Chapter 26, Part 2
Cassie watched the medics hurry off with the young man who not too long ago had tried to injure her. Which apparently he hadn’t wanted to. She turned to where Mariah stood, her face twisted in an expression Cassie knew meant she was trying not to cry.
“Mariah,” she said and rushed over to her.
“Cassie!” Mariah sobbed and flung herself into Cassie’s embrace. “You found us! I was really hoping you would.”
“Hey, it’s okay, you’re safe now,” Cassie told her. She looked over Mariah’s shoulder to see Sam hurrying over. She tapped Mariah and pointed to him.
“Sam!” Mariah launched to him with a shriek. Sam hugged her tightly.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” Mariah withdrew and brushed loose hair from her face. “I can’t believe you guys are here! How did you get here? Where are Caleb and Abby? What are you wearing?”
Cassie couldn’t help a grin. It was so good to hear Mariah babble again.
“We’re with a special research unit of the Army. Caleb and Abby are safe back at base. And they made us uniforms for this,” she explained.
“Wow.” Mariah looked them both over again. “Cassie, were you flying?”
Cassie nodded. “A lot’s kind of happened since you were kidnapped,” she said.
“Yeah, same here.” Mariah said. Cassie noticed that she carried herself more confidently now and she wasn’t the slender kid from a few months ago. She’d obviously been working out. Cassie sure they all had questions but she’d rather wait until they got back to Camp Lawton.
A dark shape darted overhead and Declan landed in a familiar rush of wings. Mariah’s mouth dropped open.
“Wings. Yeah,” Cassie said. “Mariah, this is Declan, Josh, and Luke,” she introduced the others.
Further talk was interrupted as Sergeant Lattimer joined them.
“Let’s head out. Another team is coming in to finish securing the site. We need to get you all and the wounded back to base,” he said.
“What about Amelli?” Mariah asked.
“He got away with some of his guys.” Sergeant Lattimer understandably didn’t look too happy about that. Mariah had paled a little.
“How’s Kyle?” she asked.
“The kid? He’s okay. The helicopters should be here any second,” he replied. He pulled Cassie aside to talk with her privately.
“We’ve got a few prisoners. I’d rather you all stay out of sight as much as possible. We don’t need them trying to figure out a way to tell Amelli, or anyone else, about you,” he said. Cassie agreed. She’d rather no one knew about them but it was a little too late for that.
She gathered the others together and headed off to the spot Lattimer had picked out for them to wait. It wasn’t long before the steady throb of helicopters filled the night air. They loaded up in a matter of minutes, Mariah went with Cassie, Sam, and Luke, while the others clambered into another.
There wasn’t much opportunity to talk during the ride back to the planes. By the time the planes were airborne and on their way back to Camp Lawton, everyone was too tired to say much. Adrenaline from the mission had long since faded. Mariah slumped against Cassie, half asleep. Cassie was almost there herself, but she made herself stay awake. She rest when they got everyone home.