Archive for August, 2016

When Makara left the room, Raine let out a heavy sigh. The girl couldn’t know how worried he was about Ohlan, and even he could admit that if Ohlan was headed somewhere, it wasn’t to found a new settlement in the Wasteland, as he had previously discussed with him.

“What’s our COA?” Green asked.

Raine cracked his knuckles one by one as he considered.

“We got to go after him,” he said.

“If he’s been gone a few hours, he’s halfway to Carin by now,” Green said. “He knows just about everything we do.”

“Everything that matters, in any case,” Raine said. “It’s still a question of whether they can assault this place. We gave ‘em a hard licking last time.”

“They’re warring the Krakens right now,” Green said. “Ohlan picked a bad time to leave.”

“Someone must have tipped his hand.”


She had overheard Ohlan and Cyrus discussing his betrayal. It was possible – perhaps even probable – that Ohlan had figured that out.

Suddenly, Raine stood, his senses going on high alert. Green reached for his handgun, but before he could get a word out, Raine was out the door.

He checked both directions, but Makara was in neither one. She had left two minutes ago, but Raine already kicking himself for letting her go in the first place.

He ran up to nearby guard. “Corley, did Makara go by?”

Corley pointed toward the mall. “That way, Boss. What’s up, something wrong?”

“Lock down HQ,” Raine said.

Corley’s eyes widened. “Sir?”

“You want to explain what’s going on?” Green said, running out of the office.

Raine was about to explain when an explosion sounded from the direction of the concourse. Raine’s skin went cold as the floor vibrated beneath his feet.

Raine sprinted for the escalator, taking the steps two at a time.

When he reached the bottom floor, a cloud of dust rolled over him.

He covered his mouth with his arm, hacking and coughing even as he pushed forward. As the thunder of the explosion dissipated, he could hear the screams of both the frightened and the wounded.

The dust cleared just enough for him to see ahead into the concourse, where rubble had piled onto the floor. There were several unmoving bodes trapped beneath the concrete, and the sun shone through a large gap in the wall.

“We’re being bombed!” a female voice wailed.

Someone was trying to pull up a slab of wall that had pinned an elderly man to the floor. Raine rushed over to assist.

“Let me help you with that,” he said.

Together, he and the man lifted the concrete up, just enough for the man to escape.

“You all right?” Raine asked the man.

The man nodded, even if he was favoring one leg.

“Can you see him to medical?” Raine asked the man who had helped him, only now taking note of his face.

He froze.


His brother looked at him, flashing a smile. “I’ll get him to medical right away.”

As he turned to go, Raine grabbed his shoulder. “Wait! I thought you…” Raine considered, wondering whether he should be reaching for his gun.

“It was an act, Raine. I’m on your side. Always have been. And I learned about this attack…I was just a few minutes too late. I rushed back to warn you,but…”

He trailed off helplessly. Raine just watched him, stunned.

‘It was a bomb. A plot. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop it in time.”

Raine only now found his tongue. “Someone…overheard you speaking to this man named Cyrus. I thought…”

“I’ve always been on your side, Raine. I don’t agree with everything you do, but…” He coughed from the dust, which was still thick. “Maybe we can talk about this later. Even if I couldn’t stop this, I learned a lot that will be of use.”

Raine nodded dumbly. He had been prepared to go out and kill Ohlan at the first opportunity he got.

Now, he didn’t know what to thin.

“You could have told me, Ohlan.”

“You would have never agreed. They still think I’m working for them, Raine. Still. Isn’t that useful to you?”

“So you’re a spy, now.”

Ohlan gave a coy smile. “We all have our talents, brother. I’ve always worked better in the dark.”

“And my men? I thought you all were deserters. Jesus, Ohlan, I was about to go out there and hang you myself!”

“Well, you know now. As far as your men…they never really left, of course. They were watching my back in case my meeting with Cyrus went bad.”

“This won’t happen again,” Raine said. “Ever. Even if you’re still loyal to the gang…and a big part of me doubts that…I need to know I can trust you. You can’t do shit like this and expect to get away with it, Ohlan, or I’ll kick you out of the Angels myself.”

“Secrecy was vital,” Ohlan said. “You would have never allowed a Reaper into the mall. I had to do that, Ohlan.”


“To let them think I was really on their side. You have to trust me, Raine. I got this under control.”

“Whether you are or you aren’t, I’m in on everything you do now,” Raine said. “Play spy if you want to. Just let me in on what’s going on.”

Ohlan nodded, and it was all Raine could do not to heave a sigh of relief.

“Let’s clean this place up.”

Makara ran to Raine’s office the next morning before remembering that running would only serve to arouse suspicion. She forced herself to walk, going unnoticed with the exception of two middle-aged women setting up their fruit stall in the center of the concourse for market day.

Makara made to look as if she were interested in the tired fruit and vegetables being offered up, but otherwise made it through the market quickly so she could get to the end of the concourse, where the opening to the Angels’ HQ lay open, empty save for a few guards making their rounds.

Samuel was to come later. It was probably being overly cautious, but if anyone had an eye for detail, it was Ohlan. Samuel had even suggested Ohlan probably had a network of spies working within the mall; if he suspected Makara of anything, then surely she was being watched. Thankfully, it was somewhat normal for her to go see Raine, even if they didn’t see as much of each other lately, so meeting with him this morning shouldn’t be considered suspicious.

Even so, Makara couldn’t help but be nervous. She did feel as if she were being watched, and she resisted the temptation to look around, where dozens of people had now gathered in the market to purchase goods, some of whom were arguing and haggling. As she passed a grizzled man whose dark eyes ran over her, the thought crossed her head that he might be working for Ohlan.

She shook the thought away as she pressed forward, into the former department store that now served as the Angels’ center of operations.

As she stood in the center of the marble floor, she looked around to make sure Raine wasn’t on the bottom level. It was entirely possible that he wasn’t here in the department at all. Just as often he spent time outside. Currently, he was overseeing a construction project designed to build walls at various choke points to defend against a potential attack. Makara had no idea whether he would be out there now, but if he was, then she would have to wait until later.

She went for the defunct escalator, allowing her thoughts to drift as she made the journey up. When she was younger, she had seen Raine almost every day. Even now, at age twelve, she still thought of him like a father. She felt guilty about that; after all, her own father had died in order to see her safely into the last copter out of Bunker One.

She shook that thought away. She couldn’t think about that now, that cold, dark, snowy night that had changed her life forever. The white-glowing eyes of those demons still haunted her dreams. She had almost forgotten about them, but at times, her thoughts would drift back to that horrible night.

She almost gave a start when she realized she had reached Raine’s office door. It was shut. Either he was meeting with someone or he wasn’t in, otherwise it would be ajar. Raine wasn’t really an office man, but he said that having an office was useful for meetings, and it gave him a place to put his personal belongings, especially the books he had collected over the years.

Back when she and Raine were on more familiar terms, she had often read those books. She realized how long it had been since they had talked. Part of that was Raine, part of it was her. It was hard to remember who had started drifting away first.

Makara let out a sigh, and knocked.

She was just about to turn away when, to her surprise, the door opened. But it wasn’t Raine who answered.

“Lieutenant Green?”

His face had been wary, but upon seeing that it was her, his green eyes softened.

“Better get inside,” Green said.

He opened the door wider, opening Makara’s view until she could see Raine sitting behind his desk, his fingers steepled. His dark brown eyes were lost in thought, and Makara could instantly see that something was wrong.


At her voice, the spell was broken and he looked up. He didn’t say anything, only smiling sadly, before looking back at his desk.

“What’s wrong?” she managed. Her voice cracked a bit at the end there; Makara didn’t like seeing Raine looking like that.

“My brother’s gone,” he said, ominously. “I knew this day would come. I knew it…but I still can’t believe it.”

“Boss…should we be talking about this with Makara here?”

He waved one of his large hands. “She’ll find out, anyway. The entire gang will.”

“What happened?” Makara asked. “Are you talking about Ohlan?”

Raine gave a slow nod.

“There’s something I need to tell you about him.”

Both Green and Raine looked at her, waiting for her to continue. Now that it was time to tell him, Makara felt as if she couldn’t. Raine was already devastated that his brother had left the gang. How much more would it hurt if she knew he was plotting to kill him?

She had to say it, though.

“He’s going to try and kill you, Raine. I overheard him talking about it with this Reaper guy in one of the department stores on the other end. I don’t know how he got in, but I heard it. I was going to tell you yesterday, but…”

He nodded, and Makara was surprised to see that the news wasn’t exactly news to him. If anything, he looked even more deflated.

 “Where’d you hear this?” Green asked.

Makara explained everything she had overheard between Ohlan and Cyrus. Once done, she then had to ask her question.

“That meeting you guys had yesterday…was Ohlan there the whole time, or only for part of it?”

“He arrived late,” Raine said. “Why?”

“It was him, then. Just minutes before he came to that meeting, he was plotting against you!”

“This is serious, Raine,” Green said. “If we let him get away with this…”

“I know, Dan. I know that. He’s already gone, and has taken ten of my best men.”

“If they went with him, then they aren’t your best men,” Green said. His eyes were angry, and he looked as if he wanted to spit.

“Not just men. Cahors was one of them. So was Albright. Those men sat on my council, one time or another. Worse…they’ll know exactly where we are.”

“Well, there’s no avoiding that.”

Raine chuckled darkly. “It was my brother’s idea to move here. Fool that I am…I listened.”

Green looked at Raine in disbelief. “Wait…if it was his idea for us to move here, then he knows something that we don’t. If he’s really working for the Reapers…”

“Pray that he isn’t, Dan. Pray he only wanted to get a fresh start somewhere.”

Makara knew that was wishful thinking, especially with what she heard.

“I don’t think prayer’s going to help us out much here, Boss,” Green said.

Raine’s eyes went back to Makara. It seemed as if, at least for a moment, he had forgotten she was there.

“Thank you, Makara. But one thing before you go: I don’t want you ever going off on your own in this place again. It isn’t safe.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

It was quiet for a moment, but before Makara turned, she plucked up the courage to ask, “What’s going to happen now?”

Raine looked at her and flashed a smile. “I’ve got nothing to worry about. I’ve got Green, I’ve got my loyal soldiers, and we got more info on him than you think. It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s tried to kill me. In the end, they all find out they’re not as smart as they thought.”

“But were any of them your brother?”

It was rare for Raine to be struck silent, but he was at that.

Already, Green was showing her the door. Makara followed his lead.

“Be careful, Raine,” she said. “That’s all I’m saying.”

“Not a day over twelve and you’re acting like you’re grown,” Raine said, with a smile. “I’ve been nothing but careful my whole life, Makara. You have nothing to worry about.”

Makara nodded, but the words didn’t do much to convince her.

The walk back to her apartment was a long one. She felt a lot of things – fear for Raine’s life and fear for the Angels’ future, but more than anything else, anger at Ohlan’s betrayal. Hundreds of people worked hard to survive to survive here, and all it took was one to mess everything up.

Whatever Raine might think about it, Makara resolved in that moment to do whatever she could to stop Ohlan. And that meant finding out who was working for him, if there were any.

When Makara got home to the apartment she and her brother shared, an apartment that once been a small store on the mall’s third level, she immediately told him everything that had happened with Ohlan, along with seeing him in the meeting with Raine not fifteen minutes after.

For the first time in a long time, Samuel seemed troubled. Makara kept waiting for him to answer, to suddenly come up with the solution she hadn’t thought of on her way here.

To see him without an answer when he always seemed to have one just made it worse.

“Are you…sure?” he said, at last.

“I know what I heard, Samuel,” Makara said. “It was him.”

Samuel gave a slow nod, and went right back to thinking.

“What are we going to do, Sam? What if Raine…”

Makara couldn’t bring herself to say it.

Samuel opened his mouth to speak, but stopped short. Whatever he had been about to say, apparently he decided it wasn’t worth saying. Samuel always chose his words carefully, and that habit was driving Makara crazy right now.

“I don’t know, Makara. Raine has to be told, obviously. What worries me just as much is that an agent of the Reapers got in here in the first place. Cyrus, you said?”

Makara nodded impatiently. “They were talking about…killing him, Samuel!” The idea, said aloud, seemed ridiculous. But Raine was a powerful man, and he had many enemies. One of which, apparently, was his brother. “There are lots of unsecured entrances to this place…I’ve explored the entire complex pretty much. For all the ones Raine has blocked, there are still plenty more. I find new ones almost every week, and not all of them are on the ground level. There’s a whole basement section that I’m still exploring…”

“Maybe you shouldn’t do that anymore,” Samuel said. “At least, not alone. With all the ways into this place, I’s a little too convenient for the Reapers that we moved here. There is more space, and it is deeper in Angels’ turf…but what does that space matter if it can’t be controlled?

“What about Raine?” Makara pressed. “What do we tell him?”

“Are you absolutely sure it was Ohlan?”

“He all but said his name. It was the same, gravelly voice. I’d recognize it anywhere.”

“Then how was he able to join Raine so quickly?”

“I don’t know,” Makara said. “He must have while I was outside trying to get back in. If that’s the case, then I barely missed him.”

And if Makara was truly unlucky, then either one of them might have seen her when she left, if they also left soon after.

She pushed that thought away. “I still need to ask Raine if Ohlan was at the meeting the entire time. If not…then I don’t know what to think.”

“Do you think Ohlan suspects you of knowing anything?”

Makara thought about it. He had looked at her curiously when she walked into the meeting, but there was no telling whether he actually thought she knew anything. How would that even be possible? Ohlan was an intelligent man, so Makara wouldn’t put it past him to be suspicious, even when there was no real reason to be. What Ohlan had noticed, without doubt, was her reaction upon seeing him in the meeting with Raine. Makara had always been uneasy around Ohlan, so perhaps that might be written off.

Then again, her gut told her she had reason to worry.

 “We should wait first,” Samuel said. “Until tomorrow, at least. If we go back now and Ohlan sees either of us, it will only make him suspicious. If he suspects you, then surely he’ll be making a note of your actions.”

“Like…he’s watching me?”

“Possibly. Not directly, of course, but he always has those people who follow him around. Those are people who might be more loyal to him than Raine. We can’t be too careful, Makara. We’ll just stay home tonight.”

She hated the thought that she was being watched. She didn’t notice anyone looking at her strangely on her way home, but then again, someone who was following her wouldn’t want to be seen.

“There’s nothing too suspicious about me coming here,” Makara said, after thinking for a moment. “I was supposed to see Raine tomorrow, anyway.”

“So was I,” Samuel said. “We can go at the same time. Once Raine knows, that’s when we can take action.”

Makara nodded. Despite Samuel’s confident words, she could only wonder if it would be that easy.