|(Image courtesy of Pinterest. Bonus: It's a Gif! ;) I didn't expect it to remain a gif after I'd saved it, but oh well!)|
Wes only realized Skyler and Hannah were missing by the time they were out of the old sector, sheltering in the forest. He bit back a curse and turned back when he made sure they weren't among the others. Kip grabbed his arm.
"Let go!" Wes glared at him, "They're still back there!"
"If you go back you'll be caught too," Kip said. Wes tried to pull back, refusing to let his panic take control. "Wes, stop it! There's noth--"
"Skyler would have gone back for any of us!" Wes shouted. "He would have gone back for you, me, or anyone else here!"
Kip frowned. Wes looked around, seeing everyone watching them. "I'm going back. No one has to come--"
"Oh shut up." Grace stepped forward, Tag behind her. "We're going with you."
"Can't leave family behind when they worked so hard not to leave us," Allison said. "That's not how we do things. Aggie wouldn't want us to leave them…"
Wes felt his heart jerk a little. He had completely forgotten about Aggie, and it left a guilty feeling in his gut. Allison had lost her sister. He nodded, then looked at Kip. "You in?"
"Of course," Kip said. "Let's go fetch them home. They have parents waiting."
Skyler couldn't move. He winced and tried to pull his limbs to him, but they were held in place. Skyler moaned and blinked awake, blinded temporarily by white lights overhead.
He turned his head. Slowly things came into focus, and he saw Hannah beside him, strapped to a hospital bed. His mind snapped into focus.
"Hannah?!" Skyler looked around in panic. "Where are we?!"
"Easy, easy!" Hannah said. Skyler tried to relax. He took a slow breath, looking around. He was back in the room where he had been put before with Grace. He recognized nearly everything.
"You've been asleep for a while," Hannah said. "We've been in here for about an hour now. No one's come."
"We have to get out of here." Skyler strained at the straps. He jumped when the door slid open and Horatio walked in. Skyler stiffened.
"Here we are again." Horatio smiled. "I've been quite eager to see you again, Mr. Pelton."
"What do you want?" Skyler glared.
"Oh, where to begin." Horatio walked around behind them. Skyler strained to keep an eye on him. "Well, I'm sure you both know I have been busy with my little project. We have made quite a few improvements, one of which has been Mr. Osborne Hayes' addition of indestructible firearms."
"Yeah, they're pretty nice," Skyler said, "I held someone at a laboratory at gunpoint with one."
"Did you indeed?" Horatio asked. "While you were busy making this?" Horatio stepped into view and held up the vial. Hannah gasped. Skyler jerked his arm to get it, but the straps held. Horatio smiled and looked at the vial. "A curious little object. What's it for?"
Neither spoke. Horatio held it up to the light. "Did you have the people at the lab make it for you? Surely you and your gang of brats were too incompetent to do it on your own."
"We can be pretty resourceful." Skyler tried to shrug. "But of course you know that."
"All too well." Horatio looked at him. "Is there any more of this?"
"I said maybe."
Horatio sighed, walking behind them again. With relief, Skyler heard the soft clink of the vial being set down. "So, why did you want us?"
"You and your sister have something I need," Horatio said. "I did not realize it when you and I first met, Skyler, but later I discovered your blood had… properties, unlike any other. Your sister proved the same, and I need this for my cyborgs."
"What's so special about our blood?" Hannah asked.
"Your blood type is ZA," Horatio explained. "I have done my own research, and this type can give me greater control over my cyborgs. A queen bee, for example. Tests run on the cyborgs show they have… human tendencies--"
"No!" Skyler feigned a gasp. "Human beings you've kidnapped and mutilated show human tendencies?!"
"Skyler." Hannah looked at him.
"Yes, Skyler," Horatio's tone was still very calm. "Things might trigger them to be more human, to disobey or ignore orders. With your blood, I can convey orders through you, which will send a more forceful command to them. I wouldn't expect you to understand the little details, so why don't we move on to where we test how potent your blood is?"
"How?" Skyler shifted uneasily. "Make us cyborgs?"
"Oh, no, not yet," Horatio said. "I have read up on this blood type, my boy, but rarely have people been able to study it up close. I am a man of science. I am not going to let this opportunity go to waste. We will see what will happen."
Horatio reappeared, holding a syringe, and walked over to Hannah. Skyler jerked against the straps.
"No!" He yelled. "Don't touch her! No!"
"Hush." Horatio cleaned the crook of Hannah's arm. Hannah tried to pull away as the needle slid in and depressed the plunger. "It may not even hurt. Or it will hurt very much."
"No!" Panic shot through Skyler. "No, no! Please, Horatio, don't! Please--"
"No!" Skyler thrashed. "Leave her alone!"
Horatio watched Hannah as she screamed and writhed. Her back arched as tears rolled down her cheeks. Skyler tried to pull free. "What did you do to her?!"
"I tested a special serum. Usually I use it for the cyborgs to activate a part of the brain that I use to relay commands. I needed to make sure it is still compatible, and I see it is not." Horatio injected another fluid into Hannah, and she relaxed, gasping. Horatio walked over to Skyler. "But just to make sure."
"No, no." Skyler stiffened as Horatio cleaned a spot on his arm. "No, no, don't. Don't. Please."
"That sass you had earlier seems to have gone away." Horatio smiled. "Maybe this will ensure it stays away."
"Don't hurt him," Hannah begged.
Skyler grimaced as the needle went in. He watched helplessly as the plunger was pressed. "Don't, please. Please, no--"
Searing pain slid through him. Skyler gasped, but then bit his lip to keep from screaming.
Then Horatio injected a little more. Hannah screamed, but hers was drowned out by Skyler's scream. The pain was running rampant, like fire. Skyler thrashed, trapped and screaming. The pain made it hard to breathe, like it took energy from oxygen. No matter what he did, it crushed his defenses.
"Please stop!" Hannah begged. "Don't hurt him!"
Skyler wasn't sure how much time had passed, but eventually the pain subsided just a little. Skyler lay gasping, watching as Horatio preparing another syringe.
"Please, please," Skyler panted. "Don't."
"You've brought this on yourself, Skyler." Horatio injected more of the fluid. "You have caused me a lot of trouble. This won't kill you, but I intend to repay you for what you've done."
"No, no, no, no." Skyler could feel the pain roaring back to life. "Please, no--" his next words were cut off by his scream.
Wes had had to split everyone up into smaller groups as they made their way through the old sector. There were just too many of them. But Wes was counting on their numbers being an advantage. They had firepower, too.
Even still, Wes didn't like their odds. He took his group on a detour back into Fred's neighborhood, making sure every lady among them was near a guy. Fred's "buddies" may have been helpful, but that didn't mean Wes trusted them.
Wes trotted up to Craig's disgusting trailer home and pounded on the door. Craig, he knew, had been the one Fred went to when he was in trouble. Wes had seen the guy come around Fred's place often enough to know Craig was payed to keep people off Fred's back. He would be their best shot at getting some help.
"Didn't take ya long to come back," Craig said, scratching his neck. He surveyed the small group of assorted Jumpers and Coyotes. "Don't remember some of those faces."
"We rescued our friends," Wes explained impatiently. "But Skyler and Hannah were caught. We need your help again."
"I can see that." Craig leaned against the doorframe. "What're you payin'?"
"Nothing," Wes barely kept his tone even. "I don't give a twig if you help or not. But if I recall, we did get your man out of that facility, the one we sent in to spy. You kind of owe us. We could have left him there. I gave him directions to high-tail it out."
Craig considered this. "Seems more like you owe me, kid. Coulda well left you to your own devices and not given you any help at all."
"Could've, sure." Wes shrugged. "But I can see we're not getting anywhere. We'll be on our way and not take up any of your precious time lazing around when you could have had the chance to help out Fred." He headed back to the others.
"Hold on." Craig clamped a hand over his shoulder to twist him back around. "You didn't say anything about helping him."
"Well." Wes played his turn carefully. "We're going to rescue our friends, that includes shutting down the mayor. This, of course, could help out Fred. With Horatio gone, We could get Fred out of prison. He's helped us loads, so that's gotta look good on a record, right? Same for you, I'd bet."
"Not one-hundred percent, but pretty close."
"How many of these punk kids you got?"
"Fair amount, I'd say a little over a hundred."
Craig whistled. "Why d'you need help?"
"In case Horatio decides to make a cyborg debut," Wes replied. "You know some the toughest guys around here. They're not afraid to get violent. We're just kids who wouldn't even be out of high school yet."
Craig nodded, mulling this over. "How many d'ya need?"
"How many want to take down the mayor?"
Craig grinned. "I like you, kid. Fred raised you right. I'll see what I can do. Where're you all headed?"
"Somewhere around City Hall, but we might be using a different entrance. You can still take the front door, though, making a distraction."
With assurance that Craig would gather whoever he could and head that way, Wes left with his group. When they were nearly to the inner city, Tag made them stop.
"What's up?" Wes asked. Tag scanned around.
"Everyone find cover," Tag said quietly. Wes motioned to them to start moving, and they scattered. Tag moved forward to the intersection they had been approaching. Wes followed behind. Someone was traveling down the road to their right.
"It's just me…"
It took Wes only a second or two to recognize the voice, and Tag a second later. He grabbed Wes before Wes could attack Conway.
"Where are they?!" Wes demanded as Conway stepped into full view. Tag restrained him. "Let go!"
"Listen to me!" Conway said. "I want to help. I can get you guys into City Hall."
"Why should we believe you?!" Wes snapped.
"Because my uncle has Skyler and Hannah in his underground lab," Conway said. "He's going to turn them into cyborgs."