Chapter 4, Part 1
Cassie smelled the smoke and saw a dull red glow before she reached the apartments. She coaxed more speed from the motorcycle and skidded into the parking lot entrance with an ear-splitting squeal. Dr. Braxton and the others weren’t far behind.
Cassie sat momentarily transfixed in horror at the scene before her. Residents milled about the edges of the lot as they evacuated the burning apartments, seemingly oblivious of the bulky men standing in front of the apartment on the end. Cassie’s apartment. As she watched, several figures finally stumbled out into the waiting arms of the mystery men.
Caleb landed a few wild punches, knocking at least two men to the ground, completely winded. Sam’s burning hands held another off, a warning that obviously had been ignored earlier, resulting in the current conflagration. Mariah desperately tried to shelter Abigail from the reaching arms of the attackers.
“Get those kids out of there!” someone yelled over the wails of approaching sirens. Cassie was shocked into action when Mariah and Abigail were grabbed and dragged kicking and screaming towards two dark SUVs parked on the curb.
“Hey!” she screamed, charging towards them. Sam and Caleb still fought off the other strangers. Sam was suddenly flung back to land writhing on the asphalt. The man stood over him, a flickering gun in his hand. The girls all shrieked and Caleb bulled into the man with a roar of anger.
“Cassie!” Abigail screamed as she and Mariah were pulled further away. Mariah went limp under the touch of another sparking device. Cassie pounded toward the girls but she wouldn’t make in time. She unzipped her jacket, desperate enough to expose herself if it meant saving them. She was knocked off balance by a rush of wind and saw a surprised man look down into his empty arms. Josh reappeared and pressed Abigail into Cassie’s arms.
“Mariah!” Cassie pointed to where the unconscious girl was being loaded into an SUV as it peeled away. Josh tore after it but skidded to a halt as bullets peppered the ground around him. Cassie saw a flicker of orange in the backseat of the second car as it followed its partner. She stared dumbly after the disappearing brake lights as Abigail wept into her shoulder. Some people had noticed the commotion and were beginning to mutter uneasily but they were all swept away by the firefighters.
“I’m so sorry,” Josh stood next to her. She didn’t reply, only hugged Abigail tighter.
“Cassie?” Caleb’s voice trembled behind her. She turned and pulled him in a hug as Sam limped up.
“What happened?” she asked Sam.
“I should ask you the same thing. Where were you?” he snapped.
“I was…the freak chased me again and we got in a wreck. Then these guys helped me out. They’re like us!”
“You didn’t think to call?”
“My phone was broken. So much was happened all at once…”
“Well somehow they found us and knocked down the door and then all hell broke loose! And now Mariah’s gone!”
“I’m sorry,” Cassie whispered as tears beaded her eyes. Sam relented, quickly scrubbing a hand across his own eyes.
“You were in an accident?” Caleb asked, attempting to latch onto something to distract from the last few minutes.
“Yeah, but I’m OK now,” Cassie reassured him.
“Your jeans are all torn up,” he sniffed.
“I know, but guess what? I found some other people like us,” she pointed to where Josh now stood with Luke and Dr. Braxton.
“Josh!” Caleb dashed forward with scream. No expression of surprise could match the young soldier’s.
“Caleb?” he was knocked back a step or two as Caleb plowed into his arms. “What are you doing here?”
“The soldiers said you were dead!” Caleb sobbed.
“I’m sorry,” Josh held him close.
“Caleb?” Sam ventured. The teen finally pulled away.
“This is my brother Josh,” he explained through a laugh. Introductions were quickly make all around.
“Who were those people?” Cassie asked Dr. Braxton.
“The soldiers employed by a Mr. Amelli. He’s the one who’s been after you, Cassie,” he said.
“Where are they taking Mariah? Can we get her back?”
“We might be able to help you,” Dr. Braxton said.
“We can’t trust them, Cas,” Sam interrupted.
“Do we have a choice?” Cassie returned.
“If you come with us, we can explain some things better. I’d rather not do it out here with all these curious people. You’ll be safe, I promise,” Dr. Braxton said.
Cassie’s self-preservation sense re-asserted itself now that she had others to think about, and she balked at the suggestion. Caleb stepped closer to her, ready to back her up. She exchanged a glance with Sam. They both turned to Abigail, who had been watching the exchange from the crook of Cassie’s neck.
“Abby?” they questioned. The girl’s watery eyes had been analyzing the newcomers as she clutched a charred elephant.
“He’s telling the truth,” her reply was barely audible.
Cassie gave a nod to Dr. Braxton.
“OK, let’s get out of here then.”
Hope you enjoyed! I know we’re getting a lot of characters going now, with the promise of more on the way, so I’ll be working on a list of characters, their powers, and other useful info. I might even attempt to find pictures!