Chapter Thirty-Eight

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She had so many questions.

"Mom, how did—how did you survive?"

"Charles, an old friend saved me. I understand you two know each other."

"Yeah, he--uh, he helped us after the attack on the mountain but then he turned us over to Abby."

"Well I'm sure he didn't know that she was a bad person. Trust me, Charles is one of the good guys."

Rachel pursed her lips. Maybe he was one of the good guys but he was still crazy.

It had been surprising how fast the outsiders had cleared the room once Nicolas was dead, once their quench for blood had been sated.

Only one remained, the bald African woman, standing guard by the door to ensure that Corina was indeed shut off as promised. 

A team of outsiders had removed Nicolas' body and now only a stain of red on the marble floors remained. Guilt wrapped its fingers around her heart. She wondered again why she'd cried over him.

But the guilt she felt was the guilt of someone who was glad a person had died. Guilt for feeling only happiness even when he had given his life for her.

Rachel jerked away from the blood to look at Hector who was sitting on a stool across from her. She reached for his hand and clasped it tightly in her own like a lifeline.

Dr. Everest was attending to Hector's wounds while Ruth worked behind her to remove the chip from her spine.

"While I was leading the poachers away from you, Charles found me and killed them all." Ruth continued. 

A reel of scenes played in Rachel's mind, one after the other, making it difficult to focus. With direction from her, the poachers now went through the streets, gathering up their dead monotonously. While she still had Corina inside her, she took advantage of it by searching a thousand snapshots for any sign of Juan, Yalina, of Michael and Debra. 

So far, she hadn't found any.

"Crazy old man." Hector huffed. Dr. Everest placed a bandage over his chest.

"It's a clean entry and exit wound; some type of laser burn but you'll be okay. The muscle might not heal the same after this but--"

"It's okay, Doc. S'long as I'm alive that's all that matters. Thank you."

Rachel squeezed Hector's hand in agreement. The Dr. tipped his chin.

"I'm going to go see where I'm needed. I'm sure there are many wounded."

"Thank you, Dr. Everest. Thank you so much."

He smiled at her and Rachel followed him with her eyes until he'd exited the room. Without Dr. Everest saving her when he had she couldn't help but cringe at the thought of how differently things could have turned out for everyone.

Her dead. Nicolas still ruling, his dictatorship never-ending. Endless blood spilled.

"Hold still." Ruth commanded. 

"Wait." Rachel said. "Wait. I need to do one last thing before you take it out."

"What is it?"

"It's Juan. I need to send out a message." She cleared her throat. "Corina, have Juan Hernandez, Yalina Rodriguez and Debra..." What was her last name?

"McDonald." Hector finished for her. 

"Debra McDonald report to the um, White House, right away."

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