With a great deal of noise and a surprising lack of excitement, we make it back into the sky and away from the dangers of Grand Island. I can’t believe we made it out without a single gun pointed at our heads, or at the very least, seeing some angered person who wanted to stop us from retrieving their escaped prisoner. It seems too simple. In my experience, when it seems too simple, there’s probably a terrible reason for it.
I decide to ignore my cynicism for now and use the time in flight to catch up with Eve and make sure she’s okay. First, I direct her to where Bruno hides his extra clothes. She picks out a pair of baggy basketball shorts and a white tank top. After she sits down next to me and rests her head on the headrest, Bruno puts his headphones on and starts bobbing his head rhythmically, causing me to believe he’s decided to give us a little privacy for the ride.
“Are you alright?” I ask her tentatively, still not entirely certain how she might be feeling toward me, seeing as I’m the primary reason she was locked in that prison in the first place.
“I’m fine. Nothing but a few cuts and bruises, you know?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but from what I can see, you’ve got more than a few cuts and bruises.”
“Yeah,” she says, trailing off quickly.
“What’d they do to you in there?”
“Nothing I haven’t been ready for since I joined the rebellion.”
“That bad, huh?”
“I’d really rather not talk about it.”
“Okay,” I reply softly. “Hey, so, I’ve got this spray you can borrow, if you’d like. It hurts like nothing I’ve ever felt before, but it’ll patch you up quick.”
“Thanks!” She takes the canister from me and eyes it up. “MATRIX-Heal?”
“Yeah, it works wonders. You remember how I got shot in Cheyenne?” I lift my shirt.
“Whoa,” she says, noticing my clear skin. I hadn’t realized until now how there isn’t even a scar where the bullet had grazed me. “Where’d you get this from?”
“I suppose we’ve got a little catching up to do,” I say slowly.
“You mean with this Bruno guy?”
“Yes, and no, I guess.” I shrug. “We’ve kind of managed to be enlisted by The Agora.”
“What you mean?” she tilts her head at me. “You mean we got hired for another run.”
“No,” I say abruptly. “Well, not exactly anyways. I guess The Agora’s a bit more than some big marketplace and they’re concerned about what the rebels are up to in Boston, so they want us to make sure to do what we were supposed to do in order to make sure whatever was supposed to happen happens so they can determine if they need to—“
“Wait, they want us to help them stop the rebels?” She places the canister down on the floor by her feet. She glares at the spray as I reply.
“I honestly have no clue what they want or why they want it. All I know is I have to make it to the drop off point in the next five days.”
“You said you’d help them?”
“It’s not like I wanted to,” I reply defensively. “But then they took The Geek and were threatening to—“
“They’ve got Billy?!” she screams and stands.
“Um, yeah. I guess. I’m pretty sure we already talked about this when you contacted me with the—“
“And you came to break me out of prison first? Why aren’t you doing everything you can to get him away from them?”
“I had kind of figured getting you out first would be—“
“Where are they holding him?” she cuts me off again. I had forgotten how much I hate this.
“I don’t know. They just nabbed him, you know, like they did with—“
“Bruno,” she says, storming to the front of the plane. “You work for these Agora people?”
“I suppose I do,” he says, taking off his headphones.
“Well then you had better tell me exactly where they are keeping Billy right now or so help me I will make you crash this plane before—“
“Eve!” I cut in. “He’s in the same boat we are. They took his daughter.”
“Oh my God,” she gasps. “I’m sorry.” She sits in the chair behind Bruno, her hands covering her mouth.
There’s a brief silence before Eve breaks it with another question. “Wait a minute. Is your daughter, Maya?”
“Yeah,” Bruno answers hesitantly.
“You’re Bruno?” she asks, which I think is pretty stupid.
“Yeah, of course he’s Bruno. Didn’t I already introduce you two?”
“You are, aren’t you?” she continues.
“What are you talking about?” I ask again.
“This is Bruno Tucker. He’s the man who almost singlehandedly won the war.”
“Ah, come on now.” Bruno blushes. “I wouldn’t go quite so far. Let’s say you two weren’t the first time the rebellion attempted to do something big.”
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Bruno was the runner they first sent on this mission, on your mission,” Eve answers. “Somewhere around six years ago now.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s easy, kid. You’re the new me.”
“The rebellion tried to do this before?” I ask. “Whatever this is.”
“Yep.” Eve scowls. “About six years ago they had everything they needed in place and sent Bruno on his way. And Bruno made it to the drop off, which was in Philadelphia at the time.”
“So, then why didn’t it work?” I ask.
“Don’t know, kid,” Bruno answers. “When I got to the drop off, nobody was there. Nothing was there. Except a whole load of SPs ready to cart me off to Devens. And that’s where I’ve been since.”
“There’s got to be more to it than that.” I frown.
“From what I’ve heard, which I’ll admit they’ve been rather quiet on the subject,” Eve begins, “there was one big mistake they made on the whole event. They hired someone who was too good at the job and they didn’t buy themselves enough time. So, not only was Bruno able to keep off the SP radar for the majority of the run, he did it in seven days.”
“Whoa,” I gasp. “Where did you start the run?”
“Lyman,” Bruno shouts back. “So, I didn’t run nearly as far as you did.”
“Don’t let him fool you, Cyrus. He’s good. Quite possibly the best runner there ever was.”
“Yeah,” Bruno says sadly.
“I see Nadie pretty often,” Eve continues. “Saw her right before I left to help Cyrus with this run.”
“How is she doing? Found someone new, I suppose.”
“I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty sure she’s tried dating a few times. But nothing’s stuck. She still talks about you a lot, but mostly she still talks about what happened to Maya.”
“If only I hadn’t been as stupid as to think I could do something with the rebellion and not have it affect my family.”
“Wait? What about Maya?” I ask. “What happened to her?”
“She was kidnapped, in retribution for Bruno’s involvement with the rebellion’s first big run. Or at least that’s what everyone thinks,” Eve answers.
“But I thought they took her as part of your deal to get out and help me.” I stare accusingly at our pilot.
“Not exactly,” Bruno says, turning his attention toward the horizon.
“What do you mean, not exactly,” I ask, my voice rising.
“They took her six years ago. It had nothing to do with you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I scream.
“Cyrus, calm down.” Eve places her hand on my shoulder. “I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. I can vouch for Bruno. He’s not going to do anything to hurt us. And it sounds like we both want the same thing: to get our loved ones out of The Agora’s grip.”
“Yeah?” I say, still feeling annoyed. “And how do you suppose we’re going to do that?”
“I thought you said all we needed to do was make it to the drop off to get them back,” Eve asks.
“That’s if you want to trust The Agora. I don’t. I think the only option we have is to take them down. Make a stand against them. Show them they can’t mess with us.”
“Cyrus, you better be careful. You’re starting to sound like you’re taking a side in the war.”
“All I care about is taking care of my loved ones. And they took my brother.”
Go to Chapter Ten