I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting to find. Maybe a fight being broken up by police? What I was not prepared to see was a familiar face.
Chase’s messy blonde hair was spattered with dirt, and his brown eyes were downcast. A circle of Aeriat citizens surrounded him, still chanting.
“Chase! Chase, over here!” I waved my arms frantically.
He finally looked up at me, and his eyes widened. “Get out of here!”
I started toward him in confusion. What I hadn’t seen was the line of armed soldiers positioned across from him. One of the soldiers, obviously the one in charge, stormed toward me to block my path. “What do you think you are doing?”
“You don’t understand, I know him,”
“Marina, I mean it! Get out of here!” Chase shouted desperately, but didn’t move toward me.
“What’s going on?” I wondered aloud, though I wasn’t sure who I was asking. “Chase, let’s get the rest of the crew and go!”
“Ready!” The soldier who was blocking me yelled.
“Marina! Get out of here! Listen to me for once!” Chase begged.
“Don’t be naïve, Tweety Bird! Don’t look!” Chase’s voice was on the verge of fury.
It suddenly hit me what was about to happen. My heart stopped beating. “No!”
The sound of gunfire filled the square. I squeezed my eyes shut, and my hands flew to my ears to cover the sound. I felt a hand on my shoulder, followed by Talon’s voice. “We need to get out of here right now.”
I forced myself to open my eyes. Chase’s crumpled figure was only yards away. My breathing turned ragged. “Ch-Chase,” My eyes burned from the tears streaming down my face.
“Marina.” Talon tugged on my arm more forcefully. “You can’t stay here.”
Shaking, I stumbled toward the soldier who blocked me. He’d moved from where he had been standing to join the ranks of soldiers. “What did you do? Why did you do that? Why did you shoot him? You’re crazy!” I was bordering on the edge of hysteria. We’d had crew-napping drills. I knew every part of the plan to fight off raiders. But there had never been anything about someone dying. No one was ever supposed to die.
Talon put an arm around my shoulder. “Marina, think for a minute. This is not the place.”
“He used to be a fighter pilot!” I screamed at the soldiers. “He was on your side!”
“He was a criminal. Those who break the law are punished accordingly.” One of them stated simply.
Talon abruptly knocked my legs out from under me, scooping me up into his arms. “Put me down!” I screeched. “Put me down! They shot Chase!”
“And they’ll shoot you too if you don’t stop.”
“They might have already shot everyone else, too!” I sobbed into his shoulder. “They could all be dead!”
“They said he committed some sort of crime. He’s the only one. The rest of your crew will be fine, Marina.”
“They’re the only family I’ve got.” I whimpered. “They’re the only ones I want.”
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