‹ Prequel: Martyr's Run

Storms in Utopia

From Across the World


Arjan’s mood improved rapidly as we left the office and headed back out into the main hub.

‘Where do I sleep?’ he asked. The Master had mentioned something about some men having cleaned out the rooms further along the main tunnel in the sleeping quarters, so I assumed he meant for Arjan to go there. Conveniently, it was quite near to my room too, which was down the same tunnel.

‘I’ll take you now,’ I offered. I wasn’t even halfway to the room when an irritating voice piped up behind me.


Sure, Amy was nowhere near as annoying as Casper, but the fact that she liked him so much immediately made me dislike her more than was perhaps fair.

‘Casper wants you to go and see him,’ she said.

‘Oh, so he’s getting you to do his dirty work for him now, is he?’ I retorted. This earned me a glare so cold that it made me realise that Amy wasn’t actually as weak as she sometimes seemed.

‘I offered, actually,’ she replied.

‘What does he want to talk to me about?’ I asked.

‘Well, he’s with two newbies who want to meet you,’ she said. ‘He wanted you to come now.’

I would have said that I was busy at this precise moment—I’d only been home for twenty minutes, but the ideas of getting changed and unpacking my bags and having something to eat were apparently unthinkable. And yet, the notion of new people who ‘wanted to meet me’ was a little bit intriguing.

Arjan and I followed Amy back the way we’d come, through to the hub, and down tunnel five. The hub, as it was called, was the official centre of the Berlin base, but the whole base was widely spread over at least a square mile of underground tunnels, which meant that, if invasion was imminent, any part of the base could be completely evacuated and locked off within moments. Although the hub was most Dreamers’ idea of the central meeting point, there were, in actual fact, about twelve other mini ‘hubs’ scattered across this part of the underground.

Amy led us into one of those random small rooms that were never really used for anything. They were in the wrong place to be bedrooms or bathrooms, and weren’t really big enough to be useful for anything else. Some of these types of rooms contained random bits of furniture or served as a storeroom or games room or a lounge, but this one was completely empty apart from a battered wooden table and two mismatched chairs, neither of which were currently being occupied.

Casper was already in the room, perched on the edge of the table. With him were two people I’d never seen before. There may be over two hundred Berlin Dreamers, but I still knew whether I recognised someone or not. And these two both came under the ‘not.’

One of them was tall and muscular, with light hair that was almost blonde, a little shaggy, as though he should have cut it a couple of weeks ago. The other was of a more average height and thin; a similar build to Casper or Carl, but his skin was dark and his hair and eyes were both a brownish-black colour.

‘Who’re your friends?’ I asked Casper curtly.

‘This is Simeon,’ he said, his tone just as curt. ‘And that’s Jake.’ He nodded to each of them in turn. ‘Simeon wanted to meet you. Dunno why.’

I ignored the last remark, and met Simeon’s light eyes. This seemed to be his cue to talk.

‘Sonja, is it?’ he asked. Behind him, I saw Casper and Amy move a few steps away and begin to talk.

‘It’s Hurricane to you.’

‘Well, Hurricane then,’ he said, his confidence a little knocked by my lack of friendliness. Nevertheless, however I greeted him, he knew who I was, and the few words he’d said had been said in an American accent. I had no idea how he’d gotten over here if he was, indeed, from the US, but that didn’t matter for now.

People knew who I was all the way over in America.


‘Anyway, I’ve wanted to meet you for a while now,’ he continued, his accent seeming to grow more American as he spoke. I already liked this guy. ‘Wanting to meet me’ meant that I was somewhat admired by him.

‘You wanted to meet me?’ I asked. ‘How have you even heard of me?’

‘Oh, well we all heard about you recently over in the US,’ he said, confirming his location. ‘I just wondered if you were going to live up to everything people seemed to be saying about you. I admit, I was quite excited about coming here.’

Damn, I was liking this guy more with every second. If he was trying to earn himself Brownie Points in my eyes, he was going the right way about it. Perhaps Casper could learn a thing or two from him.

‘So you’ve come over here from America?’ I confirmed, sure I must be missing something. The continents had grown distant during the first decade after the Revolution, but we'd officially lost all contact with the other side of the Atlantic about a month ago. ‘How?’

‘It’s a long story,’ he said, shrugging it off briskly.

‘Have you heard of Martyr’s Run?’ the other one, Jake, butted in. He also sounded American, but a little more...Spanish? Probably Mexican then.

‘Martyr’s Run?’ I repeated.

‘I guess that’s a no then,’ said Simeon.

‘Sorry,’ I said with a casual shrug. ‘What is it?’

‘You don’t want to know,’ said Jake, his moody eyes turned to the floor.

‘Well, you brought it up,’ I said irritably. I hated it when people tried to disguise their true intentions. If he’d mentioned it, he’d obviously intended me to either talk about it or ask what it was. So why was he backtracking now?

‘Sorry,’ Jake said a little curtly. ‘But in short, it’s a gameshow. A sick, twisted gameshow.’ Amy and Casper were only half listening, evidently having already heard this story. ‘It’s specifically for the Dreamers they capture. If you win, you go to the Institution. If you lose, you get the Operation.’

‘What?’ Arjan and I both cried almost simultaneously.

‘They can’t do that!’ Arjan cried, sickened by what he was hearing. It seemed I had taught him well.

‘They can,’ Simeon said. ‘And they do.’

‘The stakes were even higher for us,’ Jake said. ‘Operation or freedom.’ He paused a moment to allow me to comprehend the sheer size of what he had just said. Operation or freedom. That was the ultimate motivator.

‘So you won then?’ I prompted.

‘Kind of,’ Simeon said vaguely. ‘But there were four of us, and we were all allowed to come over here—seemed that the manager of USBN just decided she didn’t want us in the country anymore. But when we got to the airport, we were pursued by Soulless. Our other two friends got taken away. We assume they’re in the Institution now.’

‘Shit,’ I whispered, genuinely sympathetic for Simeon and Jake.

‘That’s...awful,’ Arjan added, his face downcast.

‘Where’s the nearest Institution?’ Jake asked. ‘Where are they most likely to have been taken?’

‘There’s one in Nuremberg and one in Essen,’ I told them. ‘I think they’re more likely to be in Nuremberg though—that’s where I was taken.’

‘You’ve been in too?’ Simeon said.

‘Yep,’ I said grimly.

‘What are the European Institutions like?’

‘Hell.’ The syllable hung in the air with a low, foreboding note of finality.

This certainly did not seem to comfort them very much.

‘How many times have they been in the Institution?’ Arjan asked.

‘Once already,’ said Jake in an ominous tone.

Arjan and I exchanged a glance. ‘That’s not good,’ I admitted.

‘We won’t let them stay in there all that time though,’ Simeon said, and I could see a strange flame in his eyes. ‘We’re, uh, planning to start a rebellion.’

His words were such a shock that it was my initial response to smirk. ‘A rebellion? With two of you?’

Arjan gave me a look that bordered on disbelief. ‘And how many followers do you have hidden away?’ he challenged bitterly. He actually had a point. Simeon wanted to hold a rebellion. I wanted to start a war. The two things could coincide nicely.

‘I know it’s not easy,’ he said, suddenly looking awkward. ‘But I kind of, y’know, hoped that we could get a few people to help us. We had to escape America—things are going pretty wayward over there. But I promised that we’d free them one day. We were given the gift of freedom; a chance to come over here. Not everyone is so lucky. So we’ve got to do something to help them.’

‘It’s not gonna be easy,’ I told him.

‘But Carl said you were a fairly...’ he searched for the right word, ‘active sort of rebel.’

‘Active?’ I asked. ‘Carl told you this? What’s that idiot been up to now?’

‘He was just saying that you’re the sort of person who doesn’t hang around,’ Jake tried to explain on Simeon’s behalf. ‘He was saying you’re...determined...strong-willed...a fighter.’

‘A fighter?’ I managed a half-smile.

‘Yeah,’ Simeon said, clasping at the straws Jake was handing him. ‘So we thought you might be a good helper.’

‘Helper?’ I challenged, offended. ‘I’m not just a helper! If you want me to do this with you, then I’m organising.’

Simeon laughed, but Jake pulled an annoyed face.


‘Because that’s how we do things here.’

Only then did I notice that Casper and Amy had stopped chatting and were instead watching the rest of us.

‘Oh yeah,’ I said as though it was an offhand comment, ‘Casper, d’you want to join in our revolution?’

His icy glare silenced the whole room.

‘Are you serious?’ he whispered in a bitter, low voice.

‘If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have said it.’

Casper took a large step forward suddenly, marching towards me.

‘When I spoke to you two weeks ago, you said a revolution was impossible!’ he practically spat in my face. ‘You laughed at me. You said I was idiotic to even think about it. And suddenly, you come back with a boyfriend and a couple of guys who are practically fucking idolising you, and everything’s changed!’

I met his gaze. ‘So what if it has?’ I challenged in a low voice.

‘I want to know why!’ he demanded.

I said nothing. He didn’t deserve to know about Arjan’s dreams. He would laugh at that theory anyway. But, like it or not, it was the theory that had made the Soulless run away from the city and hide in fear. It was the theory that had kept us alive.

‘Casper, we are planning a revolution,’ I said, keeping my tone even and smooth and measured. ‘Do you want to be a part of it, or not?’

For a moment, he was quiet.

‘Of course I want to be a part of it,’ he eventually said in a mumble. ‘I was the one who gave you the fucking idea in the first place.’

‘Well that’s settled then,’ I said, sounding so bright that it was almost sarcastic. ‘We’ll meet tomorrow. Small boardroom, two in the afternoon. Understood?’

‘Sure,’ said Simeon.

‘Whatever,’ muttered Casper.
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I can't help but laugh when I read this chapter. I know it's not even meant to be funny, but just Casper and Sonja...gah, those two make me laugh! :P

On another note, I just want to warn readers that this book, primarily the first half, is pretty Sonja-centric. Although all the main characters are here, I realise that I focus on her, and also Arjan, far more than I focus on anyone else. Other characters will come into their own later, or at other times, or whatever, but for now I'm afraid you may just have to tolerate an excess of Hurrjan. (Yes, they have a shipping name now...)