Time passed slowly in the perfect darkness of the truck. Dakota was able to find Luke, completely unresponsive but breathing shallowly, shortly after I was found. We'd been quiet for what felt like hours. I was drifting in and out of merciful sleep as Angel ran his fingers through my hair. There were distant sounds from outside; beeps, hisses, chirps, and other more foreign noises. It felt like a dream. When everything is shrouded in shadow, when absolutely no light can penetrate the shade, the lines between reality and imagination begin to blur. I thought I saw Kamil smiling at me from the opposite side of the car. He was wrapped up in his winter clothes, hair brushed and shining, eyes glowing warmly. His lips moved quickly, but I would hear what he was saying. I wanted to reach out to him. I needed to reach out to him. When I tried to lift my arm, it felt as if a heavy blanket had been draped over me. I didn't have the strength to fight off the feeling.
"Darren?" The voice was soft and shy. I was still staring tiredly at Nyoka who had started laughing mutely. The corners of my mouth, sticky from bloody spittle, quirked up ever so slightly. After a minute or so, the hallucination began to turn to black vapors, spiraling and snaking towards the ceiling until they filtered through the metal and disappeared.
I started to feel sick again. "Hmm?"
"You holdin' up ok?"
My mind began to wander away from the speaker's words. I wasn't trying to understand him, wasn't even trying to figure out who it was. Little specks of light began to dance around the room. It was like a nebula was churning into existence. Blues, purples, pinks, yellows, all sorts of colors turning and twisting. I had past the point of feeling pain. My entire body was numb. I was beyond weak, so absolutely frail that just forming rational thought was exhausting. It was much easier to just revel in the nothingness of my broken mind.
My body was shifted slightly. I was just able to remember that it was Angel who was cradling me, soothing me, lulling me into calmness. "Dakota?" The mini stars around me began to pulse. "He's not answerin' me."
The celestial vision started to sway from side to side, all the tiny beams moving in perfect harmony. They started to buzz a low, bass laden tune. It was barely audible but it was completely mesmerizing. "Like, at all?" It began to rise in pitch, lighter, airer notes melding beautifully with the lower ones. Their song was lonely, mournful, but there was an air of hope in it. "Try again. Call his name." My personal galaxy was crying out a hymn of faith. They were coaxing me into their belief. They whispered to me, told me I was safe, hummed that I could rest now. I couldn't remember not being safe. I didn't understand what they were reassuring me of.
"Darren? Love?" A particularly bold little star strayed from his companions. He floated gingerly closer to my face, drifting lazily to one side before straightening out his path. "Can you hear me?" He landed weightlessly on the tip of my nose. I tried to stare at the baby sun, but he was too bright for my weary eyes. "Pet? C'mon, puppet, give me somethin'. Anythin'." Something slipped under my shoulders and pulled me up. The light silently blew off my face, flying dreamily back to his friends who welcomed him back with a content melody. "Dakota, he's soakin' wet."
"Fuck. Is it vomit or sweat or..."
The nebula began to grow dull, all the minuscule celestial bodies flickering with the last of their lives. "I think it's blood." They were almost all dead now. I watched sadly as my companion star blinked once, twice, then ceased to exist. "Shit, I know it's blood! He's dripping with soddin' blood!"
"Angel, you have to stay calm." There was movement around me once again. There was a hand on the back of my scalp, one around my shoulder, and after a few seconds past, another cupping my cheek. I let my eyes roll to the back of my head as I attempted to understand what was happening. "He is soaked..."
The next noise was harsh and close to my ear. It was ragged, sudden, a violent gasp. "He can't die! Not like this! He's strong and brave and too good to die in the back of a soddin' truck like an animal!"
"He's not going to die!" I gave up on trying to interpret the conversation. It was too loud, too frantic, too fast. Besides, Kamil was back. He was next to me, smiling like a proper gentleman. "We have to believe he'll get better-"
"Just because we want him to doesn't mean he will!"
The Nyoka was seated by my head. His knees were pulled to his chest, arms wrapped around them, head resting atop them. A cascade of ebony locks fell around his pristine face. His skin was flawlessly slate, dewy, and completely smooth. His dark lashes blinked seductively over his charcoal eyes as looked me over.
Something hot and wet dripped against my cheek. "Darren! Darren, wake up!" Kamil brought two of his fingers up to his pearly lips. He pressed them against his mouth tenderly, then lowered them toward my face. "Answer me!" The pads of his fingers brushed against my lips. It felt so real, like he was actually there with me. 'I have to go now, darling.' His voice was like molten liquid flowing through my mind. 'Listen to your friends. They can help you.' He pulled his hand away. I watched dully as he started to evaporate; body turning airy and dissipating into a strange mist. "Darren!" 'You must be strong. Fight for your life, for your freedom. We will be together again.'And just like that, he was gone.
"Angel, stop crying." The voices around me started to register in my mind. "I know you're upset, but... but you have to..." I recognized the speaker as Dakota. "You can't..." His voice hitched. "Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck! Who am I kidding! We're done! We're as good as dead now. Luke's pretty much gone, Darren's fucked, we're all gonna get put back into that fucking farm and we're never going to see the others ever again!" I furrowed my brow. Angel was bawling, his entire body was wracked by violent shudders and he swallowed down air in desperate gulps. He was holding me against his chest and was rocking me back and forth. The eldest teen was screaming, banging his fists against the floor. I thought I heard someone gasp behind me, but I couldn't say for certain. "Why are we even still alive? Huh? We're weak and stupid and we can't do anything without those damned Nyoka! We're worthless! We were better off in Maboi. We had a fucking purpose back there!" He'd snapped. All the stress, pressure, fear, and anxiety had finally gotten to the boy. "I can't take this anymore! I don't want to be alive. I just want all this bullshit to end. I hope they kill us! At least then we won't have to put up with his joke of a life anymore!" My head was spinning, but I was able to stay conscious enough to listen. I wanted to speak. There was a persistent itch in the back of my throat. It was coaxing me to calm the raging teen, to sooth him, so comfort him. "Hell, why wait? Why don't we all kill ourselves now? Let's follow Darren and Luke's lead and just end it all here. Let's bite off our tongues and drown in our blood! Hmmm? Or! Or maybe we could bash our skulls against the walls! We could all take turns beating each other to death. We could ram the back door open and jump. We could smother each other or break our necks or-"
"Stop." A few seconds passed before I realized the raspy, choked word had come from my mouth.
Dakota did what he was told. As soon as I'd spoken he'd shut his mouth with little more than a surprised squeak. I couldn't manage to say anything else, but it seemed that that one, single word was enough to snap the frantic boy back into reality.
The male rocking me had frozen in place. "Darren?" Angel whimpered. I could feel him lean forward slightly. He squeezed my shoulders gently and pulled me closer to his face. I was able to nuzzle my head weakly under his neck and puff out hot breaths against his skin. "Oh... Oh God, you're alive!" He brought one of his hands to the side of my face. He cupped my cheek, ran his fingers through my hair, traced the details of my nose and lips. Hot tears dripped against my scalp as the blonde broke into another sobbing fit, chest heaving with anguished breaths. "Don't do that to me, Darren." He rested his chin on the top of my head. "I really thought you were..."
"He's fine." Dakota's voice was distant and cold. I could vaguely picture his midnight black hair and mocha eyes, his face awash with confusion and hopelessness.
"Ya," Angel sniffled. He moved one of his hands over to wherever the elder teen was seated. "He's ok. See?" There was suddenly a palm pressing unsteadily against my cheek. "We don't need to panic. He's alright. We're all gonna be alright." Dakota's hand moved slowly across my skin until his fingers brushed my bottom lip. I nipped lightly at his digit, my teeth barely moving enough to scrape his flesh.
The small gesture was enough.
The ebony haired boy began to wail. He scuttled blindly to my other side, both his hands rubbing reassuring circles into my temples. I was sandwiched between the two teens, one sobbing out an apology, the other mumbling too quietly to be understood. Just those few minutes of concentrating on my surroundings were enough to completely exhaust me. Strange shapes and colors were beginning to dance across field of vision. They were trying to pull me away from reality and back into my trance like state. It took all the will power I had not drift away; as much as I wanted to escape the ugly reality I was faced with, the other boys needed support. I kept Kamil's words close to heart. I wasn't going to give up, not without a fight. If simply keeping myself awake could help us reunite, I'd gladly never sleep again.
There was a loud pop from outside, followed by a low hiss and the vehicle slowing significantly. I blinked dumbly up at Angel even though he wasn't visible. The blonde tensed slightly. "We... Stopped?"
"Seems like it." Noah voiced from somewhere behind us.
"Is this it? Are we here?" He paused for a moment before adding, "Wherever 'here' is?"
Dakota pressed himself closer to me. "I don't know."
We all sat in silence once again.
Thanks to Rogue Energizer Bunny, aeonfox, LundonW, BloodyJam, November Snow, captainmoosen, NormaJean Beausoleil, . , heartstrings91, LittleMonster13, SheWhoWatchesSilently, Cha-chi Monster, A-Mermaids-Tear1398, Candyseo, DeadRedGirl, Escaping November, LoveIsDead98, Joshua Harper, and AbsolutlyAqualicious for reviewing!
*Scratches back of head* Thank you all so much for sticking with this story through all my weird update schedule changes. I'm leaving on the 8th for two weeks (Not sure if I'll be able to update during that time, but I'll try!) to go to a film program, I return home for a week, then fly off to Japan for two weeks (Once again, I'll only be able to update if the hotels have free Wifi). I'm super excited but it's gonna change up this schedule even more. What does this mean? I'm going to be uploading chapters ASAP in the time I'm at home. So if there's a constant stream of updates that suddenly stop, DON'T PANIC! I'll update as soon as I'm able. I'm not giving up on this story!
Also, all your OC's will be appearing very soon. I'll PM all you lovely's who submitted characters with my final decisions on who I will be using (Many people submitted multiple characters and as much as I wish I could use them all, there's just not enough plot to go around! But everyone who sent me a character will have at least one OC represented in the story).
Addressing repeat questions and reactions: No, this is not the end of the story. Yes, I am sadistic; my characters will always be subject to my cruel mind. Darren baby needs cuddles, Angel might need some tea, and THE TWINS ABJBWEUBLEWBEBWOUF~
A-Mermaids-Tear1398: You can play with Salaam for as long as you'd like! Just make sure his daddies know where he is at all times. They are very protective of their baby.
Joshua Harper: "Does your race have any myths, legends, religions, things of that sort?" Kamil: Yes, we certainly do. Creation stories, tales of great battles, but oddly enough no religion. Some Nyokans chose to idolize things such as our dual suns, stars, or other natural phenomenons, but there is no set church. I believe it has to do with the fact that my planet is one built on the need to dominate others. It would not be fitting with our culture if there were a higher power that we could never control.