The Invisible Rebel
The Invisible Rebel
The stinging stench of graffiti filled the alley as the brick wall slowly faded back behind the hissing color. Looking into the dimly lit alley, it would seem like the wall was almost painting itself, but how could that be? Tyfie Sanders, a 15-year-old determined girl, stood there, walking back to see her masterpiece from a distance.
"Red could really add some pop around the edges," she thought, glancing at each corner of color. She grabbed her red can from the floor and gave it a shake, causing the satisfying clicking sound of the can to knock on her hand. She outlined her work with ease. Carson and Jule were waiting for her at Lloyd's house, so she sped up her lines, making small impurities around the figure. It was her tag, resembling a wing-like shape curving outward and swirling back in to create an illusion of the letter 'T' hiding within it. Her ponytail was the inspiration, as her shiny chocolate brown strands curved upwards like the feathers of a bird.
She thought about the risk she was taking but shrugged it off, knowing that no one would see her even if they poked their head in the alley. She had also done this countless times in the past. She was thankful for her ability to disappear when she didn't want to be seen. It worked well in school and when doing something she definitely wasn't allowed to do.
She stepped back to admire her finished product once again. "Not my best, but it'll do," she commented and shrugged. She bent down to pick up her paint cans when her sleeves brushed the wall, hard. She flinched and glanced at her arm. "Oh no. No, no, no..." she stumbled back, eyes wide with panic. The red smudged across her black, loose sleeve, like evidence of a murder. She rubbed it aggressively, but all it did was make it worse while staining her hand too.
She heard footsteps in the clearing of the alley, making her head snap in that direction, her heart pleading to escape from her ribcage.
"Who is that there!" the man yelled. He wore a long black coat that grazed the sidewalk and swayed behind him. The letters 'AS' stood out to Tyfie, making her gasp. He could see her.
Her face went serious. "Your worst nightmare," Tyfie scoffed with a smirk. The next second, she sprinted in the opposite direction, as if lightning struck her feet.
"STOP!" the man screamed behind her, then followed her with the same power in his legs. Why did this man, out of all the people before him, see Tyfie? Well, that's just her luck when it comes to rebellion. Her power, invisibility, gets deactivated when substances, such as paint, come in contact with her. And this man, a member of the Anti-Shote gang, wants to capture all people seen wielding a Shote (superpower). Tyfie sped through the sidewalk, jumping and tumbling through passing pedestrians.
"Coming through!" she warned as she passed through couples and families. The man behind held up his gun toward her and shot through the crowd as they ran. Glowing purple rays spewed out of it and exploded a section of the sidewalk, barely missing Tyfie's foot. Screams of women, children, and men flooded the street, piercing the ears of anyone in the vicinity. Tyfie slipped into the next alley and climbed a ladder leading to the roof, her hands clammy and sweaty as she grabbed the next rung. She pulled herself up, but a force pulled her down. His hand was on her shoe as he pulled her down, making her hands slowly
slip from the rung. By instinct, she kicked his hands off her foot and scrambled to the top. He quickly fumbled to grab his ray gun and shot up at her the second she reached the roof. The ray went up to the sky as it missed her, disappearing in the clouds. Tyfie scanned the roof to see if there was anywhere to hide. There was absolutely nothing. She frantically turned around and saw the man standing there with his ray gun hanging to his side. He was panting and noticeably angry.
"You're stuck, you little runt," he snarled.
"Who even says 'runt' these days? You look like you're in your thirties, so I'm gonna let it slide. Why don't we call it a truce and go our separate ways, huh?" Tyfie persuaded, desperately trying to lighten the mood. She's always hated controversy, no matter where it comes from. He held up his gun and shot it with no hesitation. Tyfie ducked and stood back up in an instant. She turned around and looked at the edge of the building. There was a roof a few lengthy feet away from the one she was on. She didn't think she could make the jump, but there was no other choice. Nevertheless, she pulled her body back and began to run. Long strides, as fast as she could. She jumped on ledges, squatted down, and leapt. Anyone looking at her would have thought that she was flying. She landed with a roll and looked back at the man.
"See ya!" she echoed as she saluted goodbye to the distant starstruck features of the man. She ran with all her strength to Lloyd's house. She felt her lungs slowly give out and her legs become numb as she fell to the ground at his doorstep. She reached for the doorbell and rang it. Oh, what a story she had to tell them.
"You WHAT!" Carson screeched, his voice cracking in ways that weren't known to be possible. Tyfie lay on the couch, stuffing her face with popcorn that they made for the movie they were watching.
"How did that dude even know you had a Shote? You were visible when he saw you. That was when you got paint on your sleeve, so he couldn't have possibly known that you have an invisibility Shote," Jule contemplated as she filled Tyfie's empty glass with a curve of her hand, making the water float in the air until it dropped into it. Her mid-length dirty blonde hair swayed as her blended blue tips curved in different directions.
"I don't even know. I'm pretty sure he had some type of radar that could detect people with a Shote," Tyfie suggested.
"Man, people with Shotes go through so much trouble. Thank the lord that I wasn't born on a leap year," Carson gloated, leaning back with his hands behind his sandy brown hair. "I don't even have that ugly dot between my eyes. My handsome devil of a face would've been completely ruined!" Tyfie and Jule rolled their eyes aggressively with contempt.
Jule defended quickly, "It's not our fault they decided to inject the shot between our eyes when we were born. At least we have powers. That's all that truly matters to me."
Lloyd entered the room with sandwiches cut diagonally into triangles. He was a handsome man in his late twenties. His dark brown hair was wavy, uncombed, and had a few strands that fell in front of his eyes. He lived alone, but his house was a fun hangout spot for Tyfie and her friends.
"So what did I miss? Anything life-changing?" Lloyd asked with a smile.
"Seems like it to me, she could have died!" Carson emphasized the word 'died' to make it seem as dramatic as possible. Tyfie proceeded to tell Lloyd about her chase through the city streets and how she had to make a huge jump from one building to another. He seemed very impressed, considering that he was the one who taught her how to do the tricks she knows.
"You did a good thing running out of there, or else who knows where he might have taken you. Are you sure he didn't follow you?" Lloyd pressed.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure. If I led him here, you would be in big trouble," Tyfie reassured him. Lloyd worked as a doctor who helped with research related to the Shote shots for future creations of superpowers and treatments. Although when people look at him, he doesn't strike them as a doctor type. He looks more like a stay-at-home guy who likes ramen and video games.
"Which is exactly why you can't let them go." Lloyd's face became stern.
"Excuse me?" Tyfie retaliated.
"You heard me. That gang needs to be stopped before more innocent people get hurt," Lloyd stated, leaning in. "So many people are disappearing because of them, and the police are too chicken to do anything about it."
"No way. I could barely get away from one guy. I can't run away from multiple of them! Nuh uh, not a chance," Tyfie shook her head.
"Well, I've never met a girl your age who could dodge ray gun shots while climbing a ladder, giving snarky comments, and jumping from one building to another all while her Shote is deactivated," Lloyd listed with pride. Tyfie looked at Carson and Jule, then back at Lloyd.
"I don't know. What would Mom say?" Tyfie asked.
"Who said she has to know?" he snickered. Tyfie was concerned because her mom is a single mother and takes many shifts as a nurse at the local hospital. As a result, Tyfie spends hours on end killing time next door at Lloyd's house after school most days. Her father disappeared two years ago from an unknown cause. He never had a Shote, so Tyfie always wondered why. Why, out of all people, did he have to leave her?
"Don't worry. We'll tell your mom that you're at Lloyd's house to work on some project the day we plan to go after them," Jule told Tyfie.
"Plan? What plan? We have to make a whole plan?" Carson asked, his head darting back and forth, causing the air to swish past the others' ears.
"Yeah, obviously. Have you ever seen action movies before?" Jule replied.
"But plans come after. First, Tyfie," Lloyd turned to her. "Are you ready for this?" He asked.
"Yes. Yes, I am," Tyfie confirmed. She wasn't completely swayed on whether she was capable or not. She needed to think it over. But no matter what her decision would succumb to, she had already spoken the words she was resistant to say. There is no going back now.
"Tyfie," Lloyd noticed the tension in her eyes. "You're stronger than you think you are. No other girl in the entire city of Krollis is more capable than you are," he put a hand on her shoulder. "As long as we four work together, we can take them. I know we can."
"Wait, hold on. Did you just say the four of us?" Carson interrupted. "No way I'm doing that. You're gonna have to drag me from under my bed if you want me to h-"
"I don't care if I'm gonna have to flood your whole house with my Shote to get you out of there. You're coming," Jule bluntly ended the conversation. Her eyebrows arched down like ramps, pouring folded skin between her two eyes. Carson noticed. He opened his mouth to retaliate but closed it, knowing that his fate wouldn't change no matter what he said.
"So that's settled. We will meet here tomorrow, make a plan, and defeat the AS gang and stop their damage to our city," Lloyd remarked triumphantly.
Tyfie stepped foot in front of the locked cage hidden in her doubtful mind. She had the key in her hand, shiny and gold, but she was hesitant to unlock it. His words pushed her hand towards the keyhole. She inserted the key and twisted it with a click. She was in.
**Two days later, Tyfie, Carson, Jule, and Lloyd met up at Lloyd's house after they discussed the plan the day before.**
Lloyd gathered them in a circle. "So, to review. We go to AS headquarters in my car, get past the guards in the front, get inside, take down their leader, and leave. The leader's name is Zike DeRoy," he informed them.
"I've done some extensive research after I went home yesterday, and apparently, there is a whole chamber that holds the people that were captured," Jule chimed in.
"You're right. We have to bring them back too if what you say is true. I can't imagine how long some of them have been there."
"So are we ready?" Tyfie asked.
"Wait up. If Lloyd and I are coming, are we supposed to go into battle without a weapon?" Carson interrupted.
"Oh shoot! I almost forgot," without hesitation, Lloyd stood up and briskly walked towards his garage door. "Come with me." They stood up and followed him into his garage. He led them to a shelf next to his car.
"What are you doing?" Jule asked. His actions answered her instantly. He moved a toolbox that was on the shelf
to the side, revealing a red button attached to the back wall of the shelf. He pressed it, and the shelf clicked and thudded, making the shelf drop ever so slightly. He pushed it in like a door.
"Behold, your weapons..." Lloyd presented.
"Whoa," they harmonized in awe. Their big eyes reflected a massive room full of every weapon that any fighter could desire. Every shape, size, and type of gun hung on display across the blue walls. Tyfie, Carson, and Jule struggled to keep their jaws off the ground.
"Where the heck did you get all of these! Are you some secret FBI agent or something of that sort? I knew you were insane the second you told me you put on sock-shoe, sock-shoe," Tyfie went on with a grin.
"Don't judge me. Just because I like my order differently doesn't mean I'm insane," Lloyd remarked.
"Oh yes it does," Carson uttered, eyes wandering through the edges of the room. At that moment, Jule and Carson ran through the doorway to get their hands on the sharpest things they saw.
"For your information, I didn't buy all of these weapons. This room was just here when I bought this house. I guess the previous owner was too lazy to get all of this stuff out," Lloyd told them, watching those two run around like kids in a candy store.
"Whoa, look at this! Can I use it?" Carson asked, eyes wide with wonder. It was an axe with bright red flames on the handle and on the cheek of the blade.
Lloyd looked at his choice and nodded in approval. "Feel free! Take whatever you feel like you have a connection with." Meanwhile, Tyfie's eyes darted around the room and stopped at something shiny that caught her eye. It was a katana sword in a sealed glass display with a spotlight on it like the star of the show. Or, at least that's what it looked like to Tyfie.
"That," she pointed, eyes sparkling from the light and the ignition of passion. "I need that." She walked up to it, Lloyd following behind her.
"Of course. Fun fact, that was the one I used before when I went to sword-fighting classes last year," he gingerly opened the case and took the katana out with soft hands. "I proudly bestow it upon you, my liege." He bent down on one knee, leaned his head down, and raised his hands with the katana in his palms. The grip was swirled with neon blue, pink, and green, just like her black sweatshirt with streaks of the same colors. The sheath that covered the blade followed the same pattern. Tyfie took it and removed the sheath off the katana. With a loud SHING, the blade was revealed, slowly curving upward till it reached the piercing tip. Looking at it, she could feel the sharpness of the blade in the air without even feeling it.
"I'm not feeling any of these," Jule snapped Tyfie out of her trance. "I think I'm gonna stick to my water power." She rotated her wrist, producing water that she fidgeted with her hands, soon solidifying it into an ice dagger that she flung around, acting like she was in her own sword fight.
"Guys, we don't have much time before sundown if we want to get this done. Are you guys ready?" Lloyd asked for the final time.
"Ready," they said. They all got into Lloyd's red car. They looked at it and admired its beauty like all the other times they walked by it.
"Man, I would kill for a car like that in the future," Carson said dreamily. It was a red Dodge with black stripes along the sides. The gleam of the sun through the small garage windows reflected off the front of the car, making it look like a star was caught in its paint. They strapped in, Tyfie in shotgun, and Carson and Jule in the back.
"Where is your weapon, Lloyd?" Jule asked.
Lloyd looked back from the driver's seat. "Under your feet," he answered. Instantly, Jule and Carson looked down and saw a machine gun. Their eyes widened. "Don't worry, they don't kill. Their bullets paralyze people who are shot permanently, making a gouging wound where they're shot too." They looked up and nodded, not saying a word.
Lloyd stepped on the gas and took the road by storm. Literally, because his car revved like a storm itself. They drove towards the headquarters for about ten minutes when they reached the gate to continue the road.
Carson read the sign up ahead, "'Anti-Shote gang territory beyond this point. Leave or die.' Jeez, that's a little harsh, don't you think?" They sat there, contemplating their next move.
"How are we supposed to get past the gate?" Jule asked.
"Like this," Lloyd floored the gas pedal. Tyfie, who was leaning forward, had gravity's hands on her shoulders, suddenly pushing her back into her seat with a SLAM! The car crashed through the fence, making a loud metal noise burst through as they continued down the path.
"No, the car!" Carson yelled in agony. Lloyd laughed.
"Don't worry about it, this car can go through a lot. I'm saying this because, well, it has," he said.
"But god, that caught me off guard. Don't ever do that again," warned Carson. They continued past the fence when Lloyd saw something in the rearview mirror.
"Crap, they're coming!" Lloyd glanced back and forth between the mirror and the road. The AS gang's cars were piling up behind them, gaining on them the farther they went. They heard a noise, and the window next to Jule shattered from their shot.
"We have to stop them!" Jule screamed with panic. "I got this." She knelt out of what was now a nonexistent window and shot out buckets of water from her hands.
They began to swerve due to the heavy water falling on their windshield. It moved from left to right and eventually skidded to a stop at the side of the road, left behind by all the other black SUVs.
"They’re getting closer! Tyfie, Jule, you have to use your Shotes to get them all to sto—"
Carson was interrupted with a blast and a shake of their car. The gang’s shots were hitting them hard. The purple rays reflected off the windows and exploded when they came in contact with the car. Surprisingly, the car was still in good shape.
Jule nodded at Carson and leaned out the window again, now using her water as a shield. The second she poked her head out, she was greeted with a rainfall of shots that blew apart her shield. She tried again, except this time she held out a shield that she had crystallized into ice as well as an ice spear in her other hand. She pulled it back and threw it at the windshield of the car behind them, and it pierced through, making a spiderweb crack through the glass. The car began to dance side to side, swerved to the left, and was now out of the way.
"Let me take care of the rest. They can’t shoot at me if they can’t see me," Tyfie smiled and leaned her head out of the car, activating her invisibility. The others blinked and couldn’t see her anymore.
"What are you doing, Tyfie? STOP!" Jule pleaded, knowing very well that Tyfie was going to get herself killed somehow from whatever she was about to do. Their eyes traced the sound of footsteps and ended up on the roof. The car jerked side to side due to Lloyd’s attempts at trying not to get hit by AS shots and explosions.
"Slow down, Lloyd! I need them to be closer!" Tyfie screamed from the top of the car, competing with the wind carrying her sound waves with it. Lloyd slowed the car a little, reluctantly. Then, Tyfie pulled her body back, trying to stay balanced. She instantly was taken back to two days ago and how she felt jumping from that building. She took a breath in. Then, she ran, making loud, heavy bangs on the sports car and jumped. She could feel the air under her and a force pushing her up, like she could just hang there, in the air, carefree. Then she landed right on the gang car’s windshield with a loud thud.
"What was that?" the driver of the car said. Tyfie didn’t pay attention because she could barely keep her eyes open from the speed of the car. The wind moved through her unseen curly hair as she crouched down on all fours. She reached back for her katana that was strapped to her back and pulled it out with the classic shing. The AS gang couldn’t see her katana because it was invisible too. She leaned into their open window and laid her katana slowly onto the driver’s arms that were held up, gripping the wheel with purpose to hold it steady. His eyes flinched, feeling the light pressure. Tyfie hesitated. She scrunched her eyes and took one more breath in.
"You got this," she said to herself in her darting mind. In one swift movement, Tyfie swiped the katana blade off the driver’s arm, slicing through his skin.
"AUGHHH!" he screamed in agony while the scrape caused blood to drip off his arm. He quickly pulled his arms away from the wheel, causing the car to crash into a large boulder on the side of the road. Tyfie quickly leaped onto another car just before the crashed one exploded. Metal pieces were thrown everywhere but were now feet away as the car carried Tyfie onward. She did the same thing to two other cars as Jule continued to throw her ice spears at another two. Tyfie hopped off the last one, alone on the road as smoke filled the sky around her. The dusty red car kept driving on, now a distance away from Tyfie.
"Guys, wait! I’m still here!" Tyfie called to the car, her hand cupped around her mouth to increase the sound of her voice. It slowed down, and Tyfie turned herself visible again as she ran to it. They got out of the car and ran as fast as they could to meet her in the middle.
"What were you thinking! Are you stupid in the head? Please don’t tell me you’ve already had enough of your life to put it on the line like that!" Jule reprimanded and immediately hugged her aggressively.
"You could have died, Tyfie... AGAIN! I can’t believe I have to say that," Carson screamed with his hands on his head. Tyfie laughed in Jule’s arms.
"I still have a lot of life to live, trust me. I’m not the type of person to let myself get defeated that easily," Tyfie said confidently, with a sly wink as she finished her words. "We have a lot more to go."
"You did well, Tyfie. Like, did you know how insane you looked? I mean, not like I actually saw you, but it’s like a ghost did that! The way the car just started moving away one by one was amazing," Lloyd said enthusiastically. Tyfie grinned at him. "But we’re not out of the woods yet."
They drove a little farther and finally reached the entrance of the AS gang headquarters. It was a slender building that stood straight with dirty confidence. It came to a point at the top, like a needle that threads apart the fabric of all Shote existence.
They got out of the car, and Lloyd led them to the door. "Okay, guys, we get in, defeat the leader, save the people captured if they are still alive, and get out. Understand?" They nodded, and Lloyd shot the passcode lock with his gun. They were in. Immediately after they stepped into the facility, an alarm blared and infected their ears with noise. They covered their ears to stop it from eating their eardrums. The massive lobby they entered painted their skin with the red blinking light. All of a sudden, AS gang members flooded the room and raised their ray guns towards them. Their coats merged together, creating a black sea that reflected blood-red light as the room flashed with urgency. Slowly, the sea moved to create a path leading to a man. He had a black coat as well, but the collars stuck up and framed his chin. He had hair as dark as night, and a nasty scar that reached across his left eye and down his cheek. His eyes were glowing with the devil itself living inside them.
"Well, look who it is. The famous Tyfie Sanders," he growled mischievously. Tyfie was confident at first but lost it once he said her name.
"H-how do you know who I am?" Tyfie quivered.
"Who else would be the daughter of the man that ruined this world?"
"What is t-that supposed to mean?"
"It means that your father was the one who made the very thing that we despise. Shotes."
Zike’s head tilted down, but his glare didn’t move for a second. Tyfie’s heart felt like it stopped. She felt the stillness of the room. The key she held in her hand dropped down through the gutter in her mind. She was locked in the cage she stepped in before. She couldn’t get out. Her head throbbed, matching the beat of the red light. Her eyes were all white as her eyelids stretched wide across her pale face. Her legs gave out, and she stumbled back.
"He made them? T-that’s impossible. He was a journalist," Tyfie inquired, stomach queasy.
"Well, he lied to you, kid. He’s a monster in disguise," Zike announced, his voice deep and gravelly. She couldn’t take it.
"He is not A MONSTER!" Tyfie pulled out her katana and yelled at the top of her lungs. Her katana whipped around her back as she prepared to swing. She went invisible and sliced the Achilles heel of standby gang members, making them instantly fall to the ground. That set it off. Like a declaration of war, the members began to scream and filled the path they had created previously. They were showered with shots and explosions all around them. Carson readied his axe and held it in front of him for defense as Jule whipped her water around her body, ready to make whatever circumstances asked for. Lloyd raised his gun and began to aim. They stood back to back in this position, watching members coming after them. Carson ran first and jumped in the air, arms raised behind his back, and swung his axe at the man’s shoulder. He screamed in pure pain and fell to the ground. Carson landed and went after other people.
"I’m a lot better at this than I thought!" Carson called back to the others. Jule used her water and whipped it at people, creating large bruises on their faces and bodies. She dodged a shot and solidified her water into an ice dagger. She grabbed them and threw them at people’s arms. They dropped their guns in pain. She was swift. Like water. Meanwhile, Lloyd lifted his gun and closed one eye, aiming at people’s bodies with perfect accuracy. Aim, BAM. Aim, BAM. Tyfie was a machine. She moved side to side, men oblivious to her presence, and slashed them before they could react. She ran through the crowd, knocking out five men within ten seconds. Her anger fueled her. If anyone looked at her, they would see steam coming from her ears. Soon enough, all the members were on the floor, either dead or groaning, and unable to move. There was only one person left: Zike. He had his gun by his side. He didn’t look the slightest bit afraid of Tyfie, even though he wasn't very sure where she was.
"I have killed so many people throughout the last few years. I just want to let you know, I enjoyed it," he snarled. Tyfie ran at him from behind. Zike heard the instant noise of her footsteps. He grabbed something from his pocket and sprayed it on her. It was spray paint. He pushed his finger on the nozzle, and it spewed onto Tyfie’s body. The paint was purple and covered her sweatshirt. "I’ve got you now. You’re done," he chuckled, then raised his gun and pulled the trigger. He shot Tyfie.
"NOO! TYFIE!" Lloyd boomed from a distance. Zike snapped his head towards them and shot the ground in front of them. It sent Jule, Carson, and Lloyd flying backward from the impact of the explosion.
"I've won," he declared. He took one last glance at them and started to walk in the other direction. They were lying on the floor. Dead.
But he heard something. Shuffling. Zike turned around. He saw Tyfie limping towards him with her katana raised. She swung at him, making a large scrape across his arm. He shot her again, but she ducked it. She ran around him, dodging his shots.
"Why are you like this? What have Shote wielders ever done to you to make you feel like they need to be taken away from society?" Tyfie questioned with sincerity. He shot her again, and she jumped to the side.
"My family was killed by them. They just... took it all away from me. They raided our house. Stole our belongings... and stole their lives AWAY FROM ME!" He wailed and shot at her without hesitation multiple times, following the movements of her body. "That's why they must die!" He shot her one last time, and it hit her. It sent her flying back against the wall. She slid down and lay on her back. He walked and pointed the gun at her face as he stood above her.
"Your father should never have been born. And neither should you have," Tyfie squeezed her eyes shut, knowing very well that this was going to be her last moment alive, seeing Zike above her ready to burst her away from the grip of life. He pulled the trigger, and... nothing. Nothing came out. He pulled and pulled and pulled, but nothing would explode. He was empty. Out of fuel. Only now did his face change from anger to fear. His eyes morphed into a 5-year-old boy's, hiding from the Shote wielders that took everything away from him. He was scared. He looked back and forth from the gun and Tyfie. He knew what was to come.
"Zike. I can't defend the Shote wielders that came to your house that day. I can't. But what I can defend is that not all people are like them," Tyfie said in a weak, calm tone. "Just because people have something that has caused you harm in the past doesn't mean you have the right to ruin everyone else's lives for it. You don't have to be like this." Zike looked around, and his face relaxed. Then, he began to crumble. Tears shed from his pleading face. He never wanted any of this. But the love of his family was something worth fighting and taking revenge for.
Tyfie stood up with all of her energy and hugged him. Zike sobbed on her shoulder.
He then pulled back and said, "Tyfie, I know I can't undo what I've done. How many lives I've taken no account for. But I'm willing to change and turn myself in." He held his hands out, as if he were about to be arrested.
"Thank you, Zike," Tyfie concluded. She slipped her katana back into her sheath and finally turned around to see Jule, Carson, and Lloyd on the ground, lifting their heads to look at her. They squinted. They smiled. "GUYS!" Tyfie ran to them, hands wide open to embrace them.
"You won, Tyfie! You won!" Carson said weakly but enthusiastically. His arms were spread out too. He had a black eye and gray dust from the explosion. Jule grinned as dried blood framed her ashy face. Lloyd held his arm with the other from the pain but smiled as well, making his swollen eye squish. They hugged each other on the floor, laughing together in a huddle. They looked up and saw Zike standing there awkwardly and sadly looking at the floor as regret ate him up from the inside. Tyfie turned around, and the rest of them followed her eyes to a black ghost standing behind her. They glared at him, but Tyfie's soft eyes grazed theirs and changed their expressions.
"Zike is willing to change. At least, I trust that he is. No matter what, though, I don't want to kill someone who is open to making themselves a better person. He has gone through a lot," Tyfie said, looking at them and back at Zike.
"I trust you, Tyfie. You are amazing, and I know you will make sure that he becomes the man he wants to be," Lloyd responded, looking at Zike as well. A smile blossomed on his scratched-up face. The devil in his eyes slowly started to fade away.
"Thank you, guys," Zike whispered. They stood up together in the quiet ambiance of the massive room. It was tall and reached up to a tiny glimpse of sunlight at the tippy-top.
"We need to find the place where they captured people. This place is huge, so it might take a while. Can you guys walk?" Tyfie asked with concern. Jule and Carson nodded, and they all walked behind Lloyd, who was already standing up. He led the way. Tyfie couldn't help but get stuck on what Zike said. "Wait... could my dad be here? Is... is he still... alive?" Her eyes filled with tears that she'd been holding back for the past two years. They crawled down her bloody cheek. Her face went thin thinking about how her father was her favorite person in the world. She couldn't breathe.
"Yes. He is," Zike declared, looking down. "I was going to kill him the second I captured him here, but I made a deal with him. He said that his daughter would come. Someday. She would find him and set him free. So I said I would only kill him after I've killed you." Tyfie gasped silently and whipped her head around to look at the others. A smile exploded from her face.
"HE'S ALIVE! Oh my gosh, he is alive! I can't believe it," her voice cracked as she was spinning with her hands ruffling her now messy ponytail. She began to jump. "My dad's alive!" She laughed. "We have to find him. Where are the captured people?" Tyfie asked Zike with urgency, her legs ready to run.
"I actually told some of the members to transport them to another location. Although... I'm not sure if they did. If they did... they are all dead," Zike's face went hollow. The guilt had already consumed his gut, making it feel like it was dropping out of his body.
"We have to check," Lloyd suggested, face stern. They ran through the door to the stairs and looked on every floor, but all they could find was weapon labs and rooms full of guns and chairs. They were on the final floor as they took large, frantic breaths.
"This is our last hope..." Carson whispered, face slowly fading away from the happiness he had. Lloyd shot the lock, and another alarm went off. They disregarded it and stepped through. They found jail cells, and hundreds of heads jerked up. It was a long aisle that just kept going.
"THEY'RE HERE!" Tyfie screamed. "We are here to save you!" The AS members didn't move them after all. They were here the whole time. All of the people jumped up and screamed with glee. Then they saw Zike step forward, and the aisle went dead silent.
"I just wanted to say... I'm sorry for everything I've put you through. I hope this could mend all of the bad things I have done towards you innocent people," he apologized. There was another lock to the side, and Zike put in the code. It beeped and went green. A loud click filled the aisle, and the jail cells opened. Everyone yelled at the top of their lungs with pure happiness. The aisle flooded with Shote wielders who hadn't set foot outside in a long, long time. They were frail but jumped with smiling faces. Tyfie, Lloyd, Jule, Carson looked at them and then each other. Then they all looked at Zike and smiled at him. He smiled back. Maybe the smiles of the prisoners were contagious? The next thing they knew, hundreds of people exited the headquarters. They were outside the needle tower.
"I need to find my dad," Tyfie told her friends. She separated from them and pushed herself through the crowd. "DAD!" she called at the top of her lungs, trying to find him. Any chance she had, she needed to take it. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"You're Tyfie Sanders," said a woman in a gray prison uniform.
"Yes, I'm looking for my dad. His name is Darwin Sanders. Have you seen him?" Tyfie asked with a desperate voice.
"Oh, honey..." the woman started. "I know who he was. He was in the cells next to mine. He wasn't feeling well last month, and just yesterday..." Tyfie couldn't bear to let her finish. No. That couldn't be it. "He passed away from his sickness." Tyfie's legs gave out. She fell to the ground. The color in her face and the color around her seemed to switch to black and white. Her hands shook, and her lip began to quiver. The hope she had pierced through her heart and out through her eyes as tears fell to the gravel on the ground. "I'm so sorry..." the woman said in a hushed tone. "You look just like him and have the same courage as he did too. You should be proud." Tyfie wiped her tears and red eyes with her palm. She nodded and pulled herself up.
"Thank you," she sniffled. After that, Tyfie, Lloyd, Jule, Carson, and Zike got into their car and led the parade of Shote wielders back to the main city.
"Come on, guys! We have to get to the wall in time before it gets crowded. It's gonna take at least 2 hours to finish the piece," Tyfie told her group of Shote-wielding graffiti artists. Carson and Jule tagged along too since they were the ones who asked for permission whether they were allowed to paint on that property.
After that day when they let the Shote wielders out, Zike went to prison, and Lloyd was now the advisor of the new gang. The Big Shot gang, or the BS gang for short. Carson came up with that name, obviously. The leader was none other than Tyfie Sanders.
"We are gonna let everyone know that we are free from the AS gang! LET'S GO!" Tyfie yelled with the excitement bouncing off the walls of the streets. People gathered, curious to see the mural that was going up. Tyfie, Carson, and Jule began to work on the piece.
It was a giant mural of Tyfie's father, Darwin Sanders. He had a serious face but a kind smile as well. He was wearing a cape. The sunset behind him made it look like the colors were alive. Darwin Sanders held a glowing bow in his hand, as if he were about to release it. His eyes were focused, with passion shooting from them.
The mural was called "The Ultimate Shot." Tyfie's father was her ultimate shot.