Entering the city, the evening rays of sunlight stretched thin across the ground, making my shadow long and narrow. My first time in New York city, and alone. Running away hadn't been as easy as
I had thought. Always looking for shelter, always needing food. I sighed. My parent's divorce had lead me here, far from home in the big city hoping for a change. Instinct was to find an alley
way, somewhere I could spend the night. Creeping along the streets, I finally found one. Slowly walking down it, I dropped my sleeping bag from my back and laid it down behind a dumpster. Laying
my backpack down at its foot, I laid back and stared at the sky. Suddenly, something moved within the dumpster and I heard the top pop open. I gasped as a girl only a year or two younger than me
She had a sword in her hand and swung it about in front of her, screaming, "THIS IS MY DUMPSTER!"
I was taken aback, another kid living in the streets of New York? And with a sword?
"Uhh.. Sorry.. I just got into the city, I ran away from home a few days ago and I don't know where else to go," I admitted, looking down at my sleeping bag.
"Why didn't you say so? I come from a similar background. My names Lidia, come on into my dumpster. As weird as that may sound..." Lidia replied, opening the dumpster hatch wider and allowing me
to climb inside.
Inside it was dark but smelt like flowers. Lidia sat against one corner, placing her sword in its case and she sighed. "You don't know how much blood I've wiped of that sword," she said, sounding
tired. "See, I am like you. Ran away from home. My dad abused me, and I found my life here. With the group I'm in. I prefer to sleep here though and not in their camp," she continued.
"Group? What kinda of group?" I asked, suddenly interested.
"Oh its just this group, all other kids, they treat it like its an army. You have ranks and commanders and stuff. We sword fight. See, there are hundreds of other kid groups, all shapes and
strengths. We fight over what alley ways we get and what not. We all sword fight, scamming money from people who walk buy then going and buying a good sword, one that will last. Then we battle
the other groups, sometimes members die, sometimes they get injured and we sit by them as we die. I lost my first love like that. Mike, brave boy. Always guarded me. Took a sword to the chest one
battle, it was May 5th of last year. I still miss him. Anyways, now that I've told you what the group I'm in is, you'll have to join," she finished, my eyes now wide in bewilderment.
"Whats this group called?" I wondered.
"Its called the Cobras. C'mon, I'll take you to meet Commander Jared now," Lidia said as she got up and climbed out of the dumpster.
I followed Lidia down a series of alley ways, making me wonder how she could possibly remember the way. Finally they came to a lawn I had passed by on my way into the city. I could see tents, at
least 20 of them, in a circle around a great fire. Around the fire sat logs, children of all shapes, sizes, and ages sitting on them, laughing and talking. Lidia approached and some people
"Rodney, I have come to seek Commander Jared," She said to a tall skinny boy, from the looks of it he was from Florida or somewhere down south.
"What do you need with him Lidia? And who is this you have brought with you?" He questioned as he looked me up and down.
"This is... well she never told me her name, but she just came into the city, she has run away from home and is interested in joining us," she replied.
Rodney stepped closer to me and asked, "Whats your name?"
"Jam," I replied firmly, keeping eye contact with the boy a few inches taller than me.
"Well Jam, you see fit enough, have you ever used a sword before?"
"No, I haven't. I wish to learn though."
"Well then, lets get you to commander Jared and he will be the judge of that," Rodney said, leading me past the fire, all eyes staring at me. One boy in particular had a gleam in his eyes that
made me curious what he saw in me. I followed Rodney to a large tent, far away from the others. He paused outside the door flap and called in, "Jared, we have someone interested in joining."
Who must be Jared came out, a boy around 14 or 15 with muscles gleaming from under his shirt.
"Hmm, what do we have here?" Jared asked, looking down into my gray eyes.
Rodney filled in Jared on what he knew about me so far.
"Hmm. Well Jam, tell me how you got here," Jared questioned.
"Well, my parents just got divorced, it hit me hard. And 3 months ago, I lost my best friend in a car accident. I had nothing else to do. I had considered suicide but I want to do something with
my life. I ran away. I came here, and my first mission was to find an alley, where I meant Lidia who has brought me here. I'm willing to fight for my survival and the survival of others in this
group. Please give me a chance," I pleaded.
"Well, we did loose Sarah in the SleetKid battle two days ago. We can accept you in. You'll be in the recruit girl's tent, now go along to the campfire and try to learn something about us." Jared
said, turning and disappearing into his tent again. Rodney led me back into the main part of the clearing and told me to sit down next to someone who he called Orange. I sat down and Orange
introduced herself to me.
"Hi there! My names Chloe! I'll be showing you around for the first couple of days your here. Let me introduce you to everyone important. This is Amanda," She said, pointing to a girl with flat
blonde hair who was at least 14 years old. She smiled and waved at me, "And that’s Xander," Chloe continued, pointing to a boy who looked around 11 with the same features as Amanda, obviously her
brother. "And that’s Nathan on the right and Calvin on the left," She said, pointing to 2 boys, both blondes, Nathan being a little younger than Calvin. Nathan was the one who was staring at me
with the gleam in his eyes. Looking at him now, he smiles sweetly at me and I smile back and watch Chloe's finger as she points to a boy with brown hair who’s sitting next to someone who looks
exactly like my cousin who disappeared 5 months ago. "That’s Sam, the boy, and Hannah, the girl," Chloe says.
"Ha-Hannah?" I stammer. The name of my cousin. Hannah and I lock eyes, shes probably thinking that I don't know who she is, but how can you forget the person you grew up with?
"Ja-Jam.." She stammers, staring at me.
"Hannah, is it you?" I ask, my eyes wide with disbelief.
"Jam, its me. Hannah, your cousin. I ran away here too when my dad lost his job. Please, please tell me that my family’s okay," she pleads, her eyes filled with sorrow now.
"Yes Hannah, they are. Your dad got another job, and your sister is fine, she got her belly button pierced last weekend. I had went with her, the first time at the mall after you left. Oh Hannah,
I'm so glad I found you!" I scream the last part and run at her and she welcomes me with open arms and we hug, joyful tears slowly seeping out of my eyes and falling down my cheek. Even though
shes younger than me, she had the courage to run away before me. Her being 11 and me being 13, I envy her braveness in a situation like this. We released each other and sit back down on our logs.
Chloe continued, "That’s about it for the important high rank people. I'll show you the tent you'll be sharing with some girls and Hannah." Chloe lead me to a row of tents all labeled. Tents on
the left of the fire were girls and the ones on the right were guys. Closer to the fire you were, the lower the rank. So, right behind the fire were the recruits tents. Chloe found the one Sarah
had been in and opened the flap. I stepped inside and saw an empty place where my stuff would go.
"Could you ask Lidia to go and get my stuff from behind her dumpster please?" I ask Chloe, and she nods and turns toward the fire to deliver the message to Lidia. I follow her and sit on the
empty space on the log next to Amanda.
"Hey," I say, sounding as calm as possible.
"Hey, your Jam right? Cool, as you know I'm Amanda and as you can tell, Xander is my brother. Were both generals along with Nathan and Rodney. Calvin and Sam are Colonels." She replies and I nod
understanding. She starts to tell me the basic rules about never killing your own teammates in a battle and how the battles work and so on. In battles like this, its all about territory. All
groups have their territory marked with flags. The way someone takes it over is they capture all the flags and bring them to the center flag, and have someone touching that flag's pole at all
times for 20 minutes. If that happens, they win and the group has 24 hours to move out. If the team who's territory it is gets the flag and defends it for long enough, they keep their territory.
I take it all in and when Lidia returns with my backpack and sleeping bag, I follow my cousin into the tent and set up my stuff next to hers. We catch up about the last few months and we both
fall silent as we fall asleep.
"Jam, time to get up," I hear a voice say. Its Hannah, shes shaking me awake. I slowly stretch and look at my iPod, its battery almost at 5% but it still will tell me the time. Its 5 after 6, the
early morning sunlight seeping into the tents walls. It being early June, its already around 45 degrees outside, so I get up and follow Hannah to the campfire. Jared has joined us today. Hes
sitting on a log with only Rodney and Nathan flanking him. Amanda sees me and pats the bark on the log next to her. I gladly sit down and she starts talking instantly about how mornings work in
"Usually, we have some sort of meat to eat. Xander and I prepare that. But today, there’s no meat to prepare. Xander and I went to McDonald’s this morning and stole 3 families breakfasts when
they weren't looking. We have enough to give everyone a breakfast sandwich and a pancake," She says, her face lighting up as she talks about her success this morning.
"Great!" I say, thinking of how good the food will taste in my hungry stomach.
"So, your going to need a good sword. Did you by chance have any money with you?" Amanda asks.
"Yeah, I stole $100 when I left. Will that be enough?"
"Uhh, YEAH! That’s exactly what we all buy our swords for! Perfect, we don't have to scam. I'll bring you to the sword place after breakfast. By the way, do you have any bowls or plates or
anything with you? You'll need something to eat out of here." Amanda says, her eyes gleaming with the thought of the sword shop.
"Yeah, one second," I say, going back to my tent and rummaging though my bag until I find a plate and some silverware. I return to my spot next to Amanda and she nods, "Yup. Now take care of
that, its your only set and you gotta wash it yourself."
"OK, got it," I say, taking in the new responsibility.
Xander comes out from behind some trees with the food and dishes it out to everyone. I eat slowly not wanting to look like a pig but not slow enough where my stomach goes insane from me tempting
it with food but barley giving it any. When me and Amanda have both finished, she shows me where to wash my plates and shows me how to use moss as a scrubber and I follow her instructions. Once
our plates are clean, I store them in my tent and grab my money. I meet Amanda outside my tent and we head off down the street.
Turning the corner, I see a giant sword over the title of a shop. "Spunky's Fine Swords," I read aloud. Amanda and I cross the street quickly and we enter the store.
My breath disappears as I look at all the swords everywhere. Amanda leads me to the place where the $100 swords are and one looks just like the one Lidia had. I take some into my hands and feel
their weighs and how they feel when I swing them. I have no idea what I'm doing but I finally pick one. The blade is 4 feet long, silver like a dazzling silver nail polish I wore to a New Year's
eve party when I was 10. The blade has the most elegant flower engravings I've ever seen. Amanda nods at my choice and we bring it to the counter to check out. The cashier asks for an ID from
Amanda to check it out and she whips out one, obviously fake. She hands it to the cashier and he looks it over and asks for $100. I hand him my money and he wraps my sword up including a case for
it that I can swing of my back and wear like a backpack. I never felt so good. Amanda leads me back to camp and Nathan and Calvin swarm me, wanting to see my sword.
I pull it out and lay it across my palms and stare at it as it glitters in the sunlight. Everyone goes to get their swords. Nathans has a shiny gold blade with a red handle, Calvin's the same but
with a blue handle. Amanda has 2 daggers, one for each hand, and Chloe has a two handed golden ax. Either she hasn't killed much or she cleans the heck out of it because its extremely shiny.
Rodney comes over, his sword a simple katana. Nathan grabs me and my sword and tells everyone hes going to teach me how to use it. I blush wondering why hes so eager to teach me. I don't worry
about it though.
He leads me to a part in the woods where there’s a little clearing, and he tells me to keep the cover on my sword, or else I'll slice his head off by accident. He shows me simple little tricks
and techniques. He gives me the good tip of always looking for an open fatal spot and then faking your strike, like pretending your gonna jab your opponent’s arm but you stab his side. He shows
me examples and I take out my sword, raising it for the first time. I do what he said, fake it when he doesn't expect it, and touch my covered sword to his side.
He smiles warmly, "Well done your a natural!" He then shows me the things idiots may try to use and how to block them. We work until sundown skipping lunch, and then we head back to camp.
But what I see in camp happening, will scar me forever.
Screaming fills my ears. There’s blood splattered all over the grass. Were being raided, Amanda told me about things like this last night. They're trying to take over our territory. Nathan takes
out his sword goes and helps Rodney fight off 3 kids who are mobbing him. To my right Amanda and Xander working on finishing off a pair of kids older than themselves. But I see something that
makes my blood run cold.
I see a kid about 16 or 17 standing over my cousin who’s laying on the ground, a big gash down her leg. The kids about to finish her off. I scream "NOOOOOO!" as I take out my sword. I'm going
over today's training in my head. I'm nervous and my palms are sweating. I'm loosing the grip on the sword already, but its my cousin who I'm saving. I take a deep breath. I run at him and our
swords clash and he attempts to stab at me in the ribs, but Nathan told me how to block that. I hit his sword with mine a second before it touches me and he tries again the opposite side. He must
think I'm an idiot. I hit his sword again. I then fake a stab to his arm and stab him in the ribs. He falls to the ground, his hand over his new wound, blood seeping out from under his fingers.
He gets up and runs out of our camp. Hannah looks up at me in disbelief and gratitude. I smile back and look around the camp.
Everyone has retreated but one that Amanda is sending out of the camp. Rodney is going around, checking everyone who’s wounded. Hannah is the worst of them, everyone else with only light cuts or
stab marks. Nathan and Sam carry her into a tent at the end of the recruit's line, probably the medic tent. Everyone comes and sits down at the fire which Rodney lights again after it was put out
at the beginning of the raid. Everyone’s talking about how easy they were to beat and congratulating the people who drove them off.
Sam comes back after spending extra time with Hannah and announces, "Hannah claims Jam saved her life."
"What? But Jam is just a recruit! She couldn't have!" Rodney protested
"I don't think I saved her life. An older guy had wounded her and was about to again and so I used the trick Nathan showed me and he retreated." I explain.
"Well very nice job, Jam! Rodney, do you believe she gets a promo?" Amanda asks turning to Rodney.
"Hmm. I don't know. I'll discuss with Jared," he says as he turns toward Jared's tent and starts walking.
"Well Jam, either way I think you did an amazing job. Nathan has taught you well but I'll be teaching you now and then as well," Amanda says as she dabs at the blood coming from a cut in her
"Can I go see Hannah?" I ask her.
"Why of course go ahead. You know which tent right?"
"Yeah I saw Nathan and Sam bring her in there," I say as I get up and walk toward the tent on the end. I pause outside the door flap and call in, "Hey Hannah can I come in?"
"Is that you Jam? Of course you can come in." She responds sounding like shes in pain.
I open the door flap and shes inside with someone who must be the medic. The medic is sewing up Hannah's leg and I silently sit down on the opposite side of her. I look down at her wound. I think
about what would have happened if I hadn't saved her. If I had trained longer and we didn't get back in time. If I didn't run away in the first place. Tears weld up in my eyes and I brush them
away as I hear Rodney calling me from outside the door flap.
"Jam, you in there?" He asks
"Yeah, one second," I say opening the flap and stepping outside. He gives me a hard look then says, "Well. Jared agrees with Amanda. You will be moving to the corpral tent today. Congrats."
"Oh thank you!" I half scream as my face lights up. I return to the campfire and everyone begins congratulating me. I'm thanking them when Lidia limps into camp, her leg cut badly and her sword
covered in blood.
"HELP! MY DUMPSTERS BEING ATTACKED!"
Rodney's eyes light up in hatred as he screams "AMANDA, XANDER, JAM. FOLLOW ME! LIDIA GET TO THE MEDIC TENT!"
You can tell he has feelings for Lidia by the way he wants to protect her. Lidia limps over to the tent with some girls I don't know helping her. I take my sword which still has the guy's blood
on it, and I follow Rodney to Lidia's dumpster. There we see a group of thugs all partying around it. Rodney screams a battle cry and we charge at them, Amanda's duel daggers swinging widely in
front of her, Rodney's katana stabbing the air as he runs, Xander's ax ready, my sword positioned above my head as I get ready to swing.
The thugs turn toward us and fall silent. One of them has a gash down his arm, probably from Lidia. All the thugs take out pocket knives, but we're ready.
I charge at the wounded one, thinking he'll be disadvantaged. Hes only got a pocket knife and so he can't do much but try and stab me. I knock the knife from his hand. I'm about to stab him when
he grabs my sword and thrusts me backyards. I fall on my back, the wind knocked out of me. Hes got his knife now and his foot on my stomach. I can't get up. I struggle and think of a plan. I
relax my muscles, making him think I've given up, and as he removes his foot from my chest, I take my sword and jab it through his stomach. He turns and I can see my sword has gone all the way
through him. He screams, only for it to be muted by blood bubbling through his mouth. He falls backwards dead.
Rodney, Xander, and Amanda are all smiling at me and each other, happy we saved Lidia's dumpster. The other thugs are all either dead or dying or severely wounded. The one who Amanda took care of
is bleeding from his eyes and throat. Rodney's victim has his stomach sliced open and Xander's has his skull broken. I sigh, my first kill. My sword is covered in blood so I take its cleaning
cloth from its case and rub it down, the white linen now red with drying blood.
Back at camp, everyone is amazed to see none of us are hurt. Rodney instantly goes to the medic tent to check on Lidia. I sigh and sit down on the grass. It had been a long day and the sun's last
rays were fading. I lay back and look at the sky. In NYC, you can barley see the stars but I can make out a few faint ones. Nathan comes and lays next to me which surprises me.
"Hey Jam," he says, and when I sit up and look at him, he smiles at me.
"Hey Nathan. Thanks for the tips with fighting, it really has helped me," I say
"Eh, no problem. Your a natural. You saved Hannah today and I hear you made one of those thugs beg for mercy."
"Well. That is true," I say and get up. "Well, I'm tired and I have to move to a corpral tent now. I'll see you in the morning."
Nathan's smile disappears "Oh, uhh. Yeah. See you."
And as I turn away, I wonder what it was that made him sad. Was it me leaving to go to bed? Or is there something I don't know and he won't be here tomorrow?
Questions run through my mind as I take my stuff and move into a corpral tent, this time I'm alone. I sigh and lay out my sleeping back, lay down on it, and fall asleep before I can even try to
answer any of those questions.
The next morning, its Amanda who wakes me. I grab my plate and silverware, starving from not eating for 24 hours.
"So what's today's meal?" I ask, hoping for anything but air.
"Well. How do you feel about tacos?" She replies, a sly smile on her face.
I laugh, "Sounds great. I'm guessing Taco Bell?"
She nods happily and gets up to help Xander prepare this morning's food.
She comes around, giving everyone 2 tacos and we all eat like pigs. When everyone is done, we all go wash our plates and meet back at the fire. Jared stands up and starts speaking. "Tomorrow, we
raid TEAM C. I want someone to kill their leader, he is nothing but a traitor who broke our alliance by making fun of Amanda. I want trainings today and everyone to be ready." He announced.
Nathan looked over at me and I could tell he wanted to train me again. But it was Amanda who took my arm and said, "This way Jam, I'm going to show you some technique I made up."
I look back at Nathan, his eyes sad and I mouth, "Sorry."
Amanda leads me to a clearing similar to the one Nathan and I trained in yesterday. I don't know how shes going to teach me when she has 2 daggers, but I don't question her.
"Now, I'll be showing you some simple duck and roll moves," She says and demonstrates some. She ducks into a ball and rolls away from my blade as I try to attack her. She lets me try it and I'm
too slow and she gets me. I try again and this time I'm the one that gets her. We continue practicing this until the late afternoon. I come back into camp and Nathan is waiting for me.
"Well Jam, show me what Amanda taught you." There’s anger in his voice. Hes obviously mad that Amanda trained me today and not him. I sigh and fight him, faking the stab and instead of stabbing
him, ducking and rolling then stabbing his back.
"Well, Amanda has taught you something." he grumbles then turns toward his tent.
I sigh, "What do you think is his problem?" I say, turning toward Amanda.
"Well, based on the look in his eyes when he first say you, I think he likes you." She replies grimly.
"Why is that a bad thing?"
"Because Jam, love here never lasts. One or the other gets killed and they go on mourning forever. Look at Lidia." She nods toward Rodney who’s walking near the girl's tents with Lidia at his
side, "And hes trying to replace Mike. Lidia isn't taking it in though, shes still mourning him." She sighs. "Well, I best be planning dinner with Xander. I'll see you later." she says as she
I walk toward my tent, but behind it I can hear Rodney and Lidia speaking in hushed tones.
"Lidia, its not safe for you out there." Rodney insists.
"I'm perfectly fine!" Lidia protests.
"Lidia, after yesterday, please, stay here. Where I can watch you."
"You don't own me! Why do you even care if I'm safe or not!" Her tone has become angry now.
"Lidia, I care because I love you."
Lidia is silent for a moment. I'm holding my breath, not wanting to disturb them. After a minute or two, I hear Lidia whisper, "You- You do?"
"Yes Lidia, I do." Rodney says, and I snake my head around the side of the tent and I see them kissing.
I silently tip-toe back to the fire and sit down. I'm not going to say anything about them, I might get my head cut off. I just stare into the flames, thinking. Will Nathan ever confess that he
loves me? Does he even? And, do I love him back? I've never truly loved a boy, expect for my best friend back home, who broke my heart many times by dating my best friends. I guess he never saw I
liked him. Well, that’s why I came here isn't it? For a new beginning? Well that’s sure what I got joining the Cobras.
Nathan interrupted my thoughts by sitting down next to me.
"Hey Jam. Sorry about earlier, I wasn't in the best mood." he said, embarrassed by his actions earlier in the day.
"Nah its fine, don't worry about it. Amanda had to show me an important skill, don't worry I'll train with you tomorrow."
"But there’s no training tomorrow. Were raiding TEAM C, remember?" He sounded confused.
"Oh that's right! Well, then the next day I will train with you," I promised, smiling at him.
"Okay, sounds good," he said, smiling back. "Hey, wanna go lay on the grass? Maybe you can tell me about your family back home or something?"
"Sure, I got a lot to tell," I laughed.
We walked over to the grass and laid down, looking at the sky and trying to find some stars.
"My best friend, Alyssa, was killed in a car accident 3 months ago. It hit me really hard. We were really close. And then, my parents had issues and got divorced. I couldn't take it. I thought
about suicide but its not the answer. I want to do something with my life. I came here, hoping for a new life. And that’s what I got." I say, my voice sounding hurt and tired.
"I'm glad you didn't kill yourself. Your needed here. Look at what you've done these part two days." He insists.
"Yeah, I guess so. Thanks Nathan."
"Anytime Jam. Anytime." He smiles.
"Well, I best be off to bed now. Thanks again." I smile warmly.
This time Nathan is smiling back. "Good night."
I walk back to my tent. Tomorrow we were raiding, my first raid. I was too excited.
Waking up, I reach over for my sword. I take it out and look at its engravings. Its silver blade brings back memories of that nail polish I had wore that one night with my cousins as we sat in
front of their flat screen TV and watched the ball drop. I know Hannah remembers that.
I trace my fingers across the engravings and wonder how many people I will kill and hurt with this sword. I see the faint mark of blood on the edge from yesterday. I sigh. What had I become?
Putting the sword back in its case, I fling it over my back and open the door flap of my tent. I decide to go visit Hannah and see how her stitches are holding up. Walking into the medic's tent,
I call in and Hannah allows me to enter. I walk in and sit next to her head.
"How you holding up?" I ask, my eyes focused on her stitched wound that looks like its healing.
"Fine, I'll be out of here in a few days or so," her eyes filled with longing. I could tell she wanted to fight again.
"So whats with you and Sam? He seems worried about you a lot."
"Yeah, were kinda, in love I guess you could say. He was out hunting when we were raided and when he came back, you were just finishing the guy off. He feels terrible," she says.
"Oh, I see. Well I better go get ready for the raid," I say as I exit the tent. I walk over and sit in the grass next to the fire pit and wait for people to come. When Lidia and Amanda arrive, we
all chat about our ideas to kill their leader. We work out a plan. Amanda will distract him and take his eyes, Lidia will get his legs, and I'll deliver the death blow to his chest. We all are
bursting with excitement when Nathan and Calvin join us, followed by Rodney, Chloe, and Jared.
Jared is silenced us and started speaking. "Today we raid TEAM C. Their camp is on the east side, so we must walk half an hour or so. Be sure to stay hidden, we cannot be seen. And who plans on
killing their leader, Wesley?"
Me, Amanda, and Lidia raised our hands. Amanda explained our plan to him.
"Hmm.. It just might work. Go ahead and try it girls," he approved. "Now, lets move out! Everyone is coming except for Sam and Hannah who will stay at camp.
As Jared led us through the woods, I kept near Amanda and Nathan, needing their safety. We walked, sneaking low to the ground in the bushes. Jared paused and turned. "We're here." He said. Cheers
of joy were silenced just as they were let out of our throats. Jared looked, turned back, and signaled us. We all took out our swords, positioned ourselves, and charged, this time Amanda leading
us with the battle cry.
Rodney and Nathan ran to the right, Chloe and Calvin on the left, me, Lidia, Amanda into the center. We found the leader's tent, and as we opened the door flap, Lidia screamed behind me. I
turned, alarmed to see her being picked up, a knife at her throat. Amanda was on her own with the leader, I had to help Lidia. Ducking and rolling, I slammed into the guy's legs, making him fall
backwards. Lidia screeched as she fell onto him. Taking her sword, she finished him with a slice to the throat. I turned around to see Amanda in the middle of a fight with Wesley. She was aiming
for the eyes. He sliced her cheek, re-opening the wound she got two days ago. But the pain didn't stop her. She distracted him as Lidia positioned herself behind him and sliced his left leg down
the center. He screamed in pain and he turned his head up to the sky, loosing his sight of Amanda. Amanda saw her opportunity and quickly stabbed his eyes. Wesley screamed again in pain and
stumbled stupidly toward her swinging his sword wildly. It caught on my arm, giving me a nice deep cut along my wrist. I winced but continued our plan. I got behind him and shoved my sword
through his chest and watched as he fell to the ground. Taking my sword out of him, I scanned the camp. Nathan and Rodney were distracting someone while Xander stuck his ax in the guy's skull.
Jared, Calvin, and Chloe were sending a few girls into the woods with wounds that would leave scars.
We all meant in the middle of the camp and high five-d each other. We took toll of injuries. Nathan had a cut on his knee, Rodney a slice across his hand. Chloe had a nasty gash on her ribs and
Calvin had a shard of glass embedded in his shoulder. Not serious injuries, but ones that needed to be tended to.
"Jam, that cut on your wrist looks bad, are you OK?" Nathan asked, eying my new wound.
"Yeah, fine," I said, lying. It hurt really bad and me never breaking a bone or having to get stitches in my life, I didn't know real pain.
Jared silenced us and announced we would be heading back to camp now. We snaked along the bushes, but the air didn't feel right. Halfway back, we were stopped by something we didn't expect.
Jared was frozen in his tracks. There stood Wesley, alive and perfectly fine. Behind him was a line of warriors, at least 10 of them.
"Wesley! I killed you! How-how are you alive?!" I exclaimed, taking my sword out again.
He laughed "You killed my twin. Lets see how you stand against NightFall Kids! ATTACK!"
The line of warriors ran toward me. My sword clashed with a girl's who was younger than me. Hatred burned in her eyes. "You will never breathe again when I am done with you!" She promised. I
thought otherwise. I used the attack I had used on Nathan yesterday. I faked, ducked, rolled, and stabbed her through the back. She fell to the ground, and as she fell, her sword sliced my ankle.
I winced in pain and I removed my sword from her. She held her chest where the sword had went through, and stared at me with fire in her eyes. Soon they were unblinking and she was motionless. I
turned to see Amanda stabbing a guy who was taller than her in the eyes, her special move that was the most powerful in a battle. Once she had blinded him, I came up from behind delivering a
death blow and he fell to the ground. Amanda and I were about to fight another guy when we heard Lidia scream. Wesley had her by the hair and was slicing her down her right arm. Rodney didn't
even finish off the girl he was fighting and ran at Wesley.
He jumped onto Wesley and sliced his hand off. Lidia was released and she ran into a bush for cover. Rodney sliced at Wesley, who now only had one hand.
"Never again will you hurt MY Lidia!" Rodney screamed.
"What makes her yours?" Wesley questioned and stabbed at Rodney's ribs.
"She's mine because I love her!" Rodney yelled as he jabbed Wesley through the stomach.
Amanda came over, blinding him as he screamed his finial screams.
Jared, Xander, Calvin, Chloe, and Nathan had taken care of the rest of the warriors and had escaped with few injuries. Jared sighed and signaled we would be heading back to camp now.
"Hey Jam, that’s a nasty cut you have on your ankle. You need help?" Nathan asked, worry in his eyes.
"Yeah that'd be great, thanks." I said, putting my sword back in its case, swinging the case over my back, and leaning on Nathan as he helped me limp back to camp.
Our medic, who I learned her name was Nicole, got to me as I was dabbing the blood from my ankle. Nathan sat next to me, his eyes focused on the medic, worried if I was going to be OK or not.
"Well, is she going to be OK doctor, nurse, medic person thingy?" Nathan asked, too worried to care about words.
"Yes yes calm down, she'll be fine. She'll just need help getting around the next couple of days." Nicole said.
"Oh ok. Nathan do you-" I started
"Want me to help you? Yes of course I will." Nathan finished.
"Nathan, why are you so worried about me?" I questioned, hoping to see if Amanda's theory of him liking me was true.
"Well Jam.. see.." Nathan started
"Well, what is it?" I asked as Nicole finished wrapping my ankle in bandages.
"Jam. I love you."
I gasped, not knowing what to say.
"I- I love you too." I respond, stunned.
Nathan leans in and kisses me, and I don't stop him. Everyone silent for the moment. When he releases, the kiss over, the entire camp starts yelling shouts of joy. I blush and smile at him. He
smiles back. I look around the camp and Lidia and Rodney are holding hands on the other side, Lidia smiling at me. Hannah and Sam emerge from the medic tent.
"What's the noise about?" Sam asks, really confused.
"Nothing, just Nathan and Jam were kissing." Jared says, chuckling.
"Oh, congrats you guys," he says, as he takes Hannah's hand and helps her over to the log. Hannah sits down and smiles at me and I smile back.
I take my sword from my case and look at its blood stains. I take out my linen cleaning cloth but its already dirty from the thugs a few days ago. "Nathan, can you go wash this please?" I ask
"Anything for you Jam," he says with a wink.
He disappears into the woods and Amanda comes over and takes his place. "Hey, you got Nathan now. Hows it feel?" she asks, curiosity flickering in her eyes.
"Different. I can tell you that much. Nice job on those kills earlier. Your technique is really good," I tell her.
"Thanks, made it myself. I like having two daggers, makes me feel more protected. Well I must be off. Everyone's hungry. Where should we steal from today?" She says, curiosity from her eyes
replaced with mischief. Xander interupted us telling Amanda it was time to go, she waved goodbye and left.
Later that night as the sun's last rays stretched thin across the grass as Rodney lite the fire to cook the meat that Sam and Xander had hunted. Amanda entered the camp with a shopping cart in
front of her, and within that, five 12 packs of soda.
"Amanda, how'd you get all of this??" Jared wondered, his eyes bulging at the sight of the sugary drink.
"Eh, I have my ways," Amanda mused, her eyes gleaming.
Jared rips open a pack and opens a can. He gulps it down thirstily and hands the cans around. Nathan gets me one and I take a long sip of it. Soon, were all hyper on soda. Were all singing like
dying animals and we eventually are worn out. Nathan walks me to my tent, my ankle swollen and hurting worse than ever.
"Good night," Nathan says with a smile.
"Night," I say as I kiss him on the cheek.
The next morning, I'm up early again. I take my sword out of its case and rub it down. I hear Amanda and Jared near by, their voices hushed but in an angry tone.
"What do you mean I don't care! I care a lot!" Jared exclaims.
"Jared! When Mike died you didn't do anything! You saw Rodney kill him! You didn't even exile him for betraying the clan!" Amanda screams.
"He did it because he loves Lidia! I wanted them to be together!"
"Jared that’s no reason! Murdering your own clan is a serious matter! And you didn't do anything!"
"Amanda this was over a year ago! Why do you care now?" Jared's voice is really mad now.
"Jared. Something like this may happen again now that we have Sam and Hannah, Nathan and Jam, Rodney and Lidia. Who knows, more betrayal could happen!" Amanda’s voice is full of worry.
"Amanda, I care a lot so don't claim I don't. Go and help Xander get food ready. I'll announce the raid on NobleBlade after breakfast. I do care Amanda, I do," Jared's voice was soft now, trying
to comfort her almost.
"Raid on NobleBlade? No we can't raid them!" Amanda's voice was shrill now.
"Why not? Why can't we?"
"Because. Rich is in that group, and I've been..." Amanda's voice trailed off.
"You've been.. what?" Jared pried.
"I've been seeing him Jared. Were in love and I can't help it. We can't raid them."
"We can and we will. That’s that Amanda." Jared's voice was hard.
Amanda stomped off and I sat motionless in my tent.
Rodney had killed Mike, all those months ago, to get to Lidia's heart? And Amanda was in love with someone who's clan we were raiding today?
This was bad, really bad. After about 20 minutes, Amanda came to get me up. She had a joyful look on her face, so she was either hiding her feelings well or something good had happened. "Oh,
that's right, you need Nathan. One second, I'll go get him," she said as she turned off toward the general tents.
I polished my sword as I waited. I kept going over Amanda and Jared's conversation in my head. Rodney, a traitor? What would Lidia do if she found out?
A million things swamped through my head as Nathan came and got me. I took my sword and put it back in its case and swung it over my back like usual. I took my plate and silverware and limped
across to the fire with Nathan. Today, Amanda had stolen from Taco Bell again and so she passed out some tacos. She wasn't her normal talkative self I noticed. She sat by herself far from
"What do you think its wrong with Amanda?" I asked Nathan in a quiet voice.
"I have no idea. I've never seen her in this bad of a mood," He admitted.
I knew why though, and the answer wasn't pretty.
When I was finished, I gave my plate to Nathan and he went off to wash it. Hannah had joined us for breakfast today and she scooted over to take Nathan's spot. I noticed her stitches were gone,
which was a good thing.
"Hey, no more stitches?" I said with a smile.
"Nope! Sam has to help me around though, still hurts a lot." She said, looking down at her leg.
"Well, lets hope were not raiding again today," I hoped, but I knew I was wrong.
When everyone had returned from cleaning their plates, Jared stood up and raised his voice.
"Today we are raiding NobleBlade. Show no mercy to them. They are a small way away. Nathan, I need you to help Jam along. Shes coming with us despite her injury."
"Yes Sir," Nathan agreed, smiling at me.
We all got into our 2 lines, our weapons in cases on our backs, and we headed out. The course there was much shorter than that to TEAM C's camp. We stayed behind thickly populated trees. Jared
signaled us to get down after about 15 minutes of walking. I took my sword out of my case and rubbed my finger over the engraving. Here we go again.
Jared shouted a battle cry and we flung ourselves out of the bushes and trees. Amanda ran to a boy and tried pushing him into the bushes, but he didn't move. He looked confused, and Amanda was
yelling at him but he didn't understand. Everyone was screaming and yelling. Swords crashed together on all sides of me. A big muscular guy charged me, so I ducked and rolled into his legs and
then stabbed his back. I had hit a very fatal spot, for he died almost instantly.
I looked over to see Nathan struggling with a big guy on him. I snuck up behind the big guy and stabbed him in the back. His fell onto Nathan, crushing him with his insane weight. I tried to pull
him off of Nathan, but I could only move him so far. Nathan struggled and was able to get up, panting for his breath that was squeezed out of him. The entire camp went silent when Amanda let out
the most shrill scream anyone has ever heard. We all turn to see her standing in front of the boy she was with earlier. It had to be Rich. Jared pushed her aside and stabbed Rich in the stomach.
Amanda yelled as Rich fell to the ground, blood seeping from his stomach. Shes sobs uncontrollably now, and I want to help her, but I'm frozen in place. The clearings still silent, everyone
holding their breath.
"Amanda, I love you," Rich struggles out as he falls backwards, his breaths numbered.
"Oh Rich I love you too! Please, don't leave me!" Amanda begs, as she lays her head down on his chest, sobbing.
I turn around when something touches my ankles. Calvin is going around, sneaking behind all the enemies and slicing their heads off with his golden sword. They don't make a noise. Everyone's so
focused on the scene Jared has created, no one notices Calvin's actions until the last few enemies see him. Rodney and Nathan help Calvin finish them off. We gather around Jared, who’s staring
down at Rich's body.
"Well, move out everyone," he finally says.
"NO! I'M NOT LEAVING RICH!" Amanda screams, her voice hoarse.
"If you don't respect my orders Amanda, your exiled." Jared says, his voice firm.
"You already killed my Richie!! What more can you do to me? I'll go start my own group! I'll survive, you just see!" Amanda screams more hoarse than before.
"And I'm going with her." Xander says, coming to the front of the crowd.
"Fine, have a nice life you guys. Now everyone who’s LOYAL to me, follow me back to camp." I turn and follow Jared, and take one look back at Amanda, her head on Rich's chest as she sobs harder
Back at camp, things are chaotic. We don't know what to do without Amanda and Xander, their skills in stealing food gone undressed until now.
"I can give it a try," Calvin says. "I can try to get some food. I'll take Chloe with me."
"OK, try McDonald’s, there are nothing but fools there," Jared says, his voice has sorrow in it. I can tell he regrets killing Rich.
"Jared, why did you do it?" I finally say after a while of silence.
"Jam. I thought she would betray me for him. I thought she would betray us all. I thought if she didn't have him, she had to stay here. I didn't think she'd rebel like that..." His voice trails
off and he gets a far away look in his eyes. I don't question him more.
Nathan takes my hand. He can tell by the look in my eyes that I miss Amanda already. She had taught me so much in the few days I had been here, she was already replacing Alyssa. But now she was
gone, and I just wished her the best of luck.
"I think I'll just go to bed, today’s been quite a handful," I say to Nathan, who nods an agreement and helps me to my tent. I put down my sword. I fall back on my sleeping bag and I sigh. What
are we to do now?
Its the middle of the night when someone opens my door flap and I bolt upward instantly alert, already taking my sword out of its case.
"Shhh! Its just me, Amanda." Her voice relaxing me.
"Amanda! Your back!" I say, my eyes lighting up.
"Not exactly. Jam, I want you to rebel with me, become the second in command of my new group."
This shocks me. I feel like I've been hit in the face. My loyalty to the Cobras, to Jared, Rodney, Calvin, everyone, gone? They've been the only people I can count on in the past few days since I
had arrived here. We fought together, we bled together. What she was asking me was a big issue.
"Amanda, your serious? Leave everything I've learned to trust and respect in the past few days for a new group?"
"Yes Jam, and all girl group. I meant a girl named Launa, were going to start this group and we want your help. Were going to go to war with Jared soon once we get big enough, and then. Then
he'll regret killing my Richie..." She says, her eyes filling up in tears again.
"Amanda... I- I don't know..."
"Jam, I gotta go now, before anyone wakes up. Get back to me with the answer, OK?" Her voice is quiet, sad. "Chloe has joined me, and so has a girl named Rose. Rose was close to Rich and wants to
avenge him as well. Think about it and I'll be back here tomorrow around this time to get your answer."
"OK, take care of yourself Amanda," I say, worried.
"Don't worry, I will." She confirms Outside my door flap, I hear her say, "Lets go Chloe."
I don't go back to sleep. I lay back, looking at the roof of my tent, as rain starts tapping on the top. I can't think. Go with Amanda or stay with Nathan. Its impossible to decide.
Amanda, I know I'll be safe with her. Not many people to take care of, good thing. But what if were raided? Four people to defend our camp? How will we even make a new camp?
Jared, we have a nice camp, we defend pretty well, but now there’s that problem of no food. Calvin has to find it all now. Will he be able to do it? My head hurts and I finally let sleep take me
The next morning, I'm up late. Nathan doesn't come to get me, he lets me sleep in. By the time I'm awake, breakfast is just being served. I put my sword on my back and grab my plate and silverware.
I limp to the campfire, my ankle healing now. I sit down, and Nathan rushes over.
"Don't worry about it, its fine. My ankles getting better anyways. I had a sleepless night. Amanda's leaving has hurt me." I say, my voice showing pain.
"After all you've been through this past week and a half Jam, I don't blame you for being hurt again. Its OK, I'm here to protect you," his voice calms me and he leans in to kiss me. Were
interrupted by Calvin coming around dishing out the food. He did good, stealing a ton of pancakes from McDonald's. We each get 3 today. Nathan and I go and wash our plates together and sit back
down on the logs. Today, were relaxing. Jared has declared nothing to go on today, unless of course we are raided. The camp has been hit hard and we all need time to grieve for Amanda and Xander's
departure and we need time to regroup.
"So, What'd you like to do at home?" Nathan asks me.
"Well, I was a big computer geek. I could script and code and all that fun stuff. Got good at editing pictures too. I stopped after Alyssa died though, we did a lot-" I'm interrupted by someone
screaming, "HELP!" I recognize the voice as Sam's.
Nathan runs in direction to his voice and I hobble after him. I see Xander standing over Sam, his sword to Sam's throat. Hes cut badly in the stomach and his sword is a few feet away.
Hannah rushes over and when she sees its Sam on the ground, she bursts into tears. "Sam! Its OK, don't worry! You'll be fine, I'll fix you. You'll live," Her words barley audible over her tears.
"Hannah. The cuts too deep. I'm sorry, but I'm leaving you," His eyes dimming. He chokes out a few last words to his beloved. "Hannah. I love you..." and his voice trails off as his eyes loose
light and you can see his chest has stopped rising and falling with his breath.
"Sam..." Hannah cries and cries into his chest in which a still heart sits. A heart that loved Hannah so, but has forever stopped working.
Nathan has tears in his eyes too. He mumbles, "We grew up together, we ran away together, we found Cobras together. We were like brothers. I'll- I'll never forget him." He says, as a tear falls
down his cheek.
I sigh and hang my head mourning Sam as I knew him, but I snap to attention when Xander screams a battle cry and attacks Nathan.