Author's note: This is the third part of Flawless Imperfection so if you haven't read that please read it or this story might not make sense. Thank you! :D
Everything seemed like it was washed down with a bucket of water. The inky, black sky turned into a medium shade of grey, making the world seem miserable.
Or maybe it’s just me. Adira had always said I was overdramatic. That thought made me wince. Adira. I should have been more understanding. I remembered how I had started yelling at her, and my heart sunk. What kind of friend am I? I looked back, where I had last seen her. The dark shadows of the night obscured my view, making me unable to see pass the tree that I had been leaning on.
She’s probably gone by now. I can only hope that she doesn’t get captured. I knew that I should try to find her, but I had no idea where she could have gone. I need to get out of this city.
I am good at pretending, but I had nowhere to go and would soon be discovered.
I was always pretty good at geography, so I knew that the closest city to the Union would be Thykora. I took out a piece of paper that I had packed before we left Adira’s house and left a note.
If you get this note, it means that I would already be in Thykora. Please be safe and join me as soon as possible. I’m sorry. ~Jax
I wish that I could do more, but at this point anything that I did would become a burden. I winced, recalling her words to me.
It’s not like you’re helping anyways, you’re just a burden!
I shook my head. No use thinking about the past now, it’s not like I could change it.
As much as I wish I could.
As I was standing there, a person came up behind me. “What’s a little kid like you doing here all by yourself?” I startled, looking back. And staring right back at me was a man with the tag “Protector.”
My breath caught.
The Protectors were different from the normal citizens of the Union, their Chip told them to kill anyone they see that shouldn’t be there.
And I fell into that category.
The Protectors had the most advanced technology, a deadly weapon called the Laser 187. The first 186 versions didn’t have the effect they wanted.
I shuddered to think how they may have tested them.
If a person was hit once by this, they would suffer paralysis wherever it had hit them. Two would spread a poison through your body, disintegrating wherever it had brushed, therefore killing you.
“It’s rude to ignore your elders, you know. I bet you are that kid who escaped from the Equal Tower. They gave me orders to kill those two kids on sight.” He smiled, showing all his pearly white teeth.
With that, he raised his Laser, aimed it at me, and fired before I could even scream.
I cried out in pain as it came into contact with my stomach, right below my heart. All my muscles in that area seized up, and I collapsed, clutching it. At least it wasn’t my heart. I grimaced, trying to stand back up, and almost immediately fell down again. I groaned as the impact shook my body. I felt my consciousness slipping away, surrendering to my pain. But I struggled to stay awake, knowing that once I fell asleep I wouldn’t wake up again.
The Protector smiled, slowly advancing on me, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to escape. He raised the Laser and pointed it at me, his finger on the trigger.
I put my head in my head, tears of anger falling down my cheeks as I silently scolded myself. What was I thinking? It’s no wonder why Jax left me. I wasn’t exactly the nicest to him. I looked around me, at the willow tree that I was hiding in. I grimaced, remembering the first time we had hid out here.
How things have changed. I looked around. I had nowhere to go, and my food and water supplies would soon run out. What am I going to do? I sighed, glancing up at the green leaves.
Might as well go somewhere, there's no use sitting around.
I sighed and stood up, and walked out of my hiding spot. I kept on walking until I reached the Equal Tower, my numbness covering any tiredness that I had.
I stopped just outside the Equal Tower, out of sight from the numerous Guards guarding it.
They must have increased security aft Jax and I escaped. That thought made me wince. Jax. Well, no use thinking of him now, he's probably long gone to who knows where.
As I stood there, I suddenly heard a piecing sound.
Someone had screamed.
The voice was familiar, but I couldn't quite place it...
I'll figure it out later, right now I need to help whoever that is.
I took a knife that I had packed earlier and carefully turned around, not wanting to alert the Guards of my presence. I started to head to where I had heard the scream, but soon lost the direction. I listened again, straining my ears.
And there it was again, only this time it was more of a groan.
I sprinted towards the direction, and then abruptly stopped, slapping a hand over my mouth to silence the gasp that threatened to escape.
Jax was there, laying on the ground and clutching his stomach. Standing over him was a Protector with a Laser in his hand, pointing it at him.
Without thinking, I snuck up behind him, carefully not making a sound. I raised my knife and plunged it into the back of the Protector, gasping as the blood flowed out.
He was dead before he hit the ground.
My hands started shaking. I just killed a man.
Don’t worry about that right now, go help Jax! The voice in my head came back.
“Oh, Jax…” I ran over to him.
“Adira… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that…”
I winced. “No, I’m sorry, but that’s not important right now, you’re hurt!”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it’ll wear off soon, I was just paralyzed.” He glanced around. “We should get out of the Union, I’m sure reinforcements will arrive as soon as they see his dead body.” Jax gestured to the Protector.
I nodded. “But where should we go?”
“Thykora. I was going to head there before…” he winced.
“Ok, let’s go then.” I helped him up, his paralysis already wearing off.
I looked at him, and knew that we were both thinking the same thing. We could finally be free in Thykora. But for some reason, I felt that freedom wouldn’t be so easily attained.
And with that thought, we started our journey west to Thykora.
After hours of walking, I saw the first indication that we were nearing Thykora. The rich, green grass suddenly became yellow and dried up. The Union had made sure that everything was perfect, therefore making everything artificial. I haven’t seen real grass before, so this was a spectacular sight even though it’s color was not as beautiful as the Union’s.
Jax grinned at me, noticing the same thing.
A few minutes later I saw the sign that indicated that we had entered Thykora’s borders.
“Wow… I can’t believe we’re doing this.” I looked at Jax, and he smiled back.
“Tell me about it! I thought that we would have to stay in that horrible city forever!” I rolled my eyes, but I was secretly glad that he was feeling better enough to make jokes.
However, the first thing that I had noticed was the emptiness. I had read about other cities in books, and they all had people scurrying around, and noise pollution. But this city was just like the Union. It was quiet.
I glanced at Jax, who looked at me with the same expression in his eyes.
“Why is it so quiet?” He wondered.
“I’m not sure, but let’s just keep an eye out just in case.” He nodded, and we continued on walking.
As we neared the heart of the city, we noticed something very peculiar.
Everyone was acting the same way.
I froze, recalling something that the Equals had said.
“We will take over the world.”
I gestured to Jax, who must have come to the same conclusion because his face was drained of color.
But, before I could say anything, everyone fell into line.
Pretending once again, I did the same as everyone else.
A person with an Equal badge came up to everyone, and handed them a sealed envelope.
After handing them out, she waved her hand, dismissing us.
I walked off, trusting Jax to follow.
“What are we going to do?” I whispered as soon as we were out of sight. “Looks like the Equals already planted the Chip in everybody here already!”
Jax nodded, looking thoughtful. “First let’s see what this envelope is about.” We tore open out envelopes in union.
You are invited to a first ever Cookie Tasting at 4:30 at the City Square! We will be looking forward to seeing everyone there!
I glanced at Jax. “Cookie Tasting? Is this normal in Thykora?” Jax shrugged.
“I don’t know, but we have to go because everyone is going to be there.”
I nodded. “But be careful. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put something in the cookies, so just remember to control your facial expression.”
“Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing.”
It was about 4 right now, so we had half an hour.
“Let’s go to a nearby shop so we can tell the time.” And so, we walked to the nearest shop and spent our next 30 minutes there, before heading to the City Square to taste cookies.
Rows of people lined up, waiting to get their cookie. Soon, the line in front of us shortened, until it was my turn. Just like every other person, I nodded a thanks to the Equal, took the cookie, and bit into it.
It was a good thing I had been pretending my whole life.
I was right, they had put something in the cookie. It was like they replaced the sugar with vinegar, and it took all my willpower not to purse my lips. The sourness burned my tongue, almost choking me. But I kept a flawless facade on the outside, and moved over to the other side of the line. But not before shooting a quick warning look at Jax.
He also succeeded in covering up his expression, and joined me. I watched as the other people ate the cookie, but two people caught my eye.
A male and a female. They looked around Jax’s and my age. The girl had dark hair that fell to her back in waves. She dressed in dark colors, but had paint splattered across her sweatshirt. The brightness of the paint, even though spread at random, contrasted nicely with the color of her clothes. I could just make out the outline of something in her pocket. It looked like... some kind of sketchbook. Catching my eye, she quickly pushed her sketchbook back in her pocket. She had dark brown eyes that had a hint of creativity to them, something no person with the Chip inside of them would have. The boy was lean and had straight chestnut brown hair, and a tattoo peaking out of his sleeves. The most striking thing about his appearance, however, was his eyes. I've never seen any other eye color than brown, because of the Union, but not many eye colors would surprise me. However, his did. They were a striking silver, brighter than gray, with flecks of icy blue in them.
They don't seem to have the Chip in them... I quickly glanced at Jax, silently telling him my ideas.
And I was right.
When they put the cookie in their mouth, their expression changed. It was a slight change, one that you wouldn’t be able to notice if you weren’t paying close attention.
But the Equals were.
I could tell they had seen the slight change, as they gestured to each other. I glanced at Jax, and he looked back at me.
“Okay, that’s it! Thank you for attending our cookie tasting! Have a wonderful day!” With that, the Equals dismissed us, but told the girl and boy from before to stay.
“Jax! We need to help them! The Equals must have missed them when they were implanting the Chip inside everyone’s brains,” I hissed, as we hid behind a nearby bush.
“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I’ll cause a diversion, you grab them and run. Meet me by the border that separates Thykora from the Union.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but then glanced at their faces. They looked at each other in fear, but tried not to show it. I couldn’t imagine what they might be feeling right now.
I nodded reluctantly, “Be careful,” I said to Jax.
“I will. You too.”
I stayed behind the bush as Jax walked out, whistling.
“HEY! Equals! Remember me?” He grinned as they started shouting at each, and chasing after him. He glanced back at me, silently telling me that he would be alright.
I’m going to have to believe him. Right now, I need to go help those people.
Making sure no one was around, I bolted out of my hiding spot. The girl and the boy were still standing there, in shock.
“Hey! Come with me, I’ll help you. I’ll explain when we get to somewhere safer.” They looked at me, and then shared a look.
“Listen, I know you probably don’t trust me, but it’s either go with me or go with the Equals.” I reasoned.
“Okay… we’ll go with you.” The girl nodded. I smiled at her, and then ran off with them close behind.
We were all gasping as we neared the border.
“Okay, now are you going to tell us what’s going on?” The girl asked.
“Right. First let me introduce myself. My name is Adira, and I have a friend named Jax who will be joining us soon,” assuming he’s okay. I shook my head, trying to get rid of the thought. He’s okay. He has to be. I looked up and caught the girl and the boy staring at me.
“Oh… sorry, I just got lost in my thoughts. Anyways, what are your names?”
The boy spoke first. “My name is Luke.”
“And mine is Mira,” the girl added.
I smiled at both of them. “Nice to meet you Luke, Mira.” They smiled and nodded back. “Let’s wait here for Jax, and we’ll explain everything.”
The next few minutes passed excruciatingly slow, seeming to drag on for hours. But, just as I was starting to get really worried about Jax, I saw his figure in the distance running towards us.
“Jax!” I sighed in relief.
“Hey, I finally lost them.” He panted, putting his hands on his knees.
“This is Luke and Mira,” I nodded to them.
“Jax,” he said in reply.
“Okay, so are you going to tell us what’s going on?” Luke asked.
“Yeah, the last thing I remember was going to sleep, and then I was woken by this noise. I looked outside and saw these people that I had never seen before herding my family out the door. I was scared, so I hid and they must have never found me,” Mira added.
“Same thing happened to me,” Luke nodded, agreeing with her.
I grimaced and looked at Jax. “You better sit down for this, as it’s a very long story…”
After explaining everything, Mira and Luke sat back, their faces shocked, but also understanding.
“Wow that’s… a lot to take in,” Mira said.
“Yeah,” Luke nodded along. “But I’ve been wondering… how did the Equals know that there were people who were Different in Thykora?”
“That… might have been my fault.” Jax smiled sheepishly. “You see, I was going to head to Thykora before I got shot, so I wrote Adira a note that said I would be at Thykora and to join me as soon as possible. It also said that I was sorry.” He looked at me.
“No Jax, you have nothing to apologize for. I’m the one who's sorry,” I said.
“Friends again?” He asked, grinning.
“Of course!” I shot an apologetic glance at Luke and Mira.
“Sorry, we just needed to sort out a problem.”
“Oh, it’s no problem!” Mira smiled. “So… what are we going to do now?”
“Well, Jax and I were going back to the Union to turn off the Chip, but I totally understand if you guys don’t want to come with us. It probably will be quite dangerous.” Jax nodded along with me.
“Are you kidding?” Mira laughed.
“We are definitely coming! You can’t get rid of us that easily!” Luke joked.
I grinned at both of them, grateful for their loyalness.
And with that, we all started heading back to the Union with our new friends, laughing along the way.
Even though it was just the four of us, I knew that we could take on the world, and whatever obstacles the Equals may throw at us along the way.
THIS STORY IS DEDICATED TO LITLOVER (Luke) AND MIRA CAPLAN FOR HELPING ME WITH THIS STORY AND BEING GREAT FRIENDS :D