Monday, September 21, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 25

< Chapter 24                                                                                                       Chapter 26 >
Matt declares he and Michelle will rescue Zav and the kids.

Left to myself, I’d have spent too much time worrying about our friends and too little time preparing for the moment when we could leave the apartment. Fortunately, Jonas trained his daughter far better than that.

“Let’s see what clothing options we’ve got for you, Matt,” Michelle said in response to my rescue declaration.

Distracted by the first stages of worry, my wife’s statement didn’t really register. “What?”

“Clothes, Matt. You heard that sergeant—they have a brief vid shot of us crossing that shopping district when we first came onto the station.” She plucked at my shirt. “The recognition software in the sensors will pick us out in a matter of seconds if we go out wearing these clothes.”

“Right. Good idea, Michelle. I’m too big to wear Gene’s or Mark’s clothes,” I replied, starting down the hall. “Let’s see what Zav’s got. What about you?”

“We already know I can wear Kristin’s clothes. Her shirts are a bit tight in the chest, but that will just ensure guys don’t spend much time looking at my face.”

I could not think of a response to that line—Lord knows she was right—so I just left it alone. “What about hair color and things like that?”

“We’re kind of limited in what’s available in the apartment,” Michelle said, “but there’s enough for me to work with.”

My father would have approved of Zav’s wardrobe. It was much too staid for my tastes, but Michelle liked the options. She selected a conservatively cut suit which fit reasonably well when worn over my own clothes. I recognized the value of having the option to change my appearance somewhat by simply peeling off a shirt or pair of pants, but that didn’t make the double layers any more comfortable.

Michelle selected a stylish skirt and blouse. As promised, the blouse emphasized her breasts. The skirt showed Michelle’s legs to good effect and shifted enticingly with the swing of her hips. She selected more sensible shoes though also stayed away from entirely flat heels, ensuring a change in her height.

Next, she went to work on me with makeup and improvised hair coloring. “We’re going to age you a bit, babe. A little gray in the temples, a little shadow added to some of your laugh lines, and you’ll look like a forty-year-old.”

Once she finished with me, Michelle colored her own hair and eyebrows red. Next, she did…something…with eye liner, a lash brush, rouge, and lipstick. When she was done, she looked a few years older than her actual age of twenty-one and considerably more sexually available. She watched my reaction with a sly, sophisticated smile.

“When all of this is over, do you want me to do myself up like this for you one night?” she asked.

“It’s a nice package, hon, but if I wanted to score with someone like Jayna I’d have done it back in high school.” Michelle’s eyebrows rose in surprise, so I added, “You look really hot, but it’s like the makeup is designed to hide something—like you don’t really care about me beyond getting another notch on your bedpost. You know, the lay ‘em and leave ‘em type of girl mothers always warned their sons about.”

“Huh,” Michelle said, obviously surprised at my reaction.

“Rich guys have hot girls throwing themselves at them so often it actually gets boring. I never wanted that kind of thing, Michelle. I wanted a woman who would stay with me forever, one who was even more beautiful on the inside than she was on the outside. That’s why I held out for you.” 

“Dammit, Matt, don’t you know you’re not supposed to make a girl cry right after she puts on makeup?” Michelle blinked her eyes rapidly. “I was expecting a simple ‘Hell, yeah, baby’ from you. What made you get all serious?”

I shrugged. “What we’re about to do is dangerous, hon. If we fail, the best result we can hope for is that Psy Corps takes me away from you forever. I don’t want you ever doubting just how important you are to me.”

“Then we’d better make damn sure we don’t fail, babe,” Michelle said with vehemence.

Half an hour later, station security gave the all clear for our sector, releasing the occupants to go about their day. Michelle and I waited another thirty minutes, giving time for normal traffic patterns to form, then headed for the loading bay on level eighty-four.

The recognition software was looking for a couple, so Michelle and I kept our distance from each other. That was really nerve-wracking—if anything went wrong, neither of us could reach the other in time to help. It was equally difficult watching men of all ages surreptitiously watching my wife stride confidently down corridors and through shopping and office districts.

Some of the men looking at her made no attempt to hide their interest, and one even tried chatting her up. Michelle laughed at something he said, touched his arm in a way which promised intimacy might be in the cards later, and made an entry in her pad. She waggled her fingers enticingly as she walked away and even added a bit more swing to her hips. The guy bumped forearms with a companion and walked away grinning widely. Even knowing Michelle was acting, it wasn’t an easy scene to watch. On the other hand, it was certain Michelle wasn’t acting like your typical fugitive.

Eventually, I reached an elevator which could take me to the loading bay on level eighty-four. Trying to appear casual, I hoped for a slow-arriving elevator as I waited for Michelle to catch up. That meant the elevator arrived within seconds. I shuffled slowly toward the car. It filled up quickly, giving me a brief hope that I’d have to wait for the next elevator. Unfortunately, there was room for me when I reached the door. Looking over my shoulder as I entered the car, I saw Michelle hurrying to catch the elevator. I stabbed a finger onto the Door Open button, drawing a few irritated looks from other passengers. Then Michelle, announced by the enticing aroma of perfume, wedged her way into the car.

The irritation on the faces of the men faded quickly though the other women in the elevator were less forgiving. Michelle breathlessly thanked whoever held the elevator for her and a man older than Jonas—one who couldn’t even reach the button—took credit by saying, “You’re most welcome, young lady.”

Michelle bestowed a bright smile on him and spent the short elevator ride chatting amiably about nothing much with the men crowded around her. I listened to the other conversations and heard two men discussing the lock-down in Zav’s sector and the news that the search teams had found the people they were looking for.

“It seems like a lot of trouble to put everyone through just to find some psychic,” one man said. “Whoever they are, they’re obviously not hurting anyone.”

“They abandoned a spaceship running at high speed when they were close to the station,” the second man replied. “That was incredibly dangerous.”

“It wasn’t really that dangerous. There’s a hell of a lot more empty space than there is occupied space—even this close to the station,” the first man said. “I spent twenty years in the navy and can promise you the odds of them hitting anything were pretty low. Besides, they wouldn’t have tried that if the Feds weren’t after them.”

“Maybe so, but do you want unregulated psychics wandering around free to use their powers on us?” the other countered.

The first dismissed this claim with a wave of his hand. “Do you honestly think Psy Corps finds anything close to all of the psychics out there? I read that something like one out of every hundred thousand people has some latent psychic abilities. In the Terran Federation alone, that’s at least twenty million psychics. They’re not bothering me, so why should we bother them?”

The conversation drifted off into sports scores after that, but I found myself heartened by it. Perhaps the citizens of the Federation were open to changing the laws concerning psychics.

Our elevator finally reached level eighty-four and Michelle and I got off. Once again, we kept our distance as we wandered through the loading bay. Michelle didn’t stand out as badly as she had back on Rockport Station, but she still drew more than a few stares from the men working in the bay—and more than a few glares from the women working alongside the men. This time, though, I had little trouble ignoring the looks she drew since I kept my eyes roving over the faces of the people in the loading bay.

The loading bay was huge, so it took me forty minutes to wend my way through the crowds and traverse it from one end to another. A couple of hundred meters from the back end of the docking bay—the place where smaller ships docked and the crowd was considerably thinner—I finally spotted a familiar face. The sight surprised me so much I simply stopped walking and stared openly for a few seconds. Rousing myself, I looked toward Michelle who was thirty meters away and watching me closely.

Our eyes met and I jerked my head toward the familiar face. Better prepared and far better trained at hiding reactions than I am, Michelle simply nodded when she spotted the face. With a smile, Michelle started working her walk and drew a lot of looks. With so much attention directed at her, I had no trouble stealing up behind the oh-so-familiar man.

Stopping next to him, I spoke quietly. “You know, in most cultures it’s wrong for a man to openly leer at his nephew’s wife.”

The man looked at me for the first time, his eyes going wide in surprised recognition.

I met his gaze impassively and said, “Hello, Uncle Gunther.”

Can Matt trust his piratical uncle to help him rescue his friends? Find out more in Chapter 26, coming Wednesday!