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The cold steel pressed against his bare chest like a panther that sat waiting to go in for the kill. He ignored it, however, and kept his glare steady. The evil queen gave him a fake smile and cocked her head.
“But of course that doesn’t affect you, does it?” she asked, her voice sounding like it should be talking to a four-year-old. She snapped her long, bony fingers and the steel was gone. He hadn’t been afraid of his own death. But then the barrel was aimed at the only light in his life, the only reason he hadn’t already died.
His sister watched him with wide eyes as the gun was pressed against her head, and the click was heard to confirm that they would kill her without hesitation.
Unless he spoke up.
The chains that were clamped around his wrists clanked together as he stepped forward, ready to stop the whole scene with one word. “Wait.”
An evil grin crept across the woman’s face. “I knew you’d come around.”
A snap, and the gun lowered. His sister stared at him in terror, begging with her eyes for the whole thing to be a nightmare from which she could wake. But she knew as well as he that it was no nightmare. It was reality. And he couldn’t stop his turning to the dark side.
“You know the deal,” the woman’s voice changed. Now it was sharp as the knife she held at her side at all times. “Join us, or lose the last of your family.”
His gaze shifted from the piercing green of the queen’s eyes to the soft brown of his sisters, and he sighed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the muscles in his arms – muscles that a week ago would have been able to crush any enemy. But he hadn’t been strong enough today. He couldn’t save his sister.
He couldn’t save himself. He had no choice.
“Let her go,” he said, his deep voice echoing off the silent prison walls. “I will serve you.”
“Excellent,” the queen snapped one final time, and the guards holding his only light released their grip. His sister was at his side instantly.
“Don’t do this,” she begged. “They’ll only use you for evil. They’ll kill your friends!”
“I have no choice,” he replied, avoiding her gaze.
“Please, you have to refuse her! Every second you stand there she wins!”
“I don’t care about my life. I don’t even care about my friends. I only care about you. You are the last family I have, Trina. I can’t let you go.”
“And I can’t let you do this,” Trina stood her ground. “I don’t care what they do to me. You’re the only one left to carry on our family’s name. You have to live.”
“So do you,” he said quietly. “I can’t lose you too, Trina. I love you.”
“How touching,” the queen yawned impatiently. “But I’m afraid we must proceed. Gentlemen, you know what to do.”
The next moments were a blur. He vaguely recalled being torn away from his sister, hearing her screams, and being forced into a small capsule just big enough to fit his strong stature. The door was closed, and everything was dark. The last thing he heard was his sister, calling his name. “Hunter!”
But it was too late.
He had been lost, like thousands before him.