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   Chapter 28 NO.28

The Rouges By Alzek16 Characters: 13214

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:49

TRIVEN HAD SAID nothing about my outburst and Maddox seemed to find it more amusing than threatening. Still, Brant had shut his mouth and fell in line like a good little soldier. But one of us always had an eye on him just in case.

Moving had given me a sense of accomplishment but now standing in wait as a ten-year-old child stole clothing for us made my whole body ache with anxiety. We were stopped at the dead end of a large tunnel. A ladder with a blue wave symbol painted on its side was the only way of escape. I had had to watch Mouse disappear up the ladder with nothing more on her than the knife I had hidden in her boot. I had tried to insist on coming with her but she had relentlessly refused me, signing over and over again, danger. I had left her with a final warning that if she wasn't back within fifteen minutes I was coming after her guns blazing. To make my attitude worse, as Mouse disappeared, Brant had muttered something about "That's the last we'll ever see of her."

I seriously thought about breaking his nose.

At eight minutes and forty-three seconds Mouse's feet reappeared on the ladder rungs. She was grinning, clearly proud of herself. She had managed to procure a linen bag nearly as big as herself and in it were differing colors of uniforms for each of us.

Triven gathered her into his arms, kissing the top of her head. "Good job kiddo. You might have just saved us all."

Brant rolled his eyes, but when he caught the expression on my face he quickly grabbed his blue workman uniform and retreated further down the tunnel to change. The clothing was all loosely sewn, allowing us to keep our fatigues on under them. Triven, Mouse and I were all dressed alike in white linen civilian uniforms. The flowy garbs were identical with no distinction between the male and female, except for the cut in the tunic. Triven's tunic was broader in the shoulders whereas mine was cut wide below the waist allowing for the hips I didn't have. The pants were a simple plain white linen that came down to our toes with a drawstring waist. I had to roll the tops of mine twice to accommodate my shorter legs. The tunics were equally loose, falling just past our knees, giving away little of a person's shape, which in our case was great for concealing weapons. In our favor there were also deep hoods that once pulled up concealed our faces nicely. Maddox and Brant, however, were less lucky.

The workmen's uniforms were more like jumpsuits. Like ours they were loose-fitting, but they were one solid piece with a single zipper up the front. Good for concealing weapons, bad for retrieving them. They were also sans hoods, leaving their faces exposed. Brant's uniform was a dark blue, which Arstid had informed us, was water maintenance. Maddox wore one of dark green, indicating a yard and garden worker. Mouse pointed to Brant's long hair and mimed tucking it into his collar. Mumbling something unintelligible he followed the instructions. Triven tossed the now empty bag at Brant.

"You can hide your packs in this. Plus it wouldn't hurt to put in a few weapons that you might need as a last resort." He turned back to us and laid the map in front of Mouse. "How far do we need to go?"

She squinted at the map and pointed to a large building on the far northwest corner. The building was significantly larger than the others around it. I remembered Arstid marking it as a government building of sorts.

"Where are we now?" I traced the city lines, mapping out all direct accesses.

Mouse poured over the map, but looked confused. We had worried that the city might have changed over the years and from the look on Mouse's face it had. Eventually, she shrugged and circled a general vicinity with her finger. Rocking back on my heels I let out a shallow breath. If she was right, we were a few hours walk from the destination. We would be cutting it close with the curfew. If we could run it, the timing wouldn't b

nes, we never passed a single silver one. Silver was the color of their guard, of their trained army men. I had expected the streets to be teaming with guards, seeing as how our arrival had not been so quiet. But there was not a single armed guard in sight. Their lack of presence alarmed me just as much as it comforted me. If they weren't here, then where were they?

We turned another corner and both Maddox and Brant came back into view. As much as I disliked both of them, I felt a sense of ease seeing familiar figures again.

It was painful moving so slowly, almost as if each second ticking by brought the knife hanging over our heads closer. Mouse's hand grew clammy in mine, but neither of us were bold enough to let go and wipe away the sweat. Our progression became like a choreographed dance.

Step, step, nod. Step, step, scan. Step, step, nod. Step, step, scan.

These regulated movements repeated themselves over and over again, until I was barely aware I was doing it. We had gone twenty-three blocks and the sun was starting to ride low on the horizon. At this rate we were not going to make it before the citywide curfew, but if we moved any faster we would stand out in the dwindling crowd. And if we weren't undercover by curfew, then we were sure as dead. Plans started formulating in my head, but they were quickly interrupted. As we turned the next corner, my knees locked.

Ahead I could see Maddox's green suit slowing as he neared the mouth of an alley. Twenty yards behind him, Brant stood frozen as two men in silver uniforms hailed him. We couldn't hear their conversation, but as they grew closer Brant moved his hand to his pocket. Unbeknownst to the guards, the bottom of the pocket had been cut and his hand was resting on the gun attached to his thigh. The guards' weapons were still slung casually over their shoulders. Clearly whatever they wanted, they did not perceive him as a threat. But it was clear even from a distance the feeling was not mutual. Brant's hand twitched. My free hand moved to my gun as well.

"Be calm." I heard Triven mutter under his breath.

I couldn't tell if he was talking to me or warning Brant. Mouse's hand tightened in mine as the guards drew even with him. Several words were exchanged and the three of us stopped breathing. Even Maddox had stopped with his back still to us. Then without a warning the two guards nodded and began to walk away. My body went slack as relief filled the air, Mouse's tiny hand loosening. We were okay. They were walking away. Less than five feet away, one guard turned to glance back and then Brant's gun went off.


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