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The ringing in Skye's ears seemed to go on and on. Without her hearing, she relied on her eyes. Most people were still, wincing at the pain the sound caused. Only the police moved, pulling people off the brawl until they reached Calvin, Tony, and Pete.

Though the three men were beaten, they weren't hurt as badly as Skye would have thought, or hoped. They could still stand when she could not.

On the other hand, it was a testimony to the men beating on them. Yes, they were angry but not murderous. They wanted the prisoners' final judgment and punishment to come through official channels.

As soon as the crowd's hearing began to return, Judge Munson called the room to order. Skye wiggled herself up higher on the wall she leaned against, holding her stomach and groaning as she did so. With a battered stomach on her front and bruised kidneys on her back, there was little she could do to find a comfortable way to sit.

"Darlin', let me take you out to the Doc." Dylan rose in preparation to help her up.

"No, I want to see this. It's important for me and Jesse." Skye wasn't sure how she looked but could tell from Dylan's expression, it wasn't good. "Please, Dylan, I need to."

When he hesitated, looking over at the doctor, who hovered at the door, Skye said, "Well, I'm not leaving. You wouldn't either, don't try to tell me any different."

"The second he's done talkin', I'm taking you outta here, you got that?" Dylan said, using his most adamant voice.

"Yes, sir," Skye said playing along.

"Umm, I'm trainin' you right."

Skye snickered and slapped his arm, then winced. "Shut up."

Dylan laughed as he sat down behind Skye and wrapped his arms around her, providing support for her. He kissed her neck and then murmured in her ear, "I mean it. I'm worried about you."

"I know." Skye lay her head back on his chest as she waited for the judge to begin.

Judge Munson tapped his papers and cleared his throat. All eyes turned to him. Skye was so anxious to hear what he had to say she found herself holding her breath and forced herself to take some long, slow breaths.

"For some men to be labeled human would be an inaccurate term. And so it is with you," the judge said, "Often when men have committed inhumanities, they are called animals. But this court would even hesitate to call you that. Because many times I have seen animals with more concern for their own, and others, than the three of you have had for your own kind.

"But you walk like men, you talk like men, you have the semblance of men and as such, you will be judged.

"If this AgFlu is a plague then your kind are the scourge that came behind it. Your own words have condemned you. You have visited death upon others, and now it comes for you.

"The humanity in me abhors the taking of any life, it says to leave these men alive. Yet their victims cry out for justice in any way possible. And for them, I declare these men guilty.

"The Good Book says, "If a man injures his fellow man, then what he has done should be done to him. Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, the same sort of injury he inflicted should be inflicted on him. And if a man takes a human life, he should be put to death without fail. You will not feel sorry, life shall be for life.

"I will heed its advice. I will not be sorry. You are hereby sentenced to death by firing squad.

"Further, I will stay for the execution. I need to know that the three of you no longer walk the face of this earth. May God have mercy on your souls for I cannot."

Once the verdict was read, Skye nodded at Dylan. When he picked her up, she collapsed laying her head against his shoulder. "It's over. It's really over."

Dylan glanced down at her, compressing his lips into a thin line before he gruffly said, "It ain't over til they're dead."

It didn't take long for the execution to be completed. Skye was patched up and laying in bed when she heard the gunshots and she knew, without being told, it was done.

Later, when the men arrived there was an air about them. As if they were relieved that a long, arduous task was over. It was then that she realized the dark, angry cloud of this had hung over Dylan and Wade, as much as her and Jesse, since that day on the road.

On that day, Dylan had declared he and Wade would kill the three criminals, and he had been right. Although Skye knew someone had needed to help Tom execute the three murderers, she wished it hadn't been them.

It was then she had stilled, a deep chill coming over her. Dylan had urged her to let him go after the three men on the day they had attacked her and Jesse. He had said they would continue to hurt other people. She hadn't listened, had disregarded it all.

But Dylan had been right. They had continued to track her and Jesse from the highway to Colton. Barbarton, the town that had suffered their most severe cruelties, sat between the two. If Dylan had his way, Barbarton would still be untouched.

But he didn't have his way, because I insisted I knew better.

A flame of guilt started to engulf her from the inside. She was already responsible for one death, the girl in the trunk. One death that she could never atone for, no matter how much good she did in this world.

Her eyes wide, Skye clenched the grey blanket that covered her, huddling under it but finding no sanctuary there.

How many people were in Barbarton? How many lives am I responsible for now?

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