Ripples

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As Jung Hoseok jogged through the darkness, his loose green t-shirt and slinky yellow gym shorts shifted and bounced around his solid frame. He could feel the weight of the Geji blade sheath bouncing against his back, and the tautness of the black sheath strap that crossed his torso. His clenched fists were covered in black fingerless gloves.

It was only a matter of time before someone tried it. Tried to kill Shae or abduct her. Petra's goons are still out there, Umber and his too. And this camp may be a sanctuary for the burned and the outcast, but it's also the perfect hiding place. We knew this. We knew this was inevitable. That it will probably happen again... inevitable.

Somehow, acknowledging these unwanted truths in his head as he jogged and breathed in the night air that was moist against his skin... it calmed Hoseok. It kept him steady.

He slowed his jog and then stepped beneath a small tent that covered his living quarters. He placed his palm into the security panel on the hard building frame that was hidden underneath the tent. He ran a hand nervously through his red hair laced with sweat from his nerves and from the heat of the tropical jungle night. The metal door slid open and he stepped inside.

There was a soft orange glow in that cramped single-room, like it was coming from a space heater in the corner of the room that didn't give off any extra heat

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There was a soft orange glow in that cramped single-room, like it was coming from a space heater in the corner of the room that didn't give off any extra heat. The orange glow illuminated the messy bedclothes that were curled up on the mattress tucked against the far wall. A square wooden box rested next to the bed and on top of it rested a handful of books and papers were stacked haphazardly with a small pile of pens next to them. The floor was littered with dirty clothes, and the trunk at the foot of the bed lay open with yet-to-be-worn clothes bubbling up out of it in a colorful whirlwind.

The smell of cinnamon and citrus lingered inside of Hoseok's bunk. His scent hit him fresh as he stepped inside and the door slid shut behind him.

Shae was sitting on the edge of his bed, her grey sweatpants crumpled up in her knobby legs, which were folded beneath her. She had been holding one of Hoseok's books in her hands, her eyes skimmin, but when he entered the room her wide blue eyes looked up and she snapped the book shut and tucked it into her chest.

Jungkook had been pacing the room with his arms folded to his chest, but he stopped in his tracks when Hoseok entered. The fierce young man was suited up in his tight red-and-black light armor, with a long Geji blade strapped to his hip and two short swords taught against his back.

That's right. He'd been training and sparring with Tae out in the jungle.

The sight of Jungkook dressed to kill reminded Hoseok for a moment of fighting against him in the arena. He felt a wave of gratitude that that horror had passed. He blinked hard to focus his thoughts on the fear in front of him now.

"What's the news? What do we know?" Jungkook looked and sounded older than he ever had before.

Jung Hoseok cleared his throat. "Nothing just yet, but I think I recognize the culprit as one of the mess hall kids. The ones who do food prep and serve meals."

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