welcome to chapter 8...the end of part one!
part two will hopefully be out tomorrow (but don't hate me if it's the next day I'm super busy)! I'm going to call it Skyfall, and I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally hope y'all enjoy it!
for all you character development critics-all the characters will probably develop more in part two. It'll mostly be Hiro, Tadashi, and Megan developing, not so much for the rest of the team. sorry, but that's how it goes in war stories-it's usually about just the protagonist's journey and everyone else is kind of an accessory. I promise I'll try to give all the other characters time though!
thanks to everyone who's given me feedback! please people review!
silvie where are you? i miss you! i would love to hear what you think of the story this far!
thanks everyone! stay tuned for Skyfall!
(in case you forgot)
I slide one of my glowing purple blades through the window, and GoGo grabs the handle, then hands it to Wasabi. I really only trust him with such a sharp object, since he regularly uses plasma blades. Honey would probably freak out and drop it on someone's toe, GoGo would slash at everything in her path with complete disregard, and Fred would be nearly unstoppable with his fire and insanely sharp blade—his technique could be called slash and burn.
Meg and I watch in apprehension as Wasabi carefully carves a large gap into the bars between the team's cell and President Cruz's. The former police chief steps through the hole and looks up at the window. "Megan? Is that you?"
"It's me, Dad," Meg whispers huskily. "Just hang on a few more minutes. We're getting you out of there."
"Is there anything else you need to cut?" I ask quietly, all too aware of the guards roaming the streets. "Any handcuffs, balls and chains, stuff like that?"
"That's like, I don't know, the nineteen-hundreds," Fred says. "No balls and chains here."
"I think you mean medieval times, Freddie," Honey corrects. "They definitely didn't use balls and chains only a hundred years ago. But no, Hiro, I don't think we have anything else to cut."
"Alright. Could someone please pass the graphene blade?"
I never thought I'd hear that sentence come out of my mouth—I very nearly laugh out loud. Wasabi hands over the knife and I nod to Megan. It's time to start cutting.
"Can you all walk okay?" Meg asks as we start to carve a large hole in the wall. "We don't know where Baymax is, so we might have to just walk back to the Lucky Cat."
"He's here somewhere," GoGo replies. "We saw guards carrying him past our cell about a week ago."
So he's here. "We really should go get him, but I'm not sure we have time," I murmur. "Sorry, Meg—you didn't have to go get that armor. And we probably didn't have to bring it. I was really hoping Baymax would just be in here, but I guess not."
"It's okay," Megan says, fiercely hacking at the stone wall. "Better that we have it than the North Koreans. And besides, we'll still have to go get Baymax at some point."
It takes about ten minutes—ten long, terrifying, slowed-down minutes—before we manage to carve a sufficiently large hole in the wall. Meg and I remove the heavy chunks of stone and set them on the grass, and then I beckon to the team. "You ready?"
It's only when they step out of the dark prison that I truly see how bad everyone looks. Everyone is death-pale, except Wasabi—and even his skin looks lighter than usual. His bloodstained headband has been wrapped around GoGo's forehead, and she puts an arm around her boyfriend's shoulders as they limp out through the hole. Fred's arm is in a makeshift sling, and Honey has several hastily patched gashes on her face and arms. President Cruz doesn't look as bad, but his cheeks are hollow and all the light has gone out of his eyes. They all look terrible—even worse than I anticipated.
"What did they do to you guys?" I whisper, horrified. "Did they—did they torture you?"
"Not exactly," Honey mumbles, stumbling a little as she steps out of the hole. "We couldn't treat our injuries from the battle, and they're all probably infected. And…" She loses her balance again, and I put a hand on her shoulder to steady her as she finishes. "We haven't had any food since the battle."
"What?!" I gasp. "We've got to get you all back to the Lucky Cat! Oh my gosh, you guys…" I drag a hand through my hair. "I'm sorry we didn't come sooner."
"It's okay," Honey whispers. "Where were you, though? And where's Tadashi?"
"Story time later," GoGo interjects as my heart plummets into my stomach at the thought of my brother. "We have to get out of here."
"Right," I agree, trying to focus. "Okay. Um…Meg? Any ideas?"
"We should go back through Good Luck Alley," Megan declares, and her dad puts a hand on her shoulder. "I feel like it'll be quicker. It'll probably be safer, too—it just seems like less North Koreans would want to go there."
"Sounds good." I turn to the rest of Big Hero 6. "Can you make it back to the café? I know it's a kind of a long walk, but I don't think Meg and I could carry any of you."
"We can do it," Wasabi says, sounding determined. "We've made it this far. We can go a little farther."
"We'll have to come back for Baymax," I decide, even though the prospect is heart-wrenching. "Right now, the most important thing is to get you all out of here. Meg—we should probably turn off the light in our wings. We don't want anyone to see it."
Meg presses the button on her breastplate. I do the same, and our wings are just unassuming sheets of carbon fiber retracting into our suits. I sheathe my graphene blade, and then it's almost completely dark except for the faint light of the moon.
"Alright, you guys," I whisper. "I think Meg and I are gonna go invisible, and I'll call Skymax—I've made that invisible, too. Inside is, of course, more invisible cloth, so we can throw it over you guys while we sneak out. Sound like a plan?"
"Vaguely," GoGo deadpans. I sigh and press the button on my gauntlet that will call Skymax to us. We only have to wait a minute or two before the soft whirring of the robot's propeller alerts me to its coming.
"Awesome," I whisper, opening Skymax's hatch and removing the giant piece of invisibility cloth. "This might not cover all of you, but it'll be harder to see."
As soon as the team—plus President Cruz—is situated under the cloth, I nod to Meg, and we both go invisible. We start walking—shuffling, really, since everyone is trying to stay under the fabric—across the strip of grass that serves as the police station's lawn.
Silently, we cross the street and head into Good Luck Alley. When we make it halfway through without seeing a single North Korean, I start to get worried. When we come to the end and we still haven't seen any, I start to panic.
"Stop for a second," I whisper, and the shuffling sounds from behind me grind to a halt. "Why are there no guards out here?"
"I don't know," Meg's disembodied voice whispers. "We saw them walk out and everything. You'd think there would be a few of them patrolling the streets. Do you think they're getting ready to ambush us or something?"
"I really think we would have heard them," I mumble. "Meg…I don't think they're here."
"Then where are they?" Meg asks, her voice deathly quiet. "And why did they leave?"
"I don't know," I whisper. A terrible, deep sense of wrongness is starting to fill my whole body. Something is coming, something huge, devastating. I try to shake the feeling off, turning to address the others. "But I do know we have to get back to the café. Let's just hurry, okay?"
I cautiously edge out of Good Luck Alley, wondering if there might be North Korean guards waiting to ambush us. No dark shapes leap out of the shadows, no rifles gleam silvery black in the moonlight. There's no mistaking it—the North Koreans have all left.
My first, hopeful thought is that perhaps they've just given up on trying to occupy San Fransokyo, which would be awesome. But there's no way in heck they'd just leave like that. No, they must need to be out of the city for some other reason.
Suddenly, a faint rumble reaches my ears, and I know why all the North Koreans have left the city.
I look up at the starry sky, my eyes widening in horror as I see sleek black shapes blocking out the tiny pinpricks of light. Jets are flying over San Fransokyo, at least sixty or seventy of them. They all stop and hover in midair, their quiet rumble seeming to shake the earth.
What look like small black dots start to fall from the jets. The first hits a few miles away, and I hear a faint explosion.
When I refused to help assemble bombs—I'd agreed to the microbots, but not to that—Jeong promised she wouldn't harm the city if I agreed. I couldn't very well let her destroy San Fransokyo, so I did so. But now that I've run away, the deal is broken. This is my fault.
This is my punishment.
And of course the North Koreans would want to get all their troops out if they were going to bomb the city—they wouldn't risk that many of their own. I should've seen it sooner, but now…
"They're bombing the city," President Cruz whispers, and though I can't see his face, I can picture the look of horror on it. "We have to go."
"Run!" Megan screams as what appears to be a grenade lands down the street. "Go, go, go!"
I check to make sure everyone is running—it's obvious now, since the invisibility cloth is falling off—and then break into a sprint across the street, heading toward the café. Hurriedly, I turn off my invisibility so everyone can follow me to the Lucky Cat.
Explosions echo around the city as I run, faster than I've ever gone in my life. The bursts of sound are getting closer and closer, encroaching on the café. If a bomb hits it, my home will be gone.
I look over my shoulder to make sure no one is falling behind—no one is, which is surprising since they've been starved for a week and a half. Adrenaline is a powerful thing, I guess.
I start to turn back, but out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of a shining black shape falling towards the ground, going faster and faster and faster—
A bomb. And judging by its trajectory, it'll land really close to us—hopefully not close enough to kill us, but still…
We're not going to make it.
"You guys—get down!" I screech, but before any of us can even do that, I hear a tremendous explosion, the sound shrieking into my ears. I'm thrown forward by the shock wave radiating from the center of the blast, and as I experience the sensation of uncontrolled flight, the air and sky are shattered.
All I'm aware of are shrill, high-pitched screams, shrapnel sailing through the air, and a bright, hot flash of light, which is mirrored in my skull a second later as I slam into asphalt. The world flashes white, then red, and then everything goes dark as fire and pain slice through the broken sky.
The dim, silvery glow of moonlight reaches into my clouded mind, bringing a sharp, throbbing pain with it. Even so, I force my eyes open to discover myself lying in a bed, which is placed near a window that makes up the whole of one wall of a massive room. I don't know where I am or why I'm here or even why my head is killing me, just that it is and that I want to go back to sleep.
But I can't—I have a terrible feeling that something awful is going to happen, something that involves total annihilation…
And then it all comes rushing back to me—the spy mission, the plan, the crash. Did Hiro escape? Is he okay? Has he broken the rest of Big Hero 6 out yet? How long has it been since the crash?
Turning my head slightly, I realize that Momokase and Callaghan are lying in two beds to my right, with no one on my other side. Both spies look relatively peaceful, though heavily bandaged. I'm amazed we all got out alive.
I know I probably shouldn't, but I struggle valiantly to push myself up into a sitting position. I gasp as my head throbs and reach up to feel for the source of the pain, but it only serves to make me aware of the fact that my left arm is immobilized against my chest with a sling. I wonder if it's broken.
Reaching up with my other hand, which seems uninjured, I discover a large amount of gauze wrapped around my forehead. Through the bandaging, I can feel small ridges that indicate a sutured cut. I evidently have a concussion, and probably a bad one—my vision is slightly blurred and switches to double if I turn my head. Apart from this, I can feel some kind of brace on my left leg and a substantial amount of bruising on my torso. Honestly, everything hurts. I give up trying to stay in a sitting position and let out a soft groan as I sink back onto my pillow. Just as I'm settled, I hear a quiet voice. "Tadashi? Are you awake?"
I turn my head to discover Callaghan awake as well. His pale blue eyes are wide and alert, flicking around the room.
"Unfortunately," I mumble. "Are you okay? How bad are you hurt? Also, do you know where we are?"
"I think we're on the third floor of Sycorax," Callaghan replies. "I've been awake for most of the day—based on how high up we are and how close we are to the rest of San Fransokyo, I'm certain of our location. I have a few broken ribs—but don't worry about me," he adds hastily as I open my mouth. "I'm on painkillers, I should be fine. You and Momokase have been out until now—you're both hurt pretty bad, but she's worse than you."
"What's wrong with her?" I whisper.
"Quite a few burns, punctured lung, and a skull fracture—and those are just the major injuries," Callaghan replies, a look of empathy passing over his face. "She's had quite an ordeal—and so have you, Tadashi. You should probably rest."
"But what about Hiro?" I ask. "Do you know if he got out?"
Callaghan smiles. "He and Megan escaped into the greenbelt. I heard the nurses talking about it—Chasu Jeong is furious. Her guards have looked everywhere, but they can't find either of them."
"Awesome," I breathe. "They're safe, then. Hopefully."
"We certainly have reason to believe that," Callaghan reassures me. "If they haven't been found yet, they probably won't be. I think they must have gotten to a safe house—they won't have left San Fransokyo."
"I hope they stay there," I whisper. "Hiro is so impulsive, and Megan is even worse…They're trying to break the rest of Big Hero 6 out of prison—if that's even where they are—and I don't know if they can manage it without being caught. And besides, Hiro's deal is broken—he's been forced to make microbots and use them to assemble bombs, he told me the night before we left. I don't want to know what Jeong might do to him if she catches him. Actually—" A thought occurs to me. "I was part of that deal— Jeong said she'd kill me if Hiro ever broke his promise. Why am I not dead?"
"I'm not sure," Callaghan admits. "But my guess is that you were simply a good spy. Jeong needs you—although our jet crashed, she knows we were able to retrieve useful information. She and her guards questioned me as soon as I woke up, and I told them our engine failed. I don't think they could tell I was lying."
"That's good," I reply, shifting slightly in my bed and wincing as my head throbs again. "By the way, did you happen to hear what's wrong with me?"
"Well, concussion, obviously," Callaghan tells me. "And a rather badly fractured radius, with a smaller break in the ulna. I believe you also tore both your ACL and your MCL."
"Great," I moan, staring up at the ceiling. "Any idea how long it's going to be before we get out of here?"
Callaghan starts to answer, but at that moment, Momokase stirs. She struggles to sit up, and Callaghan cautions, "Maybe don't do that yet—"
"I'm fine," Momokase hisses, fingering the gauze taped over her left eye. "Where are we?"
"Sycorax," Callaghan tells her. "The North Koreans have converted it—well, this room, at least—into a kind of hospital, which is where we're staying indefinitely. It's a miracle we all survived the crash—the barbed wire went straight through the window and barely missed us, and we were nearly crushed by the wall. On the bright side, though, Hiro and Megan were able to escape."
"Then we have accomplished our mission," Momokase says, the pride evident in her voice. "I'm glad we were able to do so. What is our next step?"
"We just have to wait," I tell her. "Hiro and Megan are going to try and find Big Hero 6, and probably break them out of prison. After that, they'll just have to try and fight back against the North Koreans. We'll help them as much as possible—if we ever get out of here."
"It won't be long," Momokase declares. "If they try to keep us here, I'll simply break us out."
"That might not be wise," Callaghan argues, "considering—"
Suddenly, a loud explosion echoes outside, and I practically kill myself as I try to leap out of bed and run over to the window. But I quickly discover that there's an IV in my arm and a clip on my right index finger, which is presumably monitoring my breathing rate. Another jolt of pain shoots through my skull, and I see double for a few seconds. Still, I drag the IV over to the window, wincing as I put weight on my injured leg. When I reach the window, I gasp.
"What is it?" Callaghan asks urgently. "What's happening?"
"I'm not sure…but it looks like jets are flying over the city."
Several more explosions echo faintly through the room, and I finish, "And I think they might be dropping bombs."
"This is for the escape," Momokase whispers. "It has to be. They're sending Hiro a message—that or they're just trying to take him out. I suppose if they can't find him, the North Koreans will just bomb the whole of San Fransokyo. Jeong won't let everything Hiro knows out of here alive."
"If he dies—" I gasp, pressing my palm against the window.
"Then we will kill her," Momokase finishes. "Jeong is a heartless monster, and it's best not to let people like that stay in the world."
"But then we'd be murderers too," I whisper.
"It's worth it if she's gone."
Suddenly, a much nearer explosion rocks the skyscraper, so hard I nearly fall over. I yelp and stumble back to my bed, watching as fire races along the hedges outside. Faint screams echo in the distance, and I can make out one word—fire.
My brain races into overdrive as the building shakes again, and suddenly I'm back in the flames, ash choking my breath from my lungs, Hiro's screams reverberating through the sky—
I shake off the déjà vu and gasp, "We have to get out of here! It's not safe, the building is on fire!"
"How?" Callaghan asks.
"We're just gonna have to walk," I decide. "I'll carry either of you if I have to."
Momokase grits her teeth and drags herself out of bed. "You essentially have only one arm, Hamada. I'll walk."
But her face is pale and her legs are trembling, so I limp over to her and wrap an arm around her shoulders. To my surprise, Momokase doesn't protest. Callaghan's legs don't seem injured, so the professor comes to support her other side.
I try the door to the room and discover that it's unlocked. I shove it open, and we stumble out into the hall in search of an elevator. After a few minutes, I see one, and we all get in as fast as we can. It's not usually a good idea to use elevators in a fire, but there's no way we can take the stairs.
When we reach the ground and go out onto the grass, I realize that, thankfully, the fire doesn't seem to have reached the actual building, just the lawn. Even so, it's imperative that we get out of here. Everywhere I look, I see people running—none of them North Korean. They must have all left before the bombing started.
"We have to move fast," Callaghan gasps, already sweating from the heat. "Get underground if we can."
We limp across the road in front of Sycorax, trying to make it across the street to somewhere, anywhere that has a basement. That'll be the only way to completely avoid being killed in an explosion—unless, of course, the building fell down on top of us.
Three seconds later, it very nearly does.
A bomb drops abruptly from the sky and crashes into the roof of Sycorax, exploding almost immediately. Callaghan lets out a yell and grabs both my collar and Momokase's, shoving us to the ground. I try to cover my head with my uninjured arm as a tremendous crash echoes through the air.
After the dust has settled somewhat, I look up tentatively to see the whole of Sycorax collapsed in a massive pile of rubble. Fire still burns at its edges, slowly consuming the ruins.
Ruins. That's what San Fransokyo is going to be after this is over.
And it's my fault. I crashed the jet. I broke Hiro out.
And now we're paying the price.
As we climb to our feet, I can do nothing but watch helplessly as the bombs crash down on San Fransokyo, swiftly reducing our city to rubble and ashes.
It is broken.
We are broken.
But if Hiro survives, there might still be hope.
He has to make it, or we have no chance. Somehow, I know that my baby brother is the key to salvation, to ending all of this. We just have to keep fighting, to never give up until all light fades.
But for now, I can't fight anymore. I have to wait. I have to place my trust in God and hope that He will make things right.
So that's what I do.
I close my eyes and let the sky fall.
to be continued…