Storm Warning, Chapter 18

Fiction By Jackie West // 2/23/2011

   Jesse came to consciousness, his body awash in a sea of pain. He could barely remember what had happened. He didn't know if he wanted to.

 

   Reule stepped into the tube and closed his eyes.

 

  "Have you gone insane, Jess?" Vanar asked in utter shock.

  "No," Jess answered, as she lay still and tried to catch her breath.  "I already am insane."

  "Then what did you do that for? That wasn't a very funny prank!" Milton said.

  "It's not a prank! I was testing you." Jess had calmed down by now, and she sat up.

  "What?" David stared at her.

  "Obviously, Reule has never taught you how to approach things in a situation like this," Jess said as she stood and dusted herself off. "When you hear screams for help, approach carefully and cautiously, always be on your guard, and keep an eye on your surroundings."

  "Well, you freaked me out," Vanar said. "Don't do that."

  "I won't-unless I have to," Jess said. "Come on, let's go."

  They returned to where they had left their supplies, loaded up, and set out again.

  They traveled in silence for about an hour before Jess stopped.

  "We're close," she said. "I can feel it."

  "How?" David asked.

  "The scent is stronger," Jess replied, "and the trail is fresher."

  They followed her for a little while longer before she stopped again, looked up, and pulled something off a tree branch above their heads.

  It was a sheathed dagger, and the sheath was still on a belt.

  "That's Reule's!" David exclaimed, recognizing it instantly.  "What is it doing here?"

 "I think I know why," Jess said, gripping the dagger firmly and pushing on grimly.  "Just keep following me."

  She pushed her way through a cluster of bushes, and arrived in a clearing, on the other side of which was a tube.

  Jess rushed over to the tube, followed closely by Vanar, Milton, and David.

  She knelt and pointed to a footprint in front of the tube.  "That's about Reule's foot size, isn't it?"

  Vanar and Milton examined closely.

 "Yes," Milton agreed.  "Not only is it about his foot size, but it's also the boot design of the boot that he always wears."

  David stepped toward the tube.  "What is this thing? What does it do?"

  Jess reached out a hand and stopped him.  "No! Don't touch it, don't go near it..unless I tell you to."

  "Why? What will happen?" David wondered.

  "You'll die," Jess said matter-of-factly.

 David glanced at her curiously.  "How do you know?"

 "Just trust me," Jess said, straightening from her bent position and moving him away from the tube. "You don't want to find out."

 "So...Reule went into this...tube thingy?" Vanar asked, giving Jess a strange look.

 Jess didn't answer.  She looked very thoughtful, and her eyes were gazing off into the distance. Then she jerked out of her reverie.

 "No!" she cried out loud.

 "Jess? Are you alright?" Vanar asked anxiously.

 Jess ignored her and looked instead at the tube. "He didn't-"

 "Jess?" Milton asked, touching her shoulder gently.

 She pushed him off. "Don't touch me!"

 "Jess, don't go into the-" Vanar began.

 "Stay here and don't move," Jess ordered.

 She stepped into the tube and vanished.

 "-tube," Vanar finished. Her shoulders dropped and she sighed.

 "What did she do that for?" David burst out. "She just told me that if I got into it, I would die!"

 "She knows what she's doing-I hope," Milton said.

 "Jesse."

 The word was spoken softly, adn even through his pain, Jesse heard it. He groaned. "What?"

 "It's me, Reule."

 "Reule? You-you came? Why?"

 "Because I can afford to go through this. You can't."

 "Can't you take care of her?" Jesse asked. "If I survive, I'll be too broken to-"

 "You have to be there for her, Jesse. Can you get up? Can you crawl to the door?"

 "Maybe." Jesse made a weak attempt to get to his hands and knees and failed. "I don't think so."

 There was a soft click, and the door opened. Reule slipped into the cell.

 "Can you make it to the tubes?" he asked quietly. "You can lean on me."

 "Go back, Reule. I brought this on myself and I should go through with the consequences."

 "Then why did you ask for help?" Reule asked.

 "I did that before I could think things through," Jesse replied.

 "Think through things now. You have a gang to care for. You can't die."

 "You have sisters and a gang too," Jesse said as Reule helped him stand and arranged Jesse leaning against himself.

 "They're more organized and can care for themselves better," Reule said. He grinned slightly as he added. "CJ and DJ are terrible cooks, and Kerry has lived in society for her whole life and is more soft than the rest of us. They need you. So does she."

 Jesse relaxed slightly as he relented reluctantly. "Alright...but are you sure?"

 Reule nodded solemnly. "I'm positive."

 They slowly made their way to the tubes. They were nearly there when they heard running footsteps and hissing in a foreign language.

 Reule clenched his teeth. "Wouldn't it be just like Jackie to send trouble after we just got out of it?"

 "I can try to go faster," Jesse said, and they sped up their pace, reaching the tubes just as a crowd of Termination Demons charged around the corner at them.

 Reule swiftly helped Jesse into one , saying "Goodbye" right before he disappeared.

 As soon as Jesse left, Jess appeared out of the second tube. "Where's Jesse?" she asked breathlessly.

 "Your timing was most apropos," Reule said, sighing as he drew his sword. "Jesse just left and now I'm about to get slaughtered. You really should get back to the others, y'know."

 "You just said you were about to get slaughtered, "Jess said, drawing her long dagger. "Do you want to die that badly?

 "That's what I'm here for." Reule took up a defensive stance, and pushed Jesse back into the tube. "Now go!"

 "Reule!" Jesse screamed.

  

 Vanar jumped and couldn't contain a squeal as Jesse appeared and fell limply out of the tube. Jess appeared not ten seconds later, and she knelt beside Jesse.

 "He's unconscious," she said frantically. "Vanar, quick, get out your herbs and salves. He looks as if he's about to die!"

 The pair set to work on cleaning Jesse up and soon his wounds were bandaged.

 David shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Did you find Reule?"

 "He sent me back," Jess replied shortly, paying more attention to Jesse than to him. "For all I know, he's dead."

 "Don't you even care?" Milton asked.

 "Yes, but he's stronger than me and can be dangerous if his orders are disobeyed. Besides, he knew what he was doing." Jess rerolled an unrolled bandage roll and put it back in Vanar's backpack.

 David eyed Jesse. "How exactly are you planning to get him back to the cave?"

 "Do know the way?" Jess asked, looking Vanar squarely in the eye.

 "Are you kidding? I couldn't even follow a trail that you could see!"

 "David? Milton? What about you guys?" Jess asked.

 Milton was scribbling on a piece of paper. He paused and held it up. "I'm more resourceful than I look," he said grinning.

 "And more modest than you look," Vanar added sourly.

 Jess closely examined the map. "Good. Milton, lead David and Vanar back to the cave. Leave me with Jesse."

"But-"Milton began.

 "Do it," Jess ordered firmly. "Trust me. I'll be fine. The Termination Demons can't go through those tubes. Only people can."

 "That's comforting," Vanar murmured. "Do you need my backpack?"

 "Take it with you," Jess said, waving her hand as she turned back to Jesse. "Go. Now."

 The trio obediently turned and walked off.

 Vanar chanced one look back a minute later.

 Jess and Jesse were gone.

 

 Jordan paced the front room of the cave hideout again.

 "Jordan, could you stop?" Kiril pleaded. "You're about to drive me crazy!"

 Jordan ignored her and kept right on going. "I'm restless. I ahve to know where Reule is and how he's doing."

 "He's dead."

 Jordan jumped and Kiril squeaked in surprise. They whirled around to face the cave entrance.

 Tristan was leaning on one doorframe. He was looking at them solemnly.

  "How do you know?" Jordan demanded.

 "I can feel it," Tristan said, lifting his chin. "You don't know...you have no idea how close we were."

 "Some random feeling inside of you is saying that he's dead? You've got some optimism is your bones," Kiril retorted.

 Tristan shook his head as he turned and walked back outside. He was back in a few seconds later. "Get the two-way radio!"

 "What's going on?" Jordan asked.

 "No questions! Just get it," Tristan ordered.

 Jordan dashed off and soon returned.

 Tristan turned some knobs and pressed some buttons. Then he spoke.

 "Raleigh Inner City Police, this is an anonymous tip telling you that there are enemies in the sky heading toward Raleigh. Alert the city. This is not joke. I repeat that this is not a joke."

  Jordan and Kiril looked at each other, mouths wide.

 Jordan ran outside. She was back in a flash.

 "It's true," she said in a low voice. "It's them."

 Kerry entered the room at that moment. "Who's who?"

 Jordan and Kiril wasted no time in telling her.

 Kerry gasped and covered her mouth.

 "What?" Kiril asked urgently.

 "My family lives there," Kerry whispered in a choked voice. "They're going to die."

  

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