Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Seth Armstrong
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The new human-Garde Yura Kallik tries to come to terms with being kidnapped by a mysterious Garde-hate group.

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     Yura Kallik sat huddled in the corner of her cell, wearing little more than a light jacket and thin pants in an abandoned prison with no heating. She had been there for a few days now, and she was sure she had already forgotten what it was like to be warm. Teeth chattering and rocking back and forth, she looked between the bars with baleful eyes at the chuckling woman sitting in a chair on the opposite side of the hall, a rifle on her lap and the remote to control Yura’s shock collar twirling in her hands. It wasn’t quite one of those inhibitors that Yura had heard about being used against Garde, but it was strong enough to stop her whenever she lashed out. And there was another controller out there, somewhere--the one time she had tried to rip the controller away from one of her guards with the only Legacy she had--telekinesis--they had quickly shouted something across the room, and somebody else turned on the collar, shocking her until she was screaming and writhing on the floor for far longer than what she was sure was safe--until she was so broken that she couldn’t put up any fight whatsoever when someone came into the cell and took the stolen remote back. 

     She tried the opposite route, too: taking off the collar first. She managed to get it off, but they didn’t like that. The guard at the time--a man--called for backup and came into the cell. She still wasn’t good enough with her telekinesis to put up much of a fight. There was a gash on her head from where she had been cracked with the butt of a rifle, and, while it had stopped bleeding, she wasn’t sure if it was healing.

     Yura had been cautiously optimistic when she first developed telekinesis. She had been helping her dad gut fish out behind their house when she reached over to grab one but hadn’t reached far enough. Before she could think to simply reach further, something stirred deep inside her, and the fish had raced through the air to her hand--like magic.

     She couldn’t believe what had happened. She tested it several more times, her father standing mouth agape as he watched his daughter lift fish and their tools and twirl them in the air. She wasn’t very strong or very good at it--she was constantly dropping or accidentally throwing stuff--but she had it. That was a fact. There was no weird coincidence, no unexplained miracle.

     She had telekinesis.

     She was Garde.

     Yura didn’t have any particular interest in getting away from the small town she grew up in, but she had still always been curious about other places, devouring all the news she could about places she would never go. She often spent hours devouring books and documentaries about far-off places or scouring the internet for interesting stories.

     When the invasion began, she knew about it almost immediately. Most of the people in her village didn’t believe her until she practically dragged them in front of the TV to watch the reports on it, and even then it was hard for any of them--even her--to truly believe. The invasion hadn’t affected them at all, and it probably never would--unless the Mogs won.

     The whole village was glued to the news until well after the invasion ended, devouring everything they could about the Loric, the Mogs, the war, the new human Garde, the ways that the world would be forever changed going forward--not that they were likely to ever see many--if any--of those high in the remote northern reaches of Canada.

     Yura often dreamed that she would get powers. She was sure everybody did.

     She never imagined she would really get them.

     Now that she had them--now that they led her to be kidnapped and trapped in some derelict prison god-knows-where by a band of tight-lipped thugs that put a shock collar on her like a dog to keep her from acting up--now she wished she never got them.

     She had been worried that something bad was going to happen to her as soon as the excitement of having telekinesis died down. She had been watching the news. After humanity’s thankfulness for the Loric saving them from the invasion had died down and especially after the Garde had holed themselves in their new mountain base in the Himalayas, people started to get suspicious of them, wondering if it was really okay to keep people with power like that unchecked. It seemed that public opinion had started to turn against the Garde.

     Yura tried to be careful. She kept it a secret and begged her family, too--at least until they could figure out what the best option for her would be. Someone must’ve slipped up. One day after school, a nice stranger had stopped her on her way home and started asking about the village. She assumed he was a tourist. While they were talking, someone came up behind her and threw a bag over her head. Then she felt something jab into her arm, but whatever it was didn’t act very quickly. She managed to shove herself away from her attackers and run, screaming.

     She didn’t make it away--not far, anyway. But it may have given her enough time. She assumed the attack had something to do with her powers, so she pulled up the Garde website where people could ask for help and tried to type in an account of who she was and what was happening, but the drug was taking control, and she wasn’t sure anything she had typed was coherent.

     And now she was here--freezing in a cell while a woman with a terrifying smile traced lines on the side of a rifle with her fingernails, laughing at her discomfort and despair--praying that her message had been received.

     Yura had no idea who these people were. She didn’t recognize any of them. The guards in front of her cell operated on rotating shifts--she had seen four as long she had been there, and none of them were the stranger who had distracted her back home.

     “What do you want from me?” Yura blurted out, hoping the venom in her voice would sting.

     The guard rolled her eyes at the question that had been leveled at her several times before. “Listen, kid,” she said, “I don’t want to be here, either. You think it’s fun sitting here watching you whine? We’re both stuck here for the minute. Just sit there, shut up, and hope you get one of those freak alien powers to help keep you warm.”

     “My family isn’t rich,” Yura pressed. She didn’t think that they were trying to get anything from her family--that wouldn’t really make sense--but she hoped that the guard would contradict her in a way that would yield something useful. “We don’t have all that much at home. It’s not worth whatever’s going to happen when you get caught.”

     The guard chuckled but didn’t answer. She pulled a phone from her pocket and checked it. Her eyebrows narrowed.

     “That Foundation thing is done, isn’t it?” Yura said. “Do you work for them?”

     “Shut up, kid,” the guard snapped, her eyes wide at whatever the notification was.

     Yura perked up at the sign of the guard in distress. “What’s--” she began.

     An explosion rocked the prison before she could finish.

     Both Yura and the guard jumped to their feet, the guard dropping her phone and hefting her rifle at the entrance to the cell block.

     She’s distracted, Yura realized. It would be the perfect time to try to make a move against her. She had no idea what had happened, but the guard seemed concerned it was some sort of break-in. Whoever was attacking them had to be friendly to Yura, right? Maybe they were specifically coming to rescue her.

     Yura concentrated, trying to call on the power inside her. Her head pounded at the effort--it had every time since she was hit with the rifle--and the all-encompassing chill made it difficult to focus, but she pushed through the pain, reaching out to grab the rifle with telekinetic hands--and she pushed.

     The rifle flipped up and slammed into the guard’s face, knocking her backward. Blood spurted from her nose, but she kept her grip on the gun, and she rounded on Yura, fire in her eyes. Someone--a man, it sounded like--screamed in some other room, and Yura was amazed that that’s the first thing her mind focused on when the guard pointed the rifle directly at her.

     Out of instinct, Yura pushed the gun again, but she wasn’t as focused or controlled this time, so she just barely nudged its aim away from herself right before the guard pulled the trigger, a bullet whizzing through the air and slamming into the wall a meter to her left.

     Yura froze. The guard actually pulled the trigger. 

     “Damn, kid,” the guard murmured, raising the remote controlling Yura’s shock collar and pressing the button on the top before she could react. A sudden, severe jolt of searing pain exploded in her neck and raced like a rushing river through every inch of her body, her brain searing as if it were being fried. She fell to the ground in a convulsive heap, bucking and screeching for several seconds before the guard let go of the button. “I had my finger on the trigger. You shoving s**t caused me to pull it. You’ll get yourself killed with your freak powers.”

     Yura didn’t respond. Her mouth felt dry and fried and tasted like static, and her muscles spasmed at random, especially when she tried to move. She tried to focus on what was happening, but she couldn’t grasp anything concrete; her sight and hearing were on the fritz, seeming to fade in and out at random.

     She heard a loud boom that sounded like it was close, and her guard screamed. “Show yourself!” the guard shouted. “Come out in front of me, or I’ll shoot the kid!”

     Yura tried to regain control of her body enough to shout out that the threat was empty--that they wouldn’t dare shoot her--but her mouth just hung limply open, and no sound came out.

     Yura forced herself to turn toward the cell opening, her body spasming in a convulsive protest, but the strength of the tremors had already begun to dissipate. She hoped she could do something else to the guard--provide some other way to stall her so that the saviors could swoop in without harm. But as Yura saw the guard--standing there tense, gun pointed toward the cell block’s entrance--and tried to focus, she still felt too weak to do anything.

     A few tense, near-silent seconds where Yura could hear the guard’s ragged breathing passed as she tried to build up the strength to do something.

     “Bad idea,” a voice said, behind the guard.

     The guard tried to turn to face the new arrival who was out of Yura’s sight, and her rifle was expertly ripped from her hands and pulled up into the air. An invisible force twisted the metal, bending the barrel in on itself--and then the gun burst into flames, the conflagration so blistering hot that the metal began to liquify immediately, and there was a sudden crackling like fireworks as the bullets burst in the clip.

     The guard yelled as the gun was tossed to the side and tried to turn to run, but a silver beam sliced through the air at her feet, and she tripped and collapsed suddenly, her feet encased in stone and stuck together.

     A young man floated down from the air in front of Yura’s cell just as she got the strength to begin pushing herself up. He had unkempt sandy-blond hair, a patchy beard, and a dark scar wrapped around his neck.

     Yura recognized him immediately. She had seen his face countless times since the invasion.

     John Smith. Number Four.

     “I recommend you stay down,” John said to the guard who had begun trying to crawl away, trying in vain to pull herself across the cold concrete with her hands in defiance of the massive weight on her feet. “We’re not done here yet, and some of my friends take no issue with getting rougher than this.”

     Yura’s strength and sense of consciousness was mostly restored when John turned and surveyed her with pity in his bright blue eyes, but she was blinking rapidly, still trying to deicide if this was real or if she had slipped into a dream.

     “You c-came after me,” she said softly, her mouth still fried.

     “You asked for help, didn’t you?” John said with a smile, stepping closer. He got to the cell and reached out his hand. “Come on, let’s get you out of here. Though get ready--this’ll be a bit disorientating.”  

     Yura took one last look over at the guard who was watching John with a mix of awe and horror, and then she took his hand.

     Yura’s body disappeared.

     She was a swirling ball of nothingness that could see everything around her from every angle at once. She was formless and boundless. She tried to close her eyes, but there was nothing to close. She felt like she could be sick, but she didn’t have the capacity to be nauseous. Her mind was reeling from an endless stream of sudden foreign, incomprehensible stimuli.

     It only got worse when they moved.

     At least all the pain and discomfort she had been awash in vanished as well.

     Yura wasn’t controlling anything; she assumed that was John pulling her along. She was pulled out of her cell and floated up into the air, toward the ceiling. She was loftily goaded toward a small, barred window on the far side of the cell block, where the night beckoned.

     Yura braced herself as they went for the window as if the bars would stop them, but they flew through seamlessly, breaking out into a dark night over a prison in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Yura took full advantage of her boundless vision to take in the prison grounds--it was a large facility with a massive fenced-in ground and watchtowers on the corners, but it stood solitary in a clearing at the edge of a thick forest, the only hint of an outside world being one dark road that came out of the prison and shot out into the night, reaching nothing before it fell out of sight.

     It was toward the forest that John led her, swirling and flipping in the air. Yura tried to focus on the surroundings to distract her from the insanity of what she was experiencing, trying to piece together any hint about where they were. But, assuming they were still in Canada--which she guessed she had no reason to know for sure--there was no shortage of rural lands and probably no shortage of defunct prisons that hadn’t been torn down. She had no idea how far from home she was.

     John began to lead Yura into a slow descent toward the forest, and they wafted their way just within the treeline before Yura was suddenly transformed back into her body, a sudden nausea slamming into her along with all the pain and discomfort she had been feeling before. It took all the will she had to not immediately fall to the ground and vomit.

     “Sorry about that,” John said sheepishly. “It’s kind of hard to really explain to someone what they’re about to feel when I do that, so I stopped trying.”

     Yura turned to him, swallowing down vomit, only nodding in response out of fear she’d throw up if she tried to speak.

     “You’ve had it rough,” John noted, stepping toward her. “And is that--a shock collar?” His lip turned to a tight line. It looked like he was grinding his teeth. He reached out and unbuckled the collar, tossing it aside, then he put his hands on her head. Yura felt a sudden blossom of warmth race into her skull, soothing her, and she could feel the cells along the gash on her head reaching out to each other, combining and knitting themselves back together as the wound almost instantly healed.

     John left his hands on her head for a moment after the cut healed, and a wave of heat raced through Yura’s body, driving out the deeply-embedded chill that she had come to view as part of her.

     She was still exhausted, sore, and somewhat nauseous, but, after a few moments, she felt mostly all right again.

     John withdrew his hands and offered a smile. “How do you feel?” he asked.

     Yura waited a few moments to make sure she wouldn’t get sick before responding. “Better,” she said. “Way better. Thank you.”

     “Of course,” John said. He turned and walked further into the forest. “Come on,” he beckoned. “We’ve got to do this quick.”

     “Do what?” Yura asked, her mind still reeling.

     “Well, you don’t have to do much except go to New Lorien.”

     “New--” Yura said. “Wait, the place in India? I need to go home. I need to see my family.”

     “Hopefully, we can arrange for that to happen. But it’d be better for you to come back to New Lorien first--so we can make sure you’re all healed up and out of danger.”

     “What if I say no?”

     John shrugged. “I can try to take you back to your home before I leave. Do you really think you’ll still be safe there--especially if news crews find out what happen and start reporting that you’re Garde?”

     “I--” Yura began, trying to gather her thoughts. She had been kidnapped from her hometown and then rescued by the dude who’s probably the most powerful person in the universe. Her family had to be worried sick about her, but maybe there was some truth in what he was saying. If she was targeted for being Garde, wouldn’t she need protection, especially if the whole situation caused even more people to figure out who she was?

     She wasn’t sure. But she had a feeling she needed to make a decision fast.

     John pushed a thicket aside with telekinesis to reveal an Arab girl in a hijab leaning up against a tree on the bank of a small stream next to a large, glowing blue stone.

     “Is that…” Yura began, recognizing the stone immediately from the reports but struggling to come up with a name.

     “Loralite?” John said. “Yeah. Rabiya here taught me how to make it, and she’s the one taking you back.” The Arab girl--Rabiya--smiled and waved. “It’s how she’ll get you back to New Lorien and how my backup will get here.”

     “Backup?” Yura asked.

     John pulled out a phone and quickly dialed a number. It was answered quickly. “Hey, I got her,” he reported. “Come on in--use the stuff I sent to picture the place. But remember--we’re not trying to make a huge scene. We’ll get in and out. Quick and subtle. Got it?”

     No one said anything on the other line, and the phone’s connection was severed as someone rippled into existence in front of the stone--a tall, beefy, dark-skinned guy with a prosthetic arm and shaggy black hair whipped up by the wind.

     Yura recognized him immediately.

     “What was that tone?” Number Nine asked with a stupid grin. “You wound me, Johnny-boy. When have I ever not been subtle?”

     John groaned and rolled his eyes.

     A moment later, a thin, lanky boy with sandy blond hair materialized beside Nine. He took a moment to get his bearings before meeting Yura’s eyes and smiling. She recognized him, too: Sam Goode.

     Yura had no time to react to that new development before a girl with blond hair and steely eyes popped up and rolled her shoulders, surveying their surroundings before she showed any sign of relaxing: Number Six. She gave a small smile and polite wave when her gaze landed on Yura.

     Yura’s mouth had fallen open. She tried to say something, but nothing came out, and she suddenly felt woozy again--this time not from the flying trick John had pulled. She had lost count of the amount of times she had seen the footage of John and Number Nine fighting in New York--roaming forces of seemingly unending power tearing through Mogadorians. Number Six on the other hand didn’t seem to like getting filmed so much, but Yura had read all about her feats that had been reported--especially the time she and Number Seven made a storm strong enough to knock down a Mogadorian warship.

     Yura tried to imagine the full extent of the power that was standing right in front of her, but it felt beyond her capability. She stuttered for a few seconds before finally spitting out, “Is this everyone?”

     Nine shot her a weird look. “What, squirt, you think we need help?”

     “No, I--I just…I…” Yura tried to string the right words together. “I’ve seen and--and heard so much about all of you, and I never thought I’d ever meet you, and I…I was just wondering. I--I don’t know, I--”

     “Marina’s waiting for you at New Lorien,” Six interrupted.

     “She’s--waiting…for me?”

     “Yeah, dude,” Nine said, cracking his knuckles, “you can go get her autograph. I’ll give you mine after we bust some heads.”

     “We’ve got people waiting to welcome you to New Lorien--to show you the ropes,” John said. “We can’t force you to stay there, but you should at least go there for now--you’ll be safer.”

     Rabiya walked over to the Loralite stone and held out a hand for Yura. “Ready when you are,” she said.

     Yura looked around at her saviors again. Nine and Six didn’t seem all that interested in her--they had already begun to walk toward the prison, Nine rolling his neck and Six raising her hands to the sky, calling dark clouds together. John gave her another encouraging smile before he, too, turned away and followed the others.

     “See you at New Lorien,” Sam said before following the others.

     Yura watched after the quartet a moment as they strode toward the prison--an unstoppable force of raw power about to rain down on the people who had kidnapped her. With an awed smile, she reached back for Rabiya’s hand without turning around. She felt the girl’s hand grab hers, and then the world fell away.



© 2021 Seth Armstrong


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Added on July 28, 2021
Last Updated on July 28, 2021
Tags: lorien, legaices, war, of, the, yura, kallik, capac, john, smith, sam, goode, number, six, nine, marina, seven, five, eight, malcolm, daniela, nigel, fugitive, isabela, taylor, ran, caleb, kopano


Author

Seth Armstrong
Seth Armstrong

Tuvalu



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Blurb Blurb

A Chapter by Seth Armstrong