Cold Fury, Ch 2
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Tris deals with a vicious criminal while coping with some distressing news.
â€œMiss McClellan, youâ€™ve a caller waiting for you in the principalâ€™s office,â€ said Mr. Worsley. Trista had to remind herself that, to everyone here, she was not Trista Magritte Boyd from Ann Arbor, MI in the U.S.A., but rather, was Trista Margorie McClellan, born in Scotland, transplanted to Arizona (Arizona? Who ever had that bright idea?), and now living with relatives here in foggy London. She nodded, straightened the papers on her desk, and left the room.
Sheâ€™d been here a year, now. Her adoptive family, Rory and Clara and their little dog, Toto, had been welcoming enough, and Tris hadnâ€™t suffered from too much homesickness for more than a month or so. It helped, she supposed, that she had been extremely busy. She was going to what the British all called a private school (that had been confusing- in the U.S., they were called public schools) and was, essentially, a year behind in all her studies. She had really had to bust her ass to get caught up in her academic subjects, but she had managed it, in part thanks to her nearly photographic memory, but mostly just because she was, actually, that smart. In addition to her schoolwork, though, she had extracurricular activities- she still ran track and was playing football- soccer- with an intramural team.
And then, again, there were her extra-extracurricular activities. Twice a week and on the weekends, Tris was taken to a place simply called The Academy and trained in some rather more esoteric skills. She had been learning sleight-of-hand skills such as picking pockets and making brush-passes. She had been studying electronics and radio technology, signals and ciphers. And combat. Her basic hand-to-hand combat skills were already top-notch, but she was learning ways to use her environment that sheâ€™d never considered before. She was learning not just how to use weapons, but the theory behind them, as well. And, every week, she spent hours on the pistol and rifle range, becoming familiar with all of the various NATO and Warsaw pact small arms.
The principalâ€™s office of Stockwell Park High School was, in a word, quaint. The walls were wood panel and the floor had a fairly worn tan carpet. The principalâ€™s desk was an immense wooden monstrosity that looked like it belonged in a newspaperâ€™s press room and the principalâ€™s chair was a soft, high-backed leather job that could have served equally well in an expensive parlor or sitting room. There were two other chairs, also comfortable, although not as aggressively aristocratic. The principal was standing at the door when Tris arrived, and ushered her in with a wave of his hand. â€œMiss McClellan. I believe you already know Mr. Andersen?â€
Tris nodded. â€œGood, then. I have some business to attend to, so you may have the use of my office. If you need anything, just speak with my secretary.â€
Andersen waited until the principal had left and the door was closed before speaking. â€œTrista,â€ he said in his quiet voice, â€œyouâ€™re looking well.â€
This was how conversations always seemed to go over here. A variety of meaningless pleasantries leading in a strange, roundabout way to more weighty subjects. You could just about always gauge the importance of the actual topic by how long it took to meander to it.
â€œThank you, Mr. Andersen. I understand youâ€™ve been keeping yourself busy?â€ This was a lie, actually. Tris had no idea what Devin Andersen had been doing for the last year-and-a-little-bit. He had made the arrangements for her to start studying here in London, got her settled in with her new family, and promptly disappeared off the face of the Earth.
â€œToo true, unfortunately,â€ he sighed. â€œWhy donâ€™t you pull up a chair? Would you care for some tea?â€
â€œYes, please,â€ Trista replied. â€œEarl Grey, black.â€
Andersen smiled and brought her a teacup and saucer. He was a plain man, neither very tall nor short, a fit build without seeming overly athletic, and a bland, unassuming face. The only remarkable thing about him, really, was the concentrated intelligence hidden behind his brown eyes. â€œI understand that you are doing quite well in your studies,â€ he remarked, â€œalthough your Mr. Worsley has remarked that you seem to be having some difficulty fitting in.â€
That was true enough. Trista didnâ€™t really have any close friends at Stockwell, in part because she felt as if she were removed from the usual teenage concerns. Most girls her age were scheming how to capture this particular boy or another, it seemed, and few actually paid attention to the world outside their own tiny social circles. Tris licked her lips, trying to frame a reply, but Andersen held up a hand.
â€œNo need to explain,â€ he said gently, â€œbut you really do need to start making some friends.â€ He said it with no particular emphasis, but Tris understood that it was an order. In order for her to maintain her cover, in order for her to become a useful agent, she needed to have a fully functional and believable support network.
â€œYes, sir,â€ she said simply.
He sighed, then, and took out a brown business envelope. â€œRead this, Tris, then give it back to me.â€
Inside the envelope was a short note on plain, white paper. She could feel the weight and texture of the paper, a heavy-grade cotton-weave. The words were simple, direct and very clear, but it still took Tris several times to get the words to sink in.
Trista Magritte Boyd,
We regret to inform you that Sgt. Duncan Peter Boyd and Kenzie Rachel Boyd were involved in a traffic accident on September 7, 1999 at 9:12 pm, EST. Both were taken to University of Michigan hospitals. Sgt. Boyd was declared dead on September 8, 1999 at 8:14 am, EST. Mrs. Boyd was declared dead on September 8, 1999 at 10:31 am, EST.
A memorial service will be held September 11, 1999. Because of the nature of the injuries suffered by the deceased, the funeral will be closed casket.
Our hearts go out to the bereaved for the loss of Sgt. and Mrs. Boyd. Their families and their country shall surely miss them.
George J. Tenet
Director of Central Intelligence
Andersen watched as the color drained from Tristaâ€™s face, then gently took the paper from her. â€œTrista,â€ he said gently, â€œIâ€™m so very sorry.â€
She almost didnâ€™t hear him. She stared at him, her amber eyes a mask of incomprehension. â€œThe funeralâ€¦â€ she began. The funeral would be in three days.
â€œYou canâ€™t go, Trista. Iâ€™m sorry.â€ He folded the paper, put it back in the envelope, and placed it back in his jacket pocket. â€œYou need to return to your classes, now. You will be excused from your training this evening, but you will need to report in on Friday for a briefing.â€ He looked at her closely, hating himself for what he was doing.
Finally, without saying another word, she nodded woodenly, stood, and left the office.
Tris arrived at The Academy in jeans, a sweatshirt, and trainers. Her face was very clean, although there was nothing she could do to hide the redness under her eyes. She had spent most of last night working out, trying to drive all emotion from her by sheer, mind-numbing, physical exhaustion. When that failed, she had gone to bed and wept silently, unable to sleep, until her alarm went off to tell her it was time to shower and go to school.
She had been little more than an automaton, going through the motions of being a model student, but not really caring what happened around her. She was actually pulled out by the teacher during gym class- in a rare display of temper, she had punched a boy who attempted to steal the ball from her on the basketball court. She was sent to the office for that, but, given that no one was seriously hurt and also that this was highly unusual behavior for the normally quite reserved girl, got no more than a stern talking to before being sent on to her next period.
Now, at The Academy, Tris was still in a state of turmoil, but she was determined to go on and do her duty, whatever it might be. The Academy was entered through an unassuming two-story brick building on Erminâ€™s Hill Road, near the St. James Park entrance to the London Underground. Once inside, visitors were required to provide identification and a password to get access to the basement. Tris passed through the security checkpoints without difficulty and was met by Andersen, who led her deep into a part of The Academy that she had never been in before. A lift dropped them several stories into the earth- deep enough that Trisâ€™s ears popped, and Andersen explained that they were actually underneath the Thames. The construction here was surprisingly modern and extremely sturdy, having been built to resist flooding and the inevitable shifting of the earth and bedrock due to the freezing and thawing of the London soil.
After passing through a bewildering series of monotonously white hallways punctuated only by flickering fluorescent lights and occasional gray-green steel doors, Andersen eventually led Tris into a mid-sized office with a long table and several chairs. There was a coffeemaker and a teapot in one corner, and a plump, matronly woman was busily adding cream and sugar to a mug as they entered. As Tris came in, the other woman came around the table to greet them.
â€œGood evening, director,â€ she said.
â€œHullo, Susan,â€ he said, warmly, â€œthis is Tris. Tris, I want you to meet Susan Kalen. Ms. Kalen is going to be your case officer. If you need to speak with anyone about anything, you talk to Ms. Kalen. She is cleared to speak with you on matters of high security, and it is her responsibility to see that you have all the support you need to perform well and complete your missions.â€
Tris nodded warily and shook her hand. â€œHow do you do, Ms. Kalen?â€
â€œNot bad, thanks,â€ she replied. Her accent was American- Georgian, Tris guessed, but wasnâ€™t positive. â€œI know this is a bad time for you, dear, but the best way to take our mind off our troubles, Iâ€™ve been told, is to make our hands busy. Are you ready for some work?â€
â€œGood girl. Pull up a chair, we have some details to go over.â€ After she and Tris were seated, she pulled a manila folder out of her bag and set it on the table in front of Tris. â€œThis is all the information we have about a man named Jesse Brooks. As you see, he used to be a numbers runner, a smuggler, and, recently, a paid informant. Unfortunately, he has also taken up a new hobby, recently- kidnapping. Because of our governmentâ€™s involvement with, essentially, funding his most recent activities, the president wants him stopped. Further, he does not want there to be any evidence that the U.S. has been involved in any way.
â€œYou have two responsibilities on this assignment. First, and most important, is to recover his most recent victim, a girl by the name of Bethany Kazmir. Bethany is about your age and the daughter of a wealthy businessman here in London. You should have her most recent class picture in your file.
â€œYour second responsibility is to deal with Brooks. The euphemism we use is â€˜extreme prejudice.â€™ It can be as clean or as messy as you like, so long as you get the job done and leave no evidence that could lead back to the U.S. or the CIA. You understand?â€
â€œYes maâ€™am.â€ Tris rifled through the dossier. There were several pictures of Brooks-a progression, of sorts. In the earlier photographs, he appeared to be a reasonably fit, well-dressed businessman. Judging from the photographs, Tris placed him at around two meters tall and probably about twelve stone- six feet, one-seventy in American weights and measures. Over the years, however, he had clearly undergone some form of metamorphosis. His hairline had receded until, in recent pictures, he appeared to be completely bald. Additionally, he had packed on mass, both height and weight, gaining what appeared to be about twenty centimeters and, if Tris was any judge, at least another ten stone in bone and muscle. Veins stood out on his once-handsome forehead, and his face looked like a barely-checked storm.
According to the information the CIA had gathered on the man, he had been involved in a variety of minor criminal and barely-legal undertakings ranging from petty theft and larceny to prostitution. In recent years, he had become increasingly violent, but the information network he had with the European criminal community had made him valuable enough to overlook his indiscretions. The kidnapping of Bethany Kazmir, however, had attracted the attention of the London police and Scotland Yard. They planned to invade his operation in the Gala Casino on Tottenham Court Road early the next morning and take him into custody. Naturally, because of the information he had regarding his placement as a CIA informer, this was unacceptable.
The information on Bethany Kazmir was somewhat less thorough. She was, as Kalen had indicated, sixteen years old. Physically, the girl didnâ€™t appear to be unattractive- perhaps a little overweight running to fat, but she had a pretty smile, blonde hair, blue eyes, and an exceptionally clean complexion. The word that immediately came into Trisâ€™s mind when looking at her picture was â€˜innocent.â€™ Kazmirâ€™s father, Ronald, was a stock broker and her mother was apparently a stay-at-home mom. Reports indicated that they had both been frantic since the disappearance of their daughter.
Tris looked up from the file to find Ms. Kalen waiting patiently. â€œDo you have any questions, Tris?â€
â€œJust tactical stuff. Insertion, extraction, how much support am I going to have- that stuff.â€
Ms. Kalenâ€™s half-smile was frigid. â€œYouâ€™ll need to get yourself into the Gala Casino shortly before they close at 2:00 am. Brooks has an apartment above the casino and always maintains a squad of bodyguards around the clock. He should have a laptop on his person- you will need to get that and take it with you. We donâ€™t know where Miss Kazmir will be, so you should probably make a point of locating her before you tackle Brooks and his guards, but thatâ€™s up to you. You need to complete the operation and be away before 4:30 am, as the London police will be kicking the door down at 5:00.
â€œAs for support- well, you really wonâ€™t have any. This mission is technically black ops- you know who you are working for, but we have complete deniability. You carry no identification of any kind, and if you are somehow captured, we will not admit to having any idea of who you are or what you were doing there.â€
Susan waited until Tris had left the room before speaking to Mr. Andersen. â€œI donâ€™t know, Devin. Do you really think sheâ€™s up to this?â€
Andersen cocked his head slightly before answering. â€œI think sheâ€™s tougher than even she knows. I had some reservations about using her in this, but the word came down from on high.â€
â€œI see. And if sheâ€™s not ready?â€
â€œNo great loss. It would be unfortunate given the amount of time and money weâ€™ve already invested, but she doesnâ€™t really know anything that could seriously jeopardize our operations.â€
Susan sighed. She was going to be responsible for the girlâ€™s well-being for the next several years, in many ways even more than Rory and Clara. At the same time, it was her job to throw her into dangerous and morally ambiguous situations. Susan didnâ€™t think of herself as a bad person, particularly, but the people she worked for- and with- were really not nice.
Tris smiled grimly. Sometimes the simplest plans were the best. The security for the Gala Casino was fairly tight- the guards were being careful not to let in anyone underage. Fortunately, Tris had a fake ID showing her to be a fresh-faced university student. She had artfully chosen a long, off-the-shoulder blue gown with white elbow-length gloves and high-heeled ankle-length boots. The guards had glanced at her ID, did a double-take at her, then waved her through without a second thought. She made her way around the floor, noting exits, the obvious security cameras, and places where she suspected less-than-obvious security measures were concealed. Stopping at the bar, she ordered a gin-and-juice, light on the gin.
Meandering through the crowded rooms, Tris located a steel security door with a guard posted outside. Since she had already located the cashierâ€™s box and the vault where they kept the chips, Tris guessed that this was the entrance to the stairwell. Not far away, just beyond the roulette tables, Tris located the restrooms. As a bevy of young women emerged, Tris slipped inside. Finding an empty stall, Tris went in and closed the door, waiting for the room to clear, which it did before long. Working quickly, Tris unlatched the stall door again. Slipping off her boots, ahe clambered quickly onto the counter by the sink, removed one of the ceiling tiles, and pulled herself up. It was the work of only a few moments to replace the loose tile and flatten herself against the joists, allowing her to spread her slightly-more-than 70 kilograms across the widest possible area. Breathing as shallowly as she could, not daring to move, she prayed that the suspended ceiling would continue to hold her weight.
The minutes oozed by with Neolithic sluggishness until, finally, the casino closed down at last. Several minutes later, she heard a guard step into the room and call out to make certain all the guests had departed. Before leaving, he shut out the lights, leaving Tris in utter blackness. Tris waited. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Tris carefully let herself back down to the counter and then down onto the floor. Slipping out of her gown, Tris rolled down the sleeves and legs of her black bodysuit, then pulled up the hood. Just like a ninja, she thought. She slipped her discarded apparel into the cloth bag she wore just for that purpose and stepped over to the door to listen. She heard nothing, and saw only dim light coming from underneath the door, so, cautiously, she slipped out.
The main floor was deserted, but Tris knew that her presence here was bound to set off an alarm in the security room. That meant that disabling the guard presence there had to be her first priority. Guessing that the security room would be located near the vault, Tris made her way in that direction, sticking close to the shadows, head lowered so as not to reflect light. Just as she got to the steel door leading to the cashierâ€™s box, it opened and two guards stepped out, looking around warily, billyclubs at the ready. Spotting her, they moved quickly, but Tris was even faster.
As the first guard raised his club, Tris speared him neatly in the throat. The other guard managed to get behind his swing, but Tris was already spinning away, ducking under the first guardâ€™s upraised arm and snatching his club as his grip loosened. The second guardâ€™s strike whistled harmlessly past her and landed with a meaty thud against the first guardâ€™s hip, dropping him to the floor. Tris jumped the fallen guard and fired a hard, fast kick into the second guards chest, winding him momentarily and doubling him over. Not wasting any time, Tris followed up by laying her captured billy against the back of his skull, then jabbing it sharply into his sternum, actually lifting him an inch off the floor before depositing him, thoroughly unconscious on the floor. Standing over the first guard, Tris spoke to him quickly and quietly.
â€œYou are going to report back that there was a malfunction. You have visually surveyed the area and all is well. Do that now, or I will kill you. If you understand, just nod.â€ The guard nodded.
After the guard had complied, somewhat hoarsely, with her demands, Tris took a cord from her waist and bound his wrists and ankles, then took his radio. â€œHow many more guards in the security room?â€ she asked.
â€œJust one,â€ he grunted. Tris raised an eyebrow and waited. â€œEveryone else is either upstairs checking on the bossâ€™s room or else downstairs with his floozy.â€
â€œHis floozy,â€ Tris grated, â€œThat wouldnâ€™t happen to be Ms. Kazmir, now would it?â€
He stared at her blankly, pain and confusion battling for supremacy on his face. â€œNever mind,â€ she grunted. Going back to the other guard, she quickly stripped his radioâ€™s battery, then leaned him against the wall, checking his pulse and making sure his airway was still open.
The still conscious guard looked bewildered. â€œWhat are you doing?â€ he asked.
â€œShut up,â€ Tris replied. â€œLook, things may get very ugly, very quickly. I recommend you play possum. Make noise and I may have to hurt you some more. Are we clear?â€
The guard shook his head in amazement until Tris raised her billyclub again, than quickly stammered out his compliance.
Tris moved through the still-open security door and down the hall into the security room. As she had been told, there was one guard still on duty in the room, his back to the door as he reviewed the nightâ€™s security tapes. He didnâ€™t even look around as Tris opened the door.
â€œGod, Mike- took you long enough.â€ Tris clubbed him soundly across the temple and he went down without another word.
It happened so quickly that Lonnie almost didnâ€™t have time to register what was happening. The boss had gone into the back room with his new girl, and he and four others had been positioned outside just to keep things on the level. Operating here in the basement, under the radar, as it were, of the local constabulary, the boss had arranged for his private guard force to have access to guns. Both Lonnie and his partner favored the old-fashioned Smith and Wesson wheelguns, while Donovan, the bossâ€™s personal favorite, used a sawed-off twelve gauge. The other two, both former police officers themselves, preferred the sleek, reliable Glocks.
All the guards viewed this time as a sort of break time. It wasnâ€™t like anything was going to come busting in without them getting a warning from the guys upstairs. He and Michel were playing cards at a hastily erected card table. His partner, Rob, was getting a drink from the water cooler, and Donovan was wandering around aimlessly. Of them all, the only one who really seemed to be paying any attention was the rookie, Trev.
Donovan was walking past the door when it happened, on his way to tell another one of his fucked-up jokes to Lonnieâ€™s partner. The door exploded off its hinges, the frame actually ripping away from the wall slightly, and clipped Donovan a glancing blow to the head. Before he could recover, a black-clad figure had landed atop him and clubbed him hard.
Rob started to turn, but before he was even halfway around, she threw the club like a spear, nailing him hard in the side of the head and dropping him like a rag doll. Still moving, she shoved Michel into the card table, thereby jamming the table into Lonnie as he was starting to rise and dumping him hard on his ass. Trev had his gun out now and was trying to draw a bead, but she grabbed Michel from behind and yoked him up hard. Trevâ€™s shots doubletapped Michel in the chest, hitting his vest and probably breaking ribs. Michel went limp and she dropped his body, sprinting across the collapsing table, leaping over Lonnie into a beautiful flying kick that just about removed the top of Trevâ€™s skull.
Lonnie had finally managed to get to his feet, but she was already spinning again, and her leg swept his with a power that felt like getting knocked down by a car. She pounced on him, pinning his gun hand to the floor as she fired three fast, powerful jabs into his face. Lonnieâ€™s world exploded in stars and flashing colors and he heard, just before he lost consciousness, the sound of more gunfire.
It had gone so well. Tris thought she had them all down-and-out. The explosive force of the bullets shattered her left arm- she felt the whole thing just go limp from the shoulder on down- and blasted into her chest on the left side. She felt sure that a lung was punctured, and several ribs were broken. She looked up and saw that the man sheâ€™d used as a human shield was back on his feet- woozy, but holding a pistol with rock-steady aim.
She rolled, the wounds to her left side igniting streamers of orange and red pain behind her eyes, but she was on top of the man before he could adjust, and she rocketed to her feet, driving her forehead into his chin with bone-crushing force. She felt the twisting, tearing crack as his jaw came loose and his neck snapped, and she reached out to grab his gun even as he fell.
The door opened. Jesse Brooks was a monster of a man, more than a head taller than her and easily twice as thick. His suit, obviously expensive, strained ineffectively to constrain his enormously hypertrophied musculature. Tris understood instinctively that she couldnâ€™t hope to physically overpower this man. Still holding the fallen manâ€™s gun, she turned and fired rapidly on the immense man.
His speed was unreal. Tris just about never missed these days, and her aim was true, but he actually dodged the first two of three shots and took the third in his right shoulder, blasting out a chunk of meat but barely slowing him at all. He laughed.
â€œStupid girl. Who sent you?â€ His voice was a gravelly rumble, the sort of noise reserved for diesel engines and underground trains.
â€œFuck you,â€ she snarled.
â€œOh, thatâ€™s clever,â€ he chuckled, reaching out. He was so quick. He grabbed her left arm before she could do more than backpedal a step and lifted her off the ground, holding her easily at armâ€™s length. Tris screamed, dropping the gun, the shattered bones in her arm grinding together, shredding nerves already on the verge of overload. â€œWhy have you come here?â€
Looking past him, she saw the blonde girl huddled in the corner of the far room, her once plump face gaunt with terror. Why did I come here? Tris thought inanely. Then, with sudden anger, Oh, yeah.
She spit in the monsterâ€™s face. Casually, he slapped her with his left hand, releasing her with his right so that she flew the length of the room, landing next to the splintered door. The man that she had dropped there had a gun, a short-barreled shotgun. Fighting through the dizziness, Tris managed to pick it up. Brooks looked at her almost curiously. â€œOh good. Another gun.â€
He charged and Tris went limp, letting his momentum actually carry him over her as he blasted into the broken doorway. As he almost flew over her, she fired straight up into his groin. He howled, genuinely hurt for the first time.
He turned again and grabbed the gun, crushing it in his huge hand. All pretense of civilization had left him. His face was a bright crimson, the veins standing out harshly against his neck and forehead. Throwing the gun away, he reached down and, almost casually, picked Tris up by her left shoulder. Without a word, he grimaced, showing his teeth in a bestial snarl. Trisâ€™s flailing right hand snagged on a jagged piece of the broken door frame.
He squeezed, and Tris felt the bones crush under his grasp. Her voice couldnâ€™t contain the pain she felt anymore, her vocal cords ripped bloody from the abuse they received. Blinded by tears, Tris drew her right arm up and jammed the broken wood directly into the giant manâ€™s eye.
His grip slackened instantly and she dropped to the floor. She landed cat-like, overflowing with anger at this parody of a man. â€œYou scum,â€ she hissed through her teeth, â€œkidnapping a girl. Taking her away from her parents. You deserve everything youâ€™re getting.â€
He reached up, groping ineffectually at his face, but the wood had completely crushed and lacerated his eyeball. Tris drew back her arm and jammed her make-shift spear into his belly, twisting and tearing through muscle fibers made tougher than iron. She couldnâ€™t drive it terribly far, but it was enough. It stuck, caught several inches deep in his insanely bulging abdominal wall. She circled to his left, backing away as he struggled to reach her.
As he turned, trying to circle so that he could keep her in sight, she spun and kicked, driving hard against the jagged piece of wood sticking out of his belly, actually shoving it deeper under it got caught in his intestines. He moaned, his hands going to his belly, sinking to his knees. Tris stepped in close and lashed out with her right again, this time tearing at the soft skin of his right eyelid, gouging deep into the eyeâ€™s unprotected shell on her backstroke.
He flailed with his arms, but Tris ducked and stepped around him. He was dying, she knew, but he wasnâ€™t going to die fast enough. There was still a chance that the police, if they found him in time, could get him to surgery and he might recover. Grimly, she found the Glock sheâ€™d dropped earlier. This is no longer fighting, she thought darkly, this is execution.
She stepped up behind him, placed the gun behind his ear, and fired twice.
Bethany had been living in mortal fear since sheâ€™d been brought here. That man- that creature- came down and fed her himself each night, muttering to himself sometimes as he did. She had been tied to a chair, the guards released her only to piss and shit, then promptly brought her back and tethered her again. Twice a day, he came and gave her some strange injection.
He was not like the others. He was tall and cultured, a respectable-looking man with a salt-and-pepper beard and very sad eyes. Bethany did not know who he was, but he had stopped coming yesterday.
And now this girl. She came in a symphony of fury and destruction, almost poetry in motion as she vanquished Bethanyâ€™s tormentors. Bethany could see that she was hurt, the monster had nearly destroyed her, but she was still standing.
Tris staggered over to Bethany. She was bound to the chair with leather thongs, and those had been soaked with sweat. Fortunately, they were still wet, but Tris couldnâ€™t untie them now if her life depended on it. Grimacing, Tris started rifling through the guardsâ€™ pockets. It took several minutes, but she found what she was hoping for. One of the guards carried a small flipknife.
Flicking it open, Tris cut away the thongs binding Bethanyâ€™s hands. Bethany reached up, taking Trisâ€™s shrouded face in her hands. â€œI never told them,â€ she whispered.
Tris felt something, then. There was fire in her shoulder, in her arm and chest. The experience wasâ€¦ exquisite. Painful and yet blissful all at the same time. She could feel the bones knit, the muscles weaving together, destroyed nerves suddenly restored to agonizing life.
Bethanyâ€™s face went white. She coughed, and bright red spots flecked her blouse as she dropped her hands.
â€œMy God,â€ Tris whispered in awe.
Still coughing, sputtering, Bethany looked up at Tris through tear-streaked eyes. There was pain there, but gratitude as well. Tris helped her up, found Jesse's laptop on the table in front of her and, together, they stumbled through the wreckage and out into the chilly London air.
This is one girl who will get to go home again, Tris thought fiercely.