MoboReader> Sci-fi > The Rouges

   Chapter 15 NO.15

The Rouges By Alzek16 Characters: 15295

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:42


I HAD FOLLOWED Triven's broad shoulders through doors I had never seen before, through rooms that spanned from the size of my cell to the huge size of the laundry room. Everything looked the same. Grey walls, grey floors, no windows. Everything was the same. I supposed that should be expected of an old bunker. What I didn't anticipate was the number of rooms and how self-sustaining the compound was. There were water filtration rooms that generated power while cleaning the water, and grow rooms filled with soils and artificial lights. Strange vegetation grew in those rooms, some I recognized like the apple trees, but others were foreign to me.

People lingered, watching us with curious eyes. Some even turned, whispering to each other as they eyed me. Apparently I already had a reputation here and from the nervous twitch of their lips it wasn't a good one. I shouldn't have, but I smiled at them. Not in the friendly, "we should chat sometime" kind of way. But in the "yeah those stories are true, you might not want to get too close to me, I might rip that throat out" kind of way.

My mother never said make friends, she said survive. And in my experience that did not include making friends.

The mess hall was empty by the time we reached it and I worried about Mouse. Now that my impending death had been put on hold, I felt horrible for lying to her. I was sure those tiny hands would be ringing over one another, anxious and alone. Once our tour was complete I would have to find her. It wasn't the same with her. I wasn't looking for a friend or a little sister, but while I sought no comfort in her, I sought to comfort her. I needed no one, but Mouse? She needed someone. She needed me.

As we marched through what felt like the hundredth tunnel that looked like every other tunnel, I began to lose my patience.

"So what is this then, some weird colony thing? Are we like married now or something?" I asked Triven's back.

He scoffed. "This is a trial to see if you would be a good fit for us and us for you."

"And when it doesn't work out?"

He shrugged, "If that happens you will be free to go. I will see to that myself. But maybe you should give us a chance before writing us off. You may actually like it here."

It was my turn to scoff. "I highly doubt that."

Shrugging off my negativity, he smiled. "You might be surprised."

He had paused outside a metal door with faded blue paint peeling off. Pushing the door open, he gestured for me to enter first. As I entered the dark room, my fingers fluttered automatically to where my holster used to be, finding only linen fabric instead of cool metal.

Old habits die hard.

It was darker in the small room than it had been in the hallway. A lonely bulb hung from the ceiling without a shade, its black cord disappearing into the darkness above without revealing a ceiling. I could see the floor, the outline of what looked like a bed and dark looming walls that were covered in some sort of lumpy texture, like mismatched bricks.

"Watch your eyes." Triven warned.

I heard a switch flip and the bulb intensified, throwing the room into brightness. I gasped. I couldn't help it.

The walls were not bricks. They were books, hundreds and hundreds of books.

The worn covers lined every curved wall. Some stacks came to my knees while others scaled high above my head. A neat pile was stacked next to the bed, the top one open, face down to hold a page. I touched the leather bindings closest to me.

Without thinking I leaned in and took a deep breath. The perfumed scent of aged paper and ink swirled around me. I closed my eyes, reveling in the smell that made me think of my father. Tracing my fingers over the rows, I scanned the titles. There were books I had read, ones I had never heard of and authors whose names I recognized. I would have thought this was their library except for the bed in the corner.

I turned to Triven. He was leaning on the doorframe watching me, his hazel eyes bright.

It clicked.

"You're the one who read to me in the infirmary."

He actually blushed.

"I didn't think you would remember that." Triven toed the concrete.

Shifting awkwardly I changed the subject.

"So is this your room?" I went back to reading titles.

"Technically it's our room now."

I whipped back to him, my neck cricking a little with the speed.

"Excuse me?"

"Normally a trial candidate is paired with someone of the same sex, but in your case I figured you would be most comfortable with me."

I raised my eyebrows at him.

"I have seen

ard at the elbow releasing the knife. The hollow thunk as it penetrated the wood was satisfying, but my aim was rusty. The handle quivered as the blade stuck in the left top corner. I had been aiming for the center.

Triven mirrored my stance and let his knife fly. It connected with the center of the board.

To my frustration he was suppressing a smile.

If this was a game, I was losing.

My next throw was more on mark, landing less than an inch from his. His next throw fell wide, barely hitting the post.

My turn to smile. Maybe that first throw was just lucky.

We didn't speak as we practiced. Each time we finished a round Triven would collect the knives and we would start our silent challenge again. After realizing I wasn't going to go on a killing spree, people began to continue with their own training.

It was eye-opening.

Every time Triven left to retrieve our weapons I watched them.

There were men and women alike, and to my surprise they were all skilled. I was particularly interested in the two men sparring. Hand-to-hand combat was something that had been nearly lost in the past century. An ancient art traded in for modern weapons. But both of these men moved with sinuous control. Their bodies were the only weapons they needed. When your body is your weapon, you don't need to rely on guns for protection.

That's the funny thing about guns; even untrained hands can feel powerful using them. But take that gun away and you're left with nothing but a coward whose only skill is how to blindly pull a trigger.

But men like these— men trained to defend themselves, to defend others— take the gun from their hands and they could still kill you.

I knew how to move like they were and I had paid handsomely to do so.

Triven placed a knife in my hand. "Care to make this interesting?"

My eyebrows rose, "What did you have in mind?"

"Whoever gets closest to the center of the X gets the cot. Loser takes the bed." He thrust his open hand to me offering a deal.

I glanced at the X he had carved into the post. This would be easy.

I took his deal, putting my hand in his. It was the first time we had ever touched. I was surprised how warm his rough hands were, how easily they fit over mine. I snatched my hand back, wiping my palm reflexively against my thigh.

I turned to the post, not to be out-done.

"Ladies first, " I reminded him. A smug smile crept to my lips. The tip of my blade was embedded in the whittled surface less than an eighth of an inch from the center of the X.

I win.

I turned to Triven, my smile still lingering.

"Nice throw." He nodded, impressed, turning his hazel eyes on me. "But you could work on your stance a bit."

Without breaking eye contact, he whipped his arm forward. My eyes naturally followed the knife as it left his hand and the smile fell from my face. A small spark emitted as the tip of his blade grazed mine and rooted itself dead center of the X.

"I guess I will be taking the cot tonight." He said, with a smile.

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