Guilt settled in Eden’s stomach like a parasite, gnawing at him from the inside out, as he watched Dr. Harker leaning over August’s limp body. Inside the darkness of the abandoned warehouse, with only a few small candles to light the workspace, Eden and Micah stood by, helpless as Harker and his daughter worked to bring August back to some form of stability.
It had been almost twelve hours since Micah had found August’s unconscious form huddled alone in the warehouse district, barely breathing with his lips covered in a sheen of blood. Eden had awoken to the sound of Micah’s desperate cries, screaming for help. And together with Booker and Delta, he and Micah had done what they could to nurse August back to some semblance of consciousness. But still, his body laid still, his breathing erratic.
Harker had finally arrived that morning with Iris and Blaise in tow. Eden’s jaw clenched at the sight of Blaise, but he forced himself to ignore the sting of the unresolved tension between them. It had been weeks, since before Desmo, that he and his childhood best friend had spoken directly. But none of that mattered now. Their plan was falling into place and August’s unexpected illness served as a distraction, a diversion from the goal at hand.
Micah stood beside him, his breathing ragged, his large brown eyes filled with torment as they watched Harker work. Eden could see the guilt pulling at Micah’s heart. He hadn’t spoken much since finding August, but Eden knew. They had been friends before Eden had come into Micah’s life. They had shared many commonalities, horrific experiences to which Eden could never relate. In confidence, Micah had mentioned a shared time in the Orphanage. It was a life Eden would never be able to understand. And he had willfully distracted Micah, stolen all of his time like a selfish and demanding bridegroom on his honeymoon. Perhaps part of this, part of August’s circumstances, was Eden’s fault.
He felt the heavy weight of Micah’s stare. “This isn’t your fault, Eden.”
Eden stilled. Sometimes, it was almost as though Micah could see through him, guessing his thoughts before he himself even knew them. “I’ve been selfish of your time,” he stated but Micah shook his head.
“It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I’ve been selfish. I’ve chased my own pleasure rather than seeing what was right in front of me. I can’t forget about them, Eden. I can’t forget about my family.”
Eden swallowed. “I would never ask that of you.”
“I know that.” Micah’s tone wasn’t cold, but nor was it inviting. It just was. Eden felt his stomach clench with anxiety.
Iris and Harker seemed to have coaxed August’s breathing into a lighter, less troubled rhythm. As Harker got to his feet, Eden sensed Micah tensing at his side. “Is he going to be ok?” Micah asked.
Harker nodded. “Yes. He’s stabilized. But he’s very sick, Micah. I’m not sure why he didn’t tell me sooner.”
Micah huffed, shaking his head so locks of long, dark hair fell in his face. “He’s stubborn like that. Wouldn’t want to trouble anyone. Fucking martyr.”
“What he’s been through was hard on his already weakened immune system. Being in Desmo likely didn’t help. I’m afraid it’s shaken loose a whole mess of problems. He’ll need to sleep now, to recover his health. Or I fear this could get much worse.”
Micah blanched, his eyes darting back to August’s prone form. “Will he…die?”
Harker placed a gentle hand on Micah’s shoulder. “I’ll do everything in my power to prevent that from happening. I promise.” After a moment, his gaze returned to Eden with a meaningful look. “I know we’re all a bit shaken. But we can’t allow ourselves to postpone action because of this. Are you still prepared?”
Eden nodded. Today was the day they moved forward with their plan to combat Tovar. “Of course,” he said.
Harker’s body was tensed like a coiled spring. “The government is up in arms about what happened with Desmo. They’re launching full-scale military questioning in the Yellow and Pleasure Districts. They’re looking for us. For you, specifically. Tovar is blaming your escape on the Resistance.”
“He’s not wrong,” Micah grimaced.
“No,” Harker agreed. “But we need to reframe the narrative. Take ownership of it and use it to our advantage before he does so in a way that is detrimental to our cause.”
“Then we need to move,” Eden affirmed.
“Clara will be waiting for you at our specified access point. Blaise will escort you. You’ll record the transmission there. Clara has informed me that the government may be able to track the transmission so that being said, you will only have one chance to record. Say what you need to say, make it quick and cut to the point. Just as we discussed. Yes?
Eden swallowed. “Yes. You said the transmission will be broadcast throughout all of Elysian?”
“Every television set that is tuned in. Tovar is intending to make a statement on the Desmo attack today. If we time our transmission right, we should be able to not only block his statement but run ours directly over top of his.”
Eden smirked. “He’ll hate that.”
Harker nodded, a true smile breaking out over his face. “That’s the point, isn’t it?”
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