Chapter 20: Dulles

Kaitlyn Jarred

I raise my eyebrows, coughing as Crystal approaches me. She produces a needle and I avert my eyes. “You’re not just trying to kill me completely while I’m incapacitated, are you?” I ask, my eyes tracing a pattern on the quilt as I feel a prick; the antibiotics seeping into my blood stream.
Crystal removes the needle once its empty, “No, Kaitlyn.”
“But, why?” I struggle to understand her actions. “You’ll lose me as a bargaining chip.”
Crystal’s lips form a small smile, “What’s you when I’m threating the entire country?” I scoff in fake hurt, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling there’s something else going on. Crystal continues, “Of course the antibiotics won’t kick in right away. But, I can’t have you stay here.” Crystal helps me from bed, my knees buckling almost instantly. I grimace, knowing the crackers and water haven’t done much to retain my strength.
“Why in such a hurry to get rid of me?” I cough out as I drag myself off the floor with Crystal’s help. She peeks out the door before hurrying me toward the elevator. I stumble, but Crystal’s tight grip keeps me from falling again.
“Hey!” Frost’s guttural yell sounds from behind us. Crystal doesn’t even stop our advancement, throwing me into the elevator. I blink my eyes from my collapsed position seeing Frost thundering towards us, before tripping over the coffee table. Crystal slams her hand into the first flood button after entering the code.
“Promise me,” Crystal’s eyes shone with unshed tears, “that you’ll stay away from Dulles.”
“Wait what?”
“Promise,” Crystal says. My eyebrow furrow as I promise. Crystal jumps out of the elevator, grappling with Frost until the doors close. I scream after her, pushing myself up as I try to reverse the elevator. My legs wobble, but I use the handrail to remain upright. The doors slide open to an empty lobby, except for the two teenagers waiting on the other side.
“Kaitlyn!” Valerie catches me as I fall forward. Oscar places one of my arms over his shoulders as Valerie gets the other arm.
“What…what are you guys doing here?” I focus on taking steps forward as the elevator whirls upward behind us.
“We’ll explain in the car,” Oscar answers as we hustle from the building. I recognize the Scotts’ family van; the twins in the front seats. Melinda opens the side door, Marissa’s hands tightening around the wheel. I’m pushed in, my friends clambering in after me as the tires squeal. Shots ring out behind us, one breaking through the back windshield. Glass flies everywhere, but we all cover our heads, escaping only with small cuts. Two cars speed into positions behind us, but are quickly stopped by black SUV’s. A helicopters whirls above us, and Marissa screeches us to a halt at the blockade before us.
We stare wide-eyed at everything around us. “Is this Nexis?” Melinda whispers, her voice shaking.
“Hello friends!” A familiar voice calls out, and I adjust my position to see around Marissa.
I smile in relief, “General Wynn!” I tell my friends everything is alright, and we clamber out. Valerie helps me stand as I try to greet General Wynn.
“How did you escape?” She asks and I tell her about Crystal letting me go and giving me the antibiotics.
I might be able to stop this whole thing before anyone else is affected.
“This is the apartment I was held in,” I explain between coughs. A medic rushes up to me and checks me over. There’s a bump on my head, but that’s the least of my worries. The General and her soldiers clear the building. I’m told there were signs of a struggle in the living room and I continue to try to wrap my head around everything.
Asim. Crystal. My release. The antibiotics.
Dulles.
Dulles.
“The airport,” I whisper.
“Hm?” General Wynn refocuses her attention on me.
I make a split-second decision, “Nothing. Just mumbling to myself.” She begins to ask me more specific questions about Nexis, and I answer as truthfully as I can.
“Did you overhear anything over Crystal’s motives?”
I want to glare at her, but I keep my emotions under control, “No.”
My friends are being questioned themselves and I overhear Valerie mention something about Nickolas. I finish General Wynn’s questions and when she finally leaves me alone, my friends surround me.
“How did you find me?” I ask again, quietly.
“Nickolas got a tip from Amanda,” Marissa whispers. “That Crystal had some apartments she frequented. He was able to narrow them down to three. We each took an apartment…”
“Wait, he went by himself?” My voice gets panicked and my friends look uncomfortable.
“He isn’t alone,” Valerie places a hand on my shoulder, cringing slightly. “Chris is with him.”
“Well if you all paired off, but now you’re here, where are he and Chris?”
“We were able to contact Marissa and Melinda, but we couldn’t get ahold of Nickolas,” Oscar trails off.
“What about Chris?” I ask. “Have you heard from him?”
“Not him either,” Melinda says, twisting her hair around her finger.
“Wonderful,” I mutter sarcastically.

Nickolas Parkingsons

“Killing hundreds of thousands of people is ‘good for business’?” I say, the sarcasm dripping from my voice.
“Yes,” Father explains. “The United States economy will tank, allowing ours to grow stronger.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Stop being so immature,” Mother blowing smoke rings from her cigarette. She would like to say she wasn’t addicted to tobacco. But that would be a lie.
Even though lying is my parents’ favorite pastime.
I think I miss my parents when we’re separated, but as soon as I’m reunited with them, I’m reminded why I left.
“Son,” Father stands, placing his hands against the table, forming a triangle. “Be realistic.”
I stand as well, thankful they had at least removed my handcuffs, “Be realistic? You are insane!” I pace behind my chair, images of Kaitlyn’s kidnapping flashing behind my eyes.
Mother snorts, “Stop being emotional.”
“Stop being immature, Nickolas. Stop being emotional, Nickolas. It’s good for business, Nickolas,” I taunt my parents, feeling very childish, but I’m at my wits end. “Being against killing innocent people is not immature, emotional or good for business!”
“We can get the girl back for you,” Mother nonchalantly says, blinking slowly. “We’ll just give the cause more money.”
“She has a name,” I seethe, my teeth grinding together.
“Katherine, right?” Father says and I grip the back of the chair tighter.
“No. Her name is Kaitlyn.”
“Ah, right. We can get her back at any price,” Father says, waving his hand. “If you need her to be on our side, we’ll do it.”
“She’s not something to be bought!” I yell and my parents look at me indifferently.
“Goodness, son. Calm down.” Mother waves her hand, causing the smoke to whirl toward me. I roll my shoulders, capping my anger. This isn’t a way to get things accomplished.
“Fine,” I agree out loud. I’ll agree to anything if you get me out of here to warn everyone. I think to myself as my parents give me small smiles.

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