Here we are again, back to another update of Fortitude! This week Will's on his own... can he find Teddy and Wildman again? My update was inspired by the phrase: Time for some hard truths.
Fortitude Part Nine
Every sound made me tense as I picked my way across the flat landscape. There were bushes and low trees, but they made poor cover. As far as I could tell, I was alone in the long meadow before the edge of the city broke up the wild landscape, but I had only the light of the moon to guide me. The sounds of my ragged breath as I pushed my sore body to keep going were loud in my ears.
I’d never been truly alone like this. As much as I tried to grit my teeth and ignore it, the solitude wore on me like an ever-increasing burden, bending my shoulders and turning my steps into a trudge. I was lost in my fears of what the people could be doing to Teddy, a piss poor excuse for my stupidity, when two men jumped up—seemingly from solid ground.
I nearly fell over backward, stumbling back on a tuft of grass. I’d reached the edge of the city, walking for hours, without realizing it.
“Stop moving. Hands in the air.”
Crouching awkwardly, I put my hands. My heart pounded, and I cursed in my head. I was such a fucking idiot. Beta, indeed. I might as well have been a gamma for all I’d been paying attention. I’d been so focused on worrying about Teddy, I’d lost the opportunity to plan any type of a rescue, and now here I was, about to be captured, too.
Were they even the same people?
Was I about to die?
One of the men raised his weapon, pointing it right between my eyes. “We’re going to disarm you now. Don’t fight Grekor, or I’ll shoot you right where you stand,” he said. I believed him. His voice was hard, merciless.
My palm itched to reach for my pistol or sword, but I couldn’t hope to draw. All I’d accomplish would be getting shot. The comforting weight of my weapons lifted away as the second soldier, Grekor, cautiously took my weapons while staying out of line with the barrel of the rifle holding me in place.
Scenarios ran through my mind, but I kept my silence, refusing to answer their questions. I braced myself for blows when Grekor yanked my hands down and behind my back, sure his friend was about to convince me to comply with several judicious blows to the kidneys, but all I felt was rough cloth as I was bound.
I didn’t expect the blindfold. “No!” Were they going to shoot me? I began to fight to get away but a rifle butt to my stomach doubled me over, gasping and sucking for air I couldn’t draw inside. My vision disappeared, the knot pulling my hair.
Grekor, I assumed, hauled me upright. “Stop fighting us.” Fighting? I couldn’t breathe! I choked. “You’ll be fine. Just relax and try to take a shallow breath.” I struggled to do what he said.
“You didn’t have to hit him so hard, Daniel.”
“He’ll be fine. Did you want to chase after him? Our shift is almost over, and I’m tired.”
“Speaking of the devil. Hey Marq, Addy. Glad you’re early today.”
“What do you have there?” New voices came from behind us. My breathing finally came back, though my stomach throbbed, while they talked. I listened as close as I could. Whoever had me was organized. Advanced sentries, rotating shifts, those spoke of organization. They had weapons—good ones—and I smelled a whole hell of a lot worse than they did since I hadn’t bathed in days. The implications of all that sank in.
They marched me ahead of them, guiding me without letting me run into anything. The path was smooth and went up and down, without us climbing any steps or having to deal with broken cobbles or slippery mud, even though it rained the night before. I desperately wished I wasn’t blindfolded.
We were either headed for their superiors or a prison cell—possibly both. At first I tried to remember all the turns and directions, but even with my brain, I was soon hopelessly muddled.
I never, ever, expected to see Teddy as soon as the blindfold came off.
“Will!” He lunged toward me, our bodies colliding together. I stared at him; he looked okay, though his face was scraped up. He had a bandage across one side of his forehead. “I was so worried about you,” he said. “We lost you.”
They lost me? They’d been taken!
Wildman was there, too, but his arms were bound, like mine.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, we’re okay. But, Will, it’s amazing. There’s a whole other group of people out here. Ones who’ve never lived in a city.”
I frowned. “That’s not possible.”
A woman laughed. I turned my head, but stayed in Teddy’s arms. I hadn’t looked anywhere but at him since they took off my blindfold. We were in a room that looked like a small study; there was even a fireplace.
An old woman sat in a chair beside the fire, a multi-colored blanket across her legs. “More things are possible than even your mind can perceive, young beta. I believe it’s time for some hard truths.” Teddy led me over to her. Wildman stayed in a corner, crouched under guard who stayed within arm’s reach of him.
Two guards stayed by the door, but they watched us closely.
“Anna, this is Will. Will, this is their matriarch, Anna.” Manners dictated I take her hand but mine were bound. In respect for her age, if nothing else, I gave her a polite bow of my head.
She held up gnarled fingers and pointed to a small padded bench in front of her. “Sit down, young man, and let’s see how many lies we can unveil… and if you’re capable of seeing the truth.”
Oooh, a whole new society... and what kind of lies does Anna think need to be untold? More next week! Now go check out the other Briefer's updates: