Here it is, ya'll! Thank you for sticking by through all of these!
Project Ignite, day nine.
Threat level: 2.3.
Retrieving patient in one hour...
Arlyn allowed her mind to drift into her grieved past as she stroked Phoenix’s silky fur.
Her father’s back, turned on his family.
He left them.
Never came back. No one saw him after that day.
Only a year later, Arlyn and her little sister, Selima, watched as their mother wasted away with grief and eventually, she just faded from their lives. Then they were alone. Their world was dangerous, surrounded by towering trees and drooping vines. There was an array of wild animals who weren’t the most friendly. Yes, Arlyn’s world was one massive jungle. And then, only a month after their mother’s death, the jungle decided it was time to reduce the numbers once again.
The two girls never heard its massive paws behind them.
It was quick, deadly, then it was gone.
Arlyn never expected to lose her sister so soon after her parents.
It broke her.
She was numb, but only felt anger and something else that she couldn’t explain even if she had someone to talk to.
No one trusted each other in her world, each family lived hundreds of miles apart and viciously guarded their territory. She couldn’t go to anyone, couldn’t cry on someone’s shoulder. She had no one to hold her.
Now alone, Arlyn drowned in her hate, her grief. She hunted down the leopard that had taken her only joy.
It was sleeping in the sun.
She raised a heavy rock and smashed it down.
She missed its head, but injured its hind leg.
Arlyn was going to kill it. But, as she watched it shiver in pain and whimper, she realized this was wrong.
She reached out, whispering her apologies while tears slipped down her dirty cheeks. In an instant, the leopard’s paw swept out and its claws caught her arm. She cried out and jerked her hand back, hugging it to her chest.
It took her very long to get the leopard’s trust. She provided food for it. It couldn’t stand. By then, she had multiple scratches and bleeding wounds all up her arms and legs. Even on her face.
It took a month of Arlyn providing for the majestic creature she had injured. And then, when the leopard could stand again, he wouldn’t leave her side. She tried to let him go, but he stuck by her and she named him Phoenix.
Now, sitting under the shade of a massive, vine-covered tree, Arlyn smiled. She may have lost her family, but if she had killed Phoenix, she would have even less than she does now.
“Come on, Phoenix. We need to get some stuff from the garden.” Arlyn said. She stood and strode down a nearly invisible path, Phoenix following close behind.
Retrieval in action...
She hadn’t even gone halfway when she heard a roaring sound above her. Phoenix’s ears pricked and his green eyes flicked upward. Arlyn’s multi-colored eyes followed.
Something completely out of the ordinary was just visible above the trees.
Arlyn snapped out of her stupor as she felt something strong tugging on her dirty vest. She glanced down. Phoenix’s teeth were showing as he clamped onto her shirt and attempted to pull her away. “Okay,” Arlyn said. “Let’s not go to the garden right now. Come on, Phoenix. Let’s go home.”
The pair turned and rushed back down the path. Arlyn had trained herself to walk quietly, her feet made little sound on the soft forest floor. Of course, Phoenix made no sound either.
Together, the two of them slipped through the forest until they came upon a waterfall, thundering from the sky. The water splashed against them as they climbed around the waterfall and slipped into a crack right next to the tumbling, churning water.
Arlyn’s soft boots scuffed against the carefully carved out stone floor, her calloused fingers traced an indented line on the wall like she had done so many times before.
“Five years, Phoenix. It’s been five years since I lost her.”
The leopard looked up at her with wise eyes. They seemed to have an apology in their depths. Arlyn was about to say it wasn’t his fault, but Phoenix whipped around, growling. Arlyn frowned as she heard the roar of the vehicle from outside. She turned and ran deeper into the cave. “Let’s go, Phoenix!” She shouted. “I’m not waiting around to see what this thing is!” The leopard turned and bounded after her.
They ran through the seemingly endless maze of stone until they came to a small, dark room. Phoenix stood by the door as Arlyn lit a torch on the wall. “We should be safe here.” She whispered.
She was wrong.
Only minutes later, Phoenix’s ears pricked forward. He growled deep in his chest, long teeth bared. Arlyn watched with growing fear as Phoenix crouched low to the ground, practically vibrating with tension.
Footsteps grew closer.
Low voices hummed, a quiet murmur ricocheting off the walls that had once been full of laughter and life. Arlyn shrunk away from the door, mind churning.
If she ran, they would catch her.
If she stayed, they would catch her.
There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. And no matter who, or what, was coming, it wouldn’t be friendly.
Nothing ever was.
Arlyn quickly yanked the torch off the wall, stomping the fire out and plunging the into darkness. Phoenix slunk into the shadows beside her, now silent.
Then, whoever or whatever it was, had arrived. Their voices were muffled and slightly buzzing, like the long-lost machines of the ancient times. Arlyn heard them outside the entrance, but she didn’t hear as they entered. Phoenix did, though. He jumped to his feet and lunged, leaving Arlyn alone and afraid. “Phoenix!” she called, and for a moment, everything was silent.
Then, out of the darkness, there were two lights glowing like mini suns.
Arlyn gasped as pain speared through her upper arm.
The lights faded.
That’s odd. Arlyn thought, but then she couldn’t think at all.
Project Ignite, day ten.
Threat level: 2
Retrieving patient in one hour...
Tania, my closest friend, I wish you were here.
I miss you; I miss everyone.
Violet clapped the book shut, hurling it across the room.
She sat in an empty room, in her empty house.
She had just gone hunting, now she was trying to write out her thoughts and feelings, but it felt wrong.
Violet stood, pushing herself up on the glass table.
Violet hated glass.
It revealed too much, but in a way, she could relate to it.
When it is broken, it becomes sharp. Dangerous.
Five years ago, Violet broke.
Her family, the oddballs, lived far from everyone else. On their planet, the darkwolves only had straight minds. Survive. That was all they thought of.
But Violet and her parents thought bigger, creating amazing things, but only their family and Tania’s ever saw them.
However, one day, the amazing turned fatal.
In their lab, something went wrong.
The explosion destroyed half the house and killed both her parents. Violet traced a finger down the jagged scar that was a painful reminder of that day. It stretched from her forehead to almost her chin, the eye that it carved its path through was milky white and unseeing.
Violet shook her head. She felt wrong today, her mind couldn’t focus on the present day, instead remembering everything she had once tried to store away.
She turned on her heel and left the house.
A stiff wind blew.
The sky was dark, promising a storm.
Violet strode into the woods, her leather trench coat whipping in the wind. The cold stung her knees that showed past her torn pants.
Violet’s jet black hair flew in her face as she walked, her grey and purple eyes were full of sorrow and anger. When she reached her destination, tears pooled in her eyes and slipped down her cheek. In front of her was the charred ruins of Tania’s old home.
Retrieval in action...
Sitting among the black fallen beams, Violet had erected three stones, each meticulously engraved with a name.
Violet wept for her fallen friend and her adoptive parents who died that night, the same night Violet’s parents died. Their deaths left her empty, angry and hopeless. Only when she was here, could she feel any emotion, but only sorrow. She could only grieve. She couldn’t remember the last time she had smiled, or even said a word. Violet hadn’t spoken in five years.
Violet turned to leave, stumbling. She coughed, racking her body. She was sick, grief eating away her body as a physical illness. It had been this way for three or four years now, the reoccurring illness had been around so long, Violet lost track.
Before she could leave, she heard a distant noise. Violet turned, feeling heavy and weakened. There was a black speck, quickly growing. Her eyes widened.
It was fast, loud and there were people inside of it. It was flying.
The figure inside was holding something.
Violet stumbled to the side to avoid something whistling towards her, she glanced down as it struck the ground. It was a dart, black fletched and leaking a purple liquid into the dirt. Only a second later, there was one buried in her neck and she knew no more.
Featured in this story: Katie w. as Arlyn and Alone warrior as Violet.