Chapter 5

As she approached the gate to the garage, she heard the loud buzzing of a saw and what sounded like an electric screwdriver. She opened the gate and found numerous military units surrounding the area. There were many vehicles but only one seemed ready for departure—a large ATV like automobile.

Once inside it, Ryna and Vix greeted her with warm hugs and an exchange of their experiences. Alex gave a slight smile and a nod before returning his attention to Vex as he worked on mechanical prosthetics for an unconscious Grey.

“Central nervous system linked. Somatic nervous system online  and these prosthetics are now fully functional. You can wake him up now, so we can start the testing phase, Ryna. Oh, hey captain!” Vex had been so enthralled in his work that he hardly noticed the events going on around him. Ryna stuck a syringe full of adrenaline into Grey’s neck and few seconds later, his eyes shot open and he began yelling. “You!” he growled glaring at Ryna. “You drug me again and I swear I’ll strangle you with my bare hands!”

“Well, that’s nice, considering you only have two of them again thanks to me and Vex,” Ryna said looking slightly amused. Grey quickly examined his body and looked from Vex to Ryna in disbelief. He grumbled, flexed his new hand and wiggled his toes, closed his eyes briefly, opening them again as a menacing smile began to spread across his face.

“Hey, Vex…?” Grey called to the young technician as he balled his new metal hand into a fist.

“Um…y-yeah?” Vex responded nervously, the happy look on Grey’s face sending chills down his spine.

“This new arm of mine… I like it a lot. I was thinking we could run a few tests to make sure it’s working properly,” he said.

“Oh, really?” Vex replied, his voice a little higher than he would’ve liked.

“We could field test it right here by seeing if I can generate enough force to smash your jaw in one blow,” Grey said as he lunged toward his target.

“W-wait if you kill me—” Vex dodged a heavy blow, “who’s going to fix you up when you break down?”

“I don’t want to kill you, I just want to kick your ass!” Grey said as he narrowly missed his prey for the second time. “Slippery little bitch,” he spat.

Xand finally intervened as Grey made a third attempt. “Enough rough housing, you don’t want to overexert yourself after you just got patched up.”

“Rough housing?” Vex grumbled.

Grey snorted in response. The engine roared as the driver pulled out of the garage. Xand sat down next to Alex, placing her small pack on her lap. “Hey, did anyone else get a prototype from R&D?” she asked.

“I didn’t,” Alex said.

“Neither did I,” Ryna replied.

“We didn’t either,” said Vex and his brother nodded in agreement.

“Really? No one else got anything?” Xand asked, bewildered. Her team shook their heads and looked at her confused. “Well, look at this.” Xand reached into her bag and pulled out the long sword to her team’s amazement.

“That’s from R&D?” Ryna asked, her eyes wide with curiosity.

“Whoa, how did it fit in that tiny space?” Vix wondered.

“You gotta let me see that ASAP!” Vex exclaimed, his eyes glowing with excitement.

“What’s a sword gonna do against gun wielding maniacs? This has got to be some kind of sick joke,” Grey murmured.

“In the right hands, any weapon can be extremely deadly,” Alex stated as he examined the blade. “I wonder what these markings mean.”

“Let me see that,” Vex said, taking the weapon from Alex. “Hey… That’s not the Queen’s seal on the back! Almost all weapons come with her seal on them.” He looked at the engraved image on the blade. “This is…Uroboros?”

“What’s that?” Alex asked.

“Uroboros…it’s a symbol used in a primitive precursor to science called alchemy. It means renewal or infinity.  Means a lot more but… It’s against the law to produce a weapon without the Queen’s seal on it. Seems like a violation like this wouldn’t have made it out of the lab.” Vex handed the weapon back to his leader, “I think you should be careful who you show that to,” he warned. Xand agreed and carefully placed the weapon back into her sack.

The team sat silently as they mentally prepared themselves for the trip to the Outskirts. The large, weather beaten steel garage gradually opened as a battalion of guards stood near the wall, and just like that, they were headed for their destination. The trip was uneventful for the most part as they approached the city limits. They traveled down small back roads and went through one of the heavily guarded breaches in the city’s wall. They sat in amazement as the vehicle departed the pristine city and entered a wasteland full of crumbling buildings covered in overgrown vegetation. It almost felt like they had been transported to another world. The roads were filled with large cracks and holes, and they had to make frequent stops to find a suitable route to continue their journey. They were supposed to check in at an outpost but as the streets grew more difficult to traverse by car, they were forced to continue on foot. Tired and hungry, they reached the check point by night fall, and were rapidly ushered in. The gates closed behind them and guards directed them to their final destination: a small, rundown clinic that had been repurposed into a base for mercenary personnel.

They were ordered to sit in the waiting room while a guard informed the commander of their arrival. Shortly after, a tall woman appeared and greeted them in deep, gravelly voice. “My name is Bella.  This is your new home, and I will be your new commander. You will report directly to me. Make yourselves at home, and welcome to the Outskirts. Head to your rooms and get some sleep; tomorrow, you begin being useful.” They were dismissed and led towards tiny, cramped rooms with two beds each. The small cots were extremely uncomfortable and the thin, cracked walls allowed even the tiniest of sound to be broadcast to everyone. Xand couldn’t sleep; their situation seemed to be getting worse and worse, and she didn’t like being treated as a last resort peacekeeping force when the Outskirts and the main city were two different territories. One governed by a monarch, and the other a region of total lawlessness. 

“Captain,” Ryna’s voice drifted over to her ears, “you should get some rest. You’re thinking too hard about this and it’s giving me a headache.”

“How? You’re not touching me, you shouldn’t be able to sense what I’m feeling,” Xand replied. Ryna had a strong ability to connect with the brainwaves of others when she touched them, and this helped her greatly as a medic on the battlefield.

“Well, I can still feel that you’re stressed, and brainwaves can extend beyond the body, so…I can still feel them,” Ryna explained.

“Must be annoying feeling what other people are experiencing all the time.”

“I manage,” Ryna smiled softly.

“Tomorrow, we’ll officially be non-citizens. I just wish I knew why. Why it had to come to this…”

“I think it was bound to happen eventually… thinking about what the council members said…,” She paused, “At least we’re still alive. We have a chance now to show them what we can do,” Ryna said, holding firm to the optimistic outlook she was known for.

Xand sighed, “We shouldn’t have to work so hard for their appreciation. Years of dedicated service and for what? To be killed or tossed aside like we mean nothing? Securing this place might make them feel safer, but that won’t make them respect us or see us as human beings.” She rolled over in her tiny bed, facing the wall. “Good night, Ryna.”

“Good night, Captain.”

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