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.
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.