Chapter 1: Trust is a fragile thing

Wordcount: 580

They moved quietly and yet efficiently, in rows of two, each pair chained to each other, boys on one side and girls on the other. It felt like being back in primary school again, only then the missing items were the chains and the teacher did not walk on either side of the line with guns. Then again, they were not students anymore but rather hostages; their kidnappers did not want them for their money though. There was another, more sinister reason.

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Once they had reached their destination, they were made to stand still, facing forward. There were perhaps twelve hostages altogether, ranging from 18 till 35. There seemed to be no discernible similarity between all of them besides their nationality, at least to the untrained eye. Those eyes were in little supply that day, but there were at least three who knew what it was, not including the kidnappers.

A short, stout man walked over to where the kidnappers had made them stand in a queue. He looked each of them up and down, obviously weighing. Beside him, a tall bodyguard loomed. The hostages were in a fairly dazed state; none of them really knew what to make of their kidnapping. Each hostage was not as ordinary as they looked though; it was partially for their hidden skills and talents that they had been brought here.

The man examined each one of them as though he was examining a prized animal for sale. He did not need to touch to make the women feel as though they had been violated; he did not need to touch the boys for them to recoil in horror at his leer. As he completed his inspection, the woman who had stood at the beginning of the line spoke quietly to the man next to her.

“Seo, how much do you trust me?”

“More than enough,” he replied, with no hesitation. It made her stop for a moment and she nearly missed her chance.

“Why is this one talking?” The man examining them walked up behind the duo with his bodyguard in tow.

“Thank you, Seo,” she said mysteriously, then ran him through.

“Heh,” he smiled, holding on to her as she pushed the blade in as far as it would go. She caught him.

And it did go in a long way. It went so far in that it came out his back and ended up stabbing both the man and his bodyguard. There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the kidnappers realised that their client had been stabbed. As they raised the alarm and ran in, the woman raised her hand high into the air, palms upwards. The rest of the hostages crowded around her as a shimmering half-globe fell around them.

It was a forcefield. Nothing could get in and out unless she lowered it, which was something she did not mean to do till she was done with the man holding on to her.

“Let it go, Xis, I have it now,” another woman put her hand on the upraised hand, and she relented. The forcefield would hold.

“Hold on Seo…” Xis put one hand over the wound she had caused, supporting him with the other.

A white glow emanated from her hand over his wound, and he felt a blinding pain like no other. He thought he might pass out from it, and was not sure whether he had.