Full Summary: 2 Guardians, 7 Clues, 6 months. Thomas Dekker was chosen for this role as Guardian -the one boy that would stand out against the others and lead his humanoid race to survival and victory- when he was just a young, eight year old boy. He wasn't extraordinary or special than any of the others, yet he was chosen. After a brutal attack on his home planet, Scheia, Thomas is the only hope left for his people when nearly half of Scheia's population are killed or taken hostage by the Lydirians -an enemy race who seek to destroy the powerful, strange creatures of Scheia who are afraid of being overthrown and weak. His fellow Guardian was killed during this same invasion and now he is their light in the darkness. That is, until Charlotte Ross, mother of the female Guardian, comes barging in during a serious meeting about giving up to the Lydirians so their attacks won't be so brutal against them. She gives them the message saying she knows where their female Guardian is and hides a dark secret that revelation of it can put her in serious trouble with their government, Scheian Security. With this news, Thomas and his best friend, Gabriel Duncan, are set on an adventure to Earth to find and locate the missing Guardian.
Along the way, a future-seeing elder tells them of a small group of teenagers with extraordinary abilities that reside in a safehouse on Earth, sent there along with an outcast Scheian to guard and protect this Guardian secretly by the same person who sent her there. Many trials lie ahead of them as they venture out into a world unknown. Some find love, some solve mysteries about their past that they may have never known if Thomas and Gabriel have never came to Earth. All while on a deadline: If Tom doesn't come back with the Guardian and train their little army in a matter of six months, they will be stripped of their abilities and their planet will forever be in turmoil, leading to an awful extinction of their race by the hand of the Lydirians.
Follow this extraordinary group of teenagers as they journey to find themselves while also knowing that this battle that they have been preparing for nearly all their life could be the end of their destiny for them. For many, the one question lies ahead of them as they make their place in this war: Life or Death?
"Hey, you think they'll have any of those chocolate ball things after this? Those things are awesome!" Young Gabriel Duncan whispered towards his best friend with a cocky smile, earning a flick in the ear from his mother and a chuckle from his older brother.
Thomas smiled at his friend as they all stood in a line in the Square. Today was the day the planet has been waiting years for. Another Guardian to match the young girl that was going to share this heavy responsibility and destiny with a lucky Scheian boy. Scheia was the name of the planet Thomas's race inhabited many years ago when a particular scientist's reviving experiments had gone completely wrong. The origin of their race was vague and knew only basic details. They were an unwanted creation and banished to a thriving, secret planet with no connection towards Earth. It was strange to think so of an entire humanoid race that had branched from two people; a man and a woman were the key ingredients of what made an entire, secret kind of creatures. No one remembers the two people –called Originals by Scheians— and why they chose the name of their home, but they soon found that was of no importance when a threat began to build.
Apparently, they were not the only strange creatures in the universe. They were a vile, dangerous race that inhabited a neighboring planet called Lydiria. Ever since the beginning of Scheian life, each and every one of the Lydirians made it their life's will to see the end of this new and strange power. They didn't see them as people or anything close to the sort, just something they needed to terminate before it got out of hand. It didn't matter if they were elderly, children, fathers, or mothers, it meant nothing to them. The Lydirians were born with unique, superhuman abilities and bones practically like metal, one little thing the two races' had in common.
Some Scheians were gifted with extraordinary abilities though, making them more of a threat to the Lydirians. The first Scheian to be gifted with such abilities was a young girl named Maggie Grace. She was nine years old when she awoke to a very vivid dream and found the same dream coming to life days later. It was a simple thing, but the fact that it was a copy of her dream, down to the last and smallest detail, is what brought it to the Scheian Security's –the "government" of Scheia— attention. Some followed after her and they soon found that more were starting to show that same unique ability. Many were gaining such abilities at the age of nine years old, same as Maggie. They started a small academy that was fully focused on helping the children gain control of their abilities. There was no official name for the building, but many just referred to it as The Academy.
Maggie Grace was the same girl that became the oldest Scheian and was also the Observer, meaning she could see great visions of the future. One day, many years ago, she came across one particular vision that caused a great commotion and fear amongst the Scheians. She saw their peaceful planet being invaded and completely destroyed and engulfed in flames by the hands of the Lydirians until two beings appeared. They were both young, that she could tell by the figures and young voices, and they were of opposite gender. They would bring peace and stability back to Scheia and guard and protect them from any threat or danger. She could see the entire plot play out before her. Starting on the eve of their seventeenth birthday they'd be racing against the clock. They'd train in a matter of six months to fight and defeat the leader of the Lydirians, who is now a male named Tilek Mareen. They would have six months exactly or they would be stripped of the very thing that makes them different from a human. Doing so would leave them to be nothing but a human. It was a dangerous and risky responsibility, but many were brought up, raised, and believed that it would be a true honor to take on such responsibility.
That clear fact led eight year old Thomas Andrew Dekker at the square. Thomas, nicknamed Tom, was just one of the many Scheian boys that were lined up at the Square to be chosen for such a responsibility. Maggie was there to choose the exact boy that would best fit the role. They already had chosen the female role many years ago at her birth. Well, more like planned her role many years ago. To be a Guardian, they are to be of "impure" blood, meaning that one parent needs to be of complete Scheian blood and the other of complete human blood. The Guardians would be protectors of both Scheia and Earth; they would need both origins to fully understand both races. The fact that his mother, Amara, was a full-blood Scheian and his father, Lance, was human. Well, at least when he and his twin sister, Victoria, were born he was. He was transformed around the time that Amara was pregnant with his youngest sister, Lilliana nicknamed Lillie. That would put him right in the line with the other "half-bloods".
Tom's parents feared for him every second since his birth because of that possible fate. Usually, the leaders of Scheian Security would consult with Maggie about who would be the parents of the next possible Guardian and then decide on the best candidate and whoever best matched what was in Maggie's vision. They had done so with the female Guardian and with her parents, Charlotte and Nicholas Ross. Tom knew all about the story behind the couple and the great scare they gave that lead to S.S. stripping Charlotte of her teaching duties at the Academy her parents had been over. He didn't know all the details though because Amara never spoke of it to anyone. She and Charlotte were best friends and they had promised S.S. that they would never speak of the event to anyone.
Tom looked up at his mother who had now crossed her thin arms across her chest and bit the corner of her lip as Mr. Woodworth, the "President" of Scheian Security, made his usual speech about Scheia's past and the many things that made them different from any human. Her long blonde hair hung over her shoulders and the diamond pins placed carefully against the side of her head hinted that she hadn't thought much of dressing up on an event like this. She must've been too nervous to even fix her hair in the usual ponytail she always wore in the summer. Her bright blue eyes never left Maggie who sat patiently on the platform in front of them all as her old, green eyes searched the crowd, looking upon every boy's face she could find. No doubt she had the same question in her mind as all the mothers and fathers of the boys; would this child be the one?
Thomas slipped his small, calloused hand in his mother's and gave her a crooked grin, identical to his father's. She looked down at his fair, childlike face and grinned in return, placing a hand on his straight, shaggy black hair. He was an exact copy of his father, looks and all. He and Victoria had the same dark hair and green eyes as Lance, but Tom showed more and more everyday how much his personality and attitude matched Lance's. Victoria was much like their aunt, Lance's older sister, more every day. They both had a rather sour attitude when things didn't go their way or felt like they were being ignored, but they were sweet and caring when they wanted to be. Amara always had a time with her, especially when she made the statement to a three year old Lillie that their mother loved Tom more than them and barely loved the two. That took a long while of explanation and scolding to sort that out between the three kids.
Tom then looked over at his father who was holding Lillie in his arms and whispering something in her ear, causing the young girl to giggle repeatedly into his shoulder. Amara would bump his hip with hers every now and then, but it'd usually start right back up some minutes later so she decided to just forget it and hope that they didn't get too loud. Tom searched his father's face, taking in every single detail. Though he was well in his thirties, he still had a childlike face, but with chiseled features. He had a strong, stubbled jaw and pale, round lips. His skin was tan and his light green eyes were the only thing that shown any color on his face. His lashes were dark, but short, matching his short dark hair. All three kids had the same fair, china-doll skin like their mother and Lance often stood out from the others. Lillie's light blonde hair was curled nicely and decorated with a large butterfly clip on the back of her head as she was nestled in his arms, looking back at the crowd behind them. Lillie was an exact replica of their mother and it was strange how much they looked alike; Amara actually compared her old baby pictures to Lillie's and found it was like a photo-copy. Lance always said that she was lucky to have such a beautiful Mommy to give her good-looks, though Amara just rolled her eyes while blushing.
Tom very much admired his father, like any young boy would. He was always studying him and observing his actions and reactions. When Lance would step in and immediately help Amara carry in her full-load from the clothes shop she worked and managed into the house. The next day, he'd be at her heels, offering to carry something for her even if she was just moving Lance's work clothes from the couch where she folded them. Everyone that knew the family always remarked at how alike they were and he made it his duty, even at such a young age, to be exactly like his father in everything he did. Although, apparently, calling his mother "Baby" wasn't appropriate. It was a good thing he was too young to understand that fully though, but he knew now just to call her Mama.
As Tom stood next to his family, his best friend Gabriel "Gabe" Duncan stood at his left. He had known Gabe for many years now and they soon found to be best friends. Gabe was what some would call lower-class because his father didn't have an important job in Scheian Security like most did. Gabe's father, Daniel, worked with Billy Goodwin and helped him clear out land every day. He made an honest living, but because he rejected Mr. Woodworth's offer of training the children at The Academy, some frowned upon him. He didn't care though; all he cared about was his wife, Isla, and their two boys, Taylor and Gabriel.
Taylor was the oldest of the family by three years. He was twelve years old and often the head of the house whenever their parents weren't home. Taylor was a rather "show-off" to his younger brother, but that didn't mean he cared about him and wouldn't punch somebody in the nose if they insulted him. Taylor was also the only one in his family that completely looked like their father; they had matching dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. Their mother had tan skin and dark brown eyes with dark hair. Gabe resembled his father in looks, but had the same tan skin and dark hair and eyes as their mother. Taylor liked to tease him by saying that he looked like a girl instead of a boy like he did. Everything seemed to be a competition with him, but both Taylor and Gabe knew that he was just trying to make his little brother tough. Gabe was always the weaker and scrawny one of the family, so he was always trying to prove himself to his big brother.
Gabe, thankfully for him, wasn't going to be the baby of the family after a while, though. Isla was about three months pregnant at this time. It was a surprise to them all, especially since this baby was going to have such older siblings, but they soon learned to love the new member that was getting closer and closer to her due date. Especially Taylor, he loved being an older brother so seeing a new little sibling to take care of was like Christmas to him. Taylor admitted to his brother once that he hoped it was a girl, while Gabe wished it was a boy. He said that it was his turn to be the show-off older brother. Taylor just laughed at the idea though; he was almost one hundred percent certain that they were going to have a little sister.
Tom remembered what his friend was saying to him and scooted over slightly and leaned towards him, "I dunno, but I know if they have the caramel stuff I'm takin' it home." He said with a sly smile.
Gabe grinned, "The first one to the dessert table gets first choice!" He said, holding out his fist and gesturing towards him.
Tom nodded his head once with a grin, "Deal, hope ya like leftovers." He said with a fake-mocking tone.
Gabe just rolled his eyes. "Whatever, be prepared to watch me eat all your little caramel things, bud." He said, trying to pop his knuckles, but ending up rubbing them after pressing down too hard.
Tom just chuckled as Amara reached over and pulled him closer to her, muttering that he should pay attention instead of chatter all the time.
Mr. Woodworth had finished his usual speech and was helping Maggie stand from her seat behind him, leading her to the podium as everyone was dead quiet. Even Gabe lost his grin completely and Isla had an arm around both of the boys' shoulders, one standing on either side of her.
Tom watched as Maggie tried to brush back her wild, gray curls and took in a deep breath. She had done this many times before when they thought that they would find their male Guardian. Though, she always seemed like she so nervous each time. For some reason he couldn't explain, Tom found comfort in her nervousness. She was still just like any of the other Scheians and not some big-wig member of S.S. Her ability still scared him though; his biggest fear was himself making a guest appearance in one of her famous visions.
Before she finally composed herself and started talking, her eyes fell upon Tom's. This surprised him since they were standing rather far back and her elderly, failing eyes were the first ones that caught his pale green. His heart stopped for a moment and he forgot how to breathe, finding being stuck in her gaze like time had stopped. There was a look of realization, surprise, and then concern that flashed in her eyes as she studied the boy's small figure and innocent, childlike face. Tom broke her gaze from him as he looked up at Amara, feeling her grasp on his frail shoulders tighten as she looked up at Maggie; she obviously realized the same thing that Maggie must have.
Tom was silent as he stared down at the ground underneath him, studying the dried grass and rocks and pebbles as Maggie's soft voice echoed around them all. Tom thought he heard a pin drop as he noticed everyone around him stiff and silent.
"Well, it seems like it's another one of these days, isn't it? The day where fear, worry, and excitement are all balled up into one emotion as we all stand around the beautiful Square in Scheia. I have been here many times before in my lifetime and had to look around at all the young faces. I will be honest with you, it is a scary thing. Especially for mothers. To think of your baby boy or baby girl out there in a dangerous world where death or injury could be waiting for them at any second and at any corner. But, there is some pride in it too. Your precious child, your gift from above, is a hero and will be treated and respected as one. They would never fear about the common things we all fear about. They would be powerful and courageous. Also, at this time, I would like to give my thanks and respect to the wonderful mothers and fathers of Scheia. It is with your courage and braveness that we have wonderful candidates for our Guardians.
"Now, I suppose I'll speak to the children. I know this may seem like a scary thing to some, but it is nothing to be afraid of. You'll still be you and you'll grow up like any other child you see around here. Yes, they may look at you a little funny after, but you will never stop being the person that makes you you. Like our sweet little girl here," Maggie paused to raise an arm slightly and gestured towards the young girl sitting on the other side of Maggie. Red blushed through her cheeks and gave her color under her fair skin. Tom had seen her once or twice around town, but never learned her name, "she was chosen since the day she was born and she still lives with her parents in the house outside of town. She has a little brother like many of you do; she is normal.
"You see, things may be different after I call one your names in a minute, but I just want you to know that each and every one of you is important. You will all play a vital role in the victory of Scheia. You don't have to be a Guardian or be a part of the 'high-class' of people to be important. You are all gifted, strong, and able and I honestly cannot wait to see the magnificent things that wait in your future."
Maggie paused again as she looked around at the crowd. At this time, the girl that sat with Maggie stood and walked over to her side. Her brown curls bounced against her shoulders as she nervously stepped towards her. The small high-heels she wore were new to her so she had a rather hard time walking straight in them. Tom looked over as Gabe tried to hide a chuckle at the way she slightly stumbled as she stopped beside Maggie. Isla pinched his ear, immediately silencing and scolding him at the same time and Tom had to hide his grin as he looked forward again.
Maggie wrapped an arm around the young girl's shoulders and slightly bent down to whisper in her ear. Everyone was silent once again as the girl muttered a name over and over again to herself. Obviously, it appeared that Maggie had whispered the male Guardian's name to the girl to announce and she was making sure she absolutely knew the name before Maggie lowered the microphone towards the girl's mouth.
Tom felt his heart stop once again as Amara grasped Tom even tighter, the same as many mothers were doing. Even after Maggie's short speech, everyone was still scared about the decision that was going to be made before them all. He looked over at Gabe and Taylor, seeing Isla whisper something to the two of them to hear. It must've been the same thing that Maggie had been saying a second ago, just in case. Tom could see the girl calling out either Gabe or Taylor's name. They were definitely well qualified for the role.
He looked back at the platform as the girl took in a deep breath and wrapped her small, bony fingers around the base of the microphone, finding the courage to even say a word as she glanced over at her parents who were standing off the side of the platform, watching their daughter as they calmed the little boy who was trying to kick one of the chairs they had set aside.
Tom stared at the girl as she opened her mouth to speak, taking in another breath as she tried to gain the courage once again that had just flowed from her as she gripped the microphone with both hands now, closing her eyes from the large crowd.
"The next Guardian is….T-Thomas Andrew Dekker!" She stuttered nervously, finally.
Tom felt his heart drop into his stomach as Amara's arm went limp against his shoulder. The girl's young voice kept echoing in his ears, but he still couldn't believe that she had said his name. Had she or did he just hear wrong? Maybe that was the case and the other person whose name was called was in shock as he had been. Tom prayed for that to be true, but as he looked over at Gabe, he knew that she was wrong.
Gabe's eyes were wide in shock as he looked over at his friend, searching Tom's face for any kind of expression or reaction from this announcement. Tom felt as though everyone's eyes were on him when they were really just searching around, looking for this boy who had just been called out. Tom had no idea what to do and his feet were stuck to the ground underneath him like he had stepped in wet cement. He stole a glance up at his parents and he noticed the appearance of a tear barely hanging onto his mother's eyelid as Lance whispered something in her ear, Lillie now standing on her own two feet next to Victoria. Victoria had a wary expression on her face as she ignored her younger sibling's numerous questions about what was going on and why everyone was so quiet and surprised.
"Thomas, dear? Can you make yourself known to us?" Maggie asked with a kind voice after adjusting the microphone to its previous position and searched the crowd, finding the boy's eyes once again with a friendly smile.
Many followed the woman's gaze and looked back at him, causing Tom's heart to start back up again and beat rapidly against his rib cage.
Lance stepped towards him and grabbed him from his underarms and placed him carefully on his shoulders, earning an angered look from his wife as she grasped his shoulder, squeezing slightly as the tear that had been hanging for dear life began to give up and slide down her fair cheek.
Lance looked down at her, giving her a concerned, yet authoritative look. Tom thought how strange it was that his parents seemed to have some kind of secret and silent conversation with each other whenever they thought something was happening. Lance always had a different opinion or view than his mother who was always known as the worrier. She always saw the worst out of everything when it wasn't something she would normally do. Lance always believed in giving something a try, or second chance. They were complete opposites sometimes while also being completely the same.
"Ah, there you are. Wonderful! Why don't you come on up to the platform with us. I promise you we won't bite." Maggie said as she saw the boy lifted on his father's shoulders and Tom lifted his hand shyly for a moment then returned it to the top of his father's dark hair.
As Lance placed Tom back on his feet, Amara grabbed Lance's arm and stared at him with fear in her eyes, "You can't just let him go up there…This just can't be happening!" She whispered to him, trying to find some kind of answer or hope behind his clear, green eyes.
Lance just grinned half-heartedly, encouraging her to trust the boy and Maggie. He knew how much she worried for Tom, he felt the exact same and didn't really want this kind of future for his son, but he knew resisting or denying was ridiculous. The decision was already made and there was no use trying to change it. What was decided is decided and there's no going back.
Lance then looked down at Tom and gave him an encouraging grin, pressing his hand against the space between his shoulder blades, pressing him to go on through the crowd.
Tom nodded and gulped down the fear as he found his feet moving slowly before he even gave them the command. His heart pounded in his chest as he watched some of the parents drag their children out of his walkway, giving him enough room to walk through them. There were some familiar faces amongst the crowd that he usually saw on a daily basis, but somehow it was completely different seeing them like this. He had never thought of himself as anything besides a common Scheian boy. He or his family had never done anything extravagant before and they were just normal. They never really stood out from any of the others like some other kids that he thought would be good candidates for this responsibility. He hadn't even gained his abilities like the other Guardian had. She was the only Scheian in history that was born with abilities. The girl was unique and special and the complete opposite of him.
As he slowly made his way up to the front with the others, he looked up at the girl that he was probably going to get well acquainted very soon and for some reason, the fact scared him. That meant his life was going to change. He was still trying to get used to the idea that he was the male Guardian, let alone imagine a whole new life with someone he's never even really met before. They always said that the Guardians would share a special bond, but looking up at this girl, he felt nothing but fear and worry.
Maggie stretched out a hand towards him as he stepped on the deep, narrow steps and helped him upon the flat, high platform. He looked over at the crowd and felt what the girl must have felt when she was trying to announce his name just moments before. His stomach tied in knots and he suddenly forgot how to breathe and speak as he looked upon the many faces of the families in the crowd.
As Tom made his way across the stage towards Maggie and the girl, he reached back and tucked in the tail of his blue, button-up shirt into his tan slacks. His mother had told him repeatedly to make sure his shirt was tucked in at all times, but when he made it to the Square and found Gabe and Taylor, he completely forgotten and ignored the fact that his shirt tail had slipped out behind the waist of his pants. He gulped back fear once again as he now stood in front of Maggie, trying to find the courage to even speak to her or even look her in the eye.
She was a lot shorter than what he imagined; she only stood a few inches taller than what he was. He was tall for his age, but he figured that the woman would still tower him more than what she did. She placed her hands on his shoulders and leaned in to whisper something that only he would hear.
"Be prepared, Thomas. Otherwise, you'll wish you had." She said with a serious face with a twinkle of fear in her eyes.
Tom furrowed his brows suddenly feeling completely different about what was going on than what he had just minutes ago. He tried to process her words, but he couldn't understand what she meant. Was she referring to the future and if she was what was part of this future that he needed to be prepared for? What did she know that the others didn't? Had she said the same to the girl he stood beside now or was this a private message?
As Tom still tried to understand her words, Maggie grabbed the boy softly by the shoulders and turned him towards the crowd and gestured towards the girl who immediately obeyed her silent command and came to stand on the left of Thomas. Tom looked over at the girl beside him and she him. He just then noticed that she had nearly crystal blue eyes that shone like the light from a lighthouse. They were the same color as her father's. He remembered hearing some of the women at his mother's clothes shop remark how a human could have the eye color of the Healing Waters in Scheia.
The Healing Waters were an old Scheia legend that out deep in the woods there was the little pond of crystal blue water that should a Scheian be placed in it, they would heal any wound and even bring someone back to life, in the right amount of time. It would only work on Scheians though, full-blood or not. It was a rumor that someone from town actually found the Waters not too long ago, but nobody ever investigated it and it remained a rumor.
"Here we have it, both male and female Guardians. As I had said many years ago when I was just these children's ages, they are coming and with these two at our side, I believe that we will finally see victory!" Maggie announced to the crowd before them.
There was a moment of silence as the large crowd of people tried to decide how they felt about this before an eruption of applause echoed around them. Tom looked down as he saw many smiles and even a thumbs-up from Daniel in the back. The fear that was most evident since he heard his name was beginning to wash away as he felt a slow grin creep across his face. He wasn't sure if he was just getting a big head with all this attention, but it actually almost felt right to be up there. Looking down at all the smiling faces and hearing the applause around him. He knew that would probably change as the real reason he was chosen would meet him, but he was trying to soak in this happiness as much as he possibly could.
While Tom looked around the crowd, the girl stepped closer to him and tugged on his shirt sleeve. Her glossy, dark red nails clashed against his light blue fabric as he looked down at his arm and then up at her face. He could see that she wore a light pink lip-gloss for this occasion which wasn't a normal thing; along with her white and black dress and silver dress shoes. Her eyes fought his and he could see the exact same fear twinkling behind her crystal eyes as it had in Maggie's.
"Enjoy it while you can, Thomas. The clapping will end." She said in a soft tone, before Maggie softly steered her away from the boy as Mr. Woodworth came over, gesturing the two children to follow him.
Tom continued to look at the girl as she followed the heavy, older man with graying-brown hair; her hands were folded nicely against her lap as she walked gracefully towards the others. Tom could just tell that she was practically their robot, obeying every single command they gave her. She was probably raised by the S.S. leaders to do exactly that. Tom feared if he would be the same way, doing whatever they told him to do without a second thought.
As another man that he had never seen before came and snapped Tom out his thoughts, he followed him nervously as he took him and the girl behind the large platform and around the nearest building, hidden from everyone behind a large, gray curtain. He tried to keep close to Maggie and the girl, but he found different people tugging him along and straightening either his hair or clothes. He felt like he was the ball in a tennis match, going one direction and then another and back and forth for the longest direction.
Tom spun around at the sound of his mother's voice as she practically ran ahead the others, jogging towards him. Some of the men that had drug him off the stage and had been giving him a million congratulations and suggestions stepped in front of her before Mr. Woodworth came over and spoke to them silently. This was all happening so fast; Tom just wanted to go back to this morning where things were normal.
He knew what was going on; they were getting him ready for the Celebration Banquet after the announcement that he and Gabe had been talking about before his name was called. They always had one after meetings like this, his mother told him about the one they had for the girl when she was born. He was there since the girl was about a month or two older than he was. They were apparently supposed to say a few words about taking on this role, but Tom had no idea what was going on at the moment let alone what to do later on. He hoped that he could speak to that girl at some point and hopefully get some pointers from her. He could definitely feel that happiness wash away as it was replaced by…well, fear, honestly.
"Are you alright? Are you okay?" Amara immediately said as she knelt down in front of him, placing her hands on either side of his face after Mr. Woodworth explained to his family that they were just doing their job and meant no offense to them.
Tom moved his mother's hands away as she tried to fix his hair and shirt again with a sigh, "Yes, Mom. I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be? I'm just…scared, really." He said, looking into his mother's kind face.
A look compassion immediately flashed across her face as she placed on hand on his cheek and sorrowfully sighed, not knowing what to really say to him. She couldn't believe that this was happening; she never would have believed that her baby boy would be the one that would risk his life for the people of Scheia. It's not that she didn't think him capable of such a role, she just never wanted to think of him like that. She never wanted to spend every day wondering and worrying herself sick if she was ever going to see him again with the daring missions she knew he'd soon be forced to do under Scheian Security's orders.
Lance stepped and helped Amara straighten as he leaned down to look Tom in the eye as he placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, bud, there's no need to be scared, now. Yes, thinking about it can be a little scary, but it's only scary to the cowards. The ones who feel they won't be able to do what everyone suspects. Don't think like that, okay? I can already tell that you're going to be a strong, brave leader, bud. Don't let them change you. If you feel that isn't the right move then don't make it. They say you're going to be a leader in some big army one day, don't let them treat you like the servant. Can you deal on it?" He said, looking him straight in the eye with a stern look on his face and offered his fist towards him with a slight grin.
Tom soaked in the words his father said. The way he understood it, he was basically saying that he shouldn't be like that girl. She was supposed to be some big leader too, right? Instead of getting the respect she must have deserved, she was their servant and dress-up doll for every event they held. Tom didn't want to be like that and Lance especially didn't want that kind of future for his son. Tom nodded twice and pressed his fist against his father's.
"Deal." He said simply with a matching grin as Lance reached up and ruffled his dark curls, much to Amara's displeasure.
He grinned as Amara immediately set after fixing his hair as it had been done previously and followed him as one of Mr. Woodworth's men ordered both Tom and the girl to follow them over to the back of the building where they would be put in preparation for the Banquet. Tom figured that that was his best chance to ask the girl for advice.
It took hours to prepare Tom and the girl, Natalie, maybe, if he remembered right. They stood behind the curtain of inside the large ballroom-like room and Natalie constantly looked over at him. Ever since he told her of his worries she had been watching him like a hawk. He knew she was just concerned, but he regretted telling her now. He never liked it when people thought him weak or look at him with pity.
Natalie basically told him to tell them something they'd want to hear, what he'd want to hear, almost all the time unless the situation called for the absolute truth. He still didn't know what to say though and wished he had some kind of script he could read off of instead of improvise. He wished he could have talked to Natalie more before than what he had. He found the time to speak in front of everyone growing near as he heard Mr. Woodworth ask for their attention.
Natalie looked over at him and forced a sympathetic, yet encouraging grin, "Relax. Trust me; it's a lot easier than you're making it out to be. You don't even have to say a lot, just a few words to give them some hope or something." She said softly to him, trying to get him to understand that this role wasn't as big and mighty as he thought it to be. Although, that was just from her opinion; she had been in this business since birth.
"I think I can gladly say that we are truly blessed to have such wonderful candidates as our Guardians. Both of their parents' play important roles in the security, stability, growth, and even health of our home. I expect many great things to come in our future with them leading us, together. Now, I'll finally shut up and let our newest Guardian speak for himself. Thomas…" Mr. Woodworth said, quickly wrapping up his speech as he halfway turned to the curtain behind him and heard the scuffs of feet against cold, cemented ground.
Tom looked up as a woman with flaming orange hair placed a hand on the space between their shoulder blades and softly pushed them towards the side of the stage where the curtain stopped and allowed entrance for the two. He felt his heart pound as he looked out to Mr. Woodworth who encouraged them forward with a wave across the stage.
Natalie grabbed his hand before he could resist as she practically drug him at her side, "Sorry 'bout this. They just eat this stuff up though; Maggie says it's best to look like some sort of team or something." She quickly explained as they crossed the stage, hearing a round of applause upon their entrance.
Tom didn't say anything but looked out at the crowd. It was the same crowd, but the same gut-wrenching nervousness didn't go away. Before, he had thought it felt right to stand on a stage like that, but now he was seriously reconsidering it. He tried to spot his mother and father's face, but couldn't see them. He could see his little sister, Lillie, as she sat on their father's shoulders, waving happily at him. Lillie was always with Lance; ever since she was born she and Lance were like glue. If Mama ever told her "no" to her request, she'd immediately crawl in Daddy's arms and agree with how mean Mama was being. He'd eventually get her to do exactly what Amara wanted her to do after a while, but they shared a special bond like Tom seemed to with his mother.
"Thomas, come to the center and tell us what you think of this new role." Mr. Woodworth said after the applause had died down and gestured him towards the microphone with a grin.
Tom gulped down fear that was caught in his throat as he looked over at Natalie who gave him a nod and a matching encouraging grin that was identical to the one that was spread across Mr. Woodworth's mouth. Taking in a deep breath, he slowly found his feet moving again without his command as he marched towards the center of the stage.
It was actually easier to stand before them now than it was at the Square. With the lighting focused on the stage, it was actually harder to look out on the crowd. He could see some shapes and figured of those standing in the back and Tom swore he saw Gabe's small figure behind the dessert table, snatching off the delicious treats from the table and stuffing them in his pocket. Everything that that boy found always went in his pocket. Sometimes Tom felt sorry for Isla when it came to laundry duty. Behind Gabe, he saw a mysterious group of Scheians standing off near the exit. Tom furrowed his brows for he had never seen them before. Apparently, security didn't know of their appearance either since they seemed to be in a quiet argument.
He tried to shake that off, but he couldn't stop watching them as everyone waited for the boy to speak. Mr. Woodworth nudged him once and said something in his ear, but Tom wasn't paying attention anymore. He was too busy watching the larger man of the group push Richard, Mr. Woodworth's main assistant. Something was wrong, he could feel it. Natalie must have felt it too since she reached over and grasped his hand, staring across at her parents that waited for her behind the stage.
He followed her gaze and found Charlotte's worried expression as she conversed with someone behind stage. Apparently, they weren't the only ones who noticed this disturbance. Someone was sent to check-up on the matter.
"Thomas, boy, don't be shy now. We're all looking forward to what you have to say," Mr. Woodworth said snapping him out of his trance and made him come back to reality and why he was even on the stage.
Tom shook his head once and looked up at the older man with a dazed expression, "Oh, um, yeah, sorry 'bout that. Still hard to believe, you know?" He started with a half-hearted grin, trying to lighten the tension that was already growing around the room.
Tom was completely torn away from his speech as he looked back at the group of people in the back, noticing one woman now sprawled out on the floor in a large puddle of blood. Screams could be heard as Tom caught the eyes of the man that had just murdered one of Maggie's assistants. He was frozen in place as he stared into the soulless, coal black eyes of the strange, pale man. It was like he could see what had just happened and it replayed many times before Tom's young, innocent eyes. The men around him spread out and began attacking many of the party guests, but Tom was glued in place as the man stared at him as if he was his prey. He most likely was, but Tom had never seen someone like him before.
"Tom! Thomas! We have to go, c'mon!" Natalie yelled as she pulled on his arm, trying to get him to move with her.
Tom glanced over at her and at the same time he saw a red-headed man with a strange accent drag Natalie's father away with him. Natalie's eyes shone with panic and fear as they both were center-stage, watching their friends and families being wiped out completely in front of them. The cries and screams of some of the kids he had grown up with echoed in his ears. Some continued screaming and some didn't; they were completely abrupt as they were ripped away from their mother or father.
Mother and father…Tom's eyes searched the crowd as Natalie was finally able to drag him off the stage with her, her feet shuffling on the waxed, polished floor underneath them. He tried to find his mother's light blonde hair amongst the crowd but couldn't find anyone, none that matched his mother, that is. He could see Lillie with Victoria far in the back with Gabe, hiding behind an upturned table. Even from the front he could hear her sobs as she cried out for their father.
"Mom! Dad!" Tom screamed out as he felt new arms grab him once they were completely behind the stage. From his peripheral vision, he could see that Mr. Woodworth's security was busy pushing everyone outside through the backdoors, trying to get them to safety as everyone pushed and shoved their way out of the building, hoping to get away from the danger of the strange group.
"Thomas! Thomas, I'm coming!"
Tom spun around and saw his father's figure as he clutched to Amara's hand, forcing her to get out of the building and let him go. He could see the tears streaming down her face as Isla stood behind her, begging her to come with her as Daniel had a hold of Taylor's arm and was shouting Gabe's name in panic.
As Tom stood there, unmoving in the chaos happening around him, he had no idea what to do, how to react. This had all come so sudden and to see all these people that he was now destined to save murdered in front of him made him feel guilty and weak. Maggie and Mr. Woodworth had just given a speech about how they were going to be great leaders in the near future and now he stood around and watched the people he loved and cared about die right in front of him like a coward.
His breathing was growing ragged as he felt panic quickly take over confusion as the situation was slowly warming up to him and he was really beginning to see the scenes happening around him. Natalie was nowhere in sight now as Nicholas held a sobbing Justin as he ran towards one of the opened doors. Now that he noticed, both Natalie and Charlotte had suddenly disappeared.
Tom looked down as he felt something different on his feet, something thick and wet. His heart stopped beating when he saw the body of one of his friends from the Academy covered in blood, a large gash in his head that suggested he was beaten against a wall before being tossed aside. His heart raced as realization set in; these people were Lydirians, they had to be. No one else could be so cruel and violent besides them. But…How had they known about this? No one knew of this event until last night.
That very sentence snapped him out of his panic as his head darted in the direction the cry was heard. The first thing he noticed was Amara's blonde hair fly by like a white dart and salmon pink dress caked in blood and torn in some spots where someone must've tried to grab her before Lance destroyed them. The next thing shook his very soul. The white button-up shirt that he watched his father tuck in just hours ago was now soaking and dripping with blood as a tall, lanky figure sauntered away like he just didn't murder the very person Tom had looked up to since birth.
His feet took off before his brain even had the second to comprehend what was going on. All he could think about was the blood draining out of his father's body and pooling around his mother's weeping, crumbled figure as she bent over his chest, screaming and begging his deceased body things he could no longer promise her. He heard Lillie calling out as Victoria grabbed her and drug her towards Daniel and the boys.
Tom was so close to his father's body when he was snatched by two new arms wrapping around his chest and hurling him off his feet. His first thought was the Lydirian that had killed his father and immediately started kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs. He was sure that he had scratched the person's skin deep and hard enough to cause bleeding, but he never found out once he heard a familiar voice trying to gain his attention as he was being carried farther and farther away from his mother and deceased father.
"Thomas, it's me. Don't worry, you're safe now." Maggie said, trying her hardest to maintain the screaming, kicking child. It actually hurt her to struggle with him, but all she worried about was getting him to safety. Not just because he was the male Guardian, but because they couldn't lose any more people. They just couldn't. The loss was too many and too deep and Maggie could already see the worst coming in the future for the home she and everyone else loved deeply.
"Maggie! My dad! Mom! We can't-." He tried to say behind harsh sobs that shook his entire body as the realization of his father's death and many others was slowly sinking in. His vision was blurred with tears and all he wanted to do was crawl in someone's arms and pray that this was just a dream that he would soon wake out of. All he wanted to do was going back to this morning where everything was calm and normal. Where his father was still alive.
That last statement sent another wave of tears and sobs stronger than the one before. He didn't even notice that he was being passed into another pair of arms, one he didn't recognize. The sound of screams and abrupt cries filled his ears and he couldn't understand the words behind the voice that was directly above his head. Whoever it was was trying to tell him something or do something, but he couldn't make out the words.
The last thing he remembered before complete and total darkness was being nearly thrown down into some cellar-like room and looking over at the people he shared the room with. He could see his sisters, Gabe, Isla, and Justin, but that was it. Wait, where was his mother and the rest of Gabe's family? H-He was just with them a second ago, right?
Tom spun towards the opening right at the second a door was slammed on them, encasing them in darkness. After that, Tom only remembered his sisters at his side, Lillie bawling and sobbing harshly against Victoria's shoulder as he started to wipe away tears and bit his lip to keep the sobs from escaping. If he was right, all that was left of his family was the three and possibly their mother. Either way, he had to be the man of his family now. He couldn't show weakness or cowardice. He had already done so once tonight; he couldn't in front of his sisters that depended on him at this moment.
Tom didn't know when and how he fell asleep, but he knew that it had been for a while once someone came by and opened the door of the shelter they were in. The sun blared down at them and his immediately squinted against them, growling under his breath at the sight of it and the momentary sensitivity in the back of his eyes.
He looked over and noticed that Lillie was fast asleep against Victoria's lap, the latter wide awake as she tried to wake the younger sibling against her thigh. Gabe was completely silent and staring off into space, the same position he had last seen him in. Tom feared the worst for his best friend, practically brother, as he watched Isla whisper something low and inaudible with her hand pressed softly against her stomach. If Tom's fears were right, then his best friend and his family may be scarred more than ever. There were probably many people like Gabe right now scattered around Scheia.
"You guys alright down there? It's safe to come up now, if ya' want, I mean." Said a young man, probably in his teens, looking down at the small group huddled together on the hard, compact-dirt floor.
Lillie stirred and rubbed her eyes at the new voice and jumped in shock as she noticed her surroundings. She must've had the same exact thought Tom did when he first awoke; was that a dream or was it real? They were both met with the answer with a harsh sting of reality. Victoria immediately took her in her arms as new tears began to pool around her puffy, red eyes.
Gabe was already up and standing and helping his mother stand as Tom dusted himself off, noticing the dirt smudges on his slacks. He couldn't help but think how mad his mother would have been if the scenario was different. Although, he didn't even know if she was alive since the last time he saw her she was mourning the loss of the only man she'd ever loved.
Tom immediately stopped there, the mere thought brought a hurricane of hurt and he couldn't start crying now. He knew Victoria and Lillie depended on him to be stable for them. If his mother was out there, it was going to take her a while to get over something like this. He had to be a rock for them. He was a Guardian, after all. Wasn't that what he was supposed to be? A rock, a hope, when there is none? He just hoped he could actually fill that part of the role. He knew he probably already let down a bunch of people last night; he couldn't be like that anymore.
Lillie was the first to be lifted out, Victoria next. The teenager was making sure the children were out and safe before Isla and that left Gabe and Tom with Isla. Tom knew Gabe wasn't going to leave his mother's side at this time so he stepped in line, reaching out to the man's outstretched hand.
Just standing on his toes near the opening of the shelter, Tom could smell the familiar scent of burning wood and fresh dew on the grass. Tom wondered why anyone would be burning anything at this time, but as the teen began to lift him up with a grunt, he soon figured out why.
As Tom sat on his knees on the damp, yet singed grass, he looked around at the town he had called home all his life. He pictured the way all the little cottage-like homes stood proud in a line with beautiful flowers and lawn ornaments decorating the opened yards. He could remember stepping in the footprints of the men that had gone to work early as Billy and Daniel were already off working in the fields behind Billy's house. On days when Gabe was too young to be sent to The Academy with the others and Isla was with Taylor there, Daniel would bring little Gabe over as Billy's wife, Sheridan, kept him busy by playing in the front yard. Some of the most fun days he could remember were playing and wrestling in the front yard of Billy and Sheridan's home.
He remembered the bright sun on his face and exposed skin in the summer time and being able to play with all the other kids from The Academy. He could still remember the laughter and giggles that used to echo all around town and having candy-eating competitions with Gabe up in one of the trees around the park. Gabe always swore he didn't, but Tom was sure that he stole them from the bowls of the sweets shop.
Now, as he sat on the ground, all he could see were destroyed homes and trampled flowers. With the help of sunlight, Tom could see faint blood splatters against some homes and even toys scattered around the ground. There were some long, deep indentations in the ground that shown dragging. Tom didn't want to think of who could have been the victim of that as terrified screams from last night filled his ears. He didn't want to think of what sadistic Lydirian had made his victim suffer before he finally ended them, giving Tom the audio of another haunting, abrupt sob in his mind.
There were some bodies piled around a bonfire and Tom immediately knew what it was for. Apparently, not every single Lydirian got away with what they had done. Tom wondered if the Lydirian that killed his father had been in that pile. Had his father's death been avenged like someone's must have? Or did the suspect run away punishment-free? The very thought of it sent heated anger in the pit of his belly as he stared at the bodies piled on top of one another. Apparently, no one else thought they had deserved the right for a proper burial.
"Dad, Taylor! No!"
Gabe's sorrowful cry snapped him out of his bitter thoughts and he immediately stood up, not even bothering to wipe off the dirt from his dew-soaked, dirty pants. He followed the direction of his cry and saw the curly-headed boy sprinting towards a spot in the nearest field where small groups of women and children huddled together. What broke his heart was the makeshift crosses that were placed carefully and respectfully in the ground. Tom watched as a toddler stumbled over to one cross and placed a dandelion on the grave, placing a kiss on the dandelion before placing it lovingly down.
He hung his head when he saw Gabe fall to his knees in front of two crosses. He could barely make out the names, but he knew what happened. Nobody had to tell him or explain. It was the same thing that happened to his father. All they were trying to do was escape and make sure their family was safe. For that, the Lydirians thought best to murder them. Both Daniel's and Taylor's name were printed neatly on the center of the cross while a small rock pattern divided the cross from the cold dirt underneath. Tom bit down on his lip when he felt more tears and sobs threatened to appear in his eyes and in the back of his throat, the latter growing tighter and tighter as memories of growing up with Taylor came flashing around his mind.
Daniel was like his second father, now, he had absolutely no father to look up to. No one to watch to see how he was supposed to act as he grew into a man. Neither Lance nor Daniel was there to give him advice or tell him how he was supposed to grow up. Who would be there to help him lead these people as he grew older and give him the assurance and confidence that he was actually doing right. Lance's words immediately came to mind as the last thought began to pass through his mind.
"Thomas! Oh, thank God you're alright!" Amara called out, relief mixed with sorrow ringing in her voice.
Tom spun around and saw his mother with Victoria and Lillie, the latter clinging to her neck and sobbing into her shoulder as she sat on her knees, an arm around them both when she spotted her young son standing near the graveyard.
Tom didn't give it another second's thought before sprinting towards her, wishing to be given some peace about this whole situation. Amara seemed to have a way of making the worst of situations disappear from your mind for a little while just by her sweet embrace. Well, at least for Tom it did. He wasn't sure if it was just because she was his mother, but he didn't care at this moment. His mother was here and alive. One less thing to mourn over, though there seemed to be millions of them. Everyone's lives were really over, in all honesty. The Lydirians had broken through their security and defenses. They may be safe for now, but who knew how long that was going to be. It was just a matter of time before they decided to attack again.
"About three dozen were taken and about two dozen counted dead. There's no telling what the real official number is on everything, but it's not good. We lost a lot of able bodies and good men. Lydirians got just what they wanted; a weak enemy to conquer. Now with Natalie gone-." Tom heard one of the men talking with Mr. Woodworth about the aftermath of it all some feet away from them and Natalie's name made his head perk up and peer over at them and he was in full alert as he turned around in his mother's arms.
"What happened to Natalie? Is she…Is she okay?" He nearly screamed at them, fear and pain not allowing him to hear how loud his voice actually was as eyes were on him now.
"Tom, sshh, we don't need to talk about this now." Amara whispered in his ear while stroking his shaggy black hair with her free hand. Tom didn't hear her though; all he paid attention to were the men and then the bent figure of Charlotte in front of one of the many crosses.
"They took her from me…Just right out of my arms…I went after them, trying to get her back…When I got there…There was no body, but I knew what happened…There…There was so much blood…She was so tiny, how could she have that much-." Charlotte said in an emotionless, dead tone as she stared down at the cross in front of her with Natalie's name printed neatly in the middle, as the others. There was a small bundles of wildflowers leaned against the rocks and stones like some of the others as well.
Nicholas interrupted her by coming down on one knee and wrapping his arms around her, leaving Justin in Maggie's care as he came to mourn their little girl's death with his wife. The sound of Charlotte's sobs were the only thing that filled the silent space around them, everyone silently mourning the death of their Guardian. Tom hung his head and didn't fight the tears that now appeared behind his green eyes, he was tired of fighting it. If he was going to be some strong leader in the future, he needed to be weak just this once or he would never get over it. The pain would always be there, that he knew very well, but it would be easier with time, right? That's what they always said. He just prayed it was true as he sobbed into his mother's chest, sitting carefully in her lap while Lillie took over her shoulder, Victoria sitting by her side. She cried into her palms as she hid her face from the others, not able to look them in the eye as everyone watched the small family.
They all watched Tom and he knew it; he knew what they were already thinking. Tom was the last hope they had from this point on. They weren't even sure if there was any hope left with the female Guardian gone and with the risk of invasion and attack hanging right over their heads on a thin string, but Tom could feel that responsibility already forming inside him that Maggie and Mr. Woodworth had previously talked about.
Thomas Andrew Dekker was the last Guardian they had left. He was only eight years old and no abilities at this time, yet he was the last hope and chance they had for survival.
A/N: So, yeah, sorry for the crazy long prologue there. I had a lot of ground to cover before I get to where I am going with this story. I really hope I made sense with the summary above, I am terrible at writing them. I tend to get way into detail so I have to watch myself before I lay out the entire storyline to you guys. I'm really excited to see how this goes, I think I have tried this story once before on this wonderful site, but I kind of failed miserably. Hopefully, after nearly a year of working on it, I have finally given you members of FictionPress something to actually read.
Pretty please let me know how I am doing and if anyone is even interested in this idea by a review or any kind of feedback. I would so very much appreciate it since I'm crazy nervous about how this is going to play out. If I get at least one or two reviews, I will get to work and update soon on another chapter. I hope that doesn't sound like bribery...If this story is worth bribery, that is.
Anyway, I'll quit boring you guys and let you get on with your, most likely, busy schedules. Thank you a million times for even reading this! I hope to hear from you guys soon! (Or whenever you have the time).
Farewell and have a wonderful day!