Chapter 22

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Peter begins to look distressed as he starts telling me what I don't know about my friends' pasts. "Cassia had a mentor just like you after she got her power. Her mentor was Jacob Lee, a bloodthirsty monster from what her memories reveal. He taught her how to use her power, but he also knew that she could inflict great pain if she did not concentrate, the way I see you did to Adam at one point in time. So he would bring her rebels from the dark side and force her to begin to heal but then lose her focus. The rebel would spit out any information he or she knew out of the severe pain, but Cassia was not allowed to heal them again once they were done giving information. She was forced to watch their skin be ripped apart from her failed healing until they bled to death. Jacob enforced it in her mind that the people from the dark side were uncaring, unfeeling, and evil. Ever since then, she's been afraid to use her power and has been afraid to be around people from my side. She's afraid of me because of what Jacob enforced in her mind, but she's a healer. She could have killed me if she wanted to in that tent, but she didn't. She's forbidden herself to cause that much pain again. Even still, she's haunted by the people her failed healing killed. She still hears their screams every night before she goes to sleep," Peter finishes.

My throat closes into a knot as I picture the images in my head, and I can't do it. I cannot picture Cassia being forced to kill people. No wonder she's so on edge lately. She'll never be the same. "What about Susan?" I ask, even though I'm afraid to know after hearing about Cassia.

"It's worse for Susan, since she has the power of joy. Even as a little kid, she radiated so much love and happiness before she even had her power. She would go to the wall, and all she would have to do is simply touch it. All her feelings of happiness would flow right through, and it would effect the people from my side. Spirits would be up, and crime would go down. And it was all because of her. The Council found out, but they waited until Susan was old enough to have a power to punish her. So when she got the power of joy, they would bring her someone to give her joy to. Only thing is, it was a person who was going to be executed, and that person had no idea what was going to happen to them. She would give them joy, and they would be happy and elated until the moment their life was taken away from them. It pained her so much that when she refused to continue, they beat her. Made her keep giving people happiness as they walked to their death."

Tears now flow freely down my cheeks, and I am at a loss of words. My friends, two people who mean so much to me, went through that without saying anything. "That's what they do; that's why they give people powers. They use them to inflict pain and suffering upon those who challenge them," Peter says. Anger rises up in me, and my hands clench into fists. I have a fresh hatred for the Council now, stronger than it ever was. "Peter, could you excuse me? I have to talk to Cassia and Susan," I ask. "Go ahead. I'm going to talk battle plans with Adam," he says.

I nod, and then I go after my two friends.


I find Susan sitting by a pond not far from camp. Her dark hair falls past her shoulders and frames her face, straight as always. Her brown eyes, usually filled with so much joy, now droop from stress and loss of sleep. "Why didn't you ever tell me?" I ask, startling her. "Oh! Julia! You scared me; I didn't know you were there. Why didn't I ever tell you what?" She asks a bit too innocently. "Cut the crap, Peter told me what you've been hiding all this time. Why didn't you ever tell me what the Council made you do?" I demand.

Susan just sighs, and a tear escapes her eyes. This is a sight I never see: Susan crying. "I couldn't. They said if I ever told anyone, they'd kill everyone I cared about. And the looks on the faces of the people I gave joy to as they walked to their broke me. Something inside of me is broken because of that, and I can't heal it," Susan answers, even more tears falling. "You have no idea how cruel the Council is, how many people they're willing to kill to enforce their rules. That's why the moment Adam asked me to help with the rebellion, I did not hesitate for even a second. I wanted revenge. Now, I just want the fighting to stop. I'm tired of seeing people hurt, because anything that's not joyous hurts me too. I feel things so deeply, and I can't stop the pain. I can't give people joy if I feel none myself," she adds.

Looking at Susan, I begin to finally see the tremendous toll the last few days' events have taken in her. "I understand why you never trusted the Council now, and for good reason you did. And what they made me do was a terrible thing, but it woke me up, made me see that the world is not such a happy place after all. I want this war to be over, and I want things to be over. I miss my family, I miss walking with you and Cassia in the mornings, and I miss not knowing what it was our Council did," Susan says, her tone so sad that it's foreign to me. "Things are going to get better. We're human; if we're not messing things up, we're putting them back together. When the rebellion's over, we'll all pick up the pieces and start something new. It will get better," I promise her. "My scars won't get better," she says. "They beat me when I said I wouldn't do this anymore." Susan lifts up the sleeves on her arms, revealing fresh pink skin that still hasn't completely healed. More anger boils over, and I say, "You'll get your chance for revenge when the time comes."

Susan simply nods her head, and an awkward moment of silence passes before I break it. "So you think Peter's handsome?" I tease. Instead of laughing, Susan responds with a cautious tone. "He is, but I don't like his power. I don't want people knowing what I feel, what I think, what I try to hide. Now he knows my biggest secret, a secret I didn't want anyone to know." "You get used to it," I offer. "I doubt it, but oh well. You should probably find Cassia and try to calm her down. Peter didn't put her in the best mood," she says.

I nod, and go off to find Cassia.


I find her inside one of the healers' tents, all alone and very angry. "Wipe the scowl off your face and say something," I push. Cassia only looks up at me, her blue eyes threatening to shatter me like glass. "What more is there to say? Peter knows my secret, and now I guess you do to," she sulks. "Do you know how hard I have worked to keep what they made me do hidden? No one was supposed to know, and I told myself to live with the burden, in hopes that it may go away. I was wrong though; the memories of what I did are going to haunt me forever. I can still smell the blood, still remember the looks on their helpless faces, their screams, and their pleads of help that I was forbidden to give," she adds.

Tears well up in her eyes and spill over, those blue orbs boring into me. "If only you saw it, you would understand. The..the Council...that's the only reason why they give powers; they use them to inflict murder and pain, to use them for their own personal punishment, Julia," Cassia grieves. "All my life I've lived by their rules and looked forward to the day I would get a power. But now that I have one and done the evil that I was forced to do, I don't want them anymore," she sobs.

"This is why we're fighting back. Do you think I want Allison to grow up like this? Do you think I want your younger brother and sister to go through this? We have to fight back, try to make this place safe for future generations. If we die, we die; I do not fear death. However, I will make my last stand with dignity and triumph. Now, I ask you this: we have to work with people we've never met before. I know you have a personal vendetta against Peter, but I am pleading that you look past it. Everyone here needs each other, because we'll die without unity. Can you work with him?" I ask.

Cassia drops her gaze and wipes her eyes, trying to pull herself back together. Then, she looks up at me with more determination in her eyes than I've ever seen before. "If it means I get to see the Council behind the bars of their own prison, count me in," she says.

I smile, help her up, and we head back to the main area of camp.

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