Chapter Forty-Seven

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Agent Mika seemed overly satisfied with himself.

I stared at him from the metal table I was sitting at, as he ate from a tray and talked to other older people who looked like they were also leaders. After he had made his announcement, almost immediately other people our age came streaming in through the doors and into the cafeteria, all of them seeming really entertained. A couple of people even went so far as snickering when they got near the three of us. I tried hiding my head by staring down into my food as another group of girls walked by with trays piled with breakfast.

"I'm pretty sure that was one of the best things I've ever witnessed," Asten commented, grinning from ear to ear. He hadn't let up about it since he'd suddenly appeared through the door. He'd been fortunate enough to come early so he wouldn't be stuck with us. I rolled my eyes at him before shoving a strip of bacon into my mouth. It was salty and perfect; so very different than what I was used to. Even at the Snow Society compound they didn't have anything nearly as good as this.

"I'm also pretty sure you would've done the same in our situation," I replied. My response didn't faze him.

"Maybe. But it was still entertaining." He quickly took a sip from his metal cup. Everything here seemed to be either metal, or cement with white and black designs all over it. Sometimes with hints of red. It felt very modern and futuristic, which was probably the feeling they were trying to give off. I still didn't know too much about this place, but so far, it seemed to actually have technology superior to anything I'd ever seen at home. All I'd seen so far was the screen in our room, but I had a feeling that wasn't all they had to offer.

I gave up on responding to him about it. Honestly, I kind of agreed with Agent Mika. We had put our guard down. But still, that didn't mean I found it entertaining to think my two friends had been shot in front of my eyes. Thankfully, everyone was still alive and completely fine because another one of the compounds technologies: the guns they used. Fake guns. They made it look so realistic which could help in training for whatever we were training for.

All they told us was that we had to help protect the Equator from the gangs on the outside. I knew nothing else about this place...which worried me. But I didn't really have the ability to distrust them because there was nothing I could do to get out of this. I really didn't have a choice.

"Everyone! Get ready! We're leaving in five minutes to show you all something that is necessary for you to see!" Agent Mika announced suddenly from his table. He stood up and exited the cafeteria.

"I have a feeling this has something to do with The Wild." It was the first time I'd really heard Axel talk since Cammie died. He was now sitting at our table next to Jadyn, looking just as sad as he had when he'd been holding Cammie's body. He was a part of a different group including Deliyah, a girl I'd never actually talked to before, Kyan, and two others I didn't know the name of. Since we'd already been told we'd be working with every other unit, I knew at some point I'd probably end up meeting them. It was funny how few people I actually knew from the Snow Society. I obviously knew those I'd first met with...but I'd only seen everyone else that was in it from afar.

"I guess we'll just have to wait and find out," January responded, before getting up and throwing the rest of her tray in the trash. "You all coming?" she asked, turning to look at us before quickly walking towards the main door with the crowd that was starting to form. I sighed and looked down at my half-finished food. I'd always be able to get more later.

Asten nodded and stood up, just as I threw the rest of my tray away. It was time to see whatever Agent Mika had in store for us. The rest of our table got up and joined the mob of people shuffling towards the door.

"I want you all to pay very close attention!" Mika shouted above the noise of everyone walking. The mob pulled us and our small group down the hallway which slowly began to change. Neon red and white lights  streamed along the walls of the hallway in lines, leading us further into it. It reminded me of one of those laser tag arenas they used to have all over the place when the world was still fine. The crowd began to slow down as we neared the source of the blockage. People were being given oddly shaped guns, with the same red and white neon lines going down the sides of them. The tables were set up on either side of the hallway as older people in suits much like Agent Mika's handed out the weapons.

I grabbed one from the nearest person and held it in my hands. It was heavy, and when I pressed a button on the side, the lights went off. I pressed it again and they went back on. "I wonder what we need these for...," I muttered under my breath.

"Hopefully, just protection," Mace replied, stone-faced. He held the gun against his chest like he was used to holding one. His eyes were staring straight forward and I knew what he was thinking. He didn't trust this or believe what he was saying. He knew, just like I was beginning to feel, they weren't giving these guns for solely protection.

Agent Mika and the screen had mentioned us protecting the borders. And since they had no qualms about fake shooting both my friends, I wouldn't be too surprised if they were planning on just throwing us straight out on the borders to fight. I had no idea how this gun worked or how I'd even fight with it since I wasn't exactly a professional.

A light appeared at the end of the hallway as everyone continued walking towards it. It kept growing as we moved even closer until finally, we were outside and I could feel soft earth beneath my boots.

The sun was hidden behind endless clouds and the ground was lifeless. But there was a ground. 

I bent down and touched my fingers into the moist dirt. They came away dark and covered in mud.

There wasn't snow. Not a single inch of it. The Equator somehow managed to escape its frozen clutch.

I could see the ground again.

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