One afternoon, I followed some soldiers out to the building where Rachel's lab was. It didn't take long to find her all I had to do was follow the music. When I pushed open the door I could hear Rachel singing. "Oh, Ciara," she said when she looked up.
"Music," I said quietly.
She laughed. "I finally got it working."
"I can see that. Wow, I haven't heard music in a long time."
"How old are you?" She asked.
"Twenty-five," I answered.
"So you would've been ten then. You probably remember music better than my kids would."
"I could probably sing you just about any song that was on the radio back then, I'm sure I still know all the lyrics."
"You can never seem to forget song lyrics, can you?"
I hopped up on the counter next to where she was working and took a look at the amplifier. "So what do you think Monroe is going to do with it?" I asked.
"New tech for the militia, no doubt. Whatever he's got on hand is going to be threatening to Georgia and the Plains."
"Have you been to the Plains Nation?" I asked.
"Not since the blackout. I used to go out to Colorado some times before though, it was beautiful."
"I'd like to go. It feels strange to know the facts on paper but not be able to see it for myself. Dad says they have a strong central government and the whole nation is run by self-governing regions, thirteen to be exact. A lot of them are nomadic, tent cities, hunter-gathers the whole nine yards. I can't imagine living like that. I like the southern comfort of my Savannah home on Forsyth Park." I sighed. "I miss Georgia."
"I don't blame you." Rachel adjusted the pendant on the amplifier, which made me remember something.
"Do you know the Braxtons? Kelly and Jameson Braxton?"
She looked surprised. "Kelly was on the team that-" She paused. "Yes, I knew Kelly."
"Her daughter has a pendant just like that one. I figured she was probably part of whatever group you were in."
She nodded. "Maybe I'll tell you about it one day." There were footsteps in the hall and I jumped off the counter. "Hide in that closet. I know you're Bass's pet but I doubt he'd like you hanging around me." I disliked being called Monroe's pet but I did as she said. He came in and discussed with Rachel how quickly the amplifier would be ready. When he finally left Rachel opened the closet and I stepped out.
"He sure is getting impatient," I said.
"Something is going to happen soon," She said. "You should probably get back home."
I was in my room reading when I heard a massive crash from downstairs. "Julia?" I called.
"Ciara, stay up there!" She yelled. I walked down the stairs slowly ignoring her. When I could see into the living room I stopped and tried to listen in.
"Look, Miles, I don't know what I can do," Tom said.
"You're going to find them, and I'll stay here with Julia," Miles said. "Hurry up, I don't have all day." Tom left without noticing me. I walked down the rest of the stairs just as Miles turned around. "Ciara Jackson?"
"Hey, Miles. Nice weather we're having."
"What in hell are you doing in the Monroe Republic?"
"Arranged marriage, preventing a war, blah blah, nothing much," I said. He laughed and gave me a hug.
"You were a little rebellious teenager last time I saw you, I can see growing up did nothing to change that."
"Now can we talk about the fact that you have a gun pointed at my future mother-in-law?" I asked.
"Technically, I'm not pointing a gun at her." He waved it around.
I rolled my eyes. "Why are you here, Miles? I know all about your former position as Monroe's second in command and how you ditched him."
"Monroe has some of my friends."
"Rachel?" I questioned.
"Rachel?" He asked.
"Your sister-in-law? She's not so willingly helping Monroe get power back." I paused when I realized he seemed extremely confused. "Didn't you know? I guess not."
"I didn't even know she was still alive."
"Oh, well that could be shocking I guess." I said. "A good shock, I hope."
"Yeah, wow. Charlie will be happy. Do you know anything about Danny?"
"I don't know a Danny. But the girl, I've heard of her, my fiancé saved her life from what I've heard. Almost got him killed too." I shrugged. "Anyways, you want Rachel back? I'm your girl."
"You know where she is?"
"Of course and I'll help you get there."
It wasn't much longer before Tom got back with a couple of Miles's friends. "Where's Charlie?" Miles asked.
"I don't know she wasn't with these two. This is the best I can do, Miles; I'm not helping you anymore. You'll have to find the girl on your own," Tom told him.
"There's a chance Charlie is with Rachel," I told Miles. "We should go now."
"Ciara, where are you going?" Julia asked.
"I can't let any more innocent people die to fuel Monroe's power," I told her. "I'll be back."
"Be careful," she said.
"We need to go," the woman Tom had brought in said. I nodded and the four of us left.
"Ciara, this is Nora and Aaron," Miles introduced us. "Now where are we going?"
"There's an old factory building a few miles from here. I usually hitch a ride on one of the militia wagons, but clearly that won't work with you three fugitives. We'll have to walk," I told them.
"Monroe just lets you go wherever you want?" Nora asked.
I shrugged. "He hasn't stopped me, I'm sure he knows about my little adventures."
"Bass is going soft," Miles said.
When we reached the building where Rachel was we ducked behind some old equipment to hide from the militia soldiers. "The place is covered," Nora said. "How are we supposed to get in?"
"The four of us can't take out that many guards," Aaron said. They continued to argue and I stood up.
"Ciara, what are you doing?" Miles hissed. I strolled over to the main doors.
I glanced over my shoulder and mouthed, "Figure it out, I'll be waiting." I walked up at the door and stopped before crossing my arms impatiently. "Well, are you going to open it?" I snapped.
"Oh, Miss Jackson, I didn't recognize you from afar. Did you walk here?"
"There wasn't a ride to catch and I needed to see Bass. He's here isn't he? He told me he'd start including me in important business and then he left me again."
"Well, do get those doors open." I waved my hand at the door and he nodded quickly. One of the other men opened the door. I spared another glance at Miles's hiding spot and just as I had hoped they'd gotten out of there while I was distracting the guards. I turned back to the guards. "Thanks." I went up the stairs to the third floor where there was an old foreman's office, that's where I found Monroe.
"Ciara, I was wondering when you'd show up," Bass said.
"You were expecting me?" I asked.
"I know all about your trips out here to visit Rachel."
"You've been keeping things from me. I can't exactly be useful unless I know what's going on around here."
"I think you've figured it out for yourself, haven't you?"
"Well, I know you're building an amplifier. I know that the Republic is going to be incredibly dangerous with power. What I don't know is what tricks you have up your sleeve. Didn't we talk about how we were going to work together?"
"I'll give you a tour."
We had barely gotten out of the room when one of the soldiers appeared. "Excuse me, sir; Miles Matheson has been spotted in the building."
"Find him and bring him to me," Bass told the soldier. "You should go back the office," he told me.
I laughed skeptically. "That's not going to happen."
He shook his head. "Then stay close to me. You don't have a gun."
I followed him down the hall. I was mentally crossing my fingers that Miles had been able to find Rachel and Charlie and that they were already on their way out. But of course that would be too easy. We turned a corner and found Rachel and Miles alone. The first thing Bass did was push me behind him protectively. "Run," he told me.
"Please," he said pushing me back the way we had come. I finally nodded and took off around the corner but stopped as soon as I was out of sight. I knew Miles wouldn't hurt me, but Bass didn't and he had wanted to protect me. I leaned against the wall feeling a bit light headed. Maybe I had been too quick to judge Monroe. I tried to listen to the conversation taking place in the hall. Rachel must have escaped as well because the only voices I heard belonged to Miles and Bass.
"Why are you here?" Monroe asked.
"Rachel is my family," Miles said.
"I'm your family, I always have been. Not Rachel or those kids you barely know," Bass said. "Come back to the militia. Your family can go free."
Miles didn't say anything for a moment. I wasn't even sure what Miles was doing anymore, sacrificing himself to save his family maybe. Then I heard someone drop their gun in surrender and I knew what Miles's plan was. He was going to kill Monroe. "You're too far gone, Bass. You aren't the same person you used to be," Miles told him.
I heard an impact as someone threw a punch. I cringed and started to step away but I couldn't make myself leave. Surprising myself, I rushed around the corner making both men stop and look at me. I wasn't going to let Miles kill Bass, for a reason I couldn't even explain to myself. I rationalized it as Bass had tried to protect me so this was making us even. With my distraction Miles managed to jump out the window. I sighed in relief, no one was dead. "He was going to kill you," I said. Bass nodded but didn't really look at me. He was genuinely upset that his former friend had betrayed him once again.
"It doesn't matter," he said.
"What doesn't?" I asked.
"It doesn't matter that he got away." He motioned me towards the balcony. We stepped outside and looked down.
"Is that a helicopter?" I asked. There was a loud noise that drowned out his reply and I watched the huge helicopter rise up. "Oh my god."