CHAPTER FORTY-TWO (draft)

14.8K 877 238

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

The rest of the free day we spend wandering the immense sprawling compound and learning where everything is—the Quadrant Dorms, the common areas, which include more cafeterias, training gyms, classrooms, not one but three arena stadiums with track and sports training equipment, and three Olympic-size swimming pools.

“I hear we’ll be doing swimming training in addition to other types of classes,” Dawn says as we walk through yet another glassed-in walkway between building structures to cross to the other street that runs parallel.

“Interesting,” Laronda says. “I wonder why. Does Atlantis have a lot of oceans and water?”

“It could also be their tradition,” I say, “stemming from the Earth’s original continent of Atlantis. So much stuff related to the sea, oceans, water. Like the name of their ancient city, Poseidon. . . .”

“Glad you’re still such a smarty pants.” Laronda smiles.

In that moment Grace, who’s been tagging along with us on the walk—and I must admit, who’s been somewhat inseparable from me since the trauma of Semi-Finals—looks up and points.

Four Atlantean shuttles plummet down from the sky, and land somewhere beyond the buildings, their aerial activity generating a sonic boom.

“That way lies a huge airfield,” Dawn says. “Want to go see?”

“Um,” I say, as my expression darkens. “Not sure . . . I think I’ve had enough Atlantean shuttles to last me a lifetime.”

“No! Don’t say that!” Gracie immediately tugs my sleeve. “If we Qualify, we will have to deal with them all the time.”

“Okay, I know,” I reply tiredly. “But seriously, let’s just—not.”

Dawn shrugs comfortably. “Okay.”

So instead we walk toward the nearest cafeteria to get more free food for as long as they’re still feeding us.

* * * 

As we stroll down the street between buildings, Gracie pulls me aside for a moment, while Dawn and Laronda and Hasmik walk ahead.

“Gwen . . .” Gracie walks at my side with a strange closed-up expression and stiff posture, hands nervously clutching the bottom of her uniform shirt. “Gwen, I . . . I have to tell you something.”

Okay, this does not bode well.

“What?” I say, glancing at my sister carefully.

Gracie does not say anything for several long moments.

“Promise—” she says. “Promise me you won’t go crazy when you hear this, okay?”

“How can I promise when I don’t know what you’re talking about?”

Gracie bites her lip, takes a deep breath. “You know that awful night when they found that chip in Laronda’s jacket?”

“Yeah. . . ?” Suddenly I feel cold. And I’m really beginning to dislike what this is leading up to.

Gracie stops and looks up at me. Her face is full of anguish. “I put that chip in her jacket! I am so sorry!”

“What?” I stop also, while cold waves of fear pass through me, one after another, and I am reeling with it.

Gracie grabs my sleeves and her hands are shaking. “Please, don’t freak out, oh, don’t freak out, please!

“Gracie, what are you saying?” I take hold of her, and my fingers dig into her shoulders, at the same time as my voice grows very hard and very quiet. “Are you telling me you planted that navigation chip on Laronda? Oh my God, what are you involved with? Who gave it to you? Who told you to do something like that? Do you realize what you’ve done? You got so many people in trouble—you—”

QUALIFY: The Atlantis Grail (Book One)Read this story for FREE!