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The Red Wing
The Red Wing
I had never been more bored in my entire life than I had been in this one moment in time.
Okay, maybe I was being dramatic. But I was extremely bored. It had been 6 hours since the “bad people” in the army camo had snatched me from that shady gas station and tossed me in the back of their truck, handcuffed head to toe. I knew they were taking me to one of their prison facilities, but I didn’t know which one. It didn’t matter through, because my team would know and would meet me there. Hopefully.
So now I was sitting in the back of this prison truck, a small rectangular room with a bench along the length of either side and large swinging double doors that locked from the outside. Sitting on the bench across from me was a tall man with chestnut brown hair, a beard, scary blue eyes, and a gun so large it required a neck strap, so he didn’t have to use both hands to carry it. He was also wearing the army camo; he must’ve gotten unlucky enough to be stuck in the back with me and not in one of the vastly-cooler army jeeps they rolled up in. His name was Caine, but I didn’t need to read his nametag to know that, I already knew. I was not a fan of him. So, when our journey together first embarked, I was extremely obnoxious; I made about seventy-five camo jokes, asked annoying questions, and sang some classic hits of the 80s. Caine was not amused. But now, my fiery spirit had left me, and I had descended into boredom.
I had laid down on the cold metal bench a half hour ago in a failed attempt to sleep, so I now sighed loudly through my nose and sat up dramatically.
“How much farther.” I groaned, my head spinning slightly from sitting up too fast. For a while he didn’t respond, he just stared at me with his too-blue eyes. He then spoke.
“We are close.” I nodded and rattled the chain that linked my handcuffs to a bolt on the trucks floor in time to a song that was stuck in my head.
“Cut that out.” He growled.
“Make me.” I was mad at him because roughly a half hour ago when I pulled out the candy I bought from the gas station, he freaked out and nearly shot me with his unnecessarily large gun. And then took my candy, so now I was hungry and cranky.
“You’re a nightmare,” He muttered.
“Well, at least I’m visible to the human eye,” I commented. He frowned.
The truck then came to an abrupt stop and I nearly fell sideways with the force of it. We must have arrived. I felt a surge of panic grip me, but then took a deep breath and forced myself to recite the details of my plan. I touched the side of my boot with my foot to make sure that the hard drive, which was roughly the size of a tooth. One of the 2 things I needed to accomplish on this mission was to plug the hard drive into one of their computers and the hard drive would download all the data of the computer. The other is to rescue Jack Greyson, a member of our team who had been captured a week ago by the same man who was sitting across from me. Jack and I were pretty close, so this was personal. Hence my obnoxious behavior. Plus, it was fun to ruffle Caine’s feathers. He literally never smiled.
The truck doors flung open and a cold gust of wind made my arm hair stand on end. Caine stood and unlocked my handcuffs from the floor, then grabbed me by the elbow and hauled me roughly out of the truck. It was actually very beautiful outside, the sky was alive with orange and pink, and my breath was visible in front of me. The beauty of the sky and the woods surrounding us were ruined by the slash of the metal bard wire fence surrounding the courtyard, the bright lights similar those used to light a football field, and the white building looming ominously behind us. I was still dressed warmly; grey sweater, black jacket, blue jeans, and combat boots. My unusual silver hair was pulled in a slightly messy high ponytail, secured with a scrunchie, and fell in long lose waves down my back. The whole ensemble, however, was tragically ruined by the cuffs around my wrists and ankles, connected by a long thin chain.
I was again hauled forward and toward the long 3 story building. Panic again threatened to grip me, but I steadied myself. Caine was moving so quickly that at one point I tripped and nearly fell flat on my face had it not been for Caine.
“Must you move at the speed of sound? What’s the rush? Are you this eager to get rid of me?”
“We need to compensate for lost time. Someone caused quite the delay at that gas station.” He shot me a pointed look and I winked back, unfazed by his tone. In order to make the capture look more believable, I punched a one of the army people in the face, bolted from the gas station, and into the busy intersection; causing quite the traffic disturbance. They then caught up to me and I surrendered once they flashed their guns.
I was hauled through the glass double doors and into a lobby-type area with no chairs, just a large desk at the end of the room. There was a man sitting at the desk who wore a sweater vest and was typing furiously at a keyboard. I grinned hungrily at the sight of the computer; it would be perfect to shove my flash drive into and absorb all its files like an sponge.
Then the sweater vest man casually glanced up and glanced back down; and then his head snapped back up again and he gaped at me like a fish. Which made my grin grow broader as I watched him grow paler. Caine saw me harassing this poor receptionist and shoved me roughly ahead of him.
“Irene. Move.” He barked.
I was sick of his attitude, but I kept walking. Someone should tell that receptionist that its rude to stare. We stopped in a small room and Caine paused and snatched a pile of orange fabric off the nearest rack.
“Hope you like orange, princess,” he taunted.
I shrugged. “Better than camo.” He frowned.
At that moment, I had an epiphany, if you will. This man was in his mid-30s. back when the world was normal, I would be a junior in high school, and this guy would be like my soccer coach or a teacher or my boss at some minimum wage job. Not the man dragging me to a prison cell.
But those days were over. The government had been infiltrated at the highest levels by a secret organization called the Salvation. They had assassinated nearly every senator, congressman/ woman, and supreme court member until nearly the entire federal government was compiled of members of the Salvation. I was a part of the organization dedicated to stopping them, called the Red Wing. However, the Red Wing had been made enemies of the state after the Salvation framed us for the assassinations of the former office members. The Red Wing and the Salvation had been a part of one great, secret society dedicated to creating and preserving world peace. Alas, some members grew restless with the organizations peaceful way of creating solutions and demanded a more radical change in the form of totalitarian government. Thus, the organization split; and from that split fostered the rise of the Red Wing, those who upheld the organizations core values, and the Salvation. The Salvation were like Neo-Nazis, their ideals not far from those of their predecessors, their ultimate goal to make America into a perfect, totalitarian state without its people even knowing it. To make matters worse, all the news stations had been infiltrated, and the red wing was now viewed as a terrorist group, our accusations no more than “conspiracy theories”. The government had declared a “Homefront war against these homeland terrorists”; against an organization “so distraught they brainwash children into becoming assassins.” But we knew the truth. And soon, everyone else would too.
The Reg Wing had begun recruiting children because children were inconspicuous, and originally a child couldn’t be tried with he same crimes as an adult, making them the perfect agents should they be caught. That’s when I joined, along with my best friends, Ruby Saldana and Jack Greyson, who noticed the shift in the government and wanted to get to the bottom of it. And now we’re among the most wanted criminals in America, accused with the assassination of various Senators and congress members. However, the rules have changed, now every child accused of bring a member of the Red Wing could be sent to one of the government youth prison facilities without a trial. Hence my arrival.
This man, Caine, most likely didn’t know he served a totalitarian government, he was likely under the impression that he was protecting his nation against a teenage assassin and her terrorist friends. Which was wrong, but trying to persuade these people was nearly impossible, they believed everything the government tells them.
Which brings us back to present day. Caine tried to force me to hold the orange prison jumpsuit, which I had first outright refused, but then had taken it in favor of chucking it halfway across the room. Caine conceded after that and carried it the rest of way.
I could tell we were close. We reached the end of the hallway and Caine pressed his thumb against a blue tinted screen and a door swung open. We turned into a long, rectangular room with a series of doors lining either side. There were about 7 on each side, 14 in total, each making the entrance to a 6 by 6 prison cell with no windows. Each one contained a kid except one; mine.
We stopped about 6 doors down. Caine dropped the orange jumpsuit, let go of my arm, and reached into his pocket for the key to my handcuffs. He grabbed my hand roughly and unlocked the cuffs around my wrists. That’s when he made his mistake; Caine then bent over to unlock the cuffs around my ankles. The second they were unlocked, I grabbed the top of his head, still leaning over, and pushed it down, bringing my knee up to meet it. I heard his nose crunch painfully and a thrill of satisfaction flooded me. He then straightened, and I punched him square in the throat, then kicked him right where I knew it would hurt. He was now doubled over in agony and gasping for breath, and I ripped the gun off from around his neck and pointed it at the space in between his eyes. And although I was covered in Caine’s’ uncomfortably warm blood and I had maybe broken his nose, I was grinning wickedly and triumphantly. I had just taken down a full-grown man who had at least a foot on me.
Caine glared daggers at me and wiped his bloody nose, eyeing the gun in my hands. He scoffed, “You wouldn’t dare, b****.”
Bet. I innocently c***ed my head slightly to the left, aimed the barrel of my gun downwards, and squeezed the trigger, shooting Cain in the upper thigh. He slammed backwards against the wall, a stream of curse words pouring out of his mouth.
I cut him off. “A friend of mine has been here for about a week now. Jack Greyson. Unlock his cell door or next time I shoot you, you won’t be so lucky.”
Caine’s eyes were full of fire, but he staggered to his feet, limped across the hallway, and slammed his thumb against a screen next to cell door 4. The door swung open and a moment later Jack burst from the open door.
“What? Where?” He spun wildly until his bright hazel eyes met my turquoise ones. His eyes widened in disbelief. His face looked a little thinner, his dark brunet hair disheveled, and there was a bruise under his left eye.
“Irene? I can’t believe, what are you…” He trailed off and a huge grin spread across his face that mirrored my own expression.
“You didn’t really think I would leave your sorry ass here, did you?”
I c***ed my head in the direction of Caine, who was leaning heavily against the door that had just flung open, courtesy of him. He was breathing heavily and trying to clot the blood still gushing from his nose. “I had some help from our friend here.”
Jack tilted his head in an expression almost identical to mine. “What friend? I just see an open door…” The camo joke caught me off guard and I burst out laughing somewhat hysterically, a mixture of humor and relief. Caine rolled his eyes, but I ignored him because Jack was okay. Not dead. Not great. But okay.
I turned and strolled over to Caine, nudging him with the barrel of the gun. “Let’s move. Hostage situation. I won’t kill you unless I have to.” I forced a hardness into my eyes, but I knew I could never kill him. Or anyone. From the looks of it, Caine believed me, and he limped away from the wall and three of us staggered out the door, my gun pointed directly at the back of his head. We eventually made our way through the various hallways and emerged into the lobby. Sweater vest was still typing away, oblivious, so there was an awkward moment where the three of us just stood there watching him type.
“Get up,” I barked.
Sweater vest leapt out of his chair and spun around. I tossed the gun to Jack and shoved passed Sweater Vest to get to the computer. I unlaced my boot, pulled out the tiny hard drive, and shoved it into the computer. A small green light beamed up at me and began blinking, slowly at first, then rapidly. I glanced up to make sure Jack was doing okay, and winked at Caine, who was gaping at me in disbelief. The light then flicked to red and I tugged the hard drive out of the computer.
“Let’s go,” I said to Caine and Jack, turned on my heel, and stormed toward the door. Any minute now, a helicopter would show up nearby, and we better be there within the minute it lands. “We need to move faster.”
The second we stepped out of the door and into the crisp, night air, a sharp alarm blared, and red lights flashed. I whipped around to see Sweater Vest with his hand under his desk. There must be some sort of emergency button under the desk. I fought the surge of panic churning in my gut and turned to face Jack and Caine.
“Run. Now!” I blurted. Jack shoved Caine in front of him and we took off into the courtyard. It was now black outside, the stars invisible due to those near-blinding football-field lights. I broke into a sprint, praying Jack and Caine were keeping pace behind me.
Suddenly, a cry pierced the night behind me and I skidded to a stop, horrified to see Jack sprawled across the dirt floor and Caine standing over him. I knew I shouldn’t have left Jack alone with Caine. The large gun was still skidding across the space between me and Caine. There was a moment we locked eyes before we both sprinted for the gun. Caine barely reached the gun before me, so I jutted my foot out and kicked the gun away from his hand, which was merely inches away from the gun. I then dove to the floor, grabbed the gun with both hands, rolled, and emerged on one knee, the gun aimed at Caine.
“You move I shoot,” I gasped, breathing heavily, my breath clouding in front of me. “Jack, get up.” Jack pushed off the ground, his unattractive orange jumpsuit smeared with dirt. I then slowly raised myself into a standing position. My hands were shaking slightly, but it was probably too dark for them to notice. I needed to think.
“Caine, beat it,” I decided.
“Irene!” Jack exclaimed
“We’re almost there and he almost killed us. We can make it the rest of the way if we run.” I began to walk backwards. I was supposed to move towards the northern fence, someone should meet us there and guide us through the fence and to the helicopter. Jack followed me and without warning I turned and sprinted like a racehorse toward the northernmost fence. The fence made a rectangle around the courtyard, so finding the northernmost side wasn’t hard. But it was a long fence, so I hoped whoever was there would reveal themselves soon; any minute now the army jeeps and people with guns and dogs would come pouring out of the building. We arrived at the fence and after a few seconds I saw a light blink from thick woods surrounding the prison. The light blinked again. I practically crumpled with relief and whistled the first few notes of “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas, our signal to each other. Sure enough, Ruby Saldana emerged from the woods, mimicking my whistle, her curly black ponytail swinging back and forth, flashlight in hand.
“There’s a hole right here!” she gestured with the flashlight to a human-sized hole in the fence that look as if it had been cleaved apart by a giant. Or bolt cutters.
“S***,” I muttered under my breath. The fence was electric; I could hear it humming softly. This was a surprise, but I refused to acknowledge it. I would just have to jump through the hole without touching the sides. Easy enough, right?
“Don’t touch the fence, or you’ll die. Okay?” I said to jack. I didn’t know if this was true, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
“Hey! Stop!” A gruff voice cawed out from behind us. My spine straightened, and I inhaled sharply through my nose. I didn’t have to turn to know that the army jeeps were nearby, I could feel the ground rumbling underneath me and smell the exhaust burning.
“We need to move. Now. You first.” I told jack. I was perfectly capable of defending myself, but I wasn’t so sure about jack after he nearly let Caine kill us both.
Jack took a running start and leapt headfirst through the hole, landing flat on his stomach. I heard him let out a gasp, but he weakly whispered back to me, “I’m good!”
I seriously doubted it, but I took a few steps back and prepared to take my running start. I was interrupted, however, by a familiar, rough, male voice.
Crap. Crapcrapcrap. Caine. Blazing toward me on a motorcycle. Where did he even get one of those? Didn’t matter. I took a few more step back and forced myself to break into a jog, not a run. I needed to be precise, I couldn’t just panic and barbeque myself. I tossed the gun through ahead of me, and then leapt after it, twisting in midair, tucking my head, and rolling just before I hit the ground. I emerged standing and not medium rare to be crushed into a hug by Ruby. I laughed and hugged her back.
“You look like s***. Especially you, Jack.” Jack was currently doubled over, trying to catch his breath.
I jumped a little. “Let’s get out of here!” I turned around and gave Caine the finger. He was uncomfortably close, and only getting closer.
Ruby nodded; “The helicopter’s this way.” We sprinted into the thick wood, swiping at various branches that hung too low, leaving the electric fence, army camo, and Caine, behind us.