Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chapter 42 Escape

The telepath hides in the corner of the room, hunkering down behind some barrels with her eyes on Jimmy.

Jimmy doesn't move at first. He stands staring at the body for another moment before he looks up and at me. "C'mon. We still need to get out of here." If he sees the telepath, he doesn't say anything. He doesn't even look at her. Without Killer, she's harmless. It's hard to imagine that she'd have anything left to fight for without him.

Kyrene stands in front of the door and glances back at us. "They're calming down. Still, there's a big group out there. We don't know what's been done to their heads."

There's a knock at the door that makes me jump. Even Kyrene gives a small flinch. But Jimmy stands still, staring at the door as he puts a hand on my shoulder.

"It's me! 'Nameless,'" the voice says with a chuckle. "I'll get you out."

Kyrene turns back to Jimmy with sharp eyes, and Jimmy nods. "It's him," he says. She opens the door and lets in the man offering help.

The sight of him is familiar though I cant place him or his name and if feels like I should know his name. But Jimmy trusts him. And Alex seems to as well. He scoops his daughter up into his arms and stands next to us ready to head out. Kyrene takes the rear and we walk back outside, past the crowds, without even an eye falling on us.

Once we're in the tunnels leading to the surface, the man with no name thanks Jimmy and Alex both. "Killer was like a parasite. Once he latches on, there is no easy removal."

The night air is cold even though I'm close to the fire. My body won't stop shaking and I'm not sure if it's the temperature or just because of what I've seen. This was different from that other time when I was standing on the balcony and watching the violence from three stories up. Back then I was still more Neutral than whatever I am now. I'm not a Wildlander, but maybe I'm adapting. To a point.

Alex sleeps nearby, his arm over his daughter. Kyrene also sleeps nearby the fire across from me. All of them have perfected sleeping quickly in odd places. My body still aches and I can't stop the shuddering.

Jimmy stands up on the edge of the darkness and the light. He leans against a tree with his arms crossed and his back to us. He's the first one to keep watch. Kyrene had tried to talk him out of it, but he'd refused. There hadn't been much discussion about it. Kyrene only nodded to him and gave a shrug to us because she did try. No one had bothered him after that.

He glances back at us before he takes a step into the woods. I'm sure he doesn't notice that I'm awake, but with him it's hard to tell what he notices with one of his looks. I stand up, my muscles burning and aching as I stretch them, and follow him over to that dark patch of woods away from the others. I don't know what I'm hoping to accomplish, and I feel foolish for doing it, but I softly call out to him.

"Jimmy?" Some part of me knows it's stupid, but it has to be done.

He's not far away when he pauses, lifting a hand to the bark of a tree next to him, but he doesn't look back at me. I wasn't honestly expecting that he'd stop, so it surprises me and the first thing that comes to my mind feels like it was ages ago, even though it was really only days.

"I'm sorry about the apartment." I stumble over the words and pause to get my breath not sure that he even knows what I'm talking about. Maybe I'm wrong, but he seemed so upset about my being in that apartment that it had to mean something to him.

"I just wanted to be alone and..." My voice trails off as the words disappear. I've never been one to have trouble finding words, but Jimmy doesn't make it easy.

He turns around and I can feel his eyes on me more than I can see them in the dark. He clears his throat and speaks quietly as if uncomfortable. "Paula, I need to pee. Would you just wait over there or turn or something?"

I bring my hand up to my mouth to stifle a nervous laugh and turn around, taking a few steps away from him. Jimmy seems like the last person to be concerned about doing his business in front of someone like me.

After a moment, the leaves behind me rustle and I turn to watch Jimmy step through into the half light of the campfire. At first we don't say anything. I don't move, and he stands near me though not exactly next to me without looking at me.

"You do realize," he says with a pause before glancing at me, "this was all my fault."

His mouth is in a straight line. I'm still not quite sure what happened yet. We haven't spoken about it at all. Maybe that's part of why I am standing here now in front of him in the dark when I should be sleeping.

I look down at the ground, a pebble under my toes bothering me. "Alex never said anything."

"He probably blames himself too."

"He gave me a chance to go back."

"You think I would've let him?"

The quiet between us prickles at me and I run a hand up my arm. "Who's Mary?"

Jimmy glances at me sharply then. He shakes his head. "Ask Brandon if he wants to share. When he's done being pissed at me."

There is something else there, and I'm not sure what. Between the two brothers, Jimmy is the one with the rank and power. He's the future leader and all. But I can still sense something other than a brotherly concern. "You say that like it matters if he gets pissed at you."

That makes the hint of a smile appear on his lips. "Oh yeah. 'Course it does. I'm just thinking about my future."

Perhaps it's just the air, but I find my hand rubbing at the back of my neck, massaging down the hairs. "What do you mean?"

"He's the next leader. Not me."

My mouth drops open slightly at that. I have to fight my mouth closed and work to swallow. But it makes sense hearing it from Jimmy. Brandon cares about people. He understands them better. He can't read minds on purpose, but still, catching thoughts gives him an advantage over whatever Jimmy does. Jimmy's mind is completely isolated, while Brandon's is a part of any group he's with. Who else would be better for the job than Brandon?

"If he hasn't decided to step up after this, I don't know what else I can do."

Next Chapter -->


I feel like I should keep quiet, but I will link to the entries from right after Paula got to Henri's. The first breakfast where Jimmy talks to Brandon about accepting his rank. And after breakfast where Brandon talks to Paula honestly about his rank.

Also, I have to say here that Qui totally called this way back in chapter 4. (See end comments. =o again!) I didn't even know then that Brandon was the one to actually be the leader. That chapter wasn't meant to be a hint, it was just a character and world building chapter.


  1. Glad they all managed to get out of there all right.

    Brandon's the next leader? Ooooh, that's an interesting twist. Surprising, but now that I think about it, it does make sense. Not sure why Jimmy should be worried, though; I can't imagine Brandon won't be keeping him around.

  2. Well, I can see why Jimmy would be concerned with Brandon being the next leader and having him pissed at him. I can't see Brandon dismissing him, but giving him a lot of the crap jobs and crazy missions to keep him away. Though, the real question is, would Brandon be pissed at what Jimmy did to Killer, or that he used Paula to get to Killer. Though, I can see Jimmy this as Jimmy indirectly getting Paula to talk to Brandon to get him to calm down and not be as mad at Jimmy....

  3. I wonder how it was all Jimmy's fault. Is he implying that Killer took Alex's daughter because of him? That would explain why he felt obligated to help Alex.

    Now it makes perfect sense that Killer wanted Brandon's weakness, and that they needed to use Paula for that purpose. While Brandon will definitely be pissed that they used Paula, some of that may be assuaged by the fact that Killer is no longer a threat to the tribe--Brandon will never have to worry about Killer being a threat to those he loves ever again.

    Wow. So Henri is retiring, or passing the reins? Or is it more that he just wants to make sure someone is picked in the event that something happens to him or he dies?

    Even when we get answers, there are more questions! :) Love it!

  4. *Grinning* I had to go back and read the comment.

    Even if Brandon is pissed with him, he is his brother. Brandon seems more a clam logical person and keeping Jimmy around doesn't sound like a bad idea to me!

    With that being said, I hope this doesn't mean that Henri will be making some kind of an exit soon!

    I almost missed this!

  5. So Brandon will be the next leader. Is Henri worried something will happen to him, or is he just getting all his ducks in a row? Hmmm.

    Brandon as leader makes a lot of sense though. He would be such a different leader to Henri though, I imagine.

    I wonder if Brandon will be pissed at Jimmy and Alex. Killer is gone and I can't see how that's anything but a good thing for everyone. Paula was used but does the end justify the means, in Brandon's eyes?

    So many questions popped up in this chapter!

  6. Van, haha exactly the response I was hoping for. It's a twist, but it makes sense when you think about it, so I was surprised I didn't go into this story realizing that!

    Jimmy's little smile is partly a clue there. He's not seriously concerned about Brandon not keeping him around, though Brandon is going to be a but pissed that Paula was used.

    Migy, ha, Jimmy's probably more concerned about his brother just being pissed at him than the fact that he's the next leader. Perhaps I screwed up a little there, I didn't mean to imply Jimmy would be worried about his position. If anything, Jimmy's last line should somewhat convey a slightly manipulative side to Jimmy and Brandon's relationship. Jimmy's trying to get him to step up, so though that wasn't the main purpose of this mission, he's hoping it might be a side effect. Brandon will probably be a little pissed about that too.

    Although your last statement... ooh! Perceptive. Wait until the next chapter!

    Rachel, oops, that was a little vague, wasn't it? No, Jimmy wasn't behind the initial event, he just took advantage of it. This was all his plan to use Paula and to find Killer.

    Exactly. Because Killer is much too dangerous to let float around. It had to be done, but I don't imagine it would be easy to find him normally.

    As for Henri, either or. He's the sort of person to prepare for everything, and the last thing he'd probably want to do is leave the Southlands without someone picked.

    I know, I have to keep you all interested in reading, lol!

    Qui, it was such an off the cuff comment. I was like, "whoa! Does she even realize what she's said?" LOL!

    Nah, Jimmy isn't seriously worried about Brandon not keeping him around. See my response to my friend Migy above. It's more just about brotherly annoyance and having to deal with that. The smile and suggestion was just to get Paula to ask.

    Poor Henri, we haven't really gotten to know him very well. But he rarely wants to be in any chapter I put him in!

    Carla, you know Henri-- prepared for everything! Whatever he has planned or whatever he expects, he always needs to be prepared.

    Yes, I agree. Brandon probably will be a very different kind of leader to Henri. Probably. At least, he'll want to be.

    Oh well, we'll see next week. Man I've missed Brandon! Haven't played with his sim for so long! It will be a good question. He'll possibly be torn for sure.

    I know. I didn't really mean for more questions to pop up here, I meant to be winding down! lol!

  7. I started thinking, given that Jimmy and Kyrene didn't rebuke Alex for his actions but took it as a given that he went back with them, maybe the plan all along was to bring out Killer and eliminate him. Alex had a reason to go visit the complex because of his daughter so he wouldn't look as suspicious doing that and also secretly leading Jimmy and Kyrene there too. I could be totally off base but this was something that crossed my mind.

    Classic line from Jimmy when Paula followed him. I kinda wondered if that was what he was doing.

    Brandon being leader, yeah I can see that. Jimmy is too bloodthirsty, too violent but Brandon does seem teh calmer of the two, the more logical and willing to think things over first before jumping in and doing anything rash (for example Jimmy killing Killer. It's like once the battle rage descends on Jimmy, it's all or nothing.)

  8. With everything else going on, it seems a little something was overlooked ever so slightly. Dave, or rather, no name, was helping Jimmy and company which could mean he's one of the ghosts? I wonder if there will be a story revolving around him at all.

  9. Carnaxa, you're actually right on the money. :D Yup, exactly. Alex already had a reason to go there; he was expected back. But because of the telepath, he couldn't tell Paula the plan or that Jimmy and Kyrene were following them. He had to keep it secret even from her.

    lol, well when a man's gotta go...

    Oh yes, exactly. Jimmy knows his own limitations too. He's a good fighter and he's feared, but that doesn't make him a leader. His bloodthirsty-ness/battle rage (oh I like that one) is one of his strengths, but it's a weakness too that he's aware of. I think Jimmy is a leader in his own right, but not the kind of leader you plop in front of a group. He's more the silent background leader, the one who has confidences, shares his opinions, leads people like Brandon to the light and hopefully makes him see reason.

    Migy, XD Well it wasn't over-looked by me. No, he's not necessarily one of the Ghosts. He sort of gives an explanation for why he helped in this very chapter. He wanted Killer gone, but the man isn't easy to get rid of. There is more to his story, I'm sure of it, but I don't know when that'll come out of my head. I have so much stuff I should be writing!

  10. Regarding Dave, I want to know who sent him to kill Michael, later. In the context of that story, I think I'd assumed it was Killer, but with him out of the picture--I wonder if Brandon later saw Michael as a threat to his power, since Michael was kinda gathering his own little tribe.

    Get back to writing so we'll have answers to these things, LOL. :)

  11. Very interesting, all sorts of questions popped into my head after reading this, but I won't ask them since I reckon they'll be answered in due time anyway. For now, I'll just kick back and enjoy the story ;)

  12. Okay, most of my questions have been asked and answered. This was all planned - Paula bait - Alex daughter - Jimmy revenge. Got it. But - did Henri know? I would think Jimmy wouldn't do anything without his blessing but I'm wondering too, what kind of man uses his newly acquainted daughter as bait? And what would have been the consequences if she had been lost? I mean, no matter how good of a soldier you are, you can't plan for everything. How will being used as bait by Alex and possibly Henri, effect the way Paula sees the two men? Will she ever really settle into her new home knowing that she can only really trust one person? That person being Brandon and honestly if it comes down to the wire - will she come first above everyone he's known his entire life?

    I can't see Paula becoming a part of this new world without a significant change in her psyche and that would make her a completely different person. I'm not sure if I like that idea.

    Thanks for keeping us guessing Lunar!

  13. "I can't see Paula becoming a part of this new world without a significant change in her psyche and that would make her a completely different person. I'm not sure if I like that idea."

    I should modify that - how can she be 'at peace' in this new world without it changing her drastically? She's got to grow up, that's a given and I think she's stronger than she knows but, she's not blood thirsty or at ease with the shedding of blood. I'd hate for her to be (but it's not my story is it? lol). I love the care you take with forming your characters Lunar, it comes through your writing and it makes your readers invest more into the story.

  14. Rachel, oh man, you're jumping the gun. Brandon and Michael? Someday we'll get to that! And as for Dave, well, Michael was a threat to someone, and I can't even deny that he'll be a threat to Brandon. But I will say Brandon didn't send him.

    I know. I need to write so much more than I do!

    Poida, I hope they'll all be answered. Except the ones I don't want to answer right now. :)

    Velvet, ooo, good question. We'll see the answer next chapter to that very question!

    But the thing with Paula-- you're right. She wouldn't be able to really adapt without becoming a completely different person, and to be honest, I don't see that happening to her. Will she ever be able to trust anyone other than Brandon? I hope that we'll gain some insight into this with the end of this story. Something will have to change, and it probably won't be the world around her.

    That would probably be a secret concern for her. How to adapt but stay true to herself. She'll probably never really be at peace here no matter what direction she takes.

    Aw, thanks Velvet! That really means a lot to hear you say that.

  15. Brandon? It makes sense. It absolutely makes sense.

    Paula probably won't be able to trust anyone but Brandon, but given that world, that might not be a bad thing. She's so vulnerable. How is she going to survive if she doesn't turn her back to it? But that wouldn't be Paula either.

    I love the detail about Jimmy asking for privacy to pee! That says a lot. And Paula knew it too.

  16. S.B., True, Paula is so vulnerable in this world. Brandon is the best person to trust, maybe. But there's still some things about him, like how he'd handle the bug situation, that does concern me just a little sometimes.

    Jimmy is so the type of person who can't pee with someone watching him, lol. He is a strange fellow sometimes.

    Thank you.

  17. First, I can't believe I missed this when you posted it last week. I didn't realise I was an episode behind - sorry!

    Second, wow, some nice little detail coming out in this update, much of it raising some interesting questions.

    Whatever the aim of the op, it was obviously well-planned, even if some things had to be left up to chance. But now I'm wondering about what the true goal was. Was it as it first seemed, a rescue mission for Alex to recover his daughter?

    Was it a chance that arose, with the help of Nameless, for Jimmy to remove the threat that Killer posed and avenge Mary once and for all? Perhaps Alex's daughter was just the sweetener used by Jimmy to buy his cooperation.

    But then Jimmy made this statement:

    "If he hasn't decided to step up after this, I don't know what else I can do."

    Was there a grander plan? Were the demise of Killer and the rescue of the little girl just happy side-effects to a list ditch effort to get Brandon to stand up and take ownership of his rank?

    Off now to read the next one and hopefully find some answers ... although knowing you there are probably more questions *lol*

  18. Aw, Judi, you're so sweet. I know it takes me something like two weeks sometimes to read an update, so don't feel bad!

    Oh, you're asking the good questions. These are ones I hope to someday answer because Paula will probably never really know herself. But Jimmy knows, and I intend on getting a short story from him of some sort.

    Also, oh glad you picked up on that last line. It may not have been a grander plan, but just more chance up in the air. Would Jimmy have done this is Brandon were in charge? Huh. Man, I really need to have a talk with Jimmy. But I do believe that getting Brandon to step up and take his rank had been a motivator for Jimmy all along-- not just in this story, but probably for years.

  19. First off, great fight, and Jimmy saying 'That's for Mary' Bang-on.

    A lot of things fell into place, how could I have ever doubted Alex?? Of course there was a cunning plan. Duh. Well played, executed and written. You had me going. I was ready to roast Alex on a spit. Poor baby.

    And Brandon? I can see that as well. It fits.

    Will read more tomorrow, great, great work. Your narrative just shines!

  20. I know, Drew. How could you have ever doubted Alex? Though you weren't alone. Funny that I didn't expect everyone to turn on Alex once he gave his reason, lol. Only SB was really in his corner understanding and believing him completely.

    Also, thank you. Fights and action scenes are my biggest weakness because I'm a lazy slob. What do I know about fights?