Ayah has been in a cell for five months now. They keep her here without a bed, with walls of plastic. She thought it best to take it as a compliment; they had built a room just for her, to keep her from seeing the strings of fabric that create the natural world. It is easy to distinguish the different parts of a tree, even metal, but plastic is completely man made and she couldn’t get a handle of it—until now. Everything looks like fabric to her; if she shifts her vision, like the focus on a lens, she is able to pull things apart by the seams. Once, to get her sister to understand, she tried to explain it by showing her an old netted sweater. Her sister watched as Ayah handled the different strings that constructed the sweater and then slowly pulled them apart until a pile of strings laid before them—like a pile of organs after being removed from the human body.
They grabbed her while she was pretending to take down their tracking systems. Ayah is useless when it comes to technology; that is her sister’s specialty, her sister who is about to take down not just the tracking system, but also the whole city. None of them know what is beyond the walls of the city, only stories of the population not born in lab.
Ayah is tempted to use her talent and set herself free but can’t, her sister will be here soon. Joining her sister will be three others: one in charge of capturing the president, the other in charge of destroying the building once they leave, and one to come for her—Bash. They had all grown up in separate sections of the city, kept apart for security reasons, and the safety of the ones that created them for their benefit. She was meant to function like an enhanced surgical tool, how please they will be when she unravels their construction using the skill they gave her.
They aren’t the first ones to attempt to take the detentions centers down; they are just first ones dumb enough to attempt internal sabotage. Not because of her—she is just here to unlock the doors.
Ayah has the easy part. Her sister has to smile longingly at a man who plays a part in the murder of their people. It is easy to take a system down when it has a heart.
The alarm goes off, alerting Ayah to her friends’ arrival. It rings in her ears like knives. As soon as the ringing begins, she brings her hands to her ears and screams. The other prisoners in the cell block react similarly. The sound doesn’t bother the guards who are now surrounding her cell. They stand with their weapons, some pointed at her, others pointed at the other angles surrounding her cell and watch her scream. They can stand their unbothered because the frequency of the alarm doesn’t affect them.
If her sister hears their screams hopefully it will ease her guilt. From the beginning her sister knew her part, knew her job was to have him love her until it was love that could start a war. Destroying this detention center would not be enough to end it all, but it would be enough for an opening. That is all they need.
She concentrates on crawling to the edge of the cell. The guards whose weapons are pointed at her command her to move back. She ignores them and instead focuses on the strings past her cell. One of them kicks her hand when she tries to reach out to the fabric seams. To get rid of him, she grabs the string connected to the fabric making up his heart and tugs as hard as she can. The guard falls to his knees, gasping, and pounding his chest. This distracts the others long enough for her to reach and yank the strings connecting to the security network; they had overlooked the fact that electricity is still natural regardless of how they claim control over it. She shuts down their alarms first.
Then she opens the detention center doors to her people.
It doesn’t take long for Bash to find her or take down the guards. The task of ripping out organs of an individual becomes easier when it’s a talent you are born with. Bash unlocks her cell and helps her up.
“My sister?” she asks.
Bash says, “with Xavier.”
Ayah turns her attention from all the fabric strings around her to watch his face. “He kept me in a cell for five months.” She gestures to the others of their kind who are looking around to see if freedom is a trap. “Some of them have never felt sunlight.”
Bash ignores her in favor of speaking the cellblock searching for direction. “If I were you I’d stop standing there and run.”
Ayah watches them sprint out of the cellblock. Outside Foster, waits for those wanting to join their cause. He’ll wait for her and the rest of their team before he demonstrates the extent of his skill. He has a talent for setting things on fire.
“What of the guards?” Ayah asks. “Josten won’t be able to get the president and the prisoners out on his own.”
“I told you.” Bash says. “Xavier’s helping us.”
“To blow up his family’s kingdom?” Ayah clutches her jaw. “How easy it is to turn a man when there’s a pretty smile on the other side.”
“He loves her.”
Ayah’s laugh is cruel and hollow. He helps them now when he as everything. Let’s see how willingly he stands with the cursed when it all burns to the ground.