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Chapter 43

Sunday, March 18th, 2029


I’m taking cover behind the ZX Hybrid, aiming the pistol in my hands at the clamoring Automatons. They’ve approached our ground zero. Andy is picking several up at a time and throwing them backward onto their cybernetic brethren. I’m picking them off one by one, feeling each bullet hit its mark. Each shot sends waves of pain up my arm because of the recoil and my inexperience, but I keep going, switching hands when it becomes unbearable in my right hand.

Behind me I hear a sound as I see Gavin appear out of nowhere, he rolls along the road, slowing down to a stop. He leaves blood stains on the road as he rolls. Iris stands up next to me, running over to him. I’m shooting as I divide my attention from the crowd of automatons to Gavin and Iris. I move slowly back, keeping my fire on them, but then I realize I’m out of bullets. I pull the trigger and nothing happens.

“Shit, I’m out,” I say to Andy.

“I’ll hold them off for as long as I can, you make sure he’s okay,” He says, his concentration strengthening. He pulls the ZX Hybrid off of the ground and sends it rolling to the automatons, pushing them back as if they were a solid entity. The car explodes as it hits them and sends them hurtling backward.

I run over to Gavin and Iris, she’s cradling him in her arms. His face has dirt lining his cheeks. He’s bleeding from several wounds, the gash on his head, a new open wound on his leg, and the claw marks from Micah still emptying a glowing liquid. The worst of all is the blood pouring out of his abdomen, the only conclusion I can pull is that it had been fatal.

I don’t see Micah anywhere, and I can only hope that it means Gavin had killed him.

“It’s not fair…” Iris says.

“It really isn’t…” I say.

“I loved him, he…he didn’t deserve this. He told me that he heard about a vision in which this happened.”

“That…wow, I didn’t even know.”

“He didn’t want anyone to know, not until a few hours ago…anyway. He was hiding so much pain, and I felt like I could help him out with it, felt like maybe he could help me too.”

“Hey! We’re not going to be able to hold out here much longer, we’re going to need to move!” I hear Andy yell back.

I turn to face him, I turn just in time to see him be knocked back by an Automaton missing half of his body, as if it were ripped straight off. Andy falls back against the curb.

“Andy!” I call out.

I hear a loud sound erupt, I turn back towards the crowd. In the distance I can see an armored police van complete with a turret on top barreling towards the automatons. The turret lets loose a flurry of bullets and shrapnel onto the crowd, I see the automatons get loaded up and fall to the ground. The turret stops shooting and the van swerves around, angling the back of the van towards us. The doors open up, and a familiar face waves us inside. Standing in the back of the van in a full black set of police gear is Jen, Andy’s younger sister.

“Come on! We need you guys in here and now!”

“I’m not leaving him here, we’re bringing him,” Iris says, glancing down to Gavin.

Andy nods, breathing deep and picking up with his Telekinesis.

I run up to the van and climb inside. I stand to my feet and help Gavin’s body inside. Andy is next to jump on in, and we help Iris into the van last. Jen shuts the door.

“Just how did you know to come?” I ask her.

“I can’t really answer that right now, I have to go back to the turret, but go speak to our driver, he’ll be glad to answer any questions,” Jen says. She climbs up and goes through a small hatch. We’re standing in the back of the van, the entire back save for the hatch upwards is barren except also for some duffel bags set to the side. They look to be full to the brim.

“She knew to come because that’s who I called back at the Calgary,” Andy says.

“Oh, okay, yeah, I remember you saying you had to take a call.”

Andy nods. I turn and walk up to the front of the van, Andy and Iris following right behind me. I don’t even have to guess who’s been driving, it’s sort of an easy guess.

“Jake, or should I say Mr. Prosecutor?”

Jake sits at the wheel, a little sickly but otherwise fine.

“I know you all probably hate my guts, I just wanted to apologize,” He says, his eyes unmoving from the road.

“Listen, we’d be screwed without your save right now, so consider yourself forgiven,” Andy says.

“Yeah, thank you so much,” Iris says.

Jake turns the wheel and we’re battering through the automatons and driving away from them.

“Where do you need to go, I hope you at least know?” Jake asks.

“We need to get to the Statue of Liberty, it was just back the way we were headed.”

“We’ll need to continue going this way, the statue is on a peninsula. We couldn’t reach it because the mainland is so far from the tip of the peninsula. We’ll need to drive around and reach it that way.”

“Okay, how long should that take?” I ask.

“Maybe an hour or two? It isn’t the shortest distance.” He peeks behind him and sees Gavin’s body. “What happened to him?”

“I think he killed Micah, they both fought and he came back and he…he died,” Iris says, holding onto her will.

“Deepest condolences,” Jake says.

“The second he passed I felt it, I felt the life leave his body. It was like the same feeling when he jumped with me, when we traveled across the country.”

“So, you and Jen, what’s happened with you two since the trial, and where the hell did you guys manage to get an armored van? Better question, just what the hell happened?” I ask.

“It’s a bit of a long story. So, the day that Jen entered Elysium, we snuck into the building they had developed the game or whatever.”

“That would be the Republic Plaza,” Andy says.

“Yeah, in Denver. The place was a total wreck.”

“That was from Gavin,” Iris says.

Andy nods. I look at her with confusion, but she shoots me a look of “I’ll tell you later.”

“She went ahead of me to investigate the parts that weren’t destroyed. My father, chief of police at the time arrived on the scene. I don’t know how he found out we were there, perhaps when I snuck into his office and used his computer to find the building in the first place.”

“That’d probably do it,” I say.

“He shot me, not fatal. He knew where to shoot because he was trained as such. It caught me in the shoulder and I dropped. The blood loss made me pass out, and when I woke up strapped in a hospital bed with all of these needles and other things poked into my body I kind of freaked out. There was a man, the man, Micah. He was there, he told me that I was dying, shit I already knew.”

“What’d he do next?” Andy says.

I shift uneasily as I listen to his story.

“He then told me the whole story, right there and then. Me propped up on the hospital bed there he told me about Elysium, about Jack, about even himself.”

“Why’d he do that?”

“He looked at me and told me that he just felt like venting. He probably didn’t expect me living after the trial…that I’ll get to in a second.” I nod my head almost in sync with Andy, Iris sits down on the floor, looking up at him, she’s got Gavin’s head in her lap.

“I learned about the Radical-9. After he told me about that I took a guess that that was what he was pumping into my body. He told me there were several top secret drugs going into my body, but none of them were Radical-9. He told me that these drugs would stop the diseases I have from killing me, and in return I’d work for him to stop Jack, to save you and Andy.”

“Okay, I get it now. He coerced you into thinking that getting John guilty would stop Jack, or something like that, right?” I ask.

“Not exactly. It started out that way, I did law work and got plenty of guilty verdicts, thinking back on him forging a gun probably a lot of them were innocents, but he kept saying in this weirdly mystical way that I was doing the right thing, that I was doing my part.”

“He played you like a fiddle.”

“About a year ago, Micah told me of my father’s scandal. I hadn’t heard about it before because for the last seven years my life consisted of pumping these drugs into my system, then taking me out for a trial, pumping the drugs into my system, taking me out for a trial, rinse and repeat.”

“How’d you take that?” I ask.

“Not well, that’s when he started planting doubt into my head, he…I…believed that you were against me because I had been given the order to get John guilty. For seven years I was ordered to get people guilty and I did, it just happened. It’s been so long…I lost myself.”

“You were kind of a dick,” Andy says.

“Yeah…then after he’d revealed himself…sort of, I saw what I was doing. I saw that he’d been forging the evidence, and needed to get out. Everything I believed for seven years was just tragic fallacy grown and bloomed by one man and a shit ton of drugs.”

“And after the trial, when you ran out?”

“I…I was in a dark place after the trial. Everything I believed was false, and I felt like I couldn’t trust anything…like when I found out my father was a part of the police scandal. After that I completely shut everybody out, and I know that it was wrong.”

“What happened next, how did you cope with having that happen again? And apologize for my sounding like a therapist, but I’m genuinely curious.” Andy asks.

“Think nothing of it…but I did what I should’ve done the first time, I listened to Jen. She followed me after the trial, I…I was contemplating suicide. Everything felt wrong and I couldn’t process it all. She talked me out of it, saying I shouldn’t waste the life I’d been so very lucky to hold on to considering my condition, and I knew she was right.”

“And how does this lead to you nabbing a police vehicle?” Iris asks.

“We returned to Aurora, Jen’s idea, actually. She knew I still kept my dad’s old shit like his key cards and whatnot from after he was imprisoned, she suggested we sneak some stuff from his office in order to help you guys.”

“And what, did he keep this entire van in his office?” I ask.

He laughs.

“No, no. When we arrived in Aurora the place was batshit insane. I guess some teenaged kids got into some trouble with the curfew and they started rioting. It dragged in the police…what was left, and some of the townspeople sympathetic to the teens’ cause and it was this whole big mess.”

“Jesus…” I say.

“We used the opportunity presented to us and that was when Jen got the call from Andy, saying to head to California. She armed those duffel bags we have in the bag with guns and ammo and I got us our ride using my dad’s keys.”

“Would you happen to have ammo for a .44 caliber pistol?” I ask.

“I don’t know, maybe. I didn’t pack it. They’re right there in the back,” Jake says, nodding to the back of the van.

I walk back to the bags and take one of them and peek inside. There are various guns of differing sizes and combinations. I think for a second about picking one up and using it instead, but then I remember I’m extremely inexperienced with shooting these things. I may be able to hit my mark, but I’m a total newbie when it comes to the recoil, these would probably dislocate my shoulder if not break my arm completely.

I go through another bag and see tons of ammo clips. I find one that looked like the ones I’d loaded first into the .44 caliber and lock it in place.

Something also seems…fitting, using the gun that Jay had left us, like he will finally get closure from this whole ordeal. I go back to the first bag and take out a pistol, a touch smaller than the one I’m currently holding. I grab it a clip of ammo that works and walk over to Iris, placing it in her hand.

“Take this, for Gavin,” I say.

“For Gavin,” she repeats.

I nod.

“Okay, we’re long clear of the automatons, I’m going to ring Jen to come back down,” Jake says, turning onto what I see to be a long stretch of grass.

“Not really into obeying the driving laws, are you?” I ask.

“What laws? I’m sure that we’re the majority of actual people even here in San Diego right now. Plus, it’s a good shortcut.”

“True, I guess then keep on going.”

Jake nods and bends down to a small walkie-talkie at his side. With a free hand he presses the button down, “Hey, you coming down? I think we’re clear.” He looks over back to us. Up above I can see the hatch opening and Jen climbs through it and lands on the floor.

“Jen, it’s good to see you,” Andy says, walking over to her and embracing her in a big hug.

“Hey bro, what’s up?” She asks, laughing.

“Thanks for the save, we would’ve been massacred there,” he says.

“Think nothing of it. I was already on my way anyway, I just needed to know who to shoot,” She says.

“You know, I just thought of something,” I interrupt. Jen looks over towards me.

“Sarah, right?”

I nod my head, “You know, there was something that Gavin told me back at the courthouse I’d been meaning to talk to you about if I saw you again. I...I think that Jack is my father.” I say.

“I had my suspicions,” Jen says, shifting beside us and moving to crack her back. “I didn’t know my mother, I only know that Jack’s my father…but only in name.”

“Then I think that means we’re related,” I say.

She looks at me and then smiles. She walks over and gives me a hug. “No matter what, blood or no blood, we’re all a family here.”

“Guys,” Jake says, calling our attention. “I think we’re here.”

I turn to look out the front and see a long stretch of land out in front of us, a few miles across it I see the broken remains of the Statue of Liberty.

This is it.

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