This chapter was written by the outstanding ShaunAllan
"Who's going to handle this," Nick asked, unable to contain his excitement at the prospect of leading an interrogation.
"Not you," answered Abby. "You're not meant to be enjoying this."
"I wouldn't say enjoying it. But there's nothing wrong with having a little fun. There's enough misery in the world. I'm just trying to inject a smile here and there."
"Let's throw you into the Hunt and see what you get injected with there, shall we?"
"Chicken! There's no need to be so 'Abby-smal' about it!"
The man's next sound was of him coughing and swearing whilst kneeling on the dirt floor. Abby's punch to his stomach had come fast and hard, something he liked in other circumstances, and he had zero time to prepare himself for the impact. He wasn't swearing at his girlfriend, he was cursing himself. He knew well that she hated being called 'Chicken', as Darren had christened her, and any plays on her name, such as taking a 'c-Abby' or asking if she was sitting 'comfort-Abby' were usually met with a sneer and a whack to the arm. He guessed the current circumstances didn't really warrant jokes. Her punch, much harder than someone her size should be allowed to produce, was her agreement of that fact.
Abby was about to swing again, but Tony stepped in. He'd been watching the pair for a few moments and had witnessed the exchange. He liked them both, though he'd only known of the girl previously. The reports on her conviction to the cause were strong enough for him to trust her. When he'd met her, that trust was cemented. He was a sound reader of people's character. He knew those who lied to his face and those who would stand by him. The former, he kept close. He could keep an eye on them and feed them the information he needed to, to ensure no-one really knew what he was going on. The latter were, perhaps, the ones who suffered more. There was a glass door between him and them. One that was opened very rarely. It was safer that way. Attachments were dangerous. He would, when called for, feign relationships – to the point lovers were convinced their feelings were reciprocated – but the glass in his door was very thick, and it only opened from the inside.
Or, that's what Tony thought. He tried to tell himself that he was feeling a fatherly protection of the girl. His affections were a one-way train that definitely didn't leave from his station. He wanted to make sure she was OK, that was all. He wanted to ensure her safety, just as he did the rest of his team. No-one in the resistance was expendable. They risked their lives and the lives of those they cared for to join him. When they entered his wide embrace, so did their families. Tony stood by them all.
That's all he was doing with Abby. Besides, she was with Nick, a good soldier, a trusted teammate. Even, if anyone could be called such, a friend.
The pang he felt when they looked at each other was indigestion. The satisfaction he felt when he saw her punch her boyfriend was nothing more than the knowledge that he deserved the telling off.
Christ. Get a grip.
"Come on, children," he said. "Playtime is over. It's time to get back to the lesson in hand."
"Sorry," Abby said, lowering her head.
She had done everything to prove herself to Tony. She felt that she'd been welcomed into the inner circle and didn't want to find herself back running errands and following people, which usually meant hiding in alleyways to avoid the ever-present cameras and drones. She'd left that behind and wanted things to stay that way. Being in his presence made her stomach churn. He was the leader of the Resistance. Charismatic and, she supposed, handsome. Sexy, even.
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How much is a life worth? Or a death? In the near future, there's a brand new reality TV show. Played on every television screen across the planet, live streamed and binge watched, is The Hunt. In a world gripped by poverty and over population, The...