The Bookworm Blog!


Shift by ahicknamedhamlet

okay, so this fanfic was pinged to me by a friend a while ago BEFORE FANLIB SHUT DOWN, and I though it was really good. Plus, its about SHAY!

An annoying Ping sound woke Shay up from a very light and fretful sleep. She immediately jumped out of bed and turned on her skintenna.

“Morning sleepy head.” Came a whispered voice. It seemed to come from right beside her, but Shay knew it was just the skintenna working its magic.

“Morning Tachs.” Shay answered.

“Hey. What am I, a wallscreen?”

“Sorry. Good Morning to you too Ho. And Fausto. Where’s Tally?”

A nervous scilence greeted her. She could hear the three of them breathing quickly. She could also sense their surroundings through the skintenna. The intimacy of the skintenna network was definitely one of the best parts of being a former Cutter. It felt like she was in three different places at once. The other former Cutters must still be asleep. She could see through everyone else’s eyes. It was incredible.

  Fausto was still at the hospital, helping people out and arranging things. At the moment he was in the corner of a room with three beds. All three of them had injured crumblies in them. A nurse buzzed around tending to the patients.

Ho was at Town Hall. At the moment he was moving through a ruined corridor. Dust flew up in huge piles with every step. Broken wires hung from the ceiling, ripped cloth and plastics littering the floor and walls. Up in front of him was a pile of rubble where the upper floor had fallen through. It was so horrible to see all of these things. She could feel that Ho wasn’t enjoying it much either. But he had to do what he could for Diego. And right now that meant going through the ruins of Town Hall to find anything that might have survived the attack. Abandoned interface rings, computer chips, even a water purifier could be useful, even though now that they had a solid home that wouldn’t be needed.

Shay’s breathe caught in her throat when she noticed where Tachs was. In Zane’s room. Zane’s face was still gaunt and deathly looking. All the cords that had been keeping him alive were being slowly ripped off by doctors.

Tally might think she was the center of the world, but it hurt Shay too that Zane was gone. It hurt all of them. And their combined pain was overwhelming. Shay found tears trickling down her cheeks.

That was one thing she could have done without. As a Cutter, you never needed to cry. Blood was tears enough. These tears hurt more than cutting herself ever could.

 She brushed them off her cheek and asked again, “Where’s Tally?”

Another nervous silence. Shay was getting impatient. Tally and her needed to get to Dr. Cable. They needed to end this war. Shay was sick and tired or hiding from all of the bad things with Tally. She was done with that life. She wasn’t going back to where she ditched her friends when they ran to the Smoke. She was done with just watching Tally cause problems and never fix them. She didn’t want to give herself up, but she was doing it for Diego. Doing it for Tally. Tally needed to fix things for once. Shay knew she couldn’t just keep running away.

“Shay…” came a quiet whisper from Fausto. “She…She left without you.”

“What?!” screamed Shay, a lot louder than needed with the skintenna. “And why didn’t you wake me? How long ago did she leave?”

“Cool it Shay-la,” came Ho’s voice, “Fausto sent David to head her off in a chopper. The bubblehead took hoverboards.”

“Uh, Ho. How does that work out with my plan to give myself up? I have to actually be there to give myself up. David is a useless voice to Dr. Cable.”

“Don’t worry Shay-la. We’ve got it all figured out.” Came Tachs’ voice. Shay could hear the strain to keep his voice free of pain and felt another ping of remorse for Zane.

Zane…

“Oh, yeah?” Shay said through gritted teeth, “And how is that?”

“Well, you’re cured right? So Dr. Cable wouldn’t believe you anyways. So we’ll just let Tally tell her herself, and then when she comes back or escapes or whatever it is she’ll need to do David will be there to take her home.”

Shay opened her mouth a few times to argue, but thought better of it. As she ran Tachs’ words through her head the plan seemed to make more and more sense.

She sighed in defeat. “I guess that is a good plan. Thanks you guys. I’m just going to—TACHS NO! STOP THEM!”

Through the skintenna network she had seen a doctor reach to disconnect the oxygen mask from Zane’s face. The last thing keeping him alive. She knew they needed the space, but this wasn’t just an ordinary person. She couldn’t just leave him to die. She refused. Absolutely refused to let Zane die.

“TACHS!”

“What are we going to do Shay? They need the beds.”

“Does it look like I give a shit? This is Zane we’re talking about. Or did you forget. We need Zane. He’s the reason we are where we are, we are who we are. And you’re just going to let him die. No, Tachs. Stop them.”

Tachs hesitated and then muttered something to the doctors. Shay slipped on her crash bracelets and snapped her fingers. Her hoverboard zoomed towards her and she jumped on without even blinking. She commanded her room to open the window and zoomed out.

“Shay, they need the beds.” Came Tachs’ low voice.

“So?” said Shay.

“So, they’re disconnecting him whether we like it or not.”

A million thoughts ran through Shay’s mind. She needed an action plan now more than ever. 

“I’m coming.” She said, and then disconnected her skintenna.

When she got to Zane’s room, Tachs and the doctors were arguing. Tachs had a powerful hand on the oxygen mask, while his body was placed in front of the machine the mask was connected to. The doctors were almost screaming at him to move, calling for back up and security just as Shay made a dramatic entrance through the window. She jumped off her hoverboard and landed perfectly on both feet without even blinking.

“Don’t move, don’t touch, don’t talk.” She commanded in a steely voice.

“We agreed last night that this bed was needed!” a doctor protested.

Shay walked over to him, towering an almost 11 ft tall. She looked down at him, eyes full of pure hate.

“We won’t make this as hard as it has to be.” She said, every word dripping an icy authority that she learned from her Cutter days.

“We won’t be needing your precious bed.” She glanced at Tachs. He looked confused, but held his tongue, knowing that Shay had a plan. He easily accepted her as the leading role. “All we need,” Shay continued, “Is that oxygen tank, and those food and fluid carriers. We’ll take them whether you want us to or not, so don’t protest. We don’t want to hurt you, but we will if we have to.” The familiar words slipped off her tongue before she could stop them, but she saw instantly that they worked to her favour.

The Doctors—middle pretties who had kept their original surge—faces turned an ashen white. They blinked, shock and fear easily read across their faces. With shaking hands they began to hand the medical devices needed over to Shay. To Shay’s relief, they were all run on solar energy, and therefore didn’t have pesky cords to hold them back.

One terrified looking doctor handed Tachs a few booklets.

“What are these?” Tachs said, voice empty of emotion, knowing that this was all Shay. It was just like Cutter times. She had him by strings.

“Manuals on how to work the devices.” He answered, his voice shaking as much as his hands.

“Good.” Shay said. “Tachs. Get a bag. Make a bag. Doesn’t matter. Find something to put all this stuff in. Has to be light and easily manageable. Disposable when we’re done, but not city recyclable. Got it?”

“Yup.” Tachs moved with sinister grace out of the room to get a proper carrier.

“Ho.” She sent through her skintenna.

“Yup.” Came Ho.

“I need you here, stat. And I need you to bring six or seven Cutter boards, and at least four other former Cutters that are willing for a full time job.”

Ho hesitated, thinking, Shay sensed, about the duty he held to Diego and Town Hall. But the pills hadn’t erased his loyalty to Shay, or the bond they had through their adventures as Uglies, Smokeys, Pretties, and Cutters alike. “I’m there.” He replied.

 

It was almost too easy for Shay to manipulate the ones around her. It was as if her entire purpose was to be a leader. To guide them, help them make the decisions they didn’t even know they had. Lead people on the path to the choices that were right.

She was very glad today that she had this talent. Most days she repented it, even was ashamed of it. It seemed to everyone one else that she was a controlling freak. That she had way too much power and was only hurting people. They didn’t understand. Nobody understood. But even after all of the assumptions and stereotyping, Shay still came back. Shay always helped her friends, always guided, always piloted the ones she loved to happiness.

Like Tally.

Shay gave an inwards sigh. She loved Tally but she hated her so much more than she’d ever hated anyone else. She was the center of the world. She was the most important. She had to get what she wanted no matter who she hurt. And maybe that’s why her and Shay had became friends in the first place. Tally was dangerous. She harmed people without knowing it to get what she wanted. It was only fitting she have a friend like Shay to lead her on the right course.

But ARGH! Sometimes Tally drove her absolutely insane! Not to mention she had wounded Shay so much that it felt she would never be fixed again. She would never admit…not to Tally…not to anyone…but David had meant something to Shay. Still did. And she still couldn’t have him. Because Tally had it all.

Another thing she wouldn’t admit was that deep, deep within, it wasn’t all that she had been through with Zane that had her coming to his rescue in the end. It was because of the hope that perhaps if Tally had Zane then one day David would finally see Shay. He would move on and they could be happy together forever….

 

 

Trees wipped all around them, wind buffeted their unprotected faces and hands. They were riding fast. Shay and Tachs were doubled up on one board together. Zane was lying on a pair of sandwhiched boards pushed together. On either side of him were Ho and Fausto, who were crouched down low, one hand each holding firmly to Zane’s side. The other former cutters each had their own boards. A few were guiding other boards with medical supplies and four Cutters were close together with the large carrier saddled to the bottom of their boards.

Truth be told, Shay hadn’t thought about where they were taking Zane. Her main plan consisted on having the right tools to keep him alive, the right people to watch over him, and getting him as far away from that hospital as possible. She hadn’t bothered to think farther than that. She never really did.

Even though to Tachs and her other former Cutters she was always the one with the plan, most of the times she just crossed her fingers and jumped, winging it the whole way through. And that’s what she was going to do now. Hey, you know what they say. Old habits die hard.

“Higher guys, and slower too. It would be hard to get our hands on any more of this medical stuff so be careful.”

Tachs nudged her from behind.

“Oh,” Shay added, “And it would be hard to get another Zane if he fell off, so be careful with him too.”

Tachs rolled his eyes and grinned at her.

“what?” Shay asked. Tachs just chuckled.

While they made their slow ascent Shay scoped out the area for a good spot. All she needed was an empty strip of land where no people were going to go. Even by accident. It had to be pretty much a dead zone.

Great, Shay thought, now I’m looking for imaginary worlds right outside Diego. Now that nobody was a bubblehead anymore–well at least most people–everyone was up to Ugly tricks. There was no part of the wilderness that didn’t get even a little activity every once in a while. Shay needed somewhere that was purpously deserted and avoided. One where no one could get in by accident, but people like her and the former cutters could get in and out of when they needed to.

Purposely avoided…

think Shay, think! she screamed at herself internally, there has got to be one place that nobody wants to go to. Or nobody can go to. One where we have allies…

Allies…

Shay gasped. Then she hit herself in the head.

How had she missed this!

Shay knew the perfect place to bring Zane.

“Okay you guys, let’s start making a wide arc inland. Away from the sea, farther to the right. Let’s go.”

  The group conformed and slowly shifted their hoverboards in the opposite direction. If you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t even notice that the former Cutters had moved. Shay smirked to herself at how amazing her group was, still is.

“Where are we headed?” Tachs asked, his voice whispering closely to Shay’s ear.

Shay shivered as Tachs’ breath skittered cross her skin. “You’ll see when we get there.” She replied.

The former Cutters didn’t have allies. But the New Smokeys did.

 

 

“We’re going down guys!” Shay yelled.

She didn’t know the exact location. When she had last spoken to David he had said that only three or four people knew, the rest needed programmed position finders and so he couldn’t tell her. Shay had tried wheedling the location out of him but David just kept repeating over and over again: “Mums the word.”

Shay did however know the general area, and she along with all of her group would know when they got close.

“So, are you going to tell me where we’re going yet or what Ms. Mystery?” Tachs asked.

“I like being mysterious. It makes me feel dangerous.” She said dangerous with a lavish sexy voice that sent both her and Tachs into bursts of laughter.

“Meh. I think you’re adorable when you’re trying to be mysterious.”

“Trying? Adorable? What’s this nonsense?” Shay said lowering her eyebrows in a half accusing- half questioning expression.

“You do. Your mouth gets all pouty and set like you know the secret to the universe and you raise your eyebrows in an ‘I-see’ sort of way. You look sho cute!” Tachs puckered his lips like a baby on the last words.

Shay grumbled. “I think that’s just your cover story. Really you’re terrified of my hidden knowledge. You are just so supremely frustrated that you don’t know the wonders that hide behind my petrifying eyes.”

Tachs laughed. “You’re right. It’s killing me!” he said sarcastically. He threw his hand to his heart as if he was having a heart attack. Unfortunately as soon as he pulled his arm in it sent the whole hoverboard out of balance.

She and Tachs went tumbling to the ground. Shay screamed involuntarily, even though they had been mere feet above the ground seeing as they had been slowly descending with the rest of the group for the past five minutes.

At the last minute Tachs jumped off, landed on his feet and held both arms aloft just in time to catch Shay in a baby cradle.

“Have a tumble there fair maiden?”

Pfft! Fair maiden my ass.” She tried to jump out of Tachs’ arms but he held her firm. She couldn’t move.

“You’re right. You’re more of the damsel in distress variety.”

“Ugh! Let me go Tachs!” she struggled against his grip. He still didn’t comply.

“What will you give me if I do?”

“I can tell you what you’ll get if you don’t” she said raising her fist.

Tachs laughed and started running to catch up with the other group members who had landed a little while after Tachs and Shay and were now waiting in a clearing a little ahead.

“Let me go Tachs! Put me down right now!” She yelled. She began swatting at his head.

“Hey!” he said. But he still didn’t put her down. Instead he shifted her around so that she was now hanging over his shoulder with a very good view of his tush. Or bad, if you were someone like Shay who had never had a wish to have a one on one conversation with Tachs’ backside.

“Tachs! Get your ass out of my face!”

“Correction my dear Shay. Get your face out of my ass.”

“You put me here!” Shay exclaimed.

“That…is true. Ah well. You win some you lose some.” Tachs shrugged his shoulders under Shay’s stomach. She felt she might throw up.

Shay screamed and screamed and started pounding Tachs’ back with her fists.

“Put”—pound—“me”—pound—“down!”

“Well well well, what’s going on here?” came Fausto’s voice. Shay heard something in his voice she couldn’t instantly identify. It was some sort of edginess that he wanted to hide from them.

“Just taking Shay-la here for an afternoon stroll.” Tachs said. She could hear the smirk in his voice, which infuriated her to no end.

“He won’t put me down!” she squealed.

Ho laughed.

Ho!”

“What? It’s funny.” He said innocently.

“Hey Shay, how’s the view?” came another former Cutter.

Shay screamed in exasperation. “Will this day never end?” She belted at no one in particular.

There came a sigh from Ho. She heard him come around to her side of Tachs and his grippy shoes promptly came into view. He hoisted her down off of Tachs’ shoulder and set her upright.

Shay hugged Ho. “Thank-you! About time, too.”

Then she turned around to see Tachs smiling playfully at her. She casually walked up to him and with extreme delicacy and precision slapped him across the face. He held his cheek and began to heatedly say something but Shay wagged her finger in his face and in a tone of finality said “NEVER AGAIN.”

He glowered down at her but then his frown turned into a goofy smile. “Aw. You think that your finger is gunna stop me? Schweety, it’d take rabid monkeys to keep me from fireman carrying you again. Just because it’s so damn fun.”   

Shay sighed tiredly. She just couldn’t win. She looked over at Fausto. “Do you know where I could get rabid monkeys?” she asked.

“‘Fraid not.” He said.

“Well, I’m basically screwed.” She said and then she walked through her group, snapping her fingers to summon her hoverboard away from Tachs. The rest of her group followed her deeper into the forest.

The trees grew denser as they left the circle of the clearing. A million animal sounds reached their ears. Birds clicking and singing to each other. Chipmunks and other rodents having fast discussions with eachother while scampering across the ground or through the trees. Bugs made strange noises, some from chirping to wheezing. Gnats and fruit flies flew in circles around the group and had to be constantly swatted away in order to see. The underbrush was getting thicker and thicker and had to be tackled away. The people guiding Zane and the carrier still on hoverboards sometimes had to climb up trees to get the hoverboards above certain brambly areas. Some of the group had even taken out their old ceremonial knives and were chopping manically at the vines, trying unsuccessfully to get though the forests many reaching arms.

“Do we have to go by foot? This is a total waste of my time and energy.” Ho whined. When he saw Shay’s face he immediately knew his mistake.

“No, I didn’t mean—“ he began, but Shay cut him off.

“Oh, so saving Zane’s life is a waste of your time? Really, because I was under the impression that you cared about Zane’s well being, but you know maybe that’s just me. You know, I don’t see anyone else complaining. They seem willing to go ahead and recue Zane.” She waved a hand wildly around at the surrounding group. They all gave nervous nods, almost like they were afraid she’d hurt them if they disagreed. Good, she thought, I’m sick of people like Ho, who just don’t care.She was remembering the time when Ho had hesitated before coming to help at the hospital. She knew he had no right to blow up at him now but it had made her a little edgy that Ho might be thinking of leaving them for Diego. She didn’t know what she would do without Ho. He was her wingman. The person she could always count on. She might not be able to keep this up if he deserted her, too.    

“Oh, and by the way Ho. Yes, we do need to go by foot. Otherwise we would miss those.”

She pointed ahead to where two dolls hung from their necks from a single tree. They were made to look like twig and other rough materials, but Shay could sense the City power behind them. When she stuck out her hand it began to give small shaking movements. As she reached out farther, it began to hake violently.

“We’re here.” She said.         

 

Fausto asked, “So, where’s ‘here’ again?”

“This is where Andrew Simpson Smith’s people live.” Shay replied

OH! Andrew Simpson Smith! Right! That clears that up nicely.” Tachs said sarcastically.

Shay rolled her eyes. “Andrew Simpson Smith is the guy who gave Tally the position finders, remember? I told you guys about him. It’s the reason I got to Diego before Tally.”

“Oh, yeah,” Ho said vacantly.

“Yeah, Special Circumstances has a tribe of savage pre-Rusties locked up in there, right?” Fausto asked.

“Yup. Leave it to them to use humans as their own personal experiment. The New Smokeys have been hoverboarding some of them out to help with New Smoke stuff. Like going to the other cities and helping people here with the position finders and stuff.”

“And we’re here because…?” asked Tachs.

“Well, we can get in, but nobody else will know how. You see these?” Shay waved a hand towards the dolls. Everyone nodded. “Try sticking your hand out to them,”

Everyone reached out a hand towards the dolls. At first it was just a small barely visible shake. Then as they ventured farther and farther towards the dolls their hands began to shake violently, and then their whole arms were shaking feverishly, until at a point some were brought to their knees, in too much pain to cry out.

Shay quickly pulled them out of the nerve crashing whirlwind, along with Fausto who hadn’t tested it too far, just barely sticking his arm in before receding.    

Everyone lay silent on the rough, tall grass for awhile trying to calm themselves. Most of their hands were still shaking as an aftershock. Finally they sat up again.

Tachs frowned. “Its like that on the inside too?”

“Yeah from what I’ve heard.”

“So Special Circumstances will give you nerve damage if you try to get in or out?”

“Yeah, seems that way. And that works for us. You see Tally and The New Smokeys found that you can fly over the barriers on hoverboards. As soon as the dolls stop the nerve signal stops. So we’ve just got to fly high enough that we can make it over.”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Said Ho.

There were murmured degrees of affirmatives from the rest of the group. Some more enthusiastic than others.

“Um…can we make cam first and rest a bit before we do this? If you haven’t noticed we’ve been flying and hiking through this mess for the last day.” A former cutter pointed out.

“Yeah, but I don’t want to be this near to the hangmen. Let’s move out a bit. That way no one will roll into the dead zone while we’re sleeping.” Shay said.

They all agreed and moved out away from the hangmen trees. They walked for a while. Well…if you can call it walking. More like attacking the landscape in their quest for sleep. Eventually they reached a sizeable clearing which they decided to make camp in.

“Okay guys,” She began, “I know this sounds corny, but if you have to go to the bathroom in the night or whatever, use the buddy system. I don’t want you walking into those hangmen alone. You saw how it’s too difficult to talk once you’re too far in. We wouldn’t know that you were in trouble until it’s too late.”

Some people nodded their heads. Some looked a little put off. Especially Fausto and Tachs.

Tachs said, “You know, I’m sure I’m smart enough to figure out that I’ve crossed the line of dolls. Who the hell would be stupid enough to keep on walking once they felt their arms shaking like that?”

“Well, obviously you. Is that not what you just did only half an hour ago?” Fausto said

Tachs made a pfft sound. “Only because I wasn’t coward enough to back out. Also because I have a burning sense of curiosity that is valued in most people. I think it gives me a puppy dog appeal.”  He made a few wide-eyed-batted-lashes faces at nobody in particular to prove the puppy-dog theory.

“I agree. You are a dog.”

“Um, excuse me here people. To interrupt your discussion, yes, you are both using the buddy system. Pee with a partner or don’t pee at all.” Shay said crossing her arms and cocking her hip in a don’t-mess-with-me stance.

Tachs and Fausto muttered something about privacy and going before they went to sleep before nodding their heads obediently.

It was good to be boss.

 

“…like her don’t you?”  Shay was awakened by a rough whispered voice.

She couldn’t tell where they were coming from. It took her a minute to understand that they were in her skintenna, which she had left on just in case somebody (cough cough Tachs and Fausto) decided not to use the buddy system anyways. She wondered who the voices were. She was too tired to tell at the moment.

Another voice said, “And what if I did?”

“It’s Shay. You can’t like her.” Well Excuse me, Shay thought. I’m very likeable.

“I can like whoever I like.”

“Not Shay.” The other voice stated defiantly.

“Oh, yeah? And why’s that?” the first voice sounded irritated.

“…just…j-just because,” Shay held back from a loud sigh.

She wondered who was talking about her in the middle of the night. She was still too tired to recognise the voices. She wished to be able to move her head and see who was missing, but she knew any movement would alert the voices that they still had their skintennas on.

The other voice laughed now. “You like her too, don’t you?”

The sound of a slowly nodding head came through the skintenna.

A sigh came to her through the skintenna. It felt as if it were right beside her ear.

“So,” Said the first voice.

“So,” Said the second voice.

“I suppose we’re not going to fight fair, am I right?”

“Too right you are my friend; Too right.” A rustling sound came through the skintenna and Shay quickly feinted sleep. Soon enough she was asleep for real.  

 

Shay awoke from a very strange dream. In her dream two voices had been admitting their feelings for Shay. But for some reason both voices had no clue that Shay was listening. She knew this was a dream because, of course, having two adoring guys was Tally’s thing. Nobody could ever pay enough attention to Shay to think of her as anything more than best friend or mentor or leader. Nothing more. Ever.

She was the first up, other than Ho who had last watch. Ho nodded at her and she nodded back. She quickly checked that all of their belongings were still there and everyone was soundly asleep. Then she walked off into the bushes to find a place to go to the washroom.

After she was done Shay took a look around her. She had never really had time to appreciate the nature around her in the last few days. Seeing the world with such vivid beauty had been something she had enjoyed the most out of being a Special. She couldn’t see it with the same icy sheen anymore but it still took her breath away. Birds of all colours were swooping and singing with each other. Having fun but at the same time working. She saw some carrying twigs and sticks for their nests and worms and berries for their young. Chipmunks and squirrels shot past at light speed in every direction. Their cheeks were puffed up in an almost comical way. The trees had long spindly fingers that intertwined in a canopy above her. Bushes climbed up tree trunks and also tried to reach for the sky, even though they were small and stout. Vines twisted and turned together. The little clouds she could see through the world of green above were small and puffy and moved across the sky quickly.

Shay sighed contentedly. This was beautiful. She lay down on her back, crossed her arms behind her head and just watched the beautiful world pass her by.   

 

 

   Shay steadied herself on her hoverboard and gave the signal to Fausto and Ho to follow her up. After a little while the lifters kicked in and the hoverboard eddied beneath her for a moment, before continuing the lift. 

Shay’s eyes searched frantically above her for the dolls to stop. But all the way up their little faces leered down at her. Soon she would reach the top of the trees. It was a long way up. These trees were long thin and high. It would take a lot of force to get over them.

Shay kept searching for the end of the line of dolls. It must be near. The Smokeys couldn’t have gotten that high.

Still the dolls continued. Beads of sweat were beginning to form on Shay’s brow. She bit her bottom lip. This was a far way up. She made the mistake of looking down. Below her the expanse of green and brown rugged forest floor swayed and Shay felt she might be sick. She took a few deep breaths and continued the slowing ascent.

“Shay, how high up do these things end? You know even Special boards have a limit,” Fausto said from her left.

“I know, I know,” Shay said with frustration, “I didn’t think it would be this high. The Smokeys couldn’t have made it all the way up like this could they have?”

“Well maybe they’ve changed the dolls now. Maybe they found out that the Smokeys were taking Simpson Smith’s people out and they changed them so that it’s like impossible to get into now,” Ho said.

“Impossible. Have you been listening to your news feeds? The whole city system is changed now. Tally brought Cable down. The city doesn’t have specials any more. And their initiating this thing called the mind rain. There is no way they could still be keeping Andrew Simpson Smith’s people locked up like this. It’s unethical,” Shay said.

“Well, you never know,” Fausto pointed out, “It would be pretty hard to undermine fifty thousand years of evolution in only a few days. Maybe your right, the city is changing, but what about the people that weren’t brainwashed in the first place? Committee members and things like that. They were running the city on their own terms, with their own actions. They wouldn’t just change all of a sudden because everyone stopped being bubbleheads. They’d probably keep doing what they were doing before they mind rain.”

Shay pondered that for a minute. “…well, I guess there’s only one way to find out.”

They angled their boards farther upwards and increased their height as much as they could without burning out the rotors. Soon they were at the peak of the trees, and the dolls still hadn’t stopped.  The final doll rested at the tip of the tallest tree, viewing the expanse with evil beady little eyes.

“Wanna try making it over the signal?” Shay asked.

“It’s the only thing we can do,” Ho said sounding defeated. Even if they could pass the signal there was no way that the hoverboards carrying Zane and his equipment would be able to make it. It was a fruitless attempt.

They kept climbing. The struggle in the rotors was now very apparent as their boards gave frequent riffs beneath them. Shay stuck her arms out at full length to keep her balance, spreading her feet farther and farther apart and at uncomfortable angles to keep herself from falling.

They were at least twenty feet above the tree line now and the dolls signals still hadn’t given. With a defeated sigh Shay, Fausto and Ho headed back down.       

Tachs was immediately questioning them. Shay sighed frustratedly. She explained how they wouldn’t be able to get into the reserve.

“Well then,” Tachs said when all was said and done.

“Yup,”

“A plan would be good about now,” Ho threw in.

“Yeah, A plan’s always nice,” Fausto said looking at Shay meaningfully.

Shay’s mind was whirring frantically. She was the one who always had a plan. This was what being leader was all about. She was the one who knew all the answers. She could fix anything. Hell, to them she was super woman. She needed a plan.

How do you get into a reserve that’s totally fenced in? Well, how did they get out in the first place? Shay dug into her memory trying to remember how Andrew Simpson Smith had gotten out of the reserve the first time. She was sure David had told her…

Her mind was drawing a blank. For a few moments she stood buzzing on the point but looking around her she realized that her group was waiting for a solution. She said the most logical one that came to mind.

“Okay, we’ll walk around the whole reserve checking. There has to be a weak point somewhere, right? According to David it should only be a week’s round trip on foot so that’s like two days on a hoverboard,” she looked at her groups uncertain faces, “Look, it’s all we can do right now, right? We just need to get in to this place and then everything will be better. Zane will be okay, we can go back to helping Diego, everything will be okay. I promise.” The group still looked unsure but Shay was boss. They reluctantly booted up their hoverboards and began their long and tedious encompassing of Andrew Simpson Smith’s reserve.

 

 

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