Had Jackson planned for this much interruption? She didn’t want to wait to find out.
Lina had lost physical contact with her team while she dealt with — with whatever that was. She grabbed for the nearest hands – Dylan and Jackson – turned, pulled a shield over them, and hurried down the path towards the exit.
She counted to a hundred in her head, all of them walking the fastest they could manage, before she asked Ethan “Why?” She hoped he could follow the rest of the question, because she wasn’t sure she could vocalize it, especially since he hadn’t vocalized much of what she was asking about.
“Because I thought – I had suspicions about my aunts – but I always told myself people were just really into the Organization. But if they can – that’s not what Dylan’s dad does. I mean, it’s close – Sorry, Dylan-“
“Neh,” Dylan shrugged, “my dad is a cult leader. I mean, my dad is a cult leader. Everything else is pretty chill after that.”
“Hey, kids,” someone called. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the gathering?”
“Wait, I have an idea.” Dylan pulled out his phone and thumbed through while they kept walking fast. “Dad? Dad, I’m with Lina and you said – she says you said that you wouldn’t stop us, but we’re getting beset by people who’ve been listening to Ethan’s aunts. Can you help? ‘Cause there’s a power plant that’s going to blow any minute now….”
Lina couldn’t hear the other end of the conversation, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to, either.
“Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. She saved our lives. Twice. At least twice, really. That mob, Dad, they were pissed. I thought I was going to die. I really did.” For a moment, Dylan’s face and voice were way too naked.
“Kids!” someone shouted.
“Dad, she can do this – we can do this – I know we can, but we have to get out of the campsite and everyone thinks you don’t want us to leave. I thought, I thought you told Lina you wouldn’t stop us?”
A long silence. Then he nodded. “All right. Thanks, Dad. And, ah.” His voice shifted. “As Catalina Bosch’s representative, I thank you as the leader of the Organization.”
He hung up. “Dad’ll fix it. He says We’ll Talk About This Later… but he also said…” He hesitated and then huffed quietly. “He said ‘if you’re hers now, if she marked you, then I expect you to do me proud as my son and to serve the one who you swore to with everything you have and in balance with the way she has already shown she will protect you.’ Which is, uh. Which is the most he’s ever said to me about doing him proud so, um, I guess you saving my life has another perk?”
“I’m glad.” Lina glanced behind them.
There were seven, no, eight people calling out “Kids?” and coming closer and closer. They sounded like some ridiculous ducks or something, none of them saying anything else. But those ducks could cause serious problems right now.
“I hope your dad hurries, though. This is looking a little nuts.”
“You can’t just walk out of the park!” called someone else, coming at them from the side. Lina pushed up her shield again and wrapped it all the way around the four of them. “There are rules to be followed! Children need to be protected, to follow and not to lead!”
At least it wasn’t just ‘Kids.’ Still.
“Getting a little tired of this ‘children’ bullshit,” Lina muttered. She lifted up her voice. “We have all the permission we need to leave here, and all the permission you need to let us go. I’d suggest not trying to stop us. There is a tsunami of force coming soon, and it will need to be stopped. Go to the far side of the park. You’ll be safer on the other side of the hill; the crest will help protect you. Go there and sit quietly and meditate alone; that will help you avoid the power surge. Go on, hurry. We have to hurry, too.”
“You should go that way, too,” someone persisted. “You need to be protected!”
“We’ll be safely under cover, I assure you. But you need to get to the far side of the park.”
A few people listened. A few more kept coming. Lina increased her pace a little more. She hoped Jackson had allowed for this in his scheduling.
“Meditate alone?” Ethan muttered. “I mean, far side of the park, too?”
“Well, there’s actually a chance that will protect them if my shield doesn’t work,” Lina pointed out. “Because the power is more or less like water. It could shelter them.”
“And meditate alone?”
“Harder to form a mob when you’re sitting in a cabin listening to your thoughts. Harder to tackle us and drag us to reeducation, too. And, well, it might help them break free from the control. And that would be good for them and for me.”
“You thought through all of that?” Dylan was staring at her.
“Not really,” she admitted. “Not at first. I thought about ‘peace might help, go away’ with the first two and then I worked out the rest of it as I went. I am just good at figuring out the reasons sometimes afterwards.”
“Not bad.” He smiled crookedly at her. “You’d make a good politician. Figure out things first and then come up with a reason later.”
“Yep.” She popped the p. “I have no intention of being a politician, though. I’m going to leave that to other people, to people who want to be politicians. I just want to, you know…” She gestured with both hands.
“Save the world?” Ethan put in.Want more?