"Lieutenant?" the guard asks, fighting a yawn as I approach. His partner, a young girl, is asleep, neck bent forward at a painful angle.
"Go," I snap, stomping past him towards the back cell. He shakes his partner hard and jerks her towards the elevator. "Oh," I continue, glancing towards him over my shoulder, "Don't tell anyone I'm here, or you'll be reassigned."
My words come out like shards of ice, sending goosebumps down my own spine. They can't know I'm threatening their life. They run regardless, the elevator doors shutting silently behind them.
I grip the bars of Price's cell, watching his body rise and fall as he sleeps.
"Hey, Price," I shout, the anger building up in me again, "Wake up, old man."
He groans, rolling over and staring at me as he blinks. After looking confused, he sits up, holding his back with both hands.
"Good morning, Lieutenant," he mutters, yawning, "What can I do for you today?"
I twist my mouth into a snarl, jerking at the bars.
"How did you know?" I ask, in a low tone.
"You're going to have to be more specific, Lieutenant," he says, walking towards me. I back away, shaking my head. "I've known about many repositories in my life."
"No, not just any repository. The Repository. Our Repository," I say, leaning against the opposite bars. He cocks his head at me.
"What happened, Quinn?" he asks, concern laced in his voice. Now, he reminds me of my father, and I crack under the thought. I can't tell him about the infected. There is no way to tell if I can trust him, but clearly, he has no idea what's inside it.
"You were there," I say, switching trains of thought, "When the virus started. What part did you play?"
Dr. Price sighs, scratching his head.
"I assisted in the creation of the virus and its cure," he says, pointing to his title, "I was one of a team of three."
"So, it can be cured," I whisper, looking at the floor.
"The cure was destroyed two years ago. I've not been able to reproduce it. My partner, Sai Patel, was really responsible for creating the cure in the first place. If anyone can recreate it, it will be him."
"But you've never talked to him about that idea?"
"I didn't have a chance. Jaelyn was bringing him to me, where he could work without being oppressed by the government of Compound 2. Someone burned down my lab, though."
I look up, and he is glaring at me, his ears red. I bite my lip, thinking hard.
I need to stop the infected, and getting my hands on the cure may be the first step. If Patel is with Jaelyn, then I need to wait until she marches on us and go find Patel.
I storm back towards the elevator, rubbing my temples.
"Quinn! Why all the questions?" Dr. Price snaps at me, pressing his body against the bars, "What's happening up there?"
I push the button and ignore him, my energy sizzling out like water on hot pavement.
Back outside the Headquarter buildings, I sprint to Lexi's house, banging on the door as I suck in air. The living room lights come on, and a tiny, tear streaked face answers the door.
"Can I come in, Riley?" I ask, pleading. She nods, pushing the door open a little more. I hurry in, shutting and locking the door behind me.
"Why'd you lock it?" she asks in a small voice, wiping her nose on the back of her hand.
"It's late," I say, brushing a strand of hair out of her face, "I just want to keep you safe." She nods, satisfied with my answer. "Where is your sister?"
She jerks her head towards the dimly lit kitchen.
"How is she?" I whisper, taking her hand as she walks away.
"She's alright," Riley squeaks, "She's putting on a tough face."
Riley's maturity has always surprised me.
We walk into the kitchen, where Lexi is all but holding her sobbing mother in her lap, stroking the tiny woman's blonde hair with one hand and wiping her face with the other. I clear my throat as we approach, and Lexi looks up at me, giving me a sad smile.
Her eyes are bloodshot, swollen, and pink. Her nose is red, raw from being wiped too much. There's a pile of napkins of the table, crumbled and strewn everywhere. Her father's picture that always sits on the table has been laid face down. Her mother doesn't look up at me, crying silently in Lexi's lap.
The redhead holds her free hand out towards me, and I shake my head.
"We need to go," I whisper, heartbeat racing.
"What?" Lexi asks, shaking her head. Tears brim back up in her eyes. "Kovach said I had until morning. I won't go early."
"Please, just trust me. We have to go."
"No!" she yells, and her mother jumps up, looking at me in confusion. "I have tonight, Quinn."
Lexi's face is red with rage.
"Are you going to command me to? I dare you to try."
I grab her by the shoulder, shaking her hard. She winces, but the fire in her eyes continues.
"Stop acting like a child," I whisper furiously, "I'm trying to help you, idiot."
She swallows hard, shoving my hand off her shoulder.
"Like you helped me get in trouble?" she mumbles, standing up anyway. Rage builds up in me.
"Don't start," I say, heading towards the door again.
"This is all your fault," she spits, following me. I spin on my heels, towering over her for a moment. Something switches on in my head, and I snap, punching her in the nose. The pain from the impact radiates up my arm, and I step away from her, shaking my hand. Blood streams down her face, dripping onto the carpet.
Riley and her mom stand back in awe, gaping at the two of us.
Lexi's eyes go wide as she holds her nose, speechless.
"This isn't my fault," I growl, pointing at her, "This is Kovach's." I take a deep breath, bringing my shirt up to wipe the blood off her face. "Now, if you're done acting like a baby, we have to run."
"Run?" she asks, nasal through her pinched nose.
"You can't get on that truck in morning," I say, opening the door, "I can't protect you from what's out there, but I'll do everything I can to stop her from taking you away."
Discussion Question: So, this stressed out Q is a brand new side of him. Do you like it?
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Selected (Book 2 of the Immune Series)Science Fiction
"As far back as I can remember, I've been surrounded by water. The salt in the air even now makes it hard to breath, forcing me to squint. Sand clings to every inch of me, caking my pants and shoes. The wind from the ocean picks my hair up, sending...