When the Sky Caught Fire

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Chapter 4

Chap 4

Susan limped along with Luke’s help while the man kept an eye out for a good branch for a crutch. It would be that much easier if she could walk on her own. Susan focused hard on the sounds she could hear to attempt to identify what they were. Most of the time she wasn’t able to identify any of the noises, so far, the only one she could identify was a gunshot. Any noise lower than that she couldn’t hear.

Moisés signed angrily at people as they carried him on the gurney, I can walk! You people are crazy, let me down! The boy knew full well that they were not going to let him walk and possibly hurt himself again. That, however, didn’t mean he had to be happy about it.

Ramona looked down at Moisés and signed, you need to stay there. You can’t be walking around, you need to see a doctor. She attempted to hold back a smile in response to his extremely annoyed expression.

Moisés started signing sarcastically, Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I had already seen a doctor. I was under the assumption that he was a trained. Was I wrong? Was I right earlier? Is he a quack? Is he even qualified to take care of people? He crossed his arms over his chest, indicating he was done. He glared daggers at everyone, expressing his displeasure.

Ramona held back a laugh and exchanged an amused glance with the doctor. Moisés raised his eyebrows, signing again, I’m sorry. Was something I said funny? His aggression when he was in a place where he didn’t really look threatening was very entertaining to Ramona, but she wasn’t sure how to articulate that.

Shadow shifted the gurney a little to have a better grip on it, jostling it on accident. Moisés made a noise of pain. Shadow apologized, but since the boy couldn’t hear him, Ramona ended up relaying the message. Moisés gave Shadow the evil eye and refused to sign anything back. Which for Shadow, it didn’t matter either way. He couldn’t see what Moisés was doing anyways and hadn’t been aware that his message had been conveyed. Walking through the snow was very difficult and he was having a hard-enough time trying not to fall.

Storm stumbled, causing Shadow to jerk forward and both people attempted to recover before they fell down. Unfortunately, once you’ve started going down when you’re in the snow you might as well accept your fate. Storm fell to her knees and Shadow did the same to minimize the damage they did to Moisés. The boy moaned in pain again and Ramona, once again, indicated that both were apologetic. Moisés sighed tiredly and turned his head away from his friend just to find himself looking at his worried brother, what?

Abe shook his head and looked down before looking back up, replying, when I saw you on the ground I thought you were dying or dead. I can’t imagine life without you. Mom and dad are gone, I’d have nothing left. Abe saw his brother swallow hard and gave him a tentative smile, I’m just happy you’re alive.

Moisés smiled weakly and quoted himself from earlier, it will take more than a bullet to kill me and a knife tickles a little. He added the last part because he knew it was a knife that got him in the back. A bullet felt much different, plus it was a little bit of humor for his older brother. It got the desired result, a smile came from his brother and caused Moisés relief. He didn’t need his brother to be dwelling on the fact he almost died or could have died.

Shadow and Storm were still kneeling and struggling to get themselves into an upright position. Storm commented tartly, “While you guys are having a little powwow over there Shadow and I could use a little help.” Molly quickly came over and held the gurney while Storm righted herself and Froggy held the other end while Shadow righted himself. Then the two kids handed the gurney back and ran ahead to make sure no one was coming.

The sun was starting to go down over the horizon causing the sky to turn brilliant colors of red, orange, and pink. It looked as if the sky was on fire. Some would take that as a sign of what was coming but this group didn’t believe in omens. Rightfully so, the sky didn’t catch fire until much, much, later. The only omen it was for them at that moment was that they needed to find shelter, it was about to get very cold.

Instead of watching out for approaching enemies the two superkids were searching for a shelter for the night. Willy shivered next to Luke, “I’m cold.” The sun was almost set and the wind chill had gone down to dangerous levels. Luke picked the small kid up and allowed him to take from his body warmth. He knew that kids were more likely to get colder faster. This also meant that he kept a close eye on Susan who was having trouble getting through the snow with her crutch.

When neither of the kids came back for a long time the group started to get nervous. Ramona gestured for Ross to come closer, “We need to find Froggy and Molly. Shadow is acting fidgety which tells me that they don’t usually take this long.” Ross nodded in agreement, not saying anything in reply. Ramona turned to the group and said, “Ross and I are going to look for the kids. Does anyone else want to come?”

Storm answered, “You two check it out, if you find something come back. Do not try and take care of it on your own.” Ramona nodded once and ran off into the woods with Ross stumbling close behind, the snow slowing their progress. Willy watched the two leave with a worried expression, “You know they are going to try and take care of it by themselves, right?” Storm simply shook her head in reply to the boy, knowing that he was right. They were probably going to try and take care of it themselves.

Froggy had his hands held up high in the air, his eyes dilating and refocusing on the Queen’s soldiers that had ahold of Molly. He was finding all the weak points and estimating exactly how fast it would take him to get there. Both of them kept their mouths shut as the leader of these soldiers asked them questions. “Who are you? Where are you from? Can you talk?” The man didn’t seem violent at the moment so the two made sure not to give anything away. One of the soldiers noticed Froggy’s strange eye movements and walked closer, “Are you okay kid?” Froggy flinched slightly but refused to say anything.

Ross and Ramona were watching this quietly and Ross turned to her, whispering, “We need to get them out. They will eventually lose their patience.” Ramona nodded as her mind ran wild for ideas on what to do. They were soon relieved of the responsibility when Molly threw her elbow back, breaking the man’s jaw before she started to turn into a flurry of motion. Froggy pulled out a knife and threw it into a man’s leg, trying his best to wound and not kill. They hadn’t tried to kill them but the two still needed to get out. The one guy who had stayed back instantly dropped to his knees and held his hands up in surrender, after signing, Don’t hurt me

This caused Ramona to step forward and intervened, “Wait…” She approached the man slowly and signed, Deaf? Bringing her index finger from near her ear to close to the corner of her mouth. The man nodded and swallowed hard. Ramona tilted her head a little and noticed that he had a hearing aid on, Can you hear words or environmental noise?

The man dropped his hands slightly so he could sign more accurately, his eyes darting over to the two experiments, Neither. I was wearing it so I could get in the army. If I missed something they chalked it up to a hearing aid malfunction. Is Mosies here? Ramona blinked in surprise when he referenced her friend. She eyed him suspiciously, she knew the Deaf community was tight knit but she wasn’t sure how many of them were friends and how many were enemies.

Froggy and Molly were busy tying up the other soldiers and were not paying attention to Ramona’s conversation. They needed to find a place to sleep soon, Froggy looked at Molly then back at the group, “Go find a place for us to sleep. I can finish up here.” The girl nodded once and bolted away to resume her search.

While she was gone, Froggy walked back over to Ramona and said, “We need to get going. We can bring your friend if you want to.” He felt like that this small group was a decoy, but why would they need a decoy?

He shook his head to try and clear that particular thought from his mind when Molly came back with news, “I found a place to stay the night, but we have to move quick. On my way, back I had to make a detour because there were some of the army guys coming up the road.” Froggy nodded once, relayed the news to Ramona then hurried back to the group.

Ross and Ramona brought the newest person back to the group with them. Ramona walked up with the Deaf guy to Mosies and he immediately grabbed a gun pointing it at the guy. The guy raised his hands above his head again, only this time he didn’t beg for mercy. Abe got between the two and signed to his brother, Put the gun down. He isn’t worth the bullet.

Mosies gave the guy the hairy eyeball and let out a deep sigh, putting the gun down. The guy gently let his hands fall to his sides, hoping that he wasn’t about to be killed anyways. Abe turned to Ramona, saying tensely, “That was a very bad idea to bring him here. They are anything but friends and Mosies would be happy to place a bullet in his brain.”

Ramona quickly got defensive, “I didn’t know! He was Deaf, I assumed that meant that they were…friends…” she realized how stupid she sounded and flushed bright red, “Should I have asked you first?” She was willing, in this case, to admit she was wrong. Judging by the expression Mosies had she could tell that he really wanted to kill that guy.

Abe raised his eyebrows, “Yes, you should have. Not everyone who is Deaf is on our side, they have divisions just like hearing people do. His name is Quinn and he is most certainly on the side of the Queen.” He never liked Quinn, they had known him before they had been taken away. He was radically loyal to the queen and had pledged allegiance to her and her kingdom.

Quinn was watching them carefully, attempting to read their lips. He was able to catch some things about his loyalties and why Mosies didn’t like him. He kept his hands down, not signing anything. He figured it was best if he remained silent, Mosies wasn’t pleased and Quinn knew he had good reason for that. Mosies started to notice something was wrong. Quinn kept looking over his shoulder as if he were expecting something or someone. He quickly signed, Quinn is hiding something.

Abe turned quickly to Quinn, causing the guy to back up a couple steps. Abe signed rapidly, are you expecting someone? His eyes were hard and his hand was reaching towards his crossbow, hovering near it. Quinn watched Abe, refusing to answer. His hands were unusually still and that bothered Abe. He looked at Ramona, “We need to move.” Moments after he spoke they were surrounded by soldiers, only they didn’t look like the Queen’s soldiers.

Shadow seemed to know who they were because he stepped forward, “Wait! Is Yael here?” He saw them shift nervously as if they weren’t supposed to answer. One of them walked away and seemed to be searching for someone.

Yael came out, looking at Quinn then at the little group they had found, “What’re you doing with this dirt bag? Anyways, that doesn’t matter, what do you need Shadow? I’m a little busy destroying things at the moment.” She looked over and saw Mosies on the gurney, “Oh. So, since I’m the only doctor you know I need to help him? Convenient.”

Dr. Xander looked a little offended by that, “I am a doctor! I needed a more…experienced doctor in these areas.” He knew that many considered him a quack simply because he mainly did work on the experiments. Technically, he wasn’t qualified to give medical care to anyone but the experiments, so Yael wasn’t wrong.

Yael just raised her eyebrows in response than walked over to Mosies asking verbally, “Where were you hurt?” Mosies responded by indicating he was Deaf and Yael wasn’t sure what to do so she stood there for a moment without response, “Okay. Um…” she looked at Storm and the girl stepped forward and interpreted for Mosies. Mosies pointed at his back and then Yael turned him over, wincing at the closed wound, “Owww. That was the right thing to do but you need to change his bandages more often.” She changed his bandages than stepped back, crossing her arms over her chest, “I have to go. We have some buildings to demolish.”

Ramona stepped forward, “Wait, what if we come with you?” She knew they needed to be with a larger group if they were to survive, but she wasn’t sure what Yael’s ideals were. Yael seemed to be unimpressed with the offer of them joining them, “Even if you just have a place for us to stay the night. Willy can’t be out here much longer.” Willy wasn’t pleased about being used as a bargaining tool.

Yael hesitated then rubbed her nose, “Sure. You can come with us for the night. But my ideals probably don’t match yours. I blow things up because I feel like that’s the only way. Anarchy. I don’t care if things get better as long as this tyranny ends.” She started walking with her soldiers following her, “Y’all are just along for the ride.”

Quinn wondered if he should follow up until Abe grabbed him by the upper arm and lugged him along. Abraham was not being gentle so Quinn was well aware of Abe’s dislike. Shadow and Storm were both stumbling through the snow once again while carrying Mosies. Luke picked up Susan as she started to fall behind, wanting to make sure that she didn’t fall behind.

Yael suddenly stopped and asked, irritated, “What is that loud noise following us?!” Everyone turned and Ross smiled sheepishly. Yael raised her eyebrows, “Try and walk quietly please.” She wasn’t sure why Ramona was laughing but she was starting to get the idea that Ross was a very loud walker.

Yael saw a cabin, walked up to it, and kicked open the door while the people inside cowered in fear. The woman smiled, “Hello citizens. We need a place to sleep, just for tonight.” The people looked at each other in an expression that transformed from fear into confusion. Yael brought everyone in and then started helping the wife cook food.

The wife, whose name was Lydia, was confused by the sudden invasion, “I thought you were going to kill us.” She looked over at her children who were happily playing with Willy and attempting to communicate with Susan, “That’s what the Queen says you do.”

“There are some groups that would have. My business is blowing up official buildings, not citizen. The Anomalies…they are more propaganda. They haven’t seen enough to get involved in the fight yet. They fight with other rebel groups but the most they can do is propaganda,” Yael replied as she chopped up vegetables at a speed of light.

Quinn watched everyone, pressing his thumb on his wrist tightly. Inside his wrist was a help button and the signal went straight to the nearest base. Froggy twitched when this happened and he looked over at Quinn. He got up and pulled his thumb from the button but it was already too late, “Oh no.” They all looked at each other and Mosies pulled out his gun causing everyone to duck, fired, and Quinn’s body dropped.

Yael looked at Lydia who had gone pale and her children were crying, “We can’t leave them here…” She cocked her gun, “Lock and load.” Her men spread out, some went on the roof of the cabin and some went in the trees outside, “Anomalies, do what you want.” Abraham turned over the couch with Shadow and put it across the door than turned over the table and had the children hide behind it with Mosies.

Abe handed each kid a gun and showed Lydia’s children how to use them, “Don’t point it at anything you aren’t prepared to kill.” The kids nodded, trembling with fear. Abe, Ramona, and Ross took places by the windows in the living area while Lydia, Storm, Shadow, Luke, and Yael found places in different rooms.

The house fell very quiet as they waited for the coming soldiers. Soon they heard people coming through the wintery forest and soon the group was surrounded. Yael threw Quinn’s body out the door than shut it, creating no doubt that someone was home. At first, the soldiers were stunned then the leader said, “If you come out now we won’t kill you all.”

Yael responded cheerfully, “Why don’t you come in here and make us.” She cackled gleefully after that statement, then she winked at Storm who looked at her like she was crazy, “That’ll make them happy.” There was silence for a moment before the house was open fired upon.

Storm briefly considered doing Yael in herself before aiming through the window and shooting one of the many soldiers. She gaped at the sheer number of soldiers and looked at Yael, “There is an army out there.” Yael just grinned at her in response, being well aware of how many soldiers were out there, “Yael, you are insane.”

“Am I? Or are you just too careful and a ninny? Come on, Storm, where is your sense of adventure!” Yael said cheerfully as another wave of bullets pounded into the house. Storm glared at Yael, refusing to respond to that. Suddenly it was quiet and this caused Yael to tense. She didn’t want to look out the window to see what was going on, but she was very curious at the same time. She put her hand by the window and flashed a sign out the window. A bullet shot Yael in the hand and she bent over with a scream just as the trees open fired unto the enemy. Yael held her hand close to her body, gritting her teeth, and then wrapped it with a piece of cloth, “They have a sniper, tell people not to stand by the windows.”

Storm turned in time to see Ramona walking in view of a window, she also saw Ross close by, “Ross, don’t let her get near a window!” Ross tackled the girl and a bullet grazed his back, “Thanks man!” Ross cursed at Storm as she stiff armed Luke from walking in front of a window, “Nobody go near the windows!”

Ross rolled off of Ramona and huffed, “You’ve been in this longer than me and I still had the sense not to wander aimlessly? I won’t be here to take bullets for you people forever.” He glared at the girl and she glared back, “You need to watch after your friends, got it? I’m here to print things, be a dad to a kid that isn’t mine, and watch Mosies’s back. The rest of you can take a flying leap.” He crawled away from the girl and then hissed at Ramona, “Get your act together.”

Ramona growled in reply then crawled to Mosies, signing what Storm had yelled. Mosies simply raised an eyebrow at her and signed, I already assumed that. Why? You didn’t know? When he saw Ramona’s embarrassed expression he sighed deeply, Ramona…I thought you would have known that. He shook his head then went back to watching the kids. Mosies suddenly pulled Ramona’s head down just as the door was kicked in and the soldiers came trampling in. Yael jumped out into the open, shooting at people while her men seemed to come out of the woodwork. Suddenly one of the soldiers was knocked off balance and Froggy appeared for a moment as he disarmed the man. He was shot in the leg and the boy yelped, his knee giving for a moment. Molly appeared in the sky for a second before landing on the man who had shot Froggy, twisting his head at an angle that looked wrong and killed him. Froggy ducked as a different person tried to shoot at him again and he threw himself into another room, narrowly missing bullets.

Yael came back in and defended the people in that room, temporarily making a way of escape, “This way!” The kids all bolted for Yael with the others close behind. Yael sent them all ahead and stayed behind, defending the cabin. They ran hard through the woods, tripping over snow, sticks, and logs as they ran.

Lydia’s children huddled around her, shaking and crying. The woman walked up to Yael and delivered a punch in the face, “You invaded my home, brought the police, and caused us to be homeless! You ruined our lives!” Yael rubbed her face, eying Lydia as she yelled at her. Yael remained silent, knowing she probably deserved everything she was getting.

Ramona looked around at everyone and noticed that a few people were missing, “Where’s Abe, Luke, and Susan?” Storm also looked around with a worried expression, especially when Ramona added, “Dr. Xander is missing too.” They combed the woods as they walked back slowly towards the cabin, unable to find the four people. When they reached the cabin the first person they found was Susan. Ramona covered Willy’s eyes to shield the boy from the girl’s death. There were signs of a struggle and lots of blood around the girl. Ross made a noise and turned away, bending over at the waist, heaving. Mosies caught his arm to keep his friend upright as he vomited. All was silent for a moment until Storm made a noise that sounded like an animal. Her pupils changed sizes several times before she bolted off into the woods, following a trail none of them could see. Seconds later Froggy, Molly, and Shadow followed her, leaving the Anomalies to grieve.

Storm ran through the woods, not seeming to care how much noise she made. “Storm, you need to try and be quiet,” Shadow said as he caught up to her. He knew she was furious but he needed her to be sensible.

“I want those schmucks to hear me coming,” Storm replied in an aggressive tone as she trudged forward. She followed the trail and suddenly froze when she realized where they were going, “They are going to an execution place.” She ran full throttle forward while Shadow attempted to catch up again with the two experiments outrunning both of them. When they arrived, Shadow pulled Storm to a stop and the two kids had already skidded to a stop. Ahead of them was a scene that caused Storm’s stomach to drop so much that she felt sick.

Dr. Xander, Luke, and Abe were lined up while a live video feed was rolling. They were standing in front of a firing squad. Storm lunged forward but was caught by all three of her companions. She hissed at them, “You don’t understand, if Abe dies I don’t know what Mosies will do.” Storm fought her companions until Shadow put her on the ground and pinned her arms over her head. Storm glared at her husband, “You really take “Till Death do us Part” seriously don’t you?” Shadow just raised his eyebrows in response, not blessing that with an answer.

The soldier forced Luke down on his knees, asking, “Do you have any final thoughts or confessions?” He knew that Luke was a former soldier so he didn’t expect him to say anything. Usually former soldiers would just shake their head and take the execution quietly. So when Luke finally spoke, it caused the soldier a shock.

Luke remained quiet for a moment, gathering his thoughts, then he started to sign. When he finished, he spoke his translation, “My friends of the Deaf community, rise! Don’t allow them to oppress you anymore. You don’t need to have abortions or sterilizations. They are murdering your community, don’t allow this to go on anymore! I worked for the queen and can tell you that she is the biggest tyrant of all our rulers….” His tirade was cut short by the shocked soldier. He had been caught off guard by the sudden outburst that came from the former soldier. None of them spoke out like that before, especially not at an execution. The soldier regained his bravo and walked up to Dr. Xander. Before the man was even on his knees he started talking.

“I have done terrible things. The rumors are true, there are genetic experiments and they can do more than any of you. I experimented on them and it is sanctioned by your queen. I had a hand in these and my death will be a relief. I have been saved by the precious blood of Christ and have been forgiven. Jesus Christ is Kin…” Two shots were fired quickly, ending the Dr.’s life. The soldier turned to the live feed and started to comment.

“See, religious zealots. This is what happens to people like them, you end up dead. If you meet people like this, report them and they can be reeducated, which is what we will do with this young man here…” The soldier was in the middle of his sentence when a knife split through his throat and people fell dead in front of the camera. Then Froggy stopped in front of the camera with Molly right next to him. Abe had been shot at and he dropped like a rock. Froggy checked his pulse, unsure if the boy was dead. He could feel a pulse but since he wasn’t a doctor he was feeling for it wrong. Abe had been shot once in the shoulder, once in the leg, and once near his hip.

Froggy pointed at the camera with a trembling finger and trembling voice, “I am one of those experiments and we plan on bringing this nation to its knees.” He bolted away and Molly followed soon after. Storm calmly walked across the view of the camera and looked at all the carnage. She looked impressed briefly before glancing at the still running camera and shot it.

Shadow stumbled out of the woods, wincing. He had a black eye and was limping a little bit, “Was it really necessary to knee me in the crotch?” Shadow looked at all the dead people and shuddered, “Did Froggy and Molly do this?” He had never seen what they could be capable of until that moment, “And only for three people?”

“When three people have changed your life drastically you will move heaven and earth to save them. Froggy and Molly knew that they were prepared for a rescue but after the murders were done they were free to exact revenge. These soldiers essentially ruined a bunch of lives today. Four to be exact and the damage still isn’t done. Someone is going to have to tell Mosies what happened and I can’t guarantee he won’t go off the deep end,” Storm gestured for Shadow to follow her, “For now, we need to catch up to the Dual Killers so that way they don’t do anything they’ll regret.” Shadow and Storm bolted (or limped) out of the area to find the two experiments. Backup would likely be coming soon.

In the meantime, back at the castle, the Queen was staring intently at the screen of the television. She felt like she had seen Storm somewhere before, but couldn’t place where. She turned to a man standing next to her, “Look through all the profiles of my children. I feel as if I may have given one up to the clinic at some point.” She looked over at a man who came charging into the room, he looked alarmed, “Yes? What is it?”

“Your majesty, there has been a riot in the gated Deaf communities. They have been unable to subdue them, they have taken the guns away from their guards and are trying to break out,” He glanced at the TV as it played the executions again, “You might want to cancel that before more of them rise up.”

“Which Deaf communities?” The queen asked, her eyes were cold as she considered what to do with them. They could fly helicopters out to gun them down, send soldiers down if it was only one community, or simply annihilate them with a drone. She supposed she could make it look like a tragic attack if she really wanted to, but making a point would be much better. She couldn’t lose control of the country, she had to keep the nations united. Especially Ireland, they had been given to the Sisterland as a gift but they were her most troublesome subjects.

“The majority of them. The states of Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alaska, California, Idaho, Kansas, and more. Then the country of Ireland is revolting along with their Deaf communities. The Native Americans here are also starting to revolt. Not that we ever kept them anyways…but they are starting to attack the country lines,” The man responded, his voice getting higher as he talked.

The Queen’s eyes widened in surprise, suppressing these revolts might be harder than any of the other ones she had done before. Her eyes grew cold again and she paced around the room, “Send out our armies, we need to suppress them before they can gain any kind of traction. If you need to employ helicopters and drones, do it. If you see boats from Ireland, bomb them. I will place an official sanction on that country.” She left the room, her heels clacking as she left the room. The man also ran out the opposite door to do her bidding.

In the meantime, Mosies had found out what happened to Abe. They had all followed Storm’s tracks and now Ross was puking again, this time behind a tree. When Mosies saw his brother his knees had given out and he had fallen. The boy struggled to stand then walked over to his brother, touching his pulse point. He knew that his brother was dead but he needed evidence that it was so. Mosies dropped his head but no tears came out. Inside of him it felt as if he had been shattered into a million pieces with no hope of putting himself back together. He felt alone, he knew that Ramona had very little communication skills and Storm was nowhere in sight.

Willy came into the clearing soon after they arrived and when he saw the carnage he visibly withdrew into himself. He dropped his head into his hands and cried freely. Then Willy ran up to Luke’s body and shook him, “Luke? Wake up.” He fell on his knees next to the big man, “Luke? We can fix it.” The little boy realized what he was saying and slowly walked away from the dead body. He turned and ran towards Ross who was wiping his mouth, jumping into his arms. Ross barely caught him and held on tight as the little boy cried as if his heart would break, “I want mommy, daddy, and Luke.” The child cried ugly tears as Ross held unto him.

Mosies looked at a gun laying on the ground and picked it up, pressing it to his temple. Ramona ran to Mosies and pulled the gun away from him, throwing it as hard as she could. Then she grabbed his arm to keep him from going after it. Mosies looked at her with a hopeless expression, dropping his head in defeat. Mosies signed, He can’t be dead. Ramona wrapped her arms around the boy and allowed him to cry. Both of them froze when the “dead” body started to sign to them.

I understand why you’d grieve if you think I’m dead, but let’s not place the cart before the horse, okay? Abe sat up slowly, wincing as he checked his bullet wounds. Mosies stared at him like he had just raised from the dead, What? Here I am, alive and well. Mosies threw his arms around his brother in a tight hug while Abe winced in pain. Unfortunately, he could not communicate this pain to his brother when he wasn’t looking at him. Abe struggled and ultimately got away from his sibling, signing, I still have wounds.

Ramona tugged at Mosies and then helped him get Abe on his feet. The two helped him escape into the woods while Ross followed, carrying the small child. They had lost two people and the genetic anomalies had run off, they were alone again. Once they got far enough into the woods the group stopped and made a gurney for Abe this time. Mosies was healed enough to go running through a forest, so they figured he was fine. Yael and her group left with Lydia and her kids, Yael was planning on finding a better home for the small group. She did feel bad for uprooting them, even if they really did need a place to stay. They risked a lot, bringing the boy they didn’t know with them and it ended up costing a few lives.

Ramona and Ross carried the gurney this time while Mosies was given Kid Duty. Willy was very depressed and was having problems with wanting to keep moving, So Mosies hoisted the kid up unto his back then caught up with the other two. He would be unable to communicate with the child no matter what, so having him on his back wouldn’t make much of a difference. Willy laid his head down on Mosies’s back and let out a sigh. Mosies hoisted the kid higher on his back and continued to walk, keeping a focus on the Redheaded Duo. He knew it was only a matter of time before they wouldn’t be able to put up with each other, then he’d have to take the place of one of them. He could see that they were both talking but he couldn’t tell what they were saying. He had started to try to teach himself to read lips, but he could only pick up some words. Mosies gave up, his eyes growing tired from the strain.

Abe looked over at his brother, seeing that he was trying to track with the conversation. Despite his weakened state he still started to interpret for his brother. Mosies’s eyes lit up, reminding Abe of why he wanted to do this as a job. Abe was able to interpret for twenty minutes before he started to grow tired. When Mosies noticed this he waved at Abe, getting his attention, Hey, you can stop now. Take a break. Willy gripped to Mosies’s back for dear life as the boy let go of him and signed. Willy started to slip when Mosies caught his legs and hoisted him up again.

“We need to find Storm or Yael. Yael could at least get the bullets out and cauterize the wound…What do you think?” Ramona said to Ross’s back as he carried the other end. Ross turned his head slightly so he could hear what she was saying. She noticed that Ross was starting to move through the snow and woods as if he belonged there. It was an improvement over the stumbling he was doing before.

“I think we need to find Yael, we can’t count on Storm. Their tracks were going into the woods when we got there so…we can’t. Although…I can’t say we can rely on Yael either. We need to find a town first then we need to find a free clinic of some sort,” Ross adjusted the gurney a little as he talked, getting a better grip.

Ramona nodded and both of them fell quiet for a little while. They were both absorbed in their own thoughts for a while before Ross spoke up again, “The Queen needs to go. We can’t live in peace as long as she is alive.” He glanced back at Ramona for a second, it was long enough for him to stumble and catch his balance.

“Careful, don’t fall. I agree, as long as the Queen remains alive there is no way we can live in peace. She wants complete control. The only problem is, if we overthrow her we have the Motherland, the Fatherland, and England will come after us. We need more than just us on the same side,” Ramona responded as she took her turn stumbling. The snow wasn’t as deep where they were but it was still difficult for them to walk, “We need to find a more permanent place to stay for the winter. Maybe an abandoned retreat?”

Ross thought about this for a moment, “What about the Irish? They have been fighting back against England and the Sisterland for years. If you know where there is an abandoned retreat, I would be more than happy to go there.” He was ready for rest and could feel the air getting colder, there was no way they could find a place to stop before the sun went down, “What are we going to do tonight?”

“I don’t know,” Ramona glanced down at Abe who looked back up at her with concern. She looked back at Mosies who looked very tired, he had to put Willy down and now the young boy was basically leading the older one. Ramona shivered violently from the cold, it had come on suddenly and she had tried to suppress it. This got the attention of every single guy that saw her, which excluded Ross and Willy. Mosies signed to Ramona and she responded, I’m fine, we need to find someplace warm or we’ll all freeze.

Mosies furrowed his eyebrows in concern and then noticed Willy shivering constantly. He picked the little boy up and he wrapped his legs around his waist from the front. The child laid his head on his chest, shivering. Mosies rubbed his back and glanced at Ramona, unable to sign anything.

Ramona saw smoke far away and pointed it out to Ross, “Do you see that? Let’s see if they’ll let us in.” She didn’t want to do what Yael did and just make herself at home, but she did know they would die out in the cold. They slugged towards the smoke and the first person to give up was Ross. He stopped and then glanced back at Ramona, not saying a word. They both set the gurney down and Ramona helped Abe up, “You’re going to have to walk.” Ross laid down and Ramona exclaimed, alarmed, “Ross! Get up. You need to help me, you cannot give up.”

“I’m so tired,” Ross shivered and curled in a ball, “I just want to sleep.” His eyes started to close when Mosies kicked him lightly, getting Ross to look at him. He made a motion with his head that indicated he should keep going. Ross shook his head, “I need to sleep. I can’t remember the last time I had a good sleep.”

Ramona let go of Abe for a moment and the boy stood on his own, favoring one leg. She pulled on Ross, “Get up, stupid! You’re going to die if you sleep.” Ramona pushed on him, pulled on him, smacked his cheeks, and did anything to get him up. Ramona looked at Abe, “Can you walk?” When Abe nodded in the affirmative she looked back at Ross, “I’ll try and get him up, go with Mosies.”

Abe limped after his brother as they started walking towards the smoke. Abe signed at his brother, Ross is trying to die. Mosies got a tortured expression but continued to carry the child, not signing in return. Abe glanced back to see Ramona shaking Ross and pulling on him, trying to get him to stand. He shook his head, Ramona got attached to people easily. Ross wasn’t her best friend but he’d been around long enough that she wasn’t just going to let him die.

Ramona fell down on her knees next to Ross, panting from the energy used to try and get him moving. Ross muttered, “Why do you care anyways? The world would be a much better place if I just died.” He suddenly jumped when he felt a slap across his face. He stared at Ramona in shock, surprised that she would choose to slap him. Slapping was something that most people wouldn’t do.

“How dare you say that? If I wanted you to die I would have left you with Walter! If I wanted you to die I would never have given you a weapon! If I wanted you to die I would leave you right here, right now! The world would be worse off without you. You’re funny, sarcastic, and talented. I’m not your biggest fan but I’m not in the business of people killing themselves. You need to get up. I will not leave you here,” Ramona’s voice cracked in desperation, pulling on his arm again. Ross was pulled up to his knees and then dragged into a standing position, “Please.”

Ross tried to shake the sleep out of himself as he let Ramona help him walk. He felt bad, placing most of his weight on her. She was a lot smaller than him and he felt like he was squishing her, “I’m sorry.” He muttered the apology, unaware he had done it. Ramona just glanced at him but didn’t comment, she was aware that he didn’t know he had said anything.

Meanwhile, Abe had given up and was sitting down by a tree. Mosies was pushing on his brother with his feet, trying to get him up. He looked down at the child he was holding, Willy couldn’t stop shivering and the little boy looked on the verge of death. Willy was also speaking, but Mosies couldn’t tell what he was saying. Mosies made a frustrated noise and gave his brother one last push before continuing his trek towards the smoke.

Willy called out to Abe, “You need to get up, it’s too cold out here.” The little boy’s teeth were chattering so hard it was almost impossible for Abe to hear what he was saying. Mosies trudged through the snow as they got closer and closer to the smoke. Willy clung to Mosies and had his little hands buried in Mosies’s coat. At one point Mosies set Willy down and rubbed his hands with his own and blew on them. Mosies opened his coat, picked Willy up, and zipped the coat around both of them. He stood back up, stumbled forward a little, and continued to walk. The smoke had appeared so close before.

The wind blew and bit at Mosies’s skin as he walked. He shivered again and could feel that Willy’s breathing had started to grow shallow. Mosies dragged his feet through the snow, he could finally see the house the smoke was coming from. He looked over his shoulder and saw the figure of Ramona with two men leaning on either shoulder. They were staggering and were unable to walk right, but they were behind him. Ramona would never let anyone die if she could help it. Mosies looked back at where he was walking and he felt a violent shiver from Willy. Mosies looked down at the boy and saw how pale he was growing. Mosies felt like a dead man walking, so he knew Willy must feel worse. Mosies could no longer feel his legs but forced them to keep moving. They came to the edge of the clearing and Mosies fell on his knees, struggling to get back up. Willy was now standing in the snow shivering. He unzipped himself from Mosies and zipped the older boy back up. He took Mosies’s hands and rubbed them, blowing on them to warm them back up. Willy hugged himself and shivered before writing in the snow, I am going to get help. Willy patted Mosies’s cheeks to warm them a little before stumbling through the snow the last few feet to the cabin.

Willy fell at the doorstep, croaking out, “Help.” He shivered and then crawled up to the door, slamming his little fist on it, “Help!” He trembled as he looked up at the door, then he laid his head on the door and sobbed, “Please help.” He kicked both feet at the door, hoping to be heard. Then he sat down and laid his head on his knees, waiting. He was falling asleep when a man came to the door and opened it.

The woman who was standing next to the man rushed out and picked up Willy, “Oh my goodness! Kaleb, get some blankets and warm clothes.” She looked up and saw a boy further out and figures even further than that, “There are more! Jacob! Son! Go get the first boy then get your brothers and get the people further out.” She carried Willy in while her children and husband did her bidding.

Kaleb swiftly changed the boy’s clothes, wrapped him in a blanket, set him by the fire, then started rubbing his legs and arms, “We’ll get you warm, child. What’s your name?” He looked up at the boy who was shivering less than before, “You look hungry, would you like some soup?” When he mentioned soup Willy perked up, “Brenda, can you get some soup for this child?” His wife nodded and went to get some food.

“My name is Willy,” he looked around at the house and then looked alarmed, “Where are my friends? The one boy is Deaf, he carried me most of the way here.” Willy was growing very concerned, the fact that Mosies had gotten as far as he did demonstrated quite a bit of will power. He accepted the soup from Brenda and ate it.

“My sons have gone to get your friends,” Kaleb replied as he started to get blankets around for the others, “Why were you out in the snow? Did you have a skiing or snowmobiling accident?” That happened sometimes where they lived.

“No. We were trying to find somewhere to stay for the night but we couldn’t find anything. We would’ve been happy with a cave,” Willy shivered again, balancing his soup so he didn’t spill it, “We saw the smoke and decided to go towards that.”

Kaleb stilled for a second and shared a glance with his wife, “Why would you choose to be wandering around in the snow?” He guessed that the child was involved with rebels, but he needed to hear it from the child before making any assumptions.

“I don’t think I should tell you that,” Willy answered uneasily, “Ask Ramona when she gets here, she’ll be able to answer you.” He started spooning the food into his mouth, refusing to answer any more questions. Willy glanced at Kaleb and was happy to see that he didn’t seem offended. Mosies was dragged in next and sat in front of the fire. He was changed out of his clothes, had blankets put around him, and got him some soup. Only this time Brenda helped Mosies eat his soup. Willy put down his soup, sat by Mosies, set his head on his shoulder, and signed, Thank you. Mosies nodded in reply and opened his mouth for another spoonful.

Next Abe and Ross were dragged in with Ramona close behind. Brenda took Ramona in a different room to change her then brought her back, plopping her on the other side of Mosies. After they were all changed and sat by the fire Brenda tentatively asked, “Why do some of you have multiple scars on your backs?” She had noticed this on Abe, Ramona, and Mosies. The scars had looked brutal, like they were intentional lacerations.

Ramona glanced at her and then at Willy. Willy said softly, “They are cold and I don’t think she wants to talk without Mosies being able to understand.” Ramona looked relieved that Willy understood but she also knew that if she talked it would be very unlikely anyone would understand her.

Brenda nodded slowly then looked at her four sons. One of them, Jacob, stepped forward, “I know sign language.” Once that had been settled Ramona licked her lips and glanced at Abe, asking permission to share. Abe nodded and then glanced at Mosies who was zoning in and out. He waved in his brother’s peripheral and indicated that Jacob would be the interpreter.

“I’m sure you’ve guessed that we’re rebels. When our group first started it was only me, Abe, Mosies, and Walter,” Ross looked at her with a surprised expression, “When we first left the tunnel we were in, we were caught.” Ramona swallowed past the lump in her throat, “We were all placed in different rooms. I could hear Abe and Mosies screaming, they used that to try and get me to talk.” Ramona dropped her head and swallowed again, “They beat us, cut us, and overall tortured us. We only escaped because of an experiment. Abe’s most recent wounds are from a near death experience.”

“Why does Mosies have worse wounds then the rest of you?” Jacob asked then interpreted the question. He had noticed that between Abe and Mosies he had several wounds all over, which implied that Mosies got the worse treatment of the two.

Abe spoke this time, “When Mosies wouldn’t talk they assumed he was being stubborn. So, they made the cuts deeper and gave him more wounds than me. I tried to tell them that he was Deaf and unable to speak verbally. They didn’t believe me because he could scream.” Abe closed his eyes and shuddered at the memory, watching his brother be abused.

Brenda nodded and then said, “That’s enough questions for tonight.” She shooed her boys away then started to take care of the people. Brenda looked at Kaleb and he picked Willy up, setting him on the couch and covering him up snugly.

Ramona had fallen asleep on Mosies’s shoulder, so the couple didn’t know what to do with them. Kaleb supported Mosies while Brenda made a large “nest” on the floor for the two. Then they set them both in it before finding a spot for Ross and Abe.

Kaleb rubbed Brenda’s arms and said, “I’ll stay up with them. If anybody comes for them I won’t let them in, they can’t come in without a warrant.” He knew that wasn’t technically true anymore, if the soldiers wanted to push it they could. Kaleb could only hope that the snow would cover up their tracks.

Brenda nodded and gave her husband a hug, “Alright, goodnight. I will see you in the morning, okay dear?” When her husband nodded she gave him a kiss on the cheek and then went to bed, checking on her own children first. Brenda looked back at her husband one more time and smiled, “I love you.” He nodded in reply and she went in to bed. Kaleb pulled out a chair and sat down in it, keeping watch over his household.

As the sun came up the next morning Brenda was in the kitchen making a giant breakfast for all the people in her house. Willy was already up, he wasn’t cold anymore and wanted to help the lady cook breakfast. Brenda had set up a stool and Willy cutting up the precooked potatoes for breakfast while sitting on it. Ramona woke up next, wincing because of her sore muscles, she rolled over and put her arm over Mosies’s stomach. She stilled then looked up at her friend and he grinned at her, signing, Good morning. Did you know you cuddle in your sleep?

Ramona blushed and smacked him on the arm, causing him to laugh. She got up and joined Brenda in the kitchen, “Can I help you with anything?” Brenda gestured to some eggs and Ramona started preparing them as instructed, “Thank you for helping us and not placing us back out in the cold.” She looked at the women, trying to judge her intention.

Brenda smiled at Ramona, “You’re welcome. If we sent you back into the cold we could never forgive ourselves. The boy, Willy, is so sweet. After he was warm the first thing he thought about was you and your group. Did you have a good sleep? Kaleb said you stayed near Mosies all night.”

“Yes, I did, thank you. Mosies is a comfort to me, he has been there since the beginning. I would be lost without him or Abraham at this point,” Ramona replied as she poured the eggs in the pan. She stirred the eggs around in the pan, adding whatever spices Brenda handed her.

Mosies got up next, stretching out his muscles before getting up. He walked into the kitchen and signed, Can I help with anything? Ramona turned and interpreted for Mosies, voicing for him. Mosies was then given instructions on stirring the bacon.

Brenda commented cheerfully, “Soon I won’t even have to cook.” She started to set the table when Ross walked up to her, “I suppose you want to help as well?” When he nodded in response she pulled out cups and placed them on the counter then showed him the silverware, “Since I’m already doing the plates you can set out the cups and silverware.” Ross obeyed instantly then Brenda’s boys came out, so her prediction was correct, she didn’t have to work.

As soon as breakfast was ready they all sat down at the table to eat. Brenda looked at the group of people at her table and sighed, she knew they wouldn’t stay past breakfast. She was already planning on what kinds of food to send with them, she couldn’t let them starve. Brenda suddenly felt determined, this group would stay with her for the winter. She knew that if they were caught they would die, but she also knew that they couldn’t wander around in the snow. “I’ve decided that your group can stay here until the snow melts.” Her words left her mouth before thinking about talking to her husband about the decision. When he started nodding in agreement she felt relieved, that could have gone terribly. What she didn’t expect was the immediate response.

First it was silent then Ramona and Abe both tried to talk her out of it at the same time, making it hard for her to follow who was speaking. “But you could die,” “We can’t ask you to do that,” “You would all be killed,” “It isn’t fair for your children,” “We would only eat all your food, especially Ross,” “I would not!” This continued for a few moments before Kaleb stood up and slammed one giant fist on the table, “Enough! You can stay! Boys, will they be an inconvenience to you?”

The boys, in question, had never stopped eating. They had watched the entire exchange with amusement, now that the question had been raised they shook their heads in the negative. Mosies looked frazzled from the sudden slam on the table. Abe quickly translated what happened and the boy broke out into laughter. The tensioned fizzled out as they watched Mosies almost fall off his chair while Ross gave him a death look. Abe never made it past Ross eating all the food.

Brenda smiled brightly at them, “I’m glad it’s settled. When the snow has melted down enough for the soldiers to come here we will send you on your way. As long as you are helpful around here, we don’t mind having you.” She watched as Mosies collected himself and he finished watching his brother’s translation.

Mosies appeared troubled then he turned and signed to them, If they so much as hear someone gossip that we have been here, you will not survive. He didn’t like the idea of putting them in danger, he hadn’t seen any neighbors but that didn’t mean anything, All it takes is a friend visiting and seeing us. Friends are friends until they see an enemy living in your house. Abe interpreted as Mosies signed, sometimes backtracking to correct his interpretation.

Brenda considered this for a moment then said, “We don’t get many visitors in the winter, but if we do, we have a cellar. This house was renovated from a house built in the late 1800s, it is a root cellar. None of our friends really know about it, so you’ll be safe in there.” She would only do that as a last-minute thing, the cellar could get very cold.

The group nodded then they tried to figure out sleeping arrangements. They put Abe and Mosies next to each other as they were siblings, then Willy stayed with Ross, and Ramona could sleep on the couch. Abe was sleeping in a chair because of his wounds. Brenda watched all the people as they talked and got to know each other.

Jacob was now sitting by Mosies and signing with him. Mosies seemed to be expressing some concern about them staying there while Jacob tried his best to dispel those fears. Jacob looked over at Willy, he had found paper and a pencil and seemed to be sketching something. It was very detailed and caused great curiosity.

The sketch didn’t truly start to take form until about two in the afternoon. At this point, everyone had seen what it was at different points of the day. A beautiful sketch of a printing press was starting to take shape. Willy was very focused on the press when Ross tapped his shoulder carefully, “Willy? Is that the plastic one?” The way it was designed it looked as if it should work as a plastic machine.

“No. It’s titanium. Of course, it’s plastic,” Willy rolled his eyes with a sarcastic inflection, “A plastic one? One what? One rocket, one clock, one chair? Be specific.” Ross ignored the sass that followed the sarcasm and watched the drawing take place. Willy soon lost himself in his design as he labeled certain parts and drew smaller parts on the back of the piece of paper. He even did a couple different designs for the type and ink plate, “Maybe Titanium would work better…” The boy muttered to himself, forgetting that he had an audience. Willy suddenly looked up and said, “Make me a list of materials that are lighter than steel or cast iron.”

The group and the family got together and started to brainstorm ideas, the list wasn’t very long as the material options were narrow. They also added personal notes about durability, which would be an important factor in material choice.

The List:

1.Titanium Note: Very durable, light, how much would we need?

2.Polymer plates Note: Already used for other printing press things. Would it last?

3.Aluminum Note: Very light but very fragile. Won’t last.

4.Bamboo Note: Very flexible, could we make all the pieces out of it?

Willy looked at the list and instantly scratched out the bottom two, “We need something durable and light. Aluminum isn’t durable and if you use enough bamboo it won’t be light.” He went back to sketching while adding notes about which materials would work best. Brenda sat, amazed at the beautiful sketch-work that the child was doing. Willy had trouble drawing a few of the smaller parts to the machine but it was an otherwise beautiful drawing.

Kaleb came back into the house with the door slamming against the wall, “Get in the basement!” His chest was heaving from running, “Soldiers are here.” He opened the cellar door which was based in the ground, gesturing for the rebels to get down there. Mosies and Ramona both helped Abe get down into the basement before climbing in themselves. Ross gathered up the papers and handed them to Willy, ushering him into the basement, following close behind. Kaleb closed the basement and threw an area rug over it, “They were never here, understood?” His family nodded and went on with daily business.

About thirty minutes later there was a banging on the door that caused the door to tremble under the aggressiveness of it. Kaleb went and answered the door, “Hello? Oh, yes, come on in. What can I help you with?” The soldiers walked around, trying to act casual, but were clearly looking for something. Kaleb knew what they were looking for, but he was an expert in faking.

“We are looking for a group of terrorists. Two unusually tall teenagers, one a girl and one a boy, a couple in their late twenties, a Deaf Mexican boy, a sarcastic redhead, a headstrong female, a little boy, and another Mexican boy. Have you seen them? Here are the most recent pictures,” The soldier put the pictures on the table, gauging the reaction. Since there was no reaction and the shaking of heads the soldier put the pictures away, “If you do see them, let us know. You can call this number. You don’t mind if we look around?” Kaleb and Brenda both knew that the soldier wasn’t really asking, it was more of a rhetorical question. Kaleb nodded in unison with his wife and the soldier started to look around with his men. The family tried their best to look relaxed, but it was hard, especially knowing that the large majority of the people they were looking for were in the basement. The soldiers checked the rooms and basement before one walked over the basement door. Brenda tried her best not to tense and watched her husband’s jaw work as he attempted not to tense visibly. The soldiers looked around for a few more minutes before taking their leave, “Thank you ma’am, sir.” The last soldier smiled as he thanked them, warming Brenda’s heart. He glanced at the area rug, smiled, then followed his comrades. This confused Brenda a little, seeing that he knew that the basement was there and didn’t say anything.

The family waited, tense, for about thirty minutes before allowing the Anomalies to come out of the basement. Kaleb opened the door and gestured for them to come up, “It’s safe.” He was surprised when the group was reluctant to come out and even more surprised when they sent Ramona up first. Ramona looked around, came back, nodded, and Willy jumped out of the basement enthusiastically.

“You weren’t kidding when you said it was cold down there!” Willy exclaimed, rubbing his arms. He jumped in place for a moment, causing Brenda to smile. She was growing very fond of the young boy, he was a character. Willy went back down and pulled Mosies out while Ross helped Abe back up out of the basement.

Kaleb was relieved that the soldiers hadn’t guessed and that the younger soldier hadn’t told. He sat down heavily in one of the chairs and watched as Willy described the extreme cold with amusement. Judging by the other’s facial expressions, it wasn’t actually that cold in there. “It was like Antarctica, I found myself turning into an ice block. Then we heard footsteps above us, Thump, Thump, Thump, and it got that much colder. Then I found myself freezing in the pit of Hel, I thought I would never return then a light came and I was alive!” Kaleb laughed at Ross’s facial expression, he looked very skeptical.

“If that were the case, why didn’t I experience the same thing?” Ross inquired, raising his eyebrows. He found the entire story very funny, but he wanted an equally hilarious explanation as to why no one else had the same experience.

Willy didn’t disappoint, “Because you weren’t in the depths of the frozen wasteland. You were in a warm sunny part while I was cold. Mosies felt it too, right Mosies? Oh…right. Abe felt it, right?” Abe laughed in response, a sound that Ramona hadn’t heard it a while.

Ross smiled, picking Willy up and tickling him, “You little stinker, changing your story.” Willy laughed and squirmed around while begging for mercy. Ross set the child down who was now panting to get his breath back. The group hadn’t realized that Brenda and Kaleb were watching them with fascination. They acted like a family, more than any other rebellion. Others acted like an organization, which they were. But most acted as if they couldn’t care less what happened to each other. This group was obviously very attached to each other, even if they liked to torment Ross.

Ramona walked up to Brenda and Kaleb, “Thank you so much. I fully expected to be given away to them, I’m sorry for doubting you.” Ramona felt very sincere in her apology, she wanted to trust this family. The fact that they risked it showed a great deal of bravery. Ramona grew stiff in surprise when Brenda hugged her.

“I can’t imagine what you must have been through in order to feel the need to apologize to me for being surprised that I showed human decency,” Brenda rubbed Ramona’s back once then let go, pulling away. Ramona smiled uneasily, she was attempting to keep her own emotions under control. She wanted to cry with relief that fate had brought them to this wonderful family. Willy would argue that it wasn’t fate but a higher power. She didn’t feel like having that conversation at the moment. Brenda suddenly realized that they hadn’t met the other four people that were shown to them in the pictures, “Who were the other four who were with you?”

“Storm, Shadow, Froggy, and Molly,” Ramona replied, “They were all scientific experiments. When some of our members were killed they ran off. We haven’t seen them since.” She rubbed her hands through her hair. She glanced at Mosies when he tapped her and asked what was being said. Ramona quickly repeated what she said then went and sat down in a chair, “We wanted to find them, but as far as we know they went straight into the danger. We don’t know where they are or how to find them.”

Brenda nodded slowly then asked, “How old were the teenagers? They were very tall but looked fairly young.” She decided to hazard a guess, “Fourteen and eighteen?” Brenda saw that Ramona looked entertained by the prospect and knew she guessed wrong.

“Ten and fourteen,” Ramona corrected, laughing when she saw how surprised Brenda was, “They don’t look that young, I know. I was surprised when I found out as well.” She smiled, her eyes crinkling in the corners slightly. For a moment, they had an image of an old Ramona with lines in the corners of her eyes from smiling so much.

As the night fell they all got ready for bed. Ramona was getting herself situated on the couch when Ross sat at the end by her feet, “Ramona…” When she looked over at him he continued, “I know I’m just the newbie here, but I want to let you know that I will try my best to make sure you all survive. I can see you all as old people but I’ve never been able to see myself grow old. I want you all to have generations of children.”

Ramona raised her eyebrows, “Are you finished?” When he nodded she continued, “I don’t know where all this self-loathing came from but you need to get rid of it. I can see you being a grumpy old man with a bunch of kids. I am flattered that you would give up your life for us, but I don’t want you to throw your future away either.” Ramona wrapped her arms around Ross with a hug then let go of him, laying down to go to sleep, “You’re a nice guy, Ross. A bit sassy and sarcastic, but nice.” The last part was punctuated with a yawn and her eyes started to close with sleep, “Goodnight.”

Ross nodded in reply, “Goodnight,” He ruffled his hair, huffing in frustration. Willy was curled in his own nest and Ross went to join him. He covered the kid up and did without blankets for the night. If it was too cold for him, he decided he would ask for an extra one. But for now, he would do without. Abe saw what was going on and covered Ross with his, going and cuddling up to his brother. Abe wasn’t unused to sharing a small space with his brother, so this wasn’t weird for either of them.

As the night went on, they couldn’t help but wonder what happened to their other friends. Were they alright? Would Froggy and Molly be okay? Where were they going? These questions plagued them far into the night.

Storm looked at the lab that was in front of them, “Wow. These have grown quite a bit more fortified then when I was last in one.” She looked at Froggy and Molly, “Was this the kind you were in? I am surprised you were able to get out.”

The building was over four stories tall with watch towers and barbed wire fences. Mixed with the barbed wire was electric fencing just to fortify it more. Froggy and Molly had escaped by going through the barbed fence, there was no chance of that happening now. There were also two men in each watchtower and four watching the entrance to the lab. Froggy looked at the two older experiments, “We can’t get in here without the Anomalies.”

“I won’t risk their lives for this,” Storm said, her voice pained, “So many people die in there. Who knows how many people are actually being experimented on.” She knew that was a horrible argument, but she also knew the only way to stop it was to go to the head. If they really wanted it to be over they would take out the Queen.

“Even if we just save one isn’t it worth it?” Molly asked softly, looking over at Storm. She knew that Storm had a point, they shouldn’t involve the Anomalies. But, perhaps, they could get in and do it themselves. Another factor that Molly considered was the fact that they had no idea how many soldiers were now guarding these types of compounds, “Froggy, she’s right, what if it isn’t safe?”

Froggy shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose, “I know it isn’t safe…” He shook his head and turned, walking away, “We need to kill the Queen. We have no other option, she will not rest until this entire nation is destroyed.” Froggy sighed deeply and crossed his arms over his body, for the first time that night feeling cold, “They killed Susan.”

Storm appeared tormented and choked out, “They killed Susan, Luke, and Dr. Xaviar. They are wicked and I start to hate them. I want them all to die and I forget that they don’t all know what’s going on. I forget that they don’t all deserve to die. I forget I am not the one who is supposed to dish out that punishment. My heart is broken into a million pieces. I’ve already seen too much and I don’t know how much more I can take before I break.” Her face contorted at the memory of Susan lying on the ground in a pool of blood, “What did she do that made them hate her so much?”

Shadow stepped forward and wrapped Storm in a protective hug, “It’s okay for you to cry. They didn’t take that out of you.” He held unto her while she cried on him, the white glow from the lab glowing on them, almost as if communicating a prophecy of doom. Froggy and Molly watched then looked back at the lab before turning away.

“We need to leave here before they find us,” Froggy said quietly and the four turned away, trying to find where their friends had gone, backtracking. Molly was stumbling from exhaustion yet still managed to be faster than them. Shadow and Storm followed soon after, catching up with the two kids. Storm’s eyes were adjusting, trying to find the tracts, “We’ve been out for a bit too long. It might take a while for me to pick back up on their trail.”

As they walked and got further away from the compound, the darker it got. There were no clouds so the moon and stars were out. The only problem was the trees, they were close together and the foliage blocked out the terrestrial objects. The group, however, had no problem seeing. The minimal light was enough for their extra abilities to kick in. They maneuvered the forest silently, passing by wild animals undetected. The only thing alerting the animals to their presence was the scent of human, otherwise most of the animals didn’t move an inch. Storm froze suddenly and glanced at her companions who also froze, “I found their tracks, but there are soldier tracks right behind them.” The two younger kids looked exhausted so Storm said, “We will find a place to rest for the night then we will follow again. Now that I’ve found their trail it is not likely that I will lose it. If I do, we can go in that general direction.”

“While I’m fairly certain that’s not how tracking works, I will go with that,” Shadow replied drily, following Storm and the kids to their new resting place. The resting place turned out to be a cave deep in the woods. They all curled together to stay warm, the extra abilities helping with that. Shadow grinned at them, teasing, “Isn’t this just a lovely scene? Mom, dad, and kids all snuggled together.”

“If either of you call me mom, I will throw you into the snowbank for the night,” Storm muttered darkly, causing Molly to giggle, “And if you encourage it, Sir Shadow, I will not hesitate to drown you with snow.” Storm yelped when Shadow attempted to tickle her, she smacked his hand and then rolled away from the group, “Fine, I’ll just sleep alone.” Shadow and the kids got up and followed her, laying back down next to her, cuddling the grumpy woman, “Ingrates.”

“You love us,” Shadow teased as she gave him the evil eye. He felt himself warm with love towards his spouse. He knew they were only married for “breeding” purposes, but he felt a real connection to her. He knew that Storm liked him, even if she liked to act like she didn’t. At least, he was pretty sure she liked him.

Storm covered his mouth and said, “Shhhh. I want to sleep. No more talking,” She draped her arm over the two kids and Shadow, closing her eyes slowly, “You know I love you. And I love these two, children are great.” That made both kids smile, “Don’t tell anyone I said that or you’ll sleep in the snowbank.”

“How long will you use that threat?” Shadow asked with a grin, risking her wrath. He watched as her face turned thoughtful, knowing her response would be funny. He reached out and brushed her hair out of her face, causing Molly to giggle. Storm had given him a disgusted look at the act of tenderness.

“Until the snow melts. I will milk that threat for as long as humanly possible,” Storm grumbled as she closed her eyes again, “Now shh. Time for sleeping, got it? This isn’t a sleep over and I don’t want you to giggle about boyfriends or nail polish, okay?” This brought hysterical laughter out of her three sleeping companions, “Ugh, I shouldn’t have said anything. Jerks. Now you’ll be giggling all night, won’t you?” They all giggled again and Storm made an irritated noise, causing amusement all over again. She decided that she probably wouldn’t win this one.

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