The blue flames that swirled around in my palm gave an eerie glow to the room Helena and I fell into. It was obvious that no one had set foot in this hidden room for years if the dust had anything to say. There was an old peeling leather sofa pushed into the far corner, it looked well used despite not having been touched for years. A dusty, old dartboard was nailed to the wall and an old box television that still had bent antennas sticking up from the top sat across the sofa. In the centre of the room was a large and scratched up wooden table with several chairs scattered around, some turned over and many books thrown across the table top.
All in all, the hidden room looked safe and seemed as though it was just a room that used to be a place for some students to relax in. Although from the look of most of the equipment it was quite some time ago that the last student relaxed here. Another groan from Helena shook me out of my reverie and I quickly bent down to help her up slowly.
“Geez, Helena, are you alright?”
She held a hand to her dark mahogany hair and I couldn’t help notice the blood that was slowly spreading out. She groaned and finally focused her eyes before answering, “I’m okay... where the heck are we?”
“I have no idea... it looks like some sort of hidden hang out” I answered uncertainly. I watched as she began to walk around, sliding her hand over the television and the sofa before stopping at the table. The smell of dust and mildew was strong and I noticed there weren’t even any windows to clear the air out. The mildew reminded me too much of the caves below the campus and I began to panic. I needed to get out, I felt too trapped in the small room but tried to hide it from Helena. Instead I walked over to the table with her and watched as she flipped through a notebook.
“Anything interesting for some light reading?” I joked.
A small smile tugged at her lips but she continued to flip through the notebooks. “These look like normal text books. This one was for a history lesson, see? And this one was for Combat... it looked like this person had taken down notes afterwards” she pointed out the diagrams sketched with small notes pointing to certain drawings. “And this one...”
Helena’s voice faded off and I waited for her to finish. When she didn’t I walked over next to her and looked down at the notebook she was flipping through. “What’s that? Naughty drawings?” I chuckled at the pathetic joke.
“Blake... this is a notebook for a Skills class”
I paused and frowned. I didn’t understand the reason why she was acting strange. “Okay... a Skills class. So what?”
“It’s a Skills class for Stingers...” She quickly grabbed another book and flipped through it as well. “This one is for a Stinger Tutorial class” She began to scramble at the notebooks and flip through each one quickly while her eyes darted from one page to the page, widening with every flick of old paper. Suddenly she dropped the books and stepped back while her brown eyes darted around the room again. I followed where she looked, unable to see what was frightening her, and began to notice other little things I hadn’t noticed before.
A map of the world with a second map to the side that was an enlarged area with the campus set in the middle. Red pins marked random spots on the maps, the majority of them concentrated on the map with the campus on it. There were tattered scraps of paper below the dartboard that were obviously several different photos at one stage and other little things around the room that were either odd or made it feel a less ‘safe’ than I had originally thought.
“Blake... I think this used to be a place where the old Stingers who studied here hung out. It has to be” Helena whispered.
“I think you’re right” I whispered back. I wasn’t sure why we were whispering but it just suddenly felt as though we were disturbing a place that we had no right to disturb, like walking through someone else’s grave in a cemetery. “We need to find a way out Helena... I really need to get out of here”
The panic that had moved to the back of my mind was suddenly pushing forward and it felt as though the walls were closing in on me. I wanted, needed, to escape from the confining mildewy walls. “Blake! Blake! Calm down. Just breathe! We’ll find a way out, there obviously has to be some sort of hidden button or lever or something. Just help me!”
I listened to her sweet voice and began to slow my breathing down. The calmer I was, the faster we’d find the way out and the sooner I’d breathe fresh air again!
I flicked my fingers and finally the torrent of tears that I was holding back began to flow from my eyes. Nurse Oakley had already finished healing me and I was free to go, but I needed some time to gather all the broken pieces of my heart. What have I done? I knew it coming though. I pushed Derrek farther and farther away but it was for his own good.
Ever since last week’s Combat class I couldn’t help the dreaded feeling that I just wasn’t going to be able to fight if I ever met Malum face to face. I seemed to always just fail in some way or come out unconscious. I was tired of waking up unconscious and that was also another reason why I felt the need to always go with Cara to her lessons.
Cara had an extraordinary ability. It was stronger than anything I could imagine and if I was getting better at surviving her accidental energy discs then I knew that I’d do better surviving against whatever might come my way.
I hadn’t meant to break the relationship off with Derrek, but I couldn’t seem to just tell him about this. He wasn’t going to chase after me and I couldn’t hold it against him, because I knew the feeling. We were both too stubborn to chase one another, and I knew I wouldn’t chase after him even though I was in the wrong.
It just wasn’t meant to be, I supposed.
I let out a heavy sigh and scooted off the bed to walk outside. I clenched my hands and once again the tears stopped and I felt my eyes go dry. I wasn’t about to let anyone else know about these tears. I dragged my feet out of the infirmary and was surprised to bump into a solid chest.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Please excuse me” I mumbled stepping to the side.
“Valerie... am I right?” a deep, cultured male voice asked. I looked up and my eyes widened at the unexpected and unhappy realisation that I’d bumped right into Marco Amnis – leader of all Water-abled.
“Uh... y-yes, Mr Amnis” I stuttered. I peered behind him and noticed a stone faced Sicilianna, a smiling Tatiana and a gentle faced Gabriel.
“Marco, please. We aren’t very formal” He smiled.
“Marco” I squeaked.
Why was The Control here?!
“We’ve returned to give our final conclusion on the Elementals, Valerie” Gabriel answered my unasked question. I looked over to him and he smiled apologetically, “I apologise. But you practically shouted that question in your head. It was hard to miss”
I coughed out a laugh and stood awkwardly in front of The Control wondering what I was supposed to do. Or better yet, how to get out of their way and back into my bed where I can let the dam of ears flow freely again. “Perhaps, if you’re not busy, you could lead us to Mr Obsidian’s office?” Marco asked. However, it seemed more of a demand than a question.
“Of course, sure... just follow me” I smiled weakly. Turned away from the direction I was originally walking to and began to walk down the corridors towards Mr Obsidian’s office.
“If I may ask, what were you doing in the infirmary Valerie?” Tatiana asked with a bright smile on her face.
“I was being healed for a... minor cut” I answered, carefully avoiding Cara and any further details. Hopefully they wouldn’t ask for more.
“A minor cut? And why would you disturb an expert Healer for something minor when you could easily find a Healer student” Sicilianna scoffed. I felt uneasy around her and swallowed the angry retort.
“I was brought up to the infirmary, it wasn’t my decision” I answered her quietly instead. She sniffed and turned her eyes out the windows.
Gabriel caught my eye and gave me a knowing smile. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or scared that he knew what had happened and wasn’t saying anything. It seemed as though Sicilianna was against the Elementals while Tatiana seemed okay with them – at the very least she was interested and fascinated by them. By the way Gabriel hadn’t said anything aloud about my injuries from Cara he could possibly be ‘pro-Elementals’ but it was Marco who I was unsure about. What did he think of them? What was his decision?
Before I knew it we were climbing up the stairs to Mr Obsidian’s office and just as I was about to knock the dean opened the door and was welcoming us inside. I wanted to turn around and walk back to my apartment, to let the important people chat, but there was some sort of nagging at the back of my mind that told me I should go inside. I also needed to know what the final decision was. I was ushered into the office and my eyes immediately fell onto Derrek. His eyes followed every one of my movements yet he didn’t offer a smile or try to talk to me. We weren’t together.
“Please sit, Valerie” Mr Obsidian gestured towards the chair next to Derrek before turning to the four sitting leaders. “Control, I do believe you enjoy surprise visits”
Marco nodded with a slight smile, his black hair catching the sun and his deep sapphire blue eyes shining with humour. “But of course! There’s much to be seen and said and when no one knows what’s coming their way. The truth is easier to find this way”
“Very true, very true” Mr Obsidian agreed while sitting down with a sigh. “Well, I don’t believe there’s any point in dabbling on. Let’s cut to the chase hmm?”
I gazed from Mr Obsidian to The Control. Back and forth like a tennis match while the silence pressed heavily among us. I expected Marco to speak and give his opinion or the decision of The Control but was surprised when Sicilianna was the one who spoke up, stony face like always.
“The Elementals are fascinating. This is plain obvious to see. No one can deny the fact that there is much to be considered and that there are many questions that are still left unasked and unanswered” Sicilianna said with a clipped tone. “However, they are a liability. How do we know that Malum is not channelling information through them? That he is not, in fact, controlling them”
Her pale blue eyes darted over to me and I had the horrid feeling that already knew I’d been controlled before. The memory left a sour taste on my tongue. “I believe that I’ve accounted for them, Sicilianna. I have already told you all that there is the smallest chance that Malum is controlling them or is channelling information through them” The dean retorted sharply. I found that a little odd considering The Control was higher in the ‘government ranking’.
Once again my eyes began its darting between the dean and The Control. “Yes. Well, in any case... the final decision for the Elementals is that they hold too much of a danger. They have been through the experimentation from Malum and who knows what else they could be capable of. They are an unknown factor... like a black hole. We don’t know the other side of the Elementals and frankly it could be too dangerous for all of Abled society to give a chance to something we aren’t even sure about” Sicilianna spoke adamantly.
I felt my throat close up momentarily. I wanted to tell them that I had also been experimented on but Derrek’s hot hand clasped over my wrist and gave me a small shake of his head. A warning. I bit my tongue and held back my small bit of information. Tatiana no longer had a smile on her face and looked bleak. It made me wonder if she was the only vote that was for the Elementals, but I had no idea. I felt angry, furious. How could they decide the fate of five people just like that? Suddenly I couldn’t keep hold of my anger any more.
I stood up quickly and the chair I sat on scratched against the floor loudly causing everyone to stare at me. “So you’ll just kill them?! Destroy them like you did with all the other Stingers?” I didn’t realise I was yelling. It suddenly dawned on me that I was yelling at them for killing all the Stingers as well. For killing my parents. “They’re not rats in a cage, they’re living, breathing people!”
“They are an experiment” Sicilianna’s eyes blazed at me. Once again I felt Derrek’s hand clasp around my wrist and pull me back, warning me again.
Marco stood up calmly and faced me, “There is no decision to kill anyone Valerie. We will only keep them under supervision until Malum and these other Elementals have been found. Our decision is final” He turned to face Mr Obsidian with a solemn face, “Now, if you would kindly show us to the Elementals”
Mr Obsidian didn’t look happy with the decision and yet I knew he had no choice but to follow orders and show them to the Elementals. Everyone slowly stood up and Derrek stood close behind me. We followed after the dean and Control as everyone walked down the stairs and towards the elevators to take us to our floor.
“Derrek, Valerie... if you would be so kind as to lead” Mr Obsidian stood back for us to walk in front as the elevator doors opened. I clenched my jaw and in the corner of my eye I saw Derrek tense, he didn’t seem happy with this decision either. He walked forward and I followed after him to his apartment.
It was empty.
“He could be with Helena” I offered unsurely. We continued walking over to my apartment and found out it was empty as well. I idly wondered where Helena was but I was too focused on The Control standing impatiently behind me.
We had more luck finding the rest of the Elementals and I hated seeing the shock, confusion then sadness flit through their eyes as they realised why we were all standing in their doorway. As we collected Cara and Cameron from their apartment I started to really wonder where Blake was. Had he gone for a walk or was he hiding? Whatever the case, it was the worst time for him to be missing.
“Where is the Elemental with the ice fire?” Sicilianna asked quietly.
Silence met her question and Mr Obsidian spoke up. “Does anyone know where Blake is?”
“No one’s seen him for hours Mr Obsidian” Cameron answered.
Marco, Sicilianna and Tatiana turned to Gabriel who nodded and closed his eyes. I threw Derrek a questioning glance but he simply shrugged his shoulders. After a minute Gabriel’s brown eyes opened again, “He’s still here. He hasn’t run away. Let’s go”
He walked off leaving everyone else to follow him and soon we found ourselves walking through a corridor I’d never seen before. “He’s here... but there’s something stopping me from pin pointing where he is exactly”
Sicilianna’s stony facade had begun to crumble and I took a step back when she turned to us, her eyes raging. “You had better not be hiding him”
I know... surprising right?
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