Trials: Part Twenty One

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Vanessa stood silently in the cave. Her heart was still racing. The guard briefly leaned forwards and felt the disc against his throat, before leaning back and putting his hands up.

“Vanessa, don’t kill him!” Ashley grabbed her arm.

Vanessa looked closer at the guard. “Take off your helmet.”

The guard complied, and pulled off the helmet. He had dark skin, and appeared surprisingly calm for a man who was just knocked on his ass, and had a weapon against his throat.

Vanessa gasped. “Darryl!”

This was definitely the best possible guard for them to run into, short of one they had no problems with killing. Judging by Ashley’s response, it’s not likely there would be a guard that she’d be okay with killing. While he was always nice to them, that didn’t necessarily constitute him being an ally here. It was best to remain cautious.

Darryl squinted for a moment. “Ashley? Vanessa?”

“Where’s your gun?” Vanessa gently moved the disc towards his throat. She wouldn’t mind working with him, but she had to be sure he was disarmed.

“Left side of my belt.”

“Ashley, grab it.” Vanessa couldn’t afford to take her eyes off of him.

Ashley reluctantly edged forwards and grabbed it. “Got it.” She stepped back, and held the gun at a distance from herself.

“Any other weapons?”

Darryl sighed. “I’m telling you this because I want you to trust me. I have a knife in both of my boots.”

“Ashley, give me the gun, and get the knives.”

Ashley shakily handed the gun to Vanessa, and groped around Darryl’s boots, eventually pulling out two knives. She once again stepped back.

“Now do you trust me?” Darryl looked up at her patiently.

“Why are you here? What supplies do you have on you?” Vanessa pointed the gun at him and left the disc suspended near his throat.

“I dropped you off with another guard. I tried to get the jump on him, but he hit me with a tranquilizer. I wanted to help you get out of here. I don’t have any supplies, he took my map and my water.”

“Alright. Do you know where this tunnel leads?” Vanessa didn’t lower the gun.

Ashley stepped up by Vanessa, and placed her hand on her arm. She didn’t say anything, but from what Vanessa could read in the instant, she was clearly worried, and thought Darryl was trustworthy.

Vanessa sighed. Ashley was making this hard, but she couldn’t keep freaking her out. She had a point, Darryl was cooperating. She lowered the gun, and pulled the disc back from Darryl’s throat. “You can sit up, but don’t stand.” She motioned for Ashley to get behind her.

Darryl groaned as he sat up and leaned against the wall. “It leads to the prison. I couldn’t tell which way I was supposed to go to get back, so I guessed. I assume that since I ran into you, I guessed wrong.”

“Alright. Why did you want to help us get out of here?”

Darryl shook his head. “I’ve been playing along with this for too long. I couldn’t do it anymore. I came here willingly as a guard. He told me they were gonna lock up dangerous supers, and that he needed good guys with powers to act as guards. By the time I knew there were tons of innocents in here, I realized I was basically a prisoner too. There’s no way I could fight Takeo and all the other guards, and I couldn’t just leave. He hadn’t sent anyone to the pit in quite some time, and when he did, it was two people I knew were good people. I knew this was my chance. Since you were both in the hall I was responsible for, Jones and I were the ones to drop you off at the pit. Then, like I said earlier, I tried to get the jump on him, but he got me first.”

“If you had a problem with it, why didn’t you do something sooner?” His story was too good to be true, and she didn’t want to jump to mind reading him. She wasn’t sure how Ashley would react if she found out that she could’ve been reading her mind all along. Even nice people can become hostile when they think you’ve been reading their mind. That was a secret best kept until absolutely necessary. On the other hand, Vanessa wasn’t sure what kind of evidence this guy could even offer her that she would actually trust, short of reading his mind.

Darryl looked off to the side for a moment, not saying anything.

“Well?” Vanessa took a firm grip on the gun.

“I was scared.” He replied, quietly shaking his head. “The boy is strong. I know he’s only a child, but he can shoot jets of flame, and knows how to fight. Even if I were able to take him, and I were to convince or fight all the guards, this prison is backed by powerful forces. I consider my cowardice to be shameful, and I seek to rectify this.”

“I don’t think it’s shameful. You’re a good man Darryl.” She pushed past Vanessa and sat down beside him.

Vanessa saw Darryl begin to move, and pointed the gun at him again. “Don’t touch her!”

Ashley gasped and jumped back. “Vanessa! He wasn’t gonna do anything!”

Darryl leaned back against the wall and slowly put his hands on his head. “If you cannot trust me. I understand.” He closed his eyes.

“Vanessa, please.” Ashley pleaded. “I think he’s telling the truth.”

Vanessa sighed, not lowering the gun. She couldn’t think of any other way, and she figured Ashley probably wouldn’t freak out. At least she hoped so. “Fine. I will trust you, on one condition. You have to let me read your mind.”

“Very well. Do what you must.” Darryl nodded, not moving otherwise.

Vanessa lowered the gun and motioned for Ashley to come over. “I’ll be defenseless while I do this, so keep an eye on him, and the surroundings.” She handed the gun to her.

Ashley nodded and stepped back.

Vanessa sat down in front of Darryl. “Give me your hands.”

Darryl slowly lowered his hands from his head and placed them in hers. They were easily twice as large as hers. Darryl was way too strong for her to have taken down with that kick. He had to have known it was her.

Vanessa took a deep breath and sighed. “Let’s begin.”



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(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

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