Chapter Forty-Five

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After being transferred through multiple rooms, the people keeping us here left us alone. This time the room they left us in was a bedroom, with five beds, two bunk beds to fit everything in one room. And thankfully, we were finally given answers.

The room had to have been used before for this exact same purpose. To teach its inhabitants of what they'd gotten into. Meaning we weren't the first people to be taken from what they called "the Wild" and we certainly wouldn't be the last.

An electronic screen sat in the wall, so odd after not seeing anything like it in so long. It seemed impossible for electricity like that to exist at all, but somehow it did. Everywhere we went in this new compound did. When we'd walked in, it had already been lit up with the words "Tap to proceed" in large bold letters on it. We'd done so, and the board began to go through an entire speech about what everything was and what was happening.

According to it, the Equator was the largest and most reliable safe haven left in the world. Gangs surrounded the outskirts of it, but walls separated the city from the rest of the world. The building of it started a little after the rain began, as scientists rushed to find answers and new technologies that might save the people on Earth. They began to create an empire near the Equator where people began to flock to over time. When the snow hit, and the gangs began coming out, the walls were built in order to protect the people who managed to reach it in time. Since then, the leaders had sent out military teams to help track down and save as many people as possible from the Wild. These people they saved, though, were chosen to help humanity by fighting for it.

That's what they'd meant by Unit X. Even though the Equator was a safe place to live, there were still many threats to its existence. For any of us to become actual citizens of the Equator, we had to serve in its military for...an amount of time that wasn't actually set. They just stated it as when we have proven ourselves. I wasn't sure how I was going to prove myself...but I hoped it would be soon. Because while being one of many units meant to fight for the Equator, we would be stuck on missions to fend off gangs. So, we would be back in the Wild occasionally.

Yet still, this was a miracle in itself. How had we managed to get caught, only to realize that we reached our goal.

Well...not completely.

Mace sat on the edge of his bed, with his head in his hands. Asten and January had already left to get dinner in the dining hall that the electronic board had told us of while Jadyn was in the bathroom getting ready. We had suddenly been thrown into this new life where everything was so different...so clean. They gave us outfits to wear for different occasions in our closet and the shower was much nicer than the one in the Snow Society compound.

But even with all of this, I knew Mace wasn't happy. I pulled the sneakers that I'd taken out of the closet closer to me and began to shove my feet in them and tie them up, wondering if I should talk to him. I was already pretty sure I knew what was on his mind.

"We can't just leave them out there...," he muttered, so I didn't have to bring up the topic. Them. The rest of the Snow Society, who had been left behind when all of us had abandoned them to go find a map. My mind went back to all the awkward looks I'd been getting around everyone and even the attempt to kill me. At least whoever had tried hurting me was likely no longer around.

"I don't think we really have a choice." I finished tying up my right shoe before moving on to my left.

"We should. I don't understand why they are so urgent about keeping us here...," he said while standing up, his face grave.

"They are just trying to help us."

"I don't trust them." He stared at the electronic board on one side of the room. "They could be watching us right now...hearing all of this....we know barely anything about what we're getting into. And aren't you wondering how they just happened to know the exact moment we'd arrive at your neighborhood? Nothing makes sense."

"They probably had been watching it..."

"Unless someone had told them." He looked me directly in the eyes, and for some reason I felt like his glare was accusatory. Like he was suggesting I was the one who'd told them. I shook my head, realizing he was just looking at me. I don't think he was trying to accuse me of anything.

"So, you think we have a traitor...?" I asked, lowering my voice for some reason. Even though there wasn't really anyone else around.

He nodded. "But even more than that...isn't it weird....that there only seem to be teenagers around? And even more abnormal that they specifically targeted a group that consists solely of people in that same age range?"

I didn't know how to respond. It was definitely weird. But I didn't know the answer to his question. Maybe teenagers had been the only ones able to escape their houses before they were snowed in or bombed?

That sounded too impossible to be true.

"Just keep your eyes open, okay? This all feels too...perfect...to trust." He walked towards the door, and opened it. I stood up and walked after him just as I heard the bathroom door open and Jadyn come out. We'd be meeting everyone else at dinner, including everyone from other units who had also been a part of our group.

But as I walked down the hallway to the cafeteria, I couldn't even focus on food. All I could think of was how untrustworthy the entire situation was. I wanted to tell myself I was wrong and just enjoy a new life where I didn't have to forage for food or fear for my life every second of the day.

Yet I couldn't help, but feel that Mace was right.

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