Due to my injury it took forever to return to the camp. When we arrived we were taken into Bass's tent. There to greet us was Tom Neville. The smile he had, from seeing Monroe helpless, fell when he noticed my leg. "I specifically told you to let no harm come to her," he said to one of the men who brought us in.
"The helicopters weren't able to aim correctly, General."
"Tell them to learn how to aim or we're leaving them in the Plains Nation."
"General?" Bass asked.
Tom grinned. "There's been a change in command." He motioned to one of his men. "Get her medical attention, immediately."
They must have given me something to knock me out while the worked on my leg, because when I woke up I was groggy and disoriented. "Neville wants you brought back to him," a soldier told me. I recognized him from Philadelphia; he'd been one of Tom's friends. He helped me stand and I realized my leg didn't hurt as much anymore. "They gave you something for the pain," he explained. I nodded relieved. "Your lucky that went through your calf and not your shin, you'd be in a lot more pain if it shattered the bone." I frowned.
I realized we were in my tent, which was just steps from where Neville was holding Bass. "I need to change, my clothes are disgusting," I told him. He nodded and stepped outside. I grabbed a new sweater and jeans, putting the jeans on hurt all over again. Lastly, I grabbed a pistol and stashed it in the waistband of my jeans and hid it under my sweater. Apparently no one considered that I could have a gun hidden.
When I exited my tent I could hear the Nevilles arguing in the tent next door. "I can't believe you let her get shot!" Jason yelled.
"She was the one running through the woods with him," Tom said calmly. "My men had orders to only shoot Monroe."
"Well they missed."
"Clearly," I mumbled, when I walked in. Bass was tied up and he struggled against the ropes.
"Ciara, you're ok," Jason said. He hugged me and I hugged him back uncomfortably.
"It was just my leg," I told him. "I'll be back in tip top shape soon." I turned to address Tom. "I know you don't like Bass-"
He frowned at me. "That's putting it lightly."
"Look, he's done some really horrible things, but killing him is not going to get you anywhere," I told Tom.
"He threatened Julia," Tom told me. It was my turn to frown, this time it was directed at Bass who looked like he could care less.
"I know that President Jackson wouldn't kill him."
Tom looked skeptical. "Is that really what your father would do? Or that what you would do? You aren't president of anything yet, Ciara."
"Neither are you."
"In case you haven't noticed, I've taken over here."
"How many men are at this camp?" I asked. "A hundred? Go back to the capital and tell me how that goes for you. People think you're a traitor. Sure, they may not like Bass, but they don't like you either. You were his right hand man, do you think they'll really accept you. Let Bass go and maybe we can work something out." I paused. "With me in charge."
Tom looked at me seriously for a moment before laughing. "My how you've grown up from the scared little girl who was doing everything she could to survive." I resented that description. "I always thought you were a little deluded, I never thought you would have the ambition to accomplish anything, maybe I was wrong."
I was running out of things to say, I hadn't expected our discussion to get this far. I could do what I said I wanted to, take charge, but to do that I'd have to put a bullet in Tom, which I didn't want to do. I just wanted to get Bass and get out of there. We'd escape back to Georgia, or we could go somewhere entirely different and start over. If we could just get out of here.
"Sir, there is something going on in the tower," a soldier said stepping into the tent.
"Just a moment," Tom said. He stepped towards me. "Then again, maybe I was right about you. I know you have a gun; you could have shot me when you had the chance, but you didn't. You aren't trying to overthrow anyone; you're trying to save someone. Only this time it isn't yourself." My eyes flicked to Bass for a second before meeting Tom's eyes again. "You aren't being very smart, Ciara. The Republic is mine, you could marry Jason like you were supposed, then the Republic would be yours too."
I hesitated, looking back at Jason, who was totally oblivious to what his father must know about Bass and me. "I can't do that."
"Because you love him," Tom said barely glancing at Bass, like he was dirt. I opened my mouth but I was surprised by how suddenly this conversation had gone south and couldn't come up with anything to say. Tom looked very satisfied with himself, as he turned to his soldier and ordered him to "Tie her up." Tom and Jason left the tent without looking back at me. I didn't even struggle as I was tied up next to Bass.
We were quiet until the soldier left. "You knew Jason was alive." I nodded. "How long?"
"Not until I went back to Georgia."
"And you still chose me over him."
It wasn't a question but I answered anyway, "Yeah."
"You're not very smart," he said echoing what Tom had said.
We sat in silence for at least an hour. Outside the sun had set and I was exhausted. I was wondering if they'd still give me painkillers after I pissed off Neville. The tent opened and I was expecting another solider, but instead it was Miles. "Jesus, Ciara, I thought you'd be out of here."
"I may have gotten on Tom's bad side," I said with a shrug.
"Don't be a dumbass," Miles told me.
"How am I supposed to avoid that when everyone keeps telling me I'm stupid?" I asked. He cut me free and I stood up, forgetting for a second that I'd been shot in the leg. When I stepped onto my right foot pain shot up my leg and I drew a sharp intake of breath. "Ok, crutch, I need a crutch." I looked around Bass's tent but came up with nothing. I could hear Bass and Miles talking but I purposely tried to not listen in.
Miles cut Bass free and then before he even had a chance to get out of the tent yelled "Monroe is escaping!"
"Go!" I yelled at him when he hesitated. "I'll catch up." Bass disappeared into the dark outside.
"Come on, we can get back into the tower while everyone is distracted," Miles told me.
"I'm not going with you," I told him.
"You're hurt, you can't just run through the woods in the middle of the night. You literally cannot, because you can't run."
"Miles, I have to."
He shook his head. "I told your dad I'd take care of you."
"It's not like you've been doing a stellar job with that so far."
He sighed. "Be careful, kid." I hugged him quickly and then limped off in the same direction Bass had gone. Despite what Miles had said I pushed myself to run and even though my leg was screaming at me I pushed on.
I avoided the search party that was weaving through the woods. Something moved in the shadows up ahead. "Bass?" I whispered.
"Stay there, you're making too much noise." He came towards me and wrapped my arm around his shoulders, in the same position as early so I could keep going.
After what felt like an hour, but what was actually tops twenty minutes, we emerged in a clearing. "I think we lost them," I told him. "I need to rest." He nodded and helped me sit down. There was a lightning strike not far away and I sighed, the only thing that could make this worse would be a huge thunderstorm. Then a short distance from the first there was another strike. It multiplied until as far as I could see there was lightning. I'm not even sure how I hopped back to my feet but I did it by myself.
"What's happening?" Bass asked quietly.
There was only one explanation I could think of for the unnatural storm. "I think the power is back on." I found myself grinning despite the seriousness of our situation. "What do we do now?" I asked. Before he could say anything I answered my own question; I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him.