Something wasn’t right. I looked at my watch. If it had stopped, I was screwed. Every one I talked to on my way from Tolleson to Sun City said Isoli would execute Olivia and Micah at six a.m. at the prison execution block; death by firing squad with real bullets so they’d both feel all the pain.
But it was already five--pink rays of light glinted off the dark gray stone of the prison--and there was no activity near the execution point. No activity around the prison at all. I reached for the radio and flipped it on again, cringing at the burst of noise.
“Pima Freeway gate has been breached. I repeat, Pima Freeway gate has been breached.”
I turned it off again. With the rebels now inside the city (they took Tolleson a mere three hours after I fled it) the radio was more of a hindrance than a help. Every time I tried to glean information from the frantic messages Isoli’s men relayed back and forth I just opened up another opportunity for them to find my hiding place.
I sighed. Pima Freeway was only thirteen miles from the Sun City gate. If the rebels had that in their control, Isoli might not chance a public execution at all. I stood up, pulling my backpack onto my back.
Where is Olivia and how can I save her? I owed Micah this. He’d tried to save her and already gotten caught. Think, Eve, think. Where is Olivia?
Isoli would want to find out everything he could about the rebels. So they’re torturing her in some cell inside the prison? Maybe, but that took me back to square one: chancing a risky break in. But how many guards are left there with the city under attack? Not very many … but would Isoli risking losing his two highest priority prisoners by leaving them in an under-guarded prison? I doubted it.
Where could Isoli keep them safe?
Like a punch in the stomach, the picture of a dank, gray room hit me. The basement of the Capitol. He could guard his three top priorities in one place. Himself, Olivia, and Micah.
It was a stretch, and a long shot but I had to take the chance. It was going after this thread of hope or escaping through one of the rebel-held gates and leaving Phoenix behind forever. Even if I made it, I’d carry the guilt for the rest of my life.
I sprinted for Grand Ave, surprised when no one shouted for me to stop. Did that mean I was right about most of the guards being moved away from the prison to fight? The streets near the prison were deserted, unusual even for five in the morning. Still, the awful sounds of fighting found their way to me. How close were the rebels? Did I dare ask for help to free Robin Hood’s girl?
I tried not to slow as I pushed myself block after block, but my legs wobbled, my lungs burned, sweat dripped off my face.
You’ve got to get to Olivia. For Micah. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t at least try with everything inside of you.
Then, when I thought I couldn’t run another step, the Capitol rose up in front of me. I took a paralyzer handgun in my right hand and the paralyzer rifle in the other. If anything at least I looked like I knew what I was doing.
No one manned the gates, which sent stabs of worry through my already churning stomach. Had Isoli deserted the Captiol? I shot at the electronic keypad, missing three times before I hit it. Not a good sign. I ran up the sidewalk to the front door. After switching on the safety, I tucked the handgun into the waistband of my pants. I reached for the door handle, preparing myself for the familiar comfort that would deluge me when I opened the door.
I swung it open.
Utter silence greeted me in the main hall. I crept inside, moving to hug closer to the wall. Isoli’s office is left off this main hall. The gray door to the dungeon is further down, on the right. I walked slowly, waiting for an ambush.
I met the first guard where the entrance hall intersected with another main hallway. I fell back around the corner. A paralyzer bullet lodged itself into the wall opposite, buzzing with electricity.
Curse this stupid, soft carpet. A hundred guards could be barreling toward me and I wouldn’t know it. I looked around the corner again, this time with my handgun up. Two guards stood about twenty feet away. I shot, missing them both completely.
This is pointless. I ground my teeth and ducked back into the main hallway. With my handgun pointed up, I slid the backpack off and reached into it. My hand wrapped around a grenade. Risky. … It’ll probably bring down every guard in the place; but on the bright side, it might get me through that gray door.
I dug it out, yanked off the cap, and tossed it into the hallway.
I took the frantic guards’ advice too. I back pedaled, but not in time. An explosion rocked the building, throwing me backward. I landed hard on my back, the breath knocked out of me. Smoke and flames filled both hallways now. Great … cover. I rolled over, ignoring stabbing pains in my chest and sides, and armed myself with both my guns again. I ran ahead, rounding the corner and plunging into the smoke, holding my breath.
Shadowy figures emerged from where I guessed the gray door to the basement was. I shot toward them, noticing how few fell. They returned fire. A bullet grazed across my arm. I screamed before I could stop myself. More bullets whizzed my way. I dropped to the floor. A bullet found my other arm, but this time lodged inside. I dropped my rifle as the electric currents started pulsing through them. Biting back screams I scrambled over the floor, pushing open the first door I came to and slamming it behind me.
Isoli’s assistant’s office. I rushed across the room, diving under the heavy desk. Pulling my jerking arm in front of me, I located the bullet on the front of my upper forearm. I dug out a bottle of water from my bag, barely able to grip it. I dropped my handgun in front of me; twisted off the cap with my good hand. Water sloshed up into my face as my arm shivered uncontrollably. I threw the lid off to the side and switched the water bottle into my other hand. I doused the wound, unable to stop the yell that accompanied the bullets final, most brutal shock.
I leaned back against the desk, listening to the sound of my heavy, pained breathing. Shouting echoed up and down the hall. In the relative stillness of the moment I noticed the fire sprinklers on in the office. Was the hallway still full of smoke? Could I use it to get across to the grey door?
And how the heck am I going to get me and Olivia out of here if I get to her?
I tried to move the fingers of my left arm. Only my pinky responded. I tested my arm movement. Minimal control below the elbow, nothing above. I clenched my teeth when I could only get the backpack over one arm. Stupid bullets. At least I stopped it before it took out my whole side.
Here goes nothing. I crawled out from underneath the desk and made my way to the door. Cracking the door, I peered out into the hall. Smoke still hung in the air and steam rose off the floor where the fire sprinklers doused the fire. Two bulky forms stood in front of the door down the hall, the one I needed to get into.
I took a deep breath, aiming for the abdomen of the one of the right. Holding the breath, I pulled the trigger. A high pitched scream cut through the air. The figure slumped. I stared across the hall into familiar green eyes. Green eyes full of understanding and immediate forgiveness.
No. No! Not Olivia. NO!
A chuckle interrupted. The other figure by the door stepped forward. Three more followed out of the gloom behind them.
“I’m surprised to see you, Eve. Welcome home.”