The next morning I was woken up extremely early by a soldier banging on the front door. I was barely given enough time to change out of my pajamas before being carted off Monroe's office. "What, you miss me already? We were just having dinner a few hours ago," I said when I was taken in.
"Tom didn't show up for his patrol this morning and Julia is missing as well," Monroe told me.
"Maybe they needed a break?" I suggested.
"You know where they went, don't you?"
"I didn't even know they were leaving," I lied. "I thought we trusted each other, more or less."
"How am I expected to trust you when you're clearly lying to me?" Bass asked.
"I don't know where they are," I repeated.
"Flynn," Monroe called. Randall Flynn, Monroe's newest expert on the pendants came in. "Those nukes you were working on, are they ready?"
"Yes they are," Randall answered.
"Send one to Atlanta, immediately."
Randall nodded looking smug. "Right away."
"Bass you can't!" I yelled. "There are thousands of innocent people there, you'll kill them all."
"I'll give them a choice first, either your father issues an official proclamation of peace or I blow Atlanta off the map."
"Let me go to negotiate. I can talk to him; make sure he agrees to all your terms. No one has to die," I begged. "Please."
"Fine, but you'll take a few of my men with you."
"Fine. Send them to get me from the house, I need to pack." I turned and left and walked back to Tom and Julia's house. When I got inside the first thing I did was go into their room and pried up the floorboard in front of the window. Before they had left Tom pulled me aside and told me he was leaving weapons, in case I needed them. I grabbed anything small I could hide easily, a couple of knives and a pistol.
There was a knock on my door and I stood up. I stashed the weapons quickly. "I'll be down in a minute!" I yelled down the stairs.
A day later we were riding into Georgia. The three men that Monroe had chosen hadn't talked to me a single time they'd just rode along beside me. We reached the Georgia border and as soon as we had crossed it I felt so much better. I clutched my stomach and groaned. "What is it?" One of the men asked.
"My stomach, I think I'm going to be sick. I must have caught something." I stumbled off my horse and onto the ground. Two of the men dismounted and crouched down next to me. I withdrew the knives out of my pockets and stabbed the quickly in the stomach. I grabbed the pistol from my waistband and shot the third man who was still on his horse and shot the other two just in case. I quickly climbed back up on my horse and rode as fast as I could; I still had quite a bit of ground to cover before I reached Atlanta.
When I got to the edges of the city I grabbed a baseball hat out of my backpack and pulled my hair up and put the hat on. I hoped it would keep anyone from recognizing my face. I dismounted and tied the horse up. I started walking up and down alleys looking for any possible hiding spot for a nuke. When I came out onto a busy street I noticed a group of Federation soldiers escorting someone. I got closer and realized it was Miles.
I tossed my hat and followed them to the government building. "Excuse me," I called when we got to the main steps. The men turned and noticed me. "What has this man done?" I asked.
One of the soldiers pushed forward from the back. "Ciara?"
I gasped when I recognized him. "Garrett?"
"Take him inside, we'll follow you in a moment," Garrett told the other soldiers. "Come here." He picked me up and spun me around.
"I thought you were dead," I said. "I heard the gunshots!"
"Somehow I managed to avoid getting hit and convince the rebels I wasn't with the militia," he told me.
"And they just let you go?" I asked.
"Well, no, they questioned me a lot first. But eventually they believed me and now here I am. Did you make it to Philly?"
"Yeah, I did."
"Did you run away?"
"Not exactly, I can explain all of that later. Look there's a nuke in Atlanta. Monroe is going to detonate it if President Jackson doesn't issue a declaration of peace."
"Good thing your dad is in Atlanta this week, he's been spending a lot of time here actually."
"We have to stop this, Garrett."
"Clearly. Come on, we can talk to the President about it." I followed him inside and up to my dad's office. The guards outside the doors let us in. My father was talking to Miles inside and looked up when the door opened.
"My god, Ciara!" He stood up quickly and hugged me.
"Hey, dad. Miss me?"
"What on Earth are you doing here?" He asked.
"Long story short, there's a nuke in the city and it's my fault."
"You didn't tell me that part," Garrett said.
"It doesn't matter why it's here, what matters is finding it," he told Garrett.
"We could use Miles's help and his friends' if they're here," I said. My dad glanced at Miles who was still handcuffed.
"I was about to tell you about the nuke before your daughter came in," Miles said.
"Dad, he doesn't work for the militia anymore, if that's what you're worried about. But he does know everything there is to know about them, which could be a lot of help."
"Fine, I'll let him go on your word." He nodded to the guards to unlock Miles's cuffs.
"I know who has the nuke. His name is Alec; I trained him when I was working for the militia. He's extremely violent and unpredictable," he told us. To me he said, "Nora and Charlie are here somewhere. We'll keep looking."
"Who are these people?" My dad asked.
"My niece and a friend," Miles told him.
"I'll want Garrett on my patrol," I told my dad, distracting him from interrogating Miles further.
"Your patrol?" My dad asked.
"You're going to need as much help as you can get. I'll take my own small patrol, let Garrett pick some men."
"You need to get out of the city," he protested.
"Jonathan, this is my fault and I'm going to fix it," I said. I never used his first name unless it was extremely serious.
"Garrett, choose a few of your best men."
"Your daughter is safe with me, Mr. President," Garrett assured him.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the door. "Come on, we don't have much time."
A few minutes later we were scoping the streets again. "The kid we're looking for, do you know anything about him?" Garrett asked.
"No, I haven't heard of him."
"You want to tell me how you got out of there, now that we have some time?"
"I was let out to negotiate with my dad."
"So Monroe trusts you."
"Well, I thought he did. Then I made a mistake." I stopped myself. "Listen to me, I made a mistake? My mistake was helping my should have been in-laws escape the Republic. That wasn't a mistake. Even if it did lead to this, I thought I was doing what was right."
"Should have been?"
"Jason, the guy I was supposed to be marrying was killed by rebels."
"I'm assuming since you saved his parents, you liked this guy. So, sorry, I guess."
"Yeah, I did like him. He was a good person."
"The nuke isn't around here," one of the other men said.
"Oh my god, he's moved it," I said. "Alec moved the nuke because the people moved. Dad started the evacuation procedures so Alec followed them. He's in the safe zone."
"There's a building overlooking that area, it's closed off but it's perfect detonation area."
"That has to be it then, come on." We ran towards the evacuation area and the building. "We should split up. You two take the door over there and Garrett and I will come up from the back." They nodded and went around front. Garrett and I headed up the backstairs to the second floor.
"Do you hear something?" Garrett asked. I shook my head and he held up a finger to wait. Then I heard it, there was someone pacing around. He pointed me towards the wall and I walked against it underneath the stairs until I saw someone. I turned and motioned for him to go around the other side where he could hopefully catch Alec off guard.
I heard Monroe's voice come on over the radio Alec was holding. "Detonation is a go, Alec." Alec took a step towards the nuke and I leaped from my hiding spot and knocked him down. When he fell the radio flew out of his hand and I grabbed it.
"This is Ciara Jackson, I have worked out a deal with the President and nuking Georgia will not be necessary," I said. Garrett pulled Alec away from me before he could do anything.
"Ciara?" Bass asked.
"Yes, Bass, it's me. You just about blew me up," I said.
"The men I sent you with were under strict orders to keep you a safe distance from the city. They weren't supposed to let you in."
"They didn't let me do anything, I killed them," I told him.
"You killed all three of them?" He asked, he sounded a little bit in awe.
"Yes, I did."
"I promise you I wouldn't have ordered the detonation if I had known you were in fallout zone," he said.
"But you expect me to forgive you for almost leveling an entire city." I clicked the radio off. There were people on the stairs and Miles appeared with my other two soldiers.
"You already found him," he said.
"You can handle him now," I said motioning for Garrett to follow me out. When we got downstairs I gave him a hug. "I need to go, before dad finds out I'm leaving."
"You can't seriously be going back to the Republic after the stunt Monroe just pulled."
"I have to, Garrett; if I don't leave Bass will keep trying to destroy Georgia." I started to walk away but my dad stepped out from one of the side streets with his own patrol.
"Where do you think you're going, young lady?" He asked.
"I didn't want to see you because I knew you'd try to stop me. I have to go back to save Georgia. If I stay that's basically a declaration of war right there," I said.
"Then stay, because we are about to declare war on the Monroe Republic," he told me.
"That's crazy; you can't go to war with the Republic. They have power and helicopters and nukes. We can't fight that."
"We can try."
When we got back to the government buildings we met with Miles and decided that he and the rebels would join Georgia in the war against the Republic. "Our forces are larger than his," Garrett told me at dinner. "Not to mention we have a navy that can attack from the sea. If we need it we can get help from Europe too."
"Alright, you can stop. I'm already staying, I don't need the sales pitch," I said. He laughed and took another drink. "You know a little part of me kind of regrets leaving Monroe up there."
He snorted and sweet tea almost came out of his nose. "You're kidding right? Did you develop Stockholm Syndrome up there or what?"
"Yeah, you're right. I sound crazy." I thought about the guy I had seen on the verge of tears after Miles had left and the guy that let me cry on him when Jason died, that was the Monroe I regretted leaving. I wanted to explain to Garrett but I knew he wouldn't understand so instead I just laughed.