My foot pressed hard against Jet’s neck, holding him down as I pointed a gun at my own brother. The dull ache in my chest pulsed in time with my heartbeat. This was what we had come to. This was the design that Ryan and Sonya had created.
Jet’s face was red, both from the pressure I had on his throat and the rage burning inside him. Anger had fueled the fight, but now, I just wanted him to understand. We’d had a plan, him and I. He wanted to speed up the time table, but that just wasn’t possible. We were playing the long tail game.
“Listen to me, Jet. I can fix this. There’s too many variables to destroy Section Five right now. Give me some time so I can tie off the loose ends and people don’t get hurt.”
Jet’s eyes were empty, lost as they gazed up. He laughed and closed his eyes. “There’s no other way, Daniel. This is the only way it can end.”
Sadness iced over my heart. I barely recognized Jet anymore. Section Five had destroyed him. We had come into this life together. When Jet had been tagged, I came with him, because that was what family did. We looked after each other. I wasn’t about to lose him. I’d even volunteered to take his place. Ryan had had other plans for us, though. We’d been his puppets from the beginning.
Over the years, it had always been about keeping my family safe. I’d failed them horribly. All of them. Jet had never had the right mindset for Section Five. He was too unstable, too unpredictable. Too human. The longer I was here, the more I realized that in the beginning, he was the bait. I was always the real target. Kala had been a natural, but she was Ryan’s insurance that Jet and I behaved ourselves.
Kala’s death had killed off any possibility of Jet ever conforming. Jet had given up on life. He was ready to die, willing even, and he wanted me to kill him. My heart contracted painfully, each beat of it sending shockwaves of pressure through my body. I could have shot him right then, and ended it all. Ryan wouldn’t have a hold on me anymore.
Jet was still my family, though. All I had left.
“Jet…” I swallowed hard. I hadn’t realized it had gotten so bad, that Jet had given up on living.
“Shoot me or get the fuck off me so I can finish what I’m doing.” He shoved at my boot.
It didn’t matter how bad Jet wanted it. I couldn’t kill my own brother. I stepped back, but I didn’t stop pointing my gun at him. “Get up. Slow.”
Jet pushed himself to his elbows, giving me a full view of his chest as a target. “You’re going to have to kill me, Daniel. I’m not going to stop.”
I could have hit him six different ways to wound him, so this could end. Any number of other ways to kill him. Maybe that was what Jet wanted, but it wasn’t what I wanted. Wounding a wild animal only made things worse, and I just didn’t have the will to put a bullet in his fucked-up head.
“Like hell.” Damn Jet for knowing me so well, for knowing that I couldn’t shoot my own brother. “You’ve almost killed me three times today. Maybe I should return the favor.”
“You know if I wanted you dead, you’d be dead, Daniel.” Jet slowly pushed his way to his feet, holding his hands up in surrender. For the moment, he was calm, and for Jet, that was dangerous. He thrived on emotion. Standing there, calm and collected… well… “You’re not a cold-blooded killer. You won’t let me kill anyone here, and you won’t kill me either.”
“Don’t push me,” I growled.
“Don’t push me.” Jet punctuated his words with a fast kick. The gun flew from my hands and Jet moved in close, just close enough that I couldn’t block the swing of his fist into my face. My head snapped to the side, and he slammed his knee into my gut. I bent over instinctively to protect my midsection and he followed that with a fist to my face again.
I fell to the floor, gasping for air while my head throbbed and my nose gushed blood. He’d caught me by surprise and I should have known better. My stomach ached as I pushed myself up to my knees. Blood dripped on the smooth floor, marring the beautiful surface.
Jet slammed his clasped hands between my shoulder blades. I fell back to the floor with a pained groan. “Stay the fuck down. For your own goddamn good, Daniel.”
The alarm overhead screamed in time with the throbbing in my head, blood slid down my face. I couldn’t focus anymore on where it was coming from. Jet shook his head. “Here that?”
I nodded. “Ryan’s calling out the dogs.”
“Yep. That’s what I wanted him to do.”
“You’re never getting out of here. Not now. Exits will be covered. Every one of them.”
Jet picked up the gun I’d lost, and slowly pointed it at me. “Oh, I think you know I will. With what I have, Ryan won’t dare to touch me if he can’t be sure he can kill me.”
I dabbed the corners of my eyes to keep the blood from running into them while Jet slung the strap of a metal case over his shoulder, cross-sectioning his body. I hadn’t seen that case before. What part of his plan was inside there? More bombs?
“You know what the best part of this is?”
“What’s that?” I winced as I stood up, my body complaining with every movement. Fuck, but Jet had kicked my ass. I pressed my fingers against my side, where most of the throbbing pain was centered. Broken rib, most likely. Maybe two. Or three. It hurt. A lot.
“You’re not going to follow me.”
“You think not?” I asked angrily, though clenched teeth. “What could possibly stop me?”
“I don’t want to kill you, Daniel. Please don’t make me.” Jet’s throat worked up and down, the first sign of regret I’d seen since this started. His face hardened, like he realized suddenly he was showing too much emotion. “But never think that I won’t. Section Five has trained me well. I’m not like you.”
Wasn’t that the truth?
“Come after me, and I will blow this place, and destroy all your little pets. Including your girlfriend.”
“You’ll kill us both.”
Jet shook his head again. Conflict roared across his face, but the one thing I didn’t see was indecision. He had already made up his mind. He’d been lying about the dead man switch obviously, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t detonate. Jet did what Jet could to survive.
Hell, we all did.
Section Five had taught us that.
“Well, big bro, time for me to get moving. Just… remember what I said.”
“What’s in the case?” I blurted out as he started to back away.
He smiled, both mischievous and elated at the same time. He ran his free hand over the smooth outside of it. “Ask Ryan.”
“Jet! Don’t do this!” I stepped forward, wincing as my ribs protested the sharp movement.
Jet leveled that gun at me, the dark barrel staring me down. “Don’t. Move.” His voice was more warning than threat.
“Tell me not to kill you,” he whispered, his voice wavering just so slightly. “It would be so easy to do right now.”
“We can work this out, Jet. I promised you I’d get us out. I just need more time.”
Jet shook his head. “Too late. I’m taking charge. Ryan and Sonya… they already killed us. Our family is gone. There’s nothing you can do to fix that. No more broken promises, big brother. Kala’s dead. Because of us. David probably is, too. Or worse. Who the fuck knows.”
Jet fired the gun, the bullet ricocheting off a nearby wall. I flinched, fulling expecting that bullet to have been in my head. Taking down Section Five wasn’t hard. The impossible part was doing it without killing the entire agent population. That was where delicacy was needed. Jet knew that. I didn’t get why he was flying off the program now.
Jet shook his head. “Here’s the difference between me and you, Daniel. I won’t hesitate. As far as I’m concerned, killing you is a mercy rather than leaving you here alive for them to butcher your mind some more.”
God help me, I saw the struggle in his eyes. He really believed it, that I wasn’t who I thought I was, or that I was compromised in some way. As shattered as he was, he actually believed that I was the one who was broken.
“Then here is where it starts. Do it,” I said, my eyes meeting my brother’s in pure defiance. “Because I will come after you. And I won’t stop.”
Everything seemed to slow from that point. The gun fired, and seemed to take long seconds to reach me. The bullet slammed into my shoulder, the force of the impact knocking me off my feet. Pain flooded every part of my body, completely overwhelming my senses. My vision darkened, but I fought to stay awake. I tried to stand, but the world spun uncontrollably, and I crashed to the floor again. When I glanced up, Jet was gone.
My own brother had declared war on me, and on Section Five.
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