Sorry for posting this a little late in the day. I’ve had a crazy week. It’s a bit shorter, but anyway, here’s the next part!
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“So.” Breaking his silence, Weatherby leans forward. “Tell us about your metal.”
I clench my fists under the table. Everything tells me that revealing anything about yourself leaves you open for people to hurt you. My metal is what makes me who I am. It defines me. If they know it, then they know me. Still, I’m outnumbered, and the hostile curiosity of the other Peers in the room shows that if a fight breaks out, they probably won’t side with me.
“I don’t know much about it, but I know that it’s something different. The metal is specially designed, making it flexible under pressure. The different valves increase my blood flow, and make it possible for me to withstand physical strain for a long period of time.” I stop, wondering if I just said too much.
The others around the table are studying me closely, Daren’s face full of interest, Meq’s forehead wrinkled in thought, and Weatherby’s eyes unfocused as he listens intently.
“Um, it doesn’t do much else, or if it does, I haven’t found out yet…” My voice trails off, and I bite my lip.
“Interesting. And has it worked perfectly since the time it was put in?”
I lie between my teeth. “Yes.”
Daren’s eyes snap to mine, and I know that he can tell I’m lying. Incredibly, he doesn’t say anything, but I know that he’s listening even more closely.
“So tell us.” Weatherby folds his hands. “How did you get it put in? You’re too young to have been part of the Third War.”
“I don’t have to tell you that.”
“Actually you do.” His eyes are cold, unfeeling, uncaring.
I stand up. “Listen. I don’t know who any of you are. This metal in here,” I tap my chest, “It’s a part of me. I’ve shared that part with you. But that doesn’t mean I have to share the rest.”
“She’s right.” This time it’s Meq who breaks into the conversation. “Really, Weatherby, do you honestly expect her to tell you her life’s story in five minutes? Come on. It took you three months to get that information out of me.”
Weatherby rolls his eyes at Meq. “Those were different times. Now is more urgent. Especially with so many Peers disappearing.”
I sit back down. “What do you mean? Why are Peers disappearing?”
“Peers are valuable. Their metal is,” Weatherby hesitated, “desirable.”
“Why? Who wants it? Everyone hates us. They try to kill us.” I reply, thinking about my close shave with the Inspectors.
“There are some people who would give anything to have what we have. To have our metal.”
I resist the urge to hit the table. These cryptic and mysterious answers aren’t getting me anywhere. I try to keep the annoyance out of my voice as much as possible.
“And who wants our metal?”
“We call them Clawers.” Daren finally speaks up after having kept silent this whole time.
Oh. So we finally get to those guys.
“What are they?”
“They’re Peers, like us, but they don’t stay here. They’re outcasts, misfits, criminals. To sum it up, they’re bounty hunters.”
I’m confused. “Wait, what?”
“Basically, they hunt Peers. Pretty simple.” Meq says.
“They don’t just hunt them though. They capture the Peers and put them in the Torn Arena.”
Meq stops, and lowers his eyes to the table, as the three suddenly become solemn. I almost don’t want to know what that means, but I can’t stop the question. “What- what happens to them?”
A dead silence settles around the table. Meq and Daren turn to look at Weatherby, who obviously is considered the spokesman. He raises his eyes gravely to meet mine, for once looking like he is capable of feeling human emotion.
“They are forced to fight. The Clawers have designed robots that are literally fighting machines. They are nearly unbeatable. Each Peer is put through rounds where they are made to fight these monsters.”
“Wait, what?” My voice cracks in disbelief. “Seriously?”
All I get are nods around the table. I bite my lip.
“Why, why would they do that?”
Again, Daren and Meq look to Weatherby.
“They’re payed a good amount of money. It’s a type of test. You see, the winner always disappears. They take the Peer away to the Government. Heaven only knows what happens to them in there. But there has to be something that the Officials want with us, with our parts.”
I lean back in my chair, remembering the gang that had chased me around the Ruins. “Were those thugs-“
“Yes.” Daren responds, interrupting me.
Abruptly, Weatherby stands up, towering over all of us. “That’s enough information for today.”
“Wait, but I want to know-“
“That’s enough. No one gets to know everything on their first day.”
“What do you mean, their first day?”
“Well, you’re staying here now, aren’t you?”
My eyes open wide and I bolt out of my chair. “N-no, no I’m not. I’m going back to my home.”
Daren and Meq stand up, Daren’s face looking slightly anxious as he looks between Weatherby and I.
“No, you’re not.”
“Yes, I am!”
“No, you’re not!”
Like a caged animal, my eyes dart left and right, trying to see my allies. Daren and Meq, however, aren’t saying anything. Weatherby is looking larger by the second, his fists clenched just a bit, and his white hair silhouetted by the hanging lightbulb.
“Why do I have to stay?” I ask, searching for a way out.
“Because if you are something different, we need to know.”
“Excuse me?!” Visions of being experimented on and examined flashes through my mind. “And you think I’m just going to stick around for you?”
“I think you’re smart. And if you’re smart, you’ll know that you’re outnumbered, with no where to go.”
I slowly back away from the table, keeping my gaze fixed on Weatherby as I maneuver around the tables and towards the door. My thoughts are racing. They know something, they know something about me, and they need me here for a reason. Whatever the reason, I know it can’t be good.
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