You don't have permission to post in this thread.
Rylan was still far too disoriented to make sense of what happened, but he knew it had to have been bad. He must have been in really rough shape if the mere sight of him was making his father tear up! Rylan wrapped the fingers of his good hand around the comforting cold metal of his father’s , wanting to show he still had some fight left so Elliot didn’t have to worry so much about him.
[#005500 “D-don’t r-rememmm-ber w-what happened… A-anyone else h-hurt?”] Rylan asked, proving his bloodline. Only an Evenwood would be lying on their deathbed worrying about everyone else! As the doors opened, Rylan shifted slightly to see his mother and sister step in. It was a relief seeing them in one piece, reassuring Rylan that at least what happened to him didn’t happen to his little sister. But he could see the fury and concern flooding Alex’s eyes and he was anxious to ease her fears at least a little. Alex may have been the strong one, but that didn’t mean Ry didn’t do his best to protect his baby sister whenever he could.
[#005500 “D-don’ w-worry Alex… m’fine…s’just a s-scratch.”] He slurred, giving his sister a weary smirk. But Rylan’s attempt at humour faded when he got a closer look at just how upset his sister and parents were. What scared Rylan more was that both his dad and sister were pleading with him to stay strong, as if they’d already come close to losing him. How bad was he hurt? Rylan tried and failed to open his other eye, not understanding why half his vision was black. Since his good hand was still clutched in his father’s metal limb, he tried to raise his right arm to see what could be obscuring his vision. The arm hurt like hell and felt strangely heavy as he raised it an inch or two off the table, finally bringing it into his line of sight.
Rylan froze. H expected to see his arm injured, maybe casted, or bandaged, with his metal brace removed to give the doctors access to the injury. What he didn’t expect to see was his arm completely encased… no, not encased, [i replaced] with metal! Rylan’s breathing hitched and his eye widened as he stared at what used to be his arm. The inventor side of his mind marvelled at the contraption, recognizing the precision and expertise that could only have been his father’s work – but the childish side of his mind choked at the reality that his old brace was now a part of him, and a part of him was now… gone.
[+red “Rylan? I know this is a lot, but… Ry, you were in a very bad car accident. The crash did a lot of damage to your heart. The windshield shattered over your face, cutting around your eye…”] Hayden started to explain, knowing her factual son would be desperate for the information. She could see the spark of familiarity cross his eye as he recalled the driving lesson, the car, the initial crash. She gently brushed his messy hair away from the bandages over his eye, knowing he’d be able to draw the conclusion that his arm wasn’t the only thing he lost.
[+red “The car caught fire and melted your brace. It was impossible to remove it so…”] Hayden trailed off, turning to her husband. Hayden had o doubt that Elliot had reconstructed the arm to the best of his abilities. Her husband was a genius, especially when it came to helping the family. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his son.
[#005500 “A-aunt T-tess always s-said I looked j-jus like y-you d-dad… I g-guess now s-she’s right…heh…”] Rylan whispered, trying his very best to put some humour in his tone, but even his little chuckle at the end sounded more like a sob. It wasn’t easy for a teenager to come to grips with the reality that he was now missing an arm and an eye.
Lynn left the family to comfort one another as long as she dared before interruption once again. She had lost more Brats in hospitals like this than she had outside of them, and had learned her lesson the hard way. They were just too vulnerable here. Their enemies could strike again, knowing that there’s less security in the hospital than at one of the Brats well fortified safe houses.
[#ff00ff “Elliot? I’ve got an unmarked van waiting outside. We can load Rylan’s stretcher into the back and get you guys someplace safe. Nic’s moved the family to his out-of-town safe house. Lily, Jack, Logan, and Lisa will be arriving shortly. It’ll be a lot safer for Rylan to recover there. I’ll bring any medical equipment we need.”] Lynn said, eager to get the family moving on to someplace safer.
From the moment they got the call about Rylan, Martyn had been convinced that the two crimes were connected, but they didn’t have any proof of that until now. Lisa felt a stone settle in her stomach when she thought about how cruel these bastards were. Not only to kidnap, torture, and nearly rape a young teenager, but to nearly kill another just to torment their victims with the guilt! Sadly, Lisa didn’t have the reassurance Logan was looking for.
[+green “Rylan survived the car accident, but he was in very bad shape. He’s in the best of hands right now, Logan. Both Lynn and Elliot are with him now doing everything they can to pull him through, but no matter what happens to Rylan, this was not your fault Logan. They ordered the attack, not you. And the fact that they had a driver already following Rylan meant they would have targeting him with or without your resistance.”] Lisa said, wiping a bit of blood from Logan’s brow so it wouldn’t drip down into his eye.
[+green “If Rylan makes it though surgery they’ll be bringing him to Nic and Starla’s safe house. I’ll take you there now and once you’re patched up, you’ll be able to see Rylan for yourself.”] Lisa promised.
[+green “Lily’s already acting irrationally, Martyn. The fact that she was arrested and didn’t bother calling her lawyers, proves she’s letting this [i disagreement] get in the way of her decisions. Don’t worry about me, I can handle the Sanders. Besides, they’ll be too busy with Logan to pay much attention to me. I’ll do what I can to get them out of trouble, then I’ll come back and help you find Jesse. Stay safe Martyn.”] Lisa said, regretfully leaving her partner, brother-in-law, and daughter behind to an unknown fate.
Lisa helped get Logan into the car and drove off, trusting Martyn and Tigan with finding her daughter. She could see the turmoil on Logan’s features, but there wasn’t much she could say to ease his mind until either Jesse was found or he was back with his parents. Since one of those was much easier to attain than the other, Lisa wasted no time in getting Logan to Nic’s safe house. As expected, Nic was waiting on the driveway as they pulled up, ready to help support the injured Logan inside where he could be treated.
[b “Are you alright, Logan? Looks like those bastards gave you a rough time. Just try to stay awake for me, ok? You’re mom and Jack are on their way. Lily’s going to fix you up, you just gotta stay strong until she gets here, ok?”] Nic advised in a soothing tone. He helped the boy inside and let him rest on a soft cot in what appeared to be a well-stocked medical room.
With Lily speaking her mind, once against pointing out how Jack was in the wrong, the thief fell silent. There was no point in arguing any further as his points only seemed to make things worse. Jack was scared. He had his ups and downs with Lily in the past, but never anything this serious. She said she wanted him to stay with her, but how could that be true when every conversation they have leads to more fighting? Jack thought maybe things would be easier once they found Logan and could go back to the way things were, but now as the reality of seeing his step son was settling in, Jack’s fears were renewed. The whole reason Logan got into this trouble in the first place was because he ran away from Jack! What if Jack’s presence during Logan’s recovery only makes things worse? After all, Lily used to love him and Jack managed to screw that up, how much worse could it get with Logan who’s hated him since he slipped back into alcoholism two year ago?
Jack gave a grateful nod to Starla before climbing into the car with Lily. He stayed quiet for most of the drive, afraid to say anything for fear of starting another fight. When they arrived, Jack held the door open for Lily as he always did, but it lacked the typical peck on the cheek he usually made with the gesture. Jack could see Nic waiting by the door, clearly relieved to see his wife had made it back safe and sound with their passengers.
[b “Lily, Jack, your son is inside. I’ve gathered some medical supplies for you Lily. We’ve done the basics, but I know you’ll want to treat Logan yourself. Jack, if you even try to bolt without at least checking on that boy, I swear I’ll cuff you to the table.”] Nic said, seeing that uncertain gleam in Jack’s eyes that looked painfully familiar to the older man. But he was glad to see Jack didn’t try to push his luck. He followed Lily inside, anxiety instantly melting away to concern when he saw the rough condition his son was in.
[#ff6622 “Logan…”] Jack crossed the room in three strides, letting his paternal instincts guide him. For a brief moment, he forgot about the yelling, the fights, the blame, the guilt, and the tension between them, just wanting to comfort his boy. He plaed a solid, comforting hand on the back of Logan’s neck, touching his forehead against the teen’s in an affectionate fatherly gesture, being overtly cautious of the boy’s facial cuts to avoid causing him anymore pain. He paused for a moment and took in a shaky breath, revelling in the fact that his son was alive and safe, before the circumstances of their last meeting brought Jack back to reality. He backed off, giving Logan some space and allowing Lily to be with her son, but Jack hovered close by, at least until he gathered enough courage to give Logan permission to cast him aside.
[#ff6622 “Logan, I’m so sorry. Look, I… I understand if you just want to be with your mom right now. I just want to keep you safe, but… I can do that from the other side of that door if you don’t want me in here. I just… I needed to see for myself that you were alive.”] Jack said, letting Logan make the call. He gave Lily a reassuring look to prove he wouldn’t run off and do something reckless. Until he knew Jack was treated and would be ok, he wouldn’t dare move any further than that doorway, but he also wasn’t going to force himself on a kid who didn’t want him around.
By the time Larry was brought out to the van, Caleb was looking rough. His eye was swollen, his nose was bloody, and his bottom lip was split, with bruising over his jaw and neck from the beating. He tried to keep that defiance in his eyes, unable to curse out loud but somehow conveying the same sentiment in his glares. But when the order was given to punish Caleb for Larry’s acting out, his composure faltered. Caleb struggled as they brought his hand out in front of him and flattened it against the floor of the van. Caleb had already lost one finger on this hand so he knew exactly what sort of agony awaited him as they pressed that blade to one of his remaining fingers. All he could do was meet Larry’s eyes with a forgiving glance before his face contorted in a silent scream. Blood splattered across the van, a few drops even spraying at Larry as the fingered was slowly, torturously sawed off Caleb’s hand.
[i “What do ya think boss? Think the kid’s learned his lesson? Or should we take another?”] The man asked with a sick grin on his fae as he placed the blade against Caleb’s thumb.
[#776677 “Nah, take too many fingers and the freak won’t be able to type at all. He still might be some use to us.”] With that command, the butcher released the hacker and Caleb pulled his injured hand towards his chest to shield it from any further harm. Tears were streaked down his face from the pain, but Caleb managed to reclaim his piercing glare.
[#776677 “I got a call from our connections underground. Turns out they managed to break through the wall, expanding the Underground and letting loose that toxic river. But then some bratty kids got it in their heads to rebel. Now our slaves are gone and half our guards are dead! I say, we need a backup plan. Some way to keep the scum in line. That’s where these two come in.”] The man grabbed Larry’s hair and yanked his head back sharply to stare him in the eyes.
[#776677 “I want you and your 6-fingered friend over there to create a fall-back system. Some way to destroy the whole Underground with the flick of a switch. And you’re both going to help me with this, because the minute one of you starts slacking off, I’ll carve a piece out of the other one. So what do you say, Kid? You gonna be a good little nerd and cooperate? Or do I have to start removing your friend’s toes?”]
As the threats were being exchanged, the doors of the van closed, leaving a few guards with the hackers to make their deal, while another got behind the wheel and started driving to a secondary location. They had the setup already at the office of some rich-prick crazy enough to und this little operation. They would force the hackers to build the system that would one day threaten to wipe out the entire city! And Caleb saw no way around it. He couldn’t refuse to help without getting Larry hurt, but how could he build a weapon like that for this monsters? He’d just have to play along for now until the other Brats could find them… maybe build some sort of safeguard to prevent the wrong people from having access to that much power? One thing was certain, Caleb had never been so relieved that he and Larry were as synched as they were. This was going to be tough enough without being unable to communicate.
Bryn and Baxter hadn’t always seen eye to eye in the past, but Bryn respected the other teen enough to trust his call. She would usually either concede or simply agree to disagree on matters that weren’t important enough to lose an ally over. But this… Bryn felt her own eyes narrow even further as Baxter shielded the Silvertongue from her shot, clearly taking the side of the treacherous liar over his own gang mate!
[#005500 “Yeah, we take the risks we have to take! Notice how [i I] was shot, [i you] were burned, and the Privileged Princess over there walked away without a scratch! You can’t trust her Baxter, we never should have…. Ah, fucker!”] Bryn hissed as Baxter burend the bullet wound closed. She only let him have a few seconds before shoving his hand away and inspecting the bubbled and deformed skin.
[#005500 “Coward? Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve had your back for every damn fight you’ve gotten into down here! I can’t count the number of times your antics have nearly got me killed and I haven’t backed down once! But this? You’re gonna run off with a Street Brat and forget about the reason we were here in the first place? No. You’re on your own Bax.”] Bryn hissed, finally lowering her arrow and slinging her bow over her shoulder. Bryn reached out, curling her hand in Baxter’s shirt to pull him in closer, enough to see the distrust in her eyes.
[#005500 “I’m going to bring Ste’s siblings back to camp to reunite that family like we were [i supposed] to. Have fun chasing after a family that never even wanted you!”] Bryn hissed before shoving Baxter away. She turned her back on the pair and guided the weary looking siblings back towards camp.
Jesse narrowed her eyes, not liking the scheming look in Bryn’s eyes as she walked away, but not being how she could have done anything. Unfortunately, with Baxter in between shielding her from the arrow, he also obstructed her vision, preventing her from noticing Bryn’s sleight of hand as she stole Dylan’s phone from her friend’s pocket.
Once they were out of ear short, Bryn flipped open the phone and made a call she might later regret.
[#005500 “Yeah, is this Dylan? I got some information for you, so long as you swear not to go sniffin’ around any more orphanages. You leave the poor kids along and focus on those Privileged Brats and their rick daddy’s ransom money!”] Bryn said, not just out for revenge, she was also looking out for the best interests of her gang and kids just like them who’ve already suffered enough.
[#005500 “I heard you were looking for Jesse Mason? Well, she’s on her way back to the surface now, looking to find her friend Logan. She’ll be climbing up the entrance by the old well, not far from that hideout you had. And she won’t be alone. She’s got Lily Sander’s youngest son with her. Do what you want with the lying bitch, just leave the rest of us alone.”]
During the hours that had passed, Elliot had become so focused on the now mechanical arm he was working on that he almost forgot he was in an operating theatre! What was once a metal brace was now a complete transformation. Rylan’s arm below the elbow was now completely mechanical and attached to the joint. There was still a lot of work and just like Elliot had experienced in the past with his own attachments, there was no guarantee it would work until Rylan found the strength to attempt to move it. All Elliot could do was hope he had done enough. This was his son. He’d rebuild his whole damn body if it meant keeping him alive! Though it was only as Lynn snapped back his attention, that his focused shifted. The sound of beeping machines returned to his ears, with the rush of the OR, and the sound of his son starting to wake...
[+red “It’s done... is he... he’s going to be ok?”] Elliot asked, leaning back from his work and giving it one final inspection before standing up and heading over to his sons side. It was at this point that Elliot felt his steady hands start to shake, and his chest constricted seeing his sons condition. No... this wasn’t his fear taking hold. It was the realisation of just how close he was to losing his little boy. He always wanted his son to live a healthy life and the last eight years had give him hope - of course a Street Brat leader would be foolish to think it would be forever, but this? He remembered when he first lost his hand, then his leg, then his eye... each one knocked his confidence but it happened over years! Rylan had to endure this all at once! Elliot had come to terms with his creations, becoming proud of how he had literally rebuilt himself but what he taught his son, it wasn’t for that purpose. It never should have been...
Sitting down next to Rylan, Elliot purposely wrapped his own metal hand in Rylan’s unharmed hand. He wanted his son to know by touch alone that his father was sat next to him; even if it meant that instead of the warm caring touch of a fathers hand, it was the metallic chill of his fathers invention. Elliot knew it would instantly let Rylan know that Elliot was sat next to him. As he started to wake, Elliot gently brushed his sons hair away from his face and as he did, he couldn’t help but feel a tear falling from his eye. He was alive. He survived!
[+red “I’m here... take it easy. I’m right here.”] Elliot whispered softly, the natural Evenwood instincts kicking in.
[+red “You’re just as stubborn as my mother and father. Don’t focus on what happened right now Rylan, you have to just focus on you. There’s... there’s been some changes... but we’ll deal with that together. Just use that Evenwood name of yours to stay strong for me.”] Elliot encouraged and as Lynn explained their situation, he simply gave a thankful look. There were no words he could exchange to thank Lynn but he was sure he also didn’t have to say it. Lynn had been the Street Brat’s medic before he was even born and once again she had performed one of her many miracles.
Outside Alex hadn’t sat down since the time she arrived. The moment Hayden picked her up, she had sat silently in the back of the car with her fists clenched. Just like Rylan had grown to be an inventor like his father, Alex had grown to be a fighter like her mother! If she wasn’t training in school between lessons, she was at home training. Over the years she had started to attend competitions and was on her way to really making a name for herself in the city, even for her young age! Of course she had a blood line of talented fighters and it certainly hadn’t been lost. With that however came the fiery attitude, the overly-protective nature and with the Evenwood blood line as well; an intensely strong bond with family. So the moment Alex heard what had happened to her brother, there was a fire in her eyes that hadn’t calmed since she waited outside the OR.
Alex had been pacing up and down with her arms crossed tightly around her chest and her knuckles pale white from how long they had been clenched. When Lynn came out, her eyes shot straight towards the door.
[+purple “Bad condition but alive? He’s alive?”] Alex asked quickly, hardly registering her brothers condition before she pushed past the doctor and straight to her brother! She really should have listened. As soon as she saw how bad her brothers condition was, her hands ran through her hair and she clenched her teeth. What sick fuck would do this to her brother!?
[+purple “Who did it?”]
[+red “Not right now Alex...”]
[+purple “Someone’s hurt my big brother!”]
[+red “Alex! I know... I’m angry too, but he needs you to keep him safe right now.”] Elliot interjected, knowing his daughter needed her protective nature tapping into to find some rationale. Taking a deep breath, Alex came to her brothers side and found herself staring at his metal arm.
[+purple “I’m here Ry... it’s Alex. I swear once I find out who done this, they’ll wish they never touched you. You’ve got to pull through. Promise me Ry.”]
[+brown “I-I don’t...don’t mind if she... if she doesn’t forgive me. I just want her...safe... she was meant to be found first... I didn’t do it to kill her... I promised I wouldn’t leave her but...I didn’t have a choice... I didn’t know what else to do...”] Logan explained, his breaths becoming laboured as time was passing. When he was sat in the car he was finding it harder to stay conscious and as Lisa passed the the strip of cloth his shaky hand barely had the strength to apply the pressure to his face! Still, anything was better than nothing and every bit of medical attention that could even buy seconds was valuable. Especially within the Street Brats.
[+brown “R-Rylan... is... is he alive? T-They said I...I got him...killed...”] Logan also asked, telling Lisa more of the reasons why he was feeling the pain and guilt that was weighing him down. He wanted to believe what Lisa was saying but how could he not accept the consequences of what he had done!? Jesse still wasn’t found, his parents were at risk, Rylan was potentially dead and if not, fighting for his life. Lisa and Martyn had to put themselves at risk, they were now having to plan to run away. This was all because of him! As he was at there, his eyes started to glaze over and he slumped back on the chair. He wasn’t dead, yet. However exhaustion was taking over and it wouldn’t be long until he was dangerously close to needing urgent medical attention.
[+green “Lily got herself arrested? Lisa, just play it careful. Those Sanders run on emotions and if Lily and Jack are already against us after what happened with the call, we don’t want anyone acting irrationally. We’ve already had enough risks because of that.”] Martyn warned as he grabbed a cloth from his pocket and tried to stop the blood flowing from his nose. He hated that he and Lisa had to keep separating. Whilst he trusted that they would work on their own, they were a hell of a better team when they were together! Beside’s, Martyn still had his own hidden doubts. Despite his bond with Jesse, he was always terrified he wasn’t the father she needed. It was a deep fear, one he knew his wife knew about, and it was easier when Lisa was around to manage. He loved his daughter, there was no doubt about that but with recent revelations - those doubts were creeping back up.
[+green “I’ll search the local area, see if I can find clues. If I can’t, I’ll call you straight away.”] He assured, watching as Lisa pulled herself away and the full force of the storm started. He had to find Jesse as soon as he could but just as he was about to step away he saw Tigan running from the building and before he could react, he felt Tigan’s hands grip his shirt.
[#00BFFF “They’re killing Larry and Caleb! I couldn’t do it! I couldn’t stop him! I should have killed him but... they...”]
[+green “Pyke? Tigan, focus.”] Martyn told him strictly, seeing the panic in his brothers eyes.
Inside the building just moments ago, Tigan had listened to Pyke’s threats and was ready to rip the guy apart! However Pyke had managed to trigger one part of Tigan that had haunted him for years... the fact that Tigan’s actions could get someone hurt. He never forgive himself for what happened in the Underground, or what he did in prison, to Kira, to all the people he hurt... in a way, just as much as Jack needed a beating, Tigan was glad when Jack did come around! He felt he still deserved those kicks and punches and there were times he wouldn’t fight back as hard as Jack, just so he could suffer for everting he had done. Tigan would fight for anything and anyone, but with the threat against the hackers Pyke had managed to tap into one of Tigan’s biggest triggers. He couldn’t fight if it meant it would hurt those he cared about. Also, Pyke had a side threat against Kira!
So instead of fighting Pyke, Tigan let the bastard run away but now it was a race against the clock!
[+green “You want to find them, don’t you?”] Martyn asked, seeing the turmoil in his little brothers eyes.
[#00BFFF “I can’t let them die...”]
[+green “I have to stay and find Jesse. Go. Contact family Tigan. Reach out to Hayden as soon as you can. Don’t do this alone.”] Martyn told his brother strictly, seeing the guilt grow in Tigan’s eyes. Tigan didn’t want to leave Martyn incase anything else happened, but he couldn’t stay around and let the hackers suffer. So with his brothers instructions, Tigan ran back towards the city whilst Martyn turned to head towards the woodland area in search of his daughter.
There wasn’t a day that went back where Larry wasn’t in his office. Even when the Street Brat’s had family gatherings, Larry would often find himself sneaking away early to get back to his desk or at the very least, bringing a device with him so he had remote access! Caleb and Larry had a special partnership - one in which they didn’t have to physically see each other to work well, and one in which a lot of the work they did went unnoticed by most of the Brat’s! Every day Larry worked with Caleb on checking over the individual security of the Brat’s, creating future security codes, and hacking out plans to try and protect them from any potential threats. Larry kept tabs on gangs they had come across previously, and prison records, seeing what enemies would be coming out and what their next move was. Of course that didn’t stop Larry from having his own fun from time-to-time. With a set up like this, how could he resist taking the occasional break and gaming for hours at a time!
Right now, Larry was trying to crack down on protecting Lily and Jack’s route home with Starla. He was so intent on his own work that as Caleb’s pop up came on one of the screens, he didn’t bother to turn to look straight away. He and Caleb often worked on a system that if one messaged, they didn’t have to reply straight away. If it was anything urgent the security system would alert them. In this case, it was their own protection that would let them down.
Larry was just about to send Starla a secure route, when he heard the shouting happening down the corridor. Strange... they weren’t expecting visitors. Larry turned to send a message to Caleb, only to see the warning message he had missed far too late and to see that Caleb was now ‘Offline’. Before he could react, his own office door burst open with two attackers pointing guns straight towards the trainee hacker!
[+grey “We have your little friend! If you want him to die then go ahead and struggle...”] The first attacker yelled, which sent Larry’s arms straight up in surrender. He wasn’t going to risk any harm to Caleb!
[#CD853F “Alright man, calm down, I’m not going to resist dude. Just take it easy...”] Larry told them calmly, backing off to his computer as the attackers approached. He was never a fighter and he certainly didn’t carry his older brothers bravery, but he wasn’t a complete coward. Knowing he had one chance, Larry spun around and pressed a red button on one of his keyboards which would send a SOS message to one of the Street Brat’s. It was completely random, based on code so if there was an attack no one would be able to identify who it was sent too! It also forced shut all the systems down, protecting any projects that Larry and Caleb had worked on from anyone who wished to obtain it!
Unfortunately for Larry it was the final straw for the attacks! Both sprinted forward, grabbing Larry and slamming him down on his computer desk just like they did to Caleb! His set-up crashed from either side and before Larry could beg them to stop they had one of the computer wires wrapped around his neck.
[+grey “We fucking warned you! Boss, the geek acted out! I think Caleb should have one finger less!”] The attacker called down the radio as the other wrapped cable ties on Larry’s wrists, pinning his hands behind his back. They then dragged Larry out of the office by the wire on his neck, pulling him away from the safety of the office and finally leaving the Brat’s without their secret weapons...
[+orange “How am I supposed to believe I am a good wife when the two people I love don’t talk to me when something is wrong or run away! What am I doing wrong Jack? You tell me all the time you don’t mean half the things you do, so don’t be a hypocrite!”] Lily spat out of a burst of anger and frustration but once again the moment she said it she felt that wave of guilt. Why did she keep losing her cool in front of him!? Just as Jack lost the fight in his voice, the spirit in Lily’s eyes started to fade just as quickly as it did back in the house. More so than ever she was wishing she could turn back the clock just by mere seconds to change what she said, but she was proving to Jack he was right. Her words did have consequences and it was destroying their relationship. The hard part for Lily was that she just didn’t have the strength in her to stop herself. So as Jack mentioned focusing on Logan, she simply nodded and followed his instructions.
Reaching the end of the vent, Lily could already hear the rumbling of an engine outside of the building. It was the distinctive sound of Starla’s car and as Lily climbed out, the car fanatic was waiting with that nurturing look in her eyes that she always carried. Starla was always the optimist in the family, but she was also incredibly good at seeing when other family members were struggling. So as Lily and and Jack appeared she could instantly feel the tension between the two.
[+pink “Lily, Jack! Thank God you are both ok. We have Logan. Lisa is bringing him to a location me and Nic planned as a safe route. He’s gone through a lot, so he is going to need you both. I’ll explain on the way.”] Starla said softly, trying not to put too much concern but she needed a reason for the pair to stay together. They could sort the rest out at the safe space.
[+orange “We’re so sorry to drag you into...”]
[+pink “No Lily, you didn’t drag any of us into anything. I’m sure if it was reverse, you and Jack would be there for us. It won’t take long. We’ll be with him within the hour. Come on...”] Starla opened the rear door for them both to climb into, quickly sending her husband a message that she had collected the two before climbing in. They didn’t have much time before the cops came looking, which was exactly more than enough time for Starla to get them out of the city! Anyone else might have struggled with the small time window, but with Starla’s skill they would be gone without a trace! It would also give the family enough time to rest, see their son, and plan what was going to happen next...
[i “Dr. Williams! The boy, he’s waking up! We can’t give him more anesthetic, but… if he wakes up now the pain and shock will kill him!”]
[#ff00ff “Dammit… alright, everybody get out! Clear the room! Elliot, you stay with me. Please tell me that arm is done?”] Lynn asked, clearing space so she could quickly close. The heart transplant had been a success and she was just stitching he boy’s chest when she too felt him stir. Damn Street Brats and their fucking resilience! Can’t even stay down long enough for a freaking organ transplant!
[#ff00ff “Rylan’s strong, Elliot. He can beat the pain, but he’s going to need support. Here, come up by his head so he can see you.”] Lynn said, wrapping a bandage around Rylan’s eye so the bloody sight wouldn’t make this harder for the father.
[#ff00ff “Rylan? Sweetie? It’s Lynn. Can you open your eyes for me? That’s it, Rylan, just try to stay calm, alright? I know it hurts Honey, but you’re going to be just fine. Your dad is right here, and your mom and sister are just outside that door. I’ll bring them in when you’re ready.”] Lynn said, gently coaxing the boy to full consciousness. Rylan’s one good eye fluttered as he struggled to wake up. He shifted on the operating table, trying to move his limbs, but they were sore and uncooperative. He couldn’t even feel his right arm any lower that his elbow, but up until there felt like it was on fire! Hi head hurt, his face felt like it was being stung by a hundred needles, and his chest… he hadn’t felt like this since he was buried in that cave in 8 years ago! Rylan was struggling to remember what happened, but all he could recall was the sound of crunching metal, the unbearable heat, and then everything faded to black!
[#550055 “D-dad?”] The young teen whined, trying to get his eye to focus and make sense of the blurred shapes around him. For some reason his other eye didn’t want to open and Rylan couldn’t figure out why.
[#550055 “W-wha..? W-what h-hap… happened?”]
[#ff00ff “Elliot, he’s stable. But you have to keep him calm. That boy is in a lot of pain and once he finds out what happened to him, he’ll be devastated. Just keep him fighting. I need to speak to the other doctors about getting him prepped for travel. We don’t have a good track record about hospital security. If someone is still trying to hurt Rylan, it’s not safe for him here.”] Lynn warned the father before leaving Elliot and Rylan alone for a few moments. She stepped out of the room to find Hayden and Alex eagerly awaiting news.
[#ff00ff “Rylan is in very bad condition, but assuming he can fight through the pain and the shock, he’ll survive this. Most people wouldn’t, but your son… he’s a Street Brat, Hayden. Alex, you and your mom can go in and see him, but I’ll warn you, it’s not a pretty sight. Rylan needed a heart transplant, his left eye was damaged beyond repair and needed to be removed, and his right arm was fused with his metal brace. Thankfully Elliot was here to try to repair it. He has burns on his right shoulder and arm, and the deep cuts on the left side of his face will scar. This won’t be an easy recovery. He’s going to need his family’s support to pull through this.”]
Lisa had her suspicions, but hearing Logan confirm what Dylan tried to do made the mother’s stomach flip. She still had nightmares about what Gordon did to her and she was an adult when it happened! But Lily? Maddison? Jesse? They were teenagers when those monsters tried to force themselves upon those girls. Lily still suffered from her PTSD and Lisa knew Maddison was seeing a counsellor at her university to help her cope with the trauma she faced. Lisa couldn’t help thinking that whatever Logan had to do must have been worth it if it spared Jesse that kind of pain.
[+green “Logan, do you know what I see in your eyes right now? I see guilt and fear, I see you worried about Jesse, and scared that we haven’t found her yet. I see that drive to protect her and that worry that you might have lost your best friend for good after what you had to do. You care about her, Logan. I can see that plain as day. Which means Jesse could see it too. Whatever happened between you, Jesse would have been able to read the concern and care in your eyes. If she looked betrayed, it wasn’t because you had to hurt her. It was because she was just as afraid to leave you behind.”] Lisa told the young teen. She brought Logan over to the car and had him sit so she could assess his injuries. Lisa was far from a medical expert, but you don’t belong to a family like the Street Brats for as long as she had without picking up the basics. She took off her sweater and ripped it into strips, passing the gunshot wound and applying pressure to slow the bleeding, while handing Logan another strip to hold against his face.
When Martyn joined them, Lisa cast a quick glance at her partner to assess the damage, relieved that Martyn seemed to have escaped with a few punches and nothing more lethal.
[+green “You’re right. Eleanor’s involvement complicates things. She could sway the local law enforcement against us. Nic should be able to give us a safe place to recover and plan our next move. I’ll take Logan there. I’ll need Nic’s help to sort things out with Jack and Lily. Last I heard, Lily got herself arrested and sicne we’re her lawyers and we didn’t get a call, I’m assuming she’s being stubborn and trying to handle the situation on her own. I’ll worry about the Sanders if you stay and look for Jesse.”] Lisa offered. She desperately wanted to find her little girl, but Lisa knew she was needed elsewhere. Besides, if Jesse was ashamed of what happened and nervous about facing the rest of the family, she wouldn’t want her first contact to be with a reader. Besides, Martyn and Jesse always had a special bond. If anyone could bring her home, it was her father.
[+green “Martyn, you know Jesse. She wouldn’t have wanted to leave Logan. She would have gone just far enough to safely make that call to Larry and then she would have doubled back to stay close to her best friend. It’s story out, cold, and it sounds like she’s hurt. If you don’t find her in nearby, then we have to assume something happened to her. Maybe Eleanor found her after all and stowed her somewhere her partners didn’t know about. Either way, if you don’t find her soon, call me. We’ll regroup and plan our next move. Good luck.”] Lisa told him, practically tearing herself away from the scene to take Logan someplace safe.
Inside, the fight was turning in favour of the Street Brats. With Dylan taking the coward’s way out, Pyke was left to fend for himself, but despite being matched with a formidable opponent, the kidnapper didn’t look nearly as concerned as he should be.
[#776677 “Gee, that sounds familiar! The kid said nearly the same thing when we first brought him here. Running his mouth about how your family would swoop in, save the day, and make us pay. You know what we did then?”] Pyke taunted, spitting a wad of blood to the ground as he grinned menacingly with reddish teeth towards Tigan.
[#776677 “We called in a favour and ran your little nephew off the road! Tell me, Tigan, was the boy still in one piece when they pulled him from that car? Or did they have to scrape bits of him off the windshield?”] Pyke took obvious glee in mocking the nearly fatal accident, just trying to throw Tigan off his game. He didn’t know that the boy had survived nor did he care. It wasn’t about killing Rylan, it was about keeping the rest of the family busy.
[#776677 “Sounds like you need to learn the same lesson as the kid! You throw around threats about your family, it leaves us no choice but to take one of them away from you. Now, I could go after your friend with the baby. Kira, right? But rumour has it, you already did a number on her back in the day, didn’t ya? Nah, I think we need to hit a little harder this time. You know, those hackers of yours are a real pain in the ass!”] Pyke said with a knowing smirk. The look on his face, anyone could tell this wasn’t an empty threat. It didn’t look random either, like Pyke had already set some plan in action even before Martyn burst through that door. After all, how the hell would Pyke even know about Caleb and Larry unless he’d done his homework. After finding out the girl had stolen Dylan’s phone and make a call, Pyke called in a favour of his own and tracked the signal back to the Brats behind the screens. Larry and Caleb had been supporting the Street Brats from the safety of their computer labs for years, and now they were the ones at risk!
[#776677 “Follow me and I’ll cut the rest of Caleb’s fingers off and shove them down his throat. As for Larry… Well, I shot one of his brothers, got the other one arrested… I guess I’m gonna have to get a little more creative with him. Go home, Tigan, forget I was ever involved in this, and your hacker friends might just live through this.”] Pyke threatened, taking a step back to test whether or not Tigan would do as he was told or if he would ignore the threats and attack.
Caleb was shifting his eyes between the multiple computer screens in his office. When he was a kid, he had to work off a laptop and a smattering of hand-man equipment Elliot there together for him, but now… well, Caleb had come a long way! Caleb’s office was massive, with a huge central computer screen surrounded by several smaller ones so he could work on several different projects at once. On several of these screens were various security cameras, while others contained lines of complex coding. Everything was top of the line and fully customized to the seven-fingered mute’s preferences, allowing him to fly through his programing with ease. In an office across the hall was an equally impressive set up tailored to Larry’s specifications, so the two could work together, yet without the distraction of another person in the room. Over a decade of working together had made the two hackers not only experts in their field, but also a perfectly synched team but Caleb had one main weakness – he had been behind the scenes so long, he forgot what it was like to be targeted!
Caleb was currently working through blueprints of the prison Jack would likely be sent to when a system alert appeared on his screen. He half expected it to be a break in at the hospital or at the bank where Seth was working, but was shocked to see the intruder was breaking into Caleb’s own office! So focused on his family, Caleb hadn’t been paying attention to his own security measures – a mistake that could potentially cost both him and Larry their lives!
[i Intruders! Get out!]
Caleb types to Larry, about to send him details on where they could regroup later on when the door to his office was kicked in, snapping off its hinges. Caleb reached for the gun he kept under his desk, but he was so flustered by the shock that he couldn’t even take aim before the intruders crossed the room. There were two of them, likely friends of Pyke’s, each armed and intent on their mission. The first through the door charged at Caleb, knowing the gun from his hand and slamming the hacker into his fancy computer set up, sending sparks and shattered glass everywhere. When Caleb tried to struggle, he was met with several fierce bone-crushing punches to his face, effectively taking the fight out of the computer expert.
[#776677 “Where’s the other guy? Larry Sanders?”] The man demanded, to which Caleb gathered a large mouthful of blood and spat it right into his attacker’s face in obvious defiance. Even if he could talk, he’d never betray Larry! His resistance was met with another harsh punch to his face before he was whipped around and held with an arm around his throat, cutting off his airway and making impossible to struggle out of the hold.
[#776677 “Search the other offices and find the other hacker. I’ll take this one out to the van. If the kid is uncooperative, make sure he knows that the longer it takes him to surrender, the longer I get to have fun carving up his mute friend!”] The man barked to his partner, sending him after Larry while he dragged a bloody-faced Caleb out to their van. It was time to see how these Street Brats faired without their trusty little hackers!
[#ff6622 “Lily, ever since Geoff died and I slipped back to that bottle, Logan’s been telling me I’m a bad father, a screw up, a monster just like Rick. And usually you defend me. You tell me he’s wrong, that I have a chance to do better, than I’m not the person Logan thinks I am, but this time… This time you brought up every bad decision I’ve made since the day I married you and tell me you think I care more about the bottle than my own family! How am I supposed to believe I can be a good father to this baby when my own wife and stepson think I’m just as cruel and selfish as my old man? You said it yourself, Lily, I keep trying to do what’s right but I just keep making the wrong decision!”] Jack argued, not knowing what the answer was anymore. After being constantly told he was no good for his family, he tried to give them space, only to then be blamed for abandoning them. He wanted to stay and have the family he’d always dreamed of, but Logan clearly didn’t want him around and Lily didn’t trust nor forgive him, so was he just being selfish for staying? Or was leaving Lily alone the selfish choice?
[#ff6622 [i “I was angry, I didn’t mean what I said’] Lily, do you have any idea how often you tell me that? It’s like you think words don’t have consequences. You say whatever you want in the moment and you think that as long as you blame it on your anger and the heat of the moment, everything will go back to the way it was. It doesn’t work that way. I will never forget the look in your eyes when you told me I wouldn’t care if you died so long as I had something to drink or someone to fight.”] Jack said. His voice had lowered, losing its fight and turning into a more sobering tone. He wished that Lily’s explanation of her words would erase the pain they caused as easily as she seemed to think it would. He desperately wanted to go back to the way things were, to find Logan and know he was back with his perfect family. But Jack couldn’t wrap his head around one key question: was Lily telling the truth now or back at the house? Was it her anger that caused those painful words before or her guilt that caused these ones?
[#ff6622 “Let’s just focus on finding Logan for right now. I promised I would follow you out Lily. At least trust I’ll keep my word on that.”] Jack lifted her into the vent before making sure everything was set and following himself.
[#ff6622 “Martyn and Lisa found him? He’s alive? Alright, we’re on our way. We’ll meet up with Stala. Knowing her, we’ll be at the safe house before the cops even notice Lily’s missing. Thanks again, Larry. I mean it. I don’t know what I’d do without you, Little Brother. I’ll see you soon.”] Jack said, slipping out of the vent behind Lily so the two of them could escape the hotzone and meet up with their ride.
The screams alone would have been enough torment a persons mind for years to come. It wasn’t the fear or the pain...it was the tortured wails as brothers and sisters were forced to abandon their siblings, watching the current take away their loved ones forever. Friends holding onto each other, taking their final moments with a long, last cry that crushed any dreams they had of escaping this hell. No one leaving would be the same again. For centuries ahead, children would stay and grow in the Underground, twisted by the memories of what happened this day and create gangs determined to live for revenge. Others would never be able to leave due to the grief, but for the few who did escape and go to the surface - the Underground would leave an imprint on their mind. At least they have the opportunity to escape to the surface and start new lives. There would come a point when that would all change.
Unlike most, Baxter wasn’t affected by what was happening behind him, he was more focused on getting this mission finished once and for all. It was always every man for himself. So to his surprise, he felt the weight of their target off his shoulders slipping onto Jesse’s. Much like Byrn, he was almost expecting Jesse to take her opportunity to make her escape! She didn’t deal with pain well, she didn’t seem like she enjoyed taking risks unless she had to... but there was a different look in her eye. One that changed Baxter’s view on her in an instant.
So as they reached the top, now facing Byrn, his longest partner who was bleeding out and aiming an arrow at the newcomer; his own eyes narrowed. The skin on his hands was still burning away with the acid, but there was no pain, no rush to stop this confrontation. Instead he listened to the pair, hearing the anger in Byrn’s voice and the cold justification in Jesse’s...
Taking a step forward, Baxter stood directly in front of the arrow blocking Byrn from shooting her target.
[+blue “She also didn’t define that it wouldn’t be us. What do we always say Byrn - no weakness. We take the risks we have to take. You’re right, she risked you, but there was no weakness. A Street Brat NEVER would have taken that risk and y’know what, we probably would have all died. You said yourself, the plan had its flaws. Stop being so damn weak and letting your emotions rule because you took a fucking bullet!”] Baxter hissed, grabbing the bow with one hand and watching as the acid started to eat through the wood. With the opportunity he pulled the bow towards him and with Byrn’s grip, pulling her forward as well. With her close enough, he slammed his hand against her gut so the acid from his hands would burn the wound shut! It would eat away her skin, burn like hell, but it would buy her time.
[+blue “You going to put an arrow in me because I’m doing this? Is this selfish? Is this cold? I’m hurting you right now so do it!”] Baxter hissed, holding his hand for a few seconds longer but keeping the tip of the arrow pointed at his stomach.
[+blue “No weakness. No emotions. We do what we have to do to get the job done. It’s about time that privileged Brat learned that. Now we have a choice. Byrn, you can either come with us to check on my precious big brother and get him back to his far-from-perfect life and get this ‘traitor’ as far away from us as we can... or you can run back to camp like the coward and go against the deal.”] Baxter instructed, keeping himself next to the arrow as he turned back to Jesse.
[+blue “You won’t be the same after today. I personally like it, however, you have a choice too. We go make sure Logan is safe and you can leave, go back to him. I won’t be staying. I don’t want them to know I’m alive. We get you up and away from us, but if you stay with them Jesse, you won’t be seeing me and Byrn again.”]
Logan’s legs buckled on him multiple times, with his broken hands having to pull him up from the ground and propel him forward, keeping him up a few more steps before he fell again. If Lisa hadn’t rushed over when she did, his body wouldn’t be able to handle it. His face had been cut so deeply it hadn’t stopped bleeding since Dylan created the two lacerations which went all the way down to the bone. His hands were bruised, swollen, with the skin ripping away and bits of glass sticking out of them. On top of that, his ribs were broken and the bullet wound which started as a non-fatal wound had been left untreated for so long that his t-shirt was soaked with the blood from the wound which had grown bigger from Pyke’s viscous kicks. Though despite all the physical, Lisa was right to focus on the mental and emotional. Street Brat’s, especially Sanders, were tough. They could deal with physical pain and be tortured to the most extreme extent, but it was the emotional chaos in their mind that would often be their downfall.
As Lisa caught him, Logan’s eyes searched straight ahead and towards the car for Jesse. They still hadn’t found her? Just like Jack, Logan’s eyes diverted away with the shame and the guilt he was feeling. Even when Lisa tilted his chin up, he started staring off into the distance but he knew there was no point... this was Jesse’s mother and if his best friend could read him like a book, how could he expect to hide from the person who taught her so much. So as Lisa began her reading, Logan surrendered to allowing all his feelings to be exposed. He was too exhausted to fight back.
[+brown “I...I couldn’t let her go through what... what mum and you... Dylan tried to... “] Logan started to explain but he couldn’t bring himself to say it. The horror in his eyes was enough to tell Lisa exactly what she needed to know.
[+brown “I had to do it... I hit her... pushed her... threw her out the window and made her run... her eyes... she was so betrayed... I couldn’t let them do that buy you need to find her. Don’t thank me until we find her... I hurt her bad... ”] Logan insisted, fighting between breaths to explain. He didn’t want immediate medical treatment. He didn’t want Lisa rushing away to get him help. Beside’s he was still wanted. If he went to hospital he would just be putting them all at risk again! He was done with the risk. He just wanted them to focus all their energy on Jesse and he was furious that they came to him first! Still, he had to give Lisa the information he had.
[+brown “Dylan... Pyke... a-and... Eleanor... CPS...She took us... she planned it... she wanted Dylan and Pyke to do those things to Jesse... t-they wanted to sell her for...for those things...”] Logan explained as best he could but he was becoming weaker. A crack of thunder and lighting exploded across the sky, and the first drops of rainfall started to fall down. For Logan it was the panic his best friend was out there beaten because of him, broken because of him, and still alone...
Tigan took the first strike from Pyke, feeling his head snap back and his lip split open from the impact. The guy had strength, Tigan had to give him that, but it made his blood boil. If he was throwing that level of force against Tigan, what level of force had he used on the kids!? Tigan blocked the second punch, catching Pyke’s fist with his prosthetic hand, twisting the guards wrist before using his other hand to throw multiple punches towards his face. Pyke was a big guy and needed to be taken out quickly! Whilst Tigan threw the strikes, he slammed his knee forward towards Pyke’s gut.
[#00BFFF “I don’t think you know exactly who you dealing with! Our family is a lot bigger than your little gang of three. You kill me and Martyn, trust me, you’ll wish I beat you to death!”] Tigan hissed, watching as Martyn tried crawling to his feet after receiving the punch to his face. It seemed the threat from Tigan was enough to stop Dylan acting out any further! Instead of going in for another attack, Dylan started to back away with a fierce look in his eyes.
[+grey “You bastards are going to regret this! You think there is just three of us? You don’t know the power we have. We’ll crush you! Do whatever you want with him. I told you to stay out of it Pyke!”] Dylan hissed, making his escape whilst he could. He had no intention about concerning himself with Pyke. The Brat’s had uncovered too much and Dylan’s greed outweighed any care he had for his team.
Tigan took his opportunity, throwing Pyke across the room and grabbing Martyn by the scruff of his shirt and throwing him towards the door.
[#00BFFF “Go! I’ll follow! Get in the car!”] Tigan barked, creating a barrier incase Pyke came up for a second attack. If the guard stayed down, he would make his own escape.
Martyn started to run back, not fighting back against his brothers orders and rushing to Lisa and Logan’s side. His nose was pouring with blood from the impact of Dylan’s attack, but it was the least of his concerns.
[+green “We need a safe place. We can’t go the hospital, too much risk. Lisa I think one of us should call Nic, he’s a leader and he’ll know a safe place for us to go. With Dylan gone and Eleanor still out there, we’re under huge threat. I’ll call Tessa and Demetri, see if we can get protection but one of us needs to stay for Jesse and one needs to take Logan for immediate medical care. We can’t risk it, not with what they did to Rylan...”] Martyn quickly shared his thoughts after hearing what Logan revealed over the ear piece. This wasn’t a matter of going straight back to their simple lives anymore... this whole situation just became a lot bigger.
Lily had faced traumas in her life which brought terror to her very core. However now she was looking at her husband, making her one and only offer, she was absolutely terrified! Whilst she carried the fire in her eyes, deep down she was clawing for the last bits of strength she had. She was so close to breaking when Seth left her. If Eleanor didn’t come when she did, Lily wasn’t even hopeful about what she would do next. She was on the path to completely shutting down and now her only hope was standing right in front of her, refusing to look her in the eye. He was scared. He was lost. This was her one real chance to get Jack to work with her, not against but what really scared her was that it was the one real [i last] chance. If he didn’t want to work with her, then how could she keep going?
Feeling his hand against her stomach, even Lily had to fight back the tears. This was what she always wanted. The possibility of a family. It didn’t have to be stable. It didn’t have to be perfect, or safe, or optimistic but there was one thing she needed more than anything. Lily needed her family to be complete. That meant having Jack by her side, with Logan there too. There was a reason that Lily didn’t have any doubt from the moment she found out she was pregnant that she wanted to keep the baby. She could look Jack in the eyes and know that he would want to be the dad his father never could be.
[+orange “I thought you would be reckless.”] Lily corrected, perhaps a little harsher than what she initially intended but she was desperate.
[+orange “You shouldn’t be putting yourself in that situation Jack! It’s not about having the ability to escape, it’s about being there to not miss a moment! Whilst you’re plotting an escape, what do you want me to do? Give birth on my own? Miss our son or daughters first steps? First word? First... whatever it is Jack! It’s about being there and even your arrogance can’t promise how quickly an escape can happen. It might take days, weeks, months... all that time. We lost so much when we were younger because we were attacked, killed, drunk; whatever we both were we missed so much and I can’t live like that again!”] Lily explained her perspective as passionately as she stated her current situation. Yet as Jack repeated her words from earlier, there was a flicker of shame in her eyes.
[+orange “I was angry. I don’t wish I died. These last few days Jack, it’s been hard... but I did mean it when I said it is us Jack and that’s why I won’t turn you in. It’s me and you and it always has been! Yes, chances are slipping but your hand here, on our little baby... that’s why I’m fighting for this because for once we just have that chance to get it right but I can’t do it alone!”] Lily insisted but there was so little time. Larry was quick to remind them that the timer was ticking down
[+orange “I said I wouldn’t give you another chance if you carried out what you were going to do. If you get locked up and don’t make decisions with me, then that’s it. We’re no longer a team.”]
Watching Jack work away, Lily couldn’t help but have a flashback to their younger days. He was still as mischievous as ever, always plotting how to cause more trouble than it was worth. It reminded her of exactly why she fell for him, but there was still too much tension to pretend everything was ok. As he got on one knee and offered his hand, Lily narrowed her eyes as a warning that he best follow her up. With the instructions, she made her way out the vent.
[#CD853F “Bank alarms being tripped in... 3...2...1... done. Dude, you really gotta start making a move! Look, they’re getting Logan. I intercepted Martyn and Lisa’s ear pieces, he doesn’t sound good but I think he’s alive. I’ll give you updates but you wanna get to that kid I wouldn’t be worrying about the bank jobs anymore. Get out of the city. I’ve erm, called in help. She’s... yeah, she’s on her way. Starla, in her car. She can pick you up but you need to rendezvous out of the police hot zone! I called her. That’s your escape car.”] Larry explained, having already made his own contacts.
[#CD853F “Listen, Jack, man... you’re not alone. You hear me? Get out alive and I’ll be there for you. I’ll meet up with you as soon as I can but you gotta keep fighting bro. Your geeky little brother always has your back, even if it is creepily watching you on city cameras. Get safe, don’t lose that girl and I’ll be with you soon.”]
The cavern erupted in chaos. Kids and guards alike were struggling to escape the toxic torrent that washed out the base, flooding the scene and washing away the corpses that littered the ground. A few of the stronger kids were able to make it out, but most fell victim to the acidic current. Anyone who fell behind was doomed to die a painful death, leaving kids to abandon their friends and fellow prisoners and claw their way out of danger. In all of this chaos, it was hard to see what was going on. Bryn clasped her hand over the bloody hole in her gut, staunching the blood as best she could, while madly scanning the scene for her friends. Her wound wasn’t fatal, but it would need to be patched up and soon! She knew it was purely by luck that she hadn’t been hit with a kill shpt. As far as Bryn was concerned, Jesse had left her to die! She didn’t give a shit what happened to the girl now, but she still wasn’t in any condition to help Baxter.
Bryn struggled to hold her bow steady while Baxter was attacked, but the graze on her arm sent painful shocks though her muscle, making it nearly impossible to aim. She was relieved when her friend managed to survive on his own, but the toxic water was quickly flooding the area, giving Baxter too little time to get to higher ground!
[#aa0000 “Move!”] Jesse’s voice finally broke through the crowd as she pushed her way through, headed straight for Baxter and his charge. Bryn half expected the Silvertongue to use the chaos to her advantage and flee the scene while her [i captors] were distracted. Without Baxter and Bryn to keep her in line, there was nothing stopping her from running back to the surface and going back to help Logan. Yet here she was, rushing to Baxter’s side. She pulled the weary kid’s arm over her shoulder and half dragged him forward to speed up the climb, giving the wounded Baxter less of a burden and more of a chance to escape further harm.
They were nearing the safety of Bryn’s perch when Jesse heard the distinctive stretch of a bow string and peered up to see Bryn aiming directly at her.
[#880088 “You nearly got me killed! You traitor!”] Bryn hissed, letting her fury overcome her pain. The anger burned in her eyes, even as her hands shook with the tension of the bow and her bullet wound steadily seeped blood to stain her torn shirt.
[#aa0000 “I told you that some people would get hurt…”]
[#880088 “You didn’t say it would be me and Baxter! You’re a selfish, lying, privileged, traitor and you should have been left to drown with those guards! Bax was right, you Street Brats only care about yourselves! Our lives don’t mean anything to you so long as your precious Logan was safe! I bet you even planned this to get back at us for bringing you down here! You witch! You just say the word, Baxter, and I’ll put an arrow straight between those cold, soulless eyes of hers!”] Bryn threatened, assuming Baxter would want the traitor dead just as much as she did.
Lisa was anxiously waiting outside, close enough to read her targets, but far enough to avoid being seen. But as soon as she saw Logan staggering away from the house, Lisa’s maternal instincts took over. She hurried to the boy, meeting him part way and reaching out her arms for him to lean on. His condition was bad… much worse than Lisa feared. But as bad as the physical torment seemed, it was nothing compared to the broken look in his eyes.
[+green “Logan, look at me.”] She directed, resting one hand under his bloody chin and raising his eyes so she could read him. Lisa saw it all – the turmoil over what happened with Jesse, the uncertainty over the fate of his parents, the doubt about ever making amends to the people he loved… Lisa would have to trust that Tigan and Martyn could get themselves out because right now, she was needed here.
[+green “Listen to me carefully, Logan. We’ll deal with Jesse’s injuries once we find her. You did what you had to in order to get her out of that house. You and I both know there are far worse things than bruises and broken bones. You didn’t let those men use Jesse like me and your mother were used in the past. I can’t ever thank you enough for that, Logan.”] Lisa started, seeing the internal conflict. She didn’t know exactly what happened, but she could tell that Logan had hurt Jesse bad enough he was upset about it. She also knew nothing would push Logan to hurt her daughter unless he truly believed he was sparing her from something much, much worse.
[+green “I know Jesse managed to escape and somehow get a call out to Larry. I have a feeling that was only possible because of you. I need you to tell me what happened, Logan. How badly was she hurt? We’re going to get you someplace safe and patch you up, but I don’t want to leave Jesse behind if she’s close by.”] Lisa asked, but she knew she might need to make the hard decision and leave her daughter to fend for herself for a while. Logan was already showing signs of bleeding out and Lisa wasn’t a medic! She could try to staunch the blood flow, but Logan would need a hospital. Or in the very least, his mother’s medical expertise!
[+green “Martyn! Tigan! You have to get out of there! Logan needs medical attention now!”] Lisa reported into her ear piece.
But it wouldn’t be easy for the Mason brothers to escape. While Dylan beat Martyn to the ground, Pyke was busy dealing with their uninvited guest. Tigan’s tackle had sent Pyke careening into the wall, sending sharp pains through his back but that only served to piss him off more!
[#776677 “You Street Brtas weren’t supposed to get involved in this! I thought you’d take the hint when we drove that Rylan kid off the road, but it seems you just don’t know how to mind your own business! So now, I’m gonna kill you both and make the kid clean your blood smears off the floor!”] Pyke growled, lunching towards Tigan with fierce fists. Pyke was strong, violent, but not nearly as trained as Tigan. Pyke was more than mean enough to beat his young victims into submission, but he had a disadvantage against Tigan’s skill… so long as those prosthetic hands held up.
Jack may have been rash, reckless, and quick to make stupid decisions, but even he was smart enough to snap his mouth shut when that dangerous tone cut through Lily’s lips. He wanted to argue. He wanted to tell her it wasn’t the same: Logan was a good kid, he deserved to be protected. Jack was just a burden on Lily; she should have to surrender herself to protect him. But snapping back wouldn’t help his case, in fact it would only get him in deeper trouble with Lily, so for once Jack did the smart thing: He held his tongue. He didn’t even argue when she insisted that option 2 wasn’t an option at all. But when Lily took his hand and placed it on her stomach, his composure broke.
Jack choked back a sob as he imagined that new life growing beneath his palm. The child he always wanted – his one true chance to prove he was nothing like his own father. Jack loved Logan like a son, but Logan didn’t love him. This baby was the only chance Jack had to become a real father and to prove that the Sanders line wasn’t cursed after all. But more than that, this baby was a physical representation of the love he had for Lily. With his hand over her stomach, Jack was as close as he had ever been to that dream, and yet his heart ached at the realization that it may never come to pass. Lily said it herself, he was out of second chances.
Jack had the decency to flinch as Lily called him out for avoiding her gaze, but he still didn’t raise his eyes. He couldn’t. He was too afraid of the confirmation he would find there. Lily’s words spoke of a partnership, a love, a family bond, but her eyes would hold the truth. They could hold the same unforgiveness he saw after that ransom call. They could carry that same doubt and mistrust they did when Lily brought up all of his past failures and slights against her. Jack knew it was over, but he couldn’t bear to have those fears confirmed in the eyes of his wife.
[#ff6622 “Of course I can escape Lily! That was always the plan! The kidnappers demanded that I empty the accounts, left evidence, and put myself behind bars, but I never said I’d stay there. I’ve broken out of every cell and locked room I’ve been put in. I broke Cole out of an asylum, Tigan out of a crematorium, and the rest of the Brats out of Maximum Security. I’ve busted myself out of Juvy more times than I can count, and that was before I had a hacker for a little brother watching my back. No jail can hold me forever Lily, I always planned on escaping once Logan was safe.”] Jack insisted, not caring if he sounded arrogant. The only prison he’d ever been truly trapped in was the cellar of his father’s old house and that was only because of the torture his parents inflicted on him prior to locking him in there. Jack was one of the best thieves in the Brats, second only to Seth! If there was a way out of that prison, he’d find it.
[#ff6622 “You thought I’d leave you?”] Jack said, more as a statement than a question. His tone revealing how hurt he was by her lack of faith. But it wasn’t just that… there was so much more.
[#ff6622 “Drinking, fighting, losing my job, making rash decisions, bickering with Logan, I broke the bottle, I sent you into a panic attack and then stormed off, I fought with Lisa, made Logan run away… [i ‘There isn’t a WE with us Jack. It has never been US.’ ‘Sometimes I wish I died when that blade went into my chest but you wouldn’t care about that would you Jack? So long as you have a bottle in your hand, or something to hit...’] Fuck, Lily, if I’m that much of a screw up that much, why the fuck wouldn’t you want to turn me in?!”] Jack cursed, dragging up every spiteful worse from their previous fight, reciting those last lines so perfectly, it was clear they had been running through his mind in a constant loop since Lily said them several hours ago! Jack wasn’t angry at Lily for saying them, in fact he was hard pressed to disagree . But all of this just acted as more and more evidence to the truth Jack had always feared even since they were teenagers: Lily deserved someone better.
Jack hadn’t dared even a glance towards Lily until she forcefully tilted his chin up, demanding him to meet her gaze. That fiery determination was so… so [i Lily], that it almost made Jack want to smile… [i almost.] This certainly wasn’t the first time he’d been on the receiving end of one of Lily’s stubborn lectures and he knew well enough by now that he’d lost this battle long before it even started. Lily was going to get her way in this. She wasn’t going to leave him behind and any self-sacrificial gesture he attempted now would only lead to an equally as stubborn counter from his wife. Jack knew in that moment that she was right: they were both getting out of here together and the rest would have to be sorted through another time.
[#ff6622 “You said you weren’t going to give me another chance.”] Jack reminded her, having assumed he had already burned that bridge. Jack thought he had already sabotaged any chance he had of reconciling with Lily, so he didn’t understand why she was saying all of this now. The thief was suddenly pulled from his grieving by the sound of his little brother’s voice. Jack had stupidly lost track of time, getting too involved in his fight with Lily. Larry was right, they needed to move!
Jack took the pad of paper and pen that the officer had left on the table and quickly scribbled down a series of numbers and letters in what looked like a complex cryptogram. He then crumpled the paper and dropped it by the table, before shoving the pen under the door, wedging it into the crack to make the door hard to open from the outside without slamming your entire body against it. The scribbled code was simply nonsense, but Jack knew the officers might see it as a clue for how Lily was able to escape. Let them waste their time trying to deceiver something that had no actually meaning. All of this was reminiscent of a younger, more troublesome Jack that liked to pull pranks and cause mischief for his guardians. But if it slowed the cops down and gave them time to escape, maybe there was a place for some immaturity after all!
With that done, Jack stepped back over to Lily and knelt in front of her with his fingers laced and palms facing upwards, creating a step so he could boost her up into the vent.
[#ff6622 “You go first and I’ll follow, I promise. Just move slow and silent, these vents make a lot of noise if you’re not careful. Once you’re up there, make two rights, a left, a right, then two more lefts, and you’ll find the vent that leads outside.”] Jack instructed, needing a bit more time to replace the vent behind him and hide any evidence of how they made their escape. Lily would be part way out before he caught up to her, but he did give his word he’d follow her out.
[#ff6622 “Larry, I’m gonna need another favour, Little Brother. Can you trip the alarms at the San Francois City Bank? Make the cops think I’m break in? That might give Seth a chance to lose them, and it’ll buy us time to slip out of here. And Logan… Can you let us know as soon as you hear anything? Tell us where we can meet up with them. Logan’s gonna need his mom.”] Jack said as he hoisted himself into the vent after Lily and replaced the cover.
[#ff6622 “Oh, and Larry? Thanks for having my back, Little Brother. I… I’m not in a good place right now. It makes all the difference in the world to know you’re still with me.”] Jack admitted to his brother before following Lily towards the exit.
[+grey “Pyke, this is my deal. Back the fuck off.”] Dylan growled as the bodyguard approached. Whilst Pyke was taking precautions, all Dylan could see was a loss of his own bank account! Why would he sacrifice a $10,000 out of his own potential just to save themselves from Martyn’s legal connections! That was his money and Pyke had the nerve to think he could throw it all away!
[+green “No Dylan, I see why he wants to take precautions. You can have the money transferred to Freddie’s account if you need me to do that, but I want to see signs of life of my daughter, which so far you have failed with. You forget, I made just as much money as a criminal as I did as a lawyer, so I have no threat with being on the police’s records again. This could work both in our favour. Perhaps, if you work on my side, I can actually be a valuable asset. All I want is my daughter.”] Martyn insisted, playing his part in the bargain just as much as Dylan was demanding his, as well as playing to Pyke’s needs. The difficulty now was going to be closing all this off and getting out alive! If Martyn could offer throwing away his reputation as a lawyer and perhaps working on their side, maybe they would see he wasn’t a threat that was going to tell on them but instead a valuable part of their team! If he could gain their trust, then maybe he could walk out of this alive.
[+green “Work with me here, you get the money, I’ll join your ranks, help you make more money.”]
[+grey “I want my money.”] Dylan interrupted, his eyes a lot colder than they were a few moments ago and filled with greed. He was playing with his bloody rings on his fingers, twirling them around and standing up, glaring down at Martyn with a new sense of threat.
[+green “And you’ll get your money...”]
[+grey “I don’t think you understand Martyn. You don’t force a deal out of me. We make the demands here. I am not giving Freddie a single dime extra... that account now belongs to me and if you aren’t willing to give me the money... Pyke, I think you’re right. Martyn won’t be leaving here.”] Dylan ordered and before Martyn could react, he sent his fist cracking into the lawyers face, sending Martyn sprawling off his chair backwards and crashing against the floor.
[+grey “You come in here making demands!? You try and hold back an offer from me, you’ll learn that we don’t get told what to do! Pyke, fucking make sure that bastard surrenders every single cent from those accounts. Why bother wasting cash when we can just kill him if he refuses. We have a very special way of doing business Martyn. We don’t need any extras on our team. We just need cash.”] Pyke ordered, losing his patience. His greed was wanting nothing more than that money and he’d spill every drop of Martyn’s blood to get it.
Inside the other room, Tigan was desperately trying to encourage Logan to move. He could see that Martyn was in immediate danger but he couldn’t rescue his brother until Logan was safe otherwise all of this was for nothing! Hearing Lisa read Logan, his face fell with empathy for the kid... how could he give any purpose when there was so much uncertainty? Tigan had been in Logan’s position so many times and had come so close to wanting to give up completely, but there was always someone by his side to pick him up. An immediate family member, a close friend... for Logan all of those people were in dangers of their own!
[#00BFFF “Listen, kid... I know it seems hopeless. I know it seems like you are the reason everything is falling apart but Jesse is still out there. She needs you. Your mum and dad, they’re looking for you too!”]
[#8B0000 “No... I’ll make it worse...”]
[#00BFFF “You’re just like your dad! Jack beats himself up, more than I ever could but if he actually spent more time trying to change things rather than wallowing then... listen, Logan, you know if you just lay here you’ll make things worse. You made promises to Jesse. The last things you said to your dad , your mum... where’s the resolution?”] Tigan asked, pulling on everything he had to get Logan to take a rise. His friendships, his family connections, his own personal promises but none if it seemed to work. Instead, he watched as Logan tilted his head just in time to see Martyn receive a blow to the face. Logan, with the a fresh determination, started to crawl up to his feet as if to charge at Dylan for attacking his best friends dad but instead he almost instantly collapsed, falling straight into Tigan’s arms.
[#00BFFF “Not the time kid! I’ll keep them safe but you have to get out so I can do it! Get to the car, speak to Lisa, tell her about Jesse!”] Tigan hissed in a rushed whisper in Logan’s ear, guiding the kid to the window and pushing him out. Logan crashed to the floor, practically having to crawl himself away from the house and towards the car Lisa was in. Inside the house however, Tigan wasted no time. He knew Martyn and Lisa would resent him for acting so rash, but he couldn’t just stand back and watch his brother get beat to a pulp! Sprinting into the living room, Tigan wasted no time throwing his entire weight onto Pyke who was the strongest out of everyone in the room. Tigan was the son of Axel, so he himself was a larger build, but with his prosthetic hands there was only so much he could fight!
[#00BFFF “Martyn get out!”]
The interrogation room had been filled with nothing but the officers voice for an the whole hour. The only sign that someone was actually with him, was the occasional shuffle on the seat, or the clanking of the handcuffs as Lily moved. For the time she had been brought in, her eyes stared into the distance. It wasn’t refusal to acknowledge the officer - it was very much that she had no fight left in her at all. The last few days just reminded Lily that without her family, she just didn’t have the strength and for the first time in years, she didn’t want to pretend she had the strength to fight this. The only moment that seemed to bring any life into her eyes was the moment she heard her husbands name, but that life wasn’t hope. It was anger. It was betrayal. It was hurt. Her eyes narrowed, knowing that any moment now Jack could be arrested and once again their idea of having a future together as a family was crushed.
Lily didn’t hear the officer leave. Instead she remained completely still, staring at the same spot she had for the last hour. The sound of the shuffling above her didn’t even seem to break her out of her daze until finally, Jack landed in front of her, rushing to her aid just as quickly as he always did.
Unlike her husband however, that hurt Lily felt at hearing his name was just as quick to rush through her entire body as he removed her cuffs. Whilst Jack avoided her eye contact, Lily was anchored onto him, staring with the same pain which she had been directing at the wall of the room for the last hour. Her wrists were marked from the handcuffs, clearly showing that the officers hadn’t taken much care of Lily since her arrival but those marks were nothing compared to the build up of emotion in Lily’s chest. She didn’t even bother responding to Jack’s question of if she was hurt, out of fear she would unleash all the anger she didn’t get the opportunity to release back at the house. Instead she took a shaky breath, closed her eyes for a few moments and only reopened them as Jack spoke for the second time.
[+orange “I got arrested protecting you Jack. Just like you are getting arrested to protect our son. So don’t talk to me about reckless.”] Lily warned him, already creating a line of how thinly the wrong comment could break them further.
This wasn’t a typical Lily and Jack reunion. Historically she would have jumped to her feet, wrapped her arms around him, held him close, begged him to stay but this was eerily different. Even Lily wasn’t comfortable and there was a clear shift in her struggle to keep her composure. So hearing her options, Lily stood up and forced herself in front of her husband - still keeping that eye contact he was so desperate to avoid.
[+orange “Option two could have happened hours ago Jack. I have already had the option to throw you under the bus multiple times. So, let’s make this clear; I won’t be taking any deal from any officer.”] Lily started but there was one little thing that pushed her more than anything. Her eyes narrowed and in a drastic action, Lily snapped her hand onto Jack’s wrist and forced his palm onto her stomach. The place where his unborn child rested, growing, blissfully unaware of all the dangers of the world that they were facing this very moment.
[+orange [i “Our] baby. Not mine. Ours Jack. We created this life [i together]. You and me, no one else. And it was created out of love, and happiness. You have the nerve to say it deserves better than to live behind bars? No, what it deserves is a father who no matter what is going to be there! What it deserves is that despite the shit it is going to come out to Jack, that it won’t just have a broken mother! You want this to be us, you want to this to be me and you, I know you do because you’re not even looking at me and it’s the same pitiful look you gave when you thought I loved Tigan more than you! It’s the look that you wished things could work out but they won’t and it’s because you’re avoiding EVERYTHING that is RIGHT in front of you!”] Lily hissed, his hand gripping his so tightly she was probably leaving bruises but she didn’t care.
[+orange “So the options are Jack, we fight this together, or we go down together. If I can become a fugitive and escape, then you can too. At least we’ll be together. If you can’t do that, if you really think the only option is to put yourself behind bars, then DON’T expect me to just run away. Our whole lives we’ve been ripped away from each other. We let Rick rip us apart. We let ‘death’ rip us apart. I am so angry at you Jack because you are now the reason! You’re letting some bastards do the exact same when you know full well that you can escape!”] This time Lily grabbed Jack’s chin, practically forcing him to look at her. Lily might have lost most of her fight, but this was the Lily who was stubborn, fiery, determined.
[+orange “That’s our options Jack. I’m so angry at you, but you can’t expect me to leave you behind again. I’ve don’t that too much... if you force me to escape and stay behind, I can’t forgive you. I told you that. So I won’t do it, because I need you.”]
[#CD853F “Guys, I’m sorry to interrupt but the station cops are patrolling and you really don’t have much time! Seth is running thin he won’t be able to out run either... look, if it’s gonna help, Jack, they’re saving Logan, alright? They’re doing it man! Martyn, Lisa and Tigan, they’re getting your son! That’s right, we’re all on your side bro. It’s going to be ok.”] Larry spoke through the intercom in the room, hacking through to the pair and hoping to knock some sense into the two but they really didn’t have much time!
<< didn't have enough time for a full post after Karate tonight, so here is half. I'll try to get the rest up after my music lesson tomorrow night>>
[+green “You’ve got his interest Martyn. Playing to his greed and his ego and he’s falling for it. Just be careful. He doesn’t actually have Jesse, so he’s going to have to try to trick you into giving the money without visual proof of life. And watch out for Pyke, he doesn’t trust you.”] Lisa noted, watching the scene. Pyke still lingered in the doorway despite Dylan’s obvious dismissal. Pyke was a hired hand, normally happy to follow his orders and get his pay, but he had a bad feeling about Martyn showing up here alone, and he wasn’t going to take his eyes off the Silvertongue.
[#776677 “You wanna walk out of here after seein’ our faces? You expect us to just belive you won’t turn us in? I don’t think so. If we go down, you’re going down too. You wanna survive this and get our with your little Princess? You need to take a chance first.”] Pyke suggested, stepping into the room, paying less attention to Logan and giving Tigan a brief chance to reach the boy.
[#776677 “I think Martyn here needs to pay off Freddie. What do you think, Dylan? $10, 000 transferred to Freddie’s account from Martyn’s personal savings. That way, if he does ever squeal to the cops, he’s gonna look guilty as fuck once they find out he paid off the driver than killed his fucking nephew!”] Pyke suggested. It was true, if Martyn ever caused trouble for them, they could easily call in an anonymous tip for the cops to check into his bank transactions. Seeing a large sum of money transferred between Martyn and the man who drove little Rylan off the road would look awfully suspicious, especially since the Masons had been pulling away from the Street Brats in recent years. The cops would think Martyn took a hit out on his own nephew!
As all of this was going on, Lisa kept shifting her gaze from Martyn’s scenario to Tigan’s. Things weren’t going well for either of the brothers. How the hell was Tigan supposed to get this kid to fight back when he was already so…broken?
[+green “Tigan, something happened. Logan doesn’t just look hopeless, he looks devastated. He looks like he has nothing left to live for. I think they might have forced him to hurt Jesse, maybe even convinced him that Rylan’s accident, and his parent’s legal troubles were his fault too. You need to get in there, give him a purpose, something to fight for.”] Lisa advised, worried about that lifeless look to Logan’s eyes. She had seen it before – in Jack during those awful weeks following Lily’s death; and in Lily in the aftermath of her first time with Rick. Both of Logan’s parents had hit rock bottom, feeling like they would rather die than suffer the pain of living adnd now Lisa was worried their son might be feeling the same. He needed something to hold on to, something to keep him strong.
[#776677 “Come on Lily! I’m running out of patience and you’re running out of opportunities to save yourself! Tell me how to find Jack and I’ll cut you a deal for a lesser sentence. But if you keep defending him, you’ll be behind bars for the next 30 years!”] Demanded the officer who was questioning Lily. He had been at it for almost an hour now, trying to get Lily to sell out her husband and by now his patience was running thin. He was about ready to take the deal off the table and personally escort Lily Sanders to her new home behind bars, when he was interrupted by a knock at the door to the interrogation room.
[i “Sir, we’ve got a lead on Jack Sanders. Someone fitting his description was seen loitering around the Eastline Bank. It could be his next target.”] Another officer informed, recruiting reinforcements for when they went to take down Lily’s husband.
[#776677 “Alright Lily, last chance. I’m going to give you time to think about it. But by the time I get back, you better decide: testify against your husband and get a lesser sentence, or stay stubborn and silent and earn yourself a cell.”] The officer interrogating her demanded before he followed his partner out, leaving the woman alone with her thoughts… or so it seemed. The door had just barely latched when a soft shuffle sounded from above. Suddenly the vent in the ceiling lifted away and Jack Sanders dropped down into the interrogation room, landing silently on the balls of his feet.
Jack knew his little brother had been watching him since he first entered the bank. He knew Larry would hack the camera feed to the interrogation room, so he wasn’t worried about being seen.
[#ff6622 “Are you hurt? Officer Jack-Ass wasn’t too rough on you, was he?”] Jack asked, speaking softly but letting the concern lace his tone. He hurried to her side and took out his lockpicks, making short work of the cuffs. As the metal fell away, Jack took a brief moment to check his wife’s wrists to make sure the cuffs hadn’t done any damage. The way he was acting it almost seemed like the fight had never happened – that Jack was being as caring and tender towards Lily as he always tried to be – aside from one thing. Jack pointedly avoided meeting Lily’s eyes, proving he still couldn’t face her after what tore between them.
[#ff6622 “You call me reckless, then you go off and get yourself arrested for no reason? Dammit, Lily. I should have had Seth babysitting you instead of the other way around.”] Jack said, taking a step back now that Lily’s hands were free. He kept his head down and eyes averted so that his shaggy blond hair fell over his eyes like it used to when he was just a self-depreciating teenager.
[#ff6622 “We don’t have much time before they realize they’re chasing Seth instead of me. So you gotta make a choice Lily: 1) I break you out of here. But doing that would mean you’d be a fugitive and there’s be no legal way to get custody of Logan back. You’d need to go into hiding like the Brats used to when we were kids. 2) You take the deal that officer offered you. Turn me in. Hell, you can say I’m an abusive drunk that beat you as bad as I beat the kid. Tell them you lied before because you were scared of what I might do. Sell it well enough and they’ll release you. Those bastards know my family history; it’s not much of a stretch to believe I’d turn out like Rick.”] Jack offered, giving Lily two options to get out of here. This wasn’t the same self-sacrificing crap he always tried to pull. Jack knew he was going to prison regardless of Lily’s decision, but at least this way he could go with the illusion he helped the rest of his family stay together.
[#ff6622 “Either way, you’re getting out of here. I’m not going to leave the love of my life behind bars, especially what happened to Tigan and Kira the last time they were arrested. Besides, our baby...[i your baby]… deserves better than to be born behind bars.”] Jack pointed out. Under normal circumstances, Jack might have just made the decision for Lily. Sprung her out of the holding cell or confessed to the police himself to get her out. But after their fight… [i “There isn’t a WE with us Jack. It has never been US. Just you thinking you’re doing right all the time - then making things worse”]… Jack knew that taking this choice away from Lily would only hurt her further. He was out of second chances and he knew it was too late to fix things with Lily, but at least he could keep from causing her any further pain or frustration.
[#ff6622 “Seth’s covering for me and circling back to keep stealing from the accounts so the kidnappers don’t hurt Logan while I’m here. But we don’t have a lot of time, Lil, so what’s it gonna be?”]
[+blue “When did you ever like any of my plans Byrne? I’m already tired of savings yours... it’ll work. A little bit of bloodshed shouldn’t scare you...”] Baxter argued back, rolling his eyes in annoyance at Byrn’s instance of how poorly planned this was. She was used to working spontaneously! Baxter wasn’t exactly the type to calculate what he was doing. He was rash, impulsive, blood thirsty and filled with a lot of anger. If there was anyone who was usually putting the gang in danger it was Baxter! Still, he was used to dealing with fights one-on-one or small gangs. Even Baxter wasn’t prepared for what he was about to be involved in, or the risks Jesse was about to throw at them.
Following the chain linked kids, he watched as each one tirelessly worked away. There were one or two newbies, he could tell by the fact they hardly had any wounds or their own blood marking their clothing. Unlike the others they were still at full body weight, not struggling to lift the heavy hammer or pick axe to chip away from the earth in front of them. They were terrified... and that was the main difference. The others carried no emotion in their eyes. The ones who clung to life were lucky whilst the ones who had survived the longest were now looking like they were ready to accept death. There was no sympathy in Baxter’s eyes, not even a shred of empathy. Instead there was a burning anger. Why were they all so weak!? Why had they waited this long before they fought back!? With gritted teeth he pushed past the few who tried to stop him. For Baxter, this was everything he hated with the world. The vulnerable, unable to take a stand, because they were cowards. They would rather wait until they were working zombies rather than risk spilling their own blood to escape. It was pathetic.
Still, he made a promise to his gang and as he arrived towards the siblings, the same burning frustration crossed his features. Both were barely able to stand. They resembled more of a skeleton than a living, breathing, human Their clothes hung loosely from their almost transparent skin which was marked with bruises, cuts, burns, and whatever other injury you could imagine. For a split second, Baxter was wondering if it was worth abandoning the mission and going back to tell the gang they were dead. Reluctantly, he started to work on breaking their chains but little did he know, his five minute timer was already up with the sound of Jesse’s voice betraying Byrn.
Baxter shot his eyes up just in time to see the bullets flying towards his gang mate and watching her disappear, but he didn’t have time to stand still. Grabbing one of the siblings wrists, he pushed the other ahead and started to sprint away from the blood bath that was happening around them. Fortunately the first sibling had just enough strength to keep running, but the other was collapsing with every step and was slowing Baxter down!
[+blue “Don’t make me wish I left you! You! Keep running! Top of the fucking...”] Bax ordered but he was cut off as he felt the hilt of the gun slam against the back of his skull. Falling to his hands and knees, he felt the same impact again, spraying blood over the ground. Finding just enough time to roll on his back, Baxter pulled out one of his blades and flicked it up at his attacker. It didn’t kill the guard, but it gave Bax enough time to scramble to his feet.
The guard however, didn’t seem phased by the knife. He was wearing so much armour, the blade barely pieced the layers he was wearing! Grabbing Baxter by the throat, he pinned him against the wall were the toxins were pouring out. The sadistic fuck didn’t seem happy with just putting a bullet in his skull, he wanted to bash it in! Baxter watched as he lifted his gun like a baseball bat, ready to strike it down but Bax was ready. Watching the gun come down, Bax knew his strength would be in the swing rather than holding his neck. With that in mind, Bax swung his head forward, slamming it into the guard creating just a few seconds for him to slip to the side and avoid the force of the weapon.
The weapon instead hit a collection of extremely loose rocks on, which was just enough to finish the death trap the kids had been building too... toxic liquids started to seep through the entire cavern that had been hitting against for months, seeping down onto Baxter and the guards skin and causing them both to hiss out in pain. Their skin was bubbling already with fresh blisters, but that was the least of their concerns! The wall was starting to break and soon the toxins would floor in and wipe them all out!
[+blue “JESSE!”] Baxter echoed, pointing to the wall. They barely had minutes! They had to get up back to their advantage point if they even thought of surviving! Grabbing the guard, Baxter slammed him under a heavy river of toxins that was starting to pouring through one of the cracks that was forming. Whilst holding him still, the toxins burnt away at the flesh on his hands which were holding the guard as well as parts of his face as the water splashed against him! Nothing compared to the screams of the man he was holding. The smell of burning flesh seeped in the air and when Baxter was done, he dropped what was left of the corpse to the ground. The first sibling had already made their escape, but Bax reached down to the second and started to drag the kid but at this rate, he wouldn’t get out in time!
Whilst Martyn was also experiencing the odd nostalgia of what he was facing, he was also very much analysing and predicting the details of what would happen next. From his years of stepping into danger, he knew whatever happened inside this building that things wouldn’t exactly be the same. He knew his words would only last so long, and he certainly knew that time window was Logan’s one and only chance of escaping. If the opportunity wasn’t taken, even with Tigan by their side, they would be trapped. They weren’t strong enough as fighters, so Martyn had to use the detail his partner was giving him and use every word to buy them every second they could get. He was also certain that once Logan had made his escape, unless Martyn could distract them with his words and get himself out that he would be the next in line to be their captive. So as he listened to the details of what Lisa told him, he took a calculated few seconds to decide on his next approach. Greed often partnered with a persons ego. That should be enough. He just had to hope that Tigan was doing his part.
Stepping into the room, Martyn took in everything he could. The first thing was Logan, broken on the floor, not even acknowledging Martyn’s arrival. That wasn’t good. The kid was a fighter, had spirit, and wouldn’t let anyone break him so easily. He might not have been a reader but it confirmed one thing; Jesse had been long gone. Long enough to break whatever reason Logan had to fight. Then there was the smears of blood, the broken window... he was about to step in further when he felt Pyke practically slam him against the wall. Raising his hands and resting them behind his head, he let Pyke carry out his search but it only concluded what Martyn predicted. The moment he stepped into that building, he lessened his chances of getting out safely...
[+green “If we are done here, I would like to speak business. I’m not here to waste my time trying to attempt anything foolish. I simply want to make an offer to see my daughter.”] Martyn spoke out, staring at Pyke with an equally determined look. The man was watching him like a hawk, even as he made his way over to Logan. Whilst Martyn wanted to make sure the kid was safe, he had to play his part. If he showed Logan too much compassion, it could throw the game away...
[+grey “So... show me the money.”] Dylan interrupted, taking a seat on a large leather chair in the corner of the room and as far away from Logan as possible. He didn’t want the kid ruining this. Extending his arm and gesturing to a small wooden chair in front of him, Martyn headed over and took his place as commanded.
[+green “I will. I have heard you are one of the best business men in town...”]
[+grey “I AM. So... I don’t waste time. Money. Now.”]
Martyn leaned forward on his chair, as if trying to share some private information with Dylan that he didn’t want Pyke overhearing.
[+green “I want this to be YOUR money. Listen, I don’t care about what happens to Logan. I don’t care about anything other than buying Jesse. Lisa, Jack, Lily? Forget them. I have funds they don’t even know about. You’re the best, you know how to strike a deal, but this is between you and me. Man-to-man, right? I want this kept between us and I’ll even show you accounts that Jack won’t be able to break into. You’ve been doing all the hard work, right? What does Pyke do? Clearly he’s not the brains... you are. Let me give you the money, I’ll show you one of the fund pots, but you’ve got to show me Jesse.”] Martyn bargained in return, playing up to Dylan’s status and greed. He pulled out his phone, unlocking one of the private accounts that he and Lisa had created. It was a savings pot, one they had made incase anything ever happened to the Brat’s and they needed to rebuild their lives to give Jesse the best hope. There wasn’t stacks inside it, but it would hopefully be enough to feed Dylan’s greed.
[+green “There. Look. That’s one. We have more.”]
[+grey “And you’ll directly transfer it to me?”] Dylan asked quietly, but as he did, Pyke arrived at the door interrupting things. Dylan was ready to wave Pyke away but Martyn was quick to interject.
[+green “We were just discussing Jesse’s return...”]
[+grey “We don’t need him here Martyn. Pyke, you searched him. He’s clean. I’m fine.”] Dylan interrupted, cutting in just as quickly as Martyn did! Martyn needed something to keep Pyke’s eyes away from Logan. This was Tigan’s window but now he was balancing both sides! Keeping Dylan’s interest without raising suspicion, but also keeping Pyke’s attention without getting killed himself or boring him enough to turn his attention back to the kid!
[+green “I am, yes, as I said I’m not here to act foolish but Pyke... you know who I am. I need your assurance you will not kill me after this deal.”] Martyn spoke up, finding a way to bring Pyke in without him knowing about the money but also knowing the risks. It could spark the man’s anger, it could cause conflict but it was all a matter of buying time.
Logan was on the floor, gripping his side as his own blood was now mixing with Jesse’s. Pyke’s kick to the ribs also hit his bullet wound. Part of him was ready to give up altogether. It would be the final moments he deserved... laying on the ground, surrounded by the shattered furniture which was just as broken as his relationships; each one broken because of him. Of course his mother and father wouldn’t bother finding him. He had destroyed so much and now Jack was paying the price. Jesse was probably dead. In Logan’s mind Martyn had come just to finish him off! Pyke was right, once Martyn knew what had happened then why would he bother saving him? Logan had only hung on for so long with the hope that he would find out that Jesse made it out alive and that somehow all of this wasn’t for nothing.
As he lay on the floor, Logan picked up one of the sharp shards of wood and stared at it longingly. He was already bleeding out slowly. It would take a few more hours but without treatment he was going to die anyway. One sharp plunge of that wood into any part of his body and he would die within minutes. He didn’t deserve to die quick, not with the years of pain he caused but maybe it would stop all the pain. His family could be free.
Holding the wood over him, he gripped it with both hands with the sharp edge pointing towards his chest and closed his eyes. Pyke was distracted, he wouldn’t see until it was too late. With gritted teeth, Logan sent all his strength to his arms to finalise his last moments when...
[#00BFFF “Logan! Put it down kid and get here, now!”] Tigan hissed through a partially open window. At first Logan thought perhaps it was just an hallucination from the blood loss. His shaky hands lowered, dropping the wood to his side as he turned on his side to see the unexpected. Tigan!? He was here?
[#8B0000 “N-No... J-Jesse she’s... she’s out...”] Logan tried to whisper back but his voice was shaken, broken... why was Tigan wasting his time with him!? Jesse was in real danger and he should have been stopping his dad making any stupid mistakes!
[#00BFFF “This isn’t the time! I’ve been where you are Logan, I know how it feels but kid, you’ve got to move! They need you!”] Tigan tried to explain but he recognised that lack of hope in Logan’s eyes. He had the same expression and still carried it till this day. Knowing that in this immediate instance, words alone wouldn’t be enough, Tigan crawled through the window, trying to make as little noise as possible and started to sneak towards Logan. Pyke was facing away for the moment, but if Logan didn’t find the strength to move, it was going to take longer for Tigan to find an exit plan!
Baxter’s words were eerily similar to the ones her father used following that disaster of a house party. [i Words may get you hurt, but silence will get you killed.] Jesse knew they had a point. She was holding back – even with how careful her act was with those two traffickers, Jesse knew she didn’t use her abilities to their fullest extent. She had only done so once before: when staring down that violent Bastard Antonio, that day he forced Logan and Xana to fight to the death all while beating Carla and Jesse to a bloody pulp! She had pushed past the pain and unleashed the full viciousness of her words, reading eerie hint of weakness and turning that on Antonio with verbal strikes so fierce they rivaled any of her Aunt or Uncle’s punches. She had driven him mad with mere words, getting her first true taste of what damage a reader and a silvertongue could do when they didn’t hold back. But there was one thing her father and Baxter both got wrong: She didn’t doubt the power of her words… she feared it.
Jesse had a secret. One she kept so deeply buried that not even her mother could read it. It was a secret she had held since she was merely an infant. Jesse’s unique and abnormally perfect memories from when she was just a baby – like the first time she reached for her father’s hand, or the fear that overtook her the moment he handed her over to those strangers… she could hear the harsh whispered tones of her mother and father arguing about how Jesse could be better, she [i had] to be better! To be open and warm, attached, and capable of love. She had to have a heart. She had to be good. So Jesse, ever seeking her father’s approval, learned to be good, learned to show the words she was just like any other Street Brat. But deep down Jesse knew it wasn’t true. The kindness, the selflessness, the [good person] was nothing more than an act. At her core, Jesse was as cold, detached, and soulless as her parents ever were. Because the hard truth of it was: in order to use her words to their fullest extent, she had to cross lines no Street Brat would cross. Baxter may have wanted Jesse to speak up and protect herself, but he wasn’t going to like the monster he had just unleased.
[#aa0000 “It won’t be hard. We’ll create a small distraction, giving these kids a wisp of hope that they can actually win. They’ll fight, but they won’t all make it out alive. I’ll worry about starting the revolution, but Baxter, you should find your friends’ siblings and stay close to them. Make sure they’re among the ones who survive this.”] Jesse suggested. Bryn still didn’t look convinced. She thought this was far too much of a risk. Even with her covering from a distance, she wouldn’t be able to take all the guards out herself! If Baxter or Jesse got in over their heads, there would be very little Bryn could do to save them.
[#880088 “I still don’t like this. Baxter, you’re putting a lot of faith in someone you barely know. Just be careful out there, ok? One of these days, I’m going to get tired of saving your ass!”] Bryn countered, clearly nervous about this rash plan. But with Baxter and Jesse already setting out for their roles in the mission, she took her position, staying relatively well hidden at a good vantage point so she’d be able to keep an eye on her team.
[#aa0000 “I’m sure. Just remember your deal, Baxter. I help you with this, you help save Logan. Now go find Ste’s siblings. I’ll give you a 5 minute head start, then I’ll start the distraction.”] Jesse told him, slipping off in a different direction to blend in with the line of kids. She started whispering her plans, making sure their was a core group ready to make their move as soon as they had an opening. She gave Baxter the 5 minutes she promised for him to find the targets and with one final scan of the crowd, Jesse prepared for her next move.
[#aa0000 “Careful what you wish for Baxter.”] She whispered under her breath before standing up, twisting her face into one of desperate hope, and pointing directly towards Bryn’s hiding spot!
[#aa0000 “Look! She came to rescue us! She’s here to save us!”] She squealed, intentionally drawing the attention of all the guards in the immediate area, leading them straight to the archer! Bryn hardly got a second to process her betrayal before the guards opened fire on her, sending a spray of bullets towards the young teen. Bryn cried out as one bullet grazed her upper arm and a second buried itself in her gut. She fell out of sight, making it impossible to see the full extent of her injuries or if she had even survived the assault. But in the midst of the guards attack on the archer, the line of kids saw this as their perfect opportunity to fight! The guards had their backs turned and weapons aimed at a distant target, giving a brief opening for a surprise attack. If the whole line joined the fight, they’d be able to take out the guards – thought likely taking heavy casualties on their side as well.
Jesse grabbed one of the kid’s pikes and slammed it into the chains, breaking the links and setting a handful of children free. By now it was an all out war, with bullets flying and bodies dropping in all directions. Jesse, however, seemed unaffected by the chaos and bloodshed. Kids, weary, afraid, and vulnerable, all falling to their deaths around her, but Jesse didn’t seem to care. She marched right through the carnage towards one of the camps where the guards stayed. Words couldn’t be heard over the noise of the fight, but whatever Jesse said was terrifying. One minute Jesse had a gun to her head and a guard screaming at her to get down on her knees, and the next minute… the guard had turned the gun on himself, firing a lethal bullet straight into his mouth and dropping lifelessly to the floor. Jesse simply stepped over her victim and reached for the phone in his pocket, knowing that the call log would give enough evidence to convict traffickers like Pyke, Dylan, and Eleanor once she got back to the surface. Jesse was determined to bring these bastards down for what they did… even if that meant sacrificing a few dozen kids to make it happen.
Lisa watched and listened from a distance, hearing everything Martyn heard through his earpiece. The mission was starting to feel nostalgic. Sure, she and Martyn had worked together like this during investigations or in court, but they hadn’t partnered up for a real mission like this in years. Lisa was glad to see their time away hadn’t made them rusty. She knew exactly what information Martyn needed to be able to work, and she trusted his skills explicitly.
[+green “Martyn, you’ve got his attention, but he’s still a little skeptical. He’s trying to stall you… probably waiting for the third partner to show up. But his greed is stronger than his loyalty to his partners. You can use that to turn him against the others. Maybe he won’t want to cut them in on the extra cash you’ve promised.”] Lisa suggested, trying to give Martyn something to work with. Meanwhile, her eyes kept switching from watching Martyn through the open door and watching Tigan as he slipped around back.
At his boss’s call, Pyke returned from packing the car seeming less thrilled than Dylan was to have Martyn standing in their base. Martyn was a respected lawyer and now he’d seen their faces! They couldn’t let him leave here alive, money or no money! And unlike Dylan, Pyke was hoping Eleanor didn’t show up. Martyn would recognize her from Child Protective Services, and if he found out she was the one bringing the heat down on the Sanders family, their whole plan could crumble! Still, best not to panic just yet. Pyke did as he was instructed – pushing Martyn roughly against the wall so he could pat down his pockets and make sure the man was unarmed. Pyke was rougher than he needed to be, making sure Martyn knew just how much trouble he was in before giving Dylan a nod and backing away to deal with the boy.
Pyke grabbed a fist-full of Logan’s hair and tugged him away from the entrance way and back towards the living room where Jesse’s blood still stained the blood, and a mess of glass and splintered wood from the broken coffee table were littered across the room. He barely gave Logan a chance to get his feet under him – practically dragging the boy into the room and throwing him violently down to the floor.
[#776677 “Get started cleaning those place too, Runt. And don’t even [i think] about making a break for it! It wouldn’t do you any good anyway.”] Pyke growled, squatting down so he was more at Logan’s level. A sinister sneer crossed his face as he taunted the injured boy.
[#776677 “Don’t get your hopes up, Kid. What do you think Martyn Mason will do to you once he finds out what you did to his precious baby girl? The fact that you beat her half to death, that you threw her through a window, left her to bleed to death alone out there in the middle of nowhere? And what would your mommy and daddy think? I guess they can’t hate you any more than they already do. I mean, if they actually cared about you, don’t you think they would have come with Martyn to save your sorry ass? Your step-daddy’s out there getting himself arrested because of you. Maybe Lily’s finally realized you’re more trouble than you’re worth! There’s only one way you’re going to survive this Kid, and that’s by not pissing me off. So get busy and start scrubbing that blood!”] Pyke hissed, kicking Logan in the ribs and he stood up. Pyke then moved closer to the door so he could keep an eye on Martyn while still somewhat in the same room as Logan. His attention, however, was mainly focused on Martyn. He wasn’t too concerned about the kid; Logan was broken to the point Pyke didn’t think he’d try to escape even if the door was held open for him!
Seth heard the concern in Larry’s tone and knew it all too well. He had watched Jack spiral over the years with Larry being helpless to stop it. The younger brother had seen what alcohol could do to the members of his family and knew as well as Seth did what that sense of hopelessness would mean if it settled in Jack’s mind. Jack had always been one to punish himself, and if he thought all of this was his fault and that there was no way to fix it… Seth suddenly saw a flash of his sister’s tear stricken face as she was trapped beneath the floorboards of the apartment with Seven’s threats ringing in her ears. She had thought there was no way out. She had thought things would be better off without her. She thought she was being selfless… But it was Seth that suffered the most for her decision. He wasn’t going to let Larry go through that same pain if Jack decided to do something stupid.
[#336699 “Don’t worry, Larry. If I have to break the kid’s jaw to keep him from taking a swig, I will. But once this mess is over with… Maybe it’s not a bad idea for you and Jack to spend some brotherly quality time. I have a feeling things with Lily are going to be shaky for a while.”] Seth told the hacker. He kept his voice quiet as he snuck in to find Jack.
While Lily, Larry, Seth, and everyone else was waiting on Jack to make some stupid, reckless move, the oldest Sanders brother was being surprisingly focused! He had let the cameras see him, but only enough to prove he was there, not where he would strike next. He wasn’t about to get caught before his mission was complete or Logan could pay the price! Even as he spotted one of the bank’s security guards making his rounds, Jack was calm and collected. He slipped in behind the guard and clasped his hands over the man’s mouth and nose, silently suffocating him until he passed out. Jack then gently lowered the man to the ground and continued on his mission, having no interest in hurting an innocent guard who was just trying to do his job. Seth followed in his wake, pausing only to check the guard, noticing the man’s id, badge, and radio were missing. Jack must have taken them. He was working quickly and efficiently, already managing to clear all the accounts listed for this bank and ready to move on to the next one when Seth finally caught up to him. Seth could hear the faked accent as Jack mimicked the guard, contacting the police with the guard’s radio.
[#ff6622 “Yes, this is Richard Elgin at the National Bank, guard number 82359. We’ve had a break in. I think the intruder is still in the building. Approximately 5’11”, blond hair, dressed in a black sweatshirt and a grey bandana over his face. Send units immediately, I’ll try to detain him.”] Jack said into the radio, literally calling the police on himself. But he needed the word out that he was robbing these banks. He needed the kidnappers to know he was following orders or Logan could be killed!
[#336699 “Dude, what the hell?! You couldn’t have gotten out of here [i before] calling the cops? Lily’s right, you’re reckless kid! What do you think’s gonna happen to Logan if you get caught before you get that ransom money?”] Seth snapped, unsurprisingly met with the same attitude he saw back at the house. Jack roughly knocked his shoulder as he walked past, clearly offended by the slight.
[#ff6622 “If you think I would do [i anything] to risk Lily’s son, you don’t know me at all Seth!”]
[#336699 “And that’s another thing! Since when is he just [i Lily’s son]? He’s your son too, asshole! Maybe start acting like it!”] Seth hissed, deserving the vicious glare from the younger thief.
[#ff6622 “Logan doesn’t want me as his father. That’s what started this whole fucking mess! And everything I’ve tried to do to help him has only got me in deeper shit with Lily, so it’s about time I admit it: they’re both better off without me screwing up their lives!”]
[#336699 “Any Lily doesn’t get a choice in any of this? She’s your wife, Jack!”]
[#ff6622 “Of course she gets a choice! She’s the one who told me ‘no more second chances!’ She’s the one who said I fucked up so bad she thinks a damn bottle is more important to me than she is! You know as well as I do, no jail can keep me locked away! I would NEVER have let those bastards keep me from my family, but Lily, she… she didn’t trust me. She hasn’t… not for a long time. So I’m going to buy [i her] son as much time as I can and then I’m going to do what I’ve been too damn selfish to do for the past 8 years.”] Jack swore, losing his anger towards the end and letting the weight of his words sink in. Seth didn’t like the implication of his last line. Whatever Jack had planned, it wasn’t the happy ending those kids deserved. But before Seth could counted with his own argument, he felt his phone vibrate with a text from Caleb.
[#336699 “Shit! Jack, its Lily. She’s just been arrested and now the cops are after you! We gotta go, kid!”] Seth warned, already hearing sirens in the distance.
[#ff6622 “Dammit Lil! How the hell do we… ok… ok, time for a new plan. Seth, I’m gonna need your help after all.”]
Baxter was fuelled with adrenaline from the fight, and it was conjuring up a mix of emotions he was experiencing which was making him more furious! He found that caring for people was a weakness. It was why he despised his family. They destroyed each other with their overwhelming desire to love each other, ultimately putting one another at risk! He promised himself from a young age he would never build strong friendships, and he would definitely never allow himself to have a partner. He kept himself clean from drink or drugs, after seeing what substance abuse had done to his family. When the gang got more social and started to play games, or chat around the campfire, Baxter was always the one who took a walk on his own. He might have had the gang but it was for survival purposes, that was it.
So as he stared at Jesse, feeling the intensity of fear that had built up in his chest and gut, he resented every second. Baxter scolded himself in his mind, hating how weak he had allowed himself to become and gave another reminder that he wasn’t this girls babysitter. They got what they needed, why was he still bothered to protect her? Maybe it was because he saw something in her... she wasn’t desperate for attention, and she wasn’t one to showcase how she was feeling. She didn’t determine herself by her emotions and did what she could to hide it behind a mask. Even her response was collected, it wasn’t filled with desperation or fear . Baxter stared at her intently, not budging for what to many would have been an uncomfortable amount of time... without speaking it, he knew Jesse was reading what he was feeling which in normal circumstances might have been the reason he finally put an end to her! He had already proven, by the crimson stain on his clothing and face, that he wasn’t afraid to kill. Yet he was staring, letting Jesse’s answer sink in and to feel the truth of it before finally, he released her.
[+blue “He didn’t let you go because you’re doubting the power of your words. It’s pathetic. Get a grip and use the true power of your words. One day someone won’t be around to save you... your mum and dad didn’t get as far as they did by relying on fists to save them, did they?”] Baxter asked, his hostility dwindling as he backed away from her but now he was more focused on hiding the events that just happened, especially as Byrn arrived on scene.
[+blue “Whatever, we got out. Let’s just get these fuckers out of whatever mess they’re in, we can help precious Logan and then you never have to see us again.”] Baxter ordered, shaking his head as he travelled away from the two and in the direction of where they needed to go. He was letting himself slip and they had a mission to focus on.
That mission became more daunting as they arrived. For a brief moment Baxter wondered if it would have been better just to turn around and leave them to their fate! They were dying anyway, most were literally collapsing in front of their eyes and taking their last breaths. The guards didn’t seem fazed by the conditions they were forcing the children to work under. Even worse, they were heavily armed! Even if they went down striking with all the force they had, they would be overrun within moments. Yet with all these thoughts, there was a sly grin that grew on his face as Jesse suggested her plan. If there was one thing Baxter revelled in, it was danger and chaos...
[+blue “Why do we need a better plan? That sounds perfect.”] Baxter grinned, looking at the two with a confidence that disappeared only moments before.
[+blue “We’re not here to save them all. We’re here for the targets. The rest is a bonus. Beside’s, I’m fed up of this place. I think a revolution is what is needed. Beside’s, you’ve shown off with that bow and arrow already... you can keep us safe in the distance. You sure you have the words to actually get them to fight back?”] Baxter asked Jesse, already taking steps down towards the chain line showing to Byrn that he had already made up his mind.
[+blue “We could die any day Byrn, why not go out with a bang! Jesse, this was your idea, but i mean it... I’m not playing hero. That’s her job. Better be as good with those arrows as you were back at the trading post!”] Before Byrn could argue, he climbed down the steep towards the beginnings of the digging site and looked up and down. There were multiple guards, but the two would be able to slip in and blend in if they timed it right. They would have to be separate to get the message across, but there was certainly more kids alive than there was guards who could stop them! Even if they could overpower a few of the guards and get some weapons, they really would stand a chance.
[+blue “You sure you want to do this? If you want to leave, this is your one and only chance. Otherwise, lead the way...”]
[+green “So long as I have things to play with using my words, I can hold out. Greed and their enjoyment of family conflict is exactly what I need; it’s what most of our clients are fuelled by anyway... I already know my words won’t save Logan, they are too power driven but if it can get Tigan enough time to get Logan out, I should be able to pull myself away from the chaos. The last thing we need is Logan ending up free and then they have me as a hostage. We need to be quick. I don’t want to be in there for too long. Tigan, talk to me, tell me the plan. How are you going to get Logan out?”] Martyn asked, picking on the smallest of details. He needed to know exactly what was going to happen,
[#00BFFF “I need to assess the building Mart. I can’t just tell you how it’s going to work out, especially if you don’t want me rushing in all guns blazing. You want me to give Logan motivation to fight back, I need a place he can see me but I need you to make sure the kidnappers aren’t watching. If I’ve learned anything about the Sanders is they need a bit more convincing than other families... I can’t exactly run in and ask Logan to fight me to get his emotions out... it usually works on Jack but, yeah, I don’t know. I’ll make it work. Just when you see me, get them facing away.”] Tigan admitted, shrugging his shoulders at the two. He wasn’t strategic. He knew how to fight in the moment and his own Silvertongue only worked in the moment. He pretty much worked on defending himself and getting a reaction in the moment; which was why he was so good at snapping Jack back to reality!
Martyn didn’t seem impressed but at the same time he wasn’t surprised. Making sure the ear piece was set in place, he quickly looked in the mirror to make sure he was playing the part. It didn’t take much. He already had large bags under his eyes from stress, his hair was a mess and he already looked exhausted. Turning to Lisa he gave her a confident nod, before climbing out the car with Tigan. It wasn’t much, but it was Martyn’s own way of telling Lisa he would come back safe one way or another. Tigan and Martyn made their split, with Martyn rushing straight to the door of the house while Pyke was busy packing the bags and slamming his hand on the door.
Behind that very door was Logan. The boy was on his hands and knees with a wet brush in his hand, scrubbing back and forth on the floor boards where his blood had stained. He was extremely pale, shaking all over, breaking out in a sweat and his breaths were laboured. He had lost a lot of blood, and it was still leaking from his injuries and dripping from his face. With the move out, Dylan was forcing the kid to clean up the mess he had created. Since his beating he had been forced to pick up every shard of glass with his broken and beaten hands, and now he was having to clean every drop of blood. As he heard the knock on the door, Logan tried to stand up to answer it, but as he did he collapsed back against the wall with the energy zapped out of him.
[+grey “Useless piece of shit. It’s Pyke! I told you to open it!”] Dylan snapped, storming over and slamming his foot into the side of Logan’s head. The boy fell onto the wet floor, feeling some of his blood fall onto the patch he had already cleaned, yet with no resistance he already started to clean the fresh mess. Dylan smirked, glad the boy was finally acting obediently. It took the fun out of it, but at least for now they had him under control.
[+grey “Forget that, go get the bags for Pyke. Collapse again and you’ll have it worse.”] Dylan warned, watching Logan start to crawl away before he answered the door.
[+green “You have my daughter.”]
[+grey “And what?”]
[+green “And you want your money, don’t you? Lisa doesn’t think before she speaks. She thinks that I wouldn’t pay whatever we had for my little girl? I want to see Jesse is alive. I want to see she is ok and you will get every penny.”] Martyn started, attempting to step into the room so he could see Logan’s condition, but Dylan’s arm blocked his entry.
[+grey “You don’t get to see anything. Beside’s we’ll have all your money soon, we don’t need you here.”]
[+green “I have more funds. I have a lot more funds. Funds I kept secret, away from her, for something like this. I know what dangers the Brat’s bring and I knew she would never take the sacrifice... she already let one little girl slip from her fingers. I’m not letting us lose Jesse because of her ignorance...”] Martyn said, inwardly cursing that he had to resort to that tactic but he needed these kidnappers on his side and by the twinkle in Dylan’s eye, he certainly latched onto the mans greed.
[+grey “Pyke! Hold on a minute... we can’t leave yet. Search Martyn, make sure he isn’t carrying anything. I need to chat to him. Man-to-man.”] Dylan was completely indulged with his greed, desperate to find out what else Martyn could offer but as he turned, he could see Logan collapsed against the bags, holding the gunshot wound.
[+grey “Actually, why don’t you move that little rat out the way. Don’t want him interrupting things.”] Dylan hinted, not wanting Logan to spill the truth on Jesse. Beside’s, Dylan wanted to buy himself some time. If Eleanor came back, he would be able to tell exactly what this Silvertongue’s intention was...
<<I'll finish the post later this week... had a very exhausting couple days.>>
It was times like these when Jesse wished she had paid more attention during her Aunt Hayden’s self defense lessons. Lacking the swift reflexes and physical instincts of her bloodline, Jesse had no way to break Karl’s hold without help. Her feeble struggles only seemed to excite the vile man and Jesse cringed at the fleeting thought that maybe it would be over quicker if she stopped fighting it. The thought raised bile in the back of the redhead’s throat and she found herself wishing Logan was here to protect her. As it turned out, she had the next best thing.
The rest of the fight went by in a blur. Jesse felt the blade in her hand, the warmth of blood on her hands as she stabbed her attacker, then suddenly it was dark. Jesse felt something wet spray across her face and a vice grip capture her wrist. Her first instinct was to pull away, but she forced herself to follow instead, recognizing the heavy breathing in the dark for her surprise rescuer. Baxter had now saved Jesse’s like twice and she hadn’t even given him the curtesy of being unsurprised. She was still trying to sort out what happened in her mind – [i Baxter had no reason to come back for me, why the hell would he risk his life for a Street Brat?] – when they breached the laminated part of the tunnels. Distracted by her thoughts, Jesse soon found herself slammed violently against the wall. She gasped in pain as her bruised back took the full force of the impact and the briefest flicker of fear lit her eyes before hurriedly being forced behind her mask. The unreadable wall of emotionless expression was a defense mechanism Jesse had inherited from both her mother and father, shielding their vulnerabilities from the world that only wanted to twist them into something that would cause her pain. But as Jesse peered back into Baxter’s fury, there was something deep behind those eyes that made her expression genuinely soften. Baxter was scared.
[#aa0000 “He didn’t hurt me. You stopped him.”] Jesse replied. Her response may have sounded odd and rather obvious, but her tone was steady and assured. It was something Jesse had learned from her years with an overprotective Logan. Whenever there was a close call or he was scared he hadn’t reached her in time, she always started by reassuring him that she was safe, nothing bad had happened, and that he had saved her. In light of a trauma, it was the [i What if’s] that caused the most damage: [i What if Baxter was too late? What if Karl had taken Jesse right there? What if they hadn’t reached her in time?] The only way to lessen the damage was to reaffirm that the [i what if’s] didn’t actually happen.
[#aa0000 “It wasn’t your fault. I read you before I went in. I knew you had no intention of pulling me out once you got your information. I did the best I could with the skills I had but Karl was not going to let me go with words alone. You saved me. Thank you.”] Jesse told him, keeping her voice calm despite his rage in an effort to bring down the level of hostility. At this point, Jesse thought Baxter might have been as surprised as she was that he decided to go back for her.
[#880088 “Hold on… you thought we were gonna leave you back there and you still agreed to go in anyway without backup?”] Bryn questioned as she joined the two. Bryn had the bow slung over her shoulder and specks of blood staining her clothing as well, but nothing compared to the crimson that saturated Baxter’s clothing. Bryn was unharmed aside from a darkening bruise on her cheek from where one of her targets got in a lucky punch. She had fared much better once she switched to the bow and could take out her enemies from a safer distance.
[#aa0000 “Did I really have a choice? It’s not like you would have let me back out. Besides, the information helps me too. If Dylan does sell Logan, he could end up working that line too. Look, I’m glad you changed your mind. I’m grateful for the help and I will try to repay the favour somehow. But you don’t have to worry, I’m not expecting you to keep protecting me. ”] Jesse explained. It’s not that she didn’t believe better of Baxter and Bryn – in fact, she could read some pretty genuine concern from the boy at the moment, even if he did try to bury it with anger. But she also didn’t want it to seem like she was going to make a habit of this damsel-in-distress thing. When Baxter finally released her, Jesse pulled the elastic from her hair and untied her shirt, returning to her normal look. Acting so bold and looking the part had made Jesse feel self-conscious. Her back was sore and her arm was aching, but overall Jesse got off lucky. Just the thought of Karl’s hands on her or his lips at her neck was enough to give the young reader a shutter.
Jesse kept a firm hold of Baxter’s knife when he told her she could keep it, but the feel of the blade didn’t offer as much reassurance as she hoped. Jesse was a Reader not a fighter. She didn’t have the skills nor instincts to survive in a brawl, that’s why she always depended so heavily on Logan. Jesse could unleash a hell of a verbal beating, but breaking people’s psyche only worked so long as they gave the time to listen. Once that first punch was thrown she was useless! Still, Jesse had given her word to help rescue these kids in hopes that in return Baxter would help her save Logan. She couldn’t back out now or she may never see her best friend again.
As they neared the pit, it was more and more apparent that they may never get these kids out alive. If they had survived this long, it wasn’t by much and the more they dug the closer they got to the toxic fumes. Bryn scanned the line in hopes of finding the siblings she had met at the orphanage and was struck by how young some of these kids were. Who the hell could be this cruel?
[#880088 “Even if we found them, how the hell are we going to get them out? Look at all those guards!”] Bryn doubted, glancing towards Baxter and finally to their newest member who seemed to be far more focused on the kids than the security.
[#aa0000 “We could use the kids. Start a revolution. There’s enough of them to literally carve out an underground city, if we got them all to turn on the guards at once, we might have a chance. Some of them will die in the process, but it’s the only way I see for any of them to survive.”]
[#880088 “You’re expecting a line of unarmed, overworked, half-dead children to turn on their gun-wielding adult captors knowing that a good chunk of them will die in the fight? Who the hell would agree to that? Baxter, please tell me you have a better plan?”] Bryn asked. The Silvertongue was good, but sneaking in and convincing dozens of kids to suddenly become soldiers in this was impossible!
Lynn hardly tore her eyes off her patient, focused intently on keeping the child’s heart beating until a replacement could be arranged, but when Elliot sought her reassurance, Lynn spared a brief but comforting glance towards the worried father.
[#ff66ff “Elliot, honey, I’ve had had enough Street Brats on my table over the years to know which ones are beyond my abilities and which ones I can save. I WILL get Rylan through this. You just need to have a little faith in your boy. After all, the son of a Mason and an Evenwood? He’s too stubborn to give up on us now.”] Lynn assured Elliot. Over the years, she had treated every member of the Street Brats. Some bouncing back from almost certain death, while others were beyond saving. She knew better than to give false home, but she also knew that this family was capable of miraculous recoveries if given the chance. She wasn’t going to rob that opportunity from Rylan.
[#ff66ff “He will need blood, but unfortunately, Hayden isn’t a match of his blood type. The hospital should have some in stock – I made sure they carried matches to all the Brats after the close calls we had when you were a kid. But to be safe, I’ll get the Doctors to take some from Alex as well. It won’t be much and she’s a tough kid. I’m sure she’ll do anything to help her brother. You, on the other hand, need all your focus to fix that arm. You’re the only one who can do this Elliot, so Rylan’s counting on you.”] Lynn said as the surgical staff returned with an organ cooler containing the Instructor’s heart. Lynn wasted no time in starting the procedure while Elliot focused on the arm. It wouldn’t be easy. They were in for a long couple of hours, but if Rylan survived the transplant and getting his arm stabilized, the Street Brats could count this as another win against Death.
Arriving at the coordinates from Jesse’s phone, Lisa felt a pit growing in her stomach. This place was in the middle of nowhere! And from the recording Larry had shared, it seemed as though Jesse’s call cut off suddenly. She could have easily wandered out of the area of cell reception or been recaptured. If she was still out there in these woods, Lisa worried how they would ever find her! A crack of thunder sounded overhead, foretelling a grizzly storm on its way. Lisa didn’t want to leave her daughter alone out there any longer than she had to, but she couldn’t ignore the more immediate threat. Logan’s life was on the line – best case, they had the 24 hours they were promised but worst case, those bastards would get tired of dealing with Logan and kill him even before their ransom was filled. It sounded like Logan had caused them more than enough trouble during his stay. They couldn’t risk delaying Logan’s rescue any further so Jesse would just have to wait.
[+green “That may work… On the ransom call, it would have been obvious to the kidnappers that Jack, Lily, and I were at odds. They blamed me for their son’s pain and I vocalized their own failures, so it wouldn’t be hard to predict that following the call, we went our separate ways. The way the kidnappers were speaking, they seemed to enjoy the conflict between families. You could barter for Jesse’s life – act as if you don’t know she escaped, even offer to still pay the ransom. One of the kidnappers was clearly financially driven while the other seemed more procedural, as if he was just hired to do a job, while his friend was only getting paid if he could leverage the kids. Target the man’s greed and you’ll hold his attention.”] Lisa said, remembering what little she had read from their conversation over the phone. It was much harder to read through voices than faces, but it might be enough to help Martyn distract them for a while. At least until someone else could sneak in and save Logan.
[+green “We could use a thief… if Jack hadn’t opened his big mouth and trapped him and Seth in that deal to rob the banks, we could have used one of them to break in the back and silently free Logan. Of course, Logan himself has shown a natural talent for stealth and slight of hand, just like Jack. But the boy sounded broken over the phone. He won’t have the motivation to take such a risk on his own.”] Lisa said, recalling the agony of the boy’s screams. The kidnappers didn’t seem like the type to treat their victims, so Logan had likely lost a fair bot of blood. He’d be weary, battling pain and fear, not to mention the hopelessness of a death sentence looming overhead and the reality that his mother and father were suffering along with him. They had to find a way to motivate the boy into risking an escape.
[+green “Tigan, can you get close enough to that building for Logan to see you without alerting the kidnappers? I doubt he’ll trust me after that ransom call – if he thinks like his parents, he’ll assume I didn’t care about him. But being such a close friend of both Lily and Jack, Logan might trust you enough to risk an escape attempt. If all else fails, you’ll be close enough to fight.”] Lisa thought aloud. She wasn’t eager to send her brother-in-law in to a fight with so many variables – there was no way to tell whether the men were trained fighters, what weapons they might have on them, or if they had reinforcements close by – but their window of reaching Logan was growing narrower. Lisa could hear the shuffling of bags as one of them (Pyke) seemed to be packing up the vehicle. Looks like they were getting ready to move Logan somewhere more secure.
Jesse’s resistance sickeningly only seemed to encourage Karl to continue with his plans, his grip tightening, and his invasion of space becoming more and more. If Baxter and Byrn didn’t act when they did, Jesse was once again only moments away from ending up with the same fate as many other of her fellow Street Brat’s. As Baxter ripped her away, and her foot connected with Karl’s leg, an enraged howl of pain climbed out of his lungs. His anger translated as he grabbed the baseball bat, swinging straight for Baxter with all the force he had. He’d kill the little shit, just like he should have days before, and grab the girl and finish what he started! Despite being injured and writhing in his own pain, Karl had a lot of strength and the weight of the bat was adding extra pressure on Baxter’s arms! Usually Baxter wouldn’t have hesitated in slamming his blade into the bastards heart. Unlike most, he didn’t have the fear of taking a life, but he wouldn’t get the opportunity since he was trapped in a deadlock!
As he shouted his orders to Jesse, much like she never expected him to come running back to save her, he never expected her to have the will to fight. In fact he was almost expecting that he got himself and Byrn into a death trap and that Jesse would run while she could! She ran away from Logan, so what would be the difference? Why would she try and save someone who tried to kill her in the past?
Of course it seemed this night would be filled with surprises. Feeling the blade ripped from his belt, he was almost caught off guard in surprise that Karl nearly got the advantage! Unable to see what Jesse was up to and having to focus on keeping his strength, Baxter growled and tightened his shaking arms, feeling the strength they had quickly draining with each passing second. He wouldn’t have been able to hold on much longer, but as Jesse slammed that blade into Karl’s shoulder, it was enough for Bax to make his move.
He ripped the baseball bat from Karl’s hands and with Chrissy’s yelp from the arrow, and the pitch black darkness that took over, his next actions were invisible to be seen by even those next to him. Instead there was the sound of bone cracking, and wood colliding with solid human mass. It repeated, with the sound of gargling blood and the only hint of how brutally Baxter was attacking Karl, was the wet liquid that was spraying around, spraying so far it hit Jesse’s side... the beating continued for a few more moments, before the bat could be heard clanking against the floor and Karl’s gargling and blood filled breaths ceased...
Grabbing Jesse’s wrist, Baxter sprinted away from the scene, trusting that Byrn would follow closely behind. He didn’t hesitate to run in the direction that the traders had informed them the kids were, but as soon as they broke through the darkness and returned to some makeshift lights within the Underground, he grabbed Jesse and slammed her against the wall.
The light revealed Karl’s blood covering Baxter from head to toe. His chest was heaving up and down trying to catch a breath from using everything he had to kill Karl, but also the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He looked insane and it was all directed to Jesse!
[+blue “We told you we weren’t your fucking babysitter! Why did you let him do that!? You don’t have my brother to keep you safe all the time, he’s made you weak! YOU CAN’T BASTARDS LIKE KARL DO THAT!”] Baxter yelled at Jesse. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but there was one thing he was forgetting... Jesse was a reader...
He didn’t even realise it himself, but there was an instinctive desire to protect Jesse. He was still feeling that shaky feeling in his gut and when Karl reached forward and grabbed her, he saw red... his body was shaking and he didn’t even know that he was scared for Jesse’s fate. Shaking his head, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blood hair clip, which Jesse had stabbed into her attackers wrist just moments before. With gritted teeth he pulled away from her, throwing the clip as he did and turning to Byrn to make sure she hadn’t received any injuries. He was grateful for her smart and quick thinking, but he was never one to express his gratitude.
[+blue “If what they said was true, they’ll only be down that path if we follow it straight down. We stick together. No more acts. I suggest Jesse, you keep hold of that blade of mine and you don’t let anyone get too close again... “] Baxter warned, finally feeling the adrenaline falling from him and he turned back to face the Silvertongue.
[+blue “Don’t think I did it because you’re anything special... come on...Byrn, let’s go.”] He instructed both as he did, he stormed ahead, keeping his distance towards Jesse. Perhaps it was partially due to his own nature, but perhaps it was also due to this new protective feeling he had washing over him which he didn’t like.
Sure enough, close by, the sound of metal clashing against rock could be heard. The rustling of chains and the groaning of starving and exhausted children also added to the chorus... down below was exactly what Karl had described. Children, all chained together, forced to work to their death. Some had already collapsed; unconscious or dead, being dragged by their peers. Slavers, all armed with leather whips and heavy batons, paced up and down the work chain, attacking those who didn’t match the pace they were expected to work. The conditions were foul, with the stench of death and disease taking over the already dank surroundings of the underground. It would be a surprise even if they did rescue the living, if they would live for much longer... what was more terrifying however was that were they where digging was heading straight to the chemical site, with toxic liquid already breaking through the walls...
[+brown “I get that they made a deal but man, why didn’t he just talk to us!? We could have made them believe he was acting! We could have done something, bought time to actually go and save the kid or something... he’s an idiot who runs in head first!”] Larry huffed out in exhaustion of his brother. Why did he have to be such a reckless fool? He never did learn, even when he was sober! At least sober Jack could be reasoned with once his emotions were in check, it was just getting him to that point. Though as Seth warned him about how bad Jack had fallen, Larry leaned forward on his desk and felt himself gripping the arms of his computer chair a little too tightly.
[+brown “Whatever you do, don’t let him drink Seth. I mean it man, don’t let him drink. It’s dangerous, but it’s more if he has the time to touch the bottle. Prison will destroy him if he can’t see his family, but he’ll want to go down in fire as some sort of weird punishment to himself. He’ll try and touch the bottle, I know it. Don’t let him. If he does, call me.”] Larry insisted, not willing to take any risks. If he had to leave the safety of his computer, he would. Anything for his brother.
[+brown “I’ll work my magic. I’ll keep you guys on track with time too. Just keep the comms up with us and stay safe man, we don’t need the old days creeping back on us. Let’s get this nightmare over with.”] Letting Seth go, Larry connected to the first bank desperate to see his brother. He was already watching the cameras, seeing Jack in action and he felt a pit in his stomach. Whilst Jack was incredible good at what he did, Larry was almost waiting for the reckless act that would lead him into danger. If he couldn’t stop this madness of following these plans from happening, he would do everything in his power to make sure he didn’t get hurt or worse whilst doing it!
As Seth’s phone line dropped he turned to see the messages from Caleb, having his own camera pointing down on him so his friend and mentor could see his reactions. It also helped if he ever got stuck that Caleb could see his set-up and help him out!
[+brown “I’m just pulling up the records of that place. Shit, man, Caleb have you seen the records? Old enemies who tried to kill us. If Martyn can’t work his magic, maybe we need a secondary plan. We need to have access to the technology in that place to keep him safe.”] Larry preempted, knowing it might be over planning but those prisons were hard to crack and watching his brother already, he didn’t want to take anymore risks.
The stress was visible on his face, but he could always count on Caleb for easing the tone.
[+brown “Modesty was never your finest skill. Cocky bast-... shit, what’s happening Caleb? The hospital? I... whoa man, wait, wait...I... Caleb, Lily Sanders has just popped up on the Police National Computer. She’s on her way to lock-up...”]
[+red “HE’S MY SON! I decide when we give up! I decide when enough is enough! NO! Don’t you dare! DON’T!”] Elliot’s pain could be heard across the operating theatre, his eyes wide and already filling with tears as the doctor called the time of death. If Lynn didn’t come in when she did, the Evenwood father would have climbed over his own son’s body and launched for the doctors!
There was an instant relief, falling back in his chair as the best Street Brat medic entered the scene. He fell back in his chair, looking at his hands and seeing his son’s blood all over him. He had followed Hayden’s advice, closing his eyes and allowing himself to re-focus when needed, attempting to block out the fear and remember exactly why he was doing this but now he was hating himself! What if all those times he did that was the reason his son crashed? Maybe if he worked quicker, his son’s strength could focus less on his arm and more on his heart. Yet as he heard heart transplant, he selfishness couldn’t help but take in a deep breath of fear. It was as if his lungs were making him take deep breaths, but each one was fuelled by terror to the point he felt his lungs were going to pop!
It was selfish, but it had already been hours and he didn’t seem any closer to fixing his son’s arm. There was no one in the OR who understood Elliot’s trauma, but as Lynn snapped back his focus and he heard that maternal tone that almost reminded him of his own mothers, he blinked away his tears and choked back the fear that was building up.
[+red “You said you will get him off this table. Do you mean that Lynn?”] Elliot asked, nodding at her request but begging for an answer in return.
Putting his attention back on his son’s arm, hoping that Lynn could work another one of her own miracles, he started to work to actually make it something. He had already pulled out some of the broken bits of useful metal, and parts of the debris that had gotten inside but Rylan’s arm was going to be different. Where Elliot could detach his, Rylan’s was so infused into his bone he would need a permanent attachment. Elliot had to work in infusing the new construction to the bone, giving Rylan a permanent robotic arm. Grabbing a screw, Elliot started to create a new metal forearm by attaching a metal bar into his sons bone...
[+red “Does he need anything else? Does he need my blood whilst this is happening? Does he need Hayden, or Alex? They will be here. If he needs it Lynn, then call them. I am NOT losing my son!”]
Lily looked at Eleanor with an empty and hopeless expression. She wanted to argue. She wanted to say that she had always been the enemy and that the moment she appeared, she ruined the Sanders. Eleanor never wanted to protect the children, she wanted to rip the family apart and Lily couldn’t help but see some enjoyment in the woman’s eyes.
Hearing the Officer and listening to Eleanor explain the circumstances, Lily turned to the approaching man whose handcuffs was already leaving his belt to slap on her wrists.
[+orange “If you really believe her, if you believe I would do that to my own child, then you go ahead. I want you to remember...”]
[i “Remember that you’re mother and father were both respected officers? They were indeed ma’am. I highly respected your father, he’s who made me want to become an officer or the law and your mother made a real difference. However, you and your husband have been causing problems since you moved in. We have reports of drunk and disorderly behaviour, breach of the peace recorded by neighbours with high noise, shouting, the missing person reports of your son... I have to take these allegations seriously and your parents would be turning in their grave to hear what has happened today.”] The officer commented, which seemed to act like a punch in the gut to Lily! The shock was enough for the Officer to apply the handcuffs on Lily.
[i “Lily Sanders, I am arresting you on suspicion of child cruelty, child abduction, obstruction of police in relation to failing to report a missing child, and assault. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence, if you do not mention when questioned something which you may later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”] The officer stated, pulling Lily away from her house and towards the car, giving Miss. Carrow a sympathetic look.
[i “All files will be sent to you ma’am in respect to Lily’s case and in relation to Logan’s protection. I’ll have Jack Sanders warrant issued and an area search by patrols. I’m sorry this happened to you, you do great work for our community.”]
And with that, Lily was thrown into the back of the police car and the call was made over the radio for Jack Sanders arrest. Available officers would start actively searching for the thief and no doubt his bank robberies would soon attract more attention...
[+green “Lisa, what do we say? Do we get every court case right? No. Far from it. What we do is we adjust, we manage the situation. We reassess. Jesse isn’t with the kidnappers, she’s a smart girl. We have to trust her too. We also have to somehow trust Logan not to be anymore reckless than his father. As much as he’s injured, he’s alive.”] Martyn spoke up, seeing the stress in his partners eyes. He too was carrying a stress which she would be able to read, but he wanted to provide her with a perspective which could keep them both thinking logically and stop the stress from blocking them from planning forward. It was rare the two got emotional, or allowed a situation to play on their mind, so the fact they were nothing feeling the pressure made Martyn realise how much they had to take a step back from their own emotions.
[#00BFFF “You just said they’ll kill him anyway! They probably already have an idea we are acting on them, Whether we plan or not, you’re saying it’ll be lucky if Logan is alive anyway by the time we get to him! I know you want to prevent anything worse from happening but what is your actual plan? Go there, negotiate, hope for the best? I think you know that won’t work.”] Tigan challenged but it wasn’t from a malicious place, it was just out of concern for Logan and Jesse! Beside’s after what he heard about Jack, he needed something for his best friend to fight for and if they got Logan out, as much as he thought he let the boy down Jack would always be there for him!
[#00BFFF “I won’t be reckless. Am I ever reckless?”] Tigan asked, seeing the corner eye from Martyn who almost actually let out a sarcastic laugh that his brother had the tenacity to ask that question!
[#00BFFF “Alright, alright yeah I am but I know how important this is. I follow your orders. I’m here to keep you safe and jump in if things get messy. If you guys really want to plan, you plan.”]
[+green “You’re finally learning. It’s about time.”] Martyn responded, nodding for them all to get in the car and he started to drive towards the coordinates given. As Jesse had started running away from the house, it didn’t plant them right outside of where Logan was being held, but it was enough distance for them to see the house in the distance as they started to arrive.
[+green “What do you think Lisa? Tigan is right, they won’t negotiate Or, actually, they will but they won’t let us win. All the cards are in their hands. How about I go in? I’ll act I’ am betraying the family, I’m done. I can play the act that I’m broken, I can’t do it anymore and I want to help them deal with Logan. I can do it. My past plays a part. They know I used to give up on the Brat’s and betray them on multiple occasions. I can say I turned my back on you as well...”]
[#00BFFF “And what if they catch on to you lying? Now who is reckless?”] Tigan challenged back, not liking that his brother was prepared to put himself straight into the danger zone without support!
[+green “I do not fail.”] Martyn was just as quick to respond.
[+green “If you trust in my abilities, you know I am very good at what I do. So is Lisa. I’ll have a microphone, she can read the situation, if it goes wrong then we change tactics. She can spread to me through the earpiece. We use it in court all the time...yes, cheating a little but it works. Lisa, you trust I can do this? I can make it work.”] He asked, turning to his wife and looking her in the eyes. It was dangerous. If it went wrong, they could kill Logan and Martyn wasn’t strong enough to fight. No doubt he could die before help would arrive but he needed to get close and assess the situation. Even if they couldn’t save Logan now, if Martyn could at least find out if he was being moved to another location or what their intentions where, it would help them all strategise their next plan!
Jesse felt disgusted just being in this man’s grasp. As he leaned in to smell her hair, a deep chill ran down her spine that her normally perfect mask couldn’t quite contain. The façade was crumbling and despite Jesse’s valiant efforts, she knew she wouldn’t be able to take much more of this invasion of her space. Jesse was never very tolerant of physical affection. With a mother and father who never gave her anything more than a simple hand on her shoulder , the only person who Jesse ever allowed in her space was Logan, and even with him the physical side of their friendship was virtually nonexistent. Jesse was uncomfortable with a simple hug, so to have this vile man holding her close with his lips grazing the delicate skin on her neck, Jesse started to panic!
[#aa0000 “Get off me! LET GO!”] She snapped, trying to keep her tough act, but the desperation was starting to seep into her tone and now it would be quite obvious that Jesse was scared. The scene was far too familiar to her time with Dylan and the scene sent her spiraling into a flashback. She felt nauseous and her chest tightened as if she couldn’t breathe. Her perception was off and she had trouble grasping her surroundings, all she knew was she needed to get away before Dylan… no Karl… went any further!
Bryn was disgusted by what she saw. Maybe instead of cutting off his ear, Baxter should have cut off something below the belt. At least then he wouldn’t go after anymore young girls. But they had their Intel. They had their first real chance at saving the other kids! From what Chrissy and Karl described, it might already be too late, so they had to act quickly. And rushing in there to save Jesse would only risk Bryn and Baxter getting hurt when they were needed to help save the others! They had every reason to leave Jesse behind, and yet…
As Baxter turned on his heels and marched into the trading port, Bryn didn’t hesitate to back him up. As she said, this was his decision and she would have his back no matter what. With Baxter going directly for Jesse and Karl, Bryn moved to intercept one of the gang members that rushed onto the scene. She wasn’t the best fighter, but she was small, fast, determined, at least enough to slow them down.
Jesse was shocked to feel the grip on her shoulders release, but didn’t let her surprise stop her one chance to escape. She slammed her foot into his shin and pulled away, stumbling slightly as she tried to get as far from that creep as possible. Feeling Baxter’s tight and painful grip tugging her forward was another surprise. Jesse had read Baxter before they started this mission. He had meant what he said when he first found her – that if she got into trouble, she was on her own. Everything else about how they’d jump in if there was trouble had been a lie. Jesse knew when she set foot into the trading post that she’d be on her own as soon as she got them the information. So why did he change his mind?
Hearing Baxter’s shout, Jesse reached for the blade in his belt, defying her every instinct to run and hide. She was not a fighter. Like her mom and dad she avoided all conflict if she could, relying on her words instead of her fists, but she couldn’t just leave Bryn and Baxter to fight after they had just saved her life! Jesse turned to stab the blade at Karl, only to have her wrist caught by another gang member. In an uncharacteristically violent motion, Jesse used her broken arm to pull the hidden bladed clip from her hair and jab it into her attacker’s wrist, forcing him to let go. Consequently, she lost her hair clip, but she still had Baxter’s blade. In an attempt to repay Baxter for sparing her Jesse lifted the knife and plunged it downwards towards Karl’s shoulder.
Meanwhile, Bryn had managed to take out her first opponent, but the odds were heavily staked against them and with Chrissy wielding that machete, Bryn didn’t like the fact that their team only had these little pick-sticks! Fortunately, they were in a trading post, meaning there were all kinds of unique items and weapons stashed about. Bryn made a move for the stash, instantly setting her sights on a weapon she had learned to use at summer camp when she was a child. The bow felt heavy in her hands and the string was hard to pull back, but Bryn’s aim was steady. She shot her first arrow towards Chrissy to slow her down before setting her aim a little higher. The second shot took out the lights, casting the entire trading post in darkness. With no natural light, the tunnels were pitch black, making it impossible to fight or see each other in the darkness. Fortunately, Baxter and Bryn knew these tunnels like the backs of their hands, and would be able to slip away.
Seth was used to the miracles concocted by the skills of a computer expert. He had been close friends with Caleb since the beginning of their Street Brats days and had come to learn there as very little a well-caffeinated hacker couldn’t accomplish. Over the years he’d come to have the same faith in Larry, so the relief that came with just the sound of the younger hacker’s voice was welcomed and expected.
[#336699 “Getting caught was part of the gig. The bastards that too Logan threatened to kill the kid if Jack didn’t send himself to prison for all of this which would be bad enough under normal circumstances, but… Larry, Lily’s scared. She warned me that Jack may not think he has anything left to fight for and you know as well as I do that’s a dangerous train of thought to be in that Kid’s head.”] Seth warned him. Larry had seen the brunt of Jack’s depression after losing Lily the first time, so he wanted the kid well informed of what they could be up against.
[#336699 “I’ll text you the banks as well as the accounts we’re breaking into. If you guys could also work your magic to make it look like there’s only one of us robbing the place at a time, that would be wonderful. I don’t want to through this deal if the guards start seeing double.”] Seth asked, knowing he was asking a lot of their multi-tasking friends, but he had the upmost faith in the hackers. Larry wasn’t the only one working a mile a minute. Caleb had been decrypting the coordinates of Jesse’s call, sending over his part to Larry once he was finished. In the meantime, he had accessed the hospital surveillance system to keep an eye on Rylan’s surgery, and hacked the airport’s hub as well to rush Lynn through security once she hit the ground and to make sure she hit every green light on the way to the airport. If Caleb’s skills were good as a teenager, they were incredible now. Between him and Larry, they practically held the keys to this city! Now it was finally time to put it all to good use.
[i “They’ll most likely send Jack to Blackgate Penitentiary. It’s the only high security prison in the province that hasn’t had a Street Brat escape from it. It also holds a lot of our old enemies, but that might help Martyn make the case for Jack to be kept in solitary for his own protection.”] Caleb typed back to Larry, letting his seven fingers fly across the keyboard.
[i “Jack Sanders, outsmart you? Not likely. After all, you were trained by the best :P”] Caleb typed back, proving even being a mute, seven-fingered, introvert didn’t stall Caleb’s sarcastic sense of humour. But all traces of amusement disappeared as one of Caleb’s many sensor’s went off, indicating a crisis at the hospital. Rylan Evenwood had just flatlined.
[#776677 “Mr. Evenwood, I’m sorry… There’s nothing more we can do for your son.”] The doctor explained as their third attempt to resuscitate the boy failed.
[#776677 “We have to call it. Time of death: 11:37pm…”]
[#ff33ff “Get out of my way! Elliot, keep working on his arm. Dr. Tailor, prepare the OR for a transplant. Dr. Mitchells, bring in the Driving Instructor. I’ve already had Caleb run the records, he’s a match for organ donation. I am not giving up on this boy yet.”] Lynn Williams barged into the Operating Room having been fully briefed on her way here. While normally a gentle, motherly soul, anyone who knew Lynn knew better than to mess with her during a medical crisis!
[#776677 “Dr. Williams? You’re retired! Besides, you can’t honestly think this boy is strong enough to survive a heart transplant!”]
[#ff33ff “Retired? Dr. Taylor, I’ll be treating Street Brats from now until the day I die myself, and then probably still from beyond the grave with how much trouble this family gets into. Now stop wasting time and get this done! I’ve been keeping this boy alive since before he was even born, so I can promise you he WILL survive the transplant and he WILL make it off this table! Do what I say and stay out of my way!”] Lynn snapped, immediately diving into her work, literally reaching into the boy’s chest to pump his heart with her own hands just to buy him time for the transplant.
[#ff33ff “Elliot, you were right to call me. You focus on the arm and let me worry about the rest. We’ll get Rylan through this, Ell, you just have to stay focused and keep your chin up, alright Sweetheart?”] Lynn replied in a much softer, more maternal tone as she spoke to a man she practically saw as a son. She knew Elliot’s fears would be complicating this more and more, but in order for Rylan to have a chance, she needed Elliot focused on the arm. Without that, the new heart wouldn’t matter. Rylan’s body wouldn’t be able to take the shock of his damaged limb.
[#ff00ff “Mrs. Sanders, you speak as if I’m your enemy! This isn’t about sides, Lily, this is about doing what’s right for your children! All I have ever wanted was to protect your son: whether that means bringing him into the care of CPS or arresting your husband so that Logan can live safely with you.”] Eleanor tried to reason, expecting Lily to take the deal and lock her husband behind bars. He was headed there anyway, but this would ensure Lily felt it was her own fault! Besides, this wasn’t just custody of Logan on the line, Eleanor had threatened to take her unborn child as well, as soon as it was delivered. She’d be a fool to risk all of that for her husband.
A fool, but a loyal fool. Eleanor hadn’t planned on Lily taking the full blame but it seemed the mother was indeed willing to risk her entire life and freedom to protect the reputation of her husband. Either way, Eleanor got what she wanted.
[#ff00ff “I’m sorry to hear that Lily. It seems you’ve left me with no choice.”] Eleanor said, more for the benefit of the witnesses to play up her role as an innocent public servant. As the officer arrived on seen, Eleanor gave a pitied look towards the mother.
[#ff00ff “Yes, Officer, this woman has just admitted to abusing her child. Logan Sanders has been missing since his altercation at the party last night. His parents have failed to report him missing, and when I confronted this woman about it, she violently assaulted me. CPS will be taking full custody of Logan Sanders, so any further progress on the case or ransom calls can be forwarded directly to me. Although, I’ll admit officer, I do worry for the boy… He disappeared hours after he assaulted his classmate, threatening the pardon that Mrs. Sanders had arranged for her family. His actions got his step father fired and drew the attention of CPS, and I fear… with abusive parents like these, I worry that Lily and Jack Sanders were responsible for their own son’s disappearance. Of course, I would never give up hope for a child, but I’m afraid Logan might already be dead.”] Eleanor admitted, looking genuinely distraught, but all of it was an act. If she convinced the police that looking for Logan was a pointless waste of resources, then they wouldn’t put much time into finding him and Eleanor, Pyke, and Dylan would have nothing to worry about.
[#ff00ff “I would recommend putting out a warrant for the arrest of Jack Sanders as well. And when you do catch him, Office, I think it would be wise to send the two to different prisons. Street Brats like these two have a habit of slipping through police custody when they work together. Personally, I think the only way to keep dear Logan safe would be to ensure Lily Sanders never sees her husband again.”]
Lisa was still fuming when she finally met up with Martyn. Having her partner back at her side was a relief, but with it came the admittance that she had failed in his absence. She wasn’t able to protect their little girl and she had lost the trust of the Sanders as well. Things were looking significantly more bleak than they were before Martyn left.
[+green “Lily and Jack ruined the ransom call. I wasn’t able to get proof of life for Jesse. I did get a reading that she was no longer with the kidnapers and was hoping to use that to buy Logan more times, but Jack opened his big mouth and put them on a clock. He has to steal every penny from the Brats and turn himself over for a life sentence or they’ll kill Logan. Of course, they’ll probably kill the boy anyway…”] Lisa reported, shaking her head. Seeing Tigan step out of the car, Lisa let the harshness of her eyes soften a little at the sight of her brother-in-law. She wasn’t pleased to see the bruises any more than Martyn was, but Lisa knew it was nothing serious. Jack may be an idiot, but he would never purposely cause any real harm to his best friend. Still, it didn’t make her like the reckless thief any more at the moment.
[+green “Going in there without a plan is dangerous Tigan. These kidnappers were capable of catching both Logan and Jesse of guard, so they’re certainly not amateurs. And they’ve demonstrated they’re not afraid to hurt the kids. From Jesse’s voice on the call, I could tell she’d been hurt badly – a broken jaw among other injures and beyond that was a fear I’ve never heard from her before. As for Logan, he was actively tortured on the ransom call. He was shot, beaten, and one of the kidnappers carved his face to resemble Jack. They won’t hesitate to kill their hostages the moment they think we’re on to them.”] Lisa warned from what she had read over the two calls. Fortunately, they had a lead. Larry’s text came through with coordinates that lead out of town. Normally, Lisa would suggest having Jack come along to stealthily break into the base and free the kids while they distracted the kidnappers. They could let Seth continue to rob the banks so it would look like Jack was occupied, freeing up the father to help them rescue the kids safely. However, Lisa wasn’t exactly trusting of the thief at this point. If that call was any indication, Jack’s impulsive attitude could cost them in the field.
[+green “Alright, we have the coordinates of Jesse’s call. I doubt they’ll stay there for long. These Kidnappers seem smart and once they realize Jesse stole one of their phones, no doubt they’ll have plans to move the kids someplace safer. We don’t have a lot of time to waste. Tigan, I know you care about those kids, so I trust you on this. Just don’t make the same reckless mistakes as Jack did.”]
It was no surprise to Chrissy that Dylan had sent someone down. He would never step foot down in the Underground for a matter of his own dignity, seeing it as a place for scum, and probably more likely to stop one of his precious suits from being destroyed... also up on the surface he had a lot more places to hide if things went wrong, and he had a lot more luxuries should everything go to plan. So it wasn’t a surprise, but what was odd was how this girl seemed to know so much. Usually Dylan would give them a simple message, they would pass it on, and if the kid was lucky they would make it back to the city
[#FF7F50 “Then ya better hope he gets unbury pretty soon. He knows we call after every one of his little messengers comes down, we gotta protect ourselves. We gotta reputation and some snivelling little rat might try and claim they are one of Dylan’s. Karl, don’t get too hands on. We might have to sell ‘er after...”] Chrissy warned her partner, watching as his hands were already gripping tightly on her arms but his eyes were scanning her body. He laughed a little, licking his lips as he did and almost getting a kick as Jesse attempted to squirm away!
[#9ACD32 “She’s too pretty to be hurtin’ too much. Looks like Dylan already beat ‘er good, wouldn’t want to ruin that pretty little body...”] Karl’s grip only tightened as Jesse tried to fight, his one hand holding her still while his other grabbed her pony tail and brought it up to his nose, smelling her hair as he had her exactly where he wanted.
[#9ACD32 “I’m sure Dylan has given you a good time, but you’ve got one thing wrong pretty girl... Dylan doesn’t mind sharin’ - thing is he probably already has another girl in his lap already! You know I usually dispose of girls after I’m done with ‘em. We sell ‘em, but you might be a keeper. I’ve never met such a pretty little lady...”] Karl whispered into her ear, bringing his lips to her neck as he spoke and putting Jesse in the exact same position she was in only hours ago with Dylan...
Baxter scowled when Byrn questioned his distraction, giving her one of his ‘classic’ looks which everyone knew too well. It was the ‘you better stop asking questions or you’ll have to watch what happens’. Usually with Baxter, the consequence wasn’t pretty. He did hate the Brat’s, and he particularly hated his family and anyone who put themselves closely to his family. Yet when Jesse changed her appearance and walked with that confidence, he saw a different side to the girl and he couldn’t help but stop and stare in awe! His stomach felt twisted, almost as if something was fluttering but he shook it off the moment Byrn snapped him back to reality. The plan for Jesse was to be disposable; she had her skills, yeah it was impressive... whatever...
[+blue “She has to learn to watch her own back. I’m not a babysitter... she knew what injuries she had before she agreed. She made her choice. Let’s get going...”] Baxter instructed, pushing himself off the shed wall and preparing to sneak away until he took one last glance over his shoulder. Karl’s sickening laugh could be heard and Baxter’s eyes just caught the man putting his lips on Jesse’s neck. Gritting his teeth, Baxter tried to walk away before he let out a frustrated growl of frustration, spinning around and punching the shed wall in his own frustration.
[+blue “I warned that bastard didn’t I? I said he’d have more than a broken leg and a missing ear if he... fuck it.”]
Despite Baxter’s previous warnings about how it was a death trap, and how they were unlikely to get out alive if they headed down, he made no attempt to hide his presence. Storming into the centre of the trading post, he whipped out one of his blades and threw it straight towards Karl’s shoulder which caused the grabby bastard to scream out and release Jesse for a brief few seconds.
[+blue “I warned you!”]
[#FF7F50 “Baxter! That kid’s head has a price on it down here. Damn it Karl it’s just a stupid blade! Kill him!”] Chrissy ordered, pulling a switch on the trading post which turned on a red light. Within moments, other figures started to appear from the shadows, each brandishing their own weapon and each marked with their own tattoo representing their individual gangs.
Ragging Jesse’s arm, not carting too much about her injuries, Baxter pulled her so she was stood behind him as Karl hobbled up to his feet and lifted up his deadly baseball bat.
[#9ACD32 “She wanted it Baxter and when did yer start carin’? Looks like you’re just as sappy as yer pathetic little whore of a mother...”] Karl hissed, lifting up the baseball bat for a fatal strike towards Baxter’s head, all while the other figures were still approaching!
Baxter was able to catch the bat with both his hands, saving himself from a fatal strike but now Chrissy had a machete in her hand, her eyes glaring straight at Jesse.
[+blue “Jesse you either learn to fight or you run! Remember, we’re not your fuckin’ babysitters! Grab a knife from my belt!”]
Larry was sat at his computer, working on multiple screens and with a live feed chat to Caleb. While Caleb couldn’t speak, it was much easier for Larry to ramble away to the other computer geek and if there was any important information that Caleb had to translate back, Larry had a live chat open with his friend. He was surrounded by energy drinks, bleeping machines, and even a clock with a timer above his head reminding him of just how much time they had left. As his phone rang through, it was already connected to a live link to his computer which meant he didn’t even have to waste time answering it! The computer recognised the name and answered on his behalf as he continued to work.
[#CD853F “Hey Seth, man! Long time dude. What’s my jack-ass of a brother done now?”] Larry asked, not expecting a pretty picture but as Seth explained, he let out a heavy sigh.
[#CD853F “I wondered why the city bank alarms have been going crazy! Man, I’ve been trying to crack those cameras but the system has been whack over the last hour! Yeah, he’s definitely going to get himself caught. I’ll get those plans, if you text us what banks you two idiots are planning to break into, I’ll hack the other cameras before they go on lock down. That way we can keep an eye on you. Caleb, I’ll get the plans but maybe try and predict where they’ll get locked up.”] Larry asked his friend, already working on a secondary plan.
[#CD853F “You’ll no doubt want as much heat off you while you’re breaking into the banks. I’m on the Police National Computer now, I’ll take over the control desk and input false information which hopefully the dispatcher will pick up on and communicate to officers on patrol. It won’t stop them from finding you, they’ll catch on eventually, but it’ll buy you guys time. Man, make sure my knuckle head bro doesn’t try and out-smart me.”] Larry warned and with all his multi-tasking, he finally sent Jesse’s last known location to the families.
Lily was so broken she couldn’t shake past the red mist she was seeing. The only other time she had been like this was when Rick had hold of her son and was threatening to hurt him! To her, right now, Eleanor was giving the same level of threat. Lily survived because she had a family she loved with everything she had and now that was threatened to get ripped apart within less than 24 hours! There was still no guarantee they would get Logan back alive! So as Eleanor continued, Lily was biting her lip so hard she grabbed her door to stop herself from throwing another strike. She was ready to slam it in Eleanor’s face until...
Was she showing compassion? Was she actually suddenly acting like she cared?
[+orange “What are you doing? You can’t be so against me one minute, then on my side the next. You’ve just accused me of hurting my own boy! I lover Logan more than anything! No he... “] Lily was about to defend her husband, just as she always had but Eleanor threw an offer which messed with Lily’s broken mind. If she agreed, if she painted Jack to be a monster, then she could protect Logan if he returned alive. Jack was going to get locked up anyway... she had to protect what she had left...
Only the moment the thought came to Lily’s head, was the exact moment the mother gripped his hair and felt her bottom lip tremble. She looked like she was about to have a nervous break down right in front of Eleanor! She was actually ready to give up her husband and for what? She had already ruined so much in her own mind and now she had stooped so low in her head she couldn’t forgive herself.
[+orange “You won’t touch my husband. I have told you my son is missing. I’m the one who hurts my son. I’m the one who has broken this family. My husband is an alcoholic because of me. My son is rebellious because of me. It’s all my fault. Jack has been trying to keep this family together for so long. Now what?”] Lily asked, doing the only thing that was left in her arsenal; give Eleanor what she wanted. She had wanted someone in the family to blame, and she couldn’t turn her husband in. She was going to lose him anyway, but in her messed up mind maybe this was what was best for Logan now! He couldn’t come home to a broken family. Jack would never forgive her, but she wanted the best future for Logan and the new baby. Her hand went to her stomach, already scratched and raw from when she clawed herself just minutes before...
[+orange “It’s all my fault.”]
As the two spoke, multiple of the neighbours had been recording the conversation on their phones since Lily threw the first strike and one or two had called the police. A nearby patrol pulled up opposite the road, and an officer now stood at the end of the garden giving Eleanor a concerned look.
[i “Excuse me ma’am, is everything ok? We’ve been called with a concern for safety. Miss. Carrow, is this the one on file?”] The officer asked, his hand instinctively tickling against his cuffs. He had worked with Miss Carrow previously, and had an instinctive dislike for the majority of people she ended up working with, which didn’t put Lily in good stead...
While the Sanders were facing their own fight to save their son, the Cull’s were about to begin a battle of their own to put an end to all of this... finally arriving back in his home city, Martyn pulled up to meet Lisa. His body was stiff, his face was as stern as always, but there was a hidden relief behind his eyes which showed just how glad he was to be back with his partner. At least until he saw the equal amount of stress in Lisa’s eyes. Whatever happened during that phone call while he was away was clearly enough to set her on edge and as much as he wanted to sit and discuss, time was against them.
[+green “I got here as quick as I could. Has Caleb sent over Jesse’s last known location? I’ve brought him... “] Martyn quickly referenced, nodding to the car just in time for his brother, Tigan, to climb out.
Tigan Steele still resembled the fighters of the Mason family. He was strong, carrying that fierce look in his eyes which carried across the family; that constant stare that was ready to eye up their opponent and prepare for one hell of a fight. Whether that was with words or fists. His hands were the prosthetics that Elliot had made for him, but what stood out was his new injuries across his face. It seemed Jack had got his fair share of a beating back at Tigan! Martyn’s brother was sporting a black eye and a split open cheek. Unlike the rest of the family, Tigan still hadn’t found his lifelong partner. Much like Axel in his early years, Tigan enjoyed his own company, but was always around for his family if he was needed. Jack was the one who utilised that much more than anyone, and sure it might have often resulted in some nasty fights, but it was the strong bond the two had. Tigan had already received the spiel from Martyn the moment the two reunited just an hour before, but Tigan had the skill set of being both a silver-tongue and a fighter! The look in Martyn’s eyes already showed the two had a fair exchange of words regarding Jack’s coping mechanism, but it didn’t seem to get through to Lisa’s brother-in-law.
[#00BFFF “So why am I not kicking Jack’s arse into shape? If he’s being reckless...’]
[+green “You are just as reckless when you want to be Tigan. The two of you together during this mess isn’t the best mixture. Jack has his support, we need you with us. We have no idea what dangers we are running into and as much as I hate to rely on plastic hands, Lisa and I aren’t fighters.”] Martyn interjected, reminding Tigan of the mission they had planned but staying wary of just how impulsive his brother could be. Lisa would have to keep him in check, considering the Mason’s had a long history of acting on their own accord.
[#00BFFF “You’re as bad as Jack. Next you’ll be calling me stumpy... anyway, you mentioned that Jesse had given a clue? Shouldn’t we be acting on that?”]
[+green “We will. We need to plan.”]
[#00BFFF “No Martyn, we need to act. You have 22 hours now and trust me, that time will dwindle quicker and quicker. We can plan as we move. If Caleb hasn’t given you a location, then put the pressure on for him to work quicker. This isn’t the time to be playing nice.”] Tigan challenged, narrowing his eyes at the family of planners.
Pushing Martyn to the side, Tigan stood facing Lisa with a certainty in his eyes that only a Mason and a Steele could carry.
[#00BFFF “I know what you all think. I know I still carry that reputation from our time in Prison. I know you see the bruises on Jack, but I want Jesse home safe. Martyn doesn’t trust he’s made the right decision picking me up, I can hear it in his words and I know you can read it...”] Tigan started, looking at his brother as he did and knowing there was no arguing. Martyn did doubt if he made the right decision bringing Tigan around, but he was running out of options.
[#00BFFF “I’m not the same mess I was. I just want our families to have peace back, alright? You have to trust I’ll help you.”]
The perverted compliments and predatory glances weren’t exactly a surprise to Jesse. She knew she was dealing with scum and if Dylan and Pyke had no reservations of taking advantage of young girls, she couldn’t expect their underground contacts to be any better. But the comments did get under her skin. Just like Bryn’s unintentional touch brough her back to those unpleasant memories, Jesse was struggling to keep her mask in place in light of these threats. Unlike Logan, Jesse had never been forced to watch what her mother had gone through, but she was well aware of the pain Gordon inflicted. Even with Lisa’s perfect composure locking everything away from the world. Jesse could still read the trauma that lay beneath the surface. And it almost seemed like Jesse was destined to live her mother’s trauma all over again. First with Eddie’s threats in the cellar, then Pyke’s hands all over her, Eleanor’s threats to Logan, Pyke holding her down and undoing his belt, and now Karl’s lust… Jesse normally didn’t have this much trouble keeping her act in place, she wasn’t sure what she would do if Karl tried to act on his impulses. Logan wasn’t here to protect her this time and Baxter had already said she was on her own. Thankfully it seemed that Chrissy was inadvertently buying her some time.
[#aa0000 “You’ve been living underground too long if you think killing that old lady will help. It’s not like she’ll just have that much cash lyin’ around the house. She’ll have it in bank accounts or those new digital ‘credit’ things the richest of the rich are starting to buy in to. And since she’s apparently the only one who gives a shit about those kids, killing her will be like flushing all that cash down the drain.”] Jesse argued, giving her story credibility. She could tell that Karl was the more impulsive of the two, but Chrissy certainly wasn’t much for patience either. She had to spin this story quickly if she was going to get the info she needed before they decided she wasn’t worth the trouble.
[#aa0000 “Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t ask you to get ‘em back, isn’t it? All I need is the intel – Dylan’s got people on his payroll who can grab the kids from whoever ya sold ‘em to. And don’t worry, no one’ll know you sold ‘em out. It’s bad for business if your buyers think you’re a snitch.”] Jesse said, trying to ease any concerns the two had. She felt a flicker of hope when Karl rambled on about the kids fate but that hope darkened with every word. So they were chained up with a bunch of other kids working to expand the underground? Exposed to chemicals, dragging along their dead companions, starved and beaten… these kids would be a mess if they were even still alive! But the one good thing is they now knew a location and if these bastards were buying up as many kids as they could then there was a good chance some of the gang’s other siblings would be there as well.
As Karl pointed her in the right direction, Jesse knew she had to start an exit strategy. She had expected Chrissy to be satisfied with Dylan’s voicemail, but as her patience wore thin, Jesse realize this plan wasn’t quite as foolproof as she thought. She had to play this carefully. For all she knew, Baxter and Bryn would simply take the information and run, leaving Jesse to whatever fate these bastards had in mind!
[#aa0000 “I told you he was busy, didn’t I? Dyaln’s been on his other phones makin’ calls all morning trying to fix this mess, that’s why he sent me to talk to you while he tied up the rest. $600,000 on the line, you think he’s just going to be sittin’ around waitin’ for his phone to ring? He’s gathering a team to go in and steal those kids back, since clearly that’s beyond the two if you.”] Jesse said, focussing on their accusations as opposed to the question of who she was. She had an answer for everything and a convincing story, but these creeps were more persistent than she thought. Jesse had hoped their fear of pissing off Dylan would make them more eager to act than to wait around for his approval, but if they were insistent on waiting for a call that would never come, Jesse was in trouble. She had the information so now it was just a matter of escaping this, but with Karl’s grubby hands landing on her shoulders, that didn’t seem too likely.
Jesse didn’t need to be a reader to hear the threats in Karl’s tone. She had no doubt he’d act on whatever fantasy was reeling through his mind and she had no real way to talk her way out of this one. Not to mention, the lust in his eyes and the weight of his hands felt far too familiar to Dylan pinning her to the table and reaching for his belt. She couldn’t properly strategize when her mind kept looping back to that helpless fear of being turned into the same unwilling toy her mother was!
[#aa0000 “Get your slimy hands off of me! I’m one of Dylan’s girls, remember? And I can promise you, he doesn’t like to share!”] Jesse snapped in hopes the threat of lost business would keep them at bay, it was getting harder to keep up her act with those possessive hands keeping her in place. Jesse tried to squirm away from Karl, but pulling her injured shoulder against his tight grip just resulted in a staggering short of pain through her arm. Jesse was now caught between two fears: Escape would mean excruciating pain but surrender would mean meeting the same fate as her mother, Lily, Maddison, and every other Brats unfortunate enough to be forced by a monster.
[#880088 “You ok there Bax? Not like you to get distracted on a mission.”] Bryn asked, shooting her friend an odd look. The way he’s spoken about Jesse, Logan, and the rest of his family before, Bryn thought he hated the lot of them. Jesse was described as a stuck up, privileged, cry-baby who had turned her back on Logan like everyone else had. That was one of the reasons they sent Jesse in instead of taking a chance with one of their other members. Sure, she had the skills, but she was also less of a loss if things went wrong. But the way he was talking now, maybe Jesse wasn’t as disposable as Bryn was led to believe.
With Baxter calling her attention back to the meeting, she cursed under her breath. She knew from the moment Jesse had slapped her hands away that this girl was particularly sensitive to sexual assault. Either something had already happened to her or it was a very close call. Either way, this wouldn’t help her act.
[#880088 “Karl’s a grabby bastard who doesn’t take no for an answer. You know he likes to ‘test out the merchandise’. I think your Silvertongue is in over her head.”] Bryn warned, her hand instantly grabbing for her knife in case things sparked a fight.
[#880088 “I got a good look at her injuries: Bruised back, broken jaw, broken arm, dislocated shoulder. She won’t be able to fight him off and I doubt there’s anything she could say at this point to get Karl to let her go. Looks like we’ve got a choice to make: Save the Silvertongue or take the intel and leave. You brought her in Baxter, it’s your choice. No matter what, I’ll back your play.”] Bryn said, not eager to risk her life and Baxters for a stranger, but having been in Jesse’s exact position before, she wasn’t feeling good about abandoning the girl either.
[#336699 “Lily, I know you don’t see it for yourself, but trust me you are one of the strongest among us. You’ve been through so much… most of us couldn’t have survived it. But you did, you fought for your happy life, and you fought for your family and friends. You practically raised your brother and sister, you brought Kira and Tigan back from the edge after that prison break, you single-handedly helped Maddison work through her own traumas, and you’re the only reason Jack is still alive today. Calling for help isn’t weakness Lily… in fact it’s a strength not many of us Brats actually have.”] Seth assured her honestly. He had a point, in all the history of the Brats, one of the greatest weaknesses was the inability to reach out for help when it was needed. It had split families apart, broken trust, even killed some of their brothers and sisters!
[#336699 “I’ll be fine kid. And I’ll bring Jack home safe.”] With his promise given, Seth hurried to find Jack. By the time he reached the bank, Jack was already inside. Seth could see his point of entry and noted that Jack didn’t bother sneaking around the security cameras. Leaving enough evidence to get caught was part of the deal and Jack wasn’t taking any chances with Logan’s life. Seth could understand the difficult position Jack was in: if he didn’t take the deal, his little brother would be killed, but if he did what he was told there was still no guarantee Logan would be spared and Lily would be left alone! Fortunately, Seth knew there might be a loophole the kidnappers didn’t think of.
Leaving Jack to finish with the first vault, Seth took out his phone and dialed Larry’s number, expecting he and Caleb were likely already working on a way to save the kids.
[#336699 “Hey there geniuses, I know you’ve probably already got your hands full, but I need a favour. Larry, you know how your brother is a reckless, self-destructive idiot, right? Well, it looks like he’s going to get himself locked up once this is over. Fortunately, I know my way around a prison break. Can you hack into the city records and find me some blueprints for local prisons? Maybe Martyn can make a case for Jack being locked away in solitary away from the other prisoners. I might be able to get him out. Making Lily and Jack fugitives again isn’t ideal, but it may be our only shot of keeping them together.”] Seth offered. He had asked Lily to think about whether or not she could forgive Jack and this is why – if she did still want to be with him, Jack might be able to make that happen. If she didn’t… well, Jack knew the risks.
Eleanor would have expected a violent outburst from Jack, but not from Lily. The harsh punch caught her off guard, but fortunately for Eleanor it helped her case for the neighbours to see Lily as violent and crazed. Eleanor stepped back and wiped the blood from her nose, pulling her eyes back to Lily with a shacked and hurt expression once would expect from an innocent victim.
[#ff00ff “Mrs. Sanders, I assure you the only thing I [i want from you] is to keep your children safe! Do you lose your temper like that with your son? Maybe I had it wrong in the beginning. Maybe it isn’t Jack whose been abusing the boy, maybe it’s you!”] Eleanor accused, but her eyes narrowed in on Lily’s face, seeing the puffy eyes and the pain that lingered there. Lily had been crying, no doubt due to listening to her boy being tortured and her husband forced to rob and bank and get arrested. She wanted Lily to suffer as a punishment to Logan and this was perfectly setting the stage.
[#ff00ff “Or maybe you’re just desperate. Mrs. Sanders, I’ve seen a lot of cases in my career and I can tell you that violence is often not just directed at the children. You’ve been crying, haven’t you? Did your husband hit you too? Did he threaten you? Is that why you were so afraid to speak to me earlier?”] Eleanor said, changing her tactic. She was well aware of the neighbours watching her now as this seemingly innocent public servant was willing to forgive being violently attacked just to offer her aid to a potentially battered woman.
[#ff00ff “I can help you, Mrs. Sanders. If you’ll just talk to me, if you’ll just admit that this is all your abusive husband’s doing, then I can protect you! I can have Jack Sanders arrested and locked away for the rest of his life. I can make sure that you and your children never see him again. You don’t have to protect that monster anymore, Mrs. Sanders. Just tell me the truth – Did Jack hurt your son? Did he do something to Logan? No one has seen your son since he returned from the party the night before, but several of your neighbours reported seeing an angry Jack bolt out of the house late that night and return hours later covered in blood and bruises. I know he was furious at the boy and I know that child abuse runs in his bloodline, so tell me Lily, did Jack do something to Logan?”]
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.