The air runner glides through the air as if nothing at all has happened to it.
"She’s runnin’ as good as ever. Looks like you might know your way around a tool bag," Wil looks back at me a gives me a smirk waiting for my response.
"Did you ever doubt me?"
I give him a whack on the shoulder. The testing site comes into view and my heart skips a beat. The air runner slows then stops.
I hop off and say, "Good luck. You don't need it when you got skill like that."
He shakes his head and runs his hand through his dark mop of hair then looks down at the ground. "I told ya. I ain't doin' it."
"Wil, don't be stupid. Just go. You aren't meant for this place. And-" I close my eyes breath out an audible breath then continue, "I don't love you. I mean you're the best friend I've ever had and all. And don't get me wrong the other stuff was super fun, but I don't love you. If you stay here, we're going to end up together by default. You'll always wonder what could've been and resent me forever."
He shakes his head. "No, I won't."
I start to retort, but a familiar sound catches my ear. "Wil, it's them. We need to-"
"I don't care. We're gonna talk this through."
Before I can respond a searing pain runs through my shoulder. I put my hand to my shoulder and see crimson on my fingers. Wil's eyes go wide and before I have time to react he tosses me on the air runner and we're gliding through the air.
"Just hang on. I'll get you to a medic," he bellows.
As I'm about to answer our air runner is jolted by another shot.
I grit my teeth through the pain. "You need to get to the course. It hurts like blue blazes, but I ain't gonna die. We need to get to that course with the law there else we're both gonna be dead."
"Damn pigheaded woman," Wil mutters as coerces the air runner forward.
Within minutes we're at the course with the goons closing in.
A computerized voice chimes, "Welcome, Wil Bartstow, your time starts now."
He doesn't even slow to confirm his entry or let me off, he just blasts right through. Wil tears through all the obstacles one by one, like they weren't even there. I look behind me and three of my momma's goons are on our tail. Behind them is a hoard of Consortium Agents with their sirens blaring.
I look ahead and the finish line is within arm's reach. "I think we're going to -"
Before I can finish, the world around me starts to spin and the air is knocked out of my lungs as we slam to ground. The sound of metal crunching and grinding fills the air. In the distance I see the air runner in flames. I can't see Wil, but I can see a massive shadowy figure getting off another air runner. I try to get away from him, but I'm still too disoriented.
Above me the same shadowy figure scoffs, "Gotcha now. I'm takin' you in to your momma, but not before I kill your boyfriend."
A shot rings out through the air. The shadowy man topples to the ground and I'm face to face with bearded man. Soon my world comes into focus and I'm greeted by the familiar disarming smile on his white face.
"C'mon, darlin'. We need to get ya to the medic."
Tears pour out of my eyes. "You didn't even get to finish. It's not fair. We're just meters from the finish line. You have to have another chance."
Wil sits next to me and puts his arm around me then kisses the top of my head. "It wasn't meant to be," I start to protest but he stops me. "Hush, we tried and I'll always appreciate that you believed in me. Now, c'mon let's get you out of here."
As he helps me up, Consortium Agents in their blue and silver uniforms surround us. A tall woman with her black hair tied up in a bun asks, "Are you okay?"
Before I'm able to answer, Corliss comes barreling through, "What in the hell is goin' on?"
The agent answers, "Who are you?"
"I'm her momma." Corliss turns to me. "Have you gone and lost your fool mind? Takin' my air runner? I have a mind to-"
The agent sidles up Corliss and a smirk appears. "Ma'am, we're gonna need to talk to you about all the Spike we found in those air runners. We've been looking for this shipment for a while."
The agent leads her away and Wil chuckles, "Finally, your momma's gonna get her due."
I shake my head. "I wouldn't bet on that. She has all the magistrates paid off."
We start to walk off again, but another agent stops us. Wil sighs, "Sir, I need to get my girlfriend some medical attention. I'll answer any questions you have after that."
"I appreciate that, but that's not what I came over here for. That was a hell of course you ran. I'm here to offer you a spot in the Agency. We can talk later," he shakes Wil's hand and adds, "Congratulations, son. We're glad to have you."