Sixty-Eight - Linkin

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The labs were empty. There wasn't a single sign of life in the basement. A thin layer of dust covered the countertops, but whoever was here left in a hurry. Computers were still on, fridges still contained all their research along with cabinets full of folders. Ira seemed disappointed that no one was around, but I was thrilled to finally have my hands on some documents which could actually lead to something. I could hear Stuart down the hallway, smashing vials, getting ready to burn everything as I quickly started to scan documents into memory.

We didn't have much time, knowing we would have to catch up with Thierry and Ira soon and their sweep of the surface. Just because the scientists were gone, it didn't mean the experiments were over. We had to make sure anyone on the surface would be able to get out of here and realize the danger they were really in.

It would take me months to get through all the information, we didn't have that time. "How are you doing, Linkin?" Stuart was calling out.

I cursed. I was out of time. "I need two minutes to just grab some files." I changed my plans, deciding to just pull the hard drive of the computer and hoped it had something usable on it. I had names, dates, all stored in my head, but so far it didn't make a lot of sense. There was still no direct answer of who was controlling the lab.

It was exactly two minutes later before Stuart was popping his head in the door, "Come on, we need to go now. I don't like this, Linkin," he said anxiously.

He was the one person to think it was a bad idea to split up, but that had been the plan all along. The surface was safe, there was no one up there who wanted to attack us except Desmond, and I assumed he wouldn't be left behind. "Ya, I'm coming," I nodded, holding out the hard drive to him, "Throw this in your bag and no matter what, this gets out of here over everything else. Got it?"

Stuart's eyes went wide but nodded as he reached out and took it, opening his mail carrier bag and slid it in with a few other documents he had taken. "What is it?"

"Hopefully answers, now come on." He was the one rushing me, I didn't have time to have a Q and A session.

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It was strange remembering my way through the halls trying to get back to the surface through the hospital. "I don't like this," Stuart was staying as I kept my gun raised as I turned every corner knowing the area was cleared. He had one in his hand, too, but I knew that he was relying on me.

"It's fine."

"They wouldn't just leave. I'm telling you something is wrong."

I rolled my eyes and ignored him as I pushed open the door to the stairs, safer than an elevator. "Just keep quiet, we'll be back with Ira soon and you'll see she's fine." I assumed all of his protests were nothing but anxiety with being back on the island.

We broke the surface and I took a deep breath of the salty air. The sun was just starting to rise as my eyes scanned the familiar area. The first thing I noticed was marks in the grass, places where the earth had been squished in a way which was different than someone walking. "Stay behind me," I said cooly and kept my gun raised as we walked.

It was quiet, even here there was no sign of life - not even Thierry or Ira. "L-Linkin," Stuart stuttered. Bringing a finger to my mouth, I attempted to shush him as he carefully touched my lower back, "Linkin," he tried again, raising a shaking finger to a boat which was taking off from the beach.

"Shit," I cursed before breaking into a full sprint to the sand.

Things had gone terribly wrong. "So you must be Valentina," I didn't recognize the woman who spoke. She had blonde hair, manicured nails, and a gun in her hand, resting on the back of Thierry's skull. "We never had the pleasure to meet, you escaped before I could introduce myself. I'm Doctor A."

My jaw tightened and I slowly scanned the surrounding area. I couldn't see anyone else, but that didn't mean there was any. We were at the point where the forest turned into the shore, there were a plethora of hiding places. "Where's Ira?" I hissed.

"Put the gun down, and I'll take you to her." It was an offer which I had no intention of listening to.

I kept my gun trained on her, but my eyes continued to scan the area. "Here's a life lesson for you Liana, don't threaten me or my boyfriend." My rifle quickly shifted and I let off one shot. There was a muffled cry of pain before all hell broke loose.

Ten men dressed in full military equipment stepped out from the woods and started to shoot. I only had enough time to shove Stuart to the side and into the bush, but I heard him scream in pain. Thierry took the distraction of me ducking to cover with Stuart to react. I didn't see what happened, just knew a moment later he was sprinting to where we were, blood spatter on his face and a gun in hand.

"Stop shooting!" It was Liana calling out.

I let out a breath as I tried to hear myself think over my racing heart. "Tina, you okay?" Thierry asked panicked, placing a quick hand to my arm.

I nodded, glancing from behind a tree and fired a few shots, they were getting into an attack formation. Curling up behind the tree, Stuart groaned as he gripped his stomach, blood seeped from between his fingers. "Thierry, get him out of here."

"We're not leaving you," he snapped in protest as Stuart rolled onto his side and let out another cry. He nodded weakly, agreeing with Thierry.

Ira was gone, Stuart was quickly bleeding out - we didn't have many options. "They won't shoot me. I'm too valuable. I'll buy time."

My eyes locked onto Thierry's brown ones and for the first time ever, he looked terrified. "Tina, don't do this..." he was begging me, "We'll get Ira back another way. We can shoot our way out of this."

The sound of clicking as bullets came into the chamber of the soldiers signalled we were out of time to argue, "I'll meet you at the boat." I told him, "I'll catch up, Stuart's going to slow you down anyways. I'll probably beat you there." I said with a nervous smile as I leaned in and placed a peck on his lips, "I love you, I-"

Shaking his head, Thierry moved to take Stuart into his arms, "Don't, this isn't goodbye." There was a long pause before Thierry nodded and stood, causing him to gasp in pain. "I'll see you at the boat, Linkin. Buy us a minute then start running."

Thierry took off at the same time I jumped out from behind the tree. I didn't even get out half a clip before they started shooting back. It was a blur of reflexes and loud bangs. I knew I had killed at least three of them, but when the first bullet hit me, I barely felt it hit my chest. My eyes flickered down, wondering how bad the wound was and if I dared to continue buying time.

I was right, I was too valuable. An unnatural tingling sensation started in my left arm and quickly worked across my body. Breathing became more difficult as I reached a trembling hand up and pulled a dart with white feathers out of my chest.

Stumbling back into the woods, the dart effects were acting quickly. I had problems focusing as the world spun. I bounced between the trees, gripping onto the bark to keep myself upright, but I couldn't even feel my feet on the ground anymore. "T-Thier-Thierry," my call for help was no more than a whisper as I felt myself slip. My eyes fluttered closed and when they opened again, I was face down in the dried foliage of the forest floor. My hearing was gone, lost to ringing that consumed my mind. I could only hear muffled calls which I could only pray was Thierry coming back for me.

My eyes fluttered one last time, my entire body both numb and weightless. Stuart was right; we never should have come back to the island.

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