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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26. Chapter 26

I stand in between Daniel and Max, clutching Daniel’s harm as if I’ll faint if I let go. On my right, Max stands tall and proud, his hands folded across his chest. I can feel the tiny weight of the photograph my dad gave me weeks ago of my mother and him at that special bar where they met. Something compelled me to shove it in there as we left- I’m not quite sure what. Looking up at Daniel, I can tell he is nervous too, his front teeth digging into his lower lip, his eyes darting around all over the place. About three feet in front of us, Elda stands with Annabeth at her side as they wait for Charles to make himself known. Elda almost seems bored, her fingers drum against her waist in anticipation as she waits for the action to begin. Annabeth on the other hand might just be the most anxious of us all, she stands with the fake files in one hand, and her fingers are wrapped firmly around a gun in her other. None of us dare to move even an inch, we’re all stuck in a freeze-frame, our pounding heartbeats are the only thing reminding us all that we’re still alive.

“Good evening,” I’d recognise that voice anywhere, and as my eyes dart to the place where I heard it, I see him emerging from the shadows, as looming and intimidating as ever, “And what a lovely evening it is, barely a cloud in the sky. I’d take it as a sign if I didn’t know any better.” As he moves closer to us he notices the fake files in Annabeth’s hand, and smiles, believing them to be all-too real. He stops just over a meter away from where she and Elda are stood, keeping his distance. “I have to say I’m surprised to see all of you here...I thought you didn’t want me to get these files?” He speaks to Annabeth, although his question is directed at everyone except Elda.

“We want the alliance gone, if we give you these files then you do the job for us.” Annabeth half-lies. In fact, the entire statement is true, but it’s misleading. Giving Charles these files would take down the alliance, but it would take longer as he prepared for the rebellium’s departure, and that’s time we can’t afford. Instead, we’re bringing the date of that departure forward, not that Charles realises it yet.

“Well, here I am, are you all ready to do this?” Charles encourages us, gesturing towards the files in Annabeth’s hands. Hesitantly, Annabeth begins to take smalls steps forwards, walking over to Charles, trying to keep her expression neutral. Elda tails her, not having any difficulty hiding her inner emotions. She glares at Charles like he’s just stabbed a newborn puppy. There’s a brief moment before Annabeth passes the fake-files over in which we all seem to freeze, the climax finally hitting us, but then Annabeth drops them into his hand, and we can all breathe again.

“Don’t read them on an empty stomach.” Elda remarks, scowling. Charles just shakes his head, as if he’s disappointed in her.

“Good luck with your new life in the South, Elda.” He smiles sinisterly at her, before turning sharply, to stand directly in front of Annabeth. “And you...good luck to you too.”

“What on earth is going on here?” I can’t suppress my grin at the sound of Beverly’s voice behind us, shouting out into the dark alleyway. Her voice is sharper than a knife as it flies like an arrow through the narrow space, hitting Charles directly. Charles just stands there, gob smacked, his hands beginning to shake. I tilt my head to look behind me, and see Beverly and Grace stood next to each other. Beverly’s grinding her teeth, looking at Charles with eyes like daggers. Grace stands tall, with eyes of stone, her lips pursed as she tries to think about how best to handle the situation.

“What are you two doing here? Did you following me? Did you-?”

“I’m more interested in what you’ve done.” Beverly interrupts him, storming over, rushing past me, Max, and Daniel, and standing in between Charles and Annabeth. “What are those files?”

“They’re the files Beverly...the ones we’ve been looking for.” Charles tells her, revealing the cover page, “Look, I’ll admit, tonight I planned to take these and run, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together on this! With these files we can change the world...just think about it. The alliance would be stronger than ever. Come on, let’s team up and take down the system once and for all.” Beverly looks down at the files, and then back up to Charles. Then, without warning, she spits in his face.

“I’d rather work with a sewer rat than a lying coward like you.” She slurs, shoving him backwards. She makes a move to snatch the files but Grace place her hand on her shoulder, holding her back. Beverly jolts, like the rest of us, she’d almost forgotten Grace was there following her.

“Just a second Beverly, there’s still more to discuss. Calm yourself before you do something you’ll later regret.” She warns her, showing no emotion in her empty voice. Charles brushes himself off and stands tall again, holding the files even tighter than before. “Those files are valuable, remember.”

“So Grace, do you want to come to some sort of arrangement? Surely this doesn't have to mean the end of the alliance, right?” Charles begins to bargain, painting a smile on his face.

“I’m not sure Charles, you came here tonight with the intention of double-crossing me and my organisation for your own personal gain. How will I be able to trust you in the future? What good is an alliance without fidelity?” Grace remains cautious, treating this disturbance logically. I cling even harder to Daniel, getting anxious. What if this doesn’t work? What if she forgives him?

“I got played Grace, they played me.” He cries out, pointing towards the rest of us, “They want to keep their little traitor-friend safe so they set this up to try and destroy the alliance.”

“That is true…” Grace trails off, “But still, it would not have worked if you had remained loyal and not taken the bait.”

“Don’t act like you wouldn’t have done the same!” Charles exclaims, struggling to keep his anger under control. Grace doesn’t even flinch.

“Actually, I would have gone to this meetup, collected the files, and returned them to the alliance without betraying you Charles. I suppose that’s why they targeted you instead of me.” Grace corrects him, turning her nose up.

“Don’t let them do this to the alliance Grace, you’re giving them what they want!” Charles begs, getting desperate, “And hey, with these files we won’t even have to go after Luci Reeds, we won’t need Xander Moore. Everyone wins, see. Come on...you know it’s right.” I think for a moment, is he telling the truth? With those files, would he really leave Luci alone?

“Charles, the safety of Luci Reeds is of no concern to me.” Grace sighs, her eyebrows creasing as she finally tires and begins to show some actually emotion.

“Aww...that’s sweet, I’ve missed you too Grace.”

My blood chills and every muscle in my body tenses up at the sound of that infamous voice. I’m too scared to turn around, but I can tell from the look on everyone else’s faces that it’s her. I try to calm myself by focusing on the sound of the wind in the trees, but I can barely hear anything over the sound of my own booming heartbeat.

“You…” Annabeth trails off, too consumed in anger and shock to say anything else.

“Me.” Luci confirms, slowly walking over to stand in between them and us. She gives a subtle nod, and suddenly Elda springs to life, knocking the guns out of Grace, Beverly, and Charles’s hands, and snatching Annabeth’s, pointing it at the four of them, who (not being stupid) raise their hands above their heads. Luci turns to point her gun at me, Max, and Daniel. “Now, Grace, Beverly, and Charles you’re all going to leave this alleyway and not come back, that is, after Charles hands those files over to my lovely associate Elda, understand?”

“You set this whole thing up,” Daniel realises, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, “You and Elda teamed up, them Elda came over here to manipulate us into organising this gathering.”

“You always were the smart one Daniel.” Luci nods, grinning.

“And let me guess, those aren’t the fake files, are they?” Annabeth sighs, shaking her head.

“Ooh, I guess that cleverness runs in the family.” Luci smirks. Then she turns to me, a devilish glint in her eye. “Told you I wanted those files.”

Charles hands the not-so-fake files over to Elda, who then nudges him towards the exit, holding him, Beverly, and Grace all at gunpoint as they make their way out. With half the hostages gone, Elda lowers Annabeth’s gun and gives her a shove towards the rest of us, wanting us all in one place. She hands the files over to Luci, who quickly skims through to find Report A341, smiling.

“Now I can finally kill him…” she murmurs, “And you’re all going to have front-row seats.” Elda reaches into her pocket to reveal four full syringes. “Hold on a sec whilst Elda gives you a little sedative,” Luci instructs us, “When you wake up you’ll be back at my base.” I feel a prick in my arm as I helplessly stand there, letting Elda do as she wishes. Still clutching Daniel’s hand, I feel my head turn heavy. Luci leans down in front of me, her eyes staring right into my soul.

“Night night.”

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