“What are you doing here Tim? Shouldn’t you be in Washington with Grace? What do you want?” Max questions him, stepping forward.
“Look, I’ll explain everything...but first could you please ask your lady friend to drop her gun?” Tim requests, wincing away. I look at Annabeth, she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to do what he said. Her expression hasn’t changed at all.
“Annabeth, he’s cool.” Max places his palm on the black plastic surface, gently pushing it down. Annabeth however, doesn’t completely calm down, she keep both her arms straight as she holds it to her left, ready to raise it again in a flash if necessary. The eyes of the room shift back to this ‘Tim’ person, Max’s boss.
“There, she dropped the gun, now tell us why you’re here.” Max walks over. There’s not a hint of kindness in his voice, he clearly isn’t fond of him, ironically infact, he speaks to his boss as if he is below him.
“Grace sent me, okay?” Tim begins to get defensive, it’s obvious he isn’t too friendly with Max either. He walks past him to the centre of the room where the rest of us are, taking a look around at our living space as he does so, almost as if he’s judging us...which isn’t fair at all, it was the resistance who caused us to hide out in a place like this.
“We already told you guys all we knew about Luci. She was a genius, and she was crazy. End of story.” Max states simply, also moving to where we all stand.
“This ain’t about you, this is about the resistance...and the rebellium.” Tim sighs, sitting down. I look around, but the rest of the group remain still, standing tall and proud. The way Max looks at Tim makes me feel uncomfortable, there’s a lost, muddled, and absent hierarchy between the pair, and I’ve never seen so much coldness in Max’s usually kind and warm stare. If that makes me uncomfortable, I can only imagine how it makes Tim feel. Annabeth and Daniel both seem to be following Max’s example, judging the stranger they’d never met before in an instant. I almost feel sorry for him, whoever he is. Not content with the southern direction of the conversation, I kneel down in front of him, placing my hand gently on his knee and giving him a small smile.
“What did you come all this way to tell us?” I ask, keeping my tone neutral, but still welcoming. I feel Daniel’s warmth as he too sits down, giving Tim a quick, but clear, nod of support.
“As ya’ll already know, Luci has Xander, and it’s caused chaos to erupt all over the globe. People are dyin’ out there fightin’ for what they believe in, and whilst there’s no shame in that, it’s gettin’ out of hand. There needs to be a clear opposition, a team against zoning that can fight the now weak government easily. Now you have the resistance, who believe in persuading people to rise up, and the rebellium, who believe in destroying the opposition completely. Either side could rise up and take down the system, but both want the other out of the way. They’d be to busy fightin’ each other to get anythin’ done, and the government would take down Luci, and the system would fix itself out and become strong once more.”
“So what? The resistance want to take down the rebellium? Is this some sort of recruitment attempt?” Annabeth guesses, also moving to the ground in front of him.
“No, you’ve got the wrong idea completely,” Tim shakes his head, “They want to form an alliance. Apart, the two sides would destroy any chance of a free future. Together, they could bring about the dawn of a new age. The Resistance, and The Rebellium, united and strong...it just makes sense.” Tim pauses to allow time for his words to sink in, correctly assuming that this news would come as a shock to us all, “The deal is being finalised in a week’s time, you have until then to decide whether or not to join us.”
“Why would we need a week? The decision is simple, of course we want to help put an end to zoning-”
“Unless there’s something he’s not telling us.” Max interrupts Annabeth, his voice harsh and rough. “What is it Tim? What are you hiding this time?” Tim shakes his head, looking down to the ground.
“It’s clear that Luci isn’t in the right state of mind. We can’t allow for someone like her to have Xander, one mistake and all this goes up in toast. When the negotiations are done, the first step would be to find where she is, and take both herself and Xander in, by any means necessary.” He confesses, speaking slowly, with sympathy behind his words.
“So you’ll go in there and take them both hostage, probably getting Luci hurt or worse in the process?” Max abbreviates harshly, “There’s no way I’ll support that.”
“Why? The girls a maniac, she needs to be stopped.” Tim fires back, and argument brewing between the two.
“She’s not maniac, she’s a freakin’ genius! She knows what she’s doing.” Max yells.
“That may be so, but we can’t afford to take any risks-”
“So that gives you the right to kidnap her? To fire bullets at her? To kill her?” Max cuts him off, standing so close to him I’m worried he might actually start fighting him.
“Don’t take your anger out on me!” Tim shouts, finally matching Max in his anger, “You’re letting your emotions get the better of you. She never loved you, she just used you. Move on!”
“This isn’t about that-”
“Oh, I think it is-”
“Oh yeah? What would you know-?”
“Will both of you please shut up!” Annabeth cries, standing up and getting in between the two, giving Max a light shove in the other direction. She then turns to Tim, her face perfectly expressionless, “Thank you for coming Tim, we will carefully consider our options and get back to you before the week is over, I promise.” Tim gives a polite bow of his head, pushing past Max to leave the shed, shutting the door softly behind him.
With Tim gone, we all relax, relieved that the disagreement remained verbal. Max mutters something under his breath and storms off to a corner, leaving me, Daniel, and Annabeth, to think about our next move.
Max is right in some sense, Luci will probably get hurt if the resistance and the rebellium go after her, she may even get herself killed. Even after everything she did, I still don’t want to see her hurt. On the other hand, Tim is correct in the sense that she is a huge risk. Xander is still alive, but who knows for how long? If she kills him they’ll be no more leverage. It’s a matter of morals. Which is more important? The safety of a traitor? Or the capture of a villain?
“What was with Max? Shouldn’t he have had more respect for his boss?” Daniel sighs, walking over to where out (now cold) hot chocolates are.
“I know...it was weird.” I agree, sitting back.
“I don’t know much, but I do know that Tim went with Max on the failed mission years ago, he was one of the few who went who managed to get off without much of a punishment. Apparently Tim and Max were close before the mission, but afterwards Max refused to see him, and since then if you put the two of them in a room together they can’t seem to resist an argument.” Annabeth explains, joining us. “It’s a sensitive subject for Max though, so ask him about it at your own peril.”
“Max’s issues aside, what are we going to do about the alliance?” Daniel changes the conversation topic.
“I haven’t got a clue.” Annabeth lies back, her eyes weary. She seems so lost, so hopeless, and yet, so determined. Like all of us, she’s struggling to keep it together, trying to ignore all the threats and attacks, and focus on imagining a place far away from all of this where she’s convinced she’ll go once this is over. Her own little Watson & Jackson, her own little fantasy to keep herself sane.