Makara ran faster than she ever had in her life. This part of the mall wasn’t occupied, and the only illumination came from the skylights through which filtered weak, red sunshine, but even in the dimness, Makara was able to find her way back. She felt relieved as she entered the main concourse of the mall, where electricity had been rigged and people milled about on each of the three levels. As she lost herself among a crowd, she finally felt safe.
The Angels’ new location had attracted lots of people – though it had been a few months since the move, the number of people under the Angels’ care had almost doubled.
Makara searched the crowd for any face she might know, but everyone here was a stranger. Newer people were given homes further out from the main hub of Angel activity, so Makara jogged deeper within, forcing herself to slow down. She didn’t know who to trust, and someone might know that Ohlan was having a meeting with this Cyrus in that store, and if they saw her running from that distraction, they might be suspicious. A few cast glances her way, but she was already out of earshot by the time anyone could think to ask why she was running.
Raine was most likely in his office, which had been set up in an old department store. She took the steps of the defunct escalator two at a time, and within moments, she was racing through the entrance.
Or at least, she would have been, had there not been two thickly muscled guards barring her way.
“Can’t let you in, Makara,” one of them said. “Raine’s orders.”
“It’s important,” Makara said. “Mark, right?”
“What’s this about?” the other guard drawled.
“I can’t tell you, but I need to see Raine right now.”
“He’s in a meeting,” Mark said. “Otherwise, I’d let you right in.”
“When’s it over?”
Makara chewed her lip worriedly. She knew Raine would want to hear her news immediately, but she was old enough to know that Raine was the only person she could trust, with the exception of her brother.
She stalked off, going to the railing and staring over the side. She looked in the direction from which she had come, half-expecting Ohlan and Cyrus to show up. But of course, neither did. She didn’t even know what Cyrus looked like.
There were multiple entrances to the department, so there was a chance some of the other doors weren’t covered. The only one she could guess would be left unguarded were some of the exterior doors that had once been fire exits. She could only hope, with the power on, that it wouldn’t trigger any sort of alarm.
Not just anyone was allowed outside, though, but Makara had her ways. There were way too many entrances for guards to cover them all. Blocking the superfluous entrances was one of Raine’s priorities, but he hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
If Makara could go back into the abandoned part of the mall and leave though one of the stores, then she could wrap around back to Raine’s headquarters. It meant going outside, which was always dangerous, but it was important that Raine got this news as soon as possible.
Makara walked down the escalator until she was on the ground level. She walked quickly through the mall until the sounds of people were a low din behind her. She turned into a store which she knew would lead outside. She navigated the broken shelves and aisles of what had once been a supermarket. She found the exit easily enough; through the broken glass came the slanting rays of red sunlight. There were just a couple hours until evening, but getting to Raine’s department should take no more than five minutes.
She ducked carefully through the door which still had shards of glass sticking to its frame, and was soon outside. She looked at out at the reddened ruins beyond, and then checked in the direction of the department store in which she had overheard Ohlan. She saw nothing out that way, so she turned right, edging along the wall of the massive mall.
On her left was a vast, open space covered with dust and debris. Half-buried in the rubble were the frames of rusting cars, which Makara knew must have been sitting there ever since Dark Day. She couldn’t help but feel exposed as the cold wind blew – that space had to have been a parking lot, once, and it would be easy for anyone to see her from the ruins on the other side. She quickened her pace.
After just a couple of minutes, she reached the department Raine was in, turning right through a revolving door. She gave a push, and the door spun easily enough. At least, until it got caught on something, but by shouldering as hard as she could, Makara pushed the door forward. It spun so quickly that she tripped, and before the door could push against her, she used her momentum to dive forward into the building.
She grunted, then stood and brushed herself off. A quick scan revealed no one in sight, though she could hear the din of voices coming from the mall from up ahead. Hearing that sound oriented her; there would be an escalator nearby.
She walked through the wide open space, her boots barely making any noise of the white-tiled floor. She nearly jumped when she saw some guards sitting on some couches nearby, but they seemed for focused on their card game than on her. They didn’t even look up as she walked by, though surely they knew that she was there. Apparently, the guards inside didn’t have orders to kick anyone out who was already in.
With newfound confidence, Makara walked up the escalator to the second floor. Another guard passed her on the way down, even nodding at her as he did so. One she reached the top of the landing, she turned up a final escalator, and upon reaching the top, saw the backs of the guards that had originally told her she couldn’t enter. They were facing out toward the mall at the department’s entrance, chatting away. Makara had to stifle a giggle, because she found the thought of them turning around and seeing her standing funny.
Growing quickly serious, she went deeper into the store, and heard the sound of Raine’s voice, though it was too far for her to make out anything. She walked until she came to an open door, where inside there was a round table surrounded by chairs, each filled with a different person.
As she stood in the doorway, Raine paused in the middle of this sentence, his eyes widening a bit at seeing her. Makara was about to speak when she noticed someone most unexpected at Raine’s side.
It was Ohlan.
“We’ll be done in a minute, Makara,” Raine said. “Go find your brother.”
She blinked in disbelief. There was no way Ohlan could have gotten here this quickly after she had left him there in the store. She couldn’t help but stare at him in disbelief, and Ohlan gave a smirk, as if he knew what she was thinking.
Does he know? Did I just misunderstand something?
“All right,” she said, weakly.
She turned around and walked away from the room. She didn’t know whether to feel confused, or frightened. She couldn’t see how Ohlan could possibly be there. Ohlan never really named himself, and neither had Cyrus. Had she just been mistaken?
No…it had to have been Ohlan.
She decided to ask Raine later if he had been at the meeting the whole time. And whatever the particulars, he still needed to know that his brother planned to betray him.