Ragged breaths tore through the boy's throat as his feet pounded on the shiny tiles of the floor, the low lights allowing him to see some dim version of himself like some frightened ghost trapped within the floor.  The boy could see the fear and panic in his own eyes as he attempted what he never had dared risk before.  He was escaping.  Finally, not only escaping, but being free.  That word, freedom, so simple and yet so powerful to the child, was the only thing besides adrenaline that had kept him alive this night.  And tonight, he would be able to experience its bliss for the first time.

Although the labyrinth the boy ran through was merely one hall of many intersecting corridors, all alike in their bleak black walls and reflective floors, he ran through the maze with more confidence than his pursuers.  He had imprinted this trail into his memory, just like he had each time he had been led off the Manor Proper, and this had been his most treasured path of all. 

Tonight was the night.  The night the dream would become a reality.  Tonight he was to be free. Unless of course the one to help him had lied… but they had thrown their chip in with his, so the boy admitted there was little he could do to worry about that.  Even if he worried, the dice had already been cast.  He had no choice but to go ahead through with the plan.

The fading curses of the guards behind him however were something to worry about; the boy was surprised that they hadn't called for reinforcements already.  The gun that had felt so light while he was running suddenly regained its weight as he realized what he had to do.  But if I kill them… the boy wondered, looking down at the weapon, won't I be what they wanted in the end?  The boy only thought of it for a moment however, before the sweet thought of freedom penetrated his mind again.  This would be the last time, he assured himself.  Just this once, just for freedom.

He silently retraced his footsteps and before twenty seconds and two turns of a corner, he was within earshot of the partners once again.  The pistol felt especially heavy now, he wasn't quite sure he could raise it.  Freedom.  The weight lessened, but not much.

"Shit, we're never going to catch the little bastard now!  Listen, we'll get in trouble if Lord Cuiren finds out we almost let him escape, but we'll get into even more trouble if they find out we DID LET HIM ESCAPE!!!"  The boy clung to the wall and peeked around the corner.  They were right there, no more than twenty feet away.

He looked at the gun once more; although he knew that time was slipping away like sand between his fingers, the simple action of pulling back a single trigger seemed like the most laborious of tasks.  The cold metal within his hand felt like the touch of the Reaper, the frost of the grave.  He took two steadying breaths, and slowly raised the gun. 

"How the hell was I supposed to know the little son of a bitch was going to act like that?  What, am I supposed to be executed because I was nice to a goddamn kid!?"  The boy felt a slight twinge of guilt, after all that guard had been the one that would remove the clasp-locks so he could feed himself and stretch his legs.  He'd also given the boy water whenever he asked.  The guilt grew even further when the guard continued, "C'mon, I've got a son that's only a year or two younger than him…  It's just… not right."

The other guard was quick to correct his companion, jumping like he'd been goosed at the last sentence.  "Are you crazy!?  What the hell are you thinking saying something like that out loud?  We'll be lucky to have our heads attached to our necks as it is!  Plus, that kid's eyes… If you want to know what's not right, it's that kid."  The boy listened intently, wondering what could be not right with him.  What had he ever done that was so wrong?  "Looking into his eyes was the creepiest thing I've ever done," the guard spoke in a loud whisper, his voice still carrying perfectly clear to the boy, "like looking into something without a soul, something that wasn't even human.  Personally I think the best thing would be to put a bullet into the little freak's forehead and be done with it.  But I keep my mouth shut, and if you're smart, you will too."

Nothing in his short horrible life had been as painful as hearing those words.  None of the beatings, none of the visitations to Gareth (the boy shuddered as that name went fleeting through his mind), the ability to feel physical pain had been beaten out of him long ago, but a different sort of agony was filling his chest.  The sentence kept crashing in through his ears, the noiseless phrase stabbing into his mind.  Tears that the boy failed to notice started to form at the edge of his eyes, but nonetheless one theme, one concept managed to ring out the man's words. 

Grabbing the gun with white knuckle intensity, he stepped out of the shadows and into their hall, pulling back the trigger he let out a ferocious battle cry of: "FREEDOM!!!"  The recoil slammed the boy's arm back while a roaring ball of crimson energy soared out of the gun and wiped the guards and part of the hallway out in its ferocious blaze.

There were no corpses, no bloodstains, not even a smear; the only thing that remained to prove that the two men once existed was the stench of burnt flesh.  The boy felt the urge to heave but fought against it.  He had to keep moving, he was too close to even think of stopping now.  After seven minutes of running, an alarm went off.

Oh god… Not now, not yet!  The boy's legs started pumping faster, his feet barely pausing to hit the ground as he sprinted the final stretch.  The final door was finally within sight, he saw the three men standing on guard jump to their feet as the alarm went off.  He knew better than to fire the gun while running, his aim would be far from steady and with a weapon of this much potential destruction a slight mistake could be fatal.  The guards still hadn't spotted him yet, one leaning back while two squabbled about what to do.

The first guard down never saw it coming, the boy's free hand curling into a fist and rocketing into the man's face as he ran past him.  The second guard stood shocked as the boy's charge carried him past, he turned in time to see the kid slide and lash out with his feet to sweep out the other man's legs out from under him.  The guard barely had time to reach for his gun before the youngster drew one of his own, still sliding backwards, the kid aimed from his back for a split moment and then the last thing the man heard before he died was a deafening roar.

The boy turned his attention away from the action to look at the one thing keeping him away from his ultimate goal.  He swallowed once, this was the one part of the plan he wasn't completely sure about.  He had only heard the code get entered once, the only information he had was a single eight note melody that he had only heard one time, three years ago.  What if it had changed?  What if he screwed up?

The boy shook these thoughts from his head, emptying it of everything but the electronic beep of those keys as they were pressed.  There were ten keys on the keyboard, each one having a number from one to ten.  He sighed, though I really shouldn't have expected them to have anything else on the buttons. 

It took the boy forty five seconds to decipher the beeps into numbers.  Fingers shaking, the boy entered the numbers slowly, one after another.  He had played back the code perfectly; the melody that he had kept alive within his head for so long had not been memorized in vain.  The door opened with an electric whir and he shuffled through it quickly.  I'm safe now.  He thought to himself, drawing a deep breath.  I'm not free yet, but I'm safe for now.  The floor beneath him started to move, sliding him forward to the end of the hallway like a flat escalator.  The black walls slowly faded away to a clean, sterilized white, windows poking through to show a glimpse of the scene below.

He held his breath and rushed over to the side of the hallway, looking down and out one of the many large windows that went sliding past him.  The sight beneath him looked like it some sort of air hangar, only the ship that the boy was looking for could go higher than just the mere sky.

 Oh thank God, he thought, seeing the large craft he was going to fly out of here lit up and waiting.  His contact had been telling the truth after all, good…  As the ride came to a stop, the boy let out a giddy exhalation.  Ecstasy he had never felt before seemed to pinnacle as stepped out of the hallway and into the last step to his wonderful new life and destiny.  Freedom, I wonder how it feels like, he wondered to himself before stepping forward and finding out.