Lana cracked an eye open wide enough to see it was too early for her alarm to sound.
Amused, Lana tossed off her coverlet.
Lana suppressed a sigh.
Lana's gaze lingered in its direction, her heart quickening.
You're an angel, Lana.
Mrs. Watson answered the door with a shotgun over her shoulder, her wrinkled face peering up at Lana.
Lana smiled and stepped aside.
Lana nodded and stepped away.
The Peak was abuzz with activity when Lana arrived several hours later.
Lana shook her head, wondering what kind of man thought of chocolate at such a time.
"I'm here, I'm here, Elise," Lana mumbled.
Lana's body ached from sleeping in chairs.
Computers hummed, the sound enough to lull Lana to sleep nearly every shift she spent alone in the vault despite the sleep replacement supplements—known as anti-sleepers—she took.
"It just doesn't make sense to me," Lana began.
"Probably," Lana responded, turning away from the map.
The door behind Lana slid open.
Lana studied the general.
Lana almost sighed in relief.
Lana grimaced internally at the thought of dealing with the crazy man who should've been running the command center instead of her.
Lana brought up the energy grids.
Lana hesitated then went on with a frown.
Lana shivered as she stepped into the cold night.
Lana waved to them in greeting as she reached the barracks.
Lana tucked the microcomputer away, gazing at the valley again.
Lana's smile remained as she crossed the helipad towards the barracks.
Lana, see what's broken.
Lana had never seen this error message before.
Lana programmed her micro quickly to mirror the messages and set it to work decrypting the encoding.
Elise's voice pulled Lana from her work.
Lana twisted, grimacing when her neck cramped with the simple movement.
Elise held out a meal bar, which Lana accepted.
"Lana, get your anti-sleepers and meet me in the commander's quarters," General Greene called, poking his head into the hub.
Lana smiled as she turned her attention from the conversation to the screens around her.
Lana waited until the others in the center left and stood before the titanium-reinforced glass in front of the keypads.
Lana glanced towards the door and sat at a small table nearby.
Lana leaned her elbows on her knees, staring hard at the wall.
Lana reached into her bag and pulled out her personal vault.
Lana jerked, afraid she'd been caught, before she realized Elise was calling over the command center's channels.
Lana asked in surprise.
Lana asked impatiently, standing.
I gotta go, Lana.
Frowning, Lana remained before the screen even as the blond woman disappeared.
Elise's news of the PMF fighting alongside her forces wasn't something Lana expected to hear.
Lana crossed to the screen and touched it, bringing up details of the attacks.
"Larry, this is Lana at the command center," she said, forcing her attention back to the communications center.
Lana neared, forcing her gaze away from the three bodies as she waited.
This better be important, Lana.
Lana watched him, at a loss at what to think of his reaction.
Lana glanced at her micro, which still worked on breaking through his messages.
"Turn that off, Lana," the general ordered in a softer tone as he glanced towards a woman manning the screen on the left.
"Lana, walk with us," the general added.
Lana is my right hand.
Both Lana and the general turned icy, less-than-impressed looks on him, and for once, Brady was glad he couldn't speak.
Lana smiled faintly, meeting Brady's gaze again.
Lana cried and shoved away.
Elise lowered her laser as Lana blocked her shot and approached the man named Arnie.
Lana reached Arnie and spoke to him too quietly to hear.
Lana shifted, and Arnie bolted towards the cliff.
Lana jumped over him and squeezed between two boulders, all but flinging herself towards the object.
Elise grabbed at Arnie, who twisted free and followed Lana.
Lana squirmed in his bear hug, pushing them closer to the edge.
"Give it to me, Lana!" he shouted.
Lana's eyes opened, and she stared at Brady, emotions flying through the expressive gaze.
Light flashed and Lana gave a strangled cry as the laser gun glanced off her wrist.
Arnie's weight dropped, and Lana and Brady landed in a heap.
Lana curled into a ball, holding her arm to her chest.
"Lana, you fool," Elise scolded, squatting beside them.
Elise grabbed her wrist, but Lana resisted again.
He held out his hand, and Lana held out her wrist.
Major, take Lana to the doc and get what rest you can.
Brady jostled Lana's still body in his arms as he rose.
Elise fell into step beside him after checking on Lana.
Brady lifted Lana gently off the gurney and entered, following Elise through the waiting area into the bay beyond.
Brady set Lana down on a bed and stepped back.
He brushed hair away from Lana's pale face.
"Is this a laser wound?" the doctor asked, releasing the seal around Lana's wrist.
Lana awoke lethargic and in pain.
Lana sat as soon as he released her and started to her feet again, only to feel a hand planted in her chest that pushed her onto her back.
"Lana, hon, you okay?" the doctor asked.
Lana looked from him to Major Brady, with his darker features and hair.
Lana's head buzzed, and she staggered, leaning against a wall.
Lana met his gaze, hearing his Southern drawl for the first time.
"I'm just happy you're alive," he said, touching her face in an unexpected display of tenderness Lana studied his chiseled features, which didn't seem capable of much emotion at all.
Lana accepted it and allowed him to pull her up and steady her with warm hands on her arms.
Lana smiled faintly and nodded, touched by his concern.
Lana turned and smiled as the security specialist drove towards her in a cart.
Elise pursed her lips, and Lana was surprised to see her eyes water.
Lana's head spun at the news.
Lana made her way through them to the general and followed his gaze.
Lana, contact the central and western centers.
Elise nudged Lana when she continued to stare.
Lana was surprised to find that someone else at the Peak within the mountain had issued a similar mayday call.
Lana read through one detailing the intent to attack using a secret weapon.
It wasn't just the injury and meds that made Lana's head spin.
Lana locked her micro.
Lana looked up at the scenes on the screens then at the general.
Lana moved away from the commo computer and started systems checks on the others.
Lana tucked the micro in her pocket and crossed to it.
Lana checked the general's location, not surprised to find him at the west wall.
Lana typed a message to Mr. Tim, telling him she was leaving and heading to the Peace Command Center, which was the first center beyond the Mississippi River.
"Dammit, Lana," she murmured with a look at her watch then barked, "Doc, hurry!"
Lana's the little girl who got shot, right?
She wrenched away, saying, "Lana locked out all the systems and left."
His instinct told him there was something else going on aside from the insurgents and Lana leaving.
Lana didn't have the mettle to survive the way he knew how.
Lana had done exactly as Elise directed.
Lana grew uneasy and watched the sky flare with rocket and laser fire from the battle at the Peak.
Elise didn't give the bird call they'd agreed on, so Lana said nothing.
Lana hugged the tree, willing her friend to appear.
Lana's heart skipped a beat, and she pulled out the tracker Elise gave her, starting through the forest towards the stream.
Lana scrambled up and ran, careening into another man in dark clothing.
Lana shoved herself back, ignoring the pain in her wrist as adrenaline flew threw her.
Lana scrambled and fought, tears on her face as she realized what she'd done in leaving the Peak.
Lana struggled hard without being able to dislodge the muscular man.
Lana's skin was soft, her body fitting comfortably against his.
Lana awoke in the large tent, wrist aching and her face hurting where she'd been struck.
Lana tilted it out far enough to see it was a box of chocolates with the nearby fed hospital's seal on the top.
Lana sank onto the couch, not liking the instinct that told her she was right about him.
While Brady knew Lana was too afraid to leave his tent even if it wasn't guarded, he'd had to order Elise chained to a tree within view of four guards.
"Because if you don't, we'll pop Lana," Brady said.
"Lana said she needed help getting to the Peace Command Center in Colorado, that Greenie was going to kill her once she found out what she'd done," Elise continued.
Lana sprang up from her corner of the couch and flung her arms around Elise.
"Lana, stop it," Elise groaned, pushing her away.
Lana was braver this day.
He showed Lana the same scene he'd shown Elise.
Lana clenched her hands.
"Yeah. Greenie," Lana said.
"Anyone else?" he asked, sitting close to Lana.
Lana clenched her hands but didn't answer.
"No, Elise," Lana said in a hushed voice.
Lana shook her head.
What was worth the lives of the thousand people at the Peak, Lana?
Lana shook her head again.
Lana was a gentle soul; the secret must have been great if she left behind that many people to die!
Brady leaned back, gazing at Lana.
Lana yielded without any sign of hesitation, returning his kisses with timidity born of both inexperience and hunger.
When he broke contact, Lana pulled his head back to hers, her hands skimming over his shoulders before she undid the top two buttons on his uniform.
Lana stared at his wide chest, taking him in with a look of desire.
Lana's eyes opened at his voice.
Lana didn't know who he was.
Thoughts and emotions scattered, Lana watched him secure the vault in the safe and then leave.
Lana paused in her pacing, wondering if she'd done something wrong.
"Think of something else, Lana," she ordered herself.
The look on Elise's face when she realized that Lana had known something was wrong at the Peak.
Lana straightened in her seat on the couch, eyes following his powerful stride across the tent.
Lana raised the baton when she was within arm's reach and held it out.
Lana froze, turning to see him moving.
Lana approached him and paused within arm's reach.
He watched Lana from the corner of his eye, returning to his weapons, this time with his back to the wall and not towards her.
Lana was curled into a tight ball on the far end, asleep.
Lana looked up from her seat on the couch.
Lana looked at him, frowning.
"It's supposed to alleviate bad moods," Dan said to Lana.
He'd often wondered what it was that drew Tim to Lana and suspected it was nothing more than what drew him to other women.
At least he'd confirmed that whatever secrets Lana had were well worth hiding.
Lana, that's my gun arm!
Lana eased back without breaking contact.
Lana, on the other hand, couldn't shake the paralyzing fear that came with knowing they were being stalked by men who wanted them dead.
Lana peered around them to see the five or more armed men about twenty meters away.
His gaze rested on Lana, and he smiled.
Lana never thought she'd end up in the middle of a forest, defended by the PMF against those who seemed to want to start a second East-West civil war.
Can you shoot, Lana?
Lana nodded, afraid to ask what happened if the plan didn't work.
Lana stretched onto her stomach, watching them from the safety of the tree.
The man beside Lana rocked back suddenly, pounding his gun on the ground as it jammed.
Lana's heart stopped, and she opened her mouth to shout for Elise.
Lana made out his form as he emerged from the bushes.
Lana shoved away from the dead man, horrified.
Cold water soaked Lana's boots as Dan kept them on the creek's edge for a few hundred meters before veering into the surrounding forest.
Lana caught his arm, alarmed.
Heart hammering, Lana rose to her tiptoes and gave him a light kiss on the lips.
Brady released her suddenly, and Lana wobbled.
Breathless, Lana obeyed and joined them in the tunnel.
Lana turned as the door behind them closed.
Lana, I'm gonna leave you here.
Lana entered, in shock from the night.
Lana couldn't help thinking they were far too different.
Lana stepped out of the doorway as he approached, assuming he meant to ignore her and head to the bedroom to rest.
Lana pulled him on top of her, certain he wouldn't walk away this time.
Lana pulled the blankets up as well, feeling exposed rather than comfortable at his sudden change.
Lana studied his back as he moved.
Lana eased out of bed and put on her clothing before joining him.
Lana watched him leave and rubbed her face, exhausted.
Lana slept until Elise woke her for breakfast by beating on her door in the morning.
Lana changed quickly, her body sore from the night with her Guardian.
Lana frowned, looking Elise over from head to foot.
Lana hadn't expected to sleep in so long but was grateful Elise had thought to leave her alone for the full night.
Elise straddled a chair, and Lana sat across from her.
Lana listened, nibbling a pastry.
"You don't give yourself enough credit, Elise," Lana chided.
"I don't think the PMF did it," Lana said at last.
Lana half-listened, thoughts on Greenie and the Horsemen.
Lana asked suddenly, surprised to see the elite soldier had it at her waist.
All your fancy training won't … Lana half-listened to Elise's lecture, thinking about how she could hack into her micro with Elise's.
Lana couldn't help but feel self-conscious at the lingering looks they gave her.
Lana turned to look at the speaker and craned her neck back.
Lana paled, expecting her day wasn't about to get any easier.
He'd spent days fighting to reach the Peak with the first one, and Lana had nearly gone off a cliff for another one.
Lana would know what it was, even if he didn't.
His conversation with Tim returned, and he stayed the urge to call Lana as he had when he was simply the Guardian.
Greenie looking for Lana.
"I sent Elise and Benny to teach Lana some self-defense," Brady said as they struck off in comfortable silence.
He dropped his gear in his suite, curious not to find Lana within.
I need to ask Lana about the keypad we found, too.
Lana was in the kitchenette, drinking water after her day with Elise.
Lana flipped on her micro and placed the keypad on top of it.
Silently, he cursed the blond warrior he suspected gave it to Lana.
He should've known better than not to warn Dan what Lana could do if she got a hold of a micro, even if it was Elise's.
"It's a local energy grid controller," Lana said.
Lana emerged at last.
"Lana," Brady said, rising.
Lana froze for a moment then started forward jerkily.
Mr. Tim was as Lana remembered him.
You've been like a daughter to me, Lana, and I placed you in the best hands I could.
The government is splintering, Lana, he continued.
Lana, you know enough about the PMF to know they're the only force—perhaps in the world—with the ability to survive the government tearing itself apart.
Lana, I need you to tell me what you know.
Lana blinked back more tears.
"Until Greene's allies took out the East Coast," Lana added.
"I know that now," Lana said in a hushed tone.
Lana, I need all the info you have on Greene and who he was talking to.
With Lana, you'll have access to all the emerops depots the feds have east of the Mississippi.
Lana listened, chilled at the coldness and precision of his directions.
Lana, I need to tell you something else.
Lana drew a deep breath.
Elise had said to survive, and Lana had no doubt Brady was the only one who could help her.
Lana crossed her arms, feeling very alone.
Stepping onto the ledge outside, Lana heard the sounds of gun and laser fire too close for her comfort, along with the beat of helicopters in the dark skies.
Lana hesitated and then took them.
Lana looked over her shoulder at an explosion that seemed far too close.
Lana hunkered against the mountain as the helicopter drew nearer.
Lana took one look at the thin metal stairs and looked away quickly.
Lana held her breath at the whirling world, certain their death would at least be fast.
The cabin swayed, and Lana caught the image of wires and far below, water.
"Lana," he said more gently, when she didn't move.
Lana eased the straps off the box and pulled.
Lana closed her eyes at the sudden light and heard him tearing something out of the ceiling.
Lana slapped at the water-breather until it covered her mouth and nose then squeezed her eyes closed.
Lana fumbled with her harness and yanked it free, slogging through the rising water.
Lana's head broke free, and she pushed the water-breather up, gasping.
Lana looked up at the bridge, trying to determine which way it was to shore.
Finally, she felt rocks scrape one leg, and Lana lifted her head.
Lana lay gasping, unable to catch her breath for several moments.
Lana sank to the ground, too shocked to register what to do next.
Lana cried for a long time, shaking.
While her step was anything but sure, Lana forced herself onto the road and walked.
The scent of charred flesh and metal still lingered, and Lana covered her mouth and nose with her hand as she started forward again.
Lana replaced the micro, looking anew at the green cars and their silent occupants.
Wiping away angry tears, Lana trotted to the entrance to her community then slowed to a walk when she became breathless too fast.
Still, Lana wasn't convinced she wanted to discover what lay behind the door after the travesty along the road.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.