Watching the craft disappear through wide doors into nothing but blue sky, Lena trembled until she felt she couldn’t hold herself upright anymore. Her knees gave up their burden and she collapsed into an ungainly seat on the cold cement floor- staring after it. The craft was full. That observation bounced around her brain as if it couldn’t settle anywhere. The craft had been full of people- hardly more than kids.
“Impressive,” the Administrator in the grey suit congratulates. “We’ve never had a cadre escape before.”
“Who were they?” Kieran growled, pointing to the bay doors.
Their host turned to follow Kieran’s finger, past the crowds of citizens watching their confrontation, to stare after the long-gone craft. “Our kids.” Turning back to Kieran, there was no apology in his words. “You didn’t expect us to just give up did you? Our kids have just as much right to go to that new world as you do.”
Quinn lunged, meaning to attack, and was immediately caught by swarthy guards. “What happened to rescuing us? What happened to our quality of life? You lying bastard! You just wanted to replace us!”
Numbed, Lena’s hand fisted over her heart. Reality slowly saturated her mind, making the world hazy. The life she thought she held had just disappeared through those cargo bay doors- gone forever. She understood Quinn’s anger, though she can’t muster the strength to feel the same.
But while the crowd shifted uneasily in the presence of the students’ raw emotions, their host only shrugged. “Yes, well, nothing we told you was lies. You will be given a good life here- the best we can offer. And, no, none of the other settlers have lived. But we have hopes for this settlement. And our children, our descendants, deserve just as much right to live as any government bred and trained cadre of clones.”
“That may be true,” a woman called from the masses. She stepped forward, pulling the shroud of cloth from around her face. The students gasped, recognizing their Magistrate in the tattered layers of clothes. “But these students are valuable. They will be going to the training site.”
“No,” the Administrator growled, his expression darkening to something threatening. “Our kids will have . . .”
Holding up her hands to offer peace, the Magistrate promised, “I will not interfere with your children’s . . . path . . . though I will warn you now that they are not prepared for the training. No, I am only here to collect my children . . . and see them safely on their way.”
In the open bay doors, another craft appeared- deftly maneuvering it’s landing in the tight space. Sound roared through the chamber, chasing the citizens out of the bay. For a moment, it covered the sounds of the words the Magistrate yelled to the Administrator. No one cared. Gleeful, the students embraced and, as soon as the craft settled and the door opened, they hurried inside.
“Lena,” the Magistrate called and, catching up to the slight, pale cadet, she locked the young woman in her sights with a hand on each shoulder. Squeezing her shoulders comfortingly, she said, “You aren’t going.”
“What?” Lena asked, her pale eyes confused. “Why?”
“You’re sick, Lena,” she began.
“But I’m better now! They said it’s gone!”
But the Magistrate only shook her head. “They aren’t going to let you go on that mission, Lena. There’s no way.” Turning to find Travis already crowding the driver, asking incessant questions about his GPS as he scrolled through the maps, she called, “You, too, Travis. Come on out of there. You’re staying here.”
“No!” Brevyn argued, her plump cheeks flushed with the exertion of their escape. “Lena’s the only reason we escaped! “
Looking to the Magistrate, Kieran argued, “Everyone escaped. Everyone leaves.”
The Magistrate smiled at Kieran- proud but sad. “Kieran, this isn’t a training exercise and I know what I’m talking about. Lena won’t be selected for the mission and, honestly, the training may very well kill her.” Nodding to Travis, she added, “And he will never work well in a group. He could never survive on a planet that . . . raw. No, Kieran. Lena and Travis won’t be going to the training site. They’ll be better off here.”
|Trey Smith||as Kieran|
|AnnaSophia Robb||as Lena|
|Andres Luke Pasqualino||as Travis|