Chapter Twenty One
The fire popped and sizzled as another log was thrown into it. Leslie, Jubal, and Kathrine all sat around it, warding the chill of night away with the warm heat. Wyatt had made them move their camp farther away from the others to reduce the chance of anyone discovering the vial of C-59. The people of Hope's Light wouldn't react kindly if they found out that Wyatt had a cure hidden from the rest of them, no matter how diplomatic Bunch was. It had only been about a week since He had told them about the cure, and nothing bad had happened yet. Wyatt approached the fire with Chloe beside him, having recovered from her wounds with the help of the camp's medical technology. Leslie turned and looked at the two with surprise on her face. He and Chloe sat in two of the vacant spots around the fire. His eyes almost screamed of exhaustion as he starred at the fire, as if its flames would show him some secret if he watched them long enough.
"It's strange, isn't it," He asked, not aiming the question towards any particular person. They all turned to look at him questioningly.
"I have actually forgotten how long it's been since this all started. It's funny how I can forget something that serious." He rubbed his eyes with a slow-moving hand.
"It feels like we've been like this for years," Leslie agreed. She absently poked the fire with a stick, causing it to pop in response. Wyatt watched her, but his eyes were staring into space as he wrestled with the thoughts inside his head.
"Does anyone feel like playing a game of poker," Chloe ventured, trying to desperately lighten the mood. If anyone had answered her, the sound of grinding metal easily drowned out any voice. The large, Iron Gate scraped against the pavement loudly as two men pushed it open. Four people came running through the gateway; Rebekah was amongst them. Just as quickly as the gate had been opened, it was pushed shut again by the two strong men. The others watched as Rebekah caught her breath, leaning over with hands on knees. She then walked over to the mess hall and dropped a large brown sack in front of the chef, who happily began to rummage through it for the contents. Rebekah came strolling up to where they were all seated around their fire pit.
"Did I miss anything?" Her lips crept into a sly smile as she sat down in-between Wyatt and Jubal on the wooden bench.
Connor looked over the road map he had clutched in his hand. The once bright colors had long faded from the elements, which made it even more difficult to be read. Frowning, he glanced up towards the climbing sun and wiped some sweat from his brow.
"Hey Striker, have you gotten that GPS rigged yet? I don't see any Infected at the moment, but that doesn't mean there are none," He warned his young friend, who was currently sitting inside a nearby car holding a GPS system in between his calm hands.
"I'm working on it, just keep look out for any of those Creeps wandering around," He returned, striking two wires together.
Connor turned his gaze back to the tree line that extended along both sides of the highway they were on, slowly scanning for any threats. Striker continued to work on the device, silently wishing for a toolbox.
"I never thought it would end up like this, the world, you know," Connor commented as he stared up at a puffy white cloud.
"I always thought that I would live a normal life, get married to Rebekah, have some kids eventually, and die with her holding my hand. This isn't what I imagined at all."
Striker glanced up from his work to regard his friend. "How long have you and Rebekah been together," He asked, more for Connor's benefit than for his own.
"We started dating sophomore year in high school," came the response.
"So, a long time, then?"
"Yeah, quite a long time; I love her with all my heart, Strike, that's why we need to find her." Connor rang his hands together as a flash of worry crossed his face.
"Don't worry man, we'll find them, no problem, and from what you've told me so far about them I'm sure she's fine," Striker responded, lighting the GPS up with the connection of two wires.
Connor jumped down from the truck bed he was sitting on and walked over to examine the small GPS. The screen now displayed a map of the roads and highways leading from Lake Pass to Rainwood.
"The group we passed about three days ago said that Hope's Light is the closest settlement around here. I bet that's where they're camped, do you think it's worth checking out," Striker asked. Connor scratched his chin and glanced towards the sky while he thought, trying to take every possible scenario into account.
"Yeah, I do want to check it out. Even if they aren't there, we can still stock up on supplies and rest a few nights," Connor replied, mounting his bike. Striker let the GPS drop to the floorboard of the car and climbed behind Connor. With the roar of the engine they were headed east, towards the unknown.
"Are you sure you want to do this," Chloe questioned her friends. She stretched her back, causing it to pop loudly. She stood across from Wyatt and Jubal, in the center of a large circle drawn in the dirt.
"I'm sure," Wyatt responded with a smirk. Jubal rolled his neck and questioned her in return,
"Are you sure that you can take us both on?" Chloe's lips twitched upwards into an evil smirk.
"Please, I wouldn't be here if I couldn't do difficult tasks." She smirked again.
Wyatt dropped into a prepared stance, and focused on the woman in front of him. She suddenly, with unmatched speed, rushed towards them. She caught Jubal off guard and took away his balance with a sweeping kick. Wyatt saw the attack coming and stepped backwards, avoiding a left jab to the ribs. Spinning on his heel, Wyatt brought the palm of his fist into Chloe's stomach.
"Nice one there," Chloe muttered, bringing her heel hard against the back of his knee, causing him to kneel down in pain. Wyatt's blue eyes shone behind his hair as he regained his stance as quickly as he had lost it. Jubal then surprised her with a palm colliding into her side. Wyatt took advantage of Chloe's momentary surprise and swung his leg underneath hers, sending her falling to the ground.
"Give up yet," Jubal asked, smiling down at her form. She hooked her legs in his and sent him tumbling to the ground. She then used the momentum and pulled herself up to face Wyatt.
"Nice moves there, Sunshine. You've been practicing, haven't you," Wyatt said. He never took his eyes off of her, carefully watching her every move. He reminded her of a cat stalking a bird.
"Thanks for noticing; as it turns out I have practiced a little. What about you?" Chloe swiftly dodged a right jab targeting her cheek, and returned it with a series of quick strikes which landed on Wyatt's chest. When she made contact with the fourth strike, he grabbed her wrist and twisted her arm behind her back, inciting a yelp of pain from the young woman.
"Twice a day, as it turns out. How about we take a break and go down to the river to relax," He offered. After a moment of thought she nodded her head in agreement, smiling as he released her wrist.
"Rule number 1 of surviving out here," She started, sweeping his legs from under him and pouncing on him. She pinned his chest down with her knee and drew a long knife to his throat.
"Don't trust anyone or anything; always keep your senses." She stayed perched on his chest long enough to smirk one last time, proud of her victory, before standing and helping him back to his feet.
"You got me on that one, Sunshine. Drinks are on me tonight," Wyatt announced for everyone around them to hear, causing a loud group cheer to erupt from their spectators. To their surprise, Bunch was amongst the crowd of watchers, standing in between Rebekah and Leslie.
"Very nice work, you two, very nice indeed! But before you celebrate, I need to speak with the six of you. Alone, if we could," He addressed them with practiced caution, a good trait in a politician, Wyatt thought with a smirk.
"That's fine, we'll go ahead and swing by your office later then," Jubal said from behind Wyatt. Bunch smiled to them and rubbed the back of his neck.
"Is there something wrong," Wyatt asked, his face now drawn with seriousness. The smile fell from the other man's face as he was reminded of the topic that had brought him there.
"It is a matter which we will discuss in my office. There's no need to panic the others, not without cause anyway," Connor responded in a hushed tone. They all nodded in agreement. Chloe, Jubal, and Wyatt left to relax at the river while the others attended to their own concerns. Rebekah and Kathrine played by the fire, and Leslie sharpened her knife with a stone while she watched them. Something about Bunch's attitude had left a feeling of worry and concern swimming around in her head, but she tried to push the feeling away. They would know what he meant soon enough.