Darkship Revenge – Snippet 23

I was sorely tempted to call again, to make him say something that might give me a clue.  I didn’t.  The worst part of being a grown up and responsible is that you have to hold back on the things you really would like to do.  Or even feel a need to do.  If Kit felt as though my calling to him would endanger him, I’d have to be very uncaring to actually call out to him again.  I suspected that I was in fact very uncaring, but I’d learned to act like real humans.  Kit was a real human and the last thing I wanted to do was disillusion him and destroy his love for me.

I watched as Fuse and Lucius – and was Lucius really handing Fuse a burner?  Did he have any idea how far that man would go for a good explosion? And that Fuse, damaged and half healed, might not have a full sense of his own mortality let alone other peoples’? – cautiously approached a large, darkened doorway.  They must have heard something coming from there, otherwise why fixate on that particular doorway?  I realized since the flyer was landed and sealed, it was impervious to outside noise.  It must be, since I couldn’t hear the seagulls.  But that was no good.  I had to know what was happening out there.  Even if there weren’t a fight imminent, I hated not knowing what was going on.  I hated being left behind, at any time, and not knowing what people I cared for were facing.

Now, with my safety and Eris’ dependent on what happened out there, I had to know.  I just had to.  I jumped to the control panel, and attempted to turn it on.  The damn thing was keyed to a genlock on the dash, its membrane waiting, presumably for Lucius’ genetics to turn on.

Normally my way to deal with genlocks was to burn them out.  I considered them personally offensive, because they were just a stupid membrane with a circuit behind, and once you burned them you disabled the circuit and could then have your way with whatever mechanism it had protected.

It was offensively stupid to use them as locks because they were so easy to disable.  I mean, I could see why people on the street thought they were a good idea, but even my own late, unlamented father had used them, and that was double stupid, as he should have guessed that my genetics were close enough to his in the key components to be able to open them.  Of course, the penalties for burning the genlocks were terrible, but they’d never been a consideration for me.  While Father was alive, and my status was as daughter of a Good Man, I’d been above the law.  And now I was just outside the law, a stranger whose home was in another world altogether, and whose brief sojourns on Earth were as brief as possible.

But I still didn’t think it was a good idea to burn out the lock on Lucius’ flyer.  I suspected he would get a little testy at that, and besides, my dim sense of honor, mostly learned from Kit, told me it was a bad thing to do, since he was helping me. I had to be an adult, yet again.

So, instead of burning out his lock, I opened the panel, and looked at the mechanism, till I figured out which circuit to detach, to do the equivalent of burning the genlock, but in such a way that it could be reconnected in seconds and that the big blond lunk wouldn’t feel the need to kill me for it.

I found it and disconnected it, then the alarm that went with it, before it could do more than let out a brief, loud, peep.  I held my breath, in case that had wakened Eris, but she continued sleeping, and I took a deep breath, pulled up, turned the flyer on, in wait mode and listened.  Listened as hard as I could…  Seriously, why would the man leave me with a baby in a dangerous situation without giving me the opportunity to fly his flyer or even to hear in case there was danger outside?  And he was bio-designed to be smart.  Imagine if he weren’t.

I found the button that allowed sounds from outside to penetrate, and jumped.  The sound of screaming seagulls was everywhere, as they lifted, again, from the building into which Lucius and Fuse had disappeared.  Something must have startled them anew, but they were so loud I could hear nothing else, and now Eris started screaming.  I bounced her gently, trying to get her attention, and it seemed to work for a moment.

Outside there were shapes, barely visible among the seagulls.  Perhaps human shapes.

In that moment I heard young, strangely accented voices just outside the flyer, “– take their flyer and go.”

“It would be stupid,” another voice said.  “They’ll take ours.”

“Ours is a damned lifeboat,” said a third voice.  “I wish them luck of it. You can’t maneuver.  With theirs, we can go anywhere on earth.  ANYWHERE!”

“That is a point, but where could we go?  And what will Father say if we lose our boat.”

“I don’t care.  This is not working the way we expected.  That idiot knew nothing.  We must go somewhere where we can find the power brokers and deliver the message. And then we’re free.  Free, Laz, think about it.”

These words were clear, but they must have done something, some movement, some gesture, that set off the seagulls again because all I could hear after that was a mumble, and a fizz and the screams of the disturbed birds.

A fizz.  Like a burner.  They were burning the genlock on the door.

Damn it! Lucius was going to be upset his flyer was vandalized, but it wasn’t my fault.  Worse, and double damn, these – boys? — were undoubtedly the crew of the triangular ship.  And they were outside.  And even though it had been said my husband had a hostage, this was clearly more than one person. And they were nobody’s hostage.

Which meant that Lucius and Fuse were, what? Dead? Incapacitated?  To say nothing of Kit and Simon?  My throat closed at the thought of Kit or even Simon hurt in one of those buildings.  Not that I wished ill on Lucius and Fuse, and frankly, by virtue of being with me, they were of mine and I’d defend them and avenge them if needed, but Kit and Simon made it personal.  If one of them were bleeding to death in that warren of buildings, how would I get in and rescue him? How could I find him, if the coms didn’t work? Because I had to find him or them and rescue them.  I had to.

I calmed myself down with the reassurance that these people were afraid of being followed, which meant they couldn’t have killed all the people on my side and against them.  Possibly they hadn’t killed anyone, just somehow managed to evade them and get out of the building.

Right.  And these voices sounded young.  Like really young.  One of them still had a relatively high soprano and another’s voice wavered between soprano and basso profundo, in the way boys’ voices do between the ages of twelve and sixteen or so.

None of which made me feel better about the fact that they were going to be here in seconds.

I was armed.  I’m always armed.  I’d rather be naked than unarmed.  But that wasn’t the point.  There were three of them.  There was one of me.  And I had to protect Eris.

Against normal people, this wouldn’t be a problem.  I was fast enough – a skill not developed, but acquired via genetic manipulation of my genes by those who created me – that I could and often did defeat more people than that.

However, here caution applied.  I had no idea who these people were or where they came from.  They shouldn’t be enhanced of course, but…  For all I knew they were the spawn of tentacle monsters.  What I did know is that they had been fast enough and strong enough to subdue and kidnap Kit who, on top of being created the way I was and having the same super-speed from his genetic legacy, had been changed by a bio-engineered virus in utero, to maximize that speed.  If they could capture Kit, no matter if they’d caught him at a disadvantage outside the ship, then they would be able to match my speed.  So, a frontal confrontation was out of the question.

That was all right too.  Okay, I’d never run up against people – other than other bioengineered clones of Good Men — who could match me for speed, but I’d run up against plenty of them whom I couldn’t kill for a reason or another.  In my misguided youth, I’d run up against a lot of people I couldn’t even hurt without precipitating Daddy Dearest’s fury and much worse punishment.  So I’d learned psychological subterfuge, finagling, and deception.  Which worked against everyone no matter what the level of speed or even intelligence.  Most of the time.  Practically.