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Previous installments in the series:
Ava Calcagno ran at breakneck speed. They’d been running for hours and her team was exhausted and on the verge of collapse. But she could not stop. She had to get there.
Her gas mask was inundated with moisture making her view obscured; but she dare not take it off within these tunnels. The idea of being infected with anything the rats and other vermin carried within these crumbling concrete walls was unsettling. And she had no time to stop and breath.
Her brown hair was plastered to her skull underneath her black wool hat in a matted mess as she halted her team of five at a junction in the tunnel. Her GPS tracker failed to pick up any signal down here and the impasse they faced was detrimental.
“Devin, map!” she exclaimed, slinging her AK-47 rifle across her shoulder as Andres Devin, a hulking black man, approached her with the withering piece of parchment. Approaching with him was Alexander Walsh, a small in stature Irishman who polarized Devin in mostly everything. They were all cloaked in black SWAT gear, appearing in fragmented shadows through the dim light of their torches. Both carried heavy firearms at the ready.
Ava scanned the makeshift map for clues to the tunnel they needed. Having travelled through the city only once before, she was clueless as to which direction to take next.
“A.C., do you believe in fate?” Devin said smiling through the bulk of his gas mask, his frame cloaked by a grappling hook and rope. His accent bore fragments of French.
“Not now Dev…”
Andres remained unaffected by Ava’s curtness. He knew how important their mission was, but his instincts had never failed him. Especially in the heat of confrontation.
“Growing up, we were taught early how to use instinct to guide us through shit such as this…hunters all rely on instinct.” Andres continued.
Ava pulled the map down from her view in haste. “I believe in maps Dev. Fate doesn’t give us a choice. Now either help me out here or check on the others.”
“Our choices mold our fate A.C. Your gadgets and maps are useless here. Look at the paths laid out before us…and choose our fate.”
“Devin this is a load of horseshit man,” Walsh bellowed from behind. “Give me the map Ava, I’ll find us the way…”
Andres stepped in front of Walsh as he began towards Ava, holding his arm out to block him from retrieving the map.
“This is A.C.’s doing…I believe in her.”
Walsh expelled a beleaguered gasp, shaking his head in disbelief as he began walking back to twins Katrina and Jacob Romero, both silently surveying the surroundings with their M4 carbine rifles. Ava looked colorless. Having the fate of not only her team but of the remaining existence of humankind was not something she wanted to burden at the moment. She turned from her team and looked at the 4 tunnels going off into different directions.
They’d been traveling hundreds of miles north from Los Diablos for days, mostly underground, and were so close to the main city center. The signage leading them to the city terminals were all torn down and gone and none of the usual torches were lit to give way. This gave further credence to reach their location post haste.
Along with the original subway tunnels created before the world decay, the Council initiated even more tunnels to various locations of the city--some to specific underground entrances into buildings, and some into other travel junctures going north and east. There were so many underground avenues, it was easy to get lost. And the map she had was not updated with the newer tunnels.
Ava dropped the map to the ground and began approaching each entrance, speaking out loud to no one in particular. “Ok…the last terminal sign I remember seeing was for the abandoned Colma exit so we are at least going in the right direction…”
Andres watched from behind as A.C. worked it out. He’d been to war with her and for her for 5 years now. She was the little sister he desperately lost all those years back. And every time out in the vastness of the broken world, he put his fate and life in her hands.
“Fuck…” Ava exasperated. She turned back around and walked towards her team. “Ok we’re taking the tunnel on the far right. If my gut is correct, then we’ve maneuvered North West and are on track towards the gray bridge. Everyone get moving. Andres, mark the tunnel.” She turned back around to face the tunnels, questioning her decision just has fast as she had made it. She was glad the gas mask she wore hid most of the disparagement she carried on her face.
Walsh and the twins began to move past the two in the direction of the right tunnel. Before passing Andres, Walsh stopped and picked up the map, giving him a glaring look. Andres looked in the direction of Ava and then gave Walsh a nod. Walsh could only shake his head in dismay before departing into the depths of the chosen tunnel.
“I believe in you A.C.,” Andres claimed as he pulled a piece of blunt charcoal briquette from his breast pocket.
Ava turned around to face Andres, looking into his eyes through the light of the flaming torches they carried.
“I’m not your savior ‘Dre. I’m just the face of the decision.”
This Manuscript: © 2018 Legion Media LLC