Chapter Twenty Three

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The next day I sit next to Leah in the propaganda detection room, watching as Sam paces back and forth in front of the screen.

"I'm going to show you a new video that was aired on Member televisions yesterday. I know this is an emergency meeting, but all of you deserve to see it."

My muscles feel tense and I try to relax. Hopefully this isn't another announcement about me. Sam taps the screen and it lights up, revealing the same government official we'd seen before, John Elliot. He sits behind his desk for a moment, looking flustered, before he speaks.

"I am here to address the bombings in the Elite Sector that occurred at 5:30 in the evening today. The attacks were not meant to harm anyone in any way: they were simply a drill. As far as we know, no one was harmed in the attacks. Thank you for your cooperation, and please resume your duties."

After that short announcement, the screen snaps off. Sam stands still and scans the silent group of Trainees, dark eyes glinting. Before he can address us, the door opens and Luke steps in, walking over to Sam. He whispers something in his ear. Leah waves at him dreamily and he flashes a quick smile at her. My heart drops into my stomach.

"I was just informed that I have a... well, a meeting to attend. But before I go, I want to remind you all that what we do here is not a game, and everything we do is to prepare you for real conflict." Sam stands and quickly makes his way out of the room, looking bothered. The Trainees stand and stretch, thankful that the lesson was cut short. Luke begins to follow Sam, but Leah calls his name. He walks over to her and turns to me after grasping her hand quickly.

"How's fight practice going?" He sneers. "Still collecting bruises?" How would he know about my injuries? Did he find out about my secret practice sessions with Matthew? I look at Leah indignantly and she shrugs, not quite meeting my eyes.

"Great, actually," I reply, trying to show Luke that I'm much more confident now than I was upon my arrival. He seems to be thinking about something as I leave the room; I'd rather not be near him any longer than I have to. Why does Leah like him so much, even when he's ruthless and sarcastic to everyone else? Taking deep breaths, I think about how close a call that was. What would Leah think if she discovered that I was getting extra practice and never told her?

I stand in the middle of the Training Facility, feeling useless. What can I do to understand what's happening here? What can I do to learn the truth? The only person that seems to know what the government is planning is Sam... But there's no way I can simply walk up to him and demand that he tell me everything he knows. I notice Josh walking towards the tunnel leading to the rest of the Depot, and I follow him, grasping at the chance to speak with someone.

"Josh!" He whips around quickly then relaxes.

"Hi, Enna."

"Where are you going?"

"Well, I... I was going to the Atrium," he splutters.

"My mom works there!" I exclaim. "Do you mind if I join you?"

"Sure you can," he says, smiling a little. We begin to walk down the hallway. "I'm really glad we made it back alive."

"I'll say," I mutter, shaking my head. "You were really brave." I glance over at him. His face turns a bright red, standing out vividly against his dark hair. "If only your father could have seen you then, huh?" I add.

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