I lay my head back against the wall and close my eyes. My fingers running through the ends of my hair. I’m at a loss. I have no phone so I can’t call anyone, and I have no way out.
I wipe the sweat from my head and neck, my fingers brush against the golden chain around my neck and tucked into my shirt. I pull it out and stare at the ring on the end.
His words echo in my head, “Promise me that no matter what happens, you won’t give up.”
“I have something for you.” He says, that mischievous glint never leaving his eyes.
“Am I going to like this something or are you going to get punched in the face?” I ask with a raised eyebrow. He scowls at me, his emerald green eyes narrowing at me.
“Why do I date you?”
“I was wondering the exact same thing.”
He pats the spot in the grass next to him waiting for me to take a seat. I sit. He holds out a little black box, I look up at him.
“Are you proposing? Cause the answer is no.” he gives me the most unimpressed look a human can give.
“Just open it.” I slowly remove the lid and pull out something wrapped in tissue paper. I unwrap the paper and see a gold chain with a silver ring on the end. It’s a just a plain simple band with two words carved into it in cursive, ‘I Promise’.
“It’s beautiful,” I whisper. “Why’d you get this for me?”
“It’s a promise ring, and my way of saying that if you ever need me, I’ll always be there.” He says quietly, his eyes never leaving mine. “And, I want you to promise me something,” I glance up from the ring to look at him, “I want you to promise me that no matter what happens, you won’t give up, you’ll keep fighting for yourself and for anyone else you come across in life, and most importantly...you won’t die.”
I just nod my head quietly, not making a sound as I stare at the ring.
“You have to put it on now.” He says.
“No I don’t”
“Must you always make everything so difficult? I mean come on I’m already wearing mine.” He pulls the exact same necklace out of his shirt, only the colors are reversed. His is a gold ring with a silver band.
“Yours says the same thing?” I question softly.
“Nope he pops the ‘p’ “Mine says ‘Forever’”
“I Promise Forever,” I whisper and he smiles back at me.
End of Flashback
I stare at the two words carved into the ring before tucking it back into my shirt. My eyes dart all over the place trying to find a way out of this. My hands start working to remove the smaller pieces of concrete and metal, but it’s no use, nothing budges, all I’m left with are scraped up and bloody hands.
“Lovely,” I mutter. Unless I’ve got a crane I’m not getting out of here anytime soon.
The ground shakes again as we all stare at the warehouse as it caves in on itself and collapses.
“That was the last one,” I whisper, I just continue to stare as if Thirteen will suddenly come walking out of the destruction and make up some excuse as it why this is our fault. But she doesn’t.
“I don’t think she made it Cody,” Chase says quietly. We all stand in silence.
“We better get word back to the Agency then,” Jason says, interrupting our thoughts as he turns and heads towards the location of the car.
“That’s it then?” Devin pipes up, “Your all just going to give up? What if she’s still alive? We can’t just leave her there.”
“We have no way of knowing whether or not she made it out, and we have no way of looking for her,” Jason argues.
“If it was any of us she’d look for us.”
“How do you know that? She’d probably just turn around and leave us.” I hiss.
“Really? Cause she came back for us when that guy Victor had us, she came back for us in the warehouse, she had every opportunity both times to turn and run, and leave us, but she didn’t.”
“He’s right you know.” We turn towards Ryan who has said nothing since we got out, “Thirteen is complicated, but she doesn’t like being the reason other people get hurt. She’s as stupid as she is fearless, and do not tell her I said that.”
“You act like she’s still alive. Like she actually had a chance of surviving that.” Chase retorts as he gestures to the fire still burning.
Ryan just shrugs, “She’s survived worse.”
“How do you know all this about her?”
“I’m her cousin.” We all stare at him like he’s just grown another head. “What?” he asks.
“What do you mean she’s survived worse?” I ask, changing the subject.
“Not my story to tell.” he answers, “But if you want to try to find her, you could use the comms.”
“What do you mean?”
“They took all yours but they never got her, she could still have hers.”
“And we can trace it.” Chase finishes for him. He reaches into the bag we had left outside the warehouse and removes a Tablet from it. He begins scrolling through apps and typing.
“Got it.” he finally says. “Looks like she did make it out, the signal is about 4oo meters away from the warehouse.” Immediately we all begin running in that direction.
“There’s no one here,” Jason says.
“The signal ends here.” Chase retorts.
“Is it possible her earpiece fell out while she was running this way? Devin questions.
“Yeah but it’s not likely.” Chase answers. I start walking around the area looking for anything that could give us a clue.
“Well maybe-” I’m cut off as my leg sinks into the ground up to my knee. My hands shoot out to steady myself as I stop sinking.
“You ok?” Jason inquires.
“Yeah.” I pull my leg out and stare down into the hole, realization hits me
“We’re above the tunnels,” I say. Chase runs his hands through his hair.
“She’s in the tunnels,” he mumbles.
“You mean her body is.” All heads snap towards Jason. “What? It’s not likely she survived, she put the detonators in the tunnels.”
“Do you have any extra comms in that bag?” I ask Chase. He begins to rummage through the bag before he gets to a small case, he tosses it to me. I open it and place an earpiece in my ear.
“Thirteen? You there?” silence, “Thirteen, are you alright?”
“You’re the only team I’ve ever met that actually brings extra comms on missions.” Her sarcastic voice sounds in my ear. I can’t help but breathe out a sigh of relief.
“Are you hurt?” I ask, ‘she’s alive?’ Jason mouths and I nod.
“Just some scrapes and bruises, and some trouble breathing due to the amount of smoke I’ve inhaled, but other than that I’m just peachy.”
“Ok well we’re right above you, but we don’t know how to get you out. Any ideas?”
“I got one...but you’re not going to like it.”
“There’s one detonator left.” She says.
“Absolutely not.” I snap back at her.
“Well then it looks like I’m going to be staying here for a while. Did you know that after a certain amount of time underground, there’s no more oxygen, so the person who’s underground, just slowly starts suffocating, and then, gasping for air, and-”
“Ok, ok I got it,” I growl out, interrupting her.
“Do you? Do you really?” I remove the earpiece from my ear.
“What does she want us to do?” Ryan questions.
“She wants us to use the last detonator to blow through the rubble,” I respond quietly.
“That could kill her!” Ryan shouts, a look of panic etched across his face.
“I know.” I rub my head over my face, “But what other choice do we have? We don’t have time to get the necessary equipment to get her out, by then she’ll be dead.”
“So either she dies on her own...or we kill her?” Chase clarifies.
“Basically,” I reply. I place the earpiece back into my ear. “Where do we put this detonator?” I ask her, already dreading the answer.
“Well above me obviously, but make sure it’s a couple feet to the right,” She replies, “Now hurry up I haven’t got all day.”
“This is a bad idea,” Chase mutters as he hands me the detonator, I place it on the floor and set the timer for one minute.
“It’s set,” I tell her.
“Good. Now get at least a hundred meters away from it.” We all begin running back to watch for the explosion. It goes off, dirt, grass, and fire spread everywhere. Smoke pouring out of the ground.
“Thirteen?” I whisper.
We all begin running back over as soon as the smoke begins to clear. We stand at the edge and peer over into the hole we made. Concrete and dirt litter the bottom.
“Shame we had to waste the last detonator. I was planning on using it to wake you guys up in the morning.” Her voice sounds, and her hand waves away some smoke.
I shake my head silently but can’t help the grin that covers my face, “You’re going to get yourself killed.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she waves me off and turns to Devin, “Help me up.” He shakes his head and pulls her out of the hole.
She sits in the passenger seat and just stares out the window for the drive back to the hotel. It’s painfully quiet.
“So I’m just going to ask the question everybody’s thinking,” Jason speaks up, breaking the silence, his glare directed towards Thirteen. “What the hell aren’t you telling us?”
“You’re going to have to be more specific,” she mutters in reply.
“More specific?” he questions, a look of irritation on his face.
“Yeah cause there’s a lot of things I’m not telling you.” she retorts calmly.
“Ok, fine. How about the fact that we were told by Zero that these people got their hands on some of our tech, some, not all! They had our guns, our software-”
“When did you look at their computers?” Devin interrupts but Jason continues as if he never heard him.
“our vests, our knives, our-
“I get it.” Thirteen snaps, effectively silencing Jason. She lets out a sigh, and closes her eyes, leaning back in the seat.
“Well? Are you going to answer me or not?”
“He’s got a point,” Chase says, “I mean not only did they have a ton of our tech, they could also fight better than your average drug dealer. So what aren’t you telling us?”
She sighs in resignation. “You have to swear you won’t tell anyone else, Zero wants to keep this as quiet as possible.”
“What?” Jason asks impatiently.
“The people we’re hunting, they aren’t drug lords or even dealers.”
“Then what are they?” I ask.
“They’re former agents.”