Chapter Three - New

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Undiluted sunlight poured into the room through the broken door, causing everyone to squint severely, multiple people crying out in fear. Lifting a small hand, Grace curved it like a visor, offering some reprieve from the harsh and unexpected light. Slowly, ever so slowly, all eyes adjusted and everyone could see. All were still for a moment.

Grace stared, blue eyes wider than they had ever stretched, filled with astounded awe. No one had made a move to leave yet, and so she decided it was time. Stepping forwards with a hesitant gait, the young girl placed a firm foot on the threshold, holding her breath needlessly before taking the final step.

She was outside.

Imagine the most beautiful and prized possession that you have ever laid eyes upon, and then try to think of something that means more to you on every level. That is what she felt in that one spectacular moment, everything finally coming together, dreams of long ago coming to life in the stooped, ragged backs of stone towers that stood vigilant guard over their Shelter. In the near distance, trees, actual trees, grew into a sea of verdant green, a color hardly ever seen in the bland halls of Shelter Everest. Grass grew in rough patches between the stone littered ground, earth firm but giving beneath her shoes, much different than cold cement.

Grace realized she was still holding her breath, and released it in a loud exhale, opening her mouth to allow more air into her lungs. It was fresh, crisp. It tasted nothing like the air pumped repeatedly through filters that the people below so treasured. If only they could all come up here.

That exact situation was shoved back into her mind with increased clarity at the sounds of shrieking and running footsteps from the room. Whirling around with adrenaline already coursing through her veins, the short form of Grace worked it's way through the fleeing crowd back to the room which everyone seemed to be desperate to escape. Pushing past the last person, sparing a moment to watch some of them continue running towards the forest, she peered into the shadowed room. Immediate regret followed that decision. Laying on the ground in limp heaps were three people, one a man, one a child not any older than herself,  and one an older lady. Horrid burns and boils marked every area of exposed skin, foam leaking from the corners of lips, clouded eyes staring but unseeing.

Dead.

Without even a chance.

So it was true, not everyone could live up here because of radiation.

Grace moved back, eventually pressing up against the firm rock wall of the mountain base. Inclining her head, locks of raven hair falling into her eyes, she stared in wonder at the mountain range that stretched forever upwards, barely visible white capping the peaks. She wasn't sure what caused white to grow on things, but maybe it was just an outside thing. A hand on her shoulder surprised her, making her jump a little. Shooting a glare over at whoever had touched her, the anger melted away replaced by a questionable look. Holli stood nearby, hand still clutching onto her shirt, electricity gun in the other. The knife had been hidden in some pocket or other thing. The older girl strode off in the direction of the others, who had been steadily streaming towards the forest aside from the rebellious few who were either too scared to move or who thought the mountains were survivable. Allowing one more glance to her previous home, Grace scuttled after Holli, hoping the other wouldn't mind her presence. She didn't have anyone else to follow or stay with, and Holli seemed... Not friendly exactly, but accepting.

--- Time Span It Takes To Enter Forest Passes ---

Wrinkled, brown leaves crunched underneath her feet, making satisfying noises that she couldn't help but enjoy. Holli might be getting annoyed with it, as she kept sending looks back at her with unreadable emotions, but that was understandable as every time there was a particularly large pile of leaves, she would make sure to stomp on them all. Grace didn't give a flying crap though, she was outside, and she would enjoy it before... Well before she died. She knew she was small, more vulnerable than others, did not have a mutation or power yet, and was younger therefore less useful. At least that's how it was in the eyes of others. She could fight pretty well, but she didn't have a weapon. Holli had allowed her to tag along so far which was great. But what would happen when the older girl tired of her antics? Of spending time with a child?

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