Chapter 34

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Cassia's point of view:

As I sit at on one of the benches by the bonfire some people set up, exhaustion hits me full force. I am only allowed a five minute break three times a day, and this is the last one I have for today. Ever since the barrier shattered and was unable to be replaced, we're at risk now more than ever. There are more people injured now than there are people healthy. Twenty-three people are ok to move about camp and do as they please; thirty-three still remain scattered in the few healing tents we have. It is the healers' jobs to tend to them as best we can, but we can't do everything. Some of our patients are looking death right in the face, and there's nothing we can do for them. There are limits to this power.

It only makes things worse now that Julia's gone. I don't know how she is, or even if she's alive. All I have that she left behind is her feeling of absence. I miss her so much. It's gotten better now that I have Susan back, but it's always been the three of us. Nothing is the same anymore.

I sigh and begin to gather myself as I head back to the healing tents. Break time is over, doctoring resumes. "Cassia!" Someone yells. I turn over my shoulder only to see Peter running towards me. "What? What is it?" I ask. When he reaches me, he gets this sad smile as he begins to explain. "I fell asleep, and I dreamed about Julia." I drop my head as his statement only makes me sadder. "Wonderful," I say with false enthusiasm. "No, it wasn't a dream I did on my own! She caused me to dream about her so she could talk to me. She's using the power of dreams!" He exclaims.

"That's impossible," I say in complete disbelief. "No, it's true! She's using the power of dreams to talk to us. She asked about the rescue plan, gave me a brief overview about what life is like in the prisons, and then ended the dream. I'm not making this up!" He begs.

Looking at him, I see truth in his words and a plea for me to believe him. "You're sure it's not just something your imagination created out of you missing her?" I question. "If it was, I wouldn't be telling you," he snaps. Her absence sure has made you irritable.

Immediately, his face softens at his rude comment. "I'm sorry, I just need you to believe that I'm not lying-" his voice is cut off by the sound of snapping twigs and bushes rustling.

Then, something strange happens. A woman, someone I've never seen before, emerges from the foliage out of breath and tired. It is then when I see the Council symbol on her uniform.

"We're under siege from the Council again!" Someone in the background yells. I turn to see about ten people ready themselves to use their powers against her. "Wait!" Peter yells as even I am about to run for cover.

He takes a step forward, evaluating this new person. It scares me how quickly he knows someone without actually knowing them. Peter approaches her as I would walk towards a rattlesnake; slowly and full of caution, ready to flee at the slightest sound or movement. I've never seen this woman before; she looks middle-aged, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail while blue eyes stare intently back at Peter.

"I'm not here to hurt anyone. My name is Willa, and I come with news from your friend Julia," she says in a cautioning tone. Peter evaluates her a second longer, then drops his gaze. He looks back at me with a pained expression. "Go get Adam, Susan, and Kyle. I think they should hear this," he orders.

***********************

It is a few minutes later when myself, Adam, Peter, Susan, Kyle, and the healthy people of camp are sitting by the fire to hear what Willa has to say.

"Her powers are gone," she begins. Sounds of disbelief and shock are uttered in hushed tones among the crowd. "Julia is defenseless, and they know about your rescue plan. They've moved up her execution date in three days, and if you can't make it by then, she's done for," Willa explains.

Willa scans the crowd for a minute until her eyes land on Adam. "I remember you from when you used to serve as a member of the Council. Julia told me that you were basically the leader here now, so I put this statement to you. Can you get everything you need done in time?" She asks.

"It seems we must, so we will," Adam answers confidently, determined not to let his plan fail. "Very well," she answers. "I must be getting back now. Night approaches us, and it's the only thing that conceals me as I travel back to the city. And Adam, the people of both sides are scared and confused. It will not take much to convince them to help. They're looking for someone to lead them again," Willa says to Adam as she begins to leave. Then, she disappears back into the woods without another word.

People begin to disperse back to their regular stations as if nothing happened, but Peter, Adam, Susan, Kyle, and I do not move. "Three days," Adam utters. "I thought we'd have more time," he adds. "Then it just makes us that much more determined to save her," Susan offers. Peter, however, says nothing. I can't imagine how he feels, the one person he's ever truly loved is sentenced to die, and failure is not an option.

"Well, tomorrow I'll visit my sisters to start building the bombs. Then the day after that is when Peter and I will travel to the two sides to convince them to join us. On the third day, our plan will be in motion," Adam says. "What do you want us three to do?" Susan asks, gesturing to herself, Kyle, and I. "I'm going to need Susan to come with me when I talk to the dark side; her power might be the only thing to soothe the people if things go bad. Are you up to that?" Peter asks Susan. "Of course; besides, it's at least a change of scenery. No offense Adam, but I'm starting to get sick of this place," she says. "None taken," Adam responds.

"Cassia and Kyle, you two can come with me to talk to the good side. Healers have an aura of calmness about them, so it may convince the people to listen," Adam offers. "You got me on board. I'm really tired of being a doctor around here," I say, not caring about what I said of my responsibilities. "Alright. Kyle?" Adam asks. "I'll go," he says, although he looks disappointed that he won't be getting to spend the day with Susan. I guess I can't blame him though. He took care of her for almost two weeks, so he's protective of her now.

"So it's settled," Adam says. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do one last check of what we got at the library. I want to see if there's anything else that might help," he adds. "You've looked through that stuff a thousand times! If you haven't found anything else helpful, what makes you think you will now?" Susan protests.

It is then when I remember something: after Julia was nearly killed at the library, she was out for a while. When I was checking her blood pressure, I noticed that something was slipping out of one of her pockets. I pulled it out, and it was a jump drive. A piece of tape was stuck on the top of it with the title "Secrets and plans." It wasn't in Julia's handwriting, so I knew it was from the library. I had meant to give it to Adam a long time ago, but it must have slipped my mind. I reach into the pocket of my sterile white doctor's coat and pull it out.

"Would this be of use?" I ask as I hold it out to Adam. "Where did you get this?" He asks, gently taking it from my hand. "I found it with Julia a couple weeks ago while she was passed out from the library. I know I should have given it to you earlier, but I had forgotten about it," I say, my face turning red at my fault. "No, don't blame yourself. This is perfect timing!" Adam says cheerfully. "I'm going to go hook this up. The rest of you gather your things for tomorrow's journey. I'll see you all in the morning," he adds. Then, he disappears inside his tent to comb through the contents of the jump drive.

"He must really love technology," Kyle says. "You have no idea," Susan answers with a smile. Peter looks at the two of them with a sad look on his face, no doubt the two of them bringing back memories of Julia and himself. "Goodnight everyone," Peter says as he leaves.

Susan looks back to me with a concerned look. "Is he ok? Did I do something wrong?" She asks. I drop my head and laugh a little at her ignorance. "What?" She demands. "You two remind him of the memories he shared with Julia," I say with a slight smile. Both Susan and Kyle's faces turn red, and I choose that as a good time to leave the campfire. Not being able to resist the urge, I say with a broad smile, "I'm going to give you guys some alone time." "CASSIA!" I hear Susan shout, thoroughly embarrassed by my comment.

I just laugh as I head back to the healers' tents. Even though we're all still teenagers, we've had to grow up a lot to take on the responsibilities that are demanded around here; but it was nice to feel like old times again, even if was only for a moment.

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