Well hello Falling Skies Folk!:D YAY WE'RE GETTING BETTER AT UPDATING! Okay, so a lot happens in this chapter, so enjoy my readers! And also, if you would like to see what Kaylee Parker and Alyssa Carter look like, you are in luck!:D We have created a Facebook page called "Alyssa Carter & Kaylee Parker" and would ever so love it if you liked us!:D By the way, THANKS FOR 1,000+ HITS!:DDDDDDD We love you all too!:) Enjoy because I've been typing all of Alyssa's freaking POV since TWLEVE YESTERDAY and just finished at five today. My dad is mad at me because I've been in my room this whole freaking time and wouldn't come out until I finished. I'm not doing that again. Ever. So drop a review please! It makes me feel like some one cares about how hard we work!:D -Parker

Hey guys! Hope you like it! I wrote this whole chapter in Kaylee and I's english class;D As always please review! And don't to like our Facebook page!:D -Carter


Chapter 8-What Hides Beneath

Kaylee's POV

I won't go into detail about the trip back home from the blasted Sanctuary, since I'm not exactly sure went on because I was zoned out the whole time, but I can't tell you how much I actually missed the school. I missed seeing the civilians, my cot, and the normalish feeling there was. The 2nd Mass was glad to have us back by the looks of it, and we returned the mutual feeling.

Weaver had been extremely short-handed with patrols while we were gone though (even if it was for two days). The only thing I paid attention to was Weaver informing me of the attack on the alien structure over Boston in five days.

"The 2nd Mass is in dire need of explosives and those mech bullets you have. Is there anyway you could make them for us?" He had asked.

"Yeah. I just need pieces of a mech and some materials for the explosives. Won't take me too long to do it all."

So that's when Weaver privileged me with the task of making a special bomb to blow up a leg of the structure and mech bullets. Which means that everything is stellar again, right?

Haha, no.

Let's skip a little forward, shall we?


"Kaylee, I want you, Ben, and Karen out in Boston tonight. I'm need you guys to see if you can find any mech parts to melt down for making bullets or any information you can gather about the structure. Alright?"

"C'mon, Captain. We don't even get a day off after all that's happened?" Ben groaned.

"I actually agree with Ben. We just got back two hours ago; can't we relax a little longer?" I asked.

"Two days was long enough. My other fighters are worn out for covering for your shifts. Consider yourselves lucky I didn't send you guys as soon as you came back." I sighed. We tried our best. At least we get to use our bikes. I haven't ridden mine in four weeks. I missed it a lot.

Like I said, we've been "home" for two hours, so I didn't have time to fully unload all of weapons and ammunition. As soon as we found Karen, the three of us got our bikes from the parking lot, and made our way over to Weaver, who was giving us a map.

"So keep following the main road and you'll see the street signs that'll lead you to Boston. It's about a twenty minute ride. Can you handle it?" he asked.

"Yeah, we'll be fine," Karen said while Ben and I nodded in agreement.

"Alright. Good luck."

I revved up my bike and took the lead of the three of us. I liked going fast in general, but I honestly just wanted to get back already and sleep. I was freaking tired and so damn jealous that Alyssa was already in our room sleeping right now. Lucky bitch.

Ben wasn't as horrible at weaponry anymore…well kinda. He can shoot decently, but he takes too long to aim properly. And if he kept it up, he'd get himself killed. Thank God he knows how to ride a bike already though.

"So how was the Sanctuary?" Karen called over the loud motors of our bikes.

"Good, if you're into the whole psycho-bastards-trying-to-hand-you-over-to-the skitters type thing."

She laughed. "Hal told me that you saved his life."

"Hell yeah I did!" I shouted. I have no idea why she's being so nice right now, but it's nice having a conversation with her and not want to stab her in the eyes you know?

"She shot a guy straight through the heart!" Ben told Karen as we sped through the end of Acton. We had about seventeen more miles to ride over before we hit Boston. I can't imagine why Weaver would send some of his youngest fighters out on this mission alone. He must really trust us then.

"Impressive," she said and glanced at me, then back at the road.

"Just keeping it real."

The icy wind of Massachusetts tugged at my loose hair as we drove down a concrete road. Frost was beginning to line houses all around the area, giving us another reminder about how winter was settling in quickly. My ears and fingers were numb from the cold, but I didn't mind. Being numb was a price I was willing to pay to be able to ride my motorcycle again. I felt…free. Free from all the hurt and pain. Free from the permanent sorrow scarred on my heart. Free from thoughts and past memories.

Free from a world filled with aliens.

A blinding light flashed before us, and then that horrid, horrid sound of a mech moaning resulted. My bike skidded on a patch of ice, and my foot jerked in an extremely uncomfortable way. Ben stopped successfully, while Karen had the exact opposite. Her bike's break wasn't working all too well, so she was at least fifteen yards ahead of us when it finally decided to stop. She was hurled off the bike, and slammed her head on the street as she whipped off. Oh, shit.

"KAREN!" I screamed, to see if she was still conscious or not. She only lay there, not moving a muscle. She's either unconscious, or…dead.

I tried to run over to her, but my foot slowed me down a bit. I hadn't sprained it or anything, it just was really sore from that jolt. Ben stayed back, and I don't blame him for it. After what happened last time, I need him to stay put for the sake of Karen.

However, instead of shooting her, the mech lowered its light a bit, and two harnessed kids came and began dragging her away. FUCK! There was no way I was shooting at kids, and even if I tried scaring them by doing it, I'd hurt Karen in the process or get shot by the mech. Fuck those things must be really smart.

The mech was facing my direction and had its gun pointed at me, almost as if it were daring me to make a move. I almost pulled the trigger on my gun at that moment, but I considered that there might be a skitter around controlling this thing. So if I did that I'd get Ben and I killed. I really can't win here, can I?

I watched helplessly as the kids pulled Karen down the road even farther. I felt so damn guilty, and I could only imagine what Hal-

Oh my God. Hal. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!

So what do you do when your practically brother's girlfriend is being dragged away by two mind controlled kids while a robot alien is a hair away from shooting you with its three inch wide bullets? That's right,

You blow the damn alien straight to hell.

If I couldn't save Karen, I at least have to let Hal know I blew the mech into a thousand pieces. That much I could do. I reached into my holster that had C4 in it, and slowly slipped it out. Karen and the kids were far away enough so that they wouldn't get hurt if I released it. My thumb hit the countdown button, and I chucked it straight at the mech's head.

Tick, tick, BOOM.

And it was raining mech all over. But I didn't have time to admire what a great shot that was, because I could already hear a skitter screeching in the distance.

"KAYLEE LET'S GO!" Ben yelled.

I grabbed a piece of the mech, limp-ran to my bike, and gassed the thing as hard as I freaking could. Ben was right next to me as we rode as fast as our bikes could take us, which for me is 235 miles per hour. His bike lagged a little, but he was still going super fast.

"Can you hear anything?" I shouted over the engines roaring.

"Not anymore! I think we might have lost them!" He shouted back. We continued at the speed we were going at and I calmed down just a tad bit. This can't be happening! Just like that, we lost another fighter. Sure she was a bitch at first, but I think she was starting to grow out of that. Now she's going to be harnessed and Hal's going to be so beat up about this. I'm the worst person alive.

I repeated that sentence over and over in my head the entire way back to John F. Kennedy. Ben was silent for once; he seemed a little worried about his brother, too. But it was the look on Tom and Weaver's face that tore me apart as soon as we arrived back. It was just the two of them outside. It was pretty late outside, maybe around twelve or one.

It was then Weaver asked the question that made me feel sick: "Where's Karen?"

I dismounted my bike-rather sloppily due to my awkward foot if I may add-and my eyes met Ben's. Neither of us wanted to retell what just happened a matter of minutes ago.

"Well?" Weaver asked impatiently.

I sighed and gripped the handle bar of my bike tighter. "When we were riding, a mech was in the middle of the road. It flashed its light in our eyes and made all of us skid. Karen flipped over her bike and got knocked unconscious. And-" Oh my God, Kaylee! Just fucking breathe!

I took a very short breath then exhaled it loudly, showing them I was trying to calm myself down. "And then, some harnessed kids came and took her away. I tried, I really tried to get her back, I swear. But I couldn't-" Again with another short breath. It came out a little shakier than the last one.

"It's alright, Kaylee," Tom said and put a hand on my shoulder, urging me to continue.

"I couldn't shoot those kids. Harnessed or not, I cannot shoot innocent children. And the mech was in my way so I couldn't physically take her from them."

"We're sorry, Weaver. This is completely our faults," Ben finally spoke up.

"Parker, Mason, look at me." Slowly, I raised my down casted eyes to Weaver's. "I know you both feel like this was your mistake, but it wasn't. It was my mistake for letting two fourteen-year-olds and a sixteen-year-old out on this big of a mission without some backup. I don't want either of you bringing yourselves down about this. I'm just glad that the both of you made it back alive and not injured. That's all that matters to me right now. We're gonna have a meeting tomorrow about Porter's new orders, so I'll bring it up. Don't mention this to any of the civilians though okay?"

I nodded meekly. I was always going to take the fault for this, because it is my fault. Weaver is just trying to be a good captain by making us feel better, but it's not working on me. If I had just ran to her faster, Karen could still be back with us.

Tom offered to take our bikes to the parking lot for us, which I accepted. After that, something inside me just snapped, and I became mad and guilty all over. I turned briskly and stormed inside. Jimmy was outside the infirmary and smiled at me as I passed him. But the moment our eyes locked, his smile disappeared instantaneously. Mr. Expert On Reading Eyes and shit.

"What's up?" he asked, matching my pace.

I replied with silence, just really wanting to be alone so I could scream at myself for being a totally dipshit. I was the biggest fucking screw up in the whole damn 2nd Mass, and I didn't exactly feel like sharing that.

I was going to turn into my room, when Jimmy grabbed my arm gently. "Walk with me, will you?"

Don't know why I didn't say no, but Jimmy clearly knew something was bothering me to an extent, and I didn't want him worrying about me. So we walked around the school a little, and eventually we went down to the basement. I think he knew I was about to blow up any second now, and it was best if I didn't wake up all of the 2nd Mass in the process.

I tensed slightly, but eventually I just let it all go. I angrily kicked the storage lockers and screamed, "DAMN IT!" My fingers clenched the sides of my head and then I paced slightly. I can't even describe what kind of emotion was going on inside of me, but it was painful and made me feel like crap. So I started throwing some items across the room and kicked some more stuff on the ground.

"Parker-"

The locker had a dent in it now.

"Parker, look at me."
I slammed my fist into the metal door and just went even more ballistic in the head. Jimmy grabbed my hands and pinned them at my side and stared straight at me with his damn beautiful eyes. The rampage I just had subsided a little, but I was no where near okay.

He slowly let go of my hands, sensing I calmed down just a tad. "What happened?"

I didn't even refrain from telling him; I just flat out poured all of the shit I experienced the past few hours. He made eye contact with me the whole time and kept nodding at me to show he was listening. I told him how damn guilty I felt for all of this and how Hal was going to be so hard on himself after he found out. And after I finally took a breath, an actual breath, once everything had been told, Jimmy reached out and gave me a hug.

I rested my head on his shoulder and tightly hung on to his jacket. Don't worry, there's no way in hell I'm going to cry. Kaylee Parker never cries. He held me back just as tightly as I was holding on to him, and I couldn't stop thinking about how he was the sweetest guy I've ever met and how it was crazy that we became close after a skitter attack.

"It's not your fault, Kaylee. If it's anything's, it's Karen's bike's fault. It could've happened to any of you, honestly. Hal will move on in time, and I know that if you could, you'd go back and change things to help her. Don't take this all onto your plate; you did all you could and that's what counts. I'm just relieved you made it back okay."

And if that wasn't enough to make you all warm and fuzzy on the inside, he gently (so gently I keep questioning myself as to if it even happened) kissed me on my head. I'm going to let you know now, that I have never had a boyfriend in my life, so this feeling was something different. Way, way different.

"Last time we were here, I was the one giving you the reassuring hug. Now it's the other way around," I laughed slightly.

Jimmy chuckled a little. "Funny how things work like that."

Jimmy agreed to stay up with me that night. There was no way I could sleep now; my head was in too much of a rampage. I can't stop picturing Hal's face when he finds out about Karen being taken. Hal was the brother I wish I had, and we really did have that brother-sister relationship.

My brother was a pretty terrible brother, not gonna lie. We were best friends growing up, but as soon as he hit twelve, he just stopped interacting with me. Of course I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't have a decent conversation with me. I missed out on all the fights and the brotherly advice that eventually came out of it. And after our parents died, neither of us spoke to each other under any circumstances.

We rarely saw each other after that day. My mom and dad gave Alyssa's parents custody of us, but that never stopped him. He was always out with his friends, always spending the night at their houses, always too busy to check in on his little sis or to just stop by and say "hey." If we had talked all of this out, I wouldn't be such a wreck now. I guess I'll never get the chance to.

"What are you thinking about?" Jimmy asked softly.

The two of us were leaning against the rows of lockers in the hallway that lead to the basement. We went upstairs after I chilled out; both of us decided that the basement was still too creepy for us.
I sighed and leaned my head back on the ice cold locker. "My brother."

"Is he dead?"

"Probably."

"My sister and parents are gone, too."

I gave him a half-smirk. "Looks like we both got family issues, huh?"

Jimmy chuckled a little. "Yeah, guess we do."

A moment of quietness hung over us. It was so peaceful when everyone else was asleep. "Were you and your sis close?"

"The closest. She was really annoying at times, but she always made me laugh."

"So you were the oldest?"

He nodded. "Were you?"

"Nah, I was the baby of the family," I said and played with some loose material of my jeans. "Really sucked though."

"It sucked being the oldest too, don't worry."

"At least you and your sister had a good relationship though. My brother and I never talked to each other for years."

Jimmy frowned. "Seriously?"

"Yeah. I'd take an annoying, fighting brother over a quiet one. I kinda wish I had that male role model in my life you know?"

"Well what about your dad?"

Ice spread over my heart. That seems to happen every time someone asks me about my parents. And it hurts even worse each time.

I looked down at the loose string on my skinny jeans and tugged at it a little more. "My parents died when I was eleven."

The quietness rushed back over us, and Jimmy only stared at me. That's all that I would say about my parents, nothing more. I just couldn't bring myself to open up about that. Not even to Alyssa. She still has no idea how mentally tormented I am after that.

"I'm sorry I-"

"No it's fine. You didn't know," I said quickly, needing to change the subject. "What were you doing the day of the attack?"

Jimmy cracked a smile. "I ditched school and saw a movie with my friends. We barely managed to find a safe place to hide while the aliens invaded Acton. Somehow we all got separated, and that's when Weaver found me in an abandoned grocery store. What about you?"

"Alyssa and I were watching a movie at her house. But luckily we were far away enough from the bombs to stay safe. And we were at a house getting food when Hal and Ben found us and took us back to the 2nd Mass." Seems like it was forever ago, that day Hal and Ben found us. But it's only been four weeks, nearly a month now. The 2nd Mass has been through such a crap load that we've all become close as if we've known each other for years.

"Do you think we can beat them?"

I thoroughly thought that through. "Sometimes it's a yes, other times it's a no. The Mass's seem to be diminishing faster and faster, but I think that there's a small chance we can pull through. What do you think?"

Jimmy nodded in agreement. "That's how I feel. But with you, I think the 2nd Mass is untouchable."

I laughed at that. "Thanks. I needed a laugh." I rested my head on his shoulder, actually feeling a little tired.

He gently put his head on top of mine, silently telling me he didn't mind me leaning on him. I was grateful for that; I really needed someone to lean on these days. I find it a little insane that I've been so open with him and actually trusting someone else in my life. It's really weird.

"Ugh, I don't want to go to that meeting," I groaned, remembering it.

"I'll sit next to you, if that make you feel any better," he offered.

"I'd really appreciate it."

And we just sat like that, talking for hours and hours. About what we hated and loved. Pet peeves (my list going on much longer than his). What we missed most about our regular lives (mine was music, his was actual food). Things we could change about ourselves. Things we want to do if we make it out of this war. What guns we liked using best. Practically everything two fourteen-year-olds could think of.

"What did you want to be when you were older?" Jimmy asked.

"Pass."

"What? You can't pass."

"Hell yeah I can. Ask me something else."

"Why won't you tell me?" he wondered.

"'Cause it's not important."

"Yeah it is. I want to know everything about you," Jimmy protested.

"That's either really sweet or super creepy."

"Oh my God. You just rarely talk about yourself or open up so I want to make the most of it."

I looked up at him. "You really should've started with that."

He looked back at me, "Shut up and just tell me."

"No."

"Please?"

"Do you know what time it is?"

"Kayleeeeee," Jimmy whined.

"Holy shit it's five," I pointed at the clock on the wall.

"I'm going to keep asking you until you tell me."

"And I'm going to ignore you until you stop." Jimmy, clearly not prepared for that comeback, paused briefly and tried to think of something to retort, but came up with nothing. I pretty much maxed out my talking, so I stayed silent the rest of the time we were sitting there. We had about an hour before everyone else got up. And I was so, so bored.

Once the 2nd Mass was up, Jimmy and I got up and began walking around the school. The meeting wasn't until one, so we had a bunch of time to kill. I could shoot myself out of pure boredom, but an out of sorts Weaver found us walking and stopped us.

"Parker, you start bomb making today. I'll show you where everything is at. Jimmy, I need you out here helping the other fighters with building a defense ring in the front. Let's go!"

I told Jimmy I'd see him at the meeting, then followed Weaver back into John F. Kennedy High. He opened the door to a different history class, and there sat Kaylee Parker Heaven. State of the art bullet makers, top quality materials for explosive creating, shellings of all kinds of guns, everything.

"Can this get any better?" I grinned and made way into the glorious room. "I haven't seen one of these in years." My uncle had the same bullet manufacturer that sat before me, and it was the best of the best.

"You're by far the weirdest girl I've ever met," Weaver said shaking his head, "but without you, the 2nd Mass wouldn't be pulling through on this attack."

"Thanks, Weaver."

"Don't mention it. However, you might not like what I'm about to tell you."

I looked at him, puzzled as to what he meant.

Right then, a man of about forty walked (actually limping slightly) in here, escorted by two fighters. He had a ton of tats, long-ass hair, and a bandaged leg.

"Who's the little girl?" the man asked, motioning at me. Oh, hell no. Kaylee Parker is not a little girl.

"This here is Kaylee Parker. She's the 2nd Mass's weapons manufacturer."

"Adorable," the man replied, sarcasm dripping in his tone.

"Who's the dude with the hippie hair?" I questioned Weaver, not so quietly. It pisses me off when adults call me "little" or "missy" and shit like that. They don't know what the hell I've been through.

Weaver was unfazed by the question which made it all the funnier. "That is John Pope, convict and former leader of an outlaw gang that stole from the 2nd Mass. Not much else to tell, other than he's going to be assisting you with making bullets and explosives. He'll be on guard at all times, but find me if you need anything."

Pope? Seems like a familiar name…I probably heard it from Dr. Glass or some other fighter or something.

"You make weapons, sweetheart?" Pope inquired, moving over to me slightly.

I chuckled dryly, staring up at this guy. He was a couple inches taller than me, but not much. "Call me little girl or sweetheart again and I'll blast a hole in your other leg."

Pope raised his eyebrows at this. "Oh really?"

"Shot a man straight in the heart yesterday. I won't have problem shooting you too."

A flash of surprisement and a small amount of fear became present in Pope's eyes, but disappeared quickly. "Well aren't you just rainbows and sunshine?"

"Kaylee!" Matt ran into the room in the middle of Pope and I's "dispute."

I instantly softened; kids had that effect on me. "Hey, Matt. Shouldn't you be in class?"

"Don't worry, class is cancelled until the attack's over," Uncle Scott followed into the room. Great, more people.

"What's with the vitrolo?" Pope pointed at the big radio Scott had. Matt told me how he and Scott were trying to contact other resistance groups with and old transmitter.

"It's a radio transmitter," Scott told an uninterested Pope. "Scouts found it at a community college, and these types last forever."

"Grrreaaattt," he replied. "Maybe you can get MPR on that thing and we can bore the aliens to death."

"It's not supposed to kill them," Matt said matter-of-factly.

"Well I'm officially not interested. But somebody's got a death wish 'cause these bomb making formulas are a joke!"

I took the paper Pope was holding and read what was on it. "This is downright awful." Pope nodded, pointing at all the papers and the shitty formulas scribbled all over. Not even in my worst nightmares would I see this kind of stuff.

"The ratios are all wrong," I said disgustedly. No wonder Weaver needed help so much.

"Hey, hey, hey! You may have sold the colonel, but I am not buying any of this so-"

And that's the point where I began tuning them out. I'm here to make weapons, not fights. So I grabbed an eraser, wiped the entire stack of papers clean, and started writing out the correct ratios and formulas.

You could say I was a bit of a math person. Probably was one of the few classes I paid attention in because that's what I used to make guns and explosives. And one of the punishments for the ungodly amount of detentions I had was being a math tutor. There's no way in hell I'd ever be a teacher after that experience.

I perked back up when Scott accidentally pushed a button on a mech's arm piece and blasted a hole in the wall. Matt totally freaked at that and ran out the room. I was about to go after him, but it didn't feel right to me. The mech terrified Matt, but I wasn't afraid of it, so there was nothing I could really say to make him feel better. Actually, nothing scares me anymore. I think it's because I'd be okay with dying. I have no one left in the world, apart from Alyssa. She's in good hands though, so I think in time, she'd move on if I did die. Sad that I've thought this stuff through, right?

"We've got some hard stuff to play around with," Pope groaned as Scott exited the room with his transmitter.

"No kidding. You went to college right?"

"That hard to believe?"

"No, I just need you to look over these." I handed him the newly improved ratios.

Pope's eyes scanned the several things I wrote out. "Flawless."

"Thanks."

"You really know your stuff, kid."

"Is that a compliment?" I asked in sarcastic disbelief.

"Don't make me regret giving it. Let's get to work."

So although the both of us started out wrong, our knowledge of explosives and weapon crafting seriously made us great partners. Pope's probably the first person I've talked to that understands a huge side of me that no one gets. Even though he was an ex-con in pre-invasion time, he gave out pretty great advice. And he didn't take forever to make about a point; he straight out cut to the chase. I really appreciated stuff like that.

"U.S. Army?" he read my gloves.

"Yeah," I nodded while finishing a new ratio, "they belonged to my uncle."

"He the one who taught you how to do all this?"

I nodded again while Pope started to inspect the mech's armor again. "I wonder what makes these things so damn impenetrable."

"Their armor is made of chromium and steel, so it seems almost impossible to shoot."

Pope stared at me strangely. "How'd you find that out?"

"From taking apart mechs I destroyed."

"How'd you take them out?"

"C4 sometimes, mainly bullets."

"But-"

"Did you ever think about using their own metal to kill them?"

Pope's eyes were confused, but out of nowhere, something clicked and he understood. "Because that's the only thing that can penetrate their metal."

"Exactly."

He sat on a metal stool, dumbfounded and surprised. "Well I'll be damned. A fourteen-year-old knows more about guns and bullets than I do."

"What did you major in anyways?"

"Culinary Arts." The fuck…

"So you're a chef?"

"Was. Cooked for prison blocks for awhile. If they didn't like my food, I lost body parts. "

I smiled. This guy had one hell of a story.

"What'd you want to be? An army recruit or something?"

"Yeah," I lied. "Kind of my only option."

Pope glanced at me as he ripped apart a sliver of the mech to examine. "Everyone's got plenty of options, kid. You can do whatever you want; don't let people stop you."

"That's not what's stopping me. Besides, that's my past. I'd rather focus on surviving this war than pretending my dreams can come true and shit like that." I don't know why I responded so coldly. Maybe because I was still in a bad mood from the whole Karen thing. Damn the meeting was getting closer and closer. And I still haven't prepared my "I'm Sorry" speech for Hal.

"You've gotta be the first kid I've met that acts twice your age."

I shrugged, scribbling down some final notes and diagrams. "Had to grow up fast."

"Parent issues?"

"Something like that."

Pope dropped the subject and worked his way over to a stack of papers I hadn't gotten to correcting yet. "Unbelievable," he muttered reading the absolute suckage, "Where's the sense of style? Stagecraft?" Seriously, how bad can one guy fail at this?

Matt reentered the room, slightly hesitant. Pope stared him down a moment, before asking, "What do you want?"

"Um, I-I left my backpack," he pointed at the corner where his red backpack laid. He stool looked pretty spooked about before.

Pope, paper still in hand, motioned to the backpack, allowing Matt to retrieve it. Matt walked over to his backpack, but didn't pick it up. He made eye contact with both of us and stopped. "How do you guys know so much about bombs, anyway? Did you go to school?"

"Yeah, I did the four year program at Cochran Correctional." That explains a lot. "You know if your old man finds out you're hanging with me, your life will discover the true meaning of the word 'corporal punishment' after he shoots me."

"I know," Matt responded all innocent like, "he told me to stay away." The youngest Mason walked a little bit more toward his pack, but paused and stared at the sheet concealing a mech body. Pope was watching him, and decided to call him on it.

"Don't worry, kid," he limped over to the table and whisked the sheet off. "Old Sparky here is as dead as dead gets." I couldn't help but notice how much Matt backed up against a table, fear screaming in his eyes.

"It still scares me…" he admitted to us. Of all the times in the world I've wanted to give him a big hug, now topped the list.

"Yeah? Why?" Pope asked half-interested with that tone of voice that said he clearly he had better things to do than listen to a nine-year-old talk about his fears.

"Because they kill people," Matt said in a 'duh dude' way.

"Kid, a lot of things kill people." He was twisting some mech piece that I couldn't identify.

"Not like this. I still have nightmares about them. Taking away Ben, or hurting Mom. I wanna be brave! Like Dad and Hal. Like you and Kaylee." Pop finally made eye contact with Matt, surprised at the compliment. "But I'm scared all the time." There was a newfound anger in Matt's voice as he said this, very frustrated with being afraid of the aliens.

"It ain't the Boogie Man, kid." I think it's like the third time he's called him kid. But he calls everyone who isn't his age 'kid' anyways so I can't really call him out on that. "He's just a pile of rock-em-sock-em junk. Look," he picked up another scrap, "they've got gears, bearings, servos. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a 'Made in Japan' sticker in there."

Pope showed Matt a 44 Cal. mech bullet that was recycled from U.S. bullets. It makes me so freaking pissed that the mechs took all the shells from bullets that were in the U.S. Army dumps and turned them into their own. I mean, where's the originality in that? They can make fucking aircrafts, build huge-ass motherships over every major damn city in the world, create mind-controlling harnesses, and make their own robots, but they can't make their own bullets?

But, as I always do retrace my thoughts, I'd be dishonest if I told you I wasn't thankful that they did make their own bullets from old shellings. Otherwise, I would never have discovered how to make mech bullets. And according to Weaver, the entire 2nd Mass was relying on them. Also, I wouldn't have learned what kind of metal the mech's were since their armor metal came up neutral on my self tests of it. The bullet itself actually had the traces of chromium and steel in it. Alyssa found me downstairs in her basement countless nights trying to figure this out, and I'm glad as fuck I did.

"I have to go help Uncle Scott with the transmitter, but I'll see you guys later!" Matt ran out the door with a wide smile on his face.

I frowned and turned my head toward the ex con. "'See you guys later?'"

"I told the kid that he could come back and help us out if we needed it."

I shook my head disapprovingly. "Tom's gonna have your ass when he finds about that."

Pope shrugged. "Whoops. So are we getting started or what?"

I gave a curt nod, then started up the burner underneath a giant pot. Our plan was to save the batteries on the bullet machines for when we used actual bullets, and to use the pot to melt mech metal for mech bullets. We had a million reloaders (and I really wanted to know where the 2nd Mass got all of them) and Pope and I started getting to work.

And from there on, we spent the next four hours making mech bullets. We had around 2,000 finished, but that wouldn't last nearly long enough for all the fighters we had. Pope and I have our work cut out for us. At this rate, there's no way we'll finish in time. Perhaps Weaver could loan us some fighters and we can speed things up a bit.

When my eyes glanced at the clock in the classroom, I groaned internally. It was 12:50. I had ten minutes to think of something I could tell Hal so I wouldn't feel like a total ass.
"Hate to leave you here all by yourself, but I gotta go to a meeting," I tell Pope as he takes some more of the mech metal to dissemble.

"You're a fighter?" No, I just happen to like making things to kill aliens for fun.

"Did you think any different?" I moved passed the guards at the door and down the hallways. All the vile feelings from yesterday raced back into my heart once I remembered again what the meeting was about.

That thirty second walk down the halls of John F. Kennedy high school was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life. The only thing my eyes permitted me to see was the tiled flooring of the hallways, blurred around the edges from the focus I had in the ground. I felt sick; guilt stirred uncomfortably in my stomach. To make the matter worse, Hal's smiling face was waiting at the end of the hall outside Weaver's office.

"Hey, Parker."

I dragged my eyes from the ground and casted them to Hal's. I'm sorry, I thought to him, I'm so, so sorry. Before I couldn't stand to look at him any longer, Hal's smile faded. "What's up?" Guilt put my eyes back on the floor as I walked inside. I can't be around Hal right now. Hell, I can't do anything but wait right now.

Jimmy was sitting in the classroom already, an open seat next to him. I sunk into the chair so silently, Jimmy jumped when he turned and saw me sitting there.

"That's freaky."

I groaned and put my face in my hands while resting my elbows on my knees. "I feel like a total bitch."

I could hear Jimmy lean forward too. "You're not," he said quiet yet firm, "just don't look at Hal when Weaver makes the announcement."

More people filed in and sat around the classroom. Alyssa sat in the row behind me next to Ben and Hal was in the third row of chairs, looking for a person who would never show up. Tim was up front with Weaver and this new guy Danner or something. When I took a closer look at Weaver's face, it didn't appear to be the "ex-army man" face he usually had on. Irritation creased his brows and anxiety lined his eyes. This is way out of his character.

"Listen up," his voice echoed around the room, "I have some good news and I have some bad news. Good news is that bullet production and bomb making are now underway. We're making good progress, and by the time we head for the structure we'll be ready." I breathed in the silence of the room before Weaver continued on with what I'd been dreading for the past thirteen hours.

"Now it hurts me to say this, but last night, we lost one of our fighters on a scouting mission. She wasn't killed luckily, but she's probably harnessed by now. We have got to be more careful now, more than ever. We're dwindling enough as it is; I can't lose anymore fighters. We've lost enough."

That's when I made the mistake of turning my head after pushing my bangs out of my face. Hal's eyes automatically locked with mine and my heart dropped all the way to hell. He made the connection between my odd behavior moments ago and Weaver's words now. And I think I might have seen tears in his eyes.

Hal got up slowly, and walked out of the room, but judging by how hard he slammed the door, he was not okay. The room was thrust into an extremely awkward quietness. I knew Hal needed time to cool off or to go hit something, but the overwhelming amount of guilt and gut-wrenching regret was something I couldn't stand down from. Unable to take it a second longer, I rose from my chair and glided out the door.

There, down the hall from Weaver's office, was Hal Mason punching and kicking lockers. I guess we're more alike than I thought. He didn't even notice me slowly approaching him until I set my hand on his tense shoulder. "Stop," I said softly, "it hurts like hell in the morning.

The eldest Mason stared back at me, broken eyes more apparent than they were a minute ago. And they seared straight into my tattered heart.

"What happened?" Hal's regular strong, brotherly voice cracking with weakness he no longer could control. I couldn't think; I was too stunned by how vulnerable Hal was being right now.

"What HAPPENED?!" Hal slammed the locker door next to me.

I blinked and stared up into his green-brown eyes, courage building into my dark soul. "Weaver sent Ben, Karen, and I on a mission to Boston. We ran into trouble on the way there; a mech was in the road. Ben and I stopped in time, but Karen's bike break wasn't working, and when it did she flipped over and hit her head on the street."

"And you didn't try and help her?! I know you hated her but is it too much to fucking ask to save the girl I love-"

"I FUCKING TRIED!" I screamed over him. All of that bottled up frustration poured out. Hal flinched a little. The only time he had heard me yell before was when we first met, and when I first spoke to him and Ben.

"I tried," I whispered irate. "There were two harnessed kids taking her away. Hal, I wanted to save her, believe me-"

"But you couldn't," Hal murmured, understanding it now.

"The mech was in my way and I had to make a choice between saving your girlfriend or saving your brother. So I made a decision and got Ben and myself out safely, no matter how much I wanted to help her out. I need you to know that I tried everything to rescue Karen but-"

Hal put his hands behind my shoulders and pulled me into a much needed hug. I held him back, patting his back slightly. This warm, homey feeling spread across my body. It was the feeling of family: being there for someone and having someone there for you.

This is what it must be like to have an actual brother. Somebody who's there to let you lean on them. The person you go to for advice and they come to you in the same way. I've never had that in my life, but I really liked having a brother figure in my life. And I think Hal liked having a sister in his.

Hal wiped his eyes furiously, as if being mad he was crying in the first place. Must be a guy pride thing.

"I wanna give you something." I reached into my hoodie pocket and pulled out the mech piece that was still in there.

"What is that?"

Gloved hand to gloved hand, I set the mech piece down. "It was from the mech that took Karen. I figured that if I couldn't save her, the least I could do was blast the alien that took her straight to hell."

Hal laughed a little at that. He examined the piece for a brief moment, and stuck it in his pocket. "Thanks, Kaylee. That really means a lot to me."

I shrugged. "Anything for my brother."

Hal chuckled and nudged me in the side. "You know I always wanted a little sister."

"Now you have one. I'm just not little."

Hal smiled widely. "You can make anyone laugh at anytime, you know that?"

I bowed cheesily. "One of my many natural talents."

"Cocky bitch."

"Arrogant bastard."

The two of us stared each other down momentarily, but ended up cracking up and high fiving each other for the excellent comebacks.

"I guess you really are my brother after all."

Hall shook his head. "I can't believe we got this close so fast. Especially since we started out wrong."

I scoffed. "Yeah, no shit. If you'll excuse me, my arrogant bastard of a brother, I have bombs to make and you have a fight to prepare for." I saluted him and turned down the hall, heaving a huge sigh of relief. Thank God he's not pissed with me. That honestly went better than I thought it would've.

So despite the awful circumstances, I gained a much needed brother after years of following my own path without someone to look up to. And no brother could be more perfect than Hal Mason.


Alyssa's POV

"Alyssa get up, Alyssa get up, Alyssa get up, Alyssa get up." I grabbed my knife from right by my sleeping bag and through it at him.

"Ow! What the fuck?" I opened my eyes and it was like looking into the sun. God, everything was so bright! I looked at Hal to see he was looking at his arm which had a minor cut on it and was bleeding.

"Did I do that?"

"YEAH!"

"Sweet. I have better aim than I though for this early-"

"Early? Its noon."

"Okay, so what? We got back around 4 A.M. this morning. That's not that much sleep considering how much I lost."

"No we got back at 4 A.M. yesterday. You've been asleep for over 24 hours."

"And I was perfectly fine sleeping for another 24 hours. Why did you wake me up?"

"Because we are having a meeting in thirty minutes."

"Okay so why did you wake me up?"

"I drew the shortest stick." I laughed at him. "Shut up and get dressed."

I stood up and pointed to the door. "Leave and I will."

He walked out and I grabbed my clothes. I was so tired when we got back I took off my weapons and shoes and fell asleep immediately. Everyone that was on that little trip did. I threw on my usual shorts, long-sleeved shirt, and looked out the window. It didn't look too cold out; I decided I didn't need my jacket so I put on my vest and some socks. My vest was one that belonged to my mom. She loved it and it had been through a lot. It was loose on me and denim. In the corner there were three stars, two silver, and one gold. My mom bought the vest at a thrift store and sewed on the stars because she said the vest was too plain.

Hal knocked on the door. "Can I come in?" he asked.

"No."

"Are you dressed?"

"Yes."

He walked in. I ran over to the door to grab my boots. He looked at my socks with his eyebrows raised. "Are those My Little Pony socks?"

"They were my little sister's!"

"I don't what's worse: the fact that you, Alyssa Carter, are wearing My Little Pony socks or that you fit into your little sister's socks." He laughed loudly.

"Just shut the hell up."

"Jeeze. Not enough beauty sleep?" he asked sarcastically.

"You just woke me up. Did you expect me to be happy? 'Cause you are sadly mistaken!"

"Calm down. Meeting's at one; don't be late."

I ran my fingers through my fingers. I really needed a shower, so I went to the girls' locker room here. Some civilians had brought water from a close by river to be used for showers since we didn't get running water. When the aliens bombed, it screwed up underground pipe lines. I took a speedy cleansing, towel drying my hair after words. It felt amazing to be clean again. I even found lotion in an open locker and used that. Once I walked back to the room to get my weapons, Kaylee wasn't there. Where the hell was she? I haven't seen her since the walk back to the school and I didn't hear her come in when I was asleep. Whatever. I'd see her at the meeting anyways.

I brushed out my hair since it was the majority of the way dry. It was five 'til one, so I headed put of the room and to Weaver's office. As I was walking out, I grabbed my belt that I kept my gun and nunchucks on. It had been my favorite belt before the attack and now it was the most convenient way to carry my weapons. I slipped my knife into my boot.

On my way to the meeting, Ben found me. "Hey, Alyssa."

"Hey, Ben."

"Here," he tossed me a gun. "It's an AK-47 assault rifle."

I looked at it and tossed it right back to him. "That's amazing, but it's of no use to me."

"And you think it's of good use for me?"
"You're right, give it to me. You'll probably end up shooting yourself."

"Hey! I'm getting better!" Ben defended himself.

"I'll have to ask Kaylee."

"Weaver wants you to keep the gun, so don't try and "accidentally" destroy it." Damn it.

"I would never!"

"Right. I know you hate guns. Weaver wants all fighters to have at least two good guns on them."
"Fine!"

We bickered a bit more, than walked into the meeting and sat down behind Kaylee and Jimmy. Something was up with her; she seemed even quieter than usual. And she almost always talks with Jimmy. The two were just sitting there; Kaylee had her face in her hands and Jimmy looked sympathetically at her. What was up?

"Have you talked to Kaylee at all today?" I whispered as quiet as possible. Thankfully my black-dressed friend didn't hear me. Now I knew something was wrong. She can always hear me, anywhere.

"Nope."

"She's quieter than normal."

"No she's not."

I rolled my eyes. "Well at least she is to me! She talks to me."

Hal sat down behind us. "Have either of you seen Karen?"

"Maybe she isn't a fighter any more because she isn't strong enough. It was probably too hard on poor little Karen."

"Shut up, Alyssa," Hal glared.

"I'm simply stating the possibilities," I smiled.

"Listen up," Weaver interrupted us, "I have some good news and I have some bad news. Good news is that bullet production and bomb making are now underway. We're making good progress, and by the time we head for the structure we'll be ready." I wonder what the bad news was. Maybe Kaylee knows about it? I know she was on a mission last night.

Weaver continued on with the news. "Now it hurts me to say this, but last night, we lost one of our fighters on a scouting mission. She wasn't killed luckily, but she's probably harnessed by now. We have got to be more careful now, more than ever. We're dwindling enough as it is; I can't lose anymore fighters. We've lost enough."

"Karen…" Hal whispered. Kaylee turned and she and Hal's eyes connected. Hal got up and left the room, slamming the door in the process. Everyone sat in silence, awkwardness running around. I was just about to ask Kaylee what the fuck happened, when she stood up and ran out after Hal. Shit, it must've something really bad.

"Dismissed," Weaver said after a couple of seconds. He seemed like he was here physically but not all the way mentally. He left abruptly after a few moments, not saying a word to anyone.

"Poor Hal," Ben said. When I didn't respond, he frowned. "I know you didn't like Karen, but come on, no one deserves that."

"I know," I said a little sharply. I took a sigh. "As much as I hate her and he annoys me, nobody deserves to lose someone they care about."

"Yeah. I feel bad not telling him myself, but Kaylee and I didn't have the guts to tell him so Weaver said he would."

"Wait. You and Kaylee were there?" He nodded. "Wow, I missed a lot. What happened?"

"We were on a scouting mission to go to Boston last night. A mech was waiting for us on the main road and Karen flipped off her bike and got knocked unconscious. Kaylee and I barely made it out alive."

I cocked my head slightly. "You like Kaylee don't you?"

"No," he answered quickly.

"I'm calling bullshit on that, bro."

He sighed. "How can you tell?"

"Gee I don't know. DUDE! You're so freaking obvious. I'm glad you admitted it though. I thought you were gonna be all like 'noooo I don't like her.' So I would have to prove I'm right and yeah. It's better you just admit it."

Ben was quiet for a second. "Am I really that obvious?"

"Hell yeah!" I laughed. "Even your brother knows. We talked about it at the Sanctuary."

"Hal?"

"No, Matt. Who do you think stupid?"

"How does he know?"

"Like I said, you weren't all that subtle about it. I'd be surprised if Matt didn't know."

"Know what?" Matt asked as he walked into the room, most likely looking for Tom or Ben. I started to speak but Ben put his hand over my mouth. I licked his hand instantly.

"Eww, gross!" he exclaimed and wiped his hand on his jeans. Matt and I laughed at him.

"Your brother likes Kaylee," I smiled at Matt.

"I KNEW IT!" Matt yelled triumphantly. Ben got an embarrassed look on his face and I began laughing.

"What are you gonna do about it, Ben?"

"I don't know. I'm pretty sure she likes Jimmy."

"Yeah, Jimmy knows you like her too. That's probably why he doesn't like you."

"DOES EVERYONE KNOW I LIKE HER?"

"Basically. Well, everyone but her. She is completely, one hundred percent oblivious," I explained.

"Great. She doesn't even know. And she likes him. That's just perfect."

"If it makes you feel better, I'd rather her be with you than him."

"Why?" Ben asked.

"You're nicer and more talkative. I don't think I have had a full conversation with Jimmy yet. You would make her talk about problems and he lets her sulk in her own silence."

"I'm glad I have your blessing," Ben smiled. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. We've got watch with Hal in a bit, let's get going."

"Whoa, wait a second. We're on a scouting duty? Why was I not informed of this?" I wondered.

"We've gotta go find mech parts for Kaylee. She's building bullets that kill them with Pope."
"Oh, good. She needs something to keep her mind occupied. She blames herself. You both do."

"That's why we have so much to do today."

"You said Pope is helping Kaylee? Isn't he like a total lazy-ass?" I hadn't heard the best of things about him.

"Weaver ordered him to."

"That makes sense."

"Come on. We leave in a half an hour. Let's go find Hal." Ben got up and Matt and I followed him out.

"Guess what, Alyssa? I get to help Pope!" he whispered the last part.

"Why are we whispering?" I asked, confused.

"Because my dad can't know. He said I'm not aloud to be near Pope."

"Okay. Your secret's safe with me." Matt smiled and ran.

I caught up with Ben. "Hey, you want to go to the shooting range? I gotta new gun to test out before we leave."

"Sure," he laughed. "I could always use more practice."

I laughed back. "Why do we have to carry an extra weapon?"

"Well, when Kaylee and Jimmy were on that watch, Jimmy almost died because his gun ran out of bullets. Kaylee had extra ammo, killed the skitter, saved Jimmy, and started their friendship, which God knows what will be later on."

"Stop moping, bro. She never had a boyfriend before the attack, and isn't interested in a relationship. She was never really one for needing someone; she's very independent."

"Well thanks. That gives me hope," Ben replied sarcastically.

"Okay, just chill. Give it time." I realized we were at the shooting range now. "We have some mechs to kill tonight and we have to be one hundred percent focused."

"You don't need to tell me twice." We began shooting, and I was kinda surprised that Ben could actually shoot a target now.

My shooting was cut short when an angry Hal came running up. "Where the hell have you two fucking been? We leave now!" When people lose someone they love, one of two things happen. They either become depressed, sad, emotional, or mope, or they become pissed and angry. Hal is obviously the latter. Ben and I ran over to him before he got more upset.

"So what's our job today?" I asked.

"We need to find mech parts and supplies. Any supplies," Ben informed as we walked to our bikes.

"Okay, sounds like a plan." We headed out. The three of us were quiet, not knowing what to say. I knew we were low on supplies, but I didn't know we were desperate enough to send us out adultless after what happened to Karen.

Hal stopped his bike. "We're heading out toward where we found you and Kaylee. Do you know any place we could find supplies?"

"There was this old man that lived a couple streets down from me. He was really paranoid, so they stalked up for like three years."

"Great," Ben, the optimist, said happily.

"Do you know where it is?" Hal, the skeptic, asked.

"Yeah. Kaylee and I went in there once. Tons of canned stuff and water in the basement."

"Let's go check it out," Ben encouraged.

So we hopped on our bikes and eventually things started to look familiar in my eyes. Once we got into town, memories hit me harder than a brick. I spent all my childhood here. It was so bare and empty, so still and quiet. It made me sad to see it like it is now. I gassed my bike and got ahead of the boys. After all, I knew where we were going and they did not. I took us to the house and stopped. We got off our bikes and walked inside. I led them to the basement.

"Holy shit," Ben and Hal said at the same time. I laughed.

"Yeah. I told you there is a lot of food." The old guy stock piled this stuff.

"We might want to go get a truck and come back. I don't think we have enough space to bring this back on our bikes," Ben stated.

"Any other useful places, Alyssa?" Ben and Hal just starred at me.

"Well gimme a second. I need to think." Kaylee and I raided most of the places around here, or the aliens did. Suddenly, I thought of something. "Do we need fuel or bike parts?"

"Yeah," Hal said impatiently.

"Okay, follow me. I know two places."

"Let's go," Ben said, like his total cheery self. The three of us left. It was a five minute walk from where we were. On the bikes it was practically a few seconds.

"Follow me and watch your step." I lead them through the entrance and into the shop. There wasn't much here, but the back had more things. However the door was locked. I went into the drawer on the side of the door and searched for the keys. I remembered that he took the keys with him everywhere. I pulled a bobby pin out of my hair and unlocked the door with it. Hal raised his eyebrows at that.

"It's not that much, but there is some valuable stuff around. And if you go back through the hall," I motioned to the left, "there is the most expensive stuff." I walked over to a cabinet and opened it. Behind the files inside was a secret safe. I twisted the dial and cracked opened the safe. There was money, which was useless now, and some small important bike parts.

"How did you know that was there?" Hal asked when I opened the safe with ease.

"I have my ways."

"Thief," Hal coughed.

"I wasn't a criminal…...yet," I turned away.

"Yet?"

"Yeah. I'm only fifteen. I had a long life ahead of me and my uncle told me I had the talent."

"You had a clean record?" Hal questioned.

"Yes. Is it that hard to believe?"

"Kinda."

"Really, Alyssa? A clean record?" Ben asked disbelievingly, referring to the night at the Sanctuary when I told him about Kaylee and I's little mishap with vandalism.

"Shut up, Ben." I said and he smiled.

"What?" Hal asked confused as to what Ben knew and he didn't.

"None of your business. That's what," I told him.

"Whatever. This place has some nice stuff. What's the other place?"

"It's a supplier to this store. Really nice stuff there."

"How do you know all this?!"

"Well you kinda need to know the place you work at."

"Worked? But how did you know about the safe? People don't usually tell their fifteen-year-old employee about that stuff," Hal protested.

"They do when that employee is their niece."

"So your uncle owned this shop? The one who thought you'd be a good criminal?"

"Yup. I have a pretty twisted family."

"Uh, well on that note, let's go check out the other store," Ben said.

So we did. The ride was relatively short. I used to make the drive all the time, either by car or bike. Making that drive like I did so many other times was the first thing I'd done that felt natural. Almost, anyway. We pulled up to the store and went inside. There, the walls were stocked high with anything and everything you could need for cars, ATVs, or bikes.

"Wow," the Mason brothers said at once as they walked around looking at everything. Ben disappeared into the other room, checking out all there was.

Hal and I waited by some shelves and counters. On the shelves they had key chains and little things to put on your bike. I sat on the counter as Hal looked at the key chains.

"She would've liked this," he said it so quiet, I'm still not completely sure he did say it. He was fingering a pink diamond key chain with a motorcycle on it. I looked at him, and he seemed so frail and fragile. Like if you touched him, he would break.

"We'll get her back, Hal," I said softly. "Don't worry." As much as I hate her, no one deserves having a harness on their back.

And I have no idea what the hell compelled me to do what I did next, but I hopped down off the counter and gave Hal Mason a hug. I, Alyssa Jane Carter, was hugging the boy that annoyed the crap out of me. On my own will. What the fuck has gotten into me?

Hal tensed up for a second, absolutely not expecting this, but then he hugged me back. I felt so freaking short next to him. My head only reached his chest. I was waiting for Hal to pull back, since he needed the hug, but he didn't. We just stood there, holding each other. I don't think I've ever been another person's shoulder to lean on except for very occasionally Kaylee, so it was definitely a new experience for me.

"Okay, guys. Ready to-oh. Umm, I'm sorry." Ben had run in, but stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Hal and me.

Once we broke apart, I looked up at him to see if he was okay. And when I did, I noticed something that I never noticed before. Hal had stunning eyes. Like, seriously stunning eyes. Hal walked out though, and Ben just stopped and stared, waiting for an explanation.

"Shh. Just…shhhh." I said. "I need to talk to Kaylee or Lourdes or even Anne. But I need to talk to a girl."

Ben put his hands up. "You know what? I don't wanna know."

The three of us mounted our bikes and left, preparing for the twenty mile ride back. Everything was going great. This ride was so much different from last time. Before, I was pretty sure I was going to kill Hal within a week or staying there. Now, I don't know how I feel about him. I mean, that hug meant nothing, right? Fuck, I really need girl advice. Fast.

I was in deep thought when a blinding light flashed in our faces and the unmistakable sound of a skitter filled the air.

"Get down!" Hal yelled. At that exact moment, my bike lost control and fell over onto me.

"Alyssa!" Hal and Ben exclaimed.

I tried to get up but my bike was on top of me, or what was my bike. I shoved the dissembling bike off of me and stood up. I grabbed the stick of C4 Kaylee gave me before our first scout and yelled at Ben and Hal to back up. Once they were out of the way, I launched the ticking C4 into the air.

3,2,1…

BOOM! Mech parts were raining down on us. The skitter shrieked as it saw it's alien pal blown to bits and shrieked again when it was being shot at by Ben.

For the first time, I realized the extreme pain in my knee. Hal and a Ben came running over to me.

"Ow, ow, OW! Oh shit," I said and winced.

"Are you okay?" Hal asked.

"Does she look okay?" Ben retorted.

Hal ignored his brother. "Where's your bike?"

"In a heap of metal over there," I pointed at it. "At least it's not mine. Dai and another fighter had to use Kaylee and I's bikes for a mission."

"Alright, can you walk at all?"

"I can try." I took two steps forward and collapsed. My knee had given out on me. "Nope, no I can't."

Hal reached down, picked me up bridal style, and carried me over to the bikes. This was extremely embarrassing, especially with what I had been considering earlier. Ben picked up Hal's bike and Hal set me on it carefully. Hal slid in front of me and Ben got onto his bike. And we were off.

"Okay, we are never taking this road again. Last time we were on it, Alyssa crashed and we lost a bike. It's a cursed road," Ben proclaimed.

"Good point," Hal said and I laughed. I thought about my last crash on this road. The rash I had gotten was gone, but a wicked scar took its place.

Ben sped up his bike and passed Hal. Hal did the same, and when he did, I gripped him tighter.

"Scared?" Hal chuckled.

"No, I just don't want to die. Or crash…again."

"You're safe with me. Promise." What the fucking hell? If it were a week ago, Hal would have totally taken that opportunity to throw some insult at me. Instead, he was being really sweet. Oh my God I need to talk to someone NOW!

Hal and Ben continued racing all the way to the school. When we got back, they parked the bikes and Hal carried me to Dr. Glass's.

"Oh my gosh. What happened?" Dr. Glass asked once we set foot in the infirmary.

"I crashed my bike when we were riding from a mech and it hurt my knee. I've had knee issues in the past though, so it's nothing new really. I couldn't walk."

"So that's why I saw Hal carrying you down the hall?" Lourdes walked in.

"Yeah," I smiled, but Lourdes didn't look happy or even return the smile. She looked sad. Anne did too.

"Alyssa, I want you to rest here and ice your knee. I have some pain meds that'll help you sleep."

"Okay." Lourdes helped me lay down on a cot, and Anne brought me two pills and some water. Once I drank it down, I was totally out. Riding and fighting is really tiring.

When I was sleeping, I saw a couple of people in my dreams, but only one stuck out to me. Hal Mason.

His eyes kept getting to me. They were a gorgeous hazel that never made up their mind about being green or brown. I still can't believe I hadn't noticed how beautiful they are.

Kaylee's POV

I was at the shooting ranges, taking a break from bullet making (I can't stand to stay in one place for really long periods of time), practicing for the upcoming fight when Ben had come running up to me, very out of breath.

"What's up with you?" I asked, not pausing to talk.

"Alyssa's in Dr. Glass's."

I stopped blasting. "What?"

"We got ambushed by a mech and a skitter on our way home from a scout and she crashed her bike. Now she can't walk very well-"

That's when I decided to stop listening to Ben and head to Dr. Glass's. That damn bitch thinks she can tell me to be careful and then she goes and fucking crashes a bike. I sprinted inside and walked into the room.

"Hey, Kaylee."

"Hey, Lourdes." I saw Alyssa sleeping on one of the cots, a bag of ice on her knee. I know she's had knee problems, but she should know not to push it. I'm going to kick her ass when she wakes up. I pulled up a plastic chair and sat down, leaning back and crossing my arms. "How long has she been asleep?"

"About three or four hours. She'll probably wake up soon."

"Alright, cool."

Lourdes continued organizing medicine in the cabinet, and eventually Dr. Glass walked in with a bunch of random cans of food in her hand. They must be for the sick people in here or something. She was really startled that I was in here, because she dropped all of the stuff.

"Shoot!" Dr. Glass said. I turned around when I heard rustling in front of me. Alyssa is going to seriously regret waking up. I laid my sneakered foot onto my knee and leaned back more. Her eyes opened, but she didn't realize just who was sitting in front of her. But when her eyes finally focused, Alyssa looked absolutely terrified.

"Morning, sunshine," I said with no emotion whatsoever.

"DR. GLASS!" Alyssa screamed. "LOURDES!" That's right, bitch. Be very, very afraid.

Dr. Glass walked over to where we were, alarmed at the screaming. "Yes? Is your knee bothering you?" It fucking will in a minute.

"Don't leave! Kaylee is gonna hurt me!" Damn straight.

Dr. Glass raised her eyebrows, knowing how close we were and thinking that there was no way I'd hurt her. Ha ha, how cute. "I don't think she will."

"Oh, I have plenty of bruises to prove you wrong." Don't forget scars, my friend.

Dr. Glass, to make Alyssa settle down, said, "Kaylee, don't touch her."

I smiled at her. "I promise to be as calm as possible."

Dr. Glass nodded. "Good. I'll see you two later. I have to go check on one of my patients with Lourdes." When she left with Lourdes, I turned back to Alyssa.

"OH SHIT!" Alyssa yelled. I was killing her with my eyes so I wouldn't accidentally do it with my gun.

"WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?" I yelled back and slapped her between each word.

"OWW!" I think it's pure genius using my best friend's knowledge of fist fighting against her. Makes me feel accomplished.

"You damn well knew that I wasn't going to be happy with this. You brought that upon yourself." I raised my hand to slap her again, and she raised her arms to protect herself. I knew she was afraid of me when I'm pissed. Hell, everyone is.

"Calm the fuck down! My knee gave; nothing new! Damn that hurt." She rubbed her arm that was pretty red at the moment. I hope she gets a bruise from that.

"How the hell did your knee give? You were on a fucking bike, idiot."

"My bike lost control and when I stood after crashing, it gave out."

I watched her and how freaked out she was. Most of the time I don't have explosions on her like this, but she knew that if she made me mad I didn't hold back on taking it out on her. Alyssa can't see past much in my eyes, but she can see enough that I was not going to let her off easy for this.

"If you do it again, you're not living to see sixteen."

"My birthday is in a few weeks."

"And I'll have no problem shooting you before your birthday."

Alyssa's eyes widened. I'm not screwing around. If I lose her, I'll have to bring her back to life and kill her again. "But on the bright side, I got to use my C4!"

"The one I gave you a month ago?"

"Well, yeah-" I stood up out of the chair and headed out of the room.

"No, 'I'm glad you're okay' speech?"

I raised my middle finger at her above my head and continued down the hall back to the weapons forging room. Pope had made about a hundred more bullets since I'd been gone, which was pretty impressive with a recovering leg since we have to move around to fill the molds and put the metal in.

"Wow. Nice job."

"Trying to make up for your laziness," Pope replied while filling the reloader.

"Shut up," I said and took a seat next to him and started sorting the freshly made bullets into different piles for different guns. I didn't have to look at them; I just had to feel the bullets to know where they belonged.

"You got crazy talent, kid." Pope eyed me just fingering the bullets and staring into space.

"Enough for you to call me by my name?"

"Not that much."

"That's what I thought," I chuckled. Pope was a pretty cool guy, even with his criminal record and what not. In a weird way, he kind of reminded me of my uncle. They both were into making bombs and weapons. They had the same sense of humor. And they had similar tattoos. It's weird how things turn up like that. I mean, I thought I should be dead when the aliens bombed. But if I was, then the 2nd Mass wouldn't have these valuable bullets and weaponry they needed to take out the aliens and the structure. Knowing that made me feel pretty useful, like I actually had a purpose in life.

And that's the beauty of all of this: I have the chance to be what I want to be, not what others label me as. I didn't have to be the weird emo girl that sat in the corner of the cafeteria with only one friend at school. I didn't have to be the rebellious teenager my teachers thought I was. I didn't have to be the girl without a family. Most importantly, I didn't have to be the person my mom wanted me to be, practically forced me to become. Now, I could just be Kaylee Parker. The girl who loves black, sleeping, music, and blowing things up. That's what I love about having the aliens invade. They gave me the chance to start over, and somehow I'll always be grateful for that.

And that's what led me to what I was about to ask Pope. "Pope?"

"Yeah?"

"If you could go back in time and prevent the aliens from coming, would you?"

Pope poured steaming mech metal into the molds. "Hell no. This is the best thing that's ever happened to me. There's nothing better than killing Cooties."

I smirked at his term for the skitters. He really was quite a character in this war, and I hope his name is written down in when someone writes out what happened during this period of time. He smiled a little at his response, proud of his answer.

"What about you, kid? Or did you have some secret boyfriend that died and now you're avenging his death?"

I laughed. "Oh fuck no. Guys were a waste of time. My past ain't pretty, and I love fighting the…Cooties." Pope grinned when I used the name. I smiled back at my answer. I don't think I've ever really admitted that to anyone, but it's true. Putting my combat into actual use was something that I loved and will never get tired of. I did want it to be normal again; however I'd be lying if I denied enjoying this experience.

"You know, I think we have a little bit of bullets to spare to show the 2nd Mass and the fighters how these babies work," Pope said.

"Awesome. If you can move some mech pieces outside, I'll give a demonstration."

"Will do." Pope was about to take a section of the mech out, but a blonde girl stopped him from doing so.

"KAYLEE! We need to talk!" Alyssa barged into the room, not even acknowledging Pope's presence. Looks like her knee was fine. It was pretty bipolar at times; one minute it was fine and the next it would give her some problems.

She finally saw that Pope was standing there, giving her a questioning look. "Who the hell are you?"

"Nice to meet you too, sweetheart."

"Just answer the fucking question."

"Name's Pope. Who the hell are you?"

"Carter. What's with the girl hair?" Alyssa asked bluntly. I stifled a laugh.

"Why do you guys hate my hair so much?" Pope asked the two of us.

"'Cause it's stupid," I inform him. "And it makes you look like a hippie. Alyssa what's up?"

She turned and glared at Pope. "Get out, I gotta talk to Kaylee."

Pope shook his head. "I have orders to stick to. And between you and me, I'd rather have my all four of my limbs."

"My best friend is a fourteen-year-old that can make a bomb in fifteen minutes-"

"Ten," I corrected her.

She rolled her eyes. "Ten. I've killed skitters with just a knife. Do I need to continue?"

"Yeah, whatever. We all had to learn stuff we didn't know before the attack," Pope said, not intrigued.

"No, no. She's been able to build a bomb since she was nine."

I continued sketching the bomb we were making for the structure attack. They were a set of blue prints, and I was fairly proud of it. I'm not much of an artist; guns and bombs are my specialty. "True story," I confirmed without looking up.

"Damn."

"Yeah. Now get the hell out of here!"

Pope made no move to leave. He was a stubborn guy. "I'm not afraid of you, little girl. So you can give up the tough chick act."

"Listen to me. I will beat the shit out of you, and then Kaylee will blast a bullet through your head if you don't leave." I was about to point out that I kinda needed Pope if we wanted to keep up the pace of production, but Alyssa seemed really distressed. Something was really bothering her.

"Whatever," Pope gave in and exited the room.

Alyssa turned to me. "Okay, I have a major problem!"

"What?" I asked, still paying full attention to my drawing.

"I…I think I like Hal," Alyssa said practically ashamed.

"It's about damn time you admit it," I say, still not making eye contact.

"Admit what?"

Oh my God. I picked up my eyes and looked at my horribly confused best friend. "You and Hal. I freaking called it the day they found us."

"How?!"

"Dude, I've known you since I was born. You two have the exact same characteristics and same personalities. Since you and him are both really headstrong, you didn't get along at first. But I knew you would after all the patrols you guys had to go on."

"Oh," she said simply, not thinking that I would know. Please. "Did you notice how off Weaver seems?

"Yeah. He doesn't seem all the way here."

Pope randomly walked back in, laughing his ass off. "You like the Mason boy?" He continued laughing harder.

Alyssa, infuriated that Pope overheard us, blew up. "Like I said earlier, I'll beat the shit out of you and then she will blast your mother fucking head off."

"What else did you hear?" I asked Pope, fearing that he heard about Weaver.

"That's it. I was laughing too hard to hear anything else." He looked at the two of us and probably saw how we were thankful we were that he hadn't heard us talking earlier. He frowned. "What? You guys share any more deep dark girl secrets? Wait let me guess, you like the other Mason kid right?" Pope guessed.

"Oh hell no!" I socked him in the arm as hard as I could to get the thought out of his mind. HELL no.

"Fuck! You can pack a punch," Pope said rubbing his arm.

"And I can punch harder," Alyssa affirmed.

"Oh really?" Ooh, mistake. Alyssa slugged him in the other arm to prove that she too could hit hard.

"Alright! Stop fucking hitting me!"

And if things couldn't get funnier, Hal ran in the room. "Hey guys, my dad needs to talk to us."

"Okay," Alyssa said, and Pope started laughing. They walked out of the production room together. I told Pope to move the stuff to the front of the school and I'd be back as soon as we were done talking. When I caught up with them, Alyssa was talking to Hal about how much she hated Pope, and it amused me on how they were bonding over hatred. That's what started their relationship, right?

Hal lead us to the room where he, his brothers, and his dad were staying. Tom was the only one waiting for us. He looked concerned.

"Kaylee, Alyssa. I'm going to cut straight to it: something is wrong with Weaver. I don't know what's up, but we need to watch out for him. He could be dangerous. I want you two to keep your eyes on him, for the civilians. They need faith in their captain." Alyssa and I nodded, and Hal asked what Tom was going to do about it.

"I don't know. I'm going to keep my eye on him and maybe something will come up. For now, just stay alerted."

"Alright. Follow me, I wanna show you guys something," I smiled.

I hurried outside to the front of the school where the entire 2nd Mass made a horse shoe around the mech display. Pope was making sure that everyone was here, and probably irritating everyone. I ran over to Pope and climbed on top of the wooden boxes he set up so everyone could see us. I was really excited to see the fighters' reactions.

"The score of the aliens is one, and humans zero!" Pope began the presentation. "Hell, humans aren't even on the board! So why are we losing this war? Because the bad guys have us outgunned! It takes an entire magazine just to put a dent in them tin soldiers!" Pope limped off the boxes and I joined him on the ground. I don't really do the whole public speaking thing. Acting is one thing, talking to crowds is another.

"Kaylee?" He signaled.

I took out my Colt M1911A1 handgun and pointed at the mech's armor. I shot at the mech several times, and watched the bullets bounce off.

"So that's how it's been," Pope projected. "But," he raised one of my mech bullets, "there's a new sheriff in town. It's a standard bullet, only it's got a mech metal slug." Pope gave me the bullet, and I put it in my gun. I took aim for the center of the mech, and fired. A huge hole was now in the mech head.

The 2nd Mass up roared at the news. I grinned and high fived Pope. This was fantastic that they were so thrilled, and I couldn't wait for the fighters to try them out.

"WE'RE TAKIN' THIS FIGHT TO THEM!" Weaver shouted. The crowd cheered in excitement, and I swear, I've never seen so many smiles in my life.

And to know that I was the cause of those smile made my heart soar.

Alyssa's POV

I heard a loud crash and instantly woke up.

"Shoot!" I heard Anne say.

Once my eyes adjusted, I saw a figure. And then I realized who it was exactly. It was a person you NEVER want to be in a room with when she's mad. And she was extremely pissed. Shit!

"Morning, sunshine," Kaylee said, completely monotone.

"DR. GLASS!" LOURDES!" I yelled.

Dr. Glass walked over to where I was. "Yes? Is your knee bothering you?"

"Don't leave! Kaylee is gonna hurt me!"

"I don't think she will."

"Oh, I have plenty of bruises to prove you wrong."

"Kaylee, don't touch her," Anne said.

Kaylee gave her a smile, the kind that everyone believed except me. She wouldn't teach me how to do it either. "I promise to be as calm as possible."

"Good. I'll see you two later. I have to go check on one of my patients with Lourdes." And Anne left. Kaylee turned back around.

"OH SHIT!" I yelled. Kaylee had the most murderous look on her face. I was seriously scared for my life.

"WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?" She slapped me a ton of times, and it hurt like hell!

"OWW!"

"You damn well knew that I wasn't going to be happy with this. You brought that upon yourself." She put up her hand to slap me again, but I put my arms up so she wouldn't.

"Calm the fuck down! My knee gave; nothing new! Damn that hurt." My arm was fucking stinging.

"How the hell did your knee give? You were on a fucking bike, idiot."

"My bike lost control and when I stood after crashing, it gave out."

Kaylee stared at me, making me really scared. If she hits me again, I'm going to scream bloody murder. "If you do it again, you're not living to see sixteen."

"My birthday is in a few weeks," I pointed out.

"And I'll have no problem shooting you before your birthday."

Holy shit, she's pissed. Better change the subject. "But on the bright side, I got to use my C4!"

"The one I gave you a month ago?" Kaylee asked.

"Well, yeah-" She stood up made her way out of the room.

"No, 'I'm glad you're okay' speech?" I wondered. Kaylee flipped me off and left. Sometimes I question if she really loves me or not.

Anne reentered the room. "You're free to leave now. Come back of it starts acting up again."

"Thanks, Dr. Glass." I got up and out of the room to find Weaver or Tom so I could find out what the situation was with the attack or what I could do to help. I circled the school for at least twenty minutes, trying to find either of the 2nd Mass's commanding officers, but I couldn't. Oh well, I needed to think anyways. About how I felt about Hal. But I'm one for asking advice, not figuring it out for myself (the opposite of my tall friend). I need to find Kaylee. She's helped me with all of my problems, so I sought out to find her.

Kaylee. Where would she be? I thought for a second. Shooting ranges. My knee was feeling way better, so I ran to the ranges, but she wasn't there. Okay, next. Umm… My mind went blank. Oh! She's working on bombs and stuff. I turned around and sprinted over to the room she was working in.

"KAYLEE! We need to talk!" I slid into the room. Then I noticed that a dude was standing there. I glared at him. "Who the hell are you?"

"Nice to meet you too, sweetheart."

"Just answer the fucking question," I decided to ignore the whole sweetheart thing because I needed to talk to Kaylee so damn bad.

"Name's Pope. Who the hell are you?"

"Carter. What's with the girl hair?" I questioned. What man does that?

"Why do you guys hate my hair so much?"

"'Cause it's stupid," Kaylee told him. "And it makes you look like a hippie. Alyssa what's up?"

"Get out, I gotta talk to Kaylee," I said to Pope.

Pope shook his head. "I have orders to stick to. And between you and me, I'd rather have my all four of my limbs."

"My best friend is a fourteen-year-old that can make a bomb in fifteen minutes-"

"Ten," Kaylee said, eyes on a drawing she was making.

I rolled her eyes. "Ten. I've killed skitters with just a knife. Do I need to continue?"

"Yeah, whatever. We all had to learn stuff we didn't know before the attack," Pope said uninterested.

"No, no. She's been able to build a bomb since she was nine," I clarified.

"True story," Kaylee added.

"Damn."

"Yeah. Now get the hell out of here!"

"I'm not afraid of you, little girl. So you can give up the tough chick act."

Oh, fuck no. "Listen to me. I will beat the shit out of you, and then Kaylee will blast a bullet through your head if you don't leave."

"Whatever," Pope finally left.

I looked at my best friend. "Okay, I have a major problem!"

"What?"

"I…I think I like Hal," I told her, really embarrassed about it.

"It's about damn time you admit it." She made no move to even look at me.

"Admit what?"

She glanced up at me. "You and Hal. I freaking called it the day they found us."

"How?!" And she didn't fucking tell me?!

"Dude, I've known you since I was born. You two have the exact same characteristics and same personalities. Since you and him are both really headstrong, you didn't get along at first. But I knew you would after all the patrols you guys had to go on."

"Oh," was all I said. "Did you notice how off Weaver seems?" I don't know why I said that randomly. Kaylee played along and answered me

"Yeah. He doesn't seem all the way here."

Pope walked back in, laughing hystercially. "You like the Mason boy?" He cracked up. Fucking shit, I thought he would've left.

"Like I said earlier, I'll beat the shit out of you and then she will blast your mother fucking head off."

"What else did you hear?" Kaylee questioned.

"That's it. I was laughing too hard to hear anything else." He noticed our relieved faces. "What? You guys share any more deep dark girl secrets? Wait let me guess, you like the other Mason kid right?" Pope pointed at Kaylee.

"Oh hell no!" Kaylee punched him in the arm as hard as she slapped me earlier.

"Fuck! You can pack a punch," Pope said, pain in his tone.

"And I can punch harder." I really hate this guy.

"Oh really?" I shrugged and then socked him in the other arm.

"Alright! Stop fucking hitting me!" Pope exclaimed.

Suddenly Hal ran in the room. "Hey guys, my dad needs to talk to us."

"Okay," I said, which made Pope start to chuckle.

I followed Hal. "I really don't like him."

"I don't either," he said, smiling slightly at me.

We walked into the room the Mason's were staying at. Tom was waiting for us.

"Kaylee, Alyssa. I'm going to cut straight to it: something is wrong with Weaver. I don't know what's up, but we need to watch out for him. He could be dangerous. I want you two to keep your eyes on him, for the civilians. They need faith in their captain." Kaylee and I nodded. Hal asked, "So what are you gonna do?"

"I don't know. I'm going to keep my eye on him and maybe something will come up. For now, just stay alerted."

"Alright," Kaylee grinned, "Follow me, I wanna show you guys something." We walked with Kaylee to the front of the school. Pope had set a mech head in the center of the circle. A large crowd had gathered around to see what was about to happen. Kaylee sprinted forward to Pope.

"What the hell?" Hal asked.

"No clue."

"The score of the aliens is one, and humans zero!" Pope yelled over the crowd. "Hell, humans aren't even on the board! So why are we losing this war? Because the bad guys have us outgunned! It takes an entire magazine just to put a dent in them tin soldiers!" Pope got off he box he was standing on and Kaylee came down with him.

"Kaylee?"

She took out a handgun and aimed at the mech's armor. She shot her regular bullets at it to show how they don't do anything.

"So that's how it's been," Pope continued. "But," he raised a bullet, "there's a new sheriff in town. It's a standard bullet, only it's got a mech metal slug." Pope handed Kaylee the bullet. She took aim for the center of the mech, and fired. The mech bullet went straight through the metal.

The 2nd Mass up screamed with happiness. Kaylee was ecstatic, her smile spreading as she saw the faces of everyone.

"WE'RE TAKIN' THIS FIGHT TO THEM!" Weaver shouted.

And after a long-ass day that ended perfectly, I went back to my room to sleep more.


It's done! Now I can go socialize with my family;D Hahaha have a great Thanksgiving guys! And make sure to review and like us on Facebook!:D

~Kaylee Parker