It was after midnight. There was no sound but that of snapping twigs and crunching leaves. A small girl, try as she might to be silent, couldn’t help but make noises as she stepped. Out of the blue, she began to run. Only a moment after she took off, two tall and dark men hopped out from behind a tree and raced after her. The girl looked behind her in despair, her black hair flying through the air like a whip. She’d been running for hours. She was tired, she was hungry, and she was ready to go to bed. The girl heard their arms slicing through branches louder and louder by the second. She knew they were gaining. She tried to run faster, but she was so low on energy, she just couldn’t do it. A sound buzzed into her ears. It was her earpiece.
“I’m here,” she panted, trying to hide her nervousness.
“Put your back into it, girl!” a man’s deep voice barked. “They’re closing in on you!”
“I’m trying, Mr. Storm,” she exhaled.
“It doesn’t look like you are!” He snapped. “Do I need send Moriyah in your place?”
Suddenly, she felt a new burst of energy. She did not want Moriyah to take her place.
“Much better, Ayana, much better,” the man sounded pleased with the girl. The girl, called Ayana, smiled at this. All Ayana wanted to do was please Storm.
Ayana then noticed some dangling vines ahead and took a chance. Cutting right with extreme agility, she swung into a nearby tree with extreme catlike skills. The men chasing her reached the vines and stopped immediately. Ayana knew they had amazing tracking skills, but this time the men were incredibly fast to find her. They gazed into the treetops. Ayana slid back into the darkness of the trees as they looked in her area. The branch on which she was sitting creaked and Ayana knew they’d see her sooner later.
Quick as a flash, Ayana jumped down onto the men. Shocked, they struggled to get into a position to fight, giving her an advantage. She swung at one of them, but he dodged it. Expecting this, Ayana immediately kicked her leg at his incoming arm. He grunted and tried to hit her back. His partner was shaking off his dizziness and threw a punch at Ayana as well. She saw them both and ducked, causing them to hit each other. Stunned, they stumbled backward. Ayana kicked the second man and sent him to the ground, then gripped the first man’s neck and flung herself onto his shoulders. Ayana had been wanting to fight him for a long time, giving her more energy than she felt possible. She twisted him around while he was trying to shove her off. She slickly pulled him onto the ground and hopped up.
“Come on, Enderson, fight like a man!” she taunted, standing over him. Enderson stood up angrily and was about to swing when a loud buzzing noise was sent to Ayana’s earpiece. She looked at Enderson and noticed his earpiece was buzzing as well.
“That will be enough for today, thank you,” Storm said into their earpieces. “I’ve seen what I need to see. Your pod will be arriving shortly.”
“That… that’s it?” Ayana asked Enderson after Storm finished.
“What do you mean, that’s it?” Enderson replied, breathing heavily. “I’m exhausted!”
“Are you serious? I could’ve gone on for hours!”
“Well, maybe not all of us are as special and incredible as you, Soren.”
“What do you mean?”
“How was I, Treye?” she questioned, breaking the silence.
“You were great,” he admitted. “I see now why Storm favors you over the rest of us.”
“He doesn’t favor me that much,” Ayana shrugged. Out of the corner of her eye, Ayana saw Enderson roll his eyes.
“You’re fourteen years old and you just fought two eighteen-year-olds! Of course he favors you, Ayana!” Enderson said.
“I’m just a good fighter! Just because I can fight doesn’t mean he favors me, Enderson.” Both guys looked at each other and looked back at Ayana.
“Yes, yes it does,” they said in unison. Ayana sighed.
“What’s different about me? What about the other Shadows?”
“You’re just… really good at what you do. It’s not your fault he likes you more.” Ayana smiled at this.
“I would be careful though,” Treye commented, the first time in a while. “Storm has been known to…” He was cut off by a sudden stop of the pod. They’d arrived at Ayana’s residence. It was a small, quaint apartment in the center of the Eastern Shadow’s base. Cozy and not too big or extravagant, it fit Ayana’s taste perfectly. As the door of the pod opened, she glanced at Treye for a moment more.
“He’s been known to what?”
“Nothing,” Treye said clamming up again, as per usual. “Good night, Ayana. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Actually, you won’t. I have training all day.”
“Again? Ayana, do you ever take a break?”
“Nope!” She smiled and hopped out of the pod. Enderson and Treye simply shook their heads at her as the door closed.