Chapter One

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She was submerged; water pressed against her ear drums, made her limbs feel weightless and even though she knew something about this wasn't quite right, she wasn't worried.

Her eyes were fused shut, her body unable to do anything else but let the water push and pull her. Her lungs burned from lack of oxygen-hands caressed the water, not calm, but assured, with no fear, only an overwhelming urge to sob. But she couldn't sob, not unless she wanted to waste precious oxygen.

Her lungs felt like they would explode but if she didn't focus on it for too long, the whole ordeal was rather peaceful. In this little bubble of water, suspended in time as she was, it became easy to forget that she had killed a man; she could even forget, for a few oxygen-deprived seconds, that her mother was a crazy scientist and her father was a tyrant.

But soon enough, unconsciousness began creeping its fingers at the edge of her mind. She allowed herself to come up for much needed air.

She pushed her wet hair back and blinked the water out of her eyelashes. The bathtub didn't appear half as serene as it had with her eyes closed and now bored with it, she plucked a towel from the curtain rod, stepped out of the water and wrapped herself up.

A tiny, oval mirror was suspended in front of a sink within the cramped bathroom. She stared at her hair, slicked back and made to look burgundy by the water. Her eyes reached the large swathes of red skin on her arms that she'd developed as a result of the compulsive scratching episodes that always, without fail, followed every memory of the dead capital man.

Tearing her eyes away from her reflection, she dressed and went out into the cabin she'd been assigned. It was plain with only a cot and a desk and in all ways unremarkable. Except that there was blanket strewn on the lumpy mattress that screamed to be seen. It was colorful and hideous but she loved it-loved it because Simone had made it for her before Gabe had come along and taken over her every waking second.

Rachel tied up her boots and stepped out into the corridor. After a few weeks aboard, it was easy to ignore the rocking of the ship. The only time she really ever noticed it was when a particulary large wave would hit and the ship would groan and tilt for a few seconds that would freeze her heart in her throat or when a storm would strike, beating and battering the ships until she was sure nothing would be left by morning.

But none of that happened now as she bounded up a flight of stairs and out into a crisp, airy morning. The unmistakable scent of ocean always surprised her, but it was nothing compared to the beauty of watching the sun rise over the horizon.

That had become her favorite part of each day.

She stood against the railing just in time to catch the first rays of sunlight winking over the cerulean waves, the top of the sun bathing the world orange first, then pink and then gradually becoming brighter until she could no longer look at it. When it became so hot it cooked the top of her head, that was her cue to move on.

It was early but mostly everyone was already up doing chores and various military tasks . She went to one of the ramps that connected this ship to the one she needed to report to for her daily duties.

Her boots stepped tentatively, sending a clanking noise echoing down towards the waves. She gripped the railings on either side of the walkway, the trajectory never ceasing to frighten her-she'd never
learned how to swim all that well, after all. The river back at the compound had been too fast and furious to even contemplate going inside; she could only imagine what fury the vast and mysterious ocean could hold.

"Hello, Rachel." Debra greeted her as soon as she'd stepped off the ramp, her blonde hair waving in the wind like yellow string. People bustled around them, a mass of brown uniforms, of flesh objects weaving in and out through an otherwise metallic canvas.

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