Amber licked her lips as those four words echoed throughout her head. Her heart rate accelerated as fear and concern swept over her body.
“Are you my mother?” Ten asked again as she grited her teeth together and laid her hand on her tattoo.
“I think I am.”
“What do you mean you think? You either know you’re my mother or not.”
“It’s not that simple-”
“How come? Why can’t you tell if you’re my mother? Why is it hard? You either know or you don’t.”
“Like I said it’s not that simple. It was so long ago. I made myself change your face, hair color, eyes, even skin color every single day to try and forget your face. I guess somewhere over the years it worked and I couldn’t even recognize you in the videos. I do-... don’t know how that’s even possible but it’s been so long.”
“How long has it been?” Her jaw tightened and she started to make knives appear in her clenched up hands. Amber closed her eyes and bit her lip. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes. “How long has it been?!” Ten yelled as she made her knives fully visible. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“... Ten years.” The knives disappeared as the tears of anger turned to ones of sadness. Her mouth slightly hung open naturally. She met Amber in the eyes.
“Ten years...” Ten trailed off. “I barely remember two years. How old am I?”
“You were six when I gave you away so you’re around sixteen.”
“Sixteen,” Ten whispered to herself in disbelief. Up until now, she had thought she was a little more than a year old she was only fully functional a few days ago. A tear rolled down her cheek. “I’ve lost ten years of my life.” Shaking her head “You’re lying, this is crazy, those videos aren’t real. I don’t know why I believe this one is.”
“She’s telling the truth,” Dan said.
“Who are you and how could you know that?”
“I’m Dan. Amber assigned me to Center Ten ten years ago to watch you until you were killed... it soon became a mission to figure out what technology they were using so we could gather info and revolt.”
“What do you mean until I was killed? I was always a Model.” Dan shook his head.
“No, there were one hundred kids given to the Center, you were the forty-ninth collected. It took about a year to reach one hundred but during that time you were locked in a dark room, hands cuffed behind you, barely fed, and every night for twelve hours a phrase was repeated to every kid to begin to condition them before the tests.”
“What was that phrase?” Amber asked. This was the first time she was hearing anything about this. About a month after she had given Ten up, Dan had reported back to her that Ten had been killed.
Dan closed his eyes, knowing that a ten-year lie was about to surface. He had lied to Amber because he knew there was nothing any of them could do about it. Rather than telling her every month that her daughter was begging to be killed every day and that the conditions she lived in were worse than that of pigs, he told her that Ten had died peacefully in her sleep.
“What was that phrase?” Amber asked again.
“Something like ’Freedom is slavery. To wish for true freedom is to betray natural programming. Natural programming can’t be denied. To deny it is to deny ‘freedom,' " Dan recited it perfectly. He had had to hear it so many times he had unknowingly memorized it. Amber recognized that phrase as the one Ten had said.
"What tests?" Ten asked, finally breaking out of her silence.
"There were tests that every kid was put through... these tests were survival tests. It took five tests to kill off every kid except for one, you. It was decided from the beginning that the one who survived would become the Model."
Ten looked up at Amber as pure hatred and anger flooded throughout her body. She was going to kill Amber for this. Taking a step forward a static noise cause everyone to freeze. Looking down Dan saw his radio had lit up. Pressing the button he allowed the voice to come through.
"Dan?" A voice that Ten immediately recognized as the Creators came through. Dan hesitantly reached up and pressed the button to allow him to talk back.
"I have a question for you."
"Ask away sir."
"What do you call a guard who stands in one spot, which is an abandoned Center, for a long time everytime he's sent out to look for my Model?" Dan swallowed the sickening bile that had risen from his stomach. It had just now occurred to him that he was being tracked.
"A traitor." As soon as the words were heard a loud bang shot through everyone's eardrums. As soon as the noise was heard the ground shook beneath them. As if the building couldn't handle the shaking, the old roof and walls began to crumble around them. Sounds of running and gunfire could be heard outside but getting closer and closer.
Rubble and dust from the ceiling fell on them as various random rocks started to fall around them. Cracks grew going up the wall and soon the walls began to slightly shift. Amber's thoughts immediately switched to Blake, she needed to save him. She owed it to his parents to keep her promise and protect him.
Running back to Ten's room Amber found the door was closed. Looking at it she saw that the door handle had been crushed. Grabbing her gun she pulled it out and fired multiple shots into it. Kicking the door open Blake stood there slightly in shock as a scared expression rested on his face. A small streak of blood was coming out of his forehead and down the side of his face.
Another explosion went off and part of the roof around them collapsed. Wires sparked and flared and before they knew it the building was on fire.
"What's happening?!" Blake yelled over another explosion.
"They found us!" Another part of the roof fell. "Go!" Amber yelled. Blake ran ahead of her down the hallway. Amber began to move but was suddenly forced to the ground as a heavyweight crushed her.
Instant pain shot into her back and legs. One of her arms was free, as well as her head. As she moved around to try and escape she felt the ruble growing increasingly heavier. Part of the roof had fallen on her. She could feel blood pooling around her stomach and legs. Looking straight ahead she saw Ten's feet come into view.
"Ten!" Amber screamed in pain and desperation. "Help me!" She yelled. Ten crouched down to her level and Amber was met with a stone cold face.
"You gave me away to my Creator. So I'm giving you away to death." Ten stood up and Amber clawed at the ground as loud sobs escaped her mouth as a mixture of screaming and crying simultaneously filled the air.
Ten walked over to another part of the roof that was on the ground. Reaching slowly down she grabbed a rock that was about the size of Amber's head. Tossing it from one hand to another she slowly walked back to Amber. Standing a few feet in front of Amber she reeled back both of her arms and with every bit of strength she had in her threw it at Amber's head.
A part of the floor split around Ten and it occurred to her to get out of the building. Running as fast as she could she was outside in a few seconds.
Once outside she froze in pure panic. There were at least twenty guards running around, firing guns at anything and everything that moved. Bodies littered the ground and blood stained the earth.
Looking to her side she saw a movable multi-electronic grenade launcher. They fired again as a defining noise echoed throughout the air. She watched as the huge electronic grenade went straight into the air before it directly came back down. Once it made contact with the roof the electricity built up in one specific area before it exploded and shattered the roof completely.
Turning away from the launcher she looked in front of her and saw a few guards looking at her. Each of them was talking into their radios. All of them slowly began to approach her and she took a step back. Her Creator wasn't here and without her Creator, she was lost. She didn't know if the guards were friend or foe. Pressing the tattoo her knives appeared and she got into her defensive stance.
All the guards froze. An armored helicopter flew down, hovering a few inches off the ground. The Creator jumped out of the helicopter with guards beside him.
"Stand down!" He shouted above the noise of the guns and helicopter. The men around Ten quickly scattered away from her. The Creator walked towards her and all she could do was stand there. The need to have someone guide her came as quickly as it had left her back when they were first being attacked.
When the Creator reached her she stood there for a few seconds as waves of happiness and relief flooded through her even though the site of the Creator was one she hated seeing. He had huge bags under his eyes and his face was pale. His eyes had lost all lively color and the once dominating strength that carried him now seemed to be dragging him down. It was clear he was in no mood for his Reconstructing Drug.
Without even realizing it she got down on her knees and crossed her wrists behind her back. The Creator bent down as a faint smile rested on his face. Running his hand through her hair before it rested on the back of her head. Quickly pulling her into an embrace he held her tightly and she pushed her face in his coat.
"Let's go home," the Creator said as he placed his hand on the back of her neck and stood her up. As they began to walk to the helicopter Ten glanced to her right and saw Blake being held by two men and a third had his rifle pointed at his head. Blood was coming out of his nose and mouth while various cuts and bruises rested on the rest of his body. Glancing up he saw Ten.
"Ten!" His hoarse and cracked voice yelled. The Creator froze and held up his free hand as a fist. The gunman removed his finger from the trigger.
"Ten, does that Pig know you?"
"Yes, sir," Ten said. Suddenly all of Blake's hopes of being rescued dropped. The Creator licked his lips.
"Bring him too," the Creator said. The gunman flipped his gun around before he smashed the stock of the rifle against Blake's head. Blake went limp in the men's arms before they dragged him into one of the cars. The Creator pushed Ten back into the helicopter and they sat down.
He gently moved her head to be resting on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and breathed int deeply.
She was finally back with her Creator.