I look over my shoulder with every move. Waiting. Waiting for someone to jump out and snatch me up, kick down the false backdrop. Everything is too glowy, to glisteny for the violence Owl threatens. And the feeling that my city, my home, is a ghost town makes it so much worse.

I“m starving, and the speed of my sprint sucks up the most of my energy. When I arrive at the Capitol building, my legs feel like rubber, my chest so tight I wonder if it“ll explode. My guts had to be rearranged in my stern anyway, they must be awful weak. Maybe I should“ve stayed back. Waited. But this is what I have to do, this is my fight. That guy was right. I“m terrible at this, and I couldn“t save him. Couldn“t save all the people I“m supposed to. So today, I“m going to do it or die trying, even if my hero“s sacrifice is in vain, at least I“ll be with my mother and father again. At least I can make them proud.

The capitol building is white and clean in the distance, cold looking. The porch spreads across the edge of my vision, gleaming like a sheet of ice. Rails shoot up in neat parallel lines, and on the steps squat figures in black.

My stomach rumbles, my pulse roaring in my ears. Weaponless, defenseless, I stand alone in the middle of the highway. The air burns my neck and scalp, up and down my arms where the world feels as hot and empty as if it were itself a star.

Nebula“s statue is broken, her limbs tossed into the shrubs. Her helmeted head lies at her marble base, staring out at me. Dead, she“s dead. Her legacy, too.

And I have to pick up the slack.

I leap up off my feet, stabbing pain tearing through the back of my neck and calves. The heat is now unbearable, like the sun is shining through me rather than upon me. I“m so hungry even the blood that shines on the Capitol steps doesn“t ebb my appetite. My mouth is so dry, I can feel the wetness shrivel up on my tongue in patches.

The henchmen don“t stand a chance against me.

Crazed with hunger, with hatred, with the thought of failure, of losing everything that I care about, I land hard on the slippery steps. Cloaks fly up like angel wings and Angel“s wings, the six or so hooded figures grabbing for me all at once. As I dive under, they form a canopy

at the end of the hall, slightly ajar. I bite my lip, thinking I get that, too. Owl“s so close, and I“ll have to steal a sword. She usually carries one, but her chest“s all protected by thick sheets of heavy armor. Not to mention she has the hostages to hold over my head. I can“t give her that chance. We“ll have to get in, kill her, and free the hostages. Then I“ll find Angel and take down that barrier. Army comes in, they arrest the rest of the henchmen, and in the midst of the chaos, I“ll escape back to Poison.

Easy.

Steel-toed shoes click behind us, and I glance back just long enough to make out the shapes of encroaching henchmen. The henchman at my shoulder grabs my forearm, and the other does the same on my opposite side. She shoots me a wink, and her eyes are the softest shade of green I“ve ever seen. This, I catch on to too. "Let go!" I cry. My legs flail out in front of me. "You“ll pay for this, I swear!"

And to think Romeo and Juliet auditions are next week. I could literally be the lead of the school play, and instead, I“m wasting my acting talent on Owl. I should“ve found a way to kill her back at the mall instead of letting it come to this. Heck, I should“ve been a better hero in general. This, now, this is how I pay. I fall limp to my knees, my growling stomach adding to the agony as the door draws closer and closer. The lights blur as sweat drips into my eyes, and yet, I can“t help the smallest of smiles.

At last, we come to it, and one figure in black shoulders it open for me. She glances in my direction and winks, too. "Owl." The other woman makes her voice husky and thick. Purple splashes the floor, soft voices murky in my ears. "We have a prisoner for you."

The two push me in, dropping me so fast I hit the ground in a tumble. Laughter quakes in my ears, purple light spilling into my vision in bands.

My hands ball up into fists one last time. It“s show time.

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