Image courtesy of Pinterest.
The city behaved as it always did in the mornings: slow, but building up to be busy. Cody had always found the city fascinating, but it had always been too dangerous to go out there. He had always seen it from afar, usually from a tall building in the old parts of the city.
He remembered living in the city, however. He and Rory had been just like Skyler and Hannah: living on the streets, scrounging for food, huddling and shivering under awnings to stay out of the rain. Unlike Skyler and Hannah, Cody and his brother had had no family to run away from. There had been only the orphanage for them.
When he and Rory had found a few other kids on the streets, they had found the warehouse, and then the tunnels and cavern. It became their home, and they loved it.
Now, Cody felt like he was essentially back where he had been so many years before. On the streets with no place to call home. He was beginning to doubt he ever would find a place he could call home.
Cody scanned the streets. No Nabbers in sight. Of course they could always be hiding, waiting for kids who didn't quite fit in with the city.
But Cody knew how to fit in. He knew how to behave.
Kip had sent him to look for Skyler while he went to fetch the remaining Jumpers from Madison's place. He had no idea where Skyler could be. Cody tried not to think about what would happen if Skyler had been caught.
Cody walked casually down the street, forcing himself not to look over his shoulder or look around like he expected to see someone trailing him. That was the kind of thing that got Jumpers caught.
Cody glanced at the city hall right before someone grabbed his arms.
"Grace?!" Cody stared, shocked. Grace looked out of breath, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Grace, what's wrong?"
This time Cody risked a glance around before leading his friend to a bench by a bus stop. He sat her down and sat down by her.
"Grace, are you alright?" Cody asked. "Hey, what's wrong?"
"S-Skyler," Grace hiccuped. "H-he's... They have him, Cody. The mayor has him. He's the one behind all of this. He's got Skyler in a room under the city hall, and Claire--"
"Slow down," Cody said. "Take a deep breath. Is Skyler okay? Is he hurt?"
"I don't know," Grace shook her head. "They were going to hurt me to get him to say where you all were, but he wouldn't. Then the mayor said he'd let me go free if Skyler would tell them."
"Did he?" Cody asked.
"I don't know." Grace shook her head, fresh tears pouring down her cheeks. "He said he didn't know. Cody, we have to get him out--"
"Shh." Cody gripped her hand. "We'll do what we can. Did they hurt you?"
"I don't think so," Grace replied. "I don't know. They drugged me and I don't remember anything else."
"Okay," Cody nodded. "Head for the railroad. Everyone else is already there."
"You got everyone out?"
"Yeah." Cody grinned. "'Cause I'm just that amazing."
Grace smiled and kissed his cheek. "Yes you are, Cody Baine. You are one of the best guys I've ever met."
Cody smiled. "Thanks. Now get moving. D'you know where Madison's place is?"
"I think so."
"Go there first," Cody said. "Grab the kids that are there and tell Kip what you told me."
"How will you get in there? The security's gotta be too thick--"
"I'm amazing, remember?" Cody winked. "I'll think of something."
The city hall was a nice building. Clean, well-built, and orderly. It had always seemed like a place where you knew problems would be dealt with justly.
Now, it looked hostile and dark. A place where evil lurked behind a mask of good-will. Cody was disgusted. He had liked Mayor Vernalti, even though the Jumpers suspected he was involved with the cyborgs. Now he couldn't ignore the fact anymore.
Cody wanted to rush in and rescue Skyler, but he knew he should wait for Kip. Rushing off never helped anyone. If he was going to get Skyler out alive and back to his sister, he would need to be careful.
Kip's voice came from his left. Kip himself walked right by, and Cody followed.
"Grace found you?"
"Yep. She's taking the kids to the tracks." Kip nodded. "So Skyler's in there?"
"Under the building," Cody affirmed. "How do we get in? The security there is gonna be insane."
Kip nodded as they made a circuit around the block, watching the city hall closely. "The mayor probably has his own personal entrance, but there's got to be a secondary one, in an emergency."
"Like a door somewhere else?" Cody suggested.
"Maybe." Kip nodded.
"Like a door in the abandoned parking garage?" Cody asked. Kip stopped and stared at him.
"I remember seeing one the day Wes and I took Skyler and a few other new Jumpers out," Cody said, his mind whirring. "It was tucked away in a corner, painted the same color as the garage, but there's no way to open it from the outside. It's pretty close to the city hall, and I'll bet there's a tunnel."
"Best shot we have." Kip nodded. "Lead the way."
Skyler gasped, trying to hold in the tears and trying really hard not to scream. It felt like his insides were burning, and he couldn't do anything to stop it. It wasn't as bad as the first five minutes had been, but it still hurt like crazy.
"This can all end, Skyler," Horatio said, sitting in a swivel chair by the bed where Skyler was strapped down flat. He was reading a book, looking as casual as if he were just in his office or his living room. On the table next to him was a syringe, filled with something clear and light blue. The soothing antidote to whatever Horatio had pumped Skyler with.
However, next to that was another syringe full of the pain that burned in Skyler's body.
"I don't know where they are," Skyler choked out. He strained against the straps, trying to curl up into a ball, anything to feel less open. He craned his head to the other side to glimpse Claire, who sat on the far end of the room, a sleek purple cell phone in her hands.
"Claire," Skyler pleaded. "Tell him! Tell him I don't know!"
Claire glanced up at him, but then back down at her phone.
"Claire, please!" Skyler begged. He saw Horatio stand and pick up the syringe of the honey-colored poison. "Claire, please! Tell him!"
"One more chance," Horatio said. "Where are the other Fence Jumpers?"
"I don't know!" Skyler nearly sobbed. "Please, no! Please!"
The needle pierced his skin, and the liquid went in. Skyler tried to suppress a yell, but the burning sensation flared, reigniting the pain. Skyler screamed, tears streaming down his cheeks as he tried to fight them back.
"Where are they?!" Horatio roared. Skyler flinched.
"I don't know," he groaned. "Please, make it stop. I don't know where they are."
"Lies!" Horatio yelled. "Tell me where they are!"
Skyler cried out in pain again. He hated that he was crying like a baby. He hated feeling helpless.
"Uncle," Claire said suddenly. "Alexis says your morning appointment is here."
"I'm busy at the moment," Horatio snapped.
"Yeah, but this appointment is important," Claire said. "Give him the antidote and you can come back later. He's not going anywhere."
Horatio considered this. Skyler gasped in pain, watching him and hoping he picked up the blue syringe.
"I will be back." Horatio headed for the door, leaving the syringe on the table. "Tell me if he starts talking."
"Yup," Claire said absent-mindedly, continuing to look at the screen on her phone.
Skyler blinked back more tears. He looked at Claire pleadingly.
"Save it, Skyler," Claire cut him off. "All you have to do is tell him where they are. He'll find out sooner or later, but it will be better for you if you just tell him now."
"But I don't know!" Skyler nearly sobbed. "Claire, honest I don't! Nobody ever told me! Why can't you tell him? You probably know, don't you?"
Claire didn't respond. She got up and went to the door.
"Claire, please!" Skyler begged. "Don't leave me here!"
"Sorry, Skyler," Claire said. "But you signed up for this."
She opened the door to leave, but froze. Her hands slowly lifted, and she backed up. Skyler strained to see who was there. He cried out with joy when he saw Cody, holding a pistol up at Claire.
"Cody, don't," Claire said.
"Give me five reasons why not," Cody demanded. His voice was shaking and not as in control as it usually was. His hands trembled a little, too. "You betrayed us. All of us."
Skyler's heart flew when Kip appeared, also holding a pistol. He hurried to Skyler.
"Hey there kiddo." Kip frowned. "You okay?"
Skyler flinched as another spasm of burning pain flared. "N-no. He... he gave me something. It hurts..."
"Easy," Kip soothed. "Just hold on. We have to work fast and get out fast. We triggered an alarm."
"Cody, I know you're upset," Claire said. "But if you just listen--"
"Why would I listen to you?" Cody asked. "All you've ever told me were lies, anyway. Why would this be any different?"
"It wasn't all lies," Claire murmured.
"Bull," Cody snarled. "Drop your phone and don't move."
Kip finished loosening the straps, and Skyler slipped out of them. He tried to stand, but it hurt to try.
"Careful." Kip helped Skyler lean on the bed. "What's wrong?"
"He gave me a shot," Skyler said. "It just hurts. That blue one makes it go away, he said."
"You mean the mayor?" Kip asked, injecting the antidote into Skyler's arm. Skyler nodded and felt something cold slide through his body, soothing the pain and the burning. Skyler sighed with relief.
Shouting and running footsteps echoed up the hall. Skyler felt a surge of panic.
"We gotta go, Cody," Kip said.
Skyler forced his legs to support him. Kip ran to the door.
"You can't escape," Claire said defiantly.
Cody suddenly slammed the butt of his pistol into Claire's head. She crumpled to the floor. Skyler stared, shocked, until Kip pulled him out of the room and down the hall.
"Keep moving," Kip said. Skyler nodded and stumbled down the corridor.
Skyler turned the corner and looked back as the yelling got louder. Security guards appeared, rifles in hand and ready to fire. Kip shot into their midst before rounding the corner, and one of the guards screamed.
One of the guards raised his rifle and leveled it at Skyler. Cody came running and yanked him behind the corner, the bullet whistling past and striking the wall.
"You alright?" Cody asked him. Skyler nodded. Cody pushed off from the wall and turned back up the hall and fired at the guards.
But then Skyler saw Cody stagger back after a wave of shots from the guards. Horrified, Skyler saw two places where blood erupted on Cody's shirt.
"No!" Skyler screamed. Kip held him back. "No, he's hurt!"
"Stay back," Kip ordered. He fired at the guards and hauled Cody back around the corner. "Come on. We've overstayed our welcome."
"No," Cody croaked. "Leave me. I'll only slow you down."
"Shut up," Kip scolded. "We're not leaving you. I didn't come all this way to rescue one and leave another. Just this once I want a rescue mission where we all get out."
"Kip, I've been shot," Cody said. Kip turned and fired up the hall again, sending the guard for cover. "Kip, get out of here. I can hold them off long enough for you and Skyler to get out."
Cody grimaced, sinking to the floor, his legs unable to support him. Skyler knelt down by him.
"No, you're coming too," Skyler told him. "You came to get me when you didn't have to and when it was dangerous. You're getting out of here too."
"No I'm not, kiddo," Cody smiled sadly. "Even if I did I would bleed out. We wouldn't have time to stop and patch me up."
"No, Cody." Skyler shook his head. He flinched when more gunshots were exchanged.
"Hold your fire!" Claire's voice barked. She sounded groggy. “They're no use to the mayor dead, you idiots!"
"Cody, please, we can get you out of here," Skyler begged.
"Hey." Cody grabbed his arm. "Look at me. You have to get out of here. I can buy you enough time to get out of here if you go now."
"No." Skyler shook his head, tears pricking his eyes. "No, I'm not leaving you here with them."
"Skyler, you stupid idiot, I said go!" Cody urged. He smiled, but it faltered. "I'll be fine. I can hold them off." He gripped Skyler's shoulder tightly. "You take care of yourself, you hear?"
"Kip?" Claire's voice called. "Kip, you can't escape us."
"Oh, but where's the fun in not trying?" Kip asked, firing another round.
"Get out of here, both you!" Cody urged. He looked at Skyler. "Skyler, go. No way I'm dying just to let you get caught again. Your sister is waiting for you."
Skyler blinked in surprise. "My... sister? But Hannah--"
"She's fine, now go!" Cody pushed him down the hall. "Kip, you too. Give me your pistol. You guys should have a clear shot to the exit if you go right now."
"Kip I can't do this with you." Cody rolled his eyes. Grimacing, he tried to stand, but gave up. "Get out of here!"
Kip hesitated, then nodded. Cody nodded back with a weak smile. He looked a little scared, but also determined.
"No," Skyler protested. Kip grabbed his arm and pulled him away. "No, Cody, no, please--"
"You'll be alright, little bro." Cody grinned at him, using the nickname he had recently started using for Skyler. Jumpers had commented how Skyler looked up to Cody like an older brother, so Cody took to calling Skyler his little brother.
Cody smacked Skyler's arm good-naturedly. "Just remember the stuff I taught you, yeah? You're a tough Jumper. Don't you forget that."
Skyler nodded, tears in his eyes. Kip pushed him down the hall as gunshots sounded again, despite Claire's order. Skyler followed him to the exit, the sound of gunfire chasing them. Claire was yelling over the shots.
Skyler whipped around when a pained scream reached them. It sounded like Cody.
"Skyler there's nothing we can do." Kip gripped the boy's arm. "Cody knows what he's doing."
"He'll die." Skyler choked on a sob. "Cody's gonna die and it's my fault--"
"Stop that right now." Kip's grip tightened hard. "We can't do this right now. Cody knew coming after you was dangerous, but he was willing to take that risk. Now get moving."
Kip forced Skyler onward. They passed two unconscious guards with missing pistols inside what looked like a conference room. By the time they reached the exit and slipped out, the gunshots had ceased.
There were already Nabbers arriving at the abandoned garage when Kip and Skyler emerged from the tunnel. Kip shoved Skyler around a corner to the second level just before the Nabbers fired their guns at them.
"We're gonna have to jump," Kip warned. Skyler wiped his eyes and nodded. He swung himself over the low wall and dropped several feet, not pausing to even think about it. He winced at the impact and rolled, but the pain paralyzed him for a minute. Kip landed, rolled nearby, and pulled Skyler to his feet down the abandoned streets as Nabbers rounded the corner of the garage.
Kip and Skyler only slowed down when they reached the really old parts of the city. Skyler limped along beside Kip, trying hard not to cry in front of him.
"Wait," Skyler said, panting. Kip turned.
"We can't stop, Skyler," he said. "It's too dangerous here. It was a miracle we even got out of there."
"Not for Cody..."
"Hey." Kip grabbed Skyler's shoulders. "Look at me. Cody wanted you to go. He wanted to give you a chance to get out of here so you could see your sister."
"My sister's dead, Kip!" Skyler shouted, shrugging him off. He couldn't fight the tears anymore. "Hannah's dead, Wes is dead, and now Cody's probably dead and it's my fault and I can't ever do anything to make it stop. It'll just get worse and worse--"
Skyler felt Kip hug him tightly. Skyler clung to the older man, giving in to his grief and desperate for something, someone, to hold on to when everything else seemed to be taken from him. Where did all his slightly reckless courage go? Now when he needed it most?
"This is not your fault," Kip said. His voice sounded strained, as if he were fighting back tears. "Don't you dare think it is. Skyler, your sister is alive. Wes is alive. They're alright. We're gonna be alright."
Skyler nodded. Kip pulled back. "Come on. Just a little farther."
Skyler followed Kip out of the city silently, forcing himself to control his grief. He needed to focus and be stronger than he was now. Crying wouldn't help anyone.
At the same time, joy overwhelmed him. Hannah was alive! She was alive and she was okay. Skyler began to get impatient.
"Just up ahead." Kip pointed to a railroad track. Skyler felt himself smile.
Claire was furious. The guards had been completely useless, and had let Kip and Skyler get away. Not to mention they shot Cody twice more. Cody had run out of bullets, and he had been left ignored in the hall.
Claire stood over him. Her uncle had been alerted and was on his way back down. She tried not to look at the body a few yards away. Her head hurt too much to feel angry with Cody for killing the guard.
Cody's eyelids fluttered open. Claire knelt down next to him. Cody's eyes locked on to hers, but then he looked away.
"Just kill me now," he said, his breathing was labored and pained.
"I'm not going to kill you," Claire murmured. "I know I lied about a lot of things, Cody, but my feelings for you--"
"Oh don't even." Cody glared at her. "I trusted you, Claire. You can't sweet-talk me like you used to do and hope it makes it all better. It doesn't, and it never will."
"I'm sorry," Claire said, standing. She looked up as Horatio hurried to her.
"Claire!" He exclaimed, hugging her. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine, Uncle," Claire assured him. "Skyler escaped, but we have one."
Horatio looked at Cody, who appeared to be on the verge of passing out.
"This must be Cody." Horatio smiled. "Claire's told me a lot about you."
"Has she?" Cody smirked, half-conscious. "Told you how she kissed me once?"
Claire glared at him, but Horatio only chuckled. "I'm glad to finally meet you, Cody Baine. Your wounds will be tended to. Of course you won't know what happened, but my niece gets to have you alive. That's better than dying, at any rate." Horatio looked at Claire.
"Activate the tracker. We've given her enough time to get to them."
"Activate the tracker. We've given her enough time to get to them."
Cody felt a stab of fear flash through him before everything went black.
* * * * *
I hope you all have been enjoying Fence Jumpers! I know I've greatly enjoyed writing it and exploring all of the characters.
Next week is (probably) the last installment of this part of Fence Jumpers. However, Fence Jumpers isn't over! I'll be writing the next "season" of Fence Jumpers, so there will be a Jumper hiatus while I write up installments.
But I don't intend to leave you all without any Jumper goodies. From time to time I'll try to post some juicy Jumper stuff, like characters who will be making their debut appearance in season two, perhaps the playlist I created for Fence Jumpers, and maybe more character interviews (let me know who you want to see!). This way all of you fantastic readers get Fence Jumpers bonus content. ;) Think of it like a movie and now that the movie's done, you get to peruse the special features on the DVD.
But sit tight! We're not done yet! :)