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Six's Legacy

Six's Legacy

Page 8


I stride over to it, remembering the rabbit I killed all those years ago in Nova Scotia. I hear the footsteps of approaching guards and know I must act fast.

A Mog guard bursts into the room. He wields a long blade, and is about to swing at me when he thinks twice, realizing he will only kill himself in the process.

I use his hesitation to my advantage. I leap off the ground and hit him with a high swing kick, his blade clattering to the floor. One more kick to keep him down, and then I swipe the blade from the floor.

I approach the heaving, panting beast as more guards enter the room and I bring the blade straight down, through the piken’s skull.

Dead in an instant.

The guards swarm around me and drag me out of the cell. I am dazed but happy.

No mercy.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

I have come to appreciate the tiny differences in the food they serve me. It’s always the same gray slop, some protein and wheat blended into a paste and ladled onto my serving tray. But sometimes it is made with more water and less wheat, more wheat and less protein, etc.

Today is a heavy protein day. I swallow it down without joy but with some gratitude: my muscles still hurt from my battle with the piken and the guard, and I figure the protein will do me good.

I take my last bite and back into the corner.

It is dark in my cell, but there is just enough light from the foodslot that I can see my feet, and my hands, and my food tray.

Except today I can’t see my hand. I can see my left one, but not my right one.

It has taken a long time to hone my vision to this state of sensitivity in the dark, so I’m furious at its failure. I wave my right hand in front of my face, twisting it left and right in my sleeve. But still all I see is darkness. I slap my face, blink, trying to bring my vision back.

But still my right hand is a void.

Finally I reach down and pick up my fork, holding it in front of my face.

I feel a thrill in my stomach as I push it down into my hand. I don’t want any false hope. I know I can’t survive any false hope.

But I can see the fork. And I still can’t see my hand.

At that moment my cell door opens and a lowly Mog enters. He’s come to retrieve my serving tray. All it takes is the light from the hallway flooding the room to confirm my suspicion.

My right hand is invisible.

My first Legacy has arrived.

I gasp. Of all the skills I could develop, this seems like the one—the only one—that might get me out of this prison alive.

The Mog grunts at me suspiciously, and I tuck my hollow-looking sleeve behind my back, hoping he didn’t see. I am dizzy with joy.

He’s a stupid one, and doesn’t notice a thing. He lifts my tray from the floor and exits the room.

I am plunged back into darkness, and wait impatiently for my eyes to adjust to the point where I can see my new ability again. There it is. Hollow sleeve, invisible hand. I roll up my sleeve and look at my arm. My hand is completely invisible, my forearm milky, nearly translucent, but by my elbow I’m fully visible.

I can see I’ll need to practice this skill.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

It has taken two days, but I have learned to wield my first Legacy. My control is not perfect yet: sometimes my invisibility stutters, and I panic, struggling to restore it. Turning it off and on is not like turning a light switch up or down; it takes a certain kind of concentration.

Katarina’s breathing exercises have come in handy. When I struggle to control my invisibility, I turn my focus to my breathing—in, out—and then back to the ability. After I’m able to make my hand invisible at will, I start practicing with other parts of my body. It’s like flexing a new muscle—it feels strange at first but quickly feels natural. Next, I let my whole body fade out. It’s no more difficult than making my hand disappear; in fact, it seems to take less precision.

I am ready.

I go fully invisible and wait for the next food drop. It takes some of my energy to maintain the invisibility, energy I wish I could conserve, but I have only that single instant for my snare to work and I can’t risk them seeing me transform.

Finally, a Mog appears. The food slot opens, the tray is tossed in. It shuts.

I worry the snare hasn’t worked. Maybe the Mogs don’t bother to check on me, to look for me in my cell? In which case my power is totally useless—

The slot opens again. Two beady eyes peer into the shadows, squinting.

In, out. Sometimes nerves can send me back into visibility and I can’t spoil this moment. In, out. The worst-case scenario is them discovering my power before I can use it against them.

It is a strange thing, willing someone to see my absence.

The slot closes again. I hear the Mog walk away and my heart plummets. Where’d he go? Didn’t he notice that I’m not here—

The door opens suddenly. Soon, my tiny cell is filled with Mogadorian guards, four in total. I press myself against the far corner, hiding. They are huddled close, conferring about my apparent disappearance. No way out.

One leaves and runs down the hall. His exit creates more space in the room, less chance that someone will stumble onto me, and I breathe easier.

One of them whirls his arm in frustration, and I have to duck as quickly as I can. He barely misses me. Close call.

I dodge, quiet as a cat, into the corner nearest the door. Two of the Mogs stand deep in the cell, but one of them blocks the exit.

Move, I think. Move.

I can hear footsteps, racing towards the cell. More Mogs. I know that all it will take is one Mog brushing my shoulder or sensing my breath for me and my new Legacy to be discovered. The footsteps are getting closer. The Mog by the door steps further into the cell to accommodate those on their way and I lunge out into the hallway.

I nearly fall on the stone floor outside my cell, but I catch my balance just in time. Flesh slapping against stone: I surely would’ve been discovered.

A horde of Mogs is racing down the hall towards my cell from the left. No choice but to run right. I take off, landing as delicately as I can. Quiet as a cat.

It is a long hall. I struggle to maintain quiet, my bare feet making only the faintest of noises as I run and run and run. At first I am scared, but then I can feel it: freedom, up ahead.

I go faster, landing on arched feet to mute the noise. My heart leaps up into my chest as I exit the hall and find myself in the center of the Mogadorian complex, a massive cavern fed by many other tunnels like the one I just came from. Closed-circuit security cameras are everywhere. When I spot them, my chest leaps with fear, but then I remember I am invisible, to cameras as well as to Mogs.

For how long, I don’t know.

A siren is pulled. I should’ve expected that. Flashing security lights go off as the cavern is filled with the alarm’s shriek. The high walls of the cave only amplify it.

I take off again, choosing a tunnel at random.

I pass other cells like mine, then steel doors that probably hold more prisoners.

I wish I had time to help them. But all I can do is run, and keep running, as long as my invisibility will hold.

I dodge left off the tunnel, passing a large, glass-windowed room to my right. It is illuminated by bright fluorescents. Inside hundreds and hundreds of computers in rows hum and sift data, no doubt looking for signs of my fellow Garde. I keep running.

I pass another laboratory, also glass-windowed, this one to my left. Mogadorians in white plastic suits and goggles stand inside. Scientists? Bomb chemists? I am past them before I have a chance to see what they’re doing. I can only assume something awful.

My brain is split by the siren, and I want to close my ears. But I need my hands to keep my balance as I run, to keep my footsteps dainty and soundless. I have the strange thought that for all my bluntness, my tomboyishness, my warrior’s training, I now find myself calling on such a feminine skill—being lightfooted, like a ballerina.

The tunnel feeds into another center, this one even larger than the other. I had assumed that what I saw earlier was the heart of the complex, but this is truly it: a cavernous hall half a mile wide and so dark and murky I can barely see across to the other side.

I am covered in sweat, out of breath. It is hot in here. The walls and ceiling are lined with huge wooden trellises keeping the cave from collapsing in on itself. Narrow ledges chiseled into the rock face connect the tunnels dotting the dark walls. Above me, several long arches have been carved from the mountain itself to bridge the divide from one side to the other.

I catch my breath and wipe my brow, to keep my own sweat from blinding me.

There are so many tunnels, none of them marked. My heart plummets. I realize I could run and run through this complex for days without finding the way out. I imagine myself like a rat in a laboratory maze, scampering and weaving to no avail.

Then I see it: a single pinprick of natural light, up above. There must be a way out up there. It will be a steep climb up these walls, but I can do it. As I grab the trellis to hoist myself up, I hear it.

“She will be found.”

It’s him. Katarina’s executioner.

He is speaking to a few guard Mogs, on a walkway above me. The guards tramp off. My eyes pin to the executioner as he takes a detour back into the complex.

I must choose. Between escape and vengeance. The light above beckons me like water in a desert. I wonder exactly how long it’s been since I last saw sunlight.

But I turn around.

I choose vengeance.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

I follow him through the halls on tiptoe, careful to maintain my invisibility—I’ve learned enough about my Legacy by now to know that any surprise or break in concentration can cause me to fade back in.

I watch as he ducks into a cell. I sneak in behind him as the door shuts.

Unaware he has company, he walks to the corner of the room and begins to tidy up. I look down. There is blood on the floor, his weapons are out. He has tortured and killed others.

I have never killed a Mogadorian before. Not counting the Mogadorians who died trying to kill me, I have only in my entire life killed a rabbit, and a piken. To my own shock, I realize I am thirsty for murder.

I grab a razor from his desk and approach him. The blade feels good in my hand. It feels right.

I know better than to give him a chance to beg, or plead, to shake me from my resolve. I clutch him from behind and slit his throat with one clean slice. His mouth gurgles and spews blood across the floor, against my hands. He falls to his knees and then bursts into ash.

I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt.

I open my mouth to speak. That’s for Katarina, I’m about to say. But I don’t.

I don’t speak because I know it’s a lie.

That wasn’t for Katarina. That was for me.

I emerge from the complex an hour later, exhausted and struggling to stay invisible as I climb out to the mountaintop, as I run from the mountain to a hill opposite. I have to stop to rest, to adapt to the blinding midday sun.

My translucent skin bakes beneath the sun. I stare at the mouth of the complex, already hard to make out from this distance. I don’t trust my memory, so I pause to memorize its shape, its precise location.

I am sure Mogs have fanned out through the complex, looking for me. And I’m sure they have crawled out of the exit, and are even right now searching through the trees along these hills.

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