"I thought you said you knew the way to the rebel base," Cora grumbled, "Citlali says we're reaching the forest border. There's dangerous animals in there."
"And who told you that? The capital? Your parents? Please, the most dangerous animal in here is me," Jaxon snickered at his own joke, "And to be honest, I'm less terrifying than a bunny. I know where it is, don't worry, sweetheart."
"How much further? Citlali is freezing and," Cora was cut off by Jaxon.
"She's a droid! They can handle the cold. You, on the other hand, should be worried. You could catch a cold. Which is why you should have prepared better when you decided to find the Not Dead Green Eyed People crew with me."
"Once again, that's a stupid name. And I won't catch a cold, I'll just turn my hand into antibiotics or something. That works, right?" Cora asked as sardonically as possible.
"Don't be so sarcastic. And the Not Dead Green Eyed People crew is a great name. It perfectly sums up the entire point of our organization. To find green eyed people who aren't dead because of one thing or another," Jaxon retorted, "Now shut up. You don't want to cause any trouble so deep in the woods."
"I thought you were the most dangerous - mmmph!" Jaxon covered Cora's mouth with his hand, shushing her temporarily. He glanced into the forest, a small frown appearing on his face as he scanned their surroundings.
"Be very quiet from now on," Jaxon ordered, his voice taking on a new tone, "Besides the NDGEP crew, there's also all the outcasts the Capital sends here. Some of them sent here for good reason, too. You don't want to catch their attention. Trust me."
"They send all the outcasts here?" Cora squeaked.
"Yes, so be quiet," Jaxon hissed, "I had a nasty run in with one of them before and I really do not want to relive that experience. We're almost at the base; do you really want to die five minutes away from freedom?"
"It's not exactly freedom but I don't want to die," Cora hissed back, "Hurry up, then!"
The walk was silent after that, Cora reluctantly trailing after Jaxon. She'd immediately snap her head towards any noise coming from the trees, a frightful look on her face, as if expecting some horrid monster to jump out.
"We're here," Jaxon finally spoke, tapping his foot on a rock three times. The rock slid to the left, a small passageway revealed. Jaxon grinned, pulling out a flashlight from his pocket. The passage lit up, and Cora could clearly see the tiling on the floor and ceiling as well as railing on either side.
"Welcome to the base of the Not Dead Green Eyed People crew!" Jaxon announced triumphantly, "Where we can train and hone our weird powers without dying! There's no Panterran trackers out, here! Welcome to Outcast Forest!"
"You people really aren't very good at naming places," Cora muttered, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an entire list of questions for whoever your leader is."
"That would be me," a voice echoed through the corridor, "Come in, Cora."
Theron's office was rather small. There was a desk and a cabinet, and although he'd never admit it, both were more for decoration than actual need for a desk and a cabinet. In fact, the cabinet was completely empty and the desk was cleared off save for a mug of tea.
"Cora Li," Theron addressed Cora, "It is an honor for you to finally join us in the Green Eyed Survivors Crew. You'll get a roommate right after -"
"Excuse me, Mr. Theron, but I have some questions for you. First off, what is this whole experiment thing you pulled on me that gave these weird powers?" Cora demonstrated by turning her hand to match the table, "Secondly, how are you all still alive? All the green eyed people were wiped out years ago!"
"All your questions will be answered in due time," Theron answered cryptically, "And you shall address me as either Sir or Theron. None of that Mr. Theron business."
"I want my answers now. I've been cooped up for seventeen years and I should at least get this freaky power thing answered!" Cora growled, a scowl forming on her face. Theron shrugged, adjusting his glasses, before handing Cora a cup of tea. Cora pushed it away, glaring at Theron. He seemed completely unfazed.
"Stay calm, Cora," Theron said in a monotone voice, "The one to lose is the first to get mad. As I was saying, you will be getting a roommate soon. However, as all our bunks are full, I suppose you shall have to live in your dorm alone for a while. Jaxon can take you to 19B."
"I want my answers," Cora repeated.
"You'll get them soon enough," Theron answered, "Now, you're going to miss orientation if you don't hurry up."
Citlali was waiting for Cora when she came out of the office. Already looking completely different, it seemed that someone had wiped away all of the dirt from Citlali and updated her programming. Her arms now had 5 fingers instead of 2, and her once cylindrical shape had been replaced with that of a somewhat more human-like gourd.
"Who gave you new updates?" Cora asked, picking at Citlali's control panel for a closer look at what had been installed. Citlali whirled around, shutting her control panel. Cora made a note that full rotation had been installed as well.
"People wearing blue masks came and updated my programming," Citlali answered, "They said they were friends of Creator. My scanner has now been updated. Please face me so I can do a recognition scan."
"Alright," Cora grinned, turning to face her droid. Citlali quickly scanned Cora's face, before her scanner turned blue again.
"People also installed schedule program," Citlali continued, "It is now 5 o'clock in the morning. Due to orientation for new members, you are to report to the Community Center in 10 minutes. My newly installed map directs you this way."Cora hurried to keep up with Citlali, who had already started whirring down the hallway. The community center was a round room, with chairs in a semicircle on one side and a large screen on the other. When Cora entered, a few others were already sitting. They didn't seem to know each other, and were instead just staring down at their hands.
"Hey," Cora whispered to another girl as she placed Citlali in the seat beside her. The girl looked up, glanced at Cora's green eyes, before turning her own down again.
"How did they find you?" the girl asked, "Before or after the guards?""Guards?" Cora repeated, "You were caught by the Sovereign guards?""You're quite lucky if you weren't," the girl answered, "It was a day before my execution. Theron himself had to come find me in order..."Cora fell silent. All the years cooped up in the house, she had always longed to go outside. But this girl, she had gone out and her life had almost ended. She looked down at her hands, and Cora could see a faint scar running over her left eye.There was so much wrong with it, Cora realized. "Were all of them almost caught?" Cora whispered, gesturing at the others sitting around the room. "From what I know, you're the only one who wasn't caught and brought to the King's prisons."Cora stayed silent for the remainder of the time spent waiting for the orientation process to begin.
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