Chapter 2

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Clenching my jaw, I glide faster and faster, morphing my two blades into a double-headed spear

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Clenching my jaw, I glide faster and faster, morphing my two blades into a double-headed spear. Demons swipe their paws out. They attempt to scratch me, hoping I'll succumb to their poisonous claws. I cut them all down, trying to buy Gio more time. I'm almost there. Just a few feet ahead.

Thick, green vines interlope together, keeping the door securely locked shut, surrounded by dirt trying to topple over from its hilltop. I swing the spear around, cutting the vines down until there's enough space to access the control panel.

Rust chews away at the metal casing, showing that after twenty years this laboratory is weathering faster than our scientists predicted. An image flickers on. The UFE's logo sits etched across the cracked touch screen, identical to the patch on the top right of my sleeve.

Its outlined image is iridescent of what the earth looks like today. The shifted landmarks. The crater of where the Pacific Ocean used to be. If this explosion never occurred, if millions didn't die back then, we wouldn't be at war today.

Sometimes I wish the war never existed, but then I remind myself, I never would have been born.

My wristwatch lights up, trying to connect with the system and approve my status as a UFE citizen. If my research is correct, then I have to go through three steps.

A ping goes off, flashing a green check mark across the screen.

My sixth sense picks up Gio appearing behind me. His breathing is so heavy it's hitting the back of my hair. "Is it working?" he asks.

"Yeah, I'm unlocking it now." I rip my glove off. He tells me to hurry it up as if I can move any faster than the system will let me.

Swiftly, I place my palm on the screen, praying to the stars it picks up my prints after sitting abandoned for so long. A strip of blue light scans down my palm. Tingles press into my skin until the scanning has stopped.

Another ping goes off with a message appearing on the screen: Welcome to the AVA Projects Facility, General Avalyn Concerto.

It fades away, showcasing the silhouette of a bird in flight and the words Aegis Vitale Armament. Protection of Life by Arms. It's the logo stitched into all my team's uniform. Seeing it on the screen reconfirms my birth wasn't natural. Just like the multiple sword marks dented into the door from the rebellion of those who rejected my creation.

Too many people died while bringing me into this world. I can't let their deaths go in vain.

Numbers pop up onto the screen. It wants a passcode and I know exactly what it is. With this last step, I'll finally find out why I lost control of myself.

I'm swift to type in the seven-digit code, but once I press the last number, it blares out a dull, annoying error sound. Thinking I switched a number around, I type it in, again. Error. I look at my wristwatch this time where I save the code in my notes. Typing it, again. Error.

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