You guys! After last weeks harrowing adventure, I was pretty sure that any option we picked would lead immediately to: You have died. But then I realized I was writing this, so….

It was really close between options A, B, and C this time, but the majority vote picked C. Retreat back to the stadium so that even if the Sentries pick you up, you can claim you were simply out looking to score (fortunately, Sentries don’t understand high school social systems, so they won’t realize the ludicrousness of your excuse).

So put your seat belts on, and get ready to face some sentries! (And hope they are nothing like those octopus-looking things in The Matrix, ’cause eewwwww….)

Chapter 07: You Don’t Have To Put On the Red Light

A stunned Cain slowly turns from Sev to look at you. You don’t much like the look of fear in his eyes.

“It’s okay,” you tell him, “I’ll just go back to the stadium, and then head to my room. You guys get out of here.” Rolex nods at you approvingly. “If the sentries catch you, just tell them you were trying to score.” You give him a puzzled look. Being outside after curfew was in no way going to help your grade points. Rolex continued, “They won’t understand, and are programmed to ignore teenspeak. With any luck, they’ll report it as a hormonal outburst, and send you back to your room without any DA.” You try to gulp down the large obstruction that seems to be lodged in your throat at the thought of ‘Disciplinary Action’.

“Okay,” Cain moves toward you. “Good point. Even better, I’m going to go with you. A young couple sneaking out together never gets DA.”

“But they know you guys…” Cain cut Rolex’s plea off with a look.

Suddenly, you are very certain that Cain coming with you, as appealing as that option sounds, is the wrong action to take. “No.” Cain looks at you with an expression you would describe as hurt, if you didn’t know how silly that was. You continue, not really sure how you know what you’re saying is true, but certain that it is. “You need to get out of here. It’s too important, Cain. We can’t compromise the plan.” Your mind does that funny thing again where it’s like you’re drifting off to sleep, images swirling behind your eyes, memories floating just out of reach. You shake your head to clear it, and REALLY wish you had time to find out what the plan actually WAS.

Sev’s giggly voice breaks the silence. “She’s right, of course. We have to move now.” She stands. “But it was a good idea, Cain. Just send Rolex instead.” Rolex’s mouth drops open. “Then if they don’t get caught, he might be able to remove the tracking device.”

“That’s good. Yeah…” Cain pauses, looking at Rolex. “Be careful.” Then he turns to you. It feels like one of those big moments in one of the old action moves you’ve seen on the vids. Cain places his hands on your arms, and looks you in the eye. You try to ignore that pesky lump in your throat, but it just multiplied. “Try to remember.” Then he leans in places his lips on your forehead, giving you a gentle kiss. Searing heat begins at your forehead and travels all the way down to your toes in a great big HELLO!!!! Then, for just a moment, you DO remember. You remember standing with Cain, just like this, but it wasn’t your forehead he was kissing. You remember lying with him on a blanket under the stars, and um, whoa! Then you remember something behind a door. Unit 25. And screaming at Cain to go. To hurry. And then the sentries. And screaming. And then nothing.

You sway on your feet, just a bit, and Cain steadies you. Relief suddenly floods you. You still don’t know what the freaking PLAN is, but, for the first time since your ‘incident’, you feel like yourself. After a brief look at Cain’s dark eyes, now showing a spark of hope, you turn to Rolex. “Let’s go.”

You grab Rolex’s hand and head back up the dark tunnel, using your other hand to feel along the smooth wall. This has a familiar feeling to it, as well. Fear is now mixed with excitement in your belly, making a cocktail you’re not quite sure will end well for you, but your relief at this new feeling in your head overpowers that worry. You haven’t even realized that something was missing until you started remembering. Things had just felt off. For a long time. After climbing out of the tunnel hatch and helping Rolex hide the entrance again, the two of you hurry back to the stadium. So far, so good. You breathe a sigh of relief now that you are nowhere near the tunnel entrance. If you get caught now, at least the others have a chance.

That relief is short-lived as you climb up between the rows of benches and glance down into the field. At least a dozen sentries are swarming around something on the field. With a pang, you realize that something is Tiny.

“Is he…” Rolex shuts you up with a hand to your mouth. Right. Sentries’ hearing sensors are veeerrrry sensitive. Rolex crouches down and motions for you to follow him. You make slow progress toward the exit, trying not to make a sound. So far, you haven’t been detected. You glance down at your bare arms, covered in goose bumps. Which one has the tracking device? It must not have been activated yet, right?

Finally you exit the stadium, and the air seems easier to breathe. Rolex leans in close. “We need to make it back to the dorms,” he whispers, “if we’re caught, it’ll be a LOT better if we aren’t anywhere near…that.” He glances back to the stadium. You nod, and the two of you break into a run, your breath coming in gasps. Man, you really should follow protocol and spend more time in the gymnasium if you’re going to be a part of this. Your heart feels like it might explode, and it has little to do with fear. After what seems like hours, but is really only about two minutes, the two of you are outside your dorm.

“Okay, we need to get you to Eloise to deal with that tracker.” Rolex glances down at your arm. Eloise? As in Eloise Pinkerton, the only thing you fear more than DA? Nurse Pinkerton was the only human in the medlab, and if you were feeling under the weather, you just HOPED you got a machine to treat you. You have stopped in your tracks. Was Rolex crazy? Was he some sort of double agent who was about to turn you in? He notices your hesitation and smiles. “She’s on our side. Don’t worry. She plays her part well.” He starts pressing some buttons on that enormous watch of his and then winks at you. “She’ll get us in.”

You wait, shivering in the cool breeze—and maybe a little bit in fear—until the side door to the dorm opens. Eloise Pinkerton holds some sort of device up to the door monitor and waves you forward. You reluctantly follow Rolex into the building. “She’s got a disruptor. It’s how we get in and out so easily.” Rolex explains.

Once inside, you follow Eloise’s crisp walk to the medlab. “Has she remembered anything yet?” Her question is directed at Rolex. How rude. He glances at you, urging you to speak up.

“Um,” you begin eloquently, “I remember some.” She gives you a sidelong glance. “Quickly now.” She waves you into the med lab and motions for you to sit on one of the beds that line the wall. As you sit, you glance nervously at the med-sentries at their stations. “I’ve turned them off. It’s protocol. They do need to recharge, you know.” Did Eloise just smile at you? Your relief is short-lived when you see the sharp tools on the tray in her hand. Is she going to have to CUT the tracker out?

Noticing the look on your face, Eloise addresses you. “Not to worry. I do have experience with these things.” You wonder where brave you went as you eye the scalpel in her hand. Normal you is shouting out a great big HELL NO to the cutting tools. Normal you does not do so well with blood. Eloise pays no attention to normal you, however, and waves a sensor over your arm. You look down in wonder as everything between your fingers and your elbow goes completely numb. Your wonder is short lived as she quickly pushes the scalpel into your arm and makes a long slice. EW, EW, EWWWW!!! Normal you is screaming, and you have to look away. Then you feel a pull in your elbow and start to feel light-headed. You can’t seem to stop yourself from glancing back down to your arm, and then immediately regret it. Eloise is pulling something long and metallic and snake-like out of you.

“Rolex, now!” She orders. He reaches down to the thing with some sort of tool, but you’ve looked away again, and don’t care to know what he’s doing until you feel something release in your arm, and hear the clink of something metallic being dropped into the bin by your bed. Eloise holds a mender over your arm and you wiggle in your seat a bit at the creepy-crawly-tingling-burning sensation of your muscles and skin knitting back together.

“Very well, then.” Eloise begins putting her tools away.

“Whoah.” You turn to see Rolex staring into the bin at the tracker, now deactivated. You can’t help yourself and lean in to look, too… and throw up on top of the thing. “Eh!” Rolex jumps away from you.

“Sorry.” You wipe your mouth with a san-wipe. “To be expected.” Eloise has appeared by your side again, this time holding a pile of clothing. She directs you to a small shower, and after you have washed and cleaned your mouth, (thankfully!) you put on the simple black trousers and top, and zip up the boots she provided. The clothing has a familiar feel to it, and it fits you perfectly, but you don’t remember it. You feel exhausted, but join Rolex and Eloise again, asking, “Okay, now what do we do?”

“I think it’s time I return this to you.” Eloise holds out her hand. In it is a pendant on a chain. The word ‘Lavalier’ pops into your head, but you’re not sure why. It’s not until you touch the thing that you know it was yours. It seems to warm at your touch, and when you hold it up, the red jewel in it lights up. That red light… Then you hear a voice, soft and scratchy at the same time, call your name. A voice you thought you’d never hear again. “Mom?” You stare down at the lavalier. You’re not sure if the voice was real, or in your head. You have another memory now. Your mother clasping it around your neck, telling you she’ll always only be a thought away.

“We need to contact Cain. Find out where they are and meet up with them now that you’re safe to go.” You look up at Rolex.

“What about Chase? Have you made any progress with him?” Eloise asks. “Is that still a priority?” Rolex looks to you, and you realize it’s decision time.

Do you:

A. Tell Rolex to contact Cain? Now that you know more about why he kept giving you those piercing looks, and that you two were clearly…a couple…before… you swallow at that thought, because aside from all the terror and running, that boy is hott!!! (You mentally high-five yourself.) And it’s past time you know what the PLAN is.

B. Say “Before we do anything, I need to know what’s happened to me.”? It’s time for some explainin’!

C. Wait for morning? If Chance is important, it’s time to bring him in on the PLAN. Wait, what IS the plan?!!!

D. Ask Eloise, “Can I…contact my mother with this?” as you hold up the lavalier?

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.