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When the Sky Caught Fire

By Samantha Speed All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Action

Blurb

Ross is a young man who is being trained how to print things on old school Printing Presses. His entire world is turned upside down when the government comes to the house and kills his parents. In less then a day he meets someone he likes to call "Satan" and then gets dumped off on another rebellion called the Anomalies. As he interacts with this strange cast of characters he ends up believing the only way America can be restored is by The Sky Catching Fire. The story is told from the point of view of several characters which are marked at the top of the page with their name.

Chapter 1

When in the middle of a battle one tends to start to think about things, especially when you are in a rebellion that you never even knew existed. That is what I was going through at the moment, in the heat of battle I started to think about how I got here. Reflection probably wasn’t the best thing at the moment, but your brain does some pretty weird things under stress.

How did I get here? Well, it is safe to blame most of this on the government. Then I can safely blame my parents, since they were apart of the rebellion. Then I could blame the rebellion itself. The Anomalies were a pain in my behind. The last person I could blame is myself. I could have easily walked away from any rebellion. But did I? Of course not, I felt like I needed to help. After all, we all have to believe that the world can be changed.

How is it the government’s fault? They got the country into the mess and started a civil war. That would be classified under “Their Fault”. It could also be classified under, “Executive Orders”, depends on what library you’re in.

Higher taxes, military government, a royal family, mafia run country...It seemed to keep going downhill. Although we seem to have settled on a royal family, and we all know how much Americans love to be run by a royal family.

Books were banned when people started to reference them in protests, swaying the opinions of the general public. Many of the books were not new and were being quoted from over one hundred years before. The government started doing book burnings then decided to change history while they were at it, and that always turns out beautifully. Humans have the tendency to migrate towards things that are forbidden.

At one time this country was called America, lately we have changed the name. Currently it is called the Sisterland, a tacky name that is obviously stolen from two well known countries. One called the Motherland, one called the Fatherland, and now the Sisterland. Why not the Auntland or Uncleland, since we are naming things after family roles?

A bullet flew past my head, interrupting my sarcastic thoughts. I ducked then looked over at Ramona, “So, do you think we got their attention?” I held back a laugh when the girl gave me a look.

What about my parents? How was it their fault? Well, working for the government and a rebellion probably wasn’t the brightest idea. It was only a matter of time before they were caught, living in the country didn’t help, their was no one there to question why they were being executed. I was lucky to have gotten out of that alive.

The Anomalies? It was only their fault for getting me in to a firefight. They were also a new group and didn’t have anything to do with starting this mess. Unless you count the firefight, that is their fault, they probably also had a few deaths on their hands.

I felt an intense pain in my shoulder as a bullet ripped through it. I swore under my breath and ducked back behind a car, “Ramona, if we live, I will bury you alive.”

“Do it, suck hole,” Ramona shot back at me. The words sounded hostile, but her voice was friendly.

Abraham ran into me on accident, causing me to stumble, “Sorry...” He ducked when he heard glass breaking, “Have you seen Moisés?”

“No...I haven’t, Ramona, have you?”

“No, I thought he was with Storm.”


A few months earlier...

It was on a bright and sunny day when they came for my parents. They, of course, being the government. The birds were singing, my dog was barking, and the grass was green. It could only go downhill from there.

At eighteen years old, I was considered a full partner with my father. We had been making changes to history for the past few months, just like the government asked, but after we finished we didn’t destroy the original documents like we had been ordered.

After all, if history is changed and there isn’t evidence of what it was before, what can stop the government from making crap up?

I never quite saw the sanity of this decision, but I went with it anyways. The decision being to keep the illegal documents. It was far easier to obey my father then try and weasel information out of him. Which was a darn near impossible task since my father was very good at keeping secrets.

My mother was sitting upstairs sewing some new potholders, pillowcases, and curtains for the house. She was also sewing some clothing for the rebellions, anything helps, right?

Aiding rebellions is dangerous in and of itself. It doesn’t always result in execution, but you could be tortured for information. Most people who helped the rebels also knew where they were located or at least knew names.

A delicious smell came downstairs to me and my father; my mother was making dinner. We were going to have some friends over that night but for some reason they canceled, which was unusual. But we didn’t dwell on it too much, in retrospect we probably should have. We probably could have avoided a lot of pain.

None of us stopped to consider that the friends we were having over were government sympathizers. Anything that was against the law, to them, seemed like a direct attack on the government that they love so much.

A bunch of trucks came to a stop in front of our house. I didn’t see them, of course, I was in the basement. But my mother did, she had been running to the basement when some of the military stormed the basement and grabbed my father. I was shocked, then I heard my mother shrieking as she was dragged away. I was stunned into standing still. I heard gunshots as they were executed, I couldn’t stay here. I might die as well, so I did the only thing I could. I ran like the chicken I was.

I ducked behind the printing press as shots were fired at me. Living in the country was a very bad idea, no one was around to hear me scream. I glanced at a secret door, which was hidden in the wall, my father had made a technology that would look like the wall. He had only told me about this a couple weeks before. I dove ‘through’ the wall and crawled in the tunnel.

I held still for a moment, holding my breath. The guards ran around near the wall so I decided to start crawling.

As I crawled through the tunnel I heard a couple of the royal guards swear as they tried to guess where I went. To them it just looked like I had disappeared. I jumped out the other end of the tunnel and made a mad dash for the woods.

As I ran through the woods I had the feeling someone was following me. Naturally, I thought I was simply losing my mind and ignored the mental warning. Which turned out to be a mistake as I slowed down.

A dart was suddenly sticking out of my leg, and now, instead of being a bumbling bear trampling through the woods, I was now a dying moose. I wasn’t graceful to begin with, but this made it much worse. I was making all sorts of noise as I ran through the woods and alerted every bird within miles of my presence. My vision was starting to cloud and I fell to his knees, crawling away now. I shook my head as I tried to clear my vision, knowing it was imperative to keep moving.

“Pathetic,” said voice number one. It sounded disgusted and nasally.

“Are you sure he can do this?” asked voice number two. This one sounded disturbed, probably by my lack of grace.

“That was the house number,” replied voice number three who sounded skeptical, “Besides we just need him to run the printing press. Being strong isn’t a requirement.”

Then I passed out, remembering no more of what happened.


Storm

The group was unaware that they were being watched by another rebellion entirely. This rebellion watching was called the Anomalies and they were trying to create a new type of rebellion that wasn’t set on a one world government.

“So, tell me why we need the redhead again?” I asked. I put my gun back and tapped my foot nervously. Running towards danger isn’t my favorite, if I had my way I would be living in the mountains like a hermit.

“To run a printing press,” the younger women, Ramona, replied patiently, “Do you know how to use it, Storm? I don’t.” She tactfully ignored the fact that we already had two printing press users, “Besides, Walter doesn’t need anyone else. He just kills them anyways.”

“There are ten other people who know how to use it,” I replied in a patronizing tone, I looked around nervously, “And how do you expect us to get him?” I didn’t like this at all. I found myself subconsciously rubbing my hand through my hair.

“Just walk in and we’ll talk to Walter. He won’t refuse to see me,” The Ramona looked at one of the guys, “Abraham, I want you and Moisés to come with me.”

The young man nodded and then tapped his brother on the head. Moisés looked up at his brother and then followed him when Abraham walked away.

“Storm, I would also like you and Katelynn to come. Everyone else, watch the camp. If you see anything suspicious, I would greatly appreciate it if you rescued us,” The girl led the way towards the camp. We could only hope that we would be able to pull the Printer out.


Ross

I woke up in the tent of perpetual groaning, otherwise known as a medical tent. I sneezed then looked around at the other people occupying the area. They all had wounds that ranged from deathbed to mild pain. I heard a man ranting and yelling outside of the place, I caught some things about, “Nearly killing the Printer” and “Too valuable to lose.”

Well, now I felt important. In a scary and twisted sort of way. Essential for survival, was probably a better word.

I watched as a man walked in, the guy was between twenty and twenty five years old. Around five foot seven in height, black hair, and yellowish irises. His demeanor was very cold, almost bringing a chill in the tent. I wasn’t impressed and came up with a nickname for him in my head, Satan was the first word that came to mind, but I banished that for something a little more merciful. Satan’s angel became the new nickname for him, the more he talked the more I didn’t like him. I also briefly considered Stalin or Hitler as nicknames but dismissed them, they were a little too cruel.

“We expect you to start printing our material within the next few days. You will have one full day to recover before we have to move again. If you refuse, you will be executed,” Satan’s angel demanded as he paced in front of me.

“I expect to dislike you intensely. I also suspect I will throw a party if you are suddenly pushing up daisies. After the daisies have popped up I’d make a beautiful centerpiece with them.” I stated bluntly, my filter didn’t seem to be working very well.

“And what, exactly, makes you think you can speak to me that way? What have I done to make you think I’m approachable? You listen and obey,” The crazy man said adamantly. Now he was pacing at an even greater speed. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be impressed by his aggression.

I replied dryly, “What makes you think that I care? Look at the ceiling, how many spiders do you see?” I raised my eyebrows in question, waiting for him to set himself up.

“I don’t see any spiders...” Ah, sweet revenge. He walked right into it, now I could further the insult.

“And that is exactly how many craps I give,” I finished while waving my hand in flourish. I wasn’t exactly surprised when the guy made faces at me then started clenching and unclenching his hands near my throat.

“I am fully prepared to execute you,” The guy said while gritting his teeth, “In fact, I want to execute you. I want to have you destroyed like an animal.”

“I am tied down like an animal, so I don’t see the difference. If you were to untie me though...maybe we could make a deal,” I replied calmly; what I was really planning to do was jump out of the bed and kill the guy with my bare hands.

“No. Why would I make a deal with someone who will probably try and murder me?” The crazy man said as he walked back towards the entrance of the tent. I watched him tense as the guards walked in.

“Sir, the Anomalies are here. They are wondering about the Printer,” The guy appeared nervous about the idea that this particular group was after me. Satan’s cousin walked out of the tent, not saying a word. He didn’t seem to want me to know what was going on.


I, Ramona, watched as Walter came out of the tent. His entire face was red and he looked like he wanted to kill someone. Abraham leaned over and whispered to me, “A week of laundry says that the Printer made him that angry.”

“I don’t make bets,” I replied with a smile, “But I believe you are correct.” I beamed at Walter as he approached and commented, “I have a couple questions about the new Printer you just brought in.”

“I’m not inclined to answer any questions you have,” Walter replied coldly. He didn’t want to share his printer, they needed to replace the old one. Who had died...under mysterious circumstances. They also had some bullet wounds in their chests that appeared magically, out of nowhere, it was amazing.

“My group is outside of your camp surrounding it,” I went immediately from nice to threatening, “You can either hand the printer over or your camp will be without any tents or food.” I saw Storm tense out of the corner of my eye after Walter flicked his fingers. Storm’s glare made the guard step back instead of obeying his leader.

“You want the printer?” Walter looked at the tent then nodded to his guard, “Get the jerk up.” He glanced at his gun which caused my group to tense. He didn’t dare touch it in fear of repercussions. He and I both knew that Storm would probably rip his head off and crap down his throat.

Ross was brought stumbling out of the tent and placed in front of them, “Oh, goodie, who else do I get to meet? Let me guess, since you are Satan’s angel, the grumpy girl must be your sidekick, the redhead must be your partner, and the two guys are...I don’t know, for the sake of argument let’s say they are evil cherubs.”

One of the evil Cherubs had no idea what was going on as none of it was being spoken in his language. He was observing his surroundings, unaware he had been mentioned.

I choked on a laugh, looking at my old friend, “I am surprised you haven’t killed him yet.” I looked at the redhead and then back at Walter.

“The day is still young,” Walter sighed, long suffering, as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

I shook my head then gestured towards the forest, “Alright, come on. We’re going to rescue you from Satan’s angel.” I glanced at Storm and she understood taking up the rear of the group, occasionally sending a hostile look at a member. Probably not necessary, but if it made Storm feel better then so be it.

Just as we were reaching the edge of the camp someone fired a gun at us. This was obviously against what Walter wanted because he started yelling at people. We were all forced to run for our lives.

Ross was making enough noise to raise the dead, birds were flying away as we were all running. I had to resist the desire to berate him. Who taught him how to run anyways?

Our run through the woods had caused the forest animals to split, so by the time we reached the base camp the forest was silent. I hated it when the forest would get this quiet, it was eerie.

We walked into the camp where a bunch of people were walking around. They were my group, the “official” name is the Anomalies but the government had other names for us. Some of them colorful and some of them childish.

I turned to Ross and said, “We meet here when we have to make an important decision. I think I just made an executive one, however.” I felt amused, knowing Ross would realize what I meant. We were supposed to decide who to find for our Printer. I had found him and had taken him from another rebellion, it was merely an opportunity grab.

Ross looked back at the camp and he tensed as if he would make a run for it. But when he turned around Storm was right there, giving him the hairy eyeball. He turned back around and smiled brightly, “Well, looks like I have a new home.”

“We won’t force you to stay here if you have other family who would be willing to hide you,” Abraham informed Ross as he started towards the camp, “But I highly doubt anyone would risk their hide.”

Ross huffed once before really thinking about that, “No, I have nowhere to go. This place is as good as any.” He hung his head a little and my heart went out to him. I knew how it felt to be without my family but I am not very good at expressing my emotions, so I left it alone.

“Good. I have another question, you wouldn’t happen to know how to print Brail books?” I asked, my voice lifting at the end in question.

“No, but I know a twelve year old who can.”

We needed to have a meeting on what to do about the printers. We had been receiving information from a reliable source that Printers were being rounded up and shot. The government had no more need of them and were bringing in a younger generation that would do as they were told. I decided to have Ross speak about the printers, but I didn’t anticipate that he might not be a great public speaker.

“If the government is really rounding up Printers and Brail Printers, we should try and get as many as possible. I know of at least three printers who are under sixteen and two Brail Printers who are under fourteen,” Ross kept looking at me with this expression of disbelief. He obviously hated being up there.

No one said anything and made Ross shift awkwardly, he looked back at me with curiosity. I didn’t even know what to say, so I remained quite. I hoped that someone would speak up. Someone in the crowd coughed and that spurred Abraham to speak, much to my relief, “We could distribute them among the Anomaly groups. Then we could do what Ross wants and keep the government from telling more lies.”

“We need to send out two groups to find these children. Any volunteers?” I waited for an answer and was starting to become severely disappointed with my group. Then a couple hands shot up, “Joseph and Dolly. Anyone else?” The two people who raised their hands looked only around fifteen or sixteen years old themselves.

Only three more hands went up and I called them by name, “Alright, so group one is Joseph, Dolly, Jasmine, Justin, and Nana.” I looked back over the huge group of people, “I expect more people for group two please.”

Six people raised their hands at once and a seventh tentatively raised their hand, “Hunter, Max, Ryan, Golda, Yolanda, Briar, and Winston. You are group two. Group one I expect you to get the Printers. Group two, I expect you to get the BP’s.” As they left the meeting I addressed the rest of the group, “Is there anything else we need to vote on while we’re here?”

Nobody spoke so I said, “Well, then we’re done for today.” I sat down on the makeshift stage and dropped to the floor, walking out. Nobody left the tent except Moisés, he followed me because he wanted to talk about what the plan for the week was. I stayed by the tent door for a moment, listening to Ross talking.

“What am I supposed to do?” He sounded very lost, “I feel like a tornado picked me up in Kansas and dropped me off in Russia.”

Abraham replied with a smile in his voice, “Yeah, we all tend to feel that way when we first join. Go ask Ramona, she’ll be able to tell you. I’m just the muscle.”

“What muscle?” Ross asked with amusement. Abe didn’t say anything but I heard him laugh. Ross fell off the stage and I could hear him coming. I turned to Moisés and signed, So, what was it you wanted to know?

When Ross walked up and started to talk to me I held up my hand, asking him to wait. He stood there patiently until I was finished then I turned to him, “Yes?”

“Abraham said I should come ask you what to do,” Ross looked surprised when I translated for Moisés. I wasn’t sure why, but I also answered his question, “You can go to the printing tent right away.”

“What are you doing with your hands?” Ross blurted out. His eyes widened at his own blunt questioning, but he didn’t take back the question. Which was good, if Ross wanted to know I would be more than happy to tell him.

“Sign language. Moisés is Deaf and mute. My signing is still a little awkward,” I replied quietly, “But right now we can’t find an interpreter for him. And I know a little more then anyone else, next to his brother of course.” Now I was writing all the things I said in the dirt and Moisés provided a sign for them.

“Okay. Where is the printing tent again?” Ross was starting to look excited about being able to touch a printing press. I was a little disturbed, he didn’t seem to even realize his parents were gone. A lot of people have that problem at first; hopefully he wouldn’t live in denial forever.

I signed the directions first then spoke them, “Three tents down, you’ll know it when you see it. Samson should be working the machines and he tends to have conversations with them.”

Ross bolted towards the tent, forgetting to thank me for the directions. People ignored him because people running around was a normal sight in this place. Some of them gave him strange looks, but those people are all new.

Before he got to the tent I heard crashing in the tent he was supposed to be going to. Then I heard Samson swearing in Russian while a group of animals charged out of the tent.

I looked at Moisés, signing, Ross should have a fun time. I smiled when Moisés laughed, nodding enthusiastically.

Moisés was completely non-verbal; he could not speak or read lips. He could write and use ASL but that was the extent. That was the main reason why I learned ASL in the first place, I wanted to communicate with him.

Moisés snapped his fingers at me, his hand dangling at his knee. I had been lost in thought and wasn’t paying attention. Once he had my attention again he signed, He’s clumsy, isn’t he?

Ross? I replied, raising my eyebrows in question, Yes, he is clumsy. I smiled at my friend then signed, But at least he isn’t running for his life anymore.

Moisés laughed, nodding again. He hadn’t been able to hear Ross but he could see the long limb guy running over everything.

I smiled again then decided to resort to studying my friend. The Mexican-American boy looked more Mexican than American. His mother was Mexican and his father was American, his mother moved to the Sisterland to avoid the continuing drug wars. That was all I knew about his mom and dad, that and they were very loving towards Moisés and his brother. Moisés always had laughing eyes even though I knew that he was hiding the reality of his grief from all of us. He was stubborn that way.

I smiled at my friend when he waved his hand to get my attention again. He loved signing with me, he once told me it was boring having only Abe to talk to.

How do you think Ross is doing? Moisés raised his eyebrows in question.

I answered carefully and choppily, I’m sure he’s making friends and influencing people.


Ross

I walked into the tent to be greeted by the sound of swearing and a bunch of chickens running past me. I poked my head in, “Hello?”

A tall Asian man walked out of the back part of the tent, a huge smile splitting his face, “Hello! My name is Samson, I heard we had a new printer.”

I tilted my head slightly as I asked, “How did you know I was the new printer?” I shifted on my feet nervously, unsure about this man. He looked to be about twenty-five years old and he was very, very, tall.

“I could tell, when I came out you didn’t run. The last time a new person came to see me they ran for their life. Also, you were looking at the presses with admiration. Oh, here comes my sister. Ruth, say hello,” Samson smiled again and I decided I would like him. He seemed like a nice enough person.

Ruth gave her older brother a look before turning to me, “Hello. My name is Ruth, you may have heard my brother’s impressive grasp of language a moment ago. Sometimes the way he swears in other languages impresses even me.”

“It was quite impressive,” I replied before asking, “Are all people in the rebellions young?”

“No. Did you meet Nana yet? She just went out in a group, but she is sixty years old. Then there is Opa who is sixty-eight and Golda who is fifty-two,” Samson answered with a smile. The smile slowly faded as he said, “We don’t often get older people here. Or if we do they don’t survive long. Nana, Opa, and Golda are the longest survivors.”

“Enough with the depressing conversation. Let’s get started with printing, I’m excited to see what the new guy can do,” Ruth said cheerfully as she went to make sure the printing presses were all in working order.

The machines were magnificent; I couldn’t wait to get started on them. Some of them looked even prettier then the machine we had at my house.

“Well, you heard the boss, let’s get to work,” Samson commented, amused. He made sure I was all set up before walking back to his own machine. Samson was working on a beautiful copy of the Bible. That was a very banned and very illegal book.

I started setting type from an old first edition of Black Beauty. I remember liking that book as a kid, my mother always used to read it to me. I shook my head at the thought of my mother, I couldn’t think about her right now.

It seemed like no time had passed when dinner was ready. Dinner went by fast, I never even left the tent. Ruth had left when she couldn’t get Samson’s attention and had brought us back food.

Later I found my sleeping quarters relatively quickly. Abraham helped me find my sleeping spot and then I laid down, I yawned quietly and started dozing. I was only half asleep when I saw Moisés come in. The young man signed to his brother and Abraham signed back. Moisés went to his sleeping spot, laying down and curling up like a cat. I slowly fell asleep and slept soundly the entire night.

By the time morning came around I had a terrible ache in my back. I sat up and let out a hissing noise from the pain. Moisés was sitting up on his bed and signing to Abe. He stopped for a moment and did something weird with his fingers at me.

I could only assume the guy was asking me if I was okay. So I winced a little, pointed at my back, and acted as if I needed a cane. Apparently I translated the finger movements correctly because Moisés laughed.

Abe signed to his brother, Maybe you can become friends with Ross. Try and teach him some sign.

Moisés nodded once and then looked at me. He patted me on the top of my head and gestured for me to follow him. I obeyed and Moisés squatted outside in the dirt. He wrote: I can teach you sign language if you’ll teach me how to use the printing press.

That sounded like a good trade to me. I nodded, smiled, and gave Moisés a thumbs up. The boy held out his hand and we shook on it. Moisés pointed towards the breakfast tent and then did the sign for Breakfast, which I mimicked.

Moisés pointed at a potato and then showed me the sign for it as we walked down the breakfast line. A scouting group had found a farmer who was friendly towards the rebellion. The man gave them enough potatoes for fried ones. Which was two thirds of the field.

I mimicked the sign and the person put more potatoes on my plate. I looked down at my plate then back at the person with a smile.

Moisés beckoned to me as he started walking towards his seat. I followed him to a table that was easily collapsible. I noticed that everyone seemed ready to tun at a moments notice. I had a lot of potatoes and I noticed that the new Brail printer didn’t have as much. I pushed the potatoes unto her plate and ignored the curious look she gave me.

I glanced at Moisés when I saw him waving his hand in my peripheral vision. The boy pointed at Susan and signed girl. It took me a few minutes to figure that sign out. I am a little dense that way.

The moment I was finished eating I went to the printing tent. Today I was printing something of substance. I was the Declaration of Independence. I showed Moisés how the type had to be placed backwards for the letters to turn out right. Moisés watched with fascination as I worked. Moisés started chattering excitedly with his hands, forgetting that I couldn’t understand. Which was fine, I didn’t mind it.

Samson looked amused as he watched for a few minutes. He didn’t get to watch long before his small sister came up and bonked him on the head with a newspaper, “Hey, you’re supposed to be working!” He rolled his eyes at his sister before starting on his own project. After all, the Constitution of the United States is a very important document.


Abraham

I was sorting through books and documents that were brought to me by the third group. The last group was sent out to find anything of historical importance. I looked up when Ramona came in, “Hey.”

“Hi, where is Moisés?” Ramona asked with curiosity. Usually my brother would help me, which was probably why she was asking, “The last time I saw him was at breakfast.” Ramona started shelving books for me so I would have more room to work.

“I think he’s been with Ross all day. Ross has been teaching him how to use the press. Moisés is getting the hang of it, from what Samson tells me,” I replied as I squinted at very tiny print, “What is this? A book for gnomes?”

Ramona grinned and took the book from me, looking at it herself, “No idea, it’s written in German. You might want to take it to Samson, he will be able to tell you what it is.”

I nodded once before setting it aside, “If I find anymore books like that I’ll just take him a stack.” I resumed my work, looking through documents, “Would a book written by Harriet Tubman hold any importance?”

Ramona’s eyes widened and she nodded enthusiastically, “Absolutely. Let me take this to Ruth and she can start printing this one.” I handed it to Ramona and she bolted away with it.

I had just started going back to reading when a scout ran through the camp, looking for Ramona. The scout reported to me instead, “The royal soldiers are here. They will be here in less then ten minutes.”

I froze for a second with the book in my hand before jumping up, “Quick, alert everyone! We need to tear down this camp and move. Scatter everyone. Make sure Ross and Moisés stay with my group.” I sent the scout out and packed all the books neatly in boxes. I did this with the help of the child Susan and a guy named Zane. They quickly put the boxes in the twelve passenger van that had been driven up. Tents were put in there and it was sent away with a group to a new safe place.

In eight minutes we still were not done. Ramona grabbed Ross’s arm and pulled him over, “Would you know where to find a working printing press if we left these?”

“If you keep one I can probably make a smaller one that will work in the same way. Same with the brail machine,” Ross replied calmly. The calm seemed false as every other mannerism showed panic.

Ramona nodded and let go of Ross, turning to me, “Everyone, only take one machine per a group. More then that will slow us down.” Then she spun towards Ross, “Do you know how to use a gun?”

“Yes, why?” Ross asked with concern, “What are you planning on doing?” He glanced at Moisés who looked confused. Ramona wasn’t signing and Moses wasn’t oral. I tried to help Moses by catching him up in the conversation.

“We need to buy them some time,” Ramona said then translated to Moses. My brother nodded once and then went to fetch some guns, “Follow Moisés, please.” I was happy for the relief of my duty, but I knew I would have to sign more before the day was out.

Ross nodded once and obeyed. He took a couple guns that were handed to him then blinked in surprise when he was handed a sword. Moisés then placed two packs of bullets in his hands.

The two came out of the tent and Storm went in. Storm came back out with two guns, knives, and a sword. When they found Ramona, Ross asked, “How big will our group be?” I followed close behind with my weapons. I picked up a crossbow, a gun, knives, and a sword that was fastened on my back. I must’ve looked like a skinny nerd Rambo.

“Eight of us. Susan, you, Moisés, myself, Storm, Abraham, Samson, and Ruth. You stick near Moisés, we’ll all have to split up. If we make it seem like there are more of us then their actually is, we’ll buy everyone else a lot more time,” After informing Ross of the group size she looked towards the rest of us, “Are you ready? If not, you can go with the other group, no one will judge you for it.”

None of us commented or signed so she said, “Alright, let’s go. Oh, and Ross...” When the boy looked at her she joked, “Try not to be a moose.”

Ross rolled his eyes at her then went back to walking. Moisés looked amused and Ramona signed what happened the boy laughed. He caught up with Ross and they found their positions.

The woods fell silent as they waited for the royal soldiers. Ross caught one in his sights and aimed his gun while Moisés found another one.

This wasn’t going to be pretty. Of course, war is never pretty.

Ramona fired first which set everyone else to firing. The Royal guard’s took cover behind trees, unknowing that their attackers were constantly moving, giving the impression that they were surrounded. Whenever Ross moved, it only amplified that opinion. The sound of a moose running through the woods isn’t exactly encouraging. Not only are you surrounded by people who want to kill you, you could soon have a large animal trampling you to death.

Ross fired rapidly at the enemy, trying not to think too hard that he was taking lives. I watched from the tree as Moisés tackled Ross, signing at him. A bullet had nearly hit the young man and Moisés was telling him to pay attention.

The men had figured out that there were not that many of them. The Royal soldiers started fanning out to cover more ground. I looked at a guard in time to see Storm hack off his head. It was a gruesome site and caused my stomach to heave. That stopped the fighting for a moment then Storm dove behind a tree as the bullets came towards her.

Storm had run out of bullets, that was the only explanation because she ran out into the fray again. Only this time when she tried to chop off the man’s head, it didn’t quite work. Which, of course, will be left up to the imagination. A couple of knives flew out of the woods and embedded in people’s necks. Ruth came running across the area with her sword and killed someone before diving behind a tree near Storm, who took her place. It was like a tag team thing.

Moisés held up two fingers, he had two bullets left. Ross pointed at the general and Moisés nodded. He took aim and fired both bullets. One embedded in the general’s arm and the other in his stomach.

Ross aimed his gun and went for the head. It was a direct hit and the enemy no longer had a leader. Which, of course, sent them into a panic. Moisés nodded once in approval then pulled out his own sword. Ross decided to do what Ruth did and got his daggers out.

I was perched in the tree above their heads and had a crossbow. I aimed and started picking people off while Storm had her revenge. When the Royal soldiers started retreating is when Ramona came around to them all, “It’s time to leave now. Take their guns and one box of ammunition.” I jumped out of the tree and followed them as they did what they were told. I didn’t like searching dead bodies.

We regrouped and fled into the woods, we couldn’t stick around for them to find us again. Storm, Ruth, and my brother were all wounded. Storm was limping a lot but her genetically modified body was pushing the bullet out. It looked terrible, but at least hers could do that.

While we walked I took this time to study our new companion. I had talked to him, seen him, but hadn’t really paid attention to his appearance. He was a few inches taller than my five foot six, had red hair, and hazel eyes. He had a wiry build but he wasn’t used to the woods, which was obvious in the way he walked. Any workouts he did was probably in a government sanctioned gym.

I heard a scary ‘click’ and I knew someone was in trouble. Samson said in a steady voice, “They planted a bomb.” At the last part his voice trembled, “I stepped on a pressure land mine. If I step off...” The big Asian guy glanced back at everyone else, fear evident on his face.

Ross walked over carefully and looked at the landmine, “Are you sure it’s active?” He was handling this with a cold calculating manner. Why? He probably wanted to detach himself from the situation.

“Of course I’m not sure,” Samson said peevishly, “How would I know? I’m not the one that planted it.” He trembled as he glanced back at Ross. The redhead was now crawling around on the ground around Samson’s feet. There was no way of knowing if it was a live landmine or not, but Ross seemed to be trying to make him feel better.

“What do we do?” Susan asked in a small timid voice. Her emerald eyes grew to the size of saucers when she realized they might have to leave Samson behind.

Ramona looked at Samson, “Are you okay with us leaving you behind? Once we are far enough away you can step off of the landmine.” She pulled her red hair back out of her face. To Ross it looked like she just wanted her hair out of her face. To me and Moses; we knew it meant she was nervous or unsure of making that decision. She didn’t like making hard decisions.

Samson nodded, “Yes. Make sure you are all safe.” He glanced at his sister and added, “And keep her stable.”

I walked up and patted Samson on the shoulder, “I’ll try and keep her from doing anything crazy. We love you.” I had no issues with saying I loved people as a friend. Other guys get very uneasy when another guy says they love them. Samson knew me for a while though so he just nodded.

We were pretty far away when the explosion went off. I held still and closed my eyes, trying not to think about it before walking again. Moisés had felt the ground tremble and he glanced at me, concern all over his face.

When Ruth heard the explosion she stiffened. The girl decided that she didn’t hear an explosion that killed her brother. It was simply a bomb that had dropped in the forest. She lied to herself in this way until they set up camp.


Samson

When they had walked far enough away I started to panic. I looked down at where my foot was on the landmine. Maybe it wouldn’t explode, maybe I would be okay. I could still walk away from this. I could see my sister and the sweet little Brail Printer again. I started to sweat as I considered the implications of the explosion.

“I don’t want to die.” And with that I stepped off the landmine, causing an explosion that reverberated throughout the woods and tore some trees apart. I felt a moment of pain then the world faded away into light.


Abraham

Ruth looked up from her job of finding wood with me and asked, “When do you think Samson is coming back?”

Ross froze like a deer in headlights, “Ruth, I don’t think Samson is coming back.” His hazel eyes darted away from Ruth as he picked up more wood. He had taken a few more steps before he realized Ruth wasn’t following. Ross looked back over his shoulder at Ruth and saw she was holding very still, “Ruth?”

“My brother is too strong to die,” Ruth insisted in a trembling voice, “He didn’t die. He got away before it exploded.” Tears were starting to come up in her eyes. She knew what Ross said was the truth, but she would rather act like it wasn’t.

“Ruth, go back and rest. Send Moisés to help me. It isn’t a good idea for you to be helping me right now,” Ross said gently. Ruth nodded and wandered away. A few minutes later Moisés came and started picking up wood. The deaf boy looked very sad but he did his work.

Ross tapped Moses on the shoulder and signed, “I’m sorry for your lost women.” Moisés burst into laughter as he picked up wood. Ross had no idea what he just said, but he guessed that it was wrong.

Ramona looked up when she heard hysterical laughter. She watched as Moisés stumbled back into camp, laughing so hard he was crying. She signed, Do I need to call an ambulance? Moisés only laughed harder and didn’t sign anything.

Ross came out next looking very confused, “I don’t know what I signed, but he hasn’t stopped laughing for ten minutes.” He saw Moisés repeat what Ross signed to Ramona.

The girl looked at Ross then burst into laughter. And no one would explain to him what he said wrong. Ross put the wood down by the place where they would start the fire. Susan, who was setting up a sleeping spot, looked at Ross, “Why are they laughing?”

“I wish I knew,” Ross replied with a smile. He looked at me with desperation so I came over to explain.

“You said I’m sorry for your lost women. Did you mean to add the last part?” I felt amused as he asked the question. Despite the sorrow, Ross’s bumbling caused some mirth.

“No...I hadn’t realized I signed the last part,” He felt a little amused by his own mistake, “At least I know why he started laughing like that.” Ross looked around the camp and realized he hadn’t seen Ruth, “Where is Ruth?”

“She came and told Moisés to help you then she walked off in the woods. Why?” I asked curiously. Ruth had seemed fine when she walked away. I couldn’t imagine why Ross was acting worried.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe just that she is in denial, is depressed, and didn’t seem okay when she left,” Sarcasm was evident in his voice. Ross crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow at me.

“Really? She seemed fine when she came through the camp,” My forehead wrinkled in confusion. I looked at Moisés and signed about Ruth. Moisés shrugged and also started to look worried.

Susan said quietly, “She took a gun with her. I thought she was going hunting.” The young girl now looked terrified, “I don’t think she is going hunting.”

“Yeah she is. I’m sure she is going hunting for royal guards,” Storm jumped in the conversation, “Did you really think Ruth would be okay with her brother’s death?” The women snorted, “You are fooling yourselves.”

“Not everyone is you, Storm,” Ramona interrupted, “It is possible that she is going hunting. But right now we really need to be worried about her committing suicide. Samson kept her stable.” She rubbed her hands over her face tiredly, “Abe and Storm, could you please go find Ruth? If she is going to do what I think she is going to do...” Ramona sighed heavily, “Do what you need to in order to stop her. Storm, that does not mean shoot her. Tackle her if you are forced to.”

I nodded then picked up one pistol and brass knuckles. Ruth wasn’t weak and if she wanted to commit suicide I needed to be prepared to brake a bone or two to keep that from happening. Storm looked disturbed by my arming myself. Storm didn’t bring any weapons, saying, “I don’t need a weapon for a suicidal person. Besides, Ruth could use you for the suicide object.”

I sincerely hoped that wasn’t her intention.


Ruth

Who am I without my brother? He has always been my rock and has kept me from my disturbing thoughts. Now he’s gone. Maybe I could join him, that would be better then suffering through this pain. I looked at the gun, turning it over in my hands. I couldn’t pretend anymore, I couldn’t stay here and act as if everything is okay. Death would be a relief.

And that is how Storm found me, standing there and looking at the gun. Storm walked up slowly, “Ruth, give me the gun.” She could see exactly what I was thinking, “Samson wouldn’t want this.”

“I can’t do it anymore,” My voice cracked as my grip tightened on the gun, “I can’t keep pretending I am okay. I saw the Guard kill my family. They left me and Samson alive. Now I’m the only one left. I can’t keep running.”

“And something’s got to give, right? Don’t kill yourself, it only proves that they can win,” Storm inched closer and eyed my gun hand, “We can’t let them win.”

When Storm was in front of the me she reached out and slowly edged the gun away from me, “That’s right. It’s okay.” Storm gently encircled the me in a hug, “You can cry.”

I felt something give and I cried gently and clung to Storm. The motherly, yet aggressive, women changed to being gentle for me. When Abraham found us she pointed at him, “If you tell anyone about this, I’ll tear out your insides.”

Abe held up his hands in surrender, “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He walked away from us. Storm could be nice if she wanted to.

I knew they were wondering when I would crack. I wondered when I would finally lose my mind. My dreams tormented me and when I woke up it felt as if I had woken up to a nightmare. I had no relief from sleep and no relief from being awake.

People can only take so much before they go insane.

Storm and I came running back into the area. Storm skidded to a stop by Ramona, “Walter’s crew is after us. They saw the carnage we left behind and followed us here.”

Ramona groaned and then stood up from where she was sitting, “He is a psychopath.” She picked up her gun and other weapons then we all fled. Moisés looked exhausted so Ross stayed near him. Just in case of the guy fell over, which looked entirely possible.

A bullet slammed into a tree next to Moisés and the boy yelped, veering away from it. He signed rapidly at Ramona and the two split away from each other. Storm ran off while I went with Ramona. Abraham steered Ross and Susan towards Moisés. Ross asked Abraham, “Why are we splitting up?”

“Storm is good at picking people off, if we can separate their own group, we have a better chance at getting away,” Abe answered, his voice surprisingly steady despite the distance we were running.

As we were running I heard a shot and Susan make a yelping noise. I heard some underbrush crashing and then Storm jumped on a man who came at the others.

Storm took two shots at the man who was after them then jumped in front of Moisés and pointed in a different direction, the boy immediately obeyed and everyone else followed.

Storm ran back into the woods, stalking around the area. She ducked behind a tree as she waited for the man to come in line with the tree. She gripped the dagger loosely and as soon as the man came in sight she drove the dagger into his knee and sliced across his throat. Then she pulled the dagger out of his knee and sprinted across the area. Storm felt like she was being watched and dove behind a tree moments before the gun fired. She pulled out her own pistol and creeped around the tree. She fired a couple shots and the person went down. Storm walked over to the guy and rolled him over. He looked vaguely familiar but Storm didn’t question it. Ramona and I started looking for a place to stay for the night.


Storm

I finally found my way back to the group. They would probably be whining, “Oh, Storm left me.” and “Why does Storm do this to us? Whiner babies. I trudged my way through the woods, following the carnage Ross left behind. He really, really, needed to learn how to run. A person with armature tracking skills could have found us.

When I found them Ross was leaning over with his hands on his knees and panting. Moisés was mocking him routinely, adding a bit of comedy to the situation. Laughter was coming out of Susan as Abraham translated.

“What a weak man you are. Do I need to get you a cane, old man?” Abe was trying not to laugh as he translated for his brother, “How old are you? Eighty?”

Ross gave Moisés a look and decided to be immature. He stuck his tongue out and crossed his eyes at Moisés. The boy laughed and dodged away from Ross’s playful punch.

I stopped near them and tilted my head, “So, I’ve decided when we get a break we’re doing a boot camp with Ross. He really needs to learn how to run.” I rubbed my blood stained hands on my pants, “Anywho, we need to start walking. We’ve probably kept Walter from getting any closer. But we’ve got to catch up to Ramona and Ruth. They’re probably already in Toledo by now.”

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