Jamie is awakened by the sound of his cell opening. “Can I help you guys with something?” he asks.
“Have you seen this kid?” a guard in all black with peach fuzz on his chin asks.
Jamie stares at the picture, then looks up at the guard. “I’m not saying anything until Amanda gets here.”
“Where is my son, you sick bastard?” the guard asks.
“You do know children were being kidnapped and killed way before I came along, don’t you?”
“You killed my son, didn’t you, you sick son of a bitch?” he screams in Jamie’s face.
“I’m sure no one would care if I killed you a day early, but if they do, this feeling of satisfaction I’m about to get makes up for that.”
“This seems like a personal vendetta. Are you sure you want to do this?” Jamie asks before he gets punched in the face. He falls to the ground and backs himself into a corner. The guard walks up to him, bends down, grabs him by the shirt, and throws a punch toward his jaw. “Wait!” He is hit by another punch. “Wait! Killing me would be pointless.” Blood drools from his mouth. “Are you the only one working here who is missing a child? I’m sure more people here are. If they’re not missing a kid, I’m sure they have relatives who are—maybe a nephew or niece. I’m sure they’re looking for some type of closure. And what about you? I’m sure your kinfolk are missing someone!”
The guard stops punching for a few seconds. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you. Lucky for you, they found the girl you want to speak to. You’d better uphold your end of the bargain, because if you don’t, this ass-whooping is a pillow fight compared to what’s going to happen. As for now, I’m just going to continue to hurt you really, really badly.”
Jamie grins, then continues to be punched.
The sisters and Kid arrive at ATRA and are immediately approached by Demitri and two other guards.
“Amanda, I need you to come with me,” Demitri says.
“Sure. What’s wrong?” Amanda follows Demitri with her sister and Kid right behind her.
“Jamie is here, and he won’t give us any information unless he talks to you.”
“Okay. That’s a weird request. What does any of this have to do with me?”
“You can ask him yourself.” Demitri leads the way to Jamie’s cell.
Jamie sees Amanda and walks over to the cell door. His face is battered; he has a broken nose, busted lip, missing teeth, a bloodshot red eye that’s barely open, a gash above the other eye, and a bloody face. “Amanda, I’m not going to make it out of here alive. The only reason I’m alive right now is because they think I’ve kidnapped many children and want to know where they are—but I’ve only kidnapped one. They’re not going to do anything to save my son, and they don’t care if he dies, but you do. I know you hate me, but you can’t let an innocent life fade away. Save him, then give him to your neighbor.” He winks his good eye. “No questions asked. He’ll know what to do after. Pick my son up from my house. My address is—” Jamie is suddenly electrocuted by the collar around his neck. Richard whistles and taps his foot as he holds the button shocking him.
“There’s no reason to do that! He was just talking!” Amanda says.
Richard stops pushing the button. “You’re right. Now that he’s spoken to Amanda, see if he’ll talk more. In the meantime, lock her up.”
Soldiers quickly surround Amanda, drawing their guns and pointing them at her.
“What’s going on?” Amanda shrieks, looking around. Another soldier comes through with an electric baton in his hand. He grabs Amanda’s arm, twists it, and kicks the back of her knee, making her fall to the ground, then shocks her with the electric baton.
Richard cuts through the middle. “Amanda, for your actions, you have been sentenced to death. You’re responsible for killing hundreds when you blew up a building while you were in your weird little form. You had no regard for human life, so the council will not have any for yours.”
“This is bullshit!” Kid pushes through the soldiers and looks Richard in the eye.
“I don’t have a lot of say in the matter. Not my decision. The council decides everything.” Richard stares Kid in the eyes.
“Screw the council. You know this girl can’t die. What about prophecies, and all the other stuff that’s supposed to happen?”
“I know everything you know and understand everything. The council works in mysterious ways. Going against them is how the last chief died, and I’m not trying to die. Remember what I told you your job duties were with this girl?”
When Amanda struggles, she is again shocked by the guard. Kid looks at her in desperation. “Yeah.”
“Well, do it.” Richard winks at Kid.
Kid quickly grabs Richard around the neck. Everyone fixes their guns on Kid. “You all know what I’m capable of. I can kill him before your weapons reach me. If anyone makes a move or tries anything, he’s dead. Let her go.”
“What do you want us to do, Richard?” the soldier holding Amanda asks.
“Dude, let her go. Don’t risk my life over this. If we let her go now, all we’re going to do is find her and bring her in again within minutes, so do it!”
The soldier lets Amanda go, and she pushes through him to put her hand on her sister’s shoulder. “Kid, come on,” Amanda says.
Kid drags Richard through the crowd of soldiers and stands next to Saira.
Veins bulge out of Saira’s forehead and around the outside of her eyes. Tiny black hooks sprout out of her skin where the bulging veins end, hooking onto the corners of her eyes and eyelids and pulling them to make her eyes larger.
“Everyone touch me—even you, Richard,” she orders. They all place a hand on Saira.
Saira places her hand on her chest and opens the other in front of her. They all disappear, leaving behind a sparkle of light.
All four of them end up crunched together inside a car surrounded by trees, parked on the grass overlooking the ocean. Two random strangers in hats are smoking in the front seat.
“Bro, what the fuck?” the man in the passenger seat says—someone’s foot is in his face.
“Bro! If you ask the universe for something, it will always deliver,” the man in the driver’s seat says, Richard’s butt directly in his face.
“I’m getting ready to have a panic attack down here. Hurry and pull me up. Why did you pick this place?” Amanda says, upside-down with her face on the floor mat.
“Because I didn’t have time to rest and recover any stamina after we left Ana’s realm, and this was the only vehicle I spotted within twenty miles, and I didn’t want us to be stranded in the forest. I need about ten minutes to rest my eyes in order to teleport this large group of people again,” Saira says.
“Thanks for the detailed explanation,” Amanda says.
“Everyone out of the car,” Kid yells.
The stoners get out of their car and start helping everyone out of their uncomfortable positions.
“So, are you guys aliens or something?” one of the stoners asks.
Amanda summons her guns, then points them at the stoners. “Yes. And we need your car.”
The stoners laugh. “Take it. It’s not ours, anyway. Feel free to take the blame if you get caught, too,” one says, then tosses Amanda the key.
The four get inside the car. “Alright. Where to, crew?” Amanda asks.
“The least likely place they’ll be is at Richards house. Let’s go there,” Saira suggests.
“Good thinking. I’ll show you the way,” Richard says.
“Are you going to lead us into a trap?” Amanda asks, looking at him.
“No. We’re really going to my house, and everyone needs to turn their phones off,” he says. He glows green.
“Alright he’s telling the truth. Start talking,” Amanda says, then points her gun at his head.
The crew arrives at Richard’s house and run inside.
“Alright, stay out of view of the windows,” Richard says.
“I’m glad they didn’t call my bluff. I’m completely out of electricity from being at Ana’s for so long,” Kid says.
“Who cares about what happened to you? I was zapped twice!” Amanda complains.
“We need to find out where Jamie lives,” Saira says.
“I already know where the kid is, and he’s already on his way here,” Richard says. Everyone looks at him. “Dudes, it’s not a setup. I fucking hate that place. I didn’t want to become chief, but they forced me to. I planned on helping the boy but pretended I wasn’t. The council is not to be trifled with. If they don’t like what you’re doing, they will get rid of you. Depending on what it is or what you know, you may get fired, or you may die. I don’t want to find out.”
“How do you plan on helping the boy?” Amanda asks.
“By trusting the team I have right here. Once I found out you were getting the death penalty, I already trusted Kid would act the way he did. I know this man right here. He’s loyal to the cause all the way to the end. Amanda, you are the cause that will affect the future. The road will be hard, and mistakes will happen, but your good actions will outweigh the bad. And I’m not sure who this little girl is, but I’m sure she’s good for something.”
“I’m Saira,” she says. “Tell us who is bringing his son.”
“Another ally. I only trust two people at the agency, and these two people are the only ones the council didn’t hand-pick. Kid and—” Someone knocks on the door. Kid looks through the peephole and opens it. Richard grins. “And Iri. The two strongest people in the agency. But even they will struggle against the full power of the agency. Well, Kid will. This just looks like Kid is pulling the strings and Iri is doing this to keep me alive.”
“One very sick child served cold,” Iri says, bringing in what appears to be a sleeping Lucas and sitting him on the couch.
“Is he alive?” Amanda observes the boy.
“Do you really think I would bring a dead child over here?”
“Well, he looks dead!”
Lucas lets out a weak cough.
“Now you know. I’m going back to my date.” Iri walks back out the door. “See you later, and don’t bother me again until I’m done.”
“He looks terrible. Let’s hurry up and get him to Ana.” Amanda picks up Lucas. “Who’s coming with us?”
“I need to recharge, so I’ll stay,” Kid says.
“I’ll stay and play my part from the couch. This traumatizing event has made me afraid to go back to work for the day. I’ll let the agency know I’m free and the hunt to kill has begun. These guys are invisible and dangerous. Be safe,” Richard says.
Amanda touches Saira’s shoulder. Saira touches her chest and opens her other hand. “Good luck, squad.”
By the time she finishes speaking, the two are in Ana’s cabin.
“You could have at least waited for me to finish my sentence. I wanted to look cool,” Amanda complains.
Ana glares at them from her rocking chair. “I think I’m going to take your eyes out of your head, then kill you. I’m not used to, nor do I like you showing up here—expected or unexpected.”
“Ana, we don’t have time for this. Are you going to help him like you said you would, or not?” Amanda asks.
“You were speaking to a different spirit when you heard that. I’m the one who likes to kill when I’m upset. But I do have self-control and will honor the other spirit’s words. Lay the boy on that table and leave.”
“Ana, we can’t leave right now. If we leave, we’ll be killed out there,” Amanda explains.
“That was a command, not a suggestion.” Ana’s face begins to vibrate. “There is an alternative choice. How about I turn you into a piece of chocolate and eat you? Then your blood would run through mine, making me the savior of this world. Which would make more sense, as there’s no one on this planet who can contain my might.” Her face vibrates again. “Guys, she can stay. Just make them wait in the white void while we work on the child. Amanda and Saira, please step into the white void.”
The sisters nod and walk toward the door.
“Thank you, Ana!” Ana prompts.
“Thank you, Ana,” both girls say as they walk out the door and into the white void.