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It took them little time to consider. I was held at sword’s edge as I typed a message back to Delta. They watched to make sure I sent no other information except for this transmission:
Agent Bronzewing has been captured as a prisoner by Southwind. Darwin the owl is injured badly. Mission: Scout Eagle is a failure.
I pressed a few more keys, and the screen on my handheld went completely black, programmed to stay that way until I reactivated it with my fingerprints. Then I handed it to Frost and went to bandage Darwin.
Darwin looked terrible. His broken wing was not his only injury. His beak was also badly scuffed, and he had a few bloody wounds from tussling with the monkey. I took some gauze from my pack and bandaged him quickly, giving him to Chance. I also gave Chance his flying squirrel Fuzzball, who also had a couple of bloody wounds. I handed him the gauze.
“Take good care of Darwin,” I told Chance as Bear cuffed my hands behind my back and clipped a metal ring around my neck, faking the impression that I had not placed myself in another advantageous situation. All of my data had already been sent to Delta, who also knew my coordinates. They now had the evidence and information to attack this base full-scale, and thus to free me.
Chance winked, dazed. He knew what I had done. He turned to leave with Darwin and Fuzzball, but suddenly Bear moved behind him and cuffed him as well, taking the owl and the squirrel.
“What?” I exclaimed. “This wasn’t part of the deal!”
“Neither,” Bear grinned, “was killing our third-highest commander. You are both under arrest. Viva Sonaven.”
Well, that backfired.
Now Chance and I were in a cell, with sturdy iron bars top to bottom on one wall and at least three feet of solid rock on the other three. Across from us, in the smaller animal cells, Darwin and Fuzzball were locked up in tight spaces. Darwin laid sideways in pain, his broken wing facing up. Fuzzball was likely still unbandaged, but it was impossible to tell because he had hidden in the darkest part of his cell.
My handcuffs had been chained to the back wall of the cell. (I wonder if they left Chance unchained because he was, to them, a nobody.) Chance seemed confused that I hadn’t made a motion to escape yet. “Well, aren’t you going to turn into a dragon or something to blow up the cell?”
“I can’t,” I admitted. “If I did transform, my neck would be crushed. Besides, this ring has a slight lead content. Lead used to be used to enslave Marnolians… I suppose it makes sense that I feel so weak now.”
He leaned back against the wall. We were silent for a few moments. Finally, he stirred. “Madison, Madison Chance deGrave…” he sighed.
I glared at him; I am really uncomfortable with people using my true name. “What?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
I could hear it in his voice; he was being evasive. He was not telling me something that I needed to know. “No, you can say it. I’m not going anywhere.”
Chance glanced sideways, considering. Finally, he exhaled loudly. “I told you my name was Chance Walker, okay? That was a lie. My name is Chance Madison deGrave.”
My eyes widened. “You’re kidding.”
“No, I’d swear my life on it. Chance Madison deGrave.”
I barely realized what that meant. “Wait, does that mean that you… you’re my brother?”
“Well,” he shook his head, “I can’t confirm it, but I have a suspicion. I don’t remember enough of my past to connect the dots.”
I relaxed against the chains and tried to remember back. “Well, I came from a town about an hour’s walk northwest of Whitesand called Nouvelton. It’s a small place; you’ve probably never heard of it.”
He shook his head. “I was born and raised in Leviathan City. There was always a rumor that a leviathan lived in the bay on the northern coast, before the dragons died out. I don’t think that’s even close.”
I thought back to see if I could see anything else about Nouvelton, but nothing came to mind other than the name. It was almost as if I’d never been there, because I remembered so little about it. In fact, my first real memory was walking out of a black chamber into the light; I must have been about seven or eight.
That chamber I remembered vividly. Something about it was strange. The inside was pitch black, but suddenly there was a purple laser directed right into my eyes. Then it was over, and the door opened, and all I could see was white.
“Wait a second…” I muttered to myself, staring through the cell bars. “I’ve been brainwashed.”
As soon as I admitted it to myself, the true memories came flooding back. There never was a Nouvelton. There was only a small town called Arville. I was met with a brief glance of a small figure whose face looked familiar.
It was Chance.
“Um… Chance?” I shivered. “Chance, we’ve both been brainwashed.”
Then I saw the fire again, licking the buildings of a town all too familiar now, tearing it apart into ashes and preying upon the unlucky people.
I only remembered running with Chance, but we were suddenly both caught. I was carried away by a man in a dark red uniform, while Chance was taken by a man in an electric blue hood. Pulse and Plasma.
“Chance!” I shouted.
Chance’s face was blank for a moment, but then he stood up and began to gasp. He walked up to me.. “I… holy… Madison? I… I’ve been brainwashed too!”
“We’re twins!” I exclaimed, allowing him to embrace me tightly. As I did, the markings on his forehead lit up his face. Mine lit only dimly, owing to the lead in the ring.
We held like that for the longest time, and I probably never would have allowed him to let go, had I not made one realization.
“Hey, Chance, how many sho do you think we have together, with the Marnolian bond?”
Chance didn’t understand what I was saying, but then he pieced together a plan. “How much Marnolian do you know?”
“Lots. Why do you ask?”
He nodded and grinned. “We need to share our blood.”
I squinted. “Share our blood?”
But then I realized what he meant, and I knew that it was our only chance. “But… is that a sacrifice you’re willing to make?”
“If it gets us out of here, yes.”
I stood again, holding his hand, and stared forward. “You need to make this command, because I am touching lead. My magic is ineffectual. Repeat after me. Ready?”
“Okay. Say ‘baramaga partame‘, and brace yourself.”
Chance inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. “Baramaga partame!“
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