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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32. Chapter 32

“I though you said the base was close by,” Daniel sighs, needing a moment to sit down on the side of the path, “We’ve been walking for hours.”

“That’s by car via a main road,” Zacharia reminds him, “We’re going on foot, and having to keep in the woodlands so we’re not seen by the CCTV cameras, no doubt Luci’s tapped into those.”

“Are you sure you know where you going though?” Annabeth checks, doubtful, “There’s no direct path through these woods and we’re in so deep we can’t even use the sound of traffic to guide us.”

“Would you both relax? We’re fine, see this ivy? We can follow it. Ivy points south, the emergency base is more or less directly south of the original first base.” Zacharia explains, gesturing to the dark green leaves.

“There’s not enough funding in the South to go around, all the money goes to education and healthcare, handy pathways and signs are near the bottom of the list. That’s why we have to learn orienteering at school.” I chip in, backing him up and walking over to the plant, “Zacharia knows what he’s doing.”

“The South is weird…” Annabeth trails off, shaking her head. I have to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing, realising only now that she’s never been to the South before, and neither have Daniel or Max, this is all new and odd to them, but for me, it’s home. Daniel puts his head between his knees and mutters something under his breath, groaning. I can’t blame him, I feel like punching a tree, we’ve just escaped captivity only to be faced with another difficult situation, when all we want is to find some nice warm place and sleep for the next day and a half.

“We can’t afford to rest,” Zacharia walks over to Daniel and gives him a hand up, “It’s getting dark and this isn’t the sort of place we want to be overnight, not to mention that we’re without water, food, or blankets for warmth. We need to get to the emergency base as soon as possible.” Daniel gets the message, his logical mind returning and urging him forwards. I lag behind to walk with him, linking my hand in his and resting my head on his shoulder.

“Soon we’ll be at the emergency base,” I promise him, “Then we’ll get sorted. I have contacts here, people I can trust. We’ll set up new lives together, maybe it’ll be your turn to fake an accent-” I break off into a giggle, amused at the thought of Daniel putting on a british accent, sitting down with a cup of tea.

“As long as I’m with you I don’t care where we are, north or south, east or west- all ever want is to be within ten meters of you.” He murmurs, kissing me on the cheek. I blush, unable to help myself.

“I love you Daniel.” I state, feeling a blindly inexplicable urge to say it.

“I love you too,” he smiles, meeting my eyes with his, “My little british girl...” I give him a playful shove in the stomach, laughing. And in that moment, we both seem to forget that we’re running away from two sociopaths heading towards an unknown source of safety with nothing but each other and the rest of the team for comfort. Because in that moment, that’s enough.

“Keep up you two!” Max calls after us, “We need to pick up the pace.” I sigh, doing as he says and putting a bit more fire into my step. I stare at Max for a moment, the lively glint’s returned to his eye, the solemn sadness that shadowed him just weeks ago seems to have disappeared, replaced by an overwhelming will to survive. It makes me smile to see him better. It makes me smile to see him happy. I feel less guilty leaving him and Annabeth with the knowledge that he’s refound his survival instinct.

“So,” Daniel speaks up, his voice more cheerful than before, “What’s it like? The South I mean.”

“Different from the North.” I shrug, unsure of what else to say, “Very different in fact...it’s like- like an explosion of culture, but an organised one, there’s a set system in place that never changes. Most of the people you meet have what we call the southern accent, which is a bit of every language rolled up into one...you don’t get many people like me, my mum raised me to be British, not Southern. People tend to identify as Spanish, British or Chinese, that’s not to say you don’t get the odd Japanese or French citizen but, well, most cultures are dying here, replaced by one prominent Southern one.”

“So if I had to fake a Southern accent, what would it sound like?” Daniel asks playfully, chuckling under his breathe.

“Well...you wouldn’t stress your vowels, it would have a fairly sharp tone, and it would definitely be a bit sing-songy.” I try to explain, “Like Zacharia’s voice, but a bit more spanish.”

Like this?” Daniel asks, trying (and failing) to fake an accent. I laugh, shaking my head. He sounds like a whale on a trampoline.

“Maybe just fake a British accent instead?” I suggest, linking my arm inside his.

“Done.” He agrees, smiling.

We continue to progress through the woodlands, following the ivy and letting Zacharia take the lead out in front. Suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my leg, just above my the left of my knee.

“Ah.” I bite down on my lip, stumbling so that Daniel has to pull at me to keep my upright.

“Are you okay?” He checks, concerned. “Hey guys, wait a sec Elia’s hurt.” He calls out to the rest of the group, who pause and turn, waiting to see what the matter is.

“Don’t be silly I’m not hurt I’m-” I stop talking when I notice it, the small bloodstain on my jeans. A deep, dirty crimson colour over the navy blue background. “I-I don’t understand, I…”

“Has your leg hurt before now?” Annabeth asks, walking over and kneeling down to look at it. Zacharia and Max trail behind her, curious and concerned.

“No, no not at all except-” I pause, thinking back to when I first came to, tied up to the pole, “Except when I first woke up, back when we were held separately...I was blindfolded so I couldn’t see, but- but there was this stinging pain in my leg…”

“That stain is old...we probably thought it was Xander’s blood before, it’s not a fresh wound.” Annabeth decides, pressing gently against the crimson stain.

“The pain you felt just now, is it gone?” Max asks.

“Yeah.” I nod, “It was just a sharp sting, then it was gone.”

“Was it the same as the pain you felt before?” He checks, a vague theory beginning to form in his mind.

“Um...no, no I don’t think so. It was similar, but this- this was quicker, more intense.” I decide, shaking my head firmly.

“We have no choice but to continue regardless,” Zacharia tells us, “I’m sorry Elia but we don’t have time to stop and inspect your leg, when we get to the base you can go straight to the medics.”

“No, no, I understand,” I assure him, “Lead the way.” Zacharia smiles, giving me a supportive nod before turning around and walking on, Annabeth trailing after him.

“Does it hurt to walk?” Max asks sympathetically, already having a vague idea about the answer.

“Only a little.” I lie, every time I put pressure on it the sharp intense pain returns, automatically stopping when I lift my foot of the ground.

“Here, put your left arm around me and your right arm around Daniel, we’ll support you.” He offers, bending down so I can do as he says. I use them to lessen the pressure on my leg as I walk, and it does help, even if it does slow us down a bit. As we walk I look up to the sky, sighing at the sight of the sinking sun, praying that we’ll make it before sunset. I know all too well that this will get ten times harder once it’s dark. “Listen, you two, about the whole splitting up thing-”

“Forget it Max, if you’re not ready for that yet then we’ll stick together for now. I don’t want to leave things with Annabeth like this anyway.” Daniel cuts him off, giving in.

“I was going to say that I’m happy for you.” Max reveals, “You two both deserve normal lives. Me and Annabeth chose to join the resistance, you two never actually signed up for any of this.”

“But Annabeth-”

“Don’t you worry about Annabeth,” Max interrupts me, “I’ll look after her, her bark is much worse than her bite, remember?” I can’t help it, I laugh, caving in, cracking a smile.

“Thank you Max,” I grin, “You’re a good frie-”

“Well well well...what do we have here?” I freeze at the sound of her voice. I don’t want to look up, I don’t have to either, I already know it’s her...but I do. Luci. Luci stood a few meters in front of us, her gun pointed, her face firm. “Finding it hard to walk Elia? It’s probably something to do with the tracking device we put in your leg.” My stomach churns and my heart sinks as I look down at my leg, everything suddenly becoming clear. “We weren’t going to take any chances, we knew you guys would try to escape.”

“Hands up.” I hear Elda behind me, feeling the sickening pressure of a gun against my back. I do as she says, unwinding myself from Daniel and Max and raising my hands up high. Zacharia follows my example, and Daniel and Max aren’t far behind, we all look at Annabeth, waiting for her to submit too.

“Did you not hear her?” Luci scowls at her, stepping forwards, “Hands up and-”

She doesn’t get to finish her sentence, Annabeth launches herself on top of her, elbowing her in the stomach, snatching her gun and tossing her onto her back in one shift, quick, and well-practised motion. She doesn’t hesitate. Placing her foot onto Luci’s stomach to keep her still, she raises the pistol up, pointing it directly at Elda.

“Let them go Elda.” She orders her, her voice calm and commanding, her instructions unquestionable.

“Put the gun down Annabeth.” Elda replies with her own demand, not even flinching at the sight of a gun pointed at her head.

“No way.” Annabeth shakes her head, her eyes glaring like daggers.

“Put the gun down, or I’ll shoot Elia.” Elda re-phrases, shoving me down onto my knees and pressing her gun to the back of my head. “You know I’ll do it, I want to, I despise her.” Annabeth pauses for a moment, freezing where she stands. I want to say something, to call out to her, but I’m not sure what to say. I don’t have it in me to tell her not to, and I don’t have it me to tell her I want to be saved. Suddenly, Annabeth moves, turning the gun away from Elda and down towards Luci.

“You kill my teammate I’ll kill yours.” She bargains, coming up with a new solution. I can’t see Elda’s face, but I can imagine she’s probably shocked, I know Luci is, in fact, I’ve never seen that insane genius so scared. Would Annabeth really shoot her?

“You won’t do it…” Elda decides, “You don’t have it in you. You’ve spent the last six months trying to keep her safe from the alliance.”

“Her life is certainly worth less to me than Elia’s,” Annabeth argues, “It would be a mistake to assume what I will and won’t do.”

“Fine, then kill her.” Elda calls her bluff, “Then they’ll both be dead and we’ll both have one less thing that can be used against us.”

“I’ll do it Elda.” Annabeth yells, raising her voice.

So will I.”

“Annabeth drop your gun!” Daniel cries out, “She’ll kill Elia.”

Annabeth looks down at Luci, then up to me, her face torn. Slowly, she moves her gun away from Luci, lowering it down towards the ground. But before she reaches it however, I feel a great force from my left pushing me down to the ground, as Max makes a move to snatch Elda’s gun...and misses.

All of a sudden chaos erupts around us, with Annabeth shooting blindly towards Elda, and all of us running for cover. Daniel pulls me along and we duck behind a tree, Max chasing after us. Zacharia and Annabeth do the same from across the clearing, and Luci rushes to Elda, all of them taking cover. Elda and Annabeth begin to engage in gunfire, occasionally moving out to fire at the other, but missing each time.

“We need to get out of here.” Max decides, looking around for a good route out.

“But Elia can’t run on her leg,” Daniel reminds him, “And even if we do get away they’ll track us.” Max rummages around in his pockets, pulling out a flat circular object.

“I had this one me when we got taken, it’s a signal jammer, a bit damaged but it should do the job. If Elia puts this in her jean pocket then we can get to the emergency base and get the medics to remove the tracking device when we get there.” He devises a plan, handing the tiny disc over to me. I shove it into my pocket. “Daniel, when I say so you need to run in the direction where Annabeth and Zacharia are hiding. Tell Annabeth to fire up at the top of that tree, the leaves will all fall down and distract them, giving me just enough time to get Elia over there so we can all make a run for it.”

“How will you know when to tell me to go? It’s crazy out there.” Daniel argues, worried about the gunfight currently going on in front of us.

“Annabeth’s firing around every forty seconds,” Max tells him, “Don’t worry- I’ve got this.” Daniel nods, deciding to trust Max. I don’t think, I just lean over and kiss him, forcing his lips against mine before finally letting him go.

“Be careful.” I urge him, the sound of gunfire ringing in my ears. He smiles at me, pretending to be more confident than we both know he actually is. Max turns around, looking out towards the carnage, counting down in his head. 3...2...1…

“Now!” He tells Daniel, who immediately shoots up and runs across. It only takes two seconds but it feels like two hours, my heart stopping as he rushes out. He makes it across safely. He’s with Annabeth now. “Get ready to run,” Max tells me, wrapping his arm around my waist, “I’ll help you across.” My heart is in my throat, but I swallow it back down- I have to be strong, I have to survive this. My eyes wide, I watch and wait, counting the minute-long seconds as I stare up at the loose leaves, waiting for them to fall.

And then suddenly, they do.

I feel Max thrust my body upwards as we run, not looking back as we sprint away, Annabeth, Daniel and Zacharia meters in front of us as we attempt to get away. My legs stings as if I’m running through a swarm of wasps, aching like it weighs a million tons as I heave it along. We’re too slow. I can hear shots being fired behind us, Luci and Elda chasing us as we try to get free. I’m slowing Max down too much...we’re going to get caught.

“You need to get away!” I yell at him, struggling to be heard over the bullets being fired, “I’m too slow, you need to run!”

“Not without you,” Max shakes his head, remaining stubborn, “We’re a team, I won’t leave you behi-”

His voice breaks off, replaced by a heavy and painful sigh, and all of a sudden Max’s arm isn’t around me anymore. Every other sound in the world seems to disappear as his body falls to the ground with a thud, a small crimson circle standing out against his dark skin on his forehead. For a moment, his eyes are torn, pain lighting them up like fire, but then, all too soon, they go dark and extinguished, no life left in them at all. I turn around and see it, the look on their faces as they realise what they’ve done. The gun is still extended out in Elda’s hand, her eyes still fixed on her hit target. Luci stands on her right, sinisterly still, her eyes darting around as she looks at the corpse from afar, trying to register what she has just witnessed. She doesn’t cry out, she doesn’t flinch, she doesn’t even move. I can’t take my eyes of her, why isn’t she reacting? I feel a firm pair of hands wrap around my waist and lift me upwards as Zacharia pulls me away, urging me onwards. I struggle against it, not wanting to. He didn’t leave me- he wouldn’t leave me...how can I desert him like this? I’m dragged along, away from Max’s lifeless body, kicking and screaming as I go, unable to stop staring at Luci’s frozen shadow.

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