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Viewing Single Post From: V4 Epilogue: Peace Accords
MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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The next thing Kimberly knew, she was in a van, sitting in the back seat, buckled in. The world was blurry, even more than the amount she'd become used to in the past few weeks of glasses-free living. Everything was dark. There were no windows, but she could tell they were moving. A man was sitting across from her, a pistol in his lap. He was dressed in jeans, a windbreaker, and a baseball cap. If Kimberly hadn't known her situation, she'd have assumed she'd been kidnapped by a couple wannabe gangsters, not a group of terrorists. Apart from her and her captor and the seats they were on, the van was completely empty. It looked brand new.

The man glanced at her, then did a double take.

"You're awake?" he said.

"Yeah," Kimberly replied. So close to the end, it seemed like a smartass response would not be the proper choice.

"Damn." He took a deep breath, glanced at his lap, then looked back at her. "When I tell you, close your eyes, okay? Then pretend you're just waking up when we move you. Can you do that?"

"Yeah."

The world was coming into better focus. Kimberly rubbed some gunk out of her eyes, using her right hand. Even with the exercises and the surgery and the medicine and all that shit, her left was still barely usable for fine manipulation. They'd told her it would be better in time, that she'd have to go in and get a bunch of check ups and shit, that she'd never be the same again. As it was, she was so used to using her right for everything that it was hard to reintegrate the left even for the trivial stuff it was good for.

The man rubbed his own eyes.

"Just be really quiet when I tell you," he said. "Knocking you out again seems like a waste of time. We're almost there."

"Where are we going?"

He paused at that, seemed to think really hard before he replied.

"We're in Saint Paul," he said. "There's an old, empty warehouse. That's where you're supposed to wake up. It's easier than throwing you in front of your school or house or whatever. Security's getting tougher these days."

"Right," Kimberly said.

The van lurched as it drove over some irregularity in the road. Kimberly tried not to cringe. The man didn't so much as blink. He wasn't holding the pistol. It seemed like the terrorists had basically given up on the idea of Kimberly causing them any sort of legitimate trouble. That was a bit disappointing, in a way. Hurting them felt like a victory, even if it was petty shit like making a few grunts waste their time on escort duty. Then again, they weren't all such bad people, at least externally. That was still the most upsetting thing she'd learned.

The ride lasted a while longer. The man started whistling to himself. Hound Dog, by Elvis Presley. Not a song Kimberly much cared for, despite her taste for older music. She wondered if she'd get clubbed unconscious if she asked him to stop and decided not to risk it.

Finally, the van slowed, then stopped. The man looked at Kimberly and whispered, "Act asleep," so she closed her eyes. Twenty seconds later, the door ground open, and she heard footsteps on the metal floor of the van.

"Everything go alright?" It was a woman's voice, one Kimberly didn't recognize.

"Yep." The man, this time.

"Good. Let's move her and split. I don't like this."

More footsteps. Kimberly decided to leave her eyes closed. No reason to antagonize this new woman, who already sounded like her grasp on self control was fairly tenuous. No reason to die this close to the end.

Someone leaned over Kimberly and undid her seatbelt. Then they were hoisting her up, and she figured it was safe to blink, but she couldn't make out much because she was at an awkward angle, supported between the two people. They dragged her out of the van, and she stumbled a bit as she took the step down to the ground. Her hat tumbled off her head, but she didn't say anything. A few seconds later, she was shoved forward, onto an old mattress on the floor.

"Stay put," the woman said. "We're going outside and we're driving away at some point in the next half hour, but not right away. You look out too soon, we blow your head off. You got that?"

Kimberly grunted assent, despite the fact that the woman was clearly spewing bullshit. They wouldn't kill her now, not after putting so much work into getting her here and not for such a petty reason. Kimberly's best guess was that these two were expendable and that the woman at least knew it well. They wanted to keep Kimberly out of commission for too long for her to call the cops or something. Fine, whatever. She wasn't going to go chasing after two nobodies while howling for revenge. That wasn't worth dying for, not at all.

"Yeah," she said, clarifying her position.

She didn't even look up until she heard a heavy door slam shut, followed by a second slam from outside and the hum of the van's engine receding into the distance. Once silence had returned, she moved slowly, not quite convinced despite all her own logic that nothing bad was going to happen.

The warehouse was fairly small, illuminated only by a single fluorescent light, and totally empty except for the mattress Kimberly was lying on and her bag and her hat. The bag was next to her on the mattress, on its side, and the hat was on the floor, probably where it had fallen. She scrambled over to it and picked it up.

A piece of paper was tucked into the band. She frowned, pulled it loose, and examined it.

The note read, "We may not have mentioned it before now, but the broadcast got delayed, so the world won't know you're alive for another twelve hours or so. I wouldn't spoil it if I were you. It would make things a lot more complicated for both of us in the long run. Good luck with life. – Jim Greynolds"

Kimberly looked at it for a long time, read it again and again, tried to parse out how much of it was warning and how much implicit threat, then decided she didn't give a fuck. In the end, she was free. She was back in Saint Paul, back home, and she had half a day to figure out how to deal with things, to hide from the media or prime her family or check herself into the hospital or any of that shit. She turned the note over in her hands, thinking, and then realized that there was more writing on the back. It took her a moment to realize it was just a list of names.

"Kaitlin Anderheim, Allen Birkman, Alice Blake, Felicia Carmichael, Anna Chase, Bridget Connolly, Raymond Dawson, Jeremy Franco, Isabel Guerra, Eiko Haraguchi, Jay Holland, Garrett Hunter, Alexandria Jackson, Joss Joiner, Harun Kemal, Peter McCue, Michael Moretti, Jacqueline Myrie, Jennifer Perez, Andrea Raymer, Samantha Ridley, Acacia Salinger, Mizore Soryu, Sarah Tan, Simon Telamon, Cisco Vasquez, Yelizaveta Volkova, Brendan Wallace, Sarah Xu"

Nearly instantly, she knew it was Greynolds' promised list of the rescued kids, the lucky ones. He'd provided it late enough that it no longer mattered, minutes before she'd have free access to all the information it contained anyways. It was basically useless. Just another little joke.

Except, maybe it was good for one thing.

Kimberly had half a day. It was plenty of time to prepare to weather the storm of whatever was to come. Maybe she'd even do it. Not now, though. At the moment, still shaking a little, still unsure of what had happened in her absence, of what had changed about the world, Kimberly could already think of a few more pressing uses for her time.

She put her hat on her head, hoisted her pack, and headed towards the side door, the one next to the big metal sheet which covered the exit the van must have driven through. It felt like it had been half an hour, or close to it, and the terrorists had been lying anyways. Kimberly's steps slowly grew more steady as she regained her balance. She opened the door, blinking for a moment at the first real sunlight she'd seen in nearly a month and coughing as she inhaled the air, so different here in the city, with its edge of pollution.

Then she set off. She had things to do, things to start planning even now. She had people she needed to talk to. She had business to settle.

Her boots crunched on the asphalt. There was nobody around. It was warm out. She knew this place. She'd never been here before, but it was on the way to school. Sometimes she'd stared out the window, eyelids half-closed and mind not at all ready to be awake, as her grandmother ferried her to school.

It was close to the halfway point. Her grandparents' house was maybe two miles away.

She took a few deep breaths and then coughed.

Fuck it. She'd catch up with people later. Now, it was time to go home.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
Lavender Ripley
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