I suck in a deep breath of air.
Nodding, I say, “You’re right. There’s hope.”
Idris lets out a chuckle. “I’m always right.” He pats me on the back, then gives me a pointed look. “You know what this means, right?” The corner of his mouth lifts in a smirk. “The girl is your problem. Try not to kill her until you’re sure of your brother’s fate.”
I can’t believe we lost Ethan. Chance must hurt so badly.
Minutes pass in which I’m stuck in a shocked trance from everything that’s happened. The past twenty-four hours have been downright insane. It’s hard to process everything.
A shadow falls over me, and when I lift my head, my heart sinks even further. A girl, who seems to be twice my size, glares down at me. At least, that’s what she looks like from where I’m sitting in the dirt.
She doesn’t seem friendly at all.
With white and black hair and thick black eyeshadow, her brown eyes almost look gold. She’s wearing a tiny shirt, which only covers half of her torso, leaving her waist exposed for all to see. Her jeans are torn, and she’s wearing men’s boots. She looks like she can squash me with one step.
She looks like a rebel.
“Where is Ethan?” Her voice is soft, a total contrast to what I expected.
“Trackers,” I breathe the word out while climbing to my trembling legs.
The girl doesn’t say anything. She stares at me for a moment. “Well, that’s one hell of a pity.” Letting out a sigh, she nods in the direction of the entrance. “Follow me.”
Standing, I notice she’s easily two heads taller than me. I follow her toward an entrance that looks like the start of a tunnel, but then it forks into two corridors.
“Your name, newbie?” she asks.
“Jai.” I clear my throat and use the back of my hand to wipe the tears from my cheeks. “My name is Jai.”
There are two doors, and we head toward the one on the right.
She lets out another heavy sigh. “I suppose it’s up to me to show you around.”
Still shocked from losing Ethan, I don’t actually process her words, and it hasn’t sunk in I’m at the deviants’ ward.
Chance just lost his brother.
I watch as Valen presses a sequence of numbers on a keypad. The door clicks open, and she motions for me to enter first.
“We, just like the other wards, are self-sustaining. Our lights and heat are generated by solar panels. We grow our own crops, but unlike the virtuous, ours receive actual rain, and not that manufactured shit the ecocity gets once a year.”
The way she says it makes it sound like she’s given this tour countless times before, and honestly, I can’t find it to care right now.
“Only the corn is grown outside, the rest is inside.”
I’m tired and want to find Chance so I can check on him. I’m also hungry and thirsty. Surely this tour can wait?
But I keep my mouth shut and walk down the corridor. The walls are curved with rings of light every couple of yards. An archway opens up to my right, and I see what looks like stairs, only it’s terraced row upon row of greenery.
Holy crap, this place is huge.
“Veggies and herbs,” Valen mumbles.
Feeling out of place, I whisper, “There’s so much.”
“Like I said, each ward is self-sustaining. Our vertical farms produce crops all year round, much like the ecocity, just on a smaller scale.” She sounds smug about it.
To my left, the tunnel opens up to three consecutive archways.
“Wow.” It’s the only word that comes to mind.
It’s an oval-shaped room. The white ceiling looks like someone has chiseled patterns into it. It flows into perfect oval shape holes, almost like the pictures of beehives I’ve seen. Rays of sunshine spill through it, giving light to a patch of green grass. There are two benches in the back of the room and a small one situated more to the front. Other than that, there are three big trees and calm pools of water.
It looks peaceful.
“It’s Chance’s version of a park. It’s a work in progress,” Valen informs me. “He has another park in the other corridor. Different theme, though.”
I think it’s a beautiful place to come and sit and think. In a world devastated by war, there isn’t much beauty left.
To think Chance created something so peaceful.
I love how green everything is. It makes the environment feel alive and not stale like the ecocity.
At the second archway to my right, I stop. There are several enclosures, each holding different animals. I’ve never seen real-life animals, only the ones in my history book.
I know my dad works with animals, the ones he clones for food purposes, but the public isn’t allowed to come in contact with them. It’s for hygienic reasons.
Sheep, cows, pigs, and chickens. Those are the ones I can see from where I’m standing. Never in a million years did I think I’d see live animals. I’d love to see them up close so I can find out if a sheep is as soft as it looks.