Friday, January 3, 2014

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Sixteen // A Close Call

The echo of horses' hooves thudded through the misty night air. Lady Adira of the Province of Corrinath sat at the window in her private study, writing in her diary. Her reddish-brown locks twirled in the breeze from the crack in the window. Pausing as she wrote, Adira lifted her sea-green eyes to peer out of the second-story window, to see if her husband had yet returned. Lord Kriddan was her husband, and Knight of Corrinath.
    Hoofbeats, she mused. Kriddan must be home! In her eagerness, she dropped her pen, pulled on her dressing gown, and descended the stairs.
   But it was not Kriddan who awaited her under the awning of her front door. Three cloaked young people, all dressed in various shades of green and grey, stood dripping rainwater on the stone steps. "Aunt Adira?" a female voice inquired from beneath one of the cloaks. "We need your help!"

   Within five minutes Aliatha, Teclemith, and Willow all sat in Adira's sitting room, all wrapped in various dressing gowns of hers and Kriddans. After handing them each a cup of hot tea, she sat down as well.
   "What do you need my help with, dear ones?" she inquired.
   Teclemith seemed like the only one who could speak at that moment, so he relayed most of the story, except the parts about Tajoreth, of which whom Willow told the tale.
   "And so we are fleeing for Essgarothe. Willow suggested stopping here for a rest, but I was against it, Madame. I fear that we will lead the Shadow straight to you," Teclemith bowed his head.
   Adira nodded slowly. "But I do not fear the Shadow. They will not hurt me, and if they did, I am sure there would be some sort of revolt."
   Willow nodded vigorously. "But if you feel that it's too risky, we understa-"
   "I said nothing of the sort! You will most certainly stay with me tonight, as long as you need. Now I must go prepare your rooms. Aliatha, Willow, you do not mind sharing?" Adira asked as she stood up and brushed the front of her dressing gown with delicate yet strong hands.
   "That's fine. Thanks so much!" Willow clasped Aliatha's hand eagerly. Poor Aliatha hadn't done very well on their ride. She wasn't used to adventurous living, and was now quite exhausted from this endeavor.
   "You okay, 'Liatha?" Willow asked her softly as Teclemith followed Adira to try to persuade her to let him help her with the rooms.
   Aliatha shuddered. "That was one of the most terrifying experience I have ever had in all of my days! I thought for sure that my time had come!"
   Willow nodded sympathetically. "It feels like that at first, at least it did for me. I don't know, maybe with time and experience the fear when you're in danger lessens. I have to admit, I was kinda scared, though. When I don't know what to do, it's hard to stay calm. Our mentor, Estburn - he's the Shining One I told you about - he taught us, - the Four, I mean - how to stay calm in scary situations. Pray, and recite verses from the Writ in your head. I've done it, and it works! You could try it tonight, if you're scared," she suggested, squeezing Aliatha's hand comfortingly.
   Aliatha shrugged timidly. "I do not think that I could ever be as brave as you." She stared ashamedly down at Willow's small but sure hands clasping her own delicate, long-fingered ones.
   Willow patted her hand. "I'm absolutely sure that you could. All of the things you did to help me and Teclemith, that took considerable bravery. And you know that bravery isn't not being scared. It's being scared and doing something anyway. That's bravery."
   Aliatha leaned against her friend, laying her head on Willow's shoulder. "I know."
   Teclemith appeared and rapped his knuckles against the door frame. "Lady Adira has our rooms prepared. I suggest you all get some sleep."

   Willow rolled over for {what felt like} the hundredth time. Staring with annoyance at the whitewashed ceiling, she tried to soothe herself to sleep by listening to Aliatha's slow, even breathing. Unfortunately, her mind kept in beat with her breaths, so it was rather pointless to try to sleep. Puffing an exasperated sigh, she sat up.
   Throwing on the pale blue dressing gown hanging on a chair, she tied the sash carelessly, then nudged open the glass doors of the small balcony. Standing in the silvery moonlight, she gazed out at the grounds of the estate of the Lord and Lady of Corrinath. The grounds were quite well-kept, and obviously a gardener had been recently at work, trimming the bushes and manicuring the lawn.
   Willow's sharp eyes caught a whisper of movement on the neatly trimmed grass. Crouching behind the stone balcony railing, she peered cautiously out through the carved bars. A ghostly figure was gliding through the mist, it's cloak swirling in the fog. Willow edged for the door, her intent to warn Adira and Teclemith as soon as possible! But another movement from the figure distracted her for a moment. It turned to look up right at her hiding place. With a barely audible squeak, Willow flattened herself on her stomach. The coolness of the stone seeped through the thin nightdress and dressing gown, chilling her to the bone.
   The figure's face was very pale, and her lips very red. Her features were cold, and seemed almost chiseled in stone on her expressionless face. She was Zemerah, eldest child of Tashmath, and Tajoreth's elder sister. And close confidant of Tash. Her eyes were so sharp, they seemed almost like knives, slicing into everything that came across their path. Willow held her breath. Did she see me?
   Zemerah studied the stately house for what seemed like an eternity and half for Willow, who was wishing she could disappear. Finally, Zemerah turned on her heel and swept away. Willow let out her breath. As silently as she could, she stood and twisted the handle of the door. It seemed to shout into the night as it creaked open. "Shhhh!" she whispered to it frantically. If Zemerah saw her...
   When Zemerah did not appear out of nowhere, Willow edged the door shut, secured it, and scurried out into the hall. No use telling Aliatha until a plan was set.
   She knocked frantically on Teclemith's door, praying that their enemies would be slow in advancing upon the house. It was only a matter of time...
   "Yes?" a sleepy Teclemith answered, garbed in a warm green dressing gown and deep blue nightshirt and trousers, as he opened his door.
   "No time to talk," she hissed at him. "I just saw Zemerah outside, she was standing in the back garden! We have to get out of here before they catch us again! And no telling what they'll do to Aliatha!"
   Teclemith miraculously made sense of everything and grabbed his sword off the dressing table. "We must wake Lady Adira. She had a secret passage under her house with which we may escape."
   "Well that's a relief! I was thinking more of a last stand type thing, like in movies where they know they're gonna die and they do this last stand and try to take out all the bad guys before they die-" Willow was left chattering nervously to the door as Teclemith hurried down the hall and up the stairs to Adira's room.

   Adira was sleeping peacefully, dreaming of her husband returning from the capital, until she was aroused by hushed, though insistent knocking. "Enter," she instructed drowsily.
   "Lady Adira?" It was Teclemith, with Willow right behind him.
   "It's the Shadow!" she whispered frantically. "I just saw Zemerah - you know, Tashmath's daughter, the creepy one - standing outside in the back garden! I think they know we're here!" Willow sucked in her breath. "So what should we do?"
   Adira wrinkled her brow for a minute, then in smoothed out. "I know just what to do. Go. Dress quickly and arm yourselves, though I do not think this will come to blows. Willow, Aliatha may need help, you must watch over her. Go now, and I must speak with Teclemith." The dark-haired girl nodded and raced down the hall to awaken Aliatha.
   "Now Teclemith. You understand the danger. You cannot hold off all that the darkness will throw at you. But trust the Author, and he will lead you. Go now, arm yourself. I will do my best to distract them." She lay back down in bed. "The hatch to the passageway is underneath the barrel of flour in the cellar. The Author be with you. Now fly."
   Teclemith gave a quick nod, than rushed back to his room to grab everything that could possibly incriminate Adira.

   Willow pushed open the door to the room the girls were sharing, and started hurriedly dressing in the outfit Adira had laid out for her the night before.
   "Is it morning?" Aliatha asked sleepily, yawning and stretching. Her large eyes blinked in the light of the single candle. "Is something wrong?"
   Willow tied the belt hurriedly. "The Shadow are coming, and we need to hurry. Can you get dressed while I get the rest of the stuff?" she asked over her shoulder as she adjusted the sheath to her sword and made sure she had her quiver of arrows.
   Aliatha took a deep breath. Be brave, she instructed herself. She quickly followed Willow's lead and dressed.
   "What are we going to do?" she questioned, nervously tugging on a cloak.
   Willow grabbed her hand. "We're going to disappear into the night. Come on!"

   The girls descended the stairs and found Teclemith waiting for them. "Make haste!" he urged them in a low voice. "To the cellar!"
   "Why to the cellar?" Willow trilled after him as she gently pushed Aliatha ahead of her down the wooden steps. Being nervous made her talkative.
   "Adira said that there would be a opening to the passageway under the flour barrel in the cellar. Does anyone see it?" Teclemith started holding his lantern next to different barrels to try and read their labels.
    Willow snapped her fingers, and a purple fire sprang up on her palm. Aliatha stared at her with utter confusion.
   "Oh my goodness! How did you do that?" she cried, forgetting to keep her voice down in her surprise.
   "Oh, it's just... a thing, I got, you know, when I was... chosen. Yeah. It's not actual fire. It's... special... fire." Willow held her palm out, lighting up the labels of barrels. "Let's seeeee.... hmmmm... dried corn.... peas - yuck, dried peas - ..... beans........ pepper - good grief, they have a whole barrel for pepper? - .... ooohhh, here's the salt .......... flour, here we go! Yes! Over here, you guys!"
   A sharp knocking was heard on the floor above them. "Lord Kriddan of Corrinath! Open this door immediately!" a muffled voice proclaimed.
   "Hurry!" Willow hissed, straining to shove the barrel off the hatch. Teclemith rushed over and helped her move it. Crouching down, Willow tugged at the hatch. "There's a lock!" she gasped. "Teclemith, where's the key, for grief's sake?"
   Teclemith rooted through his pockets. "She never gave me a key!" he realized with horror.
   "Great, now what?" Willow sat back on her heels with a defeated sigh.
   Aliatha sucked in her breath. "I'll go."
   "Go?" Willow and Teclemith sputtered together.
   She nodded. "I can sneak past everyone. They will not notice me, I am sure of it. I will wear this servant's veil."
   Willow paled. "I know you can do it," she murmured. "Here, take my dagger. You never know if you'll need it."
   Aliatha gently slid the cellar door open. Please keep me alive, Author, she prayed. Tiptoeing down the hallway, she peered around the bend in the hall. Adira was standing there drowsily in her dressing gown, in front of Zemerah with an escort of palace guards.
   Aliatha's mind raced. If they heard something outside, they would leave, and Adira would be able to give her the key... Edging into the parlor, out of sight of the Shadow, she slid open the window and hurled a small rock she had picked up in the cellar out against a garden shed. Instantly Zemerah and all of the guards raced outside to investigate.
   "Lady Adira!" Aliatha cried softly. "The key to the secret passageway! Do you have it?"
   Adira whitened. "I had forgotten! Author, forgive me! Here," she slid a chain with a key dangling from it from her neck. "Take it, and make haste!"
   Aliatha nodded and mouthed a thank you. Spinning on her heel, she raced down the hall and wrenched open the cellar door. "Here!" she cried, tossing the key to Teclemith. He snatched it from the air and shoved it into the keyhole, twisting it with all his strength. It protested, than gave. Yanking it open, he gestured to the girls.
   "Go!" was the only thing they heard. Willow shoved Aliatha down first, then dropped down herself.
   "Hurry, Teclemith!" she called up from the damp passage. He nodded, than jumped down, pulling the door closed behind him.
   "Can you lock it?" Aliatha asked, pressing herself against the damp passage walls nervously.
   Teclemith handed Willow the key, and she stepped gracefully onto his shoulders, twisting the key in the old lock. It gave a slight creak, but that was all.
   "Come," Teclemith instructed, lifting a small lantern. "We have three miles to walk. Let's go."
   "Curses," murmured Zemerah under her breath. "I was sure that the Resistance scum were hiding here. Move out!" she ordered her small band of guards. "They will live to fight another day."

   Well that was fun! This is obviously one of my longer chapters, but it was fun! Anyway, Happy New Year and all that. I told you I would be posting next year ;)
   If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!
   Oh! And I'll try to do a post sometime about Forgotten, the next book after F&E. I was going to do it yesterday, but got lazy watching Dr Who and forgot {forgotten? heheh}.

 Be a friend, not an enemy,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Watchmen Files // File One // Chapter Ten // Part Two

Good day to you, faithful readers!

   It's Darrion, and I've got the rest of chapter ten for you :)

   Oh, and a Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you had a good one :) And Happy New Year, too!

   Right now, I'm writing this on New Years Eve, because I don't know about you, but I'm sleeping in tomorrow. I'm also writing over my little dog Barney who is sitting on my lap and shaking all over! He's terrified of fireworks. He hides behind the computer chair, he's so scared. Poor little thing :(

   But anyway, this chapter is an important one. Not only for Mason, but for Conner and Duke, too.

   And, an important notice to readers: this chapter contains violence. Not like take-out-the-Hydra violence, but I'm-beating-you-up violence. Bullying. Name calling (not bad words, of course). General rudeness and enmity. So, if you are young or sensitive to violence, then please, skip this chapter. Below the chapter I have a recap sort of thing, so I'll tell you what happened. You do not have to read. Please, if you're a kid (and think about what your parents would think) or if you're sensitive, then pass. Read below the chapter, in the recap. Thank you :)

So, without further adieu, this is the rest of chapter ten!

The Watchmen Files

File One
Chapter Ten 
Part Two 
Turning Point

   When lunch was finally called, the squad was dismissed to the cafeteria. Conner breathed a heavy sigh of relief and ran as fast as he could to get his meal. Never the less, he was the last to arrive (after being shoved aside by Duke) and was the last in line. Which meant the cold leftovers. Which wasn't particularly good, but any meal becomes tasty when on an empty stomach, which his was.

   He trotted over to the table farthest from the exits where his comrades were seated.
   "Hey McKee," Duke shouted from the far end of the table at the approaching Conner. "You should seriously lay off the short-cakes, dude!"
   Mason rolled his eyes. "Would you just leave him alone for once?"
   Duke rolled his eyes back. "Why should I do that? It's not my fault he's fat and short-"
   "He's not fat, and you're not even two inches taller than him!"
   Before Duke could shoot back, Graham came up to the group and calmed them down. "Hey boys, what's all the ruckus about?"
   There was a long moment before Conner muttered quietly, "Nothing, sir."
   "Good. Now, Sulavan and McKee, I want you two to the run another simulation for the rookies."
   Glancing at each other, Conner and Hank both nodded and followed the Sargent out of the cafeteria and left the others to finish their meals.
   Soon enough, they were licking their plates clean and, by the clock on the far wall, it was almost time for them to join the Sargent.
   "I'll see you guys there," Jared informed them, with his finished dish in hand.
   "I'll go with you," Gabe followed after him, leaving Chris, Felipe, Jean-Claude, Duke, and Mason who finished shortly after.
   When the intercom sounded, the boys got up to find their way back to training and showing the kids around. Mason, in a rush to get there at a punctual time, got up in a hurry and (by the curses that followed) knocked the invisible Duke over in the process. "Watch it, man! I can't see you when you do that... thing."
   Duke stumbled up from the floor and glared at him. "You watch where you're going, Hydra!"
   "I said stop calling me that," Mason seethed back at him. "I'm not a Hydra, and neither is my dad."
   "Ha!" Duke sneered. "Maybe you should do some research on that statement-"
   "Just leave me alone," Mason pushed past him only to be grabbed on the shoulder and whirled around.
   "Hey, I was talking to you!"
   "You don't know anything about my family."
   Duke looked surprisingly serious. "I know all I need to know. We're connected, Kruger. By what your pops did."
   "Did what?" he fumed back in frustration. "What is it with you and these cryptic conversations?"
   Leaning in, Duke cocked his head to one side and whispered in Mason's ear, "Hurt me with the truth, but never comfort me with a lie."
   Now quite suspicious, Mason didn't know what to think about his rival's 'wise words'. It sounded like it belonged on a bumper-sticker. "What's that suppose to mean?"
   "Did Graham ever tell you what your freak daddy did?"
   A long moment passed as he pondered the badly-worded question. "Not specifically-"
   "That's because he was a murderer!"
   "Stop saying that!" Mason retaliated, noting the crowd of other Watchmen listening in on the fight at hand. He had to stand up for family honor. "He didn't hurt anyone!"
   "Didn't hurt anyone? Didn't hurt anyone?!" Duke shouted. "Hans Kruger was a Nazi kook and a murderer! He killed innocent men with his 'tests' like they were lab rats! Those men had families, kids that would never know their fathers! And the world hasn't forgotten you Krugers, what you did to those families, and one day, I'm gonna have the pleasure of doing justice to him just unlike he did to so many others, and you can watch him hurt-"
   Duke never got to finish his rant because Mason snapped (in every sense of the word). His pulse so high that all he could hear was the pounding of his hear in his ears, Mason attacked Duke full-on. As in a fist-to-fist fight. Duke, taken completely by surprise, could only cover his face with his arms and yell for help as Mason tried to beat the living daylights out of him.
   The crowd just stared in horror as the fight went to the ground with Mason on top and the helpless Duke below him, unable to get up or do anything but be smashed by Mason's fists.

    Meanwhile, Conner, who was following the Sargent alongside the teens to the next training ground noticed someone running at top speed up to Graham.
    It was Felipe, and he was puffing and was quite pale by the time he reached them. "Sargent! Vous avez à l'aider!" he rambled breathlessly in rapid French.
   "English, boy!" Graham instructed as the now quite concerned Jason listened in.
   "I-it is Mason," Felipe chocked. "He has gone fou!"
   Conner, who spoke some French, gasped and took hold of Felipe's shoulders. "Where is he now? Tell me!"
   "In... in the cafeteria."
   Conner took off in that direction and, after a slight hesitation, Graham, Jason, and the teens followed as fast as they could. Surprisingly, Conner got to the cafeteria first and rushed in to find a crowd of Watchmen standing around something, or someone. They were too tall to see over, but by the sound of it, Mason had gotten to Duke.
   "Let me through! Please!" Pushing past them, he found Mason on top of someone, hitting him with his fists as that someone cried out. "Mason!" Conner shrieked in horror at the sight.
   Immediately, he moved in and grabbed Mason's arms (still yelling at him to take control of himself), trying to pull him off, but to no avail. Then, getting down on his knees, he forced himself in between Mason and Duke as he had done before.
   Mason, so blinded by rage and the pulsing red covering most of his sight, delivered another blow to his opponent.
   Except he didn't hit who he thought.
   A shrill, sharp yelp like that of a puppy dog rang in his ears, immediately clearing his sight.
   Everything stopped. The blinding anger, the noise of the crowd, the shouts of his Sargent, and the gasps of the teens were canceled out and all he could hear was that yelp, and all he could see was Conner pulling back, grabbing his face with his hands in pain and whimpering.
   "Conner... I-I..." Mason's eyes welled up with tears as Graham shoved him aside to get to the wounded, whimpering Conner. The crowds of Watchmen stared and shook their heads at him, not believing that someone could do such a thing. "Conner...?" Mason gasped and looked down at his hands and back up to his wounded friend in horror. "I... I'm so sorry..." A cold tear dripped down his cheek as he gazed upon what he had done.
   Mason turned away, frightened by himself, by what he had done, and one of the kids, the tall skinny one, stared at him in terror. "Stay away from me!"
   More tears followed in small streams as he ran away from the scene of confusion and hurt. He had to get away from there, hide somewhere, anywhere. But he couldn't hide, not from himself.
   "Mr. Jason!" the teen pulled on Jason Grey's sleeve persistently. "He's getting away!"
   "Should we shut it down, sir?" a Watchmen asked worriedly.
   "No, let him go. Just don't let him leave the facilities grounds." Rushing over to Graham who was kneeling next to Conner as the medics checked him and Duke, he put a hand on the Sergent's arm. "What do we do?"
   "Take them to the hospital, of course," Graham answered sharply.
   "No, what about Mason?"
   A shaky groan interrupted them, "... M-Mason...?"
   "It's okay, Conner. Just lie still," he patted the young man gently.
   "Is... is he okay?"
   Jason couldn't help but crack a smile of relief, then he shook his head. "I don't know, Conner, I don't know." Looking over his shoulder after where he had ran out, he breathed deeply. "What's happened to you, Mason Kruger?"

To be continued in Chapter Eleven: What Have I Done?

And that's it, folks! Chapter ten! I hope it wasn't too much for you. This just had to happen for the rest of the story.

Oh, and here's the recap!

So, basically, Duke accused Mason's dad (Dr. Kruger) of murdering innocent people and said that he wished him dead. Mean, I know. What a jerk. But anyway, Mason, losing control of himself, attacks Duke (punches him) and Conner tries to intervene. But Mason accidentally hit Conner and snapped out of it, but hurt him a bit. Then, suddenly afraid and scared, Mason runs off. So that's where the chapter is left off till next time.

And I changed Jason's rank to Junior Directer of Recruitment Divisions (instead of Special Forces).

So, anyway, I think that's just about it... oh, I forgot about announcements :)

So Willow is going to try to write her chapter for this Friday. And also, she's going to attempt to write a bit about the sequel to Friends and Enemies, called Forgotten.

And Ammelia wrote chapter four of Without Cause. This was a very exciting one, and I liked it a lot! I think Ethan is really cool, and he and Mason act a bit alike in a protective sense. It would be interesting to see how they would act if they ever met each other.

Well, have a good day, everyone! :)

Always Watching,

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

//Without Cause// //Chapter Four// //Midnight Highway//

//Without Cause//

//Chapter Four//

//Midnight Highway//


   Getting up at 7:00 in the morning has never been a pleasant task for me, let alone getting up at 3:00. But by the time we started getting shot at by that crazy lady, I was wide awake. Even now, as we pulled onto the highway and headed south, there was no way could fall asleep again. 
   It was still dark, being only 4-something in the morning, and Kylie was ready to fall asleep again, as Mum and Dad discussed a bunch of different stuff in low voices. Kylie eventually put one of her pillows on the middle seat and curled up, stretching her seatbelt at an odd angle. Just when I thought she was asleep, her voice broke into Mum and Dad’s conversation.
  “Ok, I’ve got a question.”
Dad peered into the rearview mirror. “Shoot.”

 “If all the people we’re running from are so smart, couldn’t we be being tracked? Or followed?”

“Well,” Dad answered. “Yes, and no. There could be spies in any one of these vehicles, or they could have the truck locked on a sidelight. But I have faith—“
   “Ok, we get it. Angels will protect us.” I mocked with sarcasm.
Kylie punched my knee. “Can’t you ever just shut up?” She whispered.

   Dad glared through the mirror. “Actually, I was going to say, I have faith in our people at Cause, whom are trying their hardest to keep out tails covered. It’s not an easy task when your opponent has equal, maybe better, resources.” He paused and thought for a second before finishing. “But yes, I also do have faith, not in angels, but in an almighty God.”
  I clenched my jaw and stared out the window.

  We sat in silence for a while, before I had to ask, “So… Did you say we were going to Oregon?”
   Mum nodded, clearing her throat. “Yep, Portland. And from there, we’ll be getting a ride to the ole base.”

“What kind of ride? Who’s driving?”
   Mum smiled. “It’s flying, and the pilot’s name is David Stahley. He’s our main pilot at Cause. He’s nice, you’ll like him.”

   “Can you tell us about some of the people there?” Kylie inquired. I acted like I wasn’t interested, but I really did want to know. “For starters,” she continued. “who’s that J.G. person?”
   Mum chuckled. “I wondered when you were going to ask about that. J.G. is a missionary. The initials stand for July Groot. She’s such a sweetie. Her, and her twin brother, Jace, who is not so much of a sweetie, are heads of the communication functions. Meaning, they’re the ones who arrange the pick-ups and drop-offs, and deliver news.

   “Like yesterday, they sent us a note, warning us that their sources suspected James had found our house and wasn’t wasting time trying to reach us. I thought we’d have a bit more time, but after you saw that person by the library, who I assume was Shannon, she’s never been too good at hiding, we knew it wouldn’t be that long.
  “Last night, or a few hours ago, Cause was able to contacted us through a new device I’ve been working on, and barely had time to warn us that James and his hoodlums were closing in on the house.”

   “Wait, wait, ‘a device you’ve been working on’? What does that mean? You… invented something?” I asked, my eyes wide with surprise.

   Mum scoffed with a smile. “Of course! I’m not a total loser.” She opened up the glove box and pulled out the tablet-like device she’d used earlier. She pressed her hand on the screen. “It scans your hand, and you type a password using these buttons on the side, then, if you’re accepted, it lets you access the internet, or whatever files are on it.” She handed it back to Kylie, who cradled it with both hands. We watched as the black screen faded into a blaring bright blue, quite a change from the dark cab of the pick-up.
    I looked away and blinked hard. “I think you just burned my retinas out. My eyes are screaming…” 

Kylie ignored me, and kept talking. “Can’t it be tracked, like all our other stuff?”
  “No, that’s the beauty—”

“I think I’m blind…”
   “—of me inventing it. I, or we, control everything about it. Cause has been working on linking up their own network, and recently finished, allowing us to communicate freely, using our own devices without worry.”

   I rubbed my eyes and tried to adjust to the light of the tablet thing. “So you basically made your own mobile network, like Verizon or T-Mobile?”
   I didn’t, the workers at Operation Cause did.” Mum answered, pausing as I squinted to try and take a better look at the tablet. “Your father and I, along with a handful of other people, are the inventors. I created the master plans around 10 years ago, and we’ve been experimenting with different sizes and devices since then. Only last year did I finally come up with something that would be compatible with our network. It’s a very complicated process.”

  I leaned over towards Kylie as she waited for a page to load. “What’re you doing?”
  She shrugged. “I didn’t do anything, it was like this when Mum gave it to me. What’s it doing, Mum?”

Mum twisted in her seat to face us. “Right now, it’s acting as a homing device. The other people at Cause are watching us, so they can get to us if something goes wrong.”
   Kylie handed the tablet to me. “How long will it take to reach your secret bunker place?”

Dad laughed at that. “It’s anything but a secret bunker. To be honest, I’m actually surprised it hasn’t been discovered yet.”
    “Why? Where is it?”

“You’ll see when we get there.” He smiled at us through the mirror.
   I thought about it, and the thought of meeting and interacting with a bunch of goody-goody missionaries was not particularly at the top of my list of things to do today. But I figured they’d be nice people, and let me have my space. I gathered it’s a great moral organization, but I really hoped Mum and Dad wouldn’t make me participate in any of it. Sure, that God stuff is nice, if you’re into it. I was raised around it and don’t have a problem with it, as long as you keep it to yourself.

   Mum and Kylie were discussing the network and tablet a little more. I pulled my mobile phone out of my jacket pocket and studied it. “What about our phones? Aren’t those the main things that can be tracked?”
   Kylie pulled hers out as well, handing the tablet back to Mum. “No, I rigged those up when you weren’t looking. If you had internet on your phones, things might be different. But since you use the computers at the library, we can’t really be tracked through that.” Mum began to tap and press more buttons, but soon just looked at the screen like she was reading.

   “Whatcha reading?” Kylie peered over her shoulder.
 “Some verses a friend just sent me.”

   “What kind of verses?” I knew Kylie was going to ask that, and wished she wouldn’t. I didn’t want to hear a sermon this earlier in the morning.
   “Oh, a bunch of different kinds. Mostly ones about strength and perseverance.”

 “Why do you need verses like that? What about that thing about God never giving you more than you can handle?”
   “That statement is not biblical. There is nowhere in the Bible that says that. There are many places where He assures us He will help us through tough spots, but nowhere does He say He’ll never give us more than we can handle.

  “If God never gave us more than we could handle, how would we ever be drawn closer to Him? Why would we need to ask Him for help, if we have everything under control all the time?”
   “I never thought of it that way.”

 I gave an annoyed sigh. “I didn’t know you thought about it at all.”
   She gave me a you-will-die-a-death-of-flames-if-you-speak-again look.

 Dad’s voice made us all jump. “Ethan, I don’t want to hear you start arguments again, and stop acting like this is going to be a torture festival.”
   “Yes, sir.” I mumbled, turning my gaze out the truck’s window and putting my headphones in.

   Beautiful colors danced over the tops of trees and hills as the sun started to rise. Clouds were moving in quickly, and I knew that it would probably rain before the day was over. More cars began to appear on the roads, and traffic increased slowly, then more quickly. Soon, we were going so slow, I swear I could crawl faster through peanut butter. We moved at the same snail pace for an hour, and the traffic thinned a bit.

   I kept my headphones in, drowning out the sound of everything. At around 11:30, we were in Oregon, driving through Portland. My stomach growled, and I pulled out my headphones. “I’m hungry. When can we eat?”
   Dad motioned to a restaurant a block away. “We can eat there, but we can’t stay too long. After everyone’s settled, I’ll come back and sit with Fili and Kili.”  When we pulled to a stop outside the restaurant and Dad scanned the area with Mum’s tablet. He finished and put it in the glove box, an alert, focused expression on his face. “Okay, let’s go. Don’t forget to lock your doors.”

   Kylie stopped before she closed her door. “Weew be back een a meeneet, sweetsies!” she cooed to the dogs.
   We followed Mum and Dad into the restaurant, and were shown to a corner booth. Dad and Mum remained standing as Kylie and I slid into either sides of the booth. “Order anything you want, your Mum and I will be over by the door talking. If you need anything, do not hesitate to come get us.” Dad lowered his voice. “Ethan, watch your sister. No running off. Stay here, stay together.” Kylie and I nodded.

A few minutes later, a pretty brunette waitress took our order. After she left, Kylie sunk deep into the bench.
   “What?” She crossed her arms and looked around.

 “I’m in my pajamas!” she hissed.
   “Don’t you have clothes in the truck?”

“Yeah, but Dad told us to stay here. I can’t believe I’m the only one not properly dressed, in a public place.”
  “Why don’t you go ask if you can go out to the truck and get your clothes?”

 She watched Mum and Dad on the other side of the restaurant. “Fine. But you have to come with me, Dad said you can’t leave me alone.”
   I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. I’m not your babysitter.” We were about to get up when I spotted our food coming. “Wow, that was fast. Kylie just run over there real quick, I can watch from here.”

“Just tell Dad I needed to stay with the food.”

   “Ugh! Why do you have to make everything so difficult.” She pushed her way out and walked towards Mum and Dad, anxiously looking around her.
   As the waitress brought our food to the table, I had to do a double take. Then, I just stared. The girl looked just like Kylie! She smiled “Something wrong?” I looked behind her at Kylie and my parents, then back at her, than back at the others. Mum was on her way out the front door with Kylie, I supposed they were headed to the truck to get Kylie’s clothes. “Hello?” the waitress asked.

  “What? Huh? Oh, no, nothing’s wrong, you just… you look like someone I know, that’s all.” The waitress wasn’t wearing a name tag, which I thought unusual, but maybe she was new.
   “Ah. So is it just you, or is there anyone else at this table?” She asked, distributing the plates of food.

   “No, I’m here with my family.”
 She looked up. “Your whole family?”

   “Why?” I asked, cocking my head.
  She smiled again, “No reason.” She grabbed the empty food tray, turning on her heals and fast-walking to the kitchen area. Weird.

   Kylie was just coming in with Mum, carrying a plastic bag with a change of clothes inside. She headed to the restrooms and returned shortly dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt with a plaid button-up over it. She came back and sat at the table, running a hand through her hair, but Mum and Dad stayed where they were by the door.
   “Kylie, you’re never going to guess what just happened! The waitress who brought our food looks just like you!”

   “Really? Where is she?”
“She went back there,” I pointed in the direction of the kitchen.
 Kylie bent into the isle trying to get a glimpse of the waitress, but then her face scrunched up and she pulled herself back in. “Do you smell something burning?” 
 I sniffed, then coughed. “Wow, yeah, what the heck is that? It smells like the building’s on fire!” People around us began waving napkins and covering their mouths and noses with their shirts. 
Kylie coughed a few more times. “I think it is!” My nose started to burn and I covered my mouth and coughed. I scanned the area , but now the place was filled with smoke, I couldn’t see Dad or Mum anywhere. People screamed and shouted and ran in every direction, but the doors wouldn’t open.
   “Kylie!” I croaked, grabbing her arm and pulling her to the ground. No sooner had I done that when a deafening sound and a blast of fire and debris exploded from the front of the restaurant. Kylie screamed and I yelled (guys don’t scream, remember), covering our heads, as pieces of glass and wood fell on us. I had no time to react before strong, menacing arms grabbed my hands and handcuffed them behind my back, then pulled me to my feet by my hair and slapped duct tape over my mouth. Another person did the same to Kylie, pointing a knife at her back. “Move quietly.” He growled through a gas mask. Kylie looked at me, her eyes brimming with tears from the smoke and full of terror. We were pushed toward the back of the restaurant, Kylie practically being carried, and out into the light of day. A fire alarm sounded from across a street at a different establishment, making me wonder why the restaurants own alarms didn’t go off. We were marched through a small parking lot toward a white minny van, parked, but still running. The waitress who looked like Kylie stood off to the side, a big smile on her face.

   We were shoved in the van, which had no seats and the front was blocked off by a metal sheet. The windows were painted over. Kylie was shoved in first, making her hit the other side of the van. She curled up and shut her eyes tight. A rage swelled inside me. I glared at the guy who threw her in, and swung my leg hitting the backs of the guy’s knees. He cried out and hit the pavement. The guy who had me kicked me in the van. I face planted right next to Kylie, and the door slammed behind me.

  So there it is! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, stuff has been super busy around here, with the Holidays and all. Last time I posted, I didn’t include the things I’m thankful for, so I’ll do that this time. J I have a long list, but I’ll narrow it down to five. (P.S. I apoligise for all the big spaces in between lines. I write my story on Microsoft Word, and then copy and past it onto Blogger, which screws stuff up. So it will look perfect on MW, but it looks weird on here. Sorry if that's annoying. :/)

-C.A.U.S.E., to whom all the glory goes. My main inspiration. This story would literally be nothing without Him. I try, and struggle, and fail, daily, but I’m learning to love and lean on Him more and more each step of the way.
-My amazing Mum. She has the patience to deal with 7 kids, 19 chickens, 4 goats, 3 dogs, and 3 cats, and still be mostly graceful at the end of the day. She reads and helps edit my story, while encouraging me. You rock, Ma!

-My awesome siblings, who put up with my weird ramblings whilst I blast my Lindsey Stirling CD and wish I could play like ThePianoGuys, and for all the times I’ve had breakdowns at the hands of a Fandom…

-Mah bestie, Darrion, who, alongside Willow, came when I needed it most. They helped me out of a dark spot, and caused me to look at the brighter side of things. They inspire and encourage me in everything. D and W, I love you girls! Thank you so much for being there and being a friend to me! J

-And for all of you, thank you for reading and letting me know your thoughts on this book. You girls/guys (do guys even read this blog??) are awesome! Thank you!

For the Will of Cause,


Postscript // Note from Willow // Ammelia asked me to look this over yesterday {her regular posting day} and like an idiot I totally forgot, so that's why you're reading it a day late. So if you see this, Ammie, I'm really sorry. We were watching Dr Who, and the Master might've warped my brain...