Hunter forces himself to move. He can’t be caught here. Kossaks are pouring on to both ends of Tower Bridge, moving fast. He’s trapped. No! There’s one way still left. Up. For a second he scans the stone towers rising fully fifty metres above him. His eye travels upwards, over the arches, ledges, windows, bars – all the way up to the horizontal metal girders that link the two towers together. He’ll be safe there, as long as he can keep out of sight of the choppers. No Kossak would ever follow him so high. He swallows. Is he good enough to make it? He has to be. The truth of Leo’s words comes crashing over him, that the Kossaks will shoot first and ask later. And that’s when his body takes over. Turning, he races towards the nearest tower, summoning all his energy for the jump. He’s got to catch on to the ledge at the apex of the stone arch and use it to lever himself upwards.

Propelling himself forwards, his palms, his fingers slap on to the cold stone, gripping tight, until, grunting with strain, legs kicking wildly, Hunter hauls himself up on to the ledge and flattens himself against the ornate stonework, a bare three metres above road level. Within seconds the soldiers arrive beneath him, but all their focus is on the boats down on the water. Hunter grabs an iron hook set into the tower wall and uses it to straighten his body. Above is a set of three windows. That’s his next goal, to get past them. Extending his arms to their maximum reach, he fastens his fingers around the lowest wooden ledge and lifts himself up until he is level with the first set of dark windowpanes. Drapes hang down, blocking the interior. He thinks about smashing the window and climbing inside. But he can’t risk the noise. No, he’s got to keep going. One window down, two to go. Hunter reaches for the next ledge. And when he’s climbed that, the next. And then his heart fails him. Looking up, he sees above him a solid overhang; two carved stone bars that run across the face of the tower, bulging out at least thirty centimetres from the wall. He’ll never get past them. But he has to. Gunfire, screams erupt below. Hunter reaches up, grips the upper bar and then starts to raise his body, his whole weight hanging from his trembling fingertips. For a few

seconds nothing exists except this lift – this gasping, muscle-busting lift. Inch by killing inch he rises – hoisting his head, his chest, his thighs past the stone bars, he continues to lift himself until he is able to rest his knees on the lintel above. Gasping for breath, his body a trembling mass, Hunter pauses for a second. A stab of euphoria floods through his chest. He cuts it off. Move! On the Thames, Uma crawls across the bottom of the boat as a burst of gunfire erupts into the water by her side. Guido’s been hit! Shrugging off the jacket he lent her, she grabs her own shirt at the shoulder and yanks hard at the fabric until the sleeve is ripped clean off. Then she takes her cousin’s arm and raises it, wrapping the cloth tight around the oozing patch of red on his shoulder. Another barrage of gunfire sweeps towards them. Terrified, Uma stares up at the bridge. Two choppers hover over the Thames, Kossaks are swarming all over the area and military speedboats are closing in from all sides. How can they escape this? She raises herself again. A body floats past, face down in the water. Uma watches it a moment then lunges forward, retching into the river. Why doesn’t her aunt tell the others to lay their weapons down? And then suddenly Zella is there, kneeling on the wooden boards by her side.

‘Uma. Uma!’ She shakes the girl. ‘Listen to me. I don’t know how they know we’re here. Somebody must have tipped them off . . . I’m going to have to give the order to surrender.’ Uma wipes spew from her chin. ‘You can’t do that!’ ‘I’ve got to. We’re dying here. This isn’t a battle we can win.’ Uma stares down at Guido’s pale face. ‘But we never surrender.’ Grim-faced, Zella twists the girl to face her. ‘I’ve got no choice . . . But, Uma . . . I’ve got something they can’t have. You have to take it and get away from the Kossaks.’ Uma gazes at her aunt, blank. ‘And go where?’ ‘Up there.’ Zella points to the bridge tower. ‘It’s the only way. Climb as far as you need to be safe. Go silent, like you know how. I’ll create a diversion while you’re in the water.’ Guido stretches out his hand. ‘No, Zella. I’ll do it!’ Her eyes sweep his blood-spattered arm. ‘You can’t.’ ‘It’s only a flesh wound, I can make it—’ ‘No!’ ‘You can’t send Uma—’ Zella chops the air. ‘Silence! I must. You are injured and I can’t climb like her. She’s the only way.’ She reaches deep into her pocket and a moment later pushes

a small metal case into Uma’s hand. ‘Do not let them get this. Ever.’ Uma shoots a terrified glance at Guido. He leans forward, his eyes burning into her. ‘Do as Zella says, Uma. Remember all you’ve been taught.’ She nods, and he crushes her to his chest for a moment. ‘Go!’ Zella screams. Uma tucks the case deep into her pocket and in a flash she’s over the side of the boat, disappearing underwater in moments. Behind her, Zella’s face twists in agony as she watches her young niece swim for her life. And then she pulls herself upright, grabs Guido’s gun and unleashes a spray of bullets at the Kossak lines. Underwater, Uma kicks hard, speeding her body forward through the dirty, swirling current, driving herself to stay under ’til her lungs are blown. She wills herself forward until, chest screaming, she is forced to surface, coming up only a few metres from the sheer stone base of the bridge. Snatching a swift breath, Uma dives again and a few seconds later she is out, above the lapping waves, body bunched against the stone, seeking out her next move. Her expert fingers move along the cracks, they find a hold, just a tiny gap in the stone, and she slides her body

sideways and upwards; moving diagonally like a lizard across the wall. In less than a minute, she reaches the road level. Shouts and screams and smoke and gunfire sound all around but she doesn’t stop to look. Her only business is to climb, her only goal is the gilded tower roof, the metal girders, fifty metres above her. Peering through the railings, she sees a scooter parked at an angle, and using that as cover, she vaults over the iron bars and in seconds she is running towards the arched-door lintel at the base of the tower. High above, Hunter raises his body up over his arms for the very last time and hurls himself on to the metal girders that span the two towers. And then he lies there, gasping, for a full two minutes, a trembling ball of adrenalin-pumped muscle. Oh God. Oh God, oh God. Is he safe? Don’t just lie still, idiot. Check. Forcing himself to uncurl, he creeps to the edge of the walkway, peering down through the latticed metalwork. A bullet ricochets off the steel girder and he flings his body backwards in shock. What the—? And then someone is upon him. A blur, an arm, a palm smacking into his nose, followed by a boot kicking down hard. Hunter falls on to the metal struts under the weight. Pinned down, he frantically squirms to get out from under the body, this body that’s come from nowhere. He gets an arm free,

swings his fist into something soft. He’s rewarded with a grunt. Hunter bends his elbow again, balling his fist tight when suddenly he feels the cold sharp on his neck. He freezes, squeezing his eyes shut against the stroke. A sharp intake of breath. ‘You?’ Hunter swallows. What? The blade moves directly over the artery as it pumps a wild tattoo in his neck. ‘What is your name? Tell me or I cut.’ ‘Hunter . . . Nash.’ ‘Why are you following me?’ He gasps. ‘What you talking about . . . ? I’m not—’ The blade pushes down and Hunter’s eyes fly open, staring up into the girl’s face, into the most enormous, darkest eyes he’s ever seen. ‘I – I’ve never seen you before in my life.’ ‘You’re lying.’ ‘No.’ He scans her features desperately. No. Never. Pale skin, dark hair, full lips drawn tight . . . ‘You were at the South Quay Estate in Wapping yesterday, right? Deny that and I’ll kill you now.’ He frowns. ‘I – don’t want to. I was there.’ ‘Doing what?’ ‘Practising . . . jumping.’

‘Liar!’ The razor bites down on his neck, piercing the skin. He bites back a yell. ‘I’m not lying. I was trying to . . . jump the roof – I go there cos no one knows me.’ ‘Why not? Where do you live?’ ‘Battersea Power Apartments.’ ‘A Citizen? You people don’t jump in the favela.’ Hunter’s eyes blaze. ‘I do.’ Suddenly the pressure on his throat is gone. Uma straddles his body, knees either side of his hips, her eyes boring into his. ‘But that doesn’t explain what you’re doing here now. Tell me the truth.’ Something drums and clangs feverishly in Hunter’s ears. He can’t tell if it’s coming from the outside or from the blood in his veins. He can’t tell what’s real and what’s not. And then, blades whirling in the sucking updraught, a chopper materializes in the sky behind them, catching them both in a great swirl of wind. Uma throws herself flat, measuring the length of Hunter’s body, and for a second they lie there, pressed together, unable to move in the force of the energy. From the nearside door of the chopper a Kossak soldier moves into position, covering them with his semi-automatic. A loudhailer order cuts through the air. Citizens! Lie on the ground face down immediately.

Legs spread, arms out. Failure to comply will be met with deadly force. A rope snakes down from the chopper and four soldiers begin their ascent. They’ll be on the walkway in a matter of seconds. Uma closes her eyes. She’s got to do something, now. This boy’s an ID Citizen, there’s a chance he can talk his way out of this, that he’ll not be searched. A massive gamble, but what else can she do? Nothing. She snatches the metal case from deep in her pocket and pushing it into Hunter’s hand, she leans forward, whispering in his ear. ‘Don’t let them take this . . . Hunter. Please.’ His eyes widen. What has she just given him? He’s in so much trouble, but at least he’s a Citizen. He’s got a chance of getting out of this alive. It’s her who’s in trouble now. She’s the Outsider. She can’t just drop an illegal package on him. He won’t take it. And then, almost without knowing what he’s doing, he closes his fingers around the case. Immediately Uma rolls away from him and as he turns to lie face down on the metal girders, Hunter thrusts the metal disk deep into a rip in the inner lining of his dad’s old leather jacket, just as the soldiers’ boots touch down beside him.


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