This is a new book I've been working on to help channel my PTSD. Any feedback would be much appreciated.
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Chapter One
Underground

"Get back up to South Sector now!" A man's gruff voice boomed from the walkie-talkies clipped to the belts of the grey and olijf-, olijf green camouflage uniforms of the handful of guards. The harsh command reverberated in the deathly silent area as an individual stealthily crept through the heap of lifeless corpses which gazed emptily at him as he reached for one guard's static walkie-talkie. Sighing heavily in exhaustion from the fight he had to put up, he kicked at the brown, dusty, dirt ground of the containment camp with his black boot while tinkering with the frequency of the black, battery-operated device. The freshly arising aroma of death filled his nostrils as he squinted to observe his surroundings beneath the dim straat lamps that were planted ten yards apart around the whole compound. It was amazing that they had electricity out here. He wrinkled his nose at the unpleasant stench as he glanced briefly at the rivers of blood that flowed from the mass of bodies whose lives he had ended. They were the bad guys. He had to remind himself. He redirected his attention towards the device in his gloved hand before fiddling with it a bit meer and raising it to his mouth which was covered with the black fabric up to his nose.
"How're we looking?" He whispered into the walkie-talkie. He had lost his among the fight into the compound a half uur ago.
"Not so good." A female voice replied in the static. "They've doubled the manpower here. We'll have to make this a quick one."
"Get Luke over to the West Sector to help me out. I've located the kids."
"Are u sure we can do this without Zeke?"
"We've gotta try."
"Good luck. I'm waiting in the truck just outside the West Sector with the others."
"Roger that."
"And Jonas, don't do anything stupid." Jonas sighed heavily and hooked the device to his riem before seeing his fellow comrade dressed in all black rounding the corner at lightning speed with dust clouds behind where his feet kicked the barren ground.
"We better make this quick. We've got at least ten minuten until eighty guards coming around the far South Sector catch up to us." Luke breathed as he unholstered his gun and shot the lock open on the fence gate that was topped with rings of barbed wire. Yanking the chain off, Jonas kicked the gate open and they ran through the open space to the brick housing units on the far sides that sat in an L shape with wooden slabs nailed across the windows. The two made eye contact before each shooting the excess locks and pulling open the doors. Commotion ran up inside as the mass of bodies all pressed together in the far back corners.
"It's okay, it's okay!" Jonas cried as he tore the kap off his head and holstered his handgun. "My name is Jonas." He squatted down to the level of the children on the floor. "I'm here to get u guys out." The kids looked at him skeptically and occasionally eyed his weapons. "My friend Luke is in the other building helping the others. We have a car outside of these walls ready to get u guys somewhere safe, but u have to trust me."
"W-What are u going to do?" An older kid asked as he sat up a little straighter despite his body trembling.
"I'm going to blast a hole in this uithangbord and then lead u guys to the other side where the car is waiting. But u have to be quick." Just then, a loud blast sounded from volgende to them and the children screamed, covering their ears with their hands. "Keep your ears covered," Jonas instructed. "And close your eyes." Moving slowly to where the kids where, Jonas grabbed one of the grenades on his riem and pulled the pin, throwing it in the far section of the room where it exploded. As the dust and smoke cleared, Jonas hurriedly pushed the kids in the direction of the massive hole it created. Squinting through the dusty air and withholding a bout of coughing that tickled his throat, he met Luke's eyes who was walking behind the children he led out. This made the children in front of Jonas verplaats faster and mingle with their own. Jonas grabbed the walkie-talkie with immense haste.
"Dee, bring that car around closer!" He shouted. "We've got the kids, but-" He spun around quickly as the sound of ricocheting bullets and bullet shells reached his ears. "Dainah, we got company!" He screamed as he ran n back out into the clearing. "Bring the car around now!" Luke was at his side in the blink of an eye. "No," Jonas said, grabbing his guns off of his hips. "You take the kids toward the car! I'll give them a distraction!"
"You're going to end up just like Zeke!" Luke yelled in reply over the sound of heavy machine guns.
"We're brothers! It's not something I can help! Now go! Get the kids to the car!" Nodding a couple times, Luke rushed the kids off as Jonas fired back at the impending group of fifty plus armed men in heavy camo uniforms with thick black vests over their torsos and steel helmets over their heads. It's true what they say in war. Just run in a straight line and u won't get hit. Unlike his opponents' carelessness, Jonas fired his bullets calculatedly. He only had so many with no time to reload.
"Jonas!" He could hear the walkie volgende to him through the shots. "We got the kids! Get your ezel over here!" First walking, then running backward, losing bullets to his shots, Jonas waited until he was beyond the fencing of the compound to turn around and make a beeline for the waiting automobile. He glanced over his shoulder and fired some extra shots at the men that were on his tail. He neared the end of the black bulletproof busje, van that still had its back doors wide open for him to hop in. He waved his arms.
"Go! Go! Go!" He screamed. The busje, van began to take off as he neared. Luke held his hand out for him to take when Jonas lurched vooruit, voorwaarts and nearly faced planted into the dirt ground.
"Jonas!" Luke screamed as Jonas caught himself on his hands and knees. "C'mon! u can still make it!" He took off again after the car as Luke and a couple others in his crew fired shots at the men behind him. As he caught up to the back of the busje, van again, two of his buddies heaved him in and slammed the double doors shut. The sound of bullets denting the impenetrable back of the busje, van followed shortly after. Jonas collapsed against the bench on the side of the busje, van and closed his eyes as he caught his breath.
"Where are u hit?" A woman's voice asked. Opening his dark hazel eyes, he came face to face with a girl with long brown hair pulled back and firm green eyes.
"Hey, Alex." He huffed. She slapped him across the face.
"I asked where you're hit."
"Right shoulder." He grunted, rubbing his pink, stinging cheek. He glanced around the packed space of the busje, van at all the children that were staring at him with eyes the size of full moons. The oldest had to at least be thirteen. "Are u guys okay?" He asked, receiving a couple nods.
"Some of them have injuries, but mostly they're just in shock." Alex told him. "They'll feel much safer once we get back to the Underground."
"Understandably so." He grunted as she tore the back of his jas and observed the wound.
"It's not a through and through, you're lucky."
"Lucky how?" Jonas cleared his throat from the groggy feeling. "Removing a bullet hurts worse than double the stitches."
"Then I'll make sure u don't feel it." She told him, hitting the back of his head with her elbow and catching him as he blacked out.
"Can u not do that with traumatized kids around?" Luke pleaded. "We'll just take care of Jonas's shoulder when we get to The Underground."
"At least now I don't have to listen to him complain." She commented, crossing her arms and looking down at her passed out friend. The others there rolled their eyes and sighed. She never changes.
As the busje, van lurched to a stop, all the kids looked around at each other nervously. Tanner, one of the guys, stood up and tapped on the steel of the farthest uithangbord that was near the driver's cab. After getting a double tapped confirmation from Dainah, he went and opened up the back doors.
"You guys are alright." Dainah soothed as she appeared in the entryway, looking meer tired than ever. "Everyone here is going to help u and keep u safe. C'mon out." Slowly but surely, the timid children climbed out and followed Alex through the dim tunnel they had parked in that was faintly lit door small square lights in the walls. The others followed after; two of which were carrying Jonas that was still out cold. "Bring him to the medical corner," Dainah instructed. "Let's take care of him and the injured kids quickly in case Zeke gets up."
"Sure thing." They answered. Dainah closed the two doors of the busje, van and walked ahead of them. The stone and concrete tunnel was enclosed like a dome the whole way through before opening up to a large square space. Before the New Order, it was going to be a subway, but it was never finished. In fact, it wasn't even put on the map. No one knew it even existed which was how they've managed to stay veilig and hidden for so long. Walking through the large area that had been set up as a camp, the boys followed Dainah to the farthest right corner where old stained sheets hung to close the medical space off from the rest of the camp. They laid Jonas on his stomach on the cushioned tafel, tabel they set up as a hospital bed at the back of the room and pulled off his jas and long sleeve to expose his wounded shoulder.
"Stay here," Dainah ordered as they began to walk off. "He'll end up waking up from the pain and I'll need u guys to hold him down. It'll only be a minute."
"Fine..." One of them grumbled before the other followed after. Standing on either side of the make-shift bed, the boys each held down a side of Jonas's back. Closing the sheets that hung around the small medical space, Dainah grabbed a pair of scissor-like pliers and a small silver tin bowl. Putting the bowl on another wooden tafel, tabel volgende to her, she leaned over Jonas's shoulder with the thin medical pliers and reached into the wound slowly. As the metal fingers got a hold of the bullet lodged in his skin, she began to pull out when Jonas's body jolted and the guys slammed him back down.
"Argh! God damn!" He shouted. "What are u doing to me?!" A tink sounded as Dainah dropped the deformed bullet into the tin and walked around him to the other tables.
"Removing a bullet from your shoulder u idiot." She nodded to the boys to let him go and watched them leave the room.
"Crap..." He groaned as he sat up and rubbed the back of his head where it ached.
"Alex hit u pretty hard. I almost hoped it would keep u out the whole procedure."
"You're so nice Dee..." He grumbled. Dainah moved around him again with a needle and thread to start sewing up the wound and Jonas had to grip the sides of the makeshift bed to keep himself from jerking away at the pain. She may be in her forties, but Dainah was borderline cruel to her patients if they give her a hard time.
"Where is he?!" A voice boomed from the other side of the curtains.
"Oh great..." Jonas grumbled and rolled his eyes when one of the curtains tore back and a tall guy about twenty-four stormed in; his wavy blonde hair a mess and intense brown eyes furious.
"What were u thinking?!" He cried.
"Good to see u again, Jonas. I'm glad you're alive, Jonas. Good job taking on a mission as lead, Jonas." Jonas exhaled and met his eyes with annoyance.
"That's precisely the issue! u took on a mission as lead. Without me."
"You've been asleep for two weeks, Zeke! We didn't know if you'd ever wake up!"
"Yeah, and what got me there?!" Zeke cried. "Doing exactly what u had done! Do u have any common sense?!"
"Zeke," Dainah zei blankly. "Go lay down."
"I am perfectly fine." Zeke growled.
"No, your adrenaline is raising your hart-, hart rate too high and you're bleeding through your bandages." She nodded down at Zeke's white overhemd, shirt that was started to stain red just below his right peck and on the left side of his stomach. "I don't plan on sewing u back up when you're so close to healed, so go lay down and save your anger at Jonas for later." Dainah then finished.
"This isn't over." Zeke pointed a finger at his younger brother and stalked out.
"How is he so angry?! I didn't end up like him! And we saved twenty plus kids!"
"He's just worried about you." Dainah zei softly. "And he has every right to be." She walked around to a krat in one corner and grabbed out a long scarf-like cloth before coming over to him. "Just leave your brother alone for a bit. He needs time to cool off and readjust to things after missing out on so much. Eventually, he'll see things meer clearly." She wrapped his right arm with the center of the fabric and tied it on the other side of his neck like a sling. "If I see that bandage off, I will give u a scar to remember." She threatened.
"Yes, ma'am." Jonas sighed, standing up with a groan and pulling the strap of his tank top, boven back up before walking out and observing their camp. Everyone here had been rescued from either containment camps of injured as a civilian in the field during a raid.
Boom! A heavy blast sounded above them and reverberated in the tunnel as dust fell from what could considerably be called the ceiling. One of the newer kids screamed and Jonas was door her instantly, clutching her to his side as he stared up at where meer muffled blasts sounded and were followed door falling dust.
"You're okay. It's far above us." He assured her, letting go. She remained clutching to his thigh until he squatted down to her level. "Nobody knows that we're here, okay?" He told her, making her look at him. "You're veilig here." The little girl nodded and Jonas looked over where Zeke was standing- staring at the ground above them. Directing Alex to come to the little girl, Jonas stood up and headed over.
"Another one." He commented. "Should we go up?"
"We don't know how long this one will last. Give it another day. And you-" Zeke finally looked at his brother. "You're not going up. u need to rest."
"That should be directed to you. I am left-handed." Jonas commented. "I can still handle a gun."
"You want to bring this back up now?" Zeke grumbled lowly as he took a step closer.
"You were close to death, Zeke," Jonas answered. "I don't see why u even find it arguable."
"Like I said." Zeke took a step back and turn to walk off. "Give it another day." Jonas sighed and stared at his brother's back for a long moment before turning around to find the little girl still standing there, watching him with large black eyes as she fidgeted with her small hands.
"Hey," He smiled warily down at her. "You okay?"
"Who is he?" She asked as her eyes darted toward Zeke for a fleeting second.
"He's my brother. He's kind of the leader here."
"Why did he have blood on his shirt?"
"Because he got hurt a little while ago." He sighed heavily, sitting down with a grunt against the dirty cement wall.
"Why?" She asked. Jonas huffed out a brief chuckle.
"Because some bad guys shot him." He answered.
"Why?"
"Because he was rescuing other kids from another containment camp."
"Oh." She finally said. "What's your name?" She then asked.
"Jonas. What's yours?"
"Anika." She replied, tightly gripping the sides of her filthy dress that must have been light yellow at some point.
"Well Anika, u see that woman over there with the oranje hair in a braid?" He asked as he pointed to a woman around his age that was standing near a tall barrel cleaning out her assault rifle. Anika nodded as she spotted her. "Her name is Monica. And she can help u wash up and get into a clean pair of clothes before breakfast."
"What's breakfast?"
"It's-" Jonas paused. "It's a meal that u have in the mornings."
"You eat in the morning?" She questioned.
"Every morning and evening." He nodded. Anika's eyes lit up and she spun around to run in Monica's direction when another heavy blast boomed around the area and she curled up into a tight ball on the cracked cement floor with her hands over her head. Jonas was there as quickly as he could and put a hand on her back until she slowly uncoiled and took his hand.
"You'll get used to it." He assured her with a sad smile. That was the truest line he'd heard and used his whole life. But he didn't want the new generations to get used to the bombings, separations, and massacres. He wanted it all to be over. Everyone did. Walking Anika over to Monica, he picked her up with his good arm so that she was at their eye level.
"Monica," Jonas began as the redhead turned to look in their direction; freckles speckled her face like constellations. "This is Anika. We just rescued her from a containment camp and she needs to get cleaned up."
"I'd be happy to help." Monica smiled. "Could u finish this up for me?" She gestured to her gun that was only mostly reassembled.
"I've only got one good arm." He said, lifting the one in the slinger, sling for emphasis.
"That hasn't stopped u before. Besides," she gently slapped his arm. "I've already finished all the hard parts." With a quick wink, she walked off with Anika in hand. Sighing heavily, Jonas shook his head and pulled the handmade slinger, sling off of his right forearm.
"How are u holding up?" Alex asked as she walked over and shoved her hands into the shallow pockets of her black skinny jeans.
"What do u mean?" Jonas replied as he briefly glanced up from where he was placing the bolt and charging handle back into its slot on the top, boven back of the gun.
"I mean your triggers." She blatantly stated. Jonas glanced at her again and placed the gun down on the top, boven of the barrel. He held up both of his hands in front of him.
"No tremors." He told her as he grabbed the AK .47 again and began to put the bolt spring in.
"I'm not talking about your tremors Jonas and u know it." She crossed her arms in frustration. Jonas's face contorted slightly as he stared ahead of him and pressed the bolt cover back over the spring.
"I forgot that kids in containment camps don't know what breakfast is." He exhaled.
"Yeah well, u didn't know what it was either once." She commented.
"Exactly." He sighed as he put the cleaning rod that sat on top, boven of the wooden barrel in front of him where it belonged under the gun's barrel and jammed the full magazine back into the slot. Loud clatter arose from where people were gathering near the entrance. "What's going on?" Jonas asked as he furrowed his dirty blond brows and set the gun down on the top, boven of the barrel.
"Let's go check it out." Alex led the way and Jonas followed, pushing through the crowd. As he came to the front of the group, someone was leading a shaken up guy about seventeen off to one of the vacant brand pits at the far right uithangbord of the area. Zeke sighed and painstakingly crossed his arms as he came over to Jonas and Alex.
"Lium was sent as the messenger from a team on a food run." He said, looking over at where a younger girl came over and sat with Lium. "They're laying on the down low at the back of the city until things die off."
"He looked pretty shaken up for just saying that. What's going on?" Jonas asked. Zeke sighed heavily as if in defeat and hung his head momentarily.
"It's a massacre out there." He zei heavily. "Those large blasts we were hearing were buildings being bombed. There's bodies everywhere."
Jonas groaned loudly. "They're wiping out another city." He ran his hands over his face and through his short hair as he turned about, facing the direction of where Lium was headed. Alex comfortingly rubbed his back until he dropped his hands back to his sides and faced them again. "We're not going to make this one..." He muttered, suddenly sounding breathless.
"Maybe not, but we can go back up and look for injured people of those in hiding once we get the go-ahead that it's safe. It doesn't sound like they'll be taking any kids in this town." Zeke sighed. "I'm going to go check up on Lium. Hang in there." He patted Jonas's shoulder as he passed door and Jonas nodded as he hung his head and clenched his right fist repetitively. Alex watched him walk off, rubbing his right palm between his thumb and fingers as he opened and closed his fist over and over again. His tremors were back. She sighed long and heavily as she looked at the diverse crowd and the wooden sticks and tarps that improvised for tents around her. It was going to be another long day.
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Chapter Two
Aftermath

"Ready?" Zeke asked as he strapped on his worn leather finger gloves that looked meer grey than they did black from all the years they've been used. Jonas slammed the full magazine into his handgun and shoved it into its holster on his hip. Looking up at his older brother, he gave a curt nod.
"Are u an idiot?! u are not going up there!" Dainah cried as she stormed over to where their crew was preparing for an extraction mission. Zeke sighed and stared ahead of himself for a long moment before meeting her blue gaze.
"Dee, I am perfectly fine."
"No, u are not! You've only been up for a day. You're not ready to go out on the field."
"My stitches are mostly healed up. We're not stepping into a battlefield. I won't be doing any fighting."
"Let's go," Luke said, putting a hand on Zeke's shoulder and looking over at Jonas. "The longer we wait, the fewer people we'll have to bring down."
"I'll be fine." Zeke assured her as he walked off toward the black busje, van with the others.
"At this rate, she might as well become your mother." Luke joked as they hopped into the back.
"At this rate, I'd think she was my mother." Zeke sighed, rolling his eyes. "Make sure u guys are alert when we get out there." He told his team as he loaded his assault rifle's magazine and spare. "Some people might think we're military at first and there could still be some half wounded soldiers that will take a shot at us if they see us." They all nodded solemnly, shifting in their seats until the bullet dented black busje, van came to a halt. Zeke gave a curt nod and they filed out two at a time. With only twelve people, there was meer ground to cover than Zeke had hoped, but, he had managed before.
"Oh, God..." Jonas breathed as he gazed around; squinting from the hot sun that singed the earth just as much as fire. Most of the land was thick with bomb made craters in the asphalt roads and massive piles of brick, wood, and concrete where houses and stores used to be. Some trees and shrubs that weren't completely uprooted of scorched black were simmering with small oranje flames from blasts that the small town suffered from. The team spleet, split into different directions to cover meer ground and Jonas jumped when a hand rested on his shoulder.
"C'mon." Alex gave an attempt of a smile. "People are waiting for us." Nodding, Jonas sucked up a sharp breath and walked carefully over the rubble, looking for any sign of life among the destruction and mass of burned, bleeding, torn, of squashed bodies of men, women, and children alike.
"I don't know how people can sleep at night knowing they do this kind of stuff..." Jonas grumbled as he shook his head. Alex looked at him sympathetically before hearing a cough at a mostly collapsed building on her left. She ran in that direction and Jonas was shortly behind her. Handing him her gun, Alex dug through the debris until a clearing was made.
"H-Hello?" A weak female voice rasped.
"I'm right here ma'am!" Alex called, crawling into the small space. "Talk to me so I can find you."
"N-No. P-Please, take- take my baby..." She interrupted herself in a bout of coughing. "T-Take my boy..." Her voice grew weak as Alex rounded the corner and found a dark-haired woman barely keeping herself up over her little son that was dressed in nighties with a small blanket loosely hanging around him. "Ma'am?" Alex asked as the woman panted.
"H-His name is Alex." She huffed. "He's t-ten mon-nths. Promise me y-you'll s-save him."
"I promise." Alex quickly zei as she held the unconscious baby in her arms. "We'll get u out too. Don't worry."
"N-No..." The woman's voice became barely a whisper as her head hung. "I w-won't ma-ke it... Ju-just promi-se me..."
"I will protect your son with my life." Alex swore as her throat became dry. The woman nodded slowly before her arms grew week and she collapsed to the ground.
"Alex?" Jonas called into the small space out of worry.
"I'm- I'm okay!" She called; her voice cracking. Taking one last look at the mother who gave her life to protect her child, Alex turned the way she had come, cradling the little one in her arms.
"Where's-"
"She's gone." Alex sighed as she sat in the dust and gazed down at the dirty, dark-haired little boy. Her name's sake. "His name is Alex." She smiled. "Ten months."
"You should take him back to the busje, van where Lisa is waiting for the refugees," Jonas zei quietly, helping her slinger, sling her gun over her shoulder. "I'll keep looking. Meet me back when u can." Alex nodded in reply as she refused to break her eyes from the precious life that she held in her arms until she had to look away to find footing as she headed back the way they had come. Standing up with a heavy chest, Jonas continued looking. Poking at some bodies that might have signs of life and shying away from others that were already smelling deceased. Finding a fresh trail of blood that lined the newly rugged terrain as though someone had been dragged, Jason's senses perked and he keenly followed it's winding path among the rugged terrain. Slowing down as the trail became thick and much meer fresh, Jason looked ahead to see a woman with shortly cropped black hair in a dusty grey t-shirt and red stained baggy pants dragged herself backward with her arms towards a building that still had most of its lower levels still standing.
"Don't take one meer step!" She growled, aiming the glistening black barrel of an AK .50 in his direction.
"I'm not a soldier." Jonas zei slowly as he put his hands up.
"You're funny if u think I'd believe you." Slowly, Jonas began to lower his handgun and she fired, missing him door mere inches. "That was a warning." She glowered raspily.
"I'm trying to holster my gun." He zei calmly. She narrowed her blue-green eyes at him and he slowly began to proceed. Once his gun was safely at his hip, he raised his hands innocently again and took a small step forward. Her eyes snapped to his right as groaning was heard and a head popped up above the fallen debris. The large gun made a snel, swift schommel, swing as she let three bullets slide from the semi-automatic's magazine. They each hit the target dead center of the forehead and the soldier collapsed behind the rubble again. Just as quickly, the gun was trained right back onto Jonas and he stiffened.
"My name is Jonas." He said, taking a few meer steps toward her with his hands raised in surrender. Her face grimaced as she pushed herself back a little further from him. "I live with an underground community. We rescue people that survive these massacres and take them somewhere safe." He took three meer steps forward. "We also raid containment camps and rescue kids." He watched her face become thoughtful. Pounding feet on the ashy, unsteady ground reached their ears and her eyes widened as she raised her gun, ready to fire. "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Jonas cried. "Don't shoot her!" He glanced back at where Alex froze. "She's with me." He zei meer steadily. "We can help you."
"Who zei I need helping?" She asked.
"Um, your long ezel trail of blood that led probably both of us here!" Alex called over before she dashed off to her left after hearing another person call out for help.
"You can trust us." Jonas assured her as he advanced toward her again cautiously.
"Well forgive me if I don't find trust to come easily to me." She spat, trying to verplaats further away but her back hit the dusty beige uithangbord of the building.
"Understandably so." Jonas nodded, glancing to his side where Alex was helping a man that carried his injured wife navigate through the wreckage. The woman watched them for a long moment and jumped when Jonas squatted right volgende to her. "At least let us help you." He gazed into her unreadable eyes sincerely. Gritting her teeth until her jaw hurt, she dropped the gun onto its side and gestured down to her right leg.
"Rk 62 got me right before a fencing caught just below it." She grumbled. Moving around to her other side, Jonas took a quick look at the torn and heavily soaked side of her thigh.
"Any idea how far the bullet lodged?" Jonas asked as he looked up.
"It was close combat." She panted. "Can't be meer than an inch of two. If it hit my femoral artery I'd be dead door now."
"Fair point," Jonas grunted as he tore his sleeve off and ripped it open so that it was wide enough.
"What are u doing?" She asked as he carefully lifted her leg and began to inpakken, wrap the cloth around the wounds. Tearing the bottom of his shirt, he used the thin strip to tie just above the bullet hole.
"We need to keep this out of the dusty air and the bleeding until we can get u Underground and taken care of." He told her as he helped her stand and she picked up her gun. Slinging the large geweer-, geweer over her left shoulder, Jonas slung her right arm over his neck and assisted her in practically hoping over the unsteady ground. Alex ran up to them breathlessly.
"It seems like the military came in from this side. Most of the civilians that made it are hiding on the West side of the city." She told Jonas. "Zeke and Kira are with Luke and Michael to get the others that can't walk."
"That's good." Jonas sighed. "Zeke might send in another crew once we're done to do a double take." Alex nodded and looked worriedly over at the woman who was having a harder time trying to walk than before.
"Need help?" She asked.
"I'm fine." The girl muttered. Slipping, she collapsed with a heavy grunt and remained motionless.
"She's lost too much blood." Alex noted.
"Help me find an easy path to the van." Jonas zei as he struggled to pick the woman up. "By the time we get there, it might as well be nightfall."
"Well, then u can say it was worth it." Alex noted lightly as she took the woman's gun off the ground and directed Jonas down the safest route.
"Where's Jonas and Alex?" Zeke asked as he stared at the west side of the city that was mostly in ruins.
"I'm sure they're on their way." Luke guaranteed. Letting out a heavy breath, Zeke turned around to face the large group of people they managed to save. It was less than he had hoped, but it was better than none.
"We have another one!" Jonas cried as Zeke was starting to close the busje, van doors. "Took me forever to talk her into coming." He then sighed as he handed her up to Luke in the back.
"So u knocked her out?" He asked, pulling her in where the other refugees were.
"She lost too much blood and passed out on the way over." Alex spoke up. Zeke patted his arm for reference of a vraag in regards to Jonas's missing sleeve. He pointed over to the woman and Zeke nodded in understanding before directing the two to hop in.
"How bad is she wounded?" Michael asked as the busje, van bounced down the road.
"She zei an Rk 62 kit her in close range before she was cut door wire fencing near the same spot." Jonas answered. "But if her main artery was hit, she'd have been gone long before I found her."
"Where was she?" Luke then asked.
"Far west side where the first blasts must have happened." He replied. "At least, that's where I found her. I was following a trail of blood that led straight to her."
"Why would she drag herself through all that debris?"
"Trying to find shelter?" Jonas shrugged. "The building I found her at was still partly standing."
"That building was a motel." A weak man's voice spoke from the crowded multitude of refugees. Jonas recognized him immediately as the man Alex helped while he carried his wife. "It was the first building to go down."
"So u know her?" Zeke asked him. The man shook his balding head gravely.
"I may not know everyone in our town, but I have never seen anyone like her..." He huffed. "She covered me while I dug through to get my wife out." It was silent for a long moment before the man spoke again. "I can't thank u all enough for what you're doing for us."
"We wouldn't have it any other way." Zeke answered, giving the man a weak smile from where he was standing, leaning against the back of the metal doors. The brakes squealed as the car sped to a stop. Zeke lightly rose one of his hands as the crew began to ready themselves for battle and they froze.
"What's going on?" A woman asked with a panic-stricken face.
"Ma'am," Zeke hushed politely, "it might just be a checkpoint. Please remain calm."
"So they're going to find us?!" She shrieked. Zeke nodded at Jonas who rushed to the woman's side immediately.
"Miss, please be quiet." Jonas pleaded. "We always keep the paperwork for the car updated so there won't be any need for them to come back here if we don't give them one. Our crew is fully equipped just in case and we do have an escape route on this van, so u don't have to worry. Just, please, keep quiet until we get moving again." He zei politely. Biting her lower lip, the woman nodded and Jonas headed back to his seat; receiving a grateful look from his older brother.
"This is taking longer than a general check." Luke muttered volgende to Zeke's ear who nodded in agreement. Something wasn't right. Jonas shook his leg nervously as he anticipated to either go of get shot at. He looked volgende to him at the woman and drew his eyes to her wound when his hart-, hart leaped into his throat.
"Zeke." Jonas whispered with a croaky voice. His brother's deep brown eyes wandered to his direction and he pointed down at the woman's leg where the whole thigh of her pants clung to her skin through the blood that drenched it. Zeke's hart-, hart rate spiked then.
"If we don't leave soon, we'll lose her." He muttered, grabbing his walkie-talkie from his hip quickly. Jonas grabbed his wrist and shook his head.
"Not yet." He muttered. Two loud bangs against the side of the busje, van jolted everyone into alert which was quickly replaced with relief as the vehicle began moving again. After a few meer moments, Jonas let go of his brother's arm and Zeke raised the walkie to his mouth.
"Lisa, u need to hammer it." He ordered. "We have someone in critical condition in here."
"Roger that." A voice responded, followed door the sound of the engine accelerating. Tearing at his other sleeve, Jonas rolled the fabric into a thick rope and tied it above the last one to try and decrease the bleeding even if just the slightest. "Um, Zeke?" Lisa questioned through the walkie. "I have a tail."
"Status?" He asked.
"Five motorcycles, three of them have double riders and they're all armed with assault rifles."
"We're on it." Zeke looked Jonas directly in the eyes and pointed to a shaft in the roof. Getting up, he directed Alex over to the woman before pulling the handle on the shaft door and shoving it open.
"What's happening?!" Someone panicked.
"We just have a tail." Zeke answered like it was no big deal. "Don't worry, the car is bulletproof. Please just remain calm and stay in your places." With that, he grabbed the handles on each side of the entrance above and heaved himself out- quickly rolling onto his stomach on the top, boven of the van. Sighing heavily, Jason followed after, rolling onto the other side and pulling his gun in front of him as gunfire aimed in their general direction came and went just as quickly.
"Ready?" Zeke asked as he looked over at his brother.
"What is this? Target practice?" Jonas asked in return as he closed a hazel eye and steadied his vision through his scope and pulled the trigger. The driver of the black and white off-road motorcycle on Zeke's side went down and its partner grabbed hold of the steering. With the gun in one hand, they held onto the trigger and unleashed a heavy round on them. The boys pressed themselves as far deep into the roof as possible.
"Don't even bother saving bullets!" Zeke shouted to him over the sound of the machine gun and wind. "We just need to make sure they don't get close to the driver's cab!"
"I think it's a little late to say that!" Jonas yelled as he pushed himself back and slid toward the crack between the cab and busje, van space. "You take care of the guys in the back!" He disappeared in the space as he caught himself between the two parts of the busje, van with his feet on either side. The motorcycle on the right came first as he had predicted and he didn't wait a single seconde to unleash a hell of bullets onto the driver. The passenger grabbed the handlebars as Jonas was busy throwing out his empty magazine and popping in a fresh one. Firing their bolt action at him, Jonas jumped up and the bullet went under his legs and into the shoulder of the passenger on the motorcycle coming on the other side.
"Don't u think an automatic would be easier for this line of work?" He asked, firing a single bullet at the bike's engine and shielding his face from the vibrant blast and shrapnel as it exploded. Quickly bouncing up several levels, Jonas leaned backward until he was practically upside down as he unloaded his rounds on the bike's driver and engine. Using all the muscle he could, he straightened himself and slung his gun over his shoulder as he climbed up again.
"Did u have fun?" Zeke asked, poking his head out of the shaft. That was when Jonas stood on his knees and stared at the destruction that was slowly fading in in the distance. Smirking, he shook his head and climbed down, closing the top, boven door on his way in. "Lisa, where are we?" Zeke asked as he took a deep breath.
"Taking the back entrance. We should be there in about ten minutes." Murmurs and sighs of relief and excitement rose up from the refugees. At last, they'd be veilig soon.
_______

Chapter Three
How Close?

"Where's Dainah?!" Zeke called as he cleared a way for Jonas that was hurriedly carrying the unconscious woman toward the medical corner of their base.
"She's helping some of the kids from last night's mission." Erica, one of Dainah's apprentices zei as she came out of the curtained area.
"This woman needs immediate attention!" Zeke told her. Erica ran ahead of them to the medical corner.
"Clear the room!" She called, pulling her long dirty blonde hair up into a ponytail. "What happened?" She asked as she unwound the thick fabric from the wounds and began tearing the pant leg with a knife.
"There's a 7.62-millimeter bullet lodged just above a hella deep cut. I'm not sure which one is doing the bleeding." Jason did his best not to pass out as he put his hands on top, boven of his head and turned about to try and get his breath back.
"I'm going to need u to leave the room." Erica told him, looking up from where she was preparing to extract the bullet.
"No." Jonas shook his head. "Erica, I-"
"Jonas." She zei firmly. Zeke put a hand on his shoulder. "I need space in here. I'll call u in once I'm done." Zeke led Jonas out of the room and towards one of the brand pits.
"She'll be okay, bro." He patted his shoulder and walked off to the far corner where his tent was. Jonas watched him hide away in his tent like he always does after a mission. Part of him wondering if it was just his way of processing the events that took place of if he actually had a secret no one knew about.
Sitting on the krat in his tent, Zeke rested his elbows on his knees as he stared blankly at his profusely shaking hands before resting his head in them with a quivering breath. It never gets any easier... A scream from outside his tent made Zeke tear himself out of his pains and jog over to where Derek, another one of Dainah's apprentices, was blocking Jonas from leaving his spot.
"What's going on?" He demanded.
"She just got scared." Derek told him. "She doesn't know where she is and tried to attack Erica."
"She needs a familiar face." Jonas zei for the third time as he stared off at the sheets that blocked his view from what was going on inside.
"What's going on right now?" Zeke asked with a sigh.
"She tore the stitches in her thigh but won't let Erika touch her. Dainah is trying to talk to her at the moment." Releasing a hard breath, Zeke nodded and jerked his head at his brother that was standing volgende to him.
"Let him go in." He said. "I don't care if there's room in there of not. If Jonas's presence is the only thing that will get her to ease up, then let it happen. I won't have any meer people die on my watch."
"Yes, sir." Derek replied, stepping away from Jonas who quickly ran for the medical corner.
"Nuh-uh." Zeke put a hand on Derek's shoulder as the dark-skinned man began to walk off. "You're going to help me talk to everyone. That scream would have scared them to their wits."
Jonas jumped in through the curtains quickly with large eyes. The woman sat there on the bed, holding herself up with her hands-one of which was holding a knife- as she glared menacingly at Dainah and Erika.
"No, Jonas, get out." Dainah pointed to the side.
"Zeke zei I could come in."
"Well, Zeke's not in charge of the clinic." Dainah spat. "Get out."
"Dee, please." Jonas breathed as his chest heaved. Dainah looked deeply into Jonas's hazel eyes and finally nodded. Releasing a grateful sigh, he gave her a curt nod of thanks before slowly sitting at the end of the bed. "Glad to see you're alive." He told her as lightly-noted as he could. She glanced at him before continuing to glare at the two doctors. "Don't worry, they won't touch u unless u let them."
"What happened?" She finally asked, giving him a sideways look.
"You lost too much blood and passed out." Jonas told her honestly. "On the way here we were stopped and nearly lost you." She nodded and refused to break her eyes off of Erika that was still holding the sewing equipment. "Let them help you." He said, jerking his head in their direction.
"I've done plenty fine helping myself." She glowered.
"Well do u know how to stitch a three-inch cut that could have been centimeters from hitting your femoral artery?" Erica lashed. Jonas held up his hand for her to shut up.
"Do u see a single scar on me that doesn't look like it was sewn?" She asked in response. "I can help myself."
"Let her." Zeke's voice zei from the entrance. He stood there with his arms crossed. Everyone's heads snapped up to look at him.
"Zeke, u aren't in charge in this room. I am." Dainah reminded him.
"If stitching herself up is what it'll take for us to not have another burial, then let it happen." Zeke growled. "Besides, Dainah, I have to speak with u anyways." Dainah nodded for Erica to give the woman the tools before leaving the room. Zeke gave Jonas one last glance before walking out of the room, but his eyes were so shadowed that Jonas was almost afraid of the matter he had to discuss with Dainah. Erica sat down on the crates in the far corner and watched as the woman began to gently pull out the broken threads from her thigh.
"You can go." She grumbled.
"Just because I'm not operating on u doesn't mean that I'm going to leave u in here with valuable equipment." Erica fumed.
"I'm here." Jonas told her as if she'd forgotten.
"Yeah, and she can easily take u out."
"Do u underestimate me that much?" He asked, faking hurt in his voice as he rose a hand over his heart.
"With an injured shoulder, yeah. You're a big clutz."
"Well, just for the sake of informing you, this clutz took out four men on motorcycles while stuck between the driver's cab and back of the busje, van while we were going seventy-five kilometers per hour." He beamed. "And I reloaded my .47 in the middle of it all."
"Your ego is going to kill u one day." Erica grumbled as she sauntered out of the room. It was quiet for a long moment before the woman looked up from where she readied the needle and thread.
"Did that really happen of were u trying to get rid of her for me?" She asked.
"It really happened." Jonas answered. "And yeah, I was actually trying to get rid of her."
She scoffed. "You have a unique way with words."
"Heh, maybe u could tell Zeke that." Jonas huffed quietly.
"Your brother's in charge here?" She asked. Jonas looked up quickly. "Oh please, don't look so surprised. u two look alike. It isn't hard to put two and two together."
"Yeah..." Jonas rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "Yeah, he's in charge." She nodded and looked back down as she began to restitch the wide cut. "What's your name?" Jonas finally asked after a short period of silence. She froze and looked up at him.
"Max." She zei as she reverted her tidepool coloured stare and proceeded her medical work. It was quiet between them until she finished her stitching and took the bandage wraps Jonas handed her. She watched him for a short moment as he rubbed his right palm between his fingers and thumb.
"Kinetic tremor?" She asked as she looked down.
"Huh?" He asked.
"Your hand." She refused to look at him. "You have a kinetic tremor caused door PTSD."
"How do u know?" He asked, cocking his head to one side. "My hand isn't even shaking."
"You're rubbing your palm in anticipation of it coming and don't want it to be obvious, so u just make it look like it's a habit of yours." She sighed as she finished wrapping up her thigh and held up her left hand which tremored mostly in her pinky and ring finger.
"You have one too." He noted.
"Twenty-four seven." She exhaled loudly as she swung her legs over the side and attempted to stand straight. Buckling, she caught herself on the bed of a table. Slinging her arm over his shoulder, Jonas helped her wobble out.
"You shouldn't be walking on that leg." Dainah zei as she neared them.
"Thanks for your concern doc, but I'm sure I know." Max retorted.
"You need the space of the clinic for other patients." Jonas noted. "I'm going to help her get a tent ready."
"Mhm." Dainah brushed passed them into her corner and Jonas shook his head as he chuckled and led Max off through the camp.
"Everybody's staring at me..." Max growled quietly.
"Everyone heard u scream. Of course they're going to stare at you. It's not every dag that we have someone try to kill those that help them." Max only rolled her eyes in response. Jonas led her over to an unoccupied space not that far between Zeke's tent and the clinical section against the dull back uithangbord of The Underground. Taking her arm off Jonas's shoulders, she leaned against the cold, earthy wall.
"I'll be right back." He informed her as he moved through the community towards one of the squared room units that had been built in so many years geleden as ticket stations. Watching him talk to someone at the rusting barred window with a wide smile that deepened a dimple on his right cheek, Max released a heavy breath and shook her head. After waiting for a long moment, Jonas gratefully took the old blue tarp, a couple of sheets, and some thick rope he was handed before walking to a corner where a massive pile of thinner logs was stacked. With one hand, Jonas sorted through the load before finding two of decent length and grabbing a firm hold of them under his free arm before walking back the way he had come.
"Thanks." Max zei as she reached out to grab the items.
"Allow me." Jonas zei as he placed the items on the dirty ground.
"You don't have to treat me like a child I know how to make a tent." She retorted.
"I'm not surprised." Jonas commentaar gegeven as he began to kick away the loose stone from a crack in the ground where he could lodge one of the logs. "But that isn't why I'm helping. u shouldn't be up on that leg."
"Just like how u shouldn't be using that arm of yours?" She asked. He stopped and looked up at her with an exasperated sigh. "Look, I'm grateful, but I'm not like all the other civilians u normally rescue. I know how to care for myself in these situations. I don't need your worry."
"I've noticed." Jonas zei as he stood up and bashed one of the logs into the small hole in the once smooth ground to enlarge it. "Which makes me curious why u were in that town when the raid happened. Most people want to avoid such things." Max stared blankly into Jonas's hazel eyes for a long while before shaking her head and grabbing the other log that was on the ground near her feet.
"In this era," she began, "there are certain vragen u just don't ask a person." She grunted as she raised the log and slammed it forcefully into the cobblestone looking uithangbord until there was a large enough hole to rest the log into. Jonas grabbed the other end and rested it onto the top, boven of the log he held at an angle from where it was a couple inches into the hard ground. Max snatched the rope off of Jonas's shoulder where he'd looped it and began to tie the two logs firmly together. The two worked together to drape the worn tarp over the top, boven log and set small stones that were around them on the sides that hung on the ground to keep it in place. Pulling back the parts that worked as a door flap, Max hobbled inside and plopped onto the ground before laying out the sheets on one side of the tent.
"Will this do?" Jonas asked as he crouched in the doorway. "I mean, I'm sure you're probably used to the plush bedding in the hotels and stuff, but-"
"You really underestimate me." She interrupted, looking over at him. "This is fine."
"Okay." He nodded.
"Where's my gun?" She asked.
"We don't normally have the regular civilians carry weapons." Jonas told her. "It can lead to violence to resolve issues."
"You can't keep my gun." She told him.
"Actually, we can." Zeke's voice zei from nearby before he squatted volgende to his brother. "It was on the field, so we collected it with the others."
"No, it was on my shoulder and u took it off me." She grumbled, trying to maintain calm. "That gun is my personal property and door God's grace I will kill people if that's what it will take to get it back."
"How do u propose you'd be killing people with an injured leg and no weapon..." Zeke froze as she held up a black Sig Sauer P6 and cocked it. Jonas looked over at his side where his gun was missing.
"Max..." Jonas began slowly.
"I know you're a sweet talker so just keep your mouth shut." She grumbled at him. "And as far as a regular civilian goes, I'm sure u know otherwise regarding me."
"And I'm positive you're well aware of why we don't give people here other than the team automatic weapons." Zeke countered.
"I don't belong to that city." Max lowered her voice. "And I don't want another city to explode although I can't help it. So it sounds to me like we have the same goal. Now, why don't u give me my gun and once I can freaking walk, I kom bij your little posse? It looks like u need meer manpower after all."
"How about u give Jonas back his gun and we discuss this later with the rest of the crew." He countered without breaking eye contact. Jonas looked between the two continuously until Max pointed the pistol at the ground and pushed down on the lever above the magazine until a click sounded and she handed the weapon handle first to Jonas. He took it slowly and put it back in his holster as Zeke stood up and walked off.
"Do u always do that to people who don't give u what u want?" Jonas asked.
"Do what?"
"Oh u know, point guns at them and threaten to kill them?"
"So what if I do?" She shrugged. "Not everyone can talk as smoothly as you."
"But u do sound like quite the bargainer." He complimented.
"Don't we all have to be in this life?" She grunted as she stood up and carefully made her way out of the small tent.
“Not exactly.” Jonas shrugged as he stood up alongside her. She hobbled over to a ledge off the uithangbord and sat down on it, drawing her good leg close to her chest. A loud ding resounded in the massive space and echoed in the ears of the residents.
“What was that?” Max asked with large eyes as everyone began to verplaats around in one main area near one of the barred rooms. She furrowed her black brows as she watched people leave the window and sit among their tents of the brand pits holding small metal bowls with steaming contents.
“It’s avondmaal time.” Jonas zei with a smile. “I’ll bring u some.” He walked off then and joined the massive crowd of people; pushing through until Max couldn’t see him anymore. Sighing, she released a heavy breath and leaned her pounding head back against the cold damp uithangbord as she shut her steel blue-green eyes.
“How's your leg?" A voice asked. Max's eyes shot open and she came face to face with Zeke who held her AK .50 in one hand with the barrel facing the earthy ceiling above them.
"It’s far from my heart. I’ll live." She answered, taking the weapon gratefully and laying it in her lap.
“Well, u almost died nonetheless.” He told her as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his loose camo pants.
“So I’ve been told and yet I still don’t believe it.” She scoffed as she stroked the body of the gun with her fingers tentatively.
“You make death sound like it’s a game of child’s play.”
“How close have u come death, Zeke?” She asked. Zeke stared at her for a long moment before sighing and pulling up his overhemd, shirt to expose the small bandages that barely wanted to hold over the curves of his muscle under his right peck and several inches above his left hip.
“Pretty damn close.” He told her. “I was out for several weeks.” Max smirked and looked off to the side. “You find that funny.” He observed nonchalantly. Looking at him again with a new harshness in her eyes, Max pulled down the kraag of her T-shirt to expose a jagged, round scar just under her left collarbone.
“I’ve been closer.” She told him as she let the grey material of her overhemd, shirt go and it covered the scar.
“AK. 50?” He asked in the thought of the size of the bullet that must have hit her.
“Another Rk 62.” She huffed. “It seems that the military loves those guns.”
“Must have been a close range for the scar to be smaller than the bullet size.”
“Scars shrink over time and no, it was a hundred yard sniper shot.” She shook her head with a pained look in her eyes. It was so much easier to talk to Zeke. He saw everything as it is while Jonas tried to look for the sunshine in the night. While that may work for some, it didn’t for her. Everyone wanted to escape the harsh reality of life and dream about a better time but that wasn’t going to change the scenarios that arise every passing day.