The story so far:
Renni held the jacket tight against her leg, clenching her teeth as the shock wore off and the pain erupted full force. Men in uniforms raced up and down the street, their focus on the Doomsdayers still firing on the caravan headed to the transport. A fire truck sidled in next to them and almost instantly a blast of water splashed down on the car that had exploded. Renni kept her eyes from what lay before her through the windshield. Instead, she focused on Max’s face. He suddenly looked old.
“I’m okay.” She wasn’t okay. “I don’t think anything important was hit.” She looked down at the soaked jacket nearly swearing. She looked up at the car door, at the two small holes.
“Nothing important hit?” He shouted. He honked his horn as another group of men raced past. “Renni, you were hit. You’re important!”
“I’m okay,” she said again. Two men walked from car to car checking each for injuries. Max honked again and one of the men sprinted towards them. He poked his head through Max’s window and stared at Renni. She stared back, squinting through the pain.
“You hit?” he asked. She nodded and lifted up the bloody jacket. Max swore. So did the officer. He turned to Max. “Anyone else hit? No? Okay, we’re redirecting the cars. We’re going to get a stretcher and get her to one of the infirmary tents. You keep going. You see that green jeep there? You follow it.”
“I am not leaving her.” Maximus gritted his teeth and turned from the officer to Renni and back again.
“Kid, you don’t have a choice. We can’t hold up these cars. We have to evacuate now.”
“What’s going on?” Thomas asked from the backseat. The other officer arrived with a medical team carrying a stretcher.
“You have to go. Once we get her onto the stretcher, you follow that jeep.”
“I’m not leaving her.”
The officer turned to leave but Max grabbed his arm through the window. He stopped and looked down into the young man’s eyes. “Look,” the officer said, his voice lower, softer. “I know how you feel. My wife and kids are already on the transport. But if I don’t do my job, then everyone else is put in danger. Do you understand? If you keep this car here, you are putting every car behind you in harm's way. You have to continue on and help lead these people through the detour to the transport. We’ll take care of her. As soon as she’s patched up, we’ll put her in a jeep and send her strait to you. But you can’t wait. You have to keep going. Do you understand?”
“Max,” Thomas called softly from the backseat. “Max, I’ll stay with Renni. He’s right. You keep driving. I’ll stay with her and bring her to you.”
Max hesitated, but only for a second. He turned to Renni. The medics had already opened her door and wrapped bandages around her leg. They gently moved her from the car to the stretcher. He hesitated, watching her eyes. She tried to smile reassuringly. Reaching over, he gripped her hand, holding it for a moment. Then he let her go. Turning, Maximus stared at Thomas. “You get her back to me,” he said. Thomas nodded and scrambled from his seat, crawling over Frankie to get out of the car. Reaching into the front seat, he grabbed Renni's backpack, taking one final look at Max to reassure him before shutting the passenger door.
Max revved the engine. He stared at Renni, hesitating. With one last loving look, he put the car into gear and slowly followed the jeep. Renni watched him, Thomas’ hand in hers as the medics carried her from the accident.