The Academy:The Other Side of Envy(5)

By: C. L. Stone

“Scared kids,” Kota said.

“Who want to run off, not fight,” Victor said.

Kota frowned.

“I can go, too,” Nathan said. “I can pull her out if they do start fighting. Silas can ward them off. And Luke is in there. He can help.”

Kota pressed a palm against his face. “Okay. Fine. But we need to cover the exits, and if we need to, we’ll guide them to a safer hiding spot before we can try again.”

Victor tapped at his computer. “There’s an Academy district a few blocks to the south.”

The Academy had a district? From the way Victor said it, it sounded like there was more than one. I pressed my lips together. Now wasn’t the time to ask.

“Lived in?” Kota asked.

“Being refitted,” he said. “We just reclaimed it. But it’s cleared right now, and there are monitors in the area.”

“It’ll have to do. If they don’t want to go with us, we’ll have them go there.” He turned to Nathan. “Convince them that authorities are looking to tear down this place. They have to move, and you know a safe location. I’ll have North go ahead and deposit supplies in one of the houses and open it up.”

Nathan nodded. “Just let me know which one. We can walk them over, if they let us.”

“Do it,” he said.

“Here,” Victor opened his palm, revealing three small earpieces. “Put these in.”

Silas and Nathan took one each. I started to reach for the other one, but Victor shifted to hold it between his fingers, showing it to me. “This is an ear bug. You’ll hear us, and I can hear you if you talk. It doesn’t have a great range, and there’s a short battery life, but it’s the best way to stay in contact without looking like you’re wired.”

“Oh,” I said. It seemed really sophisticated, but it looked like just an ear bud you’d get from a headphone set, just detached from the wire.

“I’ll put it in,” he said. I leaned over. He pulled aside some of my hair and then gently inserted the ear bug into my ear. He traced my ear lobe gently. “Is that okay? Comfortable?”

“It’s fine,” I said. It felt like an earbud. That’s all. I was more worried it might slip further into my ear and I wouldn’t be able to pull it out. It seemed to hold in place, though.

“I need a headset,” Kota said. “There’s three; one for each of them.”

“I want Sang’s headset,” Dr. Green said.

“I should have it,” Victor said.

Kota rolled his eyes. “You should be paying attention to Luke, Victor.”

Silas and Nathan guided me away from the guys before I could find out which one would get the headset I was linked to. Their open quarrel with who got it made my heart race, but going toward the broken down building added to it in a different way.

I stood between Silas and Nathan in front of the old hardware store. Feeling small between the two of them, I swallowed, staring at the dilapidated doors, wondering what to do.

The others blocked off the other exists with Kota and Dr. Green monitoring. Victor was in the alley. We were waiting to go in slowly.

While we were waiting, cars occasionally passed on the road. Each time I heard one, I instinctively turned to check for a silver BMW. “Where is Mr. Blackbourne, anyway?” I asked, trying to sound casual but knowing he’d said he was on the way. Would he be upset that I was going in?

“Keeping our tails busy,” Nathan said.

I’d almost forgotten, but it made sense that someone had to stop our followers from chasing us around when they were doing things like this. Mr. Hendricks hadn’t given up trying to catch us out with something that would get the boys kicked out of school.

Silas, without saying a word, moved to the left. Nathan followed, and I did, too. He was probably getting instructions from Kota.

“How are you doing, Pookie?” Dr. Green said softly in my ear.

“Fine,” I said, a smile on my lips at the endearing nickname. “How are you, Dr. Sean?”

“Don’t talk too much,” he said. “If you’re going in, you should be quiet so you don’t spook them too early.”

“Okay,” I whispered.

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