Elementalists: Nine United

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Summary

"Ethan Silverspoon knew the Council planned to kill him if he didn’t pass this test. He didn’t care.If he died, no one would mourn him. His parents died when he was five because of people like him." Followed by death, Ethan can't seem to die himself. Is it some twist of fate or something else acting to keep him alive? He has seven people who want him dead--he knows he's a danger to society. He wants to die and end his pain sooner than later. If only he wasn't meant to be the rebirth of lost history. Currently Editing for Grammatical Clarity. All chapters updated from 8th draft as of 7/12/2021. Chapter 1-3 updated with Grammatical Clarity on 7/26/2021. Cover photo provided by: Mitja Juraja from Pexels

Genre:
Scifi / Fantasy
Author:
SI Foote
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
14
Rating:
4.7 3 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Till Death

June 30, 2316

City of Xia, Elementōrum Patriam

Ethan Silverspoon knew the Council planned to kill him if he didn’t pass this test.

He didn’t care.

If he died, no one would mourn him. At five-years-old, his parents died because of people like him. He deserved death.

Ethan’s legs gave out as he stumbled across the open dirt field. It looked like the one in his grandparents’ neighborhood, where he used to play baseball with the boys, until The Black Riders made the area a ghost town. A small fire in the middle of the suburban neighborhood gave off unbearable heat. The proctor, Taylor, stood over the fire and controlled it with an outstretched arm. His cool blue eyes settled on Ethan like knives. Ethan took several aggravating steps toward the fire and stretched out his own arm, with no use. No fiber in him allowed his limbs to summon the available water in his body, or in the air, to extinguish the fire. He felt sorry for the others trapped in their houses through the ongoing test.

Ethan’s body pitched forward, and he caught himself on the ground with his hands. The dirt and gravel dug into his palms but didn’t pierce his flesh. His red hair fell with his head—the strands begged gravity to let them fall to the dry earth. His amber eyes settled on the temporarily upside-down world behind him. None of the houses faced each other—a design to help cut down on traffic in neighborhoods—tightly packed with barely any grass and gray buildings with small windows. The garage hosted one old model Ferrari, but now accommodated three slim, round cracker shaped hover cars. Each roof had its own dish which converted the light into electricity. Telephone poles and power boxes no longer marred the city scape.

He dragged his head up. The man watched Ethan with little interest, annoyed at the teenager’s lack of ability. Ethan didn’t blame him. Professor Taylor had a reputation as one of the harshest graders at the Academy, but even the nicest teachers couldn’t help him pass his element tests. When his eyes met Taylor’s, the sound of his pounding heart and the hum of air-conditioners from the houses behind him intensified. Ethan drew in a deep breath and the sound rattled in his ears. A bead of sweat ran down his cheek and fell to the parched ground.

“Put it out, Silverspoon,” Taylor growled. Despite the heat, he dressed in a professional black suit, over a white collared shirt. A red tie, pushed up to his throat, rested over the appropriately buttoned seam. He didn’t break a sweat. With a flash of Taylor’s blue eyes, the fire grew larger, and Ethan choked on rising bile.

“I can’t.” He shook his head. His weight dropped between his shoulder blades. The bones stuck up through his dark blue shirt.

Ethan leaned back on his knees—and the balls of his feet—before he reached down and pulled the sweat soaked shirt from his body. He threw it to the side, and dirt clung to the fabric. He pulled back further and fell onto his butt. Ethan tugged up the hem of his jeans and pushed his high socks down, so they bunched at his ankles. He stared at the fire across from him and kicked his legs forward. Taylor tapped his foot against the ground. The shaking of his leg made Ethan shudder. He didn’t want to cross a powerful, fully-trained elementalist—but he didn’t have the resolve to try. Ethan had no plans to do what Taylor wanted. Rather, he couldn’t physically do it. He took a steadying breath and propped his torso up with his hands extended behind him.

“Do it.” Taylor commanded.

Ethan remained ready fail.

He couldn’t put out the fire. He knew he couldn’t be a Water elementalist—the Academy gave him too many chances already to prove his worth in all seven elements. He failed every time. He dropped his weight from his arms, and his spine hit the solid ground behind him. Ethan winced as pain ripped through his body. The injured nerves calmed, and he took in the blue sky above him.

Clouds scattered. No birds. The sky too blue. Ethan pushed his fingers through the dirt and tried to seek for a switch inside him which Taylor wanted to trigger. It didn’t exist. Genetics gifted him the body of an elementalist from birth, but he would never be one of them. He needed to wait until the Council called for him. They’d give him what he desired. Long-awaited death.

“If you don’t pass this test, it’ll be reported as another fail on your record.” Taylor warned.

“Awesome.” Ethan kinked his neck up, so he could look farther behind him.

A wood fence leaned nearby. No longer a popular choice, wood often remained a forgotten material. People preferred the invisi-fences no one saw until they walked into them. Ethan’s gaze shifted back to the sky. A black dot formed at the corner of his eye, and he focused on it. When he blinked, it vanished.

Heatstroke.

“Are you not going to try?”

“I have tried.” Ethan threw his arms up into the air. He clenched his fists and momentarily tried to focus on gathering water from his body. Nothing clicked. Sweat dripped from his fist and onto his cheek. Ethan pulled a face and used his sweaty shoulder to wipe it away. He dropped his hands back to the ground. He didn’t have the strength to move his body.

The heat ebbed away, and Ethan felt like he could breathe again. Taylor kicked dirt onto the fire, and Ethan wondered momentarily if he could pass the test with the secondary method. Professor Taylor would forcefully keep the fire going. He mused. He’s a Fire elementalist. But then again, Earth is stronger than Fire… It took him a while to find the will to sit up. With a slow breath, he reached for his shirt and straightened out the muddy material. Ethan located the tag and tugged the Henley back on. It felt disgusting. His toes curled when the seams stuck to his skin in the wrong places. After a few moments he yanked it back off again. He’d go back to the Academy shirtless. Ethan turned to Taylor; the teacher’s gaze fixated on the thin, glass phone in his hand.

He looked back at the sky. The new black dot on the horizon didn’t vanish when he blinked. It grew bigger, and a smile taunted Ethan’s lip.

The transportation pod came to a halt in front of them. It didn’t touch the ground, nor did it disturb the ground with slipstream. Its gleaming, sleek, glass exterior shot off distracting and blinding flashes as it met the sun. The circular doors opened automatically. The inside made of plush, blue, velvet cushions. Taylor gestured for Ethan to enter the pod before him, and he gladly took the opportunity.

No matter how much he hated the Academy, he’d rather be there with a known fate than in the City of the Uns or on the Earth’s lower surface. He settled into the soft seat of the pod and leaned his head against the glass. His hair left behind streaks of sweat. When Professor Taylor boarded the pod after him, neither of them made a move to start a conversation. Ethan failed the examination with full knowledge the Council would have no choice but to execute him.

The Council members in charge of Elementōrum Patriam completely unknown. They ran the country as any other government. They made laws and allowed the people to vote on important matters. The seven-member Council carried out their duties to the country without hesitation. They represented the seven natural elements in the world: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Storms, Fortune, and Life. The people credited the original Council for creating their country. Nine of the cities named after them. Ethan loathed the original nine. They separated the elementalists from the humans and created a divided world. They named the Uns as a separate entity who deserved despotism in lawless ground. The nine created the law which killed people like Ethan.

Ethan failed the last of his tests. He didn’t need Taylor to input an official grade to know. Unable to control water, he almost drowned one of his fellow students three months ago. During the trial for Earth, he opened large pit in the testing ground and trapped several professors at the Academy, as well as other test takers. Ethan set the City of Garden on fire and destroyed a large section of endangered foliage. He wished he died then. He remained a danger to society, and the Council would label him as a Rogue.

The Council personally killed Rogues. While they had the same mutated body as the elementalists, the mutation chose a form which refused to allow them to control one singular element of the seven. Instead, it created a “glitch” where they could control bits and pieces of the seven elements, but without any control. To spare their people the pain of dealing with a Rogue, the Council killed them. Ethan met his first Rogue at age five. He remembered the experience well. The Rogue ran from Elementōrum Patriam, and the Council followed him to the human world. They decapitated him in the middle of the street.

The silver transportation pod lifted smoothly into the air once Taylor situated in his seat. Ethan cracked open one eye to watch his teacher; Taylor occupied himself by inputting Ethan’s marks on the examination. Ethan’s clear, glass phone alerted him once the completed scores hit his report. He pulled it from his pocket and stared at the notifications. Grade change. Examination input. A letter from the Council. Expected. Ethan took a deep breath, cleared his throat, and unlocked the phone with his fingerprint.

He opened the email from the Council first. His phone changed color to blood red when he did. Pity settled on Taylor’s face. Ethan knew none of the teachers wanted to fail a student into Rogue status, but after too many examinations, he stopped caring about the result. Nineteen-years-old—the tests went on too long. Ethan’s eyes scanned the message.

Ethan Silverspoon,

We on the Council regret to hear of your failure on the Water element examination. We feared this outcome. We hope you will join us for breakfast and tea tomorrow morning. We will discuss your future promptly at ten o’clock. Please report to the locked door on the third floor by the tall windows. We are sure you know the one.

Enjoy the rest of your day,

The Council

“Breakfast and tea.” He snorted. It wouldn’t make a difference if they told him, “We plan to kill you at ten o’clock tomorrow, please make sure you’re there.” Perhaps they used “breakfast and tea” as a code for poison. He didn’t know how they would do it. Every Rogue death he witnessed ended with a different murder method. Ethan mused about his own death. If he had to choose, he’d pick decapitation by fire rope. Quicker and cleaner. Cauterized wound meant no blood.

The pod broke through the upper field of sky out of City of Xia, one of the nine. In the distance, Taylor and Ethan could see The Academy in the heart of Elementōrum Patriam. The floating country rested over the empty space of the Gulf of Mexico—too close to America for Ethan’s liking. On the outer southeast edge of the country, a large waterfall fell from the City of Sides from the larger rivers inland. The river flowed far north of the dirty industrial zone in the city. As they climbed, the mouth of the fall vanished, and the closer cities took full view. Behind them, the wasteland of City of Barren. To the south, the mines which crossed the ridge between City of Victor and Xia. Directly ahead, the large cave structures in the northern corner of City of Brooks shrouded the cities below it in shadow. Ethan could faintly make out the edges of the Great Lake in City of Messina and the Forks Tongue in City of Garden which enveloped the Academy like a donut. When he turned to the north, he could see a tornado brewing in the northernmost side of City of Ubuntu. As they swung around to the parking structure, Ethan only caught the barest glimpse of City of Wabaunsee on their descent. The Academy acted as the training grounds for elementalists, a city not unlike the mythical Mount Olympus. Historians theorized the ancient religious site originated from the elementalists’ country.

Houses surrounded the Academy and glimmered with flashes of gold in the night; in the day, they shone like pure silver. If Ethan could be a Wind elementalist, he’d spend his nights gazing at the city from above. The elevation of the land allowed the citizens to see the stars shine through the day. They winked down at those occupying the large outdoor study areas and cobblestone paths. The Storm elementalists maintained the weather, it rarely snowed, but it rained once a week. The sunny weather helped the students at the Academy remain positive about their education.

Large spires rose into the sky. The Bullet—a train system without rails, and their main transportation around the country—shot between buildings near light speed. Aqueducts, turned into walking paths, wove between and over smaller buildings. Several transportation pods lifted into the air and shot off across the landscape. A handful of towers floated in the air without support. Others submerged under water in the large pond structure toward the south side of the Academy space. A few people dived into the pool and sunk to the lower buildings. Ethan envied those who studied in their natural element.

The transportation pod circled the Academy until it reached the entrance for the parking area. Several pods rested near the walls where elementalists worked on the mechanical components. The other vehicles waited in neat rows and glistened in the low light of the workspace. At the end of the long row of cars stood a single set of doors. The pod stopped in front of them and opened the door for its occupants. Taylor exited first, and Ethan close behind him. The program in the vehicle directed the pod away to the car wash and the elementalists headed for the doors into the Academy.

On the other side, a man in tight, azure robes, with gold buttons and silver lining, waited for Ethan; one of the Healers from the Academy Infirmary.

“I didn’t almost kill anyone this time.” Ethan gave the man an uneasy smile. The Healer sighed and gestured for the teenager to follow him.

During one of his two Life element exams, he mixed some chemicals together and created a deadly poisonous gas. He caused an emergency evacuation of the infirmary. Healers tended to run the other direction when Ethan approached.

“I’ll see you later Mr. Silverspoon,” Taylor called after him. He wouldn’t.

The Healer gestured for him to follow for the mandatory health checkup.

The large windows of the infirmary let in large columns of light and gave Ethan’s red waves of hair a soft, fiery glow; the light often temporarily blinded patients as the sun moved from east to west. The white cotton sheets felt itchy under Ethan’s hands but overall, more comfortable than the dorms. Soft downy feather pillows and mattresses made from finest polyester with soft cotton stuffing made the stay enjoyable. Ethan recalled how many elementalists tried to fake an illness to stay in the infirmary, but unlike humans, the plan would fail, unless they ran across a kind Healer who took pity on the students. The Healers saved the blue drapes for highly injured elementalists, which didn’t happen often. The hospital reeked of iodoform. Ethan crinkled his nose.

They restricted Ethan to a bed. The Healer who collected him from the garage made sure he stayed put by activating the invisi-walls saved for troublesome patients. As an adult, if the Healer told him to stay put, he would. He sighed—decided they made it a security precaution in case of a nearby cart of chemicals (not like he’d play with them for fun)—and adjusted the glass reader on a stand next to his bed. It contained information about his health records. Outside of medical needs, he wondered what the Academy kept on file.

Name: Ethan Aaron Silverspoon

Age: 19

Birthday: June 1, 2297

Eye Color: Brown

Hair Color: Red

Height: 5’ 10”

Time Spent at the Academy: 5 years

Non-Element GPA: 3.692

Element GPA: 0.0 Fail

Element: None

He nodded along with the information. All correct, except his original hair color. Around five-years-old, his hair changed colors, and the brown grew out. No one had an explanation for it. Several Healers found it strange when he first mentioned it. Ethan let out a huff and fell back against the bed. He pulled out his phone. To clear the grade change notification, he opened the application and scrolled through his past results.

December 31, 2312- End of Eighteen Month Initiation to the Academy, GRADE: Pass

Elementalist subject shows positive signs for being able to control one of the elements. He is not affiliated with any of the currently inhabited elements. Individual elementalist testing will prove

successful.

March 31, 2313- First Storm Element Test, GRADE: Fail

June 30, 2313- Second Storm Element Test, GRADE: Fail

September 30, 2313- First Fortune Element Test, GRADE: Fail

December 31, 2313- Second Fortune Element Test, GRADE: Fail

March 31, 2314- First Life Element Test, GRADE: Fail

June 30, 2314- Second Life Element Test, GRADE: Fail

September 30, 2314- First Air Element Test, GRADE: Fail

December 31, 2314- Second Air Element Test, GRADE: Fail

March 31, 2315- First Fire Element Test, GRADE: Fail

June 30, 2315- Second Fire Element Test, GRADE: Fail

September 30, 2315- First Earth Element Test, GRADE: Fail

December 31, 2315- Second Earth Element Test, GRADE: Fail

March 31, 2316- First Water Element Test, GRADE: Fail

June 30, 2316- Second Water Element Test, GRADE: Fail

If normal grades counted for anything, I’d be brilliant, Ethan thought. He coughed and looked across the room for the Healer who would tend to him before sending him back to the dormitories. With the ongoing examinations, the infirmary became busier than usual.

“How are you doing today?” The sweet voice of a Healer behind him nearly made Ethan fall off the bed. He slowly rolled over until he saw the woman, wearing the same blue uniform as the Healer from earlier, assigned to care for him. She had pretty, blue eyes and black hair. “I’m Rose Sylvester.”

“Ethan Silverspoon.” He put out his hand. Rose took it politely and she gestured for him to sit up.

“I’ll be examining you today to make sure all your vitals are in the right place.”

“Alright,” Ethan sat up on the bed and allowed her to examine him.

They didn’t need to touch, and he didn’t need to take off any other clothes. Rose waved her hand over his body; a soft green glow emanated between them, and information from the scan stored itself automatically in the glass screen by his bed. He could see his heartbeat on the monitor next to several other facts. One highlighted with red.

“You’re dehydrated,” she stated. “I’ll bring you some water while the rest of these stats update.”

Rose walked away and left Ethan with the quiet space again. If water is my only issue, I can drink water back at the dorms, he huffed. Several minutes passed before Rose returned with a gallon of water. Once she assured his other vitals normalized, his temperature came across as one-hundred-five (which worried her because elementalists had a one-hundred-six minimum), but they still cleared him to return to the dorms along with a prescription to raise his temperature. On his way back, his mind drifted to a conversation with his Water element Professor the day before.

Professor Emma VonBerg approached him after class, his things, scattered across the room, held him back. The more proficient elementalists in the class bullied him relentlessly, and nonetheless sent his belongings to the farthest corners of the classroom. He found one of his erasers under a nearby desk when Emma addressed him; he whipped up and cracked his head on the metal support beams. She quickly apologized for making him hit his head and handed him an ice cube from her hand, which he took to be polite.

“Ethan, you realize if you fail this Water element test you are going to be classified as a Rogue elementalist.” Professor VonBerg took a seat in the next desk over. Ethan walked calmly back to where his things were and rummaged longer than necessary in the pockets.

“I am quite aware of the situation, yes.” His tone of voice let her know the lifetime of fear behind his brown eyes.

“I suggest you do a bit of study and practice. It might help you with your exam tomorrow,” Emma suggested politely.

“No amount of study and practice is going to help me tomorrow if it hasn’t helped me thus far. I don’t think any of the teachers at this school would really be disappointed if I failed.”

“I’ve been instructed to give you this.” She held out a blood red envelope with black writing curling fancily into Ethan’s name on the front. She held it like it burned her fingers, barely touching the corner. He snatched it from her hand. He half expected it to shout at him.

“Thanks,” Ethan mumbled and tossed his bag over his shoulder. He made to leave.

“And Ethan?” Emma called before he moved out the door. He turned back. “Good luck.”

He climbed the flights of stairs numbly. He didn’t feel the marble under his feet or the railing in his hand. Ethan watched in envy as Air elementalists pushed themselves up effortlessly through the spiraling staircase. If they chose, they would never walk anywhere again. Water elementalists teasingly jetted the flying students; a few of the kind Fire elementalists stopped the water from hitting. Ethan ducked lightning bolts and bricks. The students glanced at the red envelope in his hand, but none of them said a word. He stumbled into the boys’ dormitory where he lived with the other nineteen-year-old elementalists. They glanced up as he entered and hastily looked away. Disasters liked to take place around Ethan, especially when he grew upset about one thing or another.

His bag hit the post of his bed with a loud clunk and Ethan landed with his own matching sound on the firm mattress. The letter still clutched in his hand poked painfully into his side. After a moment, he stole himself away and slit it open. Most of the other boys who hung around in the dorm left, the ones who stayed ignored him.

Good luck,

The Council

Ethan groaned and rolled over. He pressed his face into the cotton material of the pillows. Ethan only had two options, study or sleep. Yet, sleep wouldn’t come to him anytime soon. He went into the bathroom and filled his water cup to the brim. Ethan brought it back into the main bedroom and concentrated hard for the next few hours, but by the time the others returned for bed, he could not bend the water in the cup. He would be better off turning the tap water on than attempting to bend anything to his will. Ethan fully resigned himself to being the odd one out. He accepted death.


Pangea

Messina stepped across the brittle ground and stared up at the piece of land they communally placed in the sky. He twisted back to his companions and smiled at the collection of people from across the world. They wouldn’t be there, creating their own country for the Homo elementa, if the nine didn’t put in effort. Vasha swept her brown hair and gave Messina a soft smile.

“Do we have a name for our country?”

“Elementōrum Patriam,” Ricci of Venice spoke from the back of the group. She stepped forward to join Messina at the cliff’s edge; her dark brown hair followed the wind and whipped her dark skin. Ricci took charge of the Council after Vasha gathered them together. They hailed from cities they founded around Pangea, safe cities, for the elementalist people. For a while they worked in harmony with the humans—they sent Life elementalists to heal the sick and Water elementalists provided water for the crops. Doubt fed into the humans’ hearts and the elementalists found themselves at war with the other race. They created their own place to live for their own safety. They would create new cities and only harbor those of their kind.

“A fitting name,” Ubuntu agreed. He dressed in a colorful robe and looked like a true king among the Council.

“Elementōrum Patriam, with the elementalist people.” Yahav’s skin matched the color of his outfit, a keffiyeh on his head. He took a seat on the ground to better see the size of the floating country. Water flowed around them and filled the new crevice. The Council looked on in awe at the power of the elements combined into one force. During the process, their eyes glowed with power—the color of their respective element; Vasha wanted to feel the rush of power again. She craved war after seeing Moscow burned.

“We will end our wars with humans today. Our people will be moved to our new country, and there we will nurture our mutation in kindness,” Messina interrupted her musing. He spread his arms and stood on the precipice of the sheer break. “The earth gifted us the chance to control its Storms, to hold in our hands the balance of Life and Death—we can view the Supernatural universe as it is and stop time. We can change the Fortune of those around us, to make Fire, Air, Water, and Earth justly ours. It is time for the elementalists to rise.”

“And we will be the Council to govern them.” Ubuntu smiled into the rising fog. The others nodded and took their own perches on the cliff’s edge.

The earth rumbled under their feet. Water met the bottom of the basin in a sudden rush. Victor held them steady against the pressure. Ricci looked up in awe.

“A waterfall, in our country.”

“You’ll carry us up, won’t you Victor?”

“Of course.” The white crystal around his neck flashed with power and he reached out to grab two hands in his.

When they all stood on the open edge near the new waterfall, they reexamined the spread of untainted land ahead of them. They could see the tips of mountains crisping the horizon. The air thin at the new elevation, but they didn’t feel it. Their bodies built to out survive the humans on almost every level.

Vasha turned back to see the view off the side of their country. “Do you think we’ll really be safe here?”

“Yes,” Messina’s eyebrows furrowed together.

“I don’t believe you.” Every city Vasha touched burned. The humans destroyed and ransacked their precious cities—they’d come to their new country too. Moscow, Hong Kong, Pompeii, London, Cochabamba. All gone. She took a step back against the edge and her balance faltered. Vasha tumbled through the air and into the new lake. The group screamed and Victor jumped after her; a red glow stopped him mid-flight. Vasha’s body twisted in the air, her eyes were the same bright color as the crystal around her neck.

Her body slowed its descent and hung in the air. Vasha’s mouth opened in a silent scream—the ground under the other eight quaked. The glow intensified and she controlled the elements, all nine as one. The Earth suffered under her awakened power. The land ripped apart underneath them. From their position in the sky on Elementōrum Patriam, they could see what Vasha did. The whole Earth torn into separate pieces of land—seven continents in place of the one original. Eight, with their creation in the sky. A new world for the humans and elementalists. A new start. Vasha’s body vanished into the crashing waves below and they knew she wouldn’t return.


July 1, 2316

The Academy, Elementōrum Patriam

Ethan walked through the dormitory halls with a drop in his shoulders. He took the longest route through the building, but he had plenty of time until the Council expected him. He spent the quiet moments of solitude contemplating what his existence meant. As a child, the poisonous gas which killed his hometown spared Ethan. Fate gave him too many chances to keep living and now he approached the end of the line. He took care to focus on each breath travelling in and out, in and out, and in and out. One of them would be the last. He would breathe out and never in again—a surreal thought. Ethan never realized how much he liked breathing before.

His legacy would be how he approached his death, and no one watched. People would praise the day Ethan left their world alone—he wouldn’t be a danger to functional elementalists anymore. Others would hear stories of all his misdeeds, but never of the boy resigned to death. The smile at the corners of his lips the last his body would form. No one would remember anything but a Rogue. He focused on his heartbeat, brought his thumb to the pulse in his wrist. He counted. Twenty pulses uniquely his. Twenty more at a speedier pace. Twenty telling him to stay alive. Sixty counts wouldn’t prove his existence when his body stilled.

Ethan didn’t remember the rest of his walk through the cream halls and admiral tiles. He didn’t remember losing sight of the colored wall stripes telling him which classrooms he neared. His eyes registered the sign on the door reading: COUNCIL ROOM. Ethan scratched the space between his eyebrows and stared at the ornate bronze handle. Once he touched the knob, he committed to entering the Council’s domain.

Taking a deep breath, Ethan stretched out his hand and clenched it into a fist. He counted to ten, uncurled his fingers, and twisted the knob. It gave way under pressure, and he pushed the door open. He couldn’t see anything short of a few feet into the space. The lights out, and the only illumination came from the hallway. He stepped into the dark and the door swung closed behind him. Ethan thought he heard footsteps before a hand pushed him forward. He tried to spin around, but as soon as he did, the person vanished. The darkness pulled him back. Adrenaline filled his heart—he could barely move.

Something forced him into a chair, and he flew down the hall on the mobile furniture. He had no time to think about the dark around him. Ethan’s hair pulled back from his forehead. The chair hit an inhibitor and Ethan launched forward. He put out an arm to try and catch himself, but his right shoulder connected with the ground first. He rolled until he hit a wall. The teenager’s hair started a slow creep back into place, and he lifted his left hand to speed up the process.

“Welcome Ethan Silverspoon, we’re so glad you could join us.” A female’s voice reverberated around him, and the lights clicked on. Momentarily blinded, Ethan shook his head to try and return his lost sense.

Floodlights exposed the basketball stadium sized room. Ethan took in his surroundings. White walls reflected the light and encased him. Upon close inspection, he noticed the stain of dry and cracked blood. Security cameras in the corners observed the area. Above him hung a silver box lined with windows, tinted dark on his side. The area resembled a fancy box for spectators at a sporting event.

“I’m not ready to die.” The sudden realization shocked him to his core—he accepted his fate two days previous, but now he wanted hope. Ethan’s last wish faded. He could feel the fight and adrenaline draining from his body.

“Good-bye, Ethan.”

Hidden panels on the walls slid aside and six .30-30 Winchester Lever-Action Rifles exited. They mechanically clicked into place and another click loaded the ammunition. Ethan pressed himself up against the wall as many Rogues did before him. He closed his eyes and clamped his jaw. The guns took careful aim. Crack.

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