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Skyler slept little in the following days. He helped make the large cemetery more defensible, and reviewed possible plans to rescue Kip. Being outside the city, Madison and Emma couldn't come as often, but they would leave notes, and Coyotes acted as runners to send and collect messages.
Strategies were hard. Fred was able to "persuade" a few of his old buddies to get into the facility, and through Fred they passed information. The place was indeed a correctional facility. Nothing torture chamber-esque about it. One of them had even seen Kip be escorted down a hallway. He had looked tired, but relatively unhurt. Security, however, was top of the line. Human guards, but there were robot drones prowling the perimeter and the halls too. Not to mention the password codes, number codes, various identity scanners. As well was cameras outside and electrical fencing. Nobody was getting in, and nobody was getting out.
Victor and his crew had a few thieved firearms, and they helped the Jumpers and Coyotes learn how to properly hold them. Among the Coyotes, they had maybe a dozen firearms, but a third without ammo for them. Skyler tried to mark out potential places where they could find ammo, and with Fred's help Skyler was able to barter with a few of Fred's friends for a handful of ammunition.
Via Emma, they had heard Conway was now very often seen in the city. She had been called when he finally came home with a cut cheek after missing a family dinner. Horatio had been genuinely worried, but Conway seemed to have said nothing. Skyler began to wonder if they had been wrong about him, but right now they couldn't risk letting him come back.
Living with the homeless was an interesting experience. The homeless were primarily older men, older than Kip. It was obvious the kids hadn't had interaction with their elders, but the homeless were either patient, or didn't care that the kids seemed disrespectful at times. Habits from life at home prompted Skyler and Hannah to remind their peers to be respectful, however.
One week into life at the cemetery found Skyler poring over maps with possible marked routes of rescue and escape. Scouts into the old sector reported the areas being cleaned up by guarded criminals, and were marked down. There were very few places they could make an escape through. Skyler refused to sleep as he examined the maps. There was too much that needed to be done.
"Skyler." Hannah approached. "You need to sleep. You can't keep doing this to yourself. Go to bed."
"I can't, Hannah," Skyler said, looking at her. "We're so close."
"I know." Hannah laid her hand over his. "But that doesn't mean we should be exhausting ourselves over it. We do that and we won't have any energy to do anything else. Go to sleep."
Skyler shook his head. Hannah tried to pull him away from the maps. "Hannah, stop it. I don't have--"
A strong hand gripped his shoulder. Skyler jumped and twisted to see Fred standing over him.
"Your sister has a point, kid," Fred spoke firmly. "You're going to make yourself sick. Go and lie down."
"Let go of me," Skyler said quietly. Fred didn't move.
"You need to rest," Fred said. "Depriving yourself of sleep won't help your friends. Your sister will drug you again if she has to."
Skyler looked at Hannah. She watched him silently, her eyes pleading. Skyler sighed. "Fine..."
Fred released his arm. Hannah took his hand and led him away from the flat gravestone. Fred began folding away the maps.
"I'm sorry for snapping," Skyler said. Hannah turned and hugged him. Skyler blinked in surprise, but hugged her tight, burying his face in her shoulder. He realized he was a bit taller than she was, only by an inch, if that.
"We can do this," Hannah said, stroking his hair. "We will do this."
Skyler nodded. Hannah went on. "I know you've become something like a big grown up leader and everything, but you are still my little brother, and it's okay to act like it sometimes. I miss him."
Skyler held her even tighter. "I don't think I can remember what he was like..."
"For starters," Hannah laughed, "he would have gone to bed when told."
Skyler laughed. "What else?"
"He wouldn't be so freaking tall,. Hannah poked his neck lightly. "But I suppose we can't change that... He wouldn't be afraid to let me know what he's feeling, instead of acting all tough and stubborn."
Skyler smiled. "He's scared... more scared than he's felt... and he just doesn't know what to do..." the smile wavered. "He's really scared, Hannah...."
Hannah held him tighter. Skyler felt tears prick his eyes. "He doesn't know what he'll do if he loses one more person, and that scares him too....." he swallowed a sob. "It scares me a lot."
"Shh, shh..." Hannah held him, stroking his hair soothingly. "You know what the Skyler now would do? He wouldn't let that stop him. He would make it make him stronger. He would fight harder."
Skyler nodded. "I'm trying...."
"I know you are," Hannah whispered. "And I know you can. You don't have to lead alone. You have us." Hannah pulled away and smiled up at him. "But it starts with getting some sleep, okay?"
Skyler nodded. He let Hannah push him down on the overgrown grass and cover him with a blanket. He slipped into unconsciousness.
When he woke next, Jonah was leaning over him. He jumped in surprise. Jonah held him down. "Just me. I think we have a plan."
"Serious?" Skyler pushed away the blanket and got to his feet. "What is it? How long has it been a legit plan?" Skyler paused. "Let me rephrase: Is it a legit plan?"
"No, I woke you up to tell you we have yet other idea that's going to be trashed," Jonah feigned a glare. "Yes, it's a legit plan. Come on."
"Morning sunshine." Wes looked at Skyler. "Gosh man you look--"
"Enough." Fred looked at them. "Hannah, you weren't kidding when you said these two bicker like an old couple."
"Oh, this isn't even at their best," Hannah muttered. She looked at Skyler. "Okay yeah, you look awful."
"The plan, guys." Skyler glared at her. "Tell me this plan."
Fred, Tag, and Hannah briefed Skyler on the plan. He listened, his eyes roaming the map wherever they pointed. He nodded in approval. It would take a few days to train and prepare, but it was worth it.
"It's our best shot," Skyler said. "Let's do it."
Sneaking back to the Coyote hideout was fairly easy. Noontime, the old sector became quiet while the working prisoners went to eat. Not as ideal as at night, but it would be the best time. Skyler and Darcy slipped through the alleys and jogged along the streets to the Coyote hideout. Skyler was thankful there wasn't a Nabber sweep.
The two ducked into the Wal-Mart at last. Darcy plopped down and opened her laptop as Skyler started up the generator, praying the solar panels were still functioning. He grinned when things began to work. Darcy connected the old exec device to her laptop and typed furiously, her eye flicking over the screen.
"Ready?" she asked, looking up at him.
"Hit it and let's run."
Darcy punched a key, waited five seconds, yanked the plug from the device and took off, slipping the device into her bag and leaving her precious laptop. Skyler ran after her, leaving the generator running. They dashed across the empty parking lot.
"How's it look?" Skyler asked.
"Looking good." Darcy looked at the device. "We're in."
They stopped at an old gas station and Darcy worked quickly on the device, plugging a memory stick into it. Skyler kept watch as she worked, infiltrating files and downloading them before hacking.
"Done!" she cried, tossing the device away and taking the memory stick. She and Skyler dashed off again, doubling back on their path, a few blocks from the Coyote hideout, and back up near the cemetery, where Tag and Kate awaited them.
"That was fast," Tag said, running after them. "Everything done?"
"Got the files," Darcy panted. "Electric fence is down."
The four ducked and wove around criminals and security, making their way inward and to the facility. It stood near the outskirts, and it was big, shiny, fenced in, and very official looking.
What better environment for a Fence Jumper?