Aha! For all those who've read Monochrome, this is its sequel. For all those who haven't, I suggest you go read it, because it's supposed to be good.
Okay. This will appear in chapters, as that's how it needs to be formated for a writing contest on GaiaOnline. Some may be longer than others. Oh, and I have five done and am working on the sixth.
For those who are paying attention and know the right things, the titles "Monochrome" and "Delirious" are sequential words in a song called Dizzy, by the Goo Goo Dolls. As it turns out, I'm going to call the couplet (or trilogy, if I decide to write the third) "Dizzy." Good song. Amazing band.
The voice was accompanied by a hand snaked around my mouth, and I was sure that my life was over. In the sea of cars in which I had sought refuge, they had found me. I had no easy way to defend myself, no weapon easily accessible; I would have to wait for a moment of ignorance on my captors' part. And even if I found that moment, I doubted that I would escape.
One of my captors moved around me: female, something Diadenn wound never allow. Her dark hair fell around her face as she avoided my eyes and felt my sides for weapons. She found one of my knives, pulling it from my side and handing it to her male counterpart, who took it in his free hand. The action forced the young woman to meet my gaze, and I made sure that she couldn't look away; I forced my fright to show through and put a begging note into my expression and my movements as I continued to struggle against the man's hand.
Her hazel eyes were fixed, as I knew they would be. Aslyn Alcoa, despite being the one on the opposite side, despite being the one who had assisted in the killing of my partner, had a soft side for the people that she had killed or would sentence to death with her actions. Meeting and holding my gaze would buy me a little time until either her partner interjected or she herself said something.
"Damian," she said, letting her partner's name trail off.
"Finish your search, Aslyn," he replied, clearly uncomfortable with my stillness; he wasn't stupid enough to think I had given up.
Reluctantly, she pulled her eyes from mine and resumed her search. One by one, she found my weapons and handed them to her partner. I watched every move that she made, searching for the moment in which I could attempt a getaway. Her hands trailed down my left leg, down to my boot as she felt for a knife there.
That was it, the moment that I needed. Down around my foot, she was in the correct place for a direct hit if I kicked out. Damian was completely focused on finding something threatening in my body language, but if I acted quickly and kicked hard enough, I could both surprise him and cause enough damage to his partner to stall them while I ran.
Aslyn's hands came down my right leg, and I prepared myself for my escape. Even though I was tired and on my knees in my head, I knew I had to escape.
She reached my boot, and I kicked out hard. She flew back into the car behind her, setting off the car alarm.
Damian jumped. He tried to hold on to me, but I had indeed shocked him with my action, and it was too late for him to keep me restrained.
Quickly, I disentangled myself from the two Sekanonne agents and began to run toward the store that the parking lot belonged to. My cover was completely blown, as it had been since they'd first found me and my now-dead partner; there was no way that I would be able to convince the two that I was anything but Diadenn. They knew who I was, and I knew who they were, so we were even. We would each recognize the other instantly, and that would be both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness if they chose to follow me.
Inside the store, I could hide from them. If I was lucky, I'd find another member of Diadenn who could help me. If I wasn't, I'd either end up caught by the agents following me now or end up revealing myself to the wrong person and be taken to a Sekanonne base anyway.
I glanced over my shoulder in time to see Damian helping Aslyn to her feet before starting to chase after me. If any of the human shoppers thought it strange that a young man and woman in dark cloaks were chasing me, they made nothing of it.
I stopped inside the doors briefly while I searched for a place to go.
Welcome to Wal-Mart," said the elderly welcoming woman as if she didn't notice anything strange about my hasty entrance or ruffled appearance.
Ignoring her, I glanced around me. Straight ahead of me was the jewelry department, all glass cases and lights; it was no place to hide. To my left were the woman who had welcomed me and the area where the carts were stored; I could probably find shelter in there, but not before the woman called security on me. The only place that seemed like it would be safe lay to my right, in the row of mini stores behind the registers.
The first store around the corner was an optometrist's office. It was nearly deserted except for the single doctor seated behind one of the service desks.
Back at the door, I heard Damian and Aslyn enter the store. Without thinking, I rushed into the store and headed for the nearest desk. Unfortunately, the nearest desk was the one with the woman behind it.
"How may-" she started when I approached.
"Move," I commanded. When she didn't move, I pushed her chair away and slid under the desk, pulling her chair back in behind me. "You tell and you're dead," I warned her. While Aslyn had taken most of my weapons, she hadn't been able to take the knife in my right boot, and I still had my half-psychic, half-human blood if all else failed.
The woman was downright terrified by the threat, but I hadn't pulled a weapon on her, so she was safe for the moment. Even still, I could sense that she wasn't going to tell.
For a moment, there was complete silence except for the static noise of the store. Then, there were footsteps, soft, but definitely boots on the hardwood floor. It was either Damian or Aslyn. Reaching out with my mind, I discovered that is was Damian, his mind a jumble of hushed emotions and inaudible whispers of thoughts, as was usual for him.
He was coming toward the desk behind which I was hiding, and I felt the woman tense as she realized that he was somehow connected to my hiding.
"Did you see a young man in black go by a moment ago?" I heard him ask. For what purpose, I have no idea, as he could easily locate me the same way I had identified him.
Now was the moment of truth: Would the woman keep quiet or tell Damian and set herself up for something that I would not be able to do.
"I," she started before catching herself. "No. I haven't. Did you ask the woman out by the front door?"
There was a silence for a moment or two, and I began to get suspicious; Damian hadn't left yet, nor had he answered the woman's question either. I sat as still as I could, trying to figure out what was going on.
"Yes," Damian said slowly. "I have. Thank you." I heard his boots on the floor and let my breath out silently; I was safe. Damian was gone. But I still wasn't out of the woods yet, as he and Aslyn would be searching the rest of the main store for me.
I prepared myself to leave my hiding place beneath the desk as soon as Damian's footsteps faded. The front door seemed the most logical place to head toward, but maybe the Sekanonne agents figured the same thing. What if one of them was waiting for me? I would have to be prepared to fight my way out, just in case one of them was there.
Counting to three in my mind, I tensed my muscles, ready to run. On three, I burst from under the desk and ran around it. Straight into Damian. He wrapped his arms around me as I struggled, wrestling me to the ground.
"Let go of me," I yelled, thrashing about beneath his weight.
"No," Damian said in response. He placed a hand on my chest and held me to the floor. "I don't want to hurt you, Rhoe."
I stopped. "You said that to my partner. You'll take no more pity on me than you did on him."
He glanced around at the eyes staring at us. "Not in front of them," he hissed, his blue eyes fierce.
"Get off of me!" I had begun struggling again, fighting as hard as my tired body would allow. Damian's weight on my stomach and his hand on my chest made it harder for me to breathe when accompanied with my already fast, frightened breathing.
Damian pressed his hand into my chest and leaned forward until his face was inches from mine. "Stop it, Rhoe. This isn't the place."
I spat in his face. "You'd know where the correct place is," I whispered, my voice deadly. "Rotten rebel."
He punched me. I never thought I'd see the day when he would be able to strike me a blow, but he had done it.
"Damian!" The voice was female. Aslyn?
Damian turned his head to where the voice had come from. Instantly, he was knocked off of my chest. By whom, I had no idea. But whoever they were, they grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. The person was a young woman, but it wasn't Aslyn. Instead, she had ash-blonde hair and hazel eyes, a triangular, pale face, and, at that time, a determined expression.
"Come with me," she said, pulling on my hand.
"Get back here, Rhoe," Damian called from behind us. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw him getting back to his feet and chasing us. Apparently, he didn't know who the woman was either.
"Over here." The woman pulled me down one of the empty checkout aisles. Away from the door and further into the store.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Saving your life," she replied, pulling me toward the garden shop. She was a fast runner, as if she'd practiced for track but had had a career change. My mind went as fast as she ran, but my body was fast refusing any movement other than breathing; wherever this woman was taking me had better come fast, or I was sure I would collapse.
"Aslyn!" Damian was gaining on us, and he'd found Aslyn to aid him in the chase. The woman and I stood no chance unless her miraculous escape came soon.
We reached the entrance to the garden shop before the Sekanonne agents caught up to us. One of them slammed into my back, knocking me into one of the shelves in the middle of the aisle. The product on the shelf scattered across the floor as the two of us fell to the floor. The woman let go of my hand and moved out of my line of sight, which was forced on the floor.
"Don't struggle." Damian. He was on my back, holding me to the floor. With one hand between my shoulders, he found both of my wrists with the other, moving them into a rather uncomfortable position behind my back.
"Damian, look--" I heard Aslyn yell at her partner. Too late, though. I heard Damian grunt lightly and felt his weight come off of my body again.
"Get up," the woman yelled at me. I rolled over onto my back and saw her standing over Damian with a toy baseball bat from the toy section that lay next to the garden shop. Her blow to Damian hadn't done much to hinder his ability to move, and he was quickly pushing himself to his feet.
I stood up and followed the woman into the garden shop, the other two agents hot on our heels. She led me out of the doors to where the live plants were kept, and out through the gate that separated it from the parking lot. Sitting right in our path was a black SUV, with tinted windows and no external markings. As I moved to run around it, the woman grabbed my wrist and pulled me toward it, flinging the door open and pushing me inside. She climbed in after me, closed the door, and whoever was in the driver's seat slammed their foot on the gas pedal.
I couldn't believe it. The woman had come from seemingly nowhere, but had just saved my life. Now, she sat beside me, panting from our run and staring out of the back of the vehicle. Glancing at me, she caught me staring.
"Rhoe Donahue?" she inquired, her breathing returned to normal.
Nodding, I fought to catch my breath. The interior of the car was dark, made darker by the setting sun. I could barely keep my eyes open as I rode to an unknown destination. I didn't even have the strength to object to the "rescue".
The woman reached up and turned on the overhead light. "My name is Morgan Adelaide. I am from the organization Dese."
Dese. I had never heard of any organization by that name. Maybe it was a branch of Diadenn, as she had saved my life. But that would be impossible; Diadenn didn't hire women.
I felt Morgan's fingers on my chin, jumped, and opened my eyes, not realizing that they had been closed. "What are you doing?" I asked, pulling away.
She pulled her hand away and showed me the tips of her fingers, which were red with my blood. It had taken me that long to realize that Damian's punch had split my lip.
"Here." Morgan offered me a Kleenex, which she had gotten from the driver. I wiped my chin with it absently.
"Are you from Diadenn?" I finally asked.
"Dese," Morgan replied, watching my motions. "Not Diadenn and not Sekanonne. We're somewhere in the middle. Neutral, you might say. We try to keep you and Sekanonne from killing each other when we can. Like today. Our bases are open to the members of both groups."
"I've never heard of you." I crumpled the bloody tissue in my hand and stared out of the window at the passing buildings.
"We try to remain low-profile," Morgan explained. "There is no trouble between Dese and your group, nor between Dese and Sekanonne, so we aren't high on the list of either of your targets. A lot of the time, the Diadenn members are too arrogant to mention that they had help from us and the Sekanonne members keep quiet just for the sake of helping us remain at peace with the two of you."
"Where are you taking me?" The vehicle had pulled onto a highway bordered on its right by mountains. One of them housed the newest city in Shadow, but I couldn't remember which one it was.
"We are headed to the Dese base in McElhattan. You can rest there tonight and leave tomorrow. You can leave tonight if you wish, but we're going to at least feed you before you go."
I glanced over at her. "Do you have anyone else staying there?"
She shook her head. "Not at the moment, no. And you can be assured that there will be no harsh feelings or reactions from any of us."
The mountains outside drew my attention again and I returned my gaze to the window. I desperately needed someplace like this Dese that Morgan spoke of; I needed time alone, where I could think through the day and figure out what I had to do next.
"I may be wrong," Morgan said after a moment of silence, "but doesn't Diadenn send out their members in teams?"
I froze. "Yes." My voice was barely audible to my own ears.
Morgan didn't understand. "Do you have a partner?"
"I did." I tried to focus as hard as I could on the mountains, but my vision was still clouded by memory.
Her eyes bored into the side of my head. Did she finally understand? Was she finally sensing my discomfort? "Where is he?"
No such luck. My stomach plummeted. She must have been blind, not to see the way I was acting. I swallowed thickly before answering. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Oh." She was still staring at me. "I'm sorry I brought it up." She placed a hand on my arm as she spoke, but I quickly shrugged it off.
There was silence for the next ten minutes or so until the SUV pulled into a large garage. If its size was anything compared to the main building, then the main building must have been huge. Even still, I hadn't noticed it as we drove in; I'd only seen a two-leveled building with non-descript decorations.