Zugzwang

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Chapter 13

Lexie took a deep breath. She felt the air expand her lungs, felt her heart beat faster, felt the adrenaline flow through her veins. Her eyes never strayed from the large man before her. He carried a lazer firmly clutched in his fist, his Citizen uniform was soiled and ripped, his eyes were wild as he searched about himself desperately. As if he already knew what was about to happen to him.

Lexie slipped her lazer out of her pocket as she took another deep breath. Her eyes locked on what the man’s other fist held- a sack of canned food. It might as well have been gold. Lexie felt her emotions drain away as she raised her lazer. The man looked about frantically still, but in all the wrong places. Lexie pulled the trigger. The hint of a whistle rushed through the air as the beam shot forward. The man jerked back with the force of the blast—smoke slowly curled up into the air. Lexie waited. She did dare move. She was probably not the only person to follow the fool to a dark street. Nothing happened. Soon the smoke stopped rising from the corpse, soon the lazer grew cold in her hand; only then did she step out of the shadows.

One step. She waited. The familiar whistling did not break the silence. She was alone. Lexie sighed and slipped her laser back into her pocket. Sprinting, she grabbed the sack and rushed back to the shadows. Taking a deep breath she felt her emotions rush back.

She clutched the sack until her knuckles were white and the thick fabric bit into her skin. She rushed down the alley. Vex would get his food— at least she would be closer to his trust. The voice laughed. She was getting good at ignoring it.

Around corners, through a few more alleys and she finally heard them. “Why the flipping fuck should I know where the bloody hell she went?”

“The boss said to watch her,” came the snarl to reply to the growl, “ya remember that, you dumb fuck?”

“Since when did he become my fucking boss. I don’t remember voting him leader.”

Lexie walked out of the shadows and leaned against a light pole. She had found the crew she had been assigned to. Two large men with even larger lazers clutched in their fists stood red faced screaming at each other. They were sweating with either fury or heat, it was hard to tell. About them stood the rest of the crew. Maryanne was a skinny woman that looked as if she wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if it slapped her in the face. She had taken Lexie under her wing as if Lexie needed protecting. Lexie liked her. Tim looked like what he was in the Citizen rule- a business man. A fat man who was used to working behind a desk, not running about the city looking for food. And last was Gregory, Lexie didn’t think he was more then eleven. He was quiet and by far the smallest of the group, useful for getting into tight spaces.

Lexie stared at the two larger men. Jackson snarled and waved his gun in John’s face, “Since when was it my bloody fucking job to watch the damned student. She would kill the lot of us in our sleep if she had the chance, mark my words, you pissant-“

“John,” the other growled, “My bloody name is John.

“Fine, JOHN, mark my bloody words. Those students will be the death of all of us.”

Maryanne sighed, “they are only children, and there are only two of them and how many others? I think we’re safe.”

Jackson glared at Maryanne, “look what happened to their school. How many do you think it took to do that?”

“One,” Lexie chimed in, the others jumped and looked around at her, “It would only take one. Maybe two if the lone one didn’t know how to build a bomb. But believe me it wasn’t a student that set that thing off.”

“Where the fuck have you been?”

Lexie cocked her eye brow at John. She stepped forward and placed the bag between the two men, “you were moving a little slow for my tastes. Arguing which way would have the most food was not exactly my speed.”

Tim stepped forward with wide eyes as he lifted the flap of the sack away from the cans, “Where did you get these?”

“Followed a man who was carrying them off. I…relieved him of his heavy burden, after all I was a lot younger then him,” she tried to smile reassuringly, “Now where are we off to next?”

Jackson glared down at her but she ignored him. John stared at her uncertain for a few moments but quickly snapped out of it as he turned to regard the sun, “we only have a few minutes of daylight left,” he mumbled, “we should be getting back.”

“I’m not going back with a fucking student,” Jackson snarled.

“You are fully welcome to stay behind,” Lexie smiled, “I hear the people that are prowling the city are very understanding to people who come to take the food that they are scavenging.”

Jackson bared his teeth down at Lexie and tightened his grip on his lazer. “Jackson,” John warned, “we were given orders.”

“By a man we didn’t elect.”

“Do you even know what ‘elect’ means,” Lexie asked curiously, “no one has been elected in centuries and suddenly everyone is a expert.”

“Lexie,” Maryanne warned softly.

Lexie glanced back. Maryanne’s lips were pressed together in a tight line, she held her arms stiffly at her sides and her eyes were fixed on Jackson. Lexie snatched up the sack, “After you then,” she growled at the two larger men.

John turned on his heel and rushed away, he didn’t look back. Lexie didn’t blame him, it would likely only start another argument. Slowly the others started to follow until it was only Lexie and Jackson. “So what did they use to say about us,” Lexie asked as she started to follow the others.

“Who?”

“The peace keepers.”

“How the bloody hell should I know?”

Lexie looked back at him and rolled her eyes, “what else would you have done?”

Jackson’s jaw set firmly, Lexie noticed his hand clutching his lazer until his knuckles were white, he just kept on walking as if she hadn’t spoken. Lexie smirked.

They rushed through various empty streets, they met no one until they came to the mob’s claimed area. This side of the mobs streets had the makings of a wall. The wall was built out of various wood and metals that had been literally torn off various destructed buildings and then thrown into a pile. Two guards stood beside the openings. Once they noticed the group coming they stepped forward and raised their make shift weapons at John. The group stopped. “Identify yourselves,” one of the guards said mechanically, Lexie could just make out the outline of a lazer in the inseam of their jackets, easy reach Lexie noted before turn her attention back on John.

“Scouting group 23A,” he mumbled, “Coming back because of dying daylight.”

“Passcode?”

“The blood is cold.”

The guards lowered their weapons and motioned them forward and into the busy streets. Lexie passed the sack to John, “Here, you give it to Vex.”

John took it reluctantly, “He usually likes to speak with the people who bring back the supplies himself.”

“He knows where to find me. He’s the one who assigned me to the fuckin’ rooms in the first place.”

Lexie slipped into the crowds before John could say another word. She ducked around women carrying various clothing, some with the soiled uniforms while others were loaded down with what looked like pristine uniforms without a hint of dust or smoke damage on them. Men carried pieces of wood and metal, most likely carrying it to another part of the street for the next part of the wall.

She had only been in the streets of the mob for a handful of hours but already she could feel the eyes that bore into her back when people thought she wasn’t paying attention. She could sense the way people pulled away a little too quickly. Her school uniform marked her as different, marked her as something to be feared. She was a legend that suddenly walked among them and was not supervised by the peace keepers and the Lords. That frightened them. Lexie could almost feel the target painted on her back. Her and Dmitri wouldn’t last the night..

She ducked into building 232 and rushed up the stairs. She slipped into her room before registering that the door was open. She froze. It had only been a crack but it was enough.. Her eyes swept the room as she still stood frozen to her spot. She strained her ears to hear anything, anything at all. The noise from the crowd drifted in from the window. Had they left that open? She didn’t remember ever opening it.

“Dmitri?”

“He’s out scouting,” Lexie jumped despite herself and turned towards the voice.

She growled as Vex slid out of the shadows. He smiled down at her sweetly, “I’m sorry to frighten you.”

“You could have said something sooner.”

“But this was a lot more fun, wasn’t it?”

Lexie ignored him as she went to sit in one of the chairs by the open window, “Your lackeys are looking for you. They want to show you what we brought back from the scout.”

“Ah,” Vex mused as he took the chair opposite her, “and what did you find?”

“A sack a canned food,” Lexie shrugged, “Not much else.”

“Interesting.”

“What is?”

“You sent them ahead and came back here…why?”

“I don’t see how that matters.”

Vex shrugged, “I’m curious-“

“A lot of us are now a days.”

Vex smiled but continued on, “I’m curious as to why you? Of all people why you?”

Lexie tensed, “What are you talking about?”

Vex slipped out a lazer from his pocket and lazily pointed it over at Lexie, “Why are you still wearing an ear piece?”

“Old habits die hard,” she muttered, she felt the lazer pressing against her leg through the fabric of her pants. She resisted the urge to draw it.

“It’s more then that, isn’t it?” Vex smiled, “It’s more then habits or teaching. It’s fun. Isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“I haven’t actually gotten the instructions to blow you away,” Vex purred, “But I’m willing to bet that they will come soon. What do you say? Want to take that wager? Think you could beat me?”

“You think I can’t?”

Vex laughed, it was a harsh sound that cut through the air like ice. Lexie bit her tongue to keep from flinching. She wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. “I know you can’t, Lexington. I know you.”

“I thought we had passed your test.”

Vex laughed cheerily, “You might have, and I might have just done that to prove a point. Did you really think we could have a meaningful conversation with body guards listening to everything we were saying? Not to mention you’re idiotic boy toy.”

“So it was a ploy.”

“Yes.”

“That wasn’t a question.”

“I answered it,” Vex grinned widely as he swayed his lazer back and forth, “Now what to do about this little predicament we seem to find ourselves in.”

“You seem to think you have everything figured out,” Lexie purred, “But just remember one thing, Vex. You are the one who found me. You are the one who brought us here. I didn’t walk in of my own free will.”

Vex’s eyes fixed on her. Lexie held her breath, waiting for his response, any response. Suddenly he slipped his lazer back into his coat and stood, “Have a good rest of your day,” he smiled as he strolled out of the room not even bothering to close the door behind him.

Lexie count the footsteps until she was sure he was gone. She leaned back in her chair and massaged her aching temples. She heard Dmitri rush into the room before she actually saw him. “Are you alright?”

“Why wouldn’t I be,” she asked without even looking up at him.

“I just saw Vex…”

“Right, he wanted to welcome us again and say what an incredible asset to the mob we are.”

“Really?”

Lexie rolled her eyes, looking up at him, “No.”

Dmitri sat down hard in the chair Vex had been in only moments before, “That would have solved so many problems.”

Lexie didn’t answer; instead she stared at the blank walls of the room. They were pristine white, almost blindingly white, as the sunlight that streamed in through the windows shone off of them. It gave off a glow that seemed to fill up the whole room; she craved the safety of darkness. Darkness could hide you, darkness could disguise you, and darkness almost never betrayed you. The bartender in the square, the man on the rooftop, the master of the floor, had they all betrayed her? Could it even be twisted into something like that? Or did it just boil down to the basic instinct of staying alive?

The shocked expression of the bartender rushed before her eyes. She could still see him reaching for his lazer too slowly. Always too slow. She could hear the lazer beams echoing off of the deserted street as the man from the rooftop fired down on them. His beams hitting walls, hitting the ground at their feet, hitting Ari.

Lexie took a deep breath. Ari had lived through that.

The master of the floor had made sure she had woken up. He had given her a chance to run. She didn’t take it. She had hidden in the darkness and he had come looking. It had only been a few hours ago; his blood on her shoes had long since dried. She didn’t dare glance at it; she didn’t look away from the wall.

Ari. Ari had always been there. Through the school, through the trials, through everything. And now she wasn’t. Lexie had done that. Lexie had pulled the trigger. Emotions threatened to break through the surface of her mind, the icy ache started to form at the back of her throat. It wasn’t safe here, Ari hadn’t been safe and Lexie knew it was a matter of time before the two of them where ‘disposed of’. As long as they wore the uniforms, as long as people knew who they were, they were not safe. She clenched her hands into fists and forced her fleeing emotions to the back of her mind. They would end up like Ari.

Lexie glanced towards Dmitri, who sat staring out the window at the busy street below. He looked tired, Lexie hadn’t noticed, dark circles lined his eyes and his hair was a matted mess. His uniform, like her own, was dusty with rubble and ripped from slipping through the city. Under all the grime he looked pale and worn. She took a deep breath and turned back to the wall, “We have to leave.”

“I know,” Dmitri whispered, “I was just hoping this place was safe.”

A small smile played across her lips, “That’s a little-“

“Stupid?”

“I was going to say…optimistic.”

Dmitri gave a halfhearted chuckle, “How do we get out?”

“I don’t know,” Lexie muttered glancing out the window towards one of the walls, “but we have to think of something soon. I don’t think we would last a night here.”

Dmitri nodded, “I guess the Lords brain washed the people a little too well. They are still afraid of students.”

Lexie stood, “I would be surprised if they weren’t. Us being trained killers and all.”

“I always forget that detail.”

Lexie started to pace. Clenching and unclenching her fists as she moved. She was aware of Dmitri watching her, she was aware of his concerned expression, but she was also aware of the noise on the street quieting down. She took a deep breath, “They would have patrols,” she finally said.

“What?”

“They would have patrols on the walls. Think back to the master of strategies class, it is the logical thing to do, especially when various people are trying to steal food from around the city.”

“Right,” Dmitri nodded, clearing his throat nervously, “Makes sense.”

“There might also be a curfew installed. It’s improbable that they reestablished the electricity to all of the buildings even if they did somehow hack into on of the streetlight systems. That means that a lot of the people would be off the street anyway.”

“Am I supposed to respond to any of this or are you just talking.”

Lexie ignored him, “So if we start to leave we have to go immediately. If they do have a curfew they would notice if someone left but they would not notice if someone didn't come back. At least not right away.”

Lexie started to head towards the door, “Are we going now?”

“Weren’t you listening,” she murmured over her shoulder as she slowly eased the door open and peered into the hallway.

It was empty. The doors tightly shut, the stairs silent, and not a sound as she slipped out of the room. She felt rather then saw Dmitri close behind her. She eased her lazer out of her pocket as she crept toward the staircase, testing the floorboards before she put her weight on them. She leaned forward to see around the bend, nothing. No one waited with a ready lazer, no one stood guard- maybe Vex wasn’t as smart as Lexie feared he was. Maybe that’s what he wanted her to think. She tentatively stepped on the first step.

It didn’t make a sound but still she held her breath. Nothing. She silently sighed and motioned for Dmitri to follow. Slowly, painfully slowly they made their way down. Lexie still hold her lazer in a tight, ready grip.

The hallway below seemed to be plunged in darkness. Lexie hurried toward the front door. She glanced out the front window and then jumped back to the safety of the shadows. “Wouldn’t happen to have any ideas about how to get passed those patrols would you?”

Dmitri shrugged from where he had stopped at the foot of the stairs, “Back window?”

“Maybe,” Lexie muttered as she crept towards the door labeled ‘Number 3’, “Let’s just hope no one’s home.”

Dmitri grunted as he followed closely. The back hallway was no much different from the ones above. Doors tightly shut, silent, and a hint of stale air as they made their way through. Lexie sniffed as the staleness burned her nose, “It’s only been three days how could there already be dust?”

“Ash.”

“What?”

“It’s probably ash, not dust,” Dmitri said as he gently brushed her shoulder to make sure where she was.

“Ash…right.”

They turned another corner, a dim light shone from Number 3. It wasn’t a bright light but it was enough to light there way forward. Lexie slipped into the room. The light came from a small candle that sat next to the open window. The drapes swayed in the breeze and the candle gently flickered as she neared it. She heard Dmitri enter behind her. “It’s too easy,” he whispered.

She nodded, she new that but what choice did they really have? That candle was placed there on purpose but if they opened any of the other doors and Citizens were behind them then they would be just as dead. Lexie slipped the lazer back into her pocket, “We shouldn’t be too far away from the other side of the wall, they can’t patrol all of it all of the time with the limited man power they have. We just have to run for an unpatrolled portion and hide in the first abandoned building we find. Shouldn’t be too hard.”

She could hear Dmitri chuckle, “We don’t know where the other wall is, or how big the mob’s area is…we’ve just got guesses.”

She glared over where he stood checking the hallway, “And that is all we are likely to get. Come on.”

She saw his shoulders slump as she eased the window open wider. The window faced an alley that ran beside the buildings, Lexie glanced at the ends of the alleys. No one stood watch; no one was pointing a lazer at her just waiting for her to make her move. She jumped into the alley and moved out of the way for Dmitri to come down. She slipped her lazer out of her pocket to keep watch, that when it happened.

Night turned into day, the ground shook from under them until even Lexie lost her footing as the sounds of chaos filled the air. Lexie lost her breath as Dmitri fell onto of her. Lexie pushed him off of her as she pulled herself up, “What the bloody hell was that?

“What,” Dmitr shouted, rubbing his head, Lexie could just make out the gleam of blood dripping from his right ear.

Lexie opened her mouth to respond when a blaring roar erupted. Lexie screamed, but her voice didn’t carry to her ears. The noise seemed to encompass everything around her. She snapped her hands over her ears and willed her feet to steady as the ground shook.

Soon everything stopped and she dared to pull away her hands from her ears. Ringing was all she heard. A suddenly dizziness gripped her as she tried to walk towards Dmitri, towards where he knelt in the fetal position with his hands firmly clasped over his ears. She shook her head, trying to clear it. She groaned, biting back nausea as she forced one foot in front of the other.

She grabbed one of Dmitri’s hands away from his ear. He looked up sharply, eyes wide and mouth hanging open. “We have to go!” she shouted at him, trying to hear herself above the ringing in her ears.

Dmitri stare at her, growing paler as the seconds ticked by. Lexie was about to shout at him again when he clicked his mouth shut and stiffly nodded. She pulled him to his feet, holding onto him for balance as they both staggered toward the mouth of the alley.

“That,” Victor growled, hold his goblet tightly in his hand, “was a sly trick.”

“I thought you would enjoy the flare,” Anya chuckled, “You were always one for flare.”

“Indeed, but you have finally made a mistake.”

“Oh?”

“You have left but one little pawn, and here I sit with two players and a herd of Citizens that will do whatever I ask of them. You are slipping.”

Anya smiled, shrugging her thin shoulders, “Sometimes the greatest matches come from the most unlikely of possibilities.”

“Poetic.”

“Truth.”

Victor took another sip from his goblet as his eyes traveled back to the board. Alexander held his breath.

Shouting. That was the first thing Lexie understood when the ringing finally started to subside. People were shouting. People were running. Some people might have even been screaming. “So much for sneaking out quietly,” Lexie muttered angrily to herself as she rushed down the street holding Dmitri’s wrist in an iron grip.

The explosion had taken out at least two of the boarding houses. More had probably been destroyed, she didn’t care to look. The muffled cries of the Citizens around her were easy to ignore when she couldn’t understand them, but every moment that past the words got clearer and clearer. Women screaming for children. Children screaming for mothers. Men screaming for water. The world had become one massive screaming contest and Lexie was stuck in the middle of it.

People pressed together, forcing their way through the throng. Some going towards the fires, some running away, some searching the crowd for faces they had lost. Lexie ducked her head down and forced her way through. A hand locked on Lexie’s shoulder. She grabbed it with her free hand and pulled sharply, hoping to knock the person off balance. Lexie let go of Dmitri and brought her other hand around the strike the nose but he caught her wrist. It was Hydson.

Lexie growled and pulled out of his grasp. “What do you want?”

Hydson cocked an eyebrow, Lexie fought down the serious urge to stomp on his foot, “You should’ve stayed in your rooms with lover boy,” he called over the crowd, his eyes flickering to Dmitri for a split second, “Vex wants to see you.”

“I’m sure Vex has bigger problems to deal with,” Lexie started to turn away.

Hydson grabbed her wrist again, “It would be wise for him to make that decision himself, Citizen.”

“What happened to destroying the ‘Citizen’ and bringing the individual? Forget that?”

Hydson opened his mouth, his eyes widening as Lexie smirked at his bewildered expression. “Thought so.”

She stomped on his foot. Hydson went down with a curse forming on his lips, Lexie pushed Dmitri in the to swarming crowd, “Run,” she shouted at him before she ducked into the throng going the opposite way. “Forget him,” the voice said in her ear, “Keep going.”

Lexie lost her footing and almost fell under the feet of the people swarming around her. “You come in at the most inconvenient times, you know that right?”

The voice laughed.

Lexie ducked, swerved, and battled her way through the crowd. As she pressed forward it seemed to get brighter, her sweat soaked into her uniform. Lexie allowed herself to glance up. “Fuck,” she muttered as the blaze of the boarding houses stood before her.

The crowds thinned as she continued to press on, not allowing herself to pause. Men threw buckets of water on the burning structures, it didn’t seem to be helping. Lexie had been right. Four of the buildings had been taken out in the explosion- one of them was Vex’s. Had he been there when it went off? Lexie found herself wishing but she was never that lucky.

She raced into the nearby alley that stood near the burning buildings and raced along it’s shadows. She ignored the heat as she ran, she ignored the bursting windows and falling boards. She ignored the pain as one of the window shards sliced her face. She ignored thoughts of Dmitri and thoughts of Vex until she saw it. The wall, or what was left of it, stood two streets over. She could just make it out as she flew out of the alley.

The crowd was dying down as she pushed her way into another throng of people. Citizens still raced about but most raced for the opening in the wall, the same one Lexie ran toward. Pushing and shoving her way towards it into the uncertain darkness beyond Lexie had no idea where she was going. She had no idea where Dmitri would try to go or if he would even make it out of the mob. “Don’t think, just go,” commended the voice, Lexie willingly obeyed.

She quickly climbed the debris that had fallen off the wall and jumped down the other side at a run. She couldn’t stop; she wouldn’t let herself even think about stopping. The screams of the crowd died in her ears until only the eerie silence of the city survived around her. The ringing was still there, it was faint but still lingered.

She didn’t know how long she ran. She only felt her feet numb and her breath set a fire in her lungs. She only stopped when rubble caused her to lose her footing and sent her spawling to the ground. Lexie lay there just breathing, forcing her breath to slow, willing the feeling back into her feet.

She forced herself to sit up. Across from where she sat was the bar that Dmitri, Ari and her sat only days ago, Lexie stared at it. It seemed like so long ago that the three of them sat at a table and joked. Had they really joked? Had nothing else mattered? No, Lexie shook her head, that wasn’t exactly true either. They were students. Living mattered, but in that moment- after the pictures, after the lessons, after everything- they were still human. Lexie chuckled, I guess that’s one way of putting it.

The silence was overwhelming. It crashed down on her ears like a drum beat. The city was lifeless now. Everyone was gone.

Footsteps crunched from behind her. Lexie tensed, aware of the lazer in her pocket. When had she slipped it in there? While she ran? When she was in the alley before the explosion? She couldn’t remember. It didn’t seem to matter anymore. “I thought I might find you here. Funny how you could be so predictable.”

“Your mob is broken,” Lexie snapped, “No henchmen to protect you now.”

Vex’s footsteps grew louder as he approached, his came around her and seemed to glow in the light of the moon. “Who says I need henchmen? That’s such an old term anyway,” he mused, “I prefer gaurds.”

Lexie cocked an eyebrow, “I think that term might be even older.”

Vex chuckled, his usually crisp clothing torn and stained, “you may be right.”

“Kill him,” the voice whispered, “When you get an opening, kill him.”

Lexie’s hand slid closer to her pocket. “I tend to be on occasion.”

“Refreshing,” Vex purred as he slowly drew out his lazer and pointed it at Lexie, “I find it refreshing when two people can be straight forward with each other, don’t you?”

“Usually, but as of right now…I might have to reflect a little bit more on that.”

“Smart.”

Lexie smiled, slowly standing, “So what’s the plan?”

“What do you care?”

“You’re the one who likes people to be straight forward, so I’m being blunt. What’s the plan?”

“Kill you and take over the city.”

“Very elaborate,” Lexie smirked, “And what of the Lords? You think they are just going to let you ‘rule’ their city?”

“The Lords are dead.”

“We both know that’s a lie.”

“It may as well be truth.”

“Is that why they keep talking to us? Is that why we have been following their orders these last few days? I thought you were a lot smarter then this, Vex. I’m a little disappointed.”

Lexie thought she saw him tense but it was hard to tell. He stepped closer to her, “I will rule this city, and I will kill the Lords.”

“Then let me ask you one question. Why do you still call them Lords? If you hate them so much why don’t you call them what they really are? Vampires. Say it Vex, Vampires.”

“Keep going,” the voice cooed, “Find your opening.”

Lexie stepped forward, “It’s a simple word. Vampire. V-A-M-P-I-R-E. Can you even spell it, you stupid fuck?”

The square grew very still. Lexie smiled over at Vex, he held his arm out straighter, pointing his lazer at her face, “What do you call me?”

Lexie chuckled, “You think you are so smart. You think you can rule this city when the very people you want to over throw are controlling you as we speak. They made all of this happen for FUN. Do you get that? We are just puppets to them! What could you do to possibly hurt them? How can you kill the gods on the hill?”

“Shut up.”

“You are just an ant under their boot. Nothing but a slippery little fucker that is a pain in the ass and can be crushed with a thumb when you become too annoying. What happens when their game is done? How long do you think they’ll keep you alive? How long do you think it’ll take before they come for you?”

“Shut up!”

Lexie stepped forward, “I think you’re scared,” she smiled as she walked right up to his lazer and leaned her forehead into it, “I think they terrify you and the only way you can beat your demons is to imagine you’re just as good as they are. News flash, Vex, YOU’RE NOT!”

“SHUT UP!”

Lexie punched him in the face; she felt the skin of her knuckles crack and started to bleed. She grabbed Vex’s hand that held the lazer and twisted, making the lazer fly from his grasp. She stomped on his foot. Vex yelped and crumpled to the ground. Anger flared inside of Lexie, she didn’t draw her lazer. That would have been quick. She kicked Vex’s lazer into the darkness of the alley beyond them and stomped on the hand that had reached for it. She heard the bones crack as he screamed, but it wasn’t loud enough. She stomped on his hand again, feeling the bones snap as her heel connected with flesh.

Vex pulled his broken hand to his chest as he looked up at her. He tried to scramble away but Lexie was faster, Lexie had been trained for this. She grabbed his shirt collar and punched, she ignored the pain of her knuckles as they connected with bones and teeth. She ignored how her nails bit into the palm of her hand each time she hit his face. She couldn’t stop. Wouldn’t stop.

She let go of his collar and grabbed a handful of his hair. Even in the dim light of the moon she could make out the bruises that were going to form on his face. It wasn’t going to be enough. One eye was already swollen but the other was only circled in a black bruise. She glared and she swung her leg around to straddle him, “This is for Ari,” she snarled as she threw his head down with all of her might towards the cement of the square. “This is for the Master,” she threw it down again, Vex’s eyes rolled back, blood started to color that pavement and trickle down his chin. “This is for Eugene,” she threw his head down again, a sickening crunch echoed off the empty store fronts as the ash around her began to flow with blood. “And this, fucker,” Lexie gasped, blinking away the tears that threatened to escape, “this is for my brother,” she threw his head to the cement one more time. He didn’t move. He didn’t breath, his chest didn’t rise and fall. He was gone.

Lexie slowly let go of his hair and scrambled off of him. She was shaking. She looked down at Vex’s body, the anger that had fueled her only moments ago had fled. She felt nothing. His blood caked her hand, she knew he wouldn’t get up ever again. “Be sure,” the voice purred in her head, “No doubts.”

Lexie didn’t have any doubts but she didn’t argue. It was hard to argue when you felt empty. Numbly she pulled out her lazer and aimed it at Vex’s head. She breathed in to calm herself, her hand stopped shaking, and breathed out but there were no emotions to drain. She pulled the trigger.

The body jerked. Lexie lowered the lazer and breathed. “Go right, get out of the city,” the voice said.

Lexie turned and ran in the direction the voice commanded.



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