Chapter 1

They were nearing. I could feel it. My muscles were screaming, the rain pounding against them and making the alley dangerously slippery. It was dark, but I could see easily.

The sound of running feet reached my ears and I sped up, feeling freedom, tasting it. So close . . .

Dogs' barking echoed through the stormy night, and a flash of lightning nearly blinded me as I skidded around a corner, my beat up tennis shoes finding no purchase on the slick pavement. The sliding saved me from discovery as a search beam swept through the space I had occupied milliseconds before, making me wince and shield my eyes. I slammed into the side of a building and bit back a curse, searching only for escape. They were only getting closer. I couldn't let them catch me, not after everything I had done, everything I had worked for.

The feet came closer and I grit my teeth, wiping my drenched black hair from my face, wishing they would leave me alone. I hadn't even done anything that bad to them yet.

Suddenly, I was blinded as light hit me head on, making me stumble back a step and shut my eyes. When I opened them, I saw shadowy forms heading toward me, silhouetted by the vehicle's headlights behind them. The unmistakable shapes of guns were held in their hands and I turned, sprinting in the other direction, desperation fueling my movements.

He pressed against me, wanting out. I shut him down, trying to keep myself in check. Freedom was slipping away with every raindrop that hit me, every bark that pierced the night.

Another flash of lightning illuminated the shape of a helicopter above me and I ducked into the shadows as a search beam swept through the alleyway, followed by the forms of the soldiers. I blended into the wall, willing myself to be out of sight. He had stopped fighting me, choosing to wait and watch instead. I hated him for it. He was lucky. He wasn't in control right now. He wouldn't claim responsibility. He would leave me out to dry.

The people passed and I let out a breath, wiping the hair out of my face again, feeling the rivulets of water coursing down my body, soaking my clothes and making my shoes slosh with each step. Angrily, I took them off, tossing them behind me. They were no longer necessary; I only needed what I could use to escape. Sodden shoes would not help.

A distant rumble of thunder broke through the sky, a vibration I felt in my bones. He stirred, amused at my reaction. He would have the same reaction, should he be in control. But he wasn't, and I knew they were closing in on me. It was only a matter of time.

I melted back into the alley, moving like a patch of shadow, my eyes scanning the alley around me. The dumpsters were overturned, their contents filling my nose and making me want to gag. More noises hit my ears and I moved faster, slipping through the downpour, avoiding puddles and coming closer and closer to freedom. I could see the main road, the cars, the safety it offered. I became uncautious, putting everything I had into reaching that freedom. Then they appeared, more silhouettes, blocking my escape and pointing their guns at me. I dove to one side, landing in a doorway with a rotted wooden door that splintered when I hit it. Without hesitation, I ran inside, glad to be out of the rain, but wary of the trap I may have sprung.

As I expected, more shadows burst through the windows, but now I could see their uniforms. They were a dark, navy blue, the skintight body suits reflecting no light, as their bug-like visors stared at me, black holes of nothingness. They were pitiless, bent on catching me. My hands formed into fists, and I started to turn towards the stairs, but the sound of booted feet stopped me. They had boxed me in.

Freedom was gone. It had never been there. The entire event was a trap.

The water dripped down my face and I closed my eyes, reaching for him. He sensed what I was doing and stopped it, pushing me back. He didn't want out, not yet. Finally, I realized what he was doing.

A secret, then. A weapon for later.

The guns had come up when I had made fists, lights coming to life, blinding me.

Why weren't they shooting?

Another shadow came up, stepping into the light. Their step was full of swagger. They knew they'd won. My anger stirred, and so did he, but he did not come out. He was showing more patience than I knew he had.

He was planning something. I didn't know if that was good or bad.

Lightning flashed outside, lighting the room with a blue glow for a split second. The soldiers all glowed, their guns trained on me. The person approached as the light died, and I saw that they were a woman. She was smiling, proud of herself. She believed that she had caught me.

And maybe she had. But I was not going to die without a fight.

Before I could act, she spoke, her voice hard and professional. He stirred at the sound of it, interested in her. He could see, hear, experience through me; he knew what was happening.

"You, by order of PRIDE, are under arrest."

PRIDE. PRotection, Intervention, and Defense Enterprises. A bunch of fools. A bunch of rich, well-trained fools out to get me.

I stared at the woman, the only distinguishing feature being the curves on her body. He demanded I look at her more closely, but I did not. Eventually, she became tired of my silence, ordering her men to tie me up.

She was not as stupid as she looked; before I could act, she had shot me with a sedative. My world went blurry and I collapsed. He roared, and I faded enough for him to twist my mouth into a snarl. Then we were both fading, but not before I heard her whisper something that made me want to scream.

"Welcome to PRIDE, Kevin."

Woohoo another side story that I'm going to start then not finish for months!

-RoR