Monday, AC April 10
“Your heart isn’t beating nearly as fast as I thought it would be,” Marcella said, looking down at her wrist comm.
She had Sennett on a chair with a sensory sticker attached to her chest, forehead and directly above her navel. Marcella scrolled through the information on her screen. “The nanites are there, for sure. I don’t know how long you’ll still be lucid.”
“Well, it seems like panicking might make it happen faster,” Sennett said quietly, “And even if that’s wrong, panicking isn’t going to help me.”
“That’s right,” Evelyn said quickly. Her lower lip was quivering. “There’s no reason for anyone to panic. There’s a cure, and it’s up at the top level. Sennett’s got that personal transmitter programmed to jump between there and here. So it shouldn’t be any trouble to go up and get it.”
“Sure, assuming the berserkers haven’t broken into the building by now,” Wesley said.
“Now’s not the time,” Evelyn snapped.
“Now seems like exactly the time, actually,” Wesley replied, “If you’re talking about going up there.”
“That’s a fair point,” Sennett said.
“So we’ll take precautions,” Evelyn said.
“You mean whoever goes up will take precautions,” Lee said, “Eve, you can’t go.”
“There’s no one else who can go,” Evelyn said, “You’re laid up and Wesley can’t go alone.”
“I can go with him,” Fernie said.
“No,” Evelyn replied, “You’re nineteen, and-.”
“You can’t protect me all the time!” Fernie cried, “Either I’m an IHP officer or I’m not. Which is it?”
“Fernie,” Evelyn muttered, setting a hand to her temple.
“You shouldn’t go up,” Lee said, “you’re the commander. Besides, what if you run into Narumi?”
Evelyn gave Lee a hard look. “If I run into Narumi then I’ll deal with it the same as I’ll deal with anyone else. I’ll try to defuse the situation without lethal force now that I know that these people can be saved.”
Sennett looked down at the ground. “Evelyn, you don’t have to go up there for me.”
“Shut up,” Evelyn snapped, “Of course I do. You didn’t ask to come with us. Your Captain asked you to come, to make sure we were who we said we are.”
Sennett looked at her sharply. Evelyn shrugged. “You think I didn’t know? We’re IHP, maybe the last four IHP agents in the whole universe. It’s our job to protect humankind in space. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Lee sighed. “I’m not thrilled about this,” he said, “but maybe it’s the only way to do this.”
“So I hate to bring this up,” Sennett said, “but do we have a plan for if I start turning before you get back?”
“Lee and Fernie can secure you in one of the offices,” Evelyn said, shrugging. “Easy enough.”
She took a deep breath and grabbed the personal transporter off of the desk. “No sense waiting around. Wesley, come on if you’re coming.”
“Commander, I’m coming with you,” Fernie said.
“I already said no,” Evelyn replied, “Let’s go, Wesley.”
Fernie stood up taller, hands on her hips. “Then I’m resigning my position, as of now. There’s no sense in me being an IHP agent and not being treated like the rest of the team.”
Evelyn gave her a stern look. “A good agent listens to her commanding officer, she doesn’t argue with her.”
“For fuck’s sake, just take her with you!” Lee cried, “She’s no safer here than there, and time’s a factor.”
Wesley put a hand on Evelyn’s shoulder. “Come on,” he said, “we need to get this done.”
“Fine,” Evelyn said. She reached out a hand for Fernie. The younger girl took it, grinning.
“We’ll be back soon,” Evelyn said. She pressed the button on the transporter, and the three of them vanished.
“So,” Marcella said, “I guess we just hang out until they get back?”
“Guess so,” Sandi said, plopping down on the couch. “Sit tight, watch Officer Montgomery for signs of turning.”
Everyone gave Sennett an expectant look. “I’m just itchy so far,” she said.
The time passed. Etta and Marcella focused on comforting Ginny. They crowded together, telling stories of Ernie.
Sennett hardly felt that she had a place in that gathering. She left the couch to them, curling up on an armchair near the window. Lee came to stand next to her.
“How’s your shoulder?” she asked.
“Hurts, but not a lot,” Lee said, “I only took a half dose of painkiller. No idea when we’ll get a refill on it. So, do you mind if I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Sennett asked.
Lee sat a hand on her shoulder, giving her a firm squeeze. “I noticed that before Y’all went up to the top level you and Wesley were scoping each other out. When you got back, you weren’t nearly so friendly. Now I didn’t want to say anything in front of the Commander because she doesn’t like you and she might jump to conclusions. But, what with only two of you coming back and all, I have to ask what happened.”
“Are you suggesting that I had something to do with Ernie and Narumi?” Sennett asked softly.
“I’m saying that I want to know,” Lee said.
Sennett sighed. “No, everything happened like we said. Wesley and I are no longer friendly with each other because he found out that my husband was a Khloe. He insulted my dead husband. I think you’d be pissed, too.”
Lee let go of her arm and sat down on the ground beside her. “Yeah, that checks out. He doesn’t like my husband either.” He tapped his wrist pad, pulling up a picture of himself on a beach, his arms around a Toth man. They were both dressed in swim trunks, smiling.
“Wesley had some choice words about this when we first met. It hurts when people don’t accept who you love, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Sennett said, “It was never hard to love Lo. It was just hard to love everyone else who had a problem with us. My mom was really great about it, my brother too.”
“That’s good,” Lee said, “That helps. It’s easier to take on the world when your mom thinks you’re right.”
Sennett smiled. Then she shook her arm a little. “Lee, I feel numb,” she said. She tried to lift her arm, but it felt as though it was tied down.
“Shit,” Lee said, getting up. “Come on, Girl. Let’s get you to the office across the hall.”
He held out a hand to help her stand up. “Are you sure she’ll be alright?” Ginny asked.
“Are you sure she can’t get out of that other office?” Sandi asked.
“Still right here,” Sennett snapped. Her legs felt numb when she tried to stand. She fell against Lee, trying to get her feet underneath her.
“Don’t worry,” Lee said. He put an arm around her, gesturing for Sandie to help him. They walked her across the hall to an office that looked similar to the one they’d been staying in. “If you get out we’ll just shoot you in the head.”
“That’s not comforting,” Sennett replied.
“I mean with an icer,” he said, helping her sit down on the couch next to the window. “The others will be back soon, Detective.”
“I hope so,” Sennett said. She watched Lee and Sandi leave, hoping that the next time she saw them she wasn’t trying to kill them.
She wondered how long it would take her to pass out.
She wondered how aware of her actions she’d be after she changed into a berserker.
With nothing else to do, she looked out of the window at the decorative courtyard. There was a fountain in the center, surrounded by small tables and benches. Pots of flowers spotted the area. Some of them were even still standing around the dead bodies.
Sennett leaned her head against the cool window and closed her eyes.
Sometime later she opened them again. The courtyard had changed. There were rows of soldiers dressed in body armor and carrying weapons. The marched in five lines towards the building. They had none of the staggering rage fueled movements of the berserkers.
Sennett didn’t think that they looked like a rescue crew. She scanned the crowd quickly for a sign of a medic team and saw nothing. While she thought that it could still be a rescue mission, the way this situation had been handled so far didn’t suggest that this was anything more than a cleaning crew.
“Guys!” Sennett called. She tried to stand but fell. All of the feeling had left her legs.
“Lee!” she screamed, trying to crawl across the floor. She made it to the door and started pounding on it. “Lee! Sandi, Etta! There are soldiers coming in the building. Lee!”
Copyright © 2018 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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