XXV: There Can Be No Tears

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Warning: Graphic Violence, Major Character Death

Holland Valley West
Moments later...

"Hold on!" Hurk shouted to get her attention, and she felt the vehicle jut forward when he stomped on the gas.

In any normal situation she might not have entrusted Hurk Drubman Jr. to take the wheel, but if anyone could navigate an off-road course in an old pickup through Hope County, it was him. Not that she'd take away driving expertise from Jacob, but they needed to get away and fast, so they all climbed in and tore away from the aviation center.

Diana squeezed the rail on the roof of the pickup in a fierce, white-knuckled grip to keep steady when they drove away. The final words of Eli Palmer haunted her still, a fresh wound cutting her deep, losing him emblazoned in her mind. Rushing away from the Rye's home forced her to leave Eli's body behind. However, she had assurance from Nick that they'd take care of things, she knew she had to keep moving forward. Eli would have wanted that... he told her as such, before he passed.

Clearing the gate just seconds ago, they sped away from the Rye's homestead to the north and took a hard left onto the main road. Passing the body of the shooter, she felt her body run hot at the eagle-eyed view Hudson must've had from her vantage point. She was sure they were on the path to John's old bunker, the compound Hudson claimed as her own. The Iron Fortress.

"There, up ahead!" Hurk announced. The engine revved when he stepped on the gas, intent to get them closer.

Immediately, Diana locked onto the truck in front of them. By her count, there were three onboard, the driver and one soldier posted in the truck bed. The vacant spot in the bed meant they'd left one behind, the man shot by Jacob for taking out Eli. There was a figure in the front seat, their only features spotted at this distance was a head of dark hair, and the cuff of a green sleeve holding onto the car door outside of the window...

That's gotta be her...

No matter how much Hurk was gunning it, following the twisted path carved out by the fleeing truck, they were still too far. Diana couldn't get a clear shot on it if she tried. She needed to mind her ammo, but more importantly needed to get closer. Diana pounded her palm on the roof to spur them on. They even veered onto a dirt road and shot through some of the trees to try for a shortcut.

They were close to their target for a time, almost running parallel from Hudson's getaway. Once they maneuvered back onto the main road, Diana pulled her gun and took aim, firing two shots. A little off-target, one sank into the side of the truck, while the other busted the driver's side window.

She grunted at the miss, watching as the enemy convoy darted up ahead.

"Hold on!"

Hurk did his best to avoid rockier stretches that would cause more turbulent riding, but most importantly he was good at steering through the thick of it all, as not to crash directly into the trees. He swerved away from the hillsides, which might have thrown Diana from the truck bed if she wasn't holding on for dear life. Everything clenched tight, she ducked her head slightly when the front rail of the truck blasted through the barricade at the security gate. Wood and metal pieces flew in every direction, exploding outward and away and they kept on driving.

"Get DOWN!" Jacob shouted, tucking into the truck from the passenger window.

Diana had a split-second to react, ducking down in the truck bed, when suddenly a loud BOOM thundered to their right.

"Fuck me! MORTARS?!" Diana hollered, keeping her head down.

"Woooo! Good morning, Hope County!"

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