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Tuesday, AC April 11
Rage. There was nothing in Sennett’s mind but rage. She tried to thrash, to reach for her gun and fire. To kill them all, watch their blood dye the carpet red. She wanted to see them suffer. The first one had gone too quickly.
They crowded around her, their faces twisted and horrible. She wanted so badly to hurt them.
After a while, the faces softened. One of them, Ginny, sat a hand on her forehead. Sennett wanted to tell her that she didn’t have a fever. But she couldn’t blame her. It was a maternal instinct. She’d done it enough when April had been a baby.
April! Had she forgotten about her entirely in her rage? She tried to move her arm, wanting to see a picture of her child.
Everyone in the room jumped. She saw people, their names were still lost, reach for their weapons. She wanted to tell them that she was fine, that the rage that had burned in her was gone. But she couldn’t remember the words. Instead, she held up her first two fingers in a peace sign, before blacking out again.
She’d remembered most of her words and everyone’s names by the time that she could sit up. Evelyn brought her a bottle of warm water. She didn’t say anything, just sat down next to the couch.
“How do you feel?” Marcella asked. She had a virtual keyboard in front of her.
“Are you recording my responses?” Sennett asked.
“Of course I am,” Marcella said, shrugging.
“I feel like my brain’s being reconstructed,” Sennett said.
Marcella knelt down to look right into her eyes. “I wish I had some equipment to run tests,” she said.
“Personally, I’m just glad she’s okay,” Evelyn said, “but I’m not a mad scientist.”
“I’d be a lot more okay if someone had an aspirin,” Sennett said. She glanced around, counting the faces. She remembered everyone now, even liked them. But there was one face missing.
“Where’s Fernie?” she asked.
Tension seemed to fill the room. Ginny looked away. Lee scratched the back of his head.
Sennett looked quickly at Evelyn. “Did, did I kill her?”
“No,” Evelyn said quickly. “There was a Core assassin, he shot her.”
“Don’t worry, he’s the only one you killed,” Sandi said, “And you probably would have done that anyway.”
“The Core is here?” Sennett asked, “Were they behind this?”
“We don’t know,” Evelyn said, “We know that he was one, that’s it.”
“From what he said, we think they probably orchestrated this whole thing,” Lee said.
Evelyn stood. “Now that we know the cure works, we need to get it out to the people. Any ideas?”
“According to the specs, the cure is just good nanites that want to eat the bad ones,” Marcella said, “They’re air born, so we should be able to just let them out and they’ll clean the station. In fact, I bet the ones that cured Sennett are out of her by now, looking for more food.”
“So we should be able to just dump all of this into the air supply,” Lee said, “If this station’s anything like ours, the main air purification system should be right near here. If we just toss it into the clean air outflow, that should do it.”
“That seems too easy,” Sandi said.
“Sometimes things are easy,” Sennett said, “I don’t complain when that happens because it doesn’t happen often.”
She got to her feet, shakily. “Let’s go if we’re going.”
“Are you sure you’re up for this?” Evelyn asked.
“Yeah,” Sennett said, “Besides if I still have nanites in me, I want to take them outside to meet other people.”
“I’ll come too,” Etta said.
“Sandi and I can stay here with Ginny,” Marcella said.
“Good idea,” Lee said, “I’ll come with y’all to the vent.”
“We don’t need four people to throw a suitcase into a vent,” Evelyn said.
“Well, we only have one working weapon, and it’s a primitive lead gun,” Lee said, “So numbers are the only thing we’re going to have in our favor.”
“Why, what happened to the weapons?” Sennett asked.
“The Core guy had a disrupter,” Lee said.
“Are we really sure that this is going to work?” Etta asked.
“Guess we don’t really have another option at this point,” Sennett said.
Sennett’s head was still pounding when they left Central Command. She was not ready for Wesley to walk beside her.
“You’re bringing my rage back,” she muttered.
“I owe you an apology,” Wesley said, “I was a dick.”
“Yeah, yeah you were,” Sennett said, “And it takes a special kind of dick to insult a woman’s dead husband.”
“Look, that’s how I was raised,” Wesley said, “I’m not saying it was the right way for me to behave, but it’s what I was taught. You understand that, don’t you?”
Sennett glanced around them. She couldn’t see any berserkers. “No, I don’t understand that. I was nine years old when First Contact happened. The first bi-racial marriage was ten years later.”
“That was on your station, though,” Wesley said, “It’s different where I came from. We don’t even let aliens go to our schools.”
Sennett’s mouth tightened. “The fact that you’d use that word is really all I need to know about you. We’re all alien up here. Well, at least you are. I was born on a station.”
It took effort to walk quicker than him. But it was well worth it.
Evelyn and Lee were standing a few feet ahead of them, considering a thick pipe that reached from floor to ceiling on the level. Lee was squinting at a control panel on the side of it. “I don’t think I can get this intake panel open,” he said.
“Take this,” Evelyn said, “Maybe I can figure it out.” She handed him the case and started fiddling with the panel. “Sennett, you’re good at breaking things, right?”
“There are nicer ways to put that, but I get what you mean,” Sennett said. She came to look at the panel. “Yeah, looks like it’s shut down because half the security system is offline. Hold on, I just need to figure out how to tell it that everything’s okay.”
Sennett started typing on the screen. Evelyn was watching around them for berserkers, as was Wesley.
No one was looking at Etta when she pulled out an electric pistol and shot Lee.
He cried out as he fell, catching the other’s attention. Evelyn screamed, “Lee!” but he was past hearing her.
Sennett pulled her pistol, aiming it at Etta. “Core,” she hissed.
“Put the gun down, you race traitor,” Etta said, “We were just supposed to wipe out the rest of the IHP. The only reason you’re here is because your mom wants you back. Keep pushing me and I’ll just tell her I couldn’t save you.”
“What the hell do you mean, my mom?” Sennett asked, “My mother’s dead. One of your people killed her.”
“Your foster mother died,” Etta said, scathingly, “Your parents made sure of that.”
The roar of an engine screamed from the docking bay. Sennett and Etta looked over to see a strange vehicle coming towards them. It had a black metal body, with large tank like wheels.
The vehicle came to a grinding stop in front of them. A door on the side opened and a woman popped out. She had a scar that stretched from her collarbone to her chin. Her face glittered with sweat and highlighter. Her hair was a mess of curls that she shook out of her eyes while she pulled an electric pistol from her belt. “Liam, which one are we here to save?” she asked.
The door on the other side of the vehicle popped open, and Liam stepped out. His beard had grown in since Sennett had seen him last. He grinned at her, propping his elbow casually on the roof of the vehicle. “Hey, girl. See the trouble you get into without me around?”
“Who’m I shooting?” the woman asked.
“This one,” Sennett said, pointing to Etta.
Etta dropped to the ground as the woman started firing. She pressed something on her wrist pad as she rolled away. Sennett fired two shots before her clip was empty, missing once and hitting her in the thigh with the second.
A bomb placed at the top of the transit tower went off. A grinding sound filled the air as the tower started to fall.
“Everyone in the tank!” Liam called.
Sennett, Wes, and Evelyn ran toward them. They crammed in, Sennett pulling the door behind her. Somehow she managed to end up sitting on Liam’s lap.
All around them came sounds of crashing. The tank shook as what sounded like the whole transit train fell down on top of them.
“I am so sorry,” Evelyn said from the back seat, “I didn’t mean to elbow you, are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” a man Sennett hadn’t noticed before said, “People have done much worse things to my face.”
The sounds outside stopped. The woman in the driver’s seat turned a switch on the dashboard and a screen lit up at the front, revealing the wreckage all around them.
“This is Mo and Joey,” Liam said, pointing first to the large man in the back, then the woman in the driver’s seat.
“Hi,” Sennett said, “This is Wesley and Evelyn, IHP agents.”
“We’ve got to get this out,” Evelyn said, holding up the suitcase. “Does it look like it’s safe?”
“Should be alright,” Joey said, looking around on the screen.
Sennett climbed out and looked around. Debris from the transit tracks was everywhere, massive chunks of twisted metal and shattered glass, with pedestrian seats mangled into chunks.
Evelyn started for the air vent. Sennett followed after her. They passed Etta on the way. A piece of metal had impaled her to the ground. She’d already bled out.
“She said my parents were alive,” Sennett whispered.
“She’s a terrorist and a liar,” Evelyn said, “Come open this vent.”
Sennett looked at the panel. She wasn’t sure at all that she could remember how to bypass the security. “I, I don’t think I can,” she said, “Maybe we could just break the pipe?”
“What’s the problem? Got to open that?” Joey asked. She elbowed past the two of them. “Scoot over, let me see,” she said. She started tapping away. A moment later the vent opened. “That good?” she asked.
“Yeah, thanks,” Sennett said.
Evelyn took several vials from the case. She started opening them, pouring the contents one by one into the vent.
“What are we doing, anyway?” Joey asked.
“Saving people from nanites that turn them into rage-crazed monsters,” Sennett said.
“Huh. Trippy,” Joey said, “Okay, what do we do now? Can we leave?”
“Go ahead,” Evelyn said, nodding. “Get home to your kid, Sennet.”
“What if it doesn’t work, though?” Sennett asked.
Evelyn shrugged. “Get back to S86 and get Schultz’s ass in gear, then. If this doesn’t work, we’re going to need help. If it does, then we need extra hands for the cleanup.”
Copyright © 2017 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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