Liz, Six Months Before Impact Day
“Rachel knows where Charlie is,” I said, as soon as we entered the room.
“That would have been nice to know twenty minutes ago,” Aidan complained. “How sure are you?”
“Sure enough,” she said.
“Apparently Vengeance have set up shop in some decommissioned military bunker,” I said.
“I didn’t even know we had any of those,” Aidan commented. “I’ll try to confirm.”
“Liz already figured out why it exists,” Rachel said.
“I don’t remember that,” I said.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “A rescue mission is gonna be next to impossible, so the three of us are going to have to work together.”
“How fun,” Aidan said.
“Aidan, we need every scrap of information you can get about that base. Also, you’re going to want to make sure your dad is safe, and we can’t be found. If they know who Charlie is, they’ll definitely go after friends and family.”
“On it,” he said, tapping away at his keyboard.
“Liz, until you’re recovered, you’ll be working on an infiltration plan. When you can, you’ll be doing intense physical therapy and training. We can’t afford to fuck this up.”
“Who put you in charge?” I demanded.
“Common sense,” she said. “Do you have any better ideas?”
“It’s easier not to fight her,” Aidan pointed out. “It’s only until we can rescue Charlie.”
“Let’s just hope that doesn’t take long,” Rachel said.
“And what are you going to be doing?” I asked.
“Building,” she said. “I’ve never had to break into a military bunker before. It should be interesting. I’m kind of looking forward to it.”
I rolled my eyes at her, and sat down beside Aidan. He smiled absently at me, and Rachel disappeared into the bedroom again, back to her old habits.
I glanced at Aidan’s screen, but couldn’t make any sense of it. Even if Rachel was right about what he was up to, I had no way of confirming it.
Did I even care? Gangs were a constant presence in this city, and at least I could trust him not to be an exploitative arsehole about it. It would be dangerous, but I could probably keep him safe, and he wasn’t exactly stupid. It might piss Rachel off, but who cared what she thought?
Why was I even suspicious of him, anyway? More likely than not, it was just some nasty mind game Rachel was playing, trying to undermine us, break us apart in one of her petty, narcissistic games. The important thing was focussing on rescuing Charlie, and that was something I had to believe we could do.
Breaking into a military bunker, though? That was so far beyond the scope of anything I knew how to do. Sure, my parents had given me all the training they could offer, but being an assassin wasn’t like being a ninja. It didn’t come with any supernatural abilities or make me capable of impossible feats of parkour.
Given the physical capabilities of Aidan and Rachel, it was likely I’d be headed in by myself. Somehow, I had to take on an entire army of well-armed thugs. Aidan might be able to fill me in on what to expect, and Rachel might be able to provide some gizmos, but at the end of the day, it was all going to come down to me.
If I could figure out a plan that let me guarantee every encounter would be one-on-one, I’d probably have a chance. Of course, the guns made it hard, but if I could maintain the element of surprise…
People are hard to knock out, especially when armed. Movies make it look easy, but a powerful concussive force to the head is likely to cause permanent damage. Cutting off blood or oxygen isn’t much better, and definitely more difficult to do.
Not that killing them would be any easier. Humans aren’t designed like video game enemies. Bodies try very hard to stay alive, and put up as much of a fight as they can. Slitting throats takes time and a lot of muscle. Breaking necks… not really feasible. Stabbing through the heart? Maybe, if they’re not wearing any armour, you have proximity and they don’t know you’re there, but it’s very risky and not guaranteed to work.
So, somehow I had to make my way through dozens of thugs, basically armed soldiers, without raising an alarm, preferably without killing anyone, break Charlie out of some locked cell, and get us both out again.
Sure. Easy. What could go wrong?
Of course, even a simple mistake would end it all. One thug getting the upper hand in a fight. One stray bullet. One miscalculation. One piece of faulty information. One random bit of bad luck. I could get caught, maybe killed or tortured, and Aidan and Rachel would be no closer to rescuing Charlie, or me.
“I don’t know if we can do this,” I said, and Aidan looked at me. He rested a hand on my shoulder.
“Me either,” he said. “But I do know that we don’t have a choice. Leaving Charlie in there isn’t something either of us could live with.”
“Do you think it’s suspicious?” I asked, glancing over at the room Rachel had disappeared into.
“How quickly she found Charlie, you mean?”
“All of it.”
“I think that’s a dangerous train of thought,” he said. “I know you don’t trust her. Honestly, I don’t really trust her either. But I trust that she cares about Charlie, and right now, that’s the only thing I care about.”
“Is she right?” I asked.
“About Vengeance’s base? I haven’t been able to confirm yet. That’s not exactly easy information to come by, but I’m working on it. It seems likely, though.”
“I meant about you,” I said quietly.
“Do you believe her?” he asked, dodging the question.
“I don’t know what to believe. That’s why I asked.”
“I don’t have any sinister plans,” he told me. “I can see an opportunity, a chance to make some positive changes, in ways that Charlie won’t ever consider. She’s not the only one who wants to make a difference, you know.”
“She’ll try and stop you,” I said.
“She can try,” Aidan said. “But that’s a bridge we can cross once we rescue her. Maybe she’ll have a change of heart.”
“That’ll be the day,” I said, and we both laughed.
“We could make a difference together,” he said softly. “If you wanted.”
I looked him in the eye, those strangely captivating grey eyes, so bright they were almost silver. I saw determination, fear and pride, and I took his hand in mine.
“Together,” I said.
Next Week: Too Bad We Don’t Have Superpowers