I wake up with my eyes flickering because its so damn bright. My surroundings are bustling away even with the curtain drawn I can feel the chaos in the ward.
I push myself up wincing as I forget my abdomen injuries and swing my legs to the left. I lurch forward and yank the curtain back, Layla is sleeping soundfully her hair splayed over the pillow. She looks beautiful and healthy. Thank god.
The energy seeps out of me and I fall back to the bed letting a deep sigh. However just as I relax a smug voice interrupts my peace.
'You keep jolting around like that they will keep you here longer PP.'
Ugh. Varian. Turning my head to right there he likes a taped nose and two black eyes plus a lovely purple bruise on his left jaw.. Hehe he deserved it.
Varians eyes flash before he regains his composure. 'Thanks to you PP. Anyhow your here now so whats your plan'.
Resting my head back thoughts flood my head. What am I going to do here? I cant just come and use their resources then bail but I dont want to go into the field. Plus how do I keep an eye on Layla if Im forced going out on 'missions'. Goddamit.
Before I can respond a new voice interrupts.
'Varian, how the hell do you expect Erza to make a decision when she just woke up from injury prone rest?'
The voice jolts me as its unfamiliar but powerful.
A broad man with a scar across his neck walks through the curtains pulling along two trays with bowls on. He pushes one to Varian who barely stops it but looks sheepishly at the man.
He pulls my tray to me and smiles as he perches at the end of bed. I warily look at the tray to see a cup of tea and some stiff porridge, despite the blandness my stomach rumbles and before i know it I've eaten it all.
The man chuckles then goes serious. Here we go...speech on the way.
'So I assume Varian has given you some details about this organization for you to go him and will in your time of need?' The man sits back.
I nod. He sighs.
'This organization is not about fighting the entities like the government make our people, its fighting for our people Erza.'
Frustration thats all i feel because i can already tell how dangerous this all is.
'Whats your point.' I sit up and sit forward my hands clasped together.
He doesnt react to my tone. 'My point is if you are under the impression that while your here I will force you to fight then your wrong. There are people behind the scenes of this facility that help us in different ways.'
Surprise makes me freeze. This guy doesnt come across as fake or cunning.
'Listen my name is Laith. I founded this organization the Libertas. But i want our people to have rights, freedom and a life. I dont want us to be used to save the major population while disposing of us and the entities.'
Laith sits there waiting for my response. So I grant him one.
'Your really selling this arent you?' I cross my arms.
'PP. Show some damn respect will you?' Varian snaps.
My eyes flash to Varian and I hiss just to make a point. For someone with a nice face Varian has a sucky attitude.
Laith's eyes harden and he turns to Varian in a flash his golden eyes flash electric blue.
Varian repositions his usual smirk and goes back to nursing his porridge but his fists are clenched.
Laith relaxes and turns to me.
'Sorry about him Erza, he has always been quick to my defense. He has been here since he was 10.' Varians eyes grow stoney and forlorn.
I look down guilt seeping into me as I realise how little i know about these guys. Time to try and be civil Erza as they helped Layla.
'Care to tell me more?' I unfold my arms and swing my legs to the left preparing to get up.
Laith stands and offers me his arm for support.
He has kind eyes full of wisdom that are almost as goldas mine. What are the chances?
'Before i do that get changed and I will show you round'. I nod and Laith steps out to draw the curtains.
As I grab the spare clothes from the bottom of the tray trolley I hear heated mumbling next door and deduce Varian is probably bitching about moi.
After an eternity of wincing and jolts of pain I am finally dressed with my teeth semi brushed for the first time in a while.
Laith true to his word escorts me from the medical ward which he states is the left wing. So as we walk, we connect with the hall way where the main entrance we came through yesterday stands. The same guard is there just leaning and looking bored. I mean doesnt he sleep?
Laith seemingly reads my thoughts. 'The guards power is never needing to sleep due to exceptional levels of serotonin in his body. Not good for him but brilliant for guarding duties right Aibek?'.
Aibek tilts his head towards us his brown skin glistening in the light and his hair dreaded around his eyes but what shocked me was his eyes. Pure white with no pupil in sight, a stark contrast.
'Yep.' He responds so fast i barely catch it, a thick accent coating the word as he replies.
He seems nonchalant and not too social so I nod and move to carry on the tour.
Laith turns left and begins to descend down the hall way. There are rooms either side wall paper peeling and some with doors some without. We get to the bottom and Laith shows me a massive kitchen that looks worse for wear, the machines are rusted on the outside and every plate has a chip but it looks cosy.
Laith continues to the end of and opens the door to a massive hallway filled with mismatched chairs of all sizes around wonkey tables.
'This is our dining room, it barely fits over 200 people in but we make it work.' Laith nods and pride gleams in his eyes.
Then we head the stair well.
'Sorry about taking the stairs Erza but we havent managed to fix the lifts yet and siphoning electricity from the city seems a sure good way to get found.'
He is right. 'Yeah its cool I get it.'
To my dismay Laith has to help me with the flight of stairs because my body still hasnt regained its strength yet.
Laith tells me the first floor is used for Sewing, Washing and Drying plus all the spare clothes for members. I have to hand it to the guy he has made sure this place is well stocked.
Although I am knackered he encourages me to go to the second floor which apparently is the most critical as it revolves around construction, plumbing and experimenting.
'Experimenting with what Laith..?' My confusion is high.
Laith looks startled with my sudden speech before laughing. 'Erza calm it. The experiments are purely on creating electricity, hot water all that jazz.' I slump in relief and Laith rolls his eyes.
Laith wraps my arm on his shoulders as i sag in exhaustion. 'Dont worry we are nearly there.'
We arrive at the third floor which is quieter thank the lord. This is the floor that revolves around training, art rooms and offices. The one thing that draws me is the art rooms. I have never had the opportunity to try art before specially not with Her raising me.
Laith catches my glance and squeezes my hand gently.
I flinch back in shock before bowing my head in embarrassment.
'Erza its cool. You can try them later maybe when your friend wakes up.'
Laith pulls me up the next flight of stairs and before I know it I'm lying on a mattress in one of the rooms.
'You've done enough today. Have a rest in your new room and come down when your hungry.' Laith smiles then closes the door behind him.
As I lie there on a springy mattress with a thin sheet covering my aching body for the first time in my life. I feel safe.
A word uncommon to me...a word that seemed out of reach yet its finally here in my grasp.
If I stay here Layla can have a normalish life. I could maybe have new allies. At a push we could even rescue others like us....Uriel would love the construction floor. Kyran would be experimenting. Grayth would clash with Varian I imagine. Peter would just train all day. And me I could do what I like...freedom in a form. Layla could find her dad....
I have to stay here if i want a life. But do I trust them? How do I know it wont go belly up and leave us worse off?
Why do i trust Laith when i barely know the man? Lin? Mara? Will? I am meant to be smarter and stronger about people yet I've just let them in...
Layla nearly died because of me...how can I make a decision for both of us after that disaster.
Anxiety surges and before i realise I am hyperventilating...my abdomen screeching as unnecessary strain is forced upon it. I clasp my hands and count but claws are tearing their way through. My power is overwhelming me. I cant breathe. Am I gonna die? The great Purple Predator cant even handle anxiety? Jesus I am so weak. I am sobbing and curled up praying, willing and begging for it to stop. To go away. To stop possessing me.
Black spots invade my vision and just before I pass into slumber I hear a voice.
'What are three things that cannot be hidden? The sun. The moon. The truth.'
Layla? I know she isnt here but her voice that was enough. My wild heartbeat slows. Claws are retracting slowly. I heave to one side as I cough my chest throbbing from the effort.
As drool dribbles down my chin and tears dry on my cheeks I feel one thing.
I have to get stronger than this and the only way is through work.
I am staying here and I am gonna get tough. I have to become reliant and not be pushed to breaking point with every negative experience...
I have got to intense.
Intense about life.
Intense about training.
Intense about me.
I will be the girl that the people around me need.
I have to be.