Monday, September 19, 2011

Chapter 35 - Micah

The SUV came to a stop just outside the East entrance. I pulled out the radio Isoli’s guards left in the vehicle and pressed the “talk” button.
“We’re here.” Just the second thing I’d said since leaving the extraction point and heading for Phoenix. The only other words were to inform the rebels that we were on our way in a government issue black SUV. Olivia still sat quietly, staring at her blood stained hands.
“Leave the vehicle and come to the door just north of the entrance.” The unfamiliar voice penetrated the silence.
I stepped outside and waited for the indicated door to swing open. The rebels had taken the city already. I had told whoever was on the radio to have Tanner meet me at the entrance. I assumed Darion would be there too.
The door opened. I walked slowly toward the entrance. Dust swirled every time my black leather shoes hit the hard ground. Hot wind blew through my torn up white shirt with red blotches dotting the surface. Olivia came up behind me and took my hand.
“You know it’s not your fault ...” She paused. I turned and looked into her eyes. Somehow through all the blood and the fighting and the death, they still radiated light. “Only the people who did this.” She motioned towards the city with her gaze, her eyes held back tears.  “Don’t take away her sacrifice.”
I tried to be angry because I didn’t know what Olivia meant. I couldn’t though. I just stared. I saw the concern on her face. And the hurt. She knew what I felt. She felt it too. I squeezed her hand and continued to the city.
“Micah?” Tanner trotted out the entrance and stopped in front of us. He wore a huge grin. “Thought you were gone. Good to have you back.” He stopped and turned awkwardly towards Olivia. “You too, we’re glad you’re safe too.” Olivia smiled softly, but I couldn’t. A worried looked crossed Tanner’s face. “Um ... our ride is just this way. We’re setting up shop at the Capitol building. Darion is working on some recovery strategies with Aloisio Braga.”
We all got inside the vehicle. Tanner drove. I got in the passenger side and Olivia got in the back. Tanner put the car in drive and started down the empty road. The street had an eerie feeling. No one was outside. No cars, no people, no one.
Tanner spoke as he turned a corner. “What’s wrong Micah?” The grin vanished, replaced with a more empty look. “Where’s Eve? What happened?”
I ignored his question. I didn’t want to discuss it yet. I didn’t want to retell it. “We need to get her to a medical center.” I motioned towards Olivia. “She has some cuts that need taken care of.”
“Micah!” Olivia scowled, but she still hugged her bleeding right shoulder. “You have a huge cut on your head that is still ble-”
“I’ll be right behind you.” I tried to give her a reassuring smile.
Tanner tried to fill the awkward silence. “We did it, buddy, can you believe it? Back in the days when we were meeting in old warehouses, spouting off an how we were going to bring down Isoli? Well, we did it.”
He waited for my response. I wanted to give him something. He was right. We worked for this for so long. Instead, I just sat there and watched the pride slip off his face.
He turned back to the road. “Don’t start thinking it’s all over, though. We got the Eastern Cities to worry about now. The West probably looks prime to them. We got a lot of work to do … but this sure feels good, doesn’t it?” He glanced at me again, then quickly turned away. “Doesn’t it …” he repeated quietly to himself.
The car finally stopped in an underground garage below the capitol. A medical team waited for us to arrive.
“Micah, you look awful, are you sure you don’t--”
“I’m fine. Where’s Darion?”
“Right,” Tanner seemed to remember Eve wasn’t there. “Third floor. He’s working on some recovery strategies. Follow me.” We got out of the car and the medical team took Olivia in a little golf cart to the neighboring medical facilities. I followed Tanner to the elevator a few feet from where we parked.
The ride to the third floor passed in silence. We should’ve talked about what to do next. We needed to unite the west. The city-states of the east were more united. They were power hungry. The west’s disunity could be our undoing. The east would have no problem subduing the west. But all those things had to wait.
The elevator dinged. We exited and walked to the conference room. I tried to think of what I’d say to Darion. How could I break the news? I knew how he felt about Eve. The news would crush him.
Tanner opened the door. Voices talked animatedly inside. I stepped through the opened door. Everyone fell silent. I stared at the carpet, afraid to look up. Everything I thought I’d say suddenly felt inadequate. Of course they were. I looked up and locked eyes with Darion who eyed me knowingly. His face mirrored mine from a few days ago. By now his heart had sunk to his stomach, his mouth dry. I hadn’t told him yet but he knew.
“I’m sorry man. She’s gone. She came to save me. She was stabbed trying to save Olivia.” Now my mouth went dry again. I realized how the story sounded. Of course I knew what she’d done. I’d never forget how she saved Olivia. But how could Darion understand?
“Can I see her ...?” Darion swallowed hard. Six other sets of eyes stared at their own shirts. “Can I see her body before ...” He couldn’t finish his sentence.
“We don’t have it.” I told him everything that happened, how Olivia tried to save her, how our father came, how he took her, how he said he was the only one who could save her. I told him everything about who my father was now. Almost everything. The weight of the note I hadn’t read yet burned in my pocket.
He stared at the floor while I spoke. Finally, when silence lay heavily in the room, he looked up and met my eyes. “He could save her, right?”
I clenched my teeth. “She’s dead. We watched her die.”
The lines around Darion’s eyes tightened. “Everyone says your father was brilliant. If anyone could, he could save her, right?”
I wasn’t about to admit that the man who carried Eve off was really my father, let alone give a traitor like him credit for something I couldn’t believe in. I stared at Darion.
He slammed his hand onto the table. “IF ANYONE COULD, HE COULD SAVE HER, RIGHT?” he shouted.
“She’s dead.” I barely whispered it. If I said it louder, it might be true.
Darion wrapped his fingers around the collar of my shirt, yanking me toward him. He spoke in an undertone, a total contrast to the shouts. “If there’s any chance she might be alive, I’m going to find her.” He released me and stalked out the door.
I knew where he was going. I knew exactly what he thought he was going to do. I knew he’d never find my sister -- not in the condition he wanted to find her. I watched her die. I saw the blood stop pouring from her stomach. I could still see Olivia hunched over Eve’s limp body, holding her own shirt, soaked in deep red blood. Eve was gone. But just the thought of Olivia, alive, waiting for me, seemed to buoy my spirit. I couldn’t take that thought, that hope from Darion.
So I didn’t stop him.
I pulled out the yellow slip of paper started to read. The intense voices of rebel commanders all around me faded.
I’ve got a lot to ask forgiveness for, but I guess I’d rather do that in person, if you ever let me someday. But it might help if you understood what happened.
You probably know by now that Isoli always intended to claw his way to the top. He saw my work as his key. I refused him for several years. If you agree with nothing else I’ve done over the years, you can at least be proud of that. Isoli took matters into his own hands, as you know, and took your mother and I. They threatened our lives but Liz refused to break. She wouldn’t let me either. They separated us but her memory kept me strong. The technology I held, in the wrong hands would have been devastating. Then they brought me her body, bruised, covered in blood and barely breathing. I finally broke. I thought I could save her. But it was too late.
After some time I started to fear that Isoli would go after you and Eve. He needed more insurance to make sure I cooperated. I led him to believe that your genes were perfect, that you were crucial to my technology. That’s not entirely true, but I hoped it would keep you safe. I guess it worked.
Now you know why I worked for Isoli. I don’t work for him willingly and so I still hold the most vital technology a secret. I have many powerful friends in Philadelphia. They want to take control of all the western cities. They have been making sure the rebels succeed. Once Isoli is dead and Phoenix is taken, we’ll move forward with our plan. I can’t tell you very much in this letter. I hope you’ll come to Philadelphia so I can tell you myself.  In the end I just want to make the world a safer place. People make too many mistakes. My new technology could be the cure to the human race.

“Micah?” The eager voices suddenly fell back into clarity. “What do you think?”
“Umm, I’m sorry, I’m not entirely...” I tried to bring my mind into the conversation but I just couldn’t. “I didn’t catch that last part could you--”
“Right,” Dr. Braga’s voice now betrayed concern, “I should have given you time.” He turned to the other five rebel commanders and dismissed them. “We’ll pick up in a few hours.”
Dr. Braga left the room. Tanner stayed behind and put his hand on my shoulder. I stared aimlessly at the oak table sitting in front of me, still trying to make sense of the note. How could he believe that what he was doing was right? What did he mean the “cure to the human race?"  Was my father crazy? A mad scientist? Regardless, well-meaning scientists mixed with power hungry politicians meant trouble. Someone had to help him.
Tanner sat in the chair next to me, “They want you to lead Phoenix. They think the Eastern Cities will attack within the year. We have to unify the other rebel cities to have any hope of stopping them.”
“It’s too late. They’re ready now. They’ve been waiting for this.” I got up and walked to the door. “I can’t lead Phoenix, Tanner. You have to.”
“What do you mean they’ve been waiting? What are you talking about? What do you mean you can’t lead Phoenix?” Tanner jumped and followed me to the door.
“I mean they’ve been helping the rebels. They wanted this to happen so they would have an excuse to attack.” I handed Tanner the yellow note. “I can’t stay here. You have to take my spot.”
“But--” Tanner was staring at the note, trying to follow me down the hall.
I stopped, turned around and hugged him all in one motion. He didn’t even have time to get his arms out. “I’ve always worked better by myself. You’re the leader Tanner. I’ll stay in contact.”
I left and Tanner stayed still, reading the letter.
I had made my decision. I had to go to Philadelphia.
My nerves bit at my insides, making them tense. I walked slowly outside towards the medical building. During the five minute walk I tried to think of how I would tell Olivia, how I would assure her that I would be safe, that I would be back in no time. I had my speech memorized by the time I opened the door to the building. Olivia waited just inside. She already wore a sling on her shoulder. Her green eyes lit up when she saw me. I smiled as she ran towards me. Her one good arm flung itself around my shoulders; her head buried in my neck. I put my arms around her back and pulled her in close. For a long time I didn’t let go, I didn’t move. Just like every other time, I knew I would have to let go. I suddenly felt guilty.
I moved her hair away from her ear and whispered my fate, “I have to go to Philadelphia.”
Her answer didn’t surprise me, in fact I’d hoped for it all along. Her voice was soft like when she first helped me. It made me smile, “I can’t leave you again. I’m coming with.”

1 comment:

  1. Aaaalriiiight, Olivia! That's exactly what I'd do. Great chapter!