The shack was small and rather dilapidated, far from the grey cells and strict compounds that they were used to. It was constructed mainly from bricks, but one side had been replaced by a rusted metal sheet that didn’t seem to be secured to the rest of the building at all. The roof was a mixture of materials, but predominantly featured wood coated in a thick, gloopy paint that had been slopped everywhere. The only good feature was that it was alone, stuck in the middle of what felt like nowhere, and was still able to stand up on its own.
“This can’t be it,” Devin insisted.
Sara checked the coordinates again: “It has to be.”
Fox and Elise stood side by side, barely saying a word. The bond between them was undeniable now, reborn from what had started only as ashes. Close was an understatement when describing the pair; they’d even developed a tendency to complete each other’s sentences.
“No,” Callum said, “no way.”
“It seems that Justice really look after their staff.” Erika chimed in.
Ruby and Jay were stood on opposing sides of the shack, looking for any sign of defence that could be used against them. Jay was blindingly fast and Ruby was invisible – it was more intelligent to send them than the others, or so Sara had thought. A sudden crash brought everyone to their knees, clutching their tortured ears for release.
Fox recovered first, darting into the shack first, only to be followed by Jay and a handful of the weaker hybrids. Sara got to her feet, steadying Erika, and waited. The silence was even more painful than the crash. No one moved, even restricting their blinking as if it was going to give them away any further.
“Sara,” Devin said, “Fox wants you. Look, she’s beckoning.”
Sara squinted before taking flight and dropping herself onto the roof. She landed elegantly and with as little force as she could. Hopefully, from inside, it sounded like little more than a small bird hitting the roof. She peered over the edge, teetering dangerously on her toes, in an attempt to see any sign of trouble. The only eyes that met hers were those of Fox, who tapped her foot impatiently.
“It’s empty,” she stated dully, “the crash was, well, see for yourself.”
Sara fell from the roof, landing in a crouching position, before sliding into the shack after Fox. It was illuminated by dull glows coming from the high-tech computer systems lining every wall. The room seemed to buzz with the steady hum of energy, and was frighteningly warm compared to the world outside.
“There,” Fox said, gesturing at a broken screen, “it just fell apart.”
She went over to it, careful not to touch the hot, smoking surfaces. There was a small detonator wedged in the screen, obviously to destroy whatever evidence that the computer had stored previously. Sara sighed in defeat. Whoever had previously lived here had been informed that they were coming. They’d been one step behind from the very beginning. Part of her wanted to scream – let out the pollutant of negativity that had overcome her – but what good would it cause? How was she supposed to command the others if she couldn’t even look after herself?
“Fine, let’s move out.” Sara hissed at Fox, “We’ll just go to one of the factories instead, with as much brute force as we can manage.”
“That’s a suicide mission,” Fox retorted, “no way.”
“Stay here then,” Sara snapped, “see if I care.”
And with that, she turned on her heel and left the shack.
Callum had worked tirelessly thorough the night. Sara had left him and Fox in the shack, working on mending the broken software. It was a gruelling task really, but Callum was determined to recover something. The room hummed with power, creating a relentless heat in such a confined space that sweat beads had formed on his forehead. He wiped them away with shaking hands.
“You’re dehydrated,” Fox stated dully.
She had been crouched under the computer desk for over an hour, only breaking the silence with the occasional scrap of useless advice. She knew very little when it came to the inner workings of technology. Her skills were more science-based. She was furious when Callum ignored her – choosing only to continue with his work. He informed her that he had to find something… anything.
A tangle of wires laid in his lap which occasionally producing a flurry of sparks, as if to remind him of their presence. Fox had no idea what to do with them. Inside, she watched as he neared the screen, squinting at the dull light that had appeared in the centre. She peered out a little further, careful not to smack her head on the metal bar running along the underside of the thick wooden desk.
“Callum,” she started.
“What?” he snapped, “I’m busy.”
“There’s light, right there. In the middle. You can see it from this angle.” Fox seemed unhurt by Callum’s temper, speaking in a monotone.
“If I can’t see it and I’m this close to the screen, you’re imagining it.” he retorted.
Fox leapt up furiously, slamming her fists down against the desk. Her cheeks flushed with blur of crimson. The black centres of her eyes dilated, emphasising the misty blue that surrounded them. She pointed at the centre of the screen, gesticulating wildly with her other hand, as she opened and closed her mouth in quick succession.
“It’s there, damn it. Take it or leave it; I don’t care what you do.” Fox said, storming from the shack in anger.
Callum glanced over his shoulder timidly, but she was long gone. He slid out of his chair silently and crouched down beside the desk, tilting his head up to see the screen. Surely enough, a dim yellow glow seeped out of the broken surface and was slowly spreading across the screen. He smiled in delight. This was exactly what he needed.
Greedy fingers grasped at the keyboard. He yanked it down and began to type, hitting the keys with a force that seemed to have been completely fuelled by his excitement. Tiny specks shot across the screen, dancing like airplanes in the night sky. He typed faster, eyes wide, until a tiny blue box appeared in the middle of the screen.
“Sara!” Callum cried, “I’ve done it!”
YOU ARE READING
Firstly, it was just the prisoners that were used. Then it became orphans, and even some of the elderly. Now it is everyone in a society where people are struggling to find work. Money is offered to anyone willing to volunteer themselves or their...