"Come on!" Someone- I think Shonna- called from in front of me. I grab Rowan's hand, pushing him forward. I look over my shoulder, picking up Evangeline and placing her down on the the other side of the fallen tree that she had trouble climbing over.
"Go to Shonna." I say to her, glancing back again as I hear the sound of wings in the distance. "Hurry!"
I don't know how it had come down to this. Life used to be simpler. You know, before The Eight were captured, and before my Mother passed away during childbirth. The doctors couldn't save Ariana, either. I only saw her for a few hours as they tried- and failed- to save her life.
Her skin had been paler than what was normal, like a little girl who had died after an "experiment."
Life used to better before the Faes took over the Fortress.
Every year, eight of our people- the children- are taken to the Night Fortress and used as test subjects for new spells, hybrid ideas, and surgeries that enhance abilities. The Faes rule the fortress, making it even worse than before it had been taken over. What is a Fae? Well...the easiest way to explain would be to encounter one of them face- to- face. But, seeing that you probably want to live, I don't exactly advise that. They look human, but have fangs and eyes that change color depending on their emotion. Oh, and wings. If you touch their feathers, even one, you're dead.
They descended from the Valkyries of Asgard, seeing that their wings have the same deadly ability. But, unlike the Valkyries, who bring the fallen to Valhalla, the Faes are the ones that kill.
The Eight weren't chosen randomly. Everyone between the ages of six and eighteen were put through a series of physical and mental tests. If you passed, which was unlikely, you would be sent into a large, white room with the other people who had succeeded.
I've tried to fail on purpose before, but the tests were designed so that no one could avoid or escape it.
After the second round, if there are more than eight who passed the first, it will be narrowed down to the Extras. At that point, the eighth person is chosen randomly. If you are lucky enough to have been chosen as one of the Eight, congratulations! Your life is ticking away. Once it reaches zero...well, see you on the other side.
Once the last person was over the fallen tree, I ran. Taking the small knife I had stolen from one of the guards out of it's black sheath, my eyes flickering to a dark, reddish- violet, symbolizing determination mixed with fear and anger. I had been a forced subject, just like almost everyone else in our group. Thanks to the Faes, I had extreme dexterity, speed, and matter manipulation. Luckily, my "experiment" was successful, unlike many others that I've seen.
The Faes procedure on a little girl from our territory had been morphed into a half- avian creature. Her hands were replaced with talons, and she was supposed to be able to change her arms to feathered wings.
She died less than a week later.
Now you understand why I'm running. Everything here reminds me of my life before this.
The Eight being captured- me being held back just as I'm about to do something great.
The Night Fortress- myself. A prison that singles out insecurities and destroys while trying to fix and make us "better."
The Faes- Self- consciousness, anxiety, depression. Things holding me back.
Everyone who died during the experiments- My mother and my little sister.
And our escape- Me, trying to flee from everything going on. I know I won't be able to break free, but I try anyway. I can't run from my past, and I can't run from myself.
That's why I'm so terrified.
Because, even though there is a slight chance that I might make it, I'm still afraid others would leave me behind in order to run away, themselves. People have left me before, and I know it isn't my fault. But, if mother hadn't been weakened when she had me, here would still be a chance that Ariana could have lived.
I wonder what Ariana's like now- does she have mother's smile? Does she have the exotic green eyes from father that I inherited? Would she- or does she- have the same intuition and creativity as grandfather? She would have been eight if she had lived. Yesterday would have been her birthday.
Aeryn, my older sister's girlfriend, had told me that it wasn't my fault- that it was and never had been never my fault. Of course she told me that- everyone did, and would have. The words were colorless- blank. They didn't help me at all. I don't suppose anything really would. If someone could rewind time and give mother the strength that she needed, and the doctors at the hospital the medical devices and medicine to save Ariana, then I would be fine.
But, that would be impossible. The last time someone traveled to another dimension there was almost an annihilation of the entire solar system. Yeah...not good.
I don't have time to turn around as I hear someone scream. I can only hope and pray that it isn't any of the younger ones. I've seen enough children die already. Wings. They're getting closer. I pick up my speed, stumbling blindly through thorny bushes and patches of flowers that seem to strangely have very sharp teeth. There! The gate. My way out. I look around again, tears filling my eyes as I see that no one's made it as far as I have. I hope that they are hiding. But, as I hear a scream that seems fairly close to me, I turn my eyes back to the tall, black gate. I pull out my small knife; I'l need it soon. The Gate is never left unguarded.
I hear another scream. Loud, and in pain. No...not Evangeline. Or Kai. Or Madhari. I can tell it isn't any of them, because the eight of us are very familiar with each other's voices, being held in the same prison for around a year. Only one person I know has a voice that could produce such a strong, yet terrified scream. It's my voice.
I'm suddenly quiet. Mother? Yes, it's her. She's beckoning me to come.
I turn around and see a Fae with wild red eyes lowering her hand in which held a thin, silver knife covered in runes. She looks down at a figure- at my limp, still figure. I look back towards mother and run towards her, knowing how much pain it will cause for Father, Enya, and even Aeryn. Though I will miss them, I know I will get to see them again when their time comes.
A little girl tugs on the woman's pale blue dress, her emerald eyes glimmering with curiosity. The woman- my mother- turns around and picks her up so that the little girl and I are face to face. A small hand reaches out and her fingers brush my cheek. Tears fill my eyes and I hold out my arms as Mother hands her to me.
"Katri." she says quietly. I look back at my Mother, who's face is wet with tears. "You're one of my big sisters."
"Yeah." I answer, hugging her tightly. Words can't describe how happy I am. After five years, I'm seeing my mother and sister again. Though I'm only fifteen, and have family hoping that I will come home someday, I'm finally home where I belong. I'll see them again, I know it. But right now... "And I'm finally here with you."