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After the Tilt: Book 2

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Summary

“I have to go. But remember. All this. Everything, we’ve ever done, was all about surviving the 8 minutes in Hell.” She rested her hand on my cheek once more. For a second, I thought I saw a tear run down the side of her face. The weight of the world seemed to press heavily on her shoulders. “Stay alive,” she whispered. 200 hundred years ago, as modern civilization was on the verge of collapse, the last remaining scientists gathered in Antarticum and put all of their knowledge and resources together to design a life form capable of surviving the great catastrophe known as “the tilt”. It was in a last-ditch effort that we were created. Humanity put their hope in us but were we enough. History is bound to repeat itself, desperation, power and greed at the forefront of our destiny. But back when this story began, I didn’t know this. I didn’t know any of this. I knew nothing about myself. Nothing about the world outside the “orphanage”. This is me, telling our story.

Genre:
Scifi / Adventure
Author:
CCua
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
22
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 17: You

“How’s Hana? My team has not been able to locate her. But they will. I have no doubt.”

Days had gone by, before someone finally showed themselves in my small cell. A guard, in black shiny armor like those I had seen at the orphanage, walked in unannounced. It sent shivers down my spine. I had been instructed to follow them, so out of curiosity I did. I couldn’t think straight anyway and had failed to come up with an escape plan.

I was brought into another windowless room. Scattered chairs and an old table separated me from the boy standing on the other side of the room.

“Hana’s dead,” I answered stoically. “I killed her after your bomb failed to do so.”

I had emphasized your. I expected a reaction from him. But there was none. Just a long silence during which he surveyed me.

I did the same.

He was short, skinny, and sick looking. He was younger than me. But not by much. I knew who he was.

It has to be him!

He had no significant features yet, there was something about him, something vaguely familiar.

“So, she’s dead,” he repeated skeptically. “And you say you killed her?”

His voice was calm and controlled.

His face showed no emotion.

His stillness was unnerving.

He moved closer to me.

Very close.

Like a cat closing in on his pray.

I noticed his mouth quiver.

Excitement? Anger? Pain?

He moved his head from side to side looking me over.

He seemed pleased.

He turned his back to me for a moment and finally said: “She was our sister.”

His voice echoed in the room.

He let that sink in.

He finally added, “Surely she must have told you…”

The shock wave moving through my body nearly knocked me over. The fog gone. The rage exploded in every inch of my being. I couldn’t hide my emotions.

He laughed: “So she didn’t! Well then, let me be the first to say, welcome home big brother.”

He didn’t look anything like me. But now I could see it. He looked so much like Hana; it was undeniable. These two had to be related.

“You don’t believe me? Is it because we look nothing alike? I know… Hana and I look like mom, but you…” his voice trailed off before continuing. “You, you look just like dad.”

The situation clearly pleased him.

I had a bad feeling about it.

Without giving me any time to collect my thoughts, he waved at one of his guards to open the door. One by one, Meyer, Arno, Yuki, Eli, and Fiori were brought into the room. They were made to line up along the wall on my right. All five of them seemed sluggish. None had been cleaned like I was, but all were dressed in orphanage wear.

They didn’t notice me until the boy pointed at me.

“Welcome my dear friends. I am so glad you could make it… alive.”

His tone was cocky. Nothing good could come of this.

“My name is Evian Li.”

He paused and smiled at me before continuing: “And this is your friend Fenn; Fenn Li. My older brother.”

He allowed these words to resonate in the room.

“Your friend here, has just confessed to killing your dear leader and friend, Hana.”

No! I screamed in my head, NO! NO! NO!

But my lips were silent.

I tried making eye contact with Fiori, then Eli. Surely, they wouldn’t take his word. They know I could never have done it.

Except, I did do it.

I did.

He was right. There was no lie in what he had said. I had killed Hana. Yet it was not quite the truth either.

I took a step forward while looking for my words. Tears were running down my cheeks. I didn’t care about me; it didn’t matter if I lived or died. But I had promised to protect Meyer and Eli. I had to be careful. I had to choose my words carefully.

“I did,” I blurted.

These two words singed my tongue but needed to be said.

“I killed Hana.”

Fiori pressed his lips together like Hana used to do.

Meyer stared blankly across the room.

Arno and Eli just looked at me in disbelief.

I stared back. I owed them as much…and more. I had no right to cowardice. So, I held their gaze. One day, I would explain it all to them. But now was not the time.

“Old friends, new friends, I am glad we meet! I have heard so much about you all! So much! Hana never was the kind to make friends… so you see, I was quite surprised. But never mind that, I hope we can all be friends?”

His voice lacked sincerity and as he talked, Evian made his way next to me and whispered in my ear: “Let us play a game, shall we? You pick one friend, or I pick two.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant but it couldn’t be good. It was a threat, I could tell.

He motioned the guards to come closer...

“Who will it be?” he announced loudly. “The suspense is killing me.”

Wait, what? Who? What was I picking? What would happen?

I looked at my friends lined up on the wall. I panicked. I tried to think fast. But I couldn’t. My heart was racing. My head was pounding. I started seeing blackspots before my eyes as the room around me started spinning. I closed my eyes a second. I had to come up with something…

“Meyer,” I whispered.

“Who? I’m sorry I didn’t hear you.”

“Meyer!” I repeated.

“Meyer?”

“Yes.”

I was shaking.

“Meyer you are the winner.”

The gun shots resonated in the room. Three bullets in the forehead. So quick, so swift, so clean.

“Fun isn’t it?” Evian laughed. “Should we play again? You pick one or I pick two.”

“NO! wait. What do you want from me?”

“Ohhhh. You don’t like my game!”

“Enough. What do you really want from me?”

“You know I once played this game with Hana. I was little still but I remember it well. I told her, you pick one or I pick two. She refused to pick, so I killed both mom and dad. That was the day she left. But you, you’re different. You didn’t even hesitate. You picked Meyer without a second thought. Tell me, was it that easy with Hana? Did you even hesitate before killing her? Pick one or I pick two. Who will it be?”

“Me! It will be me! Kill me! Let my friends go!”

We stood facing each other.

It is true the boy didn’t look anything like me, but our souls were the same. Dark and twisted. He was right. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t hesitate to send Meyer to his death, I didn’t hesitate to kill Hana. I was a trained assassin. I had detonated the bomb. Him and I had that in common; we were both monsters. We were fighting on different sides, but monsters, nonetheless.

Still, I was supposed to protect Meyer.

But now Meyer was dead.

I was supposed to protect Eli.

And…I was supposed to stay alive. I had promised Hana I would stay alive. One had to give. I chose the latter.

I taunted him: “Go on, shoot me.”

I walked closer to his gun, until I was at point-blank range. I could feel the cold steel on my forehead. I smiled.

“Shoot.”

That put him off.

“Shoot.”

His eyes going from them to me and back again.

“Shoot.”

I’m not sure what I was hoping to gain.

“SHOOT!” I screamed, my voice bouncing off the concrete walls.

He flinched.

I smiled.

I was getting under his skin.

“SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT…” I screamed…

…and he did.

I heard two bullets back to back and the noise of a body hitting the ground.

My head split open and all went dark.

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