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They all began to crowd into the back of the massive car. It wasn’t like they had a choice--the men behind them had loaded guns pressed into their backs, making no attempt to hide them. And it wasn’t like anyone around them knew (cared) what was going on; they wouldn’t be worried until someone started fighting back. After all, this was the seedier part of town. Kidnappings of fourteen year old girls weren’t uncommon. The circumstances under which they were being abducted, however, were uncommon. Or perhaps they weren’t, but no one dared to speak of it. Almost like five teenaged girls were a threat. Then again, who knew? Maybe they were.
“Get in,” One of the men growled, shoving the barrel harder into the back of the shortest girl. She turned to look at him, narrowing her dark green eyes. He snickered at her to begin with; it only took a moment or two for his eyes to glaze over and for him to hit the ground, twitching. It’s only a hallucination; he’ll be up in another three minutes, she thought. Not necessarily to reassure herself that he would be alright. She could have cared less about him or any of the guards. It was a countdown from the time the chaos around her began to the time it ended. A countdown for how much time she had left to run.
Moving on that thought, she grabbed the hand of the tallest girl, taking advantage of the same chaos to escape. The other three girls latched onto the line behind their leaders. None of them got very far away from the limousine, though; there were more than enough guards left standing to grab one girl away from the end of the line. The short one, the one who had sent the guard into spasms, made it past the outermost ring of guards. The taller one was literally ripped away from her; a large man grabbed her around the waist, lifting her high off the ground and swinging her back towards the car.
Not surprisingly, they had finally started to cause a scene on the street. What had been overlooked and walked around before was now dangerous. Bystanders were beginning to take cover in the nearby buildings, afraid of a firefight. They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that it wouldn’t have been much of a fight, considering that the girls had nothing to use. Yet they still did what they could, flailing wildly against their captors, not giving up hope for escape.
“Run, Jade!” They all shouted to the leader, who still remained uncaptured. Jade seemed to waver for a moment, torn between her own freedom and her friends. It only took her that moment to choose the former option; Jade bolted for an alleyway directly in front of her. Unfortunately, she didn’t get even halfway down it. The hulking figure of another man emerged from a shadow hugging the wall. She had a very good feeling that he’d been waiting for her there; she’d tried this often enough.
Jade didn’t even try to fight him. He smirked, a hungry look in his eyes. He caught her arm and threw her over his shoulder, like he’d done many times before.
“Nice to see you again, Mark,” Jade sighed. Carrying her, he started towards the limo at a brisk pace, where the scene was wrapping up. The rest of the girls, subdued at the sight of Jade’s capture, were getting into the backseat once again.
“You too, Jade,” Mark faked a smile in his rough voice. He dropped her onto one of the two back benches, onto the laps of her friends, who quickly righted her. Jade made one last lunge for the door. Mark promptly slammed it in her face, as if he were waiting for her to make that move. Jade sighed, flopping back against the plush seat.
There was a tinted glass divider between the girls and the driver; even though they heard him (or her, honestly) getting into the car, they couldn’t see him (or her). The car slowly started rolling forward, before picking up speed. Only Jade still seemed to be calm.
“Jade, please tell me you have a plan…” The tallest girl’s voice shook as she brushed a piece of golden hair behind her ear, clearly nervous.
“For starters, Topaz, you’re going to just shut up. Don’t think they don’t have this bugged. Then we’re going to sit back and enjoy the scenery. After all, the science district isn’t exactly on our route to school,” Jade tucked her arms behind her head, closing her eyes. She could almost imagine the bafflement of the men watching the security footage. She could imagine the commands being issued--to beef up security, to watch for a potential Rescue. And most importantly, the speculation over what did the girl in the dark green tank top know?
But what did Jade know? She knew that she and the others certainly weren’t going to be Rescued. And if someone did save them, it would be her, not some crazy rebel.
“No, seriously, Peter. How many?”
Peter put down his pair of binoculars. He looked over at his companion with a raised eyebrow, slightly annoyed. “Dorian. There are five of them.”
“That’s complicated.” Dorian remarked, looking back down at the limo heading towards them. “So…how do we want to do this?”
Peter was silent, thinking for a moment. “Same way that we always do, I suppose.”
“Of course.” Dorian smirked. He stood up and stretched, sore from crouching on the roof the whole morning, waiting for the five targets to pass by. “So give me, um, how about a three minute head start? Should be enough time to get there.” Without another word, Dorian bounded down the rooftop staircase. Peter laughed.
Dorian was…well, he at least had the energy to do their job. It could be exhausting after a while. Peter was only twenty-five, although he looked far older. Rescuing had taken most of his youth away. He’d been at it since he was nineteen, Dorian’s age, but while Dorian was relatively new to the operation, Peter couldn’t count the number of Rescues he had done--then again, he also couldn’t count the number of Rescues he had done that had failed. (Dorian didn’t have to know that little fact about his mentor.) The largest difference, though, was that Dorian still thought he could change the world. And Peter couldn’t see the future, after all. Maybe this group of girls would be the group that changed everything.
Peter sincerely doubted it.
Regardless, he found the first of the smoke bombs in his bag. That should have been enough time for Dorian to get down the stairs and into position. As if on cue, Dorian appeared on the stoop of the old apartment building. Even from eight floors up, Peter could tell that he had the gun Peter had made with him. Peter shook his head, trying to hide his smile. Dorian would say that it was only loaded with bullets for protection against the guards, but Peter knew better. He knew that Dorian was so determined to save the world that he would kidnap the girls away from being kidnapped.
Peter pulled the pin on the smoke bomb and threw it right into the street, right as the hood of the limo edged over it. Perfect timing, as always.
A cloud of smoke erupted, engulfing everyone and everything on the street level. Peter lost sight of Dorian as Dorian hurried into the smoke, towards what Peter could only hope was the car containing their targets, and not a car of guards.
“Jade, what’s happening?!” A dark eyed girl gasped, pressing her face to the window. She couldn’t see anything outside; it was like a whiteout.
“Calm down, Ruby. It’s…” Jade didn’t finish before she had hopped up on her knees. She pulled a poorly-concealed camera out of the ceiling above her, throwing it to the floor of the car; taking a hint, Topaz slammed her foot down on it. While Jade didn’t know exactly what was going on (actually, she was just as frightened as the others), she was going to take advantage of it, as she always did. She had a feeling that, judging from how messy things sounded outside, no one was going to notice the lost feed until it was too late. The observers were trying to solve the larger problem. It couldn’t have been any of the girls; it was a well known fact that government vehicles cut off any, and every, ability.
Suddenly, Ruby screamed from her position against the window, starting to tip out. Another girl grabbed Ruby around the waist and jerked her back into the car.
“Th-the door…it o-opened--” Ruby stammered out. The same girl who had rescued Ruby started screaming.
“What is your problem, Amethyst?!” Jade snapped. Smoke had spilled into the car while the door was open, and the lights around the roof of the limo had been turned off. An emergency measure, she supposed, from the driver; it didn’t seem that he had left. Between all of that, seeing Ruby and Amethyst, even just a few feet away on the opposite bench, was now almost impossible.
“I have a feeling it might just be me.” From somewhere across the darkness, a man’s voice answered Jade’s question. It wasn’t Mark; she knew his voice too well. Perhaps he was a different lackey.
“Who the heck are you?!” Jade couldn’t seem to lower her voice. As her eyes started to adjust to the darkness, she could have sworn that she saw the flash of a gun’s barrel.
“Right now, my name isn’t all that important. What is important is to get you--what, five?--out of here,” The man replied. Jade sat back again, crossing her arms.
“Uh-huh. Nice try, but I’m not moving.” Jade shook her head. She couldn’t tell, but she thought the man sighed.
“Jade!” Topaz hissed from the opposite bench. While they supposedly didn’t have a leader--it was supposed to be a democracy--it was commonly accepted that if Jade didn’t do something, the rest of them didn’t do it either.
“I don’t trust him!” Jade replied. “He randomly jumps into out car as we’re being kidnapped and he has a gun. Yup, because I totally trust that.”
Outside, a large explosion shook the car. There was no damage done to the vehicle itself or its passengers, as planned. Peter worked too hard on his explosives to not cause any damage at all, but he was smart enough to not have that damage and hard work go against his goal (no matter how much he regretted it later).
“Alright then. Looks like we’re going to do this my way.” And then the hammer on Dorian’s gun went back. “If you ladies would kindly step out of the limousine.”
Not even Jade would argue with a loaded gun at her back--well, at least with a stranger, since she’d still chanced running when it had been the guards who threatened her. But she knew them, at least, and was certain that they were twice as likely to shoot her as whoever this man was. If he was chancing a Rescue, after all, the gun wouldn’t be loaded--theoretically.
All the girls scrambled out, tripping over each other to open the door. Topaz took up the lead, with Ruby right behind; the third nameless girl was in the middle, and Jade stayed at the end, with only Dorian behind her and Amethyst directly in front.
Of course, the gun was loaded. Dorian had often had to use it to defend himself and whoever he was Rescuing, no matter what Peter believed. But he would honestly admit that the idea of shooting a few rounds at Jade’s heels--hitting the ground and not her, obviously--crossed his mind. With all the smoke floating around, however, he decided against it. His aim might not have been the best, and no matter how much he might want to cure her of her smugness, doing so by shooting her knee was probably not the best way.
“Get to the alley!” Dorian yelled the instructions over the noise of policemen blindly emptying clips into the space around them, trying to find a target, over the noise of explosions as Peter let loose the second volley of destructive distractions, and over the noise of the girls themselves screaming. Dorian briefly wondered how they were still alive.
“Amethyst!” Jade yelled. Dorian had to credit the girls that they were at least going in the right direction. But what had Jade said? Amethyst? Hadn’t that been the name of one of the girls, or was it code? Would’ve been a stupid code if it was both.
Suddenly, a steady hum snapped him out of his thoughts. It wasn’t a noise he was familiar with. Peter had taught him all the sounds that police weapons made, as well as those of their own invention. The next thing that Dorian realized was that the air around him (and the girls) wasn’t smoky anymore. In fact, he could definitively make out all five of them; Topaz’s height, Ruby’s bright red hair, the short black hair of one of the middle girls, and the clear image ahead of him of dark haired Jade picking up another brunette bride-styled. His first thought was that the second brunette had been shot, until he looked up--surrounding the six of them was a bubble. It seemed to be mostly clear; however, every ten seconds or so, it would pulse purple, as if electrified. It also dawned on Dorian that this was the source of the noise. And then, continuing on with his day of revelations, he realized that it was a force field emanating from the girl Jade cradled as they ran.
Hm, Dorian thought. Force field. This batch must be pretty powerful. Bet they’ve been dying to get their hands on them for ages. Once more it crossed Doran’s mind to try and figure out how these five had lived this long.
Stray bullets pinged off of Amethyst’s--he assumed that was the name of the girl in Jade’s arms--field like they were toys. So they were really powerful, then, Dorian decided. Usually, a field had disappeared after the first hundred bullets or so. Dorian had never been good at math (he only remembered picking on his teacher with the other kids because she had been short) but he still knew that it had been well over that number. For the first time in a long time, Dorian felt a pang of fear; how long would it last? The good news was that he doubted he’d find out, since they were almost to the alley. He quickly switched his current magazine out with one in his pocket. The discarded magazine sizzled as the edge of the force field passed it over, but it remained outside their border. Also luckily enough, none of the girls noticed the switch.
“In here!” Dorian called up to the front. Topaz looked back at him, uncertain of exactly where “here” was; he motioned towards a thick wooden door off to their left. She turned so sharply to get to it, he momentarily thought she would run into it. Topaz didn’t, but they were faced with a different problem: the door didn’t open when she tried the handle. Dorian sighed. Peter was supposed to have unlocked it, made sure that this wouldn’t happen, that it wouldn’t jam. He couldn’t leave his vantage point at the back of the group to help, but they had to get into the building…
Much to Dorian’s surprise, the door popped open with only a kick from Topaz. He hadn’t thought that much power could be in someone who was about as big around as his pinky finger. None of the girls seemed very big, but if he had imagined any of them being strong, it would have been Jade, and not Topaz. It begged a new question for him; who was oldest out of the group? Topaz was tallest, so it would make sense; but Jade acted the most mature…not knowing such a minute detail could, theoretically, ruin the plan. The oldest would need a higher dose. But there wasn’t any evidence to prove who was older. He was going to have to wing it.
The moment they were inside, Amethyst dropped the shield. Dorian shut the door behind them again. The girls were quick to take in their surroundings; darkness, and a damp smell. Water dripped down onto the concrete floor around them.
“We won’t be here for long,” Dorian tried to reassure them--or at least put them off guard while he waited on Peter. He could go on with their mission without Peter, since he did have the serum with him. It was just easier if they both shot. That way the girls went down faster and there were less people to fight back. Just in case they didn’t take kindly to being drugged (and if they did take kindly to it, they would have a whole different problem on their hands.)
“So, what are we waiting for?” Topaz’s voice shook. Dorian knew he would have to work with her on that. Fear was not going to do her any favors if they ever did get into trouble. Fear would be what the true villains would use to single her out as the weakest link. And if Dorian could only teach these girls one thing, it was that the weakest link either needed to be eliminated internally, or brought up to snuff.
“My partner. He’s uh…running just a little bit behind,” Dorian shrugged. How many times had he done this now? How many times had he and Peter run this scene? Always the same questions, always the same answers, always the same. Yet something was different here--other than the fact that the door’s lock was fairly broken.
“Look, we can’t wait around all day for your partner. They’re going to notice we’re gone, if they haven’t already, and when they do, they’ll tear these buildings apart. They’ll shoot first and figure out if we were involved or not later. So unless your partner is absolutely essential to whatever you’re waiting on, can we please get out of here?” Jade snapped, tapping her foot. It wasn’t exactly that she was nervous or scared. It was that she was really angry. She still didn’t trust the man, she still thought he was a crazy rebel, and she still wanted to save them all by herself. The threat of giving Mark the pleasure of seeing her in a body bag was definitely not helping her mood.
“Well…” What she’d said put Dorian into a tailspin; Peter was not essential. If he didn’t start with the drug soon, then he might lose them--no, he would definitely lose them. There was no doubt in his mind that Jade would have Amethyst put up another force field and they’d all go running back to whatever they were living in. “I do kind of need him here for this.”
“Kind of? Either you need him or you don’t. There is no--” Jade cut off abruptly as his gun went off. He’d kept it pointing at them the whole time to keep them from running, but it still caused her to jump. She couldn’t keep track of what was coming out of the gun (she assumed bullets), or where it went, just that it was aimed behind her. It didn’t sound like a typical gunshot. It was less like a bang, more like a pop.
Suddenly realizing what was happening, Jade whirled around; Amethyst had already fallen down, her shoulder bleeding. Another shot--that was Onyx, the raven-haired girl. Ruby took a step forward, as if to try and ambush Dorian before he hit another mark, but it only resulted in her being the third down. Topaz tried to dive behind Jade for protection, her usual reaction to danger. She didn’t quite make it, as the fourth shot rang out.
Jade turned back around to face Dorian. “What the heck is wrong with you, anyways?”
Dorian tried to ignore her. He really did. Sometimes, though, it just got hard to do. His earlier idea of shooting at her feet didn’t seem quite as dangerous anymore. “That’s actually a really good question.” Five, six. Jade hit the ground.
Dorian tucked the gun away. It was only when he looked up from the five unconscious girls that he noticed Peter stood on the staircase, watching.
“Was it really necessary to shoot that one twice?” Peter raised an eyebrow, gesturing towards Jade. Peter lifted up Ruby, throwing her over one shoulder, and scooped Onyx up over the other. They had fallen closest to his position between the stairs and the back door, outside of which waited a black panel van--with, if the arrangement had gone through correctly this time, would have enough space for all of them.
Making Lori walk to the airport had not been a great idea on Dorian’s part.
“Trust me. You really don’t want her waking up early.” Dorian shrugged. He balanced Topaz in one arm, with Amethyst dangling in the other. Leaving Jade on the floor, he casually made his way towards the back door. The driver of the van, anonymous to anyone but the two men, swung it open before he even had a chance to kick it to let her know they were there. She’d always been like that.
The driver let Dorian out of the building, unlocking the double doors into the back of the van. He dumped his two loads on the benches.
“Hey!” Peter called to him before Dorian had the chance to get into the passenger seat. Dorian turned around. “You need to come get the other one.”
Dorian sighed. He debated pushing Peter as they passed each other, but once again decided that it might be dangerous for Ruby and Onyx if Peter dropped them. And he really didn’t have any ill will towards the girls…besides Jade, at any rate.
Dorian threw Jade over his shoulder with far less consideration than the other two. He once again made his way back to the van, where Peter waited in the back with the previously delivered girls, while the driver revved the engine. It was a little surprising the speed they could--and had--gotten. He dropped Jade in the one remaining spot. Almost automatically, she readjusted herself so that she used Topaz’s legs as a pillow. If Dorian hadn’t known better, he would have sworn she was still awake. But he knew better than that.
Peter gave his accomplice a disapproving look. If Jade had any bruises after rough treatment, they would be the first to hear about it. Building a relationship with the girls was going to be essential to keeping them safe. It seemed to be the one thing that Dorian could not grasp. Peter pulled the back doors shut, as Dorian slammed the passenger door closed behind him. The driver punched the gas. All eight of them tore through the back roads adjacent to the alleyway until they hit the highway, at which point Peter found himself trying to keep the girls from falling off the benches and hitting their heads with all the sharp lane-swapping the driver attempted.
“Hey, you two want to cool it up there?” Peter snapped over the roar of the road and--most especially--the air conditioner.
“Tell me when the short one looks sick. Then we’ll cool it.” Dorian called back, laughing. He would even swear that the driver giggled; Peter, of course, didn’t find him very funny.
“You shot her twice! Be lucky if she wakes up by Tuesday!”
“Hey, when she wakes up, you can try explaining this to her.”