Monday, October 12, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 34

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< Chapter 33                                                                                                       Chapter 35 >
Matt realizes they need a bigger ship and Michelle calls his ex-pirate uncle to deliver the news.

For some reason, Uncle Gunther was less than pleased when Michelle explained the situation to him. “You need what?”

“A spaceship big enough to safely carry thirty-two people to Ark’s Landing,” Michelle replied, her tone as calm as my uncle’s was over-excited.

“Why in God’s name did you wait until now—less than an hour before we leave—to tell me this?” Uncle Gunther’s voice rose another octave, something I’d have sworn wasn’t possible.

“Because I thought bringing Matt back from the edge of death was just a little more important than calling fifteen minutes earlier than I am now,” Michelle replied, her tone sliding toward acerbic. “I also took an extra minute to get an exact count, too.”

“Are you being serious, Michelle? Is Matt hurt?” A touching level of concern washed away the hysteria in my uncle’s voice. “How bad is it?”

“He’s fine now, Gunther. It was psychic backlash, but now isn’t the time to go into details.” Michelle’s tone was all business again. “We know this is a huge change in plans, but we can’t just rescue our friends and leave two dozen other psychics in Psi Corps’ hands. You know Matt will never agree to that, and I won’t either.”

Zav returned to the office lobby with several psychics trailing behind him. “We’ve got the office staff locked in a supply closet, Matt. As Michelle instructed, we stripped them bare first. John and one of the women had implants, but Kristin was able to break them telekinetically. She also broke the closet door’s knob and lock.”

I grinned at Kristin. “Good job, kiddo! With any luck, we’ll already be in the wormhole by the time they get free.”

Behind me, Michelle continued her conversation with my uncle. “Right, we need a ship big enough to carry us all and fast enough for us to get away from the navy.”

“What, no requests for a gourmet chef, also?” my uncle replied, sarcasm fairly dripping from his voice.

“A chef is optional,” Michelle replied. “We’re ready to leave, now. We’ll see you in the loading bay in about thirty minutes.”

“Don’t be daft, girl,” Uncle Gunther said, “there aren’t any ships down here that meet our needs. Come to the docking bay on level three.”

Michelle gave Zav a look. “Do you know anything about that docking bay?”

Zav nodded. “Yeah, it’s the exclusive docking spot for the rich jerks and their fancy yachts.”

“Access restricted, right? And they have armed guards?” Matt asked.

Zav nodded. “How did you guess?”

“Because I’m a rich jerk with a fancy yacht.”

Zav winced. “I’m sorry, Matt. I didn’t mean-”

“I know you didn’t,” Matt interrupted, waving it off. “Uncle Gunther, how are we going to get past the locks and guards?”

“Don’t ask me. You’re the man with two dozen psychics and Michelle the Amazon Warrior.” In a very dry tone, my uncle added, “You got into a secret pirate base on Pegasus Station with a lot less than that.”

“Your confidence in us is inspiring, Uncle,” I replied. “How will we find you?”

“I’ll find you. Now, get moving, be careful, and start planning your excuses now.” Then Uncle Gunther broke the connection.

“Excuses?” Zav asked.

“For when we run into station officials,” Michelle said. “A small group might dodge around them, but there’s no way thirty-two of us can do that.”

Zav nodded and looked down at Cassie. “I don’t suppose you’ve had any useful dreams about this, young lady?”

The girl shook her head, sorrow written all over her face. “You know I’d tell you if I did.”

Somewhere back in the crowd of Psi Corps psychics, a low voice muttered, “Fat lot of good she is if she can’t see our future.”

Cassie’s face fell and she looked at the floor so we wouldn’t see the tears I knew were forming in her eyes. Even without my ability, it was obvious Cassie felt responsible for anything unfortunate which she didn’t predict. With my ability, I felt the girl accepting the muttered comment as the truth and blaming herself because she hadn’t predicted any of this.

A look of pure fury set on Michelle’s face and she shoved and pushed her way into the crowd of psychics. “Move! Get out of my way!”

She stopped in front of a tall man in his late twenties. Michelle only came up to the man’s shoulders, but he took a short step backward when he saw the look on her face.

“What, exactly, is your problem?” Michelle hissed. “You spent the whole time I was trying to save Matt bitching that we were wasting time better spent getting away. Now you blame an eleven-year-old girl because she couldn’t predict this exact series of events? How dare you!”

Rather than apologize, the guy doubled down on his stupidity. “And I questioned just how useful she is if she can’t predict things that actually matter. It’s simple logic. Maybe you should try that instead of this emotional outburst.”

“Oh, you want logic, do you? Then try this,” Michelle hissed. “Zav and the others are on Piscain Station because Cassie predicted Matt and I would end up here. She predicted we’d abandon our spaceship and come to the station in spacesuits. She predicted the search for us, which gave Matt time to figure out how to hide the two of us from detection. And she and the others are the only reason we came to this office. So she is directly responsible for your chance to escape from Psi Corps.”

To my complete lack of surprise, the guy had a temper. Rather than respond logically to Michelle, he got angry. “Fine, the kid was useful, but that doesn’t make her useful now! Not like I am.”

You are useful?” Michelle scoffed. “What, can you materialize spaceships out of thin air or something?”

“No, I’m a pyrokinetic.” The man lifted his hands and flames licked around them. The other psychics backed away from him. “I could burn every last one of you to ashes in a matter of seconds! And that is a useful power for getting out of here.”

Michelle dismissed the man’s claim with a nonchalant wave of her hand. “If you’re so damned powerful, why didn’t you escape on your own years ago?”

The man’s face turned red. He raised his arms and flames spread from his hands to engulf them, also. “How can a normal like you understand what-”

The crack of a blaster interrupted the man’s tirade. The flames snuffed out as he stumbled back a step before collapsing. A few of the watching psychics screamed and all of them pushed away from Michelle.

Holstering her blaster, Michelle said, “What? It was set to stun.”

A collective sigh swept through the room and people stopped trying to get away from my wife. One of the other men in the crowd said, “Better add an unconscious guy to the excuses you’re making up for station officials. Who wants to help me carry Ron?”

Before anyone responded, Michelle said, “No, he stays here. He’s the kind of idiot who will try to take revenge on me for shooting him and end up blowing up our spaceship. He wanted me to let Matt die and he dismissed as useless the one person most responsible for this rescue.”
The one who volunteered to carry Ron protested, “But what-”

Michelle spun around to face the man. “He. Stays. If you don’t like it, you can stay, too.”

The man put his hands up as if he was warding off an attack. “No, I want to go! It’s just that-”

“Let’s get one thing straight right now,” Michelle said, her gaze sweeping across all of the Psi Corps psychics. “Until we’re safely on a planet outside of the Federation, you do what you’re told to do when you’re told to do it. We won’t have time to debate our decisions in a committee. If you can’t accept that, you’re free to go your own way. Is that clear?”
Heads nodded rapidly in reply.

“Good,” Michelle said. “Now, let’s get moving.”

Michelle and I each took one of Cassie’s hands and led the psychics on their first leg of their journey to freedom.

Can our heroes lead such a large crowd to level three and get past the locks and guards? Find out in Chapter 35, coming Wednesday!