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34. Surviving Captivity

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Six months is a long time, but it’s not really that long when put to practice. Nothing of interest happened until shortly before I was slated to leave. It was the last week – I had never truly settled in, so I didn’t have serious packing to do. Saint came and went less and less, I took charge of the little girl in his absence. She was perceptive, clever, sweet…highly observant. Grey spent a lot of time with me, so I wouldn’t feel alone, neglected, shunned. He brought letters from the others with him. Details on finding the story and what it contained. They had it. They had what they wanted and now it would spread. They would make copies and get the word out. The circus turned into a production company. It started with us. And then with them. And soon everybody knew. Everyone had heard.

The stories were topics of debate, they were uncertain. There were skeptics that said they were nothing but fiction. They were an underground craze, available only through the family. But still, it spread, as it was meant to. Grey told me that Requiem was furious. Serkis had overthrown her authority with this. Vagrant was thought to have given the order for its release. He didn’t care half as much; he shrugged it off. But Requiem wanted heads to roll for this. Vagrant put up with her less and less, spending more time on the streets, staying away from her the more irritable she became. I knew this because Grey told me. He was a good source of information – I trusted him and he trusted me. He treated me like an equal and I respected him that much more for it. I didn’t have to play games with him for the answers anymore.

Times were tough, but nobody died. Tensions were high. Pandora and Requiem were expecting – their dates would coincide. Serkis and Layne were doing their best, running back and forth, keeping watch on both sides. The more Vagrant abandoned her, the more she asked of Serkis. Requiem still had her soft points, but not enough to make her forgivable. She had sinned, and until this child was born, she would be safe. After that, her sorrow wouldn’t save her. Serkis was supportive, as family tends to be. But she knew, as we all did, that once this child was born, Requiem wouldn’t be necessary anymore. Her life posed a danger to us all. The child posed a danger as well, but it was still innocent. There was hope, as always.

The months turned to weeks, weeks to days. I woke up one morning to find Grey pacing around the place, talking rapidly to Saint. I rubbed my eyes and looked at them both.

“Good, you’re awake. It’s started.”

“What?”

“The kids. Requiem’s is already born and Pandora’s working on it. We should get back there. Soon, well…we’ll leave as soon as you’re ready.”

I changed and returned to him in ten minutes, my bags over my shoulder. “Let’s go.”

He shook Saint’s hand and we left. I shook Saint’s hand as well before leaving. I didn’t really understand why, but he was providing a service of some sort. We had hijacked his life. He was someone to be respected for his duty. I didn’t expect to see Klyde again. He’d have enough to deal with. I got in the car and we took off. Simple as that.

“I don’t understand something, Grey.”

He glanced over. “Just one thing?”

“Well…maybe. How is it that the girl can be a Hunter?”

“Oh man, sit tight kid. You heard the stories, right?”

“Right.”

“And you read the Cycle when I brought it to you a few months back, right?”

“Yeah. Harvey and her sister were the only Hunters, right?”

“Wrong.”

“Who else?”

“Entropy.”

“You mean Elysium’s other half? Elysium’s Entropy?”

“The one and only. He was a Hunter before his life was hijacked.”

“How do you know?”

He glanced over at me. “Careful research.”

“Research? Or you were told, by Serkis, and she was told by…?”

“Klyde. He filled in all the gaps when he handed the stories over. So we would never have to be a bother to him. We wouldn’t go looking and he wouldn’t have to come find us.”

“This doesn’t seem to add up.”

Grey laughed. “No, it doesn’t, but that’s just how it is.”

We drove the rest of the way home in silence.

I sat there and thought about everything that had come to pass. The madness that had suddenly started. Where do we go from here? Did the rest of the family fully understand what they were getting themselves into? For our sake, as a whole, I hoped so.

We got home in record time, the car screaming to a halt outside the hospital.

“Go up there, they’re waiting on you, I’ll park and be right behind you.”

I jumped up and jogged to reception, explaining what floor I needed, who I was looking for, and why in a matter of sentence fragments. They nodded and sent me on my way. Up we go. I got up there in a matter of seconds, though my body felt like it was frozen. I had the momentum frozen in my bones, the constant movement being arrested. I jumped out of the elevator the moment the doors opened, finding myself lost. I looked up and down the hallways, catching sight of a pacing Layne. He jogged over.

“Hey, it’s already done, she’s down the hall, resting. You know…rough time…or…well…she’s sleeping. I was just in there.”

I laughed. He seemed…uncomfortable. The whole idea of girls…women and having children and the whole works got to him. Unless it was something else. I couldn’t tell. He looked behind me, up and down the halls.

“Where’s Grey?”

“He said he’d be up right behind me, why? What’s the rush?”

“Oh, nothing, come on, we’ll go check on Pandora.”

“And Requiem?”

He smiled a fake little grin. “Her too.”

We went into the room, its atmosphere sedate and calm. Pandora was sleeping with Serkis sitting idly by, half conscious. She got up when we stepped in, hugging us both close, kissing Layne. He held her for a minute before leading her back to sit.

“Go back to sleep, we’ll take care of things.”

She nodded and dozed off again, keeping her watch for as long as she could keep her eyes open. Grey came charging in as we slipped out.

“Hey, what’s up?” Grey said, as casually as he could manage. We stood around outside the doorway; Layne closed the door carefully. I looked around. Layne whispered a few things to Grey, patted him on the back, and sent him on his way. He watched him go and looked over at me. I didn’t understand.

“Listen to me, things are going to move fast, okay? I need you to do me a really big favor, okay kid? I want you to go to the bathroom, there should be one down the hall there. And I want you to count to ten. Take this lighter. And I want you to set off the fire alarm.” He pressed his lighter into my open palm, covering my closed hand with his. He looked around. “And as soon as it’s done, run, okay? Run down the stairs, we’ll meet you in the garage. Okay? Do me this favor? I’m depending on you.”

The last words hung in my mind, echoing over and over. He needed me. I nodded quickly, starting to walk away. I looked around, yelling back at him before he was too far gone.

“Where are you going?”

He smiled at me, something wicked, something I wasn’t used to. “To pay a dear friend her last respects. You know, a requiem for the lost?” And he walked away, leaving me with the fading shape of his body as he moved. I went in my own direction, going off to do my own work. I had a job to do. I had a duty to fulfill.

I went off to the bathroom, looking around. Shining white. The whole hospital was shining white. It drove me crazy. The institutional white. It reminded me of my youth, I couldn’t

figure out why, but it did. I got in there and turned a few times then stood still, staring at the ceiling. Layne’s lighter was silver, square…gorgeous. It had an engraving on it, I wasn’t sure of it. I’d ask him to see it later. I was counting in my head from the moment I got in here. I got into one of the stalls and stood for extra height. I held my arm out to the sprinkler.

Five. Four. Three. Two. Flip. Click, click…burn. One.

And…let there be rain. Because when it rains, it pours.

I jumped down and ran out the door, assaulted by the rush of people and the sound of screams. I looked around; half the people weren’t leaving – they were tending to the sick. I saw Grey come tearing through, Layne and Serkis together. I jumped ahead of them and tore down the stairs, winding my way through people. We passed a group of cops on our way down, hurrying up. I ran until I got down, waiting outside the doorway. Layne came charging through next, he grabbed hold of me and shoved me forward.

“Go, the car’s that way, get it started, will you?”

I took off running while he turned and waited for Serkis. I got to the car and started it like I was told. I looked over my shoulder to see them running, Grey holding his coat bundled up in his arms. Layne opened the door for him and he plowed in the back with Serkis as Layne slid in next to me. They forgot for a moment that I was there.

“Get us the hell out of here!” Grey yelled. I floored it and tore out of there, driving blind. I looked from one to the other, realizing for the first time that there was a screaming cry. I turned back in my seat to Grey.

“Where the hell did that kid come from?”

They looked at me like I had just appeared there. “Just drive, okay? We’ll explain.”

“Where to?”

“Drive to…”

Silence set in, they didn’t know where to go. Layne dug out a cell phone and dialed a number, made some quick arrangements. “Head to Sylum’s,” he told me. I turned the car and set out, trying to make time without drawing attention. We passed the fire engines on our way. I slowed down when we were halfway there.

“So who is that?”

Grey had handed the kid over to Serkis, who was working on quieting it down. He breathed a sigh of relief. “This is young Mister Revere Ransom. Rev for short.”

I turned in my seat. “You stole Requiem’s child? Are you crazy? Heads will roll for this!”

Grey smiled an evil little grin, shooting his brother a glance. “I don’t really think that’s going to be a problem.”

I looked around as much as I could while driving. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Well? Someone answer me.” I couldn’t yell because of the child, but I was frustrated. Layne was looking out the window absentmindedly when he replied.

“She’s dead, Harley. Requiem’s dead. For real this time.” He looked over to me. “I swear. There’s no coming back this time.”

“Holy shit, are you, are you all insane? Vagrant will have our necks for this.”

Layne put a hand on my shoulder. “Calm down and drive. Don’t worry about it. Okay? We need you to stay together – we need you not to fall apart right now, okay? It’ll work out, trust us, please? Just, drive.”

And I did. I drove them to Sylum’s, pulling to the curb to find the good man waiting for us. Sylum helped everyone out of the car; I was attached to the steering wheel. He opened the door on my side.

“Coming?”

I looked at him in awe, like he was somewhere else. He didn’t belong here. I remember shaking my head. He looked at the others and came back to me.

“Come on, please get out of the car, we have things to do. Please?”

I shook my head again, still frozen in the car. He looked around. They’d need a new plan, because I couldn’t move. I just couldn’t. Serkis handed off the kid to Layne, kissing him as she moved away. She ushered the boys indoors. I heard her send Sylum back to the hospital, to take charge of the investigation before someone else took over. He rushed off to his own car. When everyone was in motion, she slid into the passenger seat.

“Come on kid, let’s go for a ride.”

I pulled out into traffic and went. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I could go with her, why I couldn’t get out of the car when they asked me to. But I went. I drove, for her. And only for her. And Layne. I had taken part in this for them. Risked everything, for them. They had killed Requiem, stolen her child, and we were now on our way to kill Vagrant. And I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t care. I could feel Serkis watching me, trying to draw a response from me. But she couldn’t. She didn’t have a plan. Vagrant was suspicious of us from the start. She was still working on the details.

I jumped suddenly, looking over. She was drawing her hand back from me. I shot her some kind of look.

“What were you doing?”

“You’re cold.”

“And?”

She shrugged. “You shouldn’t be. Ever.”

And we rode some more in silence. It wouldn’t be long now. She opened the glove compartment and took out a handgun, made sure it was loaded, clicking the clip back in. She looked over at me. I kept driving.

“You know what we have to do, right?”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to kill Vagrant. Do you understand why?”

“Yes.”

“No, really, do you?”

“Because he’ll kill us. For treason.”

“Good girl. Now, he doesn’t like me. Do you understand why I need you to get in?”

I looked over at her. “What?”

“I need you to go in ahead of me. And I need you to stay ahead of me…to keep him off task. Distract him.”

“You mean you want to use me as a human shield.”

“He won’t hurt you. He likes you. He always has. You’re young and cute and innocent, you’ve got that look, that…deer in the headlights, that look that says you don’t belong. You’re the child. You always were. He knows this. And he respects you for being as strong as you are, being raised in this. I want you to go in and charm him, that’s all.”

“You trust him enough, you want me to risk my life…you’re sure this will go your way?”

She smiled and produced another gun from the glove compartment. “I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I wasn’t sure.”

“You’re the gambler. You bet with lives, remember?”

She nodded. “Sometimes. But never yours. Never anyone else’s. Only mine.”

And we arrived. She looked the building up and down. “His people will tell them that I am here. I’ll go in with you, tell him that I’ve brought you to see him. You just be…you know…how you get…keep his mind off of the tiger behind you, okay? I know you can do it. I have faith in you. Okay?” We pulled into a spot, got out of the car and looked the place over again. She stood in front of me and held me by my shoulders. She shook me loosely.

“Come on, breathe. Relax. It’ll be just fine, okay? I would never let anything happen to you. Trust me.” She put the gun in my hand just as Layne had passed me the lighter. I tucked it into the waistband of my pants in the back. I slipped away from her and stood next to her, breathing out whatever doubt was in my mind. She put an arm around me and held me close to her, at her side.

“Let’s go,” I muttered.

“That’s my girl.”

And we started up. We were on our way to change everything, the chain of command, everything. Grey had taken over Cassidy’s job as street boss. But now we were going to empty the position of street king. We walked up the few floors, taking our time. Serkis knocked on the door slowly, marking in her mind where we’d passed Vagrant’s men. He opened the door slowly, looking around.

“Hello, darling,” she whispered. “Going to let us in? We’re absolutely dying for a rest.”

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