I do not own Virals.

A basic thought process as Jason drove us to the dance was stupid Whitney with her stupid dresses and stupid dances and stupid stupid stupid the Tripod, and Ben, and stupid mystery, stupid gunman, stupid stupid stupid...

I wasn't too pleased.

My back was mostly healed, but that didn't mean I wasn't in pain. This was the third cotillion this month. Why did there have to be so gosh darn many of them?

Oh, yeah. Because my freaking guardian angel is on vacation.

When Jason comes calling.

When Ben's in a mood.

When the Tripod of Skank stick a target on my back.

And when bad guys come gunning for me. With actual guns.

My life is messed.

"We're here," Jason announced. I shot him a closed mouth smile as we got out of the car.

The yacht club was really done up to perfection. White Christmas lights were draped over everything, bathing the place in a soft glow. The lawn looked like someone had measured each blade before snipping it with scissors. Even the water beside it was calm with small waves.

I'd rather be at the bunker with Coop and the guys.

"Tory!" Great. Madison.

"What's up, Maddy?"

"What are your weirdo friends doing here? I invited Ben, not the rest of your circus."

For a second, I didn't get it. Until I heard my name called again, and turned around to see Hi and Shelton jogging up.

"What are you guys doing here?" Trying to sound stern was pointless. I didn't even bother trying.

"We're casing the joint!" Hi crouched down, eyes darting everywhere. He pretended to catch sight of Madison, and ran to hide behind the snack table, yelling, "We've been infiltrated by the enemy. Abort mission! Abort, abort!"

I shot Shelton a look. That was a little strange, even from Hi.

He shrugged. "I'm not sure what that was about, but we're here for moral support, and all that junk."

Madison sneered. "Oh, how cute. But everyone junior deb can only bring one guest. And she brought Jason."

Think fast. "Yeah, but Jason is a deb, meaning he isn't my guest."

She hesitated. "Fine, but still one guest. Even if there's only one brain between the two of them, there's still two bodies."

Now, for Madison, that was a pretty good comeback. Even if Hi and Shelton were smarter asleep than she'd ever be awake, that was a point. There were two of them, and one of me.

I was about to tell her do something with herself that anatomically impossible, but Jason beat me to the punch. "Lay off, Maddy. One can be Tory's guest, the other can be mine."

Hi, who had returned, grinned. "Dibs on Tory."

Shelton and Jason eyed each other, and I couldn't help but burst into laughter. I jerked my chin up at Madison. "You said Ben was here. Where?"

She was about to answer, when Ben himself came running over.

"Speak of the devil," I grinned. Then I realized he was wearing sunglasses.

Grabbing his arm, I dragged him a little bit away from the others. "What are you doing?"

"There's something you should probably know." He hissed.

"Well? What is it?"

The doors slammed open. A guy stood there, probably about twenty. "Victoria Brennan," the voice thundered around the room. The guy cocked a gun.

SNAP

"And, now it's time to go," I muttered. "Hi! Shelton!"

The four of us beat it for the door, with Gun Guy chasing us. The five of us were out of there like bats out of hell.

Thank God the yacht club let out into the bushes. That was our element, where the wolves ran wild.

Gun shots rang out, and we ran harder. Beside me, Hi stumbled and fell. "Come on!" I yelled, pulling at his arm.

He shook me off. "I can't keep up with you guys anyway! Just go."

"Like hell," I grumbled. "Get up, before I run back to them."

He pushed himself up, and we took off again. We plowed into Shelton and Ben as they were running back for us. "Let's go!" Ben yelled.

My mind went blank as we ran. All that keyed in was the pounding of my feet, and the harsh breath ripping in and out of my lungs.

I tripped and fell several times, but there was always a set of hands to help me up and keep running. I was that pair of hands for someone else a couple times. By this point my dress was ripped and stained. Whitney was going to flip. Served her right anyways. Signing me up for cotillion?

And why was I thinking about this now?

The moon cast weird shadows through the tree branches. The gun shots behind us were so not helping.

I fell again, and didn't bother getting up. Ben yelled at me, "get up!"

"No!" I yelled back. "I can't keep running. We need to split up and hide. Then meet up at Sewee in half an hour."

He nodded slightly. "Fine. Make sure you hide well." He ran off to tell Hi and Shelton. I ghosted through the forest, wondering how I had gotten us into this mess. I found a high enough tree, and settled in the crook of the branch.

The whole time I was up there, I was worried about the guys. I couldn't believe I had suggested we split up. Was I insane?

When it was finally considered long enough to get down, I ran for where Ben had docked Sewee. Thanks to the flare, my sense of direction was flawless.

SNUP

Well, crap.

I crashed blindly through the woods, and miraculously ended up at Sewee.

Shelton and Hi were there. I stumbled onto the boat. "Where's Ben?"

They looked at each other, then at me.

Before they could respond, gunshots ripped up the night in quick succession.

"No!" I screamed, and lunged to get off the boat. Hi and Shelton grabbed for me, and held me as I kicked and screamed.

Suddenly, Ben came tearing out of the woods, eyes golden. He jumped in, started the boat, and we sped off over the still water.

I hate writer's block. Sorry guys! But I'm almost done the next chapter, which I will have up as soon as it's finished and my lovely beta reader CaseyIsMyValentine gives her thoughts :) I've decided on twenty chapters, so the plot doesn't turn into them just running from bad guys through the woods, which has happened about three time now.

Hope you guys liked it. Let me know what you thought.

~V13