Awakening: The ALPHA Generation

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Chapter 66 - Nat

The ground trembles beneath my feet as I run. I barrel through the rings as smoke and fire begin to fill them.

I catch sight of Gray running for the first ring’s entrance. I shout for him to hurry. He slips through the door and into the corridor. I follow just as the bombs in the second ring go off, making the air shake.

A voice crackles over my earpiece as I step through the door. “Five minutes.” The missiles will start dropping soon.

“Let’s go!” I shout over the explosions, racing down the corridor.

Gray falls into step next to me, his breaths heavy. He glances at my arm. “You’re injured.”

“I’m fine.”

“Guards?”

“No - Krane was in there, with ALPHA. He had a gun. I took him out.”

He smiles briefly. “Now the Redeemers won’t have ALPHA, the Crux, or their leader. Perfect.”

We sharply turn the corner and head for the emergency exit. The Crux is quickly waking up. An emergency siren starts wailing through the halls. About time. They won’t have long enough to evacuate everyone, though. The bombs are on their way - and we’re still not at our exit. I will my legs to run faster.

We’re almost at the exit. I let out a breath of relief. We’re going to make it.

“The dropship should be outside,” Gray says. “Go straight through the clearing, fast as you-“

Before he can finish, a lone figure steps around the next corner. A gunshot goes off, and Gray stumbles backwards, gripping his side. Blood seeps from beneath his hand. I skid to a stop, shouting his name as he falls to his knees.

I turn to face the shooter and stop short. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Him.

Darren steps closer, pistol in hand. Coldly, he aims for me - I reply with a shot of my own. There’s no hesitation as I pull the trigger. I want him dead. Dead.

He manages to dodge my bullet and raises the pistol again, this time aiming for Gray. I step in front of Gray just as the shot goes off. The sound hardly registers as a dagger of sheer pain rips through my shoulder. I fall to one knee, clutching my wounded arm. My pistol drops to the floor.

“Nat-!” Gray’s voice comes from behind to me. He curses and tries to stand when another shot goes off. He cries out, clutching his knee. Blood seeps between his fingers.

He’s killing us. I push myself up again, grimacing as pain tears through me.

Darren steps forward and kicks my fallen gun out of reach. He aims at my head with one hand, but doesn’t fire, instead staring at me with a blank expression.

“You destroyed the ALPHA.”

“Fifteen seconds,” the voice says in my ear.

“Did you really think that would stop the Redeemers? The Flawed will be wiped out with or without It.” His expression and voice begin to change – his eyes become alight with rage, his voice rising. He’s furious. “You’ll all die like the parasites you are!”

“Five seconds.”

A dry smile flickers across my features as I look up at Darren. “Then you’ll die with us.”

The first missile drops.

The air fills with thunder. Deep within the Crux, the building shakes, making the ground tilt beneath us. Darren stumbles to the side, his eyes widening.

I take the opportunity to fling myself at him, sending us both crashing the ground. He drops his gun in surprise. We struggle to pin each other down as the world fills with the sound of dropping bombs.

His hands wrap around my throat, tightening until his fingers are interlocking. Black spots fill my vision. I try to scream, but it’s impossible. His fingers knit closer and closer, blocking the air from my windpipe.

The roar of another bomb comes, this time closer. The world shakes again - we’re flung to the side with the impact. Darren’s hands fall from my neck as he rolls a few feet away. I suck in a lungful of air, gasping and coughing as my ears fill with the thundering sound of concrete cracking.

Darren climbs back to his feet. I scramble to my knees, frantically searching the ground for his fallen gun. I spot it nearby.

Another bomb. The world begins to fall apart. Smoke pours through the halls and slips into my lungs. I cough, squinting through it as I reach for the gun and wrap my fingers around its handle.

I look up just in time to see Darren lunging at me. Without thinking, I raise the gun and fire twice, hitting his legs. He lets out a pained scream and falls to the ground.

The wall down the corridor erupts into flames. Bits of concrete rain down from the roof, falling into my eyes.

My body feels like its on fire. I struggle to move, unable to stifle my cries. Painstakingly, I drag myself towards Gray.

I touch his arm when I reach him. He groans.

“Come on,” I croak, my voice smothered by the smoke stuck in my throat. “Get up.”

I heave him up, slinging his arm over my good shoulder. His eyes flutter open.

Together, we start limping towards the exit as the next bomb falls. Just a few more steps, I tell myself. Just…just a few more.

Nat!”

The voice comes from behind me. I glance over my shoulder and see that Darren is on one bloody knee, staring at me with burning eyes. He tries to stand, jaw clenched in pain.

I stare at him, the smoke clouding my vision. I feel my face harden towards him.

“Goodbye, Darren.”

Then the hall erupts into flames.

The ceiling collapses as the bombs make impact, exploding into golden fire. Darren’s scream is masked by the sheer roar of the world crumbling around us. Concrete slabs and metal beams crash into each other as they fall on my brother. He disappears within the rubble.

Heat engulfs my senses. I keep my grip on Gray – I gather every ounce of strength I have left and keep moving, through the flames and smoke.

“Just hold on,” I whisper. I don’t know whether I’m talking to Gray or myself. “We’re almost there. We’re almost done. Just hold on.”

Another explosion to my left - fire rises, sending flames that sear the side of my face.

I scream.

But I don’t let go of Gray.

I don’t stop moving.

The exit looms in front of us. I shove it open and drag Gray into the night air. The sound of engines comes from in front of us. I squint through the haze and see a dropship waiting in the clearing ahead. Voices yell over the noise, telling us to hurry.

We limp out into the clearing. Gray, heavy and weak next to me, pulls himself forward on one leg. Together, we reach the dropship. Pairs of hands heave us inside.

I hear talking above me. Exhaustion grips my body - my breaths are shallow.

The dropship takes off. The sounds of the world suddenly fade away, replaced by a high ringing in my head.

Gray’s arm is still tangled in mine. I don’t move. Instead, I lay there, watching as the dropship’s hatch slowing closes. As we rise, I can see the Crux come into view – collapsing, burning, blazing. The glass dome is shattered, sending billows of smoke to the stars.

We did it. It’s over.

The pain in my body slowly fades. My thoughts dwindle until they stop completely, and I’m left with a quiet sense of peace.

The quiet stretches on and morphs into unconsciousness.

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