They're gone! Where can they be?! The soldiers too. The doors to both wards were standing open ... busted down. Scorch marks around the door frame so maybe they were blown open. I don't know. There's too much noise. Too much. And there are bullet holes everywhere. I know they're bullet holes. They look just like the movies on the Tri-V. There are guns too. I can still hear the pops and bangs even through the thick walls where I'm hiding. I've had to hide. There are people fighting all over. Who are they?! What do they want?!
Johnson and I hurried as fast as we could to get back to all of us but it was too late. We could hear fighting off and on. There was a lot of yelling. We tried our ward first and when we didn't find any of us we climbed into the soldiers' ward by the ceiling, coming down in Johnson's room. That's when things started going wrong. All of the room doors were busted open, some from the inside and some from the outside but we couldn't tell if it had been a willing break out or a violent break in.
And now I can't find Johnson. Some man came out of the darkness and tried to grab me and Johnson started fighting with him. Then a bunch of people came and things got crazy and I lost an earplug and all the noise hit me really hard and all I could do was climb into the janitor's closet. Where are they?! What if someone is hurt and needs me?! Why did I leave them? And the soldiers. Some of them meltdown so easily, even after all this time. Some of them couldn't even watch war movies or news on the war on the Tri-V because it would wind them up. I'm scared. For them. For me. For us. For all of us.
Eventually, after the fighting went a different direction and I crawled the best I could to my room and got my extra earplugs. It helped with my brain frtitzing out but that only gives me more brain to be worried with. I stayed in my closet for a while but now I'm back in the janitor's closet. I have to find them all. I have to.
If you were in the middle of the fighting it felt like a huge army of people but if you pulled back and looked down on Pickering from above you saw that it was actually just a relatively small contingent of people, but they were a well-armed contingent; not well-trained but they were definitely well-armed. While the people that held Pickering weren't as well armed, they were many times more ruthless. Neither side was giving up and coming back to fight another day, they were all in to win or to die trying.
Georgie finally found the courage to leave her hiding place but it wasn't by the door. She crawled up into the ceiling and carefully made her way towards the fighting. But the closer she got the more it sounded like the battle had broken into two parts. There was a piece of the battle taking place in the South Wing and then there was a piece taking place near the Administrative Offices. Georgie didn't know which direction to take until she heard some people running and then stopping almost right beneath her.
"No one say anything about the regular Army being here. Did you see them guys take out ..."
"Shut up before someone hears you. Yeah, I saw. Bindenheim got a lot of things wrong. His intel said there was a hospital wing and they had hundreds of X13 immunes set up and were drawing blood off of them. That all we would need to do was come in and take over and we could be kings of the world. People are paying whole fortunes to get vaccinated. But the only thing I've seen so far is those pitiful defectives they were keeping for experimental drug testing."
"Could they be holding the immunes someplace else? This place is ..."
Suddenly there was more shooting and Georgie heard three distinct thuds. She nearly wept with relief when she heard, "Grab their gear. Piece it out to those that are still missing something."
"LT ... Tracey has been hit."
At that same moment Georgie felt the support she'd been using give way and she fell through the ceiling tile, tried to catch herself on an old light fixture only to have it come out of the ceiling as well. She landed hard on the bodies of two fallen men and knocked the wind out of herself.
Once she was finally able to draw breath she launched herself into Johnson's arms and started crying, "I couldn't find you. I couldn't find you."
"Hey now, none of that. You want to ball like a baby do it later. Pull yourself together Kid. Can you patch Tracey up enough so that she can get mobile?"
That stopped Georgie's bought of impending hysterics and she nodded her head in the affirmative. She crawled over to the woman while the men continued to strip down their enemy. Tracey refused to look at her or speak to her so Georgie worked as silently as her patient, until she heard Peterson say, "Strip 'em down to skin. There's a couple of the kids that still don't have clothes and the temp is gonna drop tonight according to Chaplin's knee."
Georgie glanced at Johnson who seemed almost a different person and asked, "You have us?"
Johnson, long used to the weird pronoun usage that the kids often spoke in - as if they were not necessarily individuals but part of some whole entity - said, "About half of you, yes. The other half was taken to the Administrative wing. Roland got busted up in the fighting and his chair isn't working. He and Nela are watching the bunch we just left. We're on our way to the Administrative wing now to liberate the rest of you."
Tracey finally spoke, "Fine. We liberate the little freaks. What's after that LT? Who is going to liberate us?"
"Don't start that again Tracey. Focus on what is right in front of us. You heard the intel from the prisoners, it's nothing but chaos on the Outside for the last week. No one is in charge, or if they are they aren't in charge of enough to make a difference. And not just here but every where. Short term plan is to liberate the kids and hole up. We'll work on longer term plans after that."
She sneered disrespectfully but said, "Fine. Whatever. Let's just get this done so we aren't late to our funerals."
Georgie started to saying something but Peterson put his hand on her shoulder and told her, "Save it. Whatever comfort or encouragement you are going to offer her Tracey will just throw it back in your face. Don't waste the energy."
Georgie nodded and then Peterson asked, "You ok? I know the LT was a little rough on you."
"No. I'm fine. And Johnson being Johnson is what stopped the brown out I was about to have. And you are a stinker for not taking your tea."
Peterson was surprised for about two seconds then grinned before asking, "Wouldn't happen to have a spare pair of plugs on you would you?"
Georgie dug the small bag out of her pocket and shared them with Peterson. He turned at Johnson's tap and gave a thumbs up signal. Johnson nodded and then gave a thumbs up to Georgie before putting her in the middle of their group and telling her, "I'd send you back to Nela and Roland but there isn't time. We need to get going. You ready for this?"
"No. But I'm not leaving you. Someone else might need to get patched up."