Miles, Rachel, and Gene weren't back before nightfall. Charlie and I gathered firewood and built a fire with the help of one of our guys. "Did Miles tell you Jason and Tom are nearby?" I asked.
She looked up surprised. "No, he didn't. Why?"
"The Patriots took Julia, they want to trade Bass for her. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them, so, just a heads up."
"Are you okay with that?" Charlie asked.
"I mean, I'm not giving up Bass. So, I guess I want them dealt with as quickly as possible."
"I meant, Jason being here."
"Oh, yeah, I guess. I'm not sure. I haven't thought about Jason much since Colorado. I kind of pushed him out of my mind, ya know?"
Before either of us could say anything, Miles walked to the steps with Gene, Rachel and the boy. "Where's the girl?" Bass asked, walking over from where he and Connor had been sitting.
"Dead," Miles told us. He led the boy inside and tied him up.
Gene got close to his face, then looked back at Miles and nodded. "He's got the number too."
"What number?" Bass asked. He pulled on the boy's eye revealing a small tattoo on his waterline.
"Don't say it," Miles warned. "Say the magic number and he goes psycho."
"We can't let him live," I said calmly.
"Please, you know me," the boy begged Gene. "I wouldn't hurt anyone."
"We need to talk," Gene told us. "Outside."
"He doesn't move," Miles told Charlie. The rest of us went outside with Gene.
"He's a good kid, he doesn't deserve to die," Gene pleaded.
"Gene, we tried it your way. Ciara's right, we can't let him live."
"He doesn't know what he's doing, this isn't his fault."
"He's still a weapon," Miles told him.
"Miles, please-" Rachel started.
"Rachel, we have to be smart."
"I'm tired of being smart. Smart got us into this mess in the first place, smart got Danny killed. Let's just do the right thing for once. We aren't Monroe, we have more than enough blood on our hands."
"Rachel, this is war, we have to take the action that benefits the most people," I told her. "Sometimes we've got to make tough decisions."
A sudden explosion startled us all. Miles shoved me ahead of him back into the building. The sound of gunshots and grenades filled the air. I grabbed my gun and ran towards the doorway, I slid to my knees behind a stack of crates and searched for my target. I took down one man whose attention was focused on Miles.
Connor pulled me up by my arm and outside towards the stairs. He shot at one of the soldiers while pushing me ahead of him. The top of the hill was a much better viewpoint, and we were quickly able to pick off the few soldiers who had noticed us. I ran around a van and came face to face with Jason.
He looked surprised to see me. He lowered his gun. "Ciara." I didn't know what to do, or what to say, so I punched him. He collapsed and I took off, Connor followed me and we both ducked behind another car.
"You know him?" Connor asked.
"Yeah, that's was my ex fiancé." I searched for Miles and Bass but didn't see either of them at first, but then I found Bass on the bridge I'd been sitting on earlier that day, fighting with Tom.
Connor followed my eyes to Bass. "I've got this, be careful."
I waited until it was clear and then made a break for the bridge. I found one of my guys in the middle of a fight with a Patriot. I took a shot at the air close to them; this distracted them long enough for me to shoot the Patriot. I kept moving, ducking behind things when I had the chance, and shooting as many Patriots as I could.
As I neared the bridge I could tell that Bass had gotten the upper hand. Then a bullet whizzed past my head, I turned to see Truman firing at me. I shot back but missed, then he ducked behind a car and I lost him.
Bass grabbed my arm as he ran past me and I ran with him towards the woods. Jason had Connor against the wall; Bass grabbed Jason and slammed him to the ground. Then we pulled Connor along with us.
When we finally stopped running my heart was pounding and my blood was practically boiling. I pointed back the direction we came. "Those people should not have the right to call themselves the US government," I said, in between breaths. "They don't deserve this country. I'll die to stop them if I have to."
We made it to the next safe house around sunrise. I didn't waste any time finding a place to sleep.
I was woken up to the sound of Miles and Bass arguing outside. I sat up, forgetting Connor was on the couch with me and almost knocking him into the floor. I climbed over him and walked towards the door.
I opened the front door and leaned against the doorframe. Neither of them noticed me. "Why do you want to win?" Miles asked Bass.
"I want revenge, for Philly. That's our city, Miles, and they destroyed it."
"Yeah, you said that. Then you said you didn't care. Then you said all you wanted was your son. In there I'm sure you mentioned Ciara was a high priority too. You can't keep your stories straight," Miles told him. "You don't care about saving this town, all you care about is saving yourself. All of this, just to get the Republic back."
Bass shook his head. "God, you are so wrong."
"And you are a terrible liar." Miles looked up and noticed me watching. "What do you want, Ciara?"
"Everything," I said. "I don't just want the Republic back, or Georgia, I want it all. I want the entire country. I want to put a bullet right between the president's eyes. I want everything."
"At least your girlfriend is upfront," Miles said to Bass. "You want to eliminate the Patriot competition and set up some Monroe monarchy, fine, you can try."
"At least we have vision," Bass said. "I know what I'm fighting for, do you? What are you doing, Miles? Do you think, after this is all over, you're going to go play house with your two girls? That's not you, and you know it. So what are you fighting for?" Miles was silent for a moment, he glanced at me and then back to Bass, final he just turned and walked away. Bass called after him. "What do you want, Miles?"
"Connor," I hissed. I shook my cousin's shoulder. He groaned. "Connor, get up!" He jumped and fell off the couch. "Smooth."
"What's going on?"
"Miles spotted Patriots heading our way, we've got to get out of here." I stood up and headed outside. A minute later he jogged after me. Bass waved us over to where he and Miles were waiting. We crouched behind the bushes and waited as a large group of Patriot soldiers surrounded the house.
Miles handed me the binoculars. "It's the kid we caught, of course it is." I shook my head and handed the binoculars back to him. "Is now a good time to say I told you so?"
We met back up with the others at an abandoned chemical factory. "I liked the house better," I grumbled.
"Well thanks to the kid we don't have much of a choice," Bass said. "We didn't exactly have time to find a new safe house."
"What's going on?" Rachel asked walking over to us.
"The Patriots found our last safe house, so we're stuck here for a while," I told her. She frowned.
"But the good news is, we can all die with clear consciousness, because Miles let the kid go," Bass said.
"I'm sorry I made it so hard for you to get your little discount empire back!" Miles said, rolling his eyes. Connor looked at me questioningly. "Oh please, we all know."
"The point is that we could have died!" I snapped.
"In case you haven't realized, our numbers have been up for months."
"Well, I'd rather not expedite the process, thank you very much."
"All we've done the last three days is run," Bass said. "We need to take the fight to them, hit the camp."
"We don't have enough men," Miles argued.
Gene walked past us, toward the stairs. "Dad, where are you going?"
"To town, you said it yourself we need men. I can get us help, help we can trust." He looked pointedly at Bass and me.
"What makes you think we can trust them? It seems to me the whole town is drinking the Patriot's Kool-Aid," Miles said.
"I'll explain to them what is really happening, they'll have to listen. They'll fight with us, I know it."
"Or they'll just turn you in, because you're going to sound insane," I mumbled.
"All that time you were working for the Patriots, you knew the truth. Did you do the right thing?" Bass asked.
Gene was silent for a moment. "No, but I'm trying to now." He started to turn around.
"I'm going with you," Rachel said.
"Yeah, me too," Charlie said.
"No, no, both of you are staying here," Miles said.
"He can't go in there alone," Rachel protested.
"I'll take him," He told her.
"You're kidding," Bass said. "We're sitting ducks here."
"Do you have a better idea? Other than us standing around here listening to you bitch." Bass was quiet. "Didn't think so."
I turned away, and headed inside to find a place to sit my stuff. Connor followed me. "You think those people from Willoughby will be any help?" He asked.
"I think help is good no matter where it comes from. But do I actually think they'll agree help? Probably not. They're too far gone."
Later that day we began building a barricade of sorts around the property. Connor and Charlie were working together on the hill, and I followed them up with another load of barbed wire.
"Don't you think you're in a little over your head?" Charlie asked Connor. "You're a nobody, and Monroe is psychotic. I'm sure that combination will win everyone over. Ciara has the best chance of getting back some sort of power. But if she thinks Georgia is just going to rise up under some spoiled twenty six year old just because she's the daughter of their dead president, she's delusional."
I tossed the barbed wire on the ground. "I understand that this is going to be a process," I said. "I'm not saying I'm entitled to anything."
"What's that?" Charlie asked, distracted. I turned and looked over my shoulder.
I tilted my head out of confusion. "Looks like a fire, a huge one." We jogged back down the hill. "Hey, there's a fire up on that hill. Don't think it's Patriots, we should check it out," I called to Bass and Rachel. Charlie and I got guns and lead the group towards it.
"I wish we didn't hate each other," she said to me, as we headed up the hill.
"I don't hate you," I told her. "I think you're annoying, and I don't really agree with a lot of your opinions, but I don't hate you."
"Huh." She paused. "I feel the same way about you."
"We're not that different. We both say exactly what we're thinking, we're smart, neither of us has a lot of patience, we're definitely stubborn. Maybe that's why we don't get along." I shrugged.
"Was there a compliment in there somewhere?" Charlie asked, smiling.
At the top of the hill we walked in the shadows so that we where hidden. As we got closer I could see some Patriots were lying dead on the ground. "Looks like my kind of people," I murmured. Charlie made a noise of agreement.
One of our mercenaries pushed up to the front and took off towards the group. "What are you doing?" Charlie hissed. He didn't turn around. A few guys sitting around the fire turned and saw him; one of them stood up and gave him a hug.
"They're more of Duncan's men," I realized.
We all started to walk towards the camp, but one of the other guys got to us first. "You're Monroe," he said.
Bass nodded. "You're Duncan Paige's men."
"What's left of them."
"Where's Duncan?" I asked.
He looked at me and I knew what the answer was before he opened his mouth. "She's dead."
He nodded. "Yeah, and we want blood."
"Well, buddy," Bass said. "You came to the right place."
I looked around the camp. There were a lot of men here, more than I'd seen since the war. We certainly didn't have the numbers we'd had back then, but this was a start. Rachel was watching in disgust as one guy ripped a gold filling out of a dead Patriot's mouth.
"How'd it happen?" Bass asked.
"After you guys left Vegas these scum bags showed up. They want to bring "civilization" to the plains. Word is they're hitting every war clan they can find." He shook his head. "Duncan fought like hell but it wasn't enough. That's why we're here, She said you guys were killing these Patriots."
"We're trying," Bass said. "Are you the leader of these guys?"
"Don't wanna be."
"You need a leader with experience."
"You came to Duncan asking for men. Well, you got 'em." He turned around to join the rest of the guys setting up their camp.
I glanced at Charlie and couldn't help but feel a little smug. I bumped Connor with my shoulder as I walked past him and Charlie, "Feeling a little less in over your head?" I asked. He smirked.
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