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The train began to slow down. Ainika and Caden looked at each other, realizing how much time had passed. Ainika got to her feet. "Vamos."

He came up behind her and peered out.


Mierda!" They both cursed at the same time. The men were waiting at the station, looking around angrily. Ainika made a split second decision. She grabbed Caden's hand. "Jump. Now." They ran to the other side of the car and jumped. As they landed, they rolled. The train was still moving, and they used the cover to get to their feet and start running. They ran into the town as fast as they could, listening nervously behind them. They heard shouts and a gunshot. Caden squeezed Ainika'a hand, both hoping the shot had only been a warning.

Ainika put a finger to her lip and pushed him into an alley. "I'm going to go back and scout. Stay here."

"Ainika, wait. They're dangerous. I don't want you to get hurt." He crept after her.

"Where are they?" Was followed by some colorful language. Then, they heard words that almost made their hearts stop. "They went this way. They can't run forever, we'll track them wherever they go."

"¡Mierda!" Ainika cursed again. She pulled him down an alley suddenly and pushed him against a wall. "They're tracking you! Did you know?"

"No I didn't, I swear! How...?"

"It has to be implanted. There's no obvious tracker on you. We need to take it out if we're going to have any chance of getting away from them."

Caden went pale. "What do you mean, take it out?"

She gave him a look. "We need to get somewhere safe. Follow me." She took off running again. They took back alleys and looped through areas multiple times any time they heard sounds of pursuit. Finally, Ainika paused. They both stood under the eaves of a building for several minutes, trying to catch their breath. After a little bit of time had passed and no one had burst upon them with guns blazing, Ainika stood up again. She put a finger to her mouth and gestured upward, and then she ran full speed at the wall o the other side of the narrow street. She bounced off toward the other side and then pushed off again, using that momentum to grab a fire ladder in the side and pull herself up.

Caden looked at her in awe. Ainika waved her hand impatiently. "Vamos, estúpido." Caden took a breath and awkwardly leaped at the wall. He bounded off the other wall and pushed off again, but he didn't quite make it to the ladder. His fingers scrabbled on the metal, and he could feel himself slipping. Ainika didn't hesitate. She grabbed his arms and hauled him up. She immediately pushed him through a window. But that momentum was too much. The ladder began to tilt, and Anika was thrown backwards down the steps. All she could think about was avoiding the noise of the collapsing ladder. She couldn't let those men get in.

Her mind became a blur, and the world turned hazy. Suddenly she opened her eyes. She was upside down under the ladder, her feet pushed against the wall. The ladder slid back into position and she jumped through the slats and into the open window. Strong arms grabbed her as the haze faded and she collapsed.

"Nika, ¿Tus milagros están causando problemas de nuevo?"

"Si, señor, pero esto tiempo hay más problemas que solo yo. Salivó a él, pero hay personas malas que quieran tomar él, e yo."

"¿Por que fueras a mi?"

"Él tiene un rastreador."

Caden sat watching this rapid fire exchange, not understanding a word. He could guess they were talking about him, and this was confirmed when the man suddenly turned to him and scrutinized him.


"No sé." Ainika blushed slightly.

"Ah. Puedes esperar en la otra cuarta."

"Buena." Ainika bowed her head and started to leave, but Caden called out to her. "Ainika, wait. What were you saying? What's going on?"

The man's expression changed instantly. "El es un gringo?" Ainika winced. "Lo siento, hija, sé que no le gusta esta palabra. ¿Hablas aún un poco español?"

"Caden, do you speak any Spanish?"

"Barely. I know Dora, does that count?" Caden flashed a grin to try to mask his growing panic. It was clearly the wrong thing to say. The man's scowl grew even deeper.

"Tendrás que quedar. Si el va a burlarse de nuestra lengua con este show estúpido, no le daré el satisfacción de hablando en su propia lengua. Puedes traducir."

"Señor, pero..."

"No  me díga, 'pero...' Quieres ser un médico, puedes acostumbrarte a un niño sin pantalones."

"Si, señor."

"Ponga guantes y obtenga mi escalpelo mientras el quita su ropa."

Ainika nodded, then turned to Caden, flushing bright red. "Um...he says you need to take your shirt and your pants off so he can look for the tracker. I'm going to be in the other room until he finds it." With that, she fled. She did want to be a doctor, but her circumstances hadn't left her with many chances to see or touch a boy's flesh.

As she left, Caden wanted to scream at her to come back right that second. He didn't want to be alone with this glowering man who didn't speak English. And he really didn't want to be mostly naked in front of him. The man grunted at him, and Caden turned around. Better to get it over with, he supposed, and stripped down to his boxers.

The man pointed to the middle of the room. Feeling self conscious, Caden sat down on the table. The man pulled out a glowing metal circle and tossed it in the air. It hovered there for several seconds, and then flew straight at Caden. He screamed and tried to swat it away, but it was too fast. He felt a burning pain in his leg. The thing was burrowing into his skin. He couldn't think or move as the pain came over him in horrible, unending waves. He was dimly aware of lying on his back and a gentle hand stroking his head but even that faded quickly as the pain overtook him completely.

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