Via watched as a Crawler tripped and fell down into the tunnel. Quickly hands reached out and pulled the Crawler to his feet and down into the safety of the winding tunnel. The old Via would have spat at the sight, but now in the chaos of war it only seemed right… seemed human. Via continued to watch was more and more refugees ducked into the tunnel until it seemed there was no one else left. The sounds of fighting had faded, replaced by the roaring engines of the Outsiders coming to bomb what was left of the streets.
“I think that is the last of us,” Eliza said from somewhere behind Via. The Leech leader turned to find not only Eliza but Eve, Kyle, Mark and Dani.
“You are sure this tunnel is safe?” Via asked.
“Not entirely, but it is our best bet,” Eve replied, “I’ve never followed it to the end, but I know it goes to the woods to the north, and from there it should lead out into the mountains.”
Via just nodded.
“How much time do you think we have?” Dani asked.
“Not too much,” Kyle answered, “We need to get going.”
There was a mutual nod among the group. Eve jumped down into the tunnel entrance with a grace her small, fragile looking body shouldn’t have possessed. Eliza followed, helping the injured Kyle down after her.
Mark was just starting to climb down when the sharp report of gunfire whistled around them. Via ducked down, knocking her chin on a piece of rubble as she did.
“Shit,” Dani hissed, when the gunfire stopped.
“Everyone okay?” Eve called, she was crouched down in the tunnel, arm and body protectively wrapped around both Eliza and Kyle.
“Yeah, but that isn’t the problem. They are right on top of us. There isn’t enough time!” Dani’s voice carried an uncharacteristic panicky tone.
“We need to draw their attention away so everyone has time to get past the city’s limits,” Eve said.
“How are we going to do that?” Kyle asked.
There was a moment of silence before Via finally pulled herself from the ground, wiping blood from her face.
“I’ll do it,” she said, so soft she wasn’t even so sure she had spoken at all.
“I am coming with you,” Dani and Mark said almost at the same time. Via was silent, holding her head. It was still spinning from the impact with the ground.
“That’s suicide!” Eliza cried out.
“No, we can lead them down towards the bay, and hide out in the old shipyard. Assuming they don’t already know about the tunnel route, escape by sea seems like the most reasonable,” Mark said. He was leaning awkwardly at the ragged entrance to the tunnel, and Via could see a bullet wound on his right shoulder still bleeding profusely.
“That could work,” Dani said after a moment. She turned to Via, still looking from validation from her leader.
Via was silent, still, as she studied the group before her. She knew that Mark was wrong. The shipyard wouldn’t be safe. The best chance was to draw the attention as far away from the tunnel as possible. She glanced from face to face, Eliza, Kyle, Mark, Dani, and finally Eve. Their eyes met and Via gave a small smile. Eve stared back for a second before giving a solemn nod. The two of them never needed words to communicate.
“Well, is it a plan?” Dani asked.
Via closed her eyes before turning and punching Dani across the face, sending her sprawling into the tunnel. There was a moment of confusion and chaos as Via quickly pulled lose the few stones propping the heavy metal lid open. The last she saw was Eve and Kyle pulling an unconscious Dani and an angry Mark away from the entrance.
She didn’t wait around to hear anymore outcry. She was up over the ridge of rubble before the heavy lid had fully slammed shut.
She ran up and over the mess that had once been her kingdom. She made sure she was in plain sight, but her crouched and practiced movements would still give the appearance of someone trying to hide.
She was just turning onto the main street that had divided her and Eve when the whistle of gun fire filled her ears once more.
Via winced as a bullet grazed her leg, but kept running. She turned down the park trail before finally stopping to catch her breath behind a tree.
She didn’t have long, as the thudding of footsteps crashing through the woods filled the air.
Via stood and made a break for the pipe that would take her out to the bay, but as soon as she stood there was a sharp ripping pain in her gut. She hadn’t even heard the gunshot. Her ears filled with the rushing roar of blood as she crumpled to the ground.
Faintly around her she heard voices calling out phrases and words that meant nothing. She managed to pull herself up to her knees, and throw herself forward. She continued like this for several seconds, until she collapsed back out on the main street. She could even see what was left of her Church from here. The sight gave her another burst of life and she struggled to her feet but as soon as she managed to steady herself there was a sharp short report of a gun. Via didn’t even feel this one. She didn’t feel anything, nothing but the warm feeling of her blood escaping her body and painting the street under her.