Turning Tables

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No one in the crowd moves, holding their breath. One of the guards throws their gun down, stepping forward. I don't look up, frozen in a mixture of fear and confusion. I watch as their masks hit the ground, too.

"People of Compound 4," a familiar voice says, "You've been lied to. This girl saved your lives. Hartley lied to you, and we can prove it."

I finally look up, coming face to face with a very angry looking Ollie who is pointing at the screen dropping from the ceiling beside her. Wide eyed, I shake the cuffs, the knot rising in my throat again.

They came for me.

They didn't forget me.

I feel hands on my shoulders, and I recoil away from the touch. Yet, it's just my mother, kneeling down behind me.

"Calm down," she whispers into my ear, "We will get you out soon. They have to decide to release you on their own, or we become the enemy. Be patient."

She stands back up again, and I jerk my body around to look at the other guards. Stephen is there, his gun still in his hand, staring out with an angry look on his face. Clare is beside him, swaying gently back and forth as she moves from leg to leg. My eyes trace down her body, falling on her leg. Of course, I can't see anything through her black uniform pants. It must've healed well enough.

Clare glances down at me, giving me a sad half-smile and pointing at the screen.

It's a surveillance video. The grainy quality and yellow timestamp in the corner tell me that. The video shows the fourth floor of the Research Facility, but it's empty. There are no guards, not even me and Isaac.

"Let me go forward a bit," Ollie mutters, fiddling with the remote in her hand. The screen blurs as it rushes forward and stop again. This time, Hartley and my father are on screen, talking in the hallway. Ollie turns the volume up, holding the remote against her chest.

"She's on her way here," Hartley says, pacing.

"President, she's no threat," my father replies.

"We have underestimated her for long enough, Price. We need a trap for her, something to make the people hate her."

They stare at each other for a second.

"What are her weaknesses?" Hartley asks my father, stopping to look at the doctor. My father twists his mouth, thinking, stalling, or something. Hartley points a finger at him. "You have to tell me, old man."

My father purses his lips tight.

"She's impulsive," he finally admits, "Acts before she thinks things through."

Hartley nods his head.

"That's it," he says, "Set a trap for her. Make her think the cure is really the second strand. Make it so easy to destroy that she'll have no choice."

"But, sir, she will be actually destroying the cure. This is all we have," Dad says as Hartley starts to walk away.

"We don't need a cure," Hartley says, "The point of the Decontamination was to destroy the filth of the earth. We haven't even made it to stage one, and there was never anything in the files about curing the survivors. Phase Three is pretty clear. We aren't meant to survive."

Ollie stops the video, looking out at the crowd.

They are still speechless, staring up at her like clueless children.

"She was set up!" Ollie yells, throwing her hands up, "Hartley and her father set a trap for her. You see, Jaelyn came back to Compound 4 to do you all a favor and destroy the second strand of the virus. The second strand you didn't know what being invented."

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