When the Sky Caught Fire

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Chapter 2

The sky was turning beautiful colors of pink, blue, and yellow as the sun climbed up over the horizon. Ross was up that morning and sitting on top of the cave on a ledge that he had found. Ramona climbed up next to him and yawned, stretching her arms over her head, “Good morning. How’re you?”

“Tired, every muscle in my body hurts, Abraham is the gassiest person I have ever met, Moisés makes bizarre noises in his sleep, and Storm walks in her sleep which makes me fear for my life. But the sunrise is beautiful, so I can deal with all the other stuff,” Ross yawned as he finished what he was saying, slightly garbling the last few words, he asked tiredly, “Are the others up yet?”

“Not quite; Storm is awake, but she is always awake, she wasn’t sleep walking, she has insomnia. It is a side effect of experiments that have been performed on her,” the girl swung her legs back and forth, allowing blood to flow to her feet, if she didn’t stay moving her legs would fall asleep.

“I have a question,” Ross glanced at Ramona and when she nodded he continued, “How did the Anomalies get started? Who was the founder? How did you get involved?” he had even more questions along that line but clamped his mouth shut before he asked a thousand more.

“How we got started is a very long story. It started out with me, Abraham, Moisés, Storm, and the guy you love so much, Walter. So, we are the founders of this rebellion, I was involved since the beginning. Even before we were started I was using laptops to print illegal propaganda, I didn’t know that the government had been sneaking into our house while we were gone and that they had been watching our house. My father worked as an Deaf interpreter for the Castle and had information no one else had. He helped me as did my mother, in the end it got them killed,” Ramona’s voice hitched on the last part then she fell quiet then looked over at Ross, “We are still a very new rebellion. Some of these have been going on for decades, ours has only just started. We’ve only been doing this for two years but we already have more people helping than any other resistance, we even have contacts within the castle.”

Ross listened quietly as she talked about the history of this particular rebellion, he knew that there had to be more details about how it got started and that she was just summarizing. “Our core group consisted of people who had been attacked by the royal guard. I think that’s the reason why we are still growing. People are always being attacked and killed by the people who are supposed to protect us,” Ramona took a deep breath after she finished the summery, she heard someone make a noise that sounded like someone with a sore throat. The girl looked down at Moisés, smiling at him then she waved enthusiastically at him which was returned enthusiastically.

“Someone killed Moisés’s family?” Ross voice was filled with pain as he asked, his new friend didn’t deserve anything like that happening to him. Moisés was kind to everyone and always was wearing a smile.

“Yeah. It was really heartbreaking when I found him and his brother. Do you know what’s amazing? Most people after that experience refuse to get married because they don’t want their children to have the same thing happen. Moisés has expressed a desire to raise a family still, in his mind, the more children he has, the more change his family can make,” She smiled fondly at Moisés’s determination, “Quite honestly, I’m always afraid something bad will happen to him. He’s too kind and would gladly sacrifice himself to save another.”

The way she always looked at Moisés did make me wonder if she had some feelings for him. But as a guy Ross didn’t feel comfortable asking that question, that would be a little too awkward. “He’s moral,” Ross attempted to sum up what Ramona was trying to say. Ramona nodded slowly in agreement, her friend was moral and sacrificial, there had never been a doubt about that.

Ross could see Moisés’s character, he was honest, hardworking, sacrificial, and an all-around nice guy. His playfulness and teasing could get a little old though. Then again, a sense of humor was always a nice thing to have in a time of crisis. Ramona climbed down off the ledge quietly and Ross followed her. Neither of them attempted to start up another conversation and both of them went to get ready to leave the cave, they couldn’t stay there forever.

Susan had been using the bathroom pretty far away from the camp when she heard some people talking. She walked slowly, quietly, and carefully through the woods to investigate, she got close enough that she could see their outline on the horizon. They were dragging someone with them and were coming straight towards her! She went running back into the camp, fear written on her face, she nearly collided with Ross and then dove behind him, “The royal guards are in the woods!”

Ramona threw the last backpack at Moisés who caught it, “Let’s go. How far away are they?” She pulled on her own backpack and pulled her hair back into a tight bun. They had to run and she couldn’t afford to have her hair smacking her in the face.

“I could see them in the distance, probably 2-5 miles away. They were dragging someone with them...I don’t know who it is,” Susan trembled as her eyes darted around the area.

Ramona looked back through the woods and appeared troubled, “Storm, Abe, and Ruth, go see who the person is. I will start looking for a more permanent place for us to stay. Storm, I will leave judgement up to you. If you think he has done something that is legitimately immoral and against the law, leave him. If he has done nothing more than print books or anything like that, free him in any way possible.”

“No problem,” Storm ambled away from the group while Abe and Ruth followed, “I’ll take my time until you are far enough away. “

Ramona signed the decision to Moisés and then started walking. She hadn’t waited for a response of any sort, not thinking that Moisés would have one. He usually trusted her judgement, however, Moisés was unsure about the sudden hostage the Royal Guard had. This could very well be a trap and he could lose his brother. Moisés’s concerned expression was not lost on Ross. It was unfortunate that the two could not communicate because Moisés couldn’t tell Ross what was troubling him. The sky was beautiful again and all the leaves were almost off the trees. They walked in silence and could hear their own footsteps as they walked through the leaves, the soft crunching indicating steps. Ramona suddenly stopped and spun around, “I just had a thought...what if it was a trap?” She signed it also to Moisés and the boy nodded vigorously.

Susan looked from Ramona to Moisés as she tried to figure out what they were signing. She wanted to know the plan, if she knew maybe she could help. Sure, she’s just a kid, but they’re all in this together...right? Moisés signed urgently to Ramona, we need to check just to make sure. We can leave Ross and Susan here. Ramona nodded in reply then looked at Ross and Susan, “I want you two to climb into a tree and stay there. Moisés and I will go make sure that Abraham, Ruth, and Storm are okay. “

Ross bobbed his head in reply briefly then jumped up, caught a branch, and swung himself into the tree. Moisés clapped with amusement at this display and Ross stood balanced on the branch, bowing majestically. Ramona rolled her eyes expressively then tugged Moisés along with her, signing, Come, we have to find your brother.

Susan scrambled up the tree after Ross and went a little further up than him. She smiled brightly at Ross as he climbed up after her, “We need to be well hidden,” she explained when he raised an eyebrow at her.

”That’s a good idea, Susan,” Ross answered as he pulled himself up the tree, “Ugh, my climbing skills leave much to be desired.”

“Thank you,” Susan thought it seemed like a good idea too. She rested her back on the tree and let her legs dangle on either side of the branch, “Do you have any siblings?” She tilted her head as she questioned Ross.

“No, I was an only child. Do you have any siblings?” Ross returned the question, raising his eyebrows like a question mark. He figured they would be here for a while and having a conversation with a twelve-year-old kid was the least of his problems.

Susan felt a stab of sadness at the mention of her siblings, “Before the Anomalies found me the Soldiers had already killed my parents and siblings. My siblings were thirteen, fourteen, eighteen, and twenty. I hid in the woods as they slaughtered them.”

Ross had an expression of sadness and anger. He hated injustice, from what I could tell, “I’m so sorry. I ran away from the soldiers that killed my parents. It’s terrible what they’ve done, I wish they’d all die.”

Susan felt surprised at his deceleration, “But they’re not all bad. Some of them are very nice.” She had only gotten away because while she was walking home a guard sent her back into the woods. She wasn’t supposed to live; but the guard had mercy.

Meanwhile Abraham and Co were having a few problems of their own. Abe was tied up at the base of a tree along with Ruth, he kept crossing his eyes at his captor, using his facial expressions to convey his feelings. Learning ASL helped him a lot with control of his facial muscles. Storm was still being tied up, she kept fighting back as they tried to make sure she was secure. They eventually had to hogtie the women because she kept finding ways to wiggle out of the ropes. Storm was like a stinking Houdini, she had always been able to find her way out of ropes, chains, and boxes. They had tested these on her at one point to see what she could do.

Abe glanced over at Ruth and saw that she refused to look at the captors. Every once in a while, her body would tremble; she was terrified. Before the one man could gag Storm, she gathered spit and sent it flying straight into his face. The man drew back his hand and slapped her as hard as he could, no emotions registering on his face. Storm laughed harshly then spat her blood out at his feet, then allowed them to gag and tie her. Abe winced when she was slapped because it sounded bad, he could feel it all the way over there. Abe looked away from Storm and back at Ruth, he had thought she was afraid; but looking at her face convinced him that she was angry.

The man who was obviously in charge walked in front of the three of them, “I know you are a part of the Anomalies. I also know you have moved your base. If you tell me where they are your death will be painless.” This bright spark had forgotten that he had them gagged, Abe rolled his eyes in two different directions at the man’s back while Ruth glared holes into the back of his head. Storm moved around her mouth, trying to figure out the way the gag worked so she could spit it out. The man spun around to wreak his revenge on them when he realized there was no way for them to answer. He had his minions untie their mouths, crossed his arms, and waited for an answer.

“The Anomalies do not have a base. We are several groups of people spread all over the country. You can’t kill off one group and think you have destroyed the root,” Abe spat out as he worked his mouth, happy for its freedom.

“And what about you, little girl?” He stopped in front of Ruth with a glare down at the girl. He didn’t break away from her own hostile stare back at him. He had no idea about Samson’s death but probably wouldn’t have cared even if he did know.

“Your bomb killed my brother, there is nothing I will ever tell you. There is nothing you can do to me that will make me tell you anything about my people,” Ruth replied harshly, her voice filled with bitterness. She was ready to kill the man with or without a weapon if the opportunity was given to her.

”And you, Tornado?“ The man raised his eyebrows in question as he stopped in front of Storm, that didn’t go over well, she hated it when people messed up her name on purpose. Storm sighed deeply and shook her head before responding.

”First of all, my name is Storm. It isn’t a hard name, it only has five letters. I’m surprised you even know the word Tornado, it has a whopping seven letters. As for the Anomalies...why are you so afraid of us? And all because we print things, what a weak system you must have to be afraid of a pamphlet. Unless it’s true what they say: knowledge is power.”

The man leaned in close to Storm, so close she could smell his rancid breath, “Our system is strong Miss Tornado, but we don’t appreciate people who threaten the system.“ This was a losing argument but he wasn’t about to show weakness, these people could smell it.

”Again, if your system is so strong, then why are you threatened by us?” Storm repeated her question, knowing he hadn’t given an valid answer. Abe felt uneasy by their staring contest; chances were one would kill the other one before ten minutes was up.

Abe started running his mouth to try and distract them from Storm, “Yeah, why are you so afraid? If your way is so perfect and pure, what are you afraid of? A pamphlet? What does that do? Nobody reads anymore anyways, right?”

The guy completely ignored Abe, turning, instead, to Ruth, “And what do you think?” His voice was dangerously pleasant and was making Abe feel on edge. His voice was way too agreeable and it made him feel tense. Usually when people acted this pleasant it meant that someone was going to die.

Ramona signed to Moisés, We need to get them out. You create a distraction, I’ll let them loose. She started fidgeting with her gun, feeling nervous about this. They were leaving too much carnage behind them, someone was bound to notice.

Moisés nodded once to indicate that he had understood Ramona then he counted down from three on his fingers before crashing through the woods. He had signed right before running through the woods, My name is Ross and I’m a complete lunatic! Holding back laughter in that moment was the hardest thing Ramona ever tried to accomplish.

The men’s heads swirled towards the noise and Ruth took the risk, she kicked out at the man in front of her; which turned out to be a fatal mistake. The man turned and shot the girl in the face, which had probably been the plan all along, Storm thrashed from her hog-tied position and yelled obscenities at the man, none of which should be repeated. Her death was quick and shocking but Ramona’s mind continued to work in combat mode, she knew she had to make sure her friends got out alive.

Abraham, now covered in Ruth’s blood, sat in shock for a few minutes, not realizing that Moisés had come up behind him and freed his hands. The second Abraham figured it out he leaped unto the man and started to throttle him, looking at someone as they died wasn’t an idea situation for him but he felt like this scumbag deserved it.

Moisés sneaked around the clearing as Ramona jumped unto the other man who was leveling his gun at Abraham. She had a grip on the man with her legs and her arms were latched around his throat, it must have looked like the piggyback ride of nightmares. Abe ended up stabbing the man because he couldn’t shoot him, Ramona jumped off and shot the man once in the head. Moisés cut Storm lose and the woman yelled at him, forgetting he couldn’t hear, which ended in Moisés getting shot in the back of the leg. Ramona heard the scream and turned towards him in a panic, Moisés shrieked and his knee almost collapsed, but he managed to force himself upright as he swung his weight around and punched the approaching man in the nose, jaw, and slapped his ears, causing disorientation.

Moisés stepped backwards as the man threw a sloppy punch at him and Storm stepped forward, delivering a roundhouse kick into the man’s chest. She turned around and signed something unintelligible, turning to the other two people. Abraham was standing up and looking at the corpse of his friend while Ramona was trying to pull him away. They had left their own carnage and she was trying to reason with Abe, “We need to leave, reinforcements will be here soon and we need to get to Ross and Susan.”

Abraham nodded once then looked over at his brother who was favoring his left leg as he limped towards them, Are you okay? He raised his eyebrows in question coupled with a worried expression.

Moisés nodded in reply to his brother then winced as he stepped forward, his leg shaking a little when he tried to walk normally. He gave a brash smile and signed, it would take more than a bullet to kill me. Ramona tried not to roll her eyes at Moisés, sometimes he was bat-crap crazy, it was one of many reasons she liked him.

Abraham shook his head at his brother’s goofing off before looking back at Ruth, “I checked her pulse and eyes. I didn’t see any signs of life.” He knew she wouldn’t be alive when the man shot her, it would have been a miracle.

“We’re going to have to leave her,” Ramona didn’t like to say it, but she knew they couldn’t drag a dead body with them, they wouldn’t have time to give her a proper burial. As unfortunate as it was, they would have to leave Ruth there. Ramona swallowed down the emotion that was stuck in her throat, “I’m sorry.” Abe simply shrugged and looked away from the body, trying not to think too deeply about it.

Storm noticed that Moisés was growing pale with each passing moment, on a scale of one to 100 how would you rate your pain? Storm furrowed her eyebrows hoping that he would give her a serious answer, he had a tendency to be a huge jokester.

Between five and ten, Moisés gave a brave but shaky smile to the older woman who now looked concerned. She pointed at his pants leg and she looked at the wound, poking it every once in a while.

We’re going to need to find you a doctor to remove this and the fabric. Storm pulled his pants leg back down then turned to the others, “We need to find Ross and Susan then we need to find a doctor as fast as possible.”

That bothered Ramona quite a bit, she didn’t want Moisés to be in pain. But he was putting on a brave face and he signed to her with a compassionate expression, I’ll be okay, don’t worry about me.

Ross was trying to hold as still as possible; the royal guard was walking right underneath their tree. He was doing deep breathing exercises while trying not to do it too loud, Susan was doing a very good job at holding still, but she really had to use the bathroom. Ross could tell because she was wincing and mouthing, I really have to go. Ross looked at the gun in his hand and wondered if he could fight off a group of thirty people. If this girl decided to use the bathroom on their heads, it could turn out badly anyways, he couldn’t imagine that they would take liquid on their heads very well.

Susan winced and shifted as the desire to use the restroom grew more desperate, Ross looked down out of the tree and blinked in shock when Storm suddenly showed up by the men, he hadn’t even seen her approach. The woman kicked the first man in the gut, spun, ducked, then punched another one in the mouth while a gunshot sounded every once in a while. Moisés jumped up into the tree and motioned for them to follow him, which Ross quickly did, falling out of the tree. Susan climbed down a little more gracefully despite her mirth at the fact he was falling. A soldier pointed a gun at us and Ross shoved Susan behind me, using himself as a shield, the child would not die on his watch. The man started to pull the trigger when Moisés body checked the guy into a tree, Moisés winced as he limped away from the concussed and dizzy person.

Ross noticed the limping and raised his eyebrows in question, Moisés shook his head in reply, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to communicate it clearly without Ramona or Abe. Susan trembled behind him and whispered, “I peed,” She looked terrified and embarrassed. Ross looked over his shoulder at the young girl, “I would do the same.”

This statement made Susan smile a little and Moisés shooed them away from the current skirmish. A bullet whizzed by his head but Moisés didn’t notice because of lack of sound, but Ross certainly noticed because the bullet had embedded itself in his shoulder. Ross managed not to yelp in pain, however the burning sensation and the pain was enough for it to be noticed, more than noticed, Ross wanted to scream in a shrill manner, but that wouldn’t have been productive to their survival.

Moisés saw the sharp breath Ross took in and tilted his head, he proceeded to keep himself between Ross, Susan, and the skirmish. They fled into the woods, Moisés leading the way to a safe spot; another gunshot fired at them and Ross realized that a group had been sent after them. He turned to Moisés with an alarmed expression and the Deaf boy nodded grimly. He understood people were coming after them, especially since he had a new bullet wound in his shoulder; Moisés wouldn’t be in good shape for a while.

Susan suddenly let out a pain filled shriek and Ross nearly tripped over the child when she fell; the bullet had gone right through her kneecap. Ross stopped and picked up the girl carefully, looking over his shoulder at the people darting through the woods. Moisés stood in front of Ross and protected him while he picked up the girl. Moisés was suddenly tackled to the ground by one of the guard and he lashed out with his elbows and teeth so he could have enough room to fire. Ross skidded to a stop when they reached the mountain, knowing he wouldn’t be able to find his way up there. Ross turned around and saw that the royal guard were gaining up on them, so he put Susan down gently, “We need to run, do you understand?”

“I can’t run,” Susan’s eyes filled with tears at the idea of running with so much pain in her kneecap. It was likely shattered and even though Ross was aware of that, he couldn’t carry her up a mountain, it was unrealistic. Ross nodded decisively and then turned with his gun, hoping he wouldn’t have to use anything that would be up close and personal.

Just before he could aim and fire at the first guard, Moisés shot the guard from his new position and then dove behind a giant rock as someone took a shot at him. Ross urged Susan, “Go to Moisés, okay?” The young girl nodded once and winced when she started to crawl towards Moisés.

Ross covered the girl as he walked sideways near her, taking shots at people as they came close. He prayed fervently that he wouldn’t run out of bullets but when the gun finally clicked he had no clue what to do. Ross tried to fire again and another ominous click sounded, he chucked the gun as hard as he could at a man’s head, knocking him over. Ross dove and covered Susan with his body as a gun was fired at them, Ross felt a couple bullets make painful contact before a royal guard screamed in terror. Ross breathed heavily and whispered, “Are you okay?” Because Ross was most certainly not okay so someone had to get out of this okay. Susan nodded once and shook with fear, the twelve-year-old was terrified.

Ross noticed that all the bullets stopped and Storm held a man still with a knife on his throat, the way this particular guard was dressed showed that he was in command and obviously important to them. Storm hissed something that Ross couldn’t understand at the commander and the man called his army off. Ramona came out along with Abraham and they bolted towards the mountain when they saw Ross laying there, apparently, a printer being dead would be a great travesty, Ross felt so loved.

Ramona knelt down next to the two of them and tapped Ross’s shoulder, “Are you okay?” She could tell he was alive, but he kept wincing and taking in sharp uneven breaths. Ross wondered how long it would take for one to bleed to death.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Besides having bullets inside my body, I feel fantastic,” Ross drew out the word fantastic, making it quite obvious he was being sarcastic, “And Susan is doing great as well, thanks for asking.” Ross got up as he spoke, trying to adjust to the pain, they had no medic readily available so he would have to deal with it until further notice.

“Susan, are you okay?” Ramona looked at the young girl and could see her sobbing; Susan couldn’t pull herself together enough to answer her, but Ross could.

“What kind of psychopaths are you to get a child involved in this? Her kneecap is probably shattered,” Ross snapped at Ramona, his eyes flashing dangerously, forgetting that it had been his idea. He had never thought that the kids would get hurt.

“All age groups are involved in war and we’ll talk about it later. Right now we need to leave before the commander decides that attacking Storm is worth his life,” Ramona stood up and looked at Moisés who’s hands were shaking so hard he couldn’t complete a sentence. She held up her hand to tell him to stop then signed, Later, Moisés. We will talk about it later.

Moisés nodded and then shakily climbed out from behind his rock, kneeling next to Susan then picking her up carefully. The girl hugged her arms to herself as he carried her like a baby, Abraham glanced over his shoulder at Storm as she came with her hostage, “Quickly Storm.” Sometimes it scared Ross, seeing how strong these people were. Ross knew if he was to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat with them he would most certainly die.

“Get up the mountain, I plan on slitting his throat then running. I’ll be faster if I don’t have to worry about you,” Storm’s voice was firm and her eyes were like flint making them all compelled to obey. The commanders face paled as he considered what she had just said, “Wait! I have a wife and child!”

“Amazingly so did every father, mother, and child that you ever killed. Say your prayers, because you’re going to be meeting your maker shortly,” Storm replied drily, pricking the man’s neck seemingly on accident. The man gulped in terror, feeling his own blood run down his throat.

None of them questioned Storm as they fled up the mountain, each person taking extra care with Susan. Moisés couldn’t carry the girl for very long because of his own leg, so that left either Abraham or Ross carrying her. However, Ross couldn’t do it for long either because of the multiple bullets in his body. Ramona, quite frankly, wasn’t interested in carrying the girl, she had enough trouble lugging herself up the mountain. Ross gently put Susan in Abraham’s arms, he was growing tired and needed a break from carrying her, he was once again discovering muscles he didn’t know he had. “Ramona, are you sure it’s a good idea to be on a mountain so close to winter?” Ross shivered as a breeze came through the trees, causing some leaves to fall; he had seen how much snow could gather on a mountain, he wasn’t eager to be on one when the snow fell.

“Do you have another idea?” Ramona shot back at me as she trudged up the mountain, “Because I would love to hear it.” She was starting to feel punchy with people, she was done with them and ready for some alone time. Which she knew she probably wasn’t going to get.

“Yeah, I have a great idea. We get off the mountain and as far away as possible before the snow flies. Once it does we’ll be stuck up here! We’ll freeze to death and eat each other if an avalanche doesn’t kill us first!” Ross was growing louder and louder as he yelled at her; she was being completely unreasonable and he couldn’t understand why the others followed her so blindly, loyalty would doom them all.

Ramona rubbed the bridge of her nose and said in a hoarse voice, “Could you give it a rest Ross? We just need to get as far away as possible, then we can head down the mountain, but first we need to meet up with Storm.” She knew they didn’t have much time to stay on the mountain but she also knew that if they didn’t stay on the mountain they could be ambushed faster.

Ross glanced up at the sky, seeing snow clouds were rolling in, “I say we have until tonight, tops. If she isn’t here by then we need to leave, with or without her.” He was very nervous about being on the mountain at all, the weather could change in an instant and could easily kill them all.

“Don’t be silly, it doesn’t snow until every leaf is off the tree,” Ramona continued to walk in blissful ignorance, Ross could only assume that she was saying that from her very limited experience with snow. Or she was mocking him, he couldn’t tell, but he was pretty sure she was mocking him.

“Sure, all the leaves are off the tree when the snow hits it. Then every last leaf falls off the tree,” Ross muttered under his breath and Abe gave him a sharp look; Ross decided it was time to be quiet and not complain anymore. Susan giggled weakly, seeing his side of things far more clearly then Ramona’s, then the first snowflake fell much to Ross’s sarcastic enthusiasm.

Storm came up the mountain at blazing speed, a speed that wasn’t normal for most humans; to the rest of the group it didn’t look normal as well. She was moving up the mountain in a seemingly seamless fashion that would terrify most people if they hadn’t already seen her in action. Ross asked Storm, “Are you superwomen?” He raised his eyebrows in question.

“Shut up you jack wagon. I’ve made a terrible mistake, we need to get off this mountain right now.” Storm was very insistent after trying to get them all up the mountain, they couldn’t stay there; the snow would fly and trap them.

Moisés made a noise of protest and pain when he realized he had to drag himself down the mountain, he shivered from the pain and signed weakly, after you dragged us up here you’re telling us to go back?

Ross was all for this new development, “Sure! Down the mountain we go.” His arm was still burning from the wound and he figured Susan was in a lot of pain. Susan was being carried by Abraham this time, to give Ross a break.

Storm was happy for at least one person listening, Ramona looked like she was about to be stubborn like usual. Storm crossed her arms, bracing herself for the onslaught that was bound to come from the stubborn redhead. Ramona turned to them, “Why should we go down the mountain? They won’t come up here.” She really didn’t know how this worked, either that or she knew and was being willfully ignorant.

Storm glared at the stubborn girl, “They won’t come up here because they are smart. People sure as heck don’t live on a mountain during the winter.” She knew this from experience, being snowed in was a huge possibility and she did not want to be trapped in a cabin with these freaks.

Ramona nodded slowly then said wearily, “We need to find the others, make a new base camp.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose then looked up at the sky, surprised to see that the snow was coming down faster, “We should go.”

Storm nodded once, took Susan, then went down the mountain as fast as she could without tripping and killing herself. Storm climbed over a big log, ignoring Susan’s questions as to where we were heading. She knew where she was going; Storm had a cabin up here. If she could get Susan inside and comfortable she would come back and get the rest of the losers.

Storm just worried about Moisés a little bit, he had hurt his leg and it would take him a little longer to come down the mountain. He seemed to be doing worse when she got up there and out of all the people she was with, Moisés was her favorite. If Ramona had some sense Storm wouldn’t have to save their butts; however, having the sense that God gave geese would be too easy, so she was stuck babysitting them, again.

Ross threw his hands up in the air with frustration, “Why am I the only one with any sense and why doesn’t anyone listen to me when I talk?” He muttered as he stomped down the mountain, occasionally tripping over a branch or slipping on some leaves.

Abraham grinned as he figured out a way to get him to move his butt, “Because you’re stupid.” As childish as it was, it had the desired effect. Ross chased the guy down the mountain while Moisés limped after them with a smile. He winced slightly as he walked and let out a noise that indicated pain while wincing, he was in a lot of pain and knew he would be getting sick soon if he didn’t lay down.

Ramona signed to Moisés, they are both crazy, she laughed as Moisés nodded enthusiastically then they walked down behind the others in silence. Ramona glanced over at Moisés with concern, signing again, Are you okay?

Moisés gave her a pained smile, not really, but I will live. I have bullets in my legs, arms, and I’m pretty sure I have one in my side. He pointed to the different spots on his body to indicate where the damage was.

Ross was sitting on a boulder when they came across him the next time, he huffed and puffed as snow fell on him, “He can run fast for a skinny nerd.” Ross huffed again, exhausted by the run which probably hurt him quite a bit because of the bullets in him, “I regret running.”

Ramona burst into laughter, “That was mature.” She ignored his scathing glare as she more or less tripped down the mountain. Moisés looked curious but didn’t press for information, he looked up at the sky with concern as the snow fell quicker and quicker. Ramona knew how he felt, she was terrified; but laughing at Ross was easier than getting anxious. Ross got up and walked with Moisés now that Ramona was ahead of them; None of them said a word as they picked their way down the side of it, moving faster and faster as the snow fell harder.

Storm came running back to them after they had gotten off the mountain, she was shouting to be heard over the wind and the snow, “I found an abandoned cabin, we need to rest there for the night! I found some old warm clothes and food, it will only last us a few days.” She figured they would be more likely to stay in the cabin if it were abandoned than if it were hers.

Ramona nodded in reply as she hurried with the three guys following her, she turned slightly, “Come on!” She signed with it, not that Moisés needed that urging, he had seen Storm and figured she had found a place for them to stay. He started moving faster towards them; Storm had to resist the urge to go pick him up, that would have seriously wounded his pride.

As they battled through the wind and cold she knew that they would all need to warm up; they couldn’t stay this cold and survive, especially the skinny ones of them, actually, they were all pretty skinny. Especially Susan, she wasn’t very old and since her family were rebel members they were not able to provide a lot of food, if they went out too often people would get suspicious of what they were doing. Storm led them right to the cabin and then shooed them in, the four walked in then Storm followed, they stopped suddenly; Storm asked sharply, “Susan, who’s this?”

“This is Willy, he is eight years old,” Susan smiled at the small child and he smiled tentatively back, “He came in the cabin.” She had given the small boy a box of connecting building blocks she had found and he was building something complicated. She just invited this kid in; for all she knew he could’ve been a government assassin. Which was completely plausible since they have been experimenting with children...if rumors were to be believed.

Willy said in a matter of fact tone, “My parents were killed because of your stupid printing presses. They wanted me to give you this.” He held out one hand towards them without making eye contact, “I only read that they thought a smaller press was needed.”

Ramona took the letter from the child and started to read it quietly to herself. When no one would stop staring at her she started to read it out loud while Abe translated for Moisés:

Dear Ms. Ramona, how is life treating you? You probably don’t know me, but my name is Dew and my husband’s name is Jason. We have been printing documents for the government and have decided to come and find you. If we haven’t come in person it means, we are dead. It also means that our printing press has been destroyed and my son is with you currently.

My heart breaks to write a letter like this, but I feel like we are being watched. Our street has been very quiet lately and I haven’t seen any neighbors. This worries me because I have never known this street to be quiet.

I wanted to bring this information to your attention: The printing presses are too big to move. The little ones don’t print fast enough. My proposal is that we find materials, blueprints, and finances to invent a lightweight printing press that can be moved easily. Assembled and disassembled for a way to escape if that’s what we need to do.

Once more, I hope my son won’t have to deliver this letter, but if he does, my wish is that his legal guardian is the current printer for your rebellion.

Sincerely,

Dew

Storm closed her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose, she remembered Dew, she had met her once; she didn’t want to dwell on it for fear of depression. Ramona folded the letter then looked at the people around her, she then looked at Ross, “Congratulations, you are Willy’s legal guardian.” Ross pinched the bridge of his nose; his life was moving entirely too fast, just a few days ago, he was printing pamphlets. Now he was the legal guardian of an eight-year-old and was expected to teach him how to use the press, Ross didn’t understand why these things happened to him.

At that moment, however, Willy was building a square shape with several other more complicated little shapes with the connecting building blocks that Susan gave to him. It looked a little like a press, but Storm couldn’t be certain. Speaking of Susan, the girl wasn’t doing very well. She was sleeping most of the time and was running a fever, most likely from the pain, Ross was getting worried about her.

Willy set down all the pieces he had put together then the box itself and asked Ross plainly, “Does this look familiar to you?” The little boy was attaching some final pieces to it to make certain parts of it movable.

Ross picked it up and studied it then studied the pieces as a look of surprise came across his features, “This is a miniature printing press, how did you know what pieces were inside the press?” It was an unbelievable replica.

“My parents let me take an old one apart once. There was something wrong on the inside and dad couldn’t get in far enough to fix it. I had to take it apart so we could clean it good so it would work again,” Willy started putting the little pieces where they belonged on the machine. He talked about his parents as if they were still there. It disturbed Ross a little; but he could understand it; It still seemed unreal that his own parents were gone.

Willy pulled his knees up to his chest suddenly and put his small head on his knees, “Mom and dad were murdered.” Willy wasn’t sure if he spoke out loud or not but judging by the sudden silence in the room he could guess that he did.

“Yeah,” Ross didn’t know what to say; sorry doesn’t really help children, he knew that, so, just saying ‘yeah’ would have to do. Ross went still when Willy crawled into his lap and rested his head on his shoulder, he wasn’t sure what to do so he settled with allowing his arms to cradle the child. Ross looked at the other side of the room and watched Moisés sign with a curiosity. Sign language was amazing; Ross enjoyed watching Moisés and Ramona as they signed.

Moisés was signing with a fluency that Ramona struggled keeping up with and she often had to ask him to repeat himself several times. Moisés was being very patient, repeating it until she understood. Abraham watched as his brother signed then blinked tiredly, it wasn’t cold in the cabin, Storm had started a fire before she went to get them. The fire was very nice; Ross appreciated it, he did wonder why the cabin was fully stocked with wood if it was abandoned, Storm had probably lied.

Storm touched Susan’s forehead and jumped when it scalded her skin, she felt worried as she wet a cloth and put it on the child’s head. Storm turned to the group and announced, “I am going to find a doctor. We need to get her leg set so that way we can keep moving if we need to and we need painkillers.”

“In the middle of a storm?” Abraham exclaimed with surprise, “You can’t leave in the middle of a storm!” He jumped up, going to try and stop her, brave imbecile; she could crush him.

Storm put her hand on his head and gently moved him out of the way, “Either I go out in the storm or Susan dies.” She grabbed a winter coat and shrugged it on, “I’ll be back.” She thought she made a very compelling argument, the others were not as convinced of this

“You’re bat crap crazy,” Abe grumbled as he went and sat down again near the others. Storm smirked when the boy gave up, she knew he would; there was nothing any of them could do to stop her.

“And because of it I’ve saved your candy butts,” Storm stated as she pulled on a coat and some gloves then she walked outside and battled through the...well...storm as she attempted to find help for her young friend. She knew a doctor but she couldn’t remember the exact proximity from her cabin. That and she wasn’t sure if he still lived there or if she wanted him anywhere near the child. He didn’t have a great bedside manner, Storm shivered against the cold and trudged through the snow that was piling up around her. At the rate she was going she would get lost and never make it back.

But that wasn’t an option, if she never made it back Susan would die; she sure as heck wasn’t going to allow that to happen, nobody was dying on her watch. Storm blinked as the snow assaulted her face and she pulled a ski mask out of her coat pocket and pulled it over her face. Storm probably should have done that before she left the cabin, but she knew that if she had stayed longer Abraham probably would have tied her down. Now she looked like a criminal; one of the bad guys you see in movies with a ski mask and the idea entertained her to no end.

Storm suddenly felt her body warm and she squinted curiously; she figured it could possibly be another side effect from the experiments. She didn’t know exactly what they did to her with all those needles, but they certainly gave her interesting abilities, maybe one was keeping warm in a snowstorm. Now wouldn’t that be handy? She could do all sorts of things with that.

Storm looked up over the horizon seeing a little bit of smoke and started heading towards that. Hopefully it was the doctor, because if it wasn’t, she was stealing pain medicine from someone. Storm found herself in front of the house and she kicked her feet off the doorstep. Unbeknownst to her, the doctor could hear her kicking. So, when he opened the door she ended up knocking on his forehead, “Oh, hey Doc.”

“Have my sins come back to haunt me?” Storm looked very unamused with the doctor’s joke, he liked to act as if she were his child.

“Funny. Can I come in?” Storm jumped up and down in place, “Please? It’s cold out here and I have a favor to ask you. You’ll never hear me beg again, so I suggest you listen.” She rubbed her arms, glancing up at the sky as the snow fell. Looking up like that made it seem like she was standing in a snow globe.

“That’s what you said when I warned you about the attack,” The doctor stepped aside and Storm bolted in to the warm cabin, “What do you need Storm?” He closed the door then walked to his chair, sitting in it. He knew she wouldn’t have come to him unless it was a desperate situation, he had told her not to and she did tend to listen to him more than other people.

“I need pain killers, crutches, and for you to set someone’s leg for me,” Storm only took off her gloves, coat, and ski mask. She didn’t bother with her shoes or scarf, “She’s in a bad way Xander. She has a fever of one hundred and two. Plus, I have a Deaf friend who has bullets in his body and our Printer is wounded as well.”

Xander rubbed the bridge of his nose and said, “I told you not to join any rebellions.” He was still stuck on that apparently. Xander fixed his eyes on Storm, “At the cabin I gave you? I will come help, but they will see me with you.” Storm found it adorable that the man thought she would listen to him.

“They?” Storm paled three shades, realizing what he said “Wait...” She was never scared, so seeing her afraid caused Xander some concern, “Have they been watching your house?” Storm’s voice raised in pitch at the end, something Xander never heard her voice do.

“They aren’t exactly shy about it,” Xander glanced at the window, “The snowstorm probably has blurred what they can see, but we should leave soon.” The doctor stood up and started packing a backpack full of medicine, tools, and he handed Storm the crutches.

“Look, Xander, you can’t stay here. If they are watching your house it means that they will eventually kill you. Seeing me with you will only hasten your death. Do you understand?” Storm put back on her winter clothes then held Xander’s medical supplies while he put on his winter clothes.

“I understand, but you need help. I don’t have to return, it’s high time I retired anyways,” Xander took the bag then opened the door, “After you.” He smiled at the funny look Storm gave him, she always found him to be very strange.

“Aren’t you going to put the fire out? And stop talking like an old man, you were only a doctor a couple years,” Storm complained at his elderly language as she walked out the door before saying cheekily, “Age before beauty.”

“Does that make me beautiful? Forty years is a long time to live. No, I don’t mind watching my cabin burn to the ground. Besides, they could probably use a little campfire,” Xander chortled as he said it, knowing that once the cabin lit it would shock the people horribly.

“I think I remember why I liked you. Just be nice to Susan okay? She’s only twelve and has a nasty bullet wound in her knee,” Xander and Storm started back towards the cabin in the raging storm, “Hold unto me, okay Doc? I can actually see through this.”

“Why did you bring a twelve-year-old into this?” Xander held unto the back of Storm’s shirt as he followed her through the raging storm.

“I’ll blame our printer,” Storm replied in a noncommittal fashion, she wasn’t going to take the blame. She didn’t fetch the child or tell Ramona about the child so, technically, it wasn’t her fault. Besides, it was easier to blame Ross.

“Do what you will, but I’ll still say it’s your fault.” Xander trudged ahead, starting to feel a little grumpy, “You know I was all settled in for the winter?” He sighed deeply and dramatically, making his displeasure known.

“Yeah, I knew; you had cut wood for both cabins, I expected you to be home, I wasn’t wrong,” Storm saw the smoke from her cabin and braced myself against the snow and wind, “Come on old man.”

“I’m not old, my joints just hurt,” Xander complained as he followed Storm to the house, “I think I might have arthritis.” He knew that would get on her nerves, holding back a smile when she gave him the evil eye.

“A doctor that is a hypochondriac, who would have guessed?” Storm made it to the house then opened the door, walking right in, “Honey, I’m home!” Everyone practically mugged her before she could introduce the doctor, they hugged her and acted like she had been gone for years.

Storm stepped aside and gestured at Xander, “Group, this is Xander. Xander, this is a small gathering of Anomalies. A small portion of a bigger movement. A group of freaks. A bunch of losers. A gaggle of geese. A herd of...”

Xander stepped past her and shook each person’s hand, “Hello. I am Dr. Xander. I’m assuming Susan is the one who is asleep on the couch?” He raised his eyebrows at the end in question while leaning slightly forward.

Abraham nodded and gestured to the girl, “Yes, she got hurt in a fire fight.” He crossed his arms over his chest then remembered his brother, signing for him. Moisés looked frustrated and understandably so, it seemed like everyone but Ross forgot he was there and Ross couldn’t communicate really well. Storm wasn’t sure how to fix the situation so she plastered an awkward smile on her face, staring into nothingness.

Xander stopped then signed to Moisés, forgive me, If I’d known you were Deaf I would have been signing for you the entire time. Moisés nodded and smiled before gesturing to Susan as if to say, your job is to take care of her, he gave his brother the hairy eyeball and Abe looked dutifully ashamed.

Ross looked at the blanket where Willy was starting to wake up. Willy yawned and stretched before looking for Ross. As soon as he found him he looked peaceful again, Willy walked up to Ross, giving him another hug; Ross sighed deeply, ruffling the kid’s hair. Moisés suddenly grinned and turned to Ramona, are we going to free Willy? Ramona face palmed while Moisés shook with laughter at his own terrible pun. Storm rolled her eyes, sighing in a long-suffering manner, trying not to think about what Moisés just did there. That was a terrible pun and she hoped it would go away.

Ross rolled his eyes expressively and then picked Willy up, “So, are we going to free you?” He watched as Willy looked confused then Ross laughed, “I guess you’re a bit too young for that.” He could remember the reference very vaguely. Why that particular thing was banned, they would probably never know.

Dr. Xander started doing his medical magic on the child and set her leg. He knew she was asleep, but since she was in a fever he knew he couldn’t work fast enough. He also found the bullet that was still inside her, He gave Storm a look, “I thought you knew to look for the bullet.”

“Well, we didn’t have copious amounts of time to stop and examine a wound, doc. There’s something about people shooting at you that makes life more important than stopping to clean, pick out bullets out of, and dress a wound,” Storm felt the child’s forehead again before looking at the group, “Oh and just so you all know, Dr. Xander will be staying with us from now on.”

Ramona looked surprised, “Who gave you the right to make executive decisions?” She was full of it lately. Full of what, Storm couldn’t say; there were children present.

“I gave me the right to do this. Dr. Xander has helped me in many ways and I won’t allow him to die on our behalf. Besides, it would be good to have a doctor on hand,” Storm then turned to Ramona and said darkly, “Do you have a problem with that?” Ramona had never heard this tone of voice used, so she resorted to shaking her head silently. “Good.” In the meantime, the doctor was examining Moises and getting some of the bullets out while the boy sat there silently, every once in a while the doctor would sign to him to see how Moises was doing.

Ramona and everyone else busied themselves with other things as Dr. Xander fixed the child’s leg in the splint, he muttered to himself as he set the crutches next to the girl. Dr. Xander sat near Storm and asked quietly, “Why would you bring children into this?”

“War doesn’t pick favorites doctor. It doesn’t say, ‘Oh, this is a child, well, I guess I should leave him alone.’ Everyone is affected by war, from babies to old people,” Storm said quietly as she looked at her weird little group.

“You mean the elderly?” Dr. Xander ducked when Storm whacked at his head; he grinned, he loved teasing Storm. She gave the best reactions, plus she was like a daughter to him; he had never been unkind to her.

“You know what I meant. Thanks for ruining my profound moment,” Storm set her elbows on her knees and looked at her sad little group, “But really, look at us. We’re the misfits of this generation. Two Mexicans, one Deaf, orphans, and then me, an experiment. A crime against humanity; sometimes I don’t believe I am human. Maybe they were right to put us down like animals.” Out of the corner of her eye she saw the doctor tense, “I know it’s not true, but sometimes it’s hard to reconcile that I will never be like anybody else.”

Dr. Xander looked at the group but he saw something different, “I know what you see, but do you know what I see?” When Storm glanced at him he continued, “I see a group of brave people who are willing to give up their lives for what they believe in. I see a Deaf boy, who even though he can’t follow a hearing person’s conversation still has a happy attitude. I see two Mexican brothers making the best out of life. I see a boy who is clumsy and can’t stand upright but took on the status of ‘dad’. I see a group of orphans who had a bad hand dealt to them, but you’re all getting through it. I see an experiment..” He turned to Storm, “Who despite the governments best intentions escaped her execution. A freak of nature? Hardly. I don’t see a group of misfits, I see a group of heroes.”

“We’re not heroes Xander. We’re a bunch of losers,” Storm grinned at the older man as he ruffled her hair. He knew that they seemed like losers even if to him they were the most interesting group he has had the pleasure of meeting.

Willy had woken up during this exchange and had proceeded to try and show Ross what he meant by “Working Plastic Machine”. The genius child was starting to appear frustrated with the guy, the entire thing had to be plastic and Ross couldn’t seem to understand that. “No, if you start adding metal it would be too heavy. No metal, we need it to be the lightest weight possible,” Willy had out a piece of graphing paper and had “borrowed” a pen from the doctor, “I think I know how to design this.”

Storm watched this with curiosity; children were so interesting, especially their interactions with people older than them. Ross had rested his elbows on his knees so he could see the paper that was on the floor better, “But the plastic will eventually get stained. What if we have to replace it a lot? What if it gets shot while we’re moving?”

“That’s a good question...” Willy wrinkled his eyebrows as he considered this new development, “Is there such a thing as an indestructible plastic?” He raised his eyebrows as he asked and looked at his drawing.

Ramona piped up, “There is a bullet proof plastic. You could always make it out of that.” She saw Moisés signing fast and excitedly to his brother. Moisés was excited about the bullet proof plastic, because if the printing press was indestructible then it would be easier to transport without being very worried about it.

Willy sketched a design of a small tabletop printing press then a bigger one, “If we have one of each to start with, that would be ideal.” He continued to draw as the teenagers gawked at him, he glanced at them and raised his eyebrows, “Can I help you?”

“Ideal? Where did you even learn that word?” Most eight-year-old kids that Ross knew didn’t even know that the word ‘ideal’ existed, he wasn’t aware that the child was full of sass and was about to bite back.

“From magical things called books. I believe you are printing them,” Willy continued to sketch, ignoring the giggles that were coming from Ramona; Ross’s face was priceless, he had met his match in the sass department.

Storm tried to cover up her laughter with a cough, the kid was good, they’d have to keep him. She crossed her arms over her chest and coughed again, struggling with a smile. Moisés gave a big grin then signed to Ramona, I like this kid, he had been getting a translation from the Doctor.

Storm was still in her original seat watching all her weirdos, she stood up and looked through the packs to see what food they had left. She winced when she saw what meager supplies they had and glanced out the window into the snowstorm, knowing they couldn’t hunt that day for food or trap. So, she decided to wait until the next day, then she could trap without being worried. Abe noticed that Storm was checking the supplies and went over to check on her, “How are the supplies looking?”

“Meager. I’m planning on hunting or trapping tomorrow, providing that the storm lets up,” Storm heard Abe giggling and she gave him a look, “A pun was not intended.” She sighed deeply and thought, these people are juvenile.

“I’m sorry...” He giggled again then ducked when she whacked at his head, Abe gently bumped her aside and rifled through the backpacks, “We have enough for...if we’re careful...a week. We wouldn’t be able to go back to the good doctor’s house for supplies would we?” Curse him, Storm thought, I don’t need his help to look at supplies. Ungrateful wretch.

“I don’t think that would be wise,” Storm replied as she glanced at the person in question, “His house was being watched. If we go back we are liable to get killed. If he goes back he is liable to get killed, besides the fact he set it on fire.”

“If we don’t get food within a week we will all die anyways,” Abe replied quietly, hoping that their conversation would go unnoticed, thankfully for them, no one was paying attention to them.

At that moment, Ross decided to broach a sensitive subject with Willy, “Willy...why did the Queen want your parent’s dead?” He knew there could always be several reasons for each death. If the person had committed minor problems they would be let off, death was always used when the person had committed too many. Such a joy, Ross was so good at planting his foot in his mouth. Directions: Open mouth, firmly insert foot.

“My parents were printing religious pamphlets. They were both Christians. I loved them,” Willy’s face fell with sadness then he smiled at Ross, “They wanted people to be Christians so they could go to heaven when they died, they never hated anyone.”

The word religion made Ross nod, that made sense, the nation was no longer even believed to be Christian. The nation now held unto no creed, gospel, or religion and they would execute anyone who held unto any of those things. Religion was too dangerous, it caused arguments and wars. Ironically, there was a war going on that really had more to do with oppression. “I’ll always remember what they used to say,” Willy said with a happy and sad voice.

“What’s that?” Ross asked curiously as he turned over the mini printing press in his hands, he liked listening to people’s stories, they were always interesting.

“There is no King but Christ,” Willy said firmly and with conviction, “No matter what happens Jesus remains on his throne. He doesn’t sleep and he never takes a break, nothing happens with Him knowing.”

Storm nodded at the statement, remembering how she met a minister at one point in the lab/homes. He had been disgusted by what the government was doing but still treated her like she was human, she had always appreciated that man.

As Ross and Willy were making the plans for the press, they were all quiet, some were thinking of Willy’s parents, some were worrying about the food situation, and some were worrying about Susan’s leg. Susan’s fever was starting to let up and she was able to drink and eat a little bit as well as take some medicine. Storm finally couldn’t take it anymore and she took me aside, voicing a question she needed to ask, “Am I the only genetic experiment?” She felt like she needed to know, “Am I the only one who survived?”

“No, you were not the only one, which you knew, but you are also not the only one who survived; there are two children who have recently escaped their compound. They are named Froggy and Molly, they were raised together; both can run at unnatural speeds, they found a person by the name of Shadow. I think you’ll remember him pretty well,” Dr. Xander steepled his hands as he watched for Storm’s reaction.

“I didn’t know that Shadow survived. What do you mean, compound?” Storm appeared very uneasy, “Shadow and I were kept in a house.” She didn’t like what compound sounded like, that sounded like they were being used for war; she shuttered when her fears were confirmed.

“You were also part of the breeding program. These kids were being bred for war,” Dr. Xander also smiled a little, “Shadow killed all of the soldiers that cleaned out the women’s house, he had been coming after his house was killed to see if anyone was left; when he saw that there wasn’t he went insane.”

“He always did have this strange protective thing going on,” Storm appeared uncomfortable, “They are modifying people for war now? What exactly can they do?” She didn’t like that at all, she had modifications and some of them were war like but others were more of a maternal nature.

“Froggy can see all the weak points on the body just from looking, he described it as a computer to me; if I had to guess, they figured out a way to put a computer in the eye. The little girl can run at speeds I’ve never seen before, we mugged a cop, don’t look at me like that, and used the speed thingy to see how fast she was going. At a slow run she was going ninety miles per hour. I don’t know how fast she could go at full speed,” Dr. Xander rubbed the bridge of his nose, “They could easily be killing machines. But they have a conscience, the moment they could escape they did.”

“I didn’t really mean them specifically, but that works too,” Storm clarified, smiling, “But that is a very detailed report, thank you. I’d like to have an idea of what they can do in case they suddenly become our enemies.”

“Hey girls, what’re we gossiping about?” Abe sat by them suddenly with a mischievous grin; he was very bored and had no books to read, so he would settle with tormenting Dr. Xander and Storm.

“You, ya dipstick. Because we all know the world revolves around you,” Storm raises her eyebrows at him in challenge, Dr. Xander smiled a bit, happy to see Storm being herself again. Whenever she got really depressed he would get disturbed, while she wasn’t an overtly friendly person, she wasn’t usually depressed either.

“I like to believe the sun revolves around me. Then I can get a nice tan,” Abe smirked and then ducked when Storm took a whack at him, Dr. Xander coughed; his attempt to hide a laugh failing. Abe could be fairly clever when he wanted to be.

“Maybe the moon should revolve around you, then you can defy gravity as you make liftoff through the window,” Storm held back a smile, she enjoyed bantering with the crazy guy; but she knew if she showed an indication he would keep getting more and more outrageous.

Abe laughed openly then shoved her shoulder lightly, “I’d love to be able to defy gravity.” He had a playful glint in his eye as he avoided her playful swipes.

“I could help you with that,” Storm grinned at Abe, not even trying to hide her amusement, she ruffled his hair affectionately then pushed on his head like she would with a younger brother, which was more or less how she saw him.

Abe looked over at his brother than back to Storm, saying, “Moisés is teaching Ross profanity.” He wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to stop his brother or not, but it was entertaining to watch Ross cursing without realizing it.

“Oh great. The last thing we need is Ross being able to swear at people without them knowing it,” Storm covered her face with both her hands, muttering, “What is my life?” She sighed deeply while Dr. Xander patted her back with mock sympathy.

Abe suddenly gave a smirk as he came up with the perfect insult, “A train wreak?” He yelped, ducking as she missed him the first time, “Ah ha! You missed!”

“Oh, ho, I will smack you into next week!” Storm smacked him on the back of the head, making Abe laugh, she asked, he simply replied in the sassiest way he could come up with.

Dr. Xander smiled as he watched the two people banter with each other, Storm needed this, she needed to be able to fight with people. He heard Susan stirring so he quickly went to the girl’s side, “Hello young one, how are you feeling?”

Susan winced as she wiggled a little bit, her mouth opened in silent pain as a shot of pain went up her leg; she took the pain killer offered and drank the warm water with it, “My leg is in a wooden thingy?” She wrinkled her eyebrows at the splint before glancing over at the doctor.

“Yes. It was slightly improvised, the bullet almost destroyed the bones near your knee,” After Dr. Xander spoke he noticed that Susan squinted at him in confusion. That disturbed him; she didn’t seem to hear what he said.

“What?” She said loudly then jumped at her own voice, “That was loud. Why can’t I hear you?” She shouted the last part and jumped at the volume of her voice again.

Dr. Xander winced a little and grabbed a piece of paper to talk to her, writing, Susan, I’m afraid the fever made you lose a large portion of your hearing. The doctor turned the notepad towards her then raised his eyebrows.

Susan looked at the note and laughed, thinking he was kidding; then she realized, she couldn’t hear her own laugh, “Doctor?”

Dr. Xander raised his eyebrows then put on display his lovely bedside manner, I don’t think the fever affected your reading abilities. After writing this he winced, knowing that wasn’t a very nice thing to say. Susan gave him a dirty look then turned her head away from him, she knew that deafness wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Moisés was good with it, but she was so used to hearing sounds; now she could only hear when people talked loudly or the wind shook the cabin. And even that she wasn’t sure if it was the sensation or the noise that she was experiencing, she felt Dr. Xander tapping her and she gave him a rude gesture, which caused him to blink owlishly; feeling slightly offended.

Moisés laughed then came over, tapping Susan over and over until she looked at him; he gave her a silly smile and crossed his eyes, gaining a smile. The seventeen-year-old tapped the paper then wrote, It’s not so bad.

Susan looked at the paper then wrote in reply, you grew up with it. I can hardly hear anything. Susan looked at the young man with sadness etched in her features.

Moisés hesitated then wrote, I was still isolated, in a world where you can’t hear, can’t speak, and can’t lip read you have very little opportunity. Besides, you can still hear a little, I literally hear nothing. He gave her a small smile.

Susan patted Moisés’s shoulder with a smile. She took the pen and wrote, you teach me sign language. Then you won’t be isolated and I won’t be left out. Susan knew that Moisés didn’t really need help but she also knew that he would appreciate having an extra person to talk to.

Moisés grinned and nodded enthusiastically. He signed carefully then wrote, we can be Deaf together. Deaf buddies.

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