“This is just great,” Jace fumed.
We were in the huge backyard of the mansion. Actually, it wasn’t really a backyard, it was a gigantic piece of land that was owned by Tristan’s family. More specifically for as to where we were located, it looked to me like a gun range. Targets were set up at various places out in the open grassy area, a table held an array of weapons and I was seated at the table. My gaze stared at the various weapons without a freaking clue as to what each one was or even how to handle one.
I glowered up at Jace as he complained. Zak was leaning against one of the posts, his arms crossed over his chest as he watched the two of us. He gave me a reassuring smile as I looked to him. I rolled my eyes, mouthing to him ‘he’s going to hate me’. Zak gave a short laugh and shook his head at me.
“All right, let’s start with this. I doubt you would know which one was empty and which one was loaded, so how ’bout you tell me what you do know.”
I frowned as he spoke, his voice slightly condescending. Couldn’t he be a little bit nicer to me? I had the urge to reach up and slam his head into the table. He was really starting to piss me off again. Letting out a sigh, I turned to eye the weapons on the table. Nibbling my lip and contemplated on each one of them, trying to figure out if I knew anything at all about the weapons laid out before me.
“Uh…” I started slowly, my hand pointing to a small weapon, “Hand gun?”
Jace rolled his eyes, “Bravo, captain obvious. What kind of handgun?”
My teeth ground together, “Don’t know.”
“Jesus… Fine, what about this one?” he held up a rather wicked looking weapon. It was large, the barrel was pretty large in diameter and the butt end of the gun reminded me of a shotgun.
“God you really are an idiot. It’s a rifle. An AK-47, dimwit. Definitely not letting you handle that, it’d probably knock you on your ass. That one,” his fingers shot to another weapon on the table. It was stockier than the rifle, “Is a shotgun.”
“Swear to God,” Jace mumbled, cursing to himself as he set the AK-47 down and pointed to another weapon on the table, “And that?”
“A knife. Seriously?”
“Just checking your stupidity levels. At least you’re not a complete imbecile.”
“Fuck you,” I growled, my hands balling into fists under the table as they rested on my knees.
“Jace,” Zak started, pushing off the pole he was leaning on and coming over to the table. He put a hand on Jace’s shoulder as he watched him carefully, “Relax a little.”
“Can’t believe Tristan’s going to keep this brat. To top it off he wants me to teach him how to fight and go out to gather supplies. How the hell am I supposed to trust this little prick that’s from Titan?”
“How many times do I have to say it? I’m not with Titan!”
“You may be able to fool Tristan and Zak, but I won’t buy your bullshit excuses!”
“Jace!” Zak shouted at him now, his hands pulling the blonde around and dropping him onto the table in a sort of headlock. Zak had one hand pulled back which looked painful and it showed on Jace’s face as he winced, hissing between clenched teeth. Zak held him there for a while, my gaze wide in shock at the display.
“U-um… I… I think you can let go of him now,” I said softly.
“Are you cool?” Zak asked, ignoring me for the moment.
Jace gave a slight growl, but nodded his head anyway. Zak released him and he stood up straight, rubbing at his shoulder. Jace frowned at Zak and looked like he wanted to say something, but refrained from doing so. Rolling his shoulders he turned to me and I flinched slightly, but my eyes narrowed just a bit as I was preparing myself for a fight if he wanted one.
“Pick up a hand gun. Find one that fits in your hand,” he ordered as he crossed his arms.
I swallowed dryly. My gaze dropped to the table in front of me and I hesitated for quite some time. Was I really going to have to do this? I really didn’t want to. God… this sucked. I stretched out my hand finally and started picking up the guns one by one. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what he meant when Jace said to find one that ‘fit’ in my hand. None of them ‘fit’, they were heavy and awkward when I picked them up. I supposed I was just going to have to pick one though, so I settled on the lightest one I could find. Glancing up to Jace who had his arms crossed with the fingers tapping his arm, I grimaced.
“’Kay, take it over there, point it down and I swear to God if you point that thing at me I’ll kick your ass.”
I got up without a word and headed to where he wanted me to go with the gun. Zak and Jace moved up behind me. I was facing the range now with a wooden table in front of me. Jace reached down and took the gun from my fingers. From his belt he pulled a clip –that much I’d learned from him earlier in the morning- and placed it on the table.
“Pay attention. This is the safety. Down means you can’t fire the gun, up means you can fire it. This button unlocks the clip so you can change it,” he pressed the button and the clip at the bottom of the handle slid out. He pulled it out and showed it to me. It was empty, “You can’t fire the weapon if there isn’t anything in the chamber or in the clip.”
God I feel like a kid… I really must look like a damn kid to these guys to be treated like one so much, I frowned as I listened to him, keeping my retorts to myself. Jace put the empty clip back inside and handed the gun to me. I took it hesitantly.
“Feel the weight. And point that way,” he growled at me as he pushed my hand down to face the table. I grimaced a bit, “Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re absolutely sure you’re going to fire. Now, take the empty clip out.”
I did as he told me and took the clip out. I set it on the table as he handed me the one that was full. Before I slid it in, he held my hand and frowned a bit, “Feel the weight of the gun again. Memorize it. I want you to know when a gun is empty and when it is full seeing as you obviously don’t.”
He was referring to my use of Alik’s spare handgun a while ago when they’d confronted me in the alleyway. I had apparently grabbed a weapon that had not only, no bullets inside, but was also missing the clip. That much I had learned later on and felt like an utter fool afterwards. I sighed heavily, but did as he said anyway. It looked like I was really going to have to put in some effort to learn this crap.
“Now put the clip in.”
I pushed it up into the handle, felt it click into place and held the gun down, pointed at the wooden table in front of us. Jace continued directing me through the steps, pulling back the top of the gun to put a bullet in the chamber and then flicking the switch off from safe to firing. Standing behind me, he helped me hold the gun properly in my hands. If I didn’t, I risked the weapon flying out of my hands when I fired it, having it come back at me and nail me in the face, or having the ‘slide’ cut into my hand if I held it too far up.
Ironically enough, Jace was pretty good at explaining things to me, even though it seemed like he didn’t like doing it at all. He was insanely good though, but I didn’t tell him that. Maybe I should have. In any case, he taught me how to fire the weapon and my first time shooting a gun went pretty smoothly. It was loud as hell, but he told me that in the heat of a gun fight, the last thing anyone was worried about was how loud the gun would be.
Once I got used to shooting round after round into the gun range, I was ordered to come out to the range every day and practice. At first I thought it was sort of ridiculous to do it every day but then I realized that if I didn’t I wouldn’t get good at it, and not being able to protect myself was a really bad thing. Especially if Jace or Zak ended up having to protect me, I didn’t like that idea at all. So I complied with his orders to practice.
The next few days were spent with me shooting the handgun and getting used to it as well as Zak teaching me how to defend myself with a knife and without any weapons at all. I was starting to loosen up a bit, getting comfortable in the setting. The only thing I wasn’t too sure about was Tristan. He’d come around every now and then, but I wasn’t sure if the day that I’d told him he was annoying was still bothering him or not. I felt horrible about it. I was going to have to apologize to him, but I didn’t know how.
The car doors slammed shut as we piled into the hummer. My limbs shook slightly as I sat in the back with one of the other gang members. His name was Chris if I remembered correctly. Zak was driving again and Jace was next to him in the front seat. This was my first mission, a scouting detail that would map out another section of the city as well as stock up on supplies. Kilia needed more medicine for her stockpile, bandages, and utensils, things like that. We also needed more food and water.
I was insanely nervous and it probably showed on my face as I tried not to look so terrified. Jace glanced over to me, his green eyes searching mine for a moment before he rolled his eyes and sat back against the seat. I was starting to learn that he wasn’t really all that much of an asshole, he just didn’t know how to deal with certain things. I was one of those certain things. Which was odd really, I always thought I was pretty easy to deal with… I guess not.
“Relax, Valkyrie. This is routine, nothin’s gonna happen.”
“I know that!” I retorted sharply. I bit my tongue. I hadn’t meant to sound so mean. It happened when my nerves were all out of whack and I couldn’t get a grip on myself. I wrung my hands as I looked out the window. We left the mansion behind and Zak was soon barreling down an open street to the south eastern side of the city. Before hand, I had been shown a map of the entire area and given a general idea of where the mansion was in regards to downtown and other places.
Jace had said that in the event that something did happen, I would have to know how to get back if we ever got separated. Though, he did say that he wasn’t going to let that happen and that nothing was going to happen. He sounded pretty confident and so I had to trust in his words. I really didn’t have anything else to go off of anyway.
Next to me, Chris leaned over and patted my shoulder warmly, “No worries, Chromi! We’ll be just fine.”
I rolled my eyes. ‘Chromi’ was a new nickname that a lot of the guys were starting to call me at the manor. It was because of my two different colored eyes. I guess I didn’t really mind it. At first it really pissed me off because no one called me by my name, but then it just sort of stuck and I found myself answering to the damned nick name.
Zak laughed softly in the driver seat and I glanced up in the mirror to see him giving me a warm smile. At least someone was reassuring. Well, more so than the other two anyway. It didn’t take long to get to our destination. Zak pulled the hummer around to the side of a huge building and parked it. As we climbed out of the car, my stomach twisted into a tight knot and I felt pin pricks all along the back of my neck. I didn’t like this at all.
The doors slammed shut to the vehicle and we all started to the warehouse building. There were three of them, huge storage units by the looks of it. Zak and Chris got up next to one of the huge metal doors and began pulling it to slide it opened. Jace and I watched as it slowly grated across the concrete. Once it was opened, we saw nothing but darkness inside. Chills went up my spine as my fingers twitched and slowly reached down to the gun holstered along my thigh. The tips of my fingers touched the silver handle of the weapon but I didn’t draw it. I forced myself to follow after Jace and the other two, my throat dry and my hands clammy with sweat.
Jace clicked something and a flashlight illuminated the dark interior of the warehouse, “All right. You know the drill. In and out. Canned foods, bags of rice, wheat and flour, yeast if you can find it. Any kind of medicine for Kilia and then pile it into the hummer. We’ll be out of here in no time. Chris, stay with Valkyrie. Zak and I will split up.”
“You got it,” Chris said, giving a salute as he too clicked on a flashlight. He winked at me from the doorway that spilled sunlight into the warehouse partially, “Come on Chromi. Let’s get to work.”
I trailed after Chris, going back and forth between the hummer and the warehouse as quickly as we could, carrying heavy bags of flour, rice and wheat. I loaded a couple of boxes with canned foods as well while Zak and Jace loaded other boxes full of medicines, bandages and other food stuffs. We must have been there for a few hours, though I hadn’t really noticed. My nerves had died down somewhat and now I was just rushing after Chris to help finish our task.
We were somewhere in the far back of the warehouse. A flash of light caught my attention and I thought it was Jace, so I paid it no heed. Then there was a loud sound and my heart stopped, my blood ran like ice and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. The bag of rice that Chris was holding exploded and he shouted, stumbling backward before hitting the floor. I screamed.
It was the worst possible thing I could do. Turning I heard footsteps rushing me and I froze, unable to think or do anything. That was until hands gripped my shoulders and arms. I flipped out then, shouting curses and profanity all around, I twisted, kicked and struggled to get free. Some of what Zak had taught me managed to filter through my chaotic mind. Ducking down, I twisted free of one hold and launched a high kick to their face.
Flashlights dropped, rolling about on the floor as I fought. The one I kicked stumbled into the huge metal shelving behind him. The other one that held me dragged me around and slammed me into the opposite shelving unit. The air was forced from my lungs and I coughed. He pulled me down and slammed his knee into my stomach. A gasping cough sent saliva flying from my mouth. I felt like I could throw up from the force of that kick to my gut. Breathing was near impossible as I wheezed, struggling to stand straight.
Gunshots sounded through the aisle and the man holding me gave a strangle cry as he stumbled backward and then crumpled to the ground. I dropped to the floor, my arms wrapped around my stomach as I tried to recover. Once I got air back into my lungs and my stomach was bearable, I slowly looked up to where Chris was lying. My eyes were wide and I choked on another cough.
“C-Chris…” my voice sounded strange.
“Valkyrie!?” Jace was shouting for me.
Another gunshot and I winced. Looking over to the second man who had attacked us, I watched as he too hit the floor. The flashlights on the ground showed me a steadily growing pool of blood and I turned my head away quickly. Zak and Jace raced down the aisle, their footsteps pounding across the concrete. Zak knelt down next to me, as Jace reached down to check on Chris.
“Chris…” the sound was hoarse from my throat.
“Are you all right?” Zak asked me, his accented tone worried.
I nodded, my only concern was Chris though. Was he okay? Was he shot? Who the hell just attacked us? My heart raced, my throat clenching tightly as I knelt there, doubled over from the blow to my stomach. Zak helped me sit up straight and then pulled me to my feet. Jace turned away from Chris who was lying far too still on the concrete for my liking.
“We’re leaving,” Jace ordered, his voice like acid.
“B-but… Chris… we have to-”
“He’s dead, Valkyrie! We’re leaving now!”
Zak pulled me toward the entrance of the warehouse. Outside were two parked cars. They were shiny black and they were sports cars. One of them I recognized instantly and I thought that I was going to die right there. My legs gave out and Zak grunted as my weight fell on him. He pulled me along though as a group of men came rushing out of the second warehouse next to the one we were in.
The blonde hair and green eyes of Alik were all too easy to spot. He had spotted me too. I gasped in deep breathes as I allowed Zak to carry me to the hummer quickly. He wasn’t fast enough though and Alik’s scream of rage cut me deep, sent fear clawing through my body as I slid into the back seat.
The doors slammed shut, cutting off Alik’s screaming of my name. The hummer spun out in the gravel before it turned around and barreled down the deserted area back to the street we had come from. All the while my heart was in my throat and I was dizzy and nauseous at the same time. I didn’t make it back to the manor before I simply collapsed in the back seat.