Behind? Catch up now!
“Does anyone know how to fly a ship?” Godfrey asked. He could see both Liam and Sennett’s face, their foreheads pressed together. A twinge of jealousy pinched at his heart, but it was no more than a twinge.
“Sorry, man, no,” Liam said.
“Never seemed to be a need to learn,” Sennett added.
Godfrey looked up at Mason, sure that he must have picked the skill up at some point. But he was shaking his head.
“Okay,” Godfrey said and looked back down at his wrist pad. “Sennett, any ideas?”
Sennett shook her head. “I, I have no idea. Maybe we can find someone else who has a ship and get them to at least take April or maybe-.”
Godfrey heard a familiar voice shouting nearby. “Sennett, I’ll call you back,” he said.
Mason had April on his back, her arms wrapped around his neck. He was looking around, trying to find the source of the shouting. “There,” he said, nodding to an ally. “I think it’s Gene.”
“Stay behind me,” Godfrey said and took off.
Gene was struggling with a soldier in the ally. She hit him hard with the butt of her weapon, and he dropped to one knee. Then, she leveled the barrel at his head.
Godfrey froze, unsure of what to do.
Mason didn’t wait. He dropped April, and tackled the soldier, putting all of his weight into her. She fell with a grunt.
Gene was trying to get to his knees, as Mason untangled himself from the soldier. Godfrey hurried forward. He reached them just as the soldier was aiming her weapon at Mason. She fired. Mason fell backward, landing hard on the ally floor.
Godfrey didn’t remember deciding to do anything. He simply grabbed the soldier by the front of her uniform and started punching. He took her by such surprise that she dropped her weapon. She struggled, but Godfrey just kept hitting.
“Anders, stop!” Gene cried. “She’s not getting up again, trust me.”
Godfrey stopped. The woman was whimpering, her face a bloody mess. He dropped her on the ground and picked up her weapon. He was pretty sure she couldn’t use it right then anyway. After a moment’s hesitation, he also took her key to unlock the binds from Gene’s wrists and ankles.
“Holy Balls!” Gene cried as Godfrey freed him. “How did you do that?”
“Farmboy strength,” Mason groaned. He was laying on his back, blood seeping from a gash on his shoulder. “Fucking acid rounds.”
“Come on,” Gene said. He held out a hand for Godfrey. “I have a transporter. This isn’t a safe place to be.”
“I don’t know that anywhere on this station is any safer,” Godfrey replied.
Just then a handful of Hollow Suits turned the corner, marching towards them.
“Come one!” Gene cried. He grabbed April up before she could protest but nearly dropped her. “You’re a little heavier than you look,” he said.
“That’s not nice,” April replied.
Godfrey helped Mason up, the younger man swearing the whole time. They both laid hands on Gene, and he pulled his transporter out of his pocket.
After a moment of being squeezed into nothing, they landed in Akiko’s office. Gene sat April down carefully, then strode to a cabinet on the wall. April sat down hard on the floor and started crying. Mason plopped down next to her, letting her lean on his good shoulder.
“I’ve got a med kit in here, hold on,” Gene said. He pulled out a small vinyl bag and tried to open it. His hands were shaking too badly to work the zipper.
“Let me do it,” Godfrey said. He took the kit from Gene and pulled out the tiny nanite repair pack. “Do you need one for your head?”
“Nah, it’s just a little cut,” Gene said. He sat down in one of the chairs at the desk. “I’ll just clean it. Get that on Mason.”
Godfrey nodded. He saw to Mason’s shoulder while Gene fumbled with the kit to find cleanser and a bandage.
“How are you so good at that?” he asked.
“My wife’s a doctor,” Godfrey explained.
“Oh, you’re married?” Gene asked. “Why isn’t she here with you? I mean, I’m sorry. That’s none of my business.”
“You’re right, it’s not,” Godfrey muttered. “What the hell was that woman doing, anyway? Don’t they report to your mom?”
“No,” Gene snorted. “They report to Tanner. And Tanner, well, she’s gone right off her fucking nut as I’m sure you noticed. Kidnapped me to keep Mom under control. Oh, shit, that reminds me.”
He went to another cabinet, closer to the floor, and opened it.
Out popped Bailey. He ran right for April, nearly knocking her down. The little girl laughed and cried, clutching the AI dog as though she might die if he left her.
“Why the hell did you have our dog?” Mason snapped. Godfrey pulled his sleeve off his shoulder and set the nanite pack on his skin.
“Of course he’s a dognapper. He stood by and let his old buddy get shot in the head,” Godfrey muttered.
Gene slammed his hand onto the table. “I didn’t let that happen! I tried to save Jason. Why the hell do you think they had me tied up? And we didn’t take your dog, though someone should. Mom found it, and put it here for safekeeping while she tried to get your friends gunrunning boyfriend out of lockup.”
“You and your mommy let hundreds of kids get tortured for protesting your fucked-up food laws, why the hell should we believe you?” Mason asked.
“Because we didn’t do that either,” Gene snapped. “We’ve been fighting with Tanner, trying to stop all of this. She’s been looking for an excuse to arrest Liam and get this dog out of commission since you got here. We had to agree to lean on Howie just to keep her from taking him out. Then, the idiot had to go projecting all of that information about the Hollow Suits and she killed him anyway. Now, she’s decided she’s done arguing with us.”
He ran a hand through his hair. “I can’t stand trying to help people who are actively fighting against me.”
The door opened then, and Akiko stormed in. She was still wearing her cocktail dress, but it was torn along the side. There was blood splashed along the front of her dress, neck, and cheek. Even so, she wore the same serene look she always had. “Gene, thank God!”
“Mom!” Gene cried. He jumped up from his seat to give her a hug, which she returned fiercely. “What happened?”
“Tanner and I had a disagreement,” she said, letting her son go. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control. Where’s Bailey?”
April held the dog close. “You can’t have him,” she said.
Akiko knelt, looking April in the eye. “I just need to borrow him, to save your mother. I need him to take a transporter to her. Do you understand what a transporter is?”
April nodded, still holding Bailey.
“April, I’m so sorry about what’s happening to you. I tried to prevent it, and I wasn’t able to in the end. But now something really bad is happening, and I have to make some really hard decisions. I can save you, and I can save your mother. But I need you to trust me, okay? Do you want to go home?”
April nodded. “Yeah, I want to go home. I really want to go home.”
She sat the dog down on the ground, and said, “Bailey, will you do the thing the lady asked?”
Bailey barked once, his way of agreeing. He opened his mouth, allowing Akiko to put the transporter in. Then, she opened the door and allowed him out into the hall. “Such loyal things. It’s a shame,” she said.
Closing the door, she said, “There have been so many mistakes made. But, there’s no sense looking back. Not now, when it would be so easy to lose.”
Copyright © 2019 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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