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ONE The sirens flashed almost silently in the winter air, only slightly penetrating the s/a/e darkness, but even in this light, you could always feel it, always sense it, in this part of the city you always felt unseen eyes staring at you, just waiting for a moment of weakness. Even the buildings shouted it across the dark skies as they flashed by in the yellowish glow of the streetlights. This was one of the many that had slipped through, but the only not to be caught on camera. They hadn’t even believed the call, but now they knew it was true. It had happened. As they pulled up next to the dark, long tunnel of an alley, they couldn’t help but feel that something was watching them, that they were simply falling into a trap, a trap that no one could get out of. “Sydney Wolf?” The policeman asked, Sydney was suddenly very confused, and extremely scared, even more embarrassed. It was Friday, the one night her parents had given her off and now the shopping centre had been quarantined by police officers, police officers that knew her name, and were humiliating her in front of her friends. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “Yes officer,” she was careful to sound polite, she’d heard the stories about the police locking people up in cells with no charges, just because they didn’t like your face. “We request you to come to the station with us in relation to a murder|\" Sydney glanced at the entrance, scanning for an escape. “No, you aren’t getting away, you either come quietly or kicking and screaming with your hands behind your back, and if you escape, we put you on Tw" There was only one choice, she went with the policemen and got pushed into the back of one of their cars before she remembered her rights, she was sure this was abduction. The other cars moved off as she felt herself being slowly driven towards some or other police station in the centre of the city. The car finally pulled into the station where she was thoroughly searched before being shoved into some or other old interrogation room. For once there wasn’t a mirror, but she was sure that there was a camera someplace or other. An old television set was dragged in, followed by a pair of men wearing brown suits. You could see that they weren’t ordinary police officers, the Scorpions? ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT No, they wouldn’t be interested in a little teenager, maybe the NIA, NIA, what fantasy world did she live in? “Murder in this country carries a life behind bars in some or other crowded prison, a girl of your age in not likely to last long.” “| don’t know what the _____ you're talking about, but | have rights, one of them is to know why on earth I’ve been arrested, another is to have a lawyer by my side during any interrogation and | have every right to a phone call!” “Do you know what the NIA is?” “Spies..?” “Yes, Intelligence, intelligence that gets extremely interested when a fourteen year old boy turns up dead with no record of him ever existing, no way to trace him, no way to trace his family, right in front of our CCTV camera and with the cause of death unknown!” “You said murder, why you interrogating me?” One of the men plugged in the TV and Sydney was absolutely shocked by what she saw. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT TWO “I'd love to help, but | don’t know who that is, officer!” Sydney told the agent. “That’s why you called his cell phone five minutes after he died!” the agent was really getting sick of the little girl’s games. “| don’t remember doing that and there’s always wrong numbers!” “That's why we found a calling card in your bedroom!” the agent smiled, knowing he was getting somewhere, even if he wasn’t, this could always be taken care of by other means. “You searched MY bedroom!” “Perfectly within my rights, nice diary!” “Read my diary?” Sydney felt violated. The agent smiled and left the room, having the door locked behind him; at least they knew the victim’s name and had a potential witness. He looked down at the piece of paper he’d gotten from her bedroom, it could be useful. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Hey Sid, call me about the project. My no’s 07765431, be careful out there. As he walked slowly through the long, dark prison, he glanced back at the silent cells. He’d been working with police for most of his adult life, but suddenly the place seemed dark and scary, like something was watching him, like the other night, ridiculous, he was getting paranoid, nothing was watching him. Nothing was sizing him up. Maybe he should go back to the psychologist that helped him before, when they killed her, when they destroyed his life, but hey, it was all in the job description. Sydney sat looking at the room’s wall, suddenly wishing that she hadn’t seen what she had, she didn’t know him, but that face, the pure terror and obvious pain, the speed of what had to of happened, who was he and what did it have to do with her, someone put the light out, plunging her into an endless ocean of heavy darkness, everywhere she looked, she saw the face, everywhere she looked, images rushed through her head. Thoughts she’d never had before sprung into existence and all the while she kept on asking the same questions: why? How? Suddenly, nothing else mattered. She had to find the truth. She had to find what it had to do with her. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT She had tried to force herself, but it was impossible to fall asleep, not in the dark abyss of a room on an uncomfortable chair and after seeing what she had. A dark thought entered her mind; she could have something to do with it. As she sat there, the conversation constantly vibrated in her head, the pictures; the cellular phone. Murder in this country carries a life behind bars, you won't last long, you hear me, your life is over, your life is OVER... OVER... OVER... The words began to echo through her head, at last she woke up. Her heart was beating like a drum. There was a loud banging at the door and the light flashed on, but brighter now, blindingly bright. She couldn't see, couldn’t think, the light was all there was, and it was hot. Someone opened the door and walked in, the door clicked quietly behind them and sounds began erupting from the walls. “Miss Wolf, are you sure you know nothing about the murder, because we know you do, tell us the truth, that’s all we’re asking for, or you could spend the rest of your life in unofficial detention!” “\ don’t know alright, just leave me alone!” “| could do a few alterations to the video, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind the insane asylum!” she felt around in blindness, hitting the closest thing she could find, it was the table and it hurt, “Nice food in there, almost as good as the food we get here!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “You're gonna be dead!” she turned around in the chair, falling on the boiling concrete floor in the process and screamed. “Don’t like the heat | see!” Sydney blinked and the next thing she knew, it was morning and the NIA agents were back. “Morning Miss Wolf, | asked them not to put you ina cell, a bit too eager to put people away, but | didn’t think you'd last with twenty other people in the cell, yesterday | forgot to show you your diary and the piece of paper, we have copies of everything, so there’s no point in destroying them, but you may as well see some of our evidence. He died on Thursday at five o'clock, you phoned him at five past five, although we only got there at midnight!” The interrogation went on all day; they apparently had five thousand murder cases on their desks at any given time, but that was the normal police. She just went along with them. She said what she thought they'd want her to say, she told them that she hadn’t killed him, but they didn’t care. Already she’d decided. Already she knew what she was going to do. She couldn't go through the torture again. She couldn’t go through the pain, she had to know the truth. She had to escape! WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT THREE Once again her interrogators finished up and began to leave. They'd said nothing about her visitor last night and she couldn’t tell if they'd ever know. “Could you maybe leave my diary and cell here for the night, maybe | can remember something useful!” She only hoped that her drama skills were good enough. “Sure, anything to help the case, lights go off at eleven o’clock, | brought a sleeping bag for you tonight and a flashlight, | can understand how scary this can be for a girl of your age,” The new female agent stopped for a second, pulling something from outside the door, “Thought you might want some fresh clothes!” Sydney was surprised at that, but grateful and took the clothes. It was ten minutes before she had everything she wanted and decided to change into the new clothes. It'd help her escape. The clothes were comfortable and surprisingly in fashion. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT The one takkie* was oddly uncomfortable. Sensing this was important: she pulled it off and noticed a key. Suddenly everything fell into place. The camera obviously shifted to night vision when the lights went off, hence the powerful flashlight, the key obviously fitted the door and the clothes would make her harder to find, the woman must have known her plans, what else could it be? She spent the time until eleven pretending to read her diary and look at her phone. As the clock hit ten fifty-five, she could feel the adrenalin pumping through her veins and she finally realized that she had no idea how to get out of the prison and where she’d go after that, they knew all her friends, they knew all their numbers, it was all clear in her diary, who could she go to, what could she say. Some time ago she’d felt some money in her new pocket, but she had no idea what to do with it. The clock rushed to eleven fifty-nine, her heart rate accelerated and became a constant boom. She gave up pretending to read and stared straight into the omnipresent camera. Who was behind there? Did they know about her plan? Could they hear her ever increasing heartbeat? What if it was a trick? What if the key didn’t work? What if she was caught? As the clock struck eleven, all went dark. She realised that it was now or never. She pretended to ' Tennis shoe; sneaker ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT make the choice, but she already knew what she was going to do. She reached for the flashlight and clumsily began to carry out her plan. The torch light hit the camera, she began to fumble for the key and blindly felt her way to the tiny slit that was the keyhole. The key turned and she was gone. As she crept through the bare corridors, she couldn’t help but feel obvious. Footsteps began to near her; she knew she had no chance. It had to have been a trick; she couldn’t possibly have hoped to escape. She ran so fast that she began tripping over her legs, but she still felt fate inevitably catching up with her. She turned a corner and saw freedom in front of her eyes, but that freedom came along with half a dozen armed policemen just waiting for her, there was no escape. She collapsed to her knees and felt her eyes burning as tears wet her cheeks. What had happened to her life, what had she done to deserve this? A hand slipped over her mouth and she felt the adrenalin violently begin to pump again. “Don’t worry, it’s me, | work for the NIA and we'll get you out of here any moment, just wipe those tears from your eyes,” that whisper: she recognised ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT the voice. It was the woman. The woman was here to save her. “Follow my act: it’ll save your life.” Sydney slowly stood with the woman and took her hand as they went through the entrance. “Guys, I’d like you to meet my daughter, Sally, | finally convinced her to see where | work!” “Mom, | promised my friends I’d be at Sydney's party, can’t we please go!” she wasn’t sure that using her own name was such a good idea, but it was the only one she could think of. The woman shrugged at the officers and made a comment about teenagers, before walking out. Sydney felt safer than she’d felt before, but she knew she wasn’t completely off the hook. They still had to get out of the car park, and that was only the beginning of her problems. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT FOUR “For once I’m glad that someone’s patriotism didn’t over cloud their judgement, those spies could have destroyed the entire operation... they may have infiltrated our ranks, just as they did with this police station, so | can’t take you to headquarters. Is there anyone you can trust with your life... that isn’t in your diary? They've read everything from the start of this year and they won’t have problems with raiding everyone you know until they find you and yes, they have looked at every name on your phone and every number you've ever called,” the car cruised silently across the road as she pondered the impossible. Who could she trust that wasn’t in her diary? Who had she never called? There was no one, well almost no one. “You said: from the beginning of this year, right?” “Well, they knew that you would write about someone at least once every three months if they were important!” “Tom Rider!” The NIA agent just kept driving. “Don’t you want to know where he lives?” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT The agent simply smiled, “My controller heard you. We'll be there in an hour or so. In the meantime we need to get you a disguise, smile for the camera!” The car simply kept going as she turned around and began taking snapshots. “Your new identity will arrive sometime in the week, maybe Saturday. In the meantime, stay out of public view and keep a low profile, there’s a suitcase in the boot with some stuff for you to wear and a multi- wave cell phone, dial: 0#1#2#3#* to reach me on it. Remember to use it for nothing but emergencies!” * It was just after midnight by the time that they arrived at the house. The entire place was pitch black and Sydney didn’t know what on earth she could say, but the NIA agent simply told her to follow her around the back and try to get Tom through his window. With much effort, they slipped over the walls and quietly floated towards a fence that separated the driveway and front door from the garden. The agent took some kind of spray out of her pocket. As they crept through Tom’s garden, Sydney noticed slight movement in the bushes. Tom’s two dogs viciously appeared. The Agent froze for a moment, simply sprayed something at their noses. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT The dogs collapsed on the grass in front of them and they crept towards the bedroom windows. The agent surprisingly identified Tom’s bedroom in an instant and silently tapped on the window. The curtain flew open along with a blinding flashlight. “Who’s...Oh Sydney, what on earth are you doing in my garden!” he queried loudly. Sydney signalled for him to quiet down before signalling to the gate that protected the window from intruders. Tom was quick to unlock the obstacle and slid open the window. Sydney climbed inside and with a whisper attempted to explain. “Sid, I'll get my parents and we can...” but he couldn't finish the sentence before Sydney grabbed his arm and had urgently shaken her head a hundred times. “Okay Sid, have it your way, take my bed and I'll get a cushion and blanket and sleep on the floor.” The agent handed Sydney the suitcase and what looked like a business card before leaving. When everything was set up, Tom lay on the floor and asked one last question before uncomfortably falling asleep. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “Can you make sure | get up by four o’clock? | don’t know what my parents will say to girls sleeping in my room without their permission.” * The next morning, Tom had no trouble waking up and quickly took a shower. He finished his shower and headed back towards his room, then he realised that Sydney was in his room. In order to avoid embarrassment, he got dressed in the bathroom before going back to his guest. “So; how was my nice warm bed? Because next time; we can always swap!” “Don’t worry, tonight I'll take the floor; we can always take it in turns.” “Tonight; you mean this isn’t just a one night thing, am... am | insane.” “Please, | need somewhere to hide, at least until they stop looking for me?” “We'll talk tonight, just hide in the cupboard if anyone comes, I'll make an excuse for locking my door.” Tom threw her the key and signalled for her to lock before disappearing to get his breakfast. Tom eventually left. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais~ A LES! RINSTINGT In boredom, Sydney resorted to checking out his computer. She couldn’t have been prepared for what she found. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT FIVE Before leaving for school, Tom did what he’d been doing for almost an entire year, he checked his secret safe inside the house and took out a small yet deadly device. He’d protect her for now, but it all depended on his orders. If they wanted her dead, then he’d kill her. He quickly loaded the weapon with electric blue cylinders and stashed it into a secret pocket. A hoot boomed against the walls and he rushed off to his mother’s car. As he sat in the backseat of the car, he planned his friend’s destruction. The Pack came first. It always did. Sydney searched the screen for something interesting. She clicked on the start menu and began looking before inspiration struck her. Tom searched the building urgently. It was vital to the survival of the Pack that he found Jake. The pack needed to know. Faceless numbers of kids passed him as he searched. Some children greeted him, but he didn’t care. He’d always used his pack customized computer to inform ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT his masters. Today he couldn’t follow the habit in safety. Jake appeared in front of him and he sprang into action. “Hey Jake, please lend me your computer book, | couldn’t do my homework!” (Jake, | couldn’t report, | need your help!) “(m= sure you'll manage it yourself!” (What happened?) “Please, | had friends over.” (There were witnesses, it involves the pack!) “| didn’t hear about it.” (Who were they, are they hostile?) Tom rushed alongside with Jake, “You wouldn’t know them, but | really need your help with that work, l’ll get detention if | miss again!” (That’s what | need to find out, | may be compromised, that’s why | need your help, the priority is urgent) For a second, Jake’s face showed shock before he recovered again, “I'll find you at break, don’t do this to me again.” (I'll help, hope it isn’t too bad, is break too late) “Thanks, you’re the best!” (I'll be there) ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney was surprised at the program that appeared on the screen, but she suddenly felt very vulnerable, she’d been wrong to trust Tom. He was working for someone, what’s more, probably the people who wanted her life. She searched desperately for the key and found none. She kicked the door. Nothing happened. She was trapped. Tom worked easily in class, he’d been trained for this; he’d guessed his orders after talking to Jake at break and knew he could do it. All he needed was confirmation and it would be history. Sydney searched desperately, there had to be something. She looked at her watch and realised that she only had twenty minutes before school finished and she needed something to get her out of this. The computer beeped and some weird code began to appear on the screen along with a picture of some object that sent shivers up her spine, she just knew it was a weapon, probably what he’d use to kill her. Tom rushed out as the bell rang and eagerly climbed into his mother’s car. She couldn’t have escaped; this would be the easiest project ever. He felt for his favourite weapon and felt a switch click in his brain; he felt all emotion drain from himself as a calm, rational and cold, machine-like personality emerged. He was prepared to kill. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney heard the front door being opened. Footsteps slowly encroached on the passage; she knew her time was nearly up. Tom knocked on the door and heard frantic scrambling inside, maybe she knew. “Sid, it’s me, Tom. Open the door, | have some excellent news for you...Sid...Ok then Sid, I’m coming in with the spare key.” He silently fumbled for the key with the weapon in his hand, remembering the fundamental rules. He opened the door and stayed outside the room until he had a visual on his target, he took natural aim and prepared to fire. Sydney watched in horror as Tom aimed the pistol at her and signalled for her to back up. He went in, He closed the door behind him with his right foot. She felt herself shaking in horror as he pointed a weapon right at the centre of her forehead. To her relief, his cell phone rang, but he just smiled and used his left hand to reach for it while keeping the gun trained on her shivering body. “Make a sound and your family will die as well!” he whispered loudly before answering. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “You sure, well then I'll do it.” She felt a thousand thoughts rushing through her head: would he kill her, maybe he’d murder someone else as well. She still had to know one answer: why her! Tom hung up and tossed the phone to the side, “I've been told not to kill, but protect you, but if you move, there’s always self-defence, what do you know about the Syndicate, why do they want you dead?” “Dddd don’t know, police talked a lot about murder, woman who helped me was NIA... said they were infiltrated, not safe for me.” “Cell phone??” Sydney remembered the phone, why hadn’t she used it, she could have been safe. None of this would have happened. It was hidden right there, under the pillow. “She gave you one to talk to her, where is it.” She couldn’t trust him, she knew she couldn’t. “Did she tell you about project Wolf, about the pack?” 2 Mobile phone ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney silently shook her head and retreated some more, but Tom pulled a chair out of his desk and signalled violently for her to sit there. He began to lounge on his slightly made bed. As it dawned on her that he wasn’t going to kill her any more, she felt relief and joy above all else. Everything looked beautiful as she glanced around his room, noticing thousands of things she’d never seen before. This wasn’t the Tom she’d known, but she finally began to understand him. His plain and ordered desk held nothing but his computer, a small radio and a few things related to them, the small bookcase nearby was ordered to the extreme and hardly used. His room seemed almost untouched, unused. There were only two personal things she could see, a photograph of his friend, the one who had died a year ago and surprisingly, one of her. She couldn’t guess where he got it; they'd never been close enough for her to give him one. “In the old days, the enemy, the Nationalist government brought killing to the highest standard, then some factions of their people created the most unimaginable weapon ever, they created the perfect killer. Some people in the Struggle realized that they needed to stop those psychopaths, we, the Pack were created to combat them: it worked, but only just.” He paused, “They thought of us as super spies. They were wrong, the first ones, like our opposition, ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT went mad, it was just too much, too hard, before the pack concept was created. The idea saved the project, made the impossible possible through perfect co-operation. Wolf, that’s us, the good guys is still active, even though no one outside remembers, remember grade seven, when Alex died, that’s when they recruited me. We're the good guys here, let us help you, your life depends on it!” Sydney remembered grade seven, Tom had gone from a complex, and private individual to an even more distant person. That’s when their friendship had begun to fall apart, when Tom had slowly stopped talking to her. How could she have forgotten that boy’s death? It was so influential in her life. She slowly stood up and reached for her picture. Avoiding a sheepish look from Tom, she glanced down on it in her hand. At the back of the frame, she felt something, a piece of paper... a note? She slowly slipped it out from behind the frame and began to read. Nothing is clear anymore. Life is so different, I’m not sure about anything else, but | think I’m going to take them up on their offer, I’m going to take revenge for what has happened, then | can live again.. Sydney put the note on his desk and looked him in his eyes, “So, are you alive again, did it fix the hole, do you really want to be someone who would kill at the ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT flip of a coin?” she was playing him, fishing for answers, but he didn’t even seem to notice. “It’s not just the NIA, the pack was also infiltrated, they nearly got us to destroy ourselves; we don’t kill fourteen year old girls!” Was he incapable of talking about himself? His life probably completely revolved around his so called Pack! “You know what they accused me of, they said | killed someone, someone our age, they said | was the only lead, that | was the last person the killer called,” She needed to know what he knew. “Maybe, the victim was the one who called you, maybe he just trusted you the most, don’t dwell on that, it doesn’t work. Right now we just have to do what we need to and save your butt, if they got to our systems, then they'll have no trouble getting to us, we can’t stay here, they know where you are. We have to leave!” “Where can | go? There’s nowhere else!” Tom smiled grimly, “We'll get to that when the time comes. All we need to do now is get out of here alive!” Sydney nodded and they frantically began to pack. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT The room was full of secret draws and spaces and each had some or other gadget or disguise in it, and they soon had a lot more with them than she’d imagined could have been in one room. Tom finally sheathed the gun and picked his bag up “| just need to tell them that | managed to kill you before we leave,” she'd never expected to hear someone to say that, “It’ll buy us a few minutes time, | don’t know much about these guys, but they managed to infiltrate the most secure agency on the planet, so | want you to remember a phrase for me: trust no one!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT SIX Under his watch, the witness had left. Their only link to the murder had disappeared. The policeman looked bitterly around the interrogation room. The murder itself wasn’t important. The important thing was that it had gotten past. Since they'd installed the cameras, they’d managed to see every murder in the CBD. This one had somehow gotten through and except for the corpse; there was no evidence that anyone at all had been slain. He’d sent the tapes to the computer guys for analyses, but he couldn’t expect anything until a day or two. His most important evidence, the girl, had been stolen from him. He knew that the escape was an inside job. It bothered him. Usually they’d check to see who was absent at that time, but nine officers were absent that day and three of them weren't returning any calls. If it were the NIA where he usually worked, they’d know who the mole was. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Right now he needed outside support. He took out his battered old cell phone and began to search for the name. John Robinson: the kid who had hacked their database a while ago. If anyone could track down his lead, it would be John. The kid would do anything for the NIA; after all, they had an arrest warrant hanging over his head! In such a short period of time, Tom had been able to do quite a lot, somehow he had managed to formulate a plan, and get them what they needed. Sydney watched with amazement at Tom's machinelike frenzy. It gave her both hope of a way out and for some reason, an incurable feeling of dread in her stomach. After all, it had been his gun in her face, how could she not look at that as betrayal. As they were crawling through his window, the clouds seemed to cover the great city. It was as though it were telling her to watch out, to be on her guard. She could trust no one. The wind blew and the trees swayed. Sydney’s unease just continued to rise. What was she doing, she was going on the run with a murderer who didn’t give a thought for her life. She missed the old Tom; he would never have done this. That was the Tom she’d expected to find. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “Get in the car, if someone looks, act natural, whatever you do, don’t attract attention, if we escape, we can still beat these guys,” Tom looked at the bag and nearly shouted. How'd he forgotten, “Pass the clothes and everything she gave you, we need to divert their attention!” “Hey, she’s on our side!” Sydney didn’t know what to do. “From what | get, they were all dirty, she was acting, getting you to make a move, you don’t need to be a genius to get that, do you really trust her... you don’t even know her!” She took off her shoes and put them on the bag. She had no choice and did nothing when Tom grabbed it and through it in the back of the car. “Get in!” The aged yellow golf had few comforts and was exactly the opposite of what she wanted to drive in. She therefore looked nervously at her companion, “Please tell me you can drive this thing!” Tom silently turned the ignition and shifted the car into gear. They rattled down the suburban streets until they found an on-ramp, which they quickly took. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT On the highway, Tom adjusted his speed to get as close as possible to a nearby white open cab bakkie®. Sydney found herself making a decision. The phone and any way out of this were in that bag. If anything went wrong, she had no back door. Sydney leaned her head out the window and excitedly began to swing the bag back and forth. When she’d finally gathered enough momentum, she tossed the bag forward. It only just hit the volatile vehicle as it swerved onto an off-ramp. Sydney watched as her only other path was washed away by the stream of fate. She slowly began to concentrate on the task at hand. Once again, the vast city began to darken. The lone figure silently watched the streets as it longed for the moment to come; soon sirens would break the darkness, tonight murder would be committed. The omnipresent eyes scanned the murky streets below, looking endlessly for its victim. This would be easy. It stealthily spotted the worn yellow golf. Its prey had arrived. It secretly watched the two passengers moving. They were completely oblivious to his presence, but he 3 Pickup Truck ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT knew what to do. He knew them and their every move. They would not escape. He looked once again from his high perch, memorising his target’s motion. He had to kill the girl, the boy was as yet unimportant. The dull yellow glow of a streetlight flickered by as Tom cautiously stopped the car. This would be dangerous. Even so they had to do it. He silently steered the car to the place it had happened. As usual, the city made the hair at the back of his neck rise. “Remember, we're looking for anything that will hold DNA. Then | can get into the database and make a complete search. My guess is that he’s a phantom, probably a sleeper!” Sydney almost laughed, “Do | need a dictionary; English please!” Tom nodded, “| think our friend here is part of some group, probably a spy, which is why they couldn't find anything on him, and he probably hadn’t or was only recently activated!” “Like you, in other words, you sure this child spy thing isn’t violating child labour laws!” Sydney chimed in. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Tom ignored the comment and shook his head, “'ve been active from the day | left spy school. I’m just not a field operative, you see, | do most of my work with computers!” Sydney bent down slowly to check something, for some reason she didn’t feel safe, “Bring the torch over here!” She smiled, but it was almost out of relief. There it was, right in front of her, just like the video, he’d fallen, leaving her a couple of drops of blood. This would be easy!” Sydney signalled for Tom, he had to see this! The figure watched as his victims began to investigate the scene. He could feel their future scream as the bullet pierced their skin. The bright green world in front of him looked beautiful through his highly specialised scope. He could just feel the moment when he got his reward. Those kids wouldn’t make it through the night. He aimed for the girl. The girl came first; anyone else was just a bonus. Tonight his employers would be very pleased with him. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Tom rushed over to Sydney and shined his torch where she pointed. “You see what | see?” Sydney enquired quietly. Tom scooped the blood up and slipped it into a bag. This would do fine. “ll start the car so long, here’s the torch, check for anything else!” The Sniper slowly zoomed in on its prey. The girl was completely oblivious to her fate. He focussed all his attention on his target. He knew how valuable its DNA was, he had to kill her, but he needed to be just right. He could not afford for the code to be compromised. He focussed solely on her sleek brown hair, noticing the slightest movement. He slowly pushed his scope even closer. If he didn’t hit her in the exact right way, the code would be lost forever. Slowly, the assassin began to squeeze the trigger. Soon it would all be over. Tom turned the ignition and the car’s brights‘ flashed on, trust that fifteen year old tin can of an automobile to do that. * The bright lights used by a motor vehicle when not in crowded areas, providing better visibility. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Suddenly a searing crack broke the air and Sydney screeched as something scraped past her skin. Tom quickly opened the door as she collapsed in. He silently slammed his foot on the accelerator. That was too close. He’d almost lost her. “You alright?” he asked coldly as his training settled in. “That thing was way too close!” “Stay down; we’re going to a safe house. Then we can talk!” The silent creature glanced down at his escaping prey, that bright light had made him miss. They had been lucky so far, but they wouldn’t escape, no one ever had. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT SEVEN A beautiful, large but surprisingly simple house in the northern suburbs was far from what Sydney would have associated with a safe house, but Tom pulled the car through the front gate and into the garage® and quickly ferried her in. He scurried over to the control box and slid the garage door shut, before shielding the box with his body. “Tom, won't they know, won’t they search?” Tom simply smiled before placing his hand on a blue pad that had somehow appeared. He then calmly entered a code and said a word to the device and entered another code. The garage began to descend and when it stopped, a door silently opened in front of them, in unison with a grey slab covering the ceiling from view. A strange blue light seeped into the room from the opening and soon covered the garage and apparently two other vehicles on either side. 5 Where a car is kept ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “We're safe now. Hold the sample while | get the system ready!” Sydney silently held the translucent plastic bag as thoughts rushed through her head. This would be the first place they'd look. Tom rushed back and grabbed the bag with the blood from Sydney and scraped it into a container on the nearby table by multiple monitors and strange keyboards. The computers quickly analysed the sample and pulled up a file. “| knew it, he’s an agent... surprisingly one of ours,” Tom worked feverishly at the computer before letting out a soundless gasp, “Sid... Sid, its Alex... r-r- remember Alex, my friennnnd, my friend from grade seven, he was dead right? Sid... he was dead!” Sydney watched as the now pitiable boy broke down in front of her. This was a far cry from the ruthless and cold predator who had nearly taken her life. “Tom, it’s going to be alright, but right now we have to think about the present. I’m sure that your people have this place on a list somewhere and that it’s only a matter of time before they find us. What do we need to do?” Click. The rational Tom was back, “As a precaution of the Pack being compromised, all safe houses ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT disappear from the only computer with them on when occupied. It'll be very hard to find us. Now let me look at that wound!” Tom got Sydney to sit on a chair while he thoroughly examined her head. “There isn’t a mark!” Sydney gasped, “I wasn’t lying; that thing scraped my head!” Tom nodded knowingly, “You wouldn’t have escaped that thing without a scratch. | think | should take a sample, maybe it’s a symptom of the weapon, I'd like to take a blood test to see if there’s any poison!” Sydney nodded and offered her arm. He put the blood sample in a container and checked for poison, there appeared to be absolutely nothing wrong with her. “You're healthier than a textbook reading... maybe fate is on your side after all!” Sydney simply stared at the blood, trying to remember the ever elusive memory of what had happened, yet it was like a nightmare. She knew it was painful, but couldn’t remember the details. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT EIGHT The safe house was almost futuristic in its design. Every part of it was underground and according to Tom, it could easily withstand a nuclear explosion, yet it was somewhat homely. Sydney jumped out of bed and hurried to a miniature shooting range that Tom had shown her a while ago. Today she would learn how to fire a gun, but not just any gun, according to Tom, the weapon in question was the Lupus 54, which was more powerful than she could dream. In the shooting range, Tom showed her a weapon compact enough to fit into her handbag. It had no visible cartridge and looked very similar to the weapon Tom had pointed at her, except this one had what looked a bit like shark gills on the side. “Hey Sid, yours is on the table at the back, remember to take the safety off, and don’t wear the dark glasses till | say!” The training was hectic, but fun. The Lupus was much lighter than she expected and didn’t seem to know the rules when it came to backlash. To her amazement, the pathetically small weapon was a machine gun and had the usual three modes. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney aimed and felt amazement at the number of times she hit the target and after firing at least a hundred bullets had to ask how it managed to hold that much. “The gills take in and transform the carbon dioxide in the nearby atmosphere into carbon molecules, which in turn form the bullets. Only guns of the Lupus range, starting with the Lupus 45 can do that and only certain parts of the Pack can have them, | want you to keep this for as long as you live; now you can put on the sunglasses!” She had never fired a gun before, but the sunglasses had a device in them that made them work a bit like a sniper lens. With the glasses she began to shoot even further targets. Sydney took a break from the target shooting and Tom began to talk to her. “Every action of every human being can be traced back to three basic instincts; the Pack is so good because of this knowledge!” “What are... what are the... instincts?” “Ever read | Robot, the first two are almost the same as his laws. The first instinct is to protect your own survival at all costs. The second instinct is to insure your security of existence and quality of life, it in turn relies on the first instinct and on the survival of other people!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Tom went silent for a moment. “Well, you've got my attention now, so what’s the third instinct?” Sydney begged. “The third instinct is the unknown, when project: Combined Chameleon Works ended with the deaths or disappearance of all the scientists, it all came to an abrupt end!” “Does the third one really matter?” Tom nodded furiously, “The third instinct would allow us to find all the deepest secrets in the dark corners of your mind within ten minutes of observation. That’s why they reopened Chameleon Works with the project, to safeguard the secret!” “Chameleon works?” Sydney Clarifies. “Hiding a code or message in someone’s DNA, they used flu vaccinations to put five pages of a onetime pad system into five different people. Alex found out and faked his death. They still need the four other codes and you got one of them last year!” “They gonna kill me?” Tom nodded, ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “You can’t get it through samples, fear or anger disables it and drugs hide it. Only one neurotoxin can affect it. It results in instant death, but the code appears on the victim’s skin!” Sydney had been baffled by the new information, but refused to let Tom know that. The conversation hadn’t ended there, but she’d gotten the basic picture. A group of people called the Trust who wanted to control every political and business leader in the world and the internet using information and the influence of the Pack, had found the list of people who'd been used to safeguard the secret and how to get it out of them. The Trust had taken care of its first victim and now it needed the other four. Sydney was obviously next on the list. She lay on her bed, her arms wrapped around her knees. This shouldn’t have happened to her. This happened to messed up people. This should have happened to Tom. He was messed up enough for that. The second hand of the clock ticked away leisurely as she contemplated her weird fate. She’d be on the run for the rest of her life with a searcher that never tired and was always after her. Right now, the way the world worked more than confused her. The nearby phone rang. Tom had warned her not to answer it, but she was bored and felt like talking to someone else for once. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT She picked it up with no hesitation and listened to the voice on the other end. “Hello Sydney!” the voice was gruff and definitely not that of her new companion. “Who is this?” Once again, she felt the adrenalin pulse through her veins. “We have your family. Meet us on the far end of your school field and we'll exchange them for the code. Don’t bring lover boy along or we'll kill them!” The line went dead and Sydney knew what she had to do. They knew where she was, so she had no choice anyway, besides, what was the point in hiding for the rest of her miserable life with a psychopath like Tom. Lover boy, ha, what had he been telling them! As the clock ticked the last second of the hour away, she disappeared from the room and changed the course of the world forever. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT NINE Tom stealthily stalked Sydney as she snuck out of the safe house. The garage floor going up had alerted him to her escape. He’d hastily grabbed a nearby Lupus 54 and followed the stupid girl out. Sydney jumped into the car and drove her way out of the near fortress of a house. A fresh night breeze brushed against her face as she heard the endless crickets chirp. She felt an illusionary calm emerge in the darkness around her, broken only by the flickering of a nearby streetlight. Tears began to stream down her cheeks as the drive dragged on. She knew that at that moment she was about to betray someone who'd spared her life. Thunder crackled in some distant cloud and lightning lit up the sky as a drizzle began to smudge the road in front of her. The roads were virtually empty as her almost inadequate little car pushed towards the distant school. The drizzle grew steadily and suddenly burst into a heavy rain as she stopped at a glowing robot. The road ahead was impossible to see and the lights in front of her were blurred. She searched for the car’s WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT spotlights, but it was impossible to find them in the dreary light. The determined girl forged into the murk despite the impossibilities and desperately searched the invisible signs for a road she knew. A white blob of a car nearly hit her as she pushed towards the bright blue of a garage’. This was not what she’d been counting on. A red blurred out vehicle dutifully stalked her as she crept into the near shelter of the garage and with her face hidden in a sheet of water and darkness asked for directions. The garage attendant’ became confused as the second car came up behind her and asked where she was going, but the driver gave him a fifty rand note and he quickly forgot his objections. Tom thanked the attendant and took a bite of his chocolate before turning the car around and taking a shortcut to the school. The stupid girl was about to give herself and the code over to the Trust. Once in the right suburb, he easily powered through the thunderstorm and quickly found the school he was looking for. He found a spot to park at and waited 6 Petrol Station; USA G Station; 7 It is customary in the Republic for petrol to be put in a car by attendants hired by the owners of a Garage. Station; Filling Station; Fuel ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT for the other players in the game to show for their final match. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT TEN The marksman adjusted the rifle’s lens and slowly began to scan the obscure universe for his prey. It smiled at the thought of its last victim. One moment it had been more powerful than him, it had fought and nearly conquered him, but he’d found it and made a trap that it couldn’t escape. A violent flash of lightning lit up the unseen field and froze it in history as he silently searched the landscape for the vulnerable child. It knew she would show; all of them eventually did. A car’s lights slowly flashed as it sped past his field. He aimed directly at it, but the vehicle swerved away from his direct sight and he lost it. Soon, everything would be over and he’d attack the next target on the list. Sydney drove into the car park and stopped right next to the field. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck tingle as she sat there. She knew that she had to be calm and sloppily slid back against the much used seat. A sea of water pounded against the windshield of the small yellow golf as she helplessly gripped the steering wheel. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT She slowly began to ease her grip and felt her whole body slump back against the seat. She needed to think. Those people had tried to kill her, they hadn’t even asked her for the code and Tom had nearly done the same. If someone hadn’t rung him right at that moment, then she’d have been dead. She realized that no real friend would do that. No real friend would balance your life with a cause. Her stomach grumbled as she lay there. Had he been ordered to protect her, or the code? What if the Trust just wanted to destroy it for good? What if they were the real good guys? She looked out into s/a/e darkness, but it revealed nothing about itself or her inevitable decision. She had to stare her hardest to see even a metre in front of her. The worst storm in years had struck tonight; maybe she shouldn’t be doing this. As if in answer to her plea, an eternity of thunder exploded beyond her, shaking the very foundations of the Earth. The never-ending night elevated the sound, but blocked anything else. When she left the pitiful shelter of the car, she’d be blind deaf and dumb, she wouldn’t get anywhere. Despite every instinct in her body, she finally reached for the door handle and threw it open. Whatever happened next was out of her hands now. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT An iron weight of water pinned her down as she fought her way out of the shaky vehicle. She forced her way through the solid wall of rain, blinded by volley upon volley of lightning and deafened by the persistent thunder. She finally reached the grass, but simply slid onto her back. The mud seeped into her clothes and scraped her skin. She firmly remembered the day that had happened on this same field. She’d been so obsessed with hockey then that it had almost been a pleasant reminder for her to cool down. She couldn’t get up and simply lay there. Last time a hand had reached down to pull her up. Now there was no such help and her lungs began to burn as she tried to breathe in. The dark silhouette of a person flickered in front of her as the lightning showed itself again. She felt her heart pump a bit faster as it came near her and eventually stopped in front of her. “Sydney Wolf, what have you gotten yourself into?” Sydney felt her eyes burn as she tried to see who it was. “Sydney, it’s me, John Robinson, the only cool guy in the whole school!” Sydney choked as she tried to laugh, John was a character and had hacked the school computers so often that the principle had personally disconnected them from the net. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT John reached for her left hand and firmly pulled her up, “Now is not a good time to be here!” Sydney jogged to catch up with him, “Why? Why not?” She needed to find out what he knew. “Any decent hacker can tap a phone, add satellite pictures and a sleepover and we can find anyone. Next time the mob wants you dead, don’t call me, which goes for the Trust and Pack too!” “You know?” “Course | do, now | have to ask you: what did | tell you about people like Tom?” In just two minutes John had taken all the doubts from her head. “How's this involve you?” they were now nearing a grey van. “Binary Connection came over last Friday, when we heard about your being a fugitive and all, we just had to investigate!” somehow she felt as though that wasn’t the full story. The door slid open and the pair were met by a congregation of faces. “Conner, Ross, Joe and Tim, meet Sydney!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney glanced around herself in amusement, “You stole a van to rescue me?” “Nah, we got it from Joe’s dad a few years ago; they're into the whole autopilot thing, we helped to fix the bugs and they gave us our wheels, even got the computer a drivers licence!” Somehow it was a bit too hard to believe. Sydney looked at the screens that lined the walls and noticed quite a few things she’d seen before, including Alex’s corpse. It was on one of the computer screens. “The real police and the NIA are relatively interested in this case, they’ve been trying to track the Pack down for years this is such a cool mystery!” “The pack isn’t a secret intelligence agency?” “No! They like to get into people’s computers all the time though, obsessed about some kind of code; we just hope we can squash those bugs for messing with us!” Sydney felt semi confused, but things began to make sense, “Who are the Trust?” “Don’ know! But they take internet freedom very seriously, very secretive people, they trying to kill you, right!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “You heard of the third instinct?” John said nothing, but Ross piped up, “Only gossip, supposed to be the holy grail of mind control though!” Sydney thought for a moment before talking again, “That’s why they're after me; they think someone hid it in my DNA or something!” Tim nodded, “Though it busted my computer, we hacked their mainframe ages ago; they called it Chameleon Works or something like that, using genetics to hide a code. Of course the virus they sent me took care of whatever code | had left on my hard drive!” “So what can you tell me?” The five of them stared from makeshift chairs around her, making her feel like an animal at the zoo, but when they began to talk, their story was very interesting, but Ill tell it in book form to speed it up and because they didn’t tell her everything. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT ELEVEN John watched both monitors carefully. He had to get into Tim’s computer and retrieve the flag without being attacked himself. He knew that Conner wanted to beat him and would be striking at any moment. He quickly got through and retrieved the flag, one fifth of a code they'd created was his! He grinned as Tim left the table and moved back. Joe had already been taken off the list, so he went for Ross who was already under attack by Conner; he just managed to get the flag before attacking Conner. John won and the round ended, “What happened to the good old days when we played games like a normal clan?” Tim laughed, “That’s before we decided to hack the NIA mainframe, | mean, CIA’s easy, but those guys are pros!” John frowned nervously, “You guys sure about this, remember last time!” “We use our combined specialties and computer power; we can get in, check it out, and get out, easy, besides, unlike last time, we'll be in a moving vehicle!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT John gave in and they rushed out to the van. Binary connection had never found a site they couldn’t hack. Of course, the NIA was different, they could trace the impossible. They did the usual start-up process. John activated the Trojans they'd placed before the job and the group used their speciality to get into the most protected mainframe on the planet John watched as a specially designed OS appeared, (they'd obviously used it to scare off most hackers and fend off some viruses) it wasn’t at all like windows, but he saw definite similarities and realized that someone had simply mutated the windows code enough for a new OS to appear. Connor began to scan the database for anything interesting while Tim searched their computers for any sign of retaliation and Ross observed the system to avoid detection. After all, last time, they hadn’t made it out. “John! You see this?” Connor felt excitement rushing through his arteries. “What's her name is wanted by the NIA!” it was Ross. John rushed to Connor's side and clicked on the link while Conner began to read, “Sydney Wolf is believed to be on a hit list of a group we have identified as the Trust, although another ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT party known as the Pack (Ha! Ha! The NlA’s after the Pack, serves those people right) is also believed to be after her, both sides have interests in a code named the Third Instinct, part of a project called Chameleon Works (That again). Advice: further surveillance of the subject!” John forced his way onto the chair and began to search for more. He had to know what Sydney was up to. They soon read something about some kid called Alex who was killed by the Trust and another called Frank that... that someone else murdered, both were clean head shots and both resulted in instant death. An agent at the scene also recorded weird markings on both victims’ arms as well as the back of their necks. The more he read about the trouble Sydney had gotten herself into, the more he was convinced that they needed to save her. They stopped at a garage’ for petrol, but the wizened attendant? didn’t scream ghost and simply filled their tank. “Where's Sydney now?” John finally decided to ask, this was important and she had to know. * Petrol Station; USA Gi Station; * It is customary in the Republic for petrol to be put in a car by attendants hired by the owners of a Garage. Station; Filling Station; Fuel ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “You have her cell no?” Joe asked. John selected her name on his own phone and passed it to Joe who began typing furiously once again. “at home, but she’s going to the mall tonight!” John wasn’t surprised that Joe could find her schedule “We need to keep an eye on her!” It was Ross. John smiled at his friend’s support, “Thanks Ross!” “| didn’t do this for your crush, I’m just interested!” John ignored it, Ross never gave away much. At least they'd forgiven him for the last NIA hack. “CIA or whose satellites do we use?” “CIA, get the dish up!” John passed Joe a small key and watched him unlock a trap door. The group helped him onto the roof and passed up a satellite dish. Joe crawled against the roof of the moving van, always knowing that every move counted. If he made a mistake, he’d die. His shelter was a few feet away. He grabbed onto an invisible crevice. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT He quickly set up the dish and slid back into the van. The computer screens were showing thousands of pictures of their beautiful country by the time he was down again, that was the advantage of hacking the CIA, you could so easily find their satellites’ IP addresses. Ross quickly opened a tool that they called the de- randomiser. It copied some big company overseas by looking for the random dots that upset pictures and comparing them with the slides before and afterwards. Basically it zoomed in and allowed them to see an ant on the ground. John looked intently at his screen as he zoomed in on Sydney's house. She was getting into a car to go to the mall for movies. The rest of the night was boring until she got arrested and they found themselves tracking her to jail. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT TWELVE Sydney tried to get a clear view of the street through the granite waterfall surrounding them. She’d heard enough of their story for a lifetime and had told them so. Most of her friends would have taken offence, but John wasn’t that type. “So you aren’t part of any secret order or anything? John, answer me, are you?” “Ha, you think someone with my clearly superior skills would ever touch any kind of idiot’s system. I’m free and | like it!” “Wait a minute, we need to go back!” She couldn’t believe how she’d forgotten that, they had her family and she’d just sentenced them to death. “What now?” John clearly didn’t like what his ears where telling him. “| went there for an exchange: the code thing for my family... they'll kill them!” “Not without that code they won’t. Can they kill you and keep it?” “Only at a very specific angle or something... They can kill my family without losing anything!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT She didn’t have time for this. “Not if they lose the code!” She knew he was getting at something, but it just didn’t click. “They'll only lose it if | die and | don’t feel like doing that today!” This was getting irritating. “They don’t know that!” Suddenly she got it. “You want me to make death threats to myself, you sure this'll work?” John had laughed at that and quickly started telling her something about negotiation and power. He got no support from his friends who didn’t really want to blackmail a high-tech version of the Mob, but eventually the van skidded and made a quick U turn. The atmosphere had become slightly tense and the van was filled with static energy. The world was completely silent. The Thunder never stopped its barrage of the small vehicle and when John received a call, he’d struggled to hear the person on the other end. Despite Sydney's constant suggestions, he never used the loudspeaker and never told her or anyone else what it was about. Everyone in the relative calm of the sturdy vehicle had grim and sombre faces and no one attempted to lighten them up. They all knew how badly this ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT situation could affect all of their lives. You just didn’t bribe people like those; anyone with a quarter brain understood that. The van lost momentum and slipped into the school’s parking lot. The kidnapper had been expecting Sydney and the group hoped to surprise him. Tim had been scared that they'd snipe her like the other two victims, but the whirlpool of darkness and lightning would have blinded any aggressor. They switched off and left their ride. Sydney was thankful for the shielding umbrella above her head, but without the rain to pound her, her thoughts took the task to hand and put her through endless torture. Torture she couldn’t escape. John knew that he’d risked a lot and only hoped that the violent rage of the storm wouldn’t turn against them. He desperately wanted Sydney to survive and took her torment as his own. His only goal in life was to make her happy. The field was covered in a haze of water, but he still tried his hardest to find Sydney’s enemy. He wanted to hit him until he begged for mercy and then he hoped to knock him out. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney urgently rushed to the centre of the field. It was vital for them to see her. Otherwise all was lost and her family would die. The wind gushed against her damp skin, freezing every part of her. This was it. Now she would defeat those monsters or crumble at their feet. Now, it was the time to fight and this time she’d win. A masked figure appeared in the rain in front of her and pointed a firearm at her forehead before even making a sound. “Your family is safe at home, | tricked you and now you will die!” “If you kill me, you will lose the code forever!” The cold monster simply stood there. It was as though it simply didn’t care or comprehend what she said. “Hello, are you listening to me?” Still! No response. She noticed a shadow behind him. It was a thin and tall man; Too thin to be John; Taller than any of her saviours and Tom for that matter. Lightning scorched the air. “Who’s...? Who’s there?” Fear misted over her once courageous soul, “Tell me who you are!” ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT She stumbled backwards as she heard a slight scraping sound. As the neon flashed again, she saw her reflection on his bone white knife. Death was in the air. The knife glowed with subtle evil. Like a blade grazing the hair off your scalp. Tonight someone would leave the world forever. The unknown assassin slipped the point under the man’s neck. Like a snake the knife coiled up and struck. There was supernatural silence as the man fell to the ground. A rainbow of colours swirled as the antagonist faced her. She glared past the shield of rain and dark, but an unbreakable murk blocked his face. Right now, there were only two options, fight or flight, yet she couldn't try to succeed in either. Her rival would make her lose no matter what she tried. The vicious serpent clutched her wrist. The omnipresent blade floated upward, reaching for her existence, trying to snatch it away from her. It stopped. She knew she wasn’t safe, but she wasn’t in heaven either. The needlepoint of the evil weapon scraped the outer layer of her skin. “Every question has unlimited answers. Every action changes the world. Everything we do has an effect. Human beings are a scourge. Destroying everything in ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT creation; including ourselves... How do you know that your survival won’t do more bad than good? Why do you think you matter so much?” Sydney realised something. She knew she had to answer. If she didn’t, then the script of her life would end here. “Answer me, pathetic loser; answer or face the consequences!” “| matter to you; that’s the thing about it, you need me!” The beast ignored her completely. “Ha, you aren’t so scary are you, just an idiot taking orders. | bet you don’t even know the truth!” “What makes you think you do?” with a single sentence, her nemesis simply vanished. The silence scorned her. The storm took on new fury as it pushed her back to her self-proclaimed shelter. Nothing gave protection from her thoughts. The van sounded like an out of tune radio as the water bombarded it. She could relate. She’d been attacked in the dark and she knew that only her core would survive the storm that had come. She had no help. She could trust no one. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT The thunder shook the skies and the onslaught itself continued. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT THIRTEEN Darkness shattered. Life stood still. A moment rippled through time as the sound of fire moulded the course of destiny. A heartless figure watched as the snow melted around the inferno. He had struck a critical blow to an invisible enemy. Now, he let them try to endure. Deafening sirens broke the air itself as the light cut through his sanctuary. He had to escape. He stuffed a small rucksack and began to slip away with cat-like secrecy. The fate of freedom rested on his shoulders alone. Three of tyranny’s strongholds were now destroyed. Only one was left untouched. The future held its breath as he scrambled into the nearby forest. The universe would stop at nothing less than his complete destruction. Even the slush below his feet apposed his sacred mission. A vein of destruction followed him, through a wasted life. His heart surged as he fled. A cage of trees haunted him as the world tried to stop his escape. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT A small red bird sounded the alarm and the frightened animals swept away. The silence roared at the unwelcome intruder. Dawn swept through the skies in the most unapologetic way, taunting him to collapse. For those who work in darkness, light in a most undesirable foe. He did not enjoy the way it penetrated his shield and left him open to the savage wolves of creation. His burrow was far from sight. He hardly glanced at the small colourful paper he grasped in his hand. He needed no map to lead him where he needed to go. The woods thickened ahead of the fugitive in a lifeless strangle. The golden clouds swirled above as they schemed against him. The veil of trees cleared for a moment as a small dirt toad appeared. This was what he’d been waiting for. The hiker followed the path for about half a mile. He vigorously scanned the forest to his left. It had to be somewhere here. He’d parked it himself, but the day changed what he had perceived the night before. He stopped and locked onto a mound of leaves and broken foliage. It looked almost exactly like the natural camouflage he’d piled onto his transportation in the faint moonlight. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT In a casual effort that took about an hour, he slowly cleared the green mask off his prized Land Rover and gave it a quick wipe down, before climbing in and getting down to business. He opened his laptop and did what was needed. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT FOURTEEN “So, what do we do now?” Sydney was desperate, but refused to show it. “Well, someone wants to kill you for a code, right!” “Yeah, but that doesn’t help much!” “We do what any smart person would, find it!” Everyone stared at John, who'd collapsed onto his nearby bed. “The code would be something unnatural, it wouldn’t look normal, we need to put what we know together and come to a conclusion. Then we act!” The group agreed and Sydney groaned at the realization that they were turning her issues into a get together. It was like a bad movie. The pathetic group; Sydney rose angrily from her chair as the thunder cratered through the skies ahead. As lightning flashed and the rain threatened to break through their shelter; she thought of bursting into a tantrum or something. The rain began to soften into a constant pounding and calm began to enter the world as the rain came ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT back under control. Sydney stood calmly and with an almost superhuman silence, she began to gaze pleadingly at John. Getting the more than obvious hint, John quickly motioned for silence, before rising himself, “Guys, why don’t you try finding something more on the solution” He looked at everyone and began to speak, “Get on the internet and try some research, maybe there’s something we missed!” The room emptied in moments, but for some reason, Ross had stayed behind. He stood almost protectively next to John, like a loyal friend, or a dog standing by his injured master. Something in Ross seemed to be holding him back. Deep inside him, something was pulling him, keeping him within the room. John looked pleadingly at Sydney and waited for her permission. Ross knew he couldn’t stay unless Sydney allowed him to, but he still kept his attention on John instead. It was almost as if he were waiting at attention. Guarding John from this strange girl he had somehow managed to pick up. John nodded persuasively and Ross left the room. He was left alone in his shelter with Sydney. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney pulled his arm but it was her eyes that ordered him. They sat on the bed together as Sydney bent over and began to cry. Somehow the rain separated them from the world outside. Somehow, it made her feel safe in here, with her own personal protector to guard her. Here she could weep and slowly begin to heal. A slight break settled in the storm outside as the clouds temporarily ran out of tears. Sydney simply sat there and thought. She had to do something. There had to be some way out of it, but it wasn’t her puzzle to make. Her mind raced, and then slowed down as she slowly went through a loop in the tracks. She had no control over her life. She had only one choice, the choice everyone in life is always given. She could try to steer the perfect storm and impossibly attempt to stay upright as the tsunami passed or she could trust God, pray and hope things would turn out right. John looked at Sydney and watched the fight inside her eyes. Eventually, he opened his mouth and tried to say something, but no words came out. Only she could break her own silence. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney looked at him pleadingly and made her request. She asked him to do something that neither of them had done in what they both knew was more than ages. She asked him to pray. Somewhere inside her it registered. Right now, her actions were proving the first two instincts wrong. Somewhere deep inside, she wondered what the third instinct would be, But that same place already knew. Through the window, the storm regained its energy, it threatened and danced in front of them as it effortlessly invited them out. Soon, it would attack them again; all it needed to do was to wait. Then the opportunity came, as the doorbell rang and a moment later, the bedroom door was opened and along with the group of eager looking boys, stood a man. Lightning cracked the sky as John looked furiously at the intruder and quickly hid Sydney from the man’s view. Somehow, he had to protect her from the unknown, even if he had to face it on his own. It took a while for anyone to speak, but eventually Tim smiled nervously and tried to regain his balance and he explained who the man was. Apparently he could help them. He “knew” Alex and where to find the third instinct. He even pretended to have talked to him about Sydney. Sydney looked cautiously at the creature in front of her and leaned close to John’s protection as she spoke. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “So I’m just somewhat meant to trust you! Ha, after everything that’s happened, you expect me to trust you. I’m better off if | trust No One.” Sydney didn’t even realise her quote or its irony. The man looked at her curiously, as though fascinated by her apparent drunkenness. He wanted to laugh at the irony in her words and at her ignorance, but she was right: he was a stranger and her trust had only been abused so far. “Don’t trust me, but listen to what | have to say!” The adult looked almost like an infant in front of them, “The Trust and the Pack are misled in thinking that they need to kill five people to get the secrets in the code. In fact, all they need is one carrier, and killing them only destroys the code. However, there is a machine that can read the samples. All you need is a simple test and it'll give you the answer. Only Sydney can unlock the code. Chameleon works chose her as their one time pad. If you get her to the machine, it'll extract the code, get the sample out of her system and it'll tell us the third instinct. | know, | worked in Chameleon works. | helped design the system. The entrance to the centre is in an alleyway two blocks down from where Alex was found. Don’t you remember?” Sydney refused to answer. Deep inside her, a memory was beginning to strain, but for some reason she didn’t want it to surface. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT FIFTEEN Sydney found herself in a car again. It was a small red Toyota with a heavily customized interior, the seats were dyed a contradictory blue and it was almost as though the car was meant to stand out. The vehicle was the exact opposite of the man who owned it. The man glanced only slightly at the rear view mirrors as he reversed out of the driveway. The way he hunched over, somewhat created a_ pitiable impression of the stranger, but his eyes and harsh expressions told a different story. His name, well, he’d neglected to tell them much. They were just to call him V, whatever that meant. He only made her nervous and the arguing clouds above didn’t help either as they turned their furious anger on the earth once more. At least John and Ross were in the car with her. The rest had suddenly decided that they needed more sleep. She knew it was an excuse, but left them to themselves. They pulled off into the spray and it engulfed them along with their silent predators. The group hardly talked as they followed the darkened road right back into the thick of things. They were all too immersed in the hope that existence would become bearable again. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT All Sydney had to go on was an overwhelming sensation in her stomach. In her heart she knew she was right. She couldn’t trust V, but the world was on her side. She’d make it through. She quietly prayed again, before summoning her strength. She needed to put on a brave face and become it. The Toyota skidded as V (the stranger) did sharp U turn and slid nervously onto an onramp. The horizon lightened early as dawn began to become a reality. Who would own it all depended on what happened now. Still they hardly saw a metre in front of them in an unnaturally long night. Bang. The sound hid in the thunder. Bang. Asecond shot rang out. Bang. V shuddered violently as the bullet effortlessly struck his shoulder. Bang. The car tipped and rolled off the road as both tyres on the right end burst. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Sydney felt consciousness flicker within her mind as she was lifelessly thrust from her seat and into the roof of the painfully small car. Her shelter shattered, rain forced itself into her world. Like drops upon the ocean, her tears may as well not have been there. She slipped into concussion once again, but something drew her back. Something made her cling onto life with her last illusion strength. She had to help her “friends”. She couldn’t let them die here. Her strength returned. She felt V’s pulse. He was alive, though with every second he lost more blood. He hung dangerously against the thin black seatbelt. It was his last hope. “Leave us, I'll call an ambulance!” behind her a voice whispered, though she could hardly place it. It was John’s friend, but who was John. “Sydney, you and John have to leave, we can get help, but as long as you’re with us, we'll be in danger. Leave, it’s you they’re looking for!” Ross... wasn’t it, was that his name. Sydney smiled knowingly, he was right, she didn’t like what he said, but he was right. Sydney forced her way through the window and began to run. She knew she had to. She had to save V, she had to save Ross. She had to save John, they WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT weren't safe around her. Ahead, a light lay, blurred against the dark world. She would save them. John scolded Ross, he was right, but he shouldn’t have voiced it. Ross shook his head in innocence and picked up his cell phone. All that mattered to him right now was that V lived. Everything seemed fine in the car. Ross would take care of things. John left and ran after Sydney. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT SIXTEEN John couldn’t see Sydney in the dark, but intuition told him that she’d head towards the light, and that’s where he followed her to. He was getting a new appreciation of petrol stations. The yellow light ahead of him drew him on, though he'd lost all other sense of direction. How he saw it, he didn’t know, but still, he followed the light. It was all he could do. He didn’t know what to do next, but that didn’t matter to him. When he got there he’d decide. For now he was just following the light, and nothing else mattered. Below his feet, the land slipped and sent him tumbling, but catching Sydney and the light were more important to him. He scrambled to his feet and forced his knees to carry him further, even through the mud. Soon, he was right under the light. Soon, he'd reached his lifelong destination. Waves turned the edges of the roof into walls. Water fought him ankle deep. The garage!” was deserted, but he was safe. 1 Petrol Station; USA Gas Station; Filling Station; Fuel Station; ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT He looked furiously left and right, she had to be here. It was his only hope. He felt his stomach turn. Everything darkened slightly, but then she was there. Sydney smiled mysteriously, “glad you could make it stranger, what brings you here?” “VY needs an ambulance. Ross looked okay, but...” he didn’t finish as she silently put her finger to her lips. Outside, trumpets could blow and not be heard, but here, silence was louder. “It’s already on its way. | just talked to the hospital. They'll all be fine. If you want, you can go home now!” John felt confused. He couldn't leave her, not now. He wouldn’t leave her when she needed him most. Sydney stared into him. Her eyes hid some unknown enigma. Everything would be fine, but only she knew how, if she even did. Behind her, a masked figure stood. It was their enemy, the monster who was hunting them. John desperately tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen. She spoke, and he had to shut up. “He’s the one who shot Alex, and V,” Sydney’s face hid something, “Those monsters can’t stop the ambulance, it’s already nearly there. They'll be alright.” “But... Sid... what... about... you?” asked John. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “| can’t expect you to do this with me. If you leave now, they have no need to go after you. Leave, you'll be fine.” The words sunk against the stale air. They wouldn’t be followed. His decision made, there was no point in resistance. John and Sydney were quickly surrounded by five other men and the pair was escorted into a suspicious grey tinted van. There was a slight thump as an unnaturally powerful lock secured the door and the two were left alone. “You should have gone!” Sydney was on the verge of tears, “I care too much about you!” John laughed nervously, “Would you?” “I'm safe now,” Sydney assured him, “I've been safe since our conversation in the room. Trust me, we’re in powerful hands, ‘sides, | think | know what the instinct is!” Somehow he wished he could feel as sure of things as she did. “Do they know what V told us?” Sydney nodded in response, “are we going to the machine?” The answer was obvious. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT SEVENTEEN The vehicle rocked forward and flung the pair against the back in a desperate pileup. John bit his tongue and felt pain spread through his every organ. Time was non-existent in their hidden prison, but it already felt like it was long past morning. John reached out desperately into the nothingness and anxiously found Sydney. She gave an unnerving quiver and the two sat there in oblivious calm. The ride went on. Crushed against the heavy steel doors, Sydney felt the van speed up again. She never usually got car sick, but when you can’t see ahead of you, you have no way of knowing what will happen. Every bump sent her rolling in another direction. She was on a ride she couldn’t control. There was no way to predict the next turn of their monstrous container and they both flinched at every sound. She wished she had brought some kind of light. Maybe if she’d secured herself. Prepared for what she knew would have to come. Light penetrated slightly through the crack in the door. Once again, life stood in and answered her silent plea. She secured herself. Sydney sat against the enclosure’s right corner and used her feet as an anchor. She couldn’t predict the ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT ride; all she could do was hold on and enjoy the drive, and trust the car to stay on the road. It was better that way. The car stopped. Sydney looked around, unaware of what had changed. The lock clicked. A sliver of light slipped into her world, before filling the entire van. The leader of the group, the man who had assassinated Alex stood in front of her. A cruel smile greeted them as he signalled for them to leave the van. Sydney sensed something wrong. She’d felt that feeling twice before, both times, she’d ignored it. Both times, she’d only just survived. Sydney scanned carefully for the threat. It had to be somewhere above them. Somewhere close. Glass flashed against the dusk. It was a sniper’s lens, but in her very core she knew where its owner would shoot. If she didn’t act, her captor would die. Sydney made her choice. She lunged at him and saved his life. A shot went off and fell harmlessly to the sidewalk below. The Assassin looked through her eyes. Without a word a connection was made. She’d saved his life. He was grateful and one day, he’d repay the favour. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT EIGHTEEN They only looked at each other for a moment before one of the men reached down and powerfully yanked her off of the man whose life she’d just saved. For a moment she forgot the connection and the leader of the band quickly hid it from his inferiors. Using the van as a cover, the group quickly rushed towards the nearby building. Sydney rushed into the organised stampede. She momentarily lost focus on John, who stood weakly by her, then she realised, standing was the wrong word for his frantic rush at her side. Nearby, the familiar sight of a streetlight greeted them and they hastily rushed into a dark tunnel of an alley. The grey walls of the nearby buildings were stained heavily with damp. Altogether, it didn’t look like a very nice place, but something was different from before. This time, Sydney was safe. They slowly opened two brown steel gates and pushed their way towards a well-kept wooden door. It was contrast to the outside; it was something from sanity in an insane world. It made her feel safe. It reminded her of home. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT They gradually strolled inside and carelessly explored a long and calming, well lit tunnel that Sydney hoped wouldn’t disappoint her trust. Yet, even if it did, she’d be alright. She’d make it. On the right hand side of the corridor, there was a second kindly wooden door. It could have been in a comfortable home if not for the discreetly efficient pad next to it. Sydney didn’t trust the corridor, but she knew that it didn’t have the power to hurt her. She believed that bad people only have what power we give them over us, even if we aren’t given a choice. Instinct told her that there’s always a way out of every situation. It’s one of life’s guarantees to all who are still alive to use it, although many people wait for the perfect moment, instead of taking what’s given to them and because of that, they never turn around. The head of their kidnappers quickly nodded his head and the man closest to the girl, grabbed her hand and forced it against the pad. A warm, but unwelcome beam glowed below the palm of her hand as light went through it. The feeling drowned her entire body in an uncontrollable heat as it forced its way through her every defence. It stopped and she got the feeling that she’d been washed with an industrial strength cleansing product. For some reason, her headache was gone. There was a beeping sound and the door opened. arc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “Everyone, follow me in, girl, stay outside, or we'll all die, the code’s just been removed from you!” Sydney watched as they all entered through the unnaturally homely door. It clicked as it locked behind them. WE (Marc Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT NINETEEN The room was bare and empty, only the television screen on the right hand wall could pretend to be normal. Despite the bareness, John felt claustrophobic. The other occupants of the room just had that effect on him. He stood nervously at the side and waited for something to happen. The TV snapped to life. On the screen appeared a man. The man shook out of fear as he spoke. Effort forced his eyes to concentrate. His eyebrows became horrible lines as he spoke through his own whimpers. “We thought that the two instincts of human nature defined man. Because of them, we could know everything about everyone, and foretell their acts perfectly. They were absolutely predictable. Bit by bit, they went through life, sowing their own destruction as they fell further into the instincts’ grasp and made bigger and bigger mistakes. With the first two instincts, we thought we could conquer the world, and even the minds of those we enslaved. If people follow them, they are easy for us to control. We could manipulate even their cores.” John felt his heart pulse with horror at the boldly sick, utterly disgusting statement. It sent shivers down his ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT spine. Worst of all, his mind began to think, he wondered if he followed the “instincts”. Contorted, the madman spoke again. His words echoed through the room, “There was only one result. Death, after a sad and worthless life, and that should have been it.” John didn’t notice how nervous the man had become, or how agitated he was as he fidgeted before he could speak again. John was too busy trying to close his ears to stop the terrible words, but there was no point. He’d simply be doing what “they” wanted, besides, information couldn't hurt you, it's what you do with it that really matters. “That should have been it, but it wasn’t. There was a loop, something that allowed some people to escape the instincts and their fate. Their path is hard to find, but even harder to forget. Once they're free, they seldom go back.” The man took a breath before going on, “We were told to find this, to validate the third instinct, and to use it to make the formula work with even those who had it.” There was an unnatural pause as he prepared himself for his own words. Everyone in the room waited, captured in curiosity. “We found the instinct, but we failed. It isn’t just another factor in the formula, it is what frees people from the instincts and the downward spiral, people either follow the first two instincts with small parts of ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT the third, or they follow the Third, influenced slightly by the others. Those who follow the Third Instinct cannot be conquered. They are not easy to predict.” The silence applauded the madness. With driven eyes, the soldiers nearby listened. “There isn’t an English word that | know of that fully encompasses the instinct, but there is a two thousand year old Greek word that describes it,” The scientist paused dramatically for effect, “The best translation there is of it is one of the most common words in the world today, yet luckily for our purposes, most people simply ignore it. The third instinct is: Love.” John wanted to laugh, they’d all come here in the middle of the biggest storm ever, to hear something so obvious it didn’t even need to be said, but then he thought of it, he realised. Love was one of the most unusual things for anyone to do. It was simple, but actually following it could be one of the hardest things to do. It was simple, but it was vital to life itself. It was the only thing that made him free. With it, he had his mind to himself. “This of course, isn’t the small version of love the same text we translated it from, best describes it. To love is to have empathy, to be patient, to be kind. It is not to be envious, or self-seeking, it is to not boast or be proud and rude, it keeps no records of wrongs, isn’t easily angered, it is happy to hear the truth, to trust those worthy of trust, to protect, hope and persevere, but most of all, in its most extreme form, it ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT is to be prepared to lose your own life for those you love.” There was something familiar about the third instinct, why did it make him think of Sydney, since the car crash. “L think it is pretty obvious that its very nature destroys any power we have over people who follow it. Our studies also found that they will live much longer, happier lives than those who don’t follow it.” The power flashed out for a second. The television went black. Within meters of them, it exploded. The assassin nodded at the boy and he left the room. Behind him voices were raised as the soldiers realised that they'd failed and could well reap the results. John closed the door quietly behind him and strolled leisurely towards his favourite person in the world. She'd waited for him and now, they'd leave together. He reached for her hand as they walked out together. At the end of the tunnel, the sun had begun to rise. A rainbow of warmth entered the corridor as they walked, shaking with enthusiasm, Sydney begged him for an answer. “So, what's the Third instinct?” John smiled and squeezed her hand slightly, he could tell her everything he’d heard, he could define the ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT word itself, but instead, a single sound did the job as he whispered the answer, “Love!” is the Third Instinct, he answered. They got to the end of the corridor and walked into the breaking dawn. The storm clouds were clearing and the air felt cleansed under the aftermath of the storm. It had seemed scary at the time, yet they’d been safe all along. They’d been safe since the moment they'd talked in John’s room. All the storm had power to do was make flashes and lots of noise. The real power lay in their hands. Sydney knew the truth, there was always a way to do the right thing and survive, all you had to do was make the choice. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT TWENTY Tom watched from his high vantage point as the two children left the alleyway. They held hands as they danced into the open air. He took his own hand from the rifle as they passed and watched harmlessly through the lens. They were no threat to him, besides, he liked the girl. Sydney was a great person. He let them go. Fifteen minutes later it happened. He’d been waiting for ages and when his target finally emerged, he was irritated. He felt protected in the dark room he'd chosen. He couldn’t be seen as he did what he thought he had to. The instinct had been found. He was here to kill his mark. The Pack hadn’t sent him, but he knew they had to agree with him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a familiar thought emerged. What you reap is what you sow, it was only a thought, and what difference did it make? ... Still, he didn’t like it. If he killed the assassin below, he’d make an enemy of his sponsors. The Trust and the Pack would come after him. The Pack already would want him dead. What good did his thoughts do him anyway, yet they echoed and repeated in his mind. Again, the phrase beat within his head. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT “You can leave this hard life! Stop killing” He muttered his thoughts, as his eyes returned to the narrow view of the sniper’s lens. He picked out his target below, tightening his grip on the gun. “You don’t have to!” a voice pleaded inside his head, he opened his mouth to repeat its words. He told himself that it didn’t matter what he thought, even as he talked to himself. It was only a thought, an idea. He knew that if he pulled the trigger, he’d reap what he sowed, but there was still chance to change. To walk away unhurt, reaping none of his past, none of his bad actions. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT TWENTY-ONE He moved his eye from the deadly lens and wondered another maddening thought aloud, “I can survive without hurting anyone!” He heard his own words and in his desperate confusion, wondered again. The sky was tainted orange and red, the skies themselves saluted his objective, but he aimed again. It was now he realised, the choice was his. He had to decide or he never would again. With a single sentence he altered history as in a whisper, he told the empty silence of his choice. “i'll change!” Though, hardly an eye could see it. In the distance a streetlight flickered and light entered the clouds. A single thought became a word, a word that could change the world itself. And then there was change. ME (Mare Evan) Aupiais- A LESSER INSTINCT Legal All persons: juristic and natural, organizations, associations, Characters, Places and other parts of this book are either figments of the author's imaging, and fictional, or used fictitiously. No resemblance or reference to any persons legal or natural, living or dead o to associations of people, or movements of any sort is intended in this work, This is purely a work of fiction, and no resemblance is intended or should be read into this fictional work. ‘The contents and the cover, and all creative and other works in this novel are copyrighted to Mare Evan Aupiais. All Rights Are Reserved! Mare Evan Aupiais asserts his right to be known as the author of this work.