A/N: Hooray! Prompts are spilling in, this is AWESOME! Okay, so this one comes from LunaMexi117 and MexiFBI95, who suggested Maddy save Mark. I love this idea and Luna had actually discussed it with me before, so I've seized the opportunity to write this in as a prompt. Big thanks to Luna and Mexi! Also, Inkblood suggested a few dormouse names for my little secretary and he has decided that he shall henceforth be known as Alejandro C. Dormouse. The C stands for Cheddar. He sends his warmest thanks to Inkblood for providing him with a suitable name. Okay, so now let's get to it. Read and review! And send me more prompts so that I can keep writing these!
Two days. It had been two whole days since Mark was due back from a routine outpost check. The rovers had come in, as had the motorcycle outriders that had led the group. But for some reason Mark's motorcycle, which had been bringing up the rear, never showed up. Maddy had gone into hysterics quite quickly, but she had been reassured that he was probably just separated, that he knew his way back, and that he would only be delayed by a few hours at most. Hours ticked into days and there was still no sign of him.
Maddy lay awake at night, staring at nothing in particular and wishing for him to suddenly burst through the doors and scoop her up in his arms and apologize profusely for not coming home sooner. Of course, no such thing occurred, and the not-knowing was driving her crazy.
It was the night of day two when she overheard something she suspected she wasn't supposed to hear. Her parents were chatting in hushed whispers in the living room, just beyond hers and Zoe's bedroom. The voices were hushed and urgent and she had to strain to hear properly, but she knew they were talking about him so she eavesdropped anyway.
"Really?" her mother's voice drifted from the living room. "They were so bold as to contact Taylor and make demands?"
"They've got him, Elisabeth. They're holding one of his best soldiers hostage."
Maddy fought to keep her emotions in check. On one hand, she was relieved. After two days there was talk that he had possibly died out there. But on the other hand, things were still very bleak. Whoever 'they' were, they had her boyfriend and they were trying to leverage him against Commander Taylor.
"What is Taylor going to do?" her mother asked, a tone of worry in her voice.
"What can he do, Elisabeth? Reynolds is a loyal soldier—Taylor can't just leave him to die."
"Absolutely not," Elisabeth concurred, "but what is his plan? Is he just going to give in to their demands?"
"I don't know," Jim whispered tersely. "But whatever he plans to do, he's going to have to do it quick. If my hostage crisis training is anything to go by, Reynolds doesn't have much time left."
Maddy stopped listening after that. Her eyes were glassy and her vision blurred. She had been preparing herself, albeit uneasily, for the idea that she may never see Mark again, but hearing he was alive and being used as a bargaining chip? And then having to face the fact that she still may never see him again? The thought was unbearable.
The next morning, Maddy did something she had only done one other time before—burst into the Command Center. Mark had been with her that time, and she had watched Taylor hold a knife to his throat. This time, Mark was in peril again, only he wasn't anywhere nearby her.
Taylor looked up, startled but not entirely surprised by her presence. She looked around hesitantly for a moment, feeling the eyes of all the soldiers. "Can I help you, Miss Shannon?" Taylor asked, almost like an invitation.
Maddy swallowed. "I…" her voice cut out and she cleared her throat. "I want to know what's happening to Mark," she said clearly.
"Well I'm sure you do," Taylor regarded her with his head tilted to one side. He was sitting on the end of his desk. Maddy glanced about, seeing her father, Reilly, Dunham, and Curran among the many faces all looking on. She felt very self-conscious but she had come all this way. She wasn't leaving until she got what she wanted. "But I'm sorry," Taylor continued. "There isn't very much I can tell you. There isn't very much I know."
"With all due respect, sir," Maddy started, trying to sound as polite as possible before basically accusing him of lying outright, "I overheard my parents discussing what was going on last night." Jim straightened up a little bit at this, folding his arms and looking at his daughter with a slightly worried frown.
"I'm Mark's girlfriend, Commander," Maddy continued, as if he didn't already know. "I feel…"she trailed off momentarily. "I feel like I have a right to know."
Taylor looked at her with a mixture of wonder and impression, then shot a sideways glance at her father. "Alright," he conceded, nodding his head for emphasis. "I see your point and I respect it. I suppose that, as one of Corporal Reynolds' loved ones, you do have a right to know. But the question is: do you really want to know?" His blue eyes regarded her closely and she felt as if he were trying to read her mind.
Maddy nodded, not meeting his gaze. "Yes," she said. "I do want to know."
"Corporal Reynolds has been captured," Taylor finally told her. It was hardly a revelation for her. "By the Phoenix Group." Maddy's heart froze. That was something she didn't know. Although if she thought about it enough, she would have probably reached this conclusion on her own too. Who else could have captured him?
Taylor paused, let it digest, then moved on. "And they're demanding quite a lot from us in order to get him back."
Maddy's heart sank. From the way the Commander was speaking, it seemed like he wasn't going to give in to the demands. And that meant Mark was in very grave danger.
"But," he started anew, "Corporal Reynolds is one of my finest men, and he does have valuable information…" he added the last bit to make his reasoning seem more justified, "so we do intend to launch a rescue party to retrieve him."
Maddy's heart rate increased, her eyes shining with fresh hope. "How long until you launch the rescue party?" she questioned eagerly.
"We're waiting on a convoy to return from OTG so we can double the number of soldiers. It shouldn't be more than forty-eight hours."
Maddy's heart sank again, remembering what her dad had told her once about a hostage situation. If their demands aren't met within twenty-four hours, the hostage's chance of survival drops considerably, and it'll just keep dropping with each hour past…
"Commander!" she burst out, unable to stop herself, "we can't wait that long! Mark probably doesn't have that long!"
Taylor looked a little surprised at her outburst. Jim stepped forward, placing a firm hand on his daughter's shoulder. "Maddy, I think it's time for you to go." Maddy nodded, blinking tears from her eyes as she silently left the command center.
It was midnight. Most normal people were asleep, but not Maddy Shannon. She sat up in bed, glancing quickly to her left to ensure Zoe was still sound asleep. She was. Stealthily, she crept from her bed, fully dressed in outdoor clothing that would afford her maximum mobility. She had slipped it on after bidding her parents good night. Quietly, she slid the door open, peering through the crevice to ensure that her parents had gone to bed. Satisfied that no one was awake, she slipped out, shutting the door again.
Maddy froze when she heard Josh mumble something. He had left his bedroom door open to help relieve some of the heat. She peered in cautiously, finding him muttering in his sleep and in the process of rolling over. Breathing out a relieved sigh, she picked up the carefully-packed backpack she had casually left by the door. She had read enough action stories to know that she needed to be prepared for anything. That's why she also took her father's sonic gun from its hiding place in the front closet. She thanked God that Mark had taught her how to fire it. With a last look behind her and a deep breath to steel herself, Maddy opened the front door as quietly as she could and stepped out into the warm night. She took of in a run as soon as her feet left the porch.
The motor pool was dark at this time of night, but Maddy knew that there were still guards on duty. The slightest disturbance would awaken them, so she would have to be stealthy. If they woke up too soon, it would all be for naught. She easily scaled the small fence that kept the area gated in—more a formality than an actual defense against any serious threat. Once in, she looked around to get her bearings and spotted the object of her desire. A rhino.
There were three models of vehicles used in Terra Nova. One was a motorcycle, which Maddy quickly ruled out as an option due to its noisiness, inability to seat two people comfortably (and Mark could be injured) and the fact that she didn't know how to ride one. Option two was a standard issue rover, which would work fine except for the fact that it didn't have doors, which left her vulnerable. And if Mark was injured, then every meat-eating thing in the forest would be in hot pursuit. That left option three, the heavily-armored, high power rhinos. The rhino would have plenty of space in the back and it was very, very secure.
Setting her bag down in the passenger seat, Maddy set to work hot-wiring the vehicle. Mark had shown her how to do this, too, in case she should ever find herself in a situation where the only way to escape was in one of these vehicles. Crossing the two color-coded cables, she felt a rumble and a quiet hum as the batter-powered truck jumped to life, flooding the surrounding area with bright light. She had to go. Now.
Swallowing her heart, she floored it. The large vehicle leapt forward as the startled guards frantically attempted to stop her. She felt the entire vehicle shake as it crashed through the fence. One obstacle cleared, one more to go—Terra Nova's main gate. Luckily, she knew every military-spec rover had a device that would signal to open the gate. With any luck, the people in the command center wouldn't know she had stolen the vehicle and would hopefully assume she was some soldier on an important mission. Fingers crossed, she pressed the button as the gate loomed into view.
Sure enough, the gate started rolling back before a voice crackled over the radio.
"Rhino 3-4, this is command. Please state your destination."
She ignored the device, aiming the truck straight for the open gate.
"3-4, this is command, what is your destination?" the voice was obviously concerned now, but Maddy pulled the radio out of its port. She didn't need distractions right now. The gate began to close as she approached it, but she managed to squeeze through, a loud thunk resounding through the cabin as the closing gateway slammed against the roof over the rear. Her head was pounding as she slowed the rhino to catch her breath.
If Mark's time was running out, she would make sure to bust him out before it did.
She had never been near the Badlands before, but she had a good idea where it was. And Mark had told her that the Phoenix Group was holed up in the region. By using the vehicle's onboard map, she was able to pinpoint the approximate location. She had read up on the region, too. There were a number of carnivorous creatures there that hunted by night and during the day there was scarcely any shelter from the brutal heat. She was sure Mark was in a sorry state at this point. It had been three days.
Maddy drove for most of the night, the pumping adrenaline keeping her alert and awake. Just before dawn, she reached a relatively high overlook. The Badlands were in a massive valley. This had to be the place. She brought the rhino to a halt and powered it off to avoid being detected. Grabbing her pack, she retrieved the sonic gun and a pair of binoculars that were meant for scientific research, not reconnaissance. Crouching low near the edge of the cliff, she looked out across the vast expanse, easily spotting the smoke and faint glow of fire. That had to be the camp. There was no other reason for a fire to exist all the way out there.
Picking her way carefully down the gorge, she found herself in a massive, dried-up riverbed. Her watch told her it was nearly five in the morning. The sun would be rising soon and she would lose the cover of darkness. She had to act fast.
It took her fifteen minutes to reach the point she had spotted via binocular and by then the sun's rosy fingers were starting to stretch their way over the horizon. The fire had nearly died out and the remnants of some animal that had been hunted were lying around it. She looked with disgust upon the group of unkempt soldiers who had fallen asleep at their posts. They were obviously drunk.
She found who she was looking for toward the back of the camp. He was tied to post, hands behind his back and in a kneeling position. She could see that they had beaten him more than once, even from afar. As she approached, the severity of his injuries became more apparent. Dried blood was visible at the corners of his mouth and his face was all different shades of blue, black, and purple. The certainly hadn't been gentle with him, that was certain. Pulling a switchblade from her back pocket, she cut the binds.
"Mark!" she whispered urgently, gingerly running her fingers over his swollen cheek. "Mark!"
He was barely responsive, but his eyes did flutter open and she saw very clearly the shade of blue she had been longing to see for three days. She was relieved that they were still as lively as ever despite what had been done to him. "Maddy?" he mumbled.
"Shhh!" She glanced around quickly to ensure no one had heard, then offered him a nod, forcing the tears from her eyes. There would be time to reflect once they were out of here.
"Not here!" she whispered, helping him to his feet. He seemed a lot lighter than before and it was obvious from his state that they hadn't fed him very much, if anything. He hissed in pain as he took a step and she could see through the torn camouflage pants that his leg was likely broken, if the coloration was any indication. She put his arm around her shoulder to provide him with support.
"Maddy…don't…" he began, pulling his arm away.
"Oh no you don't!" She held his arm firmly in place. "I didn't break all those rules to come break you out of here for nothing!" They hobbled along and she whispered silent prayers that the drunk guards wouldn't choose that particular moment to sober up.
"Too…heavy…for you…" he breathed, gasping softly each time his bum leg moved.
"No you aren't, stop worrying!" she huffed exasperatedly. Even in his condition, he was more worried for her than himself.
"We'll…never…make it…" he gritted out.
"Yes, we will," she assured him. They had made it out of the encampment without stirring the world's worst sentries. But it was still nearly a kilometer back to the rhino. And she hadn't considered the steep canyon walls. But right now it was vital to get away from the vicinity of the camp and buy themselves more time.
It was slow going and Mark wasn't entirely pleased that she was bearing the brunt of his weight on her petite frame. She was thankful that he was too dazed and dehydrated to protest more than nominally. She reached the clearing where she had left the truck, just visible over the rim of the cliff.
"We made it to the rhino," she breathed, helping him lean against the cliff walls and retrieving a canteen from her pack. She held it to his lips and let him drink until it was drained. He picked his head up a bit.
"How…how did you know where to find me?" he asked her with unmasked fascination.
"They wanted a ransom," she told him. "Commander Taylor was going to send a rescue party but we had to wait for two days and Dad said you didn't have much time left so I snuck out the come find you and since you said that the Phoenix Group was holed up in the Badlands I cross-referenced the approximate location of the valley with the nearest water source and then I hot-wired a rhino and drove out here…" she paused for a breath, fully prepared to launch back into her run-on sentence. She was cut off by Mark's smile, still radiant despite his obvious pain. "I just missed you so much," she said quietly.
"Sorry…" he offered simply, groaning a bit as he shifted his head to look at her.
"Don't apologize. I'm just glad that you're okay. Now wait here, I'm going to drive the rhino down here so you can get in…"
Mark shook his head. "The wall's too steep, Maddy. If you drive the truck down here you'll never make it back out."
She fell silent, thinking, but her train of thought was interrupted when a single sonic blast discharged above them, striking a nearby rock and sending it across the ravine. She looked up, straining her eyes to see in the semi-lightness. The sight that greeted her was shocking, to say the least.
"Not without your rover," he smiled, holding up the stripped battery pack from the vehicle before hurling it toward her. She sidestepped the object as it crashed to the ground, rupturing. Battery acids began to leak from it and she knew there was no way to salvage it. They were trapped.
Lucas stepped carefully down the ravine, clapping as he approached the pair. "I must say, I am very impressed that you made it this far. I figured my father would launch a rescue operation, but I wasn't expecting him to send a girl to do the job for him…" He shook his head as his hand moved to touch her and she recoiled instinctively.
"Don't touch her!" Mark croaked angrily, rising from his sitting position and concealing the pain it caused him to do so, evidently having noticed the gesture.
Lucas let out a cold, humorless laugh. "Who's going to make me? You? In the state you're in?"
Mark lunged, but the other man easily dodged him and he fell to the ground, gritting his teeth in pain. Lucas kicked the soldier hard, causing him to gasp involuntarily and lose consciousness. The man then looked to Maddy as the girl fingered the sonic rifle in her pack.
"If that's a weapon I'd advise you drop it now," he said, reading her mind. He pointed his gun to Mark's head to illustrate his intent. Maddy glared at him as she pulled the gun out of concealment and dropped it to the ground.
"There's a good girl," Lucas grinned. "Now get on your knees with your hands behind your head and if you're lucky, my father will be smart enough to pay the ransom now that I have two of you. Aren't you Shannon's daughter?" he questioned, though it was clear from his expression that he already knew the answer.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she managed to say, knowing full well that he would leverage her further if she confirmed it.
Lucas laughed. "Your dad trained you well, I see. But you look like your mother. You can deny it all you want, but you're valuable…"
"Your dad isn't going to give in to your demands, you know," she growled defiantly.
"That's fine. Your dad will," Lucas insisted. "And if he doesn't…" Maddy felt the cold metal press against her temple and shut her eyes, a tear making its way down her face before she could stop it. "Are you scared?" Lucas whispered. She could hear the feral smirk in his voice. "Are you scared to die?"
"Lucas!" the shout caused both people to look in the direction of the gorge and the figure of Commander Nathaniel Taylor stood, fully silhouetted in the rising sun. "Stand down!"
Mark groaned as he began to reawaken, slowly sitting up. Maddy abandoned caution, seizing the momentary distraction to rush to Mark's side, helping him to a sitting position.
Maddy could see Taylor making his way down the gorge, followed closely by her parents and a group of soldiers, weapons drawn. Lucas let out a peeved hiss as he got up and slinked off before the party could reach him.
"Are you okay?" Maddy whispered, cradling Mark's head. He nodded, but the grimace that followed spoke to the contrary. She pressed a ginger kiss to his cheek
"Maddy!" her mother exclaimed as she rushed over, hugging her daughter. "What on Earth were you thinking?" The words should have come out harsh but they were too flooded with motherly relief to be angry. Elisabeth turned to check on Mark without waiting on a reply, but Maddy knew she wasn't out of the woods yet. Taylor and her father were just approaching now.
"How's he looking, Dr. Shannon?" Taylor asked, looking at Mark and the doctor.
"Yeah, he should be fine in the long run," Elisabeth responded, twisting her neck to look at the commander. "His leg's been broken and he's severely malnourished, not to mention dehydrated, but Mark's sturdy. He'll pull through."
Maddy was relieved. Her mother wasn't the type to make a false promise. If she was sure Mark would be fine, then Mark would be fine. She felt Taylor's gaze shift from the injured soldier to her and suddenly she wanted to melt into the rocks.
"That took some nerve, Miss Shannon," Taylor spoke and she wasn't sure, but he sounded vaguely impressed with her feats. "And a lot of quick-thinking."
"How did you find us?" she asked without making eye contact.
"You forget that every vehicle comes equipped with a standard locator device. The rhino you 'borrowed' was reported missing almost immediately after you broke out of the colony. We were able to get a lock on your location and followed your trail."
"Maddy," her father spoke and she could hear a note of disapproval in his voice. "What you did was dangerous. You could've gotten yourself killed!"
"I know…" she felt more tears welling up and did her best to hide them, keeping her eyes planted firmly on the ground. "But…I had to do something…we couldn't wait for two more days…" she looked to Mark, who was now being loaded onto a gurney out of earshot. "He wouldn't have made it." She finally worked up the courage to meet her father's eyes and was surprised at his expression. He didn't appear to be angry or disappointed. He looked…understanding and…proud?
The gravity of the situation didn't hit her until that moment. Between midnight and now she had been acting on pure adrenaline. She hadn't paused to consider how drastic her actions were. But now that it was all over, she realized how reckless she truly had been. But she also knew that Mark would have done all of that and more if she were ever captured or kidnapped. So she had to. She just had to.
"That was brave," her father finally spoke. "And it shows how much you really care about Reynolds."
Maddy nodded, feeling her throat tightening as she was finally overtaken with a wave of emotions ranging from shock to euphoria. She was numb as her dad helped her to her feet.
"I'm proud of you, sweetie. You did whatever you could to protect your loved ones." He kissed her forehead. "But you're still in trouble," he added quickly. She didn't expect anything different. She had snuck out of the house, stolen her father's gun, stolen a rover, and then snuck alone into enemy territory, thus endangering her life and the lives of others. It was on par with something Josh would do. Of course she was still in trouble.
"But," she wheeled around to face Commander Taylor as he spoke. "That was very impressive, Miss Shannon. Have you ever considered enlisting?"
Maddy paused, smiling a bit to herself before shaking her head. This was enough excitement to last for a long time to come. Slowly, she followed the group up the steep ridge walls to take her seat beside Mark's gurney in the rhino.
A/N: Prompt three is complete! Big thanks to LunaMexi117 and MexiFBI95 for suggesting it to me, I had a lot of fun writing it. Again, this was longer than the average prompt but with so much material to write about it was impossible to cut it down any further. Hope you liked it. I've still got a few more prompts where these came from but after that I'll have none left so I am urging you to send me a premise, one line, or one word for me to write to. You can leave it in the review that I'm SURE you're going to leave me (nudge, nudge). No seriously, please review!