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This piece is cowriten by @WolfieDW
“We are here today for an important reason,” Governor Maul pauses, sweeping his hand toward the Guillotine. Some people applaud, others sit there confused, unsure of what the contraption was. “We are here because we caught some members of the . . .” Maul’s eyes survey the people gathered. He takes a deep breath for suspense, and announces, “The DEFIANCE!” People leap to their feet in awe with a standing ovation at the word “Defiance,” but the words echo in my brain reminding me of the first time I met some of the Defiance. Two boys about my age are shoved onto the platform, looking battered and bruised with rips in their clothing, their heads hanging low, their blond hair still showing from under the dirt and grime.
“Today we will execute them, for being part of a rebel organization and for not following the laws of the people of Izinhowzer,” Governor Maul reports, extending his hand across the crowd.
Instead of feeling happy like everyone else around me, all I could feel was dizzy. I had seen those boys before, but I couldn’t remember where. My vision started to go black, but then it hit me. A memory flooding my mind taking me into my past. . .
I couldn’t see, my vision was gone, some itchy fabric covered my eyes. I was being carried somewhere, I could feel someone's spine next to my head.
“Stop! Where are you taking me!” I yelled, wriggling, trying to get free. A rough hand covered my mouth, tasting of dirt and. . . motor oil? I bit down hard, yet there was no reaction from my captor.
“Who are you?” I mumbled, thrashing. Trying to push my voice through the hand.
“The Defiance,” came the reply.
I snapped back to the present, my breathing labored, and my pulse fast.
“. . . We are here today, not just to announce that we have caught these Defiance members, but that one of these two boys is Choiced.” Everyone gasped, a loud murmuring started to spread. Governor Maul smirks, “Yes, as I said, one of these boys is Choiced, but not for long.” I flashed back to the memory. . .
“You can’t be the Defiance!” I screamed. “Even the Defiance have morals, rules, choices!” The blindfold slipped, just a little, but enough to see three shapes, and the plaid shirt of the one who was carrying me.
“Well then,” replied the figure closest to me. “What if I told you that one of us was Choiced?”
Choiced. People who are free to create a new possibility, to make their own path. People free to make their own choices, instead of turning to Governor Maul for help. People who have something that we. . . normal people don’t. The history lectures we must attend say that the Choiced are terrible, that they are mad, crazed, psycho. They murdered, created killing machines like guns, bombs, gear that caused mass destruction. They started wars, conflict, tragedies.
One of the guards pushes what looks like the younger of the boys on the execution table.
“His punishment for being Choiced? He will have to watch his brother die. Then death for him as well,” Governor Maul snickers, a dark look coming over his face. The guards ruthlessly strap the younger brother onto the table, making him look more unkempt than before. One of the guards pulls a rope, and the knife of the Guillotine glints as it rises higher into the air.
“A countdown, please,” Governor Maul proposes, smiling in a strange way. As the people around me begin to count, my gaze travels to the older brother begin held by the other two guards as he tries to break free, showing his love for his brother in a way I have never felt.
“I love you, Collen!” the older brother shouts, struggling against the guards holding him in place. I black out at the name. . . Collen. . .
A new shape appeared out of nowhere, knocking down two of the figures.
“Stop, Collen! STOP!” The shape yelled, “What are you--Who in their right mind--Can’t you see that she's just a kid? No older than you!” The shape, who I now recognized as a girl, striking at the figure that was closest to me every time she paused until the figure couldn’t move anymore. Suddenly, she turned toward me, ramming herself into the back of the thug’s knees, catching me just before I fell. She angrily tore off my blindfold. I blinked several times, my eyes adjusting to the light, and I saw a girl, probably around 8-9 years old and behind her, unconscious, a girl with red hair and two boys with dirty blond hair.
“Hey. I’m Kayla.”
Dirty blond. . . like the ones on the platform. I realize, flashing back.
“I love you, too,” the boy shouts as he fights against his straps. Suddenly, the guard lets go of the rope. And the blade comes down, ending a life, as it has ended lives before this one. The head of the innocent boy rolled away, and I had to avert my eyes from the gruesome sight. Somehow, others watched cheering pleased by the sight that made my insides quiver. At that moment, I wonder, Is this really right? To end lives just because of being against the government? But I knew that was not possible. The government was good. They kept invaders out of Izinhowzer, protecting the people from the dangers beyond, but not imprisoning them. I turn my head back to watch Governor Maul follow through.
“No. No! NO!” the other brother keened, falling on his knees. The guards yank him up. Another guard throws the limp body of Collen off of the Guillotine and onto the platform. Leaving him lying in an awkward position, blood gushing out of his headless neck cascading into a growing puddle. Once the Guillotine was cleaned, the guards shove the older brother onto the table and start to strap him in, but I couldn’t bear to watch the rest. I turn, pushing my way through the crowd, running away from the killing machine, running away from the bodies of the boys, running home to escape the darkness. For some reason I felt as if this execution was my fault.
I finally got home, my run had slowed to a jog, but the sounds of the execution are still inside my head. I open the door, for it was never locked because what would we lock the door for? Everything in Izinhowzer was perfect, good, nothing dangerous at all. But the voice of Governor Maul echoes in my brain, “execute execute execute.” I slam the door closed, still outside the house, trying to lock away Maul’s voice, I knew the government was good, they protect us, but a small voice in the back of my brain whispers, “If the government was so good, then why would they execute the people?” All of the tension in me goes out, and I slump against the door, head cradled in my hands. I felt like my brain was being torn to little pieces, ripped apart by this choice.
Choices. I think. This is why the Choiced are disposed of. Because otherwise everyone would feel like this. Like their brain is ripped apart. This is why we have a Government, why we have Maul to make our choices. But why be punished for being choiced?
“Hello,” say two unifyed voices.
I wake up bleary eyed, my eyes adjusting to the grey candle light. I adjust my sleeping position, but it was to late, my eyes had already spotted the red alarm clock next to my mattress. 6:30. Time to wake up. I remind myself. I get out of my bed. . . If you could call it a bed. It was more of a grimy mattress on the floor. But I didn’t mind. This was the life of a Defiance, sleeping on stolen mattresses, living underground, not doing anything. Except for planning and getting hurt. At least I had my brothers. The only living members of my family, besides me. I had slept in my clothes, but they smelled fine. I walk out of my coven, Coven 3, to meet the others.
“Hi Rowen!” yell a few people as I pass them.
“Hullo,” I respond, but I wasn’t really paying attention. I was looking for my brothers, for they were supposed to return from their missions some time ago. I wasn’t too worried, for last time when they had been late coming back, it was because Kayla one of our newer Defiance members had knocked them out cold. Kayla had a tendency of knocking people out. Her reason was because my brothers were “assaulting” a young girl in a dark alley. I, for one, did not believe this story for my older brother was the leader of the Defiance, and he said that story was baloney. Just then, as I was walking past the Bear Cave wing, where most of the families lived, I overheard one of the elders. I think her name is Kunani.
“Oh, little Zeke, please be careful on your first raid,” came Kunani’s voice through the doorway. “Remember little Red’s first mission? She had went with the little Collins brothers, yet she still got knocked out. By a member of our own even!” I wondered what Kunani was talking about. Was she delusional? I knew that my brothers would never lie to me, not since our parents. . .
“Grandma Kunani, I know I must be careful, but what do you mean? Gre-- I mean Red had a successful first mission! Collen and Gregory were bragging about it the whole time! And I’m not ‘little’ anymore!” came Zeke’s voice, surprising me out of my thoughts. I tip-toed closer, to hear their discussion a bit better, confused about Kunani’s talk. I knew that some time ago, before my older brother, Gregory, was the leader of the Defiance. He and my younger brother, Collen, went on a mission with Red and Liam. Just to invoke a bit of fear in the government, to let them know that they're not in control.
“Oh, little Zeke, you should never believe those little Collins, they're all liars. That mission that little Red went to? She was knocked out by our own Kayla Rubeca, that little bug. Why little Zeke, you might be wondering why she was knocked out? Well on that fateful mission, they had kidnapped a little girl, I think she was only 9 years old. Who knows what they were going to do with her? They told that girl that one of us was Choiced, and revealed that the Defiance were going strong. After she ran home, scared for her life, she probably tattled on us to her almighty government parents, and now Maul’s executing Defiance members!” At that statement, I nearly fell into the room, startled. I hadn’t known they were executing some of us. I only thought that Governor Maul was just trying to scare us by capturing members of the Defiance.
“Oh! And little Zeke, they’re starting to publicly behead members of the Defiance today!” exclaims Kunani, making me jump 50 feet in the air. I start running toward the Queen’s Nest, to get the latest news. As I sprint through the Main Hall, thoughts swirl around in my mind.
Is that why my brothers aren’t back yet? Have they been executed? Where they the ones beheaded?
I skid into the Queen’s Nest, out of breath, frantic. My panic must have shown through, because when I finally came to a stop, everyone looked at me sympathetically. I stand there staring at the Defiance, them pitying me. One of the members finally steps up.
I look up to the only window of our house. The same one in every home in Izinhowzer, same color, same door, same rooms, and always only one window. The window always looked out into the street on the right side of the door. I walk toward our window. Slowly, as I get closer I can make out two shapes through the tinted glass. One of the shapes opens the latch and slides the window open.
“Why don’t you say hi back?” the first shape says.
“Yeah, that’s rude,” the other backs up. The shapes move into the open window and with a recognition I know exactly who they are.
“Koko, Sofia, what are you doing at home?” I ask, surprised that I didn’t have the house to myself.
“What are you doing at home,” Sofia asks, with some sass. Sofia and Koko are my younger identical twin sisters, but there are two ways to tell them apart. Sofia is more sassy and only talks about becoming the next Governor and all the laws that she’s going to add. While Koko is the complete opposite, she stays mostly quiet like she fears that what she says is going to get her in the Box of Bars. Normally she only talks to me or to back up Sofia.
“Do you guys know what you're missing by staying home?” I say, knowing Sofia well enough that she’ll want to go.
“What, what are we missing that’s so important?” Sofia says sarcastically, rolling her eyes as she and Koko walk out the front door.
“Governor Maul is holding an execution for some of the Defiance members,” I say, and Sofia’s mouth drops.
“Come on, let’s go,” she says urgently, looking at Koko. She grabs Koko’s hand, and they run toward the heart of the city. The Square.
“Open,” I say, to the door. The door swings open and I step inside of the house. I lift my finger in the air and the door closes to my command.
“Hello,” says the speaker from the wall. A hologram appears under the speaker. A girl about my age, with straight black hair, violet eyes and pale skin.
“Hey, Peyton,” I say, “I’ll be in my room.”
I walk into my room the blacks and whites fading together, creating an awful shade of grey. I search for my bed, in the haze of sadness, confusion, despair. I find my bed, and I throw myself across the bed. I hit the mattress, letting my head fall into the pillow. My thoughts swirl in my head, The government is good, but why would they kill the young boys, they were only rebels, Rebels they’re bad, they kidnapped me when I was young, but there must be a reason why the Defiance is rebelling, but-
“What’s wrong?” says a voice. I look up from the pillow. Peyton pops into my room. She stands under the speaker that is right in front of my bed.
“Nothing, I’m just tried,” I say, sitting up. Peyton’s eyes become red.
“Don’t lie to me, Iva Cierra Garcia. You know I can tell when people are lying or not,” Peyton says, her voice becoming robotic. Her eyes still shining a vibrant red. That seemed to tear at my insides, provoking me to tell the truth.
“Oh Peyton,” I sigh, “I’ve been having a bad day, could you please let it slide.”
I place a disk into my DVD player letting the loud music waft into the room. I needed it to help disrupt my thoughts. But the music didn’t help. All of my wonderings for the past years finally banded into something coherent. I think about the execution, and about a moment in my past, where a boy shoved a girl by accident. The boy was never to be seen again. Memories like these echo in my head, but at that moment, I knew what I needed to do. I take my hand off the player and walk over to Peyton and place my hand on her off switch, threatening her. She knows if I turn her off, she can only see through the wall. She can also only listen to my family through the embedded microphones but can only come out as a hologram if the switch is on. Most holograms don’t like being neglected, imprisoned, and Peyton was one of them. My family has a tendency of forgetting to turn her on, leaving her trapped in the wall.
“Fine, fine,” she says reluctantly, “but you have to leave otherwise you get me in trouble with the government,” She paused, then added, her eyes softened back to her violet coloring. Her eyes where pleading. As if she felt something, “Please.”
“Alright,” I say, slowly removing my hand from the switch. I walk into the living room, opening the door manually, without giving the command. Suddenly, I turn around, and flip the switch near the door, shutting off the lights and sending Peyton into the wall. Silently, I tiptoe back into the house, closing the door. I walk toward my room the loud music cutting off the sound of my footsteps, making it seem as if I left the home, forgetting to turn off the player. I open a drawer of my dresser, tossing a few outfits onto my bed. It didn’t matter which ones they were, they were all the same, identical government-issued white and green combo, just like everyone else’s. I bundle them up tossing them into my school backpack. The backpack is the same color of every other backpack in Izinhowzer. I strap the backpack onto my back, walking through the kitchen and grabbing some food that were left on the counter by the twins. The food sent by the government every morning, making sure that no household got extra food, and no household got less. I walk out the door, leaving it open. Sitting on the porch I toss the leftover food in my backpack. I stand up, slinging the backpack on my back. I walk out onto the street. I look back, one last time. Conflicted by Peyton's emotions. But I knew her emotions were only a malfunction in her programming. Emotion. In Izinhowzer, they were wrong. They got in the way of work, intelligence, common reason. Emotion was restricting, and in Izinhowzer, emotion was punished. But I mulled over my thoughts for the final time, and cleared out everything in my way. And I knew. Somehow, this choice, made me feel free. My thoughts were finally clear of the ruckus it was before. I knew what I needed to do.
I was joining the Defiance. No matter the consequences, even if it means certain death, I would do it. Because no one deserves to be under restrictions, because everyone deserves to have choices. Everyone deserves to be free. Even if it meant use having to chose for ourselves. These choices made us who we are.
I stand there in shock, my eyes searching for the one who spoke up. Kayla. The one that Nani was talking about.
“My brothers. They’re dead?” I ask, urgently, needing to know if it was true, not just some cruel joke. Almost everyone nodded.
“There was an execution. Maul cleanly beheaded both of them,” Kayla continues, “He found out that Gregory was Choiced, so he killed them both. There was no chance that they could have survived.” I slump against a wall, wanting this moment to end. At that moment, I wondered why the Defiance was still here. After suffering so many losses, how could they keep on fighting? Because I knew that I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t keep fighting. What was there to live for? There was no one who I loved that still lived. That had survived. I was all alone in a world of corruption, this twisted world.
“Do you know what this means?” asks Kayla, making me look into her eyes, “You’re the leader now.” She was right. I am the leader, but how can I be a new leader if I had no idea how to be a leader? I was always a follower, succeeding in Gregory’s footsteps as Collen would follow mine. If I were to lead, what would be my first ‘order’? A week ago, it would have been to aim big, to finally take down the government once and for all. Yet now, when I’ve lost so much, yet so little, I feel like we should just give up, let the government decide every move we make, let the government make our choices. At least we won’t lose anyone else. At least we’re safe.
“Kayla, go easy on him,” came a new voice, wizened and soothing, “He’s so young, too. Shocking it must be to have some so close to you die so suddenly.” An elderly woman emerges from the darkness, a familiar boy about my age following her.
“Tia, Tristan,” I say, acknowledging them. Tia fast walks to my side, trying to comfort me, Tristan following.
“Hey, get out of that funk. How about this, let’s train,” he says, adjusting his glasses. Tristan was just trying to make me feel better, but he knows I love to train. I stand up from my slump against the wall and follow Tristan into the training room. Tristan, well, he never trains, because--normally--during missions or raids he’s behind the computer with five other members, Melissa, Zepth, Allyn, Clyde, and Llyod. Allyn, Clyde, and Llyod are too old to go on raids so they help with the technical stuff. While Zepth and Melissa are just super smart, like Tristan.
Anyways, when we entered the training room, only a few other members of the Defiance were there, mainly just milling around. I grab a dart gun, while Tristan heads over to a computer to run a practice program. In the past, when there were more members of the Defiance, they raided high tech labs containing millions of confidential files. The files, however, self-destroyed themselves, but we managed to reprogram the technology to our own needs. The augmented reality helped for very realistic training sessions and prepared us for any scenarios. One person was needed to start and stop the session, and any amount of beings could participate in the session itself. After this particular training session, I was covered in sweat and fake filth, panting like a dog.
“Nice job Rowen! You beat your old record of 10.34 minutes!” Tristan exclaims, looking up from the computer, “You got 9.45.”
Tristan attempts to throw a water bottle to me, but the second the bottle leaves his hands it crashes to the ground. I smile at his athletic inhabilty and walk over to the now-dented bottle. I pick it up and take a gulp of the cold liquid. I place the bottle on the computer table.
“Are you sure I got 9.45?” I ask, regaining my breath.
“Yes, Rowen, I’m sure,” Tristan says, “If you don’t believe me, why don’t you look for yourself?”
“Sure,” I respond, I walk around the table and peer at the computer screen. There in big, bolded letters reads ‘9.45.’
“Huh, so you weren’t joking,” I say, astonished.
“You know what this means, Rowen?” he says, typing something on the computer, “That's what I thought.”
“What?” I ask, confused, “What did you think happened?”
He steps away from the computer, beckoning for me to look at the screen. I gaze at it, still confused. Tristan had pulled up some sort of leaderboard. I look at him, questioning what the little numbers and word means.
“It’s a scoreboard dating back around a century ago, everytime someone does this course it records their time and places it here,” he says, “Look who’s in first.”
I fix my gaze back onto the laptop, there in the first place is. . . me.
I look back once more, at the lonely little house, just like all the others, then head onto my journey. My little backpack, filled with essentials, seems light, just barely hitting the small of my back, no weight behind the soft blows of the backpack bouncing on my back, in sync with the movement of my steps. Little doubts swirled in my mind, Why is my bag so light? Did I not pack enough? Will I be able to survive? But I must survive, in order to take down the government that’s destroying all our freedom, making us unable to make our own choices.
There’s a little patch of forest near my home, and I used to look out and wonder about the creatures that live inside of the holes in the trees, or beneath the underbrush. In the books that the government had issued to us, the forest was bad, full of flesh-eating monsters, but I fantasized about fairies and helpful elves as a young girl. I didn’t believe what those books told us. They were only trying to scare the people of Izinhowzer not to go into the woods. When I was first taught about the Defiance, I wondered if they could live in that forest. The books told that there were something called fruits that grew on the trees. Apparently, these ‘fruits’ were edible, even if we don’t eat any fruit today. I use to daydream about a friendly Defiance that played with fairies, goblins and liked eating fruit, but that was a long time ago. The forest is the first place that I am going to look. I walk toward the forest, determined to find the Defiance, determined to join their ranks. I walk into the darkest part of the forest and begin my search for freedom.
After maybe an hour of wandering, I am about to give up. Nothing seems to be a possible entry for a secret hideout. I question if this really is a reasonable place for outcasts, rebels to live. I slash at stray branches lying in my path, trekking through mud and dirt, hiking through bushes. But I go nowhere. Am I circling around and around? Or am I getting so deep into the heart of the forest that there is no chance to go back to my home? I feel like the trees are pulling at my sanity, making me wonder about every little decision I have ever made. As I circle, or maybe oval, oh! Or square! I just keep going around and around the same spot in the same forest.
I think about my sisters. Are they happy? Sad? enjoying the killing of those innocent people? I flash back, that one thought reeling me back to why I was even here, securing myself into the present. The Defiance. I am going to join them. The Defiance. They opened my eyes. That is what I am here for. The Defiance. As I focus on that thought, my anchor to sanity, I come across a small clearing, not even grass carpeting the ground, just a circular plot of dirt. I step into that circle, and fhoom! Something sweeps my feet out from under me, almost like a metal plate flipping over, and my shoes stick onto the plate, frozen in place. I look down. No, look up. I have been swung upside down, and facing me is a man in a dark uniform, the emblem of the government splayed proudly across his chest. Just like every other working man. Just like how their futures were placed before them, determined by the family they were born in. My feet were bound by metal harnesses, so as I would not fall on my head.
“Who goes there?” asks the booming voice of the guard. “By Governor Maul’s decree, you are a trespasser and breaking over 10 of the laws that the Governor placed! Anyhow, how did you even break through the barbed wire fencing in the first place?”
“Fencing? Barbed wire? I don’t. . .” I trail off, realizing that when I entered the forest, there was something that snagged my clothing, and when I pried the clothing off, I had glimpsed a flash of metal. I hadn’t thought it important at the time, for there were other things to focus on.
“Eh. . . well, funny story, there was a hole ,and I just walked through! Heh,” I nervously laugh, but the guard just stares at me, unblinking and expressionless.
“Well. I do not understand, but there is no need for me to know the reason of why you came to the forest in the first place. According to that backpack slung across your shoulder, you were prepared to go to school.” I breath an almost audible sigh of relief when I realize he did not know the true reason of me coming to the forest.
“Umm. . . Yeah, going through the forest is a. . . shortcut to go to school,” I lie, fidgeting with my fingers.
“Don’t you know the stories of the monsters that slink around? Now shoo little girl, back to the province whence you came, and find a safer route to school.”
“Well. . . urm. . .Mr. Guard how do I get out of this situation?” I say, pointing at my harnessed feet, my face red from all of the blood flowing to my brain. I feel as if I could pass out right here, right now.
“Oh. . . when I pull this lever the ‘patch of dirt’ will become solid,” the guard sighs, “it was just an illusion little girl, but that’s all I can tell you.” He pulls the lever and, suddenly, I am back standing on my own two feet. I walk out of the patch of dirt or what I thought was a patch of dirt and make my way even farther into the forest, not caring what the guard had warned. I see a silhouette of a lump deeper into the forest. I feel some sort of pulling, drawing me closer to the lump. I get closer and closer and realize that it is a stump. . . a stump in the middle of the forest. . . odd. I walk deeper into the forest, toward the oddly placed stump.
“What are you doing here?” a gruff voice asks from behind me. I turn around to give the voice a name. I see a boy with dirty blonde hair. Dirty blonde. I gaze at a boy I thought was dead.
“I said, what are you doing here?” I repeat, glaring at the girl. She stares at me as if she is seeing a ghost, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Umm. . . aren’t. . . aren’t you dead?” she asks, her face becoming paler and paler. To the point were her face looks as white as a blank page of paper.
“What are you talking about?” I question, wiping sweat off my face. Just before this I had marked my spot on the top of the Defiance's leader-board. Once Tristan and I heard footsteps on the ground's surface, I rushed up into the surface through the stump entrance to find a girl not much younger than me with dark brown hair and vibrant teal eyes.
“What are you doing here, little girl?” I drill, looking for an answer. Teasing people was the easiest way of getting something out of them.
“First of all, I’m NOT a little girl! I’m sixteen years old with mind of my own!” she covers her mouth as if she said too much. I notice something by the way she talks, she’s a stubborn one.
“With a mind of your own, huh,” I smirk. The girl looked fresh, unlike the people in the Defiance, who were hardened from work and seeing loved ones die.
“Please don’t tell Governor Maul I said that,” she pleads, her eyes seeming to take a puppy like sheen, but underneath untrusting.
“Don’t worry. I don’t tell Governor Maul anything. If I did, I would be dead.” I state, forgetting my status for a moment. She smiles.
“So you’re the Defiance,” she states, “I want to join your ranks.”
Defiance. That’s what she’s here for. That’s what anyone who ventures into the forest is looking for. Not for a nice stroll, but for something more sinister. She must be part of the government.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say. In my hand I hold a small gadget, something that would jam any trackers and listening devices in a heartbeat. I fumble with the instrument, checking that I’m pressing the right buttons, all while making it seem that I am looking at my hands. I gaze at the radar of the apparatus to see if there are any trackers near us. There on the radar is a blinking red dot, right on her sweater.
She must have come across a security guard looking for the Defiance, and he stuck a tracker on her to try to find us. I make a mental note to change the entrance of the hide out again as I activate the device, jamming the tracker. With a small plunk it falls off her sweater and lifelessly to the ground. I pick up the small trinket and throw it away from us, not caring where it is heading, just far away from us.
“What are you doing?” she asks, looking at me confused.
“I’m a baseball player, I’m just practicing my throw,” I lie, realizing that after all the years in the Defiance, my skills in deceiving really have gotten better,
“Okay, totally. Anyhow, what do you mean you don’t know what I’m talking about?” she says, glaring at me.
“I know there’s an organization called the Defiance, but thats all I know about it.” I turn away from her, casually hopping on top of the stump.
“I know that’s not true.”
“Really? Are sure? You know that I could report you to the government in a heartbeat,” I smirk. “Do you really want me to do that?”
“No. The government is my enemy.”
“Well, should you being giving away that information? Now I have even more evidence against you and your intentions.” I pull out the gadget that I had used to jam the tracker and fake as if it were a phone.
“You’ve been recording this conversation?” she asks, betrayment in her tone. And a hint of suspicion. “Wow, you’re that shallow.”
“You’re just giving me more reasons to report you,” I tease, but I watch how she responds.
“Report me,” she says, dryly, “It doesn’t matter, I’m joining the Defiance.”
I sigh, exasperated. Such a stubborn girl, and not very good at lying. If she were to join the Defiance, we would need to work on those skills, but her response to my questions are worrisome. If she were part of the government, then there would be no reason to be scared about being found out, because she was a pawn in the whole scheme.
“Really?” I ask.
“Really,” she responds. She brushes past me and runs farther into the forest.
“Wait, do you have any relationships with the government?” I yell at her. She halts, looking back at me.
“No,” she says with a hard glare. I can tell she’s not lying.
“One last thing I have to say,” I stare at her, making sure she knows this is serious, not just a joke.
“Are you sure. Are you sure you want to abandon your family? Leave them forever? Once you join, there’s nothing that you can do to go back. All ties with anyone must be broken.” The girl looks up at me determined, her teal eyes barely masking the fire within.
“What’s your name?” I need one final answer. Her face turns pale again.
“Umm. . . Ava,” she pants, “Ava. . . Ru. . . Rubel.”
“Welcome aboard Ava Rubel.”