chapter seventeen: Sparrow

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When the ship disappeared into the clouds and smoke accumulating above, it was as if some higher power took over, and I simply knew what I had to do. I didn't pause waiver. I didn't spend time panicking over what I should do. I knew I could not let that moment be the last time I ever saw her. I would not let her final memories of me be of ash and death and despair. I would not let our lives together be cut tragically short--not without a fight.

I ran through the landing field of ships lined up to prepare--many of which were taking off dangerously nearby--and I punched my key-code in to the first one that I came to. The metallic doorway slid open just as fire erupted from the earth behind me. I leapt on board and sealed the door behind me, painting from adrenaline, from shear will, from effort. The rush of it all was both intoxicating and horrifying. There was something magical, divine even, in that feeling of terror. Something almost religious about surviving just one more second.

I closed my eyes, leaned my back against the cool metal of the ship's interior walls, and was just about to breathe a sigh of relief, my heartbeat slowly coming back down to some semblance of normalcy, when I realized the presence of vita that was not my own. The raw power of it told me exactly who it was. My heart rate increased, maybe more than before, more than when I was in panic for my life, for Wild, for my people. Because I was on board the ship with a monster.

I opened my eyes to see my father standing in the middle of the space. His figure cast a dark, distorted reflection into the shining floor. It looked like a devil, a demon, as if the ship were reflecting his true self. He took one step forward me, and I pushed him back with my mind, with every ounce of my vita.

He smiled. He could have thrown my power aside and broken free, we both knew it, but he humored me and stayed his distance. He put his hands in the pockets of his dress pants casually and cocked his head to one side, studying me.

"I thought you'd die a martyr," he said with indifference.

"I have no plans to die at all," I said, wincing at the sound of the faint quiver in my voice.

"You've come to accept your place at my side then?" he asked, his smile persistent.

I shook my head, "Never."

"I thought not. You're as stubborn as me. It's one of the things I'm proud to see you got from your father, but I can't say I love how it's working against me." He sighed. "Where's the girl, then? I thought you'd never leave without your lover," he pronounced the word as if it were something dirty.

I said nothing.

His eyes narrowed, "Why are you here on my escape ship? Don't tell me you thought assassination was the answer?" His eyes sparkled with curiosity and ferocity.

I clenched my teeth. Then defiantly I said: "Wild is safe."

His eyebrows shot up. "No," he laughed, "No. Don't tell me you sent her in an evacuation ship?"

I stared at him.

He laughed again. This time harder. Then he met my eyes: "Oh, she'll die, Sparrow."

I tried to hold my composure, but I flinched. "What?"

"She won't survive earth's atmosphere. I told you. You, me, the rest of the Nobles: we were engineered over hundreds of years to be able to withstand the new environment. To be able to go to this new world where our vita can evolve. Where we can reach our true potential," his eyes glittered with something else now, the madness I'd seen before, the thirst for power I'd only just become aware of when he finally told me of his plans.

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