chapter eleven

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   "So, why are we at the mall?"

   Ruby's voice makes me glance to her as we all pile out of the van. I tug up the ends of the dress I wear before pulling my pack onto my shoulders.

   "We need supplies. And maybe a new outfit or two." I look to Zu, giving her a smile that she returns.

   The mall was clearly abandoned, but that didn't mean I was planning to let my guard down anytime soon. Enough things have happened in the past few days that only make me want to be more cautious.

   Liam leads us inside as Chubs glances around frequently, most likely thinking the same thing I was. The mall was a perfect hiding spot for not only people that wanted to hunt us down, but for people like us that weren't exactly keen on sharing the space.

   "Zu, will you do the honors?" Liam asks, gesturing towards a large circuit box mounted on a wide beam. She steps forward and takes off one yellow glove, reaching out and letting her power take over and spark the entire building to life.

   Not many moments later, I found myself nearly being dragged into a small clothes store by Zu and Ruby. I shake my head. "No, I think maybe it's Ruby's turn to play dress up. I'm gonna go look around." I turn on my heel, sending a soft smile to the two as the younger girl shrugs and pulls Ruby inside the store.

   I look around, my eyes landing on a Nike store that I didn't waste a moment on trekking towards. I knew that a dress wasn't practical at all for the situation I was in, but I wore it for a short time because of Zu.

   I kept my shoes, only looking for a pair of leggings or joggers, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. I grab a pair of leggings from a rack, double checking the size and doing the same again before grabbing a black shirt from a somewhat broken shelf in the corner.

   I set my bag down on the floor, already taking off the dress and stuffing it inside before standing and slipping on the leggings.

   "Woah—sorry. I didn't realize—sorry." I moved my gaze up to find Liam shielding his eyes as he nearly walked into a display stand.

   "It's cool," I mutter, letting him know it was okay to move his hands. "Hey, can you find me a hoodie? I haven't gotten one yet." I slip on the t-shirt and fix it accordingly.

   Liam doesn't say anything as he walks around to find one, reappearing in front of me with a plain grey one in hands a few seconds later. "It might be a bit big—"

   "That's good," I say. "Oversized is always more comfy." He gives me a questioning glance, making me shrug.

Footsteps echo loudly through the mall. They get closer within the second and Zu, Ruby, and Chubs appear in the doorway.

"We found a toy store, right? And they have these huge tricycles. C'mon." Chubs beckons for us as I quickly gather my things before he grabs mine and Liam's arms to tug is all the way around the corner and down another hallway to reach the destination.

   "Do you guys hear that?" My head snaps up at the unsettling noise of laughter and heavy footsteps makes its way to me. I look around, trying to account for the people in our small group. "Where's Liam and Ruby?" More noise sounds out and I yell at Zu and Chubs to follow me as I sprint out of the store they dragged me into.

   I run around corner after corner, until reaching an escalator.

   "Stop!" Liam's voice is shrill as he and Ruby are held in the air. My eyes dart to figure out what's holding them there, it clearing not being him. I find two dark figures on the second level, already moving their hands to slam Ruby and Liam on the floor.

   I run forward, sticking out both my palms. I feel power swirl through my veins as my eyes become a vibrant blue. One of my hands is directed to the figures, making them fly backwards as the other is forced outward to catch Ruby and Liam right before they smack onto the floor. I set them down softly, tilting my head. "He said stop," I excuse my actions.

   Two more figures appear on the ground level next to me, already making me fly backwards into a display stand.

   I groan as something jabs into my rib cage, but brush it off and stand quickly. I hold my hands out, making a tearing motion and cause the two to fly apart and onto the floor a few meters away, but they copy my actions and stand back up.

   "You don't want to do this," I warn, but they continue advancing forward. I move and stand in front of Ruby and Liam, not wanting them to be attacked again.

   A warmth spread through my body, igniting my senses and causing my eyes to glow a vibrant red. My skin crackles with fire as the attackers freeze in their steps.

   "Stay the hell back or I'll burn those masks right off your faces," I threaten, ready to fight.

   The other two mystery guys appear again behind them, creating a lineup of sorts.

   All of a sudden, the lights begin to flicker and make a loud buzzing noise. Sparks fall all around us, causing Ruby, Liam, and the attackers to cower down to the floor.

   My eye color dissipates into my normal one as I look around, already knowing that Zu was credited for this. I see her as Chubs pulls her back and stops her from outing the circuits of the lights.

   Liam and Ruby stand from behind me, the former already advancing for the attackers that now stood and were removing their masks. I hold out my arm to keep him back. "They're just kids," I insist as I get a good look at their appearances.

   "What the hell?"

   "You could've been tracers!" One of them excused, causing me to scoff.

   "I'm sorry, but last time I checked, tracers didn't have powers." I set a hand on my hip. "And since when are they the same damn age as you?" I sigh, running a hand through my hair. "I knew this was gonna happen."

"We're just here for supplies," Liam says.

"Look, no hard feelings. We're sorry," one apologizes, in quite a fake manner, might I add. "We can give you some food, and you can sleep here tonight, but only tonight."

I cock my head to the side as two of them begin a small disagreement on the offer. I glance to Chubs. He seemed to be thinking the same thing I was: we couldn't trust them whatsoever.

We could never trust anyone but each other. What's new?

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