Day 75

Using this week’s prompt to continue the post from Day 62 (part 11). Prompt: everything changes or everything had changed.

 

We park a block away from the research facility, disguising the van we… “liberated” as a broken rust bucket, the camouflage fitting in with the dusty alley. Johns checks my suit as I get my dad into a combat outfit. His suit is heavier than ours, designed to stop bullets, not blend into surroundings. Hopefully, he won’t need the protection it offers. I check Johns’ suit, making sure the thermal seals are intact, airflow good, checking his temperature output in my thermal vision. He blends into the metal door as I clap him on the shoulder, activating our comms.

“Everything looks good, Johns. Dad, one last time, promise me you will stay in the van and monitor our progress from here.”

“I won’t leave the van, Liz. You have my word.”

“One more thing. If things get bad… promise me you’ll leave.”

He’s quiet for a moment, head raising. When he finally speaks, it’s barely more than a whisper. “No.”

“What? Dad, you have to. I’m not going to have you hunted down and who the hell knows what done t-”

“Liz, stop. Your mother is in this building. You are going in after her. My whole life will be inside that building if something goes wrong. I’m not leaving.”

I’m beginning to protest when Johns grabs my shoulder, cutting into the conversation. “You’re right, Mr. Harwall. If things go poorly, cut the comms and move the van to the west side of the building. We’ll find you there.”

“You’re right, Mr. Harwall. If things go poorly, cut the comms and move the van to the west side of the building. We’ll find you there.”

I glare ineffectively at Johns through the visor on my suit. He gives my shoulder a light squeeze. I know what he’s trying to tell me, that he’s playing peacekeeper, that he knows I can’t compromise when it comes to the safety of my family. I sigh. “Fine. I don’t like it, but fine.

“Fine. I don’t like it, but fine. Agreed, Dad?”

“Yes.”

We’re all quiet for a minute, enjoying one last moment of time together, what might be our last moment. Johns ends the time by strapping on his handgun and throwing a heavy blaster in his shoulder sling. I lean forward into my Dad, hugging him through our suits. It’s an awkward hug, full of the tension of the situation, full of the knowledge that even if we all make it out of this, everything will be different. We may never be that carefree family again. He’s seen me now, seen the real me, the me that doesn’t think twice about snapping the neck of a threat. I wonder if he’ll ever see me as his sweet daughter again.

I give him a squeeze and slide out of the van, joining Johns on the street. We wave goodbye, checking our weapons one last time before activating the shield on the van. The alley closes in around us. I switch to the comm channel my Dad doesn’t know about.

“Tell me everything is going to be okay, Adrian.”

“We’re going to go in there, save your mother, having a touching reunion with your dad, and be back at the farm in time for a hot breakfast.”

I smile, grabbing his hand and squeezing it. I pull up the route we’ve planned, starting the combat overlay of the suit, the area around us lighting up with tech and life. In this mode, we can see all the angles, including behind us. It’s a weird way of viewing the world, one that takes me a moment to adjust to, even after all these years. I let go of Johns’ hand and take a step forward.

“Let’s do this.”

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