Lucid

~The Sequel to 'Little British Girl~
- Decide which side your on -
Three and a half month after Luci kidnapped her birth father, Xander Moore, Elia and her friends are on the run. Both north and south are engulfed in complete and utter chaos, and the resistance and the rebellium are gaining power through an alliance. Both sides want them out of the way, and they have nowhere to be, nowhere where they belong. The four friends must choose a side, the alliance, or the government, a decision that will forever haunt them all.
Nothing is certain, nothing is safe, nothing is lucid.

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10. Chapter 10

I feel like I’m sunbathing on the top of an active volcano predicted to erupt any second now. Just frozen, laying back, aware of the imminent danger, but embracing the tension, against all my best wishes.

Sat in the corner, on top of my mattress, staring blankly out into the distance. Daniel just behind me, facing the other way, Annabeth leaning against the wall to my far left, and Max crouched down near the door, his heads in his hands. None of us speak, none of us move, all we seem to do is breathe and stare. It’s like the air had turned solid and trapped us where we stand, encasing us in solitude. The tension sends shivers through my spine and releases butterflies into my stomach, settling like an itch on my skin. I almost want to throw up.

Beverly was meant to arrive twenty-five minutes ago, and half an hour before this we were all fine, but as the time of her arrival grew close we all grew anxious, and her being late hasn’t exactly helped. We’re all just waiting for her to finally get here so we can begin, and the volcano can erupt at last.

I cast a glance in Max’s direction, this will be harder for him than any of us. Back when we stayed with Beverly in the tunnels the two of them barely spoke. Max loved Luci, and he still does, and I think that hurts Beverly, she almost sees it as a second betrayal to the resistance...not that I know enough about the first to really decide if it even was a betrayal. All I know is that Max led a mission that failed badly, and resulted in a whole lot of trouble, and that his old boss Tim went on it with him, and for some reason the two haven’t been able to see eye-to-eye since. After that Beverly banished Max to Arizona, and decided out of all the things she was to him, a mother wasn’t one of them. It that’s still true to this day, then I have a dreadful feeling that this conversation isn’t going to go too well…

I jolt at the sound of the door swinging open, finally able to move again. I quickly get to by feet, standing tall and proud, blinking away the bags under my eyes. Beverly steps forward, fixing her jacket.

“Beverly, hello- no security?” Annabeth plays the host, regaining her old leadership status for a moment.

“They’re outside, don’t worry.” She assures her, taking her hand and shaking it quickly. I realise this is the first time I’ve seen her in person, and it’s surprisingly different than seeing her through a computer screen, a little more intimidating…

“Thank you for coming, it really does mean a lot. Luci’s trapped us in such a difficult position, I-I don’t know what to do next.” Annabeth smiles, putting on a brave front.

“Well that girl sure does love to stir up trouble...shall we?” She beacons to our worn-down chairs and perches on the edge of one, her hands rested tensely in her lap as she waits for us to continue.

“Now, I know we left the tunnels a while back after everyone was so- well, after we had some difficulties adjusting to the new system...but we need a safe place to stay where we won’t end up arrested and convicted for Xander’s kidnapping, and well, you’re our only hope. We don’t have anyone else to turn to, so, if you’ll have us back, we’d like to be reinstated.” Annabeth treads carefully, not wanting to make a single mistake that could offend Beverly in any way. We need her if we’re going to survive this unrest.

“I thought as much.” Beverly nods, her tone and expression frustratingly neutral and unreadable, “And I’d be more than happy to give you your jobs back and welcome you back into the resistance, except, it’s not the resistance you’d be joining.”

I grimaced, even though I knew this was coming it still didn’t make it any easier. We knew when we sent that message that it wouldn’t be going to the resistance, but we sent it nonetheless. We knew what we would be going to if we got accepted in. The resistance is dead, and so is the rebellium- they’ve merged and joined forces to fight against the zoning system, they’ve created an alliance, they’ve created the alliance.

...An alliance that wants Luci dead.

“We understand wholeheartedly that we would be joining the alliance, not the resistance, and we’ve all come to accept it a necessary sacrifice of morals in order to achieve survival.” Annabeth speaks on all our behalfs. The way she says it sparks guilt inside my gut...have I really sacrificed my morals by doing this? Am I betraying who I am just to keep my heart beating?

All of you have?” Beverly checks. She doesn't clarify it, but we all know that she’s talking about Max.

“We are all willing to do what is necessary.” Annabeth confirms. “So-”

“I need to hear it from all of you individually.” Beverly cuts Annabeth off, “Each of you need to assure me that you will fight alongside the alliance with full fidelity and loyalty.”

“I shall fight alongside the alliance, of course.” Annabeth goes first, starting us all off.

“I shall fight alongside the alliance.” Daniel copies her.

“I shall fight alongside the alliance.” The words feel like poison in my mouth, stinging my tongue as I speak, and yet, they still slip out with ease. We all turn to look at Max, hoping he won’t mess this up for us. Surely he knows what he has to do? Luci would never give up a lifeline like this for him...he must know that, right?

“I shall fight alongside my friends,” Max decides, straying slightly from the path, “My fidelity and loyalty lies with them. If they wish to fight alongside the alliance, then I will join them.”

There’s a short pause as Beverly thinks about her son’s answer, considering it carefully in her mind.

“Very well.” She gives in, “I shall take that as a yes.” She reaches down into her bag and pulls out a file, handing it over to Annabeth who opens it up. “Before we take you back down into the tunnels, you must prove to us that you can be trusted. There is a new lead on where Luci might be hiding Xander, and we need to chase it. You shall accompany a small group of members to check it out. The mission leader will report back to me once the mission is over, and if he approves of your performance, then you will be welcomed into the alliance.”

“What if the lead turns out to be true? What if we find Xander?” Daniel asks.

“Then the mission leader will instruct you on what to do next. It is most likely that you will take Xander back with you so we can relocate him to one of our secure locations where neither Luci or the government will find him.” Beverly explains.

“But what if Luci is there too?”

“Then you will do whatever is necessary to get Xander and get out.” Beverly instructs us, her tone sharp and authoritative, it almost makes me want to shrink back.

“Well then...I guess we’re getting back out in the field.” Annabeth’s optimism is clearly false, I can see the dread in her eyes, but appreciate her attempt to remain positive and level-headed.

“I said I’d fight alongside my friends…” Max trails off, a hint of anger in his voice that concerns me.

“And you will, all of you will go on this mission.” Beverly fails to understand the true meaning of his words, making a vague assumption that he is just confused.

Luci is my friend, I won’t go on any mission that might put her in harm's way-”

“Oh don’t be ridic-”
I said no!” Max yells, getting up from his seat and kicking the chair to one side, “I know perfectly well that if the tables were turned she wouldn’t defend me but I don’t care, I’m not her...I value my friends, I remain loyal to them always. If I do this then I’m just as bad as she is, and I refuse to let that happen. I’m Max Hills, I’m not a traitor, and I will not play a part in anything that might hurt Luci...and if that means I’m not part of your little club then so be it.”

“Max, listen-”

“Nothing you say will change my mind.” Max shakes his head, interrupting Annabeth’s attempts to calm him. “Am I the only one who remembers everything she did for us? Sure, she did it all to gain trust and intel...but does that take away the effect the deed had? She saved lives when she was working for us! Sometimes she didn’t even have to, she did it because she wanted to. There is good in her, it may be buried by hate at the moment, but if we just give her a chance then maybe she’ll go back to the way she was before, maybe…” He trails off, not knowing what else to say. His rage is gone now, he stands slouched like a deflated balloon.

“If you won’t complete the mission, then you can’t join the alliance.” Beverly reminds us, worried about our swaying views. Max sighs, burying his head in his hands.

“Then help us in a different way.” He says, looking up, “Give us a safe house or something, give us new identities and let us start up new lives far away from here. Don’t help us as soldiers waiting to be recruited, help us as old friends who need you to go the extra mile to save us...help me, your son. Would you really leave me to get arrested and killed just because I won’t hurt my old ally? How can you talk about fidelity and loyalty and yet offer me this choice of my life or hers? I’m your son- help me as a son. For once see me as more than a failed soldier...see me as your child, please.” He’s begging her, struggling to get to the end of his sentences. I turn to look at Beverly, he face is still expressionless, but I can see emotion creeping through as she struggles to keep this professional.

“We’re at war Max, everyone is a soldier now.” She decides, remaining firm. She gets up from her seat and walks to the exit, looking back only once before she leaves. “And you haven’t been my son in a long while.”

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