My fingers wildly stabbed at the glowing buttons on my mobile as I ran down the dark streets towards the pub. I was praying that everyone was still there, but no one was picking up the phone behind the bar, leaving it to ring. I had no other number for either Abril or Savannah. It was at moments like these where I really wished I could communicate telepathically with the rest of my group.
My heart leapt when I saw there were still lights on in the pub as I ran towards it, my chest ready to explode from lack of oxygen and my legs burning from the running.
I crashed into the bar, probably looking a right mess but not caring. Time wasn't something I had a lot of. I was ecstatic to find Savannah lounging in one of the comfy chairs and Abril leaning on the other side of the bar.
'Cassie?' Abril said, standing up, her eyes filled with confusion and concern. 'Has something happened?'
'I had a little visit from a friend of the Dragon.' Both Abril and Savannah tensed at this.
'Did they want anything?'
'An exchange. Clay Marshall for my mother.'
'No way,' Savannah reacted instantly. 'We're not falling for that one. They'll take the hostage and your mother and run. It's textbook bad guy stuff.'
'I didn't ask for your opinion Savannah,' I said, trying to be as authoritative as possible.
'Last time I checked you weren't my boss,' Savannah said, standing up and advancing on me. 'I don't belong in this camp. I don't even know why I'm here. I belong with my people in my headquarters. I'm sick of helping you.'
'Then why are you still here?' Abril said, her strength coming through in her voice. 'You know as well as I do that if The Twelve Zodiacs succeed in capturing the necklace it won't just be myself and Cassandra who will suffer. Your little clan will also bear the brunt of their attack. They won't stop until our system is completely destroyed. That's why you're still here.'
'You think you're so strong don't you Abril?' Savannah said spitefully, spinning around and turning her gaze on the woman at the bar. 'When really all you're doing is taking orders from an amateur. That's not brave, it's just stupid.'
'If I hear you say one word against Cassie-'
'She's not even qualified. She killed her guide, something we all thought was impossible, before he could teach her everything.'
I lost my temper at that, grabbing Savannah's arm and wrenching her around to face me before throwing a punch at her jaw. It landed exactly where I wanted it to, sending Savannah staggering backwards with the impact. She hadn't been expecting that.
'Don't you ever say anything like that again,' I hissed. 'I don't mind if you don't want to work with me, trust me, you aren't my favourite person at the moment, but I will not have you undermining my authority by questioning my skills. Is that clear?'
'Crystal,' Savannah said reluctantly, stepping away from me and taking her seat in the comfy chair.
I winced as I unclenched my fist and realised by punching Savannah I had managed to bury some of the china even deeper into my hand.
'What's that?' Abril said, leaning over the bar and taking my hand. 'I'm going to have to sort this out,' she mumbled.
'We don't have time,' I said jerking my hand away. 'The message I was given to bring Clay to this address in one hour. We've already had,' I checked my watch, 'twenty minutes.'
'If we have to fight our way out of there you will be no use with a messed up fist,' Abril pointed out. 'I'm getting that china out whether you like it or not.'
'How long will that take?'
'I don't know. As long as it has to.'
I squirmed as Abril approached me with the tweezers from the first aid kit that was hidden behind the bar. Air hissed out through my teeth as she pulled the first chunk of china out, sending small sparks of pain up my arm. After five minutes of this I got fed up and pulled my hand away.
'We've wasted enough time. We need to get moving now or we'll never make it in time to make the switch.'
'I still don't think this is a good idea,' Savannah said from her corner.
'As I said before I didn't ask for your opinion. This is a non-negotiable situation. It's my mother's life at risk, not yours.'
'Yes but it's also our existence at stake,' Savannah retorted. 'You haven't thought about that.'
'We can deal with that once I have my mother back. Then they won't have any power over me and I will be able to act as I chose.'
'Cassie,' Abril said cautiously, 'are you sure you've thought this through?'
'I said it was non-negotioble.' I gave Abril a look that said 'do not mess with me' and I saw her back down. 'Now bag Clay and bring him out here. We're going through with the swap.'