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    The Promise of Glory Part 1

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    The Promise of Glory Part 1

    Post by Guest on Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:17 pm

    Prologue


    The man was dressed in black as dark as the night around him. The girl was standing unaware, talking to her partner alone. His orders: dispose of her, leave the rest of the team. The grass below the man's knees was wet, he could feel it soaking his knees. The goal was to get them out of the race. That was all he cared about. Drawing his dark bow, a deadly force of darkness itself, he aimed and let his arrow fly. Watching with a grim smile the arrow hit his target, he turned and was gone in the blink of a shadow.

    “No!” The boy shouted. Footsteps sounded, screams pierced the endless night, grim voices trumpeted.

    “Get Jessica inside. She was the target, get her hidden. Now!” A different voice ordered.

    “She’ll live. We’re wiping her memory now and sending her away. The girl in Minnesota is to run on the team someday, she’ll be fine there with her. Goodbye, my daughter.”


    *****


    “You have failed us again, the girl you hit was the daughter, not the runner. We are almost out of time. The final race is in mere weeks.”

    “I’m sorry sir.”

    “Not yet you’re not. If you fail to get that team out of the race they will beat us hands down and your punishment will be..... severe.”

    “Yes sir. I won’t fail sir.”

    “You’d better not. It may just be the last thing you ever do.”



    **Four Years Later**



    “Allie, come on we’re about to be late for cross! We need to go!” Jessie called impatiently through the empty locker room.

    “I know I’ve got my shorts here somewhere. Found them!” I shouted triumphantly a moment later.

    “Finally. Let’s go.” Running out of the locker room and to the school gym, we just caught the end of warm-ups. Hoping no one saw us, we slipped quietly into our places and stretched.

    “Did you dream last night?” Jessie asked softly as she pulled her arm behind her head.

    I nodded. “I almost always do. The same thing over and over. Same team, same people, same sport, same course.”

    Jessie thought for a moment. “You could search for a sport like that.” she suggested helpfully.
    “I already have. It doesn't exist. Nothing even close to it. I hope it stops soon though. It never changes. We always hear the same starting horn, take off and win the same race with the same competitors. Every single night. I could name all the team members and their running positions if you wanted me to. Jamie is the leader. Me and Jake run between Devyn’s line and Jason’s. Jason is the watcher. His partner is Bella. They seem more real now though. I can tell that it’s warm out, that I’m excited and that its loud. Usually I can't tell those things in a normal dream.
    “Allie, stop. You’re creeping me out.” Jessie warned me, standing on one foot to stretch her legs. “I already told you that those dreams haunt me. I already know enough about it. Don’t tell me any more.” She begged. People often mistook her for my sister, Saranda. They looked so much alike it was weird.

    The brief static came over the speakers warning us someone was on the intercom.

    “Allie Brady please report to the office, Allie Brady to the office.” called the principal. Great. Now what did I do? Not wanting to miss cross country tonight I hurried off to the office with a concerned look at Jessie.

    “I was called to the office.” I told the lady sitting behind the desk. She looked up.

    “Allie. Your mother called, something about your family taking an unplanned trip?” She told me with a confused look. I had a confused look too.

    “What? Can I call her?” I asked pulling out my cell phone. The lady nodded and I dialed the number. “Hey mom, I just got the message you left with the school. Where are we going? Why didn’t you tell me about it?”

    My mother’s voice came through the small speaker. “Well, don’t take this too bad but we need to take a trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Your father’s mother fell and broke her leg and we need to go help her get around for awhile. I’ve already made arrangements for you to finish the school year down there. We leave tonight.”

    “What?” I was so taken aback that I couldn’t speak. “I don’t want to live in some old hick town.” I stammered finally. This was so random I had no idea what to do.

    “Honey, don’t argue about this now. Just meet me at the door with your things in a few minutes.” With that happy note, she hung up. Wow, nice mom. Sighing loudly I thanked the secretary and walked out the door. Heading back to the locker room to change and grab my things, I wondered what to tell Jessie. She had been my best friend since she had moved here nearly four years ago.

    Laughing at myself thinking what that conversation would sound like “hey Jessie just telling you I’m moving halfway across the country tomorrow see you later!”, I almost didn’t notice the door right in front of me. “Haha door! You can’t hit me this time!” I murmur to myself. That door had hit me in the head too many times to count.

    I slipped my street clothes on and my gym clothes off and was ready to go in a matter of seconds. I felt confined in the place, like it was holding me trapped in soon to be memories. I already felt myself wanting to hide and get away from this. Dashing out the door I raced through the hallways alone, running to my new life. Walking out the front doors to my mother waiting, I said my silent goodbyes to my friends and teachers.

    My mother was waiting in front of the building in our black Kia. “Where’s Saranda?” I asked her tightly, speaking of my sister. She had been adopted a few years ago after being abused by her real family. It had been cool because we both have the same slate-gray eyes. “Did you tell her we’re leaving yet?” Shoving my bag down by my feet I stared determinedly out the window.

    “Yes, she already knows and she’s home packing. We only need to take what we need for the rest of the next four months.” She paused, obviously hoping I would say something, offer something to talk about. I didn’t.


    *****


    “Welcome to Nashville, Allie.”

    “Thanks Grandma. It’s nice here.” I told her lying through my teeth. Gran had been living in her dusty old ranch house alone for quite a few years and her house smelled like cats, rotting wood and old ladies. She and her husband had retired with plenty of money and bought a huge house and farm “for the grandkids”. Well my grandpa died shortly after that so Gran became one of those old ladies who live alone with a million cats.

    My new room was large with ugly green walls and musty carpeting. I’m on the second floor so I have to climb the rickety old wooden staircase and look at all the black and white photos of things whose glory days have long since past. Through a dusty hallway, wooden plank walls, creaking door hinges. An old mirror hangs on the wall covered in dust. Taking my hand and running my finger through the thick grit, I studied my reflection. Familiar gray eyes, brown hair and clear skin stared back at me through the five lines of clear, ancient glass.

    Sighing deeply, I wondered if my new school would have a cross country team. A knocking at the door took me from my thoughts. My older sister, Saranda, stood in the doorway.

    “Are you doing okay?” she asked quietly. I shook my head no.

    “I just want to go home.” I whispered, close to tears.

    “ I know. Me too. But we have to make the best of it.”

    Saranda’s long, dark brown hair and grey eyes appeared beside me in the old mirror.

    Giving her a watery smile, I nod slowly, thinking it was time to suck it up. A lonely brown cat walked in through the open door and I bent down to pick her up.

    She meowed and licked my finger. I laughed and looked at Saranda’s tall figure.

    I was feeling better already, more optimistic. Maybe these walls weren't that ugly. Turning from the dirty old mirror with a story to tell, I surveyed my room with an open mind. Saranda smiled and left, retreating down the hallway to her own room. A trail of dusty cat prints spread across my comforter.

    "Allie, will you come over here? I think there's a spider in my room." Saranda yelled down the hallway a moment later.

    "No, I hate spiders. I'm not coming in there." I called back.
    “Fine. Let me deal with this and then Gran said dinner is ready. It’s bedtime after that, we have school tomorrow.”
    “I know.” I said rolling my eyes. I’m not in first grade.
    When we went down to the kitchen to help set the table and carry food, I noticed my parents were missing.
    “Where’s mom and dad?” I asked the room.
    “They went out for dinner and exploring. It’s a crazy town out there.” Gran said thoughtfully.
    “The corn looks great.” Saranda comments.
    “Thank you dear. When I was a girl-..” Gran started on another long story.
    “I’m not really hungry.” I interrupted. “I think it’s just nerves about tomorrow.”
    “Well okay dear, that’s fine. Just tell me if you need a snack later.” She said. Returning to my room, I jump in bed and fall asleep in my clothes.


    “Allie, this is Maya. She’s going to show you to your classes and help you get settled in.” My new principal told me with a smile. I nod and smile at Maya, my nerves probably showing.
    “Hi Allie. We have the same schedule so I can show you to all the classes and meet all the teachers.” While she was talking we started to walk out of the office and into the hallways beyond. “First we have math, then science and after that is study hall. After lunch is P.E. and social studies. It’s okay, you’ll get used to it fast,” she added seeing my worried look. “You’ll know your way around in no time. My first day here as a freshman I ended up in senior gym. They were playing dodgeball and I nearly had a heart attack. Oh, and watch out for Mr. Parsons, he’ll give you a homework assignment about safety in the hallway if he catches you running.”
    “Here’s the Math room. That’s the science room over there.” Maya pointed out for me as we walked into the math room. “Mr. Maston? This is Allie. She’s joining our class from Redwing, Minnesota.”
    “Oh, welcome Halie.” He said, not looking up from his book. Maya glanced at me with laughter in her eyes. The morning passed in a blur of faces, names, places and nerves. When lunch finally rolled around, I was exhausted. Following Maya to the lines of people stretching around the room, I noticed someone familiar from a distance away. I craned my neck to get a look at him but someone stepped in front of me and blocked my view. Where had I seen him before? The sensible voice in my head said it was impossible, I’ve never been to Tennessee before and now I thought I knew someone. The hopeful voice said maybe I did recognize him, just didn’t know how or from where.
    Getting my lunch and sitting down with Maya and a bunch of other girls whose names I really don’t remember, I look around for the boy I had seen earlier. Spotting his sandy blond hair at a table on the other side of the room, I nudge Maya. “What’s his name?” I asked her, nodding in his direction. She giggled and smiled at me.
    “Thats Jake.” As she mentioned his name, my heart sank. “He’s the starting QB for the football team. His girlfriend just broke up with him if you were wondering.” she told me with a mischievous wiggle of her eyebrows.
    “No, I was not wondering. He just caught my eye for some reason. I think I’ve seen him before.” I said, starting to quiver with nerves.
    “Thats strange. I don’t think he’s famous or anything.” She said with a confused shake of her head. “I can ask him though if you want.” Before I could say anything, she yelled, “Hey Jake, come here a minute will you?” and he was on his way. I felt a strange tingling as he walked over to us, along with the same feeling that I had seen him before. His dark eyes, blond hair, broad shoulders. The way he walked, the way he was moving his arm. When I looked up into his eyes, everything was gone but the stupefying image I saw there and the face I knew so well.

    *New Chapter*

    His eyes were deep and seemed to be an endless pit of stories and emotions. I saw myself, with him beside me, in front of what appeared to be a barn. It was red with a tall silo to the side and a large window at the top and I could smell the musty scent of old hay. It was sunny, the barn’s shadow reflected to the side, and warm. We walked inside and were met with a large silver and bronze plaque on the wall. Stopping, we read it silently and looked at each other in confusion.


    Welcome to the Springbrook Racing and Training facility. Our number one goal is to train and race top running teams in the world and in the nation. We are the proud owners of Team Northern Dance and Team Shadow Brook. We train high profile teams for the TRS World. For more information or any questions please contact Jeff Murray.


    I read the plaque again, slower this time, to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. In my dreams, I was a runner on Team Northern Dance. Jake was always running next to me, but did this place own real people? Or was this a horse farm of some sort?

    “What’s a running team?” I asked Jake nervously next to me, hoping I didn’t know.

    “No idea. Where are we?” He countered. “Where’s the school?”

    I shrugged in response. “What does ‘go for glory’ mean?”

    “I have no clue.” We turned away from the plaque and started down the hallway to the right. A huge indoor arena with a clear glass roof opened up in front of us. In the middle of the large room was a white rail in an oval shape. It was not unlike the horse arenas I have been to before, but it was much bigger. The place was deserted and silent, except for the occasional breeze from outside whipping through the wooden walls.

    CRACK! The door slams shut behind us. I unconsciously grab Jake’s arm and turn my back to the wall. Standing in front of us are the six runners in my constant dream, but this time it’s real. The training outfits I had become so familiar with and the faces I have come to recognize only freaked me out more. Unable to help my trembling hands, I take a slow step forward towards Team Northern Dance.

    “Jamie?” I speak softly to the girl in front.

    “How do you know her name?” Cade asked menacingly.

    “I’ve dreamed about you before.” I stammered lamely.
    The team was standing proudly in their racing lines. A larger space separated the second line and last line. Jamie and Cade in front, Devyn and Zack behind them. Then the space and finally in the back were Jason and Bella. The door opened again, quietly this time, and a tall man in a warm up suit walked in to see us there.
    He stopped dead, his dark hair and eyes making him look sinister and mean. His tan face broke into a smile, revealing obviously whitened teeth. He started nodding and walking around us in circles like a lion ready to pounce on his prey.
    “You were a success. Come with me. Why did it take so long?” He spoke shortly in a deep voice to me and Jake. We followed like puppies out the door and back down the hall, through the room with the strange plaque and into the hallway to the left. He led us to what looked like an office and told us to sit. The small room was covered in photos of the team we just met and what looked like a different team. Most of the photos were of them in the winners arena after races. With a shiver, I realized I recognized where one of the photos was taken. I had been there, in my dreams. The only thing different was the people. A tall girl with long brown hair and my gray eyes ran next to a guy that could have been Jake’s younger brother.
    “Are you going to tell me who this is?’ The man asked Jake.
    Suddenly, Jake put his hand on my arm and asked what I was doing. But it wasn’t Jake’s voice. Closing my eyes, I open them to find myself back in the lunchroom with Maya asking what was happening.
    “Are you okay?” she asked, concerned. I looked at Jake. He was staring at me with a strange expression on his face, like he had just seen a ghost.
    “I- I- yeah. Sure. I’m fine.” I stammered with a fake smile returning to my face. I looked at Jake again and wondered if he just had the same vision I just did. He nodded his head, just enough to make me think I saw it but not quite sure if I was imagining it.
    “Hey Maya, I’m gonna run back to my locker quick and get my shoes for gym. I’ll be back in a minute.” I told her with a final glance at Jake, my lunch long forgotten. Walking quickly down the hallway I turn for Maya’s yell, “Wrong way Allie! Turn left!” and nod to show I understand. Reaching the deserted lockers, I rest my aching head against the cool metal door.
    “Did that really happen?” Jake's shocked voice came from behind me.
    “I don’t know. Did you see the runners in the arena?” I asked him, hopelessly confused. Part of me wanted him to say no and just prove I was going mad and imagining this, and the other part wanted him to tell me that he saw it too and prove that I was sane.
    “I saw them. Did you know them? You called her Jamie?” He asked. “You dreamed about them?” I only nodded silently, still not looking at him. “So have I. Will you please turn around? I’m not going to bite you.”
    I turned to face him and looked into his eyes. Again I was falling, falling deep into his eyes and into Jamie and Cade’s world.

    *New Chapter*

    I opened my eyes to the same scene of the office with the same man in front of me and Jake in the same seat beside me.
    “-and you have an attendee who takes care of anything you need. I’m the Northern Dance trainer so we’ll be great friends I’m sure. The first race of the season is in a month. Jake, you obviously have some experience with the team and Allie, this is your first taste of running. The basics you need to understand: eight team members, four lines, stay in formation. You run a race against other teams over a course. The key to the sport is understanding your partner, balance, speed and your team. Jessica was killed so Jake had to find a new runner. Jake, do you remember how it happened?”
    “I-I- yeah. I think so.” He looked confused, like he was looking for his past but couldn’t find it. "Someone hit her with an arrow."
    “Good.”
    “Can you tell me what’s going on?” I asked desperately.
    “Yes.” He said.
    “Are you going to tell me soon?” I asked impatiently I asked after a small moment of silence.
    “Yes.” He repeated. I sighed in defeat. “First, I’m Ed Mullin, the Northern Dance trainer. Jake has been training with Team Northern Dance for four years. When his partner, Jessica, was killed, he was sent to scout out a new runner. We wiped his memory and planted him in Nashville. He had dreams of the team and some of his memories. He built a new life and new memories. Then you came along. You look at Jake and you are transported here. Like it or not, you are the newest runner of Team Northern Dance. This sport has been going on for hundreds of years but nobody knew it. Two summers ago, the Team Running Strikers, or TRS council got together and decided to introduce the sport to the world. That’s why Jake was sent to scout you out now, so we can run in the opening races. Allie, you were destined to race on a team. Your family has been here for generations. All people in the country who have what it takes are somehow sent to Tennessee. This is the racing capital of the country.”
    “Oh.” I squeaked. Jake appeared shaken.
    “I remember now. Can I talk to Jamie?” He asked, looking Ed straight in the eye.
    Ed nodded. “They’re in the arena training. Come with me.” We followed him back through the room with the plaque, down the hall and into the same arena we were in the first time we came here. Entering silently, we stood in the doorway so we didn’t disrupt the team while they were training. My mouth dropped in awe.


    *****

    Jamie and Cade led the team, like a pack, through a series of takeoffs and halts around the arena. Their strides matched perfectly, the halts at exactly the same time. Devyn and Zack were behind them, keeping flawless time with Jamie and Cade. They all loped along then did a seemingly random stop. The spaces between the lines never changed. Jason and Bella were farther back, running just as strong and beautifully. The team ran like one, silent, consistent and leaving me awestruck just watching them.
    “Jamie.”Jake only said her name but she looked up like she had been slapped. She stumbled to a halt with the rest of the team coming to a smooth stop behind her.
    “It is you!” Jamie cried excitedly. “We all missed you.” She added a moment later.
    “I just remembered you now.” He apologized. “Have you raced since I left?”
    “Once. Taylor and Luke from Shadow Brook ran with us once in Montana. Oh Jake!” She cried as she ran to hug him. Bella was close behind and Devyn followed her. When the team had hugged him and shaken his hand more times than I could count, Jamie turned to me.
    “What’s her name?” she asked, scrutinizing me with interest.
    “This is Allie. Allie, Team Northern Dance.” He said formally.
    “Can you tell me what I’m doing here?” I asked for what felt like the millionth time. “Ed didn’t do a very good job.”
    “Jake, have you talked to her yet?” Jamie asked accusingly.
    “I only just remembered you a few minutes ago, let alone what she was doing here.”
    “Fine. Allie, we are obviously Team Northern Dance. Our team member, Jessica, was Jake’s partner. Cade is mine, Zack is Devyn's and now Jake is yours. When Jessica was killed four years ago, we needed a new runner. Jake had his memory wiped so he wouldn’t remember anything about us or what we do in case he got into trouble. He was sent to find a new runner, which is you. As you got closer to him, your dreams about us would get more intense. When you looked at him, both of you came here. The team sport has been going on for hundreds of years now but the world will learn of it for the first time in a few months. We’ve all been really worried, it took Jake so much longer to find you. Almost four years I think.”
    “Oh.” I said in a small voice, now totally overwhelmed. “What happened to us when we came here? Are we still in school?”

    “No, we sent a message to one of our spies in the normal world. Your friends, teachers, family, even your pets have no memories of you.” I wanted to cry. I’m missing and no one even knows.
    “From now on, training, racing and running are all that matters,” Jamie continued, “We’re your new family, your new friends and your new home. Welcome to Springbrook Racing and Training farm.”


    *****

    Sighing, I forced myself to face the truth. I wasn’t going home, I was here with the team and Jake. Just thinking about him made my heart flutter. Stupid heart.
    “Allie you can come with me to your quarters. I’ll give you the grand tour.” Jamie laughed at her own private joke.

    I followed her out of the arena after the training session was done and we turned down a hallway I hadn’t noticed previously. It was longer than the others and wider. Several doors that looked like closets lined the walls. Reaching the end, we turned to the right and stopped. Facing us was a bunch of what appeared to be horse stalls.
    “This is your room. I’m across from you, Bella is right next to you and Devyn is by me. Team Shadow Brook is on the far side.” I studied the strange scene before me. They were stalls, bigger than average but still small for a bedroom. There was an aisle down the middle with four stalls on both sides. I was in the one closest to the end on my left and I assumed Jamie was on the end to my right. Walking forward to peer through the wooden windows, I see a comfortable looking bed and an old bridle on the wall across from me. Below me I see a photo frame but I can’t see the picture from this angle.
    “I’ll show you the showers and the dining room next. I’m sorry about this.” She added, seeing the lost look in my eyes. “It only gets better from here. When we train and start to compete again you’ll never believe you missed your old home.” I nodded gratefully. “Come on. Dinner is in a few minutes and you still need to change.”
    I followed her back down the hallway and into the fourth door on the left. I thought it was a closet before, but there were at least sixteen doors and I have no idea what they would put in that much space. When we walked in the door we were met with a stranger scene that the bedrooms. An obstacle course was set up all around the large room. Jumps, weaving poles, steeplechases. Any obstacle I could imagine was in the room, made of water. In the middle of the room stood a tall fountain like thing. It was shooting water out and creating the obstacles. The walls were padded with blue mats and the floor had a black rubber mat covering it.
    “You train in the shower?” I asked skeptically.
    “Yes. This is yours, mine is across the hallway, Bella is next to you. Same as the sleeping quarters really. Shadow Brook is in the first two doors on both sides. Come on, it’s time for dinner.”
    We exited the strange shower rooms and walked back down the hallway again, away from the sleeping quarters and stopped at a fork in the halls. “That way is the guys wing,” Jamie informed me, “and over here is the dining hall.” She said, turning to the left and stopping at a door to the right. She opened it and we were greeted by the rest of the team and a bunch of people I didn’t recognize.
    “You must be Allie.” My heart almost stopped. The girl who greeted me was Jessie.


    *****


    “I’m Taylor from Team Shadow Brook.”
    After the initial shock, I realized it wasn’t Jessie but a girl who looked a lot like her. Taylor was taller, more fit. They had the same eyes and face though.
    “Nice to meet you.” I stammered.
    “Allie, this is the only time of day the teams are around each other. We have this room to ourselves and our attendees bring in whatever food we want. I’ll introduce you to Sara when she comes in. That’s your personal helper.” Jamie told me smiling. “You have to share her with Jake though,” she added as an afterthought. We all moved to the table and sat down. I noticed right away that no one was ever separated from their racing partners for more than about ten minutes at a time. Sitting down by Jake, I wondered if I could ever get used to this. So far, this was about the weirdest day of my life. A soft knock at the door caught my attention.
    The door swung silently open and in the doorway stood eight people who I assumed were the attendees. They each walked in and headed straight to their runners. The last person to enter was average height, blond, brown eyes and had the air of not knowing what she was looking for about her.
    “Sara. Jake is back and this is Allie.” Jamie looked up for a moment from Cade.
    Sara nodded and grinned, walking quickly over to us. “Oh, Jake! I’ve missed you so much!” She cried and hugged him. He stood there awkwardly, looking at me like I should do something about it.
    “Allie. I’m your attendee now.” She said finally turning to me. “I feed you, do your hair, get your outfits and pretty much everything else you may want me to do. What do you want for dinner?”

    After a filling meal of amazing steak, potatoes and super healthy salad, I was feeling ready for bed. Looking around, I saw Devyn leaning against Zack falling asleep on her chair. “I’m going for a walk.” Jake announced to the room. “Just to get my thoughts straight. Allie?”
    “I’ll come.” I agreed quickly, just to get out of the heavy silence.
    “Lights out in half hour.” Jamie said sleepily from Cade’s shoulder. Team Shadow Brook was crashed on the other side of the room. Rising from our hard oak chairs, we exited through the door and walked down the hallway.

    “Jake, I’m so lost.” I cried when we were finally out of earshot.
    “I know. I am too. I can remember pieces of my past here and some of the people. All I know is that running with the team is the best feeling in the world. We can get through this, Allie.”
    I only nodded silently, not saying anything. He stopped me in the middle of the hallway and put his hands on my shoulders. Unable to help the tears running down my face, I buried my face in my hands.

    “Allie, we’re gonna be fine. I’ll be here for you, I promise. I won’t let anything happen to you. We train together, we run together, we eat together. I think you’ll be sick of me soon.”

    “No. That won’t happen.” I spoke through a watery smile.

    “I’m sure when racing starts we won’t have a moments peace.” He said.

    “Great.” I sighed. “Where are we walking to? I’ll probably get lost.”

    “Me too. I only remember a few of the secret halls me and Jason explored.” Laughing, we started down the hall.

    “We should go back. Time for bed. You’ll be okay.” He told me awhile later. We turned and walked back the way we had come towards the rooms. We passed four doors on the opposite side of the hallway as the dining room.

    “What’s in there?” I asked Jake curiously.

    “You’ll find out soon enough.” He said mysteriously.

    We reached the dining hall and he turned left, me right. Wandering down the wide hallway with all the doors alone, I reached the rooms and entered mine quietly. Sitting down on the soft bed, I look up and see the framed photo I had noticed before. A dusty painting of a regal team in the winner’s arena gazed back at me. The girl in the lead position of the team was looking at something in the distance, her face frozen in time. At first I wasn’t sure what about her had caught my attention, but then I saw her slate gray eyes. They were so familiar I thought it was Saranda. A quote hung in the sky behind them. Squinting, I can barely make it out through the thick layer of dust.


    ‘The wind blows where it chooses; no one guides its untamed grace. We bask in the glory of the Northern wind, we race its fiercest gales and we beat it, soaring to fame with the eagles behind us.’

    -Team Northern Dance


    With a jolt, I realized this was Jessica’s old room. Studying the painting closer, I noticed the date it was completed. July 21st. I couldnt My Birthday. I wasn’t sure, but I think it’s a painting of them at the arena I keep dreaming about. How old is that place now? Are these people still alive?


    *****


    I slept on my side, staring at the painting while I fell asleep. I dreamed about running, steak and really strange showers.

    “Morning Allie! Training starts today and Ed’s going to work us hard because we didn’t do much yesterday.” Devyn greeted me cheerfully. “Breakfast is in the same room as dinner but without Shadow Brook. You can shower before or after we eat but Jake is meeting you at breakfast so I would hurry.”

    Grabbing the change of clothes off the floor that Sara must have laid out, I change fast and follow Devyn to the dining hall. When we enter, the guys fall silent and stare at us. Zack and Jake rise to their feet to greet us. When I sat down in my place beside Jake the conversation restarts. Cade and Jason keep asking Jake about what he did when he was away from the farm.

    “Were any of the girls hot?” Jason asked, looking over his shoulder for Bella. “It would have sucked if they weren't.”

    “Some were hot. Some were not. I dated a girl named Kelsey for about two weeks.” He added, glancing at me. “Oh, and I was the quarterback of the football team.”

    “Lucky! We’ve been training the whole time. We can’t race without you guys and we tried running with Taylor and Luke from Shadow Brook in Montana. Needless to say it failed horribly so we never tried that again. Good thing you’re back now though, we can race again. After we train Allie of course.” Jason laughed. I was learning that he was the joker of the group. Cade was second in command after Jamie and Devyn was the organized one.

    “What day is the sport being released?” Jake asked. “It’ll be weird giving interviews and stuff. The council is going to have to change a bunch of rules. I’m sure we’ll be required to show for the crowds and stuff.”

    “Most likely. In exactly a month the opening races kick off. I think Ed talked to the owner and we’re going to Ireland.” Cade answered. “Team Shadow Brook is in California I think.”

    “We’re going to Ireland?” I asked excitedly.

    “Yep. Then the world series starts in Switzerland.” Cade continued. “Or else we’re doing the U.S circuit, I’m not sure.” He said quickly as Jake paled and looked down at his lap. The door opening announced the arrival of Jamie and Bella. Cade and Jason rose to their feet and greeted them happily. Not long after the attendees arrived and Jake and I ordered pancakes, bacon, eggs and french toast for a huge breakfast.

    “Training starts at ten. Sara will have laid out your training clothes in your room. We meet in hall outside the arena.” Jamie told me and Jake. “We have free time until then.”
    Getting up from my seat beside Jake I walked out to the hallway and stopped. When the door opened and Jake emerged a moment later, I wondered if I should ask him about the way he reacted to Cade saying we might run in the world series. Before I could get the courage, Bella and Jason appeared and walked off down the hallway. When I turned around again, Jake hadn’t moved and was staring at the wall.
    “You want to know why I got nervous when Cade mentioned the world series.” He said, not shifting his gaze. I only nodded, wondering how he could tell.
    “Jessica died because of the final championship race.”

    When the time came, Jake and I met the team in the hallway outside the arena. Ed was there, along with a girl that looked suspiciously like a bodybuilder.
    “Let’s get started,” Ed announced. “Today is getting Allie and Jake ready to race and used to running with the team. Let’s stretch and warm up.” I started to follow Jake and the team into the arena but the girl pulled me aside.
    “Allie, I’m going to work with you today. First we’ll watch the team so you can see what we’re training you to do. Come over here.” She motioned. We walked through a side door and up three flights of stairs into a room with a large window overlooking the arena. I turned around and saw to my surprise a dirt racetrack in the courtyard. On one end the boy’s sleeping quarters and the other was the wing that Ed’s office was in. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Alyssa asked me softly.
    I nodded, a large oak tree grew over one side, it branches hanging in the soft light. “What do they use that for?” I asked her.
    “Training. We set up jumps and other obstacles to test and improve balance.” She spoke with a soft southern accent. “Now look over here.” We stared through the glass windows and roof into the arena below. The team was running around and around the arena, Jake with them, and seemed to be flying. They suddenly stopped and walked to the center where Ed was watching. They talked for a moment, then one of the attendees brought a red and white jump, about two feet high, and set it up on the far side of the arena. The team lined up in their lines and took off smoothly. When they began to approach the jump, I saw Jake tense up and shortened his stride length.
    “Thats no good. Jamie better stop. Did you see him get off the pace?” Alyssa asked, frowning. Jamie did stop, I’m not sure how she knew that Jake was off his stride, but she stopped.
    “I saw that but how did Jamie know to stop?” I asked her, amazed. “Did Ed tell her?”
    “No, she can tell from his stride and from Devyn and Zack behind her. Normally, you would be the one to tell Jake to keep his stride steady, but for now it’s up to the team.”
    They had all gone to the center of the arena and were speaking to Ed. Returning to the center, they lined up again and took off for the jump. This time, when Jamie and Cade reached the jump first, taking off with the same foot and the same timing, Jake was relaxed and neatly flew with Bella and Jason behind him. Landing and continuing around the room, they stopped when they were opposite the jump and talked to Ed again.
    “Well, you get the basics. You run next to Jake. Now the training begins.” We exited the watch tower and headed back down the stairs. Reaching the hallway outside the arena we turned around and headed for the dining room. Walking past the dining room we stopped at the first of the four doors I had asked Jake about last night. “These are the special training rooms. Watch your step.” With that she unlocked the door with a key from her pocket and disappeared inside. Following her inside, I’m met with a dark hallway. The door shuts behind me.

    Wondering how I’m supposed to watch my step in the dark, I follow the sound of Alyssa’s footsteps in front of me. The black hallway ended abruptly after a moment and opened into a bright room with a glass roof and walls. A soft rubber mat lined the floor. It was hot, I was already starting to sweat.
    “This is the room where we work on your explosive leg power.” Alyssa explained, motioning to a four foot jump in the middle of the room , “And your jump timing. Jake will be here in a few minutes to work with us too.”
    “So what do I do?” I asked, curious about the jump. I had never jumped anything close to that height before.
    “I’ll show you.” She said, moving to the wall farthest from me. Sprinting for the jump, she sprang up and cleared it with room to spare. For the landing, she broke the fall with her shoulder and rolled to her feet faster than I could see what she was doing.
    “How did you do that?” Amazed, I just stared at her and the floor where she had been only a moment ago.
    “Timing, Training and Tactics. The three Ts.” She answered. “Timing is extremely important for the takeoff and landing. You won’t be able to do it on your first try, it takes lots of training. You also need to be able to judge a jump on the fly. You won’t be able to stop and look at both sides of a jump in the middle of a race. Usually it’s Jamie and Cade’s job to judge the jump but you need to know how to tell the height and width.”
    “Okay, what should I do first?” I asked eagerly.
    “First you need to be light on your feet. I’m going to move the jump down a little so you don’t need to roll on the landing.” She explained. Walking to the jump, she lowered it to about two feet. “Now start where I did and let me see you jump it.” I started from the far wall just as she had and launched myself into the air over the jump. I stumbled on the landing, catching myself on my left leg. “That wasn’t too bad. The timing on your takeoff was good but you tried to land too far from the jump. That’s why you stumbled on the landing. Let’s do it again, but this time only jump over it, not all the way past it.”
    We went on that way, me jumping and landing until Jake arrived almost an hour later.
    “Great job Allie. Hello Jake.” Alyssa greeted him as he came through the door. “We’re going to have Allie practice jumping with you next to her. It’ll be good for both of you. Jake, line up by the far wall and let me see you jump.” He jumped the shorter height perfectly and Alyssa moved it farther up for him. “You’ll have to roll on the landing.” She warned him. He only nodded in determination.
    Jake ran for the jump, counting down the strides to takeoff. Launching himself into the air, he cleared it and tucked his head and shoulder for the landing. Rolling smoothly to his feet, he ran a few more yards and stopped, looking at Alyssa for her verdict.
    “Beautiful. Do you remember all of your training?” She asked him.
    “It’s coming back. Some of it I remember when I do it, some I remembered as soon as I got here.” He answered her. “Maybe you can help me with this. I have a picture in my mind of a girl. She was tall, dark brown hair, grey eyes exactly like Allies. She looked so much like Jessica they could have been twins except she was taller. I remember seeing her at races before but I don’t remember anything else.”
    “I think that would be Jeff’s daughter. She used to be the farm manager.” Alyssa mused thoughtfully.
    “What happened to her? Why isn’t she still the farm manager?” He asked after a pause.
    “She was attacked a couple weeks before Jessica by a rival team. They think Jessica was the target and they hit her by mistake.”
    “What was her name?”
    “Saranda.”


    *****

    After the training was done and Jake and I had done the jump together perfectly, it was time for dinner. The team was waiting for us when we entered. Shadow Brook wasn’t there, but when I asked Jamie where they were she just shook her head and said they had an extended training session.
    Jake was quiet through all of dinner and seemed deep in thought.
    “Jamie?” He finally asked quietly.
    “Yeah?” She asked worriedly.
    “I was there, wasn’t I?” He asked.
    “Where were you? What are you talking about?”
    “That night. When she was attacked.”
    “Jake! Spit it out! Who was attacked?” She asked exasperated.
    “I was there when Saranda was attacked wasn’t I? When they thought they were hitting Jessica?”
    Jamie bowed her head in grief and honor. “Yes Jake, you were there.”
    “I just remembered it. When I saw Allie, I knew her eyes. Are they sisters?” He asked, his voice broken.
    “No. They’re cousins, Jeff’s sister is Allie’s mother. They knew Saranda needed a home because she was in danger so they took her in. They don’t know about Jessica at all. I’m sorry Allie.” Jamie said, turning to me. I felt like something inside me was falling, slowly falling, was everything I knew fake? How many lies have my parents been told about Saranda and I? How many lies have I been told? They said she was adopted from Florida. She came from an abusive home and we didn’t know who the parents were.

    “Allie, your mother has another brother and sister too. He lives on a racing farm in Indiana, she is a huge name in the racing world, like the royal queen. We race Jeff’s teams sometimes.” Jamie said again. My head started spinning with all the new information being thrown at me.
    “So, does that make Jeff my uncle?” I asked the room with a sigh.
    “I think so.” Devyn said hesitantly.
    “Well,” Bella began, “You and Saranda would be cousins right? So is her mom Holly or Sam?”
    “Holly. I think.” Jamie said, studying me. “Saranda wouldn’t remember.”

    “Wait, who’s Holly and Sam?” I asked, glancing at Jake. He shrugged, he doesn't remember.
    “Holly was Jeff’s first wife, she died in the car crash that also killed Jessica’s partner, the runner Jake replaced. Did you meet him?” She asked Cade. “I think it was my first year here.”
    “Was that Hayden?” He asked uncertainly. Jamie nodded.

    “Well Hayden died so we sent a scout to find a runner. Usually the lone runner would go but Jessica was only nine. The runner they found was Jake and he was only nine then too.” Cade continued.
    “In the span of about four years, we lost and replaced most of the runners. Only me and Cade and Jake are left from that team. Jake was with the team for those years until Jessica went down, then was sent to find you. It took so long that we had almost given up on him coming back. When you just appeared in the arena I was shocked. Jake was gone for years and then you just showed up.”
    I was still dumbfounded. My whole family was involved in the sport but we didn’t even know it.
    “What’s my other uncles name? What teams does he have?” I asked.

    “Steve Murray. He owns Team Fading Song and Team Eagle Point.” Jason said, looking at Jamie to see if he was correct. “I think that’s it.”

    “Why didn’t Saranda tell me about running?” I asked.
    “She didn’t remember and she never ran on a team. She was only the manager. Her memory was wiped so she could lead a normal life.” Jake said softly.
    “She’s never going to completely forget the team, but if she was tracked and picked up by a bad team trying to spy on us, she wouldn’t know anything that could hurt her or us.” Zack said gently.
    “I was there with Jessica too, wasn’t I.” Jake said. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement and he already knew the answer.
    “Yes. You, me, Cade, Jeff and Taylor were the only ones.” Jamie went on.
    I looked at my uneaten dinner, my appetite gone. “Allie, something else you should know.” She said hesitantly. “Your family has run on this team since the beginning. That’s how Jake found you, it’s your destiny to run. Jeff’s daughter was on this team, and his mother, and his mother’s mother. It’s who you are.”
    “I thought you said his daughter never raced. Thats Saranda right?” I said, too tired to care anymore.
    “She never did. He had three daughters though; one with Holly and a set of twins with Sam. One twin on each team and Saranda as the manager.”
    “So who were his other daughters?” I asked, not sure what to think about this.
    “Taylor from Team Shadow Brook and Jessica from Team Northern Dance.”





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    The Beginning

    Post by Guest on Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:18 pm

    This is only the first part, let me know if you want the rest! Thanks!
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    Mistystar
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    Re: The Promise of Glory Part 1

    Post by Mistystar on Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:30 pm

    That is really good!!!
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    Re: The Promise of Glory Part 1

    Post by Mistystar on Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:04 pm

    I love this story. I would love the rest!
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    Skyleaf

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    Re: The Promise of Glory Part 1

    Post by Skyleaf on Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:59 pm

    Me too!!!!!!! I really want the rest of it too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy


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    Skyleaf

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    Re: The Promise of Glory Part 1

    Post by Skyleaf on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:09 pm

    Could you post the new version?


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