Chapter Thirty-Eight

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"It's fifty miles driving down this way," Michael traced a line from their location toward a grove of mountains drawn on the map. The haphazard bandage Rachel had put on his wrists had been replaced by clean, sterile ones and he was no longer dressed in bloody clothing, instead clad in a simple blue t-shirt and jeans.

"How do you know there are missiles in there?" Juan asked skeptically, arms crossed over his chest.

"My dad. He used to work there. And it's not just missiles," Michael replied. "But weapons-guns, grenades, everything that we'll need to strike back against the capital."

"This sounds great and all," Yalina began. "But what guarantee do we have that the capital doesn't already know about this place? If your mom knows about it, then so do they."

"No," he shook his head. "I never told mom. Only dad and I knew. He went to great lengths to make sure no one knew of this place, not even his wife. He told me about it before he died, told me to never stop fighting back. I was there a few days ago and everything is still intact."

"Then let's do it. Let's take back our lives; what are we waiting for?" A nurse Rachel recognized from when she'd been sick with E-91 said as she pulled her two little boys in for a tight hug. Their bobs of blonde hair tickled her cheeks.

"We need a plan," Michael told her gently.

The entire bunker population crammed into the dining room, the tightly packed bodies causing everyone to sweat profusely, pickling the room with the scent of body odor.

For some reason, the crowd was looking at Rachel and her group for all the answers, as if they had a clue what in the world they were doing.

Meanwhile, Abby and her younger son were being held in one of the simulation rooms from which there were no exits. A few guards stayed behind to make sure she didn't try anything suspicious and to keep Abby's sympathizers at bay and locked in their own cells, big-bellied man among them.

Across the room, faces of the people who had been lost to the capital stared back solemnly from the board they were pinned to as if begging to be avenged. Rachel found Hector's face among them, her gut twisting with a sort of nausea that couldn't be chased away by anything.

How she longed to hear his voice just one more time. He would have been such a help in their current situation. He was a leader, he had authority and he was so smart. What masterful plan would he have come up with now?

She racked her brain, trying to put herself in his mind as the others discussed different approaches and strategies. Everyone seemed to be in favor of using brute force but it just wasn't feasible—for brute force you needed to have more people than your enemy and that wasn't the case here.

"We could try to cut off their food and water supply. Let them break down from the inside out and then attack." A man offered.

"That's too lengthy. It gives them time to strike back with all the technology they have within. Our best weapon is that we have surprise on our side." Yalina replied.

"We'll then let's use the missiles the boy talked about and blow the damn city up."

"We'd all love that, now wouldn't we? But let's not forget that some of our people are still there, undercover. They've no idea what's happened here. We obliterate the entire city and we kill some of our own people too." Dr. Everest's voice was calm and collected as he spoke. His salt and pepper hair shone under the fluorescent lighting, the half-moons under his eyes more pronounced that ever.

"Doc's right," Juan replied. "The compound kids are there somewhere, hundreds of innocent, unmarked children and who knows how many more?"

"Well there's gotta be another way."

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