Chapter Twenty

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When Leah and I wake up, the Training Facility is filled with the usual sound of conversation mixed with drills. A potent energy permeates the air today, and I stride to the middle of the room, where Sam addresses the slightly ruffled Trainees.

"Listen up!" He roars. "Today, we are going on a little field trip. I want you all to go change into the clothes you wore upon arrival to the Depot. Meet me back here in five."

All of the white-clad Trainees diffuse to their rooms, buzzing curiously. I trudge towards my dormitory, not too eager to wear my old school colors. Leah closes the door behind me as I dig through the drawer. When I uncover the red and beige uniform, I pinch it between my fingers and hold it out from my body as though it were something foul.

"Oh, quit moping. You should be excited!" Leah exclaims, inching off her shirt.

"Excited?"

"Yeah! What if we do something really dangerous?"

"That makes me feel better. Thanks." Leah rolls her eyes and swiftly pulls on her old uniform.

"It's a little small for me now. I wonder how long ago it was that we first got here..."

I think back to the day when we first arrived in the Entry Hall, scared and unconfident. Then I remember how Luke was a jerk to me, and how Matthew... Now my thoughts accidentally drift to our late night training sessions. We've been at it for three weeks now, and each night I've improved significantly. I hope that I will be back from this field trip in time to practice tonight.

"Hello?" Leah waves her hand in front of my face and I'm brought back to reality.

"W-what?"

"I said, are you ready? People are starting to leave!"

"Right. Of course." I rush out of the dormitory and head towards the large group of Trainees that gather in front of the tunnel leading to the rest of the Depot. Oscar waves at me and I drift over to him, Leah close on my heels.

"What did we miss?"

"Not much," he says. We begin to pass through the tunnel. "Sam just said that since we are leaving the Depot, he wants us to get into groups of five so we don't get lost."

My stomach performs a vigorous somersault. Not this again! I can't count the number of times that I'd been told to partner up at school, just to stand awkwardly until someone claims me or I eventually have to work alone.

"Would you like to be in a group with Josh and I?" Oscar asks. "Leah can join too, if she wants." I hadn't seen Josh trudging forward in front of Oscar because he was so small. Relief floods through my limbs, making them heavy.

"Okay," I say, smiling.

"Thanks for signing me up," Leah grumbles behind me.

"You can work alone if you want." The herd of Trainees before us, mostly dressed in red and beige, stop suddenly. I can't see exactly where we are headed since the crowd blocks my view, but I know that we are completely out of the training area by now.

"Quiet!" Sam shouts again, far ahead of us. Part of me marvels that he manages to raise his voice so many times in a single day without it breaking or fading away. "I want you to get into your groups of five now. Make sure that you have diverse group members, talent-wise."

People begin to call to their friends and move around chaotically. Josh, Leah, Oscar and I back up to the wall so we don't get lost in the mass of moving Trainees.

"I wonder who the fifth person in our group will be," Leah whispers to me. I shrug, and then Sara confidently approaches us.

"Hello," she says, offering a hand in her usual rigid manner. I shake it awkwardly and Leah groans. I stomp on her foot so she won't offend Sara. "Seeing as I have yet failed to find a group, and you have a group of four, it seems prudent of me to join yours."

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