Gideon looks around the large hangar he had been ushered out into. The black floor glistens against the overhead lights. The walls are lined with an array of Coalition hovercrafts, several of which are severely damaged. A few repair teams are piecing together one of the decrepit engines, while another team is putting out the fires on the ship Gideon had just arrived in. Under different circumstances, Gideon would be ecstatic. He was a big fan of everything mechanical, thanks to his father’s interest and work with all sorts of machinery.
“Wow,” Gideon whispers to himself after admiring his surroundings.
“Truly remarkable, isn’t it?” Hayes whispers to Gideon as she approaches him. Nodding to the soldier who had guided Gideon out, she continues in a louder voice, “If you’d follow me, Mister Lennox.”
“Alright,” Gideon nods. He looks around once again and takes in a slow breath. Despite the thrill of being in such a setting, he couldn’t shake a sense of intimidation.
“Gideon?” Hayes calls back after she takes several strides.
“Sorry,” Gideon apologizes shyly, realizing the Commander had started off without him. His head bowed sheepishly, Gideon closes the distance between him and Hayes.
“Gideon,” Hayes starts a few beats after they exit the hangar.
“Yes?” Gideon asks once he notices that she was awaiting his response.
“I won’t be able to accompany you too much longer,” Hayes continues with a perplexed look on her face. She guides him through another doorway before she mutters, “I need you to tell my daughter that I love her and that I miss her.”
“I’m sure she knows that,” Gideon remarks with a stifled chuckle. Why would she like me to tell her that, out of all things? Gideon thinks, bemused, Everyone knows their parents love them… right? And why is she telling me to tell her daughter that she loves her again? I got the message the first time.
“I mean it,” Hayes assures him with a flat voice as she gives Gideon a stern look.
“And I need you to tell her something else,”
“What is it?”
“That I’m coming for her,”
“You’re coming for her?” Gideon asks, alarmed. If the Commander came after her daughter, she would undoubtedly be landing herself in a world of hurt.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Hayes smiles slightly, “Yes, that would put me on the Coalition’s hit list. But they came after my family first.”
“But what about the rest of your family?” Gideon asks, concerned.
Hayes doesn’t immediately reply, and she instead stares ahead down the long hallway they are still marching down. She purses her lips and makes the most textbook perplexed look Gideon had ever seen. Her jaw flexes slightly as she assumedly thinks through her response. After several moments, Hayes finally replies, “I can get them all out of harm’s way, all I need is for you to give Sylvia the red flashlight I put in your pack once you are on the other side of the wall. She’ll know what to do from there.”
“Flashlight, got it,” Gideon nods as he glances over to the Commander. She looks surprisingly calm for how strained her voice had sounded.
“I’m putting a lot of faith in you, Gideon,” Hayes reminds him. She stops him and searches his eyes in earnest before she adds, “The life of my daughter, and the rest of my family, is in your hands.”
“Not to mention your life too,” Gideon points out. Sighing, he chuckles before muttering, “No pressure.”
“If I die, I die,” Hayes sounds resolutely as she fixes her gaze ahead once more and resumes her march. Gideon races after her and has to speed walk to match her brisk pace.
Grimacing, Gideon asks, “Isn’t that a little morbid?”
“Those are the words of a brave woman who saved her people many centuries ago,” Hayes replies, “It may be morbid, but it’s fitting for the moment.”
Gideon is about to say something, but he can’t think of a good response to the Commander. The woman that the Commander had just referenced was from the Bible, and even the mention of the Good Book was enough to have you killed. In fact, the mere mentioning of just about every aspect of Christianity had been banned generations ago. But that didn’t stop Christians like Gideon and his family.
In lieu of large corporate gatherings that would be raided, small groups had been started in secret all over. Gideon’s family had been a part of one of these groups for just as many generations now. In fact, Gideon’s grandfather had been a pastor up until he died, and Gideon’s parents were quite active in their illegal congregation as well. Thanks to Hayes’s reference, Gideon feels like he is in good company. Nodding for his own sake, Gideon prays a quick prayer of thanks and sighs deeply as a feeling of peace washes over him.
Gideon and Hayes continue down the hall for a few more seconds before Hayes abruptly stops at a large set of doors. Gideon stumbles to a stop beside her and she nods to him reassuringly. Pursing her lips, Hayes taps on a small panel beside the doors and they open up revealing a very large room.
In a stunning moment of clarity, Matthew declares, “I’m sure everything will work out for us as it did for Esther.”
“I knew I read you right,” Hayes smiles at Gideon. She scans those inside the room and is about to say something else when two guards step in front of her.
Holding up a small device, one of the guards tells Hayes, “Director Stone has an urgent message that needs to be hand-delivered to the Governor of Providence.”
“You, come with me,” Another instructs Gideon with a wave.
Gideon glances over his shoulder and sees Hayes getting ushered away and he frowns. I just hope Sylvia is on the level too, Gideon thinks to himself as he turns to look at the congregation before him. Assembled directly in front of him there are a lot of teens that appear to be about Gideon’s age. Standing between Gideon and the others there is a small group of adults. One of them, a woman, is dressed in a grey uniform that makes her stick out against the sea of plain blue uniforms and green camouflage fatigues.
“Stalwarts,” The woman in grey sounds in a booming voice. The teens all seem to flinch, if only slightly, at her call.
Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad is that this is all I have right now. The good news is that you can pick up some of my books on Amazon and that I’ll have another chapter out soon!
Is that Chapter Nine? Well, it can’t hurt to check out, right?