Rebel Heart (Chapter Six, page 1 of 11)

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Lana had done exactly as Elise directed. She hugged the tree-line down to the side of the mountain then climbed a tree and waited. Daylight brought the sounds of gunfire and rockets on top of the mountain that didn't cease even when night fell again. She checked the status of the systems from her micro and downed dehydrated meal bars and anti-sleepers. The painkillers didn't work, and by noon, she had a pulsing headache and no idea how to change the leaky bandage around her wrist.

She stayed in her tree, waiting for Elise. She'd removed her personal identifiers, hacked into the government's tracking mainframe to deactivate the implant in her brain, and changed into the black tactical uniform Elise brought her over her civilian grays. Elise promised to find her by dusk, and together, they'd go west, to the Peace Command Center.

Dusk came and went. Lana grew uneasy and watched the sky flare with rocket and laser fire from the battle at the Peak. She touched the small vault containing the Horsemen in her cargo pants and sipped water.

The forest below her rustled, and she froze. Someone was down there. Elise didn't give the bird call they'd agreed on, so Lana said nothing. Suddenly, half a dozen well-armed men appeared below her. They headed towards the top of the mountain. Moonlight glinted off their weapons and gear. She watched them go, startled to witness the men in Western uniforms that Elise had claimed to see. Growing anxious, she turned her attention to the sound of the stream Elise had told her to follow if she didn't make it there by dusk.

Lana hugged the tree, willing her friend to appear. She didn't look forward to traveling alone into the valley where she'd last seen a sat image of what looked like a militia. Its size was camouflaged by the surrounding forest and technology.

Another hour passed. She grew cold and her injured arm hurt more and more. She slowly moved from her position and crawled down the tree with effort, the movement sending pain through her tender wrist.

She carried little else than the lockbox, her micro, and enough meal supps and anti-sleepers for two weeks. She had a laser gun, even if she couldn't hit a target two feet in front of her. Elise was going to help her.

If she showed.

Lana's heart skipped a beat, and she pulled out the tracker Elise gave her, starting through the forest towards the stream. She didn't walk far before she heard the creak and snap of branches. She froze. After a moment of silence, she started forward again.

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