01 | whatever the hell we want

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WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT

She felt the sun on her face. She saw trees all around her, the scent of wildflowers wafting through the breeze. It's so beautiful. In this moment, she's not stranded in space.

It's been 97 years since a nuclear apocalypse killed everyone on Earth, leaving the planet simmering in radiation. Fortunately, there were survivors at the time of the bombs. There is now only The Ark, one station forged from the many. They were told the Earth needs another 100 years to become survivable again and man can go home, back to the ground. The ground – that's the dream.

This is reality.

Ryder Smoak was caught up in her thoughts until the sound of a heavy door opening broke her concentration. "Prisoner 318, face the wall," a rough, emotionless voice ordered. The guard's hands harshly grabbed her arm, pulling her up and pushing her towards the wall. She'd learned from prior unfortunate experiences not to disobey orders now.

Reality sucks.

"Hold out your right arm," he commands, grabbing at her arm and placing a silver, thick cuff onto it.

On The Ark, every crime, no matter how small, is punishable by death – unless you're under 18.

She should know better than anyone else; her parents died because of that rule.

After tightening the cuff onto her wrist, they led her out of the cell. Looking out, she could see the other delinquents being led to the exits of the Sky Box.

That's what they called it, the Sky Box. Juvenile offenders get put here – lockup.

There is one guard in front of her, one behind her. She noticed a mother talking to her daughter as the younger of two starts hyperventilating. She can make out the word "earth", but she thought she must've heard it wrong. They were all under 18; there is no way they were being reviewed now. The rules couldn't have changed.

The daughter is tranquilized before Ryder can warn her, and she fell to the ground softly, in the arms of her mother. The two guards led Ryder to a dropship and shove her inside. The others are there, getting strapped in after putting on the necessary clothing.

Guess we're going to Earth.

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I found Jasper's crazy head of hair among the group and made my way over, letting out a "Boo!" once I was close enough to scare him.

He held a hand to his racing heart once he turned around, closing his eyes in fear. "Oh, my God!" he yelped. Monty, who stood behind him, had a much different reaction.

He yelled out "Ryder!" and made his way over to me, pulling me into a hug.

"Hey, Monty," I grinned, returning the hug as Jasper gained his breath back.

After recovering, Jasper turned to me and smirked. "I expected nothing less from you, Rye Bread," he teased before wrapping his arms around me. Rye Bread. Haven't heard that nickname in a while. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I heard it again.

"So it's true? We're really going to Earth? As in, to the ground? As in, not being floated?" I whispered as I put on the jacket left on the seat next to Jasper's.

He nodded. "Apparently. Now get seated. I have a feeling it's going to be a bumpy ride down."

I sat next to Jasper, buckling myself in tight. I can't imagine hitting the gravitational force field will be smooth sailing. As time passed, a sudden force – most likely the atmosphere – hit the ship, rocking it sideways as we traveled down. I'd never been more glad I had my seat-belt on.

RYDER ▸ BELLAMY BLAKEWhere stories live. Discover now