Mindy spoke stronger than she thought she would. A rush runs through her head. This is Shard she is speaking to. Images and clips she's seen of what he's done to neighborhoods, facilities, Squad members, government officials, scientists, citizens...all go through her head. She inhales, slightly puffing out her chest and making her shoulders broader. The images and clips are expelled to the back of her mind. Protecting Octavia stays in the forefront. She matches Shard's gaze.
Shard raises an eyebrow.
"I won't let you take her," Mindy says.
"Alrighty then, I'll rephrase: I'm taking my lunch buddy back."
"Just let me go," Octavia says. "Don't cause any trouble on account of me. I'll be fine."
Octavia had always been full of good and witty ideas, but this was not one of them. Mindy knows Octavia won't be able to hold her own for long, especially when Shard is done playing his games. She has no silver tongue like her father nor skills to defend herself like her mother. All Octavia has is heart - a heart Octavia has used to save Mindy's life. And Mindy would go to the grave to protect Octavia.
"I'd listen to your friend, Winters," Shard says. "'Cuz there will be trouble if you don't. All I want is another, nice lunch with my new buddy-"
"She's not your buddy," Mindy says over him.
"Oh. The jealous type. Cute. But she's mine now and you are, too, whether you like it or not."
Mindy wraps an arm around her back to protectively hold Octavia against herself.
"I won't let you take her. I won't let you hurt her."
"Have I hurt her yet?" Shard says as he begins to circle around Mindy.
Mindy moves to keep Octavia behind her.
"And I don't intend to hurt her as long as she stays the good girl she's been being," Shard says. "Now giver her back before one, both, or more of you have to get hurt."
Shard stops circling and gets in Mindy's face. His laughing eyes drill into Mindy's unwavering gaze.
"You won't win this one, pretty girl," he says. "You're in our territory, and your daddy's not here to save you."
"I don't need him," Mindy says.
With all her strength, Mindy brings her knee between Shard's legs. He lets out a choked sound and hits the ground crumpled in a ball.
A collective gasp resonates. Surprise freezes everyone in the Courtyard for a split second. In that split second, Mindy, not letting go of Octavia's hand, bolts for the double doors she was ushered through to enter the Courtyard. The guards pick up on her movement and chase the two girls. Some hostages come to the girls' aid by blocking guards' paths. Others, inspired by the girls' rebellion, start a riot. Chaos breaks out.
There is shouting and screaming. People climb the fence, throw rocks, and fight guards. Guards chasing Mindy and Octavia have to disperse to manage the growing chaos. The few still on the two struggle to reach them as people and rocks obstruct them.
Mindy is surprised and relieved Octavia keeps up with her. In their morning runs, Octavia was always much slower than her. Mindy has never been happier that she convinced Octavia's parents to let her join her. Hopes they will be able to continue them one day fuel Mindy to run faster.
Her feet and heart pound but Mindy controls her breath and keeps her eyes on the door. As long as she feels Octavia's hand in hers and she is not dragging Octavia, Mindy does not spare a glance back towards her. But this big Courtyard seems to stretch longer than Mindy remembers.
The girls near the doors as gunfire breaks the air over the riot. Rebellious screams turn into terrified screams. All the rioters drop to the ground, are bound, and escorted out. Mindy reaches for the door when Octavia screams for her stop. Stopping, she sees a blue-haired guard holds Octavia's other wrist and has the barrel of a gun pressed on Octavia's head. Something round and metal pushes through Mindy's hair and presses against her head. There's a click. Mindy's heart pounds harder against her chest than it did while she was running. Breath has a hard time catching in her lungs. She can hardly control it.
"Who's wishing Daddy was here now?" Shard says in Mindy's ear.
YOU ARE READING
Being the daughter of the most powerful people in the country places a high societal value on Octavia. The glamour of this public-placed status wore off for her years ago as tragedy after tragedy has followed Octavia because of it. But the glamour n...