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*Final instalment in the 'Little British Girl' Trilogy *
One year after Elia’s death, and the entire planet is rebelling. With the news of Xander’s assassination attempt against his own daughter alarming the world, Elda and Luci are leading a powerful resistance, competing with the Southern rebellium, with no powerful government to stop either of them.
And yet, nothing seems to have changed.
Annabeth, alongside Beverly, Zacharia, and Steve Ryans, hide out amidst the chaos , unable to prevent what’s happening right in front of them. Disheartened and helpless.
Then one day, a girl turns up, a girl with heterochromia, with some interesting letters, and some even more interesting information. Could it be that Xander Moore had another daughter? And that Luci has a half-sister?

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13. Chapter 13

“I take it things didn’t exactly go according to plan…” Quinn wines, clearly uncomfortable, my frustration and anger must be radiating off of me or something, “It’s okay though, I can do lookout by myself, it’s not like we needed him or anything.” I nod in agreement just to please her, choosing not to point out that it was the needing him thing that made me reach out to him. I just wanting something familiar, something that’s almost normal, a small reminder of how things used to be...Danie could have been all of those things, if he only had the balls to step outside for once. “Zacharia and Beverley are already out there, Beverley is positioned close to the factory, outside a bank, and Zacharia’s sticking to the shadows for now. You need to be down there in ten minutes apparently.”

“Do you know what to do?”

“Stand here and watch the factory like a hawk, then run down to join you all next to the cafe down the road afterwards.” Quinn nods, sounding a lot more confident than I’m sure she actually is. She smiles and spins back around to look out towards the factory, binoculars in hand. I try not to think about Luci as I see her eyes dart around, I try not to think about any of them, but Daniel’s words still ring in my ears, I’m sorry that I just left you there, that- that was cruel. It’s funny that out of all the things he could have apologised for, he chose the one that’s haunted my mind the very least since I woke up that day. And why apologise anyway? So what if you regret it? You can’t undo what you did. At least when Luci had me tied up in Willowbrick over a year ago and she apologised for their deaths she accepted that it would mean little to nothing to me. At least she understood that sometimes sorry just doesn’t cut it, and it never will. Daniel’s too obsessed with being the perfect hero to accept his fatal flaws. His ego is the real reason he’s still locked up in that house, not Max, not me, not Luci, and definitely not Elia.

“...Annabeth? Annabeth, shouldn’t you be going now if you’re going to make it in time?” Quinn pulls me back out of my thoughts, giving me a kind, but firm reminder of why I’m actually here.

“Right, yeah...I’ll head off.” I decide, turning abruptly and running off into the distance. Quinn calls good luckto me before I go, as if it might actually better the odds of this mission succeeding.

I try to walk quickly when I reach the sidewalk, but not so much that I might arouse suspicion. What if one of these strangers works for the alliance, or used to work for the rebellium or the resistance? What if they notice a nervous-seeming woman dashing through and look up for their phones only to recognise Annabeth Jackson all too far from home? What if they alert Grace or Charles and they realise what’s going on and catch us? It sounds far fetched, I know, but it could easily happen.

I arrive just in time, catching Zacharia in the corner of my eye and following him over to the side-exit. Beverley is already there fiddling with the lock when we arrive, already getting to work. She doesn’t even look up when we turn up next to her, keeping focused on the job at hand.

“Did you get Daniel onboard?” Zacharia whispers. I shake my head.

“Daniel’s not coming.” I guess he can hear the anger beneath my words, because he doesn’t ask anything else. We just stand there in silence, waiting patiently for Beverley to finish.

“There.” She stands up, done at last. Still slightly cautious, Zacharia lowers his hand to the door handle and gradually eases it open. We all rush inside, turning on our flashlights. “Same as last time, I’ll go and wipe the security footage whilst you and Annabeth print the letters.” She briefs us, speaking quickly before darting off into the distance, the light from her flashlight sinking into the blackness.

“Come on.” Zacharia urges me, leading me forwards towards the printing press.

It’s weird. This mission is even more risky than the last...but I’m not nearly as scared. I don’t hear a thousand footsteps following me, and the dark doesn’t seem to move as I do. Maybe the talk with Daniel made me to mad to be frightened? Or maybe I’m just more confident than I was before? I mean, the last time I did this all I had behind me were constant failures. Last time everything went brilliantly, and that sort of makes me feel safer.

“This is it,” Zacharia says, stopping besides a large printing press, “I’ll need you to get rid of the printed copies again, is that okay?”

“Yeah.” I nod, picking the small pile up. “Where’s the bin?”

“Ah,” Zacharia pauses, “That’s the thing...there’s one large waste disposal unit, but it’s upstairs. You can use your flashlight to find it. Be back here in ten minutes, otherwise I’ll have to leave with Beverley without you.”

“Upstairs? That’s...fine, I mean it’s not a problem. I’ll be back in five.” I assure him, surprisingly uneased by the idea of heading upstairs alone. But it’s not all too different from ditching these ten feet away. I have no reason to be any more nervous. I can do this.

Before I have the chance to overthink this any more than I already have, I force myself to turn and walk away, heading in the direction of the stairs. I begin to hear footsteps coming at me from all distances, my mind playing tricks on me with each step I take which moves me further away from my exit out of this place. The light from my flashlight is moving as my hands quiver and shake, but I try to ignore all of these things. I am safe. I am safe

My light falls onto the large bin, finding it amidst the desks and rubble. It seems almost taller than me from this distance, but as I move closer and closer it shrinks back down to a reasonable size. By the time I reach it, it kind of seems too small. I empty my pile of newspapers down into the bin, and slam the lid shut. I check the time, I still have six minutes to go. Six minutes to get back to Zacharia and out of here, just six more minutes, then-

“I have to admit I was a little surprised to learn that you’re still alive,” I freeze at the sound of Grace’s voice behind me, just as patronising and commanding as it’s always been, “You must be the luckiest woman alive to be able to run head first into danger all the time and still always back it back unharmed.”

“What are you doing here Grace?” I call out, still with my back to her, unable to move. It’s the perfect question. It asks how she knew to be here, as well as why she chose to turn up. I need to know how much she knows. Are Zacharia and Beverley at risk too?

“I learnt that you were in the neighbourhood...I got curious...I did some digging and voila!” She’s being deliberately vague. It’s an intimidation tactic, she doesn’t need me to know less, she’s got the upperhand anyway, she just wants me to feel in the dark. I decide to turn around and face her, maybe that’ll get her to talk more?

“How did you find out that I was here? You blew up the Interzonal Relations center last year, how did you see me coming?” I’m careful to use ‘me’ and ‘I’ instead of ‘us’ and ‘we’, there’s still a chance that she doesn’t know about what’s going on downstairs.

“I didn’t see you coming, in fact I was very surprised when I heard you were here.” She reveals, smiling slightly.

“How? How did you find out that I’d moved to the South?” I sound too panicked, too desperate.

“We’ve been watching your cousin closely since we figured out where he was. You paid him a visit earlier on today, yes? Did it not occur to you that we might find you through him?” My shock and frustration must show, because Grace extends her face out into a wide grin. My stomach is churning and I feel as though I might actually be sick, but I force it back down. I won’t be thrown by this.

“So what now?” I ask her, somehow managing to sound confident despite the odds.

“Now? What now? Well...you have a few different options. Either I shoot you and end this once and for all, or we engage in some sort of combat until one of us runs of or ends up dead, or you could actually listen to me for a change and we could both leave her untouched.” None of the options mention Zacharia or Beverley. She doesn’t know they’re here. She must have followed me, and somehow missed both of them. Maybe it was a tracker? That could explain it…

“What is it you have to say?” I buy my time, keeping her talking, giving Zacharia and Beverley enough time to get out before she realises what’s actually going on here.

“Before that I have a question, what are you doing here? Why come to a printing factory at this time of night? What are you up to?” Grace says the one thing I’ve been longing for her not to, using her advantage to pressure me for more information.

“I’ve only just come here, and it’s been about a year since the relations center was bombed by you and your organisation. I wanted to know what’s happening, I wanted to read the news.” It’s an obvious lie, but I do well to think on my feet. I try to seem sarcastic, at least that will show confidence.

“Nothing you do will ever have that big of an impact you know.” She shakes her head, trying to knock me down, “You’ve spent the past year failing over and over again, just getting angrier and angrier and even more reckless. Eventually, you’ll get yourself killed. It reminds me a little bit of how you used to be right at the very beginning, you’re back to being that fiery violent little girl who I had to sent to Yuma to keep under control. But I’m prepared to offer you one final chance. I know that you view what I do as evil, destroying buildings, assassinating important figures, running riot through the streets...but what you don’t understand is that this is all necessary. This world has erupted into chaos, it’s too late to calm it back down now, the only existing option is to maximise this chaos- destroy it all! Then, emerge from the rubble and start up a new, fairer system. Destroy the past and lead the future. It’s not the easiest of paths, but it is the right one.”

“Are you offering me the chance to join you? Because if so-”

“Of course I’m not offering you that, I know you far too well.” She cuts me off, “All I ask is that you stay out of the way. The pacifist method won’t work anymore, the resistance’s old ways of propaganda and meddling are useless now. And is it really such a loss? If I remember correctly you were never the biggest advocate for those quieter ways. I don’t expect you to stand alongside me as I bomb people’s homes, but if you can see how this is all necessary and take the right decision to let me do what I have to do, then I will leave you in peace. Take a leaf out of your cousin’s book, settle down somewhere nice and quiet, accept the fact that I’ll still be watching you, but ignore the spying and carry on regardless. Live away from all of this, look the other way and let me finish what I’ve started.”

“You want me to quit?”

“I want you to move forward in a new direction.” She re-words it. I can see from the way that she’s looking at me that she’s convinced I’ll say yes. It’s the same look Luci gave me back in Willowbrick, when she suggested a similar thing, settling down away from all of this. “The other options do involve a lot of shooting…what’s your decision?” Grace reminds me, giving me a not-so-subtle threat and pushing me for an answer.

“My decision? I think that you’re despicable and revolting and a coward, and that Daniel is no better. I may get myself killed whilst standing in the way of people like you but at least I’ll die with a dignity that is already far out of your reach. So no Grace, I won’t just walk away. I will run head-first into danger every single time and I will haunt you every single day and I will spit in the face of anyone who tells me to stop. So either shoot me or get out of my way, because my mission for tonight is already over.” I glance subtly at my watch just to make sure I’ve left enough time, and sure enough it’s been fifteen minutes since I first came up here, Zacharia and Beverley will be long gone by now. Grace raises her gun and points it directly at my forehead, done playing games and making bargains.

“What did you do?” She questions me, practically yelling out the words.

“You’ll kill me whether I tell you or not so why would I answer any of your questions?” I remind her, refusing to back down.

I close my eyes, expecting to briefly hear one final gunshot before she kills me, but instead I hear a slapping sound, followed by a loud ‘thud’. When I open my eyes again Beverley is stood above Grace, pointing one gun (her own) at her head, with another (Grace’s) held securely in her free hand. I’ve never been more relieved to see Beverley before in my life. Grace is well-trained though, and before Beverley has the chance to even speak to her she kicks at her leg and throws her off balance, disappearing swiftly off into the darkness of the factory, out of our grasp. Still, it’s not the worst possible outcome.

“She got away…” Beverley trails off, fraustrated.

“At least you got to slap her.” I sigh, somehow managing a small laugh despite everything I’ve just been through. Honestly, right now I’m just happy to be alive.

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