Categories > Cartoons > Class of the Titans > Practice

The Red-Haired Girl

by Lutrani 1 review

Deja-vu Cronus style. Did I mention Pan and Archie finally meet face to face?

Category: Class of the Titans - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2008-10-05 - Updated: 2008-10-06 - 5830 words

After the interview, Archie had slinked back to his old training ground to be by himself. His manager told him it was essential to give interviews like that to boost his popularity, people were interested in him, in his story. “Your brace kid, it’s your life that people are interested, they love a hero with a story, a purpose, a flaw.” He could hear Vince’s words echo in his head, he’d heard the speech so many times. Still, Archie never felt comfortable with the whole thing. He liked the spotlight, in fact his whole life he’d strived for it. But when he was competing, doing something to show that he was worth paying attention to. It didn’t feel right that his ankle brace should set him above other athletes in the world. After all, wasn’t popularity as an athlete based on physical performance? He wanted to be an athlete, not a celebrity. But on the other hand, he couldn’t argue with Vince’s methods. It was Vince that got him out of the training school and onto the professional circuit. But, even with all the fame he’d achieved, what he thought he’d been longing for for so long, he still felt incomplete. Returning to the Coliseum was about the only thing that calmed him down these days, and it also brought back memories of that day.

He was sitting in the middle of the sand arena, looking up at the empty stands. In the back of him mind phantom people were sitting there, screaming as stone hands glued them to their places. The media had blamed the whole thing on tainted water, and who could blame them. What else could it have been? He’d almost believed it too, after all it was the easier option for his mind to accept. But the day after, an ugly bruise has developed on his back where he’d landed after the monster threw him. And now, he wasn’t sure what to believe at all. He couldn’t get that red-head off his mind either.


She seemed just as unreal as the whole arena event, and maybe she was. He certainly hadn’t seen her since that day. But, like the events of the arena, she continued to hang at the back of his mind. Not just because she was beautiful either. He had to admit that the second she’d turned her head around after he’d hit her with the soccer ball, he’d been captivated. For a reason he couldn’t explain, he’d always had a thing for red heads. And the redder the hair the better. In fact, every girlfriend he’d had since he got out of high school had had red hair. But his relationships had always ended in disaster. There was something he was looking for in a girl that he couldn’t quite identify. He’d start a new relationship thinking that this time he’d finally be able to put his mind at ease, but he never found what he was looking for, and his relationships would fall apart once he realized he wasn’t going to find it. But when he’d seen this girl, some little signal had gone off at the back of his head, like he’d found what he was looking for, even though he still didn’t understand what IT was. Something else had surfaced at the back of his mind too, like a vague sense of déjà-vu. She felt so familiar to him, even though he’s never met her. Even more so when they were fighting the monsters. Or were they? Did any of it really happen? Did the red-head even exist, or was she just the product of a mind tired of searching? A perfect answer to his longings that didn’t actually exist? It all just made his head hurt.

It was the same confused feeling he’d felt when he’d bought the silver necklace in the marketplace. He’d escaped from Vince and his media circus one day, and ended up in the marketplace, although he hadn’t really intended to. He never liked the marketplace, for some reason it always brought a vague feeling of fear to the back of his mind. Like an adult who remembers being terrified as a child, and now as an adult can rationalize themselves out of the fear, but can’t help the lingering feeling at the back of their minds. But this time he’d stumbled across the gaudy piece of jewellery. He couldn’t explain why he’d been attracted to it on the shelf. It certainly wasn’t manly, and he’d never bought a piece of jewellery in his life, not even for his girlfriends. But just the sight of it brought that strange rise of emotions beneath his own, the same he’d felt when fighting those monsters in the arena. Like someone else was living inside of him and responding to the necklace, even though Archie could only help but wonder why. So he’d bought it, hoping that its presence might help him sort out some of the things going on in his head. But even though he wore it almost everywhere now, it remained an inanimate piece of metal, almost mocking him with it’s refusal to give up its secrets. He almost didn’t want to wear it, but he found that he felt sad now whenever he took it off, so he left it on, hoping that it couldn’t keep its secrets forever.


Archie spun around, fearful that one of his more obsessive fans had found him in his fortress of solitude. It was an event that was happening more and more often these days. But what he saw wasn’t a fan, but someone he thought he’d never see again, someone who brought that unfamiliar feeling of jealousy to the back of his throat, the one that wasn’t his. It was Atlanta’s boyfriend, Phil. He was panting and wheezing, and as he got closer Archie noticed what must surely have been his eyes playing tricks on him. Did Phil have horns?

“Archie!” Phil yelled again, stopping in front of him, almost doubling over to catch his breath. “H-has Atlanta b-been he-here?” He panted. Archie stood up, half out of surprise and half out of fear. He didn’t know what was going on, but he had a bad feeling rising in the pit of his stomach. And he couldn’t take his eyes off those horns, they looked so realistic.

“Archie!” Phil exclaimed, snapping him out of his thoughts. “Has Atlanta been here?!” Archie was caught off guard by the earnesty in his voice, and the fear. He could barely get out his answer of “n-no” over the look he saw in the other man’s eyes. Phil was terrified.

“Archie, you have to listen to me, this is very important.” Phil said suddenly, looking Archie straight in the eyes. Determination has hardened Phil’s face, washing away all previous traces of exhaustion or fear. His eyes flashed down to the pendant on Archie’s neck for a brief second, before returning to his face. Archie could swear a shadow of pain passed over Phil’s eyes. “Something very bad is about to happen to Atlanta, and I need your help to stop it.” Archie balked at this. What was this guy talking about? Were they involved in gangs or something and he’d come looking to Archie for money now that he was a famous athlete? But something at the back of his mind told him this was a lie. The same thing that released a cloud of fear into his brain the second Phil had mentioned something happening to Atlanta. The same mysterious thing that made him buy the necklace.

“Wha-“ Archie began, but Phil cut him off.

“ No listen. Listen to me very closely, there’s not much time. I know how you’re feeling, because Atlanta felt the same way. You feel like there’s someone else living inside you, a phantom person with phantom memories that respond to things you’ve never seen or interacted with your entire life.” Archie had begun to pull away as Phil spoke, the intensity of his words scaring him, but Phil took that moment to grab both of Archie’s arms and hold him there. Archie couldn’t believe how strong he was, it felt like two trees were holding him. “That necklace is one of those things, isn’t it Archie?” Phil’s words cut to Archie’s heart like a knife. How could Phil know? “It’s because you’ve lived another life Archie, one you don’t even remember. With Atlanta, me, that man who attacked you in the arena, and a million people you don’t even remember.” Phil was bringing his face closer to Archie’s as he spoke, as if he wanted Archie to receive the full brunt of every word he spoke. “And now it’s come back to haunt you, it’s come back to haunt all of us. And if I don’t restore your memories, it will be the end of Atlanta, and probably even yourself. But if I do, and I’m not even sure I’ll be successful, you can never go back to your old life again. I’ve seen it happen to Atlanta, it changes people.”

Archie was trying to pull his face as far from Phil’s as he could. The ferocity of his words were scaring him, more so than he’d ever been in his life. He just wanted to be away from everything that was happening around him. Phil seemed to sense Archie’s hesitation, his fear, because he suddenly drew him it closer. “Dammit, listen to me Archie! Cronus will kill Atlanta, and he’s heading here to do it. I need your help to save her! Doesn’t she mean anything to you? Don’t you remember anything?” His last two questions came out as quiet whispers. Phil looked at him for a second, his eyes pleading. But Archie just looked back at him in shock, he couldn’t even begin to understand what was going on. Finally Phil released his grip on him. He looked away from Archie and sighed. “I guess things really have changed…” he muttered so quietly that Archie barely heard him.

Archie was still reeling, things moving around his head that he couldn’t even begin to understand, and that mysterious emotion beneath his own was practically screaming at him. He looked up at Phil, who looked more confused and forlorn than ever. He didn’t understand what was going on, in fact the more he tried to think about it the more it seemed confusing, but something under his reasoning told him this was important. In fact, his instincts alone kept him from running from the arena at that very moment. A warrior always follows his instincts. He told himself mentally. It was his motto, and at that moment, it allowed him to collect himself.

“Phil, I-I don’t know what’s going on, I’m not even going to try. But…” he hesitated for a second, Phil looked up at him with a faint impression of hope in his eyes. How could he put this into words? “I know what you mean with the necklace, and… I want to know why. Why do I feel like this?”

Phil smiled, a wave of relief washing over his face. He reached over and grabbed Archie’s face before he could even react “Okay, I’m going to restore your memories.”

“Huh? What-“ Archie cried, trying to pull away again. He didn’t know what was going on, but it felt like he’d just fallen into a trap.

“’Course I’m not the one who has them, Ares does, so this might hurt. But I’ll do the best I can.” Phil continued cheerfully, then suddenly his eyes began to glow gold. Archie yelled in surprise, and them his mind was engulfed in a flood of images.

Like jagged, sharp things, pictures and emotions needled his mind. Drowning underwater, fear coursing through his veins, a giant eye watching him underwater, and then someone pulling him up, up, towards the life giving surface. But why was he in the water, he was terrified, he’d never been swimming since he was kid. No, wait, he did, didn’t he? Someone was teaching him to swim, he was on a goofy flutter board wearing a lifejacket and she was laughing at him. Then there was this brown haired girl- but no, that wasn’t her. Archie could almost make out the girl, but in his mind he wasn’t looking at her, he was looking at the brown-haired girl. He tried to make himself turn around in the scene, but a sharp pain made his mind jump, and he lost the image. Yelling and charging a brown-haired bow with a javelin, jealousy hot on his mind. Jay, Jay-Jason, the leader. He’d, he’d gone to school with him right? No, that wasn’t it, there was something else. Holding a whip and using it to pull him high in the trees, away from the prying eyes of… of… who was he hiding from? He had been hiding from someone, he knew it. He could just see their outline in the back of his mind. He strained to see it, and suddenly a sharp pain bit into his mind. He cried out, he could feel that, but he held onto the image and then he saw them, two girls, Theresa, and… and, Atlanta.
Suddenly he saw them, Jay, Odie, Theresa, Herry, Neil, … and Atlanta. They were sitting around the table at the Bowerstone, Athena making them breakfast. Athena, the Greek Goddess, because they were descendants of Greek Heroes, and they’d been called upon by the Gods to help them.
To capture Cronus. Cronus, the man who’d attacked him, and man who had tried to kill him and Atlanta, the man who should have been in Tartarus.

Suddenly Archie’s mind snapped back to reality. He was on the floor of the arena, sand clinging to the sweat on his face and his hands where he’s collapsed. He was clutching the sides of his head, hyperventilating as what felt like fireworks echoed in his brain. He looked up and saw Phil standing over him, looking drained. He knew where he recognized him from now, Pan, demi-god of the forest. The jerk who flirted with Atlanta. No wonder his horns had seemed so real.

“Archie, do you remember?” Pan asked hesitantly. Archie nodded. “Where-“ he gasped, his own voice sounding hoarse in his throat. Had he been screaming? “Where’s Atlanta?”

Pan opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly the sand around them kicked up in a massive gust of wind that cut him off. Archie covered his eyes from the biting particles, and when it had finally died down he opened he found that he was alone, a large pile of sand in the place where Pan has been standing a moment ago.

“Well this is a feeling of déjà-vu isn’t it?” Purred a voice from behind him. Archie spun around, picking himself off the ground as he did. He knew that voice now, deep down inside he realized he’d always known. “Haven’t we all been here before? Or is it just me?”

Cronus stood in the settling dust, his black suit immaculate despite the filth around him. His red eyes regarded Archie humourlessly as a cruel smile crept onto his face. It was then that Archie noticed Atlanta, and his heart almost caught in his throat, he was barely able to hide his reaction from Cronus. He had seen her before now as she was, older, more mature. But he hadn’t laid eyes on her as the new Archie, the Archie who remembered what he’d once felt for her. Her hair was still held back as if permanently blown back by the wind, its red still as vibrant. But she was taller, he could see that immediately. Still proportionally a runner, but larger, as if her body had finally filled out its purpose. Her eyes were the same though, eyes he’d known her a lifetime ago, especially fierce now that they stared at the back of Cronus’s head. He couldn’t see much else however, as Atlanta was tied to a wooden pole holding her just off the ground, her mouth gagged. She caught sight of him suddenly, and he could make out the expression of her gasping, despite being gagged. She looked panicked.

“Oh I do love a good reunion” Cronus chimed, looking back at Atlanta. She immediately went back to glaring at him. “Oh, now don’t be like that dear. Aren’t you happy that you get to see your little friend one last time?” She still stared at him with narrow eyes, but Archie could see a glint of panic creeping into her face. “It’s a shame that he doesn’t remember you, but we can’t have everything we want in life can we?” Archie caught on to what Cronus was saying. So Cronus didn’t know that Archie had his memory back, he could use that to his advantage. “At least you remember him, and just think of how vividly you’ll remember his death, at least, before I kill you too.” Atlanta was still trying to look fierce, but Archie could see she was afraid, more afraid then he ever remembered seeing her in either life. It shook him, he’d never seen Atlanta afraid. And suddenly he realized that he didn’t know what he was going to do. He knew he couldn’t defeat Cronus by himself, the seven of them combined had never been able to do it. So how could he get Atlanta out of the arena to where Cronus couldn’t get her? And then his eyes fell across Pan, poking his head around the doorway to the arena behind Cronus’s back. Archie had no idea how he’d gotten there, but it didn’t matter. Pan’s eyes crossed his, and they both seemed to have the same idea.

Archie smiled. “Hey-hey you!” He yelled at Cronus, trying to sound as uncertain as possible. It wasn’t hard at that point. Both Cronus and Atlanta turned to look at him. “Aren’t you the guy from before? Is this another hallucination?” Cronus threw his head back and laughed at the question. Atlanta looked at him in alarm, and them downcast her gaze. She looked like she’d been expecting him to remember. Inside him, it pained him to know he was causing her that much grief, but he could see Pan approaching the scene from the corner of his eye, and he knew he couldn’t stop the charade.

“Ah, Archie, you really were my favourite.” Chuckled Cronus, wiping imaginary tears from the corners of his eyes. “It really is a shame that I have to kill you.” Cronus started to turn back to Atlanta, and Pan froze, completely exposed on the open field. Archie panicked, what else could he say?

“Wait!” he yelled, Cronus turned back to him with an eyebrow raised. Pan behind Cronus smiled, and continued creeping forward. He had almost reached Atlanta on the post. “Just-just because I don’t know what’s going on, doesn’t mean I’m going to let you get away with it.” The words were flowing easier now, he had to be careful not to overdue it and give himself away. Cronus looking at him frowned, and behind him Pan was untying the rope that held Atlanta’s feet to the post. She was looking down at Pan, alarm and confusion pasted on her face. “What was that now boy?” Cronus inquired.

Feeling his courage bolster, Archie smiled. He’d forgotten how much fun it was to play the hero. “You heard me old man, I’m not going to let you kill this girl, whoever she is. I’m Archie ‘the Achilles’ King.” He took a challenging step forward and raised his hands, even though he had no weapon to speak of. Atlanta was looking up at him all of a sudden, a confused look on her face like she was trying to figure him out. Oops, was he overdoing it? Cronus on the other hand, found the whole situation extremely amusing. He put his head back to laugh again, and Archie took the opportunity to wink an Atlanta. Her eyes widened.

“Oh I’m going to enjoy killing you, Archie.” Cronus smiled, his scythe appearing in his hand. Archie looked over Cronus’s shoulder and he could just see Pan disappearing out the arena entrance with Atlanta over his shoulder, her hands and ankles still bound. Her face was a mix of confusion, sadness, fear and hope that he’d never seen in her before. Pan turned around suddenly and gave the thumbs up to Archie, he returned it. Cronus, noticing Archie’s gaze going beyond him, turned around. But Pan was already gone. Cronus didn’t, however, fail to notice the empty stake where Atlanta had been moments earlier.

“What?” He roared, scanning the arena around him. “How did-“

“Forget about Atlanta Cronus, you’re fight’s with me.” Archie yelled, and suddenly he found himself in that strange Greek armour again. But this time he recognized it, it was the armour of Achilles.

Cronus spun around to face him, eyes furious. “My name, you remember?!” He yelled. “Which god-forsaken immortal gave you back your memories?” And then Cronus noticed his armour. “And who keeps helping you?!” he roared. Archie ignored him and got into a fighting pose. His mind was racing, but inside he was very calm. He hadn’t felt this alive in a long time. “What’s the hold up Cronus? Can’t take one little Mortal?”

Cronus’s eyes flared so red that for a second Archie regretted baiting the God of Time. “I’m finishing you now brat, I don’t care who’s protecting you. And then, when you’re corpse is beneath my feet, I’ll hunt down that little girl of yours and skewer her like she does the animals she hunts” There was no hint of taunting in his voice now, what Cronus said was to him a cold hard fact.

“Well, to do that Cronus, you’ll have to get through me.” Archie replied, spreading his legs into a fighting stance and raising his shield. He felt a small pang of regret over the lack of his Hephaestus whip, but Achilles’ armour made him feel strong. The spear in his hand felt right, and his mind was instantly drawn to the last time he’d used it, to defeat the Seeper he’d released from Pandora’s Box. That time, like this time, he’d been doing it to save Atlanta. With the spear, Archie felt invincible.

But something had changed this time around. Archie was expecting more taunting, a time period where he could test out the limits of Cronus’s patience, to come up with a plan to overcome him. That was the tradition of things after all. But time changes all things, and Archie barely jumped aside as the God of Time came bearing down on him with his scythe flaring. Archie caught himself with a roll, and got to his feet just in time to jump out of the way again as Cronus’s scythe missed his abdomen by inches. Archie caught himself again, and turned to face Cronus, who hadn’t moved this time, but was standing staring at Archie from where Archie had been a second ago. Cronus wasn’t even facing him, but was looking at Archie over his shoulder with an expressionless face. The first two attacks from Cronus had unsettled Archie. It seemed like this wasn’t the Cronus he remembered. This man was crueller, if that were possible; only interested in getting things done, even if that thing was killing Archie. He lacked Cronus’s flare. A little voice at the back of Archie’s head told him to watch out, things weren’t what they seemed. But Cronus was just standing there, looking at him. A louder voice in Archie’s head told him this was the moment to attack. Rallying his courage, he adjusted the grip on Achilles’ spear and charged Cronus. He was planning on feinting, getting behind the God of Time like he’d done when fighting Agnon in the arena. But suddenly he found himself on his back. In the confused haze of his mind, he tried to remember seeing Cronus move, but couldn’t. And then suddenly he felt a pressure on the metal of his ankle-brace, and he was pulled of the ground. Cronus drew an upside down Archie to mere inches from his face, and held the boy’s eyes level to his own.

“Do you know what Achilles’ downfall was Archie?” He asked slowly, him voice stretching out every word. His eyes looked directly into Archie’s own. Dead, empty eyes. “It was because he couldn’t accept how vulnerable he really was, to the point where he angered the Gods themselves.” Cronus drew Archie away from his face and held the youth at arm’s length, taking his whole body in. Archie could feel the blood running to his head, muddling his thoughts. But something deep down inside told him things were wrong, very wrong. “And the sins of the father become the sins of the son Archie.”

Suddenly his world was flooded with pain, every nerve ending in his body felt like it was exploding. He heard himself screaming but it sounded distant, like someone else was screaming with his body, in a place far removed from where he was. He felt his body being thrown to the ground, felt himself skidding along the sand floor from the impact. But it was a distant feeling, he felt like he could see it all happening in his mind without actually being there. He struggled to open his eyes, and briefly caught a glimpse of shards of blood-stained gold on the ground in front of him. Then waves of darkness started to wash over his mind, and he struggled to stay awake. But he’d never been too good at swimming, and Archie could feel himself going under.

In the back of his mind, far away from where he was, he could hear Cronus laughing.


Pan was running through the narrow town streets as fast as he could, feeling the heavy weight of Atlanta on his back. People stared and scattered in his wake, but his only concern was getting as far away from Cronus as he could. Fear for both Atlanta and himself fuelled his thoughts. Atlanta flailed on his back, clearly wanting him to let her down, but he refused to give in. He was sure she’s want to go back to help Archie if he let her down, and he couldn’t allow that. Archie was giving them time to escape, and Pan didn’t want his sacrifice to be in vain. From what he’d seen of the new Cronus, Pan couldn’t see a way for Archie to escape from the God of Time with his life. The extra years in Tartarus had done something to Cronus, something worse than ever before. And Pan was sure that the second Cronus was done with Archie, he’d come after Atlanta. Pan wanted to be as far away from the Cronus as possible when that happened. Even a demi-god like himself didn’t stand a chance against the God of Time.

Suddenly a piercing scream cut through the air. The people of the marketplace, busy fleeing from him, froze in fear. A man’s voice, a death scream. It was so loud it sounded like it had carried through the air from miles away. Atlanta stopped struggling on his back, and became deathly still. Pan narrowed his eyes, but kept running. I’ll always remember what you did for me Archie.

Atlanta suddenly started moving again, struggling even harder than before, but Pan maintained his grip. She went still again, and Pan began to think that she was through with struggling. But then her two legs came around his shoulder and, still tied together, kicked him in the face. He yelled, and in a reflex reaction grabbed at his stinging face with both his hands. Atlanta’s body was flung from his shoulder and skidded on the ground. Frantically realizing his mistake, he tried to grab Atlanta, but she’d gotten a good kick to his face and one of his eyes was already swelling shut. By the time he got his wits together, she was already out of her leg bindings and was wiggling out of the rope that bound her hands. He rushed her, but she managed to slide out of his grip, ripping the rag from her mouth as she did.

“Pan!” She yelled at him. She’d looked so determined evading him, Pan had just been focusing on getting her on his shoulders again. But her voice was shaking. Pan stopped in surprise and got a good look at her. Her body was determined, but her eyes were terrified. Her gaze was so intense; it sent a shiver of fear down his spine as if the fear was his own. “Archie! Archie remembers, we have to go back!!!” Her voice was pleading, terrified and pleading. It was almost more than he could stand to see.

“Atlanta…” He said quietly, dropping his gaze. He couldn’t meet her eyes knowing he’d had a hand in Archie’s death, that he’d probably ended up trading Atlanta’s life for Archie’s.

“No Pan no, we have to go back for Archie, we have to!” She exclaimed, desperation creeping into her voice. Pan suddenly realized that Atlanta must have recognized Archie’s voice in the scream. Her mind was trying to wrestle with what she had heard and the possible meanings of the sound. He didn’t have much experience with mortals, he’d never seen an emotion like this before. Gods didn’t die, he didn’t really know what happened when mortals died.

“Pan!” Atlanta yelled, her voice nearly cracking. He suddenly realized he’d been losing himself in his own thoughts. Even my subconscious is preventing me from facing her. He thought, the satire not being lost on himself.

“Atlanta no, we’re not going back.” He said, trying his best to sound firm. He saw Atlanta’s face twist from forlorn sadness to a familiar anger, like she was relieved to finally have something to be angry about to distract herself from her thoughts on Archie’s wellbeing.

“What do you mean?!” She screamed, bring her face as close to him as she could. Pan suddenly realized that even Atlanta’s anger was being twisted by this new foreign emotion, the reaction he did not understand. “He’s alone with Cronus, we can’t just leave him there!”

Suddenly the unpleasantness of his current situation came back to him like bile rising in the back of his throat. How can I tell her? “Atlanta…” he started, unwillingly dropping his gaze again. The guilt was heavy on his soul. A part of him suddenly realized she’d hate him forever for this. “Archie… Archie’s giving us a chance to escape, we have to take it.” She looked up at him, angry but confused, like she’d made up her mind to stay angry at him, but wasn’t sure about what in what he’d just said she should choose to be angry about. He suddenly realized that he wasn’t making any sense, he was beating around the bush again. Zeus, why can’t I just say it? She was still looking him, and he suddenly became conscious of the intensity of her gaze, like she was looking for her answer on his face, not caring to wait for his words. He dropped his eyes again and felt himself stumbling over something to say to get out of Atlanta’s intense gaze. “We- I- we can’t waste Archie’s sacrifice.” Atlanta’s eyes went wide the second he said it, and he knew it had been a mistake.

“I’m going back!” She exclaimed angrily, her fists turning white as she clenched them in determination, moving to go past him. Pan felt panic rise in his throat and reached out to grab her. Atlanta stopped him dead in his tracks with her gaze “Don’t touch me Pan.” She growled. Pan took a step back from her, feeling the weight of her intensity. Atlanta looked at him for one more moment, before turning her back on him and continuing away.

Frustrated, desperate, Pan watched her go. “He’s dead Atlanta, you heard the scream. You know what a death scream sounds like!” He yelled after her, hoping somehow that she’d turn around. She did stop, but then she took off running, a blur down the dirty streets as she headed back to the Coliseum. Pan stood by himself for a moment, feeling himself empty of both emotion and thought. Then he started a slow jog after her, to wherever that direction may lead.


Things were eerily quiet by the time they reached the arena, even with Atlanta’s incredible speed. When Pan finally caught up to her, she was kneeling in the dust, the wind blowing little sand dunes over her knees where she had collapsed to the ground. Her hands covered her eyes, her body bent over. Her shoulders were shaking, but Pan couldn’t hear a sound. Reluctant to disturb her, he looked up, scanning the arena for a body. For Archie’s body. But he saw nothing. Then, a slight glint in the sand caught his eyes, and he looked closer. There were shards of golden metal everywhere. He was confused for a moment, but then he remembered Archie’s golden leg brace. Something was wrong, but it wasn’t what he had been expecting. Cautiously, like an animal suspecting a snare, he walked around Atlanta’s hunched form to her front. That was when he saw the rest of the leg brace, and everything was covered in blood.

Atlanta released a racked sob, and Pan found he couldn’t help but look away.
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