John reached Oliver’s restaurant with Olivia and Ronin in tow. According to the plan, he would meet with Samantha in his apartment to hand off the money, then head out to the helicopter meeting point to get picked up.
“Wait here,” he told them. “If I’m not back in five minutes, get to the end of the main street, grab a vehicle, and just… go.”
Olivia nodded. “Hurry back.”
He left them in the darkness and rushed upstairs.
As John reached reached for the door to his apartment,he was suddenly, and forcefully, knocked to the ground. He panicked, twisting and pushing himself free from his assailant when he realized it was Samantha.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
She made no sound, only gesturing for him to be quiet.
“What?” he asked, this time whispering.
“Ambush,” she said in a near silence. “Give me the money. Walk away.”
“I’ll do what I can,” she said. “You need to call Ruby and have them pick you up somewhere else.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Change of plans. Leonard suspects the helicopter is coming. He’s got people waiting, including a pair of goons in your home.”
“So he knows?”
“What about you?” John asked.
“He doesn’t know anything about me yet. I intend to keep it that way.”
“You can come with us,” John said. “We’ll take you to the Grid.”
She smiled slightly, but shook her head. “No thanks. Not for me.”
John nodded and looked at the radio. “Thank you, Samantha.”
“I wouldn’t thank me,” she said. “Now go.”
John did as he was told, stepping back through the alley until he reached the back of the restaurant where Olivia and Ronin were waiting. With them, he started making his way through the back of the buildings, heading toward the diner and away from the original meeting location.
It was only after he’d had a few minutes to process Samantha’s behavior that he realized the likely truth. She had known of Leonard’s plan because she had been involved in it. She had intended to sell them out, but for one reason or another, had decided against it.
He swallowed his sudden anger and focused on the task at hand.
Samantha opened the door to John’s apartment and was immediately assaulted by the two thugs that had been in waiting. They didn’t realize she wasn’t the target until after they’d tackled her to the ground.
“Get off me, you oaf!” she shouted.
“Where are the others?” one of them asked. “I don’t see the prisoners.”
“They didn’t come here?” she asked.
The two thugs went quiet and stepped back. Samantha turned to see Leonard Calgray had appeared in the front doorway. He looked at his two henchmen and gestured to the exit. They filed past him as he stepped inside, and he closed the door behind them.
“Do you have the money?” he asked.
She nodded, sliding the bag from her shoulders and opening it for him to see.
He grinned from ear to ear. “Part one was a success,” he said. “Now, where did John take Olivia?”
“I don’t know,” she lied. “We got separated during the heist. I had to stall Bryan directly, so they reached the roof and slipped out. When Bryan called you, I was standing next to him.”
“Unfortunate,” Leonard replied. “They were supposed to come here, right?”
She nodded. “I don’t know if they already did or if they were heading straight to the helicopter.”
“Didn’t they need you to tell them the location?”
“John wanted a rough location before the heist. I didn’t think anything of it then. He may not have trusted me.”
Leonard nodded. “He is smarter than he looks, I suppose. No matter, I already have my men waiting at the meeting site. When the helicopter arrives we’ll capture it, then we can focus on finding the prisoners.”
“Where should we keep the money?” Samantha asked.
“For now? Let’s leave it here. John won’t need this place any time soon.”
The diner was easy enough to find in the dark thanks to the neon light that Nancy Rizzo had so proudly installed on the building. John called for Olivia and Ronin to follow and started climbing the steps that would take them to the roof.
“When we get to the top,” he explained as he climbed. “Ruby is going to come in with the helicopter and pick us up. The militia goons will be drawn by the sound, so we’ll have to act fast. Olivia, you go first, then Ronin, and I’ll go last.”
“Do you guys have any kinds of weapons?” Ronin asked. “In case we need to defend ourselves?”
“No weapons,” John said firmly. “No one gets hurt because of us.”
“Can’t say they’ll be so kind,” Ronin replied.
“Maybe not,” John admitted. “That’s up to them.”
Ronin looked like he might have more to say, but he didn’t speak up as they all heard the distant sound of the helicopter approaching. Somewhere in the distance they heard the shouts of the militiamen as they approached too.
“Alright guys,” John said. “Prepare to climb!”
Ruby Rose angled the helicopter sharply forward to increase her speed. She knew time wasn’t going to be on their side with this revised escape plan. She saw the lights of the main street not far ahead and turned to face the diner. As she pulled back on the flight stick to slow her approach, she saw several figures in the road below, haphazardly chasing in her direction.
The helicopter reached the diner, and she spotted John on the roof, pulling Olivia and Ronin up the ladder to join him. She twisted her vehicle so the side door was parallel with the back wall of the building and lowered down until her right strut touched the building’s edge.
She looked out her right window and saw John waving Olivia toward the door.
Ronin looked determined. He rushed forward without hesitation, leaping from the building and landing firmly against the helicopter rails.
“Welcome aboard!” Ruby called.
There was a brief moment, then Olivia was on board too.
It was in that moment that Ruby saw someone’s head poking up over the ladder to the roof. John must have seen them too, because he rushed forward and threw himself inside the helicopter. He landed on top of Ronin, who hadn’t quite recovered from his own heroic leap, and the moment Ruby was confident they were both secure, she twisted the flight stick and pulled away from the diner.
By now, at least one other had reached the rooftop and the pairs was standing where John had been just moments before. Ruby gave a sigh of relief and then started to turn toward the Grid.
“Everyone okay back there?” she asked.
“Yeah,” John shouted. “So far so—”
There was a thud against the craft that sounded like something had pelted them. John had suddenly ducked, but Ruby didn’t understand, until she looked down and saw one of the figures was holding a weapon… a weapon she had never seen in town, but immediately recognized.
They had a gun.
She threw the craft forward again, and the helicopter swept away from the diner, avoiding more shots, and she didn’t yield from her retreat until the lights of town were nothing more than a dim glow on the horizon.
“Is everyone okay?” she shouted.
“Yes,” Olivia replied. “Everyone is fine.”
Ruby looked back forward and started to think of how she was going to deliver this news to Elsie Lamarr. The townspeople had guns. They had used guns.
On top of the diner, the two watched the helicopter’s blinking lights vanish in the distance. As they stood there, Leonard Calgray finished climbing the ladder to join them. He stepped over to where they were standing and took a deep breath before he reached out and put a hand on the shoulder of one of the men.
“Who fired the gun?” he asked.
The woman, Grace, grimaced in response to Leonard’s question. She knew she was in trouble, but she remained silent.
Leonard didn’t relent. “You see, I have kept that weapon a secret since I got my hands on it. I specifically told you two not to fire it unless you absolutely had to do so to secure the prisoner. As I see no prisoner here, I assume that means you failed that objective. So, I ask again, who fired the gun?”
“It was Grace,” the man answered.
“I gave the weapon to you, Tom. How did Grace get it?”
“I took it from him,” Grace spoke up. “He had it crammed in his pants there, and I took it. I thought I could hit Olivia.”
Leonard shook his head. “Grace, those gunshots echoed from here to Town Hall. Citizens already heard it, and several of them already reported it to Rayland. That means we’re all in trouble. I can’t hide something like this once it’s out there.”
“So what then,” Grace asked, her voice growing agitated. “You want to overthrow the mayor and rule the city, don’t you? What are we waiting around for? Olivia and her helicopter don’t mean anything to us. We have the farms. We have the power.”
Leonard seemed to contemplate Grace’s words for a long time. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this could end horribly. A subordinate had disobeyed a critical order. If this were a film, Leonard might well have thrown Grace off the top of the building as punishment for her failure. The truth be told, though, Leonard only took a deep breath and extended his hand. “Give me the gun.”
The very nervous Grace did as she was told.
“Now, you two go round up the others I can trust. Grace is right. The time to act is upon us. Rayland and the citizens are going to ask too many questions now. The facade of protection is over. It’s time to reveal our true intentions.”
“What about those in our group that won’t follow through?”
“We’ll organize at the fire station. Tell people to make a choice. Those that choose to stand with me come along. Those that refuse will get locked in the fire station until we’ve done our job. Then we can ask them if they want to reconsider.”
Leonard smiled. “Get ready, soldiers. This time next week, we’ll be in charge of the whole town.”