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Pink screamed as she plunged into the thick mist, falling to the ground.

I gasped and ran toward her. She dropped right in my outstretched arms, nearly breaking my waist in half and ripping my arms from their sockets. How the hell did actors make it look so easy? Why couldn’t real magic be like movie magic sometimes? Even though my face contorted in a grimace, I didn’t drop her. With a big breath, I stood up straight.

Pink’s eyes were closed and, though she was safe, she continued screaming like she was dying. As soon as I’d grabbed her, she thrashed violently, put more effort into her scream, and her face began turning purple. Did she think I was a Velociorhea?

My sensitive ears rang painfully. “Please, stop screaming.”

She jerked and froze. Her eyes popped open and she gasped like fish, staring at the mist around her and then towards me. “Wha— Wha— Huh?” She reached out and touched my arms, shoulder, neck, and face. “What?”

Oh, right, I still had Stealth activated. She couldn’t visibly see me even though she could feel me. From her perspective, she was being held by an invisible person. Man, I just took the Josu Ghost a step further, didn’t I?

“Ah, could you not touch my face?” I asked and shook her fingers away from my nose. “It’s a little awkward.”

She gasped and tucked her hands into her chest. “Oh, yes! I’m so sorry, Ma’am. That was so rude of me.” She blinked at me with big gray eyes.

She’s really good at selling cute, isn’t she? And I was such a sucker Big-Sis-type that I fell for every ‘little sister’ person I saw. Pink might have a baby face, but I bet a hundred bucks that she was at least five years older than me. The items that she wore — a red magic stone necklace and matching bracelet — plus the fine material of her pink robe, were high quality. I didn’t get the impression that her team was rich, so she must have saved up to get these items.

Below us, I could hear the Velociorheas’s mouth snap, clop clop clop, as they jumped below. Did they ever get tired of jumping?

Up on the branch, Pink’s teammates were freaking out, yelling her name and walking around, trying to see through the mist. Other Hunters were quietly attentive, listening for what was going to happen on the ground.

Pink looked at her frantic teammates overhead. “I’m okay!” She yelled up at them.

Their leader, Blue, paced up and down the branch. “Where are you? I can’t see you!”

“I’m fine! The Josu Ghost caught me so I’m okay!”

While she was talking to them, my attention was drawn to the base of a tree that my mist just rolled into as I moved to catch Pink. Inside the crevice of the tree was a very familiar looking mushroom. I couldn’t verify that it was what I was looking for since I couldn’t see the color, but I had a feeling it was a Cyan-Agaric.

The question was, how to get it with all the Hunters above and the monsters below?

Pink looked back at me, catching my attention. “Thank you. Like, really, thank you so much.” Then she paused. “But I have to admit, it’s really weird talking to an invisible person.” What a tactful way to say, let me see your face.

I rolled my eyes. “If I wanted people to know what I looked like, I wouldn’t be hiding in a cloud.” Okay, that was mostly true. It also helped with searching for what I needed. “I like my privacy and that’s not going to change. Thank you for saying that I’m cool and wanting to partner up, but I don’t partner up.” Even though I had good impressions of this colorful team, I still wasn’t going to give them my back. There was only one person who I felt confident enough to do that with and I simply wasn’t at his level yet.

“Oh.” Pink sighed in disappointment.

My mouth twitched and resisted the urge to ask what color I would be if I did join. I wasn’t part of their team, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t use them. “I’m going to put you down now.” With my improved strength, she wasn’t heavy. But she also wasn’t on my very short list of people I let touch me.

Clop, clop, clop still echoed from below.

She squealed and flung her arms around my neck. “Don’t put me down! I don’t want to die!” Her arms were so tight, her grip kinked my neck at an uncomfortable angle. If she was trying to convince me not to drop her, she was going about it the wrong way. But the pure panic in her voice was very obvious.

“I’m not going to drop you. You won’t fall, I promise.” Maybe it was a good thing she couldn’t see through the mist and the monsters that circled and jumped at us from below.She loosened her arm and looked over her shoulder. “What are you standing on?”

“Magic.” That was the only answer I was going to give her. The platform I was standing on extended out and I set her feet down on it.

She gasped and tapped her booted toes against the solid mist for a second before she stood up. But that didn’t stop her from keeping a death grip on my arm. At least I had breathing room, so I let it slide.

But as long as I had her here, I might as well take advantage of her. “Hey,” I pulled her attention to me. “I don’t do stuff for free. I saved you, so you owe me. And I want payback now.”

Pink’s eyes widened. Her thin dark brows scrunched up and she looked like she was betrayed. “Okay? What do you want? If it’s anything too expensive, I’ll have to talk to my team first.”

I snorted. “It’s not going to cost you a cent.” But it will make you run around this rainforest for at least another day. “I need to get something off the ground. So I want your team to distract the Velociorheas until I get it.”

Pink gaped at me. “You want … what?”

Her team were all C ranked, with the leader Blue the only one in the high C. I honestly didn’t think they had much of a chance against four Velociorheas. “I can promise that none of you will get hurt. You’ll stand in the air like this and distract them while I jump down and get what I need.”

She bit her lip thinking.

“It’s not like I’m asking for money, just a bit of your time. A small price for saving your life, I’d say,” I pressed. “Do I really have to mention the outrageous prices anyone else would demand?” Yes, blackmailing was a thing among Hunters. A Hunter, scraping by every day just to make a meager living in a bloody world, would never pass up the opportunity to take advantage of a weaker Hunter.

Pink bit her lips, looking conflicted. “I don’t know that I can make a decision like that for my team.” She looked up, even though I knew she couldn’t see through the mist.

“Call your leader down here and let’s talk.” Of course, that meant that I had one more life I could use as ransom to get what I wanted. God, I was good at this evil-person blackmailing persona. Maybe I found my true calling. I almost laughed out loud.

Pink took a deep breath before she called out, “Tarek? Can you come down here?”

The leader, Blue, paused. “What?”

I looked up at him. “Jump down here. Don’t worry, I won’t let you hit the ground. Expect a thirty foot drop. You won’t be able to see what you land on, but it’s solid.”

Some of the other Hunters, especially that Huntress that caused Pink to fall, got excited and looked down into my mist. It was obvious from their expressions that they were all thinking about jumping down. They shifted and whispered to each other. Some even pointed in my direction.

I frowned. “That guarantee only applies to him,” I called up to the rest of the Hunters. “I will not catch anyone else that falls. Period. Just leave me alone. I’m not going to join any teams or guilds.” Just like when I’d dealt with President Price, my tone was strong and unyielding. With the natural tenacity of a Hunter, sound anything less than commanding and they’d never leave me alone. After all, a weak-willed Hunter wouldn’t live long enough to make it to this rainforest.

“Now, Mr. Leader,” I called up the Blue. “Jump on down here.”

His thin lips pressed in a frown. Then he jumped. The mist puffed and pooled around him as he dropped through. With Pink as a marker, he landed on the platform cleaner that I expected.

“Tarek!” Pink cried out as soon as he was beside her, tears pooled in her eyes. She reached for him with her left hand. Her reach came up a couple inches short and she didn’t seem to be able to let me go yet.

I held her arm and stepped forward, bringing her with me.

Blue reached out and grabbed Pink’s hand. She jumped onto him and wrapped her arms around his neck, sniffling.

He patted her back and let her cling. “Are you hurt?”

She shook her head. “No, I was just so scared. Give me a minute.” It couldn’t have been comfortable pressing her face into his metal chestplate, but she didn’t seem to mind.

Blue continued to pat her back as he looked up and around. “Is anyone else here?”

I crossed my arms and leaned on a hip. “I’m here.”

He turned in my direction and frowned. “I can’t see you.”

“I like my privacy. Something that people just don’t seem to understand.” I glanced at the group of Hunters that remained above and didn’t act like they’d clear out any time soon. “Anyway, the reason why I called you down was to complete a transaction. Pi — she said that she didn’t have the authority to pay me back for saving her life. That’s why I called you down.”

Blue scowled. “Are there no good people in the world nowadays?”

“Not in Eden. Only an idiot would do something for free.” If I was going to pour black paint on my head, I might as well play the part to the fullest. Hell, even though Green helped save me the other day, it was still to get information from me. He was still ‘paid’ for his help in the end.

“I want your team’s cooperation,” I explained simply. “I need to get something off the ground. All the ruckus above drew the Velociorheas here and now I’m in a bind. I want your team to distract the monsters while I hop down and get it.”

He frowned and he slowly bit out the words, “We don’t have the strength to take them on.” No Hunter wanted to admit they weren’t strong enough. It was one of the most shameful admissions in Eden.

Pink pursed her lips to the side, scowling at her feet.

I nodded then remembered that they couldn’t see it. “I know. And I don’t expect you to take them on. In fact, I can guarantee that none of you will get hurt.”

He tilted his head to the side. “How can you guarantee that?”

I swept my hand in front of me. The mist below our feet thinned out, until there was just enough left to hold the solid platform under our feet. At the same time, a Velociorhea springboarded off another’s back and jumped up towards us.

Pink screamed as its open mouth shot closer to her feet. She jumped right onto Blue and clung to his shoulder, tucking her feet into her chest. Blue swore, wrapped an arm around her waist to anchor her to him and materialized his long sword.

The monster’s mouth snapped shut ten inches from where Pink’s toes had been then it fell back to the ground.

Blue didn’t even have time to strike before gravity took the monster away. He simply stared down at the group of monsters as they jumped over and over towards us, only to come up short every time.

“See?” I said. “Invisible barrier. All I want you to do is stand here and distract them for a while.”

He slowly turned his dumbfounded face towards me. Then he looked shocked all over again. “You’re invisible!”

I facepalmed and sighed hard. I swear, I just went over that. Am I going to have to start all over?

*****

Fun Fact!

Interested in the rainbow brigade?

Blue, Yellow, and Green are all siblings. Blue is the oldest, Yellow is older than Green by barely a year. Green actually has a different mom, a grieving oops with the nanny after Blue and Yellow’s mom died. There wasn’t any drama growing up and they’re really tight knit. Green’s mom has split from the father by now. Both live in Garden City. Blue created the group to make sure that his siblings were safe in Eden. Green’s your typical, 21 yr old hot blooded male. Yellow likes to pop Green’s ego, but she’d die for him in heartbeat. True siblings, right?

Orange paired up with Blue after Blue had a fight with his ex-girlfriend and went to a bar. Orange watched over Blue as he got drunk and made sure Blue didn’t get robbed or hurt while he was drowning his frustration. They became buds after that. Orange knew Purple and Pink from casual interaction and was the one that pulled them into the group.

Pink is actually the second oldest in the group, even though she has a baby face. She and Purple grew up together in the Hope orphanage. She has a crush on Blue but doesn’t have the guts to confess. She doesn’t want to ruin the good teamwork they have. Purple is the youngest in the group (by half a year to Green) and hides behind her sarcasm to stay strong. I don’t know if I expressed this earlier, but she has a ‘cool beauty’ look. Purple and Orange clicked in an ‘old soul, I get you’ kinda of friendship.

As for the actual name of the group? I don’t know … Lol!

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About the author

MichelleRReid

Bio: I am an author, mother, wife, and jack of all trades. I mean, every mom is, but I’ve found that through my research for different stories, I’ve picked up a lot of random (and sometimes actually useful) knowledge and skills.
I’ve had a vivid imagination since I was a child. And as much as I wish I could actually live in the worlds in my head, the closest I can get is with the words I put on the page. These characters are like real people to me. The funny lines they say, their emotions that make my heart bleed, the amazing things they can do that I physically can’t, the adventures and sights that I can see in my head. I love sharing those things with my readers and hope that they can feel at least a part of what I do.
I do have other works that are published through Amazon. They are not LitPRG, but I'm still really proud of them. Check them out if you have the chance.

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