Whoop! I hope you’re excited to read the second part. I know I was excited to write it.
We left off with our main character (you still don’t know her name yet) being chased by the evil Inspectors. And we still don’t know really what’s going on with the whole Peer thing…
If you’re new, catch up and read:
And now, without further ado, I give you:
Large buildings flash past me, mirroring everything that I will never have, their perfect white stone creating an almost blinding glare.
“Stop! Shoot her!” I can hear the Inspector’s voice still behind me, but gradually falling behind.
A skittering on the concrete besides my flying figure tells me they’ve begun to shoot. Ducking my head, I careen down the street and run through a little back alley. Stumbling to a large refuse container, I crouch behind it, my breath coming in pants, my hand clutching at my chest, wincing at the continuing pain.
“This street leads to Main, a right takes me to Redsnap Drive, and then I can lose them in the Ruins.” I whisper to myself, closing my eyes to see my plan clear in my mind.
Hoisting my backpack higher onto my shoulders, I listen carefully for their footsteps. It doesn’t take keen ears to hear their fumbles as they crash down the alley toward me. Gritting my teeth and taking a deep breath, I bolt from my hiding place and dash in front of them, eliciting a shocked and excited shriek from the leading Inspector.
My feet thud on the pavement as I dash through the alley, dodging other refuse cans and small energy boxes that line the narrow strip. Emerging, I can’t stop to make sure I won’t run over any families. Pushing aside old and young alike, I shove my way over Main, heading for the shadier Redsnap Drive.
“Hey, watch it!” “Excuse me!” “Hi, what’re you doin’?” Various exclamations and horrified voices fill the air as I push aside pedestrians.
I grin to myself. The Inspectors aren’t much better, their bulky figures causing more havoc then my slim and slippery frame.
After what seems like an age, I get out from the stream of traffic and run down the quiet and dirty streets of Redsnap. Glancing over my shoulder, I see the Inspectors hesitate before following me over the uneven road. Despite the Inspectors’ infamous reputation for maintaining order, there are a few places where their rigid law cannot reach.
Redsnap Drive is one of the few places where the criminals and gangs live, their flexible system of rules easily broken. Even I don’t go here by myself when the light begins to fade. The inhabitants here are ruthless and aren’t known for chivalrous behavior.
In light of this, my hands are sweaty from not just exerting myself. I don’t risk taking peeks at the open doorways and shady figures lounging in the dark recesses of the shadows. I just focus on my feet, their rhythmic thud matching the beating of my chest.
The Inspectors have given up shouting, and their overfed figures are having difficulty keeping mine in sight. Stopping at the corner of the street that will lead me to the Ruins, I gaze back at their meandering shadows. Shaking silently with laughter, I turn around and dash away, heading for the place where they won’t dare go.
I was right.
The minute the Inspectors see me head pass the border, they stop and turn around, shrugging and gesturing among themselves. Obviously, I’m not worth it to them. I’m not worth the risk of venturing into the Ruins. Strange, I think to myself. I would think a Peer would at least be cause enough for them to go in.
I can’t say I’m sad to see them turn around and leave, casting vicious glances over their shoulders. I’ve never been that close to being ‘decommissioned’. Everyone else calls it decommission, but I know what it truly is.
Redsnap Drive disappears from my view as I jog through destroyed streets. I feel at home here, and I feel reminded of my own house where the walls and buildings are crumbling just like here. Still, I know the rumors that circulate about this place, and they are enough to cause me to clutch my backpack straps tighter and keep a watchful eye on my surroundings.
Groaning, I collapse onto a red curb, leaning up against a boulder and massaging my chest. The Scanner must’ve done something to me, it’s never hurt this much before. Squeezing my eyes shut, I press my lips together and take a deep breath, relaxing my taught muscles.
I fly to my feet and stare at the odd figure before me. Taller than me, with a ragged coat and hood, he’s obviously not someone reputable. Bright eyes gleam at me from beneath a bushy mop of hair. Scars adorn his face, but what really makes my eyes pop is the right side of his face.
“You’re-you’re a Peer?” I falter, staring at the working mechanisms and rusty bolts that somehow make up half his head.
“What a clever young lady you are. What a catch. A Human from the OtherSide. Leo’s my name. Leo Finess.”
The man steps forward and I inch away from him, my hand sliding into my pocket and closing around the grip of my gun.
“Did you know there’s a pretty price out there for Humans these days? I’d be able to make a profit off you, Clawers are always happy to have an extra entertain the crowd.” Leo’s half-face smiles, and I shiver, whipping out my gun and pointing it at his face.
“You might be metal, but a bullet is gonna hurt you just the same.” I say, working desperately to keep my voice from shaking.
He leans back and laughs, a hacking sound, chilling me to the bone. “Brave too. And obviously someone who knows how to fight. Definitely going to get a high price for you. If you know what’s best for you, you won’t fight or struggle. Just come along quietly, and you won’t be hurt. For now, at least.” His half-smile glimmers in the afternoon sun and I shake my head.
“Don’t come a step nearer or I’ll have to shoot.” I warn, sighting down my barrel and backing away, my boots crunching on the crumbled gravel. He ignores my warning, stretching out his gloved hands and reaching for me. I pull the trigger and send a bullet where his leg is jutting out from underneath his ratty coattails.
A high pitched squeal escapes his lips and he collapses, clutching his thigh in an effort to stop the blood.
I wince as I watch him. Reaching into my backpack, I pull out a piece of old cloth and toss it to where he is writhing on the ground.
“Put pressure on that, honey, and you should be fine.” I slowly start walking away as he hurls muffled curses at me. “Hope you’ve learned your lesson. Don’t mess with a person who’s got a gun.”
I grin over my shoulder and run around the corner and in the direction of my home. Despite my show of bravado, I’m more shaken than I’d like to admit. “It was a mistake to come here.” I say to the open air.
“You’re right, it was.” A rough voice speaks to me.
Whirling around, I see several men grouped behind me, all of them displaying some piece of hideous metal.
Without waiting to see what they want, I whirl and flee, hearing their boots crunching behind me and their raucous laughter fill the Ruins. The sweat that had just begun to dry on my skin, runs down in beads, almost blinding my eyes. My backpack bangs on my back, but I can’t stop to drop it. All I can focus on is ignoring the pain in my chest and running.
A right, left, right, left. In an effort to lose the mob chasing me, I try to take a more complicated route back. Great, I’m lost, I groan to myself as I dodge into an alleyway. Peering ahead, I dash forward and then stop.
It just drops, the street just drops. I don’t know what happened here, but maybe the years of erosion created this. I’m standing on the edge of a chasm, how deep, I don’t know.
“We got you now! And you’ll pay for shooting Leo.” The group bunches up behind me and all of them grin, enjoying the sight of the panic visible in my face.
My foot slips on the edge and I look behind me again, my stomach dropping at the sight of the dark chasm looming below. The mob begins to close in, some of them shouting rude comments and laughing insanely. I gaze around wildly, fear starting to make me panic.
Something out of the corner of my eye flickers and moves.
A cloaked figure steps out from the shadows of a crumbling building on the edge. My eyes widen as the figure winds back its arm, its hand clutching something.
The wind lifts the command and carries it to me. I’m out of ideas, so I obey blindly, not knowing what I’m doing. I drop to the ground and cover my head as the object in the figure’s hand flies over where I was standing and into the mob.
A strong blast of air, followed by a loud explosion, almost knocks me over, and I grab a chunk of concrete that is jutting out of the ground. I shriek as my legs slip over the edge and my feet dangle above the chasm.
I can’t see anything besides concrete, but I can hear the mob’s footsteps receding, all of them yelping as if in pain. The cloaked figure runs out to me and kneels, reaching gloved hands to help me up. I can’t refuse, letting my savior pull me out of danger.
I collapse on my knees and take a deep breath, clambering to my feet as my hand goes instinctively to my chest, where the catch is beginning to become intolerable. The figure standing before me is slight, but a bit taller than me. It lifts its gloved hand and throws back its hood, revealing a handsome if closed face, dark eyebrows shadowing clever brown eyes.
“Sorry it took me so long to get to you, but you have no idea how hard it is running at top speed through wreckage. I’m Daren.” The boy grins at me airily and then sticks out his gloved hand, as if he expects me to shake it.
I stare at him and then hunch over a little and walk past him.
“Not the friendliest, huh?”
To my annoyance, the boy starts following me, his neatly laced boots hardly making a sound on the concrete. I don’t reply, just hoisting my pack to a more comfortable position.
“Hey, listen, you shouldn’t be out here. That gang will be back any minute, and they know their way around here. They’ll sniff you out in less than an hour.”
“I can take care of myself. I know my way around here.” I retort, keeping my voice as uninterested and cold as I can.
“Really? You’ve been running deeper into the Ruins for the past hour. And you nearly ran off the edge of the Weeper. You call that knowing your way around? If that is, I don’t want to know what it’s like when you don’t know your way around…”
I whirl and stare at him. “Listen. I don’t know who you think you are, and I don’t know why you saved me. So if you’re waiting for some gratitude, then take it that I’m thankful. Now just leave me alone and stop following me.” I turn to start walking away, but stop as he quickly speaks up.
“Those Inspectors were going to try to decommission you, weren’t they? You’re a Peer.”
I stop. “How did you know?” I whisper, my hand straying up to press at the catch in my chest.
“I’ve been around long enough to be able to distinguish a Peer from a Human. But you feel like you don’t really belong with either, don’t you?”
My breath comes quicker. This strange boy was telling me what I was feeling, what I’ve never told anyone before. I turn back to him, to where he’s standing with his arms crossed and his eyes serious.
“What do you want?” I ask, suspicion seeping into my voice.
“I don’t want to have to clean up another dead body from the street.”
“Specifically yours.” He smiles, but his smile doesn’t reach his eyes. He is dead serious and he is earnest. I’m beginning to see the truth in what he’s saying.
“Then what are you really suggesting?” I ask, searching his face in the way I’ve learned. I’ve always been able to scrutinize people, size them up for what they really are. But this one’s different. There’s something deeper.
“You don’t have to live alone. There are others like you, other Peers.”
Others? Others like me? A Peer, but hidden? My thoughts whirl at the possibilities. Still I shrink from trusting a stranger. For all I know, he could be working for the Inspectors.
“Why would I want to live with other Peers? The ones I just met didn’t seem very friendly.”
Again that smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “Those are the outcasts, criminals and lawbreakers thrown from Peer communities. You won’t run into any at the nearest camp.”
My curiosity is peaked, I have to admit. If there’s any sign of trouble, I can always just shoot him down as a last resort, I argue to myself, despite feeling a shiver of disgust at having to fire at another person.
A loud scuffling echoes down the alley, and the boy, Daren, and I peer around the corner. An even larger gang is gathering and cautiously creeping toward the street where we are standing.
“Well, are you gonna come with me or not?” Daren asks, urgency apparent in his voice. My gaze flits between the gang and his face. Can I trust him?
What’s going to happen?!
Can she escape? Should she trust him?
I had such a great time writing this part, and tell me what you guys think of Daren!!
(Oh and our main character so far. You still don’t know her name, do you? *evil laughter* Just wait and find out)