What was the plan, when it all came down to it? He was paying attention to Sharon, to her comments on their predicament, on her feelings when Steven abandoned her. He really was, and he really did care, but there were lives on the line. The potential victims were chief among them, of course, but he also held concern for Theo and Kat. He saw the hug, through his binoculars. It didn't take too much to piece it all together from there.
They were working together. Maybe they were directly allied, maybe they were just playing off each other, working themselves into a feedback loop that would lead to a never-ending chain of death and violence. Which it was didn't make much difference. What he saw was that he couldn't just focus on one and hope to stem this tide, and if both weren't dealt with, whoever was left unchecked had a good chance of spurring some recidivism in the other.
And they were going their separate ways. Clearly not playing as a team, then. That actually made this harder. There wasn't time to plan everything out perfectly. There wasn't time for a proper reunion with Sharon. It could wait. It would have to.
"We need to go after them," he said, hopping off the bike. "I think we should split up, make sure we keep track of them both. We can meet up again at the hotel, midday tomorrow at the latest."
This next part was the moment of truth. Which of them should Steven follow, and which could he leave to Sharon? For a moment, he almost second-guessed himself. But, no, it would only be right or fair for him to chase the dangerous target. He wouldn't be able to forgive himself if Sharon got killed biting off more than she could chew. She'd take the easy job, and he'd make sure she didn't know it. She wouldn't like that reality.
"You follow Theo. Take the bike; he likes to run a lot. If you've got better mobility, if it comes down to a confrontation, he'll be winded and you won't. He lost his gun. He knows me, so if I follow, his guard'll be up, whereas he won't suspect you. Keep two of those bottles. They're Molotov cocktails I brewed up, but it's fairly likely they won't work. Best to use them to threaten. We want to stop Theo from killing again, but not to kill him. We start killing, we're no better than they are. But, if he goes for you, do whatever you have to. There should be a lighter in your first aid kit.
"I'll follow Kat. She's got a gun, but I think I can talk her down easier."
It was always the little white lies that niggled. Kat wouldn't be easier to talk down at all, not if what Steven suspected about her was true. She had the air of someone who had chosen their path after some real thought, kind of like Steven himself. Theo had most decidedly not run through the numbers or considered the repercussions of his actions. Kat probably had.
But he had an ace or two up his sleeve, a few ways to really make her think twice, to change that logical calculation. If he couldn't win a change of heart, he'd settle for some coerced good behavior.
They were getting out of sight, heading in different directions. No more time to plan, to talk. He grabbed one of the Molotovs from the basket.
"Be careful. Remember, the hotel tomorrow. If it's a danger zone again, back here. If we can't come here, the reactor. I doubt they'll block off all three."
He gave Sharon a nod and then got moving at a light jog. The bike would be better, much better and easier, but Sharon would need it to keep track of Theo.
More than that, if things went wrong, the last thing Steven wanted was to deliver any tools into Kat's hands.
((Steven Salazar continued in Crushed Dreams and Broken Hearts