Chapter 3 There were still four jeeps left in the field. Four jeeps Lucius could potentially use to make his escape. Four jeeps which were almost certain to be so ridden with trackers that even he might not be able to find them all. There was little question in his mind what needed to be done, but the question was what was the best way to go about it. There was no question that They would already have initiated countless measures, both for reobtaining Marcus, and for making sure that, if they could not capture him, he would not remain alive. They would think he was just a fool, a fool surviving off of instinct and emotions, incapable of any form of logic. And whether they believed the short circuit that had allowed Marcus to escape and temporarily jammed his tracking signal was an accident or a plan, it hardly mattered now. They thought Lucius was dead. They had always misjudged him, misjudged his intelligence, misjudged his fear, misjudged his determination to rip Them apart, no matter what it took. This was simply the first step in Their destruction. There was a switchblade in the glove box of one of the jeeps, and its spring-loaded blade flipped open with a quiet click. They had placed the trackers in the very heart of this body, certain that meant that he would never be able to get it out. Certain that They would always be able to reacquire this most precious of weapons. It was just one more thing that they had misjudged. Marcus would never have been able to do it by himself. He was too bound in his own body, too tied to the signals that flitted from nerve to brain. But Lucius removed himself from the pain, from the deep, all consuming agony, as the silver blade slashed with surgical precision, as his brother’s scream echoed in the emptiness between them. His hands needed to be still to get the tracker out, and, in the end, this was for Marcus’ own good. And so he shut out Marcus’ screams as he had shut out the pain, his hands still with the apathy of a surgeon. The tracker was balanced on the tip of the knife, and the tip of the blade did not even quiver as he fully extracted the tiny chip from Marcus’ torso. Already the incisions were starting to heal, as Lucius carefully placed the chip on the dashboard of the Jeep. He could feel the body’s muscle knitting itself back together. Within an hour there would no longer be even a scar. Marcus’ screams had faded to little more than whimpers. He would be fine in a few minutes. There were more pressing problems. For one, after the amount of damage that he had sustained today, food was shortly going to become a problem. He could already feel the body beginning to register its instinctual complaint. However, there was an even more urgent matter that had to be dealt with. The blocker he had placed on the chip was not permanent, and now that it was out of Marcus’ body he doubted he had even two minutes before it reconnected with Their satellites. The chip was resilient, designed to survive any punishment that Marcus might take. But it was also supposed to be protected by Marcus’ body. Lucius grabbed the small tracker from where it was sitting on the dash, set it on the ground, and aimed one of the looted pistols at it. The fired bullet raised a shower of dirt a fraction of an inch from the chip. Pointedly holding back his frustration as he held back Marcus’ bid for control, Lucius bent down, picked up the chip between two delicate fingers, and set it down inside the barrel of the gun. This time, when he fired, there was no way for the bullet to miss. The chip fragmented into a thousand microscopic pieces, and Lucius set to work extracting the others. There would be other concerns to worry about, but they would have to wait until later. For now, the highest priority was getting away without being tracked. It might be doubtful that They would have sent another team already, but it did not pay to waste time. When he had no true data from which to build his hypotheses, caution was always the most advisable option. Marcus’ chest still hadn’t fully healed, but that also held no sway in Lucius’ mind. As long as the body did not die, pain was quite irrelevant. The Facility was not a place that people were supposed to come. In fact, any citizen who innocently found his or her way within a few miles of The Facility’s walls was generally “retired” and never heard from again. Lucius had never been the kind to stare out the window, even if there had been windows in the prison he had been forced to call home. But if he had, there would have been little to see, as the vast majority of the building was underground. The entrance to The Facility was surrounded by seemingly endless miles of dense, overgrown forest, so thick that no vehicle could make it through without following the rough dirt track that led to the front doors. Add that to the massive gates that blocked off the road and the wall that surrounded the compound, and it became nothing short of suicide to approach without orders. But this time, the dense cover would work to the Brothers’ advantage, for now that all three of Marcus’ trackers had been removed, they were less likely to be spotted on the satellites if there was no direct line of sight to them. For a moment, Lucius partially released control of Marcus, giving him a chance to let Lucius know where he wished to go. Marcus took an instinctive step towards the West, towards the wild and untamed mountains, away from the largest cities. But even that act had been calculated, because as soon as Marcus made his preferred direction known, Lucius pushed his way back into control, and forced Marcus’ feet into a one hundred eighty degree turn, facing the exact opposite direction. Marcus’ silent objections were vehement, but Lucius ignored them easily, quietly applying pressure onto Marcus until his brother once more fell into smoldering silence. They expected Marcus to be working off of instinct, and would likely be able to accurately predict where his instincts would lead him. It was Lucius’ job to ensure that he then went in the exact opposite direction. The hunters would waste time carefully grid searching the direction Marcus was expected to run, while he would be able to use the time to go underground in society. Of course, there would be hunters sent in every direction, but those who knew the most, those who would be most adept at reobtaining Marcus, would be heading into the wilds. And so Lucius set off, first at a walk, but breaking quickly into a trot and then a full out run, hurtling through the narrow gaps between the trees at inhuman speed, relying completely on Marcus’ excellent reaction time to keep them from crashing.