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The Sophie Project

Prologue
Dead silence–the perfect time to execute a kidnapping. There’s a tent. The kidnapper sneaks to the gap between tents. He slinks down the side of the tent into a black-clad crouch, and waits for the soft golden-glow to extinguish. After what seemed like years, all was dark. He crept into the tent, ever so silently, sleeping gas spraying. He found her, his target. Detained by sleeping gas, she was an easy target. He snatched her and fled. In his haste, he dropped his sleeping gas refill. Little did he know that little bottle would be the end of him.
Chapter 1: The Disappearance
“What?” Jake exclaimed when Christopher told him what had happened during the night.
“Yeah, she’s gone. I checked all the places she usually goes: the river, the
book—house, the shooting range-Sophie’s gone.”
This can’t be happening. She’s nine years old. She can’t even help prepare food yet, for crying out loud! Jake calmed himself. “There must be a logical explanation for this. She just went to wash her clothes. She found a new part of the river to explore.”
“All her clothes are accounted for. Pull yourself together. Set the denial aside, and face the facts. She’s gone. Now if you really want to see her again, which I’m sure you do, we need to come up with a plan,” Christopher said.
A plan. “Was there any evidence of foul play?”
“We found a bottle of sleeping gas from the enemy,” Christopher said, standing a little straighter, pleased that his friend had finally started thinking like the 15-year-old military prodigy that he was.
“Okay. Which enemy?” Honestly! When we have 50,000 enemies, you have to say which enemy!
“The Cornals,” responded Christopher with unease.
Jake drew a sharp breath in. First these people torture my mom until she dies, then they shoot my father on the front line, and now they’ve taken my sister and are probably torturing the snot out of her right now. What do they want from me?!
“We’re getting her back. I don’t know how, but we’re going to get her,” Jake said, fueled by sheer hate for the Cornals, and love for his sister.




Chapter 2: The Plan
“Here’s what we’re going to do,” Jake said to Christopher.
“Sophie’s been gone for two hours and you already have a plan?” Christopher said. This ought to be good.
“Okay, so tonight, when everyone is dead asleep, we’ll take and fill survival packs at the supply shack. Then, we’ll go into the kitchen and sneak food, filling the rest of the pack with food and water. Tomorrow, we’ll get up really early and practice at the shooting range until the midday meal. After the meal, we’ll take a nap until the evening meal. Eat as much as you can. We’ll need strength because we’ve got a long journey ahead of us. We’ll go about the rest of our day as we normally would. At lights out, we will act as though we have gone to sleep, but we will really be waiting until everyone else is asleep. When everyone has finally fallen asleep, we will sneak off the premises and begin our journey. So, what do you think?”
What do I think? “I think you’re nuts.”
“Thanks for the support. Are you in or not?”
“You’re serious?”
“Serious as the situation.”
Christopher ponders for a moment. With a sigh, Christopher responds, “Fine. For you, and for Sophie.”

Chapter 3: The Staging
It’s 12:00 AM. Midnight. Everyone is out cold, except for Jake and Christopher, that is. They sneak out of their tents and meet at the supply shack. First, they take the two biggest survival packs that they can find, that won’t be noticed until they are long gone. Next, they fill it with the essentials: food, water, compact portable tent, a collapsible rifle, clothes, and fire starters. Then, they sneak into the kitchen. They take the small cans of pork and beans, the kind that don’t expire, and don’t need to be cooked. They also take several soups and MREs (meals ready to eat) used by the military. They stuff the bags full and return to their tents.
The morning flare goes up. Jake and Christopher have been up for hours now. They are at the shooting range, practicing, as planned.
Plan, Jake thinks, an idea you think is fabulous when you come up with it, but when you go to execute something always goes wrong.
The morning meal is served. They stuff freeze-dried bananas and strawberries food into their mouths very quickly, which are not as bad as a person might think, and return to the range. The midday meal rolls around. Freeze-dried broccoli. My favorite, Jake thinks sarcastically.
Naptime. Jake and Christopher sleep until the evening flare goes up, signaling that the evening meal was ready. The evening meal is never freeze-dried. This time, it’s tuna and noodles so disgusting; Christopher and Jake were both tempted to ditch the plan and the cafeteria. They eat quickly and continue their day as planned. They wait until everyone falls asleep. They finally sneak away.
Here we go, Jake thinks as Christopher says it aloud.



Chapter 4: The Rescue
The two set off to find the Cornal base. They know where the base is, but it’s a matter of getting to the base. They travel through the desert, where the witness mummies trying to steal their water, hallucinations, of course. They travel through the river, battling a current seemingly trying to uproot them like trees. The travel through forests so thick, you take a step and come face to face with another tree. Tree-rats attacked them and made off with most of their food. Finally, they arrive at the border of Acaria and Corna. Their food is dwindling. They find the cave at the base of Mount Calazi. He hears screaming—screaming he recognizes, screaming he heard as he and Sophie watched their mother die.
Jake and Christopher enter, very, very quietly. They follow the sound of the screaming. They come to the source of the earsplitting noise. They sneak a peek through the window. She’s lying there with water just dripping onto her forehead. Why is she screaming? It’s just water! Jake and Christopher break down the door. She screams louder at the sound of the door breaking, until she looks over and sees her brother. She thinks she’s hallucinating. Jake goes over. He is so angry, he takes out his collapsible rifle and, throwing all caution to the wind, unloads on the chain, praying like crazy that he won’t hit Sophie. Jake snatches his sister and they run, Sophie a bit wobbly, with Christopher tagging along, of course. Guards try to contain them, but when Jake is angry or determined, he is unstoppable—imagine what he’s like when he’s both! They make to the border when the first shot rings out. They all converge. The Cornals. They fire and fire and fire. A bullet grazes Sophie’s shoulder just enough to where you can see bone. Christopher picks her up and runs, she was slowing them down anyway. Sophie passes out from fear, pain, and blood loss. The Cornals are just shooting their own men down at this point, including the man who originally kidnapped Sophie. Jake said he’d get his revenge. They escape and make it onto their soil, fairly unscathed. The firing stops once they make it the tree line.
“We made it!” Christopher exclaims.
Christopher finally notices. Something is missing—or someone. Jake is gone. Sophie will be crushed. When she wakes up, Christopher breaks the news to her. She is numb with shock. She curls up into a ball rocks back and forth and murmurs, “No, no, no.” There is nothing Christopher can do but sit and watch the last piece of his best friend completely fall apart. Christopher decided right there watching Sophie practically disintegrate emotionally that he would rally the troops in the Acarian army against the Cornals. Jake will be avenged. Christopher will not rest until every last Cornal lays on their own battlefield, crimson staining their dull gray uniforms.



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