Zugzwang

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Chapter 9

Lexie led Dmitri down the entry way by the light of the flame. Her gun was held at the ready as she glared into the darkness for any sign of movement. Their heels clicked loudly, bouncing off the tiles and echoing back. Lexie silently cursed, anyone who was hiding in the school, if anyone was, would hear them before they came close.

It was a slow progression. The hallways around were filled with smoke, burned marks decorated the once pristine walls, but not another body could be found. Lexie swept her makeshift torch to the ground, continuously watching for more poor souls that must have gotten stuck in the explosion. She didn’t find any. Doors to class rooms lay on the floor or barely hanging onto the walls by their hinges. She eyed the ceiling, waiting for something to send it crashing down on them, yet it stayed above their heads. Lexie almost dreaded when they searched up stairs, the bottom floor seemed to have survived the flames but she doubted much of the top floors survived the blast.

“We should go to the cafeteria,” Dmitri murmured, “It’ll be dark soon and we’ll need food, unless you like going to bed hungry.”

Lexie nodded, turning towards the kitchens. Something wasn’t right. Lexie could feel it. There should at least me parts of drones blown about. But there was nothing.

Dmitri lightly stepped behind her, his lazer carefully aimed away. She bit her tongue eyeing his hold on his weapon, the fact that he hadn’t shot her yet as a good sign. They rounded another corner and came to the stairs. Lexie sighed, tentatively stepping on the first step. She waited. “They’re cement,” Dmitri snapped after a moment, “They won’t fall from under our feet.”

She glared back at him, “That’s not what I’m doing. Now shut the fuck up or I’ll push you to the front so you can get shot first.”

Dmitri immediately snapped him mouth closed and eyed the ceiling again. Lexie continued to freeze where she stood on the step. She strained her ears to hear anything, anything that would tell her there was life above her. She didn’t know what she was hoping for, she didn’t know if she wished someone was there or if she was glad that no sound reached her ears. She took a deep breath and proceeded up the steps, swinging the flame up before them to see as far above as possible.

Dmitri kept close, Lexie tried not to mind but it was harder then she first realized. Reaching the top of the stairs she surveyed the landing, the explosion had happened here. Whole walls had either completely collapsed or been blown apparent to leave its debris among the corridor. Lexie swung the torch to one side and saw through to the strategy classroom, where some of the smoke was escaping through the shattered window. Lexie tensed when she saw a figure sitting at the Master of the Class’s desk. She stepped over the fragments of wall, tightening her grip on her lazer.

Dmitri inhaled sharply. “It’s him, isn’t it,” he asked, not daring to step into the classroom.

She nodded, “Probably a safe bet,” she muttered peering closer at the remains.

She stepped back and looked about the room. His maps had disappeared, probably into the ash that littered the floor. Desks where either slightly damaged by lingering flames or just frame of themselves. Then she saw the other remains.

Walking amongst the desks a pair of legs threatened to trip her. Lexie cursed as she caught herself on one of the many desks and peered down to eye the other who became trapped in the flames. “Shit,” she breathed.

Only half of this person was burned beyond recognition. The other half of their face was still perfectly kept in the twisted expression of pain and terror. It was the master of the classroom. Lexie’s stomach twisted in a knot as she backed away, she felt the blood drain from her face as the recognition sank in. “What is it,” Dmitri demanded from where she had left him by the stairs.

She turned around, eyes still wide with shock and mouth slightly open with denial. She snapped her mouth shut and forced her emotions away, she couldn’t deal with them right now. She shook her head in the direction of Dmitri’s voice, “Nothing.”

She quickly turned away from the Master and nearly ran back out of the room. Climbing over the remains of the wall she started quickly heading in the direction of the kitchens, not daring to look into anymore of the classrooms. She no longer cared that their heels sounded off the tiles, she no longer took the cautious steps to check the other corridors, and she no longer waited to make sure Dmitri was behind her. She almost didn’t care if he got lost in the halls of the school. She just wanted to be alone.

She came to the door of the kitchens as Dmitri caught her shoulder, “Wait,” he whispered and held a finger up.

That’s when she heard it. A slight banging of metal on metal, a slam of a door as someone came out of the kitchens. Lexie looked at the flame, they couldn’t hide. Whoever it was had probably already seen the light. Lexie looked at Dmitri and raised her lazer. He nodded and followed suit, stepping back to position himself to kick down the door. Lexie moved out of the way, nodding. For a second Dmitri only stood there, regarding the door with a curious glance, then in one fluid motion he squarely kicked it off its hinges and jumped away from the opening so he was out of sight.

Lexie dropped the torch and waited. She glanced over to Dmitri, who stared at her as if waiting for a signal. She sighed, that was exactly what he was waiting for. Lexie glanced around at the debris on the floor, finding a piece of wall big enough she kicked it towards the opening. At the sign of movement a lazer beam went off.

Bad shot, but at least now she knew the other had a weapon. She looked over at Dmitri again, holding up three fingers. Dmitri nodded, holding up his lazer. She slowly counted down. One, she got her lazer ready. Two, she positioned her feet in order to spring toward the opening. Three. They both leapt at the opening, firing their lazers as they went.

Lexie heard someone cry out, but she didn’t stop firing for several seconds. Silence filled the school yet again as Lexie’s ears still rang with the sound of lazer blasts. Dmitri stood panting beside her, his lazer was limply held in his hands. She took a step into the cafeteria, leaving her torch in the hall. The tables still sat where they did that morning, but more charred remains sat slumped at them. Lexie almost stepped on the body before she saw it.

It was a boy, she vaguely recognized him. He lay sprawled on the ground, cans of food clutched in one bloody hand while his lazer was lightly clutched in the other. The boy’s torso was a mess of lazer beam holes and burned cloth. His unblinking eyes stared up at the ceiling in an expression of surprise. His name was Eugene.

“He was a jerk anyway,” Dmitri said, coming up and eyeing the body furiously, “Always thought he was smarter than he was.”

Lexie grunted, looked about the cafeteria for anymore signs of life. There wasn’t any. She turned back to Dmitri, “Gather some food,” she motion to the kitchens, “I’m going to go and make sure there’s no one else. He may have been in a group and they might start missing him soon.”

Dmitri shrugged, “He was a loner. Big and ass hole might fit in on the battle field but not with roommates.”

“I’d rather be sure,” Lexie muttered, “I’ll leave the torch. Grab as much as you care to and find a place to camp out for the night. I’ll see about getting blankets or something…if there is any left.”

“You should take the torch.”

Lexie didn’t even stop as she made her way back towards the hall, “It’ll only give me away.”

With that she slipped out of the cafeteria and into the darkness beyond, leaving Dmitri with the corpses of people they once knew.

The riot broke off as the sun began to sink. By late afternoon many small groups were spread throughout the city, pulling apart homes, shattering windows, trampling Citizens, and continuously chanting for the Lords to save them. The city was in ruins.

The Lords just sat there, eyeing the gaming board as these events progressed. Every time Victor snapped his fingers Alexander was there with either Christine or a pitcher of his favorite blood wine. Anya still held her peace, only smiling, never eating anything offered. She sat as prim and proper as when they had all sat down those few days ago, it was as if nothing could touch her. Not fear, not hunger, not even time itself. It was unnerving.

Alexander was eyeing the Lords when he heard the door to the chamber open. He immediately sat up straight and looked over. Ella walked forward, with another tray in her hands. Alexander gulped and stood to meet her by the same little side table. “The master’s didn’t order anything,” he muttered.

Ella shook her head, “No they didn’t. You still need to eat,” she snapped and began setting dishes on the table, this time her hands weren’t shaking.

Alexander helped her quickly get the items off the tray; he caught her hand before she could step away again, “Thank you.”

Ella nodded, “I’ll tell Ole Sally that-“

Alexander shook his head, “No,” he squeezed her hand, “thank you.”

Ella’s cheeks brightened with color as she slipped her hand out of his grasp and hurried out of the room. Alexander looked down at the meal, feeling the uneasy churning of his stomach he only grabbed the bread roll. Taking a tentative bit of it he continued to stare at the Lords.

He didn’t see the small smile that played on Anya’s lips as the sun completely sunk down on the gaming board.

Lexie searched the rest of the school and found no one among the debris of fallen walls and ash. No one alive.

The halls she had quickly walked past while heading to the kitchens were quickly searched. They had to be. The second floor was clear; the only other place to search was the third floor, the one that she had been dreading.

The third floor had been the sleeping quarters and showers. It had been where the students could at least feel at home. Now it was most likely completely destroyed.

Lexie climbed the stairs towards the third level. The cool wind streaming from the hole in the roof already rushed at her face. She turned towards the boys dorms, only to be met with a collapsed roof blocking her way. Lexie crept up to the debris attempting to peer through the mess into the dark hallway beyond. There was no way through even if she was confident the rest of the roof wouldn’t come crashing down on her if she tried. Squaring her shoulders she turned back to the other corridor, the corridor that led to the girl’s dorm.

She quickly rushed down the hallways. The ash on the floor blew about in the wind. Cracked cement, missing walls, and hanging doors- the third floor looked much like the second. Something fell in the silent hall.

Lexie jumped, raising her lazer as she spun around in one fluid motion. The only thing she saw was settling ash. She sighed, lowering her lazer as she leaned against one of the cement walls. “You’re jumpy,” mused the voice inside her ear, Lexie bit back a wince, “Keep going.”

Lexie drew in a deep breath, turning back she continued along towards the dorms. She passed the shower; the curtains reduced to ash, tiles cracked from the heat, and most of the shower heads lying on the floor. It was as if the building had been abandoned decades ago. She had laughed in that shower room with Ari only hours ago. She forced herself to go on, at the end of the hall was the girls dorm- the door no longer stood in the door way.

Stepping up to the threshold Lexie stared at the rows of beds. Some of the mattresses only had smoke damage and sparse scorch marks. Others completely were bare, only the springs still stood. Bits of wall and roof tiles littered the floor and various beds. She tentatively stepped into the room.

This had been her home. As she walked among the beds she saw the faces of the girls she had shared the chamber with. She may not know their names but she knew their desires, their friends, and their moans. But it wasn’t the people, people were disposable, especially in the school- it was the place. Where was she going to go now?

A smiling man invaded her senses. The man who had promised everything would be okay, everything would go back to normal. He had lied. He had left her there. Blinding fury corrupted Lexie, her hands shook with rage. Teeth clenched threatening to break in her mouth as she grabbed the nearest thing she could. A bed. She vaguely realized it was a bed as she threw it against the wall. She grabbed another. Then another, until her knees buckled and she collapsed to the floor staring at nothing. Panting in the dim light of a room that had been her home.

She slowed her breathing. She hung her head and closed her eyes. The smiling man was waiting for her behind her eyelids. Always with his empty promises, always with his loving gaze. She tried to banish the image from her mind; she forced herself not to feel. She had shed her tears over him long ago. She had waited, and pleaded, and cried out for him long ago. Not anymore. She wouldn’t wish for him anymore. She couldn’t. She heard the clicking of someone’s heel.

Lexie snapped her head up; grabbing her lazer she whipped around back towards the opening. Lazer at the ready, she was blinded for a moment by the light of a flame. “Lexie,” she heard the figure ask, “What’s going on?”

Lexie sighed and threw her lazer over by the pile of beds. “Nothing,” she croaked despite herself.

She cursed her voice, she cursed her eyes for stinging. She heard Dmitri enter the room but didn’t turn. She saw the shadows shift as he placed the torch on the floor. “Good,” the voice whispered inside her ear, “show him the other Lexie; show him a girl he could love.”

Lexie’s stomach twisted. She didn’t think she could ever love, she didn’t think she was capable of that anymore. The image of the smiling man flashed before her eyes and before she could stop it, a tear rolled down her cheek. “You’re probably going to need this,” Dmitri whispered as he handed her the discarded lazer.

Lexie stared at it blankly for a few moments before numbly taking it and fingering it in her lap. “Lexie,” Dmitri asked softly.

She turned to him as he slowly knelt before her, “Are you crying?”

She stiffened, quickly turning away from him, “I’m fine.”

“No you’re not.”

Lexie pushed to her feet, “I think I would know-“

“Lex, stop for a minute. Just take a breath, it’s alright.”

Lexie laughed, “Right.”

“Lexington,” Dmitri grabbed her shoulder and gently turned her around.

Lexie looked up at him; she didn’t attempt to stop her tears. She didn’t step back away from him and he didn’t shy away as she thought he would. He just looked at her with a strange gleam in his eye. “I’m not a good person, remember? I’m not acting like one.”

Dmitri’s shoulders slumped, “I’m sorry,” he finally stepped back from her, “I’ll leave you alone if that’s what you want.”

“I-“ Lexie started, stepping forward, Dmitri looked back at her but she just shook her head.

“I have food downstairs, whenever you are hungry.”

Lexie nodded, but neither of them moved. He was the first to move. He slowly walked closer to Lexie. Standing in front of her for a moment, unsure of what to do he fidgeted uneasily, and then he wrapped Lexie in his arms. She stiffened, mouth open in protest she almost tried to push away. Almost. His gentle arms held her in a warm embrace; she didn’t want him to step away. Slowly she let herself relax, bringing her arms up she returned his embrace and buried her head in his chest. “Lexie,” Dmitri whispered, “You’re shaking.”

“I’m sorry,” she muttered into his uniform.

His arms tightened around her, “Don’t apologize.”

Lexie’s breath caught. She gently stepped back to look up at him, “I’m sorry,” she repeated.

Dmitri smiled, brushing away her stray tears with the tips of his fingers, “Can I tell you something?”

Lexie nodded, “yeah, sure.”

Dmitri leaned forward as if he was going to whisper in her ear. Lexie leaned forward waiting for whatever he was going to say. He caught her chin and met his mouth with hers. Lexie gasped as their lips met, her body stiffened with the contact. Dmitri pulled her close again, deepening the kiss, invading her mouth with his tongue. She forced herself to relax, she kissed him back. Biting his lower lip, she played with him, bringing a moan from his mouth. When they finally pulled away both panted. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

“Why?”

Dmitri stroked her back and kissed her neck, “Fear, maybe. Fear of you, fear of the Lords. Maybe something else.”

Lexie caressed his back, licking his neck, “You wanted me out of fear?”

Dmitri chuckled, “No, I didn’t act because of fear. I wanted you because you’re beautiful.”

Lexie softly moaned as Dmitri’s hand rose to her breast, cupping it, playing with it. Lexie stroked his inner thigh; Dmitri shivered pressing her closer to him with his free arm. She could feel him grow as their lips met again. It wasn’t as gentle as last time, it was savage, passionate. Desperate. They moaned as their hands worked. Worked to excite. Worked to release. Worked with need.

Dmitri picked Lexie up, her legs wrapping around his waist. He placed her gently on one of the beds, his lips working down, his hands worked to unbutton her uniform. The cold air tickled her skin as her uniform was slipped off her shoulders. Her bare breasts hardened in the chill, Dmitri worked his way to them, licking her nipples then pulling her down to him, drawing her into another kiss.

She finally slipped his uniform down; he shrugged it off as she kicked hers off. Then he stopped, looking down at her from the darkness of the room, something strangely soft shone through his eyes. Lexie sat up, smiling at him sweetly, and wrapped her legs around his waist. His manhood stood erected between them as she leaned in to kiss him, tangling her hand in his hair. As she deepened the kiss she rose up, easing them together. They both gasped when they met, Dmitri pulled back from her in wide eyed shock as he regarded her. She smiled, still gasping. Lexie reached for his hand and led it to her breast, and then she pulled him into another embrace as she rocked him into her.

Pain and pleasure became one as the darkness slowly surrounded them. They fell into a rhythm, pumping into each other. Lexie broke away to gasp for breath, Dmitri smiled as he used that moment to force her back to the mattress. She strengthened her hold in his waist as he began to thrust harder, the bed squeaking in protest. Lexie grabbed his back, her nails digging into his skin; Dmitri let out a moan as he continued bending down to met her lips.

Lexie gasped as blinding pleasure radiated through her. She thrust into him greedily. Letting out a great moan that echoed back. She flipped him. She looked down on him in the darkness as her hips pumped; sweat broke out on her skin as another wave of pleasure crashed through her. She bent down and locked him in a kiss; biting his lip she worked her hands gently over his torso. Felling his skin prickle, his nipples harden under her palms she felt him sit up and wrap him arms around her.

Dmitri pressed her up against something. She didn’t know what it was; all she was aware of was him. His body. The pleasure the still radiated through her body as he continued to thrust. He braced himself on it. The wall. Her mind vaguely supplied before he pulled her into a kiss. She rewrapped her legs as she traced down to him neck with her lips. His moaning started to get louder, more intense. He seemed to grow inside her, she gasped as her eyes rolled back in pleasure. “Faster,” she moaned into his neck as she hung onto him.

He thrust faster and faster into her, they moaned as pleasure exploded from them both. She leaned back against the wall as he continued; she tangled her hand through his hair and pulled him to her mouth. Needing to taste him, needing to feel his mouth of hers. He moaned into her mouth. His body shook as he pressed further into her; he broke away as he thrust for a final time. She screamed as he came inside her.

They looked at each other for many minutes, still wrapped, still gasping for breath. Their skin glistened with sweat in the light of the flame from the torch, and their eyes sparkled. Dmitri leaned forward and gently kissed Lexie’s lips, “I love you,” he whispered into her ear before she kissed him back.

As they collapsed into each other’s arms. Lexie’s hand unconsciously traced along the ear piece as she heard the voice give a quiet chuckle.

Anya smiled down at the board as Victor’s hand slapped the table. He let out a great laugh, “Well, my dear,” he said joyfully, “It seems my luck might finally be turning around.”

She glanced up at him, “Really,” she purred over at him, “How is that?”

“I still have three pieces on the board, and the second day has ended.”

Victor took another drink of his bloody wine. Alexander eyed his Lords. “As do I, love,” she purred, “Don’t forget that.”

Victor scoffed, “The only players you have left are pawns.”

Anya cocked one of her eye brows, “You think so? Interesting.”

Victor glared, “What is?”

“How two people can see a situation in two completely different ways, my dear.”

Alexander gulped. Victor’s glare slowly slid into a sly smile as he regarded his wife, “We shall see, my dear,” he growled, “We shall soon see.”



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