• Chapter 1
    Cats and Mice

    I was flying. Flying faster than I ever had before. The ancient trees of the forest were nothing but streaks of different shades of green in my peripheral vision as my body hurtled through the air. It was liberating in a sense. The way my muscles tensed and relaxed as I dodged oncoming obstacles, the way my hair whipped behind me, gently tugging at their roots that anchored them to my scalp, and even the sting of the air rushing in my eyes felt good to me. For these were the feelings an escaping Witch felt when she felt success in the palm of her hand.

    A child-like smile was plastered to my face as I felt the adrenaline rushing in my blood stream. Chases were one of my favorite hobbies and this one was definitely categorized under the "top ten" list. My pursuers were very offensive which made it all the more fun. There were shouts from behind me as the low rumble of hover generators kicking up began to shake my bones. I risked a glance back at them and cursed under my breath. Hover-Skis. They just had to have Hover-Skis. There were more shouts and I knew that they would be trying to surround me as quickly as possible. Luckily, I knew a thing or two about them from my many flights fleeing from them.

    Hover-Skis were a favored steed for Witch hunters. They were one of the few vehicles that could keep up with a Witch when it was flying and was fairly agile. However they were not built for use in tight obstacles such as trees in a forest with their wide berth and little defensive coatings. If they were to keep up the chase they would need to stay low at trunk level and that meant I could use the canopies as cover for my escape. The only problem was the hunters had a nasty habit of shooting electrically charged nets every time I tried to make a move upward. This wasn't going to be easy.

    Then suddenly there was a low buzzing sound and whistle of air being cut. It was little more than a second before I saw the net. There was a loud crack and a flash of a bright light blue light as the air sizzled around me. The branch I had retrieved using my Force to block the attack fell to the ground far below, still smoldering. It had slowed me down a bit but I wasn't going try my luck and stick around long enough to try the trick again though and continued to rocket through the growth.

    The hum of the hunters' engines were persistent. I could hear the sound of breaking limbs on both of my sides but I could not hear any preparations for another attack from either of them. In fact they didn't seem to be making any move for another attack. Something was off. I knew for a fact that there were too many in this pack to fit on two Hover-Skis. So then where was the third? My chest clenched and following my instincts I immediately dove to my right. Out of my peripheral vision I saw a small rocket spiral upwards, screaming as if it were frustrated. I was barely out of range when it exploded. Or at least that's what I thought.

    Suddenly there were thick, heavy metal bearings showering around me. I cringed as several battered my back and legs, making some sickening thuds against my flesh but did not slow down. I would have bruises tomorrow, bad ones at that, but that was assuming there was a tomorrow and if that was going to happen I needed to get to the canopies somehow. I glanced to my right and saw the flickering image of one of my pursuers as tree after tree zoomed between us. An idea finally came to me as a particularly large cluster of trees passed us and I noticed a glint from one of the many metallic ruins in the forest. The corners of my mouth rose into a sly smile.

    My speed decreased to a stop within a second. This sudden change threw them for a moment but it wouldn't be enough to give me enough time to reach the canopies and since this wasn’t' the intention of my sudden sluggishness I didn't care much. My ears strained to hear the Hover-Ski's gears struggle with the turn in the neck braking speeds I had just been traveling at. They would be here in four seconds I estimated triumphantly. Plenty of time.

    Their approach was a smart one. I'd give them that much. They had set themselves up so that any physical attack I might launch against one of them would be easily counteracted by the other but unfortunately they hadn't counted on the fact that my attack might not be quite as physical as a hunter might like. The power was coursing through me, itching to escape this incredibly fragile casing and I smiled. Sometimes Force could have personality and right now it was reminding me of an impatient child on Christmas day.

    Calm down. I thought a bit bemused. Three seconds were left till they were within striking distance of me and it gave a lurch to escape as I caught a flash of one of the hunters reaching for a weapon. Just a little closer. They need to get full blast of this…There!

    "Nice seeing you boys." I said pleasantly as my Force finally unleashed it's self at full blast. The flash was so bright it even outshone the sun for a moment and anyone unfortunate enough to be staring directly at it would be blinded for the remainder of their life, at least I would have known that if it weren't for the fact that I had shielded my eyes the instant I released it. So instead I saw the cloth of a small scarf I always carried with me as I crashed through the branches of the lower canopies of a forest I had lived or rather hid in my entire life.

    It has been proven throughout the history of human race that we fear and even hate those who are different from our selves. Or should I say themselves. I have never really been included in their little club which I found ironic in a way for it is their fault I am this way to begin with. Project Witch is where my story begins, along with fifty plus other candidates. We were to be a new breed of humans, a man-made evolutionary development. There had been nothing like us before and the entire scientific was buzzing with the new possibilities that our success could bring. It was the dawn of a new era. One where man controlled their own evolution.

    The substance they were using to invoke this evolutionary leap was something new that had just been discovered at the outer rim of the asteroid belt in our solar system. It had been called something simple. Ricelem Glass. It would later be better known as Witch's Glass after the truth was discovered about this new "super-human". I never learned what was in Witch's Glass that made it compatible with DNA but from what I had experienced it had something to do with the cells coming together to form an almost intelligent being. Which also explained why my Force seemed to sometimes have a mind of it's own. In any case they took a good number of couples and implanted some of the DNA from the Glass into the humans' own and sent them off to live as they normally would have. Then they waited for the offspring. That is when the Witches were born.

    I don’t' remember much about my childhood since by the time I was born scientists had already discovered the results of their experiment. As it turned out the substance's DNA combined with our own resulted in it becoming almost another system in our body yet at the same time it didn't effect us at all. It was like having a network of small tubes running beside our bloodstream with nothing but air in it. Yet it reacted to our consciousness like a muscle. When commanded to it could leave our body through our pores and solidify into a liquid, solid, and even plasma form. It was like nothing people have never seen before and with this new power the breed was given the nickname "Witch" like what they used to call people who supposedly had supernatural powers hundreds of years before. As time went on and more discoveries were made with experimentation scientists became disturbed by the sheer power this hybrid contained. On one fateful day an experimentation went too far and the end result was deadly. The subject's Force had been pushed too far and an explosion that engulfed the entire area surrounding the facility within a five mile radius. Luckily the lab was far away from civilization but the board was forced to deem Project Witch a failure and all of the evolutionary children were to be exterminated, branded as biohazardous waste.

    My family fled our home the day after my second birthday when we received a telegram calling for my own disposal. My dad had been caught when he tried to hold off some over the Hover-Seekers while my mother ran carrying me in her arms. We made it out and took refugee in the forest where we survived for five years. In those short years my mother taught me tricks of survival and I began to discover my Force and it's true power. By the age of six I noticed that my mother had begun to move more slowly and need more breaks and as time progressed she became more and more ill. She died on the anniversary of our escape.

    Since then I have lived on my own and done the best that I could to make sure that the legend of the Witches did not die as my mother had. There were few of us left and the government was unrelenting on their quest to bring us to extinction or keep us as lab rats long enough their scientists to try to go for Model 2.0. The human race's lust for power was absolutely sickening to me and that is why I sabotaged their efforts every moment I got. Certain things weren't to be messed with and I was just a prime example of that.

    I had been thinking about all of this when I was abruptly brought back to reality. I blinked a few times and looked around me as if waking up from a dream. How long had I been gliding without realizing where I was going? The answer came as a bit of a shock. The sun which had just been overhead just, what felt like, minutes earlier was halfway done with it's decent down the western hemisphere. I scowled at the bright sphere and silently scolded it for moving so fast. Then made my own decent to the soft forest floor to see if I couldn't figure out where exactly I had wondered off to.

    As I looked at my surrounding though I realized that everything around me was so infuriatingly generic that it would be impossible to even guess where I was until I found some kind of landmark and that meant that I would have to go looking for it which would probably take up the rest of what little daylight I had left. Growling dangerously I kicked a nearby stone and regretted it immediately.

    "OW! Okay that was incredibly stupid." I thought out loud hopping around on my good foot as I held the bad one. My Force immediately went to the hurt foot, wrapped it's self around it, and began cooling as if to become a sort of icepack. The corner of my mouth curled upward to become an amused smirk. "I guess being a genetically enhanced freak has it's advantages…" The shimmering substance squeezed the foot slightly as if to scoff at me. I muttered an apology and, taking a deep breath, began the search for a landmark or even a possible shelter for the night.

    Little did I know that I wasn't the only one who had been entertained by the situation.


    Pain sucks. It's a simple fact that I'm pretty sure every living being can agree on and at the current moment I was in a lot of it.

    Apparently, not only was I suffering from the bruises that the earlier chase had caused but I had also earned cuts from the time when I was absentmindedly gliding through the tree limbs in the lower canopies of the forest as well as a light sunburn that stung every time I touched my face to swipe away a loose strand of hair. The cherry on the cake had to be the skull splitting headache I was suffering at the moment though. I hadn't managed to find a landmark of any kind and I had almost not found a shelter in time to beat out the setting sun. Every part of my being creaked and groaned with fatigue or soreness. Even my Force was tired as I sat down by the fire I had managed to build minutes earlier.

    Needless to say I was very grumpy and ready to just pass out for the night even if only to escape the sheer discomfort of it all. But of course as it often happens I was so tired that I couldn't fall asleep and my mind began it's rampage of thoughts. One of which was how do you tell your own brain to shut up?

    I flattened my self on the ground so that I was facing up towards a small hole in the ceiling of my small shelter. The tree life above was always swaying in invisible breezes and creating the gentlest sound of rustling leaves. A sound that seemed to cradle your senses and try to lull you to sleep. Thinking about this, I tried to concentrate wholeheartedly on the hypnotic, steady movement of the branches and listen to the symphonic melody of night. However they both only made me think more.

    How can the forest be so at peace when I am not? What is its secret? Will I ever feel it? I frowned thoughtfully at the last one. The thought had crossed my mind before so it was nothing new but that didn't make it any more bothersome and that was only because I knew the answer. Until I, as a Witch, could be accepted by society the answer would always be no. That hurt in a way.

    I was twisting a small strip of my long, amber hair around again and again as I always did when I was tired or just in deep thought or even both as my mind continued to wonder. I had learned the habit from my mom and it had stuck with me since. On nights like these I always missed her company. She used to always try and make me as comfortable as possible and keep the mood light even if we both knew that the situation was grim and there would surely be a fight the next morning. She was just the person a kid would want around if they were scared. However, I sometimes wondered if she was so keen on making me feel the best I could because she couldn't forgive herself for doing this to me. Making this the life I would have to lead until things changed. I had to admit to myself that I had always been upset about it but I had forgiven her long ago. I knew that she had only been hoping to give me the best life possible and that it wasn't her fault that her plans backfired immensely.

    I only wish I could have told her that…

    There was a loud snap near by and I was instantly sitting up. I winced at the sudden movement but tried to ignore the pain as my eyes darted around to the surrounding area. I had chosen a deep hollow where a tree had fallen over and created a sort of cave. It managed to conceal me from above where ships might be passing over head but anything on the ground would be able to see my fire easily through the mouth of it. This would have been a problem if it weren't for the fact that I was in the middle of nowhere and no one traveled by foot anymore. So then why did I suddenly get the feeling that I was being watched?

    It's probably just an animal or something. You're being paranoid. A logical thought. Too bad I wasn't a logical person. Every bit of me was burning with awareness as I slowly got into a low crouch and maneuvered my way out into the open night air. I quickly sent my Fore behind me and used it to snuff out the fire. Now I only had my shimmering gift as a light source. I lifted myself so that I was just barely of the ground with as to not make a sound while I searched.

    What are you doing? This is insane! There is absolutely no one out here and you're just making yourself even more tired. Why don’t' you forget about the stupid twig snapping and go to sleep? For you all you know it could have just been your mind playing a trick on you… The thought was tempting and I willing to accept it as a possibility but I had learned to be cautious after all these years. It happens when you’re hunted like an animal.

    Everything seemed pretty normal and I hadn't even found the twig that had broken yet. I was about to accept that it had just been me being deliriously tired when something finally caught my eye. Lying not but ten feet away was a black self cooling water bottle. I was beginning to edge toward it to investigate when my instincts pulled me the other way. I tried to ignore them until suddenly I could feel what ever it was behind me. My breath got caught in my throat and a chill ran up my spine. I had no time to cower though.

    Sucking up the terror that had been building up, I made my Force gather at the tips of my fingers to form razor sharp daggers for me to swipe with. Taking a deep breath I whirled around to face behind me. What greeted me left me completely speechless.

    A man stared right back into my eyes with his own Force-blade pointed directly at my throat and a cocky smirk on his lips. "Surprise."