At last, my patient readers (at least I hope the hiatus hasn't chased you off. Come back if it has!), the day has arrived. I added a few more pictures, and I might try it with each part. Let me know what you think, or if you'd prefer only one picture. :)
But I'll stop talking now and get on with the Jumpers. Enjoy!
Skyler hit the ground and rolled. Without missing a beat he was back on
his feet and running from the fence that hemmed in the small
governmental building. Two police officers were hot on his tail, but he
wasn't worried. He knew exactly where to go.
Passing an alley,
Skyler smirked when he heard two successive snaps. He didn't stop
running, though, until he heard the whistle. Then he slowed to a jog and
circled back around.
A young man with messy black hair stepped
out of the alley, a pistol in his hands, pointed at the ground. His dark
eyes looked at Skyler, who nodded and leaned over, hands on knees, to
catch his breath.
"You'd think you wouldn't be so out of breath by now," the boy told him.
up, Wes." Skyler shoved the boy and ducked when Wes tried to swat him.
He looked up as a pretty blonde girl appeared, also holding a pistol.
"You okay?" She asked him.
"Never better." Skyler grinned. "Thanks for the backup."
"I'm your sister. I make it my job to save your butt." Hannah nodded to the unconscious bodies. "What do we do with them?"
"Leave them," Skyler said. "They're just security. No use to us."
"Then let's get out of here before more come," Wes said. "Did you find anything?"
that I can tell." Skyler frowned as he and Wes and Hannah took off.
"Let's hope Ethan had better luck. It can't be this hard to find them!"
is Horatio you're talking about," Wes reminded him. "The guy's
brilliant. I hate saying it, but he is. And he has Claire, who knew us
inside and out."
"We'll figure out where they're being kept,
don't worry," Hannah said. "Let's just get back to the hideout and we'll
figure out what else to do."
Two years ago, Skyler's world
pretty much fell apart. He had been forced to run away from home, found a
new one, and lost that one soon after. Now he was more a fugitive than
ever, but he didn't spend his time hiding. He spent it trying to locate
the Fence Jumpers who had been captured that day, and making Mayor
Horatio Vernalti's life as annoying as he dared.
Before, he and
the remaining Fence Jumpers would have been vandalizing the walls of
shops or business buildings, in the main city or in the abandoned
sectors. A can of spray paint and an hour or two of time, and the
Jumpers could create a work of art. They kept up their image of
delinquents to cover their tracks while they tried to make sense of the
suspicious activities Horatio and his team of politicians were engaging
in. All they knew was that they were creating cyborgs. For what purpose,
they didn't know yet.
Now, Skyler and his friends were more vehement in their actions. They were more daring than they had been. They were more angry.
a quick lookout the trio slipped inside the garage. It was dim inside,
but their eyes adjusted. Their hideout was just an abandoned mechanic's
garage, and it had been filthy when they found it, but now the Jumpers
made an effort to keep it swept and clean. Tools were organized neatly
even though they had no use for them most of the time, and all doors
except the one they used were blocked up with all the trash they found,
as well as tires and really, really old and bulky computers.
hadn't taken long to find it after the long trek back into the old parts
of the city, but it wasn't like the underground hideout at the
warehouse. But it kept them all dry from the rain, and warm enough
during the winter. It had protected them for two years, from weather and
from Horatio. That's all Skyler could have asked from it.
who's back!" Aggie looked up from her fiddling at a mechanic's bench.
Her indigo-dyed hair had grown out, revealing the original black color.
There was no more blue in her hair now, but she never tried to find
"Hey." Skyler grinned. "Ethan and Jonah back yet?"
"They came back, but then they went out to find food," Aggie replied. "Said to tell you they didn't find anything or anyone."
tried not to feel too disappointed. He had come to grow used to it. For
two years they had searched. There wasn't a single trace of their
friends. Not even the media reported on any of it. They couldn't risk
contacting Madison, so they were on their own.
Pushing back the
discouraged feeling that prodded him, Skyler sat down next to Skipper.
Twelve now, Skipper had left the little girl he had known, and had
become a fierce Jumper. She still smiled, but it wasn't the same as it
had been before. Skyler wondered if he had become like that too. The
same Skyler, but a different one at the same time.
"Hey." Skyler nudged Skipper. "How're you?"
Skipper shrugged, playing with her dishwater-blonde hair. "Jonah said I
could go out scouting with him tomorrow. Is that okay?"
"Sure it's okay." Skyler nodded. "You don't need to ask me."
smiled and leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder.
Looking up, he saw Hannah watching them, an eyebrow raised and a smile
playing at her lips. Skyler scowled at her.
After a minute Skyler
poked Skipper. She giggled and flinched away long enough for him to get
up and grab the map of Cincinnati they had snitched ages ago. He spread
it out on a table and caught up a black Sharpie marker.
sprinkled the map, both in the city and in the old abandoned sectors,
even the poor district. Skyler added two new X's to the map and stared
at their work. Two years' worth of searching, and they hadn't even found
a single clue. They had tried all the obvious places first, like the
factory, where cyborgs were made, and the remodeled Ravenstone school,
where the Jumpers had first been held before Skyler helped free
The memory resurfaced, and Skyler tried to push it
away. That whole day had been chaotic and all his fault. If he hadn't
been so curious and looked through all those doors, the Jumpers would
have escaped without detection. That meant he wouldn't have been caught,
and Cody and Kip wouldn't have come looking for him. If they hadn't,
Cody would still be alive.
Granted, the Nabbers still would have
found the Jumpers by the railroad tracks. Grace, a fellow Jumper, had
unknowingly had a tracker implanted in her arm, leading the Nabbers
right to them. She had stayed on the train, to draw away the Nabbers
while the others looked for their friends. Skyler didn't know what had
happened to her.
"Skyler." Hannah came up to him, carrying a mug of something steaming.
Skyler looked at her. She looked so much more grown-up. Of course she
was eighteen, a legal adult now, but she looked more woman than just his
big sister. Even in now ratty clothes she had been able to grab from
suburb garage sales, no one could call her ugly.
"Get some rest." Hannah put the mug by his hand. "You haven't been getting enough sleep."
"I'm fine," Skyler said. Hannah frowned at him. "Sis, I'm fine. I get enough sleep."
you don't," Hannah replied testily. "You stay up at all hours of the
night staring at the map and then spend the whole day searching. I want
to find them too, but we can't run ourselves into the ground with
exhaustion doing it. We have to make sure we'll be strong enough to
actually get them out."
"The sooner we find out where they are, the sooner I'll rest up," Skyler said. "We still have lots of places to look--"
we will look there." Hannah made him face her. "Skyler, we have been
searching for two years, and for a long time you haven't been sleeping
the amount you should. I won't have you get sick over this. Now drink
your hot chocolate and go to bed."
grinned. "Aggie and Skipper raided a supermarket and got us some food
and goodies. It wasn't enough, but Skip got a box of hot cocoa. So drink
it and turn in."
Skyler looked at the mug, and suddenly it
smelled tantalizing. He grinned and lifted the mug. Hannah laughed and
tousled his hair.
"You're such a kid," she told him. She picked at his hair. "You need a haircut, too."
"No I don't," Skyler said quickly, ducking away. "But I will if you give me one. Don't let Aggie or Skipper do it."
your cocoa, you dork." Hannah shoved him lightly. Skyler grinned again
and took a swallow. Skyler couldn't remember the last time he had had
hot chocolate. He savored the taste before swallowing.
After a few more swallows, Skyler returned to the map. Hannah was watching him.
"What?" He looked at her. Suddenly, Hannah went out of focus, so did the whole room. Skyler gripped the table to steady himself.
"What..." Skyler blinked hard. "What did you do?"
"Sorry, Skyler," Hannah said as she took the mug from his hand. "You have to sleep."
"No." Skyler tried to pull away when she took his arm, but someone else, someone stronger, grabbed his other arm.
"Let go!" Skyler tried to pull away from Wes.
"Don't fight it," Wes muttered. "Hannah's right, you need to rest."
"I can't..." Skyler panicked when his vision blur even more. "I have to--"
Skyler's legs gave out under him. He barely recognized his makeshift bed as Hannah gently pushed him down.
"Sleep, Skyler," she murmured. "Just rest..."
Skyler tried to push himself back up, but the sedative was taking over. Soon, he couldn't fight anymore, and he blacked out.
sat back when Skyler fell unconscious. He looked less distressed and
angry when he was asleep. He looked more like her kid brother again.
"When he wakes up, don't you dare tell him it was my idea." Hannah looked at Wes. The boy shrugged.
"He had it coming," he said as Hannah pulled the thin blanket over her brother. "He'll be fine after a bit of sleep."
The door burst open. The Jumpers scrambled to their feet, facing the door.
guys!" Jonah stumbled inside, closely followed by Ethan, who carried a
bulging backpack. "You're not gonna believe who we just saw!"