Climbers always target kids. It's easy to see why, but that doesn't make it tolerable. I honestly can't tell you how many damn times I've been sent to hospital with broken bones or concussion or huge cuts after defending a kid that was stupid enough to go out on their own. Climbers that go after kids disgust me; they technically don't break the law, but an adult against a ten-year old is really no contest, unless that ten-year old has some pretty badass Edge hidden up their sleeve. So I don't regret any of those hospital trips, even if they drive my parents nuts. Those ambulance rides were actually quite satisfying, since the person who attacked the kid always- and I mean always- ended up worse. Heck, I've beat down so many Climbers that I'm almost one myself.
I've avoided prison- just. When I was twelve, a fifteen-year old rank 4 Climber thought they'd try their luck. I won, but they had a foot and at least ten kilos on me, so you can imagine that I wasn't in the best of shape afterwards. It didn't help that I hadn't exactly mastered my Edge yet. After the fight, I passed out, and was only found by the evening Patrol six hours later. My mum and dad thought I was dead.
After recovering, I almost got sent to prison. The rank system is really complicated, but I'll spare you the tiny details. In short, if you kill someone who's ranked above you, you get their rank. Mostly, people climb one, maybe two ranks in their lifetime, but Climbers get as high as they can. The problem with Climbers is that as they take on higher ranked people, their Edge just can't hold up. So Climbers die more often than they win.
Yeah, our entire social hierarchy revolves around killing. But that doesn't mean we're animals. We have boundaries.
Number one is killing for no reason. For example, people who are ranked lower than you, or people the same rank as you. Of course, self-defence doesn't count. I get away with defending kids because I try to leave the Climbers alive if I can, and even if it's not self-defence, the same rules apply.
Number two is killing maliciously. No torture, basically. Like I said, a Climber went after me when I was twelve, and I technically broke this rule in that fight. I broke several bones of his, and let's just say that when I eventually managed to kill him, it wasn't pretty. I got sent to court. It's not all that unusual for Climber victims to get sent to court- especially children. Because kids aren't as strong as adults, they often have to use desperate measures- or even their Edge- to beat Climbers. Methods that fall into the 'torture' category.
I'll spare you the long story, but the end result was that I won the case, mostly because of how torn up I was after the fight, physically and mentally. Hey, I was only twelve. I hadn't killed anyone before.
That was a long time ago, though, and though I try to leave Climbers alive, sometimes I don't have much choice. If it's my life or a Climber's, then that Climber won't wake up tomorrow. I'm something of a legend in my sector. Not a very cheerful legend, I've got to say. I haven't got many friends, since most people either hate me or are scared of me. But I'm not completely alone; I've got Derek. Sure, I left my parents behind when I was fifteen, but sometime I'll visit on Sundays and anyway, I think they were happy enough when their Climber-Killing daughter left home. I was never really the loving type.
My parents ignored that last fact when I was little, but I made that impossible when they asked me what my Edge was. Long story short, that conversation killed our relationship. And a piece of me, really, but I'll never admit it to them. I held on to a little bit of my old life, though. I kept my name. I'm still Vivian Linswood, even if I don't always act like it, especially when my Edge is mentioned.
An Edge, sometimes called an Asset or Helping Hand, is what determines your rank, one of twenty. You get the first six years of your life to play with your Edge and figure out how to use it, before the Government tests you. A year after, you're tested a second time and given your rank soon after that.
I got ranked 1. That's rare.
The majority of people in 1 are either seriously successful Climbers or one-time-killers from rank 2. Not many people are born into rank 1, I'll tell you that.
Derek wasn't. He was born in 3, and then made his way up once he turned fourteen. We've been friends about a year now. Also, I saved his butt from a Climber once. It was kinda hard for him to hate me after that.
Derek's told me what his Edge is, even though I made it pretty plain that he'd never know mine. I appreciate that he told me. Made me feel like he trusts me. I'm not the only one who clams up whenever my Edge is mentioned; if someone knows your Edge, then they could kill you. Easily. No Edge is foolproof, and it would only be a question of hiring the right person or, if you were lucky, finding the right moment to take them down with your own Edge. That's the catch. A kid from rank 20 could supposedly take me down if they caught me by surprise and kept me immobilised long enough to chip away at me using their Edge. The lower the rank, the weaker the Edge, but I wouldn't hold up forever.
I don't trust Derek enough to tell him what my Edge is, but for a different reason. I like having something that only I know. Sure, the Government knows; it's written down in a file somewhere, but other than that, I'm the only one. I don't care if that means I'm a terrible person. My Edge is mine. It's also not a pretty picture, and I don't want to send my friend running for the hills. Maybe I'll tell him my Edge when I'm older.
Before you get hopeful, I'm just going to say that I'll never write it here.