Okay. First things first. I needed a plan- and a good one. I hadn't eaten for- how long was it now? Twenty hours? Doesn't sound like much I know, but for me it's incredibly long. My stomach growled, alerting me to just how hungry I was. I shivered, and continued walking through the busy street.

There was something going on further down the road. I could hear shouting and some small child screaming. What on Earth-?

I walked over as quickly as I could, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. It wasn't really working. People glanced at me as I passed them, wondering who the strangely tall shifty looking girl was.

There was a boy with blonde hair punching a grown man in the gut, a look of fury on his face. A little girl who looked about nine was screaming. She seemed as if she wanted to pull the boy off the man, but was too scared to. The man was lying on the ground, wiggling his arms and legs like a tortoise on its back.

It was then that I did the stupidest thing I have ever done.

I tapped the boy on the shoulder.

"Excuse me," I said nervously, "I don't want to interrupt but- whoa!" He had turned and swung a fist at my head. He missed me by a hair.

"Now let's not get violent!" I said hastily. He growled angrily.

"Thank God someone's here," the man shouted, his face bright red, "I was just minding my own business and this freak jumped me!"

"That's not true!" the little girl shouted, almost in tears, "you took my bear!"

I guessed she was on the boy's side.

"Okay," I said, trying to think of what to do. Before, scientists would always shout when a fight was happening. I decided that that was the best idea. "Stop!"

The little girl seemed to take this as a signal. She lunged forward, taking me by surprise and causing me to fall back. She started kicking and punching the man, who howled in pain. She seemed to be causing considerable damage, and I wondered why the man wasn't fighting back. Perhaps she was super strong?

"Mia!" the boy said angrily. She hesitated, and in the spilt second that she did, the man jumped to his feet and ran away, tripping over his feet as he went.

"My bear!" Mia wailed. The boy leant down and picked it up. It was then that he noticed all the people staring at him. He grabbed Mia's hand and started to run, pulling her away.

"Wait!" I shouted, running after them. I pushed through the crowd that had gathered, trying to chase after the two kids.

"Wait!" I shouted again. The boy ran faster, and Mia stumbled behind him, fear etched on her face. A sense of curiosity spurred me on- or maybe it was my empty stomach, I'm not sure- and I followed them into an empty street.

"Please," I yelled, trying desperately to think of something that could conceivably make them stop. "I- Stop!"
The boy turned around quickly, glancing at me before turning back again. Mia was stumbling as she ran, something on her back twitching noticeably. Somehow I felt like I'd seen that before, but running had given me a painful stitch, and my brain couldn't remember what it was. I noticed the boy's back twitching too.

It was then that I pieced it together.

"Stop!" I yelled, summoning all of my breath to shout as hard as I could, "I know who you are!" The boy turned around, a look of utter panic on his face. He doubled his speed, literally pulling Mia along now.

"No! It's okay!" I said, slowing to a halt, knowing that I was never going to catch them at the speed I was going at. I hoped that what I was going to say would make them stop. If it didn't, my chance of help would disappear in a blur.

"It's okay! I'm like you!"

The boy stopped. Then slowly, he turned around.

"Hi," I said panting as I jogged up to them, "I'm Reagen."

"Who are you and what do you want?" the boy said brusquely,

"I escaped yesterday with everyone else. There was an explosion or something, I don't know. You two are the first people I've seen."
"How do I know I can trust you?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. Unless you can read my mind or something, all I can give you is my word."

He sighed. "I guess that's good enough." He let go of Mia's hand. "I'm Koden. This is Mia." Mia nodded, and clutched her bear.

"Just so you know," she said, "I once killed three wolf-men in five minutes, and you're about the size of one." I flinched. I'd evidently misjudged this girl. But then she smiled and held out her bear.

"This is Button."

"Hello, Button," I said carefully, bending down so that we were at eye level. Considering that the first thing this kid had said to me was that she could easily kill me within five minutes, I knew that to say something wrong would be a bad move.

"How did you two meet?" I asked straightening up and surveying the two of them. They were both quite dirty, and both of them had short hair which looked like it had been cut very badly. The cleanest thing between the two of them was Button the bear. Even the freckles on Mia's face looked like they could be smudges of dirt.

"Our cages were next to each other. After the explosion we just grabbed each other and ran." He looked at me, taking in my appearance. "You're not the best looking, are you?"
I bristled. "And that guy you were beating up?"
"A casual thief, I guess. He tried to nick Button. I bought him," he said proudly, "with money."

"Cool," I said, "I got this backpack."

"What's the plan?" Mia piped up, "you know, if we don't want the s- the s-," she hesitated, and then looked at Koden. "What's that word again?

"Scientist," he said gently.

"Yeah," she said, nodding, "if we don't want the scietists to catch us."

"She's eight," Koden explained, "She doesn't know some words yet."

"So you're…" I said.

"I'm bat- five percent. Mia's two percent bird," Koden interrupted. I nodded- he'd guessed correctly the question I was going to ask.

"I'm same as her. Can either of you fly?" He blushed scarlet, and his back twitched.

"Not- not yet. Can you?"


Mia looked at us, and then shrugged. She fidgeted with her skirt, which like my clothes looked like they had been supplied by the Institute.

"How come you know so much stuff?" I said curiously.

"They had classes at the Institute for some of us- I think we were going to be in an experiment outside, and they wanted us to understand stuff. I know," he said importantly, "what a vacuum is." I was impressed. I had no idea what a vacuum was.

"What is it?"

"It's a big metal thing that washes clothes."

"What now?" Mia asked.

"Find somewhere to go, I guess. Somewhere not open. Somewhere quiet."

I nodded. I hoisted the rucksack up further on my back and the three of us started to walk.

We arrived back at the clearing where I had awoken that morning. It was dark, and the sky was lit with stars. We'd been walking for a while. For some reason the walk away from the town seemed longer than the walk towards it. Mia had complained of hunger several times on the way, and we were faced with the growing dilemma of where to get food. We'd placated her with some berries that Koden found on a bush, and she'd been quiet for a while. She looked slightly sick now, though. Koden and I hadn't had any- there'd only been a handful, and she'd been complaining very loudly. The remains of my tiny camp fire was still there, and so were the marks I'd made on the tree I'd been sleeping in from my first attempts to climb into it. It was cold, and all three of us were shivering, our thin clothes not doing much to block out the cold. I had thought it would be best to take them to a place I knew, but now I was here I had a strange feeling that we were being watched. I didn't like it.

"You slept here?" Koden asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Yeah," I said defensively, "what's wrong with that?"

"Nothing," he said, a small grin on his face, "it's just that-"

"Don't move."

I turned around to see a boy standing by a tree in the corner of the clearing, about seven metres away, his arms outstretched. He was tall like us, and had thick brown hair that fell into his eyes.

"I said, don't move."

I let out a yell of shock as the three of us were encased in a shimmering semi circle. It stretched all around us, and seemed quite thin, but when I reached out and touched it, I found that it was rock solid. It was cool and slick, and it made a faint buzzing sound.

"Hey!" I yelled, "What was that for?"

"Let us out!" Koden shouted. The boy flinched. I could see beads of sweat glistening on his forehead. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Mia turning green. Those berries had definitely not agreed with her.

"I can't," he said desperately, "you're like the others!"

"Seriously?" Koden said, "That's your answer?"

"What others?" I asked. He completely ignored me, though.
"I've got you! How'd you feel about that, huh?" he said, and his voice squeaked. He sounded like he was trying to scare us, but it wasn't really working.
"Over the moon," I said, "Now, who are you? And what others?" I tried to sound brave, but I could see Koden getting frustrated and Mia getting if possible even greener. In fact, she was so green she looked like she was going to vomit.

She did. Sick spewed onto the ground and against the wall of the shield thing. I grimaced. The boy blanched, and the weird barrier thing disappeared. Koden ran at the boy, and managed to get the kid's arms behind his back.
"Who are you?" I asked again, as Mia and I walked over. The boy glared.

"I don't have to tell you anything," he snapped. He looked over at Mia. "I bet you guys are pathetic. How old are you, five?"
"I'm eight," Mia told him snootily, wiping sick off her mouth. He snorted.

"And I bet it's your first time camping out too."

"Right," Koden said, looking mad, "that's it. Reagen, blast him." I stared at him, dumbfounded.

"No!" the boy yelled, sounding panicky, "I'll talk!" Koden loosened his hold on the boy's arms, but still held him tightly.

"My name's Ash, I'm thirteen and I'm part bird and I guess you guys are too, otherwise you wouldn't be threatening to blast me and I guess I'm going to get blasted now, and please don't hurt me!"

"That was a long sentence," Mia said, looking at Koden and me. Koden and I shared a glance over Ash's head.

Do we trust him?

I guess. There was always a chance that he was with the Institute, and that he would stab us in the back the moment we fell asleep, but it was a chance I had taken with Koden and Mia, and it was a chance I would have to take with Ash.

"I'm Reagen," I said, as Koden let Ash go, "that's Koden, and that's Mia. So, you're like us?"

"Like you how?" Ash asked warily.

"Well, we've all got wings." Ash nodded, seeming to process the thought.

"And you've got a sort of group thing going on here?"

"I guess," I said, not sure what he meant, "we're keeping together, if that's what you mean."

"And you're looking for others like you?"

"I suppose."
"I'm like you.

"So- I can hang around with you guys?"

"Sure," Mia said chirpily, "What was that shiny thing you did earlier?"

Ash grinned.

"It's a force field. It stops people from getting out of stuff, and it can protect me too. And I can heal, but I'm not very good at it yet. Can you guys do anything?"

Mia and I shook our heads, but Koden nodded. I looked at him in surprise.

"People can't look in my mind- it's like a wall or something."

"And you neglected to mention this?" I asked in irritation. He shrugged.

"What do we do now?"

"Find stuff, I think. You guys broke out at the same time as me, right?"

"Last night? Uh-huh. I found Koden with loads of dead wolf-things, and then we ran. Loads of people were running though- I think the explosion opened most of the cages."

"No," Ash said, "I broke out after- they buckled down on security, but they'd given me to a new scientist, so I managed to swipe his computer and run."

"You got a computer?" Mia said excitedly, "cool! Where is it?"

"Back there," Ash said, gesturing behind him, "I heard you guys and came to check what was going on. I got this weird rectangle thing too- it's got an apple on the back, but I'm not sure what it does yet. I think the scientist called it a eye pod." Mia nodded sagely.

"Why did you kill so many of the wolf people?" I asked Koden curiously.

He frowned. "I don't want to talk about it."

I frowned, but didn't press it. Mia, who seemed to have engaged Ash in a pinching competition- he was visibly wincing, and she was stony faced. I wasn't quite sure what to make of either of them- Ash seemed to be completely at ease- once he'd got over his initial wariness, he relaxed- but Mia… well, I didn't know what to make of her. She seemed sweet and innocent, but something was telling me that she was hding something. Something to do with Koden.

Koden walked up behind me, and stood so close that there were only a few centimetres between us. He leant down and whispered in my ear.

"I don't trust you."

He straightened up, and grinned.

"Hey, Mia! Wait up!" He ran after her, leaving me alone. I stood still for a moment, stunned. Then I started to follow the three, who I'd only just met and already didn't trust.

Hello! It's Christmas! YAY!

It's also Chanukah! YAY!

I hope you enjoy this chapter.

To my various readers, of whom I suspect there are now none- Thank you for your compliments and criticisms, which I shall now address.

To the fact that this story is breaking guidelines, thank you for informing me of this, and I shall do my best to rectify it. This story takes place in England, so I shall be using English spelling and slang. My own characters will be featured through out the story, as most people's 'submissions' are all good guys. I am proud to say that pretty much all the bad guys are the my very own, so please enjoy them. To the fact that the name 'Reagen' is a name of a president, it is also a girl's name.

Thanks for reading!

Blackie xxx