Chapter twenty two
Chapter twenty two
Before the trigger was pulled, resounding shoots were fired, but not at us. And not at Isaiah. Ahead of us he diminished onto the hard ground, blood spraying from his leg, it left the other guard ample time to recover but another shoot sounded, filling the air with vibrato and quakes and he also to crash to the ground.
Forcefully, I pushed away from the chair, eager to see who saved our lives. Adrian and Zee uncovered from behind the two men, both brandishing revolvers in their grips. Both strong, unwavering.
Zee’s eyes wandered to the guards on the ground, seizing their arsenal away from them whilst they were left writhing on the ground. She stepped over then, Elijah went around. Her eyes found mine. “You didn’t think you were leaving without us, did you?”
Gripping the chair behind me, I managed a smile. “Of course not, Zee. Thank you both. How did you know we were here?”
“So, soon after you hear the new of your family, all this starts happening. Too much of a coincidence, if you ask me. Isaiah undoubtedly dabbled in whatever’s happening back there. We followed the commotion and here I find you. ” Fixing her eyes towards Isaiah, her happy nature soured into disappointment. “Isaiah, I just wish you would have told me. I could have helped.”
“Zee, it was too dangerous, I couldn’t risk it.”
“But you don’t mind risking the lives of the agents back there, you convinced to start a rebellion. ” Isaiah face held an expression of shock but hastily he covered it, but not before Zee caught on. “Yes, they’re rounding up your little rebels as we speak, those people you so trust, one of them squirted out your plans. Not exactly a fool-proof now, is it?” The tension was high and still increasing, Isaiah face was unreadable but so was Zee’s, both willing to conceal any of their emotions from betraying them.
“We need to go.” Adrian ruptured the silence, his head whipping back to the side towards the open, swinging glass door. “I can hear footsteps, heavy. They’re coming.” Never in my existence would I have though I’d have to do this again, especially by our allies. People we sought refuge in, people I help and wasted away my health and freedom for. Yet again, I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of Ovie, if he wasn’t pardoned, like he deserves to be, the punishment would be severe. But one thing I was certain of, his sacrifice is something I won’t lightly let slip from my memory. We’d come back for him. If he was still here, if he was still alive. We’d come back.
The trembling sound of chasing footsteps were so loud, that not only Adrian had the capability of hearing it. We all did. And it was coming, fast.
Scrambling back into my seat, Isaiah whizzed round taking hold of the reins and pushing my chair forward, Zee and Adrian following closely behind.
The SUV was within reach, Isaiah dived for the drivers seat, helping me inside not forgetting to adjust my seatbelt. Adrian and Zee clambered on into the back. Not long past before Isaiah mounted his way inside, claiming the drivers seat. Revving the car into gear, he progressed into moving the car, before shots smacked the exterior of the vehicle, the car skipped, the engine powering down.
“Shit. Come on, work.” He tried his luck again but the shots were only advancing, the car lurched forward before readily increasing the distance between us and HQ.
I took an involuntarily breath out I didn’t know I was holding, my eyes moved around aimlessly before making a connection with the rear-view mirror. Another car joined the chase, increasing its range to bring us back.
Golden gates, followed the pathway we were currently on. The bars creaking, to the extent that it was audible from inside the car. The mechanisms groaned and they were closing, shutting us out. And fast.
Isaiah revved more power, determined to make it. But by the distance we had between us and the gates, it became blaring obvious that his goal wasn’t achievable. We weren’t going to make it.
The gates craned louder, shortening the distance before both bars touched. But he wasn’t stopping nor was he decreasing his speed. In fact, Isaiah went faster, the sudden movement made my insides churn. “Isaiah. What are you doing? Stop! You’re going to kill us.”
Yet, he still ignored my requests, the gates now were fully closed, shut enough that a 4000 pound SUV undeniably couldn’t pass. “Hold on tight, everyone.” He glanced towards me, seeing my worried mien. “Trust me, Alexis. Trust me.”
With the metal bar only a few feet away, I found myself sealing my eyes shut, not attempting to dissuade him any longer. He knew what he was doing.
The car streamed forward, momentarily dragging my away from my seat. The metal bars, scraped onto the body of the SUV, sparks followed. Instinctively, my eyes flung open, my hand grabbed on Isaiah’s heated ones that rested on the steering. But as soon as they laid there, they were pulled away, as he took a hard turn swerving the whole car round into a mildly busy road, following the rhythm of the moving cars. Glass fragments sat on my lap as part of the windscreen was chipped in. Bullet proof glass. It had to be, I should have had multiples bullets in me by now.
My heart wildly out of pace, at that point I could taste the blood circulating around. The faint hum in my head lingered as the adrenaline washed away. Slowly, I turned my head to the side view mirror, their cars halted to a stop at the shattered and dented gates.
They didn’t follow.
For now, we were safe.
Mindlessly, I gazed out of my scraped window. People blurred past, cars went even faster and that bad feeling in my stomach was being to grow. But I knew it was the right choice to make. Evan couldn’t be left at their hands because of me. It just wasn’t right.
At this moment, we were far from HQ. It surprised me how close their were to main and modern, bustling life but how them themselves were always so secluded and sheltered. If those starting initiates knew how close to a normal life their were, would they take the chance? Still, the life they were living in there was better than the life they’d be forced to live out here. I guess compromises had to be made.
“Do you know where the OA what us to meet?” Zee questioned Elijah, her voice confident and sure. Almost completely void of any lingering emotions. Almost. Adrian, however had been silent this whole time, I wanted to turn ask him how he was doing, ask him if he was okay, but I refrained from doing so. It wasn’t clear to me why.
“Yeah. They sent directions. I’m following it right now.”
“You realise we’re walking right into a trap, right?”
“That’s what I’m counting on. They have Alexis’ family. Hopefully, they lead us right to them.”
“And if they don’t, if they take us to another location that they’re not being held at.” That never crossed my mind.
Isaiah eyes flickered towards mine before focusing on back on the road, trying to avoid an military personnel. The daylight was dimming, night had come. But the curfew didn’t arrive just yet. “They will.” If I didn’t know him better, I would have thought all of this was a big joke and he was leading me to my death. But I did know him and even more I trusted him with my life and Evan’s. “Zee, you can’t bring any weapons. You need to leave them in the car.”
“That’s just suicide, Isaiah. What are we going to use for protection? If you haven’t noticed Alexis can barely walk.”
“If they search you and they find a gun on you. You die. Better yet, we all die.”
Nothing left her mouth for a while, I guess now reconsidering it. “But how is she going to have the energy to do this. Isaiah, Alexis won’t make it-”
“I will. They want me, remember Zee. I can’t rely on the Nations for help anymore, they don’t have my trust. I can only give it to all of you. I can do this, I’ll find the strength in me. I’m not leaving Evan.” And I wasn’t planning on it, if that meant that every step I took felt like agony, if that meant that he’d be returned safely in my arms. I was willing to bear it.
“Well, I think that answered your question, Zee.”
“It still doesn’t change the fact that it’s highly unlikely she’ll pull through. And when we get there, how are we going to get out? Have you thought about that yet?”
Isaiah didn’t reply. Time passed and still no response. It was now clear, that he didn’t have a plan, that we were walking blindly into this. “Isaiah.” My tone gentle and soft, that made him lock eyes with me. “You do have a plan, right?”
“Alexis, I’m going to be honest. I don’t. We need to retrieve your family and work from there. I can only work with what I’m given. But they need you, if they wanted to kill your family by now they would have done it and left a loud message. But they didn’t so, that means they’re holding on for something. For you. We’ll have to play with that side.”
He helped me this far, I had no right or plausible reason to doubt him. “I understand. I trust you, Isaiah.”
“I think we’re all ignoring the fact we’re probably walking into our deaths, headfirst.” This time it was Adrian, he sat there quiet transfixed on our conversion before musing out his own opinion. No one responded back. “Well, I’m ready for it.” It was as if these few months, the Nations did their job manipulating and moulding him into what they wanted. It took just a few months for him to forget his vow to his fiancée, to live in a finer world. Just a few months, that was all it took and he was ready to die for a family that wasn’t even his own.
“What of your girl, the one you want to propose to. What about her?” I strained my neck to take a better look of him. He was developing that faint, distance unmoving expression that most of them in Nations always seemed to have. But his resolve broke at the mention of her.
“Yes, Belle. I don’t know anymore about my feelings for her-”
“That’s not what I thought when you were practically ready to lay down your life for her.”
“Things change.” He was becoming hard, impassive.
“Don’t let them change you Adrian. You don’t need to be an agent to prove you’re worthy, someone back home already knows it. This life wasn’t made for you. You deserve a normal life.”
“She’s right. Despite what you may think of me, I still know how troubling living this life is. How many sacrifices you have to be prone to accept. I know Belle and I know she loves you. Go back to her, live a normal life or you’ll regret it.” Every so often Isaiah eyes would search mine. It seems like this was more to himself than Adrian.
“Maybe.” His voice slightly cracked, probably bearing the weight of his choices. Clearing his throat, he began again. “Maybe.”
The conversion dried out, silence trapped us. I could guess everyone was busy thinking on an array of different problems. They’re personal life, the Nations, the OA. We were still young. We still had issues to solve.
But I hope this revelation would be somewhat of a good news. “You all are probably wondering, how far I’ve come in the trials. Despite everything and how destructive it was to go through. It was worth it.”
Isaiah turned to me. “What do you mean? Did they find something? But it couldn’t have been possible, I was with you the entire time.”
“This last one, I saw something. I’m more than certain it was linked to me and they were right it did had something to do with my father. This same memory kept pulling me forwards and everything else disappeared until it was just that. My father before he died, he went to work one morning. Normal routine, nothing out of the ordinary; we had breakfast, I got ready for school. Normal thing a family would do, at that point Evan wasn’t born yet. But there was something about my father that struck me odd, before he left he gave me this necklace, an emerald jewel necklace. It sounded like a goodbye, but I thought that he was always going to come back. Back home to us. To me.”
“He never did.” Isaiah caught my hand, flashing me a supportive smile, encouraging me to carry on.
“No he didn’t. Something happened at work, some sort of accident my mother and I were told. I remember that the days after his death was the hardest days of my life. Everything just faded out of focus, it was so bad my own grieving mother had to choose whether to admit me in a psychiatric hospital. I was catatonic. The pain hurt so bad, I couldn’t physically feel it but it was there and that made it all the more harder. There wasn’t drug I could take to dim it, there wasn’t a surgery I could undergo to completely rid the pain. After those days, I just cried. And cried and cried. Then, I remember what my mother said to me, those words she spoke that dragged me back to reality, the real world.” Truthfully, I’ve never shared any of this with anyone, they might have known some details of the hospital but they didn’t know what I was feeling. No written diagnosis could even begin to express it.
Remembering it, reliving it made me feel completely numb. But the reality of it was I got over it. My father will always be kept in my heart, but dwelling on a past memory that hurt me beyond understanding was something I didn’t want to return to. “That memory, it kept coming back to the necklace. Always the necklace. It then dawned on me that the same necklace was the key.”
Zee took it upon herself to speak, Isaiah just keep diverting his attention towards me, sadness tinting his blue eyes. “I’m sorry for what you had to go through. But if you don’t mind me asking, how is the necklace the key?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Well, do you have it on you?”
“No.” I shook my head. “I gave it to Evan before I left.”
“So, you’re telling me, it’s with your little brother. Your brother that’s currently held captive at our enemy organisation, compelled by their idea of a perfect world.”
“I didn’t know it’s importance, Zee.”
A exhale, filled the silent car. “I know. I’m apologise. It’s just everything seem just out of our reach. When will there be justice for Jordon, Veronica, Elijah? When will get what they deserve?”
“Soon, Zee.” Despite my reassurance, I knew it would be decidedly better not to raise her hopes up but at this moment I guess everyone needed something to latch onto.
Again, the conversation died down. Seconds rolled into minutes as the dull drive of the car plundered to our destination. We rolled into a scenic route, the road opposite the gleaming, streaming river. The car halted to a stop. The ignition dialled down as Isaiah turned to me. “We’re here.” I was shocked to know that this rendezvous would by on the road, in all honesty I was expecting a clearing in the woods or some place abandoned. This felt open, free. Something, I knew would be out of my grasp soon.
No one jolted or moved. Everyone remained in the car, waiting for something. Anything. “I suspect we have the get out of the car, Isaiah.” Adrian enquired, his voice gripped with fear. I didn’t want to turn around and witness his facial expression, I didn’t want that fear sinking into me.
“Yeah, I know. I just want you all to know that if we fall. We fall together.” His stare held mine, holding this message more towards me than anyone else. Isaiah’s hand still covered mine, the warmth seeping into me and calming me down to the point I felt I could handle what was going to happening.
“But, where are they? They’re not here.” Zee’s voice broke through the tension.
“They could be waiting, let me go and check.” His hand started the door before I quickly stopped him from leaving, reaching over placing a hand against his that resided on the handle of the door.
“Wait? Do you think they’ll come in peace? Or will we be taken without dignity?” I mulled it over, maybe we were lucky and they’d take us humanely not like the Nations did. But then again, we were the enemy. “No. Don’t leave, it’s not safe.”
“Alexis, we need to leave at some point.” My expression must have been one of pure horror, in spite of what we knew had to be done, the thought of Isaiah going out there alone was unsettling. “I’ll be fine.”
“No, I coming with you.”
“It wasn’t up for debate.” Unlocking my own side of the door, I heaved it the best I could, yet it only opened a fraction of the way. With a defeated sigh, he leaned over, pushing the door fully open, his hand busking at my seatbelt, the loud click altered me that it was done, no longer restricting my movement. It was only now that I noticed the pain brushing over my body. I could already feel the bruises emerging on my body, involuntarily I let out a wince. He heard, watching me with suspicion before uncovering the top half of the uniform, the expression on his face only confirmed my theory.
“Alexis, I’m so sorry. I had no other choice-”
Pushing his hand down, I stifled a tight smile, managing the pain. “I know you did, it all right. Come on, it’s getting dark.” Tentatively, I stepped out of the car, balancing my weight on the frame of the door. If I was going to do this, I needed to walk. By myself. With no assistance.
Hastily, Isaiah crossed to distance towards me, his arms hanging out offering me some sort of aid. I shook my head, declining his offer. Steadily, I took small steps without any intervention. They were slow, but it was some sort of progression.
By now, the sun already set and the moon gleamed happily, lending us some sort of light.
Suddenly, hands covered in gloved materials wrapped around my mouth. My throat burned, wanting to scream. My vision cleared and another assailants held Isaiah at gunpoint, the weapon positioned to his head. I could feel my eyes widen trying to take as much of the situation in.
With the gun still stationed at his temple, the gunman locked eyes with me. “If you scream, I shoot. Understand?”
Frantically, I nodded, feeling the sensation of fear cloud over me.
“We came to you unharmed. There is no need for weapons.” Isaiah speech wasn’t slurred nor did it sound nervous. In response the OA agents thrashed the base of his gun to Isaiah’s temple, he winced as blood dripped down his face, some leaked into his eye, blurring out the vivid blue.
Everything in my body dropped, instantly I went cold. A small pin-prick dug into my skin before I felt liquid like substance enter, burning in my veins and everything around me seemed to blot out.
I could feel the panic accompany that burning. Hastily, my eyes meet Isaiah, his expression once again completely unreadable but his saw the fear evident in my eyes.
“It’s okay. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” His features were increasingly hard to concentrate on, as they were quickly deteriorating. Until he fully disappeared like a puff of smoke.