Awakening: The ALPHA Generation

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Chapter 49

I scramble away. “You’re a…” I stammer, unable to form the words.

A Redeemer. Our own Commander. A liar.

The traitor?

No. That can’t be. I haven’t known Carper long, but he…he’s our Commander, loyal to the cause. Isn’t he?

But his marking. Leadership Squadron, reserved for the most dedicated Redeemers, the most ‘perfect’. But Carper, with his scarred eye? No, he could never be accepted.

At least not now. Maybe once?

I can’t trust him! My own thoughts are like a scream in my head. Don’t trust him-!

But he’s our leader. He’s helping us win this battle, isn’t he?

Suddenly my mind leaps back to yesterday, when the others accused me and Darren of killing Warrick. They didn’t trust us because we used to be Redeemers. And it...it hurt. What I’m doing now isn’t any better than that. Who am I to suspect him, when I just left the Redeemers myself?

I have to leave it for now. We just need to make it out of here alive.

I reluctantly offer him my hand and pull him to his feet. He teeters, gripping the wall to steady himself.

“Spearse,” he says, eyes flickering to his wrist.

“Later,” I mutter. “Let’s finish this fight.”

I turn from Carper, searching for Xander and Elle. I spot them by a wall, Xander holding Elle by the arm to keep her on her feet. They look mostly unharmed; thankfully, they were far from the room when it exploded.

Before I can get to them, the sounds of gunshots and screams come from deep in the outpost. It sounds like it’s coming from the Core – have the Enforcers taken it?

Is the outpost lost?

“Nat.” I turn and see Gray, his face coated in soot and ash. He sags under the weight of a limp soldier, who’s arm is slung around his shoulders. “We can’t fight them. Not in this condition.”

“We can’t give up the outpost,” I counter.

“We have to. What’s important now is that we escape.”

“Gray, we can’t-!”

“The weapons are destroyed. We’d be mowed down before we could find more. And our soldiers can’t hold them back any longer.” He swallows. “We need to run.”

We can’t run away from this. We can’t abandon the outpost. Not after everything we did to take it, all the lives we lost.

But all around me, wounded soldiers groan. My own body is sore and tired. We’re in no shape to fight; we’ll be slaughtered for sure if we stay here.

Our troops look at Carper for guidance. He doesn’t respond to them. Instead, he looks at me. For the first time, I see something like fear in his eyes. That makes me face the truth. Gray is right. We need to get out. Fast.

“Doesn’t the outpost have a fleet of vans?” I ask Carper. “We can use them to escape.”

“Right,” he says shakily.

“I think I know where the lot is. We should get outside as fast as possible.”

He nods, motioning down the hall, to an emergency side door. “There. We need to hurry.”

That’s all we need to lurch into action. Soldiers help each other to their feet and rush down the hall. I lead the group this time, with Xander by my side. Elle and Gray quickly join us.

I’ve barely been to the lot - the small clearing where the outpost’s vehicles are parked. There hasn’t been any need for the vans yet. But now, our survival relies on them.

I push open the emergency door, check to see that the coast is clear, then creep out into the waiting darkness. The group silently follows.

The screams and shots from within the outpost are muted outside. I think of Darren, somewhere in that building without me. Those could be his screams. His gunshots. He could be dead.

My heart skips a beat. Darren will be alright, I tell myself unconvincingly.

We move quickly, hugging the outside of the building. Every nerve in my body is on edge, expecting another group of Enforcers to appear at any moment. I pray that there won’t be any at the lot, waiting for us to walk into their midst. We won’t stand a chance if there are.

If we’re attacked again, we’re finished.

The outline of the lot, sitting at the side of the outpost, comes into view. Vans loom like crouched figures in the darkness. No signs of Enforcers - for now.

I hear Carper behind me, weakly giving an order. “Get as many people into the vans as possible,” he says. “Head back to the colony.”

I begin sprinting towards the vans with Xander, Elle, and Gray. The others split up to do the same. Engines start and headlights flood across the lot.

Just as we reach the vans, a group of soldiers stumble into the lot. Their clothes are dark and ragged – part of our group. I catch sight of a light-haired figure. Darren. I don’t recognize many of the others, except for Ivan and a few of his men.

Darren’s okay. He’s alive.

But the wide eyes of the people he’s with dissipate any relief I might feel.

He sees me and starts running in our direction. From the direction he comes from, I see white uniforms surrounding something large and bulky. It looks like a ground-mounted launcher, but I can’t be sure. It can’t be hurricanes. The launcher is too large. But the Redeemers only have one other launched weapon, and that’s—

“Come on!” Xander grabs my arm, snapping me out of my thoughts, and pulls me towards the nearest van. Darren reaches it the same time as us, heaving open one of the doors so Xander and Elle can get in. He hesitates for a moment, looking back at the Enforcers, then gets in. Gray takes the driver’s seat. I slip into the passenger’s seat beside him.

“Let me drive,” Darren says to Gray from the back. It sounds like an order. “This is a Redeemer van, you don’t know how-“

“I’ll figure it out,” Gray cuts him off, dragging his hand across the control panel. I notice that his touch is uncertain and awkward, clearly not used to the Redeemer tech.

Three more people run towards our van, directly in Enforcer’s line of fire.

I hear it before I see it. The high shrilling screech of metal tearing through the air. Suddenly, I know exactly what the launcher is for – not hurricanes, but something far worse. Something that means certain death.

Medusas.

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