Chapter Fifty-One

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The room was crowded when I reached the party. Asten had managed to convince everyone in our unit to join us, and we all were forced to sneak out of our room together. Fortunately, we didn't have any troubles reaching the room. The lights in all of the hallways were off, since it was nearly midnight.

Multicolored strobe lights filled every corner as I pushed past gyrating bodies to the only clear area. I could feel the rest of our group behind me, trying to keep up. It seemed like the entire compound had showed up. Finally, the bodies were left behind as I stood in front of a long counter. A few people stood behind it, all around my age, and were mixing together different drinks before setting them down in front of customers lined up along the seats.

I wasn't sure why there would be a bar in the middle of a military counter. They must have found a counter and seats somewhere and had brought them up into this room for parties such as these. But the one thing I had no clue where they had gotten was the alcohol. I wasn't even sure if that was legal in the new world that had been created from the ashes of the old.

Nobody else seemed to care for legality. A girl came up next to me and ordered a drink before laughing, grabbing it, and being sucked back into the mass of people. The few people near us looked about ready to fall off their chairs. I sighed and decided this was the best place to be. I was in no mood for dancing. I spun my chair around to face the others.

Jadyn had already gotten lost in the fray and January was grinning and swaying to the music. Surprisingly, Asten even looked happier then normal. "I think January and I are going to join in," he shouted above the music. I nodded, not bothering to try answering. Now it was just Mace and I left.

Mace walked over and took the seat next to me. He looked just as tired as I was. When Asten had asked him about the party, he'd been nearly as reluctant to come as I'd been. That probably explained why it was now the two of us sitting at the bar while everyone else was already dancing.

A slower song came on, which immediately caused the noise in the room to die down a bit. I turned to Mace. "So...I'm guessing you're not into dancing either?"

He smirked at me and shook his head. "No way," he replied. A couple suddenly came flying past our section of the bar, dancing really excessively for such a slow song. Mace twisted his spinning bar stool to the front to avoid them.

The bartender seemed to take this as an invite to serve him. The black-haired male put his forearms on the bar counter and smiled at Mace. "What can I get you?" he asked. Mace backed away a bit, before relaxing.

"Nothing...I'm good...," he muttered, glancing at me for reassurance. But before the bartender could leave, he suddenly changed his mind. "Actually...I'll just take a glass...of anything."

I raised my eyebrows at Mace. He didn't seem like the drinking type to me.

The bartender brought a glass back to Mace and Mace took a sip. He then looked at me and I quickly shook my head no. I definitely wasn't going to get drunk. If somebody tried to attack me, I'd be totally screwed over. I couldn't be put off guard, especially when I knew that we could get caught for this and kicked out. Somebody from our unit had to at least be thinking logically tonight.

I stood up from my seat and looked at Mace who was staring off into the distance. "I'm going to go find Jadyn and the others...," I said quietly and I wasn't sure if he heard me. After a couple seconds, I decided that he had and merged into the rest of the crowd.

I could feel the bass in my bones as random limbs jammed against me. It was so packed in the small room. Obviously, the place was not equipped for the amount of people that it was currently holding. It made it so much hotter, with all of the bodies so close together, but I didn't mind. I wasn't used to heat. The smells of beer and sweat hit my nose as I pushed further into the crowd until at last I was able to see Jadyn a couple people away.

I swerved around a dancing body, and snuck up next to her. She looked over at me and grinned wildly. A couple strands of her hair were stuck in her mouth, but she didn't seem to care. I wondered what she was like before all of this had happened. She probably had been just as wild.

"You should dance! Get loose!" she shouted at me, and I nodded even though I knew I wasn't going to listen to her advice. I was already regretting coming all the way over here. It would be a long walk to get back to Mace and the bar.

I wanted to leave. I was tired of this place already. Why'd I even come in the first place? But even so, an instinct of mine told me I should check on Mace first. He was probably drunk after all, and I had to make sure he would be okay with my absence.

I shoved through the crowd once more until I found Mace and sat down next to him. "Hey Mace, I was wondering-"

Before I could finish my question he turned to me and cut me off. He was smiling, and beads of sweat formed on his forehead. "Hey Calestiaaa...guess what I just realized...."

He had obviously had way too much to drink. I wasn't even sure how he could've gotten this drunk that fast, but there would be no reasoning with him. I would have to stay here and deal with this now. "What?" I asked, not sure how to respond. I might as well go along with it.

"Remember how we got here? Remember when I found you?" He reached out to put a hand on my shoulder and I tried to back away a little.

"Sure," I said, a bit nervous about what would follow.

"You're the reason we're all here now! You know? You're why we got this far. Thank you," he said. I just shook my head slowly. He was too drunk to realize what he was saying.

Because that was something I thought about, too. And all I could think of were the results of that decision to come here.

I felt my heart drop into my stomach like I'd just fallen a thousand feet. My mouth didn't seem to know how to close. Mace was just laughing nonstop, like that was the best thing he'd ever heard in his life. I felt like the world was closing in on me.

Those words were ones I'd been telling myself...words I'd only barely managed telling myself recently. I was the cause of all the deaths from this mission. If it weren't for me, some people would still be breathing.

And all that could remind me of was my family in my house, left far behind where I'd abandoned them. My mother was dead. My brother...

His death was my fault.

I backed away slowly, my senses dulled. Escape was the only thing on my mind. I had to escape this place. Escape Mace. Escape myself.

But then I bumped into another body.

I turned around and found Asten staring there in shock. He'd heard it, too.

He didn't seem to realize what was bothering me. Maybe it was just the night, and maybe I'd already been a bit on edge walking into this. His indifference bothered me to a point of no return. I didn't want to see him, or any of them.

Before either of them could say another word to me, I turned around and sprinted out of the party.

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