I look at the wall with new eyes. The grooves are holes where you can place your hands and feet, and I suppose the bulges are just for extra support.
“Because your daddy’s building looks similar.”
I frown at Valen. “No, the solar panels look nothing like this wall.”
She shakes her head at me. “Not the haven, Jai. I’m talking about the real building where he works. Security is too tight to break in through the front door, so we have to climb so we can enter via the windows.”
What does she mean by the real building where Dad works?
“Aldric is looking for you.” Chance snaps from the pathway right above us.
“Later, newbie.” Valen shrugs and then jogs up the pathway.
Feeling curious, I walk closer to the wall to inspect it. The texture is rough and cold beneath my fingers. I grasp hold of the first small hole and look for a place to put my foot. I find a bulge not too high from the ground and test it with the tip of my shoe. Once I’m satisfied with the grip I have on the wall, I pull myself up.
I find another hole that can only qualify for a crack and manage to pull myself higher up. It seems easy enough. I reach for another bulge, already searching for the next hole. My heartbeat starts to speed up with exhilaration because I can actually do this.
“What are you doing?” Chance barks beneath me.
I almost lose my grip but manage to hold my position against the wall.
Shoot, I thought I was alone.
“I’m climbing.” My voice dips, and the words come out sounding like a question.
“I can see that. Unless you plan on breaking your neck, get your ass down. We usually use ropes, so we don’t fall.
“Ropes?” I didn’t see any ropes.
I look down at Chance and see he’s upset, standing with his arms crossed over his chest. He lifts one finger and points up.
I glance up and see a contraption hanging from the roof with ropes tied to it.
I ease myself down and jump off the last bulge. “I didn’t see that,” I mutter.
Ugh, interacting with him is super hard and awkward after the incident in the bathroom.
Trying to make a run for it, I dart past Chance, but his hand grips my arm, holding me back. My stomach sinks to the ground, and I wish I could join it down there.
“I don’t doubt one day you’ll be able to climb the grid without a rope, but that day is not today.” His eyes skim over me from head to toe, and my whole body flushes with heat. I quickly look away so he can’t see the effect he has on me.
The last thing I need is another lesson.
He lets go of my arm and walks over to a granite stand situated to the left of us. “You’ll have to build some muscle if you plan on climbing the grid.”
I follow Chance and see a bunch of buttons with words beneath them on the stand. Grid, scaffolds, ropes, wrecking ball, and other words that don’t quite make sense.
Chance presses one button after the other, and a deafening roar fills the air. I cringe closer to him without meaning to.
Ropes for the grid come down with a loud bang, bouncing a couple of inches from the ground. A screeching noise fills the room, and I cover my ears. It sounds like wheels that haven’t been oiled in a long time.
Platforms drop down from the ceiling with a bang. Five, all in different sizes, hang and sway precariously above my head.
A massive ball swings through the air, the metal chain shuddering. More ropes spiral down at the far end of the room. Bars that look like horizontal ladders extend from one of the walls.
“This is where you’ll practice your climbing and jumping skills, Jai,” Chance informs me. “Until you can do it blindfolded.”
The room has converted into a full-blown training arena.
Now I understand why they call it the drill zone.
I glance up at the swaying scaffolds. The rooftops didn’t sway, but it explains how Chance jumped into the hole so effortlessly. He can do this blindfolded.
I’m going to start practicing tomorrow until I’m as good as Chance. Then I’ll look for Mom and find out what’s really going on in the ecocity and what Dad has to do with everything.
Mostly, I’ll do it for myself to prove I’m not as weak as I thought I was.
“You should get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be rough.”
When Chance starts to turn away from me, I blurt, “I’m sorry about Ethan.”
He pauses for a moment, then continues to walk.
My heart cracks a little. “Do you blame me?”
Again he stops, but this time he glances at me. “No. It’s my fault.”
My lips part in a gasp, a frown forming on my forehead. “It’s not.”