“Marvel looked over his shoulder (something Glory would never do) and saw a large group of Supreme Police soldiers about fifty yards away running quickly at him. “
It had been three hours before Glory realized he had lost Marvel.
Glory had been hiding from the Supreme Police, when he had noticed he was alone. He had spent some precious time checking the trees for Marvel, but no, Marvel wasn’t there. Glory was lost.
Glory now sat huddled in his blanket as he scanned the horizon for his brother. The woods were silent, unfortunately. Was running away not a good idea? Maybe telling Tyler and Taylor first would have been better…
It was getting dark. The sun was fading quickly, and it was getting hard to see fifteen yards in any direction. If the Supreme Police were going to kill him now, now was the time. Glory was in a clearing with absolutely no protection to conceal him. For all he knew, the Police was watching Glory as he struggled to get sleep.
The nocturnal animals were starting to rise from their daytime sleep. Every now and then, Glory would jump from the sound of an owl snacking on a mouse.
“I know you’re here.” A voice whispered from above. Glory stayed silent, because maybe some crazy hunter was going into the woods to hunt for game. After all, most of the people in the nearest town hunted in these woods. That’s how the Supreme Police found him.
“Stop trying to hide, Glory. This is a horrible place to hide.” The voice spoke again, and this time Glory sat up and threw off his blanket.
“Who are you?” Glory said into the night sky. “If you’re a part of the Police, I suggest that you get out. I have a knife.”
The person who had spoken before laughed. “Yes, I know. You have a small pocket knife that was your brother Tyler’s when he was six. Although I sincerely compliment you on the way you stole that knife from your brother’s safe. Almost as good as when I steal things.”
“Haven’t you ever heard of answering a question?” Glory asked. “Who are you?”
“Haven’t you ever heard of concealing your identity?” The person asked. Glory could now tell that it was a boy. “You’re a feisty one. Do you even know why I’m here?”
“I don’t care.”
“Well then, I’ll have to give you the usual,” said the boy, and out of nowhere, a tall person dressed in red jumped into the clearing and pinned Glory down.
Marvel knew that Glory was a goner as soon as the Supreme Policemen went in pursuit of him as they split up. He also knew that he had to go save him. He didn’t really want to, but if Marvel came back alive and Glory was dead and Marvel told everyone why Glory was dead, he was never going to hear the end of it from Tyler and Taylor.
It had been three hours since they had split up, and Glory was still running, with Marvel at his heels. Marvel sighed quietly. Glory didn’t even know that the Supreme Policemen wasn’t even near them anymore. Glory never looked over his shoulder as he ran. Marvel was smarter than Glory, and he knew it.
Marvel stopped running, but Glory kept going. Marvel didn’t care. Glory was slow, and Marvel could easily catch up to him later. Right now, Marvel needed a place to make camp.
If you are in the woods, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a good place that has enough space to sleep in and has plenty of trees to conceal yourself. It wasn’t too long before Marvel found the perfect place.
Marvel looked at his watch. It was about 8:30 at night. At 4:30 in the morning, the Supreme Police would go around the woods to check for runaways, illegals, poachers. Naturally, Glory didn’t know that, so Marvel would have to wake up at 3:30 to go get Glory so together they could get out of the woods. This would result in about seven hours of sleep. This was better than yesterday, when Marvel and Glory were forced to get only two hours of sleep because of a surprise Supreme Police attack.
Marvel took his blanket out of his pack and lay down. He kept his eyes and ears ready in case of an emergency. He was glad that Glory wasn’t there to annoy him while he slept. Soon he found himself dozing off.
Four hours later, Marvel awakened to someone screaming. His instincts drove him to stuff his blanket into his pack and run towards where the noise was. As he ran, he realized something; the scream belonged to Glory.
Knowing this, Marvel didn’t really want to run to the scream. But, of course, if Marvel made it back alive and Glory was dead, and Marvel told everyone why Glory was dead, he would never hear the end of it from Tyler and Taylor.
SInce Marvel was fast, he quickly reached the scream. He tore through the grass that was the boundary for a small clearing. Right there, in the middle of the clearing, was a boy pinning Glory to the ground.
“Oh, no,” Marvel whispered.
Glory screamed, so Rhys used his other hand to cover his mouth. “Shut up!” Rhys hissed. “You’re attracting people!”
Glory’s answer came out muffled, and Rhys could hardly catch it, it was so quiet. “My brother’s here. He’s going to rip the snot out of you.”
Rhys turned around. Standing at the entrance to the clearing was a boy that was younger than Rhys but almost as tall.
Rhys turned to face Glory again. “No problem.”
Glory’s brother (Marvel, maybe?) began to walk towards Rhys. Rhys ran and tackled the boy, who ended up unconscious.
Rhys brushed off the dirt and walked back over to Glory. “Do you know who I am?” He asked.
“Of course I do,” Glory seethed. “You are a disgusting, smelly, moron who likes to injure people physically.”
Rhys chuckled. “Am I? I am Rhys Reagen, leader of the Reagen Troop, fellow trillegal.”
“What’s a trillegal? Is it something you made up, you big loser?” Glory said angrily. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you did.”
“Do you honestly not know what a trillegal is?” Rhys asked. “You are a trillegal. You violate all three of the Superstition Laws, which means that you are not an only child, and you have an “r” and a “y” in your name.”
“Liar,” said Glory. “All those years, I haven’t been arrested or anything. I’m normal, just like you.”
“You are foolish, oblivious, not ready for the real world,” said Rhys coldly. “Haven’t you noticed that somewhere during the afternoon, your mother ushers you quickly back to the house? Do you even know what I’m saying?”
“He’s right, Glory,” said someone at the entrance. Rhys spun around and saw Marvel standing up and brushing the dirt off his clothes. “You shouldn’t call the legend of illegal people a liar or a moron. You should respect him. He is the Rhys Reagen.”
“Ah, good morning, Marvel,” said Rhys. “How are you today?”
“Quite fine, Mr. Reagen,” said Marvel. What brings you in the woods this lovely day?”
“I recently picked up the files of you and your siblings and I realized that you were illegals. I like illegals. Therefore, I invite all four of you, even you, Glory,” Rhys eyed Glory, “a chance to
become a part of the Reagen Troop.”
Nobody spoke. Not even Glory said anything.
“However,” said Rhys. “There is a test involved with getting in. I just might have to get the Supreme Police chase you again.”
A boy was leaning on the doorway of the Reagen Headquarters when Rhys, Marvel, Glory, Tyler, and Taylor walked in. Glory, Marvel, and Rhys had stopped and picked up Tyler and Taylor along the way. The boy stood up. “Rhys? Just the usual level one?”
Rhys smiled. “Sure. These are the ones that we’ve been searching for earlier this year.”
The boy grunted. “These ones? Do we need them? They’re so small.”
Marvel spoke up. “Please don’t judge us by our size. We’re just small for our ages. We can’t help it or anything.”
“Don’t worry, Ryan, if they pass the test, we can find a job for them to do. They’ve lived all this time. They’ve been on the run for a pretty long time. Why shouldn’t they belong here with us?” said Rhys.
Ryan sighed. “Whatever, Rhys. I’ll get the equipment ready while you explain what’s going to happen.” He backed out the doorway.
“Okay,” said Rhys to Ryan, and turned to Glory, Marvel, and their brother and sister, Tyler and Taylor.
“So, you guys, here’s what happening right now. You’re taking a test to see if you’re worthy of becoming part of the Reagen Troop. What’s going to happen is that you’ll be placed into a simulator where there will be some Supreme Police CPUs that are chasing you. You have a knife, a bottle of water, and a small box filled with twelve crackers. You need to escape the Policemen and stay alive. You’ll have a hunger and thirst bar that can’t drain out. Use your supplies to get to the big portal at the end.”
“How did you get the simulator?” Marvel’s brother Tyler asked. “Did you buy it?”
Rhys squared his shoulders. “I, well, I actually made it myself. It took countless hours for me to build it, but it’s well and working, and it’s pretty high quality, too.”
“This is a simulation, right?” Taylor asked. “We won’t die if we screw up, right?”
“Of course not, Taylor! You know what a simulation is, right?” said Rhys. “Hopefully you do. But the answer is no, if you get caught in a fire, you won’t actually burn to death or something.”
“That’s a big relief,” said Glory. “When you were testing your simulator, did the thing threaten to kill you?”
“No, of course not. It’s all programmed into the computer,” said Rhys. “C’mon now, let’s go. There’s a test you have to take, and we’re already running out of time.”
There was only one simulator, so Tyler, Taylor, Marvel, and Glory had to take turns doing the test. Tyler went in first. Rhys’s brother, Ryan, pressed some buttons, and Tyler’s test had begun. Marvel heard a lot of crazy noises as the little room covered in black drapes shook about. “Is this safe?” Marvel heard Taylor ask Rhys and Ryan. Marvel felt scared for Tyler, who most likely wasn’t ready for the test.
After a really long time, and after a lot of shaking, the simulator stopped buzzing, and Tyler came out of the simulator, covered in sweat and face very pale.
“Congratulations, Tyler Set, you passed the test with flying colors,” said Rhys. “You are officially a part of the Reagen Troop. You must be ready for missions, risking your neck, and enduring torture. You are to stay here at the headquarters to begin your training. Ray? Take him to the gym.” Another boy came into the room and led Tyler up a staircase.
Next it was Taylor’s turn. Taylor also passed, and now it was Marvel’s turn.
Marvel stepped into the simulator and found that it was all dark. Soon a light came on, and a man’s voice came on.
“Welcome to the Reagen Troop Simulator, or the R.T.S. Today you will be chased by some computer-programmed Supreme Policemen. Please just act like they are real. Use the environment around you to not only escape the Police and make it to the portal at the end, but save the dying people that you will find on your way. You have a knife, a bottle of water, and a box filled with twelve crackers. Just note that you might have to use your water and food to heal your patients. Use your wits and supplies wisely, and make sure to keep your hunger and thirst bars high enough. Good luck.”
Soon Marvel had faded away into a hot desert filled with cactuses and things. Marvel looked over his shoulder (something Glory would never do) and saw a large group of Supreme Police soldiers about fifty yards away running quickly at him.
Marvel began to run in the direction of some mountains, hoping to find a hiding spot to hide in. The soldiers were almost within shooting range, and they had drawn their guns. Marvel kept on running and soon reached a hill leading to the top of one of the smaller mountains. He also kept an eye out for dying people that he would have to take care of.
The soldiers seemed farther away than before, but Marvel kept at it. He raced up the hill and climbed up the mountain. His hunger bar was decreasing the least bit, so he ate half a cracker and took a sip of water. But as he got to the top of the mountain, he realized something.
He was on a cliff, and he couldn’t get down.
Marvel knew he would have to jump the cliff, but he was forty feet above the ground, and if he jumped, he would definitely die and flunk the test, so he looked for something to jump onto.
Soon, he had come up with a large nest of moss and leaves, and he had used sticks to put it together. He crouched down low so the soldiers wouldn’t see him, and then he dropped the nest down to the ground below.
Luckily, there was no wind, so the nest dropped down to exactly where Marvel needed it to be. Marvel then picked where he needed to jump, muttered, “Please, don’t die” over and over again, and jumped.
It was a great moment. It kind of felt like he was flying and the world around him had stopped.
Marvel fell straight into the nest. Once he landed, he immediately got up and started running again. The ending portal was in sight. Marvel just kept running, and running, and running until he reached the portal and bright lights showered over him…
And then he was back in the black simulator, and the man’s voice was saying, “Thank you. You now may exit the R.T.S.” Marvel walked out.
“Tremendous job, Marvel,” said Rhys as Marvel walked out. “In all of these times I’ve stood here, I’ve never seen such a good job.”
“I thought that there were going to be dying people,” said Marvel.
“Well, there is supposed to be, but you took a route where there were no dying people to interrupt you. And the nest you made? That was almost as good as mine.”
“Thank you,” said Marvel. “It’s a real honor to be here.”
“Time to train! Ray, take him away,” said Rhys, and the boy (Ray) took Marvel by the arm and led him up the staircase.
The training at the Reagen Headquarters was absolute chaos, but Taylor and Tyler and Marvel managed to get through it. Here’s a picture of what it was like:
The gym wasn’t crowded, only filled with three or four other people, but the floor was covered with gym equipment. Everyone there was shouting and there was a lot of sweat involved.
When Taylor had walked into the gym, a boy had walked up to her.
“Hi,” said the boy. “I’m Rich Reagen, Rhys’s brother. I look after the training gym for him.”
“Hello, Rich,” Taylor replied. “Is there some sort of routine we have to do?”
Rich shook his head. “Each day, you have to train for four hours throughout the day. You can split it up however you want. You could just do four hours straight, split it into two different groups of two hours, whatever you need to do. It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon right now, so you should start now.”
Taylor glanced around for a minute and saw Tyler at the rolling station, where you have to take a knife, roll, and get up quickly in time to slash off the head of the nearest dummy before it knocks you out.
Taylor walked over to the station and found Tyler recuperating over on the sidelines as he watched the other kids train.
“Hey, Taylor,” said Tyler. “This is a painful experience.”
Taylor let out a small laugh. “Are you okay? I feel like there should be some sort of beginner tour or something.”
Tyler sighed. “I feel kind of sick. It’s very tiring, this training. You should start now.”
Taylor nodded and got in line. A boy turned around to face her and grinned. “You scared?” He asked.
Taylor nodded vigorously. “It’s crazy, this station.”
“Don’t be scared,” said the boy. “I’m Matthias Casillas. I’m a second child. If you fail, it’ll just push you off to the side. They never changed the sign where it says you get knocked out, but they altered the dummies ever since I got hit and didn’t wake up for three days.” Then he turned around and completed the exercise perfectly.
Taylor was good at these kinds of things, so she did it with ease. But she kept wondering, is this place dangerous?
At around 6:30, a bell rang and all of the people there started to file out the gym. Suddenly Matthias was standing next to her. “C’mon, I’ll lead you to the dining hall,” he said. They started to walk down the staircase Taylor had walked up with Ray four hours earlier. “You just passed the test today, didn’t you?”
Taylor nodded. “Did you think it was hard? The dying people were annoying. I’m not much of a healer, but somehow I made it to the end.”
Matthias shrugged. “I used to live in Spain before I came here. Ever since the Superstition Laws were established, Spain has been drowned in epidemics. My family were more on the richer side, so I got vaccinated along with the rest of my family. Most of the other rich families just went on with their normal lives, but our family, they like to help people. I’m a healer-in-training. I just used the environment around me to heal the people and then I just ran to the portal. I’m not bragging or anything, I just know how to do that stuff.”
“Do we learn how to do things like that here?” Taylor asked as they walked into what looked like some sort of cafeteria.
Matthias nodded. “But only during your special lessons with the Reagen family.”
Taylor turned to face Matthias. “Thank you for taking me here. I have to go find my brothers now.”
“It was my pleasure,” said Matthias. “You and I can become good friends.” He nodded goodbye and walked away.
Tonight’s dinner was mac and cheese that Rhys had made. It must have been really good because most of the kids in the cafeteria were getting seconds already.
Taylor got her food and as she did so, she glimpsed Tyler and Marvel sitting and talking together alone at a table. She walked over to their table.
“Hi, guys. Where’s Glory?” She said. Glory was not in sight.
Then she realized it. And when she looked at their faces, her guess was confirmed.
Glory hadn’t passed the test.
Tyler was absolutely sure that Taylor would burst into tears when she heard that Glory hadn’t passed the test. Surprisingly, she didn’t. She just sighed and sat down with her mac and cheese. Maybe she was too tired to cry, and she’d cry later.
Rich had dropped the news on him two hours into training.
“Um, Tyler?” He had said to him as he was training at the PvP (player vs. player) station. Tyler had stepped out of line.
“Hey, Rich. What’s up?” Tyler had said, shaking Rich’s outstretched hand.
“Well, Rhys was busy cooking for dinner tonight, so he told me to pass along the message that Glory didn’t pass the test,”Rich had said. “I wanted to tell you earlier, but you looked so into the training activities, which is great, that didn’t want to stop you with the bad news.”
“Can’t he take the test again?” Tyler had asked. “Or does he need to be invited?”
“He would need another invitation from Rhys,” Rich had said. “And Rhys told me he knew that Glory wouldn’t pass the test and that he didn’t need a little ten-year-old.”
“I bet Ryan was furious, because he had to stand out there longer than he actually need to,” Tyler had said. “But the age doesn’t matter really, does it? I thought he needed young children.”
“Ryan wasn’t as mad as you think. He just has to press the start button, correct the level knob, and make sure the thing doesn’t malfunction,” Rich had replied. “And I think Rhys doesn’t want Glory in his army, not because of his youth, but because he naturally doesn’t like him.”
Doesn’t like him, Tyler had thought at the time. Why wouldn’t Rhys like Glory? He’s just annoying sometimes, that’s all. “What would cause Rhys to not like Glory?” Tyler had asked. “He’s just annoying sometimes.”
“Glory called him a liar and a moron,” Rich had said. “You wouldn’t like someone calling you that, would you? Now, run along. You’re wasting training time.”
Tyler then forced Rich to not tell Taylor.
It was 7:00 at night when people started leaving the dining hall. Tyler copied people who were putting away their dishes and then walked out of the room. As he left, he looked over his shoulder and saw Taylor walking and talking with this blond-haired boy. Taylor’s friends with someone already? He thought. Taylor’s so much better at socializing than I am.
Directly across from the exit to the cafeteria, was a sign that was headlined, DORM ROOMS. A couple of people were looking at it, so Tyler went up to read it. It said:
Room 1: Peter, Matthias M, Taylor, Conor, Tyler, Matthias C
Room 2: Rhys, Ryan, Ray, Marvel, Jason T, Jason C, Rich
Lights out at 9:00
Tyler figured out that since he and Taylor were in the same dorm room, he should follow her and that boy she was with. Soon, he was in a large room with six cots that were spaced wide apart. Next to each bed was a small drawer. And a bathroom with two stalls were spaced off in a far corner, and next to it, there was a shower.
“Do we just hang out here until 9:00?” Tyler asked a boy who was sitting on one of the beds. “I’m new. I just passed the test today.” As he said this, he thought, even though Glory didn’t.
The boy nodded. “Congratulations. You must be Tyler, then. I”m Matthias. Matthias Marquis, not Matthias Casillas. We were good friends even when we lived in Spain, so people always can’t tell which one is which.”
“Interesting. And yes, I’m Tyler,” Tyler replied. He noticed the bed next to Matthias Marquis’s bed was empty and unclaimed. “May I take the bed next to you?”
Matthias nodded. “Sure. We could become good friends.”
“I guess,” said Tyler.
When it was time for lights out, Tyler lay in bed, thinking. I wonder if I like this place. Do I? I don’t really know. Will I? Possibly. I’ll have to find out more…
Thoughts raced through Glory’s mind as Rhys’s private jet soared as they flew back to Antarctica. It was so unfair. Why couldn’t he get reinvited? Rhys had said that under normal circumstances, he would’ve gotten another chance, but only he couldn’t get another chance. Rhys didn’t know that fairness was an important thing in life to remember.
Glory sighed and put on his jacket. The plane was landing soon, and Glory needed to get adjusted quickly to the colder climates. “If not for Rhys, I wouldn’t have to ride this stupid plane,” Glory muttered. “I’m going to hire someone to kill Rhys the instant I get off the plane.”
Kevin, Rhys’s non-illegal brother, heard him and said, “There’s no need. Most people want to kill him already, so all you need to do is send an anonymous letter to a Supreme Policeman telling him to try harder to kill him if you really need to. But I’d advise you not to, because Rhys has saved your butt at least a hundred times without you realizing it.”
“You aren’t an illegal. Why can’t you kill him for me?” Glory asked.
“I may not be an illegal, but Rhys is my brother. Would you seriously kill Marvel or Tyler or Taylor just because they might be a royal pain in the neck sometimes?”
“Is Rhys annoying to you?” Glory asked. “Or are you just one of those rebels who give blind devotion to Rhys Reagen, the saviour of all, who actually didn’t do anything? Are you trying to persuade me to stop my plan? Well, if you are, then it’s not going to work.”
“I’m not trying to talk you out of it,” said Kevin. “You won’t be able to do it, Glory. For one thing, you don’t know where he is. For another, he could kill you in two seconds. And finally, he would know you were coming. He can see us talking right now.”
The plane landed and Kevin led Glory off the plane. Glory began to think again. Will Mom and Dad be mad? Or will they be happy because at least one of their sons is home with them? Will they say that they didn’t want me anymore?
Glory’s mother and father were standing by the stairs. They greeted Glory with a hug.
“Hi, Glory. Good to see you again,” said Glory’s dad.
“Why aren’t you mad at me?” Glory asked. “I didn’t pass Rhys’s test.”
“You don’t have to succeed in everything,” said Glory’s mom. “The Rhys Reagen test is very difficult. It’s not your fault. You’re great just the way you are.”
It had been three days since she passed the test, but Taylor was just as confused as the first day. Matthias just really made her head spin sometimes. Did Matthias have a crush on her? Possibly. There were a lot of times when Taylor caught Matthias just looking dreamily at her.
At the moment, she was sitting on the roof alone with Matthias. Matthias turned to her.
“You know, you’re really pretty,” he said.
“Thank you,” Taylor said.
He took her face in both hands, and it looked like he was going to kiss her, but then he moved back. “We’re so alike,” Matthias said.
“You have a little brother, don’t you?” Taylor said, struggling to change the subject. “Jason, I recall.”
“Yes, I do,” said Matthias. “He’s a pain. He sounds a bit like your brother Glory that you always talk about.”
“Oh, yes, Glory,” Taylor said with a little sigh. No matter how confused about her life Matthias made her, the fact that Glory had been forced to return to the cold climates of their home in Antarctica haunted her each day.
“Did you know that my father’s a hypnotist?” Matthias asked. “He used to use his powers to get women to love him until he realized how horrible it was.”
“That’s horrible! Why would you ever think that it was okay to do something like that?” Taylor asked.
Matthias shrugged. “My family is powerful without them even knowing it. My father didn’t know he was hypnotizing his girlfriends until they banded together and started a protest in the main square at home. For all I know, I could be hypnotizing you into loving me right now. Don’t get mad. Just tell if I am.”
Taylor thought for a minute. Was Matthias hypnotizing her? Is that why she felt so confused around him? “How does it feel to get hypnotized?” She asked.
“My father used hypnotism on me and my siblings as a punishment. It feels like the world’s drowning out of your sight and you black out. I don’t think I’m hypnotizing you.”
And next thing she knew, Taylor woke up.
Rhys was frustrated. Something he was working on was going horribly wrong.
There was a double-crosser in Rhys’s Headquarters.
Rhys had no idea who it was. He had no leads, he had no clues, and he had no proven suspects. The only thing he knew was that someone in his troop was destroying inner defenses and barriers that Rhys and Ryan had spent hours building and putting up. Rhys was furious.
Rhys paced the halls, wondering who it could be. His top suspect was his latest addition, Marvel Set, but that kid looked only about twelve, so it might not be him. His next guess would be Tyler Set, and it seemed more realistic than Marvel, since Tyler was fifteen and was pretty strong.
Rhys thought about screaming at the top of his lungs, but then he remembered it was ten o’clock and that people were sleeping.
“Why,” Rhys said through gritted teeth, “Why can’t I figure this thing out?”
The next morning, Rhys decided to interrogate who he thought was a traitor. He knew he couldn’t have a traitor in his army if he was going to be the leader of the rebels. Rhys shuddered as he remembered a time when he added an adult named Peter Pevensie into the group for a couple of weeks. But Rhys had kicked him out after a while because Rhys’s brother Peter had informed him that the other Peter’s dream was to betray someone or something.
Breakfast was at 7:00, and all of the kids were sleeping. Rhys snuck into Room 1, but it just happened to be that Tyler’s bed was empty. That meant that he was probably in the gym, but it was 5:30 in the morning. Who would ever go train that early in the morning?
It was extremely dark, and Rhys couldn’t find the light switch, so Rhys had to use the walls to get around. Slowly but surely, Rhys made it up the staircase to the gym. The light was on, and Tyler was working out.
“I know what you’re here for,” said Tyler. He didn’t look at Rhys. “I’m not a traitor or anything like that. I’m in the gym early right now because I’m loyal to you, and I’m putting in my commitment.”
Rhys’s accusations swallowed in his throat. Tyler was right. He wouldn’t have gone out there that morning if he didn’t actually want to be there. But then again, to draw attention away from himself that he was the double-crosser.
“If you really want to know who it is, I can tell you,” said Tyler.
Tyler raised his finger and pointed across the room and around the corner. Rhys looked and saw a blond haired boy with headphones tapping out a message on a computer. Rhys instantly knew what that boy was doing.
It was Matthias Casillas.
END OF BOOK ONE