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   Chapter 7 NO.7

The Rouges By Alzek16 Characters: 21610

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:38


IT HAD BEEN three days since Mouse had been brought to me and she followed me wherever I went within my imprisonment. She never left my side. She even slept in the cell with me, fighting vehemently if they tried to remove her. Eventually they conceded and just left her with me on a permanent basis. During my questionings, she sat under the table listening to me repeat the same answers over and over again. I loathed the man questioning me, but I remained calmer now, as to not frighten Mouse. Every night she slept underneath my bed, her hand constantly creeping around the edge to touch my fingers. I always reached back, ensuring her tiny hand I was still here.

Tonight, as her hand disappeared under the frame again, I realized for the first time in my life I felt responsible for someone other than myself.

The thought shook me.

I was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of metal scraping on concrete. Arden cursed as I sat up rapidly, startling him.

"Sorry, " he muttered. "I dropped my pillow behind my cot and it got stuck."

He jerked the cot again and a white lumpy object fell to the floor. As he leaned over to snag it, my eyes widened. In the dull lights reflecting from the hallway I could see the glint of metal and familiar horizontal lines.

There was an air vent.

My bag was sitting on the floor by my cot, the food and weapons had been removed but I could always steal more. It would be easy to slip into the vent without being seen. Arden was always taken away first, I would have nearly five minutes before they would notice I was gone and-Mouse stirred beneath me and my thoughts instantly stopped, then took another route.

She was small. I could easily guide her through the vents with me, but then what? What would we do once we made it outside? I had barely been able to keep myself alive and fed. How could I possibly provide for her too?

I could leave her here. Tell her I was coming back... lie to her.

I felt sick just thinking about it. But here she would have food and care. With me she would suffer like I had. Even though leaving Mouse here was the better choice for her, the responsible one, the idea of not being able to protect her myself appalled me.

Arden shoved his cot up against the wall again, covering the vent. This time Mouse awoke to the noise. Her fingers crept over the wool blanket searching for me. A lump caught in my throat as I grabbed her fragile fingers and lay back down.

"It's okay, I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." But even as I said the words my eyes stared at the spot on the wall where I knew the vent was.

When I woke in the morning Arden was already gone and the kind-faced boy sat on Arden's cot watching me. It should have startled me, made me angry that he had gotten into the room without my knowledge, but it didn't. Mouse sat at his side chewing on something red. A book was cradled in her lap.

I watched her, wide-eyed.

Something flew at my face. I caught it reflexively. The taut shiny surface was smooth against my skin. My heart rose.

An apple.

I had not eaten one since I was a child. Another photo flash from the past.

"No bread today?" I tried to keep the joy from my face.

"I figured you would be tired of bread." He stretched, rising from the cot.

"What do you have there?" I asked Mouse, eyeing her book.

She grinned and held it up for me to see. It had words and pictures of people making hand gestures. I furrowed my brow.

"It's a book on sign language. Since Mouse can't speak I thought it important that she be able to express herself." He smiled down at the little girl.

I opened my mouth to ask more about the book, but at that moment a new guard entered the door, a woman. She was short and lean, with long muscles tracing her bare arms. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, the tips of it just reaching her waistline. I rose as she moved into the room, her blue eyes on Mouse.

"Are you ready to return to classes now?" Her voice was high and maternal. Mouse shrank away from the woman.

Immediately, I moved in response to Mouse's reaction. As I inserted myself between the newcomer and the child, the woman's hand reflexively moved to her gun. My muscles tensed ready for attack, but before the situation could escalate, the young man placed his hand over hers in a calming gesture.

"Veyron oversees most of the youth here. Mouse was attending classes before she was brought to you. We think it is important to educate our children. Veyron is one of the best guards we have. Mouse couldn't be in safer hands." His hazel eyes were steady, trying to reassure me.

I turned to Mouse, gauging her reaction. She looked frightened.

"Did they take you to classes to learn, to read?" I knelt to her level.

She nodded.

"I think you should go with them. It is very important that you have an education. Knowledge can only better a person." I kept my voice soft. Without my father's teachings I would have never made it as long as I did.

Mouse leapt to her feet and clung to my neck.

"Are you scared they won't bring you back here?"

Her tiny head nodded furiously.

A large hand passed over my arms, careful not to touch me, and fell lightly on her back.

"Mouse, I promise we will bring you back here. Have I ever lied to you before?" His deep voice was close to my ear.

Mouse raised her red-brimmed eyes to his and shook her head no, but her hands tightened on my shoulder.

"I will take good care of her until you get back." He soothed the child, brushing the tears from her cheeks.

She looked at me, fear still in her eyes. I understood her fear of losing me. The thought of the air vent still burned in my mind.

"I promise I will still be here when you get back. I won't leave you." Those were the words she needed to hear. Wiping the last of the tears from her face she released me. I watched as she took Veyron's hand. The guard's face was astonished as she looked at me, like she had just seen a Ravager show kindness. I wanted to wipe the look off her face for her. I may be calloused, but I was still human. I could be humane, if I tried.

When the little brown head turned to me just before they left, I smiled at her once more in encouragement. After she disappeared my smile wavered. The vent... Had I just lied to the only person who had ever shown me adoration in this horrific city?

Before I could overthink it, the young man moved to the

a stiff chair. "Will you be providing me with some of the answers you so righteously promised, or are we going to continue with another round of pointless questions?"

Her returning glare pleased me. "Actually Lyra, yes I will be providing you with answers as I see fit. And you in return are going to answer some of mine."

I raised my eyebrows waiting for her questions, but instead she surprised me, providing answers to questions I had long been asking.

"As you have surely noticed during your confinement here, we do not follow the rules of Tartarus, nor will we tolerate those who do. Within our walls, all captives will be treated as a threat unless proven otherwise. And those who cannot be trusted will be terminated."

Triven shifted behind me.

"For six years we have gathered allies and in return gained information about the Tribes. Our community is comprised of excommunicated Tribesman and those of us who were foolish enough to follow your mother from The Sanctuary. We call ourselves The Subversive."

My eyes widened. "That makes six Tribes..."

Arstid's white head shook slowly. "No. We are not a Tribe. The Subversive was created in spite of the Tribes. Unlike the uncouth clans that formed within this vile city to rule and murder, we joined together out of necessity. Alone we were weak and vulnerable, together we are strong and knowledgeable."

My eyes narrowed. This was a recruitment speech.

"The fact that you managed to survive in this city alone as long as you have speaks great lengths about your intellect. Unless you have merely been very lucky."

Her words stung.

"I don't believe in luck." I said through my teeth.

"Funny, neither do I." Her bright eyes were like stones. "That is why I am hesitantly offering this deal. You will get no time to think or sleep on it. The second you walk out this door the deal is off the table.

"Three days a week you will work wherever we sit fit, earning your keep within this society. The other four you will be operating either with myself or another member of the guard. You will answer all questions we ask you and you will be forthright. In return I will provide you with the information we have gathered both about the Tribes and The Sanctuary."

"And what if I don't have the information you want?" I held her gaze.

"Your father's notebook has obviously proven key to your survival here. To your advantage, most of his notes are coded and unreadable. I guarantee that between what's in that pretty little head of yours and what's scrawled in the journal, we can find a compromise."

"And what will you do with that information?" I asked bluntly.

"Whatever we want to. If you prove useful, you may be privy to our plans. But until that point you will do as you're told and play nice. If you cannot adhere to these guidelines the ramifications will be permanent." Her chest rose and fell evenly as she awaited my answer.

Unfortunately, it didn't feel like I was being given much of a choice. I seriously contemplated bashing in her smug face with my chair and rejoicing until the guards came for me, but a noise distracted me. Triven cleared his throat and I was reminded of those who needed me here. Of Mouse, who I promised I would return to.

"We have a deal." My jaw clenched as the words slipped out.

To my surprise Arstid's face did not break out into the smug smile I had expected. Instead her gaze hardened, as if she had wanted me to lash out, to defy her.

"We have a deal."

Arden and Mouse were both waiting for me when I returned to our cell, their anxiety clearly dissipating when they saw me. We ate in silence until the lights turned out, my eyes constantly gravitating to the vent behind Arden's bed. As Mouse's breaths turned to light snores, Arden finally spoke to me.

"Do you think you'll run if you get the chance?" His voice was barely a whisper.

"I'm afraid that chance has already passed." I said and rolled over.

***

Okay!!! Calm down everybody.

I'm not freaking out.. You're freaking out..... . .

WE'RE FREAKING #286 ON WHATS HOT SCIENCE FICTION LIST???????????????????????? (24/05/17)!!?!?!?!!!

WHAT ON EARTH??!?!

HOLY SMOKES I'M DYING!!!??????????????

Totally speechless!

Thank you so much!!! ?

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