Chapter twenty one
Whatever pills they forced down my throat, in respect of Mrs Velt’s authority was quickly wearing of. To say I would just remain docile of the situation I was presented with, was an understatement. Multiple times I tried to plead my case with her and multiple times it failed. So, all my days were consisting of was my excruciating trials, every time I was reminded that we were closer, I kept on being pulled back in again, Zee and Adrian visited my every single day. Isaiah was still here, always here, consoling me and tending to my needs. But I knew, that even he had no idea what to do, how would they get me out? I knew his was planning something, but how long would that take? How long did my family have? How long does Evan have?
“Alexis, listen to me.” Warm hands clutched my face and the scent of safety and security filled my senses. Isaiah. “Before you go in there, you need to know that I found a way in, or at least someone else has. ” Using, the reserves of my energy I pulled myself upwards, onto the bed, fully widened my droopy eyes enough to look at him. “Someone left me this message, leading to a rendezvous point from the OA.”
“Do you know who it is? Maybe that’s the traitor.”
“It was untraceable. But it left us instructions to follow, it’s not in the area, but it’s not far from here.”
“Isaiah, I’ll we walking into a trap.”
“We’ll be walking into a trap.” Quickly, he corrected me despite him knowing how I felt about bringing him along. “We’re doing it together. I have a plan, after your trial. Leave the rest to me.”
“After my trial? Isaiah, I don’t think I’ll have the energy.”
“You won’t need to, I’ve taken a car so no running of any sorts.”
“But how am I going to get out of here, physically I won’t be quicker than any agent here.”
“Trust me,” His lips pulled into a smirk. “You won’t need to be.”
“Isaiah, please just tell me what’s going on-”
“Do you trust me?”
“You know I do-”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about.”
This time in the Box, under the hypnotic state, it was different. I at least had an area that I needed to focus on, my father. For years, I had tried to suppress the memory of his death, for years I had tried to forgot it and him. But now, it was a daunting reality I had to face up too.
My first birthday.
My second birthday.
My father. I did everything in my power to force myself to focus on all my memories of him.
Our first dance.
Our first ice cream we shared.
Closer, I was closer to the truth. The tingling sensation in my bones only intensified that.
Drawing out from the heavy, packed list of voice, I zoned in on one. Him giving my the necklace that I always wore, never parted with. That same necklace that I gave to my little brother, to Evan.
It seemed that was the key, somehow. I tried to drown that particular scene but it kept replaying, as if it was a broken record, stuck on repeat.
I remember him gifting it to me, right before he left for work, right before he died. He seemed skittish, on edge but was trying his best to conceal it from me and my mother, looking back at it now it sounded like a goodbye. I just never thought that exact same thing would play out to be a goodbye.
Somehow, it struck me that it was the key. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know why. But I knew I had to obtain it. They couldn’t know what I know because if it fell into the wrong hands, I can’t even fathom what sort of untold horrors would happen. Mrs Velt always assured my that she was on the side of good, but increasingly I found her actions contradicting her statement. If she had ultimate power in her hands, who’s to say it won’t cloud her judgement, make her impartial to reason.
No, I couldn’t risk that. I knew what I had to do.
Further and further I pulled away from the voices, the memories, the ghosts of my past. I knew I had to leave the trance.
And in doing so, the pain I felt before only seemed the follow, only this time it was more concentrated, like Phoenix knew what my desire was and doing everything in its power to prevent it from happening.
It pushed. I pushed harder.
The pain was steadily climbing up, until I saw that very familiar red blotches, temporarily impair my sight.
Until it cleared and I made eye contact with Isaiah, his eyes burning with pumping adrenaline.
“Come on, we need to leave.” A mask hid half his features, his voice muffled. Why was he wearing that? Hastily he draped an ideal mask over my own face. It was only now I came to realization that the air I was breathing in was toxic fumes. Adjusting my eyes, hazy smoke reached the entire room, even though it was hard to see past the fog, shadows were quickly filling out of the room. The smoke climbing into the Box. He hoisted me onto my feet, holding my arms to steady me. “Use me as support, but we need to move quickly.” At this point he practically had to shout over the loud noise and the blaring sirens.
Doing what he advised, balancing my weight on both my feet and Isaiah himself we made our way out the Box, proceeding to escape through a route that the others left isolated.
His hand was on the knob of the door, before someone ripped him away from it, as soon as it happened the force and momentum, I quickly found myself on the ground, the mask knocked out from around my mouth and nose. Desperately I scoured the floor, blindly, the fog didn’t aid me in any way.
The toxic, foul fumes wondered around me and I could feel my body trying to reject the impure air, coughing harshly to the point I was splattering for an ounce of clean air. Instinctively, my arm shot up to my nose, blocking any poisonous smells from entering.
I looked up from my fall to Isaiah, being pinned to the nearest wall by the solider that didn’t hold him to high regard or praise. His eyes were burning red, despite his coughing which only made his eyes more bloodshot and crimson coloured. His grip was slipping as the gas began to take effect, but it was strong enough to hold Isaiah down. “Where do you think you going?” He took an abrupt pause before erupting in a fit of uncontrolled coughs. “The exit isn’t this way, Mr Patriot.”
“Let me go.” Isaiah struggled against his tight clutch, only to have the solider pound him back to the wall. I could tell that it hurt him more than he was letting on, his eyes momentarily fluttered shut, holding in a wince. Isaiah didn’t want to fight him, it was clear to see, if he did, this solider wouldn’t live to tell the tale. He was trying his best to reign in his anger. “Let me go.” He repeated through gritted teeth, which in quick response the solider handed him a landing blow to his mouth. Instantly, his lips busted, scarlet blood trickling down his pale chin.
If he didn’t fight him, Isaiah would get hurt. We’d be caught, or worst. Leaning backwards, my head made a cold contact to a metal object behind me. The object sending spikes of icy coldness throughout my body. Carefully, I turned my head backwards. The burning red, drew my attention first. Fire extinguisher.
Before even thinking, I stumbled upwards, unlatching it from its position. The weight doubled over, weighing me down but still I drew it behind my head, certain of what I needed to do with it. “Stop!” My voice weak but drew attention from Isaiah and the solider, both eyes snapped towards me as if realising that I was just here. Not wasting another second to let the solider figure out what was happening, I swung the weight, crashing it onto his skull.
Instantly, his body gave way crumbling to the floor. Motionless. Still. His eyes propped open before creasing shut. Blood spilling onto his dark coloured uniform.
Isaiah eyes met mine, surprised at most of what I was capable of doing before shock replaced it, dawning on him that I could have very well killed him. “Shit, Alexis. What have you done?” Quickly, he kneeled down neck to him, assessing his condition. Firstly, he checked his pulse, a second past and the idea that I killed someone was slowly crawling into my head and it was sickening. Again, his gaze meet mine as relief flashed in his blue orbs. “He’s alive.” All the adrenaline, stored in me evaporated, I pushed my weight on the wall closet to me, distributing my weight, still I covered my mouth trying to block any more gas from entering. Isaiah was by my side in a matter of seconds. “Are you okay?” He then proceeded to removed his well placed mask from his face onto mine. Hastily, I accepted breathing in the now safe air.
“Stay here.” He returned back the solider, quickly ripping part of his stitched uniform and wrapping the lush material around his head, to the point of injury, stopping the bleeding. Every so often, he’d break into quiet coughs, the fumes layering up in his lungs. His hands flew frantically, in his encompassing perimeter, he was looking for something. Stopping abruptly, his hand dragged out of the fog what could make out was my fallen mask, that I lost in the struggle. He fitted in onto the solider face. Isaiah was showing his compassionate side, to what I deemed as an enemy. Even all this time, all he’d been through, he hadn’t changed. He was still the same Isaiah.
Grabbing his shoulder, making sure it sat on his arms properly, he began take the unconscious guard to the Box. Pushing my weight off the wall, struggling I inched closer to them, attempting to help Isaiah. He noticed my sluggish movement and shook his head. “Stay there.” The once blue eyes that transfixed on mine was now turning maroon red. He dragged the guard the short distance to the Box, making sure he was comfortably placed, with his whole body level, he jumped over his body. Quickly, locking the clear, glass door behind him.
His hand hastily found mine before carefully leading me out the poisoned room. Away for all those memories I was forced to relive. But now, I knew the truth what really means to save our world. And it isn’t me. It’s my father. Or what he gifted me.
A long winded hallway, stretched out from both sides of us. Pipes following along to as far as I could see, the shading and flickering lights twitching on and off. “This area is cut off, no one should be looking for us down here.”
“So, that’s it, we just leave. We escape?”
“No, we still need to go through people, hopefully the hustle will make the attention not on us. But we still need to disguise you and you won’t be able to move as quickly as I need you to, Alexis. ”
“That wasn’t the only thing you did?”
He shook his head, a slither of moisture coating his temple. “No, I arranged an array of distractions. Others were willing to help me, after I told them the Nations plan. It should throw them off our trial for as long as we can get.” We seemed to be leading closer to another door.
“If they get caught, what will happen to them.”
He shrugged, a frown filling his features, “I don’t know, but it’s a risk that they were willing to take.”
“For everyone.” He ushered past the door, holding it open for me to enter, holding one arm out to support me, we walked into a brightly lit, small packed room. A bed of clothes placed on top of a small wheelchair.
Isaiah arrived in front of me, removing the clothes that sat on the metal chair, helping me down onto it. He must have read the expression on my face. “These clothes are Nations uniform, it’ll help disguise you than the white clothing you’re wearing. If you wear those clothes on you, you’ll stick out like a thumb. And, I hope you don’t mind about the wheelchair, we’ll only need it for the first part of the journey, so we can escape quickly. With the pace we’re going, we’ll get caught.” He didn’t have to explain anything to me, this was the best way to leave so that we wouldn’t get apprehended.
“I need help with the uniform.”
“Yeah, I know.” Again, this was like any other time, him helping me to change when I needed to. But, this time it was different, there wasn’t a doctor looming over or people watching through cameras. It was just the two of us and my heart started quickly racing.
Slowly, his hands grazed my skin as he removed my dress, up my body, through my arms and out through my head. His touch left hot grains dotted on me and despite him knowing my state and seeing me plenty times before, even with completely nothing. I still felt increasingly self-conscious. I could feel his stare on my protruding ribs that stuck out at awkward, unnatural and unhealthy angles through my skin, I turned away afraid he’d see me differently or not see me at all. Surprisingly, his hand found a piece of my now dull hair, tucking it away from my face and behind my ear. “I love you.” A kiss landed directly on my left cheek, lingering for a moment before pulling away.
That was all the confirmation to expel my doubts that I needed, he still saw me as me. He still viewed me as the girl he loved. Despite all my flaws and shortcomings. And I guess, I loved him for that too.
Another set of minutes passed and the tight fabric of the uniform still hung loosely on my skin, the trousers barely stayed in place. But, I knew that wasn’t the biggest of our concerns.
He sprinted around me, I could feel two hands on the back, propelling me forwards. I was surprised it wasn’t electronic, as everything in Nations were more or less state of the art but still, I wouldn’t now how to operate it, so it was probably for the best. “Ready, Alexis?”
“Let’s go.” With as much strength as I could collect, I swung my leg back kicking the door open and chose to ignoring the shooting pain spiking through.
Severing the wheelchair to the left, his pace quickened. We passed the same repetitive pipes and embarked deeper into the tunnel. Until I was in a view of a single door, quickly he pushed it open, prodding us in to the bustling crowd.
Everything was in disarray, floods of agents and technicians stormed down through the loud halls, as everyone turned left towards the exit, their destination was right. My nostrils were soon filled the scent of faint smoke, the burning, choking charcoal smoke the one that clearly associates with that of a fire. One of Isaiah distractions.
His lips brushed down to my ears, his hair tickling the back of my neck. “Keep you head low, just don’t drawn attention.” And I did just that, I made sure my hair crowned my face and even though I was granted looks of confusion, no one seemed to spare me a second glance.
We were slowly advancing towards a big, glass door. The peeking moonlight bounced off it, reflecting onto the material, making the frames glimmer. That was it. That was our way out.
Diverting our direction, trying our utmost best not the arose suspicion. Isaiah hands quickly found the door pushing it open, before helping me through.
Instantly the cold air brushed through my hair, the sweet scent of acorn and petrichor surrounding me. It had been weeks, months even, since I had been outside and I promised myself that when I had the chance to feel fresh air on my skin again, that I’d relish in the moment. All the cicadas and insects buzzed around me, but for the first time I didn’t mind. It was a blessing to me to hear those sounds again.
“Stop! Stop where you are right now!” That voice didn’t belong to Isaiah, nor Adrian, nor the guard. That distinct deep, honey smooth voice belonged to Ovie. Despite his command, Isaiah still pushed on, leading further into the clearing on the road. The black SUV, directly in sight. A click stopped him in his tracks. The click of a gun. “Stop, or I won’t hesitate to shoot. Arms up and turn around, slowly.” Isaiah obeyed his order and when I didn’t fell his knuckles brush on the nape of my neck, I knew he was facing Ovie, yet for some reason kept me shielded away from him. I could tell he wasn’t the only one, slight shifts of the gravel beneath told me that there was more. Ovie wasn’t alone, he had company. “Turn whoever it is in that chair around too.”
I could feel Isaiah freeze, his back turned to me. “Let her go, she has nothing do to with this. I orchestrated all of this, I’m responsible. Please.” I knew his pleads feel on deaf ears.
“Turn them around now, Mr Patriot.” Isaiah still didn’t move, prompted to stand his ground which I knew would undoubtedly end with a bullet in between his eyes. “Now, Mr Patriot. Or I’m obliged to shoot you.”
My hands grasped the wheels, tuning to mechanism to my will to face Ovie and the hoards of soldiers behind him, supporting his every move. When his eyes found mine, he looked surprised, then stunned then his cold exterior returned. “Miss Reign, what are you doing here?”
“I need to escape, Ovie.” Deliberately, I held his gaze. He deserved to look into the eyes of the life he was destroying. “Mrs Velt, isn’t all who she seems. She wants war and I’m not going to get caught up in that.” Doubt momentarily flashed in his eyes, contemplating what he should do. That was it. There was a crack in his unbreakable emotions. “I’ve done my part for you, you know all that I had to sacrifice, Ovie. Let me and Isaiah go, I beg of you. We don’t want this anymore.”
My pleads also feel onto death ears, his face hardened more. “We all have to make sacrifices. Please, I don’t want to hurt you. You and Mr Patriot should decide to come quietly, it’ll be the best for everyone.”
“Ovie, please. My brother, my little brother Evan. He’s been take by the OA, I can’t stay here any longer knowing my family is suffering, knowing he’s suffering and in danger. If you have a heart, hear my pleads. But if you don’t, anything that’s happens to him, it’s on you. It’s all on you.” I struggled to get out my last sentence, knowing that Evan fate was in his hands not mine was harrowing.
His gun dropped before his face did. The soldiers that surrounded me held no look of remorse or understanding, but his did. A frown contoured on his lips, deliberating what he should do; what he’s been ordered or what his heart tells him too. “Okay.” He glanced between me and Isaiah, before his gaze fixed on me. He nodded. “You can leave. Save your brother. I wish I could have done the same for my littlest sister.” Hurt, regret and pain flashed in his eyes.
I knew this wasn’t easy, going against orders and that it could end to him being in danger. “Come with us, Ovie. You can’t stay here with them knowing what you’ve done.”
“Thank you for your offer, but I need to face up to my actions. I am a solider, we don’t run.” He was set in his choice and I knew nothing could alter his thoughts.
But he handed us a branch we quickly needed to take. “Thank you-”
“Mr Ikechuku, we need to report this and bring them in.” Another solider, interjected, interrupting me. His face held slight concern at his commanding officers state.
“No, we won’t. ”
“I am obliged as a solider, dedicated to Nations-”
“If the chief isn’t here, which he isn’t. I am your leader. You answer to me.”
“With all due respect sir, I answer to Mrs Velt who undermines your ranking and authority. She’d want them taken in.”
Before he could protest, they turned on him listening to what the traitor said, wrestling him to the ground and dragging him back inside HQ.
Once again, the gun was pointed back at us, this time I knew no sympathy or empathy was to be shown to us. “Move. Now or I shoot.” Isaiah stature purposely blocked me, until I couldn’t see the soldiers gear anymore and I was directly out of line of his gun, but now it was pointing to someone else. Isaiah himself.