Authors: Allie Juliette Mousseau
It had been too late when he had learned of Webb's plan to take out both Rebel compounds. He had tried desperately to get word to Lawton, but he hadn't been able to find her anywhere. She never even went back to her apartment. When the trucks were loaded he had been filed in with Webb.
It was the truck explosion that had drawn him. His ride had been in the lead of the convoy and had already stopped and emptied when the missile hit its target. Webb knew which truck she would be in. Connor guessed it was his insurance plan.
For the first time, Connor felt the pangs of panic grip him as his eyes searched for her. He started to run over to the disaster - despite Webb's close presence - but then he saw Lawton escaping the wreckage. Connor slipped away from Webb and followed her from a distance.
She had taken care of herself with the son-of-a-bitch Sov soldier, but Webb's interference was bad.
"I know this area, we have to get out of this onslaught." Connor pressed.
"Then go, Connor!" Lawton seethed between her teeth.
"You can't do anything dead - and that's what you'll be when the Sov catches you - and they will, there are patrols everywhere!" He warned.
Connor's eyes scanned over the landscape and rested at the horizon that was already touched with the dawn. "Everything you said was right! Let me fight with you!"
"You just destroyed all of these people
…" Lawton accused.
"No! It wasn't me - it was all Webb! I had no idea this was going to happen here."
"And what happened to Old Manhattan?" She hissed.
"I never made contact with Sovereignty officials and when I was being brought to Main Rebel Headquarters I showed them the tracker had been placed in my leg so they'd remove it. I never sent the coordinates for Northeast or MRH." He confessed.
"You're supposed to kill me!"
"I could never hurt you,"
"How can I trust you?" Lawton demanded.
"Take the risk if you can. Believe
… but we've got to get out of here now!"
Noah Connor held out his hand, and Rachel Lawton took the risk.
They ran a short distance before Connor pushed aside a large circular metal disk.
"What is it?" Lawton asked.
"Just hurry up," Connor rushed her.
She was concerned it was another trick or trap but her options were limited to none. Lawton saw the descending ladder and climbed down quickly into the dark.
"Keep moving," Connor's voice said urgently.
She hit the bottom, looked and saw a series of tunnels, much tighter than the subways and with no rails.
"What is this place?" Her voice was shaking from adrenaline and mistrust.
"Used to hold sewage for the city several decades ago. The city had flushed them out to use as bomb shelters during the Great War."
"How did you know?"
"My grandfather's stories when I was young." He qualified. "We've got to get distance put between us and them."
So they ran.
"Do you know where we're going?"
"Not a clue," he answered truthfully. "But I'm using a compass."
After four miles of steady running, and Lawton broke.
"I need a break," she breathed hard.
"It was only four miles," Connor had seen her running skills.
"Yeah, but I'm exhausted. I only had three hours of sleep last night."
"Before an op?"
"I had things to take care of!" Lawton bristled.
"I tried to find you the entire day!" He verified. "I finally waited for you at your apartment - you never came back."
"No, I never did."
"You know, I had made up my mind back at the soccer field."
"You had?" Lawton was stunned.
"Being sent to Headquarters and the Northeast Division was the only out from the Sov I had ever had offered. I had no idea how to play it out,
which to trust, or what I was going to do. I still don't know how to rescue my sister." Connor continued. "We're also not entirely safe down here either. If they think anyone escaped they may purge it like they did the subway. I moved us west away from the design of the subway tunnels… but we're still only five miles out of the attack zone above us, I've seen mezzanine doors. I don't know if they open to rooms or control panels, or equipment. But I'll climb up and see what it is."
Connor climbed a latter that went midway up the side of the sewage tunnel and climbed over the waist high metal railing. An old red fire
extinguisher sat behind a glass cabinet. Connor smashed the glass with his elbow, removed the extinguisher and used it to bust off the door lock.
"It's a room!" He called down to her. "We're safest here. I have enough water for three days and rations for two. Do you have any supplies?"
"I have two days worth of water and nutritional rations for a day."
"Lawton, after you get some sleep, we could move twenty miles out unless the passages are blocked further up. That's a good distance from the sweep range. And I seriously doubt they'd waste the man power to search hundreds of miles of old sewage pipes in the hopes of finding a few getaways." Connor surmised. "There is a lock on the other side of the door too, so it locks from the inside. It's only a concrete floor, but it's better than a firing squad."
"You've got a point." Lawton climbed the ladder and Connor offered his hand to steady her over the railing. She looked inside. It was really just a closet - there may have been enough room for five people to fit standing shoulder-to-shoulder. A control panel had been built into the wall and that was it.
Connor pulled a small flashlight off his utility belt, turned it on and set it on the floor pointing the beam of light to the ceiling. It illuminated everything softly. Both Connor and Lawton removed the night glasses and Connor bolt locked the door.
"Drink and eat something," Connor said.
"I'm not hungry," Lawton mumbled.
"You know it's not about hunger." He took out a canteen of water and a couple nutritional rations and set them before her.
"Then sit down with me,"
"Guess pacing in here isn't an option."
They sat, ate and drank. "You were right, I feel a little more stable."
"My leg would make a good pillow," Connor offered. "I'll keep watch - get some sleep."
Lawton looked in his eyes and decided she wouldn't try analyzing things right now. She curled onto the cold hard floor and rested her head on Connor's thigh. She was fast asleep before she could say thank you.
~ ~ ~
After Lawton woke, they shared more rations. The fear had calmed for both of them a bit as they had heard no pursuit.
"We won't just be able to find a vehicle and travel - nobody leaves
their Selection." Connor formulated. "Unless we can get our hands on Sov uniforms."
"How do you propose we accomplish that wardrobe feat?" Lawton asked.
"I have an idea, but it's risky. I don't think we should try to do it, unless the opportunity presents itself."
"What is it?" She asked.
"Where is the nearest pocket of Rebels?" Connor asked.
"Pockets are scattered but the closest organized division is east from here in Old Detroit. They were going to come in as reinforcements - but they are a very small Division maybe
two hundred strong and they have an even smaller civilian population — only like fifty. What's your idea?" Lawton finished.
"What have you got on under your uniform?" Connor inquired.
"White issued tank and running shorts - and thin armor. Why?" She answered.
"When we come out of the tunnels we can't be wearing uniforms - we'd be spotted a mile away. If we are in
civvies, and get spotted at least they won't shoot on site - they will try to apprehend us for Selection defecting." Connor explained.
"And this helps us how?"
"We are trained soldiers with weapons - we take them down, strip them of their uniforms and get their vehicle in the process. Then we can at least get out of the area and go from there."
"It's not a bad plan, Connor." Lawton contemplated. "We'd have to travel southeast a little, then directly east with a bend north, and cross through Indiana and Michigan. I don't have a map - but I have paper and pen - I can draw the way the land moves."
She took out the paper and pen and did her best to draw a good makeshift map. "Do you think you can get us there with a compass?"
"I do. I also think we should stay down here another day and night. They'll be moving out soon up there, and when they do, they'll leave only a few sets of troops for patrol. We'll have a much better chance of the plan working." Connor informed.
"Okay," Lawton agreed.
They set a veering course southeast, and followed the pipes. They didn't speak much, but saved their strength for running. After about ten miles the tunnel they were following stopped with no break off tunnel. There was another blue door halfway up the wall and this time the ladder extended back up to another metal disk.
"Is that the way out?"
"Looks like the end of the line," Connor put in.
"I don't think I like the way you say that,"
"Me neither." Connor agreed. "I can still see bits of daylight through the holes in the disk - let's bunk up again in the control room and I'll set my watch for 5 am. We'll head out once we're rested and it's dark."
They climbed up and got into the room that was identical to the first. Connor set up the flashlight and they pooled their rations together. Before they ate, Lawton began removing her uniform.
"You don't need to do that yet."
"My clothes are soaked with sweat, smoke, and grime - I need to lay them out to dry and honestly, the armor isn't very comfortable either." Lawton unbuttoned her uniform over shirt shirt and shimmied out of her pants. "Hey look! There are a few nails in the wall. Perfect!"
Connor was already looking - in fact he was watching her mesmerized, but Lawton didn't seem to notice. She hung the pants and shirt on the nails then peeled off the thin under tank top and the form fitted running shorts. All she had left was the sleek black glued on armor that hugged her every curve.
"This is going to be difficult to remove - it requires a lot of pulling and tugging since it's so molded." Lawton struggled for a few minutes then asked with a shy expression. "Will you help me?"
Connor swallowed hard, "Yeah, okay." He tried to make it sound like it was no big deal.
They pulled down the sleeves inside out so it would come off her torso. Lawton had her back to him - the shy thing got worse when she remembered she never wore a bra under these things.
"You're not wearing anything under this are you?" Connor
interrupted her thoughts as he began working the suit past her delightfully full hips.
"No soldier does. I
t sort of serves the purpose," she admitted.
A moment later she was standing naked before him. Her back was supple and her spine curved beautifully from her slender neck to her perfectly formed ass. All too quick she pulled over the white thin tank top over her frame and the running shorts that hugged and held her hips where Connor thought he would love to put his hands.
She quickly dressed, and he forced himself to think about food for the two of them. He created a makeshift meal; she sat on the floor across from him and he opened the silver packets of rations. He looked up at her, wishing it could have been better - that she were completely safe, and that there was no more danger she had to face. He wasn't sure when the first moment was that he fell in love with her - but he had no doubt that he had.
"You should let your uniform dry too you know." Lawton suggested. "You have underclothes on right? I mean that was how your plan went."
"Yeah, okay." He felt extremely exposed. It wasn't the amount of clothes he'd be wearing; it was the fact that she was only wearing a thin white see-through top that draped over every line of flesh. He could see the dark outline of her nipples poking into the fabric and the curve of her thigh-leading straight into the hem of her shorts. He could only imagine what it would be like to touch her, to feel her, to be with her. And the looking was making him ache.
He did as she suggested and pulled off his outer gear. "There aren't anymore nails. Why don't I spread them out on the floor, that way you can lay on it so you'll be a little more comfortable when you sleep."
"And we could both fit."
He nodded, stripped down to his t-shirt and shorts and laid his clothes down on the floor. He thought about how much she had just gone through the past week and how tired she must have been.
"Come on," Connor said and offered his arm as a pillow. She lay down next to him and rested her head on his chest.
"You know what I wish I could do?" She asked.
"Run away. Run away and never look back. Find someplace far away, deep in the woods and mountains where they could never find me. Live off the land - no fighting, no Selections, no Sov, no Rebels, no wars." Her voice sounded on the edge of desperation. "I've been fighting my entire life and I don't want to do it anymore. Could you imagine living under the clear sky, no tunnels and no ruins?"