Organized Lightning

Chapter 9

After some convincing I'd been allowed to join Miles and Garrett on the frontlines. I wasn't allowed to fight but I was there for moral and tactical support. I was also secretly helping Miles with recon on the side. I met his spies on the Republic side and helped get messages across the borders.

I walked into Miles's tent and handed him a letter. "This one is unopened, I'm surprised."

"I got tired of reading them, there's never anything exciting," I said. He shrugged and sat it down on the table slowly. "That one came from a militia solider." I tapped my foot impatiently.

"You can go," he said.

"Miles, what does that one say?" I asked.

"You should have opened it yourself," he said.

"Miles open it, it could be important!" I snapped. He laughed and opened the letter. As he read it he stopped smiling. "What?"

"He's gone back to our hometown."

"Aren't you from Jasper, Indiana? You and my mom grew up together."

"Well your mom is quite a bit older than me, but yeah we're from the same town. Mostly I spent time with Emma."

"Oh, Aunt Emma. I haven't seen her since I was a kid. Were you two close?"

"I was engaged to her," he said.

"You were engaged to my aunt?" I asked. "How did I not know that?"

"Bass wants to lure me out; he's going to kill her if I don't go to Jasper."

I waited a beat for him to say anything else. "We need to go after her. Don't even bother telling me to stay here, she's my family."

"I wasn't going to say anything," he told me. "We can't tell anyone else about the letter, they'll insist on coming with us. The letter says I need to come alone, but Bass won't mind seeing you again."

OoOoO

We left without telling anyone and rode to the little town as quickly as possible. "So you and Bass, were friends?" Miles asked.

"Is anyone really friends with him anymore?" I asked.

"You kept me from killing him," Miles remembered.

"Yeah, I don't know why I did that."

"So you want him dead?"

"I didn't say that." Miles just nodded like he knew everything. "I just, well, I think you were wrong."

He raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Really, now?"

"You said you thought Bass was too far gone. I don't think he is. I've seen him act differently, I don't know like he has a heart I guess."

"Care to elaborate?" Miles asked.

I thought about it for a moment. "No, one moment is too personal and the other one was about you. You're just going to have to trust me."

"You aren't making a very strong case."

"You don't have to believe me. Hell, I'm not even sure if I believe me."

OoOoO

When we got to Indiana Miles and I ducked into an alley. "What now?" I asked.

"We find Monroe."

"Well my first guess would be the church, people are getting herded inside," I observed.

Miles nodded. "Alright we need to make a plan. You go around-" Before he could finish I stepped out into the square in front of the church and joined the others on their way inside. I did a lap around the ground floor of the church but didn't see Bass or Emma. I hoped that I'd still recognize Emma after such a long time.

Finally I found one of the soldiers that had given me rides to Rachel's work space back in Philly. "Carlson, Where's Monroe?" I asked quietly.

"What are you doing here, Ciara?" He asked.

"Look, I really do not have time for this. Where's Bass?" I asked again. I thought he was going to refuse to tell me but after a pause he pointed up the stairs. "Thanks. Oh and don't tell anyone I was here."

I headed up and heard voices coming from the main room. I leaned on the wall outside the open entry way and listened in. "Bass, I know you. This isn't who you are," a woman said, I assumed it was Emma but it had been years since I'd been around her and didn't actually recognize her voice. There was a silence and I couldn't help but peek into the room. I saw Emma kiss Bass and I gasped. I slammed my hand over my mouth hoping my noise hadn't alerted him of my presence. I ducked back out of the room.

"I want to be the man you knew, but he's dead," Bass said. He walked towards the door and I panicked looking for an escape route that didn't exist. Thankfully he didn't even glance in my direction as he made his way down the stairs and as soon as he was gone I went into the room.

"Aunt Emma?" I asked. She turned around and I knew instantly she was my aunt, she looked so much like my mother.

"Ciara? Wow, you've grown up." She hugged me tightly and then held me at arm's length and looked at me. "You look so much like your mom."

"Thanks," I answered quietly.

"Is she here?"

"No," I said shaking my head. "She, um, she was killed about seven years ago."

"Oh my god, I had no idea. I haven't seen any of you in such a long time. What happened?"

"I wasn't there, I don't know what happened." I shook my head. "I came here for you. Miles told me you were in trouble and we came to find you," I said changing the subject.

"Miles is here?"

I nodded. "He told me about how you two were engaged. I never knew about that, even after all those times he came to visit. But I guess you had history with Bass too?"

"Bass and I were complicated. Before he and Miles left we had a very brief thing."

Suddenly something clicked into place. "Your son, he's a few years younger than me. He's Monroe's son isn't he?"

She bit her lip. "Yeah, he is."

"Wow." I was too stunned to say anything else.

"How do you know Bass?" She asked after a pause.

"My dad is kind of the president of Georgia. I ended up in the Republic as an arranged marriage sort of thing. After my fiancé died," I paused and bounced on my heels uncomfortably. "I agreed to marry Bass."

Now it was Emma's turned to be surprised. "Let me get this straight, you're a president's daughter and you're engaged to Bass."

"The same Bass who happens to be your ex and the father of my cousin, who I haven't seen in sixteen years."

"Small world," she said with a weak laugh.

"He knew I was your niece, that's why he wanted me. God, I was stupid to think he might actually care about me. Well now he can have you back, I guess."

"Ciara, if something happens to me you need to find my son. He's-"

I cut her off. "Emma, nothing is going to happen to you. Miles and I came here to rescue you and that is what we're going to do. Ok?" She hesitated but nodded her agreement anyways. "Alright, we need to get out of here."

Before we even made it down the stairs, people downstairs started screaming. "They're going to burn us alive!" Someone yelled.

"Oh my god, they're torching the building," I said.

Emma went to the window and looked out into the square. "They're blocking the front entrance. We'll have to go the back way, there's another door in the kitchen." I followed her down the stairs but as we were making our way across the sanctuary and through the mass of people trying to get to the main doors one of the beams from the ceiling fell and blocked our path and also lit the pews on fire.

"We can't go this way!" I yelled over the noise.

"We'll have to go through the front and hope we can get out," she told me. "If you go back upstairs there is a door at the end of the hall that leads to the bell tower. If you can get Bass's attention he might let you out. He is clearly done with me, but he didn't know you were in here. I think you were wrong, he doesn't care about me, if he did he would have come home a long time ago."

"I'm not leaving you, Emma." She started to argue but I grabbed her wrist and pulled her. We turned and ran right into Miles who grabbed both our arms and made us follow him.

"This is the second time you have run away before we could strategize. That is not how a plan works," Miles said.

"I had a plan, run inside and find Emma. Hey look, I succeeded," I said dryly.

He shot me a look over his shoulder as we turned down another hall. "At some point you are going to get yourself killed."

"Well that day isn't going to be today, is it?"

"Not if I can help it."

When we got to the door there were people crowded, some had gotten out and I realized the guards had been shot. "Miles, I think Charlie and Nora must have found us." Just as I said that I heard gunfire outside.

"What gave you that idea?" He asked sarcastically. With the mixed group of rebel and Georgia soldiers outside we were able to get into the square and away from the burning church. I lost Emma and Miles in the crowd and then I heard more shots.

"Miles, turn yourself over or I'll kill her!" I heard Bass yell. The square went silent, the crowd had dissipated quickly when they realized there was a battle going on outside. I tried to sneak along the back side of the square away from Miles and the others. I thought that if I could get close enough to Bass I could talk him down, make him release Emma at the least. He continued to yell for Miles to come out and I was surprised Miles didn't step forwards; he didn't seem like the type to hide.

"I want to see my son," Emma told Bass. I was not far behind them, in the perfect striking zone. I reached for my gun.

"Your son?" Bass asked.

"You're his father," she said. Before she could say anything else there was a gunshot from the Georgia side of the square and Emma and Bass fell to the ground. I screamed and ran towards them. I grabbed Emma but it was too late, I could tell she wasn't going to make it. "Find him, Ciara. Tell him who you are, he'll trust you."

"I don't know where to look," I said. Her eyes started to close and I gave her a gentle shake. "Emma, where is he?" She was silent. "Please don't die." I felt someone grab under my arms and lift me up away from my aunt. I screamed and kicked and tried to pull away from the person holding me.

"She's dead," the militia soldier holding me said. He lifted me into the helicopter as I continued to scratch at his arms and face and whatever else I could reach. Despite my movements, I was somehow strapped into the helicopter seat next to Bass. The door was closed on us and like a switch was flipped my energy suddenly left me. I fell limp back into my seat and slowly the tears started coming. Once they started there was no stopping them and soon I was in the middle of full out sobs. I pressed my face into Bass's shoulder not caring that he was probably going to have me killed when we reached Philly. It didn't seem to matter anymore, no matter what side I was on someone I loved was always going to get hurt.

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