In his surprise, The Sentinel accidentally loosened his grip on Raychel. The voice's sudden outburst had ceased the trance he was trying to cast.
Raychel had heard the voice's statement, and that was enough to shake the spell her brother had put on her. She pushed him away, panting heavilly.
"You lied to me. Again," Raychel said thickly.
The Sentinel lowered his head. He didn't say a word.
The voice stepped out of the shadows, clutching a 9MM in his hand. He had brown hair and blue eyes, and a thin, warm face.
"Thanks, Jarod," Raychel sighed. "That's the second time you've saved my arse since I got here."
"No big," he insisted. "Our home is your home."
"Yeah," another teenage boy stepped out of the shadows. He had strawberry-blonde hair and grey-green eyes. He looked a lot more serious than Jarod. "OK, you six. Up against the wall. NOW."
The Sentinel and his comrades obeyed and stepped back into the brick wall of the alley. The teen then started to frisk them for knives and guns.
"Easy, Jason," Jarod cautioned, "you're getting a little rough, don'tcha think?"
"Ah, they only got his knife, anyway," Jason held up a hunting knife he had found in Kevin's pocket.
Raychel gasped. "Wha-? But, how?" That knife was VERY important to her. She had never let anyone so much as TOUCH it. How could she have forgotten it?
"You forgot this at that gas station," Kevin explained. "I know it's important to you, so I brought it back."
Jason handed Raychel the knife. Raychel's lip trembled as she tried to process what happened. "But I thought..."
"Raychel Havran Corbeu, you are my sister. And no matter how much you distrust me, no matter how much you think I don't care, that's not going to change a bit," Kevin said firmly.
Raychel was silent for a moment. Now she felt just terrible. Yes, he worked for their parents' murderer. Yes, he had lied and betrayed her. Twice. But still...
He was her brother.
And he still cared.
This time Raychel willingly walked up to Kevin, and asked, "You really mean that?"
"Raychel, do you know what could happen if I didn't try to bring you back with me?" Kevin asked worriedly.
"No," Raychel shook her head.
"We could be expunged, or worse: Reeducated and conditioned to the point where you were just another human to us.
"And do you know what could happen to you? The keeper'd punish you. And good, too. You wouldn't be able to sleep right for a week. You'll catch the Sickness."
"All right, that's ENOUGH," Jarod huffed. "I don't know who the keeper is, and I don't care. You're not taking her back to be... I don't even know. So you better just go back where you came from!"
"We can't go back without Raychel," Mary insisted.
"She doesn't have to if she doesn't want to," Kevin sighed. "I've been selfish. I scared my only family away from me, now I'm not sure she will even trust what I say."
Raychel shuddered, "Kevin... What exactly... Do I need to do?"
"Raychel, you realize if you take this choice, there's no going back."
"I know you're not doing this for us."
"No, I am. But I'm also doing it for me."
Darkness began to creep into Raychel's vision, and the colors of the alleyway started to fade.
"What ... her?!" she heard Jarod faintly scream.
"I just.... sleep..." she heard Kevin reply.
Raychel felt herself falling again. This time she knew she was going to wake up where she least wanted to be:
In the presence of the Keeper, and his Collective.