Chapter Forty-One

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We kept running.

At this point, we were far from the city. There were trees around us, and I had yet to count how many people had made it out. All I knew was that there were people next to me, in front of me, and behind me. A few of them I recognized. Most I didn't.

And Grayson was dead.

The people ahead of me began to slow to a stop. People were falling into the snow. I stopped and tried to breathe. Nobody was following us, I knew that for certain. Grayson had taken care of that.

He'd sacrificed himself for us all.

I sat in the snow, and tried to wrap my mind around what I'd seen.

I didn't want to think about it. It was so hard to. I'd seen a lot since the snow had started, but nothing like that. It was horrifying.

It brought me back to my first death, my mom, and how she'd died in my arms. I wasn't sure why I was thinking of that now.

Asten was suddenly kneeling on the ground beside me. "Are you okay?" he asked. I wanted to ask him the same thing. He looked worse than I probably did. There was a cut on his forehead and he had been limping before kneeling next to me.

I just nodded. It wasn't true, but I'd have to be.

The sun was still nonexistent to the world, and the darkness made it difficult to tell how many people were with us. Already, Kyan was running around tending to those who needed it. He was helped by another girl, who I didn't recognize. She must have been from Grayson's group.

Mace was a couple feet away next to January who was clutching her arm. Everyone seemed to be in shock.

None of us were paying any attention to our surroundings.

"Watch out!" The scream came from somewhere nearby, but I couldn't tell who'd spoken. I looked up just as a bright light exploded from a vehicle above. We were exposed for the world to see, the cover of darkness swept away. Past the light, I could see a helicopter hovering in the air, its blades whirring to keep it flying.

Rope ladders fell from either side of the vehicle, and without a second to waste, people began filing out, one by one. All I could do was stare in awe, at a scene that seemed to be straight out of a movie screen. It felt surreal.

Helicopters weren't supposed to exist anymore.

We'd been through so much and now helicopters were here. They weren't supposed to be here. For a moment, nobody could do anything.

And then, everyone moved at once.

Everyone was running and hiding behind anything they could find. None of them were fast enough. I watched in horror as one by one, people were shot down with tranquilizers. Their faces fell flat against the snow. The only advantage I had was the snow itself; it was all over the place due to the helicopter blades creating a fog.

My mindset changed – I couldn't afford to be stuck standing in the middle. I was still unable to function properly, but I needed to. I needed to think.

If I didn't, Grayson's sacrifice would have been useless. Our escape would have been pointless.

The truck was nearby, but that would be their first target. They would know that we all would flock there. It was the closest thing to a safe zone that we had. Besides that, there were trees surrounding us which could only offer so much coverage.

But they would have to do.

I sprinted towards the nearest icy tree. I'd have to climb. They wouldn't expect me to be in the branches. I grabbed onto the trunk with my hands and feet, but immediately my boot slipped off. The bark was icy, and snow still hung on all the limbs. I let out a huff of air, and immediately pulled myself up the tree with more vigor. Fortunately, the tree I'd chosen had a solid low-hanging branch. I pulled myself up onto it. The snow seeped through my clothes, but it was better than being in the bloodbath of people below who were still being shot at. I could hear screams as our entire group fell. The air smelled metallic, like blood, even though there shouldn't have been any. A tranquilizer dart wouldn't be enough to tear into someone's skin.

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