White-faced and clammy, Markfeet bites down on her lip, clenches her toes, digs fingernails into her palms to stay silent. She can barely breathe in the heavy veil, barely move in the thick purple robe. Do nothing, say nothing, they had laid on her like a curse. You are here as an observer and nothing more.
The trappings are bullshit, she knows, designed to impress the rubes, but the blood is real enough. There’s a kid tied to a chair under the only electric light in the room, and each of the academy graduates takes turns cutting their arms and throwing the free-flowing blood into the kid’s face. His eyes are rolled back in his head, whether from drugs or deprivation or frenzy, she couldn’t say, but there’s a palpable charge in the air, lightning before a storm.
Getting jumped out was bloodier, but less fraught, and she’s already regretting her choice. One gang for another, it had seemed at the time, but she loathes her fellow trainees, loathes the blue code of silence they pressed into her lips, despises the thick smell of blood and the veil. This time next year, she thinks, half-dread, half excitement, and winces as another splash of blood hits the kid right in the eyes.
His eyes flicker but do not blink. The line sways forward.