The finale is next week. If you’re not caught up, now’s the time.
Sennett’s wristpad went blank. “Damn it,” she muttered. “We’re going to have to find them.”
“Yeah,” Liam nodded. “How?”
“Shouldn’t be too hard. We know they’re on this level,” she said, wondering if it sounded more honest than it felt.
“We can go left or right, can’t see that it makes much of a difference,” she said.
“Left then,” Liam said.
“Because we have to pick one or we’ll just stand here all day.”
As they walked, the smoke cleared. At first, this seemed like a good sign, that whatever was causing it was behind them.
Then they started to find the bodies.
Vacationers in loose-fitting travel clothes. Soldiers and security, their uniforms ripped and bloody. Workers from different hotels and restaurants. People of every race and station lay scattered on the ground. The bright lights from above, with their clouds floating serenely looked down on the bloody and mangled bodies of so many dead.
“Shit,” Liam whispered, stepping carefully over the body of an overweight man in a polo shirt and shorts. “These people, they didn’t do anything. What the hell are these Hollows attacking us for?”
“I think if we can figure that out, we’ll be a step closer to figuring out what they are. Maybe even how to stop them,” she replied.
“What if there ain’t a way to stop them?” he asked. “What if they just keep right on going, right on killing, until there ain’t no one left to kill?”
“That won’t happen,” Sennett said.
“We don’t know that.”
“Yeah,” she replied, smiling. “But we’ve got to act like it’s true, and keep fighting. What other choice do we have?”
Liam looked like he had an answer to that. But instead, he smiled, and said, “You’re right. Fighting is better.”
Sennett spotted Russell wandering in front of them. He was looking around, with wide eyes, as though he wasn’t sure where he was. His boots were caked in blood.
“Hey!” Sennett called, reaching for her weapon.
Russell looked up at her, unblinking. “They, they’re all dead,” he said. “Those butchers. Those butchers. Men, and children. They, they just walked through and killed them.”
The young man stumbled up to them, nearly falling into Sennett. “Where, where’s your little girl? Did they get her?”
“We’re looking for her now. I think she’s safe,” Sennett said, holding Russell away at arm’s length.
“Good, that’s good,” he said, still looking around them. Without warning, he dropped his head and threw up at their feet.
“Ugh, gross!” Sennett gasped, pushing him away.
“You were right, you were totally right,” Russell said. “I, I’ve got to talk to Mom, tell her about this. She thinks this is all bullshit, you know. But, but it’s not.”
“Come with us,” Sennett blurted. “Three good fighters, four when we find the others, is better than one on his own.”
“Thought you didn’t care about me, even if I was your brother,” Russell said.
“Come on man, look around,” Sennett replied. “Isn’t there enough blood on the floor?”
He nodded. “I guess maybe there is.”
Suddenly, barks filled the air. “What the hell is this, now?” Russell cried, reaching for his weapon.
“Don’t shoot,” Sennett said. It was Bailey, running at them full speed.
“Hey, buddy!” Sennett cried, opening her arms. The dog jumped right into them and started nuzzling her face. He stuck his tongue out, revealing a transporter.
“Well,” she said, taking it from him. “How did you end up with this?”
But there was no time to question the dog. Hollow Suits, five of them, were coming from an alley to their left.
Sennett threw an arm around Liam, holding Bailey with the other. “Grab onto us,” she said to Russell. When he looked like he might argue, Liam grabbed him roughly by his shirt.
“Hit it!” he yelled, as the Hollow Suits raised their weapons.
They appeared again a moment later, in Akiko’s office. Sennett shook her head and looked around the room.
There stood Akiko, along with Gene, Godfrey, Mason, and April. April ran to her, and she knelt to hug her.
“I’m glad to see you’re alright,” Akiko said, “but we have much to discuss and little to no time.”
“You’ve sure got a hell of a lot to explain if that’s what you mean,” Sennett snapped.
“I don’t,” Akiko said. She strode to her desk and opened the middle drawer. “I’ve been trying to fix all of this for a year. People like you and Whitehall, you always think you know what’s going on, always think you know the whole story. What you did was take up my time, running around trying to save you.”
She pulled something out of the drawer and brought it to Sennett. “Not everyone is out to kill you, you know. Some of us are trying to do the right thing.”
She was holding the flash drive, Whitehall’s flash drive, in her hand. “I had someone on Tanner’s team extract this when you and Mr. Anders pulled your little hero stunt. If you’re wondering what caused Tanner to finally lose her temper and abduct my son, that was it.”
Sennett felt taken aback. She took the flash drive, wrapping her hand around it carefully. “I, I didn’t know you were-.”
Godfrey, however, wasn’t impressed. “Maybe if you’d told us you were on our side, we could have worked together.”
Akiko blinked. “Mistakes were made on all sides,” she said. “But now, I need you to leave. I have a transporter that will take you to my ship. You need to take Gene, and that flash drive, and leave now before Tanner gets here.”
“Wait,” Sennett said. “What’s this about Tanner? What is she doing?”
“Trying her best,” Akiko said. “The problem is, she and I have different opinions on how to resolve the Hollow Suit issue. Specifically, I disagree with her plan to destroy the Earth.”
“That’s why she took me,” Gene whispered. “She wanted your codes for the red envelope option.”
Sennett looked at Godfrey and Liam, hoping that one of them might know what that meant. To her surprise, it was Mason who reacted first.
“That’s real?” he cried.
“It’s real,” Akiko said, nodding.
“I’m sorry, did this situation just get worse, somehow?” Sennett asked.
“That would insinuate that this hasn’t always been a concern,” Akiko said. “The red envelope option was commissioned by the United Nations, as a fail-safe of sorts, when First Contact was made. In case any of the aliens were hostile and took over the Earth, it was designed to cut our loses.”
“Destroy the Earth, you mean,” Godfrey said.
“Yes. The device would send a sound loud enough to obliterate the Earth. It’s in two parts, one here and one on Station Two. Tanner has the first part of the code, I have the second.”
“Why not give it to her?” Godfrey asked. “This seems like the exact thing the red envelope option was designed for.”
Akiko gave him a hard look. “Because I don’t believe it is ever the right option. I believe that humankind can fight these Hollows and that we will. And I won’t destroy anyone on Earth who’s still fighting.”
A sound in the hall made Akiko looked up sharply. “We don’t have time to debate this. You all need to get to the ship now. Here, let me reprogram that transporter.”
Sennett handed it to her, and she started fiddling with her wrist pad. “Everyone get close together, please.”
“Why aren’t you coming with us?” Gene asked.
“Because if I go, they’ll follow. And right now you’re the only thing that she can use to threaten me. Please go, Gene.”
“Ma,” Gene said quietly.
“Hush,” Akiko said. “It’s not like she’s going to hurt me. She thinks she wants the code. I just need to convince her otherwise.”
She handed him the transporter and ushered them all close together.
“Wait a damn minute!” Sennett snapped. “Tanner’s not the one who’s been acting untrustworthy this whole time, you are. I’m not just going to take your word that you’re the good girl, here.”
Akiko raised an eyebrow at Sennett. Before she could respond, the door slammed open. Tanner and a handful of her soldiers invaded the room.
“I hope you’re happy with your decision at the end of all of this,” Akiko said.
“Everyone on the floor, now!” Tanner yelled, aiming her weapon at Akiko.
“Whoa, Commander, hold on,” Sennett said, holding up her empty hands. “I think you’ve got the wrong targets here. The whole damn station’s full of Hollow Suits.”
“I know that Detective,” Tanner said. “It has to be neutralized. I wish it hadn’t come to this, but it has.”
“So you really are going to use the red envelope option,” Mason said, putting a hand on Sennett’s shoulder. “You’ll kill who knows how many people.”
“Rather than let these Hollows destroy everything?” Tanner asked. “Of course I will. What monster would choose anything else? Detective, I have a secure ship. You and your party are welcome to it.”
“But at what cost?” Sennett asked.
Tanner smiled. “No cost. We’ll go to Station two, and fight these Hollows together. We could always use another good soldier like you.”
“Sennett,” Akiko whispered. “Don’t let her get to my son, please.”
Sennett looked from Tanner to Akiko. “Those kids at the protest, did you order the attack on them?”
“Of course I did,” Tanner shrugged. “They were causing a riot, people could have gotten hurt. You let things like that become common, and the whole of civilization breaks down.”
“You know,” Sennett said, picking up April. “I don’t like what you’re willing to sacrifice.”
The others put their arms around her, and she pulled her transporter from her pocket.
Tanner’s demeanor changed. “Don’t you take that man from this station, Detective. You’ll kill everyone in the universe, starting with Akiko.”
She pointed her weapon at Akiko’s face, who laughed. “Empty threats are the resort of a toothless bully,” she said. “Sennett, go.”
Sennett clicked the button on the transporter. As they dissolved, Tanner fired, splattering half of Akiko’s head on the wall behind her.
They transported to the cockpit of a ship. Sennett put April in a seat and started strapping her in. Everyone else took seats, as the sounds of screaming emanated from outside. Through the window, they could see the Hollows, marching towards them.
“Get this thing going,” Liam said, buckling himself into the co-pilot seat.
Gene was still standing in the middle of the cockpit, frozen. “I, I can’t,” he whispered.
Sennett started to unbuckle, but Russell, who hadn’t yet sat down, got to him first. He grabbed the man by the collar and gave him a good shake. “Hey! You’ve got to get your shit together, or we’re all gonna die.”
“Mom, my, my mom just-,” Gene muttered, but Russell shook him again.
“Yeah, she just died. And she died to save us all. So, you want her to die in vain? Is that how you want this to happen?”
Gene shoved Russell away. “Aren’t you supposed to be in jail?” he muttered but stormed towards the pilot seat. He sat down and buckled in. Grinning, Russell did the same.
The Hollow Suits had noticed them and were marching towards the ship. “Any idea how long this is gonna take?” Liam asked as the ship started to light up.
“Maybe a couple minutes,” Gene said.
“Any ship-mounted weaponry?”
“This is a personal vehicle,” he snapped.
“Just asking,” Liam replied. He started looking at the dashboard in front of him. “External safety beam, what’s that?”
“It’s for hitting an asteroid if it’s going to collide with the ship and we can’t get out of the way in time. But it’s not to be fired-.”
“Too bad,” Liam said, toggling something.
A beam of light flashed from the ship, hitting the Hollow Suits. They were thrown back, landing hard on the floor. The building behind them exploded with the force of the weapon, its remains smoldering.
“There could have been someone in there!” Gene gasped.
“Get this fucking ship off this station, Gene!” Godfrey yelled. “They’re getting back up.”
The Hollow Suits were standing already. Their suits were marked from the blast, but only barely. The first few were already heading towards the ship again. Gene began manipulating the dashboard, and suddenly the ship was moving backwards into the airlock. In another moment, they were out into the open space, and the airlock was closing.
As they moved away from Station Central, Sennett noticed a few more ships in the air around them. Sennett reached for April’s hand and hoped that there were humans on board.
Copyright © 2019 by Nicole C. Luttrell
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Station Central has been touted as the vacation destination in the stars. Its success and popularity as not only a great place to vacation, but a great place to live was the start of mankind moving off of Earth and into the stars.
Sennett, Godfrey and Liam head there in search of a much-needed vacation. Instead, they find a council at war with each other, a population starving and an accused murderer lurking in the shadows. Sennett and Godfrey fight to keep April safe as family secrets threaten to destroy them, even as the Hollow Suits come out of hiding and attack. Will they survive the fourth installment of Station 86?