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Tenenbaum didn’t say a word, just kept getting her supplies together in preparation to make Lot 192. Looked like she was coming along, at least, but it was up to Elizabeth to decide anything that remained.
With a careful breath as she watched Jack, Elizabeth reached for the radio from Diane. She only hesitated for a second before opening the channel. “Booker, do you read me?”
“Yes,” he answered, curt with the expectation of worse news he always seemed to carry. He wouldn’t be wrong, not this time. “McDonough’s secure.”
“Can you meet us Suchong’s old apartment? We need Lot 192 for Jack now.” As if on cue, Jack hissed and tensed while he was getting his weapons together for braving the city. Try as he might to be subtle about it, Elizabeth couldn’t keep from noticing his every expression and stumble.
“The hell happened?” An echo of McDonough in the background layered with Booker’s response, but they didn’t have time for either. Not yet.
“We’ll tell you when we get there,” Elizabeth explained, picking up extra ammo for her gun.
“Right,” he grumbled and the line went to static.
“Ready to go?” Tenenbaum hadn’t wasted a moment, her pistol and science equipment ready.
“As I’ll ever be,” Jack breathed, pale but determined as he made his way to the exit.
“I’ll stay with the girls and watch the clinic. You be safe out there, you hear me?” Diane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand gently, giving her a worried smile.
“Of course, Diane.” Elizabeth felt a pang of guilt that it couldn’t be a promise, but she would do her best. They all needed to come home.
– – – Outside Suchong’s Old Apartment – – –
Slowed down by Jack, they arrived to gunfire and shouting already underway. Without a word, everyone reacted like a well-oiled machine. They covered each other’s back and pushed forward to the apartment itself– no sign of Booker or McDonough, unless the dead splicers they passed counted as evidence.
“Elizabeth,” Jack called out, pointing down the hallway to a lit room across from a slumped over, bloody splicer. “The– there. I saw Booker.”
How he caught so much in battle, she would never know. She nodded, leading the way with her gun ready. Tenenbaum shoved past, going directly for the shelves and muttering in German.
“Thank God,” Booker muttered, stepping back to give her space. Science was… Out of his scope, so she couldn’t be surprised.
“Good to see you too,” she teased him, smirking. Everything had been so chaotic from possible treaties to Atlas’ ambitions, this was a shred of normalcy Elizabeth needed.
“Aha!” That was the only alert from Tenenbaum that she was making progress before she cleared off a battered desk and set to work.
“So…” McDonough cleared his throat, thumbing to Jack. He looked older than she thought he’d be, but he had a naturally fatherly air about him that made you want to trust him. “This the kid?”
“Yeah,” Booker answered, studying Jack and his unsteady breathing. “Yeah, that’s the one.”
“Ryan’s kid,” McDonough said through a laugh. “Yer dad’s not a bad man, son, he’s just…” He scratched the back of his head awkwardly, the sentence dying. “I’m Bill McDonough. ‘S great to meet ya.”
“Thanks,” Jack answered, taking Bill’s offered hand. “He… Kind of is.”
“Almost done,” Tenenbaum interrupted, though Elizabeth doubted that she’d known she had. This was Tenenbaum’s area of expertise, after all.
“Hello, boyo,” came the fizzled voice of Atlas through Booker’s radio. “Hope you ‘ad fun cutting down my people,” he spat, a sure sign he wasn’t alone. He only had to put on a show for his people, not one of them mattered to him.
“‘Cause we’re gonna get even.” Elizabeth raised her eyebrows, distantly impressed with his emotion. For a person who can’t bring himself to genuinely connect, he almost sounded invested. “Hurry now to Point Prometheus, an’ you might just be in time to save yer old man.”
Thankfully, they had Tenenbaum to break up the staticy silence that followed.
“Jack,” she called him over, holding up two bottles. “You’re a free man.”
What do you want to do, Elizabeth?
– – –
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