Hector led the two girls through a series of tunnels. The tunnels were all lit by the same strange, purple torches as before. Mae tried to keep a sense of there direction, but lost it fairly soon. She could swear that at times they went in a circle. Occasionally the tunnel passed through the basement of one building or another. Hector was always careful to unlock and re-lock the passage doors as they moved through. They never saw anyone, the basements mainly filled with old boxes and discarded furniture. There was one wine cellar though, and Mae noticed with some bemusement that Hector helped himself to a couple of bottles. When he saw her watching, he winked at her and said, “We might get thirsty later.”
The had been moving for what felt like days, but had in fact only been a couple of hours. Mae turned to Amity, “Do you have any idea where we’re going?”
“Nuh! Fun isn’t it.” Her new friend grinned at her and almost skipped ahead of her.
Finally, the approached a ladder. Hector climbed up, there was a metal wheel above his head, which he turned, and then pushed, opening up an escape hatch in the ceiling.
“Up we go ladies. Almost there.” He was smiling, despite the apparent danger he was enjoying himself. Climbed through the hatch, and helped pull the girls up behind him. Mae came through last, as she got up and brushed herself off, she looked around. They were in the car park at the back of their hotel. Hector’s old M.U.L.E was still where they parked it, and the D.O.N.K.E.Y. , which apparently belonged to Amity was there too. But the H.O.R.S.E. was gone.
“We really took the long way didn’t we.” Mae commented.
Hector chuckled, “When you’re running for your life, it’s the only way to go. Good the M.U.L.E. is here. Do you know if Bea filled it up at all?”
“I don’t think so.” Mae shook her head.
“No problem. Just need to rethink our travel route. Amity my girl… “
“Yes, boss.” She stood in front of him saluting, and at attention.
“Enough of that! Alistair is the one with toadies, not me.”
“Whatever you say boss!” She stayed at attention, but turned to Mae and winked. Hector shook his head, trying not to laugh.
“Girl! I need you to go inside and rustle up some supplies. If I remember there’s an emergency stash in the cleaning closet.”
“There is? Like how come, I didn’t like know?”
“When was the last time anything was cleaned in that place?”
She grinned, “Good point. I’ll be right back.” With that she dashed inside, leaving Mae and Hector alone.
He put his arm around her. “How are you going Missy? Completely confused yet?”
“I think I passed confused a while ago,” she smiled at him. “Is it strange that I’m kind of having fun?”
“Not at all my girl. It’s the adrenaline kicking in. Where going to be doing this kind of thing for a while I think, so you might as well enjoy it.”
“This kind of thing?”
“Running for our lives. I must admit we’ve got a bit rusty. We’ve been in hiding and laying low for so long, I was starting to worry that when the time came we wouldn’t be up to it. Well, I guess we’re about to find out.”
“Who is we?”
“My god! She told you absolutely nothing did she. I knew she didn’t tell you about your identity, or your powers, but to not mention the rebellion! You know how your Papa died though don’t you?”
“Papa? He died in an accident, at the factory where he worked. The one where you took us. Remember?”
“Oh Bea! No. He did not die in an ‘accident’ he died in a raid by the Royal Guard.”
“What! That’s absurd. Something like that would be common knowledge. “
“You would think so wouldn’t you. Apparently your Mama had those townsfolk well organised, and I guess she didn’t let you out much either.”
“Ok. Pretty much since the night you were born…”
“You mean since my REAL parents were killed.”
“Yes, that too, but I prefer to focus on the good stuff, “ he gently stroked her cheek.
“Anyway, since that night, this country has in effect been in a civil war.”
“What happened that night, when those thugs came into the palace, was effectively a palace coup. What was assumed to be an uprising by some disgruntled hot heads, turned out to be an orchestrated plot by Alistair to seize power from your father.”
“But, wasn’t that his brother?”
He looked sadly at her, “Yes.”
Mae looked thoughtful for a moment. “Did he? Did he kill them?” She whispered.
“It wasn’t clear at the time. But yes, I think he did.”
“But,but, what about the other brother… what was his name?”
“Yes that’s it. What about him? “
“He was an idiot. Too naive to see what his brother was really like. He stayed with Alistair, commanding the Royal Guard on his behalf.”
“Bastard! Oh, oops, I shouldn’t have said that.” She covered her mouth with her hands.
Hector chuckled and smirked at her, “I think we can let that one slide. I believe I’ve said more or less the same, and worse over the past eighteen years.”
“So, is he still there.”
“No. Eventually he saw his brother for the cruel, sadistic creature he was. But not before carrying out some pretty nasty acts in his name. The raising of the town of Helpernside was the worst. Three hundred and fifty men, women and children slaughtered, because their mayor said publicly that the Prince Regent was not the legitimate ruler of Gildamoor, saying that Frederick and Clarissa’s daughter and heir was alive. The whole town needed to be punished, and they were. “
“It’s more than awful. It’s a fucking atrocity. They should all be castrated the lot of them” His eyes had started to glow bright blue.
“So what happened then?”
Hector took a deep breath, his eyes returning to normal, “He, that is Gordon, it seems finally woke up, and realised that his brother was a monster. Worse than that, that he was helping him be a monster. So he, put down his weapons, changed his name and joined the rebellion that was beginning to mobilise. He helps out where he can.”
He gave her a meaningful look.
“Hector?” He nodded, smiling at her, sadly.
“I’m afraid so. Can you ever forgive me for not protecting you or your parents better?”
Without warning, Mae wrapped her arms around the big man in an enormous hug. After the initial surprise, he hugged her back.
Amity came skipping out of the back door, she had a large canvas bag slung over one shoulder. It was bulging with food and medical supplies.
“Is this it boss?”
Hector let his niece go, and looked over, “I said don’t call me that, and yes.”
“You, girl. You take your D.O.N.K.E.Y. and follow us. We’ll take the M.U.L.E. It won’t hurt to have two vehicles in our inventory. Come on Missy, lets go.”
He and Mae climbed into the M.U.L.E., it took a moment to get started but soon, they were off and on their way through the darkened streets with only their headlights shining for any kind of light; followed closing by Amity in her D.O.N.K.EY. Before long they were out of the city and away.
As they passed the front of the hotel, they didn’t notice the H.O.R.S.E. that had been there earlier, pull out of the shadows on the other side of the building, and follow them, quietly with its headlights off.