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Burned 1.2

by Noelle

Someone grabs my shoulders from behind. I don't hesitate as I turn and kick their legs out from underneath them. They're on the ground in an instant and I put my foot on their stomach. No way they're getting anywhere until I let them up.

"Really, Bryn? You had to do that?"

Guilt floods through me when I recognize Merith's voice. It's rather dark under the cover of the trees so I didn't see more than a silhouette. It could've been anyone. I retract my foot and offer a hand to help her up.

"No, no," she says as she pushes herself off of the ground. "I don't need your help. At least leave me with some of my pride after you beat me up."

I laugh. "I didn't beat you up. I pinned you down."

"Same difference. I just got owned by my best friend."

"Maybe you should take some more combat lessons then." I can't hide the smile that's tugging at my lips.

"Shut up will you?" Merith snaps. But a smile dances across her lips quickly after. Will says one of these days one of us is going to make a joke and it won't be funny at all. The fact that Merith and I share the same sense of humor though makes that seem impossible.

"Quiet!" Will hisses in my ear. "Someone's close by."

"Who?" I whisper.

There's a click behind me and a cool metal is pressed against my neck. I freeze. "Me." Jordin's hot breath hits my neck. But it's nothing compared to the sharp pain of the barrel.

How did he even get the gun? The professors didn't mention anything about weapons. The rules of exercise clearly state that no weapons are allowed unless provided. I can get him expelled for this. That's something I can worry about later.

"Don't move or I'll shoot." He hisses.

Despite the fear gripping me, I force my voice to remain calm. "You know, everyone says that, but no one ever pulls the trigger."

"How would you know that? Have you been held at gunpoint before?"

"Many times." I snap. Jordin scoffs. He doesn't believe me. I guess he isn't as much of an idiot as I thought. Most people believe my lies. Maybe Colton gave him a heads up. Colton's the only other one besides Merith who can tell when I'm lying.

Speaking of the devil, Colton walks out from behind a tree. "What's going on over here?" He stops when he looks in my direction. "Jordin put that stupid thing away. I told you to leave it in the dorm."

"Whoa, you have this in the dorm?" Merith exclaims. I was thinking the same thing. We might go to a school designed to make agents out of us, but I don't feel very safe knowing someone has a gun stored in their room. Especially when it's someone that isn't all too fond of me.

"Give it up," Colton snaps at his partner. "We don't want to kill them; we just want to find out what they know." Jordin hesitates, but pulls the gun away from my neck. He mumbles about it not being loaded. I believe him, but I'm not about to take any more chances. Lying is something that they teach us early on here.

There are kids running by not too far away from us. I'm not worried about them. They're no enemy to me. I have the only two right in front of me. Besides, if anyone else ran into me and Merith out here, they'd run away before we'd have a chance to chase them. These two goons are probably the only people at Vido's that would dare cross me.

I'm actually thankful for them in a way. This school is supposed to be teaching me my trade. I was already a spy before I came here, but there's more that I need to learn. My parents could only teach me so much. The fact that I can't remember the last twelve years of my life doesn't help either. My training was engrained in my mind so everything is second nature. What I don't remember is what I learned. Not knowing something and being able to perform it anyway is a scary thing. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm doing.

Merith is glaring at Colton. "Why'd you follow us? You know that the exercise is to solve the puzzle with your partner. We weren't instructed to tail anyone."

"Tailing you was an easier solution." Colton explains. I can't argue with him on that one. The puzzles make no sense. I slip one of the pieces of paper out of my pocket. It's a code we're supposed to crack. And whatever the key is, it's not a common one. I've tried all of the solutions that we've been taught to recognize. None of them yield a readable message.

Colton rips it from my hands. I fight him for it, but he only pushes me away. I huff in frustration. "This is the one," he says. "I can't make any sense of it."

"It says to meet at the far wall," Merith snaps. "I don't know how you couldn't figure that out."

"Why would we believe you?" Jordin asks. He crosses his arms and glares at her. I almost laugh at his hard look, which would ruin the entire charade.

"Because I'm just helping you out," she responds in a soft tone. She even smiles at him. "We're the only fifth levels out here who are close to being candidates. Once school is out we're going to be working together. No more of this petty rivalry. I'm willing to help you. And you should be willing to help me."

Jordin seems to be weighing over his options. His eyes narrow, but soon clear up and look curious. His body relaxes and he looks to Colton. "Should we trust them?"

"Merith is legit." He responds. I shoot a thankful look at him, but he doesn't acknowledge it. His eyes are trained on Merith. "What are we looking for?"

She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small device. It's shaped like a boomerang and fits comfortably in her palm. It's made of freshly polished wood and has hidden sensors on the surface. I can see tiny blue lights flashing, communicating with one another. Once we get these goons away I'll be able to explore this device. I can't wait to find out all of its secrets.

"This is hidden in one of the bricks," Merith explains. "It took me ten minutes to find this one. Get Kellar to scan the area and he should be able to tell you where to find it. The trick is getting the brick free to find this sucker."

Jordin relaxes. He seems to have finally accepted our story. "And there's one of those for each of the partners?" Merith nods. "Awesome. Let's get going!" He slaps Colton on the back and heads out into the clearing. I watch as a group of first levels quickly back out of his way. I smile sadly. I wish I could remember being that young. The only part of first level I remember is packing up my dorm and heading home for break.

Colton moves to follow his partner, but turns back to face me. For a moment, I believe that he's going to call our bluff. But he doesn't. "That gun isn't loaded. It isn't even Jordin's. He stole it from the equipment shed just before we started tonight. I'll make sure it gets back." Without another glance, he turns and heads out into the clearing.

I don't know what to think about Colton. We've never been friends, but we're not quite enemies. He likes to mess with me, push my buttons, get me upset. Because of that, I hate him. Then there are times like just now where he tries to help me. It's almost as if he's fighting against himself, wondering if he should be my friend or not.

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724 Reviews

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Reviews: 724

Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:01 am
SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...

Hia, again! You miss me?

One thing that really pops out to me, as I just finished reading the first part, is that the phrase "No way" a lot. And to be quite frank, it doesn't add anything to the meaning itself. Sure it could show Bryn as kind of cocky and confident, and once in a while it's a good tactic, but three times so close together? (Thinking of the chapter as a whole here.) It's redundant and, probably more stylistically, just plain. Think about it some.

After all this time spent worrying about Merith, they just brush off what happened earlier so quickly? Before hand, you had an enormous build up of how important Merith is, how Bryn needs her, how Bryn worries about her, and she finally comes! But there's no relief? No other flood of confidence? Even if she doesn't express it, I'd imagine it to be running through Bryn's consciousness, maybe even having her relax a little so they're found easier/quicker? Just a thought, but it felt missing when they reunited.

(Not really a critique, but really, Merith? You grab a trained agent and don't expect to get whooped? xD I did like the exchange, because it led to some relief from the tension and made it all the more startling when Jordin came in, holding the gun. Though, I wouldn't expect Bryn to fall for it though. Jordin wouldn't risk his own career for shooting Bryn. Wouldn't she think of that and react instead of just standing there? //end of tangent)

I'm really liking the main tone that you have set up here, with Bryn being much more tart and blunt, while keeping her confidence and cool. It's interesting to read about, but because it's on the mind, I feel like there's a lot of 'fruh-fruh' words hanging around that just dance around the meaning that much more. It's not a big deal now, especially just being the first draft, but it seems to exaggerate what's supposed to be the thoughts of someone who seems so forward. Get what I mean?

Another thing about thoughts -- man I'm hitting this home, am I not? xD -- there are times when it feels like Bryn's thoughts jump all over. And I did mention that, because this is present tense, thoughts equate to time. So those big paragraph chunks of thought right in the middle of an interrogation means that Bryn is standing there in silence and oblivious, as her focus is elsewhere. Here, it's just not plausible that she can still be caught up when she comes to, or well starts listening again. However, this can be a useful tactic later on, to distract the narrator and pick back up after some words, like if something is unimportant or the reader isn't supposed to know yet, etc.

That's not where I start off with that paragraph, but it works. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes her thoughts become jumpy. Like Bryn's past? It goes from one point of not remembering twelve years of her life, after talking about her parents training her, suddenly back to second nature... Be careful about that train of thought staying consistent and also keeping the tone where it is.

When Merith is trying to win the boys over, I love the points she makes, showing a little more 'reasonable side' of her -- even if it's falsely -- but it brings up something that confused me. Only fifth levels as competitors? Are there no other fifth levels? And before Bryn mentioned that she had to do well on this or she had no hope. If she was one of the only competitors why is this so urgent to her? It just doesn't add up to me.

I really love your character interactions, as they flow seamlessly and they each have their own unique ways of talking that's easy enough to recognize this early on. The only issue is the present tense and everything happening in the now, so Bryn drifting off, as I mentioned, but otherwise it's so interesting to see! So far I've been mostly engaged (and I though this part was much quicker and not as dragging on as the last. Because, come one, who wants to have the MC running through trees the entire first chapter?) :P

That's all I got for this part. Hope I helped ~ And if I'm unclear, you know how to track me down. Happy writing,

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346 Reviews

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Reviews: 346

Sun May 03, 2015 2:52 am
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Pretzelstick wrote a review...

Heya Noelle, pretzelsing here for a review of this continuous chapter of you novel.I want to earn up another badge for the KotGR so I want to be pretty prompt.I haven't read this novel in a while(since you haven't posted in a while) so please excuse my rusty memories here.

Anyways,let's begin,shall we?

I totally understand why Bryn would want to pin Merith down,especially since she didn't know who she was. While reading and rereading their brief conversation before they got quieted,this is what popped out to me and I had to point out to you:

"Shut up will you?" Merith snaps. But a smile dances across her lips quickly after.

Whoa,when someone tells me to "shut up" especially with a kind of snapping tone, I get very offended and mad. And I stay like that for some time. This doesn't seem like it's OK to scream at your friend and insult her,and then joke about it. It just doesn't seem right,and I don't know why Bryn accepted/bought this?

"You know, everyone says that, but no one ever pulls the trigger."

I love this line,but it seems like either Bryn is lying or she is inexperienced. Depending on how hungry the person is,they will do whatever it take to accomplish/get what they want. I have a feeling that your story might be one of those fighter stories,but someone might not necessarily kill someone else,right Noelle? ;)

Lying is something that they teach us early on here.

I don't think that you can teach lying. Everyone can lie, and it's actually in their nature, and so parents and people usually push children in the other direction to be more honest and stop lying :D But in this specific case, I still don't think that lying is something that a teacher would tell them how to do step by step.Do you know what I mean,Noelle?

The fact that I can't remember the last twelve years of my life doesn't help either.

What? :o Did I just miss something,because you didn't really tell me any of this before,and also you never gave the impression that Bryn didn't know what she was doing.I always thought that she knew exactly what she was doing.Huh, I think that you need to develop that idea more that she sometimes has no idea what she is doing. Show,not tell it to me in a way so that I kind of expect this.
For example: When she is walking around trying to get to Merith,what if you just make her wander around aimlessly searching for her behind every tree?
Or what if you show her forgetting how to practice a certain skill, like she can't recall how to . . .
Those are just some of my suggestions ^_^

I almost laugh at his hard look, which would ruin the entire charade.

What about if you wrote instead of almost laughed you just make her laugh silently on the inside? I am sure that you had those moments where in your insides laughter was echoing and you could feel it. I am pretty sure that this is the type of moment that Bryn was having. Also since this was an inappropriate time to burst out laughing,maybe describe how difficult it was for her to hold it back in her throat and how hard it was to restrain this. After all,she is just a human,right Noelle?

It's almost as if he's fighting against himself, wondering if he should be my friend or not.

I have read this whole entire chapter and didn't even see a hint of internal conflict in Colton. An improving writer wants to connects the reader mind from one thing to another so that you can understand it better. Oh yeah, I see how Colton was "helping" Bryn and Merith,but honestly,where is that internal battle? How come it isn't evident? I know that this is written from Bryn's POV but if she is so observant,surely she can see this earlier on,and at least hint at it for us,the readers with her thoughts?

Overall,not a lot of action happened here. It was more like you were trying to show us Merith prove herself to be a valuable partner to Bryn,at least that's what I felt.The transition chapter here is smooth,and now thinking back it flows well from the last part/section of Chapter 1. I see that the sequence of events and plots is well-written,but I am wondering how all of a sudden Merith gets here. It kind of seems out of the blue! :P And so I would think that Will (?) would like to inform Bryn of this before she beats Merith up. I mean,he must have knows that her partner was coming,so in my opinion he should have told her or warned her.Do you agree and see what I am saying,Noelle?

Anyways,that's all that I can think of right now. I hope that this review helps and please keep me updated and let me know when you post the next chapter and hurry up because I am dying to know what happens next. ;)


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Sat May 02, 2015 4:21 pm
kevin25a wrote a review...

I would like to nitpick that you first said they kept the gun in the dorm, then that they stole it not even a day ago. That is a contradicting part I think you should consider more carefully, it doesn't make sense to say to different stories as to how the characters had a gun. I know it stated they're taught to lie, but a spy is taught to lie only when it is required to protect themselves or what they know. They have nothing to gain by lying about how they got the gun, as such in a school for special agents and spies like that, they would not lie about how they got it. Meaning it makes no sense why you gave to different answers in the story, I really feel like that's a serious and unnecessary flaw.

Other than that one flaw in this part of chapter one I saw no other problems, and this part was really good. I look forward to the next chapter bubbles. :)

Doors are for people with no imagination.
— Skulduggery Pleasant