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    zanoGreen
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WARNING: This story contains graphic content such as sex, violence, death, and derogatory slang.  

Imprisoned - 12. The Fugitives

I knew this had to be General Dreyfus' doing, but even then it didn't minimize the shock of it all.
We all sat around the living room, trying to figure out a way around this situation. None of us knew how we were going to warn government officials, let alone the President, about the inevitable dirty bomb.
We had spent most of the morning trying to come up with an alternative plan. Since our faces were now plastered all over the news as wanted fugitives we couldn't exactly go to the capital about the General and The Order.
Our only chance to thwart their plan now was to stop them ourselves without the government's help, and the only way to do that was to find out where the detonation was going to take place.
"Alex?" I looked at her with a hopeful expression. She had been going through the information on her tablet, trying to figure out where the bomb was going to be deployed.
She looked at me and shook her head, her expression grim.
"Well, we're boned." Riley sat back in his chair, a defeated look set to his face.
"Not yet." I rebuked, I refused to give up hope just yet.
"How can they do this? We're not fugitives, we're the good guys!" Cody let out a frustrated growl and jumped up off the couch, pacing back and forth.
"They're the government dude, they can do what they want." Riley replied.
"Not to mention they have a high ranking General that's with the rebellion, and we're on his target list. He can spin anything and it would be his word against ours." Alex's jaw was set and her teeth were clenched, clearly enraged by the situation.
"But still..." Cody trailed off, sighing in defeat as he sat back down on the couch next to Alex, who gave him a comforting pat on the knee.
"Millions of people are gonna die… and there's nothing we can do about it." Riley had a sorrowful tone as he spoke.
I looked around at them all, the atmosphere was as if we had already failed, as if the bomb was already detonated and raining the toxic virus down on the city. The vibe was more fit for a funeral than anything else, and I couldn't believe they were giving up so easily.
"No," I said sharply and they looked over at me with puzzled expressions. "We are not giving up without a fight."
"Ell…" Alex had a pained expression.
"No! I refuse." I growled, turning my sights on Riley, who was staring down in his lap, picking at his cuticles.
"Riley," He looked up at me with a vacant expression. "You are the best damn weapons expert at base. I've seen you disassemble and reassemble an AR-15 blindfolded." He gave me a cocky grin that reached his eyes.
"Ryan… You're the best marksman on base. You always hit your target, even from a hundred yards away." Ryan rubbed the back of his neck in a shy manner before I turned towards Cody.
"Cody, you're the heart of this team."
Riley snorted and Alex shot him a death glare, daring him to say something, which he didn’t.
"And Alex-"
"Stop okay, I know what you're trying to do." She put a hand up, her tone as annoyed as her facial expression.
I ignored her and continued. "You are the smartest person I know, you hacked Homeland Security with a laptop for chrissakes."
"What's your point dude?" Riley asked with an annoyed tone.
"My point is," I rolled my eyes. "We are the best damn team at Bakersfield. Hell, we're the fuckin' A-Team!"
"The A-Team?" Cody scrunched his face up in confusion.
"Really?" I stared at him dumbfoundedly. The other references I could understand, but The A-Team was widely known.
“What are we supposed to do?” Alex asked, ignoring Cody's confusion.
“Not wallow in self-pity, that’s for sure.”
They all shuffled around uncomfortably at the realization.
“C’mon guys,” I pointed towards the window. “There are millions of people out there that need us. We have come so far and we can't give up now.”
There was a slight pause as they all thought, I was sure that there would be no bringing them back from this. But then-
"Well, aside from that corny ass speech, I'm with you." Riley smirked from his overstuffed chair. I ignored his statement and beamed at him, happy to know that I at least got through to someone.
"I guess I could try and find out who else is on General Dreyfus' payroll. Maybe I could do a reverse image search through the CCTV cameras, and see if maybe I can pinpoint a bomb location." Alex tapped her chin as she spoke, a far away expression on her face.
"Perfect, do that." I urged.
She stood up and wandered into the dining room, Cody following close behind.
"Seriously, what's the A-Team?" He asked her as they both disappeared.
"I'll do weapon inventory I guess. Maybe see what kind of explosives we got." Riley grumbled and hauled himself out of the chair, disappearing into the dining room with the others.
I couldn't hide the smile from my face as I watched everyone go off to do their respective tasks. I had gotten through to them, which was something, even though I felt like we were royally screwed.
"I can see why you're the leader now." Ryan spoke up behind me.
I turned around to see him staring at me with adoring eyes, a small grin plastered on his face.
"What do you mean?" I chuckled.
"You inspire them." He remarked.
His pride in me made my heart expand to new levels, making me feel a pride in myself that I hadn’t felt in years.
"I'm just bringing out what's already there." I gave a modest reply and brushed past him towards the kitchen.
"Are you always so modest?" He followed me.
I chuckled as I poured another cup of coffee, this was definitely going to be a more-than-two-cups kind of morning, even though we were already heading close to noon.
"I'm not being modest, just…. Humbled." I gave a lighthearted sigh.
Ryan laughed and poured himself a cup of coffee. "I'm just sayin' you're kind of a badass, own it."
"A badass?" I gave him an amused expression as I took a drink of my coffee.
Badass wasn't on the list of what I thought my character traits were. In fact with my newfound anxiety, occasional panic attacks, and the night terrors, I felt like the least badass person in the group.
Ryan gave me a compassionate smile before he spoke. "You have been through a lot recently. Most people would have packed up shop in the head, but not you. Even through the anxiety, the nightmares and the trauma you are still fighting. If that doesn't make someone a badass, I don't know what does."
I gave him a sheepish grin and looked down into my coffee mug. Maybe he was right, maybe I did need to give myself more credit. It was never in my nature to give myself a "pat on the back" so to speak. Growing up we were taught that such behavior was obnoxious and not very likeable. Maybe my parents were wrong, which was believable considering the state of our relationship after my coming out.
“Thank you.” I conceded, giving him a small smile.
He just nodded his head and took another drink from his mug, clearly pleased with himself.
My phone began vibrating in its usual pulse pattern it did when someone called. I pulled it out of my pocket and my muscles tensed, frozen in place. Ryan must have picked up on this because he was staring at me with a look of concern.
"What is it? Something wrong?"
I paused for a second staring at the phone screen, debating whether or not I should pick it up.
"It's… Jon." There was an uncertainty in my voice as I spoke.
Why would Jon be calling me? After what happened yesterday between us at the base I figured I would be the last person he would call.
My phone buzzed in my hand again as I contemplated my next move.
"Do you want me to answer it?" Ryan asked, catching onto my uncertainty.
I shook my head and swiped my finger across the screen and placed it on speakerphone so Ryan could hear as well.
"Hello."
"MacArthur Park, northwest side of the lake, be there in one hour." Jon's voice echoed off the kitchen walls.
"What for?" I asked.
"I have some information that you may find useful."
I looked at Ryan who gave me a disbelieving look, telling me that he didn't exactly buy it.
"How do I know it's not a trap?"
"You're just gonna have to trust me."
I scoffed at his response. "Trust is earned, not given."
"You trusted me before." He pointed out. "Or have you forgotten that we used to be friends?"
I thought about that for a little bit. He was right, I had trusted him in the past and we were friends, not as close as Riley and I but friends nonetheless. If he were working with the General he would have to be one hell of an actor to pull the wool over my eyes.
Despite my reservations about him, I didn't think he would be capable of what The Order had planned. Jon was always deep down a caring individual, a side of him that few people rarely got to see, a few being myself.
"I'll be there." I replied stiffly, hanging up the phone.
"Absolutely not." Alex placed her hands on her hips, face stern.
I had explained the phone call I received from Jon to the others. Alex was clearly not in favor of the plan to meet up with him, but Riley, Ryan, and Cody hadn't given a response yet.
"What's the worst that could happen?"
"What's the worst…" She trailed off, scoffing at my nonchalant response.
"I have to agree with Alex on this, it doesn't sound like a good idea." Cody chimed in.
"Well, wait just a second…" Riley held out a hand and began rubbing his chin in a thoughtful manner.
"No, there is nothing good that could come from this. For all we all know he could be working against us, trying to lure you out in the open." Alex argued.
"That's why Riley and Ryan are coming with me, just in case." I pointed out.
Alex shook her head, running her fingers through her copper colored hair out of frustration.
"I think this may be legit. Doesn’t he work in cargo transport?" Riley gave me a pointed look at that last question.
I nodded my head. "Yeah he does, he knows every shipment that comes and goes out of Bakersfield."
"Then the information he has might be on a certain shipment that looks suspicious." Riley explained, looking hopefully over at Alex who was still wearing a stern expression.
There was a long pause as everyone around the table thought about the plan. It was risky, that was obvious, but it could be the leg up we needed in trying to find the bomb.
“Even if you do this-and I’m not saying you should… What would be the plan?” Her expression softened slightly, I could see that she was starting to lean in my favor.
“There’s a parking garage across the street from the meeting spot. Riley will be on the lookout, keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. Ryan will be with me as backup.” It was a short, sweet, and simple plan, one that I hoped would go accordingly. But if I learned anything from the past, it was to always have a contingency plan.
“What if it goes sideways?” She narrowed her eyes at me.
“Then we split up, and regroup here.”
“Whoa, hold on there,” Riley cut in. “I don’t know if splitting up is such a good thing.”
“He’s right, we’re stronger together, not alone.” Alex agreed.
“Did you… Did you just agree with me?” Riley gave her a small grin.
“Yeah yeah, don’t go getting used to it.” She rolled her eyes and the corner of her mouth twitched slightly.
“We won’t be alone,” I steered the conversation back to the topic at hand. “We’ll have you.”
“Come again?” Alex raised her eyebrows.
“You have access to the CCTV cameras right?”
She nodded her head in confirmation.
“Then you’ll be our eyes in the sky as an extra precaution.” I replied with a confident tilt to my chin.
She thought for a moment, her expression unreadable. I could only imagine the logistics and scenarios that were going through her head in that moment.
Nevertheless she gave an agreeable nod and shrugged her shoulders, signaling that I had won her over with my plan. I gave myself an imaginary fist bump and an award winning smile.
“I still don’t think it’s a good idea,” She stated in response to my smile. “But with me being your “eyes in the sky” so to speak. I guess I can get on board with it.” She flashed me a lopsided grin.
I looked over at Riley and Ryan with a gleam in my eye. “You guys ready?
Riley gave me a smirk. “I’m always ready.”
“I’m driving.” Ryan staked his claim, grabbing the keys off the table.
We turned around and began heading to the front door when Alex spoke up from her seat at the table.
“Good luck… and come back.” She had a concerned expression on her face.
We all nodded and I gave her a reassuring smile. “We’ll be back.”
With that we stepped out of the house and began walking down the porch steps towards Cody’s Jeep. My mind was going through a million different scenarios, but the only one I wanted to focus on was the positive outcome. I was tired of everything working against us, and for the first time I felt like we got a much needed break.
“Calm down Elliott, you haven’t even gotten to the meeting yet. For all you know it could be a bust.”
I frowned at my internal thoughts as I slid into the passenger's seat.
“What’s wrong?” Ryan asked as he fired up the Jeep and began backing out of the driveway.
I shook my head and concentrated on the road in front of us. “Nothing important.”
I didn’t want to burden Ryan with every single negative and cynical thought that crossed my mind. For all I knew this could go smoothly and according to plan, then what would all this cynicism be for?
Ryan gave me a knowing look, the corners of his mouth raising slightly upward into a little grin. He didn’t push though, which I was thankful for, because then that would let me focus more on that beautifully positive outcome that I was hoping would happen.
MacArthur Park was just west of Downtown, it was a fairly large park with a lake in the center and a mixture of birch and palm trees. The northwest side of the park was probably one of the most iconic spots in the city. The lake scene with the Los Angeles skyline in the distance was a widely photographed and recognizable spot, probably why Jon chose this spot to meet at.
I slid my baseball cap on as we got out of the Jeep and kept my head low, trying to conceal my face. It was a futile effort, but you would be surprised at how much a hat can conceal someone's features.
"This is crazy." Riley murmured as we crossed the street and headed into the park.
"Well no one has stared at us yet so I would say we're good for now." Ryan replied.
"Yeah, well it's only a matter of time before someone recognizes us."
"Such the optimist." There was a smile in Ryan's voice.
Riley grumbled something under his breath as we walked down the winding path towards the lake. We reached a fork in the path and Riley went left in the direction of the parking garage while Ryan and I continued towards the lake.
As we walked I took in my surroundings, there were lots of people flitting this way and that, some talking on their phones, other’s playing with their kids in the playground. All of them were completely oblivious as to what was coming, blissfully unaware that rebels wanted to take them, and their city, out.
We reached the meeting point and Ryan stepped in front of me, a questioning look on his face.
"You ready?"
I exhaled and looked across the lake towards the skyline. "As ready as I'm ever gonna be." I gave him a shaky smile.
His expression turned serious and my heart dropped slightly, not looking forward to hearing what was going to come out of his mouth.
"Listen… If shit goes sideways-"
"It won't."
If it does,” He continued, ignoring my interruption. “I want you to take the Jeep, and get out of here.”
I blinked at him, not sure if I was hearing him correctly.
“If you think I’m gonna leave you and Riley behind, you are seriously senile.” I replied in disbelief.
Ryan chuckled and shook his head. “I knew you were gonna say that.”
“Then why would you even suggest it.”
“Battle strategy one-oh-one... Take out the leader.”
I scoffed and shook my head. “Yeah well, I’m not doing that so you can forget it.” There was a stubborn tilt to my chin as I spoke.
He let out a frustrated growl and resituated his hat. “Do you always have to be so stubborn?”
“Get used to it.” I replied, giving him a little smirk.
Ryan however didn’t smile, instead he shook his head, staring at the ground and knocking the tip of his boot against a cement bench situated in front of us.
I understood his reasoning, but I just couldn’t bring myself to agree with it. I couldn’t imagine leaving them both in a potentially dangerous situation, or a situation where they could both be captured. It went against everything that I stood for.
“Heads up guys, we got a subject advancing on your location to the north.” Riley’s voice broke through the comms.
I whipped my head in the direction of north and saw Jon walking in our direction. I let out a sigh of relief knowing that it was him and not someone else. A part of me wanted to trust Jon, but another part of me didn’t, thinking that maybe this was a setup. Since I didn’t see any military or police vehicles advancing on the park, I counted it as a win, for now.
He made eye contact with me and his strides picked up slightly, becoming more purposeful. As he got closer Ryan inched towards me in a protective manner, his hand resting over the holster that contained his sidearm. Jon eyed his hand suspiciously and paused mid stride, a good four feet between the three of us. He held his hands out in a peaceful manner, his features unreadable.
“I’m just gonna reach in my back pocket.” His tone was calm as he waited for approval from Ryan.
“Nice and easy.” Ryan responded in a serious tone, his hand still resting on his sidearm.
Jon reached slowly behind his right side and withdrew a folded manilla envelope from his back pocket, and held it out in front of him.
Ryan closed the gap between the three of us, eyeing the envelope suspiciously before taking it and backing away till he was standing next to me.
He handed the envelope to me, not taking his eyes off Jon who stood there, hands still raised slightly.
The envelope was thin and light, its contents a mystery that I desperately wanted to uncover.
"Can I lower my hands now?" Jon asked.
"Just keep 'em where we can see 'em." Ryan warned.
"Don't trust me do you?" Jon gave Ryan a pointed look.
"Should I?"
"Well, I'm putting my neck out there for you guys, so yeah." Jon argued.
Ryan scoffed and shook his head. "Doesn't work like that."
Jon rolled his eyes, his neck rigid and his cords becoming visible. He stared off across the lake, an absent look crossing his face.
"What's in the envelope Jon?" I asked.
He turned his gaze back to meet mine, his voice tight and to the point.
"I'm pretty sure it's the bomb you're looking for."
I gave him a blinking stare, at a loss for words. How did he know about the bomb?
I stared into his eyes and there was something there, a secret, hidden behind his swirling brown eyes.
"How do you know…" I trailed off, a shocked expression set to my face.
He gave a low sigh and turned his gaze to meet mine, he was misty eyed, something that I had never seen in him before, telling me that whatever it was had to be serious.
"You don't wanna know."
Ryan scoffed and threw his head back out of frustration. I ignored him and instead kept my gaze on Jon, who didn't break eye contact with me.
"Jon… I need to know, or else how are we supposed to trust that this information you're giving us is legitimate." I replied in a thick voice.
I had a guess as to how he knew, but I didn’t want to think about it, let alone go there in my mind. There was only one possibility, one explanation and as Jon began forming the sentence with his mouth, I wished he would have never said it.
“I’ve been working with The Order.” His voice shook as he spoke, his gaze turning towards the ground.
Ryan went rigid next to me, his fists tightening up into balls, his eyes narrowed on Jon. I could practically feel the anger rolling off of him in waves.
I just stood there with a stoic expression set to my face. The person that I used to have a relationship with, that I used to trust, that I used to care for, was also my enemy.
“I should kick your ass right now.” I growled through gritted teeth.
“Let me explain.” Jon urged.
“Explain what? That you’ve cozied up to a bunch of murderous psychopaths.” I spat, my vision starting to go red from anger.
“No, you don’t understand.” Jon pleaded. He took a step forward which made me take a step backward, but Ryan stood his ground, cords still ever present in his neck and fists that looked ready to swing at any minute.
Jon eyed him nervously, clearly not sure what to do next so instead he turned his pleading eyes towards me.
"You have to believe me, I didn't know about the bomb."
"You expect us to believe that?" Ryan glowered.
Jon moved his gaze between Ryan and I in a desperate manner.
"Why would I request to meet you and give up vital information, essentially betraying The Order, if I wanted it to happen?"
"Maybe it's all a ruse to get us right where the General wants us." Ryan challenged.
Jon made a frustrated noise and threw his hands up in defeat, turning around to face away from us.
I considered what Jon was saying. Even though I didn't trust him, especially now finding out that he's been a member of The Order this entire time, it would be crazy for him to betray such a powerful rebellion. I knew Jon, and one thing I knew about him was that he wouldn't be okay with killing millions of people in the name of their mission, no matter what it was. So maybe this idea that he didn't know about the bomb wasn't so much of a lie after all, maybe The Order was just using him because of his position as dock manager to move their cargo in and out of base.
“I believe him.” I said calmly. I couldn’t believe the words flew out of my mouth, but the more that I thought about it, the more it made sense.
“Are you kidding?” Ryan shot me a dumbfounded look.
“Yeah I have to agree with Ryan on this one.” Riley piped in over the comms.
“Think about it. He run’s the cargo dock on base, they would need someone like him to get their stuff in and out undetected.” I explained.
“Yeah exactly, and your point?”
“They're using him.” I pointed out.
Ryan's expression was pensive, the gears in his head clearly churning around.
“How certain are you that he’s not lying.” He asked.
I looked at Jon who was staring across the lake, frustration written all over his face.
How certain was I that he wasn't lying? I wish Alex were here, she could spot a liar from a hundred yards away. But maybe I didn't need her to be here, maybe she could find out another way.
"Alex, come in."
There was a short pause and then-
"You guys get the information?" She asked.
"Yes, but I need you to look into something for me."
"Shoot." She replied.
"I want you to look into Jon. Dig up all the dirt you can.”
"On it."
I unfolded the manilla envelope, watching Jon out of the corner of my eye who was still looking across the lake. I pulled out a small stack of papers and observed them realizing that they were shipping manifests. At the bottom of the first page was an alpha numeric code following the word CAL.
"What's this at the bottom?" I asked.
"It's the license plate number of the truck that's hauling the cargo." Jon replied.
This was big. We now had a way to track down the truck and find out where the bomb was going to be located.
I handed the papers over to Ryan who quietly looked them over, his eyes going wide as he made his way down the list.
"Holy shit." He gawked.
"What?" I asked.
"This is all parts and chemicals used to make a bomb but…" He trailed off, not taking his eyes off the list.
"Buuuut?" I asked impatiently.
Ryan looked up from the list with a wild-eyed expression. “This is either several bombs, or one huge bomb. If it’s the latter then this bomb is gonna be powerful enough to level ten square blocks.”
My body went stiff as I imagined what that would look like. It would be cataclysmic, especially given the right location.
"How did you get these?" I asked Jon, who had the same wild-eyed expression Ryan did, leading me to believe that he really didn't know about the bomb and that he was telling the truth.
"Alex isn't the only one who knows her way around a computer." He replied, flashing me a coy smile.
I gave him a lopsided grin before turning to Ryan, who was giving Jon a suspicious look.
"We need to get back and give this info to Alex so she can track down this truck."
Ryan nodded in agreement and rolled the papers up, stuffing them in his back pocket.
"What about him?" He jerked his head towards Jon.
I looked at Jon, considering him for a moment. If he really wanted to stop The Order from detonating this bomb, then maybe we could use his help. It could be useful to have someone with his knowledge of them around.
"Alex come in." I commanded over the comms.
"What's up boss?" She replied instantly.
"Find anything on Jon?" I asked, hoping that if she did it would be good rather than bad.
"I'm not seeing anything that ties him to The Order. No correspondence with any known members or the General, in fact… As of last night he's been placed on the General's terminate list."
That last bit of information was all I needed to hear to know that Jon could possibly be trusted and that, regardless of his past affiliations, he was one of us now.
"Do you really wanna stop this?" I asked.
Jon gave me a large and serious nod as a response.
I looked over at Ryan who also gave me a nod of approval, apparently he was thinking along the same lines as me.
"Then join us, and help put an end to this." I stated in a business like fashion.
Jon blinked at me, clearly surprised by my offer.
"Even though I just admitted to you that I was helping The Order, you want me to join you?" He asked in an equally surprised tone.
"I still don't trust you, not yet. But as of last night you are now on the General's terminate list, which means you're in the same boat as us. You're not gonna be able to step foot back on Bakersfield until this is over."
Jon's expression turned to that of hurt and as he responded his tone was low and thick.
"Well… I guess I served my purpose and now they're throwing me away."
"Is that really such a bad thing?" Ryan responded in a surly manner.
"I guess not, not after learning about their plan."
"Are you in, or are you out?" I asked impatiently, wanting to get out of here and back to the safety of our hideout.
Jon thought for a moment before nodding his head.
"I'm in." He confirmed with a serious tone.
I gave him a curt nod and turned around, walking back the way we came.
"Riley, we're heading out." I spoke into the comms.
"Righteo bosseo." He replied.
We began walking past a group of moms pushing their children in strollers on the outer flanks of the park. One of them glanced at me, her eyes going wide for a split second before whipping her gaze away.
"Fuck!" I was afraid this was going to happen. I looked back at her and she was talking on her phone, her eyes following us.
"Ryan?" I said cautiously.
"I know, I see her," He replied in a hushed tone. "Just keep walking."
We quickened our pace slightly, trying to get back to the Jeep without drawing any further attention. We crossed the street, Riley waiting on the other side giving us confused looks.
"Where's the fire?"
"We've been spotted, we gotta go." Ryan replied.
"Fuck." Riley growled, matching our pace and following close behind.
We rounded the corner to the street where we parked and our quickened pace turned more into a sprint, as the sound of sirens could be heard getting louder and louder.
We all clambered into the Jeep and Ryan fired up the engine, tires screeching as we pulled away from the curb.
"Guy's, you have LAPD converging on your location." Alex came over the comms, her tone stressed.
"Yeah we know, get us out of here." I replied.
There was a slight pause then-
"I got your GPS locked, take a left on eighth street."
Ryan turned left at the next light and as we were crossing through the intersection a cop made eye contact with us. My heart dropped as I could see in the cop's eyes that he immediately recognized us. It didn't take the cop but two seconds after we passed through the intersection to flick on his lights and make a u-turn.
"Shit!" Ryan growled looking in the rear view mirror.
"Lose 'em." I commanded, giving Ryan a tense look.
"Hold on." He warned, pushing his foot down hard on the accelerator.
We were zooming past cars, weaving in and out of traffic as people honked their horns at us. The cop was determined though, hot on our tail as we blew through a red light.
"Alex, we need an exit strategy." I commanded.
"I got you, I got you." She reassured.
Up ahead three cop cars were coming towards us, lights flashing and sirens blaring. If we didn't think of something we were going to get caught, and that was not on my agenda.
"Turn left on Union." Alex ordered.
Ryan jerked the steering wheel and we slid around the corner, narrowly avoiding a garbage truck and a soccer mom with kids. I looked behind us and unfortunately the cops made it through, still hot in their pursuit.
"Turn right on Wilshire."
"Wilshire will take us Downtown." I replied.
"I know just do it!" She ordered.
Ryan swerved around a minivan and, with tires screeching, slid around the corner onto Wilshire boulevard.
I looked over at him and he was surprisingly calm, his expression unreadable, as he maneuvered through traffic with such ease that it was impressive.
We crossed under the one ten freeway and into Downtown where we were surrounded by tall buildings, one of which was sitting right at the end of the road we were currently bolting down.
"Uhh, Alex?" I asked as the dead end got closer and closer.
"Turn right on Grand."
"I'm going left." Ryan replied defiantly.
"It's a one way road!" Alex exclaimed.
"We can lose them in there." He argued, pulling the steering wheel and going the wrong direction on a one way road.
"Oh god, I think I'm gonna throw up." Riley admitted as we swerved around cars, being tossed slightly this way and that in the Jeep.
"You better not." Jon warned.
Ryan swerved to avoid a dump truck only to come head on with a bus, it's horn blaring at us.
We all yelled except for Ryan who jerked the steering wheel, bringing us up onto the sidewalk which was just wide enough to fit our vehicle.
Pedestrians yelled and jumped out of the way as we barrelled down the sidewalk. I silently prayed that we wouldn't hit one of them, and was elated when we didn't as Ryan pulled back out onto the road.
After about two blocks of dodging oncoming traffic, the road finally went to a two way and I let out a small sigh of relief.
"We still got a flea." Riley spoke up from the back seat.
A single cop had come off one of the side streets and was now pursuing us.
"Take the next right on first." Alex barked.
We rounded the corner, swerving to avoid a pedestrian that screamed at us and gave us the middle finger.
“Sorry dude.”
In front of us I began to notice that all the traffic lights were turning green as we came up to them. I gave a smirk as I realized this had to be Alex, helping us out in any way possible.
We were nearing an intersection just before a bridge when Alex came in over the comms.
“Continue on across the river, I got an idea.”
I was going to ask her what her idea was, but as we crossed through the intersection I noticed all the lights were green, signaling traffic to go in all directions. We were almost clipped on the rear fender by another SUV, but Ryan maneuvered around it. Right as the cop was in the middle of the intersection he was hit by a car in the front fender, and then another car in the back fender, causing him to spin out and gridlock the intersection.
"Hot damn!” Riley exclaimed with a gleeful laugh.
We crossed the bridge to the other side of the river, home free for now because the cops couldn’t get through the mess in the intersection.
“We need to find a place to lay low for a while, we’re not gonna make it back in this car. The cops are gonna be looking for it.” Ryan explained.
I looked at our surroundings and noticed a slightly run down, three story parking garage a block up on the corner.
“There.” I pointed it out and Ryan nodded.
“That’ll work.” He confirmed.
He pulled into the parking garage and went up about two floors, and then parked in empty space towards the back where there wasn’t anyone else around.
I sat there in silence, too shocked for words, coming down from the adrenaline rush of being in a high speed chase with the cops.
“You guys make it?” Alex had a concerned tone to her voice.
“Yeah,” I exhaled. “Good work Alex.”
"You okay?" Ryan asked.
I looked over at him and he had a look of concern in his eyes.
"Yeah," I patted him on the shoulder. "Good driving." I replied shakily.
He gave a soft chuckle and grabbed my hand, rubbing the back with his thumb.
"I'm sorry if I scared you."
"No, don't be sorry. You did what you had to do, and we didn't get caught." I gave him a weak smile.
"So what do we do now?" Jon asked.
"We ditch the car and lay low. Maybe find another car." Ryan replied.
"Alex, how are we looking out there?" I asked.
"So far so good, I think you guys lost them." She replied cheerfully.
I gave a sigh of relief and rested my head against the seat. We had managed to lose the cops, but we were still about three miles from Cody's. How were we going to get back without being spotted?
"I think we should wait till nightfall, it'll be easier to move under the cover of darkness." Riley suggested, completely reading my mind.
Ryan checked his watch and sighed.
"It's not gonna be dark for another four hours," He looked around the Jeep at us. "If anybody has any better ideas speak up."
It was silent as everyone thought of a different plan but came up empty handed.
"We wait then." I confirmed, relaxing back into my seat.
Waiting wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, it would give us time to think about what we wanted to do next.
"Alex, you there?" I asked as thirty minutes passed.
"Yeah, you guys doing okay?" She enquired.
I looked around the car; Riley and Jon were in a heated debate in the backseat over whether the Flyers would beat the Maple Leaves at the Stanley Cup, and Ryan was listening to the police channel on the CB radio.
"Yeah we're good. I have something for you to look into."
"Ready when you are." She replied.
I took out my phone and snapped a picture of the license plate number on the shipping manifests, and then sent it to Alex.
"A license plate number?" She asked.
"Can you locate it?" I asked with a hopeful tone.
"I'll see what I can do." Her tone didn't sound too certain, but I had faith in her.
"Thanks Alex."
"No problem Ell. Stay safe out there."
I gave a small smile before responding.
"Will do."
I glanced over at Ryan who was tuning the CB radio to get better quality.
"Have you heard anything?" I asked, hoping that he would have some good news for me.
He shook his head, still concentrating on the radio, turning the dials left and right to lock in on a channel.
"I heard snippets, they put out a BOLO on our car, that's pretty much it."
"BOLO?" I scrunched my face up in confusion. Ryan gave a little smirk before responding.
"Be on the lookout." He explained.
"Ah, right." I nodded my head and gazed out the windshield.
The city skyline could be seen from our location on the second floor, the towers reflecting the evening sun off of their glass facades.
The skyline hadn't changed much since I went to school here, with the exception of maybe a couple new towers.
Thinking about my time in medical school made me think about what we were gonna do after all this was over. Would we be acquitted of our charges and be able to live a semi normal life? Or would we be on the run forever?
"Has anyone ever told you that you think too much?" Ryan spoke up, jerking me from my thoughts.
"Is it that obvious?" I grumbled.
Ryan gave me an adoring look and went back to tuning the CB radio.
"What's on your mind?" He asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. "It's not important."
"Weeell, if it's important to you then it's important to me." He replied in an appealing tone.
I gave a weary sigh and rested my elbow on the door panel, resting my head in my hand at an angle.
"I'm just thinking about what's gonna happen if we stop this."
"Don't you mean when?" He gave me a cocky grin.
"When." I corrected.
Ryan let out a long huff of air. "I haven't really thought about it. I was hoping that we would be able to expose the General, then maybe we wouldn't be fugitives anymore. But my cop brain tells me that without hard evidence, it'll definitely be his word over ours."
"You don't think the evidence we found in his office is enough?" I asked, speaking about the emails, and the terminate files.
Ryan shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe, but I don’t like to get my hopes up.”
A channel finally came through, voices coming out of the speaker clear as day. Ryan gave a gleeful laugh and raised his hand up so I could give him a high five.
“Try not to dwell too much on it.” Ryan suggested, giving me a weak smile.
I let out a lighthearted chuckle. “Easier said than done.”
“You just need to shut that big brain of yours off every once in a while. Let other people worry for a change.”
I thought about his words for a second, letting them float around my head and find footholds.
“You know I wasn’t always like this.” I looked over at Ryan, who gave me a quizzical expression.
“What? Good looking and charming?”
“Nooo.” I chuckled and pushed him lightly on the shoulder. “I mean… Brain constantly on, always worrying about the next move, kind of a hard ass.”
“I wouldn’t describe your ass as hard.” He gave me a wolfish grin and I felt a flush creep up into my cheeks.
"You know what I mean."
Ryan nodded his head. "I do, but I don't see you like that."
“Oh yeah? Then how do you see me?” I gave him a challenging expression and a small grin.
“Well,” Ryan turned to face me in his seat, his face relaxed. “You're passionate about your work, you're driven to do good and help people, and earlier you said that Cody was the heart of this team but I don’t necessarily think that’s true.”
“What do you mean?” I gave him a confused look.
You’re the heart of this team Elliott. You bring everyone together, and you care about all of us as if we were your own. There would be no team without you.”
I looked down into my lap and began picking at my cuticles. I was hearing what he was saying, but I didn’t quite believe it. Ryan thought all of these wonderful things about me, but I didn’t see them.
Ryan cupped my chin with his thumb and forefinger, bringing my lips up to meet his and giving me a tender kiss that sent my pulse racing.
“I don’t think you realize how amazing you are Elliott Pierce.” Ryan proclaimed in a low tone.
“Awwwwww.” Riley said in a high-pitched tone.
I was so wrapped up in the conversation I was having with Ryan that I had completely forgotten about Riley and Jon in the backseat. I narrowed my eyes at him and the corners of his mouth twitched as he fought back a smile.
The hours seemed to tick by slowly as the sun began to make it's descent over the ocean, slowly plunging the city into darkness.
Cody's house was a little over three miles to the north, and our plan was to hike it. It was gonna take a little bit but the only alternative was to steal a car, and we didn't want to draw more attention to ourselves as well as add to our rap sheet.
"What about my car?" Jon suggested as we exited the parking garage and began walking down the street in the direction of Cody's.
"I think it would be stupid of us to return where we were originally spotted." Ryan explained.
"It's not too far, we'll make it there in about an hour." I added optimistically, trying to make light of an otherwise crappy situation.
“I don’t wanna hike up more hills.” Riley whined, reminiscent of our time in San Francisco.
We just ignored him as we continued our trek up Soto street, the otherwise busy road was fairly sparse of foot traffic. The only people we saw were those in cars that were going too fast anyway to really catch a glimpse of us. A few people passed by us, but they were too busy in their own world to really pay us any attention.
“This is gonna be easier than we thought.” Riley stated in a cocky tone.
Not soon after he had said that a cop rounded the corner ahead of us, driving in our direction. I spotted an alley directly to our left and jerked my head towards it.
“This way!” I hissed ducking into the alley.
They followed me and we all crouched behind a dumpster out of view from the road. We watched as the cop passed by, not giving the alley a second look.
I gave a sigh of relief and shot an icy glare at Riley who gave me a sheepish grin.
“Sorry.” He apologized.
“Let’s maybe pick up the pace.” Ryan suggested and I nodded my head in agreement.
We dipped out of the alley and began walking at a faster pace down our designated route. I hoped that we didn’t come across anymore cops, it would take us a while if we had to keep ducking into alleys or hiding.
After about an hour of walking we finally rounded the corner onto Cody's street. I sighed in relief internally as we drew closer to his house and the front porch came into view.
"Oh my god, I can't wait to get off my feet." Riley groaned as we made our way up the walkway towards the front door.
"Do you always whine this much?" Jon asked.
"Yes." I answered with a smirk.
"Rude, both of you." Riley scowled and we all laughed as we entered the house.
Alex and Cody walked into the living to greet us, both of them with relieved expressions.
"That was too close." Cody stated, hinting at our narrow escape of the police.
“I’m just glad you came back.” Alex had a relieved tone as she spoke.
“Of course we did, ye have little faith.” I gave her a warm smile.
My mind went back to the parking garage, and the license plate number I gave her.
“Did you get a location on that truck?” I asked in a hopeful tone.
“Yes and no.” She turned around and walked back into the dining room, I followed her with a quizzical expression plastered on my face.
“The license plate number you gave me is registered to a truck, but not the same truck that’s hauling our bomb.” She was leaning over the chair, typing away on her laptop.
“So we're back to square one?” I grumbled, disappointment washing over me like a bad rainstorm.
“Don’t get too emo on me just yet, because your awesome tech expert here,” She pointed one of her slender fingers at herself. “Figured out how to track the truck… Interested to hear how?” She gave me a cocky grin, situating her hands on her hips.
“Yes.” I said excitedly, walking around the table to stand next to her.
“Well, you remember when I hacked into the security systems on base so we could break into the General’s office?”
“Yeess and I got captured which put us in this situation in the first place, don’t remind me.”
Anyway,” She ignored my surliness and continued. “I still have access to their systems, so I searched for the truck on the base cameras and voila, our truck.”
I stared at the computer screen to see a typical cargo truck pulling through the base gates.
"But that doesn't exactly help us locate the truck." I replied in a disappointed tone.
"Just wait, there's more," She enhanced the picture so that you could see the drivers face, behind the wheel. "So George here has an internal defibrillator for a heart condition that he got diagnosed with as a teenager-"
“Well how unfortunate for George…” I cut her off in a not-so-sympathetic tone.
“Wait, I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.” Her eyes sparkled with glee as she started typing on her computer again. “So I don’t know if any of you knew this, but back in 2024 biomedical companies started putting GPS trackers in their pacemakers and defibrillators so that, in the event they failed and the patient needed assistance, then they could easily track their location.”
“That’s creepy.” Riley cut in with a bothered expression.
“Yeah it’s all very “big brother-ish”. But if it wasn’t for that then I wouldn’t have been able to find our truck.”
“Hold the phone,” I held out a hand to stop her. “Are you saying that you lojacked a person?” I gawked at her.
I knew that Alex was capable of a lot of things, but this pushed the boundaries of what I thought her abilities were.
“Yeah, isn’t it great!” She replied in a gleeful tone, all but jumping up and down.
“Or a little creepy.” Riley’s tone wavered.
"Well lucky for you all, I only use my powers for good." She gave us all a wicked smile.
"So where's the truck located then?" Ryan asked impatiently.
"Patience isn't your strong suit I see." She cocked an eyebrow at Ryan before turning her gaze back to her screen. "It looks liiike… A warehouse off Alameda and Pine."
“Great, let’s go.” Riley turned around and began walking towards the front door.
“Whoa! Hold on there Jonah Hex, we can’t just go in there half cocked and with no plan.” Alex called out, making Riley stop in his tracks and turn around.
“She’s right, we don’t know what we're getting ourselves into. That truck is probably going to be heavily guarded.” I added.
“First of all, don’t call me that,” He gave Alex a pointed look. “And second, we have no idea when they are planning on detonating the thing. They could detonate it tonight for all we know.” He argued.
I saw his reasoning, but I also didn’t want to put the team in jeopardy. Going in there without knowing what we were getting ourselves into just spelled disaster.
“I know that you wanna stop this as much as the rest of us, but Elliott is right. If we go in there without the proper reconnaissance, then we might as well be going in blindfolded and swinging baseball bats.” Ryan explained.
Riley shook his head, expression that of disappointment, but not in himself, in all of us.
“Well of course you would agree with him.” He rolled his eyes, giving Ryan a pointed look.
"Excuse me?" Ryan blinked, jaw setting and neck going rigid.
"Forget about it." Riley scoffed, turning around and walking into the living room. Ryan however followed him, the back of his neck a shade of scarlet from anger.
"If you got somethin' to say, then say it." He growled.
Riley whipped around to face him, expression contorted into anger. An expression that I've seen only a handful of times.
“You're sleeping with the boss, so of course you would agree with him." He spat, throwing a pointed finger in my direction.
I stood there, behind the overstuffed chair, a blank expression on my face. I knew this would come up eventually, I was just hoping it would be sooner rather than later and sure as hell not during everything that was going on.
"In case you've forgotten," Ryan took a couple steps toward Riley, his tone low, and his bulky frame contrasting Riley's slimmer frame. "You pushed Elliott and I to pursue our relationship, even though he was afraid it would cause issues. I guess he never thought it would come from his best friend."
Riley clenched his fists, his short fuse looking like it was going to rear its ugly head. I needed to intervene before this argument went to blows.
"What is this really about Riley?"
Riley turned his angry glare towards me, fire rolling behind his eyes and clearly biting back what he wanted to say.
"I know this has nothing to do with Ryan and everything to do with me. So come out with it." I added, my tone even and calm.
"We are in this situation because of you!" He growled.
“Riley!” Alex exclaimed in a shocked tone.
“No, it’s okay,” I held out a hand to stop her. "You don't think I know that Riley? You don't think I feel bad that I've practically ruined all of our lives, and forced us to be on the run because of a plan that you guys tried to talk me out of?"
"We all agreed to it." Cody chimed in defensively.
"But I pushed it," My tone fell slightly. "And for that I'm sorry. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can't."
Riley scoffed and shook his head. "You're sorry."
"What more do you want from me Riley?" I asked in disbelief.
"I want you to do better!"
"I'm doing the best I can!" My will had finally snapped, my temper now on full display.
"Oh, like you did the "best you could" for Gray?" Riley's voice broke slightly at the mention of his name.
I scoffed and shook my head. "Is that what this is about? Gray and his decision to stay behind?"
I couldn't believe that Riley was blaming me for that. I wanted Gray to come back with us, and I would want nothing more than to have him here with us in this fight against The Order.
"I heard the conversation the two of you had on our way to the extraction point. You practically gave him permission to stay behind."
I blinked at Riley, not really sure what to say. But the words that came out just seemed to flow out like word vomit.
"Gray chose to stay behind because of his brother, that’s not my fault. You want to be mad at anyone about that then be mad at him." I stated matter of factly.
Riley rolled his eyes and growled out of frustration.
"But you could have made him come back." He countered.
I could see that there was no getting through to Riley right now. He was angry, hurt, and frustrated, much like the rest of us. He had just lost the person he loved, and even though Gray was still alive he might as well be on a different planet being in San Francisco.
"You wanna blame me for Gray and this situation we're in, that's fine. But I'm in charge and I'm pulling rank. You can either fall in line or there's the door." I jerked my head in the direction of the front door and narrowed my eyes at him.
The scene was tense as everyone stood around the living room, wide eyed and looking between Riley and I.
Riley's bottom lip trembled and his eyes glistened as tears began coming to the surface. He quickly wiped his eyes with the back of his arm and shook his head.
“I’m out of here.” He croaked, walking towards the door.
Outside there was the sound of tires screeching which made Riley pause at the big picture window. He pulled the drape back slightly to see outside and then whipped around to face us, a terrified expression set to his face.
“Get down!” He yelled, dropping to the floor just as bullets began whizzing their way through the window and the walls.
Alex let out a shrill scream and Cody tackled her to the ground, shielding her from harm.
Ryan wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to the floor behind the coffee table that Jon had overturned as a barricade.
There was nothing we could do as bullets kept coming through and hitting the wall in front of us, showering us with glass, chair cushions, and various other pieces of debris and furniture. Not to mention the gunfire was so loud that it was like being in a battle zone all over again, except this was a house nestled on a quiet street and not the open desert.
“We need to get out of here!” Jon shouted over the roar of gunfire.
“Where are we supposed to go?” Ryan roared back out of frustration.
Riley appeared from around the armchair, crawling across the floor like his life depended on it, which it did.
“It’s the military!” He shouted.
Of course it was, no doubt General Dreyfus’s men here to finish the job. I just hoped they didn’t succeed this time.
The minutes seemed like hours as Jon, Ryan, Riley and I cowered on the floor behind the oversized coffee table, our only protection against the bullets ripping the house apart. I didn’t know where Alex and Cody were, but I could hardly move my head because I was pinned underneath Ryan and I didn’t dare try and look around the room at this point.
I was wondering if the gunfire was ever going to stop and then, by some miracle, it finally did. We looked around, craning our necks to try and hear what was going on. Did they leave, or were they just reloading?
The sound of screeching tires as a vehicle sped away was the only confirmation I needed to be sure that they were gone. I looked out the front window, which was more like a frame now then a window, and saw there was no one out front.
“Is everyone okay?” I asked looking around.
“Yeah, I think so.” Jon replied shakily.
Ryan and Riley gave me a nod of confirmation, telling me they were okay. I looked around the living room, which was completely torn apart. If it wasn’t for the walls and what used to be a couch, you probably wouldn’t even know that a cozy living room once sat here.
“Alex?” I shouted out across the ruined house.
The only response I got was a blood curdling scream coming from the dining room which sent an unpleasant shiver up my spine.
We all jumped to our feet and ran towards the dining room to be greeted by a scene that I’m sure would haunt my nightmares later.

Copyright © 2020 zanoGreen; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for reading! Please comment below and let me know where you would like to see the story go or what your favorite parts are so far. Please note that this story does not revolve around a killer virus, that's just what sets up the events that lead to the story.

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A lot happened in this chapter; but it came off as flat to me.  I think the formatting bothered me but I just could not get into this chapter.  It seemed disjointed and desperate.

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23 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

A lot happened in this chapter; but it came off as flat to me.  I think the formatting bothered me but I just could not get into this chapter.  It seemed disjointed and desperate.

Thank you for the feedback.

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1I'm really enjoying this story. If Alex is screaming I'm really concerned Cody has been hurt or killed. I love his name innocence so I hope not. 

I'm really enjoying the relationship between Elliott and Ryan. It's built on mutual respect and budding trust  I can't wait to see if I they get their HEA.

 

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