Thorns

 

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pROLOGUE

The buildings shook under the barrage of bullets as the screams of students filled the air. They ran through the pavilion in masses, nearly trampling each other in the process.

The war had started, and the Extremists known as the Crimson Faction had made their first move.

 

James, one of the second-year students, ran through the Atrium trying to avoid the debris falling from the helicopters that flew around the tops of the buildings, shooting at everything that they could.

He ran, shocked that there was a crowd of people gathered by one of the statues that surrounded the Atrium. Three of the mercenaries were waving their guns around. As James pushed his way through the crowd, he saw one of them grab one of the girls and push her down in front of him. The bangles on her arm clanked as she fell to the ground.

One of the other men leaned down, grabbed her arm, and shouted at her in a different language.

“Hey!” James pushed his way through. “Leave her alone.”

The girl in question struggled to get up pushing her way out of the first mercenaries’ grasp.  “No. I’m the one you want,” she said, turning to face James, who immediately paled.

“Selene,” he said in a hushed voice.  

“James,” she returned, before a gunshot rang out. He froze, as did the rest of the crowd.

“Oh,” Selene responded softly looking down.

His eyes trailed down to see the spot of red blossoming in her midsection. “N-No...” James heart started pounding as everything narrowed down to that one spot of red.

“NOOOOOOO!” He screamed before he was swallowed into the crowd as everyone started to run. Selene fell backward into the mercenaries’ arms, from which  she was never heard from again….

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chapter one

Four years later

 

           In the year 2020, a masked thief laid waste to the families involved with the making of the biological torpedos in Mission Chrysanthemum. Thankfully, the creator of the weapon had been taken to an undisclosed location, a former military lab. There, he and his team have been monitoring the weapon, checking to see if there could be any reason that the rebellion group known as the Crimson Faction—and their masked thief—was taking down everyone involved.

 

           The dream hits James every morning. The fire, the blood, the screamsSelene being lifted away.  As always James woke up in a sweat. He slid off the bed, heading straight underneath the hot water of his shower and letting the droplets run down his body. He took a breath, and got ready to go to the lab.

Another day of testing the weapons, it was the first hint of progress against the Crimson Faction they had actively illustrated in years. General Uotani who was in charge of the Research and development wanted them as bait to entice the Faction. Yet somehow, James feared they didn’t actually want to use the weapon, but the biological serum that was inside of it instead.

           He walked through the security module, nodding at the guards before greeting his fellow scientist-slash-soldier, Anna Lawana, who grinned at him widely.  

“Hey, Uotani hear word of the Faction causing trouble in the North, so she’s not here today,” Anna said, crossing her arms. “Neither are most of the troops for that matter. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

           “Good thing we still have you,” James answered, patting her on the shoulder with a nod. “I’m going to go start. See you later.”  

“It’s Tuesday. We’re having Chinese for lunch today...” Her voice trailed off as she resumed clicking on her machine.

He shrugged his lab coat on. “Is Kingston back yet?”

She shook her head. “He said that there was a mission in Left wing that he needed to be a part of,” she answered, leaning back in her chair. “Some Detective from the headquarters of Britain came down to oversee it. Apparently, they found one of the safe houses of the Crimson Faction.” Anna rubbed her forehead, finding a safe house was a big deal, but it seemed every time they made headway with the faction, they would find some way to turn it against the military.

“Doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re currently there,” James pointed out.

“Doesn’t mean they’re not,” she countered, raising her eyebrows.

He answered by rolling his eyes as he walked into the lab, grabbing his clipboard. James started making notes on the progress of the weapon he was currently working on; the one I was most proud of was also the one that made the most impact in the war.

The Crimson Faction and its many sub-teams had swept across Britain like a plague. Their goal, the destruction of the high council. The faction believed that the High Council shouldn’t be the only people running the country. Their first target had been the University, completely decimating the buildings that made the campus.

James had been there when they shot Selena Drake, the daughter of the headmaster and the girl he had loved more than anything. He had watched, blood soaking her blouse as she fell. They raised her through the roof into one of their helicopters, and he had been helpless to stop it. Taking her despite her fatal injury had been strategic; it ensured that Headmaster Drake would be truly and personally devastated.

Her body had never been recovered, and as such, no funeral had been held. Even though he was hesitant to admit she was dead, her body was probably dumped, no doubt in an unknown location.

James thought about her often; every day, and every night.

Lena had been beautiful, smart, and bold. Every time James closed his eyes, he saw her ice blue eyes, so clear and honest. The freckles that only appeared in the sun. Her smile, the way her laugh brightened her whole face.

He missed every goddamn thing about her.The lab only provided a minimal distraction, from remembering all that he had lost during the one attack on the school. In one fell swoop, he had lost the love of his life, his confidante, his best friend. So instead of turning to her, he tried to bury his memories in science. And the lab.

           James had been working in the lab for so long, he knew it better than his own room. The way the machines hummed as they went through the formula’s the way the liquids boiled in each beaker, and he knew exactly where he put every last item he used the night before. Like the pen that  he had laid on the desk, that was now on the floor.

That’s how he knew immediately that something was wrong.

He turned to press the button for security when the slim, booted heel kicked out at his shoulder, sending him flying across the room. He grimaced, looking up and watching the person walk towards him fluidly. It took the person less than three seconds to grab him from the floor. And it took three seconds for James to piece together the fact that the figure in question was extremely slim and wore heels--three inches judging by the pain in his shoulder. Therefore, the figure was a woman.

The helmet that covered her face so very completely could only be there to hide one person.

           “The Masked Bandit.”

James managed the words only just before she threw him by his collar into a solid post. The Bandit had gotten famous three years ago. A thief by trade, rumour had it she captured and destroyed many valuable items--mostly scientific--and had a habit of disappearing without a trace.

From a quick, downwards glance, James saw a long, slim, metal pole, probably left over from one of the experiments. Gripping it as hard as he could, he swung it across her face as she went for him.

Her whole body spun and fall a few feet away. Not bothering to run, James hurled the pole into a button, sending an ear-piercing alarm through the building.

The figure flew back up, two swords flashing out in each hand. James gulped before somersaulting behind the desk. He grabbed one of the leftover struts from the missiles and brought it up, just as the figure in the mask brought her sword down. Pushing it forward, it made her tumble backwards before she caught her footing on the desk. He jumped up on the table parrying her attacks.

As she tried to keep up with him, she lost her footing once again, which gave James enough time to aim lower. An attempt at her sword-hand successful, she dropped her weapon.

With another movement, he whacked her in the head again, this time hitting her helmet. The blow knocked it loose, and it fell off this time as she staggered to the floor, falling to her knees. Just at that moment, doors slid open, and a squad of black-armored, gun-holding men ran into the room, two of which grabbed her arms.

The figure shook her hair out of the face, revealing it for the first time.

James dropped his weapon in shock.

“James? Are you alright?” Emma asked, rushing in.

Wesley, the head of military strategy, followed behind her. “Well you captured the masked figure, I’m impre--” His voice petered away as he got a good look at the girl’s face, horror suddenly filling his own.

The girl in question had dark, raven hair that fell in big ringlets around her face and eyes that glared daggers at the three of them as she was held.

She smirked. “Well; if it isn’t my three most favorite people.”

“Y-You’re supposed to be dead,” Emma whispered, her face turning white.

The girl smiled cruelly. “Don’t you hate when things don’t go as you planned?”

“Selene.” James’ voice was tense with strain. After years of wondering what had happened to the one woman he had ever loved, she stood there right in front of him. James whole body ached, with the brief fight, but it was nothing compared to the heat that now flooded him, as his heart beat erratically in his chest. Selene was alive. She was standing right there in front of him, with ruby ringlets framing her face, her eyes as dark as they ever were, in her pale face.

She looked back at him, her muscles visibly tensing as she frowned. James watched as Selene seemed to watch her surroundings with an intensity that he had never seen on her face before.

“Selene Darkweather. I’ve so hoped to be the one to catch you.” James, Wesley, and Emma all turned, surprised to see Director Gomez. The [insert minor visual description] woman walked toward their new prisoner, stopping right in front of her.

“Technically, you didn’t,” Selene pointed out.

The director’s lips thinned before slapping Selene across the cheek, the blow hard enough that the girl spits out blood. “Take her away for interrogation.”

The guards obliged, and she turned to James.“Good job, Doctor,” the director said, clapping her hand on his back.

Filled with a sense of dread, James asked, “What are you going to do to her?”

The woman grinned. “Everything. You have any idea how long I’ve been looking for this girl? The trouble she’s caused me?”

“To you?” Wesley demanded, narrowing his eyes. The director glanced to the door. “That girl murdered my brother in cold blood. Killing him wasn’t enough either; his body was left horribly scarred. She will pay, and I plan to be the one delivering punishment. “

 

 

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Chapter two

Selene had been put in a cubed room with a square table and two iron-backed chairs. A rectangular mirror hung on one wall, where a couple of sleep-deprived security guards sat watch, checking her vital signs and prepping the lie-detector machine.

She couldn’t help but smile a little at that, laughing inwardly and wondering if someone was taking a note of that. The door slid open, Wesley and another officer came in. He walked toward the empty chair while the officer went behind Selene’s to check her handcuffs.

           “She hasn’t moved, sir,” the officer announced, straightening up.

Selene leaned her head back to look up at him. “Surprised?” she asked snidely.

Wesley nodded at the officer. “Out.”  The officer obliged as he threw down a manila folder down on the table, contents flying across the metal surface.

She stiffened as she saw that it was photos of her, some from six years ago, and some recent sightings. The one that did the most damage was of her during the FBI attack with a brown haired girl with square glasses.

She glowered darkly at the photo, before looking up at Wesley. “I see the background check came through.”

He sat down, his back ramrod straight. “Miss Darkweather, why were you trying to steal the Biological torpedoes?”

           “Do you have any idea who I am?” Selene asked, smirking. “I’ve stolen many artifacts things that were priceless, and others that were worth your weight in gold. I’ve killed people for them without blinking.”

Wesley smiled, crossing his arms. “You didn’t kill James,” he pointed out snidely. Her smile dropped. “Why didn’t you? Do you still have feelings for him? Do you still love him?” The triumph in his expression was almost unbearable.

Selene leaned towards him. “Love? Love, dear Wesley, is for fools. What good is love for anyone?”

He leaned back, frustrated. “You’ve killed hundreds mercilessly but left James alive.”

Selene blinked, her mouth tense as her eyes glittered angrily. “What are you trying to say? That I can’t kill him?”

“No,” Wesley answered, his eyes dark. “I’m saying you won’t. I’ve researched you, and I’ve noticed a pattern. You’ve only ever taken things that would cause the museums or buildings in question to have burglaries. Even the people you’ve killed have all been dangerous. Well except maybe the Director’s broth—”

Wesley stopped, noticing Selene’s scowl.

“Unless, he has done something? Maybe to you?” he asked, now genuinely curious.

Her eyes narrowed until they were two sharp points of slate grey. “Why should I tell you anything?”

He smiled, knowing that he’d truly gotten under her skin. “Let’s see…  Because you’re my prisoner. And I’m here without handcuffs, I might add, because I’m interrogating you.”

The amusement in his voice only infuriated Selene further.“I am not your—” She stopped herself, before she truly lost her temper. “Why are you interrogating me, anyway? Why not the director? Are you some bigshot now?”

“You’re deflecting.”

Selene let out a startled sound deep in her throat. She groaned before looking up at Wesley and glaring at him darkly.

“Her name was Emily,” she said bitterly. He looked on in confusion, waiting for more. She turned toward the door, and continued in a dark tone. “The girl the director’s brother raped, the girl he destroyed utterly. That he left for dead. What I did was far less than he deserved. He deserved a long and gruesome death. I couldn’t stand looking at him, to drag it out. Scum.”

He observed her, startled by the emotion in her voice.“Selene...”

A horrendous boom sounded, interrupting them, and all the alarms went off while the emergency lights flashed red.

“What the hell?!” Wesley bellowed.

Selene looked up to the ceiling, grinning widely. “So sorry Wesley. But it seems our time is up. Also, I apologize in advance for your nose.” Her voice was sweeter than he ever remembered.

She moved, kicking the table at him before somersaulting, taking the chair with her and slamming it straight into the double-sided window.

With a resounding crash, it shattered.

Still wearing the handcuffs, Selene jumped straight into the bordering room. She landed on two people, sending them to the ground, before she jumped the remaining person. Squeezing his throat with her handcuffs, she waited until he, too, collapsed, and dodged into the hallway.

Like the lab, the hallway was pristine white marble, now marred with cracks thanks to the bombs, Lena had placed earlier one of her favorite methods of escape. Jumping over some crumbling marble, she pulled her handcuffs across a particularly jagged one, breaking the chain.

She put a finger to the interior of her ear, opening the channel to her four-way communicator with her team. “Excellent distraction guys! You didn’t destroy the whole building, did you?”

            “Not yet,” Colin’s husky voice announced proudly. Selene could sense his amusement over the line.

“Boss, we have a problem,” came Emily’s sultry tone. She sighed.

Selene grinned, more or less feeling the intense roll of the other girl’s eyes. “When don’t we?”

“The suitcase holding the biomechanical missiles is protected by a blood signature.”

It was a slap to the face. Halting mid-stride, Selene closed her eyes. “Fabulous. I need the blood of the scientist, don’t I?”

            “Yes boss.”

She nodded to herself, turning and running back towards the lab. “This should be fun.”

 

 

 

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Chapter three

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Chapter Four 

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Chapter five

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Chapter Six 

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Chapter Seven

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Chapter Eight

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Chapter nine

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